As a pastor, I have the opportunity to do a lot of weddings. I get a front row seat to the excitement and the anticipation of a new life beginning together. I hear see the dreams they have for their future as husband and wife. I lead in the vows. I help guide them as they exchange rings. I listen as they say I do.
As a pastor, I have the opportunity to do a lot of marriage counseling. I get a front row seat as worn out voices describe to me how their marriage isn’t what they thought it would be. Some have been married 3 years; others 7 years; some 18 years. Their dreams didn’t come true. Their vision hasn’t been fulfilled. Their vows seem more like a distant memory than a promise they made.
Most of us that have been married for a while make a common mistake: We fail to do the things after we are married that caused us to want to be married in the first place. So I started to type out a few things I wish I could share with every newlywed couple. Then as I typed it, I realized this list could be applied to every marriage.
So if you are newly married or old and married like me, here are 3 things that make your marriage last and allow it to thrive.
1. Pursue each other. Life will distract you. It will get busy and stressful and when kids come into the picture it gets even more stressful. What brought you a desire to be married is your commitment to pursue each other. To talk together, to laugh together, to go out on dates, to prioritize each other. Don’t forget to do that when you are married. Love grows as we pursue our spouse.
2. Forgive Quickly: There is nothing that limits a marriage’s ability to grow than built up resentment. You will be tempted to hold a grudge. You will be tempted to get even by being bitter, but fight against that temptation. Resentment will try to follow you. Bitterness will try to camp out in your heart. There is something amazing that happens when grace is extended in a relationship…intimacy is restored. I want to encourage you to forgive quickly.
3. Be Patient with each other. Change is a process and not an event. There will be times that you will be so frustrated when the clothes are next to the hamper instead of in the hamper. There will be times when the check book isn’t balanced. You will want more than anything the power to change the other person. But the truth is you don’t have the capacity to change the other person…so be patient as God changes them. Be slow to anger. You will show your love for one another as you demonstrate patience.