It’s no secret that marriages are under attack. And Christian marriages aren’t immune. In fact, you could argue that Christian marriages are an even bigger target: If the devil can tear them up, then he can start chipping away at the fabric of society. Christians, then, have to be even more vigilant when it comes their marriage relationships. Enter Dorothy Greco.
In an article for Relevant Magazine, Greco offers five steps you can take to “divorce-proof your marriage.” Below are her tips with a small explanation. For more, read her in-depth article over at Relevant.
HAVING A RICH, SATISFYING MARRIAGE REQUIRES A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF INTENTION AND VISION.
It’s drilled into us to be intentional about our budget, retirement and exercise routines but for some inexplicable reason, not our marriages. Ask yourself what kind of marriage you want to have in five, 10, 20 years and plan accordingly.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS, SPECIFICALLY THOSE CONNECTED TO THE FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE.
Often, we don’t realize we have expectations until they are crushed. Feelings of disappointment function like the yellow warning light on the dashboard indicating unmet needs and expectations. Once we understand this, we can begin to discern our wants and needs.
LEARN HOW TO HAVE CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT.
Regardless of the cause, create guidelines for how you have conflict so that you can avoid having conflict about how you have conflict. Your guidelines might include discerning your spouse’s perspective, never raising your voices and abstaining from defensiveness and all forms of passive aggressive behavior (this includes withdrawing and sarcasm).
FAITHFULLY CONFESS AND FULLY FORGIVE.
After more than 20 years of counseling other couples, my husband and I firmly believe that we should not keep any secrets from each other. We live in a culture where over-sharing is the norm but true confession seldom happens. [… ]Of course, without the hope of forgiveness, confession is terrifying. After we receive forgiveness vertically, we have an obligation to give it away horizontally, first and foremost to our spouse.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE YOUR SPOUSE; YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU.
Marriage has an uncanny way of revealing our selfishness, biases and secret fantasies for our spouse to become more like us. For the first 10 years of my marriage, rather than recalibrating my expectations and learning how to love my husband, limitations and all, I expected him to change. This resulted in resentment and lots of unnecessary conflict
Our marriages are one of the most important reflections of Christ. They also challenge us like nothing else. We owe it not only to our spouses but to culture to invest in them and make sure that they look different from the world. The expectation is not that Christians won’t have marriage problems. Rather, it’s that we will commit to working through them and honoring God as we do so.
Do you have any other tips?