Marriages are like flowering plants. When placed in the right conditions, and given the right amount of care and nourishment, they naturally grow to produce beautiful and fragrant blooms. Whatever the flowers—be they chrysanthemums, roses, or daisies—they all need specific care.
In the same way, marriages require specific, consistent care for them to flourish. When a husband treats his wife badly, she grows bitter. When a wife treats her husband coldly, he grows distant. But when they treat each other well, their marriage naturally thrives and grows in love. Many, however, don't experience this growth happening.
To help that natural growth happen in your marriage, I'll share three character traits that are essential to a growing marriage. Let me assure you, before anything else: No matter how flawed you or your spouse may seem, there's hope for a better marriage for you. Lean on Christ – He'll help you.
Here are three character traits husbands and wives need to develop to nurture their marriage:
Integrity is defined as "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles," or simply, "moral uprightness." Men and women of integrity make great spouses because they stand on what is right even if it is hard.
A husband with integrity can face his wife without having to hide anything he otherwise needs to be confessing. He can admit to his wife any and every thing that she needs to know. A wife with integrity can do this, too. Integrity allows a spouse to be trustworthy, which is crucial to marriage. (see Proverbs 11:3; Song of Solomon 2:15-16)
Honesty is a very crucial trait in any marriage. Spouses who cannot be honest with their partners even in the smallest of things will never be honest when it comes to the bigger things.
Being honest also opens up husbands or wives to their spouses. This is required for every conversation, heart-to-heart moment, or even just the sharing of information at home. Practice being honest with what you feel, saying the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15).
This is probably one of the hardest traits to develop. Selflessness goes beyond serving your spouse so that they will become happy. It actually means delighting in making your spouse happy and more in love with God.
Think about it: God commands all husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and all wives are commanded to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ! (see Ephesians 5:21-33)
When we think about that command in light of Psalm 37:4, which says "delight yourself in the Lord," we realise that in obedience to God, it should be a joy for us to love our spouses and think about meeting their needs more than our wants being met.