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In the era we live in, the divorce rate rises continually. Back in the fifties, the divorce rate in the church was much lower than the divorce rate in the world. Yet, nowadays, the divorce rate in the church is the same as that of the world.
It is very interesting to observe that among Hasidic Jews, this means Jews that still have prearranged marriages, the divorce rate is zero! Incredible, isn't it? However, when asked about the secret of such a low divorce rate, the main ingredient was respect. "We respect one another.", they said.
Another survey showed that among the Christian couples who pray together (I mean really making time to pray, not just saying the blessing at the table) the divorce rate is incredibly low, less than one percent. Obviously, here praying together is the key.
These two categories have given, along with their answers, an important indicator to a marriage's stability. Let's see more about respect and prayer in marriage. How can respect be nurtured in your relationship?
1. First of all you need to realize that your spouse is not primarily yours; what I mean is that he or she belongs to God, he/she is God's 'property' and it is God who gave him/her to you. You will also have to give an account to God concerning the relationship with your spouse, you are supposed to grow together closer and closer to God's image and in this process you also grow closer and closer to one another.
2. Jesus said, "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." That involves knowing your partner better each day and treating him/her as they want to be treated. There is one important thing to note here, treat him as he wants to be treated (not as you want him to treat you); I am making this distinction clear because women have certain expectations like being paid attention to, listened (not only heard), ultimately all these lead to one thing: respect. The same way, men need to be respected, they need to know that their partner admires their qualities in private and in public as well. However, people are unique, your partner is unique, that's why you as his wife and you as her husband should know best your partner's love language.
Just as you can't make a sparrow swim or a fish fly, the same way, you need to create a suitable environment for your spouse, telling him/her you love and respect her/him using her/his own language. Many times the way you want to be treated is not the way he wants to be treated by you, he might just not perceive certain gestures the way you do; that's why, you have to learn, use, and continually update your partner's love language.
3. Pray together, stay together. Prayer creates an incredible bond between people, and especially when it comes to marriage, God, the inventor of this institution, will surely strengthen it and help the two make marriage what it is supposed to be. Being thankful every day for your partner, with him/her actually hearing you saying 'thank you Lord for my husband/wife' is such a blessing and such a great healer! It can heal deep wounds; this gives depth to your love and respect levels. Just being grateful for what God gave you.
It is in prayer that you realize better and clearer how together you form a whole, and that you should complete each other and not compete against each other. Ridiculing each other is a habit that can be fun at first, but once it reaches maturity, its fruits are bitter. Therefore, coming before God every day, simply allows you both to revolve around the steady axis that can really reinforce your marriage and put you back on the right track.
Spinning one around another as a couple is not sufficient, people change, feelings can be up or down, situations differ, yet God is the same, always, never changing, and this stability and advice that you can receive only from His perspective, is of a great value in marriage; actually the best advice ever!
Through prayer God will also remind you of how beautiful He wants your husband or wife to become. Married couples know the 'cruel truth', that there is neither Prince Charming nor Snow White.
You will be reminded each day of how precious you actually are in the eyes of God, and that will make the task much easier for you as your spouse will not rely on you for his/her self-esteem. The main problem with many people comes from their low self-esteem, it not only brings them down, but it will surely affect their marriage too.
Forgiveness is another precious jewel you can receive through prayer, and oh, if your partner is breathing...it means you are likely to be offended; that's why forgiving is also crucial. Above them all, the infinite love of Love itself―God, will be poured in your hearts and your joy of living will be continually refreshed by His Holy Spirit living inside you.
These are solid secrets of a happy marriage: love and respect each other and pray every day!