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Friday, December 20, 2019

What it Takes to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

I've written on the subject of marriage many times and feel impressed to do so again. I do because I am constantly reminded of countless people who are in an unhappy marriage and who've never grown into a greater love and harmony because they do not know and understand God's call to love and adapt to one another. If you don't get this right, your marriage will never be right. It just won't grow richer! Something everyone wants for their marriage.

When a husband and wife enter into marriage, they become as the bible says, “one flesh.” The Bible says in Ephesians 5:21 that they are to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The best way to understand this is by understanding that prior to marriage, two people live out their own lives individually and independently of each other. They've each had their own way of living out their life down to the smallest details, such as how you fold and re-hang a towel after you take a shower, or whether you fold it at all and instead just throw it on the floor. Suddenly, they've walked down the aisle and returned home from their honeymoon, instantly emerged in the reality of their new homestead where they will now live together. It won't even take a day before little things that bug each other begin to surface. But, to put their marriage on a great track immediately, they need to understand that they no longer get to live just for themselves doing life their own way. They are two people who have now become one. That means that they have to merge these two independent lives harmoniously together! It doesn't mean they abandon who they are or their skills, talents, and calling. But it does mean that they have to learn to adapt to each other and develop a plan of how they are going to walk out those details in their life—both big and small in a way that's agreeable to them both. And neither gets to lord over the other! They must begin the process of learning to adapt to each other out of great love for God and for each other. As Romans 12:10 (NLT) says it, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Renee and I had to learn this truth the hard way and found out it takes work. We also found out why we needed to do it with reverence for Christ. It was like we had to allow Him to be the mediator of our heart and keep us in check when either of us was feeling stubborn about change. There are still little things that crop up that Renee asks me to adapt to such as loading the dishwasher the right way (meaning her way) so that everything gets clean. I still have to remind her to turn the lights off when she leaves a room. That’s okay. Neither is a big deal and so we don't make a big deal out of those small things. We love each other and continue to adapt out of love for each other and for God.

Solomon 2:15 tells us that it's the "...little foxes that spoil the fine."  Little foxes or things that could bug each other can and will always come up in life, and more frequently than we would have imagined. When people don't put the Lord first and as the mediator of their hearts in their marriage, then these little foxes will be remembered, hashed over, and a fight for who is going to get their way takes over. Marriages are quickly chewed up and spit out in this mode. But when stupid fights manifest and you pause and submit yourself to God and pray and read His word, the Lord has a way to speak to your heart. He's not interested in you winning for being right. He is interesting in you loving and adapting out of love, to your spouse. If your heart isn't hard and you want Him to help you, He will! He may say things you don't like such as "Go and work this out!"  You'll may be tempted to argue with Him about the injustice of that and how your spouse is all wrong. He will tell you again and again to work it out "in love." He'll remind you of Romans 12:10 (NLT) “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” When you let Him lead you and when you swallow your pride, you'll do the right things. And you'll learn to adapt to each other out of a love for each other.

I have some great strengths in my life and Renee has plenty in hers. Through adapting and yielding to each other in love, we've learned from each other and gained strengths we didn't have before. Our love has also grown immensely. And we've learned to let go of the little foxes and banish these inconsequential bandits from our life.  They will always come but the love of God through adapting and preferring one another will always triumph! Although I have my brief moments of getting bugged, I do not let the little things that could bug me steal from the beauty and love of the amazing woman who God has given me!

The word "submit" is not so easy to grasp, but the concept of adapting and preferring each other brings it all to light!  Hold on to this light because when little foxes try to make things bad and dark, Psalms 112:4 (NLT) promises us, "Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous."

Oh, and one more thing! These truths work in any relationship! There will always be a need to adapt, honor, and prefer others over yourself. This is God's plan!

In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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