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Keeping your promise to stay married

Life & Life Issues with EMMANUEL MUKULA
I HAVE come to learn and appreciate that reading the Bible individually and as a couple can be of great help to keeping a marriage afloat.
This is because the Bible is God’s instruction book for marriage, therefore knowing and implementing what it says will help couples to stay married in a strong union.
Akin to reading the Bible must be prayer. Married couples that pray together and for each other bring God into the picture who makes them accountable to keep the sacred promise of staying together in that marriage.
However, in my years as a counsellor, I have come to realise that there are many things we do in life which have a bearing on whether we will keep our promise to stay married. Things like what we read, what we watch, what we listen to, whom we associate with, all have the potential to influence our marriage either for good or bad.
Therefore, whatever we do, we must always ask ourselves the question: does it encourage a godly relationship with our spouse or does it fill our minds with wrong and unbiblical expectations and ideas of love? Much of what couples expect is ‘Hollywood’ kind of love, which is unreal.
I believe that Love is really misunderstood in marriages. There are so many unreasonable expectations and selfishness among couples that the very essence of love is killed, leaving married couples discontented.
We don’t need to be selfish with love, simply express it. We need to be deliberately intentional in how we show love to our spouses by going on dates, preparing favourite meals, writing love notes to each other, and giving each other flowers. If married couples can do what they did when they were in courtship, many homes would be like rose flowers in full bloom.
However, without efforts to work on a marriage, it won’t be long before two people are present in the same house and yet emotionally absent from each other. That is why we ought to be more engaged with our spouse daily through conversations at the same time being good listeners. Talk to each other about your day, share feelings, hold hands, hug and smile at each. Let the other know how glad you are that they are there with you.
In as much as marriages are not problem-free, they are capable of being healed by applying certain biblical principles. For example, Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to “… be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”. The quicker we handle those hurts and practice forgiveness, the faster the restoration takes place. Bitterness and resentment will destroy a marriage and in this light, aim not to go to bed angry. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26, 27)
Many storms will come to test the foundations of our marriages. Suffering will come in small and big forms, yet how we navigate through these difficulties makes all the difference. No matter the trials, do not let them separate you. “What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9) .Let no situation separate what God has joined. Decide to work through all trials that come your way.
One of the ways of working through challenging times is by attending a church with like-minded Christians who also value the marriage promise, as they will definitely encourage us to do the same. There is much encouragement in the church and in being with other couples who are working to protect their marriage promise. Such Christian couples will certainly have positive influence on a marriage in trouble.
The one thing you need to remember is that the marriage promise is worth protecting and it takes hard work and commitment to do so. At the end of the day, the effort will pay off, and as we grow older with our spouses, we will look back and thank God that we braved all the odds and remained true to keeping our promise to stay married.
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