Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Three Easy Steps To A Happy Marriage (Part 2)

In yesterday's post, I wrote about how it was possible to have a happy marriage on two conditions. 
  1. You release your spouse from the responsibility of making you happy. 
  2. You stop pursuing happiness and find your identity and satisfaction in a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.
Today, as promised, I would like to share with you three points of a wedding homily that I have to preach to myself almost daily.
  1. Choose to love. You must choose to love daily. In our western culture of individualism, we have seen the erosion of agape (self-sacrificing) love in favor of eros (self-gratifying) love. Agape love is action that, over time and in the context of marriage, leads to eros love. If a relationship starts with eros, that love will surely ebb and flow. The problem is that without the solid foundation of agape love (service), the relationship cannot withstand the ups and downs of eros love (feeling). As married people, we are to serve our spouses. One of my favorite preachers, Tim Keller, says, "Love is an action first and a feeling second. If you love people, eventually you'll come to like them." Another way to put this is "fake it 'til you make it." Love is a choice. Love is a verb. Choose to love.
  2. Fight fair and fight for. There will surely be times when you and your spouse do not see eye-to-eye on an issue and you will [gasp] fight. That's what I hear anyway. I believe that fighting is actually healthy for a growing relationship. It helps to create a culture of reconciliation in your home (more on this topic in a later post, I'm sure). The problem with the way most couples fight is that they make it personal. If you mention your spouse's Mom or other family member in a fight as a means to injure, you're probably guilty of this. I love what Martin Luther King said about non-violent resistance because it translates so well in to marital argument. He said, "The goal is not to defeat or humiliate the opponent but rather to win him or her over to understanding new ways to create cooperation and community." You have to know what you're really fighting about and attack the issue rather than your husband or wife. Unity in marriage is worth fighting for and you have to dispense with a lot of individualistic garbage in order to get there. Imagine fighting side-by-side with your spouse instead of face-to-face because you're not fighting against each other. You're fighting alongside each other against an issue that needs to be defeated for the cooperation and community of your marriage.
  3. Keep your eyes open. Your spiritual eyes that is. There is an enemy that seeks to destroy your marriage. He is the enemy of every soul. He will tempt you to be selfish, to lie, to cheat. He will tempt you to do anything to erode the solid foundation of agape love your marriage is built upon. You must be aware of these temptations at all times. They start small and if you don't nip them when they're small, they'll continue to grow until your relationship has spun out of control. One of the most powerful songs of late is "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns. Look up the lyrics sometime. One line that is so simple yet so powerful is "Families never crumble in a day." It's a slow fade. Keep your spiritual eyes open and guard your heart and your relationship.
Friends, marriage is a picture of Christ's relationship with the Church. He loved her and died to redeem her. We must die to ourselves and show our spouses self-sacrificing (agape) love.

Happiness is not the point of marriage.

Holiness is.

Pursue holiness.

The happiness will follow.

Over to you. Anything you would add to this list? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment. Let's keep the discussion going.

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