How to Give your Marriage a Fighting Chance...

Recently, I ran across some sage advice for making marriage work. Honestly, as I read through this list of 25 Things, I have to admit, I was mostly looking for the ones that were unnecessary and I could cut out. I mean, who can remember 25 Things?

My problem was that I couldn't find anything to cut out. The bottom line is, marriage is complicated. Marriage is hard work. Marriage is totally counterintuitive to any two sinful, selfish, self-centered, self-willed people (That's all of us, by the way...yes, even you. Especially YOU!) From a purely secular, logical standpoint, this just doesn't work on paper. The math is all wrong. All it requires for success is for two selfish people to live selflessly together, putting the other selfish person ahead of ourself in the pecking order. No problem, right? More like no possibility.

But, we fail to add to the equation our God who specializes in making the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE. Turning the RIDICULOUS into the OBVIOUS. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in His crazy idea of marriage. 

With that in mind, I humbly submit to you this great advice from Dave Willis:

If you’ll apply these 25 principles below to your relationship, it could make a life-changing difference in your marriage!
  1.  Choose to love each other even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Love is a commitment, not a feeling.
  2.  Always answer the phone when your husband/wife is calling, and when possible, try to keep your phone off when you’re together with your spouse.
  3.  Make time together a priority. Budget for a consistent date night. Time is the “currency of relationships,” so consistently invest time into your marriage.
  4.  Surround yourself with friends who will strengthen your marriage, and remove yourself from people who may tempt you to compromise your character.
  5.  Make laughter the soundtrack of your marriage. Share moments of joy, and even in the hard times, find reasons to laugh.
  6.  In every argument, remember that there won’t be a “winner” and a “loser.” You are partners in everything so you’ll either win together or lose together. Work together to find a solution.
  7.  Remember that a strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It’s usually a husband and wife taking turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak. 
  8.  Prioritize what happens in the bedroom. It takes more than sex to build a strong marriage, but it’s nearly impossible to build a strong marriage without it!
  9.  Remember that marriage isn’t 50-50, divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It’s not splitting everything in half, but both partners giving everything they’ve got!
  10.  Give your best to each other, not your leftovers after you’ve given your best to everyone else.
  11.  Learn from other people, but don’t feel the need to compare your life or your marriage to anyone else’s. God’s plan for your life is masterfully unique!
  12.  Don’t put your marriage on hold while you’re raising your kids or else you’ll end up with an empty nest and an empty marriage.
  13.  Never keep secrets from each other. Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy.
  14.  Never lie to each other. Lies break trust, and trust is the foundation of a strong marriage.
  15.  When you’ve made a mistake, admit it and humbly seek forgiveness. You should be quick to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” 
  16.  When your husband/wife breaks your trust, give them your forgiveness instantly, which will promote healing and create the opportunity for trust to be rebuilt. You should be quick to say, “I love you. I forgive you. Let’s move forward.”
  17.  Be patient with each other. Your spouse is always more important than your schedule.
  18.  Model the kind of marriage that will make your sons want to grow up to be good husbands and your daughters want to grow up to be good wives.
  19.  Be your spouse’s biggest encourager, not his/her biggest critic. Be the one who wipes away their tears, not the one who causes them.
  20.  Never talk badly about your spouse to other people or vent about them online. Protect your spouse at all times and in all places.
  21.  Always wear your wedding ring. It will remind you that you’re always connected to your spouse and it will remind the rest of the world that you’re off limits!
  22.  Connect into a community of faith. A good church can make a world of difference in your marriage and family.
  23.  Pray together. Every marriage is stronger with God in the middle of it.
  24.  When you have to choose between saying nothing or saying something mean to your spouse, say nothing every time!
  25.  Never consider divorce as an option. Remember that a “perfect marriage” is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other!
25 Things? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Why? Because marriage is serious business. It's not just my serious business. It's serious business to God. Heck, it's God's business for crying out loud.  My relationship with my wife is not just a legal matter. It is so much more. It is a relational matter. It is a key indicator of my emotional health and well-being. It says more about my spiritual health than my church attendance. Next to my relationship with Christ, it says more about who I really am than anything I do in this life and it effects the lives of more people than any of us ever allow ourselves to realize. Why 25 Things? Because this marriage thing is a BIG FREAKIN'DEAL!!!!!

I am fully aware that being married to me is no walk in the park. Fortunately, even when I've not been so great at some of these 25 Things, I've been blessed with a wife that is amazing and has picked up the slack. And, maybe, a few times I've picked up her slack. (I doubt it, but it sounded good.)

I dare you to be a 25 Things Man or a 25 Things Woman. You ask, "Even when my spouse isn't?" Simple answer: "Especially when your spouse isn't!"