If someone asks you right now, who is/are the most important person/s to you? What will be your answer? After God, is it your spouse, your children, your parents, or your boss?
What is the most important thing to you? After your faith in God, is it your marriage, your children´s education, your job, or your business?
One man came to the pastor and said, “Our home is on the rocks.”
The pastor replied, “You´re not really surprised, are you? You´re a business man. You don´t expect your business to run itself. You watch your stock, you notice what is selling. You read the trends of the business world, you watch the reactions of your customers. Yet, you have done nothing to keep your marriage alive.”
If you need practical, spiritually-inspired tips on strengthening marriage and achieving happiness, read Harold J. Sala´s Making Marriage Work.
When we got married, nothing or no one was more important than the person whom we were marrying. Friends, parents, jobs – everything else was secondary. But how quickly familiary creep into marriage, we begin to get busy and the demands of life leave us with no time to spend for each other.
Most divorce cases are described by irreparable differences, most broken marriages are caused by drifting apart. But you and your spouse don´t drift apart over night, it´s a slow process propelled by a conscious decision to not prioritze the relationship.
Here are five key things I learned from the book on how we can keep our spouse number.
1. Recognize the importance of your marriage and your family.
According to Sala, aside from your responsibility to God, your first and foremost responsibility is to the person you married and your children. Your responsibility to your spouse and your children is more important than anything in the world, more important than your responsibility to your employer.
You have to determine where you should be at a given time and then establish priorities which will enable you to fulfill all of life´s responsibilities. For example, take one night a week and reserve it for your family – nothing else.
2. Fulfill your responsibility to each other in love.
At least once a month I spend six to seven hours in weekend ironing my husband´s clothes and fixing his closet. I hate this chore, I really don´t like doing ironing. Whenever I set myself to get it done, I think of how much I love my husband and how important it is for him to go to work with his clothes clean and neat. While ironing, I´d jokingly tell him, “If I don´t love you enough, I wouldn´t be ironing your clothes for hours.” My husband would reply, “If you don´t love me enough, we wouldn´t be married.”
But fulfilling our love for each other is more than just house keeping or providing for the family, it´s about fulfilling our responsibilites to our spouse in LOVE.
The Apostle Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives.” And to Titus, Paul reversed it saying wives are to love their husbands.
Love must be nurtured and kept alive through kindness and thoughtfulness. Tuck an occasional note into your husband´s luch bag saying, “Don´t forget I love you.”
After a long week of taking care of the kids, home making, and on top of that joggling a career, treat your wife to a dinner date. If funds are limited, give her a break from cooking, treat her with your master recipe?
More than just whispering “I love you”, we show love to our spouse through our attitude.
3. Keep faith with each other.
“Can two walk together unless they be agreed?” Amos 3:3. Every marriage is built in trust. Through trust, we intellectually and emotionally commit ourselves to our spouses. But what happens if that trust is broken?
The one who breaks the faith suffers from guilt and feels separated from the one who stood by his side all these times. At the same time, his partner suffers from rejection.
Is it possible to restore trust? How do you save a marriage after an affair?
While you can find forgiveness, it´s humanly impossible to restore trust as it once was. Only time and forgiveness can try to restore it.
Keeping faith in marriage is also about keeping faith with God. A successful marriage is a triangle between God, the husband, and his wife. But what happens if you´re in an interfaith marriage? What do you do if your spouse refuses to pray with you?
Don´t give up your faith in God just because your spouse doesn´t pray with you. Continue praying, ask God to touch your partner´s heart so that one day, you both will pray for your marriage together.
4. Encourage each other with positive attitude.
My parents forged a happy, successful marriage fraught with financial worries and discouragement. Raising six kids wasn´t easy for them especially that it´s only my dad who was earning and all the family´s needs were dependent on his struggling small business.
My mom tended to whine about their difficult life and throw cutting remarks to my dad regarding his inability to provide sufficient income to meet all the family´s needs. I understand that being the family´s financial manager, she had a challenging duty of allocating funds for her big family.
Sure there were times when she took initiative to generate extra income to support my dad´s, and I really appreciate that, but blame playing and picking up fights when things go rough just didn´t help.
Other than his parents who guided him when he was young, no other person contributes to the success of a man than his wife. Failure tends to shatter a man´s ego. Couple that with demoralizing comments from his wife and you´ll get an entirely broken man.
Sala rightfully put it – our attitudes towards each other are like magnifying glasses, they enlarge whatever we focus on. If we encourage each other, we bring out the best. If we nag and pick, we bring out the worst.
Furthermore, name-calling has no place in our homes. This only creates anger, resentment, and one upmanship. Honestly, I learned this the hard way.
While having a summer vacation in Asia, I and my husband had cold shoulders towards each other for a few days. I was hurt because of what I saw as rudeness from him; for every little mistake, he´d tell me “You´re the man.” He´d say the comment with disgust on his face. Things add up until we broke into a fight. I found out that his rudeness was fueled by his resentment on the rude comment I threw on him. That comment emasculated him and that´s why he tells me I´m the man.
Upon realizing my mistake I asked for forgiveness, I cried and cried. My husband then embraced me said he forgave me. I swore to try hard not to name-call again. But my human nature is often stronger than my promises, so I pray for God´s help.
Self-discipline is an absolute necessity if we´re to bring out the best in each other. This advice is definitely spot on.
5. Accept your partner as he is.
We hear this over and over again. We heard successful couples who celebrate their golden anniversary saying that their secret to a successful, happy union is trying not to change each other.
But really, how easily and quickly do we digest this advice? My mom used to tell me that you will know the real person out of your spouse after the wedding. While dating, we tend to show our best sides. After the wedding, we start to see each other as we really are. The fairy tale dreams are gone and we´re left with the reality. What do we do with the aspects that don´t fit in with our expectations? We try to change them. This then leads to conflict.
There can be peace instead of war if we accept each other and if we learn to respect each other as individuals whose differences complement each other.
Before I committed to an interfaith marriage, I was scared with all the challenges that I and my husband would face. I remember him always telling me that we should learn to compromise in order to make it work. I had no idea how much compromising we actually had to do in order to make it work. But because we bring our challenging marriage in prayer, we see God helping us overcome our religious differences, we enjoy a peaceful, happy marriage.
How about you? What challenges do you and your spouse face in your marriage and how you make each other number one?
Thanks to rocket ship for the photo.