1. We have been married for almost 39 years. There is no magic formula. Much of marriage is about a committed friendship that a man and woman have with one another. Marriage may be more than simply a friendship but it is at least that. It is building a history of friendship together. It is so important that I treat her/him as I would treat a true friend.
2. Know that marriage requires forgiveness. Are there difficult and challenging situations? Of course. Such situations will mean that we will need to offer and receive almost daily forgiveness. As a Christ-follower, I can’t store up instances of my spouse’s failures, mistakes, and sins only to spread them out on the kitchen table for review every time I get angry and resentful. Before I focus on what my spouse has said or done, I might first consider what I have done in my life that put the Son of God on a cross.
3. Be committed to growing up. It is tough when a husband acts like a 12 year-old boy instead of a grown man. It is tough when one’s wife continues to behave, well into her 30s, as if the world centers around her. Husbands and wives are called to grow up and mature. Marriage is meant for grown-ups.
4. Deal with the baggage that you have. If you were hurt, abandoned, or abused as a child, no man can make up for what you experienced. No spouse can heal the hurt or make up for the insecurities that one experienced as a child. Such expectations put unrealistic pressure on a marriage.
5. In far too many marriages, one spouse is totally focused on himself. Pressure is put upon the other spouse to “make him happy.” One person cannot be responsible for filling up and completing another.
6. Do you want to have a better day or year? Don’t depend on your spouse to make that happen. Instead, take a few intentional steps to move toward becoming the kind of person that God has called you to be.
7. Passive men and women keep waiting for something to happen. Sitting in the recliner and waiting for a better life is an illusion. Move! Take a step! Do one thing you know would bless and bring joy to your spouse today.
8. Be a student of marriage. Men, start connecting with older, mature men who seem to have good marriages. Ask them what they have intentionally been doing to be good husbands. Make some notes. This is worth your energy!
9. You cannot control the behavior of your spouse. Nor, can you fix her. However, you can control your behavior. Consider your behaviors that drive her nuts or contribute to a fuss. Stop behaviors you know are dead-end streets.
10. Let God permeate the way you treat one another. A God-centered marriage is not something you merely attempt to project around fellow church members. The focus is yielding to God so that he shapes the way you speak to one another and the way you act as a married person on a continual basis.
11. Know that God will give you strength and power to be who you have been called to be as a married person.