Here are seven healthy marriage practices. Your marriage is your most important relationship and it is a gift from God, and like every other relationship, it requires an investment. In this episode of Calibrate Life, we discuss Seven Healthy Marriage Practices.
continue reading for the article / episode notes…
108 – Seven Healthy Marriage Practices
Following are seven practices that will build a strong ministry marriage. You will undoubtedly be able to add many other positive practices to the list.
(Note: These are podcast notes designed to highlight the main points of our discussion. Stories and anecdotes are included in our discussion and not so much in the text of these notes.)
Practice #1: Invest
Successful people regularly invest in personal and professional growth . Our relationships are important and worthy of our attention and investment.
- Occasionally read a book about healthy marriage relationships or important relational skills. You will gain knowledge that will help you help others, but learn with the intention to apply it to your own life.
- Perhaps you can attend an encounter, retreat, or seminar session.
- Read articles, learn, and take action to make your own marriage relationship stronger.
- Teach others out of our own practices and experience.
Most importantly, invest time into the marriage. No relationship neglected and starved will be healthy. Every relationship has to be nurtured, and the marriage relationship is no exception.
Practice #2: Nurture
We have to nurture all of our relationships. The kind and frequency of that nurture depends upon the maturity of the relationship, but we must constantly nurture spousal relationships.
The definition of nurture is to feed and protect, and to support and encourage. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – we all have basic needs as human beings and one of those basic needs is for love and emotional support. If we starve our spouse of their need for nurture, their physiological, spiritual, and emotional response will be to seek nurture from some other source. It is God’s plan and directive that we nurture our spouse.
Feeding is a part of nurturing.
We should “feed” our spouses with the gifts God has given us. We constantly “feed” the people in our lives, our leadership teams and those we are coaching or mentoring. Can we lend our gifts and understanding to pour into the life of our spouse? This is not about lectures or lessons; it is about taking what God has invested in us and investing it into our spouse.
Protection is a part of nurturing.
It is particularly important for a wife to feel the protection of their husband. A few years back, at one of our Pastors’ Kids’Retreats a child referred to a situation and asked for help in understanding why his father (the pastor) had not defended his mother when she was wrongfully disparaged by members of the congregation. This is tough. One of my greatest mistakes in life was not giving my wife the benefit of doubt in a volatile situation. My first response and priority should have been to protect and defend her.
We nurture our spouses by supporting them.
Military troops move forward as a unit. The air force supports the infantry in the fulfillment of their responsibilities and objectives. Since the troops have common objectives, different branches and divisions lend support when needed, after all, winning the war is the common objective. We nurture our spouse when we provide assistance and support to them to accomplish things they otherwise could not accomplish without our help. To put it in simple terms, sometimes we have to help our mate fulfill their long-term dreams and purposes by giving some support in here-and-now tasks. We nurture when we care enough to support things important to our spouses.
We nurture by encouraging.
Every one of us sometimes faces discouragement, obstacles, challenges, disappointments, and failures. We need people in our lives that will believe in us and cheer us forward. When we discourage our spouse, we drain them of life. Our spouse ought to be our number one encourager, and we ought to be our spouse’s number one encourager.
Practice #3: Communicate
When we don’t communicate we drift apart, misunderstand motives, and end up on separate pathways. Talk regularly. If you have to schedule a daily time slot on your calendar to make sure you have time to talk with your spouse, do it. Don’t think of it as scheduling in a conversation with your spouse, think of it as protecting some of your time to make sure what is most important gets attention.
Know and understand what is important to both of you. What are your long-term goals? What is God saying to each of you? What is God’s call upon your lives? What are your family values? Once we are of one mind and accord we can move forward with clarity, conviction, and passion.
We may do different tasks and be in different places throughout the day, but we are walking ONE path. The things God has genuinely called my spouse to do are part of my life and the things God has called me to do are a part of her life. We walk one direction, not two.
Communication is essential to understanding our paths, directions, challenges and disconnections. Being of one heart and mind and tending to one another’s needs is so connected to communication.
Practice #4: Respect
Respect your spouse. Treat him or her the way you desire to be treated. Jesus’ golden rule applies to marriage relationships. Treat your spouse the way you treat the people that you hope to keep in your ministry. Give public honor to your spouse. Never belittle your spouse or make them the object of your humor; this fosters resentment.
Bitterness and resentment sown into a marriage are like etchings on glass, they are very difficult to polish out and they are ever present in your field of view.
Practice #5: Structure
Relationships require structure. Earlier we mentioned making the time to communicate; this is structuring our lives to allow for proper investments into the relationship. If you leave some margin in your life, and on your calendar, you will have time for all of the things mentioned in this article. You must take a Sabbath once a week. Keep your priorities well defined. Have a plan and stick to it to make sure your priorities remain priority.
Practice #6: Guard
Guard your affections and your relationship. Your partnership with your spouse is your “first team,” meaning that all other alliances, partnerships, and relationships are secondary to this singular relationship, except your relationship with God.
Refuse to entertain potentially compromising situations.
- Never give attention to another of the opposite sex that belongs only to your spouse.
- Guard against emotional attachments to anyone of the opposite sex.
- Be wary and careful of private communication.
- Be watchful for any situation that may be compromising.
If you diligently protect the sacredness of your marriage relationship, you will protect your heart, the heart of your spouse, and you will preserve the strength and vitality of your marriage.
Practice #7: Lead and Model
Lead. Leaders take responsibility and this applies to both husbands and wives. Take on the responsibility, with God’s help, to assure a strong and healthy marriage. Make the necessary investments, acquire the necessary skills, work at is as hard as you do on your job or ministry.
You be the model, you set the example. Marriage must reflect the commitment of Christ to his Church. Model Christ’s love to one another. Set an example by treating your spouse in all things the way you would like to be treated.
Calibration Tools… Calibrating our Lives and Lifting Those We Love and Lead
- How do you INVEST in your marriage relationship? What books and/or resources might strengthen you in your marriage and/or your basic relationship skills?
- What are ways that you encourage your spouse? What are some ways you SHOULD encourage your spouse?
- Do you have a regular time that you communicate with your spouse? How do you make sure you stay connected and talking? How do you stay on the same “page” with your spouse? Do you take the time to discuss significant decisions?
- When in a public setting and you disagree with your spouse, how do you handle it?
- Which of these seven areas prompted concern in you? Which of them is a weakness of yours? Take a moment and set one significant goal to grow in the area of your weakness.
- Take a moment and think about some boundaries you need to set in your life to guard yourself and your marriage.
For those who are married, your marriage is your most important relationship and it is a gift from God. Like every other relationship, our marriage relationship requires an investment. It will not be what you want it to be unless you grow it into your vision.
The uniqueness of a marriage, for most of us, is that it is a commitment we make to stay together until one of us dies — no matter what. The security of the “no matter what” may give us a false sense of security in that we assume it will be there to work on later if we neglect it now. That is a dangerous attitude, and one that does not honor our greatest human relationship gift. Of all of our relationships, for those who are married, your marriage is your relationship of priority, invest in it in greater measure than in any other relationship.