It's important for Christians to build their marriage on the foundation of God to avoid the danger of divorce, the Rev. Billy Graham wrote.
Responding to a question posted to "My Answers" on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website, the 97-year-old evangelical leader said that first and foremost, a marriage should be built upon a relationship with God.
"The most important thing you can do is to build your marriage on God and His will for your lives. As my wife used to say, a strong marriage actually needs to include three people: the husband, the wife – and God," Graham writes.
It is important Christians view marriage as a gift from God, rather than a legal contract or cultural convenience, Graham continues.
"Remember: marriage isn't just a social convenience or a legal custom. Marriage comes from God, and it is one of His greatest gifts to us. When times of stress or disappointment come (and they will), remember that God brought you together, and you made your marriage vows not only to each other but also to Him," Graham writes.
To ensure this strong, faith-filled marriage continues, spouses should strive to pray together regularly every day.
"Pray together – not just before meals (although that's important), but regularly every day. Set aside time also to read God's Word together, and seek out a church where you can grow in your relationship with each other and with Christ," Graham writes.
The Baptist minister, who was married to his wife, Ruth Graham, for 64 years, up to her death in 2007, has spoken on the importance of a faith-filled marriage before.
In a February 2016 post, Graham explains that "a good marriage doesn't just happen — it needs constant care," and it is because several Christians miss this truth that they end up in divorce.
Like a garden, which needs a strong foundation of rich soil, upkeep, watering, and protection, so marriage needs all of these things as well.
"Marriage is somewhat like that garden. If it's neglected (if 'weeds' are allowed to flourish), if a husband or wife begins taking their spouse for granted or is insensitive to his or her needs — then that marriage is in trouble," Graham writes. "Spending time together [...] seeking to meet each other's needs [...] avoiding criticism and backbiting — these and countless other acts of kindness will go far to strengthen a marriage."
Graham adds that the reward for this constant hard work is a healthy marriage.
Christians need Christ at the center of their marriage because faith helps prevent against one of the most dangerous threats to marriage: selfishness.
"The most important advice I can give to any young couple is to seek God's will for their marriage. Don't leave it to chance, or depend only on your own judgment. God knows all about you; He knows your needs, and wants to lead you to the spouse He has for you," Graham writes in a March 2016 post. "The greatest enemy of love in a marriage is selfishness — putting self first instead of the needs of our spouse. This is why we need Christ, because only He can transform our hearts and make us into the husband or wife He wants us to be."
"Is Christ the center and foundation of your marriage — and your life?" Graham concludes.