Have you ever tried to improve something but went about it the wrong way, achieving dismal results?
I came across a funny testimonial from someone online that illustrates the craziness of doing things the wrong way. Here’s what they said …
I once caught a friend of mine rubbing an antibacterial hand wipe from KFC all over his fried chicken. The little packet said ‘a hint of lemon’ on it, and he thought it was meant to flavor the chicken with.”
Was this a correct and right approach to take with his chicken dinner?
Maybe, if all he wanted to do was rid his meal of germs!
The downside? Eating it this way would have, ironically, made him sick!
People often ask me what’s the best way to improve and/or heal their marriage.
It used to be that I would talk to them about communication techniques or the importance of truly forgiving their spouse. While those are important, right, and true, they aren’t what I’ve found is the best answer or TRUTH.
The best truth has two parts. First, it is placing your faith in Christ (if you haven’t already). And, second, it is growing in your faith through spiritual pursuits, doing as many as possible with your spouse.
Anything else we try to do with our lives and marriages is like slapping paint on a decaying house or building it on a crumbling foundation.
Your house might look better with that fresh coat of paint, but in time, those pretty walls will start to buckle and cave in. But get the house on a solid foundation first and you can add a lot of other improvements in time.
So, let’s settle the first truth at hand. Have you placed your faith in Christ?
2 Key Steps to Placing Your Faith in Christ
1. Recognize and confess to God the TRUTH that you have sinned.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” —Romans 3:23
You might bristle at the idea of admitting you have sinned, especially if you’re married to someone who berates or shames you. But the truth is, we ALL have sinned. And once you own that fact, it can be so freeing!
Not only will it break down the barrier between you and God, but it can also break down barriers between you and your spouse.
If you’ve already received Christ, use this as a reminder of the healing power of admitting your sins to your spouse.
It’s something my husband and I do regularly (not just in times of conflict). We take time to share one way we’ve sinned either toward each other or in some other relationship.
Sure keeps us humble and vulnerable—true bonding agents!
2. Embrace the TRUTH that you can’t earn your salvation and trust Jesus to save you.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. —Ephesians 2:8-9
This one not only gets unbelievers side-tracked, but it also can side-track the average believer.
Our sin natures make us far too rebellious, arrogant, and independent. We think we are the captain of our souls and the master of our fates. While God views this foolishness like how David put it in Psalm 59:7-8.
Not only does this side-track the unbeliever spiritually, but it’s where this person will blow it in marriage as well. If you are trying to find acceptance from God through your own efforts, you’ll constantly feel anxious and/or too big for your own britches!
Believers don’t really get a pass here either. If you’re operating in your own strength in your faith, you’ll end up just as anxious or arrogant as the unbeliever.
Operating at both of these extremes—anxious insecurity or arrogant self-sufficiency—will poison your marriage relationship. Your lack of relationship with or lack of reliance on God will create disconnection in your marriage too.
So, if you’ve settled this foundational spiritual issue—coming to faith in Christ—then how do you grow in your faith?
This is where true marriage healing and meaningful transformation begins and thrives!
As for me, my pursuit of God has been incredibly important to the health of my marriage and connection to my spouse. Which leads me to the second truth—you need to grow your faith in order to strengthen your marriage.
4 Tips for Growing in Your Faith
1. Pray for God to give you a desire to connect with Him and His TRUTH daily.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. —Jeremiah 29:12-13
If you’re not a believer, the desire will most likely not be there. However, if you’re someone who’s grown stagnate in your faith, the desire will not be as strong either. That’s why asking God to give you the desire is so important.
You need His power to find the motivation to pursue Him more. And as you pursue God more, you’ll find a greater desire to pursue your spouse as well. Your passion for your spouse will grow because your passion for God is growing!
2. Ask your spouse to join you in reading God’s word daily and embracing His TRUTHS.
This might be tough if you have a spouse who does not believe in God or is resistant to pursuing anything spiritual. If this is your situation, start out by reading on your own and sharing later in the day how it encouraged you.
Maybe even point out how it is helping you to see your contribution to a particular marriage problem.
If your spouse is willing, this could be a real game-changer! You don’t even have to read the Scriptures together necessarily to gain greater unity and insight for your marriage and marriage troubles.
3. Journal your prayers to understand God’s TRUTH for your situation.
I’m a big proponent of prayer journaling versus simply journaling, though there’s value in both.
It’s just that prayer journaling invites God’s truth, power, and perspective into the effort! Otherwise, you’re relying on your own assumptions that might not be based in truth for clarity into your marriage.
Journaling is like running around the block in your slippers. Sure, you’ll get exercise, just not optimized exercise!
But you’ll run further, faster, and stay fueled up in the race of life when you immerse yourself in God’s TRUTH and power each day.
4. Pray Scripture with your spouse to anchor in God’s TRUTH daily.
You might not be able to motivate your spouse to do this right off the bat. Simply suggest it and then pray for God to motivate your spouse to take you up on the offer in time.
In the meantime, pray a favorite verse or two over your marriage in your individual time with God. Just insert your name or personal pronoun in wherever it fits to personalize your prayer!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Messy Marriage