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4 Ways to Have a Merry Marriage

Is the Christmas season the most stressful time of the year for you and your spouse?

Keep the peace in your marriage this holiday season. True love comes from God, which is why our daily relationship with Him is so essential.

What happens to marriages in the month of December? Many couples admit that the Christmas season is the most stressful time of the year. The relationship with our spouse often gets pushed to the sideline while we're engrossed in buying gifts, cooking meals, attending church activities, and worrying about how to pay for it all. In our celebration of the birth of Christ, we often forget the reality that He came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10). I can't believe He is pleased when our celebration is characterized by stress, frustration, harsh words, and feelings of loneliness.

Marriage is designed to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). Scripture is clear that love and submission are the keys that keep Christ and His church working together in harmony to accomplish the purposes of God. He loved us while we were yet sinners and gave His life in order to deliver us from bondage. The same principle is true in the marriage relationship.

This kind of love has little to do with emotions and much to do with attitude. Christ was committed to our well-being, not because He was motivated by warm emotional feelings toward us, but because love is an essential part of His nature. He is our model.

When a husband's attitude toward his wife during the Christmas season is, "How may I help you? How can I make your life easier during these days? What can I do that will make this season more meaningful for you?" he creates a more positive Christmas experience and keeps his marriage from becoming a battlefield. A wife who senses that her husband is truly committed to her well-being has little trouble walking in fellowship with him through the Christmas season.

On the other hand, a wife who feels that her husband is a frustrating adversary who must make all the decisions will find the Christmas season extremely stressful. This marital relationship will disintegrate at a time when we're singing about peace on earth. I believe that the husband's attitude of love is one of the most important ingredients in having a merry marriage.

A man once said to me, "I've made a great discovery in my marriage. When I'm kind, loving, and tender toward my wife, she tends to be kind, loving, and tender toward me." What this husband discovered is also revealed in Scripture: "We love God because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). God's love touches our hearts and draws us toward Him. The same principle is true in human relationships. Love stimulates love.

True Love Is a Gift

How, then, do we create an attitude of love? None of us loves by nature. We're all self-centered. There's a positive aspect to that reality - because we're self-centered, we take care of ourselves. We eat, we sleep, we exercise. But self-centeredness often leads to selfishness. We want our way, and we view life in terms of "what can we get out of this?" This is not love; this is manipulation. And such efforts will never create a positive marriage.

Genuine love is sincerely seeking the well-being of the other person. Where does this love come from? Paul says the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). True love is a gift of God given to those who open their hearts to receive it from the Holy Spirit. This is why our daily relationship with God is essential to having a healthy marriage.

Keep the love of God flowing through you to your spouse during the Christmas season with these four ideas.

1. Establish a daily time to be alone with God and His Word. Read a chapter of the Bible each day prefaced by a prayer like this: "Father, I'm listening to You as I read this chapter. I want to hear what You would like to say to me." Underline phrases and sentences that stand out to you. Then talk to God about the things you underline. Have a conversation with God about being the person He wants you to be for that day.

2. Memorize one verse of Scripture each week during the month of December, such as Ephesians 4:32, John 13:34-35, 1 Corinthians 13:4, and Philippians 4:13.

3. Pray every day that God will pour His love into your heart by His Spirit (Romans 5:5).

4. Look for opportunities each day to serve your spouse. Asking, "What can I do to help you?" is always a good place to start.

Implement these ideas, and you will find the Christmas season to be less stressful and your marriage to be more peaceful. The word peace literally means "to be at one with" that is, to live in harmony. This is God's intention for our marriages as we celebrate the event that made it possible to be at peace with God.

This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.

Chapman, Gary
Dr. Gary Chapman, an author, speaker, and counselor, has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages® series and director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels the world presenting seminars on marriage, family, and relationships, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations.