This October Terrie and I revisited the site of our first date of October 1979

Yesterday, Terrie and I celebrated thirty years of marriage. It’s hard to believe that something that seemed too wonderful to be true on our wedding day is even better now! I praise God for a godly wife and for the ever-deepening relationship He has given us.

Every newly-married couple knows that marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts. But, after the newness wears off, far too many couples treat their marriage like the kids who get the toy “I’ve always wanted” for Christmas.” They enjoy the gift for a short period, but very soon it is forgotten or neglected.

Marriage is for the long haul. And it actually gets better through the years when it is given continual attention. If you want a marriage that lasts, then you need these five “stays”:

1. Stay in love with Jesus.

God’s greatest commandment is to love Him: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This foundation to our relationship with the Lord is also the foundation to our relationship with our spouse. If you stay in love with the Lord and remain yielded to the Holy Spirit, He will give you love and patience for your spouse.

People who leave their spouse, do so as a result of gradually sliding—away from the Lord. They first backslide from the Lord, and then their heart is turned from their spouse.

So many husbands and wives focus on having the other spouse meet their needs. The greatest needs of our lives, however, can only be met by the Lord. You need to be close to the Lord and walking with Him. When both partners are close to the Lord, they will then find themselves close to the other.

2. Stay committed to having a great marriage.

God commands husbands to take the initiative in this commitment: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

When both partners are committed, not just to staying together, but to consistently building and strengthening their marriage, a great marriage is the result. Just as you invested in each other during your time of dating, invest in each other now. Give of your energy and of yourself to build your relationship. Don’t settle for mediocrity!

3. Stay grateful for God’s blessings.

First Thessalonians 5:18 instructs, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I’ve learned much over the past year about marriage just by watching my son and daughter-in-law, Larry and Ashley. Even during the intensity of Larry’s illness and treatment, it’s been special to see them express gratefulness to one another and focus together on God’s blessings.

Satan tries to point out all the flaws in your spouse, but remember, there are many great things about your husband or wife. Look for those things, and express thankfulness for them.

4. Stay open and honest with one another.

Either spouse should be able to check the other’s cell phone, internet history, or social networking sites at any time. Guarding these areas as private and protecting them from your spouse leaves room for great damage in your life. But accountability in every area helps you obey the command of Romans 14:16, “Let not then your good be evil spoken of.”

5. Stay regular in church attendance.

The local church is designed to strengthen and help families. But if you’re not in church, you miss the help you need. Purpose to, as a couple and as a family, obey Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”

Above all, stay together! Some couples endure marriage. But there is so much more that God desires for your relationship. Purpose to invest in your marriage—to by God’s grace take your relationship to new heights for the glory of God.

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