It's a beautiful story we (girls) grow up watching… Cinderella, Snow White… well, ok, not completely beautiful – they have horrible lives, but then, Prince Charming comes along and sweeps them off of their feet and they live ‘happily ever after.'
or so the story ends.
Then, there's real life. Some of us grow up in homes with Moms and Dads who have wonderful marriages, some grow up with parents whose marriages are far from wonderful… and then, some grow up with divorce or death.
We learn from those life-lessons… and we take them into our own marriages… with the expectation that regardless of how we grew up: Prince Charming has arrived and will bless us with an easy, wonderful, beautiful life!
Then… .reality sets in.
Two people have married… two individuals…
and we sometimes, many times fail to read the fine writing:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
Do you see it? The fine writing… the two become ONE… the husband MUST LOVE and the wife MUST RESPECT. When we marry… we are no longer… just us, just a person, we are actually another person… we are our spouse and they are us. And we must do these things the other NEEDS in a marriage, the thing that lifts them up… the thing that is most against our nature of who we are.
Yes, Husbands… LOVE… and want to be loved, but… they would truly prefer RESPECT… and wives, well, we get all gushy when we just know he loves us… well, since he prefers respect… he is told to LOVE us… that thing which we desire.
So, how do we get there? And what in the world does this have to do with the E – in HEART? Enriching our marriage? WHAT IS THAT?
Well, to put it simply, it's those things, little and big that you do… to grow your marriage, but get this… not for YOU… not so you get what you want out of it! It's for GOD… you're growing your marriage for God, who created marriage… so that we could glorify him and his love for us… right here on Earth!
OK… if you're like me, you're wondering how this person who is writing has any right to write anything at all about marriage… I mean… I love going to conferences, but isn't it easier when we know a little about the person speaking… Ok… here's a laundry list of credentials: I've lived through… two marriages, one divorce, the loss of a babe we never held, addiction, adultery, life-impacting medical diagnosis, infertility, bed rest, depression, post partum depression, death in the family, three children, and a host of other events… that have well, shaped us, our lives… but, did one beautiful thing…
They brought me and my husband to the cross.
If I leave you with anything today… tomorrow or next year, there are TWO things I have found that are the truly most important things you can do for your marriage.
ONE: TRULY build the foundation of your marriage on God – get in his word TOGETHER! Read what it says about marriage, about your spouse, and about God… because if you don't… it will remain about YOU… and that's not what marriage or God… are about. Yes, he loves us individually, but what better place to begin your love ministry for Christ than with your spouse… with you as Christ, dying to your own selfish desires daily and serving that person… in a way that you always ‘imagined' they would serve you!
TWO: Pray together. There is nothing more beautiful, more intimate than going before God… together, as one… with EVERYTHING. With your happy moments, sad moments, heart hurts, sins… confessions, oh, it is a beautiful place to sit at the Father's feet… with your spouses hands touching yours… revealing your heart…
Now… for the lighter stuff… we enjoy reading in the morning… we will read our scripture, pray, drink a cup of coffee… then – we grab another cup of coffee, take the dog for a walk… and return to a home with children still asleep.
I send love notes in lunches, sweet emails through the day and sometimes pop in for a quick hug. We go out… every now and then, our current budget doesn't allow for many outings… .but, the ones we take are simple… they keep me from stressing out and while we enjoy being out together, the minutes and days with our children are limited… and we're selfish with that time, as well.
Serve together, read together… and have fun. Also, wives, do things your husbands enjoy doing… even if you don't. I have a confession… I grew up pretty much alone and never played board games… I don't care much for them, or the competition, my husband… LOVES them. So, I sit down and play… and usually have a good time… just they're just NOT my forte. He knows that…
And… Rachael makes a really good point in her book… make sure you have fun together… around and in front of your children. I love it when my husband kisses me on the cheek….sometimes, I'll do what I did the first time he kissed me…I run away giggling…and he'll run after/chase me. We make sure the chase ends in front of our children with a big dip and a kiss. They always say “GROOOSSSS”… but, the smiles on their faces… well, they tell a different story. They show the sheer delight our children have when they see Mom and Dad giggling, having fun and sharing their love.
Celebrate your anniversary. In our case, we celebrate two, the first and the second. Both hold special places in our hearts and the beauty of that has taken the pain of the divorce away.
Now, I know… we are an odd couple… and many of you have very different situations. All of us are different individuals and our marriages are different, but, if you build your marriage on the foundation of God and HIS word… if you pray… then, miracles can happen… if they are within God's WILL!
Remember… your children are watching you. They will treat their spouse and their marriage, in much of the same way you do. Give them the beauty of a marriage, based on God full of love, fun grace and mercy!
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