With tiny tears that glistened, my eyes were fixed on you,
And thinking of the life we'd share, we softly said "I do."
Our hearts were knit together from the time that we first met,
And memories were gathered, that we never will forget.
While daily living life with you, you saw the real me,
And still you chose acceptance, a lifelong mystery.
With many happy days gone by, and others when we cried
Some days we'd share so endlessly, while other days we'd hide.
With all the ups and downs we've had, in learning to be friends,
I know that in this heart of mine, I'd marry you again.
~ author unknown
I've been praying for marriages this week, as promised. For your marriage, for my marriage – for the entire concept of marriage, really. I believe it's harder than ever for marriages. It seems to me that though my parents were busy, there always seemed to be more family time, more quiet time. Though both my folks worked, there were not the distractions we face today. Too much of a good thing, causing us to get casual with the amount of time we spend just getting to know or marriage partners. I know people who know more about television and movie actors than they actually know about their spouse!
Think about it – do you take time to simply talk to your mate? Do you go deeper than the casual conversations – daily? I'm not saying you even have to sit face to face, if that is impossible for you... but how about either leaving notes, or sending emails? When was the last time you ASKED your spouse what he/she would like for you to do? When you ASKED if they were happy – truly happy. I think sometimes we only go on what we can see... for instance, if every thing seems OK... well it probably IS... but what do you want your marriage to be OK, or GREAT? If it's great you are seeking, why not ask your spouse what would make your marriage that way – in their own words! Why do we wait until we've reached a point that forces us to have to do a lot of unnecessary work, just to get on track?
YOU are responsible for your marriage. If you are waiting for your spouse to change you are setting yourself up for disappointment. I'm sorry to tell you this – but its true. True change, in a relationship cannot be forced upon someone, for if its imposed, it's not coming of their free will and therefore will not endure. It may cause someone to 'be different' for a short while – but eventually they will slip into old habits. True change has to 'be inspired'. Unless the person you hope to convice to change sees YOU doing it first, then why would they even think to?
The biggest glue in my own marriage has been my faith. |For me, the recipe is simple – its as clear as using Ephesians 5:25 – 33 as a guide!
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,
his body, of which he is the Savior.
24Now as the church submits to Christ,
so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—
30for we are members of his body.
31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[c]
32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
You know, its almost considered a dirty word these days, but you need to SUBMIT to your spouse. Now I'm not talking anything abusive – physically or mentally, but in the sense that your spouse needs to know that you are willing to work with them. How many times our pride gets in the way – for everywhere we turn in our lives the media shouts out messages of 'self love'. Well, when I don't know about you, but when I married my husband, I understood my vows to mean that I choose my husband over myself . Was my marriage different than yours? Did you understand your vows to really say – I'll still be #1 but next to myself I'll love my husband better than the rest of the world. What was in it for your spouse then – because really, you married yourself! The one thing I've learned in marriage is that 'submission' is a beautiful word. The more I focus on what I can give to my husband, the more contented I become.
The more he notices.
He feels VERY special.
I have the power to make him feel this way.
Because, we live in a real world. If I don't build him up and make him feel special, there are plenty of women who do that 'out there'. Is it wrong for him to expect me to give him 2x more than he gets 'out there'? When you build your spouse up, when you lavish him with love and praise then he's protected by it. When you starve him of it, then don't be surprized that when others fill that space - food looks mighty attractive to a starving person. If you leave our spouse vulnerable and unfulfilled – and he gets out there and is seduced by someone meeting those very needs, then YOU'RE partly responsible.
I'm not even talking anything physical here! I'm talking SIMPLE stuff here. Start with little compliments. Don't make stuff up – try to think of anything nice to say. It can be as simple as “You're a good driver.” “You make good coffee” “ I am proud of you for working to provide for this family”
Think about it – you MARRIED this person... surely there were many wonderful traits you admired about them, and surely they still possess some of them. You know, sometimes what happens over time is we become so familiar that we no longer 'see' our spouse. We just 'go on what we know', without accounting for them growing and changing. We assume we know everything about them. Thats why, sometimes, its shocking when someone will tell you something about your spouse you did not know. We are shocked! And our first instinct is to say “YOU never told me this!” - their general response is “Well you did not ASK”... and its true.
WHEN do we stop asking?
WHY do we stop?
A powerful thing happens when we make the choice to build our spouse up. I challenge you to try it... for a week! The first thing to happen is you will visibly notice what power your words have. Your spouse will respond. Unless they are made of rock, they will respond. They may even become suspicious – thats normal because, come on, we've all used praise to 'get something' before. But when you keep on pouring on the praise something really profound happens. Your spouse begins to change. And YOU change too. You recieve the blessing of seeing how mighty your simple words have and then you realize, that as you build your spouse up – you no longer see (and dwell on) your spouses weaknesses, bad habits etc... instead you start admiring them all over again. You forget about what was eatin' away at you. You focus on what you can give, rather than recieve.
Isn't it funny (and sad) to realize that we often already do this with our friends? Why? Because if we neglected and tore down our friends, they would toss us off. And so they should.
And how much more important is your spouse. Your BEST friend.
How about it. 7 days. Just one week. Build up your spouse. Love and treat them the way you would like to be treated. Deny yourself for seven days – and then if you come back and tell me that they did not change, then I may believe you.