By Rhonda Stoppe, Crosswalk.com
Have you ever seen a couple who have been married for a long time and are still deeply in love? If so, have you ever wondered what their secret to a happy marriage is? It's not about how "perfect" they are as spouses. Instead, it's because their relationship is grounded in gratitude and a deeper love than their love for each other.
Listen up because I'm going to share their secret sauce with you. A marriage thrives when both the husband and wife love Christ more than anyone in life, including their spouse. And when they look to The Lord as their provider - rather than demanding their spouse meet all their needs.
When you learn to devote your heart to loving the Lord, there will be a natural outpouring of thankfulness and God's love spilling out of your heart and onto those around you - especially your marriage partner.
The key to cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving in your marriage does not lie in how well your spouse measures up to your expectations but in how well you love God. It's natural to look to your spouse to fill your emotional tank and be the source of your gratitude. However, this is a selfish love that can leave you feeling ungrateful when your spouse doesn't meet your expectations.
It is humanly impossible to love selflessly because we are all born with a sinful nature that seeks our own good above anyone else's. The only people who can reflect a heart of gratitude and love the way Jesus intended are those who:
- Have a personal relationship with God through Christ
- Are filled with the Holy Spirit
- Are pursuing a deeper love for the Lord
Why Gratitude Matters
Your grateful attitude in marriage can be a light that tells your children and the world that knowing the Savior really does make a difference in your lives. That's why Satan works to undermine your thoughts toward entitlement or keeping a record of your spouse's wrongs.
Living with gratitude does not happen by accident. When life is tough, your hormones are acting up, the bills pile up, and the kids get sick - this is when the light of God's kind of love has the potential to shine the brightest. And that is when you can discover the transformative power of gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Make Friends with Thankful Couples
As a young bride, I was drawn to thankful couples in our church because their love gave me hope. As I began to look at more mature couples who seemed to express gratitude for one another, I found an untapped resource of wisdom that taught me how to have a happy marriage! If you want to grow the thankfulness in your own marriage, my advice is to make friends with older couples who are marked by gratitude. Because their example will help guide you to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving in your marriage.
God wants the grateful love between you and your partner to be a testimony of His love to the world, and happy marriages that express gratitude are one of the greatest resources God can use to draw unbelievers toward Him - beginning with your own children.
Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than 30 years experience of helping women build no-regrets lives. I could have listened to Rhonda talk all night, is what women say about Rhonda’s enthusiastic, humorous, transparent teaching and zeal as an evangelist. She’s committed to fulfilling the Titus 2:4 commission by mentoring, teaching, and writing books that are inspiring, grounded in Scripture, and easy to read––like you're visiting with a friend over coffee.
Rhonda is the author of 6 books and appears on numerous radio programs, including Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk, & hosts The No Regrets Hour. Her new podcast, Old Ladies Know Stuff, just launched. She’s an evangelist and speaker at women’s events, College Women’s Chapel, Pastor’s Wives Conferences, MOPs and Homeschool Conventions. Sharing the gospel at her NoRegretsWoman Conference is her sweet spot. Rhonda is a regular contributor for Crosswalk and many other magazines. Rhonda ministers alongside her husband Steve, who for 20 years has pastored First Baptist Church of Patterson, California. They live out their own Real Life Romance writing books and speaking at their No Regrets Marriage Conferences, but their favorite ministry is their family. They have four grown children and ten grandchildren. To learn more about Rhonda’s speaking topics, watch her teaching, and book Rhonda for your next event, visit: NoRegretsWoman.com.