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Marriage is simply not the luck of the draw, or something we get involved in which just unfolds before us like a long movie. Good marriages, like good individual lives or good art, are conscious creations. They are made.
Kevin and Marilyn Ryan.
Do you sometimes wish you could once and for all for insulate your marriage from failure and fristration, that you could shock proof your sacred bond? Do you ever long for spiritual shortcuts on the road to holiness together?
Our easily distracted human heart seeks the easy detours. Whether living our life or loving our husband , we prefer wide , paved roads to the rugged , step by step path that requires us to continually seek and submit to God's will, pray about everything, get help when we need it, thank God for all that He has done, and travel on.
But marriage, of course, isn't a smoothly paved, predictable journey; it is a bumpy love- in action relationship filled with disorienting roadside challenges and constant surprises. Wedded lofe requires strenous openhearted endurance - a continuing endurance- a continuing , conscious effort to remain obebient to God's transforming work in our life- over hundreds of months and thousands of days . A healthy marriage can't be built immediately, but it can be built. Couples committed to creating one must carefully construct and cement their bond, layer by layer.
Arduous Demands and Astonishing Surprises:
"The devine design is no mistake", writes Glays Hunt, author of Ms. means myself. The mutual attraction of male and female calls us to confront our aloneness, out of our independance to see that we need eachother, to affirm the other's personhood and to discover that in our mutual dependancewe solve the mystery of our existence
The exclusive intimacy marriage requires is obviously part of God's plan for us . Even so , loving our husband - genuinely loving him according to the way love is defined in the New Testament- doesn't come naturaly for any of us. When our husband disagrees with us , offends us , or annoys us, our desire to continually care for and cherish him is challenged . This , too, is part of God's plan for us: Learning what love is, and what it is not, within the incredibly instructive, context of marriage.
"Scriptures give us careful , meticulous descriptions of the many aspects of love. Stuart and Jill Briscoe point out in Living in Love . It is important to take a close look at the sixteen discriptions of lovein 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 and not to get sidetracked when reading it simply because it is so familiar or so beautiful. There are rugged , abrasive qualities in this passage that describe what love really is when it is in operation....Love us not primarily something that you feel. You can not love with God's love , merely by ooohing and aaaahing over the love chapter. The scriptures reuire action. Marriage is full of staggering wonder and risk, incomprehensible mystery and surprise , unique joys and sorrows. Over the course of a marriage life can be amazingly serene at certain moments, completely exasperating at others. Given the imperfect , fallen world we live in everyday we face the startling possibility that we will experience the effect of sin , loss, and disappointment. As Eve's daughters , our marriage makes it way outside of Eden.
The apostle Paul expressed this reality well when he wrote "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. " Romans 8:22
What a powerful statement As a veteran childbirth educator and the mother of four children , my heart almost skips a beat when I read this Bible passage. The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth as it awaits it's final redemption from the effects of the Fall-- and it still is. Can you hear the groaning?
Though it is easy on difficult days to our ultimate goal , our labor, and our groans are deeply productive where God's eternal purpose for us is concerned.: "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on what is not seen , but on what is not seen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal"
2nd Corinthians 4:17-18
The Truth About Marriage:
Marriage is the closest bond that is possible between two human beings. That, at least , was the original idea behind it. It was to be something unique, without parallel or precedent . In the sheer sweep and radical abandon of its commitment, it was to transcend every other form of human union on earth, every other covenant that could be possibly be made between two people. Friendship , parent - child , master- pupil - marriage would surpass all these other bonds in a whole constellation of remarkable ways, including equality of the partners , permanant committment , cohabitation , sexual relations , and the spontanious creation of blood ties through simple spoken promises. As it was originally designed , marriage was a union to end all unions , the very last word, and the first , in human intimacy. Socially legally, physically, emotionally, every which way, there is just no other means of getting closer to another human being, and never has been than in marriage.
Such extraordinary closenes is bought at a cost, and the cost is nothing more or less that one's own self. No one has ever married without being shocked at the enormity of this price and the monstrous inconvenience of this thing called intimacy with suddenly invades their life.
All of life is, in one way or another , humbling. But there is nothing like the experience of being humbled by another person, and by the same person day in and day out. It can be exhausting , unnerving, infuriating, disintegrating. There is no suffering like the suffering involved in being close to another person. But neither is there any joy and comfort that are wrung out like wine from the crush and furment of two lives being pressed together. ....
The truth about marriage is that it is a way of not avoiding any of the painful trials and subtrations of life , but rather of the confronting them , of exposing and tackling them most intimately, most humanly, It is a way to meet suffering personally, head on, with the peculiar directness , the reckless candidness characteristic only of love. It is a way of living life with no other strategy or defense or protection than that of love... Marriage is a way not to evade suffering , but to suffer purposefully ---Mike Mason
The Real Task At Hand:
Do you believe God is productively and perfectly working for the good of your marriage, for your husband and for you ? Do you daily trust God to shape and design yuor husband;s life-- and also your own?
I don't know about you , but when I experience frustration or anger regarding my husband's attitudes or actions , I usually slip into Control Mode. I tend to cope with both big and small concerns about my spouse by subtly (or not subtly) attempting to redirect , reorganize and redecorate him. When things start getting messy , I want to straighten up my husband's life.
For example, when David drives too fast , I tend to sigh loudly, raise my eyebrows in disapproval , and point out the obvious speed limit signs. Even though I know my tendency will fail to transform his driving. I would like to spare both of us the embarrassment and expense of a traffic citation. It is hard for me not to say anything to my husband, even though one well trimes speeding ticket would have a far greater effect on David's driving that all my sigh's , eyebrow raising, and finger pointing combined. As you can imagine. this same principle applies to any number of areas of our life together.
I realize my behavior seems fairly rediculous. After all, what educated woman treats her husband as if he were a continuing interior design challenge? I can't help but think If Eve had been completely content with Adam, God and herself ahe might never have presumed to eat the forbidden fruit , nor would she have offered "just a tiny bite" to her husband.
Perhaps you, too, see the problem. This age old behavior pattern concerning husband improvement is , I suspect, something I share with many women, including my famous foremother from the Garden of Eden.
Regardless of how much we love our husband, we will dislike certain things about him , as he will dislike certain things about us. If we lay down our desire to control , however, and open our hearts to see our husband as he really is ,rather focusing on who we want him to be , our ability to love and forgive and bless, him will grow.
When we accept the responsibility of understanding and appreciatingour husband's uniqueness,the sub total of his singular spiritual, physical, psychological , and social attributes- our focus remains where it belongs:On God, and on His unchanging purpose and promises for our marriage, our husband and ourself.
The inconsistent world where we negotiate our en route existence is not what it once was , nor what it will one day be. Life , like labor , is full of arduous demands and astonishing surprises. We live in a physically, emotionally , and spritually trying enviroment that C.S. Lewis , the inspired British writer and philosopher , called, "the shadowlands". Our daily pilgrimage unfolds in a varied landscape of not- yet - fully illuminated places that continually challenge us to go deeper go further with God. If we rise to the challenge we can expect to see and understand better His life giving , glorious reality.
1) Wedded life requires a continuing conscious effort to remain obedient to God's transforming work in our life. God is productively and perfetly working for the good of your marriage, for yuor husband and you .
2) Given the imperfect , fallen world we live in every day we face the startling possibiltiy that we will experience the effects of sin , loss, and disappointment . But our labor and our groans are deeply productive where God's eternal purpose for us is concerned.
3) If we lay down our desire to control our husband- if we open our heart to see him as he really is rather than focusing on who we want him to be - our ability to love and forgive and bless him will grow.
4) When we accept the responsibility of understanding and appreciating our husband's uniquness , our attention remains where it belongs: On God and on His unchanging purposes and promises for our marriage , our husband and ourself.
Words to remember :
* The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all he has made (Psalm 145:13)
* Be very careful, then, how you live- not as unwise but as wise , making the most of every opportunity , because the days are evil . Therefore do not be foolish , but understand what the Lord's will is . ( Eph. 5:15-17)
* Your hands made me and formed me ; give me understanding to learn your commands. ( Psalm 119: 73)
* Be immitators of God , therefore , as dearly loved children. (Eph. 5:1)
Kind, helpful, and unselfish actions always lift my spirits emotionally, spiritually and even physically. But one thing transcends the attention focused upon me . I have heard friends of my wife comment " What a great husband you have"! Others tell me directly. What a wonderful relationship you and your wife must have. You see , it is not only that she has done something to me to be a blessing but that she has acknowleged to other people the blessing of what we have together -- Jim.
Personal Reflections :
1) At what point in yuor marriage , if ever, do you first remember thinking, "This is harder than I thought it would be"?
How did God help you to keep going?
What have you learned along the way?
2) Complete these thoughts in your journal.
The destination we are aiming for in our marriage is......
On difficult days, it helps to remember ......
God met me at a point of need in my marriage when ......
Praying for God's blessing for our marriage:
God be gracious to us and bless us and make your face shine upon us, that your ways be known on earth . your salvation among all nations.
Praying God's blessing for my husband :
God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back fromt he dea our Lord Jesus , that great shepherd of the sheep , equip my husband with every good thing for doing your will, and may you work in my husband what is pleasing to you, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever - Amen Hebrews 13: 20 - 21
O God of peace and consolation give us such goodwill , we beseech Thee that with free hearts we may love and serve Thee and our brethern ; and having thus the mind of Chjrist, may begin heaven on earth and exercise ourselves therin till that day when heaven where love abidith shall seem no strange habitation to us. For Jesus Christ 's sake ,Amen- Christina G. Rossetti ( 1830- 1895)
Open your heart to seeing your husband as he is in his Father's eyes rather than thinking about who you want him to be.
Nurture emotional as well as physical intimacy. Touch yuor husband while praying for his physical , emotional , and spiritual well being.
Admit it when you realize you are wrong: "Therefore confess your sins to eachother and pray for each other so that you may be healed". James 5 :16
For atleast one day , set aside thought's of your husband's faults or short comings . Focus instead on God's unchanging promises and purposes for him.
Try to understand your husband's opinion during a disagreement or dispute. Aim to make him allowances for the differences between you .
Extend grace in place of negative criticism : Identify one thing about your husband that really bugs you and decide from this day forward you will avoid trying to change this particulair behavior.
Encourage your partner to play. Ask him what he would like to do with his evening, then help protect his time by taking his phone calls, and limiting interuptions.
Avoid taking your husband for granted today. Express your appreciation for your beloved by putting your love into action on hhis behalf in some noticeable, new way.
Slow down. Savor a quiet moment together behind closed doors.
Bodly go where no woman has gone before: Invite your husband to imagine a future with you in which you picture growing old together . Talk about your hopes and dreams and fears about turning 30, 40 , 50 60 and 70 and beyond.
stay at home, homeschooling momma to Jacob(12), Alisha(10), Andrew (5)
I liked that. It would be nice if everyone could commit to marriage in this way, especially Christian people. A lot of Christians frown upon divorce, yet we do not lead by example. I have to say that this is the one area in my life that I can say God has truly blessed me and given me strength. He has made me totally devoted to putting Him first in our marriage, and to pleasing my husband. I may not be strong in all areas of my life, but my marriage and my family are true evidence of God's blessings.