As little girls, many of us dreamed of being married one day. We acted it out with our dolls, we played dress up and we imagined everything from what our gown would look like to the music that would play as we walked down the aisle.
Of course, once some of us got engaged, those hopes and dreams got kicked into high gear as the planning for the “happiest day of our lives” got underway. We spent more time planning for this single, four-hour event then preparing for the actual marriage.
Back when I was a newlywed, I wanted to do everything right. However, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I couldn’t do everything perfectly. I had endless questions and didn’t know who to turn to. For some reason I felt that as a Christian woman, I should be able to answer the questions, not ask them.
My husband and I both have parents who are divorced, and we purposed early on in our relationship to leave a different legacy. So over the next five years, I found godly women who wore a variety of hats (author, speaker, teacher, prayer warrior, business woman, volunteer, pastor’s wife … just to name a few) who mentored me, counseled me and prayed for me.
I discovered the definition of a good woman wasn’t so much about doing as it was about being. It has very little to do with how often I make homemade meals – and everything to do with how often I stop to pray. My decorating and cleaning will never compare to how well I surrender and submit, both to my Lord, my husband and the other authorities God has placed in my life. When I do these things, I find that my husband appreciates how I do things much more than what I’m actually doing for him.
One of my first and favorite questions posed to my mentors was, “What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a wife?”
The answers I received were practical to me as a newlywed but they are also important at any stage of life.
7 P’s to Making a Marriage Last
1. Personal relationship with God should be first
I am only as effective as a wife, mother and servant of God in proportion to my own spiritual growth. My relationship with Christ has nothing to do with the person I married or the people I spend time with but everything to do with the One who created and saved me.
2. Power of influence
“One of the most important things I’ve learned as a minister’s wife,” a friend noted, “is to understand my power of influence over my husband. The way I live can either make or break my husband’s ministry.” In the same way, the way I live can make or break someone’s opinion of my Savior. We must do our best, in word and deed, to serve God, our husbands and others whom God has placed in our lives. We must faithfully and accurately represent Jesus to a world full of hardened hearts.
Don’t allow the “work of God” to ever get in the way or replace the “work of God in your life.” If you don’t have a scheduled time set aside for those most important to you, it will never happen. Whether it’s a date night with your husband, personal time with the Lord, or dinner with loved ones, take time to schedule it.
4. Personal passion
We cannot be all things to all people. If you are married, be careful to preserve and protect your own passions and identity while encouraging your spouse in his own areas of ministry. Whether you’re married or single, never forget your dreams. God gave them to you for a reason. Do not think you are too weak to accomplish your dreams. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
One of my mentors told me, “I’ve learned to fully worship God. That worship, in turn, made me feel more of God’s love, acceptance and presence.” We must pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) because prayer is the source of communication and intimacy with God and one of the best ways to experience God’s love.
Put on the garment of peace and rest in His wisdom as you go along the life’s journey. Whether you’re single, married, widowed or divorced, take comfort in knowing that God knows your heart and will reveal to you the steps to take. Remember that your peace comes from Christ alone. There is nothing more powerful than a woman who is authentic before her God, her family and God’s people.
A friend once advised me, “My job is to make my husband look good doing his job.” She went on to remind me that constructive comments should be made at home, out of the earshot of others, and that I must be patient and pray my husband through the process. How true for all relationships! We must be supportive and patient – bearing with one another in love, just as Jesus exemplified for each one of us.
Let’s not forget the power of mentors. In Titus Chapter 2, we read: Teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the Word of God.
Wherever you’re at in life, whether you’re a daughter, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a friend or all of the above, be a godly influence in someone’s life … and allow yourself to be influenced by a godly woman.