You can build inner strength within your marriage and family

"Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" is the title of a 1970 Stevie Wonder hit song. 

Sounds like a quickie description of most romantic novels and movies, doesn't it? After endless challenges the two in love finally make it to THE wedding.

image from awomansview.typepad.comThe chase is over, the vows are spoken and love and bliss without end. No more effort required. Guaranteed.

File this under "Fairy Tales."

You and I and every other human being star in our own reality show called "Life."

Before long every real life couple comes to understand their wedding ceremony began a life of discovery, even when they thought they knew everything about each other beforehand.

Surprises are as inevitable as mosquitos on a summer night

Since each one keeps changing and growing for life, how could it be otherwise?  

Think about typical life situations:

Changes in financial situation, for whatever reason.  

Switching jobs. Moving, perhaps because one spouse receives a great job offer.

Health conditions, whether physical, mental or emotional. 

Starting a family--or choosing not to.  

Add in whatever issues may exist or arise within each one's extended family. 

The love you started with is tested. Tried. Proven true and strong, whatever comes. Call it love in action, love with a purpose. 

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.   1 John 3:18

A marriage is like an ocean liner

The port side of a cruise ship cannot decide to head north while the starboard side chooses to head south. 

Even in good strong marriages sometimes one spouse feels pulled toward a direction that leads the other to think, No way!  

Any change of direction means unsettledness. My husband and I lived that a time or two.  

We learned the value of simply talking to each other and also spending more time reading the Bible. Prayer--talking to God and honestly sharing our emotions helped keep us calm and at peace.  

Sounds too simple, I know, but this reminded us that He knows the way ahead--and He promises never to leave us on our own.

One particular time we contemplated a big change--and then lived it. We planned as carefully as we could. Then came a period of delays and disappointments. I hung on tight to Bible verses like Psalm 139:9-10, David's beautiful expression of trust in the faithful God he loved and worshiped:  

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.   

Life can feel overwhelming at times 

Times of unsettledness make us vulnerable to reciting various "what ifs, either to ourselves or to others." Steer clear of the "if-then" trap, too, even in self-talk.

Often our only choice is how we will respond. One rule-of-thumb is start with refocus and trust, adjust to the present reality and grow some more. 

Shore each other up with frequent gentle reminders that your love remains strong and stable. 

Thread faith through every day. Turn your mind to promises that God is faithful and kind.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.    Romans 8:28 

Predictable causes of disharmony 

One frequent issue, especially today, stems from one or the other spouse feeling they give more than the other. This quickly morphs into a joyless practice of checking off boxes and keeping score. 

The idea that "we're in this together" flies out the window.

This runs counter-intuitive to popular thinking, but the better choice is to choose the way of love.   

Marriage was never intended to be a 50-50 arrangement, but rather 100-100. The attitude is that wife and husband each decide to give of themselves completely.

Be flexible, each one ready to give and take as needs and situations change. This quiets the "You always" and "You never" arguments. Home becomes more the peaceful, loving place both yearn for it to be.  

Easy? Never, but the Apostle Paul tells us how to love this way:

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.   Ephesians 4:2-3

Every marriage unites two unique individuals 

What works for you may not work for your best friends--and vice versa. That's okay. If your marriage and family are built on love, faith and mutual respect, be glad and thank God for His blessing.  

Marriage teaches us a lot about ourselves and widens our understanding. It's good to keep talking, even when you don't want to. Otherwise the distance between you widens. 

Strive always to look through each other's eyes rather than just your own.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   Colossians 3:14

Every day counts

Later in our marriage my husband and I understood that even our hard times were seasons of growing, individually and together. Growing stronger as a married couple. Finding peace within our relationship and our life. 

Did it come naturally to us? No, but few worthwhile goals are easy.

We came to see the deep wisdom and value of Jesus' words in Luke 6:31 as a prescription for every day:  

"Do to others as you would have them do to you."

This day-by-day effort brings rewards beyond the obvious

Were we perfect? Never. Did we ever hit rough spots? Of course. All couples do. But we were in it for life, so that meant always trying to pull together and keep on loving.  

Somehow we only partially understood that our children were watching us and listening to us--particularly when we weren't talking to them.  As adults they admitted this went on all through the years they were growing up. 

Still, we did something right. At different times each one--now married themselves--told us that our marriage provided them the role model by which they related in their marriages.   

Were we surprised? Oh, yes, and humbly thankful.  

Humble? Yes

We two ordinary people met and fell in love while we were still in high school and married a couple of years later.  

What we had going for us was that we loved each other totally and each of us trusted Jesus as our Savior. We aimed to live out the faith we shared--and we had teachable hearts  

Always, we prayed for guidance and our loving Lord never left us to struggle on our own. 

He will do the same for any believer who asks.  

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.   James 1:17

May you know His joy in your life, my friend,


October 08, 2022

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