But today we’re doing something far more fundamental. We’re going back to the basics.
In the end, what is your marriage founded upon? It can’t be founded upon love, because love is fickle. Then, when your feelings go, your marriage falls apart.
And don’t say “it’s founded on Jesus”, because that sounds like a buzzword Christians use when they don’t want to think. Of course it’s founded on Jesus, but what does that actually look like? How is that played out? Today, let’s dig deeper than just the pat answers.
My friend Candy Troutman has a great blog, and she’s written a brilliant post about explaining to a woman how she has stayed married for 32 years. Here’s what she says:
I told her that during our premarital counseling, our pastor had told us three things we should live by in order to stay married for a lifetime: 1) we had to be more committed to the covenant and relationship than to the other person; 2) we couldn’t base our relationship on our feelings because they ebb and flow; and 3) love was not a feeling but a moment by moment choice. I then said that during times of impasse and emotional tension, we always went back to these foundational principles. These principles always brought us back together.
Read the rest here. Really. Go read it!
Now, I have spoken about these issues before: how acceptance of your husband is the foundation of a good marriage. But today seemed like a good day to take it just a little farther.
Remember: I am not talking about acceptance of sin, like acceptance of him using pornography, or acceptance of abuse, or anything like that. I just mean accepting the person you have and being committed to love him.
Now, here’s the question of the day: what do you think this does in a marriage? I think we have this mistaken idea that our personalities are fixed. We get married, and that’s who we are for the rest of our lives. We have to learn to live with the person. He will never change. I will never change.
But looking back over 18 years of marriage, I can see that I have changed because of who I’m married to. I have different views on family, on love, on purpose, on politics, on everything because of the way we relate to each other. Certainly some traits are fixed, but the way that we display those traits, I believe, can change. For instance, someone with low self-esteem who marries a patient, kind and supportive person can grow out of their shell. They can begin to try new things. They can blossom.
Take that same person and marry them to someone who nitpicks, and they’ll retreat further. I knew a couple once who both loved each other, but who were too young or immature to really act on that love, and they eventually split up. They’ve both become very hardened in their ways now. But personality-wise, things could have gone in a different direction. If they had decided to cherish each other, they would have done so much better. They both would have bloomed. Both of them had low self-esteem. But if they had devoted themselves to each other, things could have gone very differently.
You see, we don’t live in a bubble. We react to what is going on around us. And in marriage, the most intimate, long-term relationship, we can really thrive given the right environment. So here’s my question: what are you doing to create that environment for your husband? I know you want that environment for yourself, too, but remember that you can create an environment in which he becomes a softer person. Or you can create an environment in which he can easily grow bitter or distant. And much of it, like Candy says, depends upon how you see the foundation of your marriage.
I am not saying that you are responsible for your husband’s faults, or that you should love him so that he will magically become the person you want him to be. I am only saying that when we create a nurturing, loving environment in our marriage, we both become different people in a good way. We grow. And we give God more permission to work in both of our hearts, because we’re honouring what He says about love.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had married someone who wasn’t as affectionate or wasn’t as affirming as I did. My husband has done so much for me, and I want to do the same for him. What about you?
Will you share your thoughts on marriage with us? It’s easy! Either leave a comment, or go to your own blog and write a post on marriage. Copy the picture at the top of this post and put it on your post, and then link back. Then come here and enter the URL of your post in the Linky! I’ll look forward to reading what you all write!