I Still Do
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
A man in his twenties was talking to an older co-worker at the office and said, “Tomorrow is my fifth wedding anniversary. I wonder what I should get my wife?”
The older man reminisced, “For my 25th wedding anniversary, I took my wife to France.”
"Awesome! How will you celebrate your 50th?”
The older man replied, “I’m going back to get her.”
That little joke sums up many marriages. What started as an ideal, soon becomes an ordeal … and eventually both parties are longing for a new deal. That is not what God intended when He created marriage. On a scale of 1-10, God wants your marriage to be a 12! He wants it off the charts great.
As I write this, it is my 26th wedding anniversary. I can honestly say that Debbie and I are more in love now than we ever have been. We are best friends and committed to one another through thick and thin. Divorce is NOT an option. I told Debbie early on, "If you ever leave me ... I'm going with you." I praise God for all that he has done and is doing in our relationship.
While our marriage is definitely not perfect, there are some things we have learned that have really helped us work through problems so that we can enjoy a healthy, growing relationship.
1. COMMUNICATION. Closeness in marriage is dependent upon the ability to openly and honestly share your feelings. Oftentimes, a husband will hurt his wife’s feelings and have little to no clue as to what he did. She thinks he ought to know that his comment was rude, mean, and insensitive. She says to herself, “He should know what he did. I’m not going to tell him, I’m just going to wait for him to apologize.”
NEWSFLASH: He doesn’t know most of the time. He doesn’t think or feel like you do. He needs you to kindly, respectfully, and honestly tell him—spell it out for him—when he hurts your feelings. I heard about a woman who had on her T-shirt, “All men are idiots, and I married their king.” When it comes to men understanding women, that T-shirt is not too far off. So wives, tells us. Be specific and be timely. We won’t really know otherwise.
And husbands … tell your wife when you feel shut out in the bedroom. Let her know if you feel rejected, unwanted, and undesirable to her. She needs to know because she doesn’t think and feel like you do and won’t figure it out on her own.
2. DISHONESTY. Lies destroy trust. If you are dishonest in your relationship (with finances, Facebook, or your hurts and struggles), you are setting fire to the foundation of trust. Be honest and truthful with one another. And always speak the truth in love.
3. FAILING TO SEEK AND GRANT FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness is a must in marriage. If you hold on to hurts and refuse to forgive your spouse for things he/she did that hurt you, you set the stage for an ice-cold relationship where the poison of resentment and bitterness reigns. Give all of those hurts to God so your heart does not sour toward your spouse.
And, when you mess up, fess up. Take full responsibility for your actions and inactions. When you hurt your spouse’s feelings, humbly seek forgiveness. Apologize from the heart and ask for forgiveness. Remember, the greater the offense, the more time is needed for the rebuilding of trust. Forgiveness can be granted immediately, but trust takes time to restore.
HOPE FOR YOU!
Maybe your marriage is in trouble today. Don't despair! If God can raise Lazarus from the dead, He can work a miracle in your marriage. Enlist the help of a good Christian counselor and begin doing the things necessary to right the ship.
Think of your marriage this way: if you were 100 pounds overweight, you would not get slim and trim in a day, or a week, or even a month. It takes time, effort, and consistency to drop 100 pounds. And it takes time, effort, and consistency to go from a 2 to a 10 on the marriage scale. It can and will happen, though, if both parties will commit themselves to the Lord and to the marriage.
God wants your marriage to be great. When you are praying for a great marriage, you can be sure that you are praying according to His will (see 1 John 5:14-15). So be encouraged. He can do anything in the lives of people submitted to Him.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.