Honoring Marriage

By Greg Smalley
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In marriage, honor involves recognizing the worth of your relationship and putting that appreciation into action.

“My Favorite Things” is a popular song, originally from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music.

In the movie version, Maria and the von Trapp children sing the cheerful lyrics during a scary thunderstorm — “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” — to fill their minds with things they love.

Likewise, when you face busy times or difficult seasons with your spouse, it’s important to remember your favorite things about your marriage.

The apostle Paul gave a similar directive when he wrote, “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Hebrews 13:4). But what does it mean to honor marriage?

The word honor means to highly value something — to appreciate, cherish and recognize it as a priceless treasure. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse suggests that honor is primarily a matter of the heart. So in marriage, it involves recognizing the beauty and worth of your relationship with your spouse and then doing something to put that recognition and appreciation into action. It’s about dedication, heart and soul, to building strong foundational qualities into your marriage relationship.

Lay the foundation

Focus on the Family has developed a list of 12 traits that are considered fundamental to every thriving marriage. Five of those traits bear a special relevance to the subject of honoring your relationship with your mate. Consider the following:

  • Cherishing your spouse. Successful marriages are made of two people who intentionally keep an account of the things they value about each other. When you cherish one another, you recognize that each spouse is created in God’s image and is, therefore, of infinite worth and value. You remember what you value about your marriage, keep reminders of good memories and celebrate milestones together.
  • Nourishing your marriage is about discovering your mate’s “love language” and learning to speak it. These actions will involve shoring up your spouse’s strengths, supplementing his or her weaknesses and “encouraging one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV).
  • Maintaining a lifelong commitment — a full and earnest investment of your whole heart — flows out of what you treasure. You invest in whatever it is that you esteem. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word wholehearted as “marked by complete earnest commitment.” Complete. Earnest. Wholehearted commitment begins when you recognize the incredible value of your relationship.
  • Spending enjoyable time together. Thriving couples are intentional about making time for each other. It’s crucial that you schedule regular date nights and outings, develop meaningful traditions and family rituals, and know how to maintain a healthy balance between togetherness and independence.
  • Being community minded. It takes a village to sustain a marriage. It’s vital to regularly connect with like-minded couples who are committed to your relationship. To have a thriving marriage, you need to realize your need for other people as well as their need for you, stay engaged with nurturing communities of all kinds and make a special point of maintaining an active involvement in the local church.

Recognize your favorite things

Once you’ve built these foundational characteristics into the groundwork of your marriage, you can get down to the practical task of honoring your marriage on an everyday basis. Get together with your spouse and make a list of what you value about your relationship — your “favorite things.” See how many you can come up with. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Having fun and laughing together
  • Loving someone with all my heart
  • Being liked and loved
  • Enjoying the combined effect of the synergy between us — we are able to do so much more together than we could do alone
  • Sharing affection for each other
  • Pursuing God together
  • Being real and authentic
  • Raising our children together
  • Being challenged to become a better person
  • Making memories together
  • Sharing inside jokes
  • Pursuing dreams
  • Having someone to celebrate with
  • Sharing the deepest levels of intimacy and connection — sex
  • Knowing someone deeply and being deeply known by another
  • Serving together
  • Being with my best friend
  • Having a helpmate to share life’s responsibilities
  • Feeling safe and secure 

© 2016 Focus on the Family. From Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com. 

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About the Author

Greg Smalley

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the …

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