Want to know one of the best things Craig and I do together for a strong marriage? It affects every aspect of our marriage—and our lives. Any guesses? I’ll give you some clues. It’s not making sure there’s a winner of every disagreement. It’s not keeping socks off the floor. It’s not putting a hot meal on the table every night. It actually has a lot more to do with Jesus than either of us. Let me explain.
One of the best things Craig and I choose to do to make our marriage a strong marriage is to live generously. We haven’t always gotten it right—especially in the beginning. But our choice to live generously has had more of an effect on our hearts than our wallets.
I suppose I’ve always leaned toward the naturally generous side, while Craig has been known to fall more naturally into the … I’ll just say frugal side. Like many couples, we’re quite the opposite in personality, but it was our unity of values and vision that were the essential ingredients needed for our choice to succeed in generosity.
As devoted Christians, Craig and I know that true success is to know and become more and more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that Christ embodies love and teaches us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. This is why, to us, generosity is the most outstanding trait of love. Love gives.
Here are three decisions for generosity we’ve made together:
- We plan our giving.
We’ve always discussed how to direct our finances and possessions. We just have. It might not seem fun, but when you’re looking at your finances as opportunities to bless and help others, it can become an exhilarating process! A significant part of our financial vision is to strive to live off less and less of our income in order to grow in our generosity.
It’s thrilling every year as we look to see what portion of our budget we can allot to offerings above our tithe. Once my personal giving budget is set, I begin a strategic plan of who to give to, how much, and when.
- We look for new ways to give.
Please understand, generosity is far more than monetary giving. Craig and I seek to follow Jesus daily by walking in selflessness. Yes, this is easier said than done. Believe me, I know. I can be a real stinker if I allow my selfishness to go unchecked. But Christ regularly frees me from that, and giving of ourselves is a huge part of what we’re all called to do. What does this look like?
- Calling to check on a friend or family member
- Giving up my preference of what to do on a night off
- Listening well when we’d rather interrupt
- Helping with a child’s homework
- Cleaning up someone else’s mess
- Buying or cooking a meal for others
- Giving our spot in a long line
- Faithfully praying for a need
- Visiting someone who’s sick or lonely
- Sharing my secret chocolate stash
- We give compliments!
A Scripture I meditate on frequently is: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8). Craig and I do our best to remember we’re indebted to one another with our words and our actions. Honestly, it doesn’t do Craig any good if I only think about how much I love and respect him. So, when I see Craig being an awesome Dad, I tell him so! When I think of him during the day, I text him and let him know he’s my mega-man! Don’t fool yourself into thinking your words of encouragement are just white noise. They’re life!
What’s a strong marriage made of? God’s love! God is the ultimate example of continuous, selfless generosity. Craig and I have found when we strive to live generously, our marriage and our hearts receive more than we ever give. Jesus was right! … “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35