Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Tony and Lauren Dungy’s new book Uncommon Marriage: Learning about Lasting Love and Overcoming Life’s Obstacles Together (Tyndale House Publishers, 2014).
While it’s a significant accomplishment just to stay married in American culture (where more than half of all marriages end in divorce), it’s even better to build a marriage that keeps growing stronger over time. That’s what God hopes you and your spouse will do. You can do much more than simply try to hang onto your marriage; with God’s help, you and your spouse can grow closer to him and each other every new day of your lives together.
Here are 14 ways to build a lasting marriage:
Trust God to lead you well into an unknown future. You and your husband or wife can’t possibly know what future circumstances you all will encounter during your lives together – but God knows. No matter what happens to you all in the future – good or bad – place your trust fully in God to guide you through it well. Every day, ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, so you’ll both know how best to deal with each situation you encounter.
Surround yourselves with a strong support network. Develop close relationships with friends and family who also trust God, and support each other in ways that strengthen each other’s marriages: prayer, encouragement, accountability, and practical help when needed. Participate in a healthy local church together and build close relationships there, as well.
Keep communication lines open at all times. Make sure that you and your spouse are communicating honestly and openly about the decisions that each of you face on a regular basis. Don’t surprise your spouse by deciding something that affects both of you without first discussing it together. Check in with each other for regular conversations to stay in sync with each other.
Respond with love and respect when you disagree. Whenever you and your spouse disagree about something – which will happen sometimes, since you’re different people with different points of view – focus on understanding each other’s perspectives rather than trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong. Listen to each other carefully and value each other’s opinions. Try to reach a mutual agreement. But if, after discussing the issue lovingly and respectfully, you all can’t agree on it, the husband should make the final decision according to what he thinks is best, keeping in mind that he should love his wife sacrificially, take her perspective seriously, and strive to meet her needs in the decision process.
Source: Crosswalk | Whitney Hopler