Become a World Changer by Nailing This Marriage Thing
I love marriage.
Why would someone like me devote her life to promoting marriage? Because I believe from the bottom of my heart that good marriages can be just what is needed to change the world in a profound and lasting way.
So many couples I meet today have grown lackadaisical in the relationship they have with each other. They take it for granted that they'll always be together. But he does his thing, she does hers, and the kids, well...the kids distract and pull and demand full attention. There's just no time! Society says, "You can go your own way," but God says, "Let no man separate what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6). Sadly, I'm seeing more couples quickly gravitate towards divorce BEFORE all of the other options are explored or completely worked out. To me, that's a tragedy. I believe, in many cases, divorce can be prevented, but it takes focus, determination, time, and a willing heart.
So, what can couples do if the struggle is real? Here are five things to exhaust before you give up. And when I mean exhaust, I don't mean dabble or dip a toe. I mean you DID the thing. You WORKED it. You tried HARD. You FOUGHT! You INVESTED! Don't YOU be the person who gave up on the marriage. Don't be the man or woman who separates the union. Let's roll up our sleeves, and get to work.
Ask God to help your thought life. Train your mind to capture and control any negative thoughts that set themselves up against your spouse or the marriage in general. These "strongholds" and "lofty pretensions" that enter our minds go against God and what He considers good and holy -- that would be your marriage. Thoughts that coax separation, division, and enmity must be taken captive and made obedient to Christ. You can't just let them linger, or you will be ensnared for sure (2 Cor. 10:2-5). Replace negative thoughts with those mentioned in Philippians 4:8. Raise your focus off yourself and onto God and your spouse. How does He see your spouse? Give the marriage over to Him on a daily basis.
Invest your time and money. There are many wonderful books, podcasts, retreats, and classes that can help you understand your spouse better and give you a foundation for how to do marriage God's way. Don't let 20 bucks or whatever deter you from getting new resources. God will provide if you ask Him for help. And don't say "I don't read," because we live in the most literate nation on earth. No excuses! Plus, these days, you can listen or watch. (See below for three amazing resources Principles to Live By offers right now!)
Work on yourself. Commit to marriage counseling for a minimum of one year. Counseling can help you identify your blind spots and cause you to think about the things you could change or do better for your spouse. Holly Eaton and other Christian counselors would LOVE to work with you. It can be life-changing.
Have fun with your spouse! Your kids and your job get so much of your time, energy, and focus, but without couple time and a chance to talk and express and dream, the marriage can die on the vine. Go away with your spouse on a real, adult vacation, meaning NO KIDS, at least once a year. Date nights should be regular and adhered to. Don't use the excuse "I don't have anyone to watch the kids." Ask God to help with that. He will do it!
Remember the reasons you love each other. Try to remember why you married your spouse in the first place. Of all the billions of people on this planet, God put you two together. He knew what He was doing! What attracted you to her? What about him made you fall in love? Tell each other these things. The commitment you made to one another all of those years ago has to be taken out, dusted off, and put up on the mantel every so often, so you can take stock of what you promised each other, and what you really meant when you said, "I do...for better or for worse."
You and your spouse can be world changers by maintaining and fighting for your marriage. Think about who God has placed in your life to witness your marriage -- your kids, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers... they all see it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of the people in your circle of influence need to know that marriages can still be stable, healthy, balanced, and lovely. Will you commit to working on yours? Will you become a world changer and allow your marriage to inspire everyone around you to fight for theirs? The world needs that, trust me.
Jennifer Edwards, M.A.
P.S. Don't forget check out the PTLB website for marital resources and upcoming classes. www.ptlb.com
P.S.S. Check out previous Life Is Relationships issues. Click here to visit our blog.
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