Musings From A Musical Mind

Making Marriage Better

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Philippians 2:3

Today Greg and I were having one of our “discussions” in the “talking room” over coffee. We were discussing a very heavy topic – “Christ and the Church” which led to the topic of how it says in the Bible that “marriage” is to be a model of that concept. However – it is a poor example – especially in light of all the bad marriages in our world today. It would be like trying to explain how God is like our “loving Father” to someone who has been abused by her earthly Dad.

But I believe this is a “picture” – just a glimpse, if you will – of how God intended for marriage to be – even though we are imperfect and fail at His model – over and over again. Why do we fail at it? Because we are flawed human beings – everyone of us at the core is selfish and wanting our own way. Our hearts are incredibly wicked – holding in them, secrets that pull us in directions that are in direct contradiction to what was intended for us. We are “prone to wander” – and we do.

Because of this selfish, willful nature – we become imperfect mates to our spouse and vise versa. It goes against our nature to “submit” – or put our own desires aside and prefer our mate’s desires and wishes – over our own.

We have all seen this happen – either in our own relationship – or in someone close to us. Feelings are marginalized. People are not validated. A marriage that may have started out full of life and passion – loses something over time – feelings change – life happens – people grow apart doomed to lead very separate lives. Lifeless, dry and empty. We have all heard the saying if we have been Christ followers all of our lives – “we don’t believe in divorce – MURDER yes!! But not DIVORCE!” And life continues on that “happy” note – lives of “quiet desperation” – seeking fulfillment and understanding from somewhere else – or from someone else – people of like minds – who validate us and encourage us in our daily journey to try and understand the life that has been “tossed” at us – and the “feeling” that may have changed for one reason or another.

But to “regard others as more important than yourselves” takes an act of my will. A daily discipline of my heart and mind. It means I still may want to have my own way – even hold things in my heart as a “secret” – but still – I will honor you – because I value you. I will even try to let go of those things that I want – and concentrate on loving you in the best way I can demonstrate it. And the “secret” things that I hold onto – the things I “stuff” so that you won’t see them – in time will not have as much of a hold on me anymore. And in time – by leading my heart – I will be able to let go of it entirely.

Ephesians 5:21,22

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

This is such a key scripture. We do it because we reverence Christ – not because we always feel like it. And in doing so – we become more like that model that He originally set up for us. Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her – how much more should we be willing to at least make an attempt at it?

Now do marriages fail in spite of this great principle? Yes. Usually because people lose sight of this model – are simply unwilling to submit to one another and give themselves – all of themselves – heart and mind in preference of the other. In those cases – there is usually no hope for that couple. And they usually live in a “cold war” situation – leading very separate lives – finding fulfillment elsewhere – or leaving the marriage entirely.

I want to challenge you today – just like you must be willing to be a friend in order to have friends – you must also be willing to prefer your mate over your own desires. It does not mean that you will hit the mark every time – that is impossible because we are human – but if our hearts are right – and we make the attempt to value that person in our lives – be the very best mate that we can be – then this is a start to making a better relationship – and a better marriage. Learn your mate’s “love language” and speak it to them every day. You will see a turn around very quickly in your own heart and attitude as you “serve” the other person in love – and you will find a sweet surprise of your own – that what you give away – will soon come back to you. And you will be blessed.

Have an AWESOME day – as you prefer one another.

God Bless

Comments on: "Making Marriage Better" (12)

  1. […] needed message in our world today. This is especially true in marriage relationships.  A recent post by a friend, Cindy Holman, got me thinking about this whole issue.  I have witnessed too many […]

  2. This a great post, Cindy. Following Biblical principles and precept over our own feelings is a much needed message in our world today. I’ve witnessed too many couples break up because one or both “just want to be happy” regardless of the instructions and commands of Scripture. I like your use of Eph. 5. I always emphasized that in my pre-marital counseling sessions. I required nine sessions before I performed the wedding ceremony of a couple. It grew mostly out of the things I wish someone had discussed with me about before I got married! A big part it was starting with a theology of marriage and the marriage covenant.

    Because every couple is unique and their relationship is unique, I don’t believe that there is a “cookie cutter” approach to healthy marriages. What works for one couple and their family may not work for another. Viewing the marriage as a covenant before and with God as a couple helps to solemnize and solidify the relationship, I think. Also, discovering how each individual in the relationship, and so each relationship, is unique is also important.

    For instance, Kelly and I could not be more different as persons. It was soon after leaving college that we realized that the only thing we had in common was college! This, of course, had led to an interesting journey together. Right now, what we have in common is our children! Surely God has a sense of humor.

    I like jazz and rock-n-roll. She likes classical and opera. I like comedy – sometimes twisted and weird, admittedly. She likes the more serious and straightforward approach to life. I see a lot of grey in the world. She sees it as pretty much black and white. I like the rugged outdoors and to backpack and hike. She likes camping but prefers the convenience of a bathroom and shower. I like to be actively involved in sports. She does not care for physical activities for the most part. I like modern art and decor. She likes early American and antique styles. My relationship with God has always been very personal yet dynamic. Her relationship with God has always been highly communal yet distant. Well, you get the picture. And, yet, we’ve worked hard on our relationship, through it’s up and down, getting off the “same page” and then back on the “same page,” through “thick and thin.” I am certain that we are not the only couple like this. Nevertheless, this year will be 27 for us in August.

    I’m not certain that “doing devotions together” is necessarily the magic bullet to a healthy marriage relationship. I am certain it can’t but help! Nevertheless, too many couples find themselves on different spiritual paths. Their approach to God and Scripture is too different to be able to come together reasonably. Having a vibrant personal relationship with God that is daily plugged into the Word and His Spirit is what is important. Kelly and I have devotions and private times but have rarely done them together. We have many interesting discussions. We will at times share and pray together. We often pray together as a family or lead our kids in prayer for specific family needs and concerns. However, my approach to “daily devotions” is so much different than Kelly’s and vice versa. How we process, how we relate to God and His Word, how we process with another person present, and what is meaningful to each of us is so different that we found we get more out of our time separately than together!

    Someone once said that marriage is God’s way of beating the selfishness out of us. He puts two selfish people together and watches them beat it out of each other. Then he gives them kids! Marriage and family is a humbling endeavor to say the least. Yet, it is an important part of shaping us even into our adulthood. If we invite God into the process and humble ourselves before Him, our spouse and our children, He will use that very process to form in us his nature and character. That, afterall, is His ultimate goal.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more – on many of your points, Ron. Greg and I rarely do devotions together either – different schedules – different journey’s – etc. But we have lively discussions and our communication has become VERY strong as we have “weathered” some murky waters over this last year. Our personal relationship with God has never been stronger – and every couple must find their own “level” to navigate through spiritual disciplines. Greg was always a morning person – before this last year of career change – and he would get up very early in the morning to do devotions – I am NOT a morning person and later in the morning – while on a walk or before going to bed at night I would do mine. One’s relationship with God is a personal thing and we cannot expect everyone to be on the same journey or in the same place that we are – and just simply doing a devotional together or praying together does not mean that you are more “spiritual” – although these are good things to do – as a habit. We just have not done that – it hasn’t worked for us over the years – but our relationship and communication is stronger than most couples because we now talk about our feelings – and we never did before – causing me to “stuff” how I really felt. Leading to incredible problems.

      As you go through “seasons” in a marriage – you change – and you either change and grow apart – or you change together. The latter is very difficult and takes an act of the will. I have found in this season that I have WAY more in common with other people – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Friends are healthy for us – encouraging us to be better and to remember what the important and right thing is. That’s what important people do in your life – serve as great examples and reminders. As Christians we have no excuse but to live out godly principles and to “honor” people – and that most definitely includes our mate. Regardless or in spite of differences – we learn to “lead our heart” by making it an act of our will. When we stop doing this and want to follow something else that seems right to our hearts and that makes us just feel good – that’s where the trouble begins. Anybody can have a failed marriage – it takes real courage to have a successful one.
      Thanks for your comment Ron – I appreciate your friendship and wisdom.

  3. Great advice! I got similar advice from Stephen Kendrick, co author of The Love Dare, when I interviewed him on my podcast a few year ago. It takes work to keep a marriage together. It’s been 23 years for us. Been together for 28.

  4. I agree with “daily devotion,” as Phyliss said. We’ve been married 28 years and a prayer is the first thing in the morning. Everyone has ups and downs and we do but honestly, very few. Thanks for this post, it is a great reminder. Have a great Thursday, (tomorrow.)

  5. Excellent article, Cindy! I have a couple of thoughts re marriage which have worked for my husband and me for almost 55 years. To begin with, marriage is or should be approached prayerfully and carefully. A couple promises each other in front of witnesses to be true to each other until death. That is a serious consideration.

    In a business or corporation there has to be someone in charge–not several people. The Bible states that the husband is the head of the home. If both the husband and wife were in charge there would be disharmony and confusion, especially for the children. Of course there are some areas where the wife has more expertise, and the husband should recognize this so that parents can relate to their children with one voice.

    I personally (and strongly) believe that Christian couples have special God-given strength to face the world in such situations as insufficient funds, children born with physical or psychological needs, ailing parents, etc.

    When my husband and I were married we were determined “come hell or high water” that we would depend on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to provide for us, and help us when we could not help ourselves. To do this we decided to put God first by reading the Bible and praying together every day. From the day we were married until now we have done this. When our children were small, we taught them how to pray, giving them regular turns, and also taught them how to receive the Lord into their hearts.

    I feel that there wold be fewer broken homes today if daily devotions were practiced.

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