by: Allen Domelle
“For better, or for worse.” This is a part of the vows you made to your spouse when you got married. Most couples getting married truly don’t know what those words mean, but those who have been married for any length of time know exactly very well every marriage experiences times that are better and worse.
My grandparents were married for 72 years before my grandmother went to Heaven. This was a phenomenal feat to accomplish. One day I was talking to my grandfather about them being married for such a long time and simply commented how much I admired their love for each other. My grandfather responded to this comment by telling me their marriage wasn’t always easy. He told me about a rough patch they went through in their early years, but he said they made a vow to each other and to God, and they intended to keep their promise. I’m glad they did. Though their marriage was not perfect, because no marriage is perfect, they made it work by continually strengthening their marriage.
Your marriage is like your body, you must take time to strengthen it or it will eventually become weak and sickly. Sadly, many couples work hard to catch each other, but they don’t do anything to keep each other. Any marriage that is going to improve over time is going to have to strengthen itself. By nature, everything decays over time, but a marriage does not have to decay if the couple works on strengthening it. You have too much invested in your marriage to simply let it go.
One day I was reading Psalm 51, and I noticed that David was trying to strengthen his relationship with God. My mind immediately began to think of marriage and how the principles David used to strengthen his relationship with God can strengthen a marriage if they are applied. Let me show you nine things from Psalm 51 that will strengthen your marriage.
1. Be merciful to each other.
David had just committed the horrible sin of adultery. Certainly, David must have felt horrible. The emptiness inside must have felt like a great canyon. He said to God in verse 1, “Have mercy upon me,…” He knew he needed God to be merciful to him in his time of weakness. He knew he deserved God’s judgment, but he asked God for His mercy.
There are going to be times when your spouse makes mistakes. It is in these times that you must be merciful to your spouse. Being merciful is simply not giving your spouse what they deserve. If your marriage is going to become stronger, then there is going to have to be a lot of mercy applied. Each spouse is going to make mistakes, and blowing up over those mistakes will not make it stronger. You must learn to be merciful and allow your spouse the space to make mistakes.
2. Practice lovingkindness.
The second thing David asked God to do was to be merciful “according to thy lovingkindness:…”Lovingkindness is really a self-explanatory word. It is be loving and kind to the other person. David understood that God had every right to shut him out, but he asked God to be loving and kind to him as he put his life back together.
Any marriage that is going to be strengthened must have lovingkindness. In other words, a marriage needs each spouse to be kind to each other and to be loving to each other. Be kind and get your spouse that special thing they like. Men, be kind and buy your wife flowers on days when she doesn’t expect it. Ladies, go to the store and get your husband his favorite snack and leave it for him on his desk or in his lunchbox. Be loving to each other by leaving notes in special places to remind them you are praying for them and that you love them. A marriage is strengthened by practicing lovingkindness.
3. Acknowledge your faults.
I believe one of the greatest reasons David received God’s mercy was because he acknowledged his sin. Verses 3-4 say, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” You can see that David saw his sin and acknowledged it to God.
When you do wrong, immediately get it right. A marriage that carries grudges against each other will not last. There are going to be mistakes made in a marriage, but the sooner you acknowledge where your marriage lacks, the sooner you can fix it. To cover your eyes on the weakness of your marriage will only weaken it. When you see that your marriage has a fault, immediately work on fixing that problem. Don’t be guilty of covering your eyes to your weaknesses. You are only fooling yourself.
4. Acknowledge your imperfections.
David understood that he was imperfect. Verse 5 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Acknowledging his imperfections was one of the greatest steps he took in strengthening his relationship with God.
Don’t have the attitude that it’s always your spouse’s fault. Realize you are not perfect. Whenever something has happened in the home, don’t jump to the conclusion that your spouse is at fault. Let me ask you a question, when is the last time you acknowledged that you were wrong? Many times we think we have, but we haven’t. When you and your spouse are at odds, admit to your imperfections and don’t point theirs out. You can’t change them, but you can change yourself.
5. Be truthful.
David said in verse 6, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:…” David understood that he would never strengthen his relationship with God without being truthful. God desires us not just to be truthful on the surface, but also on the inside. In other words, God desires us to be transparent in our relationship with Him.
No relationship is strong without transparency. If a couple is not truthful with each other, then they are only weakening their relationship. Don’t ever hide things from your spouse. Both of you MUSTbe open with each other about everything. Deception weakens a relationship. If you’re truthful with each other, then your relationship will become stronger.
6. Be positive in what you talk about.
David said in verse 8, “Make me to hear joy and gladness;…” David wanted to be positive in his relationship with God. He understood that negativity would weaken his relationship.
You will never strengthen your marriage by constantly being negative. You must develop a positive spirit in your home, and not allow it to go to the negative. Be careful about talking about people in a negative manner. Always find the positive. My mother used to tell me that if you can’t find anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all. That is a good principle by which to live in your marriage. Satan would love to let your marriage be wrapped around the negative. If everything you talk about is negative, then you will have a negative marriage. When you talk about each other, be positive. Be positive when you talk about people in general. When you talk about the LORD’s work, be positive. Let your conversations be positive, and you will find your home will be filled with joy and gladness.
7. Overlook your spouse’s weakness.
David asked God in verse 9, “Hide thy face from my sins,…” He understood that a relationship that is going to get stronger must not always point out the weaknesses of each other. That is why David asked God to hide His face from his sins.
Be careful about always pointing out your spouse’s weaknesses. You are only hurting your relationship with them by doing this. If you would brag on their strengths, you would be surprised how they will try to work on their weaknesses. Trust me, they already know what their weaknesses are without you pointing them out. It’s not your job to try to change them, it’s your job to love them and work with them. Let God do the changing. If you see a glaring weakness in your spouse, then ask God to work on them in that area.
8. Protect your spirit.
Part of David strengthening his relationship with God was by making sure his spirit was right. Verse 10 says, “…renew a right spirit within me.” Sin destroyed his spirit, and now to strengthen it he needed God to renew it.
There are many things in this world that can destroy the spirit of your home. Be careful about watching television programs and news stations that will destroy the spirit of your home. Be careful about spending time with negative people who will hurt the spirit of your marriage. Once the spirit of a marriage is damaged, it is hard to restore it. It’s not impossible, just difficult to restore it. The best thing you can do is protect your marriage from anything or anyone who will hurt the spirit of your marriage.
9. Spend time with your spouse.
In David’s journey of strengthening his relationship with God, he asked God not to leave him. Verse 11 says, “Cast me not away from thy presence;…” David knew that the only way he could strengthen his relationship with God was by spending time with Him.
There is nothing like spending time with your spouse that will help to strengthen your marriage. You must purposely set time aside on a weekly basis to be with your spouse. I understand there are a few times when you won’t be able to have an alone time with your spouse, but those times must be few. Time alone with each other is when you build your relationship. A relationship can not get stronger if you are not together. Don’t get so busy that you never spend time with each other. Don’t get so busy with the children and their activities that you don’t have time alone with your spouse. Alone time with your spouse has to be a MUST.
Every marriage needs strengthening. If you are not doing things to strengthen your marriage, then you are doing things to weaken it. Having a stronger marriage will not happen by accident. It will only be accomplished by doing the things that strengthens marriages.
Allen Domelle is the editor of the Old Paths Journal which is more than just a Christian’s publication. It is an excellent place to learn how today’s headlines will forge tomorrow’s laws and statutes. Keep yourself in tune with what is happening around the world, as well as in your own backyard with our daily updates and devotionals.