5 Ways To Work On Your Relationship Where It Needs It Most
Alright, welcome back to this final day of our course on getting ready for marriage.
As a quick review, here’s where we’ve been:
Day 1. Are you sure you should be in this relationship?
Day 2. The all-important, ultimate purpose of marriage.
Day 3. The importance of our hearts in every area of our relationships.
Day 4. Three practical tests to figure out where your relationship needs the most work.
The purpose of today’s lesson is to help you apply the insights God has given you on Days 1-4 to your own relationship. If you’re like me, this may be where you struggle most: insight is so much easier than application.
Five Ways To Work On Your Relationship Where It Needs It Most
Acknowledge that your fiance(e) and marriage cannot give you Life.
Our culture can make it seem like marriage is all butterflies and violins. And your future spouse, created in God’s image, is his biggest gift to you this side of eternity short of Jesus. But asking your fiance(e) to be a stand-in for God - however unintentionally - isn’t fair to them or good for you. Although you ‘know’ this, it’s good to remind yourself of this regularly, and seek God’s forgiveness if you find yourself falling into this pattern.
Thank God for your fiance(e).
Like the couple in Song of Solomon, spend some time thanking God specifically for your fiance(e). As you consider doing the hard work of change, it’s good to follow Paul’s example of asking for help in the context of thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). It also protects you from viewing your fiance(e), or yourself, as ‘the problem’.
Invite other believers into your relationship.
We started to cover this in Day 4, but change is a team sport. There’s a reason Paul gives us over 50 commands about ‘one anothering’; your relationship needs the honest feedback and warm encouragement that other followers of Jesus can give. Try to develop and nurture a variety of relationships: peers, a pastor, an older mentor couple, and so on. Each will play an important role in your relationship’s health. (And, you in theirs.)
Pursue premarital counseling. Pursuing premarital counseling allows you to at least touch on the key topics every couple faces on their road toward marriage. Often, your (or another) church will host a class you can take, but you should meet with a seasoned couple who can help you process - and prioritize - what comes up in the class. Share with your mentor couple the issues that surfaced on Day 4 of this course, and let them know these may need more attention.
Pick just one area to begin.
Even though this mini-course has been just 5 days long, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. It happens to me all the time… and then I do nothing, despite good intentions. Jesus reminds us that ‘now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’ (John 13:17) I want you - and your fiance(e) to be blessed by living out what you’ve learned. So, take a moment right now and commit to one place you’ll start, and, when.
I’m guessing that much of what we’ve covered isn’t brand new to you. But, that’s how life - and the kingdom - work.
From my experience with couples, the most successful ones aren’t the smartest, or the ones who have brilliant insights into their relationships. The couples who wind up most fulfilled are the ones who consistently do the small, often unglamorous, things that God asks them to. By God’s grace, I hope that you will join me in ‘failing in the right direction.’
Action Steps: Day 5
The list above is basically an action plan for the day, but to boil it down even more, what is the one thing you will do next? When will you do it?
The most successful couples aren’t necessarily the smartest, or the ones who have brilliant insights into their relationship. The couples who wind up most fulfilled are the ones who consistently do the small, often unglamorous, things that God asks them to.
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It's been an honor spending (part of) the last few days with you. My heart is that God has given you something that will help get ready for your marriage so that it glorifies him and satisfies you.
Remember that God is with you as you strive for change. You're not alone, and it's not all on you and your fiance(e). As Paul writes, 'It is God who works in you [and your relationship!], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.' (Philippians 2:13a)