Family, Truth for Today

366 – Love that Lasts: Shock-proofing Your Marriage

Comments Off on 366 – Love that Lasts: Shock-proofing Your Marriage 05 September 2014

It is amazing the number of people who are unhappy with their present marital circumstances. Husbands and wives are living together in a house that has become nothing more than a hotel and a restaurant. Relationships are fractured in some cases. Other partners are living together in an arrangement where there is no openness and dialogue and where an attitude of tolerance prevails at best. When marriage gets plowed under the circumstances of life: child rearing, careers, social commitments, educational demands, financial pressures, kids growing schedules of activities, even religious activities; it needs to be renewed and revived and restored to the quality of the “first love” that the couple experienced in their courtship’s happy day. How can that be done in the midst of the Twenty-First Century rat race we live in?

The answer has to do with the ability to make adjustments along the way. The trees in your yard that last the longest are those that have firm roots and are flexible enough to bend with the winds that blow against them. Marriages that survive over the long run are those that are rooted in the firm belief that “a chord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12 NIV). I believe we can easily apply that biblical teaching to marriage. A husband and a wife and Christ are three strands in a marriage that cannot be quickly broken. That is where the relationship needs to be rooted. It takes three to make it work! God is a factor too often left out of contemporary marriages. In regard to marriage we should remember: God made it, let Him manage it.

When the winds of uncertainty blow against a marriage relationship the partners need to know how to be flexible in order to keep from breaking apart. I want to suggest some characteristics of a firmly rooted and flexible partnership whose love will last and is shock-proof.

Your marriage can survive and thrive if you are:

1. sympathetic – The Apostle Paul said, in the love chapter of the Bible, “Love is very patient and kind” (1 Cor.13:4 TLB). In order to be a successful marriage partner you need to allow God to produce the spiritual fruit of kindness in your life (Gal 5:22). A kind person does not judge and is never condemning of his or her mate. We are talking here about being sympathetic with a fellow struggler who needs to mature and grow in relationship with God and the partner. When there are challenges in a relationship there is always enough blame to go around. Like a sports team, in a marriage there needs to be team work. I remind you of the T E A M acronym, “Together everyone achieves more.” How sympathetic are you toward the one with whom you discovered love by God’s grace? One of my seminary professors said in commenting on 1 Cor. 13:4 that he liked a little girl’s prayer that said, “Dear God make all bad people good and all good people nice.” Being sympathetic in a marriage relationship means being nice one to another. It involves a spirit that understands or works to be nice. It seeks to understand the partner and identify with his or her hurts and needs.

2. serving – Paul talked about husbands and wives in Eph. 5 when he said, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21 NIV). Each marriage relationship should be built on the principle of submission and reciprocity. The partners are just that: PARTNERS! Christ is the Lord of the home. Each partner should take the time and make the effort to know the other and to learn to love them for whom they are. It is said that, “If you change (your spouse) you will lose exactly what you fell in love with.” Each partner has a responsibility to work for the marriage and not against it. Each is to be engaged in the process. Each one needs to readily express their willingness to do their part. After nearly 47 years of marriage I have learned that my best response to my wife is to say, “This is what I am willing to do to make our marriage better.” That sets the stage for dialogue because it says I am willing to do my part. When she knows what I have committed to do it is easier for her to commit to do her part to improve the relationship. Most couples talk defensively about what is wrong with the partner. “If you would just…. the marriage would be better.” It is time for you to stop demanding and start doing. Act like a servant. Your best Example is that of Christ who “did not demand His own way” (1 Cor. 13:5). He served us. He said He did not “come to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Try serving and see the difference it makes in your partner and in your partnership.

3. satisfiedThere is dissatisfaction in many marriages today. People marry people for many reasons. It seems difficult to remember what those were after 5-7 years into the marriage. People marry thinking they can change their partners or they can just live with the differences between them. But, after a few years of trying to change a partner and realizing it is not going to happen or after trying to tolerate the partner, toleration turns into turbulence and then into temptation and one or the other begins to look around for another alternative for love. Couples that make it last have learned how to discover the differences between them, some discovered long ago, others unfolding over time, and use them to their advantage. They know their differences and see that they can be complements rather than competitors.

It is okay to be the way God made you. God has made each one unique and very special. Each partner is a one of a kind creation of God. To want to change the partner God has made for you is actually questioning God’s creative work. Each partner has a unique personality and the other should learn to accept and be satisfied with that. That is not to say that there are no faults that we can work on. Each partner is responsible to God to let Him make the changes He wants to make in our lives. He is Jehovah-Mekaddesh, our God of change, the One who changes us to be more like Jesus. That is the work of the Holy spirit in our lives. The more holy we become the more wholesome our relationships will be. Remember God is the change agent, not your partner.

The sooner we learn to be satisfied with the one God made for us the better off we are. I have often likened it to computer shopping. We shop for a computer and find the one we think will best serve our needs. We purchase it. A month later we are at the computer store, and we see one that is faster and has more bells and whistles than the one we bought. We become dissatisfied with our computer after two months and desire the one that we think now is better. The same is true in marriages. Partners buy into a relationship and then keep on shopping. The key is to make a commitment to a partner and then quit shopping. Shopping leads to comparing and comparing leads to dissatisfaction. We have to learn to be satisfied!

4. SafeHow safe do you feel in your present marriage arrangement? Do you believe God led you together for love? Love is really a commitment to the purpose of God for your life. I believe that before God created Adam and Eve He had in mind a mate just for you. There is safety in believing and knowing that the one you are married to is the one God shaped to fit in a relationship with you. He had your marriage in mind. He called you to the relationship and you responded by faith. Nothing we do in life that is worthwhile is done outside of the circumference of faith.

When you are trying to work through disagreements, differences that you have discovered, and argumentative moments it is good to know that you will survive them and that you are not threatened with divorce. If you are sure you are with the mate of God’s choice it gives you a feeling of safety knowing that God will not let you fail. Remember it takes two people totally committed to that belief to make a marriage work. Divorces often occur when two people realize that they are not in the relationship God had in mind for them.

When two people subscribe to the idea that God has chosen them for one another and they both have made commitments to the relationship based on God’s leadership and His continuing involvement to preserve the marriage, safety results! It is the attitude that you may have read or heard somewhere: “We are signing on to the marital airplane and we are throwing the parachutes away.” That means you have staying power because of the Savior’s presence to keep you both committed to one another. “If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him” (1 Cor 13:7 TLB). Loves demands your best and it expects the best as well. When you hear gossip about your partner do not buy into that. Believe the best about the one you love until you are proven wrong. Love demands loyalty.

Safety makes you willing to be vulnerable enough to go deeper in your love relationship. It makes you feel secure sharing your most intimate thoughts and concerns with each other. It opens the door to greater intimacy and to a deeper shared relationship with the God of your home.

5. sincere –  “[Love] rejoices whenever truth wins out” (1 Cor. 13:6 TLB). Your love is not happy unless each of you is telling the other the truth. You have to tell the truth as a pattern of life in order for the partner to believe you are telling the truth. Consistent truth telling, with love, is a building block with which a marriage must be built. If you are open with your partner your partner will be open with you. If your lifestyle in all of your other relationships is honesty your partner will believe that you are honest with him or her. My site logo says, “Truth: telling it with love.” That is what I am suggesting here. Paul says in “God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love–like Christ” (Eph. 4:15 The Message). Since Christ lives His life in us we should let the natural outgrowth of that life speak the truth to our partner with love. I am not talking about brutal honesty, the kind that hurts and devastates. I am talking about living honestly and openly with one’s partner each day. If we live our lives the way God has taught us in His Word it should be relatively easy to be honest in our expressions as well as in our example. If you have concerns about things in your relationship you should be open and honest in discussing them with love and compassion toward your partner. A sincere life is a simple life in a complicated world!

Let God help you build these characteristics into your marriage to make it shock proof!

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