[Find more on marriage advice in this search at debmillswriter.com.]
Marriage…whew! Earlier in my adult life, I always cringed at the observation that marriage is work. It didn’t look like work, and having the opportunity to share life with your special person seemed more joy than labor.
Then I got married.
It is joy and it is work…not in the dull, redundant sort of work we may have from time to time…but as in the challenging, invigorating, problem-solving, “in it to win it” kind of work.
My favorite marriage advice actually comes out of Bible verses not usually considered for this purpose:
“You have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent [return] and do [repeat] the first works.” – Revelation 2:4b-5a
These words were actually spoken by the risen and reigning Messiah, Jesus, in a vision given to the Apostle John. The words were actually spoken in rebuke and, maybe, compassion for the relatively young church at Ephesus. The believers had become complacent, almost mechanical in their worship and allegiance to God, standing by in a city where idolatry was flourishing.
In Jesus’ rebuke was a recipe for restoration. He, through John’s vision and writing, was calling the church back to a refreshed relationship with Himself. His counsel rings wise and true for any of us…if we have lost our first love in the Lord, or our first love with a spouse.
If you’re in a season when your marriage just feels flat, like you’re a couple of roommates, like the love you have seems faded, like you’re even considering a way out and not forward…then:
- Remember what it was like in the beginning. What were you like? [Focus there NOT on what your spouse was like.]
- Repent or return/turn around.
- Repeat what you did/were like in the beginning.
I was a lot funnier then…and tender toward him. More positioned for him to protect me (which was what he is wired to do and it’s lovely when he is freed to do so). More spontaneously affectionate. More generous with praise and encouragement. More understanding of the loads he carries for our marriage (and later for our family). When I remember, return and repeat (in action and attitude), something sweet happens. Worth giving it a try…
In fact, our marriage has gotten sweeter in these later years (as marriages often do when we don’t give up on them). Following Jesus’ counsel drawing us back to Himself…and each other.
Is this always the case for everyone? Well…it helps when both are engaged in growing a marriage. One of the most freeing parts of the advice given is we are called to singular acts of will. If I decide to work on my marriage, I can make a unilateral decision. Remember how it once was, return to that beginning, and repeat those thoughts, emotions, actions. Our emotions will catch up, but as we act in restorative ways, our brains bring our emotions along as we change our current habits (neuroplasticity – amazing stuff!).]
Marriage does take a lot of work, and it can prove fruitful. Fun as well. A piece of advice was given to our son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law before they married over 12 years ago. It came from an older couple who had been in the audience of one of his concerts. They came up to meet him afterwards, and discovered he was soon to be married. Smiling at each other, this was their sage advice: