If we’re not intentional with the patterns we set in our marriage, someone or something else will create them for us.
When Christi and I first got married, we learned quickly about some of our differences. For instance, when I came home from the workday, I needed about 30 minutes of mindless activity and no talking to unwind. Christi, on the other hand, was ready to chat away.
To avoid frustration or a sense of disinterest in her day, we decided to use this time to meet at the gym and work out together. I lifted weights. Christi did cardio. By the time we were done working out, I was ready to fully engage Christi’s heart. It was a pattern that breathed life into our marriage.
Once kids came along, however, patterns like going to the gym together didn’t work anymore. We had to create a new rhythm.
This is an example of a circumstantial pattern—a pattern that breathes life into our marriage but that needs to adjust over time.
The second type of pattern is what I call “created patterns”—patterns that also breathe life into our marriage but that never need to be changed because of circumstances. God established created patterns for us from the very beginning, and we can even see these in Genesis.
Here are four that, when we apply them, breathe life into our marriage:
- Celebrate the Good.
In Genesis 1 after each day of creation, a pattern unfolds: “And God saw that it was good.” Then, on the seventh day, God rested from all of the work that He had done.
Did God need to rest? Was He exhausted from His work? Not at all. Instead, He rested to celebrate all that He had created. All that was good.
How often do you and your spouse take time to rest and celebrate all that God is doing in your marriage? Do you celebrate all of the good He is doing in the work each of you lay hands on?
Jesus declares in Mark 2:27 that “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”
As a human, your body needs rest. Only in that rest can we take the time to remember the good that God is doing in our lives. To continuously keep working and fail to celebrate makes us no different than a machine. Machines never stop. Machines never celebrate.
As a human, establish the created pattern of the Sabbath in your marriage. And celebrate the good God is doing in and through you and your spouse.
Christi and I go on a date night about once a week as a way to remember and celebrate the good. We put together 40 free date night ideas and 216 questions to help you celebrate one another without talking about work or the kids. Click here for a free download.
- Prioritize Your Spouse.
Genesis 2:24 says, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.”
This sounds overly simplistic, but set a pattern of prioritizing your spouse’s heart above all other relationships. I have watched many marriages suffer at the hands of a husband or wife who just cannot cut the ties with Mom and Dad.
One of the ways we help premarital couples is by having them establish their own values as a family unit. We have five core values that guide our family and help us make decisions related to vacations, who we spend time with, what we spend time doing, etc. Download the list of 100 commonly held values and establish together your own top five values for your family.
- Provide Covering for Your Spouse.
In Genesis 3:12, the man blames the woman for eating from the tree.
Another pattern Christi and I see damage marriage relationships is when spouses blame, gossip about, or publicly ridicule their spouse.
In Ephesians 5, Paul compares the marital relationship to Christ and the Church, calling on husbands to lay down their lives for their wives and for wives to respect their husbands.
Since your relationship resembles that of the Holy Trinity, you better bet Satan would love nothing more than taking out your marriage (John 10:10). We give him the upper hand when we ridicule our spouse.
Instead, establish a prayer covering over your spouse. Cover your marriage with the blood of Jesus, and pray Christ’s authority, rule, and dominion over your spouse every day. Begin asking God each day to show you your spouse through His eyes, and watch what happens.
- Speak Life into Your Spouse.
Genesis 3:20 says, “The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living.”
Adam had the power to name his wife even after the fall. Instead of naming her “nag” or “exhausting” or even “selfish,” he names her “life.” Eve.
The tongue has the power to tear down or build up. From the creation story, we see Adam speak life into Eve.
To breathe life into your marriage, set a pattern of speaking life, honor, and blessing into your spouse.
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. serves as Marriage and Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources and is the President and Cofounder of The Connextion Group, a company designed to empower families to live, love, and lead well. He is author/coauthor of four books including Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well. Josh and his Canadian bride, Christi, reside in Nashville with their son, Landon, and daughter, Kennedy. You can listen to Dr. Josh + Christi on their podcast or watch them on Facebook Live talking about marriage and parenting in the 21st century.