Column: Men, is your marriage struggling?
February 26. 2013 2:17PM
Okay, let's be real. All of our marriages could stand for some improvement. And for some of us, our marriages are in real trouble. Men, no matter what your marriage is like, allow me to offer 10 suggestions flowing out of the Bible and the gospel to strengthen your marriage.
Put Christ at the center of your life. For some of you that might mean repenting of your sins, calling out for salvation, and receiving Christ into your life for the very first time. Do it. For others of you that might mean carving out time in your daily schedule for Bible reading and prayer. For others of you that might mean selling your boat or ATV. If selling your snowmobile is what it takes to put Christ at the center, do it. Christ is the foundation that all great marriages are built on. Even if your wife doesn't yet follow Christ, don't let that stop you.
Recognize that you are a sinner. Seriously, you aren't perfect. And the sooner you recognize it the better.
Apologize and confess sin. The Biblical model for marriage is for husbands to be servant-leaders. That means that when there is a breach in the marriage, an impasse, a coldness, you need to go to your wife and confess stuff. Even if she is 99 percent wrong, confess your 1 percent, and work to open the door for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Forgive (see 1 and 2). Once you've recognized that you are a sinner, and you've taken that sin to Jesus Christ, and you've been forgiven, you can extend that same forgiveness to your wife. The Bible tells us that as Christ forgave us, we should forgive other people. Our forgiveness is modeled after Christ's forgiveness.
Know that marriage is a pointer to Christ and the church (see Ephesians 5 in the Bible). If you've never thought about that, it probably sounds pretty funky. But what the Bible reveals is that marriage was created by God in order to demonstrate to us what Christ and the relationship between Christ and His church is like. Christ will never leave the church. He gave His life for the church. He forgives the church. He leads the church with love. Guess what that means for us guys? In order to be a pointer to Christ and His church, we must love our wife, sacrifice for her, forgive her, and lead her well with love. And if you have a hard marriage? If your wife isn't very agreeable? That gives you a unique opportunity to point to the faithfulness and forgiveness of Christ.
Outdo your wife in honor. That's Biblical language (see Romans 12). There's something special that happens when two people start trying to outdo each other in honor, love, service, etc. And, husband, it starts with you. One might think that giving away honor would be giving away happiness, but in that case one would be wrong. When a married couple is generous with honor, etc., happiness multiplies exponentially for husband and wife.
Get into a church. You can't do it alone. You need believers in Jesus Christ to walk alongside you and your marriage and your family, giving you help and encouragement and prayer and love and correction.
Date your wife. That doesn't mean spend a lot of money - money conflict is consistently ranked high as a reason for divorce. But, it does mean that you should make time with your wife a high priority. Pull yourself away from the television or out from under the hood of your vintage car or away from the newspaper. Tell the fellas you'll have to miss poker night or basketball and do something special with your wife that involves talking to her. She needs to know that she is more important to you than your work, your possessions, your hobbies or your buddies. And both of you need communication.
Don't do anything stupid. Control your anger. Stay faithful to your wife. Don't call it quits.
Get help. Talk to a friend. Find a pastor. Visit a Biblical counselor. I'd love to help you or find the help you need. Call me, Andy, at 605-428-4111 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.