Over my 50 years of preaching, I have had the privilege of counseling and encouraging engaged couples, newlyweds, and couples who have been married for decades. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak into these relationships, I always share my two ingredients for a blessed marriage: iron-clad commitment and caring communication.
"God is the only one who can give you what you need for a blessed marriage."
1) IRON-CLAD COMMITMENT
A man and a woman binding themselves together, committing to each other for life, is a very tall order. That is why the old Anglican marriage ceremony states, "Marriage is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God."
In Matthew 19:4-5, Jesus speaks about marriage by quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, telling His listeners that a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife—marriage is between a man and a woman. The word cleave here actually means glued together. This glue becomes an incredible bond, signifying that their lives now revolve around each other—just as the Moon revolves around the Earth. And as the Earth and Moon revolve around the Sun, the couple is made to revolve around the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible also describes marriage as a picture, a metaphor, that teaches us about the relationship between Jesus and His Bride—the Church. Jesus is committed to His Bride. When He writes our names in the Book of Life, He writes them in permanent ink. He does not love, redeem, and adopt us just to dump us the moment we mess up—and marriage should work in the same way. The covenant of marriage is not meant to be dependent on the whims or feelings of the husband or wife. The covenant of marriage is meant to be kept for life.
My wife and I have had our share of disagreements, our share of 'vigorous discussions' as we call them in our house. But the things that we argue about are simply trivial in the light of our life-long commitment to each other. Likewise, when these kinds of disagreements arise, I encourage you to ask yourself, "How can I be more patient with my spouse? How can I respond gently when I am irritated?" As you reflect on these questions, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will lead you to be more selfless for the health of your marriage.
If you truly want to strengthen your marriage, make a study of your spouse's real needs—then seek by God's power, strength, mercy, and grace to meet those needs. Do not focus on what you want and need, but rather on what your spouse wants and needs. When you seek to do this with God's help, you will have a joyful marriage. Notice I didn't say a perfect marriage, for there is no such thing.
2) CARING COMMUNICATION
The second ingredient for a blessed marriage is caring communication. I chose this word 'caring' deliberately. When a husband learns to communicate feelings and a wife learns to communicate facts, there you will find a blessed marriage. This is the beginning of caring communication.
I also want to tell you what caring communication is not. Caring communication is not making unreasonable demands or blackmailing your spouse. Caring communication is not constantly using your upbringing or your past as an excuse for uncaring, hurtful speech. Instead, learn to lift one another up. Encourage one another. Esteem one another. Honor one another.
Of course, this commitment to build up your spouse can only be the second most important thing you do in your life. For the most important thing is to seek Jesus. Spend time with Him. Worship Him. Love Him. For this will empower you to love and serve your spouse. Today, open up your heart to Him once again. He is the only one who can give you what you need for a blessed marriage.