Marriage is “For Keeps” for the New Year
I was talking to a good friend the other day about marriage and relationships and how it seems like lately, and really for the last decade or so, marriages have been under attack. Either people are becoming more reluctant to get married and stay committed and/or people who are in relationships aren’t necessarily happy and actually prefer to be single. I can tell you, marriage is hard work and it really takes two people working together and giving it their all to make it last forever, but anything worth having is worth fighting for.
At the end of the day, things happen and relationships end whether because of infidelity, lying or just irreconcilable differences. For those on the outside looking in, we can’t judge anyone who chooses to stay or leave because everyone is different and everyone has their own limits. Moreover, for those of us who are married let us encourage each other during the good times and even when we’re going through rough times.
For this New Year, I want to encourage and remind my fellow married, engaged and other couples that marriage is “For Keeps.” In other words, there are some things we need to keep and/or keep out in order to help keep it together.
KEEP it right and tight between you, your spouse and God.
There’s something wonderful about the connection of two people created by Eros love and bound forever by the agape love of Christ. Marriage can be one of the most powerful and influential, yet vulnerable, witnesses for Christ and his love for the church. Hence, that’s why the devil loves to attack marriage so much, but it’s a little easier to fight when you know you have God on your side and you can go to God in prayer as a unified front against any and everything; whether sickness, illness, death, issues, obstacles, etc. Simply put, “If God be for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31b).
KEEP it healthy.
They say “we are what we eat.” Similarly, our marriage is what we put into it. If you fill it with the right kinds of food – love, compassion, communication, romance, intimacy, passion, encouragement, forgiveness, etc. – then you’ll most likely have a healthy marriage. But if you fill it with junk – deceit, lies, betrayal, rumors, cheating, anger, selfishness, lack of care, lack of interest, abuse, etc. – then you’ll end up with junk.
We should all strive to not only be fit and healthy when it comes to our physical health, but it also applies to our spirituality, our relationships and family, our careers and our finances. We all have physical needs and in any type of relationship, especially marriage, we also have spiritual and emotional needs. Part of being healthy is having a well-balanced diet and good workout plan. Similarly, we need a well-balanced marriage – inclusive of love components based on your specific needs and desires – and both people working out together to keep it healthy and strong.
KEEP it real.
There will be rough seasons and hard times, but be open and honest with each other and in a loving way. We all have things we need to work on in our marriage, but the last thing we need to do is try and camouflage our issues by running away from them. Every now and then, it’s not a bad idea to do what we like to call a “check-in.” That’s when we literally take a moment and say to each other, “Hey, just checking in. Are you good? Are we good? Anything you would like for me to do more of? Is there anything I can do to show you I how much I love you and appreciate you? Is there something I need to improve? Are you happy?” It’s just a quick and easy way to find out your spouse is thinking and determine if everything seems to be moving along just fine, if it’s time for a little counseling session or is it simply time to pray and study the word more to prevent things from spiraling out of control.
KEEP the mess and messy people out of your marriage.
“Ride or die” until the end – at least that’s one of our mottos. Some may say that’s keeping it a little too real, but you get the point at least and honestly, that’s how you have to be sometimes because people will try to get all up in your stuff and start drama. So, sometimes you have to think of it as you and your spouse against the world. In other words, that means we fight to make sure nobody and nothing tries to come between us. Mark 10:9 says it best, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” So, fight the good fight and protect what’s yours.
KEEP the past where it belongs – in the past.
We’ve discussed it, we’ve argued about it, we’ve apologized for it but for some reason it just keeps coming up. That name, that person, that issue, that lie, that fib, that situation, that betrayal – it all keeps coming back to the surface even though he/she apologized and we so-called dealt with it. We can’t let these issues linger on forever. If we’ve resolved the issue then it’s time to let it go. Trust me, I know it’s hard and it’s something I have to pray about on a consistent basis, but it’s absolutely necessary in order to move forward. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s okay to ignore any and everything because there are some issues that may require more help and attention. But if he/she has apologized and has truly made a change for the better, it’s time to let it go.
Nobody’s perfect and marriage isn’t perfect. One of the best ways to move on from the past is to think about God’s grace and mercy and how He’s look beyond our faults and our sins. Despite everything we’ve done or haven’t done, He continues to bless us and keep us. Why, then, should we be so hard on the person who matters the most to us? We can’t let our past problems keep us from our future possibilities – and that applies to both marriage and even life in general.
Before the New Year begins, each of us should sit down with our spouse, and pray a sincere prayer of thanks and ask for peace, protection, strength, health, forgiveness for each other and ourselves. We should ask for God’s help as we move forward into the New Year because there are plenty of people and spiritual forces already plotting against you and your union.
I wish you an abundance of love and a happy marriage today, tomorrow, next year and forever more.