10 Intentionals to Build Your Marriage (especially when considering divorce)
When it comes to the topic of how to make decisions you can live with when it comes to high stake relationships, divorce is a powerful illustration. I pray that you’re not at that place, but if you are, consider the following ten intentionals. If practiced over the next 30 days, with a lot of prayer, they will bring change to your relationship. It may not change the heart of the other person, but it will change your life no matter how your spouse responds.
So, if you’re wrestling with the idea of getting out of your marriage, please do something for yourself, for your marriage and for your family. Before you decide to divorce, try these ten things to help you build an intentional marriage.
For the next 30 days:
- Encourage instead of criticize.Criticism is the number one indicator that a marriage is in trouble. Make a decision and refuse to criticize your spouse for the next 30 days. “I am not going to criticize my spouse; and instead, encourage them.” At least once or twice every day, speak a word of encouragement to your spouse.
- Forgive instead of keeping a record of wrongs.Love is not a recordkeeper of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). Forgiveness is tough, and maybe you really have been wronged. Forgiveness doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences, clear expectations or accountability. But we are to forgive one another just as God through Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). When we think of all that we’ve been forgiven for, it makes it a little bit easier to forgive.
- Show affection instead of keeping your distance.Affection is the number one need in a woman’s life. That doesn’t mean sex, guys, necessarily. Affection means that you’re connecting with your spouse, affecting them in a way that causes them to feel more intimate or close to you. It can be through the words that we speak and through the actions we take.
- Solve problems together, instead of nitpicking each other.When there’s a problem to be solved, instead of blaming and nitpicking, jump in and solve the problem together. Solving problems together creates closeness. You may experience tension or disagreement, but then intimacy usually occurs.
- Cooperate instead of compete.A competitive marriage means someone must win and someone has to lose. In a marriage, there are no winners when someone is a loser. It’s vital to find one thing both of you can agree on, and then cooperate.
- Seek spiritual peace, instead of spiritual warfare.God has called us to have peace in our marriages, in our relationship with Christ and in who we are in Christ. If you have a spouse that’s not a believer, you’re concerned for them; you love them and you want the best for them. If you find yourself battling over spiritual things, pray for your spouse, back off, put them in God’s hands, love them and make them a priority in your life.
- Seek first understanding of your spouse, instead of first needing to be understood.Don’t think only of your own interest but also the interest of others (Philippians 2:4). For the next 30 days, try to understand your spouse, listen carefully to them instead of making statements and ask them open-ended questions. Questions like, “Tell me more about that,” “Why is that important to you?” “How does that make you feel?” or “How can I pray with you about that?” When you connect with your spouse and try to understand them, it’s powerful.
- Create shared goals instead of competing goals.You should have individual goals; growing is important. But, when one individual in a marriage starts to grow and the other one doesn’t, it creates a tension in the relationship. The Bible asks,
“How can two walk together unless they be in agreement (Amos 3:3)?” So, sit down with your spouse and talk some goals the two of you want to set. You may disagree, but can you come to agreement and create some shared goals, because a competitive marriage is headed towards divorce or mediocrity.
- Show respect instead of disrespect.It’s powerful to feel respected, especially for men.
- Show active love instead of passive tolerance.Study 1st Corinthians 13, which makes it clear that love is patient, kind and long-suffering; it doesn’t keep record of wrong … and there is a whole list of practical things there you can draw from to take active steps toward loving your spouse.
Divorce is a life-changing decision. Click here to read Five Questions to Ask when Thinking about Divorce.