Research by the Institute for Family Studies confirms that importance of couples worshipping together. The study revealed that 78% of couples who attended religious services together reported that they were “very happy” or “extremely happy” in their marriage. The percent of couples who were “very happy” or “extremely happy” in cases where the man attended worship regularly and his wife did not was also 78%. Interestingly, just 59% of people in couples where only the wife attended services, reported that they were very happy or extremely happy.
Why are couples who go to religious services together happier than those who do not? Two factors seem to be important: sharing friends in a religious congregation and praying together. Couples who have more than half of their friends at the same religious congregation are about 11 percentage points more likely to report they are very happy in their relationships than those who do not. Enjoying shared friendships in a religious congregation may boost relationship quality by giving such couples a sense of belonging and community, as well as other models of successful relationships.
Couples who report praying together frequently (almost once a week or more often) are 17 percentage points more likely to say they are very happy together. Joint prayer is likely to engender a heightened sense of emotional intimacy, communication and reflection about relationship priorities and concerns, and a sense of divine involvement in one’s relationship.
The research reinforces the need for couples to connect to God and connect to the church. The couple that worships together, has friends together and prays together is, on average, happier together. Additionally, it shows that godly men have a strong influence on their families.
Article adapted from research by W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow of the Institute for Family Studies and Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah.
The church functions best when all of the members of the body are using their spiritual gifts for the strengthening of the church. Here are ways that you can identify your spiritual gift.
Valentine’s Day was exciting in elementary school. I would look forward to the class party with heart shaped cookies, and cupcakes with white icing, red sprinkles and a plastic heart. Student would give out cards from their favorite cartoon characters. The cards would most often include candy. My favorite was the red heart-shaped lollipops. I also remember getting those Sweethearts candies with the little messages written on them. One of the messages read, “Be Mine.” The person who gave the candy really didn’t want you to be theirs. The classmate who intentionally tripped you two days earlier wasn’t really saying, “I Luv U” or “Hug Me”. These were just message on the candy.
But there is One who really means it when He says, “Be Mine.” When God says, “I love you”, He shows it and has the scars to prove it! God has extended the invitation for us to be His people (Hebrews 8:10). Jesus wants us to truly be His disciples (John 8:31). When we are His, it changes the way that we love others. Husbands who are His love their wives with the sacrificial love of God and honor them as much as they do their own bodies (Ephesians 5:25-29). Wives who belong to God respect their husbands and possess the unfading inner beauty of a gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:1-4). Singles who belong to God live in a way that honors God and recognizes that their bodies are the temple of God. Valentine’s Day and every day, God should be our first love!
Will you make or renew your commitment to be His? Will we show love to the God who demonstrated His love for us, although we were hard to love. The call has already gone forth. God has taken the risky first step of declaring His love for us. Everyday God is in essence asking each one of us, “Will you be Mine?”
Over the last couple of weeks we have explored ways that singles can begin preparing themselves spiritually and financial before saying “I do.” In our third and final part of this series we will highlight the need for singles to prepare themselves relationally.
In Judges 14-15 we see what can happen when people move on without having real closure to their previous relationship. If you don’t tie up your loose ends, you are going to mess up a blessing. Many people jump to the next relationship too fast. They are still emotionally tied to the person they were dating. In some cases one person thinks the relationship is over, while the other person is thinking of a future together. Perhaps someone is holding out hope that he will get back with ex. However he still wants to keep his options open. So he dates although he is really emotionally unavailable. Remember: a double-minded person is unstable (James 1:8).
Perhaps you and your ex have decided, “Let’s just be friends.” The reality, however, is that you can’t go from having been emotionally tied to someone and in love one week and then the next week you are just friends. Typically, somebody is going to try to be more than just friends. And even if you all can be friends, that isn’t going to sit too well with any new people with whom you seek to have a relationship.
In addition to tying up your loose ends, seek to improve your relationship skills. Work on your communication skills, including your listening skills. Work on expressing your feelings, thoughts and emotions in healthy and productive ways. Avoid shutting down. Learn from those who have been successful in their relationships, and learn from your own mistakes. Take a look back on your relationships and evaluate them to see what mistakes you should avoid and what things you should continue to do. Be honest enough with yourself to know what role you played in the failure of the relationship. Are you possessive, jealous, or looking in the wrong place for a potential mate? Are your expectations realistic or naively idealistic? Do you have a history of getting sexually involved with the people you date? If so, how realistic is it to expect God to bless a relationship when we fail to obey His commands for that relationship? These are just some of the areas in which singles should examine readiness for a relationship. What areas would you add? Where are your opportunities for growth?
In last week’s Reflections we suggested that singles who wish to be married should begin to prepare themselves spiritually for marriage. Singles should also prepare themselves financially. Money problems and disagreement over money are a major reason for divorce. If you begin getting a handle on your finances now, it will make the transition to married life easier.
Proverbs 6:6-8 teaches us the wisdom in saving to prepare for future needs. Now is the time that you should be building your nest egg. Practice living off of less than you make and designate a significant percentage of your income to savings.
Pay off your debts. Try paying more than just the minimum payment. When you pay just the minimum payment each month, those shoes that you bought on sale for $50 can end up costing you a lot more once you add up the interest that you are paying. Remember that it is okay to say no to yet another credit card. The borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). That means that the more people you owe, the more masters you have.
Stay current on your bills so that your credit score doesn’t take a hit. Plus, when we purchase things on credit, we are making a commitment to pay according to the terms prescribed. As Christians, when we fall behind on our bills, it is as if we were being untruthful when we signed for the credit to indicate that we would pay our indebtedness.
Once you pay off your debts, strive to avoid incurring future debts. If you exercise discipline and get on a written spending plan now, it will make marriage a lot less stressful.
Most importantly, give to God as you should. Our giving should reflect your income. If you make $50k/ year, you should be giving more than $20 a week. Do you really expect God to bless you with abundance when you are only giving Him 2% of what He has given you? Try God in your giving. You will see that He is faithful to His word. Honor Him with the first fruits of what you receive. Remember that God blessed you so that you can be a blessing to others. Don’t hoard what God has given you to share.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.