In soccer making it to the goal and scoring is the objective; however there is a defensive team that has a single purpose…to keep you from the goal! In marriage the goal is to grow together and create a strong marriage, which is foundational for a strong family; however, Satan has a carefully planned defense to stop you and outplay you as you strive for the goal. He knows that tearing the marriage apart will shatter the family, the neighborhood, the community… and on it goes. Look around! Children whose parents break up have a significant decrease in academic success, physical health, and their future relationships are affected. Children in homes where parents stay together but have a bad relationship also suffer on various levels. Strong marriages are essential for strong families. With God’s help and some offensive strategies you can breakaway from the defense and make it to the goal.

Scriptures
Rom 15:7, 14:13; 1 Pe 1:22, 3:7; Eph 5:21; Pr 18:1; 1 Cor 7:3-5, 13:5; Mk 3:25; Col 3:13-14; Micah 7:19; 1 Thes 5:11; Heb 3:13

Verse
…you must love one another intensely and with a pure heart. (1 Pe 1:22) Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:21) A family cannot last if it is divided against itself. (Mk 3:25)

Thought
Effective strategies for winning marriages: 1) Accept one another. Opposites attract, but what was attractive while dating becomes an irritation in marriage. Different isn’t wrong! Accept your spouse as they are for who they are. 2) Pay attention to your spouse. Attention shows value. Be thoughtful; be interested. Lack of attention equals rejection and it will not play well in marriage. 3) Make adjustments. Both people must shift and make changes. Refusal to shift is immature and selfish—two main reasons that marriages fail. Give and take will always be necessary for forward momentum in your marriage. 4) Forgive one another often, freely, and unreservedly. Failure to forgive blocks the goal…you must clear out the opposition so the goal is obtainable. 5) Encourage one another daily. Appreciation is vital. It shows that you value your spouse! We all face discouragement in life, but home should be a place where we encourage one another. 6) Expressing love through physical affection is to the marriage as food is to the body. Marriages die of malnutrition when couples don’t touch anymore. Sex is part of the spiritual bond. All aspects of marriage are better when spouses are connecting spiritually, emotionally and sexually.

Questions
How well did your parents do modeling the marriage relationship? In what ways are you and your spouse opposites? What strategies do you have in place for a winning marriage? What areas need work? How do you prioritize your marriage in the midst of kids, schedules and life’s demands?

Response
Make a plan to move forward with the five strategies for winning marriages.

Prayer
Dear Lord, thank-you for giving me someone with whom I can share life, marriage and children. Help me to appreciate my spouse and encourage them. Help me to be willing to shift and adjust. May our marriage relationship be a blessing to us and to our children, and may we honor you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.