You must realize that there are two very imperfect people in your marriage. But with God's help, you can overcome the challenges.
I don't have a perfect marriage. I have a good marriage. We work at it. We are intentional. I would even say we have a really good marriage—but, it's not perfect.
It isn't perfect, because our marriage—probably like yours—is a work in progress. And, the real reason we don't have a perfect marriage is because there are two imperfect people in this marriage—just like in your marriage.
But through years of counseling and working with hundreds of marriages in distress, I have a few thoughts on what it would take to have the perfect marriage. I'm not saying we will ever get there. You won't either. But, having a standard to push for, and then actually pushing for it, always seems to make me better than I am today.
Of course, it takes two people working for the same goal. Doesn't it? Many of you know this all too well. It's always sad to me when one person gives up on the challenge.
But, all I know to advise people to do is your part. I'm trying to do mine—some days are better than others. Cheryl is trying to do her part. (She does hers better than I do mine.) But, some days for her are better than others. Again, it's a work in progress. Hopefully, two hearts will be joined together more and more into one heart if each of us strive to do our part.
But, what if I had a perfect marriage? What is the goal worth striving to achieve?
Here are 12 things we would probably do if we had a perfect marriage:
1. Neither of us would ever go to bed angry. I've learned over the years if a couple goes to be angry, they wake up angrier. And, tension builds. Clearing the slate each day—being "OK" with each other as we go to sleep—helps us start each today together rather than apart. We may not agree on everything, but our hearts are heading in the same direction.
2. We would always consider each other's interests ahead of our own. The Bible says to do this, right? And, imagine the power for the marriage when both parties obey the command?
3. We would invest our best time, apart from our time with Christ, in each other. The world demands a lot from us. Outside demands can pull us apart if we aren't careful. If the marriage were perfect, we would never let anything come between us or steal our most precious time.
4. We would love Christ deeply and model His love for each other. I'm a better person when I'm full of Christ's presence. Cheryl is too. Jesus on the inside—working on my outside—changes who I am to the world—and Cheryl.
5. We would protect each other's heart—above all things. This Proverb is so true. So profound. So life-giving—and if not adhered to—can be so damaging. When the heart is injured it impacts everything else in our life.
6. We would value one another more for who we are than what we do. It's easy to get caught up in what we do for each other does or doesn't do. And, while this is important, and each spouse should pull their own weight, when this is the primary focus we often forget the value the other person has to us apart from those things.
7. We would always honor each other with our words. In a perfect marriage, we would always strive to build each other up and encourage one another. We would remove negativity about each other from our conversations. The goal would be to use words to bless the other person, never to destroy.
8. We would listen to each other—genuinely. So many problems in a marriage are simply communication problems—where one person isn't really listening. We don't ask questions to make sure we understand. We misread intent. We illustrate value to another person when we truly care what they have to say.
9. Our prayers would be more for each other than for ourselves. We all get caught up in what we want or need God to do for us. When we focus our prayers on our spouse, it's amazing to see how God honors them. He seems to love humility.
10. We'd encourage each other's dreams. A perfect marriage would be made up of two cheerleaders—each cheering for the other person to succeed.
11. We would never take what we have together for granted. It's so easy to do, isn't it? We fall into routines—even bad habits—and we forget the love we have for one another, the way the other spouse blesses our life, what we would be missing without them. We can get so distracted by life we fail to realize the value our spouse adds to our life.
12. We would remind each other often all the reasons we married. Because, it's good to hear again, isn't it? We all like to know the person we married cares, they love us unconditionally, and—if they had to do it all over again—they would without reservation.
There's my list. I'm sure there are many others—if we had a perfect marriage.
Which of these do you most need to incorporate into your marriage? Maybe if we—I—just worked on one of these at a time we'd have—I'd have—an even better marriage than we have today.
Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.