Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The five best tools every good marriage uses to battle bad things

From Cindy and Steve Wright @http://www.marriagemissions.com

Have you ever wondered “what couples do right” that can help to make a marriage that lasts? We have and we do. We’re continually looking to find those things which help couples to unite in their marriages and survive and thrive despite the strains of every day living in today’s world. We believe that’s part of our mission that God has called us to do.

In light of that mission, we’d like to share something with you that Drs Les and Leslie Parrot (founders of the Center for Relationship Development on the campus of Seattle Pacific University) sent to us in an E-Newsletter titled, “What Good Couples do Right.” Within that newsletter they said the following:

“We want to equip you with the five best tools every good marriage uses to battle bad things. They are…
• Ownership - taking the responsibility for the good as well as the bad.
• Hope - believing that good wins over bad.
• Empathy - walking in your partner’s shoes.
• Forgiveness - healing the hurts you don’t deserve.
• Commitment - living the love you promised.

We’d like to look a little closer at the five “tools” that Les and Leslie gave us and define them a little further in this Marriage Message as they pertain to making our marriage last:

1. “Ownership - taking responsibility for the good as well as the bad.” When we think of ownership, we can also think of “being responsible for, possessing, admitting, and acknowledging.”

A good owner is someone who takes responsibility for the betterment and even the improvement of whatever they own. They strive to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted to their care and work on whatever they can to make sure that it does what it is designed to do. They don’t give up on that which they own — especially that which they know God truly values. And we can know that God cares very much about our marriages.

When you think of ownership in light of marriage, it would involve appreciating and celebrating the good —doing what you can to help the good to continue, not letting it die because of neglect. It also involves evaluating that which is negatively damaging the marriage and making it your mission to do your part in finding ways to overcome that which is causing problems.

If your attitude and/or your actions are contributing to the problems, then you own up to them, take responsibility for correcting them, and work until the Lord will someday say, “Well done good and faithful servant. You were faithful to the end!”

You aren’t responsible for what your spouse will or won’t do to help the marriage to grow to be healthy — reflecting the love of Christ. But you ARE responsible for doing your part. And it isn’t a 50/50 proposition. It’s putting in a 100 per cent effort on your part. “Whatever you do, do it with all your might.”

2. “Hope - believing that good wins over bad.” We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13 that love “always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” In applying that to marriage, we can always know that God is worthy of our trust. We can be assured that He loves us unconditionally and will make a way to redeem whatever pain and problem we offer up to Him. Our spouse may fail us in different ways, but as we look to God, we can put our hope in HIM. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 4:23)

God cares about us and will help us through whatever dilemma we face and will equip us to do whatever it is that we must do.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:3-7)

3. “Empathy - walking in your partner’s shoes.” In marriage, empathy is seeing our partner as God sees them — as His son or daughter. In marriage, we are God’s colleague in ministering to the needs of our spouse. It’s good to keep in mind, “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-3)

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor [or spouse] for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’”
(Romans 15:1-4)

4. “Forgiveness - healing the hurts you don’t deserve.” That’s truly what forgiveness does. It ministers more to OUR hurts than it does to the person receiving the forgiveness. We THINK it is given to release the victimizer from the hurt they have caused us. But in reality, we eventually discover that WE are the ones who benefit the most when we let go of the poison of bitterness. WE become the prisoners set free as we make the choice to no longer allow ourselves to be punished every time we nurse and rehearse and revisit the pain that originally hurt us.

“When others hurt us in ways we don’t deserve, at some point we will come to the crossroads of decision. We will have to look our pain square in the face and ask, ‘Am I going to hang on to my anger and do violence to myself, or am I going to forgive those who have wounded me? Am I going to allow bitterness to poison and putrefy my soul, or am I going to invite God to empower me to let the anger go?’” (Pam Vredelvelt, from the book, “The Wounded Woman”)

5. “Commitment - living the love you promised.” There’s something to be said for those who promise to love as Christ loves and follows through with our promises — even when our promises strain under the toughest of pressures.

“In Thornton Wilder’s ‘The Skin of Our Teeth,’ a character named Ms. Antobus says, “I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.

And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them — it was that promise.’ That’s a great example of what a commitment to marriage looks like. It’s a promise made and kept by two imperfect people — with flaws, faults, and character weaknesses.” (H. Norman Wright, “One Marriage Under God”)

We pray as you use these “tools” they will bless your marriage,

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