Have you noticed how hard it is to extinguish a healthy fire? It’s difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.
There have been times I’ve dumped gallons of water on a fire we had in our fire pit in my back yard only to see it smoke up for a few minutes and eventually re-ignite. Sometimes I thought it was completely out and the next morning the fire is still smoking. It’s hard to extinguish a healthy fire.
And, it’s hard to extinguish a healthy marriage. It may “smoke” for a while, and may display little to no flame at the surface, but the smoldering coals take a long time to go out. A little more wood, and a little more oxygen, and the coals will eventually start flaming again.
Here’s the good news. Regardless of the size of the flame in your marriage, God has the ability to rekindle it into a roaring fire. Even though it might seem like the spark is gone, God started a relational fire on your wedding day that he never intended to go out. And since he doesn’t desire for it ever to go out, you can have confidence that there is ALWAYS a flame to rekindle.
Here’s 3 ways you can fan the flame of your relationship:
- Show Respect – I’ve yet to meet someone that doesn’t desire respect from their spouse. It’s easy to show your spouse respect if their behavior is respectable. But what about when it isn’t? First, respect is more about who someone is than what someone does. Regardless of what your spouse’s behavior looks like, the fact they they have been created in God’s image demands the most basic form of respect. In the context of marriage, your spouse is a very special part of God’s creation…your “One Flesh”. When God joined you together on your wedding day he did something miraculous – he turned 2 into 1. Your spouse was created in God’s image, and more specifically they are a very part of who you are. In the same way you wouldn’t disrespect your own body, it doesn’t make any sense to disrespect your spouse either.
Speak to your spouse in a way that acknowledges them as the most significant and valuable part of God’s creation.
- The “how” hurts more than the “what” – Showing your spouse respect is not so much what you say, but how you say it.
- Respect who they are over what they do – Speak to your spouse in a way that acknowledges them as the most significant and valuable part of God’s creation. Speak to them as if they were the most important person in the world. Why? Because to you, that’s the title your spouse holds.
- Provide Security – One of the most beautiful expressions of God’s love for us is expressed in Deuteronomy 31:6, “…never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” There is a certain freedom, comfort, and peace that comes with having a relationship with someone who loves us like this. The best marriages are developed in this same environment – security – not one of constant fear for what the future holds.
- Recommit – When was the last time you told your spouse you would never leave them…no matter what? If your answer is when you said your vows on your wedding day, “for better, for worse, until death do us part“, it has been too long.
- Keep your promises – Big expressions of lifelong commitment towards your spouse are important, but these don’t typically happen every day. But, you do have opportunities multiple times a day to keep your promises. Do what you say you’re going to do. When you don’t, acknowledge your failure and commit to change moving forward. Security is best built in the everyday small moments of your marriage.
- Financially – Men, do everything you can to provide in a way that meets the needs of your family for today (work hard) and in the event of a tragedy in the future (life insurance). Women and Men – spend in a way that shows respect for the amount of money God has provided to you.
- Never mention divorce – Never. Don’t joke about it. Don’t speak sarcastically about it. And absolutely don’t threaten your spouse with it.
When was the last time you told your spouse you would never leave them…no matter what?
- Give Encouragement – My wife thinks I’m the best husband on the planet. And, she tells me often. She tells the world through Facebook, in conversations with our friends, when we speak at conferences. It’s almost embarrassing. I want her to stop – well, not really. I know I’m not the best, most handsome, most talented, most spiritual husband in the world. But, my wife makes me feel that way when she speaks to me. Her words of encouragement give me confidence, hope, and motivation to pursue goals and dreams I’d never be able to accomplish on my own. In a world where most of us negatively compare ourselves to others in so many ways and are unfortunately discouraged by the people around us, our marriage needs to be a place where words of encouragement help fuel us towards everything God wants us to be – Hebrews 10:24-25.
- Encourage who they are in addition to what they do – Encouraging your spouse’s behavior is “elementary encouraging”, but “graduate level encouragement” speaks to who your spouse is as a person. It could be as simple as, “I’m so glad you’re my husband / wife.”
- Don’t ever compare – One of the most damaging things a spouse can hear is, “I wish you could be more like….”. Your words might not come out as direct as this, but let there not even be a hint of comparing your spouse to another in a negative way.
- Pray for them on the spot – This might be the most simple, yet powerful, thing you can do to encourage your spouse on daily basis. When I share my discouragement with Star and she immediately prays for me in response, it breathes life to my weary soul. It re-orients me away from the circumstances that are discouraging me and gives me motivation to persevere when I feel like quitting.
Next time you see fire in any form – a candle, a campfire, or a fire in the fireplace – think about how you can contribute more “oxygen” and “wood” to the fire in your marriage.
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.