Rufus Parker, La Crosse, WI — The most important elements for building a strong marriage are separation from each other’s families to build your own family identity and cohesion, communication with each other, forgiving each other, and to never stop courting (holding hands, kissing each other, buying things that the other likes, remembering each other’s birthday, anniversary, and doing things together).

We have had Bro. Bob Kurz, Counselor and Psychologist, come in and teach on the family, relationships and strengthening interpersonal relationships. We try to encourage attendance at District Family Camp, and Ladies’ and Men’s conferences here in Wisconsin.

I recommend the book If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us? Not because I am the author, but because most people who struggle in their marriage or walk away from their marriage have allowed the enemy to get a foothold and their personal relationship with Christ has grown cold. If a couple can get to the point of nevertheless, and apply themselves to their marriage, they can make it work. This is a book of encouragement packed with scriptures to help a person see that God can fix any problem. The question is will we let Him? If we will, He can and He will.

Tom Trimble, St. Charles, MO — We have a young marrieds class that meets weekly during our teaching hour. We emphasize parenting on the typical days, i.e. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. I wrote a booklet and preached the message “7 Steps to Being a Great Dad” available through Pentecostal Publishing House.

Important elements for building a strong marriage are: 1) Having a vibrant individual relationship with God and the church; 2) Accepting that we are different and appreciating those differences; 3) Finding hobbies and events that we both enjoy; 4) Making and taking the time; and 5) Trips with just the two of us.

In my opinion, the greatest enemy of marriage and families today are social media and the internet in general. More than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen an increase in cases involving social media, and, according to a survey, one-third of all divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook.

I recommend these books: The Five Love Languages, Passages in Marriage, and Love and Respect.

Tony Singh, Bolingbrook, IL — All marriages are under attack from the adversary. Every married couple has the key to a successful community, and that is a successful home. Therefore, every couple is a target. For this reason, we emphasize the practice of togetherness, in prayer, church attendance and worship. The place of spiritual agreement is paramount in the process of two becoming one. The church helps by creating services and functions that help husband and wife see each other’s roles and bring understanding to each other’s perspective. As the couples within the church are strengthened, that example bleeds into the communities, providing the impact for those outside our walls.

The important elements to building a strong marriage, in my opinion, are: Healthy communication — we learn proper manners in public settings and forget it all in the privacy of our homes. Consistent forgiveness — if we forgive (as we should) it is no longer an arrow for the next battle. Proper intimacy — keep the fire burning! Appeal is attitude. Learn to laugh — disappointment is not an opportunity for anger and emotional separation.

The greatest enemy of the home today, in my opinion, is entertainment. It can steal away the precious moments of emotional engagement.

Todd Nichols, New Albany, IN — Keys to building a strong marriage are: Never allow anyone to be more important than your spouse. Have proper communication. Speak to one another with respect when working to resolve stressful issues. Listen to what the other person is really saying and anticipate the other’s needs. Work as a team and not as individuals trying to gain control. The greatest enemy to a healthy marriage and family is the same as it has always been: selfishness.

We provide regular pre-marital counseling to all couples that we marry. We do not marry anyone without it. We recommend strongly that they read Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. In my opinion, this is the best book on the market for those who want to build a solid, loving marriage. After they are married, we encourage couples to participate in marriage counseling at the church before issues become catastrophic. Our church app, GreaterFaith, is a resource available at any app store.

Steve Green, Grand Rapids, MI — The most important elements to building a strong marriage are first, a strong personal commitment to Jesus. A key indicator to me when someone is ready for marriage is how faithful they are to walking with God. If you are faithful to what you can’t see, you will more than likely be faithful to the one you can. Second is understanding that marriage is a path of personal sacrifice. Within marriage there has to be a commitment to giving unselfishly. Third, communication is key IN EVERYTHING. If you are not talking and listening to each other, then everything will fall apart. Fourth is time together. How can you say you love someone that you are never with? People are too busy doing everything but being together. When we have no room to reflect, share or give to one another, there is no place for love to grow and marriage to be strengthened.

Arlo Moehlenpah, Poway, CA — Before marriage, both the future bride and groom should do the following: get the approval of both sets of parents, talk with each of their pastors, avoid physical intimacy, get out of debt and save some money. They need to check out each other’s spiritual desires to serve the Lord so there is agreement on the commitment in whatever way the Lord would lead.

After marriage, couples need to honor the vows made such as “forsaking all others” and “until death do you part.” They should continue to stay out of debt on everything with the exception of perhaps purchasing a house. To continue to strengthen the relationship and their family, couples should read the Bible and pray together and be absolutely honest, communicate and cast down imaginations.