There is a business in our area which which probably won’t be around very long. It started well. The owner invested a great deal of money into the building and its facilities. He seemed to spare no expense in what he purchased in order to begin this business. However, once he made the initial investment, he apparently put very little time or energy into maintenance or staffing. There is regular staff turnover. One frequently sees signs on various pieces of equipment, indicating that the equipment is not working. In some instances, these signs remain for months. This business seems to suffer from neglect.
Marriages are often like this. Some will make a tremendous initial investment but then neglect the relationship over time.
I want to suggest 13 ways to invest in the life, health, and vitality of your marriage:
1. Be intentional. Choose to build a marriage that allows each of you the opportunity to look forward to coming home in the evenings.
2. Catch him/her doing something right and affirm this. Validate one another in the things that are good and right.
3. Learn to be honest but be gracious when doing so. Some people will justify most anything that comes out of their mouth in the name of “just being honest.” Use honesty to build and heal, not to cut, put down, and destroy.
4. Deliberately choose to do something to bless him/her whether your spouse notices or not. Ideally, of course both spouses are choosing to do this. However, it is good and right to bless a spouse regardless of the response. It is an investment.
5. Pay attention to what seems to irritate your spouse. It is easy to dismiss your spouse’s complaint about an irritating behavior because it doesn’t both you. Yet, for you to know that the behavior is irritating, and yet continue to do this, may feel very disrespectful to your spouse.
6. Be a real friend to your spouse. Have you ever known people who invested so much in their friendships with others and then took their spouse for granted? Build your friendship with your spouse. Ask yourself, “What am I doing in this relationship that I would never say or do to one of my other friends?”
7. Pray for your marriage. Ok, this may seem like a no-brainer. Yet, there are many people who rarely pray about their marriage or concerning their spouse. If you are not praying for your marriage, you are robbing yourself and your spouse of such a great resource.
8. Find your life in Jesus. He is the true life-giver. Far too many people take their empty lives into their marriages and then expect their spouse to satisfy in ways that are above and beyond what any human being can do.
9. Build your spouse up. Don’t tear him down. Imagine buying a new car and then using a sledge hammer on it before you drive away each morning. We do ourselves no favor when we put down, insult, and belittle our spouses. Look for ways to validate your spouse.
10. Invest in the spiritual life of your spouse. Yes, I realize that you may be in a situation where your spouse may have no interest in the ways and teachings of Jesus. However, if you married a Christ-follower, be intentional about growing together as a couple.
11. Pay attention to your spouse. Simple affection starts with being attentive. By the way, this is one of the greatest investments in your sexual relationship. Attentiveness and affection throughout the day create the atmosphere for a wonderful sexual relationship. This is one reason why couples who are married for a long time, who are growing in their attentiveness and affection, will find increasing enjoyment and pleasure in their sexual relationship.
12. Take care of your heart, mind, and body. Yes, you do this as a steward of what God has given you. However, you also can bless your marriage when you take care of yourself in these areas.
13. Invest in fun. Fun doesn’t have to be extravagant. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Nor does fun mean that you have to entertain your spouse. Fun does mean that you look for ways to relax and enjoy. You cherish opportunities to laugh. You deliberately choose to do the simple things that you both enjoy.
What else would you add to this list? What have you found helpful?