If there’s any one subject I’m very passionate about outside of Christ and pastoring, it’s Marriage. Luckily, marriage is a big part of my pastoring. As far as topics, it’s the one that I read about the most. I won’t go to the place where I will proclaim to be an expert or a “know-it-all” on the subject. But the Lord has given me a drive for knowledge and wisdom about issues that cause marital health decay. I am determined to see our families grow strong. I’m determined to see our children trained in the way they should go. I believe the way to do that is through healthy marriages.
Marriage is an institution established by the Lord. The design of man and woman in their unity reflect the beauty and complexity of the One that created humanity in His image. Your marriage is not a life of two but one. The oneness must remain healthy. BUT…You can’t expect your marriage to grow merely by circumstance and chance. You must be intentional.
If you are not intentional about heath…you’re being intentional about death. Some people are bent on ignoring issues because they don’t want to make waves. I’ll give ya a TRUTH: Ignoring a problem is like giving it steroids. Deal with marriage problems quickly, before they become monsters.
I like how The Message speaks about marriage. “ Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out…” I know the context of the section in 1 Corinthians 7 is about sex. But the statement goes far beyond the bed. It’s about laying down our pride and selfish desire and serving for the health of the “oneness.”
Perhaps you don’t believe me. So I’ll approach it from the opposite side of health. If you’re looking for ways to absolutely blow up your marriage? I’ve got some foolproof tactics that will help.
#1 – Refuse to grow
Refuse change. Just because businesses that don’t embrace usually go in to bankruptcy…Just because churches that don’t embrace change go into irrelevancy…doesn’t mean that will happen to your marriage. WRONG! Marriage NOTE: Every husband and wife need to be determined that they will pursue personal, spiritual, and marital growth. Every season of life will hand another level of circumstances that will necessitate continual growth. If not…you are sabotaging your marriage.
#2 – Keep Quiet
Talk to your friends and coworkers about your spouse and not to them because doing so will be awkward! Even better, using the silent treatment is really an amazing weapon when it comes to refusing to communicate. Never mind that’s how the kids in the nursery deal with each other. Marriage NOTE: Work on your words, tones, mannerisms, and timing and learn to open the barriers and talk.
#3 – Expect your spouse to possess mind reading abilities
Just expect your spouse to know what you are thinking. Remember: You shouldn’t have to ask…your spouse should just know! You could give a hint. But if your spouse loves you, he/she will by osmosis know everything that you know. Marriage NOTE: At this point I’d go into a cliché about the word “assume” but that may not be appropriate.
#4 – Turn off your hearing aid.
Refuse to be a listener. Especially during conflict, interrupt your spouse to immediately correct them. Then quickly trying your best to make a stronger point always helps tear a relationship to pieces! Marriage NOTE: Your spouse wants to hear you…BUT he/she wants to know that they have been, not heard, but listened to. Find a connection to what they are saying as well as what they are feeling.
#5 – Spousal Pessimism
(a term I got from Perry Noble) Always assume the absolute worst about your spouse. As soon as you hear (or even think about) something negative about my spouse it is absolutely essential to carry that thought to its fullest illogical conclusion. Don’t EVER ask for an explanation or clarification. If you do, you may spawn some open communication will lead to a stronger marriage! Marriage NOTE: Please sense the sarcasm
#6 –It’s not worth winning if you can’t win big
(Okay, that line came from the “Mighty Ducks”)Win at all costs. Remember: the goal is to win…not to actually bring resolution. If you realize you’re wrong about something, don’t drop your pride. It’ll invite a barrage of accusations that actually have nothing to do with what the original argument/discussion had to do with in the first place! Win at all costs, even if it means saying things that hurt and wound deeply. Remember, it’s not you that’s hurt…wait…what about that oneness thing? That’s right. When one is hurt, both hurt.
#7 – Friends don’t make good lovers
You cannot see your spouse and you as being on the same team if you want a great marriage. After all, don’t opposites attract? Doesn’t more fighting make for a stronger marriage? Make sure you view everything as some sort of game and make it a goal to COMPETE with your spouse and not actually COMPLETE them. Marriage NOTE: Make sure that the only sex you’re having isn’t always “make-up sex.” Make-up sex has one level. Strive to deepen your friendship and I promise it will take the sex to whole level than “make-up sex” could ever do.
#8 – Point the finger
If there’s anything you communicate, make sure it’s ALWAYS about how much they are “not meeting your needs” and how they need to “step up and do better” as often as possible. By all means do NOT take a look at yourself and what you could do to improve the marriage. Everything MUST be blamed on them and you’ve got to see yourself as flawless and perfect. After all, they are the one with inadequacies and shortcomings….wait, if they constantly make bad decisions, what does that say about their decision to marry you? hmmmm
#9 – Be dull
Step away from anything fun. Dating was done when you said “I do.” You have your friends and your spouse needs theirs. Don’t have mutual friends…and for the sake of sanity you don’t want to be connected to other couples. Don’t do anything fun as a family. If you have to go out together, spend as much time on your smart phone (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) because communication with your spouse will do nothing except make your marriage stronger. (That one hurt to type…I, possibly, might be guilty of that one.)
#10 – Stop laughing
Take everything serious. No smiles. No warmth. I know that laugher tends to break the tension. Do I really want my spouse to see things in me that remind them of our dating relationship? Isn’t it better to keep the marriage on edge? Isn’t life too serious to lighten it up and live? (sorry…I’m laughing just typing that)
I hope the list brings a few smiles and, at the same time, causes a bit of introspection. Marriage is hard work. Two broken, imperfect people come together to form a union, covenant, and a life. If you expect to get healthy as a marriage, you BOTH have to be intentional about your decisions to keep it healthy.
Thanks for letting me ramble…