We had a request recently from someone looking for a prayer for a couple going through tough times in their marriage. While we were very happy to oblige, it struck us that for many couples in this situation, prayer is often far from their thoughts, and yet, it is one of the most effective interventions for a troubled marriage.
Dr. Frank Fincham, Director of the FSU Family Institute, conducted a study over four weeks where participants were randomly assigned to either:
- Pray for their partner
- Engage in general prayer
- Set aside time to think about the positive things in life and about their partner.
At the end of the study, those in the first group reported a greater willingness to forgive their partner for a mistake or hurt. This is incredibly important as other research has also demonstrated that the willingness to forgive is one of the fundamental characteristics of long term marriages.
Other studies have looked how stress can be managed by focusing on being grateful. Gratitude is associated with a more optimistic outlook and generally better mental health. Moreover, prayer helps to increase gratitude.
“Our research shows that praying for your partner can bring you back to the common goals,” said Dr. Fincham. “When people pray, they become one with their spouse. A subtle shift occurs. Praying regulates your emotion and it never leads to anger. Knee-mail is social support available 24/7. We know that couples who have access to social support tend to negotiate their relationship affairs better than anyone else.”
So if your marriage is doing it tough, start praying! It can really make a difference.
Here’s the prayer we suggested to our enquirer. We’d love to know your suggestions for a prayer – please share in the comments below.
I thank you for the many blessings in my life.
I thank for my spouse, even though it is tough right now.
Help me to see the goodness in him/her.
Give me a willingness to understand his/her point of view.
Help me to be compassionate and tolerant towards our differences and
forgive me for the ways that I have hurt our relationship.
Help me to forgive my spouse for the ways he/she has hurt me.
Grant me the grace of humility
and do not let pride keep me from loving my spouse
the way you want me to.