In a few days, Anne and I will celebrate our 18 year anniversary. I still don’t understand what she saw (or sees) in me, but I’m very thankful she said “yes.” Every year, marriage presents new challenges and every year I fall in a deeper love with her. There’s no one else I would do life with.
Now that the sappiness is out of the way…
Looking at our overall relationship these past 18 years, we have to admit how completely different we are. Someone just asked me about how compatible Anne and I are. I had to be honest…we don’t have a ton of areas of “compatibility.” I’m willing to bet that if we did the online dating 20 years ago, the online dating service would probably never match us up.
We have different interests
The interests we share, we do them differently (running, shows vs. movies, etc)
We grew up in completely different style homes.
We have different personality types.
We have completely different strengths.
We don’t share the same love languages.
We don’t grow spiritually the same way (the elements are similar but done differently).
We don’t fully grasp what each other struggles with.
I have better taste in music than she does. (Really babe? Justin Bieber?)
So the question rises: Where are we alike (if at all)?
- We both passionately love Jesus.
- We both love to laugh.
- We both have a strong resolve.
I like the word “resolve.” You can call it “stubborn.” You can use the word “determined.” But whatever the synonym, Anne and I learned that having resolute mindset is a game-changer.
We refuse to paint an idealistic picture of a marriage without struggles (did you not read our list?). Like the seasons of a Michigan calendar year, good moments and challenging moments are what life brings you. It’s the result of being a human that married a human. But it’s the resolve that will push you through. It’s your resolve that has made your mind up that regardless of what you face, you’ll face it together and come out together on the other side.
But I promise (speaking from 18 years of experience) that there are things that want to weaken your resolve. Here are a few threats to look out for that want to weaken your resolve:
1 – Discouraging people. I think of John 14, when Jesus warns against having your resolve weakened by what you’re facing rather than focusing upon Him. It happens to the best of us. And many times, it happens through people. I don’t care if it’s family, close friends, or your connections on social media, avoid people who will weaken your resolve to be a good spouse and/or see good in your spouse. Some people thrive on being critical without even desiring to be constructive. Find people who will encourage you. You need hope and not despair.
2 – Living on empty. Anytime I’ve known people who have lost their resolve has been from a place of fatigue. Esau, in Genesis 25, sells out the future of his family out of being tired and hungry. If you don’t care for yourself spiritually, emotionally, and even physically, you are going to drain the strength of the resolve that helps you push through. Getting proper rest, spending quality time with the Lord, and living at a healthy pace will properly fuel the resolute mindset that helps a marriage push through.
3 – Neglecting the simple essentials. Marriage isn’t about “set it and forget it.” It’s a constant upkeep of what I consider the simple essentials. It’s daily choices to build your resolve by facilitating:
- Purposefully building healthy communication.
- Serving your spouse’s love language.
- Constantly building your relationship with Christ
- Engaging in a consistent sex life.
- Learning how facilitate fun.
4 – Pornography. The goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy. Whether it’s visual porn (hyperbolized sexual imagery) or emotional porn (hyperbolized relational fantasy) the more open you are to it, the weaker your resolve will get as it will seed a false sense of dissatisfaction. Two of my biggest reasons is it causes an unhealthy view of the female body as well as an unhealthy sexual expectations. Top it off with the addictive nature of porn devised to make you dependent upon it, you then have a monster that isn’t worth the amount of space it will take up in your thoughts and the way it weakens your resolve.
5 – Toxic mindsets. Hopelessness wants to break the back of your resolve. Like mixing too much sand into your concrete, it wants to make your resolute stance a bit more brittle than you expected. It’s why scripture challenges us to stay clear of toxic mindsets like bitterness, rage, , comparison, criticism, and unforgiveness. They say “you are what you eat.” But a more biblical stance would be, “you are what you think.” (Proverbs 23:7)
Your marriage doesn’t need the compatibility that the world will say you need. But you do need to have a resolve.
I leave you with these final four challenges about your resolve:
- Let your resolve will be driven from the heart of Jesus.
- Let your resolve will be shown through the character of Jesus.
- Resolve to seek AND be open to how the Holy Spirit wants to change you.
- Resolve to not try to change your spouse but allow the Holy Spirit to change your spouse with the same amount of freedom you’ve given Him.
Thanks for letting me ramble…