Isaura and I were discussing topics for my next article this morning. “What should I write about?” I asked. She thought for a moment and then said, “Why not write about marriage and the things to do to keep it healthy?” Sounded good to me.
This coming weekend Isaura and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on marriage, but I have learned a few things over the years. Allow me to address some of these in the remainder of this article. Admittedly, this is from a man’s perspective. So gentlemen, listen up.
First: Whatever you did when you were dating, keep doing it. These are the little things that act as cement in your relationship. These are the acts of kindness and consideration that caught her eye. It may be such things as: Opening the car door for your wife; Seating her at the dinner table; Helping clean up the dinner dishes; Smiling at her when she walks into the room; Sending her a card, flowers or candy just because; Remembering special days and times together; Washing her car; Splashing on a little after shave occasionally; Calling her just to say “hi.”
Second: Treat her with honor and respect. In many marriages, once the ring goes on the finger, the woman often feels like hired help, only without the pay. When this happens, your marriage is in trouble. The Bible says she is your “helpmeet.” This means she completes you as the man. She is there to help you, and you her, on the road of life. Focus on the word “help.” Never, ever speak poorly of her to anyone. If you do, you disrespect /dishonor her and yourself. “How do I disrespect/dishonor myself?” you may ask. Simple. You are the one who chose to marry her, and possibly have children with her. To speak ill of her is to point the finger back at yourself. This is why God says in Genesis, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” “One flesh” carries with it the idea that you are no longer two separate people. You join forces to forge a family. This can only happen when there is a commitment to one another.
Third: Your commitment to her must be absolute. For any relationship to survive, it must be built on trust. This begins with assuring her that though there are countless numbers of other women in the world, she alone is the one for you. So when you are out in public, keep your eyes on your wife. Allowing your eyes to roam is hurtful to your wife. She feels demeaned and insecure in the relationship. These are what I call termites in the marriage. If you allow them to live on, they will eventually bring the house down – in this case, the destruction of your marriage. Do not allow yourself to engage in any sort of pornography. Slick, professional looking magazines with innocent looking centerfolds, are an insult to your wife. Most likely your wife never looked that good in the first place. Even if she did, after a couple of kids and working to maintain a home, and possibly a career, she’s probably struggling to simply lose a few pounds, let alone compete with twenty-year-old pin-ups. Avoid movies that titillate your sexual interests. Despite what pop psychologists say, this is not healthy for a marriage relationship. And guys, stay off the porn on the internet. Period. It will diminish your interest in your wife. She deserves better.
Fourth: Love your wife completely. Paul’s words on love in I Corinthians 13 says it better than anyone else. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
When I counsel couples who want to get married, I’ll ask them how much they’re planning to spend on their wedding. Nowadays, that can be anywhere from $5000-$20,000 and more. So I say to them, “You’re going to spend X number of dollars on your wedding – a one day event. Fine! Now, take an equal amount of money and put it into a ‘Marriage Maintenance Account.’” My rational is this: You’re willing to spend a significant amount of money to launch your marriage. It seems reasonable to spend an equal amount on that marriage over the next fifteen to twenty years and beyond by attending marriage workshops and retreats, weekends together (just the two of you!), books and tapes on ways to build and improve your marriage, and so forth. Plan for the long haul!
So, let me ask you: How are you maintaining your marriage? I know you perform regular maintenance on your car to be sure it works as it should. Do the same with your marriage. If you follow these suggestions you will enjoy a healthy relationship. And remember this – God is the author and creator of marriage. Make sure you place him in the middle of your marriage.