“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25
Every couple who stands at the altar professing their love intends to have a strong marriage. Sadly, few have an actual plan for how to do it. Even most Christian couples spend far more time planning their wedding than planning their marriage. Building and maintaining a strong marriage requires a keen understanding of what makes it healthy and what puts it at risk.
The relationship of husband and wife mirrors the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). So, the first step to a strong and healthy marriage is demonstrating that kind of sacrificial love and devotion. Like salvation, marriage is a covenant relationship, which carries the weight of exclusivity. This is far more than sexual fidelity. Our loyalty and dedication to our spouse should be second only to Christ.
But what God loves, Satan hates. One of the ways we know the importance of marriage is the lengths to which the enemy goes to harm it. His most successful weapon against marriage is in corrupting God’s design for sexual intimacy. There’s no longer an expectation that sex is for marriage alone. Our world has reduced a sacred act to a recreational act of pleasure.
As believers, we need to honestly examine how the world’s twisted view of marriage and sex affects us, and then address it. Hypersexuality floods our brains through entertainment and advertising; not to mention pornography. All of these shape how we think about intimacy and how we approach it with our spouse. Followers of Jesus should think and live differently from the world in every area of life.
Seeing the big picture is crucial to building and maintaining a strong marriage, but it often comes down to how our plan is carried out. We make seemingly small decisions every day that either strengthen or weaken our marriages. For instance, overloading our schedules and overstretching our finances leave little margin in life, which can strain any marriage.
For Christians, building and maintaining a strong marriage involves more than attending church together. It takes awareness of self, of God, and of the world. It requires planning and hard work. But above all, a strong marriage is the result of devotion to one another based on mutual devotion to Jesus Christ.