Wisdom for Marriage
You’re a Winning Combination
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
There is an interesting paradox about successful marriages. The first part of the paradox has to do with the fact that, according to research, the most successful couples are those with high expectations for their marriages. However, high expectations by themselves are a setup for disappointment and sure failure unless they are combined with a realistic assessment of what it will take to make those dreams come true.
This is the essence of the paradox—high expectations must be combined with a tough-minded commitment to pay the price necessary to attain the desired outcome. It’s no different from having a dream to own a successful business. The desire is wonderful as long as you expect to have to work hard and make some sacrifices. The same is true of a desire to have a body that is in great shape. The desire must be combined with a commitment to eat right and exercise; otherwise, it will never happen.
Somehow, people understand the connection between high expectations and hard work in every area of life except for marriage. Some couples are convinced that if they have to work too hard in marriage, there must be something wrong. No, there’s nothing wrong. Marriage is work, and it only works when people are willing to roll up their sleeves and give it their best.
If you want to succeed in marriage, you need to begin with a big dream in your heart for what you want to accomplish. Make sure it’s realistic, but don’t let it be too small. God is the God of big dreams. Then, once you have a big dream and some high expectations, commit yourself to working hard and sacrificing for as long as necessary to see your dreams come true. This also includes praying hard for God’s blessings and assistance.
Big dreams and hard work are the magic ingredients that create great marriages. Don’t give up. Dream again and talk and pray with your spouse until you have the same vision for your future. As you do, commit to God and each other to give your marriage your best. Expect difficulty and hard work. They aren’t your enemies. They are the inevitable path we all must travel on the way to our dream marriages. There are no exceptions and no “perfect soul mate” utopias. Just the promise of happiness for any good-hearted, hard-working couple who is willing to sweat their way to the promised land.
Do you have high expectations and a big dream for your marriage? Have you given up and lowered your standards because of previous disappointments? Talk about the dreams you have had for your marriage and how to make them come true. Commit to each other that you will give your marriage your very best.
Become your spouse’s biggest fan. Call, email, or send text messages during the day to stay in touch. At the end of the day, give each other your undivided attention. Remember your dating days and how you couldn’t stand to be apart—act the way you did back then!
Celebrate Your Differences
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2)
One thing that draws us together as men and women in marriage is our God-designed differences. Unfortunately, it is also one of the primary things that causes us to become frustrated with each other and to reject one another as being weird or abnormal.
Men and women are different by God’s design. We think differently from each other. Our major needs are different. God created us with significantly different natures. We need to accept this fact and not allow our minds to be deceived by the lie that there is someone of the opposite sex who is just like us.
Up until now you may have viewed your differences as a curse rather than a blessing. I want to help you be thankful for differences. That’s right; the differences between you and your spouse are actually something you should celebrate. The difference in your spouse is a gift to you from God to compliment you. It is a blessing and should be celebrated rather than resented.
A man once said that in thirty years of marriage, he had never experienced an ounce of intimacy with his wife until they began to work on the problem. They made real progress and this is what he said. “We’ve now gone through three levels in our relationship. In the first one, we totally rejected each other’s differences. Then for about fifteen years we tolerated each other’s differences.
Recently, I’ve come to understand that we can celebrate each other’s differences. I am ashamed to say it has taken me thirty years of marriage to learn this.
Finally, I have come to the place I can look at her and say, ‘Thank God for the differences in my wife.’”
Knowing how to celebrate the differences in your spouse will make all the difference in your relationship. And here is an important key: Friends do celebrate their differences.
They enjoy the fact that one person has a gift or a skill they don’t have, or that one person sees things from a different perspective than they do. That’s the way best friends are.
So count your spouse as your best friend. Know that your differences can be dynamic rather than dangerous in your relationship.
What are some of the gifts or skills your spouse has that you don’t have? Express your appreciation for the strengths you see in your spouse, and talk about ways you can appreciate and celebrate your differences.