Did any of you make a resolution to strengthen your marriage in 2016? If so, I have a couple of tips I learned years ago that have helped me to make our marriage more healthy. The truth is you can do nothing to change your spouse. The only one you have control of in any relationship is yourself. Perhaps 2016 can be the year of no more finger pointing in your marriage! Well, we are human, so how about a lot less finger pointing and significantly more uplifting.
Two practices have helped me immensely and fertilized the soil of our marriage to help good fruit grow. Grateful to those who let me in on these bits of wisdom - though I don't remember who they are - I pass them on to you. I write from the perspective of the wife, but husbands may benefit from applying these as well. Of course, I can't be sure, because I've never been a husband!
#1 Do not speak ill of your husband to others. You know those Scripture verses about only speaking that which will build up others? Those apply to relationships with all people, including your husband. Take this to heart. It is a gift to your husband to know he never has to worry about you mocking or speaking ill of him in public or even in a private conversation with a close friend.
Give yourself a check-up: Are you quick to jump into bemoaning with other wives at the way your husband is such a failure? Or do you readily and regularly find ways to praise him, at home and when you are out?
#2 Be the kind of person you would like to come home to. You probably have a laundry list of things you'd like your husband to do and ways that he is not meeting your expectations. But when you greet your husband at the end of a work day or first thing in the morning, throw in a little of Jesus instruction, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This word applies not only outside our home, but in them, too, with our closest neighbors, family.
Give yourself a check-up: Are you the kind of person you would want to come home to? Do you regularly nag, belittle, and criticize? Or do you habitually embrace, encourage, and build up?
We cannot control or change our spouse behavior, but the Lord calls us to live righteously regardless of how others treat us (or our perception of how poorly we're being treated). Looking to our Savior reminds us that He calls us to nothing more that what He gave, did, and does for us. He will also help and strengthen us to choose our spouse above our self.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
Now, you won't need to die on a cross, but sometimes not getting our way can sure feel like dying! And let me add one more thing: God sees. He sees you striving toward righteousness and the Bible says He will greet you at the gates of heaven with, Well done good and faithful servant! If you keep reading there in Philippians 2, you'll learn about God's reward to Christ for taking sin upon His shoulders and obeying to the end. God sees and He is near. Don't you forget it!
Give these two simple marriage-strengthening practices a go. May 2016 be a year of less finger pointing and more "love one another". I am confident it will make a difference in your marriage, in your heart, and in your relationship with the Lord in this new year!