There is also maintaining that marriage to consider. Since this is Valentine's Day month, I am going to share with you a few things passed down to me by other Godly couples, things I've learned from studying the Bible's plan for marriage and things that experience has taught me (this is sometimes the hardest teacher but very effective!). I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas and expansion on my own ideas which are really not my ideas at all, but God's.
- Consistency in our spiritual lives. There is only One Who can completely transform a person, and He is the same One Who can create a marriage that mirrors His love for us. If we follow nothing but this step, He is able to lead us into His will for us. Marriage based on anything else but God will surely fail or be much less than what it could be. If a couple grounds themselves in the Word of God and a relationship with Him, they will naturally grow closer to one another as they both grow closer to God.
- Understanding and Embracing our Roles. Much has been written on the subject of man's and woman's roles in marriage. It is a subject of hot debate in our culture and even the church world today. The simple truth of the Bible is that a man is to love as Christ loved the church and a woman is to submit to his God-given authority. Male chauvinism and feminism are distortions of God's plan. When we not only understand what the Bible means about our roles and joyfully embrace them, our marriages can be wonderful.
- Give 100%. I once knew a lady who said often that she believed that marriage was 50/50--each spouse gives 50% toward the marriage and makes up the whole 100%. My father commented, "But what if I wake up and I only feel like giving 75% one day?" Christ loved us with everything He had, and He expects us to give of ourselves unselfishly in marriage and every other area of our lives. I once discussed this with a friend and gave her this example:
My husband comes home from work. It has been a long, hard day and he just wants to relax and take a nap. I've also had a difficult day. The kids have been fussing all day, and my nerves are frazzled. I want him to take the kids and play with them so I can have some peace.
Scenario 1: My husband comes in a plops down in his chair and promptly goes to sleep. I enter the room and say sarcastically, "Oh, so you get to sleep when I've had a horrible day with the kids...rant...rant...rant". In this scenario, we've both thought only of ourselves and have given nothing to the other person.
Scenario 2: My husband comes in from work and sits down. I say, "We each need to give each other 50%. You watch the kids while I make dinner, then you can go get a nap." He says, "I think you should watch the kids during dinner preparation while I nap. I'll watch them while you clean up dinner." This is a compromise situation. We may be able to come to an agreement and we may not. However, we are still thinking of our individual needs first.
Scenario 3: My husband comes home with this attitude: "I'm beat and I just want to sleep, but I know she's had a rough day with the kids. I'm going to play with them for a while so she can fix dinner in peace." He doesn't sit down and compromise with me. He simply thinks of my needs before his. My attitude in this scenario would be: "I know he is exhausted. I'm going to keep the kids out of his way while I make dinner so he can get a little nap before we eat." Now I'm thinking of him before myself. How this ends up working depends on that day's events, but there are no problems caused in the marriage because we are both thinking of the other person before ourselves.
When you strive for Scenario 3 as a way of life (yeah, all of us mess up sometimes!), even if one falls short, you meet somewhere in the middle.