By Linda Gilden, Crosswalk.com
“It was right for woman to be made from a rib of man. First to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should neither use authority over man, and so she was not made from his head; nor was it right for her to be subject to man’s contempt as his slave, and so she was not made from his feet... ”
Thomas Aquinas understood the equality of partners in marriage and that both husband and wife should contribute equally to build a strong and lasting relationship.
There are probably as many different ways to have an extraordinary marriage as there are marriages in our country. But one thing we know for sure is God made man and then made him a helper. We know that God’s creation of man and woman to be together in marriage is sacred.
Genesis 2:18 says, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
It takes a lot of work to have a successful marriage, and you can’t have an extraordinary marriage without the contribution and commitment of both husband and wife.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Frank Mckenna
1. Choose Wisely
When choosing a mate, make sure your choice is God’s choice. He has admonished us to choose a mate who is a believer. If you choose someone who is not a believer and become yoked with an unbeliever, it could be difficult to maintain peace in your home, or maintain your commitment to your relationship with God.
How can one who is striving for righteousness in his or her life live in harmony with someone who doesn’t have the same goal? Choose wisely.
Even if you feel a strong attraction to someone who is not a believer and have to make a painful decision to discontinue the relationship, God will honor your efforts to choose wisely and find His choice for your mate. In this important life decision, you want to make sure your choice is part of God’s plan for your life.
Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, said, “You will never make a more important decision than the person you marry.”
2. Date Your Mate
Continue date nights, especially after you are married.
No matter how busy you become with good things, what could be better than getting all dressed up for a “date” with your mate? It could be as simple as a trip to the grocery store without the kids, a picnic by the lake where you talk until the sun sets, or as elaborate as a fancy dinner and movie afterward.
You may have to “steal” a few minutes after the children are in bed or ask Grandma and Grandpa to baby sit for a few hours. Just don’t neglect keeping a spark in your relationship. It takes work but the rewards are great.
Photo Credit ©GettyImages/PeopleImages
3. Identify Your Personalities
Understand your spouse’s personality. Many assessments are available that can help you identify your personalities. This is a valuable tool for couples to use to encourage and support one another. The LINKED Personality System is a user-friendly way to quickly understand the differences in personalities.
For example, if you find out that your spouse is a mobilizer personality who loves to get jobs accomplished quickly and without any fun or fanfare, it would be a mistake to try to make every chore into a game everyone could participate in.
A socializer personality, however, would love this approach. Likewise, if your spouse is an organizer personality who needs everything to be in its place, you shouldn’t try to impose your stabilizer’s personality trait of procrastination on him or her.
Understanding the personality of your spouse allows you to interact with him or her in the most effective way whether in conversation, playing a game, doing housework, or yardwork.
4. Creative “I Love You’s”
Understanding the personality of your spouse helps you know the preferred love language. Discovering the best way to convey your love to your spouse gives you one more opportunity to say “I love you” in new and exciting ways.
According to Gary Chapman in his book the Five Love Languages, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch are the best ways to communicate love and support to your mate. But each personality has their preferred love language.
Knowing how your spouse best receives communication makes misunderstandings rare.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/freestocksorg
5. Support Your Mate
Once you choose a mate, allow your mate to continue growing into the man or woman God created him to be. The biggest thing he or she can do is realize God has made their spouse unique. Providing support and doing everything you can to help your mate realize his or her dreams and grow into the man or woman God intended is the best gift you can give your mate.
You and your mate may like to do different things. And there is nothing wrong with encouraging him or her to go fishing every once in a while or for her to go to lunch and shopping with her friends. Just don’t let those things take over all the opportunities you may have for date time!
6. Don’t Stay Angry
When you and your spouse have a disagreement, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just ignore each other until bedtime, then go to sleep, hoping the incident will be forgotten in the morning. However, you never know what might happen during the night and going to bed angry is not a good idea.
Clear the air by discussing what you disagree on so you can start with a clean slate in the morning. Let “I love you” be the last words you hear each night before you go to sleep.
Photo Credit: ©MoMo Productions
7. Forgive and Forget
Ephesians 4:31-32; “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Kindness is something we think we owe to other people but sometimes we forget that we should extend kindness to those in our households as well. In a marriage, being kind about even the little things means a lot.
Gentlemen, don’t forget your manners and treat your wife as your queen. Ladies, remember his home is his castle and deserves to be respected.
Going out of your way to do something small to encourage your husband or wife, bring a smile to their face, make their day special will fill both your hearts with affection and praise to God for bringing the two of you together. Kindness is the salve the opens both of you up to being tenderhearted.
8. Be United
If you have children remember to present a united front. Recent statistics tell us 57 percent of married households are childless. But for the remaining 43 percent, both parents must stand together, united in making the family rules and upholding them.
However, never forget you had a spouse before your children, and that relationship needs to continue to grow.
Being united also extends to the matters that you stand for as a couple. Though you may differ in gifts and opinions, extraordinary marriages are the ones that God uses as a united front for his purposes and glory. Evaluate what the two of you value most and where your gifts align, and then go after your particular ministry wholeheartedly, together in spirit.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/David Nunez
9. Pray for Your Spouse
Pray for your spouse. You are part of your spouse becoming who God intended him to be. Pray for each other that you will put God first in your life and depend on Him to show you the way in all situations.
Pray God’s Word over each other that your relationships with Him will continue to grow and that you will live lives filled with love for Him and integrity. If you have children pray that your children will walk closely with God and see God at work in your lives. God tells us that we will be blessed if we fear the Lord, and greatly delight in His commandments (Psalm 112:1).
Knowing that someone who loves you is praying for you each day and lifting your needs up to the Father gives you and your spouse assurance that you are not walking alone throughout the day.
Every marriage is unique and lots of books of ideas how to make your marriage extraordinary. The list above is not definitive. Look at the things that are working for you and continue doing them. Find one or two new things you can put into practice to take your marriage to the next level.
Is there something you can do to improve what you bring to the marriage relationship?
As long as both you and your spouse are giving 110 percent to your marriage, you will be able to agree with the psalmist who said in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant is it to live together in unity."
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/dragana991