The Secrets to a Successful Marriage
The Marriage Pandemic
As our world has struggled through a global pandemic, it’s important to know there’s an ever greater pandemic in our culture today - a marriage pandemic. Almost 50 percent of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation.
Our culture doesn’t seem to have the answers. Only God has the cure for this marriage pandemic. He has a plan and purpose for our marriages that is greater and more abundant than we could ever imagine. But, the enemy also has a plan for our marriages to thwart the gifts and blessings God has for them.
Is your marriage having problems? Keep reading!
Use Your Senses for a Successful Marriage
I want to share with you the seven senses of marriage. Many times, we use our senses reflexively instead of intentionally. Today, I opened my eyes and saw my wife, Lisa. I heard my cat, Meow-Meow. I smelled the wonderful breakfast that Lisa prepared. I tasted the food. I felt anxiety and excitement as I was preparing for today. Reflexively I kissed Lisa on the forehead. This morning, I used all my senses, hearing, touching, seeing, feeling, and smelling.
How about we do a census on our senses? Your marriage will be better and stronger if you’re willing to do the work.
Great Marriages Reflect the Gospel of Jesus
When we get married, a husband loses his “bachelor’s” degree, and a wife gains her “master’s” degree. Marriage is not the easiest thing, but it can become the greatest thing when we’re willing to put forth the effort. Marriage is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And even if you’re not a Christian, there is a ton of truth and principles you can learn from the Gospel that applies to your marriage.
Marriage is the only relationship that mirrors God’s relationship with His people. The Gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In marriage, there needs to be a death to self, a burial, and a resurrection.
We have an opportunity to tap into that resurrection power, the only power that can give us unconditional love through our marriage. We have an opportunity to reflect on the Gospel through the power of Christ.
Does your marriage reflect Jesus?
Marriage is a picture, an image, a mirror of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It illustrates God’s love for his people in human form. When we look to Jesus, we see the Gospel. When people look at your marriage and my marriage, they should see Jesus. It’s easy to say, but it’s very difficult on the rugged plains of reality.
3 Secrets of a Successful Marriage
Marriage is about vision. We all want to be good-looking, but I want you to spend time getting good at looking. Where you look will determine whether or not your marriage will succeed. Where are you getting your cues when it comes to marriage?
I want you to use your eyes to:
1. Look upward for a successful marriage
That’s the first thing that will bring a successful marriage. I have a painting of Jesus in my house that I did years ago. I see this painting a lot. And, of course, being a frustrated artist, I like to critique the painting now and again - dreaming of changing this or that. With how the painting is positioned and how I sit in my chair in my office, I’m always looking up into the eyes of Jesus. That is where marriage happens.
Lisa and I have gone through five of the eight markers of divorce during our 40 years of marriage, and we didn’t even know it. How do we get through it? One word, Jesus. Looking upward.
“‘In the morning, O Lord, you’ll hear my voice. In the morning I will lay my prayers before You and will look up.’ When I look to Jesus, I’m going to see the perspective of marriage beyond what I can get my brain around- outside of Him.” (Psalm 5:3)
We have a retina in our eyes. When we use the retina, the world is upside down. As an image is filtered through our brain, our brain turns it right side up. The mind of Christ puts things right side up. When we have Christ’s perspective in our lives, when we have the mind of Christ, when we’ve acquiesced to Jesus Christ, our perspective changes. Our culture is seeing things upside down. We shouldn’t expect any more.
Looking up gives us power. When we look up, we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit of God, who gives us the ability to look to the cross even in the middle of conflict. As we see how readily we’ve been forgiven, it should rush us to forgive our spouse.
Marriage is more about:
- Commitment than Comfort
- Sacredness than Satisfaction
- Faith than Feelings
- Devotion than Delight
- God than Gratification
- Worship than Wants
- Spouse than Yourself
- Submission than Selfishness
- Purity than Power
- The Gospel than Gladness
- Holiness than Happiness
You can have those in marriage, but those aren’t the main things. Look at God’s definition of marriage. That’s the first thing when it comes to using your eyes. Why are you married? It’s about Jesus, and it’s about the Gospel.
2. Look inward for a successful marriage
Another way we can use our eyes is to look inward.
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves...” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
We have a vision for many things: our work, our children, our careers, and our home. But do we regularly think about God’s vision for our marriage because when we look up, only God gives us the opportunity and the ability to look in. It’s called being self-aware.
You will not be self-aware unless you see yourself the way Jesus sees you. Because in marriage, when you look into your spouse’s eyes, reflected back is who you really are.
We spend all this money on sports, entertainment, trips, and lessons, but far too often, we miss out on investing in our marriages and working on the most important human relationship on planet Earth.
3. Look outward for a successful marriage
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
What is your perspective when you look at marriage? I remember several years ago; a wealthy lady wanted me to speak on this island in the British West Indies. We stayed with her on the compound, in a room with a 360-degree view of the ocean. That’s the kind of view that God wants for you and your marriage. He wants us to have His perspective. Marriage is not the easiest, but it can become the greatest if you’re willing to work.
A Prayer for Marriage
Say this prayer with me: “Jesus, thank you for what you’ve done for us. I thank you for marriage. I thank you for your death, burial, and resurrection. I pray that we would say to husbands and wives, I want to die to myself. I want to bury my selfishness, my chicanery, my pride. And God, I want a new power which comes from you, Jesus, a resurrection power operative in my life. It’s my prayer that any decision we make in marriage would be reflective, God, of your glorious Gospel. I pray, Lord, that we would walk with you and use our eyes to look up and in and out. For Christ’s sake, we pray. Amen.”