A few people near and dear to me are getting married soon – and I wanted to encourage them (and us all) by sharing our “best advice” and those things that really can mess up your marriage. I’d love you to join in with your suggestions in the comments today.
Remember, we don’t give advice really, but share what we’ve seen, what God says, and what research shows (and not surprisingly, it’s all the same stuff).
So in a nutshell my favorite top 4 things we can do to mess up our marriage (and ways to counteract them) are listed below. I like the picture below because of the “man’s best friend” point – it’s better to be friends with your wife than your dog – someone told me, though, that they took offense at the picture because she felt I’m equating women with dogs or their position, and I’m sorry for that – please don’t take it that way. This is a picture of my husband with our golden retriever – she thinks she’s his best friend, but I’m hoping I’m it for all the days of his life – after Christ, of course! 🙂
- Fail to take good care of ourselves in honor of being selfless and serving. When we are constantly throwing ourselves under the bus sacrificially, we can start doing it to our own physical detriment. This eventually makes us susceptible to illness – both mental and physical – and makes half of the marriage unwell, while tempting the other spouse to take advantage. The counter? Take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit – YOU. Yes, serve, yes, don’t be selfish, but be discerning. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t always mean you should.
- Expect your spouse to fill the Jesus-shaped hole inside us all. S/he can’t. And there really is something to this whole “expectation” biz – given that we acclimate in relationships (yes, it is more than just temperature!) we are constantly on a path to take each other for granted – and when we stop daily counting our blessings and having that thankful heart which makes Him smile… well, we start messing things up.
- Waiting on our spouse to change and letting him/her define who we are, instead of living life for the Audience of One. Research shows (check this video) that if we will act “as if” we are the person we aspire to be (which we could assume would be a godly wife or mom, for example) then we are more likely to become that way. People argue that this is “phony” and “lying” – it’s not. It’s OBEDIENCE. So when the Bible says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to become angry (James 1:19), we choose to DO that not because we feel like it, but because it is what God knows is best for the relationship. There are few verses about what we should be thinking, and TONS about what we should be DOING. 🙂
- Focusing on conflict resolution instead of developing the friendship. YES, you should know how to be a good listener and interact with others without being unhealthy and sinning (no name-calling, no character assassinations, no blaming, “I” versus “you” language, etc.), but research shows the friendship is at the base of all successful marriages. They can then grow into “shared meaning” which is where real intimacy occurs. But it starts with a friendship relationship – one where we can be real, be safe, be compassionate, be heard, be respected, and be given to and received from… those are the things that REALLY impact a marriage. Titus 2 tells us this, so does the research. Think about it – if we’re focused on conflict… whatever we pay attention to GROWS. :/
Bottom line time for me:
- Take care of the temple.
- Thank God for 3 things about your marriage and God before bed each night.
- Act “as if” you are the person God has called you to be. Keep doing it, even when you fail.
- Learn how to be friends with him. It’s different than with your girlfriends. 🙂
Would love to hear from YOU – what are YOUR favorite ways to mess up or help your marriage? It’s Titus 2 Time! 🙂
Love to you,
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