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How to Build a Marriage That Goes the Distance: My Top 3 Game-Changing Pillars

Along the way, we’ve learned a few unexpected secrets to building a marriage that goes the distance. These pillars keep us grounded when storms hit, united in our purpose, and willing to daily choose “us.”

Authors and Podcasters of Marriage After God
Updated Oct 05, 2023
How to Build a Marriage That Goes the Distance: My Top 3 Game-Changing Pillars

This Blog post is based on the Marriage After God Podcast Episode “Building a Lasting Marriage: The 3 Most Important Things Every Marriage Needs.”

We said “I do” over 16 years ago. Wow! That’s crazy to write out. In our wedding photos, you see a 20-something couple grinning ear-to-ear, clueless about the tests, trials, and triumphs ahead.

Now in our late-30s with five kids under 10, you can imagine all that our marriage has been through. But we’ve also laughed hard and loved deeply. We once were two, and now we’re a family woven together.

Along the way, we’ve learned a few unexpected secrets to building a marriage that goes the distance. These pillars keep us grounded when storms hit, united in our purpose, and willing to daily choose “us.”

I want to share them with you today. If you’re dreaming of a marriage that stands strong for the long haul, read on.

1. Marriage Is a Sacred Covenant, Not Just a Contract

When I was a brand-new husband, I imagined that our marriage was going to be full of passion and excitement and that those feelings would simply last forever.

But we quickly found out just how untrue that was. Marriage has seasons of struggle and times that will test your commitment. As reality set in, I had to anchor to something more.

I discovered that marriage is far more than a legal contract or piece of paper. According to the Bible, the covenant of marriage is sacred because it involves not just us but God.

We stood before God and promised faithfulness, service, and love until death do us part. Our union is exclusive and permanent. We became one flesh in a bond and promise before God.

This covenant perspective changed everything. During times when feelings faded or circumstances crushed dreams, we could still say: “But God, we made a vow, and we need you to help us keep it.” Clinging to this truth stabilized us when storms hit.

We had to rely fully on God’s power to glue us back together, humble ourselves, and move forward in unity. And He has been so faithful to do that again and again!

2. Embrace Your Shared Purpose for Greater Impact

Early on, we saw marriage as being mostly about us. We wanted to feel happy, satisfied, and loved in the relationship. When things got rocky, I thought, “This marriage isn’t working. Why, Lord?”

Slowly, God opened my eyes to the truth that marriage isn’t ultimately about my feelings or “what I get out of it.” Marriage is a ministry meant to reflect the love of Christ!

We are called to lay down our lives for each other and love each other without condition and out of love for Christ. Our union is meant to serve as a light and blessing to others.

Embracing this shared purpose changed our entire outlook. We started asking, “How can we honor God and point people to him through our marriage?”

Instead of tearing each other down during conflict, we build each other up in love. We parent our kids with wisdom and grace so that they grow to follow Jesus. We open our hearts and home to welcome others.

United in vision, we now weather hardship not just for our sake but for the sake of witnessing God's faithfulness to the world. Our trials have a purpose in glorifying Him!

3. Offer Your Spouse a Willing Heart

Let’s be real: some days, your heart wants to shut down. Resentment, exhaustion, and disappointment can brew just below the surface.

During those times, we have two options:

  • Stay stubborn, cold, and self-protective.
  • Soften our hearts, let go of “rights,” and freely give love.

The second option might sound nearly impossible when you’re hurt or worn thin. But over the years, I’ve learned that willingness is essential for intimacy, communication, and sacrifice.

Here are some ways to offer a willing heart:

  • Initiate meaningful conversations even when it’s not easy.
  • Fight the temptation to stonewall during a conflict.
  • Pursue physical connection joyfully, even on tired nights.
  • Accept imperfect apologies and let go of petty offenses.
  • Surrender your schedule and priorities when your spouse really needs you.

I constantly have to check my heart. Will I embrace opportunities to love, listen, and be present? Or do resentment and stubbornness shut me down?

Pursuing willingness doesn't mean being a doormat. You can still set healthy boundaries! But it does mean bearing each other's burdens, forgiving quickly, and giving your best even when you don’t feel like it.

The more you exercise willingness, the easier it becomes. You reap exponential blessings in your bond.

Lasting Love Is Possible

If you're navigating difficult seasons or feel like giving up, take heart: it is possible to build a marriage that stands the test of time. God desires to use your union for His glory!

When you anchor to Him as your rock and refuge, you gain perspective. The storms still rage, but you have a secure foundation.

I urge you to reject hopelessness and cynicism. Your sweetest victories, most overcoming testimonies, and deepest intimacy are still ahead.

Commit to covenant, seek purpose, and choose willing love. One day, you’ll look back in awe of how the Lord sustained you through it all.

Here's to marriages built to last!

For further reading:

Building a Strong Marriage: How Humility Leads to Unity and Safety

How to Pray for Your Wife: 6 Prayers Influenced by How Jesus Prayed for His Church

Christian Community: The Secret Ingredient for a Stronger Marriage

Building a Strong Foundation: 6 Divine Callings for Every Marriage

How to Pray for Your Husband: 8 Specific Areas to Pray Over Your Husband

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/fizkes

Aaron and Jennifer SmithAaron and Jennifer Smith recognize the beauty and power of how God designed every marriage unique. We are passionate about encouraging couples to set their eyes on God while boldly asking the question, “God, what can our marriage do for you?” In our books, we share personal stories of failure and victory from our own marriage while pointing to the wisdom in God’s Holy Word. We have been married for over 16 years and are currently raising five young children, and we are no strangers to the enemy’s attack on marriage. We hope to equip you to be prepared, inspired, and encouraged to live boldly, chasing after God’s purposes together. Ever since we got married, we have purposed to serve God and build His kingdom together. We blog, write books, and host a weekly podcast urging couples to say yes to God and to be used by God for His extraordinary purposes.

LISTEN: Overcoming Fear in Marriage

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

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