Happy February! Love is in the air! You can tell because we’ve been inundated with little, fat, half-naked, armed, flying babies offering us an assortment of things that are going to completely destroy my diet. Ain’t love (100) grand? See what I did there? That’s one of my favorite candy bars.
These cheesy holidays are not my favorite, but my marriage is! I love being married but sometimes It. Is. Hard. Ladies, I heard that chorus of Amens, but don’t think if the same sentiment was expressed to our hubbys they wouldn’t bring the bass to our little woe-is-me dirge. I don’t know about you (yes I do-you get fleshy too) but I am not always a walk in the park.
Marriage is hard because it always consists of a pair of self-absorbed sinners. To add insult to injury, that pair of self-absorbed sinners is often surrounded by a whole host of other self-absorbed sinners - some may even rely on you for their very survival, which can complicate the relationship to the nth degree. These are unavoidable truths. We all get fleshy and nasty and none of us know how to love unselfishly without the love of Jesus. Wow, I just painted a pretty bleak picture of something I just said was one of my favs! What’s a body to do? How do we foster a healthy marriage? How do we love our spouses well?
Mack and I had a rocky start, to say the least. We were both believers but I am certain no one would have identified us as followers. It wasn’t pretty. I am so thankful that he was led to right the ship at a time when we were both about ready to jump overboard.
At our lowest point, Mack decided we were going to start a couples devotion or Bible study, just the two of us, and we were going to do it every day. And we did. Every day. Sometimes, especially early on, it was through gritted teeth. One week I think, he was forced to do Bible time At me, as I sat scowling with my arms crossed, completely committed to a kind-word-silent-treatment. In case you’re not familiar, this is a special kind of silent treatment where you aren’t completely silent, you just refuse to say anything that isn’t mean and nasty. I don’t recommend it as a conflict resolution strategy, but I digress. Bless his heart, I still feel bad about that. But Mack continued speaking God’s word to me every day, no matter how rotten I was.
This was a game-changer for us! In Isaiah, God tells us that His word will never return void. He wasn’t kidding and our marriage today is a testament to that. People who knew us then might not recognize us now. Not because we have arrived at righteousness but because of our base depravity before. What’s sad is our lifestyles then didn’t really stand out from a lot of the world around us. Unfortunately, we fit right in and it wasn’t working. But God, ya’ll!
His word began doing just what He said it would do! It is transformative!
Our couples Bible time, led to individual quiet time, which led to more consistent church attendance, which led to more Biblical conversations in our home, which led to church services, which led to teaching our kids about spiritual disciplines, which led to perfect peace and harmony in our home. Okay, that last one is obviously a lie. But, there were times early on that this is what I was kind of expecting. I had (and still have) a lot to learn.
No, spending time in God’s word every day has not made our marriage perfect. As long as Mack and I are involved in our marriage, it will never be perfect. But it is radically different. It’s hard to stay mad at someone who is reading to you about the redemptive love of Jesus and praying with and for you (It’s hard. Believe me. It’s not impossible, but it ain’t easy!).
The advantage of being able to more readily see someone as God sees them is beyond helpful when conflict arises, and it will. Even having a true desire to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness because you now know more about how heavy your own sins hung on the cross and you now have a better understanding of how much grace, mercy, and forgiveness has been undeservingly extended to you, helps keep the small things from transforming into giants. These are skills God taught us through our time together in His word.
What does this time look like at our house?
At first, we started with quick, usually topical studies we found on the Bible app. Currently, we spend time in prayer together, both organic prayer (I don’t actually know the word for prayer we come up with on our own) and using various prayer prompts - one of which is specifically about marriage. For the past few years, we have worked through the Word of Life Devotional together because our kids use these devotionals so we all study the same thing each day. Then, we read a few pages of some kind of Christian book. Sometimes these books are topical, work through a specific book of the Bible, or may even be Christian fiction.
We try hard to make sure we are reading quality books from trusted authors. That isn’t always easy these days but it is worth the effort. I hope to share some of the resources we have used and what we loved or didn’t love about each one at some point soon. In the meantime, I would love to know what kind of things you do to help your marriage align with God’s purpose for your union and reflect the love of Jesus for his bride, the church. Join me on the forum so we can share ideas and encourage one another!