3 Keys to strong marriage

Key #1 

There’s so much to say about marriage, and I’m not an expert — but I’ve learned some things over time, and I’ve counseled a lot of marriages. I’ve found out that just because a couple says “I do” there’s no lifetime guarantee of joy and happiness. Here’s one key that helps you build a strong marriage:

Key #1 is: Put Your Spouse First. The main cause of marital discord or divorce is selfishness – thinking of yourself before your spouse. It sounds simplistic, but real love is putting the other person first. That means you’ll have to work at understanding your spouse and give real effort to meeting their needs. 

Have you noticed that men and women are very different from each other? I am convinced that most women don’t understand what makes men tick, and vice versa. A huge key to putting your spouse first is knowing what they need. They aren’t like you – their needs are different from yours! Here are the top needs – I recommend reading and studying more about them. One great book is “His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard F. Harley Jr. 

A man’s top for our needs are:

1) Honor / Respect. When a husband feels disrespected, it’s hard for him to love his wife, and he reacts in ways that feel unloving to his wife.

2) Sex. Wives might think, “why does he need so much sex?” Because he does! Wise is the wife who seeks to meet that need. 

3) Recreation / Fun. Men like to play/recreate with their wives. Find things you like to do together. 

4) Domestic Support. A man’s home should be his castle, his place of peace.

A woman’s top needs are:

1) Security – both emotional and environmental. When a woman feels unsafe, it’s hard for her to honor and respect her husband, then she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. 

2) Non-sexual Affection. Things like holding hands and loving touches that don’t lead to sex. 

3) Open Communication. Women need their husband’s words and feelings! They need to connect. 

4) Spiritual Leadership. They truly want a man to be the spiritual head of the family.

Seek to learn these things. When you put your spouse first and meet their needs (instead of demanding that your own be met), you are well on your way to a strong, happy marriage that is heaven on earth. 

Key #2

Look to God’s Word. The Bible is how we get a vision for our life. Too often we are trying to conform to the world’s vision for marriage, and it fails miserably. 

Instead, as a Christian, focus regularly on what God says about your role in marriage, and become a doer of His Word. When you govern your relationship His way, it works! 

To best understand your God-given roles in a marriage, read, study and meditate these verses regularly (they’re posted here from the AMPC version). Write them down and put them on your bathroom mirror if you need to. If any of it sounds like bad news to you, read it again! Every word is in the Bible for your benefit—ask God to help you understand it and walk in it. He has only your best interests at heart.  

(Side note: be sure to only read the part that is addressed to you! Don’t read what God is saying to your spouse and try to “make them do it”).

• Wives, read Ephesians 5:22-24, 33 – Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands… let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [[a]that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [b]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. (Also read 1 Peter 3:1-4)

• Husbands, read Ephesians 5:25-33 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church. However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self. (Also read 1 Peter 3:7)

Key #3 

Spend Time Together. No relationship gets better without putting in the time, being around each other, learning each other and enjoying each other. If you’re a businessman, how does your business get more prosperous? You work at it, spend time on it. If you’re a musician or a dancer, how do you stay good or get better at it? You practice. 

You get the idea.  The way a relationship gets better or stays strong is by spending time on it. Here are a few ideas how to do that: 

• Weekly dates. These must be scheduled, and let nothing else take precedence! It doesn’t have to be expensive – go on a picnic, take a walk, go out for ice cream, rent a video, sit outside, etc.  You might have to do it after kids go to bed. Teach your children that mommy and daddy need time together (it’s a great example for them).

• Daily time alone together.  Best recommendation – go to bed at the same time and have pillow talk.  

• Do chores or errands together. Not only do many hands make light work, but you can develop a sense of teamwork, accomplishing things together, supporting one another.

• Once or twice a year weekend getaways.  Again, doesn’t have to be expensive, just get away.  Removed from every day pressures. Marriage retreats.

• Allow for time with guys/girls. Let your spouse spend time with their friends.  Let absence make the heart grow fonder.

• Always be reading a marriage book together.  You know the saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ If you’re doing small, consistent things to strengthen your marriage, you won’t have big blow ups that cost a lot in time and heartache. 

Take action today. Begin reading the verses under Key #2, and ask God for one area where you can put your spouse first and make them feel special. Make a date this week to do something together. These steps can help make your marriage a little slice of heaven! 

Adapted from “3 Keys to a Heaven On Earth Marriage”  

Tears flowed but God is bigger

Woke up this morning with tears streaming down my usually dry face.

It has been an amazing journey since last year, our family decided to start on the fostering journey. A year ago, prior to our marriage, we talked about adoption and chosen the road on adoption for our family. What we didn’t realise is a bigger plan to accept the brokenness in foster care. Foster care is just as much about us pulling a child out of a broken story as it is about us being pulled into that story. There will be brokenness, there will be sorrow, there will be pain. But beyond that, the children will feel love, will be safe, will be accepted and assured of their needs. And that ultimate goal when they reintegrate with their families, we feel, that is priceless. That’s the unconditional, everlasting love from God, poured out for these children.

There was a day when we passed by a fostering roadshow. Listening to and understanding the traumas and many sad incidents, we didn’t proceed further as we were not yet married and the dynamics of things seemed too much to handle. However, during the pandemic, we chanced upon a zoom sharing by foster parents and both of us were touched and we felt God leading our hearts to start fostering. So we registered our interest and braved ourselves for the next step. We went through rounds of interviews, paperwork, and reserved many weekends to attend the training course.

By the end of January 2021, we passed the intermediate course to qualify as foster parents. We had earlier made preparations for the baby room so that it will be as comfortable as possible for the little one to join us when the placement is arranged. Renovations were done to increase storage, transforming our home into a child safe home, and getting some children’s stuff!

Unfortunately, the dynamics of how the fostering works involve a lot of stakeholders from the government ministries to the social workers and of course, the birth parents and any immediate caregivers.

Thrice – we were asked if we are open to taking care. Thrice, we prayed for God’s will be done. Thrice, the caregivers decided to adjust instead of giving up the children for foster families.

These outcomes were for the good of the children so that the children will not have to adjust to another set of family dynamics, new environment, different communication, style of living. On one side, I love the fact God works are greater and this means the kids do not have to move again. I know that God has a greater plan but to have three cases having the same outcome ain’t any occurrence. In fact, I can’t make sense of why or how.

My heart, truth be told, was shattered. Fostering will break your heart but it will be for the good of these children. Except that, we have not even started officially fostering! But I am already feeling the pain. It has been a journey for the past three months – praying for the child, preparing for the arrival of the children in our house, and at the same time, preparing our extended family on seeing us with a foster child any time.

Sometimes we do not know how this works, and wonder why are there doors of opportunities (or so we thought) opened, only to be closed again?

Listening to “Living Hope”, I wept through the morning, to realise that God is bigger than my brokenness or tragedies.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28; NIV)

Be courageous

Taken from a reading this morning: If you currently find yourself facing an uphill battle, the thought of persevering can be overwhelming. Certain seasons of life can relentlessly bring one obstacle after another without an inch of breathing room in between. In these moments, we need to focus less on the obstacles themselves, and more on how we respond to the Lord in those moments. 

Sometimes we go through life asking God to open doors for us, or we seek His blessing for the plans we’ve made without much thought about what His plans for us might be. When this happens, we become frustrated and confused when the doors don’t open and our plans fall apart.  We might become resentful of those around us and angry at God. We lose sight of this important fact: Sometimes a closed door is the exact thing we need, even if it results in suffering. 

Our personal experiences with suffering equip us for the ministry God is preparing for us to live out. In the moments of our greatest anguish, we must trust that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 9:8).  We might need a constant reminder of this truth in the hardest season of life.  But rest assured, when He delivers us to the other side of our pain and suffering, reshaped by our experiences and reflecting more of His image, we are better equipped to speak into the lives of those who face similar adversities. 

Never see your situation as hopeless. The Lord is writing a story in your life for the purpose of offering hope to others, but also to deepen your relationship with Him. Spend time with the Father and openly share your heart, as well as your pain. Ask Him for the strength to endure the challenges you are facing as He writes an incredible story for you to share with the world.