I don’t write very much about marriage here on the blog. It’s not really for any particular reason other than I don’t I feel I’m overly qualified to speak on it, being still a “baby” in the marriage category – 11 years, is that considered newlywed still? :D But also, sometimes things are just better discussed one on one, in close contact between friends.
However, there are times that I feel a desire to share things that I’ve learned in my marriage – cautions, tips and ways to deepen and grow in your relationship.
This is one of those times!
Lest you think I’m perfect and have a perfect marriage, this post comes hot on the heels of my completely selfish blow up at my hubby when he came home from work and wanted my attention for a few minutes while I was in the middle of something. Yes. SOOOO do not have it all together.
A couple weeks ago we celebrated our 11th anniversary and this weekend is Valentine’s Day! It’s incredible how much we still have to learn about each other, and yet with all that we know and the depth of which we’ve experienced difficulties and love, God gives more grace and love – in abundance.
There is an attack on marriages going on, not just in the world, but even moreso in the church. And it’s getting ugly. Couples are afraid to talk about their problems and get help for fear of being judged, looked down upon or failing – really, it’s pride! They’ve given up the fight for their marriages to protect their pride. Marriage IS a fight. Marriage IS work.
Marriage is a not based on love, but a covenant. You can fall out of love, or at least choose to fall out of love, but you can’t fall out of a covenant. And that’s where we’ve lost sight of the covenantal basis of marriage.
We heard a really great message back in the fall at a family wedding – the minister (who incidentally, was the same one who married us 11 years before!) made 4 points about covenantal marriage:
1) It’s Uncomplicated – it’s between a husband, wife and God. Not family members, not friends, not kids.
2) It’s Unbreakable – it’s a sad reality in today’s day that we allow our selfishness to drive a wedge between us and our spouse. It’s ridiculous, and we know it, but we allow it to build up, crack and eventually break us apart. But a marriage based on a COVENANT, is UNBREAKABLE.
3) It’s Unconditional – no strings attached. It’s not based on my behaviour or his, it’s based on the grace of God. Marriage is 1 sinner married to another sinner, living in a sinful world. BUT GOD!
4) It’s Unachievable – on our own, relying on love, and without God. Without his grace. Without salvation at work in your hearts, true covenant marriage is unachievable.
Does that mean we should just throw in the towel now and walk away? By no means! It means we need to work at it. We need to be lashed to the mast in the midst of the storms. To cleave, to hold fast, to FIGHT for our marriages and our lives. Leaving is not an option.
I’ve learned a lot in 11 years – about things that are important for a healthy marriage. and I pray I continue to learn much more as The Man and I grow closer together and fight together for the covenant of marriage we made before God.
This is an acronym I’ve started using to remind myself of the work that is required in our marriage, and to take the focus off myself and my selfish pride, in order to bring glory to God through our marriage. I’m not very good at this yet, but that’s what the reminder is for!
P.O.L.I.C.E. – Fighting Selfishness and Pride
to Fight for Your Marriage
P – Prioritize
This goes along with marriages being uncomplicated. It’s God, your spouse, then you – you are third, and then comes everything else. And yes, that’s stinking hard! My selfishness leads me to want to do what I want to do, and require that others make it happen. But in our marriages we need to prioritize time for the other, meeting their needs, and filling them up first.
O – Observe
Observe your spouse. What makes them happy, frustrated, encouraged, builds them up or tears them down? Watch how they respond – to you, to others, to circumstances. Become a student of your spouse, take the time to know them deeply and intimately, and then engage them in what makes them tick, grow, encouraged and feel loved.
L – Listen
Listen to what they have to say, which means that you need to spend time talking! My parents used to have “couch time” at the end of every day where the kids had to leave mom and dad alone so they could talk, catch up, spend time together.
But aside from listening in conversations, we need to truly listen to what our spouse is saying and meaning when they speak to us. Too often I react to my husband’s words, hearing what my selfishness and current perspective deems as an attack, but is really a concern or loving remark.
I – Instigate Intimacy
Yup. I’m going there.This one is so good it deserves a double letter.
Ladies, instigate intimacy! Don’t let him always be the one to come after you. Lean into the hugs and don’t pull away. Linger a little longer on the kiss. And, well, you know the rest :D
C – Celebrate
And that means date nights! They don’t always have to be going out somewhere – you can make date nights fun and meaningful from home too.
E – Expect
Expect that you will have struggles. Expect that every couple has them (remember, one sinner married to another sinner, living in a sinful world!).
“Marriage is war – between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of self.” (Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect.)
Get help if you need it! Don’t let things pass to the side or build up to the point of breaking.
The Man and I received our premarital counselling from a ministry called Caring for the Heart and it really helped us to work through our very minor issues pre-marriage, as well as give us a place to start when later we would need to sort through other issues. This type of counselling is biblically based, and not really about identifying and tackling our personal issues so much as it is getting to our hearts, the roots of our problems, and connecting us to each other – which then leads to tackling our issues and letting God change our hearts.
We know of many couples who have been helped, marriages saved and relationships restored through their ministry. They are nationwide with US and Canadian counsellors – so make sure you check out their website!
Your marriage is worth fighting for and praying for.
It’s a kingdom battle – you’re not alone and it’s not hopeless.
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