Spiritual perspectives to anchor your marriage
by Dr. Dave Currie
My wife Donalyn and I have stayed strong in our marital and faith climb for nearly 42 years. We often get asked questions about our marriage: What has anchored us spiritually? What are the secrets of our faith climb together? How do we stay so attached to the Lord and each other, year after year?
The following guiding principles are our ‘non-negotiables’ of faith that have secured us all these years. While other activities, disciplines and events have come and gone in our spiritual lives over the years, these ones have been the common ropes that have fastened us irrevocably to what is truly significant. These are the Spiritual Perspectives that have anchored our climb.
Keep a soft heart toward God
We have committed to each other – actually promised – that we will show our love for each other by keeping our own faith alive and growing. Donalyn keeps her faith strong. I keep mine strong. The most important aspect of this is a soft and listening heart to the Lord that willingly responds to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Ask God to remove any resemblance of a heart of stone (a hard and indifferent heart) and give you a heart of flesh (a soft and responsive heart) (Ezekiel 11:19-20). That will change everything! We consistently strive to give our lives and marriage to the Lord in prayer – making Him the centre of our home. As part of our commitment to each other, we each choose to read our Bibles daily with that same sensitive, listening heart. It’s amazing how God speaks to me about my stupidity in how I might have treated Donalyn or the kids. Soft hearts listen.
You can’t change your spouse so quit trying!
In observing many couples, I can see I am not alone. First, we marry someone opposite us. This is normal and truly a universal phenomenon. But then, we spend the rest of our lives trying to make our spouse be like us, think like us and agree with us. Dumb. It’s like we have an insatiable need to have them see and do life our way. That push to change our spouse never goes well. I’m dead in saying this but I couldn’t begin to tell you how many ways I have tried to change Donalyn over the years – some subtle and some… well, let’s say not so subtle. But Jesus said that we shouldn’t worry about the speck in our spouse’s eye when we have a plank in our own (Matthew 7:3-5). So stop trying. You can’t change them. It is not your job to do that, it’s God’s. Focus on letting God deeply and completely change you. You’d think after over 40 years of marriage that I’d be close to fully adjusted, but no… a lot of change is still needed. Just ask Donalyn.
I know. Nothing new. We all should be praying. This is not profound. But what we know and what we do are usually very different. Simple, straight question: “Do you pray with your spouse each day?” (Answer honestly). That’s the point. Most couples don’t pray together, let alone daily. Start tonight. Join with us everyday to invite God into your lives and activities together. And beyond these day-to-day concerns and joys we share with Him, we take our apprehensions to Him regarding major transitions, work pressures, location moves, adding children and all other significant changes or challenges we face. We pray daily for our kids and grandkids. We also pray with each other and for each other. We always hold hands when we go to God in prayer; we have since before we were married. After all, if you can’t grab your mate’s hand to pray, then get things right so you can! Recently (since watching the movie War Room), we’ve added a weekly time prayer where we get on our knees together to go to war for what really matters. And yes, a family that prays together really does stay together.
Live Jesus at Home
Following Jesus is a 24/7 commitment. Sunday Christians make shallow partners, inconsistent parents and convey a double message to their children. Faith at home is a real faith not a fabricated one designed to create an image for onlookers. To live your faith within your household is so critical to transferring faith to the next generation. You can’t be sensitive to God and insensitive to people – especially those closest you. Jesus has to be Lord at home. And once you have authentically walked it, then feel free to genuinely talk it. We intentionally shared our faith up close and personal with our kids using teachable moments every day as they came up. We simplified our family faith message to this guiding motto: “Put God First – Life Goes Best.” Our kids all embraced this and boy, are we forever grateful!
Don’t Skip Church
Having pastored in five different congregations over the years, I had the natural vantage point to witness something first hand. Going to church regularly doesn’t guarantee a person stays connected to Jesus, but I promise you, nothing good comes out of missing church repeatedly. The lesson is clear: If you skip, you slip. We are warned about neglecting the assembling with other believers and to continue encouraging one another within a faith community (Hebrews 10:25). Jesus confirmed that He loved the church and was building His church (Matthew 16:18). Ok, I know that some churches have issues. But don’t make excuses. Find a good church that really teaches the Bible. Plug in. Engage. Grow. Persevere. Stay there. Don’t miss.
Make a Difference Together
The final spiritual anchor has to do with doing Kingdom service together. But the key is joint, simultaneous expressions of God’s love. There’s nothing like helping others as a couple. It builds great relational and spiritual connection. Everybody grows closer to God and each other when this happens. What are we taking about? Here’s a taste of how Donalyn and I have served together over the years: We have led care groups, taught Sunday School and organized youth groups and mission trips. We’ve spoken at retreats, taught premarital preparation, served in marriage ministry and counseled and prayed with many couples. We’ve hosted many people in our home, held neighbourhood Bible Studies and helped with work projects both in our community and overseas. Now you have the feel. Do something with your mate to make a difference that puts a smile not only on your faces and the people your serve, but also on God’s face as well. This really takes you deeper in your faith.
So, there you go. These six anchors have really worked personally for us. We hope as you consider trying them that they will help you grow together spiritually as much as they have us. I would love to hear from you on any spiritual anchors that have strengthened your life and marriage. Find me at DoingFamilyRight.com. Keep going deeper with God and each other.