Three Things

In order to stay married to your spouse it’s really important that you share respect, trust, and love.

I get to listen to lots of conversations lately. I don’t know if people don’t realize I’m sitting there, or if they just don’t care that everyone can hear what they’re discussing but WOW! Sometimes I just feel awkward. Recently, I sat next to a conversation between a young married woman and her friends. She was talking through a major decision regarding their finances while sitting at a coffee table. When one of her friends suggested the young woman call her husband and talk through the issue with him, she sidestepped the suggestion and continued with her list of pros and cons.

I’m going to stop right here and acknowledge that I am not any sort of professional on relational topics. I have no degrees. I have no training. I’m in no way qualified by the world’s standards. I am, however, a wife of almost 19 years to an amazing man. I’ve been married for 19 years and I feel like that gives me a little bit of right to make the following comments. So, please read knowing I’m just a simple woman with opinions and experience.

If you want to stay married you need three things, in my opinion. You need respect, trust, and love…in that order.

Respect

:a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.

:a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

: a particular way of thinking about or looking at something

In my experience, respect for your spouse is crucial. It’s crucial, even before you’re married. It is important to choose a spouse whom you admire, value and deem important. It is important to choose a spouse and not a project. Yes, ladies, don’t go for the fixer upper and think that will go in your favor. It often doesn’t and leaves one or both parties feeling cheated.

I believe that when you marry someone, with the hopes that they will change, you both are cheated out of a good relationship. You both are cheated out of an honest relationship. Let’s be honest with ourselves, it is difficult to respect someone you don’t find value in. It’s difficult to treat someone as important and valuable if you think they need to be altered, because they aren’t good enough for you as they are.

The best example I can offer, is the one that God offers us. He chooses to love us, just as we are. He doesn’t make us meet a set of goals in order to earn His love. He offers it freely. His love does change us and motivate us to grow, but His love isn’t a condition of our performance. Now that said, don’t mistake me to be saying that your love will change someone. Remember, you are not God. Don’t put all that pressure on yourself. Just choose wisely.

Trust

:belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.

In my experience, good marriages happen between two people who trust each other. I can depend on my husband. I hope he can depend on me. If we can’t trust each other, then we will spend most of our time seeking to protect our interests and very little time serving each other.

Now keep in mind, this trust comes from respect. If you don’t respect your spouse, chances are you won’t trust them. Now let me turn the tables. If your spouse senses that you feel they need improvement, they will hesitate to trust you. After all, you said you loved them and then began a full on mission to change them. It makes it hard to trust someone who thinks you need a massive overhaul. You don’t have to agree with me on this one, but I do ask you to think about it.

Here’s an example. If I told you that I loved the chocolate chips cookies you made for me, but then went on to tell you how you could improve on the recipe for next time, wouldn’t you start to doubt my initial declaration of love for your cookies? Something to ponder.

Trust is a choice. You use the information you have a make a decision to trust. Please, make a wise decision.

Love (for this definition, I go to the Bible)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful: it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ~ I Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is a choice. Often it is mistaken for a feeling, but it is a choice. The kind of love you need for marriage is not the kind of love we read about in magazines or see on the screen.  This love is strong and wise. We’ve all heard it said…Love makes you do stupid things…in one’s attempt to excuse a truly stupid decision.  I disagree. Love is strong.  Love gives you the power to move forward when you want to quit.  Love helps you get up after you’ve been gut-punched.  Love gives you the strength to walk away from something you really want to keep, in order to keep your commitment.  AND love opens you up to be hurt.  It makes you vulnerable.

My best example on this point is Jesus. He loved us so much. His love for us, caused His death. He knew it would kill Him, and He chose to love us anyway. He loved us so perfectly! Now, I’m not saying you should die for your spouse, but shouldn’t we be willing to sacrifice? In my experience, there have been times when I have needed to let go of something I really wanted in order to keep my commitment to our family. Many of those desires are born out of selfishness and vain ambition. Those things I willingly give up for my family. But truth be told, sometimes it feels like death to me. However, I do it for love.

As your respect for your spouse grows, and you learn to trust them, love is a natural byproduct. These things are so very important to marriage. These are lessons I learn consistently. I have not mastered any of them, but I do work to grow in my skills.

I don’t know what will happen for that young woman. I pray all good things for her. I hope she’s reading. I do know that you’re reading. And I hope I’ve got you thinking. These are my opinions and experiences, but I hope you can learn from them.

Until another confession…

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