Marriage is a relationship that needs constant effort and nurturing for continued growth. Both the husband and the wife need to grow in certain areas so that their marriage relationship will flourish as God had intended it.
Growth like a vineyard
All married couples need to work in tending their relationship. Like a vineyard that bears fruit, we must be careful to weed out and drive away things that will endanger or harm the relationship. The Song of Solomon gives us great wisdom regarding the matter:
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)
We must catch the “little foxes” that will ruin our marriage. Some of these little foxes consist of character flaws and hurts that are left unhealed and festering. We can drive them away by cultivating the right things that will allow our marriage to grow, in the same way organic fertilisers allow fruit-bearing plants to grow and bear fruit.
Areas to grow
Knowing this, here are three areas all married couples need to develop and grow in.
1. Understanding one another
1 Peter 3:1-7 gives both husbands and wives the command to love each other in specific ways. While wives are told to submit to their husbands and motivate them to honour the Lord by their way of life, husbands are also told to honour and be considerate of their wives.
Husbands and wives are very different from each other, but these differences need not be a reason for marriage to become bitter. When the couple commits to understanding each other and ironing out different perspectives and mindsets, marriage becomes better.
2. Patience towards each other
Aside from committing to understanding one another, married couples need to grow in the area of being patient with each other.
No matter how loving a husband or wife may be, they will still have imperfections, shortcomings, flaws, and tendency to make mistakes. It takes a lot of grace to be gracious to one another.
We can do this by taking a deeper look at how much Christ loved us. The Lord Himself said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
3. Serving each other
Moving beyond understanding and being patient toward each other, we must learn to serve one another, meeting the needs of each other. Husbands and wives need to look, listen to, and feel beyond themselves – they must learn to put one another ahead of themselves.
This is how it should be: Husbands loving their wives sacrificially just like how Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church, and wives submitting themselves to their husbands, just like how the Church should submit to Christ. (see Ephesians 5:21-33)