Three Secrets To Making and Keeping Your Marriage Strong

I’ll be the first to admit I walked down the aisle with my rose-colored glasses solidly adhered to my face. They all said, You’ve waited so long, I’m sure God has brought you someone incredibly ‘special.’

 

I liked that. He was special. He would surely make me happy.

 

It wasn’t long after the honeymoon the rose-colored glasses began to fade and the image I had for my marriage shattered under the weight of unrealized and perhaps unrealistic expectations.

 

I cried. I was certain God had made a mistake because this man was so different from me. Extrovert vs. introvert. Strong vs. insecure. Logical vs. emotional. Surely there was no way to make one flesh out of these two broad, uncommon souls.

 

Yet that was precisely what God designed our marriage to accomplish. To hammer away, to find a holy rhythm to the push-pull of this awkward, confining yoke. To learn to yield our offenses (and defenses, too) to the One whose hands ultimately guide the plow.

 

Marriage is the most sacred of pilgrimages. It is the tool God uses to form us into His image, if we will but surrender to its purpose and calling for our lives as individuals.

 

With divorce as common as a winter cold, it left me perplexed and undone to find the means to secure this covenant. There must be a better way, I prayed.

 

We struggled. We stubbed our toes. We felt the clumsiness of trying to step together. In the middle of it all, my husband and I have found (and are continually finding) a slow, comfortable cadence in this thing called marriage. We’ve dug deep, read much, and are cultivating something solid, enduring, and strangely beautiful.

 

Here are three secrets we’ve found to make a marriage strong for the long haul.

 

  1. Focus more energy on becoming the person God wants you to be than on who you think God wants your spouse to be.

 

Surrender is a gift of freedom—surrendering control of my spouse’s journey, surrendering all of my expectations for who they should become as well as who I desire them to be for me.

 

Surrender unleashes God to do the kind of soul-surgery only He can do and frees me to focus on the surgeon’s scalpel at work rooting out the bitter, diseased, cancerous tissue in my own heart so that new tender, living cells can grow into His likeness.

 

We quietly ask, Who will be my spouse’s savior? Who will be their Holy Spirit?

 

Will it be us, or will it be the only One who saves, who redeems, who teaches, corrects, and transforms each of us?

 

Focusing on our journey with Christ brings us into communion with Him as we discover His healing, His passion and purpose for our lives, and puts our mate in God’s trusted and caring hands.

 

Only then can we look up, enjoy, and fall in love with the person God has given us to walk with through this life. To love. To cheer. To cry with. To believe in. To journey. Together. (exhale.)

 

  1. Spend as much time noticing the positive as you do ruminating on the negative.

 

Research shows that it takes five positive thoughts/statements to overcome one negative thought or statement. The pull towards criticism is the easiest yet cruelest addiction we must fight against—if we want our relationship to survive, if we want tender sprigs of mutual kindness, respect, and love to grow.

 

We can acknowledge a complaint. Healthy couples are adept at speaking, addressing, and working through specific issues throughout their relationship.

 

Still, the enemy will whisper ever so quietly criticisms about our mate that we allow to steal into our hearts and take over any love, admiration, affection, or positive regard we have for them. Before we know it, we are spiraling in a wave of bleak, resentful ruminations that distort our perceptions of the present and leave us without hope for our future.

 

Notice the good things. Give thanks for the qualities and characteristics that are strengths. Journal the daily moments, tasks, gifts, that you admire. Pray over them. Pray for blessing and anointing in their lives. Offer a prayer of gratitude.

 

Notice the good things. Give thanks for the qualities and characteristics that are strengths. Journal the daily moments, tasks, gifts, that you admire. Pray over them. Pray for blessing and anointing in their lives. Offer a prayer of gratitude.Click To Tweet

 

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) says, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight.

 

  1. Continue to discover your mate.

 

So many of us get married and act like our spouse is a book that has been studied, tested, and closed. We lose our sense of wonder. We finish sentences without ever asking a question. We judge. Mercilessly.

 

We forget the gentle curiosity that drew us into their orbit in the first place.   Our spouses are each a vast and unknown terrain that we can spend a lifetime exploring, discovering new glances, meanings, dreams that are being birthed each and every day.

 

Our spouses are each a vast and unknown terrain that we can spend a lifetime exploring, discovering new glances, meanings, dreams that are being birthed each and every day.Click To Tweet

 

 

Do you want things to be different in your marriage relationship? Here are three secrets fro every man, women, husband, and wife, that will make and keep your marriage strong!

 

Have you forgotten how to ask questions of your spouse? Open-ended questions? Curious questions?

 

Sit back and listen. Take it all in. Don’t judge. Don’t criticize. It will bless your marriage.

 

Our marriages can be rich places for us to find strength, comfort, and encouragement on our healing paths. As we allow more compassion and grace to grow between us, we can face the most desolate seasons of life with confidence.

 

Ours is a journey of day-to-day beginnings. Learning to whisper our affection on the back porch as the grey sky begins to bend toward charcoal night. Becoming lost in a laughter that is the hidden language between us.

 

I am learning to relinquish my need to know the end of the story, and am discovering new ways to lean into and enjoy the dance.

 

 

About This Community

Don’t we all want a little peace?  My heart for this community is to provide just that – a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships.  Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!  


About Peace for a Lifetime

In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!

Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.

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18 Comments

  1. Thank you Lisa. As a writer and blogger, I know how it feels to write a blog post and pray God will use it in someone’s life. Yours did that for me today! It was such a needed and refreshing reminder to keep working at my marriage. I pray God’s blessing on your day!

  2. Excellent post, Lisa! I’m writing a marriage blog post series in February, and I plan to link back to your post when I talk about being married to an opposite. Blessings to you!

  3. Loved this nugget of wisdom:
    “Yet that was precisely what God designed our marriage to accomplish. To hammer away, to find a holy rhythm to the push-pull of this awkward, confining yoke. To learn to yield our offenses (and defenses, too) to the One whose hands ultimately guide the plow.”

    Oh how I recognize that from my own marriage. I am a returned Prodigal whose faith is growing having an unbeliever as her spouse. For I am learning the truth of God’s Word – even now God is leading our family through my husband, even speaking truth to me and our girls through Him – for my husband has been made holy through the gift of faith I have received. And some day my husband will see. And what joy will fill our hearts.

  4. Such wonderful points, Lisa! Thank you for sharing this post! The 3rd one has been a joy to learn in this 5th year of marriage as we both come to appreciate that God continues to grow each of us, so there’s always something more to learn instead of assume!

    • lisamurray

      February 5, 2018 at 11:31 AM

      Thank you, Bethany! There is always so much to learn, if we are willing to look and listen. Have a great week, friend!

  5. This is great advice. I’m putting a parenting workshop together for the month of March and keep bumping into the truth that if we want to be good parents, we need to work on our marriages. Gary Thomas has written my two favorite marriage resources: Sacred Marriage and Cherish, both of which emphasize the need to cut our partner some slack while we work on our own messes.
    Blessings to you, Lisa!

  6. Beautifully written, Lisa! As a newlywed (I think I can still say that, we just passed our 1st wedding anniversary), I am constantly taking in any marriage advice that may be offered, I am so glad to have found your post through Paula’s link party!

  7. “Research shows that it takes five positive thoughts/statements to overcome one negative thought or statement. ” This is good information to have. Beautiful testimony, Lisa. Thank you.

  8. Lisa, what an encouraging post! I’m currently writing a message that is VERY similar-( I promise I’m not copying) 😉 I greatly appreciate your perspective. My advice comes not from being a licensed therapist, but from simply having the experience of 21 yrs of marriage behind me. And I’m still learning!
    I particularly resonated with your thoughts on tip #2. This is something that took me many years to finally understand. (I may be a slow learner). I used to get so caught up in the negative, that I could barely see any positive. When we can train our minds to focus on the positive instead, it greatly changes our perspective.
    Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  9. Lisa – I know this won’t sound nice, but I usually skip over the marriage posts. Probably says a lot more about me than I want to. However, when I saw it was you right before me on the link-up I knew it would be good and useful. I have to admit #3 was a new thought. #1 made me laugh because I think I probably spent the first 20 years of my marriage focusing on how he should change. #2 is so true. I find when you begin focusing on the negative it makes it almost impossible to see the good. Thank you for the fantastic post. I pinned it.

  10. 3 excellent points, Lisa! I also married my guy thinking he’d make me happy. That he’d save me and rescue me. I wonder how popular that line of thinking was 20-30 years ago??? After we married a few years, I remember God telling me that He wasn’t going to make my hubby into the Godly husband I needed him to be until I was the Godly wife He wanted me to be. I had to work on my own mess, inviting Him in to clean, restore, redeem, and heal. Thanks for sharing this on Grace and Truth.

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