1. You live in a broken world and people are not perfect
Understand that things are never going to be perfect while you are functioning in this side of heaven. Your spouse – no matter how much he or she tries – is going to make mistakes. You too are going to get things wrong from time to time, whether you like it or not.
Even when both of you are sure that you are right about something, don’t be surprised to discover that one or both of you might be wrong. Why? Because you are both flawed people living in an imperfect world. You are mortal beings and you are both still ‘work in progress’.
For instance, there was a time in history when everybody thought the earth was flat; and they would have put you in jail for postulating anything different. But alas! They were all wrong.
I like a particular definition of marriage because it highlights this point very well. It says: Marriage is an unconditional commitment to spend the rest of your life with an imperfect person. How insightful! If people only knew this, and took its implication to heart, they would be less critical and more forgiving.
The good news, however, is that imperfect people can be loving and caring. Flawed mortals can grow to be merciful. Both you and your spouse can learn to forgive. And, you don’t need to be perfect to be kind either.
If you would only make this slight adjustment to your thinking, a lot of unnecessary pain, conflict and disappointment will be avoided. You will stop expecting perfection and start expressing more empathy and understanding.
So never forget that you live in a broken world and that your spouse is not perfect. There again, neither are you!
2. The challenges you face in your relationship are there to make you and your marriage stronger
You’ve got to believe that trials and conflicts are the ‘emotional dumbbells’ God uses to build your spiritual and relational muscles. No marriage can get stronger and indestructible without its fair share of them. Just like your physical muscles need pressure and exercise to grow stronger, your marital ‘biceps’ need a healthy dose of conflicts to peak.
The Bible expresses this truth in these words: Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. (James 1:2-4.) NLT
Notice, what this passage is saying. It is saying that trials are good for you, if you learn endurance through them and allow them to build your character. In short, challenges are opportunities for joy and growth.
The challenges you experience in your relationship will only serve to make you a better, wiser and more stable person once you understand that this was the reason for the challenge in the first place.
I don’t know any strong marriage that did not go through its fair share of challenges. But I also don’t know any weak or failed marriage that believed in and embraced this concept wholeheartedly.
So, start to believe from today that the challenges you face in your relationship are serving a good purpose and will in-time make you and your marriage much stronger.
Remember also that, God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to his purposes for them. ‘Everything’ here includes the challenges and setbacks you face in your marriage.
3. No effort you put into preparing yourself for the marriage you want is wasted
Another shift you have to make in your thinking and in your
behaviour is to do with the deception that your marriage development is the
responsibility of someone else. It’s yours; and the sooner you accept it, the
quicker you can start to invest in the future you were created to
The law of ‘cause and effect’ works well here. This law says that you can never really get something for nothing. That’s especially true when it comes to relationships. Experience proves that those who put in the effort, the time and the sacrifice are best placed to reap the results they passionately desire. The Bible illustrates this truth succinctly like so: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7.)
It’s a divine law that can’t be broken. Therefore, never get weary of learning how relationships work. Never stop reading good books. Never stop attending good relational seminars or workshops. Never stop growing. Never stop improving your attitude or behaviour, because a great marriage is always worth any effort you put into it.
Since‘reaping what you sow’ is an unbreakable law of life, the time, effort and determination you invest in your marriage would eventually pay off. When it does, you’ll be glad you didn’t leave it to chance.
So work on your marriage like it’s all you’ve got. If you would invest yourself in it and devote yourself to its success, you cannot fail to enjoy the rewards of your labour. You cannot fail to build yourself a rock solid marriage.
4. Great marriages are made on earth, not in heaven
Rock solid marriages that give us a foretaste of heaven on earth are forged in the furnace of unconditional love, forgiveness, understanding, commitment and sacrifice. There is no simpler way!
If you want a fulfilling marriage, you must be committed to the hard work of getting to know and love your spouse. You must be willing to embrace an attitude of humility and selflessness. You must learn to forgive ‘seventy times seven times’ a day. And, you must develop the determination not to give up when the going is tough.
You see, you’d be tempted to look over the fence of your life and conclude that‘the grass is greener on the other side’. But the people on the other side don’t think their grass is green at all. They are more likely to wonder why their grass is brown in the middle of spring. So what you are seeing is really an illusion.
You must also drop all those fairytale ideas that great marriages are made in heaven. They are not. Heaven may sanction your marriage, but you and your partner are going to have to build it on earth with your sweat and blood.
You have to want a great marriage. You have to design it; you have to construct it with the raw materials you’ve been given; and you have to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to keep your marriage away from the enemy’s evil claws.
Of course, God promises to help you along the way, but you have to ask for it sincerely and tenaciously. Then, you would have to cooperate with the help you get from above, when it’s given.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8.) Amplified
A great marriage is the result of a great vision, a great desire and a great character. If you have all three, nothing can stop you from landing a rock solid marriage sooner or later.
5. You are equipped to succeed in any Godly endeavour you embark upon
Yes you are! You need to carry this conviction everywhere you go. If you are connected to God (through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ) and if you are committed to following His instructions, you have a blood-bought right to succeed in your marriage. God says it this way:
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (Joshua 1:8.) NLT
Notice, God says it’s possible to prosper and succeed in all you do. Not in a few easy things
you do, but in all you do. And that includes your marriage.
Knowing that you are equipped to win in life is so crucial when it comes to marriage, because many of the obstacles you experience will try to tell you otherwise. That’s why the Apostle Paul was bold enough to declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
You must know deep within your heart that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you; that you can have a rock solid marriage; that you can be the ideal spouse; that you can satisfy and fulfil your partner; and that you can handle everything life throws at you with dignity and confidence.
God literally resides in your heart. So you shouldn’t fail to achieve what you desire in your marriage, because the God who resides in you is not a failure.
In short, you must know, that you know,that you are destined to win in your marriage. This is the kind of mindset that opens a bright future before you and that dramatically increases your chances of building a rock solid marriage.
Never forget that God’s Word is what equips you to succeed in every area of your life. Therefore, cherish it, read it, study it, meditate on it and obey it. You cannot do these things and still fail to construct the marriage of your dreams. I know that because your marriage would be built on the eternal foundation of God’s word – which is an immovable anchor in the midst of the storms of life.
By Tony Peters
An extract for How to Build a Rock Solid Marriage