Have you noticed how our culture isn’t good at sharing the beautiful beginnings of a marriage? In fact, practically every show or fairy tale that has been portrayed, since we were children, shares a sweet love story, yet ends with – “They lived happily ever after.” Talk about a confusing and mixed message. What does happily ever after even look like?
Let’s first start with this nugget of truth… the world’s view of marriage vastly contradicts the view God holds for us when it comes to the sanctity and beautiful union found in a marriage. God isn’t aiming for us to live “happily ever after.” His vision is much greater than that! It is to grow us and conform us to be more like Jesus!
Unfortunately, the beauty found in godly marriages has been suppressed in our society. Sadly, marriage has become somewhat of a joke, and in many cases, a marriage rich in love and on fire for God gets ridiculed or chastised. The modern TV shows love to poke fun at the roles of a husband and wife, downplaying the “real” design for our families. No wonder so many couples are searching for hope and the secret to joy!
Friend, it isn’t hard to see that the beautiful foundation God laid out for our marriages is under brutal attack. So, hear me out; if you read no further, please understand this: marriage isn’t about living happily ever after. Because trust me, there will be times you aren’t actually happy. If you’re searching solely for happiness, you will be sorely disappointed.
However, if you search for a marriage filled with joy, you will find that peace and love come into your union as well. That’s because marriage isn’t about living happily ever after. It’s not even about you! It is about serving another before yourself. It’s also recognizing that marriage is a precious relationship where you are not yourself anymore but joined together with another to become one. Genesis 2:24 tells us that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
The wedding day marks the beginning of a life that is to be cherished, respected, and filled with joy. That doesn’t mean God-fearing couples won’t face challenges or suffer hardships; in fact, they may be targeted the most. Satan loves to attack rich and beautiful marriages. But when a couple aims to stand firm in their faith, fights for their marriage, and seeks Jesus in all circumstances, they will find the secret to a loving and joy-filled marriage. They will also have a testimony worth sharing about just how good our God is!
So, what is the secret to joy in a marriage? In short, joy is found in the sweet little moments. It’s tucked within those small acts of kindness or the unexpected gestures that go a long way. It’s a smile, a tender kiss, a subtle sentiment. It’s loving your spouse the way Jesus calls you to love them, even in the hard times, with grace and gentleness.
There is much to be said about living “joyfully ever after!” So, let’s discover six little ways (or secrets) to having a joy-filled and holy matrimony:
1. Have Fun Together
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Psalm 126:2
Laughter is said to be good medicine, and I must agree with that sentiment. Laughter brings out endorphins that cause us to be in a good mood. You really can’t laugh and be angry, can you?
When was the last time you laughed, and I mean a good ‘ole hearty belly laugh, with your spouse? If it’s been too long, then time is of the essence. Begin today. If your marriage is a little flat in this area, then it’s okay to seek help. Join a couple that can see the lighter side of life or tune into a fun comedy skit. Tim Hawkins is our favorite comedian. He offers clean jokes and shares issues that we can all relate to, usually with a song or story. His skits on marriage are the best!
2. Build Each Other Up
Have you ever bragged about your spouse in front of your friends, family members, or at church? If not, now may be the time to start. Speak highly of them and watch their face light up when you do. Share, in all sincerity, how proud you are of them. Whether it be an accomplishment at work or how diligent they are in raising your children, showcase your spouse.
When you take time to build up your spouse and recognize the fruit of their efforts, those words go straight to their heart. Proverbs 16:24 tells us that “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to our bones.”
3. Be Servant-Hearted
On weekends when we don’t have softball games to rush off to, my sweet hubby will bring me coffee while I am still in bed. Mind you, he first allows me to sleep in (which is heavenly with three children) and then wakes me up with the aroma of my favorite drink. Yes, please!
Serving your spouse shows you deeply care about them and want to honor them with service. What do they love? What makes them tick? What is their love language, and how can you meet it? Simple acts of taking out the trash without being asked or rubbing feet while watching a movie all go a long way and raise that love thermometer. Let the joy abound!
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Ephesians 6:7
4. Notice the Little Things
How easy it is to fall into ruts in our marriage, where we become so comfortable and complacent (or even selfish) that we forget our manners. We fail to notice the little things that our spouse does, not acknowledging or even offering a simple “thank you” or “how can I help?”.
Sigh. We’ve been there many times, actually. But, when we slip into the patterns of complacency, failing to notice the little things, those little things eventually add up to become big things. Before you know it, you’re heading down a not-so-good path, not really sure how you got there.
Small, little acts of kindness matter. So, take notice and let your sweet spouse know you see the fruits of their labor. Joy will be rekindled in no time.
5. Greet Each Other Warmly
“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” 1 Peter 5:14
There is something about a warm greeting that welcomes joy. We see numerous times throughout the Bible how people greeted one another with a warm embrace or kiss. This special greeting is still offered today, and while it may be used differently depending on culture or family traditions, a warm and loving greeting shows your other half that they were missed and you are glad to be back together!
When our girls were little, they used to run up to my husband when we got home and swarm him with hugs and kisses. Now, he comes home, and most of them are doing homework or have friends over. The greetings aren’t as warm as they used to be now that they are teens. But… we still manage to do our best to show each other affection upon seeing one another after a long (or short) period of time.
6. Embrace Your Roles
There is a beautiful role that a husband and wife play in a marriage, specifically designed by our Creator. God created a husband to lovingly lead and protect his family (Ephesians 5:25), while He created a wife to provide and nurture her family, being her husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18). Both play a crucial role in raising a family. And when a husband and wife honor those roles, becoming a team and a united front, the image of a faithful family emerges!
A truly joyful marriage is one that seeks to honor Christ and use their designed roles to love their spouse in a beautiful way. Cultivating joy in our marriage is allowing our spouse to be the man or woman God is calling them to be. When a man cherishes his wife and strives to protect her, then she, in return, will respect him and give him the desires of his heart. God has a precious purpose for our marriage and created this sacred union to not only grow closer together and seek joy but to grow closer to Him and live in peace.
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Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.