Marriage is the first relationship that was established at the beginning of your family. Once you became married, you became a family – joined together for better or worse. Children added to that family, and established different relationships in your family. Suddenly you were not only woman and wife, you were now woman, wife and mother. It is easy to focus on the relationship that requires the most effort. Obviously our children are the most demanding, especially on our time and especially when they are young but we need to be very intentional to maintain that first relationship.
I am reminded of something that I used to say to my children when they came to me grumbling, whining or complaining. I offered sympathy or empathy (depending on what is appropriate) so I am not being unfeeling but I then pose the question – So what are you going to do about it? This puts the problem fair and square in their court and they have to do the right thing themselves. This is my challenge – Yes, I hear you, those marriage issues are frustrating but what are you going to do about it? What is the right thing for you to do?
Often when we look at improving our marriage we look for keys that are unique to the marriage relationship. But the bottom line is that marriage is simply a relationship with another person; true, we spend a lot of time, in fact our whole life, with this other person which opens all sorts of challenges, conflicts and concerns (not to mention blessings, laughter and memories). The Bible is full of advice and principles for good relationships. So often we ignore these foundational principles in search of unique how-to’s specifically for marriage. These Biblical principles can be applied to any relationship; they can be taught to our children helping them develop relationships, they can be applied to our girlfriend relationships, relationship within the church, but this is about our responses and reactions to our husband – Are these principles relevant to our marriage relationship too? I believe so. In terms of Biblical relationship advice – the marriage relationship isn’t so very different!
I’ve been reading Romans 12:9-18 and each verse has a key for us – full of good, practical advice! I am using the Amplified Bible as it is very descriptive and helps me see things in a new light.
Think on Good Things
v. 9 Let your love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil (loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness), but hold fast to that which is good.
This is a good one to start with – it would be easy for us to focus on all the wickedness that we see in our husbands but the Word doesn’t stop there – the next bit says, hold fast to that which is good. We married our man for some reason – hold fast to that which is good.
There is a story about a woman who wrote a list on the eve of her wedding of the 10 things she was going to forgive her husband for – whenever he did something annoying she reminded herself “that is on the list!” and promptly forgave and forgot! She never allowed herself to dwell on those negative things.
v.10 Love one another with brotherly affection (as members of one family) giving precedence and showing honour to one another.
This verse ooses manners – do we use our manners towards our husband. When we relate to people with our manners we put them first, we do so out of respect of another person. When we show our manners we put our best foot forward – this should be an everyday occurrence not just for special visitors! Manners guide our actions and yet because of the closeness of our marriage relationship manners are often forgotten.
Please, thank you,Excuse me, you go first,I’m sorry,May I help you.
These are the types of expressions that should be on our lips all the time.
Pray for Him
v 12. Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.
Some of the issues that our husband puts us through are pure suffering and tribulation (well, it feels like it at the time!) But God is honest and real with us here – He doesn’t expect us to be able to get through this by ourselves – he warns us we need to pray – constantly! The answer for us is in that opening phrase to this verse – exult in hope. Not in the hope that our husband will change, but in the hope that God is in control.
v.13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people (sharing in the necessities of the saints); pursue the practice of hospitality.
Reflect on the last time you showed hospitality to one of your friends – did you sit and have a cuppa, laugh together, did you prepare a special meal? I know we prepare meals for our husband, day in and day out. Hospitality isn’t about the food though it is about the heart. Is your heart a giving, blessing, lavishing heart or is it a practical, lets get this meal over heart. If we are to practice hospitality in our home, in our marriage relationship, we may need a heart adjustment. To be hospitable takes time, we need to arrange our time to be hospitable. To be hospitable takes organization, we need to make it a priority if it allows us a giving heart.
What about your guest room – how do you prepare for guests coming to stay? Does this reflect in your house – the places that your husband wants to spend time? It maybe your master bedroom, it maybe the lounge room, or a space out on the veranda. The place is not important – where do you and your husband visit with each other? Is it peaceful and inviting?
v. 14 Bless those who persecute you (who are cruel in their attitude toward you); bless and do not curse them.
How quickly our tongue can lash out when we are hurt or disappointed. Can we rise above this and then say something kind? Hard stuff!!
How can we bless when someone is giving us a hard time?
- We need to close our mouth (and pray)
- We can do nice things with our hands – show love
It maybe helpful to consider how we can show love, now, at times when there is no conflict so when an issue arises, we have already considered some options.
Connect with his day
v.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice (sharing other’s joy) and weep with those who weep (sharing other’s grief)
It is easy, especially at the end of the day to give lip service to caring about our husband’s day. We listen but could we actually repeat what was said in 15 minutes time? If we are to show real empathy and concern we need to set aside time and listen with our ears and our heart. To be ready to rejoice, or weep, will show that we truly care. This may mean holding back our own news, good or bad, in order to support, love and bless the other person – our husband. We know what it is like to be in a conversation where we want to share something and the person we are telling hijacks our conversation with their own woes. Let us not do this to our husbands.
This is a good example of where marriage is not 50-50 as many claim – it is 100-100. It isn’t a matter of you listening to him for 50% of the time and him listening to you. We need to give ourselves to our husband, to care and hear his heart 100% of the time.
Be humble not quarrelsome
v.16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive) but readily adjust yourself to (people) and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.
If we were to consider other relationships for just a moment and think about the adjustments we make in order for that relationship to grow.
- We may agree that a topic is off limits, I know I have friends were we just don’t talk Homeschooling
- We may recognize a weakness, or annoying habit, in our friend and choose live with it
- We may know a need and always be there to meet that need
- We may be aware of a passion that our friend has and we become interested in it
These things are all adjustments we make in how we relate to our friend. We must make the same adjustments to our husband. When we adjust ourselves to the things that make our husband unique, his way of thinking, annoying habits, passions etc, we make living smoother, more harmonious. The alternative is to make issues out of everything. To nag. This of course is like living with a dripping tap. Not nice!
It is up to you!
v. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
A marriage is a two people thing. But here we are reminded that it is up to us … I can make an impact on the atmosphere in our home and in our relationship. As far as I can – it is up to me. Am I prepared to put in the commitment, the effort, to change myself?
I am reminded that when our children have relational issues with each other I get them to focus on their issues, not their siblings. I remind the children that they are not responsible for the other person’s actions but they are responsible for their own reactions. The same is true in our husband/wife relationship. We cannot do anything to change our husband – that is up to him. We can do a lot to change ourselves – that needs to be our focus.
Over to you:
What relationship skills do you think are the most important for a healthy marriage?
Practice these 10 Habits, and Build a Strong Marriage: Habits reflect your values – and your values will affect your marriage. Be intentional about how you act.
A Simple Encouragement to Act Christ-like in my Marriage: Applying the biblical encouragement to put on compassion, meekness, patience, tolerance to my marriage relationship changes things.
A Quick Guide to Communication when it Hurts: Since there is no perfect relationship these 12 communication tips are good skills to learn to build and strengthen any relationship.
He Won’t Change – and What you can do about it: We all know we can’t change our husband but it doesn’t mean we don’t try! Regardless of all that we try there is only one thing we can do and that is look after our own heart.