Today, I wanted to share an article that I found on About.com by Mary Fairchild called "5 Steps to Building Your Christian Marriage". It's an interesting article with lots of good points--though I will be the first to admit that J and I don't do everything on the list! I wish that we did...
Step 1: Pray Together.
My husband and I have found that first thing in the morning is the best time for us. We ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit and give us strength for the day ahead. It brings us closer together as we care for each other every day. We think about what the day ahead holds for our partner. Our loving affection goes beyond the physical realm to the emotional and spiritual realm. This develops true intimacy with each other and with God.
Perhaps a better time for you as a couple might be just before you go to bed each night. It's impossible to fall asleep angry when you've just held hands together in God's presence.
Step 2: Read Together.
This might also be described as a time of devotions. About five years ago my husband and I began setting aside time each weekday morning to read the Bible and pray together -- a couple's devotional time. We read to each other, either from the Bible or from a devotional book, and then we spend a few minutes in prayer together.
We've had to commit to rising from sleep about 30 minutes earlier in order to do this, but it's been a wonderful, intimate time of strengthening our marriage. It took 2 1/2 years, but what a sense of accomplishment we felt when we realized we had read through the entire Bible together!
Step 3: Make Decisions Together.
I'm not talking about deciding on what to eat for dinner. Major decisions, like financial ones, are best decided as a couple. One of the greatest areas of strain in a marriage is the sphere of finances. As a couple you should discuss your finances on a regular basis, even if one of you is better at handling the practical aspects, like paying the bills and balancing the check book. Keeping secrets about spending will drive a wedge between a couple faster than anything.
If you agree to come to mutual decisions on how the finances are handled, this will strengthen trust between you and your partner. Also, you won't be able to keep secrets from each other if you commit to making all important family decisions together. This is one of the best ways to develop trust as a couple.
Step 4: Attend Church Together.Find a place of worship where you and your spouse will not only attend together, but enjoy areas of mutual interest, such as serving in a ministry and making Christian friends together. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25, that one of the best ways we can stir up love and encourage good deeds is by remaining faithful to the Body of Christ by meeting together regularly as believers.
Step 5: Continue Dating.
Once married, couples often neglect the area of romance, especially after the kids come along. Continuing a dating life may take some strategic planning on your part as a couple, but it is vital to maintaining a secure and intimate marriage. Keeping the romance alive will also be a bold testimony to the strength of your Christian marriage.
These 5 steps require real, committed effort on your part. Falling in love may have seemed effortless, but keeping your Christian marriage strong will take ongoing work. The good news is—building a healthy marriage is not all that complicated or difficult if you're determined to follow a few basic principles.