Thursday, April 19, 2012

Keys to a successful marriage part 2

In the first article I mentioned the first three keys to a happy marriage; 1) Pray together, 2) Enable your spouse to be the best they can be, and 3) Be each others best friend.  I want to give you three more keys to a happy marriage

4) Fight Fair! I would have liked to not include this but, we are human. If you have any two people in a room you probably will have three opinions present. Until we are all dead to our own flesh, we will always be selfish, misunderstood, stressed, prideful, or just simply poor communicators, so we will argue. The Bible says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.} Ephesians 6:12.  Often, we set our focus to fighting and disrespecting our spouse rather than solving the problem.  Words said quickly, never can be taken back and establish long lasting wounds.  The enemy has done a great job destroying marriages.  Fight fair by realizing why you are arguing; you have a disagreement and you need to find a solution. Our flesh wants to win, our spirit cries out for a solution. We are called to love and respect each other. There will be disagreements, work toward solutions.

5) Forgive.  Because we have failed with the first four points, we often carry around baggage from past relationships and present ones.  Jesus said “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you,” Matthew 6:14  Jesus doesn’t say only if you’re right forgive or you don’t have to if you were hurt unjustly. Forgiveness is not just an action, it is a choice; sometimes it is moment by moment, sometimes daily.  We need to keep forgiving until we feel we have forgiven.  We are also told not to let the sun go down on our anger, the implication being, everyday we should strive to start new fresh and free.  Unforgiveness is a spiritual slavery that holds those in it’s clutches unwitting accomplices to their own misery. Freedom comes by choosing forgiveness. We are never more like Jesus than when we forgive. If Jesus could forgive those who hated him, how much more should we be willing to forgive those who love us?

6) Priorities – In Luke 10 Jesus is visiting friends and explains to Martha that Mary has chosen the best thing by sitting at His feet.  Priority 1 - must be being with Him.  If we are with Him we know what He is doing, we aren’t concerned about what others are doing.  When we are with Him, He can whisper and we hear His voice. Priority 2 - our spouses; between Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 Paul explains the holiness and priority that a marriage must have and that our spouses, next to the Holy Spirit, can be our greatest asset and next to Satan, can become our greatest detriment.  Peter writes that even our prayers are hindered if our relationship is not right. Priority 3 - Psalm 127:3 says that children are a gift from God.  1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us that our children are our first disciples; thus a major priority. Priority 4 - what you do for God.  If we secure our relationship with the Lord, our spouse, and our children then the enemy has no room to attack, our foundation is secure and what we do for the Lord can proceed uninhibited.

If you are able to follow these 6 points, your marriage will get better. If you are not married you can apply most of these principles to all of your relationships.  If you are planning on getting married they will help you find the right spouse.  Either way, you will be happier and more fulfilled. Marriage is to be a team project, The Lord, you, and your spouse. With that team you will fail but find great joy. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keys to a successful marriage

I've been spending a lot of time lately helping couples through some of there issues. After 50 years you should still get a smile on your face when you think of your spouse.  I know, your thinking, "you’ve got to be kidding".  After nearly 29 years, I still get a smile when I think about Paige. We have had some rough roads but “God is faithful!” Allow me to share a few words of advice about having and maintaining a happy marriage. This will be part one of a two part blog.

1)    Pray together! George Barna of the Barna Research group found that couples that pray together have a much greater chance of staying together for life. Some of our driest times as a couple have been when due to busyness or tiredness Paige and I have neglected to pray together.  We have found in addition to the spiritual blessing from praying together some practical blessing come as well.  Sometimes I am not the greatest communicator in the world, after all I am male. When we pray together I hear Paige’s heart and she hears mine and we are able to keep up on what is really important in our lives. We also know that with all the things happening in the world there is at least one person praying for us.  It is also very hard to stay upset with someone you are praying for (not that Paige or I would know anything about that).

2)    Make your goal to enable your spouse to be the best that they can be. In “The Message” Ephesians 5 says this “Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her.” This is Christ example to the church of how a husband should treat his wife. It is both a blessing to you and your spouse if everyday your focus is, “How can I bless my spouse today to help them be who God has called them to be?” Hurtful words wounding actions all get set aside if that’s your goal. Find out what your spouses gifts and goals are and help make them happen.

3)     Be each others best friend! Ephesians 5 also says the husband and wife are one.  What this has meant to me is that nothing should be in between the two.  I have seen many marriage disasters due to friends, children, or parents coming between and dividing what should be one. You parents will pass away, your children will grow up and move away, and any friend that is more important to you than your spouse is trouble. We are to prefer one another and that should be especially true of our spouses. If you want respect give respect, if you want to feel safe in your marriage then make your marriage a safe place for your spouse. If you do steps 1 and 2 step three will be easy.

Having a happy marriage isn’t about stuff, beauty or perfection it’s about love and these three steps say “I love you” louder than words.  There are a few more steps I would recommend but those are for the next blog.  I give you my personal guarantee if you do these three steps your marriage will be on the road to that smile every time you think of your spouse even after 50 years.