Hot, Holy & Humorous

3 G-Words to Improve Your Marriage

I was recently chatting with a fellow marriage blogger, the marvelous Sheila Gregoire, and talking about my own marriage story — how my relationship went from terrible to terrific. I’ve written before about what made the difference in my own marriage. The summary version is I stopped merely seeking changes from my husband and praying for God’s intervention, and instead prioritized living out God’s Word day-by-day.

Did I do it perfectly? Of course not. I still struggle in many areas. But through the years, I’ve learned how important is to attend to three actions that all begin with the letter G.  So here are 3 G-words to improve your own marriage.

Wedding Rings & Cross

Grace. Your husband isn’t perfect, and he will not meet all of your expectations or desires. For years, I piled up the slights, the neglect, etc. I felt my husband heaped upon me, and then asked him to change and prayed God would make him. Couldn’t my husband see how much I needed his help, his reassurance, his romance? Why instead did I get his clutter, his frustration, his avoidance?

Strange isn’t it? How I wanted grace from my husband, but I wasn’t offering grace to him?

I’ve learned the beauty of giving your mate the benefit of the doubt. If your husband has an annoying habit, it likely isn’t personal; he’d forget things or leave his stuff out or fail to match the kids’ clothes whether you were there or not. He may not handle your stressful day well because he had a stressful day of his own. He may not want to hang out with you if you’re always nagging the poor man. Thinking about how I treated my husband when we were at our worst, I wouldn’t have wanted to be with me either.

When I turned my heart to giving him grace, a weight fell off my own heart, and I began to see my husband in a different light. He was struggling like I was and needed my love and reassurance. I no longer saw all his failings, but his effort and care for me. We receive so much grace from our Heavenly Father, can we give a little grace to our spouse?

Generosity. I love the mission that Paul and Lori Byerly, Generous Husband and Generous Wife, have made of bringing this concept to the forefront. All too often in our Christian walk, we ask how much we must do. And in our marriages, we ask what minimum actions will get us what we want from our spouse. But the attitude God calls us to is generosity.

In my own marriage, I was stingy in certain ways. I didn’t want to pick up extra slack around the house for fear of being taken for granted or treated like a doormat. I didn’t offer help when his hands were full, because he hadn’t done everything I wanted that last time when my hands were full. I didn’t have sex with my husband on those days I stored up anger about something he’d done (whether or not he knew it).

Ah, but the wondrous rewards of going the extra mile! (Matthew 5:41-42). When I shifted in my marriage to looking for ways to show love, I discovered the joy of serving, I took personal pride in being my hubby’s helpmate, and his appreciation of me increased. I was no longer doing only what I had to do, but demonstrating that he was important enough for me to be generous with my time, my efforts, myself. That generosity even spilled into the bedroom, where I became freer with letting him see and touch me and with touching and pleasuring him.

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We tend to focus on that first sentence, the promise that if we give it good, we’ll get good back. But look at the measure we’re supposed to use in how we treat others: “pressed down, shaken together, running over” — such that’s it pouring out over the sides. Now that’s generosity. Do we use that measure in our marriages?

Growth. You’ve got three choices in marriage: Your relationship is getting worse, stagnating, or getting better. Now believe me, I understand the desire to just hang in there at times — to batten the hatches, hunker down, and ride the storm. I’ve had those moments in my marriage. But sometimes we people of faith settle for staying in our marriage, when we should be striving for building our marriage.

We should expect to steadily grow toward better understanding of one another, deeper intimacy, and maturing of our faith and relationship. Indeed, growth is one of the benefits of being married (“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17).

You will likely have ups and downs in your marriage, but if one were to track the whole of the marriage, there should be discernible growth. Maybe your years would be a timeline like this:

Ups & Downs of Marriage - timeline

Despite years of struggle, I can definitely say that we are more mature, more intimate, more satisfied in our marriage now than we were when we began. We have sought and experienced growth. And it’s been well-worth our effort.

I wouldn’t be on this blog chatting it up about marriage if I hadn’t learned a thing or two about making one work. And really applying these biblical principles of grace, generosity, and growth can make a big difference in a flailing or stagnant marriage. Or even improve a good one.

What guiding biblical principles have helped your marriage improve?

9 thoughts on “3 G-Words to Improve Your Marriage”

  1. Hi J – This is really great encouragement. My tendency is to be selfish and lazy and focused on me. So I appreciate the reminder to be focus on my husband and the ways I can bless and encourage him.

  2. You make excellent points in this post, in fact, I love this entire blog and Iknow you couldn’t speak openly and honestly if you (or Shelia or Julie or any one of your blog colleagues) didn’t experience and live what you advise. And maybe its just my cynical mentality of late, but it seems to me that there is no way your marriage (or any of those other bligger ladies 🙂 ) could have ever experienced the lowest of low or the messiness that I or the hundreds of others like me experience on a day to day basis when anything and everything we/I try (including LOADS of prayer in all forms) just seems pointless. Its demoralizing to an extent when each and every day brings more of the same no matter how hard I try to have a radical change of heart and mind. And I keep wondering when this looonngggg season of discontent will end but sometimes feel that I am destined forever in it.

    1. My marriage sucked. Seriously. I had YEARS and YEARS when I didn’t know if we would make it, and I certainly didn’t know HOW. I clung onto my commitment and a sliver of hope with my bare fingernails at times. So, while I can’t speak for anyone else, I know my husband and I both entertained the option of leaving when we were so unhappy…and seemed to make each other unhappy. So honestly, my heart goes out to you not merely in sympathy, but empathy. (Because did I mention that my marriage sucked?)

      I am genuinely happy now, though. Truly, deeply happy and more spiritually mature and hopeful about our future. It can be a struggle to have faith, but moving from seemingly-doomed to emotionally healthy is possible. Given what you’re saying, I’d suggest that you stop looking at the whole relationship and everything that needs to be fixed. That can be so overwhelming and feel so hopeless. Instead, just live this one day the way you want to be toward your husband — gracious, generous, growing. Take one moment and one day at a time. Things didn’t change for us overnight, but through consistent application of biblical principles and praying for God’s support in helping me living those out in love. At some point, the scales tipped, and I could see that our marriage would be okay, or even more than okay. And indeed, it’s quite satisfying.

      You’re in my prayers!!!

  3. IntimacySeeker

    I appreciate your insight and encouragement and especially, the easy-to-remember “3 G-Words.” I am so driven about progress in our marriage that I can sometimes focus on what we have not accomplished and become very frustrated with my own stumbling blocks. When this happens, I miss out on enjoying the day-to-day goodness that we have in our relationship.

  4. I struggle with these things greatly and am so scared to do them. I am in a reconciled marriage with a lot of past baggage. I gave him my all before and even then he wasn’t honest with me about various things and stepped outside the marriage. There’s an extensive past. But how do I try to move past this and show him grace and generosity when all I am afraid of is it will be taken for granted again. I have the mindset now I refuse to be a doormat. But want our marriage to grow and be successful. I don’t want to be angry, bitter and afraid. I don’t want a repeat. But I want a growing, Godly successful marriage. Any help or guidance would be appreciated.

  5. I love a good alliteration!
    My husband is a recovering alcoholic, and it was while he was still in the “pre-recovery” stage of his disease that I had to learn to show grace, generosity and choose to seek for growth in my marriage. Grace helped me to love him when he wasn’t capable of loving himself. I specifically remember one evening when he came home from work, clearly having been drinking. I stood at the kitchen sink wanting to hurl rage at him. Instead, God told me to go give him a backrub. Seriously… you want me to be nice to him? So, I went back to the bedroom where he was showering and when he was done, I told him to come lay down on the bed. As I gave him that backrub, my anger slowly turned to love and compassion. I learned something that night… that as I am willing to surrender my own right to be angry, God will enable me to love unconditionally and selflessly. I know that he was also touched by my sacrificial act of love, but experiencing that change of heart within myself was powerful. It really does do wonders for a marriage when you are able to look beyond your spouses faults and love them for who they are today.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I pray for your husband’s continued recovery! Many blessings.

  6. Great post! I really needed this message today. I know I don’t always show grace or generosity like I should to my husband, and just this morning on my walk I started praising God for my husband and thinking on what made me first fall in love with him. Immediately I felt all the negativity I admit to harboring for the past week lift from me.
    So, I would add one more G-word to your list — gratefulness! Thanking God for our spouse and telling our spouse how grateful we are for them. Gratitude goes a long way to keeping our focus on the positive.

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