(23/4) Guest Pulpit: Maintaining A Godly Marriage?
by Lanette Kinsey
Everyone has ups and downs in their marriage, but the only reason Holy Ghost-filled people get a divorce is that one or the other get disconnected from God. The first thing you need to know and understand when you are dealing with marriage issues is that everyone has to work on his or her marriage.
There are three words that are the secret to a happy and Godly marriage. I'm sure most people will automatically think those words are `I love you," but the three words that will help every marriage are, "Be a Christian".
These three little words will not only help your marriage but will also fix any relationship problems you might have -- with in-laws, employers, siblings, parents and children. There is a solution for every relationship problem if you read the word of God and do what it says. Why shouldn't we be Christians in our marriage just as we are in every other facet of our lives? There are men and women who wouldn't think of cheating their employer or speaking disrespectfully to them, who have wonderful reputations at work. but then come in and treat their spousal relationship carelessly and, many times, with cruelty.
I suppose we can chalk some of it up to familiarity. All too often couples stop showing simple courtesy and respect toward each other, and it always begins with the tongue. It's an unruly member and what a great fire it can kindle!
Solomon said its the little foxes that spoil the vine, and isn't it amazing how the little things can become major things in a marriage? Ninety-five percent of the time. I would say marital problems stem from a mountain of small things that have been allowed to pile up and are not dealt with in a loving and biblical way.
There's a simple formula for dealing with conflict, and it the verse so often cited when we are talking about marriage, but it is under-utilized because I am not sure people have a true understanding of what the words actually entail. Herein lies the secret to building and maintaining a Godly marriage. Ephesians 5:33: "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself: and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Why are men commanded to love and women commanded to respect? These are imperatives; they are not optional. Paul knew that this is what it would take to be happily married.
Think about it. Women don't have to be commanded to love, because love comes easily to us: it's as natural as breathing. We love our kids, we love our friends, and we love our clothes.
We love everything. We are commanded to respect because it's harder.
Men are not commanded to respect because respect comes easier to them. How many times have you heard a man say. "I can respect that"? Respect is very important to them, but love is not so PAW. especially to show love. They like to be rough and tumble and show respect. but they are commanded to love.
These are not natural things to us. and that is why the apostle worded it the way he did. It wasn't an accident. They are things we have to work at. The husband is commanded to love his wife even if she does not obey the command to respect, and the wife is to obey the command to respect even if the husband does not obey the command to love.
What makes this whole thing even harder is that we don't speak the same language. We must learn to crack the communication code. There's not just "man speak" and "woman speak." but there's another code embedded in that code - the five love languages: acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, and quality time. The best way to have a loving, happy marriage is to decode your spouse's love language. Think about it, pray about it, ask God to show you what your spouse needs, and then work on providing it.
1 Peter 3:7: "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman: and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered."
Note the apostle did not say you have to understand her; he said live with her in an understanding way. You just have to accept that women look at the world in an entirely different way than men, and that is why it is so important to follow the formula listed by the apostles.
I must admit I feel a little bit sorry for men these days. You have heard a lot about women's rights in the last hundred years and rightfully so. because we are to be honored as equals according to Peter, and women in the Bible were very much valued. It's a misrepresentation to say that Christianity subjugates women. The Proverbs 31 woman is strong, smart and capable in business and with all her dealings. We can still do all those things and be submitted to our husbands.
Our culture has changed. I don't mean this as an attack on men, but men are becoming more and more passive. I think the women's rights movement contributed to that. I know there are many factors contributing to the chaos in our society, and there has always been sin, but it's an undeniable fact if you look 61 the statistics honestly, the sexual revolution changed American culture. When women decided to let everything hang out, and that modesty no longer mattered, things began to fall apart.
I don't believe it is a coincidence that as women have become less and less modest, men have become less and less honorable. Women hold the key to good morals in men. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but let's talk about the average, normal man; he will not cross a line a woman will not let him cross.
Modesty is what makes a woman a lady, and honor is what makes a male a man. But we often find in today's culture that women are refusing to follow even if the man wants to lead because they will not accept the divine order and when women step out of their place in the divine order, their world starts falling apart.
Back to being a Christian, to following the word, Eph. 5:28 "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies: he who loves his wife loves himself 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.Ē
A wife longs to be that person Paul describes. I don't know a single wife who does not want to be loved and cherished. She wants to be the princess and wants her husband to be the prince. And that is what the husband is called to be, to give his life for her if need be.
Something in a man longs for his wife to look up to him as he fulfills this role and when she does, it motivates him. He fulfills his role in loving and cherishing her, and she looks up to him for fulfilling the role as her knight and prince, and he loves her more as she shows her respect, and it builds into the kind of relationship that God wants us to have.
Here are some practical tips:
1. She wants you to be close. She wants you to connect. Find a way to connect every single day - and not always sexually. Women don't need big things to feel connected.
2. Open up to her. Many wives feel lonely because their husbands don't talk to them about what's going on in their lives. She feels left out.
3. Your wife is your ally - not your enemy. Wives - keep your husband safe. If he confesses a temptation, keep him close and do not shame him. Men are wired differently than we are and temptation doesn't 'mean he doesn't love you. He needs your help to overcome.
4. Husbands - don't be bitter. A --bitter husband has no hope of openness with his wife. You've got to give up your bitterness because it poisons everything.
5. She needs you to try to understand her. Remember that she is sensitive - she is the weaker vessel and if you want to be in the driver's seat, you have to take the responsibility to address her anxieties.
6. Remember that conflict is not the sign of a bad marriage. Paul said those who marry will have trouble. Research has shown that the best marriage relationships have some conflict.
7. Your wife will feel loved when you speak highly of her in front of others, when you give her encouragement or praise, when you notice something different about her hair or dress, and when you are physically affectionate with her in public.
8. LADIES, focus on your husband's positive attributes and tell him you appreciate them. Whether your husband works at McDonald's or the White House, let him know you appreciate his work.
Ultimately, your marriage relationship has nothing to do with your spouse but everything to do with your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Your spouse doesn't cause the way you are but reveals the way you are. The love and respect connection will work, but itís not a magic pill that you take once and never have to deal with again. Itís a lifelong learning process.
Marriage is the relationship that mirrors God's relationship with the church. I don't want to be a miserable Christian, and I don't want to be a miserable spouse. I really don't think you can be aligned with God's will and have an unhappy marriage. I don't want to squander the most important relationship I will have on this earth. As we grow older, itís more important to me than ever to finish strong with God and finish strong with my husband. Here is a poem I wrote to sum it all up:
The Front Porch Swing
When upon her hand he placed a ring
They dreamed of children and front porch swings
Of homes and jobs and building a life
While serving God as husband and wife.
They pledged their love in sickness and health
Through joy and storms and absence of wealth
With reckless abandon, straight from the heart
They promised to love until death did them part
But honeymoons end so very soon in a world of greed and loss
Unless our eyes are firmly fixed on Jesus and the cross.
We can escape the tests of life that come down every lane
Seasons of joy are often followed by unspeakable seasons of pain.
Striving to reach for worldly success can jade our point of view
The only hope we can stand at all is with God as our family glue.
And stand we must so those who follow will know the way to win
And that money nor can or fancy toys will sustain them in the end
For the treasure built up in heavenly realms is what will prove our worth
It's the legacy that lingers on for those we leave on earth
Id like nothing better than to reach the end with my companion and my Mend
Of a lifetime of memories we'll be able to sing as we dream of heaven
on the front porch swing.