Recently, Cailey and I had the privilege of serving on an amazing marriage retreat team. This was our second experience with this retreat at our church. The theme and general concept are a wonderful illustration of what it really means for the man to leave his parents and unite as one with his wife. ‘The Land of Us” takes a concentrated look at a common misconception that many married couples face…that we can simply continue to live our lives the same way we did prior to marriage. For example…
- How I manage money.
- Who I hang out with.
- What I do with my spare time.
- How I define intimacy.
Many of us enter into marriage assuming we are merely bringing our new spouse into our way of life. The problem with this should be obvious….our spouse is thinking the same thing! Thinking we can continue to live the ‘single life’ with a wedding ring on is the biggest lie the enemy can throw at us. Before marriage, we really should be taking an honest look at these four bullet points listed above and ask ourselves, “How do these change when I is replaced with we?”
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (NLT)
If we can all agree that following Jesus well is central to a Christian marriage, please allow me to give a personal paraphrase of verse 24 as it pertains to the topic.
If you try to do everything in marriage your own way, your marriage will suffer. But if you are willing to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of your spouse, your marriage will grow strong.
What areas of your marriage really need help? And what might it look like to set your own desires aside in a particular area and ask your spouse their needs? On a very personal level, I will confess this is not easy. Its one thing to have this conversation. But its an entirely different commitment to put it into practice. The blessings, however, are limitless!
I was watching the evening news the other night and was amazed….no, disgusted….at what they were reporting. Apparently, arecent study showed that a significant spike in divorces over the past twelve months have actually helped the economy. Generally speaking, it creates financial flow for the attorneys, courts, counseling offices, and housing market. Those going through divorce also find themselves buying new cars, clothing, and electronics…mostly for self-esteem reasons. Demographically this all makes sense. But it doesn’t make it GOOD!
Here’s where I had a problem. They reported this with an odd ‘spin’ to it. The spin was essentially this: “With the divorce rate going up, at lease we can look at the positive effect on the economy as a good thing.” Look….’good‘ and ‘divorce‘ should NEVER be used in the same sentence. As a child of divorce, I tend to be very sensitive to this issue. On the other hand, I’ve also had experience counseling couples enduring marital struggles. So let me be very clear on something here. There are times when divorce is necessary…unavoidable. But that doesn’t make it good! I believe God can (and does) bless us in spite of divorce, but its not His original plan for us. He desires so much more for you and I.
My wife and I are both children of divorce. We have a real passion for blended families, and helping them strengthen their current marriage so that it is their last marriage. Wherever you’re at with your spouse, please know that God’s hopes for your marriage are so much more than any of us could ever hope for ourselves.
What do you need from God today?
The other day I had just purchased a few items at the store and I was walking out into the parking lot. About the time that Irealized I was one aisle over from where I parked, I noticed a car was slowly following me. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. They were waiting for me to get in my car and leave so they could have that parking spot. (I was walking near the front of the store) Well, as I turned to the right and started cutting through to where I was parked I heard their engine rev up as they sped off in frustration. They had waisted their time following me for a parking spot they weren’t going to get. Yes, that can be very frustrating. But it wasn’t my fault!
The Christian life is like this sometimes. Often we can find ourselves following the wrong person or example, which can lead to aggravation. Another scenario is also true. There are times that we are asked or encouraged to follow a particular leader…only to be greatly hurt and disappointed by their failure or shortcoming. I’m not saying not to follow others! It is absolutely critical that we have spiritual mentors or life coaches in our lives. What I am suggesting is this. Follow others with the honest intent to learn and grow…but make a conscious effort to acknowledge that at some degree people will always let us down. They will always disappoint us to some degree. Why? Because people are imperfect and we all have hurts. The ultimate mentor is Jesus Christ. He will never mislead you. No matter where you are at, you can follow Him and you’ll always have the advantage of gaining His parking spot.
Who’s your mentor or life coach? If you don’t have one, start praying for God to reveal a person (same gender) you should ask.