Where do you want to be in 10 years? Do you want to have a happy marriage and a family of your own by then? I know I certainly do. Preparing for your future family starts today. From an early age, my mom often reminded me…
The way you treat your family today is the way you’ll treat your family tomorrow.
Men, the way you treat your mom and sisters today is the way you’ll act toward your wife. Ladies, the way you treat your dad and brothers today is the way you’ll respond to your husband. Right now, you are building relational habits that you will carry into your own marriage and family. For better or for worse, you are pouring the concrete of your future home. You only have a brief window of opportunity to lay the foundation. Here are 4 relationship habits to form before the concrete sets.
It’s the lifeblood of relationships, yet we often take it for granted. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21) Marriages wither and homes splinter because of poor communication. To have a happy home, we need to learn how to communicate well. What does the Bible teach us about communication?
- “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
- “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19)
- “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things…” (Ephesians 4:15, emphasis added)
When we practice speaking the truth in love, listening to others, and seeking to encourage others with our words, we can lay the groundwork for good communication in our future marriages.
Just as an oyster forms a beautiful pearl around an irritating grain of sand, God will help us produce the sweet fruit of patience as we encounter everyday irritations. Maybe a sister interrupts your brilliant, weighty thoughts (how dare she!) to ask for help with a math question. Or your perfectly laid plans go to ruin because of weather, vehicle breakdowns, or a sudden emergency. These situations require patience….not glamorous, noble patience, but ordinary, nobody-even-noticed patience. And that’s not even mentioning the patience required to keep obeying God when you can’t see past the next step!
In truth, every life stage requires patience. When you’re engaged and counting down the days till you walk the aisle, you’ll need to be patient. When you’re out of work and waiting for the phone to ring for an interview, you’ll need patience. When you’re eight months pregnant and can’t reach your toes, you’ll need patience.
Whether married or single, parent or not, God has placed you on the potter’s wheel, and He is shaping your life into something exquisitely beautiful. Just be patient! James reminds us, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). Patience is key to having a happy marriage someday.
“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers,” wrote Ruth Bell Graham. Even after salvation, we are still in the flesh, and we will make mistakes. The key to forgiving others is to remember how much God has forgiven us. Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35? (If you aren’t familiar with it, take a moment to read it.) Too often, we act just like that servant. If we have believed in Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God has forgiven our debt for thousands of sins, more than we could ever count or remember. He has thrown our sins into the depths of the sea, and He will never bring them up again (Isaiah 38:17).
But we, like the unforgiving servant, refuse to forgive a specific offense. Mentally, we build a little shrine to its memory and revisit it many times. We cling to anger, bitterness, and vengeful thoughts, never realizing that we are drinking poison. Yet God commands us to be, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13) Christ forgave us for everything. No exceptions. No reminders. No expiration date. By His grace, let’s go and do likewise.
Brace yourself, because this is probably going to hurt. You’re really selfish. (And I am, too.) Because of our sin nature, humans are naturally self-centered. We tend to focus on our own goals, desires, and dreams and completely ignore the needs of the people around us. But, when we get married, we start to realize how selfish we really are. Gary and Betsy Ricucci write in their book Love that Lasts, “One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, ‘Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!’” Marriage helps people discover their faults, and selfishness is definitely at the top of that list.
To have a happy marriage tomorrow, we need to practice being unselfish, or selfless, today. Living within a family unit—whether we’re single or married—requires us to deny self in order to serve others. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul describes the selfless attitude we need to practice, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Unselfishness is a tough pill to swallow (especially for millennials like us). In fact, it’s impossible without God’s help.
But God doesn’t expect us to be selfless in our own strength. Nor does He expect us to be naturally patient, forgiving, or skilled at communication. Rather, He calls us to be filled with the Spirit. That way, His selfless and agape love can flow like a rushing stream through our lives. His wisdom can fill our mouths. His patience can smooth the rough patches on life’s road. His forgiveness can heal our hurts and mend our relationships.
If you want a happy marriage tomorrow, choose wise relationship habits today. Pour the concrete carefully. And, above all, learn to be filled with the Spirit. “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” (Psalm 127:1) When God builds your house, it will stand the test of time.
This post was written by Claudine Broussard. Claudine is a young writer from the East Coast. She is the co-author of Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy and a copywriter/editor at Forward Marketing. In her free time, she enjoys playing music, serving in children’s ministries, and spending time with her family.