Give your marriage a strong hope. We’re all driven by a need to know we have the strength required to face whatever life brings our way. That strength comes from our confidence in Jesus’ power to lead, sustain, and protect us in any situation. When you make a daily habit of placing your trust in Jesus and encouraging your spouse to do the same, you invite Him to pour strength into your marriage. Encourage your spouse to use his or her God-given abilities to achieve great accomplishments, and to pursue a life of adventure with you.

Find the freedom to be different and vulnerable. As an agent of God’s grace in your spouse’s life, you can help both of you enjoy the freedom that comes from using your differences to complement each other and communicating openly and honestly in your marriage.

Find the freedom to be candid and make mistakes. When you extend grace to your spouse, you both then become free to candidly communicate deep thoughts and feelings to each other, and to process the foolish choices each of you make so you both can learn and grow.

Motivate each other to build character muscles that will make your marriage stronger. Giving grace to each other naturally motivates you and your spouse to want to grow into stronger people – and when that happens, your marriage will become stronger. A grace-filled marriage makes it easier for you both to pursue character that is distinguished by faith, integrity, poise, discipline, endurance, and courage.

Enjoy how grace strengthens each of your hearts. Once grace begins flowing freely between you and your spouse, God will use it to give you both hearts that are humble, grateful, generous, and willing to serve – all qualities that can keep your marriage strong.

Adapted from Grace-Filled Marriage: The Missing Piece, the Place to Start, copyright 2013 by Dr. Tim Kimmel with Darcy Kimmel. Published by Worthy Publishing Group, Brentwood, Tn., www.worthypublishing.com.

Tim Kimmel is one of America's top advocates speaking for the family. He is the executive director of Family Matters, whose goal is to build great relationships by educating, equipping and encouraging families for every age and stage of life. Tim conducts conferences across the United States on the unique pressures that confront today's families. In addition to conducting Family Matters' conferences and keynote speaking, Tim and his wife, Darcy, are speakers for FamilyLife Ministry's Weekend to Remember conference. Tim has authored many books, including: Little House on the Freeway (featured in the Billy Graham crusades), Grace Based Parenting (a Gold Medallion award winner), Raising Kids for True Greatness, 50 Ways to Really Love Your Kids, Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right, Why Christian Kids Rebel, The High Cost of High Control, and Basic Training for A Few Good Men. He has also developed several video studies, including “The Hurried Family,” “Basic Training for a Few Good Men,” “Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right” and “Grandparenthood: More Than Rocking Chairs.” Tim and Darcy have four children, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren. They reside with their family in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit his website at: familymatters.net.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: October 23, 2013