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The Message of Marriage

Confession time. I’m a practicing Christian. Yep, I’m one of those card carrying Jesus Freaks that you may have heard of from time to time. Not the kind that pickets Gay Marriages (pretty sure they aren’t really in the club). Not the kind that thinks that you’ve got to be absolutely perfect to win the game of life (not that you ever could be.) But the kind that actually follows (as best I can) the teachings of Jesus as laid out in the Holy Bible.

As such I spend a lot of time looking at marriage in that “Gospel Light” and I take pretty seriously its depiction in the scriptures. Now there are a lot of differing interpretations about gender roles in marriage based on the lens that the reader uses. Personally I think that any reading of scripture that builds someone up at the expense of another misses the point entirely.

So what does the Bible really have to say about marriage, and, more importantly, what does that mean for you? (Believer or not.)

Pretty much every Christian based marriage book worth its salt lays out the same view of marriage, so I’ll follow suit (I like to think I’m salt worthy.)

Based on Ephesians 5:22-33 we see that human marriage is an analogy for the relationship between Christ and the Church (aka the Bride of Christ) Which is to say that it’s the job of one spouse (the bride) to follow the lead of, and support the other. While it is the job of the other spouse (the bridegroom) to lead and serve the first. Even to the point of death if need be!

To really unpack all the meaning in that passage usually takes professional authors from 5 pages to an entire book, so I’ll pass over that to make my point. Which is:

Ultimately marriage is a daily living out of our relationship to God as a “saved” human being.

Important Aside! That is from the perspective of both spouses, no one is “Lord” over another in a well functioning marriage. The reason why is found in that big unpacking I left out. For now just trust me on this.end aside

Which is to say that the ultimate message of marriage, how we are meant to act towards each other, is basically the same as how God expects us to act toward Him. And that really is good news. Because the message that God has for us, all the way through scripture is… Do the best you can, and when you mess up, acknowledge it and do better next time.

Really! That’s it. Out of love for your spouse do your best to love, respect, support, and serve them. When you make a mistake (and you will!) acknowledge it, ask for (and receive) forgiveness, and move on.

Does it really matter for your marriage if you are a Christian, or if you believe in a Higher Power at all? Not really. So long as you use this blueprint your marriage will be an inspiration to everyone around you.

Making Time To Talk

“We need to talk.” The most dreaded sentence a husband can hear. All men know instinctively that nothing good comes after these words. Our reaction is coded in our DNA through thousands of years of ancestral memory.

The irony is, we really do need to talk. Often. Attentively. Deeply.

To create and sustain a super strong marriage, couples need to communicate well. Not just about logistics, but about their needs, dreams, and yes, their feelings.

Talking about ourselves, how we feel about what’s going on in the world, (what’s going on in the house for that matter) about our dreams, our regrets, our favourite movie, about anything really, with our spouses is how we build those love maps. The bigger the love map, the bigger the relationship can grow.

However, many couples can barely find the time to say hello to each other throughout the day, let alone have a meaningful conversation about anything. What to do?

The answer is surprisingly simple. Make time. It’s important.

I can feel the eye rolls from here. “How do we make time? Our schedules are already full.”

My solution, do things together as much as possible and talk then.

Find times when you are together anyway (if you aren’t already in the same place for at least a half hour every day, take a hard look at your schedules, something needs to change.) and spend that time talking to each other.

Vanessa and I love to take car trips together for instance. It gives us time to really get into a topic while we drive. Over the years the conversations we’ve had in the car have been the catalyst for some of the biggest decisions we’ve made as a couple.

Make it your goal to spend at least 15 minutes a day just talking and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you grow together.


Finding Your Shared Purpose

I believe that everyone, everyone, has a purpose for being on this planet. That we, each of us, are here, not by chance, but by design, and that we all have something that we are supposed to be doing through our lives that benefits the whole and moves us, as a society, forward.

Does everyone fulfil their purpose, or even know what it is? No. Nonetheless, I believe that we all have one, and that the most successful people both know what it is and devote their lives to it.

Marriages are a funny thing. In one sense they are a partnership of 2 people, each living out their own purpose, and in another it is a single entity (…and the two shall become one.) with its own purpose for being.

One purpose for marriage is to help each of the partners grow as people and into their own individual purposes. However, I’m certain that there is more to it than that. Each marriage also has an ordained reason for existing. It’s our job as spouses to find it.

The most successful marriages have a shared purpose. John Gottman placed “Create Shared Meaning” as the roof of his Sound Relationship House (Check out Escape for a picture) and that placement is brilliant.

Creating shared meaning is all about the purpose of your marriage. It encompasses all of the shared memories you have, all of the family rituals you have created, and, most importantly, the shared knowledge of the purpose of your marriage.

The roof of a house protects it from outside storms that would otherwise destroy its contents. Similarly, knowing the purpose of your marriage helps protect it from the inevitable stresses that come along. Knowing the purpose of your marriage, and living it out is one of the strongest protections you can have to ensure that you will maintain a happy and successful marriage for a lifetime.