Personal Development is something that is widely encouraged and embraced throughout many areas of life. From the workplace to the gym, people like to invest time in improving themselves.

If you are married then you already know that marriages also need regular investment to keep them healthy and thriving. We need to have a value base for our relationships and be willing to grow as individuals and as a couple along life’s journey. It’s something we may initially shy away from, but with improved communication, intentionality, and prayer, we can all step forward into wonderful new areas of blessing and togetherness.

Our marriages are such a gift, so we need to nurture and protect them. We also need to source the tools that maybe weren’t modelled by our own families of origin, who in light of relationship research, end up being our main influencers. Change and improvements are possible! This is such a crucial area of our lives as marriage is under attack in society today, and especially Christian marriage as we wrestle on a spiritual level too.

I’m passionate that we work at healthy marriages in the world of Christian leadership and ministry. In the busyness and stresses we can so easily become unfulfilled and detached and settle for a functioning relationship rather than a thriving partnership. God really did intend for marriage to be good and to be a blessing, and with Him at the centre, we really can position ourselves towards a better future. A healthy marriage sustains us in ministry and is also a rich blessing to our children.

We can all be guilty of reading marriage books in prep for getting married or for helping someone else, when really we should be encouraging one another to keep investing in our own marriage development. As we go through different seasons, we can navigate so much better when we have a solid foundation and understand how to love and respect each other.

A  great book to invest in, and one that some may be familiar with, is ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman. In this book he shares teaching and stories of how we are all wired differently, and so our understanding and expectation of expressions of love vary immensely. We need to take time to know who we are ourselves as well as trying to understand our spouses. Whether you are married one year or twenty years this book is a great aid in helping couples not just to connect, but to keep emotional love  alive.

The 5 Love Languages are:

1 - Words of Affirmation

2 - Acts of Service

3 - Receiving Gifts

4 - Quality time

5 - Physical touch

Each Love Language is clearly defined and examples are given for implementing them into our daily lives. Of course each person may have more than one preferred love language, which the author clearly offers advice on.

Another little gem of a book by Gary Chapman is ‘Things I wish I’d known Before We Got Married’. From romance and dealing with in-laws to conflict resolution and forgiveness, this is another great book to read.

My final recommendation today is a book called ‘Love & Respect’ by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs. This is a most helpful book for all ages and stages of marriage, and it also has a work book and DVD that couples can work through together.

May this quote be true of us all:

‘A successful marriage requires falling in love over and over again, but always with the same person!’

Donna MacNeil


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