a man and a woman hold hands

Cultivating a God-Centered Marriage

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After publishing this post on starting a tiny group with my husband, I heard from a lot of readers who were struggling to connect spiritually with their spouses. They felt more comfortable keeping their spiritual lives separate than being vulnerable with each other and sharing their fears, dreams, and prayers with their spouses. 

This saddens me, as I have personally experienced the transformational benefits of sharing the deepest parts of my soul with my husband. When we marry, we are meant to become one (Ephesians 5:31), and this includes not just our physical selves, but even more importantly, our spiritual selves. 

In today’s guest post, Susan Lazar Nelson of Women of Noble Character Ministries looks at three ways that spouses can keep God at the center of their marriages. 

Today we are diving into our study of the God-Centered Marriage.  We’ll be taking a look at God’s plan for marriage and how scripture commands that we love our spouses.

One of my favorite verses reads:

When God is at the center of our marriage, we are forming a three cord strand.  Think of the strength of one strand, then two, then three.  You are one strand, your husband the second and God, the third.  Think of the strength you gain when your cord becomes a cord of three instead of one or two!  

In Mark 10:9, we read,  “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

How wonderful is the comfort of knowing that with God at the center of your marriage, you are giving your marriage the strength to withstand everything that is thrown at it!  He will be your refuge and strength in times of trouble!

Some of our discussions may be uncomfortable.  God may convict you through His Word and shine a light on an area that you need to improve.  

As I was writing this course, God convicted me.  My husband and I have a wonderful marriage, but, as I was creating the course outline and listing all of the areas of marriage, specifically, how to put God at the center of it, He was whispering in my ear that maybe I’m not giving ALL of my marriage to Him.

I’ll share more as we unpack each section, but I want you to take heart.  Spirit work can be uncomfortable, but if you come to God and ask Him to take the lead in your marriage and your heart, He delights in that and you will be changed.

So let’s jump in and look at God’s standard for marriage, shall we?

There are three things we need to do to put Christ at the center of our marriage.

God’s Standard for Marriage

Throughout Scripture, we are taught the roles of husband and wife and how to live our lives according to His plan for these roles.  In my Intro to Proverbs 31 course and my membership program, Faith Filled Home, we deep dive into the role of a wife. For men, there are numerous resources on the role of the husband, as well.

All are great to study and strive for, but for our purposes, let’s focus solely on God’s standard for marriage, as a whole.

In Ephesians, we receive this command plainly.  

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25). 

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22). 

It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?  Yet, many of us fail to live by these standards.  When we look at God’s steadfast love for us and hold that love up to compare it with the love we have for our husbands, where are we falling short?

To put God at the center of your marriage and follow His standard for your marriage, we need to do three main things:

Establish Your Priorities by the Lord and His Word

God makes our priorities pretty clear.  We are to love God first, then our husbands and everything else, yes EVERYTHING, including your children, follows.

The Lord desires that we love him more than we love anything else. The best way to develop a love for the Lord is to think about and examine (in Scripture) all the ways He has loved you. There are so many other things that compete for our mental energy and emotional love.  Women, especially, have a hard time with this one.

The Lord desires that we serve him. However, there are many couples who spend very little, if any time, serving the Lord. The vast majority of their time is dedicated to other things. If you are not actively using your gifts and abilities to serve the Lord, then Christ is not at the center.

God also desires for us to be good stewards of the resources he has given us. So when couples use their financial resources to accomplish things for the cause of Christ, they demonstrate the priority of the Lord in their life. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). It is impossible to have Jesus at the center and not invest financially in the work of the Lord.

There are dozens more examples, but the point is that our priority system will be measured largely by the way we invest our time, talent, and treasure.

Think About the Lord in the Mundane Moments of Life

Life is busy.  We have errands, laundry, work, meetings, cooking; the list goes on and on. In the mundane moments of our lives is when God wants us to focus on Him.  Are you including Him in your day? In your moments?

Recently, I shared in a blog post how much I can’t stand mopping floors. I seriously dislike that chore.  Instead of feeling resentful that I have to mop the floors AGAIN, (I mean, didn’t I JUST do this?), I’ve found that by thanking God for floors to mop and talking with Him while I mop, the chore doesn’t seem so bad.

Think about God and praise Him in the little moments of each day.  Praise Him and talk to Him while you prepare your family’s meals, when you are in the car or waiting for your little one at practice.  Share with Him your frustrations and your joys.

If you and your husband disagree, instead of stewing about it, ask yourself: how does God want to use this argument and how do I respond to it to help me grow to be more like Christ? What do I need to learn about my spouse? 

Use those moments as an opportunity for you to grow and change, not an opportunity for you to blame your husband or build up resentment.

We have a tendency to pray when we need something or when something is going wrong in our lives, but if we include Him in all of the moments in our days, we are putting Him first and therefore, putting Him at the center of our marriages.

Maintain Spiritual Disciplines

What do you think of when you think of Spiritual disciplines? Spiritual disciplines can include prayer, Bible study, fasting, and attending worship services, of course, but there can be more to it than the obvious. Disciplines are activities that help you live with Jesus as the center. Prayer is a conversation with the Lord.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal; in fact, since God wants your heart, He wants you, the real you.  The way you naturally talk with a friend.  He wants you to talk with Him like that.  Do you enjoy talking with God?  The more you talk with Him, the more you will enjoy it, and the more you enjoy it, the more you will want to talk with him.  

Establish a lifestyle of prayer.

While we are on the subject of prayer, don’t just pray FOR your husband, pray WITH your husband. Prayer is an intimate act and praying together allows you to be vulnerable and opens the heart to a deeper connection with your spouse.

Living a life with Christ at the center of your life and of your marriage is pure joy.

Today’s guest post is excerpted from Susan Lazar Nelson’s newest book, The God Centered Marriage: Honoring Him Through Your Marriage, a how-to marriage manual with action steps, journal questions, scripture references, prayer guides, and resources for deeper study. Grab your copy from Amazon here

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