Updated: Aug 24
As I was about to do this write-up, my mind flashed back to a friend of mine who way back in 2004 had bought a car. He was so happy with it that he literally had it washed twice a week and sometimes three times. After a few months, he moved to the southern part of New Jersey but we kept in touch. In March of 2006, we scheduled to meet for dinner and he was to pick me up. I was shocked when he pulled into my driveway. His car had three ugly dents and looked like it had not been washed for months. The inside of the car was more dismal in appearance. In my shock, I questioned him as to why his car was in such bad shape. His answer was, “Mennnnn, No time!” I followed up with another question: “When was the last time you serviced this car?” He answered: “Nnaa men, it is long overdue.” What a pity; what used to be this guys pride is now just a junk car that gets him from one place to the next.
Unfortunately, many marriages can very easily become like my friend’s car. Most marriages usually begin on a very sweet note! It is not uncommon to see your spouse as the “Love of your life”, the “Apple of your eye”, the “Sugar in your tea”, the “Breathe of your life”, and the “Beat of your heart”. With time, things happen and people get hurt; uncaring behaviors begin to surface and the relationship begins to accumulate dust and roughages—spouses begin to take each other for granted, apologies for offending behaviors become less frequent, careless and insensitive talk (sometimes juiced up with the calling of nasty names) become more frequent, time spent together becomes rarer and before you know it, spouses are sleeping on different beds and in different rooms and the relationship becomes comatose—no adventure, no emotions, no surprises, no excitement, no spontaneity, no feelings, no passion, no gifts, no sex, etc.
The good news is that God is unlimited in His grace and will help us turn things around if only we can trust Him for it. The Bible tells us: “He raised us up together with Him…that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come, the immeasurable, limitless, surpassing riches of His free grace, His unmerited favor…” (Ephesians 2:6-7AMP). Our God is a God of unlimited grace, favor, and blessing. If your marriage is in trouble, God longs to fix it. He longs to show you His goodness and pour out His abundance into your home.
You see, when God looks at you, your spouse, your children (if you are already blessed with them), He sees unlimited possibility and potential; unlimited resources and joy. His grace and favor are already planted within your marriage and this is your power and ability to become what God sees. But this cannot happen unless you take off the limits you have set on your marriage, i.e. those things that are frustrating, truncating, polluting, and messing up your home.
Remember what happened in the Bible when Jesus could not perform any miracles in a town because of their unbelief. The same works in our lives and marriages. When we take the limits off of our matrimonial homes, we give God free hand to multiply His immeasurable favors in our families. God did not put you and your spouse together by mistake; He doesn’t know how to make one. When He matched you up, He intended joy and happiness for you and a fruitful and blessed marriage. Take the limits off and you will see God’s intention for you blow wide open in your life. Remember His promise: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). So how can you let off the limits on our marriage? I do propose the following.
1. De-clutter your marriage.
In Isaiah, God admonishes us, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:18). Cluttering your marriage with things of the past sets limits on the ability of your marriage to enjoy present blessings. Therefore, forgive! Forgiveness brings freedom of the spirit, freedom to live in the present, freedom to take advantage of what is happening now in your life; freedom to celebrate the blessings of today. Forgive your spouse as the Lord has forgiven you of your own iniquity. You have offended God so many times and you do expect Him to forgive you. Do the same to your spouse for the Lord said, “The measure with which you forgive is the measure with which you will be forgiven”. Forgiveness is the key to the fulfillment of the “until death do us part” that you pronounced in your marital promise.
2. Center your marriage on prayer.
You can let off all kinds of limits when you spend valuable time with your family praying. In your prayer, confess Christ into your marriage. The Bible tells us that “if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, you will be saved. The word “salvation” comes from the Greek word “Soteria” which means, “healing, safety, deliverance, preservation, restoration, and soundness. When you confess Christ into your marriage, you are delivering your marriage from every evil while restoring it to wholeness. You are declaring Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your marriage with the assurance that no weapon, either from within or without that is fashioned against it will prosper. You are asking Christ to give you dominion over all circumstances that may impinge on your marriage.
Here is a simple confession: “Lord Jesus, I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that you are the Son of God Whom He raised from the dead and by this confession I surrender my marriage into your hand for your safe keep and protection”. The more you make this confession, the more it finds dept in your heart, and the more you believe it, the more it becomes reality. The Bible tells us, “If you ask for anything and believing it in your heart to be done, it shall be so onto you”.
In your prayer, bless each other; pray that God may abundantly pour forth His grace and peace on your spouse. This expression of goodwill has tremendous power to establish peace and harmony in your marriage and family. Praying together is the life-wire of the “until death do us part” part of your promise.
3. Celebrate time with your Spouse.
Quality time brings closeness and closeness generates intimacy. Make out time to do things together and reminisce about good times. Never underestimate the power of sharing meals around the family table and catching up with each other’s day’s work. It is important that couples find ways to balance having quality time just by themselves alone and the time spent with kids. The tendency to always focus on family life around the kids is not a very healthy thing for couples. Remember that the primary goal of every marriage is marital union. Your first and foremost responsibility is to each other. You are married to each other, not to the children. Taking care of the children should never replace taking care of each other. Limits are set on a marriage when the commitment of time is withdrawn from the marriage and invested primarily on children or elsewhere, e.g., work, parents, friends, relationship with extended family members, etc. Remember, the primary person in your life is your spouse and he or she has the primary claim to your time.
4. Keep the heat up in your marriage.
Remember that the fact that you have been married for many years does not remove the need for adventure, for daring, and for gratification in the marriage. It does not remove the need in the man to see attractiveness in his wife and the need in the woman to be wooed, cajoled, pursued, respected, and desired. Your spouse needs to be appreciated, encouraged when he or she falters, and to know that he or she is very important in your life. Your partner needs to know through your talk, touch, and hold that you care. The sweet tongue that convinced her to marry you is not a pre-marital weapon, it is also a very effective post-marital virtue and the sweet manners, that attractive ways of being, that made him fall for you are not pre-marital gears; they are very important and effective post-marital virtues.
Therefore, find activities of mutual enjoyment that can turn the heat up in your spouse. Find small, frequent, down-to-earth pleasures to share. Remember that Lovemaking is not just a night affair. It is an all-time engagement – the way you talk to each other, what you say, how you look at each other, expressions of interest, touch and feelings exhibited—all of this help to prepare for the night experience. Romance is an attitude, it is a way of approaching experience. It takes time, work, and interest to keep it going. Therefore, get back to romantic ways of being and living.
5. Find Ways to Give to Each Other
Generosity and magnanimity are the keys to a successful marriage. Giving is not just about material things. You can give joy, care, gratitude, appreciation, tenderness, etc. Giving costs you nothing but gains you everything. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your spouse is care and respect. When spouses are able to respect each other, love has an eternal chance to blossom. Show respect in the way you talk to each other; in the way you behave around each other; in the way you treat each other (both in private and in public); in the way you help each other out; in the way you make demands on each other; in the way you correct each other; in the way you request and make love to each other; and in the way you treat each other’s opinions and concerns. These kinds of giving help to build a romantic and lasting relationship.
6. Watch Your Mouth
The Bible warns us greatly about the limits the tongue can set in our lives. “In the same way, the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gahanna. …It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison…” (James 2:5-10).
Many marriages have been destroyed by the spoken word. What you say is said and cannot be retracted. You can be forgiven but it will always be remembered. It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. You may be sorry but what you have said is heard as what you mean. When you speak, you cannot fake your feelings if it is different from your intent. Your intent will always come through. Make a commitment today to use your mouth to bless rather than to curse, to build rather than castigate, to uplift rather than denigrate, to foster rather than fester, to encourage rather than discourage, to comfort rather than discomfort, and to appreciate rather than despise each other. So it is important to get that feeling of hurt, anger, and resentment out of the way so that the next word of love you speak will be true to the intent and come from your heart.
Every marriage is unique just as we are unique in our individuality. One, some, or all of these limits may be present in your marriage and you will be giving God a very good opportunity to pour forth His infinite and immeasurable blessings upon your love life if you can let go of them and trust in the power of God to come true with His promise. Remember what He said: “I have promised, and I will do it”. Why not let God take over and make your marriage the best it can be? Just let go and let God!
Emmanuel 12/3/2010 This is a really great article. I wish more people would be aware of the beauty of married life – the way God meant it to be. Chinenye 9/2/2011 Fr, pls what is wrong in marrying a man who is not a Catholic but is willing to change & u believe him? Your Name 10/5/2015 Yes, so true. I’m guilty of some of these. Thanks for sharing and Will make from this franselm 10/6/2015 Be blessed in your efforts