Several years ago, I posted a list of things I have learned about marriage from my own experience and observation. The following is an updated and edited list. Perhaps one or more of these will be helpful.
The following is Part 1 of a list of 41 things married people ought to know:
1. Married people are called to move away from self-centeredness and toward selflessness. Self–centeredness creates a person in the marriage who “takes”. Such a person focuses on what he or she is getting out of the marriage instead of loving one another sacrificially.
2. A couple can’t follow Jesus and at the same time settle for a status quo marriage. Jesus challenges both husband and wife to pursue something larger than oneself. They are called to something greater than their individual happiness. Sometimes, a wife or husband will desire to pursue a larger kingdom vision for marriage while the other person chooses to dig in his heels and remain stagnant.
3. Married people can become very lazy in their relationship with one another. As a result, the husband and wife may no longer cherish one another. Tenderness slips away. Sarcasm and cynicism may overtake their relationship.
4. Every marriage harbors some type of atmosphere. Some marriages are marked by laughter and the enjoyment of life. Other marriages are stained by the deadly poison of negativity. A couple might spend large amounts of time griping and finding fault in one another. These behaviors often contribute to a heavy, cloudy, joyless atmosphere.
5. Something is amiss when a married couple claims a commitment to Jesus and belongs to a church, but has never allowed Jesus to have any kind of practical impact on their marriage. Consequently, these people may be perceived as “spiritual” while at church, but in fact they are quite ungodly in the way they treat one another.
6. Resentment and deeply held grudges are like a cancer. This relational cancer has a way of eating away at the very fiber of a marriage.
7. The bottom line in marriage is not personal happiness. The bottom line is holiness. (Gary Thomas in Sacred Marriage) Christ followers allow God to use their marriage to help them become more like Jesus.
8. Marriage needs to be based on grace and not on performance. A performance – based relationship is under great pressure. People feel they must perform at a certain level or they will not be loved by their spouse. As a result, many go through life feeling like they never measure up in the eyes of their mates.
9. Married people need to come to grips with the reality of the sin they are inflicting on one another. Behaviors such as harshness, rudeness, impatience, self-centeredness, pride, willfully inflicting pain, etc. have a way of damaging the other person.
10. It is utterly foolish for a husband or wife to disparage their mate just to get a cheap laugh from friends. What about the second most important commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself”? Is this the way mature men and women treat one another?