Years ago I learned that one of the best gifts I can give my wife and children is to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. If they had a husband and father who loved God first, then God would enable me to love them and listen to them and lead them.
The statistics about marriage are not good. You've heard them before. The divorce rate in America is 41% for a first marriage, 60% for a second marriage, and 73% for a third marriage.
To strengthen and divorce proof my own marriage with Donna, I've made four spiritual promises.
1. I promise to align myself with the truth of God's Word. As I align my own responses, expectations, moods, speech, actions and attitudes with God's Word, the resulting person God is changing me to become is a husband Donna can live with and love.
I find this especially true in how I view myself. For example, viewing myself as a worthless nobody or wallowing in self-pity really sucks the joy out of a marriage. Who wants to be around that?
Yet God views me as a child of God, with significance, with purpose, with delight. When I align myself with these truths, I am a person Donna can live with and love.
2. I promise to be filled with God's Spirit. When I tap into God's source of power, I find God enables me to be the kind of husband he wants me to be. The fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control -- are first needed in my own home.
And when God pours out his Spirit upon me, I can be a channel of God's blessing, passing along what I have received.
3. I promise to open myself up to God changing me. When I was first married, I tried to change all of Donna's flaws -- or all the things I thought were flaws! Well, you guessed it. It didn't work. I learned quickly -- okay, about a year.
Eventually I quit trying to change Donna, and let God do that. I worked more on accepting her the way she is. And I worked more on letting God change the flaws and blind spots in me.
4. I promise to listen and communicate with love. Marriage expert John Gottman says a minimum of twenty minutes a day in true communication with your spouse decreases a couple's chances of divorce and greatly increases marital satisfaction.
Just twenty minutes a day listening and talking with Donna, understanding her heart, valuing her words makes a happy home.
Four promises to strengthen and divorce proof my marriage. This is an incomplete list. What promise would you add?