And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8
Last week we ended on the hint of thriving in marriage. What does that look like and how does a marriage truly thrive?
Our society often turns to Google for answers, and there is a plethora of answers that can be found there. Many are what we mentioned last week — self-help marriage advice that circles around the problem. Good advice? Probably. Best advice? No, probably not the most adequate foundation for a thriving marriage to be built upon. Let’s examine some of the main areas listed from a surviving, striving, and thriving perspective.
- Surviving: Scheduling a date night because everyone tells you to and then spending the evening on your phone while your spouse does the same
- Striving: Learning about the love languages and trying to figure out which one your spouse might be because y’all just don’t talk anymore but you don’t want to give up on your marriage
- Thriving: Asking your spouse what s/he is desiring to do or chat about and then willingly and lovingly doing that
- Surviving: Calling or texting because you have to or s/he will get mad
- Striving: Sharing interests or events and sometimes enjoying time together
- Thriving: Investing time in different areas of intimacy (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical) while praying God helps you enjoy time together more and more
- Surviving: Begrudgingly pardoning your spouse’s indiscretion for (choose one: the sake of the kids, the sake of convenience, the sake of your finances, the sake of your reputation, etc)
- Striving: Knowing God forgave you and that you are required to forgive but you still want him/her to pay for what s/he did
- Thriving: Asking God to give you the feelings of forgiveness after you have chosen to forgive. A big example here would be adultery. When a spouse is repentant and wants to remain in the marriage, especially if s/he is willing to make a job change, a phone number change, or whatever the wronged spouse has asked (within reason, of course) in order to have peace of mind that the affair will not recommence, the wronged spouse often chooses forgiveness long before any feelings of forgiveness occur. Each time the offence is remembered, the wronged spouse takes it to the Lord first, asking if s/he should bring it up and how might the reminder help or hinder their future together.
- Surviving: “Babe, I am about to explode. COME ON!” “He only wants one thing from me!” Each spouse is only out for personal satisfaction, whether it is to be satisfied sexually or to be satisfied by getting out of it.
- Striving: Knowing that your spouse has true physical needs but really just not feeling it. So, sometimes, mostly out of guilt for having said no so often, you finally say yes.
- Thriving: Praying to God that you and your spouse can connect physically on a timetable that is mutually beneficial. Understanding when your spouse says no, which s/he tries not to do out of respect for your desires, and trying to make sure when s/he says yes, you make the time about both of you, not just one of you.
- Manage conflict
- Surviving: Screaming and yelling are still the norm, but at least s/he apologizes afterward.
- Striving: Learning conflict resolution skills and practicing them, sometimes as a technique to be utilized for relational manipulation, either intentionally or unintentionally
- Thriving: Addressing conflicts how the Bible describes and applying grace-filled relationship principles. Recognizing and responding to problems in marriage shows maturity and a desire to minister to your spouse in positive encouraging manners.
- Shared responsibility
- Surviving: Doing all the “work” for the family while your spouse feels entitled to sit and watch TV or go out with friends (again!)
- Striving: Discussing the schedule and who takes the kids where this week and planning other daily required tasks
- Thriving: Respecting each other’s strengths and weaknesses, willingly filling in the gaps when your spouse truly stresses when (choose one: doing the finances, grocery shopping, parent/teacher conferences, playing a certain type of game with the kids, etc)
- Community minded
- Surviving: Going to the church-wide event because s/he is making you but making sure s/he knows that this is a ‘one and done’ event for the month!
- Striving: Joining a small group though you only attend when it is convenient or your spouse guilts you into it
- Thriving: Committing to a life group Bible study and fellowship that includes setting apart time to be together to do the lessons BEFORE group and chatting about the groups’ discussion AFTER
- Surviving: Believing that since s/he has hurt you before, s/he is likely to do it again. You hope for the better outcome but you don’t really believe it could happen.
- Striving: “Well, s/he was there when [loved one] had his accident, so I guess I should believe s/he will help me in this situation.”
- Thriving: Committing to be trustworthy so that when you need to be trusted, your spouse knows you are not going to blab to your friends at the next night at b’dubs about his/her jealousy issues.
- Surviving: Apologizing after you totally threw him/her under the bus AGAIN with your folks
- Striving: Working hard not to bad mouth his/her choices but really thinking, “oh my goodness, how many times is s/he gonna mess up before s/he gets it”
- Thriving: Understanding that we all make mistakes and realizing that your spouse’s area of sin or area of weakness is not the same as yours. As you extend respect for decisions made and actions taken, you will
- Surviving: Saying “I love you” as a routine or habit because you know that it should be said and you know that it gives your spouse ‘warm fuzzies’ but not your really feeling loving or loved
- Striving: Reading a book on being a better spouse and for the next couple of months really trying to incorporate what you have learned
- Thriving: Being a student of your spouse and seeking opportunities for growth in your walk with Christ together — husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church and wives respecting their husbands
Our first post in March stated, “Intentional intimacy is ‘the passion and desire to pursue being known and to know another deeply for the glory of God.’ IT IS ABOUT SOMETHING GREATER THAN OURSELVES!” As we apply the concept of intentional intimacy to our marriages, it requires that we take a look at the desires of our heart and where we place our focus, our time, our resources, our energy. The examples above mean nothing if we do not start on the foundation of our personal relationship with God.
When we begin to grasp the depth of God’s love and desire for us, we can repent to Him for the sins we have committed and we can worship Him in the fullness of the cross. Worshipping God allows us freedom to be who God created us to be and to be who God calls us as husband and wife. Next week we will explore worshipping God and His preeminence in our marriages as we discover our greatest asset.