Happy “new” marriage…9 ways to improve your union in 2015 by growing spiritually stronger

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If this life of ours
Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry
Because a year of it is gone? but Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The old year slipped quietly into history. At home Christmas lights twinkled and we closed a December that had challenged us both with family issues, health situations, and marital foxes of fear, sometimes-selfish choices and past pain that loomed large and loveless contrasted with the joy of the season.

But God.

So we counted up blessings from January through December numbering 1,183.

And we smiled. Thanking God for the good, the bad and the messy middle that He uses all for good.

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Then we melted butter and lobster steaming we savored shrimp cocktail and steak off the grill. Romantic classics played as we waited for midnight. Out of Africa, a sweeping true tale lushly filmed, and the iconic Casablanca. These movies portraying for better and worse the various intimacies of relationships and marriages.

And in the wee small hours of the baby new year we opened our Bible and found promises of hope tucked between the lines of the greatest love letter.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20

And reconciliation is no more important than in God’s gift of marriage where it should flow like a river of grace with the dawn bringing renewed strength and unlimited possibilities to make your marriage even sweeter.

… a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day … is too dear with its hopes and invitations to waste a moment on the rotten yesterdays. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

No matter what last year was like in your marriage you can’t move forward if you keep looking back at the baggage bulging with resentments, unforgiveness or pain. What’s done is done but by God’s grace what comes next can be intentionally better.

Delight in the Lord and His Holy Spirit indwelling makes darkness flee.

And this is freedom.

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2015 is a virgin year unsoiled so why not push the reset button in the areas where your marriage stumbled.

And then live in the incredible power of Christ, the unbreakable third strand that helps spouses become who God created them to be.

Forgive your mate. Wipe the slate clean. Sit down together and set new positive goals for your marriage.

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18-19

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But how do these lofty New Year’s words work out in the nitty gritty reality of marriage?

One day at a time beginning with a choice.

Choosing your mate regardless of how you feel. Choosing to obey. And not just the scriptures agree with, but the harder commands too like never going to bed angry and submitting to your husband and him loving you like Jesus does.

Inhale grace.

More vital than oxygen, grace keeps marriages alive and brings rest for weary souls that seek in vain to control or to run away from darkness buried deep that God wants resurrected into newness of life.

Choose Him.

He is the author and finisher of your faith and love story married no matter if it’s 45 years old and tired from traveling the same dusty, dysfunctional rut or newly born and shiny bright with hope-filled possibilities like the New Year looming.

Stand firm on your vows even when it’s hard by making Jesus preeminent. Believe that the only option for your marriage is success! Remember your marriage will leave a lasting legacy. You choose whether it’s a good legacy or not for those that follow after. 

I take you for my lawfully wedded spouse, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as we both shall live.

Roll up your sleeves.

Pour in the sweat equity marriage requires. Self-sacrifice, putting the other first, forgiveness, owning your bad without blaming or shaming your spouse. Change the one person you can change in your marriage.

Yourself.

Prioritize spending time alone with Him.

Your marriage is as strong as the weakest-link partner. The only way to grow emotionally is through a daily session with the Wonderful Counselor. Every day. Not just in the first few weeks of January all pumped up. Promise Father, open your bible and just do it. Let God be your first waking thought and your last before sleep comes.

Surrender hidden parts of your heart if you really want to be made whole.

All the sharp, broken pieces that Pride wants to keep secret and Fear can’t bear to let out. Let go in this New Year so your marriage wounded can be healed.

Submit to God. And each other.

Obedience is not an evil word. It protects and brings life and health. So resist the devil without and within and watch him run.

Let your marriage represent the incarnation of Christ.

And this is mystery, two becoming one in One, but the key to the treasure of marriage is surely unlocked in these scriptures:

…but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:18-33

Resolve to live these life-giving verses today.

And this time next year, as the ball is dropping in Times Square, you will see that time spent with Him was time wisely invested.

Because isn’t it time to transform your brokenness into a Christ-healed marriage?

Like water into wine…

Sheila Signature Reduced

As a woman who was once in a very abusive marriage that had to end in divorce– my words above refer to good marriages that occasionally hit speed bumps. If you are involved with a violent, abusive man please don’t keep trying, believing he will change this year. Get help and get out. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 –1-800-799-7233.

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14 thoughts on “Happy “new” marriage…9 ways to improve your union in 2015 by growing spiritually stronger

  1. Inhaling grace and choosing Him! I look forward to another year with my sweetie too. God really challenged us with new ministries together in 2014 so I look forward to whatever is next in 2015. Blessings to you, Sheila, for always praying and writing to keep our marriages strong!

    • Thanks so much, Lisa. And Happy New Year to you and your hubs. I loved your post this morning on NOW…and sorry that the emotions you are going through are a little hard. Praying for you and your family as you sort through a lifetime of memories.

    • It doesn’t just happen. And we have to work at it everyday making it second after our pursuit of Christ. And it is just that — our relationship with Him — that helps our marriage flow in grace, each of us operating in His love, following His commands. And He will always help us…Blessings to you and yours in the New Year and beyond. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by.

  2. Sheila your words are always so encouraging and challenging too. Respecting our husband is what we should do, but sometimes it gets difficult. To respect his decisions when we think differently, to respect his desire to go into town when I would rather stay home and rest. To respect him in all situations and realize our respect goes much further than our husband, because it reaches to our Lord Christ Jesus as well. Thanks for your sweet comments on my story, and for sharing with us here at “Tell me a Story.”

    • Thank you, Hazel, for visiting and leaving your thoughtful words. Respect and submission can be hard when we just cant seem to understand where they may be coming from or if they have made choices in the past that have turned out poorly. And you are right that as we respect our husbands we respect Jesus. But Jesus, He really loves His girls. And scripture says that husbands and wives submit to each other and sometimes that may mean a husband understanding his wife needs to be home to rest and him loving her like Christ loves the church and staying with her. Blessings to you, dear Hazel, with many hugs.

  3. A beautiful post full of encouragement and exhortation!

    I do feel the need to point out the limitations…that anyone in an abusive relationship – where their partner repeatedly violates the covenant vows to love, honor, cherish, and forsake all others – should seriously consider finding a safe place and terminating the relationship in divorce. One partner cannot single-handedly save a marriage…it takes both partners being fully committed to each other and to God.

    I don’t mean to detract from your beautiful exhortation. I’m just very aware (through personal experience) of how easily an abuse target can fall prey to faulty thinking that they can/should/must save the marriage by single-handedly working harder, believing more deeply, praying more fervently, and submitting more sacrificially. It can’t be done…nor does God intend us to try…

    Thanks and have a blessed day!

    • Thanks, Joe. And you know I stand with you on this one regarding abusive relationships. Thanks, though, for sounding the alarm again. Victims need to be constantly reminded to GET OUT. NO ONE should EVER stay in an abusive marriage!! And the Spirit prompted me the same way He did you as I wrote this post!! So I included this “disclaimer” which I am copying here since it truly bears repeating. Thanks, Joe 🙂

      As a woman who was once in a very abusive marriage that had to end in divorce– my words above refer to good marriages that occasionally hit speed bumps. If you are involved with a violent, abusive man please don’t keep trying, believing he will change this year. Get help and get out. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 –1-800-799-7233.

  4. Ooh! So much good insight here, Sheila! I love your parting words about Jesus transforming our marriages from “water to wine.” And this simple but oh so true challenge stands out too – “Choosing your mate regardless of how you feel.” I’m excited for your new website and am praying that God blesses Michael and your socks off! Hugs and Happy New Year, girlfriend!

    • Thanks, Beth. Water to wine…and it begins with each partner looking to Christ and changing per His direction regardless of the other. Thanks for your good wishes on the new website but I really wanna keep my socks on at least till spring 🙂 LOL

  5. Sheila, thank you for your words of encouragement on marriage. It can be so hard, but you offer so many ways to really draw close – to God and our spouse. I want to surrender more. Cheering on your words and your truth!