I unzipped my daughter’s backpack and sniffed. What’s that smell?
Reaching a hand into the depths, I pulled out a sticky plastic baggie of something once resembling grapes, now fuzzy and liquefied. Clearly it had been a while since we’d cleaned out her backpack.
“Sweetheart, how long have these grapes been in here?” I gripped the baggie’s edge between my thumb and forefinger and tossed it in the trash.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I guess I forgot about them.”
“Well, from now on, please put your leftover snack in the front pocket so I’m sure to find it, ok? These old grapes leaked all over the bottom of your backpack.”
Tell me about it.
Sadly, relationships are a lot like my daughter’s grapes. Neglect them, and they’ll decompose.
This is especially true of marriage.
Just last week I heard of another couple that decided to call it quits. And I want to know why. How do two once happily married people reach a point of dissolve—like when grapes turn sour and rot, until it appears the only solution is to throw the whole mess out?
These years of co-parenting young people are hard on a marriage. If we want to stay sweet for each other, we need to keep our relationship at the forefront.
How? Start with these anti-mold marriage tips.
Date your spouse. Yes, I know it’s a hassle and babysitters are expensive and sometimes the pure impetus of leaving the house past 6 p.m. seems to require energy you just cannot muster. But do it anyway. Your children will thank you one day.
“My lover spoke and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me’” (Song of Songs 2:10, NIV).
Pick your battles. Everyday squabbles and nagging can erode a marriage over time. Choose carefully which conflicts warrant an argument, and practice grace by default.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11, NIV).
Don’t hold grudges. Unforgiveness is a triple whammy—it hurts you, your marriage, and your relationship with God. If His mercies are new every morning, surely yours can be, too.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV).
Be a friend. It’s important to love your spouse. But it helps to like him, too. Take an unselfish interest, ask questions, listen, laugh, and play together. Intentionally building your friendship today and every day to come will prevent you from waking up 20 years from now wondering, who is this person?
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, ESV).
Get naked. Seriously. God didn’t make a mistake in this area. Regular and frequent intimacy between a husband and wife builds emotional bonds that the Lord designed especially for married couples. Don’t tell yourself you have to do it. You get to.
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs” (1 Corinthians 7:3, NLT).
Pray. Most important, pray for your spouse, and with your spouse. Touch base with God on every aspect of your family life together, big and small. Prayer can glue a couple together. And when you’re upset with each other, don’t give up praying. It’s hard to stay mad at somebody you’re lifting up to God.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
Today, do your marriage a favor. Check your backpack—then fill it with imperishable goods: faith, hope, and love.