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Building a Lasting Marriage

“A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery…”

Ephesians 5:31-32

The foundation of a spiritually healthy home is a spiritually healthy marriage. As great as that might sound, why does that seem so hard to achieve in our culture today? What does it mean to have a spiritually healthy marriage? Is something like this even realistic?

A friend of mine once said, “Marriages are like cars, we always want them to work but often don’t want to be the ones to work on them.”

For whatever reason that has always stuck with me. It makes sense, I mean of course we want our marriages to work. But am I honestly doing everything called of me as a follower of Jesus and husband to be constantly working on my marriage?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the divorce rate in the United States was 3.2 per 1,000 population in 2021. This means that approximately 827,261 divorces were recorded in 2021, with the total number of divorces since 2000 topping 8.3 million. We are all probably familiar with the famous statistic that says “50% of marriages end in divorce.” While that is pretty accurate with The American Psychological Association citing that 40-50% of first-time marriages do in fact end in divorce the question that I have always wrestled with is, Why?

Every divorce has its own story but I do wonder how many divorces could have been avoided if each person took the meaning of marriage as it was always intended to be. Tim Keller in his book The Meaning of Marriage describes it this way,

“There is no relationship greater or more important than marriage. Next to our relationship with God, marriage is the most profound relationship there is. That is why, like knowing God himself, coming to know and love your spouse is difficult and painful yet rewarding and wondrous. The most painful, the most wonderful - this is the biblical understanding of marriage, and there has never been a more important time to lift it up and give it prominence in our culture.”

My wife Charisse and I just recently celebrated our 11-year wedding anniversary. She’s amazing and truly has helped me become better in every way since being with her. That doesn’t change the fact that there are times when I honestly don’t know what to do or how to “fix” the problems in our marriage. At times I feel overwhelmed and unprepared for the responsibility of leading and loving the way God has called me to. One of the phrases I use with couples when I officiate their weddings is, “Your wedding day, as great as it is, is just that, a day but it’s your marriage that is meant to last a lifetime.” So if lifetime is the goal, how do we do that? How do we build a marriage that lasts a lifetime?

  • One of those ways is to ENJOY each other

I know it sounds incredibly obvious but this is something that I think a lot of couples tend to struggle with. And I think this happens for several reasons but primarily because they stop prioritizing their marriage. Jobs become more important, kids become more important, or busy schedules become more important.

No matter what happens or how busy life gets.... your marriage is and will always be the single most important relationship that either one of you will ever be a part of. So always keep each other first no matter what and don’t let anything or anyone become more important than your marriage.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 in the Bible says, “Enjoy life with your wife whom you love all the days of your life which God has given you; for this is your reward.” So have fun together, laugh together, and always keep dating each other. And keep doing the things that you love doing with each other. Take joy in the little moments and never take those moments for granted.

  • Another way you can build a lasting marriage is to ENCOURAGE each other

And I actually think the longer that you’re married the more important encouragement is.

That’s why I have never been a big fan of the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” And maybe I’m just too sensitive or emotional but I believe words can hurt,

And those hurtful words especially hurt when they come from the people we love the most. So make sure you use your words carefully and lovingly with each other. Ephesians 4:29 says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

But encouragement doesn’t always come naturally to us and it doesn’t just happen on its own. We have to practice it, you have to find ways and some new ways to encourage each other. Because one of the most dangerous things that can happen in a marriage is when we let our expectations of our spouse replace our appreciation for our spouse.

  • And building a lasting marriage ultimately means learning to EMBRACE each other.

Because believe it or not when two imperfect people get married there will be an imperfect marriage.

Mistakes will be made. Arguments will happen. Laundry won’t always get folded. Dishes won’t always get done. Projects won’t always get completed. And the truth is marriage won’t always live up to what you thought it would be. Now I haven’t been married that long but I am learning a lot.

  • I’ve learned that there is a lot of truth to the saying “Happy wife.... Happy life.

  • I’ve learned that putting together furniture as a couple is not as fun as it sounds.

  • I’ve also learned that when my wife says she’ll be ready in 5 minutes she really means 15

But one of the things that we’ve both learned in our marriage is that marriage takes effort every day. It requires many things like commitment, honesty, trust, and forgiveness to name just a few. But when a couple learns to EMBRACE each other in and through every part of their marriage even the worst parts they truly are building a marriage that will last.

That’s why I love Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending his son Jesus Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” That’s just so incredible to me. That even at our absolute lowest moments in life God has already shown that he still loves us. And in your marriage, there will be low moments and in those moments we have to choose to have that same kind of love for each other.

I think the only way we can truly enjoy, encourage, and embrace each other in marriage is by following the best example of love in Jesus. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, by following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. This is the greatest picture of love that there has ever been. And my hope is that in marriage we will choose to follow His example of love and that we will choose to make Jesus the center of our marriages.

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