Marriage Tip Thursday

Being the first to apologize after an argument shows more strength as opposed to expecting your spouse to do it first.

Marriage Tip Thursday

Although the wife may be the weaker vessel in a marriage, it does not mean she is inferior. Husbands are to treat their wives with love, respect and honor.

Thursday Marriage Tip

Actively looking for ways in which to serve your spouse will strengthen your relationship because it will make your eyes habitually more sensitive for opportunities to serve.

Strengthening Our Marriages

There is virtually nothing in life that a person can do without practice to become proficient. Whether it’s something as simple as reading to something as complex as playing a musical instrument, excellence requires practice.

A marriage is no different in that it also requires a level of dedication to continually practice key areas that are the backbone of the love in marriage: trust, intimacy, respect, grace and perseverance.

As a couple grows in trust, they’ll also build intimacy. And the more respect a a couple has for one another the more likely it is that they’ll extend grace to one another. Furthermore, growth in these areas, will not only strengthen a marriage, but it will also help couples be able to overcome difficult times.

What do you do to strengthen your marriage?

I Make This Vow

Last weekend , as my wife and I attended a wedding, I started reflecting on the topic of marriage vows in relation to God’s covenant with His children.

In the Bible, God made covenants with Noah, Abraham and Moses, to name a few. In each of these covenants, God made different promises which also required a certain response or conduct from His people. In other words, the covenants were an agreement in which God promised that He would deliver on specific blessings and in return, asked for faith, obedience and a commitment.

God makes the same kind of contracts with us today as couples look at each other’s eyes and embark on the path to “woness.” He put up the blood of His Son Jesus as collateral for our sins and in return only asks that we live a life of obedience. And as it relates to marriage specifically, God expects much from both husband and wife in the marriage relationship. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:7, after Peter laid out how a husband should care for and treat his wife, he added “so that you’re prayers are not hindered.”

Therefore my friends, it’s important to understand that the marriage vows are not only a promise that a couple makes to each other, but also a contract between that couple and God. And the exciting fact about this is that God longs to pour His blessings on a faithful marriage!

What Does Our Marriage Communicate?

I’ve been married 19 years and I just recently thought about what our life communicates to our kids. What have I taught my son about how a woman should be treated? What have my actions reflected about my love for my wife? In turn, how has Lisa’s married life impacted our daughter?

I guess we often think about what kind of legacy we will leave our family. I wasn’t always a good role model, but as I matured in my Christian walk and as the refinement process continues, I would think that I became a better husband, leader, father and disciple. I can certainly say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have seen that growth in my wife.  

As we have both grown, Lisa and I have made it a point to impart the importance of servant leadership. As I lead my wife, I try to do so by serving her. She has done the same by serving her family faithfully and sacrificially. We have been most encouraged in our “woness” by hearing others tell us that our lives are an inspiration.     This gives us great joy. Not the kind of happiness that leads us to believe that we have reached the mountain top. But instead, a humble joy that God would choose to use such broken vessels to speak life to those hurting or those contemplating marriage.  

I think I can speak for my bride of 19 years when I say that in 2016, we would like most of all to communicate love. Not the emotion. But the verb. We would like to reflect in our lives what Jesus commanded His disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In this manner we can be sure we will leave a legacy of “won.”

Unequal Yoking

I believe the third reason for the high divorce rate, even among Christian marriages is unequal yoking.

If one were to ask questions regarding compatibility in marriage, the usual responses may involve political affiliations, values, careers or how many kids a person may want have. And sometimes, unfortunately, no thought at all is given to any matters regarding compatibility. Faith issues seem to be less of a concern according to most research, especially right before marriage. To enter into a marriage relationship based on the afore mentioned items however, is not building a solid ground for a long lasting, successful partnership.

Even when religious affiliation is considered, differences don’t always detract wedding bells from being heard. In fact, interfaith marriages have been on the rise. According to this NPR broadcast stating that 20% of marriages in US in the 50’s were interfaith and this figure climbed to 45% by the first decade of the 21st century. In the same broadcast, it was mentioned that discussing family values and how to raise children within a world view was important but because society has become more focused on individual satisfaction, these concerns have taken a back seat. This lack of discussion leads to problems.

Looking at this topic from a Christian worldview, there is one primary factor that should be taken into account prior to marriage: whether your future spouse is also a Christian. The Bible describes this as being “equally yoked.” Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, where he warns against being unequally yoked, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with the Belial? What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

To put this term yoked in the perspective of an agrarian society which is the kind of society in which the Bible was written, a farmer would yoke two oxen of similar size for plowing. This way they could both carry a load equally and efficiently, without one working harder than the other. Imagine for a moment if an ox were yoked with one of my yorkies. How much would Roxy (our yorkie’s name) contribute? Probably close to 0%!! Well, applying this illustration to a marriage, an unequally yoked couple will have different morals, values, priorities and friends. These differences can create significant problems as each person in the marriage tries to “plow” through life.

This is not a New Testament concept. It has always been God’s heart to give us joy through this parameter. In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, as God led the Israelites into the promised land, He gave them commands about unions:
“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” God’s command was not to stifle or harm His people but to protect them and us.

As a married couple plows together through life, “life happens.” Job changes, financial difficulties, family difficulties, sickness, etc. People with different mindsets, values, beliefs, and priorities can have a difficult time navigating together through this maze of problems. The tendency may be to pull in different directions. It is no wonder why a survey by the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001, found that people of mixed religion marriages were 3 times more likely to be divorced than couples of the same religion. Why? I would venture to say that since Christ is not in the center, The foundation is weak and able to break. However, when Christ is at the center of a marriage two can truly become “won” and be able to withstand the pressures and challenges of life. God’s word relates this truth in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

So am I suggesting that is marriage a cake walk as long as Christ is in the center? Absolutely not!! Even with Christ at the center of a marriage, two imperfect people can have difficulty working through life’s obstacles. But when a marriage has been built on solid ground, on the “cornerstone that the builders rejected,” there’s a much higher chance that life’s challenges will be “won.”

So what if one finds themselves in an unequally yoked marriage? What’s the solution? I’ll touch on that in my next post.