A little advice here; a little there, and it all adds up to being helpful. Often times, marriage advice isn’t anything you’ve never heard before, it’s often something you forgot and needed to remember so you could start applying it again. It’s like, “thanks Lord, I needed that reminder!” Well, that’s what this message is all about. The following are marriage tidbits that we may have forgotten or hadn’t really thought about in the same way before.
We have two that come from a fun book (one of my favorites that sadly, is out of print). It’s called, Romance in Real Life written by Ellyn Sanna with J. Lee Stewart. And even though it’s a book of little tidbits of marriage advice for women, most of it pertains to men also (so we’ll adjust accordingly in the wording).
The first piece of advice is this:
“Consider yourselves partners in all areas of your life… spiritually, socially, financially, and emotionally.
“As husband and wife, our emotions do not always run parallel. I may be challenged and fulfilled by my job at the same time my husband is feeling stressed and drained by his work. My income may be increasing while he’s worrying about his next raise. Or I may be deep in a spiritual depression, just when he is feeling spiritually excited and optimistic. But if my husband is my partner, then I will not stand separate from him while he suffers —and vise versa. Together we bear each other’s sorrows and share each other’s joys.
“If one of you is in emotional pain the other cannot be separate from it. This means that when one of you is angry, the other can’t (or shouldn’t) dismiss it by saying, ‘It’s your problem, deal with it.'”
That’s not what being a marital team is all about.
What Are You Wearing?
As I read those words I thought of the scripture in Colossians 3 that says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.“ Here are some questions that come to mind: Are you clothing yourself with the attributes that God intends you to wear? Or are you grabbing that, which the enemy of our faith is handing to you so that God’s character isn’t able to be seen?
The scripture goes on to say, “Bear with each other. And forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.“ It takes an intentional act to “put on love“ —especially when we don’t feel like it. But that’s what God asks of us, despite an reason we may not want to.
I’m also reminded of Ephesians 4 where the Apostle Paul wrote, “As a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to deepen the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.“ That had to be difficult words for Paul to write, since he was a prisoner at the time. And yet it helps us to realize that if he could say that in his circumstances, we can also live this way with our spouse (even if he or she isn’t acting like our partner at this time).
More Marriage Tidbits
Here’s another marriage tidbit from the book that can benefit both wives and husbands. Just flip around the pronouns if the advice fits better:
“LET GO OF THE PAST.
“In the midst of a fight, all too often I find the ghosts of old grievances rising back to life. My husband and I may start by fighting about his being a day late for my birthday. But before long, I’m reminding him of the time two years ago when he gave me an IOU for my birthday on which he never made good. And then the time seven years ago when he gave me nothing for my birthday except a too-small T-shirt… and the time when we were dating when he missed my birthday altogether.
“As I resurrect more and more old, bitter ‘ghosts’, my hurt and anger expands. All this happens while my husband’s defensiveness grows. After all, in practical terms, what can he do to fix all those long-ago injuries? Old ‘ghosts’ have nothing to add to our marital conflicts. Leave them in their graves. Learn from the past and move on.” “Memory is a good servant, but a bad master.” (Nisargadatta)
I’m reminded of the scriptures in Philippians where it says, “Not that I have already obtained all this (as he was talking of being in the fellowship of suffering with Christ), or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.“
A Higher Picture to Consider
Within marriage, those scriptures may be God saying, “there is a higher picture here to consider.” Marriage is not about you. It’s about being in partnership with God in showing the love and grace of Christ to your marital partner. When we get hysterical and “historical” and bring up things from the past it complicates the problem that’s being focused on. It can also contribute to a “blame game” session, which is counter-productive. And it can also be destructive. We’re not acting as the partner we vowed to be.
That doesn’t mean we can’t confront problems. But like we have said previously, we need to be considerate and not do it during H.A.L.T. times —when there is hunger, anger, loneliness, or tiredness involved. We also need to remember that our spouse is not our enemy. And even if he or she acts like your enemy, the Bible tells us that we are to pray for our enemies and we are to love our enemies.
If your spouse doesn’t want to be as considerate, it doesn’t mean that you have to be less considerate. You don’t have to lower the standards that God wants for you and for us all to keep in mind.
This has been a “thanks Lord, I needed that” Marriage Message. It reminds you to keep in mind the powerful messages from the Bible. We pray that God will help you to live in partnership with Him within your marriage. This is so others, who don’t know Him, will want to know our God better.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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