Cruising Toward Valentine’s Day: Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

lovein-the-airIt’s February 8th. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions went?

Hope they are going well. Meanwhile, as we cruise toward Valentine’s Day, why not resolve to enhance your one flesh union?

Disclaimer: My husband and I are not marriage experts. We both failed at it the first time. We are divorced, Reformed and remarried…remember. Here are some things we’ve learned (and are still learning) from this day forward

How can I love thee better? Let me count the ways…

Schedule regular devotions and prayer together. We all know how important this is, but we often neglect doing this as a couple. It is crucial if we want to keep our marriage intact.

Assume the best of him (her). How often do we come to conclusions about our mate before all the facts are in? Ladies, we (well I know I do!) try to read his mind and motivations, then assume the worst. Not good. Stop it.

No dumping. When he calls from work, or comes home from work at the end of the day, don’t dump problems on him. He’s been stressed for 8 hours or more, don’t add to it. Save the problems, discussions, bills for later.

Guard one another’s souls. This would be the opposite of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all struggle with sin. Confess when you’re curt, wrong, or have lost your temper. Ask for forgiveness and mean it. Ask if your honey has slipped, needs prayer, or needs a broom over his head.

Guard your tongue. This is a biggie. And stop that muttering under your breath. It would be good to do repeated studies on the tongue throughout the year. It’s astounding how many bible verses there are on misuse of the tongue! Many of them come from Proverbs, one of the wisdom books. So here is wisdom:

  • He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3).
  • Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20).
  • Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).
  • Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. . . . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:1,4).
  • Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:8)
  • For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (1 Peter 3:10)
  • And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. (James 1:26)

sources: Scripture to Help Tame My Tongue and Bible Verses About Power of the Tongue

If those verses don’t convince you to be careful with that tongue, there are many more. Continue reading

Marriage Resolutions for 2015 From the Last Dead Man of This Blog Series – Part 5: J.C. Ryle

IMG_1589IMG_1587New year celebrations can be pretty ridiculous. After all, it’s only a new number. We went from 2014 to 2015 at precisely 12:00am January 1. Numbers and time frustrate me with their restraining, constraining measurements. Clocks and scales are not my friends.  Time. I can never seem to keep up with it, though it successfully takes its toll on me. The wonderful part about eternity (and having an eternal perspective) is the fact that there is no time in heaven. As I see it, eternity is not endless time — it is that time completely ceases to exist. Poof! I love that!

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New Year’s celebrations are a bit Goofy.

In spite of my aversion toward time, idiotic new year celebrations, and yes, even resolutions, a new year is a great time for reflection. This is a marriage-themed blog, so I will offer some wise marriage resolutions borrowed from a dead man to end this blog series.

Continuing to glean timely wisdom from times past, here are three rules for a happy marriage by cherished dead man, J.C. Ryle. Below each rule is my two cents highlighted in blue.

The first is to marry only in the Lord, and
after prayer for God’s approval and blessing.

The first rule (or resolution if I may call it that) does not pertain to those of us who are already married. Hopefully, dear married readers, you are married to a believer. If not, do not fear. 1 Cor. 7:14 says: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband…” You can be a sanctifying influence on your spouse.

The second is not to expect too much from their
partners, and to remember that marriage is, after
all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels.

This is a biggie! I know every woman wants to marry someone like Jesus: a man who will love them unconditionally and never get sarcastic, impatient or neglectful. I’m reminded of a book Mike and I read before we were married. What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp is an excellent source for marriage help from a Christian perspective. It is scriptural-based, not Freudian like too many other evangelical marriage manuals. Too often, we expect to have an angel for a spouse. Expect a sinner instead, but one saved by grace, a work in progress, started by God Himself. Just like your sinful but redeemed self. This is humbling.

The third rule is to strive first and foremost
for one another’s sanctification. The more holy
married people are, the happier they are.

Going from rule 2 to rule 3 is a great segue. (Numbers are useful after all!) God’s purpose in marriage is refinement and holiness. We’ve read other dead men recently and they, too, have pointed out duties of spouses. Those duties include spiritual helps of recognizing each other’s sins and helping to mortify them. We first realize we married a sinner. Which reminds us that we are sinners, too. Then we help each other put that sin away, under the blood of Christ our Savior. He is that first person in our marriage. We are bound together in Him. The dynamic of marriage is to be a display of God’s love.

These three rules sum it up nicely, don’t you think? They remind me of T.S. Arthur’s words: the divinely beautiful arrangement which marriage enforces. With that said, it is time for this blog series Dead Men Know Best: The Wit and Wisdom of the Puritans (and Other Dead Men) on Marriage to end. I pray that you’ve learned much from these historic brethren while enjoying this holiday season. Perhaps you’ll refer back to them, peruse the aforementioned publishers, and find much space for them in your home libraries.

J.C. Ryle’s work can be found in its entirety on Grace Gems: Three rules for a happy marriage.

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My calendar is ready; complete with numbered days. Many plans and lists will be made this year, but “My times are in your hand…” Psalm 31:15 ESV

Happy New Year and HAPPY MARRIAGE!

P.S. In keeping with my rebellion against time, this was not posted in a timely manner, which would have been on January 1. Thank you for understanding.