If I plant a flower bed and then do nothing to maintain it, in only a short time it will start to look really bad. Weeds will take over, flowers will wilt, and before long that flower bed will be full of stuff that's either ugly or dead.
Our marriages are much the same. If we want our marriages to be alive and strong, we want to invest in them. Here are six ways we can nurture our marriage relationships:
1. Nurture with CHRIST. As husband and wife draw closer to Christ, we also draw closer to each other. When Christ is at the center of our relationship, we have His help to face any challenge that comes.
2. Nurture with COMMUNICATION. Good communication is essential in any healthy relationship, but even more in marriage. We want to take time to talk together, dream together, work out problems together, and share our innermost thoughts with each other. We want to take time to listen to each other and understand each other.
3. Nurture with CARING and COMPASSION. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love is kind. When we are kind to one another, that strengthens our marriage. The opposite is also true: when we are unkind to one another, that harms our marriage. Let's seek to be kind to one another even at those moments when it may be difficult.
4. Nurture with CONTENTMENT. When we spend our time thanking God for what we have rather than complaining about what we do not have - this is contentment. When we are content with our spouse, we won't want to look to other people to provide the things that only our spouse should provide. When we are content with what we have, we (individually or together as a couple) won't waste our energy looking elsewhere for something we THINK might make us more happy. We want to be content in the here and now.
5. Nurture with CONFESSION. Confession, and its close partner forgiveness, are foundational to a healthy marriage. I want to be quick to confess when I have wronged my wife. And I want to be quick to forgive her when she confesses something to me. If I am quick to apologize, then my wife is free to forgive, and we can move past those unkind words I said or that thoughtless thing I did.
6. Nurture with COOPERATION. It takes time to feel like we are truly "one" in a biblical sense - intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Marriage is always a "work in progress," but it's a wonderful thing when husband and wife are working together, under the headship of Christ, to become all that God wants us to be.
May these words encourage you as you nurture your own marriage and make it grow.