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10 Ways to Grow Your Marriage While Having Young Kids

9. Cultivate compassion for your spouse’s greatest weakness.

Being a parent can bring to the surface your spouse’s deepest fears, sins and failures. It’s easy to despise those things, particularly to the extent they’re different from your own struggles. Here are a few ways to fight that judgment:

• Remember and grieve your own sin.

• Ask the Lord for special tenderness and compassion.

• Don’t needle your spouse with sarcasm.

• Speak respectfully to your friends about your spouse, rather than complaining about them.

• Exhibit tons of patience and gentleness when discussing their weaknesses (if you need to discuss them at all).

10. Pursue your spouse’s heart. 

What are they interested in these days? What’s on their Facebook wall? What are their fears about the next 18 months? What songs do they currently like? Study them. Cultivate “inside jokes” together. Keep secrets with them, not from them (that builds intimacy over the years). Make it your lifelong goal to romance them as much as you did when you were dating, in each season of marriage.

Satan and our culture bombard us with the lie that affairs are more exciting than fidelity. One aspect of our gospel witness is to incarnate the real truth—that absolute, binding commitment is the pathway to real joy. Whatever is exciting in any romantic relationship, whatever intimacy your heart craves, whatever strength you have to offer another person—the goal of marriage is to pour all of that into one person for the rest of your life. This is God’s strategy, and it’s the most fulfilling way to live. May we cultivate marriages that point to the beauty and reality of Christ in our lives.  

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Gavin Ortlund (@gavinortlund) is a husband, father, associate pastor at Sierra Madre Congregational Church, and PhD candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary.