This week my husband and I celebrated five years of marriage. Five years seemed like a very long time when we were first married but now it feels like no time at all. We’re not quite newlyweds but still feel like it in many ways!
This week as I’ve been reflecting on my marriage and other close relationships in my life, I’m considering the practical things that we have learned that have made our marriage persevere and that can help other relationships persevere and also to strengthen our Christian faith as well.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of things that threaten relationships. One person’s selfishness can mar unity, another’s suffering can push people away, someone can be abrasive and damage relationships, and all of us will sin against others in every relationship.
Our character matters in our relationships. I encourage you to read Colossians chapter 3 and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to put off and put on those specific things. That alone will revolutionize your relationships and allow you to implement some of things below.
After just five years, I can’t AT ALL claim to have it figured out. But we have implemented some things that work well and I want to share them with to hopefully encourage you to grow in your relationships!
2 Thessalonians chapter 1 verses 11-12, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We make it a point to pray together daily. We are able to go to bed at the same time and we pray before going to sleep at the very least. It’s fruitful for us to be able to seek the Lord together with the things that happened that day and the things that are planned to happen the next day.
If you are not married, I’d encourage you to build prayer into your relationships. Ask a parent or friend to pray with you when you get together. Lead in prayer over meals or when you end an event. You will grow closer to each other and closer to God through it.
Confess our sins
James chapter 5 verse 16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
I’d be lying if I said my husband and I never sinned against each other. We both struggle with areas where we are more drawn to moral failure. I think I can confidently say that every relationship has this element. However, the pain of our failures is healed through confession and repentance – asking the one we sinned against to forgive us and seeking to change so we don’t fall into the same thing again.
This starts God-ward. We confess our sins to God acknowledging that it’s ultimately against Him that we sinned (see David’s confession in Psalm chapter 51). But then we move further and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the person we sinned against.
This process is painful. It’s painful to admit that I’m wrong and painful when someone admits what they have done wrong. But can I tell you something? Through forgiving them – which, by the way, is a non-negotiable as a Christian according to Colossians chapter 3 verse 13 – the relationship is restored and often brought closer than before.
Study the Bible together
Psalm chapter 119 verses 33-36, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!”
This is something that my husband and I only recently started doing and wish we had started before. We pick a book of the Bible, study it in chunks individually, get together to talk about what we learned and then read a solid commentary together to get even more out of the passage. We just finished Galatians and I learned so much!
There are a lot of ways you can go about this. Many churches offer Bible studies that you can join where you will study the Word and then get together to discuss it. Those are valuable! But I encourage you to take it a step further and discuss it with your spouse throughout the week or take time with a friend to go deep into the truth of scripture together.
This has drawn us, again, closer to God and closer to each other. Of course there are good teachers and good commentaries out there but there is nothing like intentionally digging into the Bible to understand it for yourself. It will change you and will grow your relationships like nothing else.
These are just three of many things that God has used to keep us together for five years. Lord willing, we will learn many more things that will keep us together for the next fifty!
Ashley Mullins is the wife of Chris, a seminary student at The Masters Seminary. They are currently in Boise, Idaho for the summer but will soon be in Spokane, Washington in the United States.