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November 11, 2022

2 Surprising Changes That Will Prepare You for an Enduring Marriage

By Craig Groeschel

If we are listening to the wrong voices and living an unhealthy lifestyle, what seems right will often be wrong.

This was my story before I met Jesus.

In college, my fraternity brothers and I made life all about chasing women. I had been living that way for a while and was completely caught up in it.

But then I started seeking God. I knew I wanted to give my whole life to Jesus. Except for one thing. I didn’t want to give up sex.

Maybe you can relate. You want to live a life of integrity, but have a lingering sin, temptation, or habit that is threatening a current (or future) relationship.

Fast forward to today. Amy and I have been married for 31 years and have six amazing kids who follow Jesus. We’ve even had the opportunity to invest in thousands of marriages through speaking, pastoral counseling, and our book From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage.

Early on, we learned the best way to have an enduring marriage in the future is to prepare well today.

In this post, I’m sharing two decisions that completely changed how I approached relationships.

1. I Stepped Back from Dating and Leaned In to God

When I gave my life to Jesus, I surrendered everything, and I made some bold changes. I told my fraternity brothers I was going to follow Jesus for the rest of my life and that I would not have sex again until I got married.

You should have seen the smirks on their faces.

I knew I was in trouble. There was no way I could avoid the temptation by willpower alone. I knew my only chance was God’s power. I felt desperate, so I prayed and prayed.

That’s when I was led to do something that seemed dramatic but, looking back, was totally necessary. The Holy Spirit led me to stop dating completely for an extended period.

Why was that so crucial, you ask? Because my mindset about relationships was a mess.

With that wrong thinking, there was no way I could be in a relationship that honored God and the woman I was dating. I needed God to transform my thinking first.

He did.

My fraternity brothers were right about me, but wrong about what God could do in me.

My fraternity brothers were right about me, but wrong about what God could do in me. 

God turned my desire for sex to desire for purity. I was walking by His Spirit.

Today, I am absolutely convinced that the relationship I have with my best friend and wife Amy, the intimacy we share, and the blessed marriage we enjoy never would have happened had I not surrendered and given God those two years to renew my mindset about dating.

Taking a break from dating gave me the space I needed to grow. I became …

1. Secure in Christ

If you want to end up married and happy, start single and secure. Insecure people need more and settle for less. Secure people need less and expect more.

2. Strong in Character

You don’t build a life of righteousness on a foundation of sin.

3. Grounded in Community

The strength of your community will shape the quality of your marriage.

I talk in-depth about the three things God showed me during this season in this message.

2. Amy and I Committed to Following Jesus Together

When I met my future wife Amy, we committed to our first spiritual discipline early on:

We attend church every week.

We decided we would worship God every week at church while we were dating. We still do this today.

I promise there has never been one conversation in my house where someone asked, “Are we going to church this weekend?” My kids will tell you we usually find a church to attend even when we’re on vacation. Why? It’s who we are—the people of God. And it’s who we want to become—people who always put God first.

We pray together every day.

I haven’t always prayed with my wife.

There were several reasons. One was that Amy likes to pray longer than I do. Another reason was that I was lazy. So we didn’t pray together, but we knew we were missing out on that spiritual closeness.

So a few years into our marriage, we established a new commitment: Before I’d leave for work, we’d join hands and pray a short prayer. Every day we would connect with God together. Though short, the prayer time is powerful. We figured out how to establish the habit in a way that worked for both of us.

This habit has been amazing for our marriage.

If you want to build a lasting marriage, focus on your relationship with God first, and then let Him renew your mind about dating and relationships.

Start Preparing for an Enduring Relationship.

If you’re frustrated and feel trapped in the cycle of trying to change but not actually changing, God promises us that life can be different and change is possible.

I’m incredibly passionate about helping you find this freedom. That’s why I wrote my book, The Power to Change.

Whether you are trying to lose weight, breathe new life into your marriage, read the Bible more, get out of debt, or give up an addiction, these step-by-step strategies will equip you to start living the life God wants for you.

You can get The Power to Change here.

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