What if I told you that one of the goals of marriage was to enjoy your spouse? Most of us would think, “Duh, Josh, that makes sense.” We want to be happy and enjoy our relationships.
I’ve read that statistically less than 20% of married couples actually say they are happy and enjoy their marriage. Sadly, of the people I’ve met and watched, that number doesn’t seem that crazy.
You and I know that stat is true. We’ve been married, we watched our parents marriage, we see our friends go in and out of relationships.
What if I told you the choices you make when dating, in engagement and through marriage will determine whether or not you enjoy your spouse? We know this. And yet most people, most couples, make decisions that lead them to a place of misery in marriage, or simply giving up on their marriage but staying together for the kids.
Proverbs 5 says this:
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. -Proverbs 5:15 – 19
So what do couples do to enjoy their marriage that you can do? Here are four things:
1. Decide you’ll enjoy your marriage. This might seem obvious, but couples who enjoy their marriage decide to enjoy their marriage. They decide to last. It isn’t just that they make a commitment to each other, but they really live with the reality that divorce is not an option.
When you decide to enjoy your marriage, you decide that no other relationship is an option. This leads into many other decisions. If divorce or not being happy is an option, that will also determine the actions you will take. If happiness in your marriage is a priority, that impacts your choices. If your needs and selfishness are your priority, that will impact your choices.
If you decide to enjoy your marriage, you will think of your spouse above yourself and look for ways to bless and encourage them. You won’t point out all their wrongs or imperfections. You know they aren’t perfect and neither are you.
This also means you will work hard at your marriage. You’ll read books on marriage, listen to podcasts and find a mentor who has a marriage you want to learn from. Katie and I are constantly talking to couples who are older and enjoy their marriages. What do they know? How do they make it to year 40, year 50, of marriage and still enjoy being together?
The reality is, your marriage will go through highs and lows. It will have incredible moments of joy and unbelievably dark lows. Every couple who enjoys their marriage has learned how to navigate these moments as a couple, and that’s crucial. You learn how to walk together no matter what life holds or throws at you.
This also means you find things to do together that you enjoy. You don’t have to enjoy everything your spouse does, but you enjoy being with them, and, as we’ll see in a minute, you enjoy making them happy.
Verse 15 tells us in order to enjoy your marriage, you must focus on it, take care of it and pour time and energy into it. A great marriage won’t just happen. If you meet a couple with a great marriage, you will see a couple that has worked on their marriage. They have protected their marriage and they have put effort into their marriage.
2. Fight for purity in your marriage (before and after you get married). This one is important. Purity is one of the things that protects your marriage from adultery, yet it also helps move you to enjoyment.
When you are looking at porn, fantasizing about someone you aren’t married to, reading romance novels, getting emotionally attached to a co-worker or a neighbor, you aren’t protecting your marriage. When this happens, you start to think, “This person gets me. This person listens. This person meets a need my spouse doesn’t meet.” In that moment you have not only moved into dangerous territory, but now you don’t enjoy your marriage.
Let’s be honest, porn, whether you are a man or a woman, is easier. It takes less effort, there’s no possibility of rejection or hurt, it takes no work, and it is enjoyable for that moment. But you miss connection and intimacy; it leaves you longing for more because it doesn’t live up to its promises.
Verse 17 says, “Let your bodies be for yourself alone (this is referring to your marriage), not for strangers with you.”
In years past at Revolution, we’ve challenged married couples in our church to do a 30 day sex challenge. To pray together each day, read your Bible together each day and do something sexual together each day. Every time someone will ask me what it means to do something sexual with your spouse each day. My answer? Look at your spouse and say, “What does it mean for us to do something sexual together, with no one else (digital or not) each day for the next 30 days?” Then do that. Here’s what you’ll find: your affection goes up and your pursuit of each other goes up. If you know you’re connecting sexually today, that changes what you do that day. You might not eat that spicy food, you brush your teeth again or get a shower. That expectation goes a long way in a relationship.
3. Rejoice in your spouse. Verse 18 says, “Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Rejoice carries the idea of fun and enjoyment.
It is to feel joy, enjoyment and happiness from your spouse but also to bring joy, enjoyment and happiness to your spouse.
First, do you strive to bring joy, enjoyment and happiness to your spouse? Do you know what brings them joy and happiness?
Second, are you a cheerleader for your spouse, or do you fight against them? Bringing them joy means cheering them on, being excited about what excites them. If something goes well for them, you are excited for them. You don’t get jealous of them or irritated when things go well for them. You rejoice when they rejoice and you weep when they weep.
On the flip side of rejoicing is walking through pain with them. Katie always tells me, “Josh, you hold a crying girl.” This is great advice for dads of daughters and for husbands.
4. Strive to be great servant lovers. Verse 19 says, “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated by her love.” We’ll talk more about this in two weeks, but let me say this now.
Couples who enjoy their marriage are great servant lovers. They are drunk with love. Yes, old age and gravity affect us all, and you don’t look like you used to, but that doesn’t mean your sexual relationship can’t be great.
If you meet a couple who has been married for more than a decade and are happy, here’s what I bet you’ll find: a couple who are great servant lovers. They have worked hard on their sexual relationship with their spouse. They know what turns their spouse on and what they don’t like. They are affectionate, they gross their kids out with all the kissing and dancing they do in the kitchen.
Let me give you a few ideas on this:
- Find out what your spouse finds attractive and try to do that. It might be to throw that shirt out. If you stay at home with kids, your husband might say, “Could you shower by the end of the day?” Whatever it is, talk it out instead of being frustrated by it.
- Clean out your underwear drawer every year. That alone will go a long way.
- Pursue each other and have a weekly date night (even if it is at home). I don’t care what you call it, but have a night each week that is set aside to build into your relationship. And empty nesters, unless you are intentional, don’t tell me every night is date night. Simply being in the same house doesn’t count.
- In the bedroom, find out what they like and don’t like. I know guys, you are awesome in the bedroom, in your mind. My guess is, if you asked your wife what turns her on, she will surprise you because it isn’t what you think.
The reality is, to enjoy your marriage it will take work. It will take making decisions other couples don’t make. Why? Not every couple enjoys their marriage, so to enjoy yours, you must make different choices. You must walk a different path.