Twelve Steps to a Healthy Marriage

Guidelines for a Healthy God-Centered Union

These twelve steps are principles found in the Word of God. We have put them together to help the believer in Jesus Christ maintain godly relationships with their spouse. However, since these are God’s principles they will also work for anyone who applies them to their relationship. We have found over the years that godly principles work for everyone when put into practice. While it is impossible to put the first one into play if you do not have a personal relationship with Christ, the rest can still be profitable for you. Here are the first six:

A. God Must Be First In All Things. (Matthew 6:33-34) We need to remember that it is not about ourselves. It really is all about Jesus. We must be like John the Baptist when he said in John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease”. Obedience to God’s Word is not a suggestion by the Heavenly Father. It is a must for us as His children. If we put this into practice the rest of these guidelines will fall into place and be much easier for us to tend to them.

B. Proper Communication Is An Absolute Must. We all communicate. The question is do we communicate in the correct ways? Here is a short list for getting started in the proper methods of communication.

  1. Hold a weekly husband/wife meeting to discuss the plans for the coming week. Sunday afternoon or evening would be a good time to lay this out. It would not be a bad thing to lay out the details of the following week as well. This will help to eliminate surprises as you keep current. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
  2. Always be honest. Do not cloud over the issues. Deal with them in an honest and straightforward manner. Lies, half-truths, or manipulation tactics do not add trust in a relationship. Always speak the truth but do it in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
  3. Do not use words that tear down or attack the other.(Ephesians 4:29-30) When we use words to tear down our spouse, we are not addressing the problem/conflict. We are sidestepping the issue and the conflict continues and escalates. Use words that build-up and attack the conflict head-on. In this process use words that are timely and that will help to solve the problem. You are after a solution not an argument.
  4. Stop and think. Do not respond in a hasty or reactive manner. Instead, stop and think through the situation so that you can respond reasonably to the situation. We must acquire the ability to replace sinful responses with godly responses. Be very compassionate, gentle and kind. Remember Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stirs up anger.
  5.  Never threaten retaliation of any sort. Never say “I want a divorce.” “I want out”. or “I should have never married you.” These kinds of statements are emotional abuse and must not come forth from our mouths. This is manipulation and should not be used under any circumstance. Never give an “either or” threat.

C. Admit Fault and Humbly Apologize. A marriage can’t survive without grace. Whenever you are disrespectful or deceitful to your spouse, admit fault and humbly apologize. We must be willing to own our wrongdoing. When you’ve been wronged, sincerely offer forgiveness. Do not hold on to what has been clearly confessed and forgiven.  (Ephesians 4:30-32)

D. Trust Is Key to a Happy Marriage Relationship. Trust is easily lost and hard to win back. One lie or broken promise can destroy a lifetime of trust. Be men and women of integrity. Here are a few things for consideration:

  1. Be true to your word. If you say you are going to do something, follow through. We tend to make promises very quickly in order to avoid a heated discussion. Better to follow the communication guidelines above to discuss what we are going to do than to make a quick promise and not follow through with it. Discuss what is going to happen during the weekly marriage meetings and we can have civil accountability to our spouses.
  2. Do not keep company with people of the opposite sex. Do not get overly chummy with co-workers, neighbors or friends where you spend time alone with them. This puts you in a very vulnerable situation. Do not unload all your problems and emotions to one of the opposite sex. If you need to share then share with your own spouse. In this way you will understand each other’s needs more fully. I cannot stress this one enough. Your spouse will not trust you if you are hanging out with the opposite sex, regardless of how innocent you think it is.

E.  Let Go of the Past. The past is the past and once dealt with it is forgiven and forgotten, in the sense that it is never brought up again. The present has enough problems without constantly reliving the past. Being anxious about the future or the past is a waste of productive time. (Matthew 6:33-34)

F. Do Not Read Between the Lines. Whenever we read into what someone has said we are judging their motives. While we may think we know why and what they are really saying it is only guess work. Take what is said and believe it. At least until it is proven otherwise. Only the person who says it, can truly know their motive for saying it. God, of course, knows and sees it all but we are not God. Do not put words into the mouth of someone else.

Stayed tuned for the last six of the Twelve Steps to a Healthy Marriage. Don’t forget to share, tweet, like or email this to your friends. Please leave comments. We would like to hear your responses.

Part 2 Twelve Steps to a Healthy Marriage

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