Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Steps to a Great Marriage

First Corinthians 11:9 tells us that man was not created for woman, but woman for man. That was a hard scripture to swallow having grown up in the woman power "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up and pan" generation. However, as God always is faithful to do, He aligns our hearts - over time and sometimes with a lot of kicking and screaming - with His Word. And when we finally embrace the Truth of Scripture - we find there is no greater joy, no greater peace and no greater blessing.

So, I'm created for my husband. I'm here for him. My job is to bless, minister unto, and edify his life (by the way, edifying almost never comes in the form of constructive criticism or good advice as far as marriage goes). I was created and put together with this man, by Almighty God, to build him up. He was not created to help me with the kids. He was not created to help me with the laundry or the house - to fix all the things I need fixed. He was not created to make my life easier. I was created to make his life better, easier and encourage him in his work.

Wow. That's a big job. How do I start? Well, step one is: I begin by getting my focus off my needs, and how he is not meeting them. I need to forget about me. Have the attitude of Christ who considered not himself. It's not about me anyway. It's about God. So, if God gave me this husband, then that was God's plan (even, by the way, if he isn't walking with the Lord). I need to accept and embrace God's plan for my life. I'm sure Joseph could have been really upset with God sitting in a dark dingy stench-filled prison for 14 years, suffering for no other reason than God had a greater plan - and it wasn't about Joseph. If I think my husband is here to meet my needs - I will ruin my marriage, in fact, I would ruin any relationship with that attitude. If I think my husband should be like the perfect husband described in the Bible and in so many sermons, I'm doomed to a failed marriage. If I put my standards of a good husband upon my husband, then I've just forsaken the whole of why I was created - for my husband: not to tear him down, stamp a big L on his head, and help him see how he could be a better man than the failure I see him as.

So many times, I've counseled women who thought that their husband was the problem (an aside here: I've never counseled anyone that was married to a truly abusive and wicked man steeped in sin, this is for women married to the average sinner with some character flaws that you are disgusted with, but aren't having to call the police about). Sadly, as we uncovered the past, its not hard to find the beginnings of the problem that eventually escalated into a horrible marriage, where he was doing stuff he knew was wrong. And right there, when she began to notice his small sins or weaknesses, I see how she focused on his problems, focused on his weaknesses, and through words, criticism, body language and comments, slowly tore him down.

We usually live up to what people think about us. And frankly, most men (and women) deep down don't think too highly of themselves. So, when a wife begins to emphasize and point out the flaws and failures of her husband, he can't help but to agree with her. He never thought that much of himself anyway. He had hoped he was a great guy. But, turns out, he's not. He begins to get very discouraged, and eventually, after a while, gives up hope of ever being great. So, he submits to the opinion she has expressed, and becomes what she is telling him he is but shouldn't be. And then, once he has given up, is capable of sinking even lower.

Sometimes, a wife can keep a husband from reaching the ideals he once had by simply not believing in him. She tells him in so many words that he isn't capable of great things. He knows from her comments, body language etc. that she doesn't believe in him. Again, he knows the truth, that he isn't as great as he wants to be, and he sees that the person that knows him the best agrees with his own assessment. So, he never moves forward in his career because he lacks the confidence necessary to take risks, believe in himself and walk into every situation with the confidence he needs.

When we focus on our husband and on his weaknesses, we inadvertently tear him down as a man. We ruin his life. We bring him harm all the days of his life. We tell him he's not good enough, and he believes us. We hurt the person whom we are placed on earth to bless, minister unto, and edify. When we focus on the Lord and want to please God by obeying his command to only speak words that are edifying, consider our husband before ourselves, show mercy, meditate on the good and praiseworthy, love our husband as ourselves, and respect our husband we find that God is able to fill us with joy, peace and satisfied pleasure even when our husband isn't the model of perfection, and we don't see him as someone placed here to make our lives - which is a perversion of marriage.

Okay, I can't go on to step 2 as this has gotten too long. But let me just state that when you follow the Biblical model for marriage - when you begin to look for the good in your husband and praise him for those things. When you tell him you believe in him, and submit to his decisions telling him that you trust him to make the right decision and aren't the least bit worried, when you honor and respect him with your words, eyes, body language and comments, he will blossom into the man God intended for him to be. He will begin to toss off all the self doubt that plagues him, he will begin to walk with a spring in his step, and take those risks that only those who have people behind them that will praise him even when he doesn't make it can take, he will walk with confidence, and become a great man.
But I will follow this with step two on another day. This was a lot of information for one blog.

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