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I'm thrilled to have my friend Penelope share a post with you today! I'll let her get to it...
I'm a big believer that a good marriage is the foundation of a strong family, and that a couple that has a healthy marriage will have happier lives. I write about happy marriage tips on my site Penelope's Oasis, and am also a proponent of a covenant marriage, which has as its basic premise that marriage is a beautiful union between two people that should be respected by both, worked on, and held in high esteem. Every marriage goes through seasons of change, periods of hardship, but if you are Christian and married a great person, you probably want your marriage to weather the storms and last forever. Here are four tips for Christian Marriages that I hope you appreciate and enjoy:
The foundation of a good Christian Marriage
1. God is the center of the marriage, and the center of the family If you, your desire for nicer things, your friends, your job, or anything else come first, your family and marriage will suffer for it. If you are a family the remembers God, prays together, strives to be better people together, this alone will motivate you to always want to keep your marriage and family intact, and when you are already following Christian teachings (fasting, praying, tithing, etc) you automatically understand the concept of compromise and sacrifice that is often necessary in making a marriage work for a lifetime.
2. You put your marriage first You are not just you anymore. When you became married, you and your husband became one, and your life goals and plans must be made together. When you make plans without each other, don't consult each other for major life decisions, or put other things first (like your parents, your job, your needy best friend), you are tearing asunder something that God has joined (and no one, including you, has the right to do this). When you allow others to come between you, to turn one of you against the other, or worst of all, to make you prefer them over your spouse, you are committing a serious sin (and in essence, hurting yourself). This is a very challenging idea, because many of us have a hard time disappointing our parents or a boss for our spouse, but just as it's often hard to put God first when life becomes hectic, we still have to, and we have to put our spouse before others too.
3. Follow Scripture and trust in God Even if your spouse seems to be doing their own thing. If you married a man that doesn't do things the way you like, sometimes this is a great way to grow as a Christian. We can't change people, we can only inspire them. One of the most important characteristics of a Christian wife is patience, and if you find your husband is doing things that make your head scratch, it's a great opportunity to grow closer to God by simply accepting your husband's quirks, and praying. He may be doing the right things, but getting to the same destination via an unusual road, or he may have to go through some fine-tuning with God on his own, but by being a supportive and loving wife who prays for her husband and wants the best for him, it often inspires a man to get there, faster, and he'll probably be a better man and husband because of his travels and challenges. When you don't understand what your husband it doing, just respect him (as Scripture says to) and trust God. It's incredible how things work out when you do.
4. Honor your marriage Today it's especially hard to prevent outside influences from assailing the marriage bond. From a society that doesn't really respect the concept of marriage, to individuals who may actively seek to break you up, and a media that is filled with unbiblical ideas about sex and marriage, it is not only often hard to honor your marriage, you are sometimes even mocked for it. Those who are divorced or live together are especially not understanding of couples who have rules about what is considered appropriate contact with members of the opposite sex, or what is ok to do while married. While of course you wouldn't want to judge others (unless you've been in their shoes, you don't know why they made the choices they've made), this doesn't mean you should lower your standards or look to appease others with different opinions at the expense of honoring your marriage to the highest degree. Your friends may think it's ridiculous that you won't "innocently" flirt with men, or your boss may be annoyed that you aren't a "team player" because you won't stay after work for happy hour with your co-workers, but you don't want a marriage like everyone else has, so you can't be a wife like everyone else is. If you want a marriage that is truly beautiful, and a spouse that honors you, you have to maintain standards that keep it there, no matter what.
What do you think is important for a strong marriage? If you have tips to share, I'd love to hear them, or hear feedback on the ideas I shared.