Let’s start out this post with a few indisputables. The divorce rate in America is between 40 and 50 percent. The divorce rate among African American couples is typically higher than other ethnic groups. Now, since African Americans make up a large percentage of church goers, it begs the question that if we’re such faithful members of the religious community, why are we failing to uphold one of its most sacred commitments?
I can’t speak for everyone or for every situation, but I’m confident that when a real relationship with God is present, it can do wonders to keep your marriage in tact and out of divorce court. Let’s take a moment and put the self help, positive thinking mantra on the shelf. Our best thinking can often get us in trouble, so I hope to encourage you to reach even higher.
When I was a college student, I made a decision to become a Christian. It sounds somewhat cavalier but at the time I made the decision, it was wholehearted and meant to be lifelong. Anyone who’s been there knows that the initial decision is just the beginning. Once life steps in, you get to make that decision over and over again.
As a follower of Christ, you must allow His teachings to permeate every decision you make. Is this the right job for me? Is this person the one God has sent for me to spend the rest of my life with? Who should I vote for? Even after seeking God’s guidance and waiting for His answer, life can still be challenging.
Now that I’m married, I can’t begin to explain how much my relationship with God has impacted my relationship with my spouse. But for the fact that we both meant it when we said “Jesus is Lord,” our marriage would have crashed and burned over some of the very high bumps in the road we’ve encountered during the course of our relationship.
So, how can a relationship with God save your relationship with your spouse? Here are two tried and true ways we hope make a difference in your marriage.
#1 Love God With All Your Heart
I really love my church. I am spiritually led and fed by some of the most amazing people I know. But when I’m not at church, it’s just God and me. If I don’t make the effort to build a real relationship with Him, then it won’t matter how much I “Amen” at church. The first step to loving your spouse unconditionally is loving God unreservedly. Take the necessary time build your spiritual muscle each day by studying your Bible for yourself. Don’t just bank on what your Pastor says once a week.
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A strong healthy marriage requires solid food and living water in order to grow. Finding time to speak to God through prayer and to listen to God through Bible study is the best way to access that spiritual nourishment. As you grow in your walk with God, your love for Him will grow. As your love for God grows, so does your humility. When humility with God is present, then humility with your spouse isn’t far behind.
#2 Love Your Spouse as Much as You Love Yourself
Once you’ve made a decision to wholeheartedly devote yourself to God, then loving your spouse becomes 100 times easier. When pride shows up, humility enters the room. When selfishness rears its ugly head, self denial makes itself available. When criticism wants to have its say, grace shows up and shows out. Now, instead of looking at your spouse through your tainted lens, you see them the way God sees you. This makes you treat them the way God has already treated you, with unconditional love.
I get that this all sounds somewhat pie-in-the-sky-ish. But marriages that last a lifetime know that the “golden rule” has the magic touch. Unless you are willing to love your spouse as much as you love yourself, kiss your relationship goodbye. Also, notice I didn’t say “more” than you love yourself. You can’t really love someone else if you don’t know how to love yourself first. If you don’t neglect your heart, mind, and spirit then you will be able to truly give to someone else.
These two things may or may not be easy for you. One thing is certain, they work. Jesus says that all the commandments fall under these two principles. So, if they’re good enough for the Jesus, they’re good enough for me.
BMWK, how’s your relationship with God helping your marriage?