My husband and I value forward-thinking and troubleshooting in most areas of our lives, especially our marriage. We like to look ahead and point out potential pitfalls that might become challenges. We aren’t always thorough but by trying, we are a step ahead.
From the beginning of our almost three decades of marriage, we have tried to focus on making and keeping our marriage healthy. We are keenly aware of the foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15) that prowl the outskirts of our garden seeking to ruin.
We are being extra purposeful this year to keep our eyes and hearts focused on maintaining a healthy marriage because we know what happens when we don’t.
I would like to share with you five goals that we feel can foster an intentional marriage in 2018.
Live the Gospel
We have a little wooden sign hanging in our house that says, “Every family has a story. Welcome to ours.” Our marriage story is one of immeasurable grace and continually finding ourselves on the path to redemption. We want to live out the Gospel and encourage others to do the same. When people see our marriage, we want them to feel the authentic and welcoming embrace of the Gospel.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV
Have you ever thought about how intimacy in marriage could be destroyed by being too polite? When we walk around on our tiptoes avoiding honesty, we will grow apart. Running away from conflict is futile. Believe me, it will be waiting there for you in a future season. In 2018 and beyond, we want to be intentional about resolving conflict in ways that lead to intimacy, not isolation.
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2
By nature, loving our spouse takes serious intentionality. To love each other well will involve drawing from an even deeper pool. My husband and I are committed to pursuing one another. This will involve being creative in planning dates, clearly communicating our needs and emotions, and offering grace in it all. We desire to be fully present and thoughtful. We aim to put the other’s needs before our own. This will only work when we look to God first.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
Serve the Church
When I was a new wife and a new mom, I found myself in the parking lot of our church in tears. A pastor’s wife gently approached me and we chatted. In a nutshell, I told her that I just didn’t feel like I belonged. She shared with me this unforgettable bit of wisdom that has stuck with me since, “If you want to belong, you need to invest.” The Church is a collective community of Believers whom we have found to be a priceless gift to our marriage. As we enter a new year as a part of a new church, we are both committed to serving Her as a gift to ourselves but in hopes that we might in some way be a gift to others as well.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
If you’ve been married for any amount of time, you know that this is easier said than done. After almost 30 years of marriage, we have definitely had our moments of wanting out. I realize there is a caveat to this point and that God does release some from marriages for specific reasons. But for us, even though we have looked for the exit door a few times, we have chosen to stay put. We’re thankful that we did. As we begin this new year, our goal is to stay married, remembering that we are better together.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NIV
As you enter this new year with new possibilities and potential pitfalls, how are you thinking forward? You are most welcome to borrow our five goals for your marriage or get creative and come up with some of your own.
Helpful marriage resources:
Andrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the loyal wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage others by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at AndreaStunz.com.