by Cliff Pace, Senior Pastor
Imagine this: two people who once looked at each other with such joy and who once stood before the Lord and said, “till death do us part” to one another, are now sitting across from one another, in a courtroom.
The looks of joy and love have been replaced with anger and disappointment. This story is all too familiar for some, and much too close for others.
Some people want to know where the blame lies. I believe that is the wrong question, asked at the wrong time. There are some right questions that should be asked before this point. Each story is different, but there are some common signs that a marriage is in trouble.
The key to having a vibrant marriage is being prepared for difficult days, because they most certainly will come! Sometimes they are unexpected, but sometimes the warning signs begin to show. I believe there are questions husbands and wives can ask each other to protect and preserve their marriages, but it takes effort.
This post could have been called 600 (or more) questions to ask about your marriage, but to keep it simple and manageable, let's stick with six. I assure you, these will be more than enough for you to wrestle with every day. My advice is to ask yourself (and your spouse) these or other questions often to see where you are.
(Oh, and I threw in a few action steps also).
1. "Are we closer to one another now than we were when we were first married?"
Marriage drift is often unnoticeable. Work schedules, children, and day-to-day pressures crowd our lives. Sometimes we don’t notice it before it's too late and the damage is done. We begin to take one another for granted and fail to say I love you, much less show it.
Action step one: Don’t let a day go by without looking at your spouse and saying I love you. Action step two: Don’t let a day go by without doing something small for one another.
2. "Am I a selfish person? And if so, why?"
(Remember, this is a great question to ask your spouse). I'll be the first to admit it: we all lean toward selfishness. But selfishness can’t be controlled, it has to be killed daily. Jesus said, "I have not come to be served but to serve."
Action step three: Don’t demand to have your own way. Ask your spouse's opinion. Be willing to give up personal demands that are unhealthy for your relationship.
3. "What are our priorities, and do we agree on them?"
Every marriage should have priorities, but often men and women have different priorities. One key to marriage harmony is to agree on three or four priorities, and work toward achieving them.
Action step four: Sit down, write out your priorities for your family, share them with one another, discuss them, and agree on a few. Then share them with your children.
4. "Are our priorities biblical?"
You knew I would go here right? The best family priorities are biblical. Here are just a few:
- Take care your family. (1 Timothy 5:8)
- Teach your family. (Proverbs 22:6)
- Gather with other believers to worship, learn, and spend time with one another consistently. (Hebrews 10:25)
- Love each other. (Ephesians 5:22-28)
- Love Jesus more than your spouse or your children. (Matthew 22:37, Exodus 20:3)
5. "Do I love Jesus more than I love my spouse?"
This the foundational question. The truth is many of us are living for something else rather than total devotion to Jesus. I have learned that when I have completely submitted my will and personhood to Him, my greatest desire is to live for the benefit of others, especially my spouse. And it is at that point that Jesus begins to live His life through me.
Do you remember what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20? "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Spend an hour a day with Jesus and your Bible. Ask Him if your life is His life. If not, what do you need to do to get there?
6. Will you forgive me?
For not loving you like Jesus does. For not fulfilling my part in this covenant that we made so few or so many years ago. Let’s recommit our lives to one another and to Him right here, right now.