Though Valentine's Day is most often associated with roses, chocolate, and red hearts, the origins of the holiday are much more Christ-centered. The holiday celebrates the story of Valentinus, a priest who was sentenced to death in ancient Rome for secretly marrying Christian couples during a time of severe persecution. His bravery and legacy remind us of the incredible treasure that is marriage—a gift worth fighting for. To that end, here are three powerful ways to strengthen your marriage.
If you haven't already learned to pray together, hold hands and start praying together.
The Bible is clear about how to build a marriage as God intended: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). This is swiftly followed by instructions for both wives and husbands: Wives should submit, and husbands should love sacrificially (see vv. 22, 25). What a high calling, especially for the husband, because you cannot truly love without subjugating your own needs, desires, and ambitions to put your wife's good first. This kind of selflessness is a foundation stone for a joyful, fulfilling marriage.
Only those who know they have been forgiven much can forgive others much. This is why God's people should be excellent forgivers. In fact, God does not request that we forgive others. He commands it (see Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13-14). Even in the healthiest of marriages, spouses will argue, but they grow in their relationship by exercising forgiveness beginning with the small stuff so that they will avoid building an invisible wall between themselves. And when you practice forgiving the small things, you'll have developed your forgiveness muscle to forgive the big ones, too.
Once you forgive, keep practicing that forgiveness—this means taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). We don't hold a grudge or bring up past wrongs; we die to self and so attain our true identity as citizens of a heavenly Kingdom.
For a marriage to flourish, it's crucial that we learn to be open and honest without being hurtful, as Proverbs 12:18 tells us, "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Like our longsuffering God, we should be slow to anger and slow to speak—and then only what will build others up (see James 1:19; Ephesians 4:29).
So our words are important, but we also must make space to use them. You must be vigilant to keep good things from crowding out what is foundational: your marriage. So beware of the drain and impact of your calendar—all the busyness—and your children—who can easily become the entire focus of your family. And finally, don't let fear of conflict keep you from conversing. Conflict can become your ally if you come together in prayer to head it off at the start rather than stuffing your emotions.
A WORD ON PRAYER
If you haven't already learned to pray together, hold hands and start praying together. Invite God into the situation. Pray, confessing your sins, not your spouse's sin. Pray, surrendering your agenda, not your spouse's. And pray for the love of God to be poured into your heart toward your spouse. As you together go to God for guidance in your daily lives and build your lives upon His Word, your marriage will have an immovable foundation and serve to bless you and those around you to the glory of God.