A 3 legged race…wow what a challenge those are! I remember my wife and I hobbling and hopping around, talking fast and instructing each other how to move and stay standing while trying to move forward without falling. It was a sight to see, I think we did finish the race laughing at each other – far from the front of the line. It took coordination and lots of adjusting and working together. These three words help describe one of the most important aspects of marriage – learning to walk together in agreement in Amos 3:3.
The mystery of marriage is how God brings sinners with many differences and flaws, together in close proximity. The two become one in agreement. What does that really mean?
Each one has a uniqueness and individuality, but they are both not the same. Diversity is an adventure in the relationship. At first in the dating stages, we may be on your best behavior, overlooking the glaring novice traits. We may think once we get married it will be different, I will change him! Well here is a myth buster, what you see will be magnified in the marriage. Often in premarital counseling, we help explain tools that help promote coordination, adjustments and working together to promote oneness. Often the oneness is in the result, but the approach is different.
Here are a few observation questions:
- What do you value?
- What is your objective?
- Is your way the only way or are you willing to learn?
- Are you doing what you’re doing for each other or for yourself or someone else?
A concession is hard to swallow in a relationship. We often are convinced our way is the best way. Often, we see Abraham and David listened to their wives and yielded to their ideas. Their willingness and humility saved them much heartache. Leadership is not always your plan in action, but it is looking ahead prayerfully and going ahead in what promotes oneness without losing your values.
If I was to ask you to do a split, what would you think? I know I can’t do one no matter how long I would stretch! Marriage can be like this where the expectations are unrealistically placed on each other. What is asked can’t be performed either because there is no willingness or ability. The way through this exercise is to keep the lines of communication open and patiently communicate your heart.
As an athlete trains, they are pushing their physical threshold a little bit at a time. This measurable slow progress is growth. In time as we are patient with each other flexibility is achieved. Oneness comes at the cross, where were are conformed to Christ image. We need and look more like Christ every day. We adjust and become spiritually agile as Christ increases and we decrease.
How many of you can juggle? Or balance several plates on a tray? We all have a weak side and a strong side. A dominate ability and a passive one. As we train ourselves, we begin to train the passive parts and we can become ambidextrous. With continuous rehearsal, in time we can have full function.
Our spouse may know the right buttons to push to cause our bad coordination, marriage can be like a dance where we can feel like we are all thumbs or all left feet. Words come out seemly in different languages and oneness and agreement is like a faraway galaxy.
Here are some perspective markers:
- Stop talking and listen carefully
- Concentrate on what is being said or done
- What do you understand?
- What do you agree on?
- Give your spouse’s idea a chance
Nonverbal communication makes up 55% of communication. Body language and posture share what is going on inside of you. You may have rosy words but your tone (makes up 38% of communication) and the way you hold yourself is speaking volumes.
Often, I hear men say, ” I am the head of this house and my way goes!” That sounds good but it is also a terrible approach. Intimidation or demands backfire and the responsive wife is now on the defensive. Whichever spouse is not in agreement needs to understand that you both are on the same team and if you don’t work together you both lose.
Maybe one of you have a weakness, it is easy to say – that is your problem, not mine! That is logical but inaccurate. You both are now one and your problems are each other’s, This is not a competition who can be the best spouse outperforming one another it is about working together and giving each other Grace. Come alongside and be one who encourages not a judge.
“Billy Graham said this many years ago when someone asked “what is the greatest act that portrays Christ”, He said it is forgiveness! It is easy to demand compliance or even justify if we should forgive but Jesus showed forgiveness as an unconditional act of Love. When we give what is needed and not what is deserved there is a reciprocal action of life.”
Parenting is tough but so rewarding. Long days but short years it seems. These “little adults” may act out wanting attention even if it is negative attention, they are starving to be loved. This is our greatest need that is veiled often in disagreements. Do you love me even if I don’t agree with you? Security in love brings the right responses.
Here are a few ways to deescalate the disagreement:
- What does my spouse need?
- What shows honor and respect?
- What kind of day did they have?
- Don’t underestimate spiritual warfare in your relationship.
- Fighting fire with fire we both are consumed, Soft answers turn away wrath.
Married to your wounds
We are all broken and often we can communicate our hurts. Our past can be an awful lens to our present and future. Jesus is the Healing Balm. He can bind our wounds and bring in total healing of a broken heart in Psalms 147:3. Surrender your pain and mistakes to Gods Altar as an offering to Him and have him burn them up and remove the ashes. Don’t feed on ashes, that which is dead and can’t be changed in Isaiah 44:22. Letting go of what hurts us and feeding on Gods faithfulness in Psalms 37:3 brings HOPE alive.
In Hebrews 5:8 Jesus learned obedience through suffering. Why would we think it would be different for us?
We may say “This is not what I signed up for”, maybe you have good reason to be discouraged today – to have hope in ourselves or our spouse, who is fallible, is discouraging. Jesus will never fail you! As we learn to agree with Him and what He says, the sooner we will experience oneness. As we turn our hearts toward heaven, we see Jesus and learn a new mission for our marriage.
It is the oneness of the mission that makes us Holy rather than is happy. You may say – I want to be happy! I agree that is a noble goal, but it is not the ultimate goal. The reason for all things is that we are being conformed to the image of Christ in holiness – separated unto Christ and Christ alone.
To love each other the way they are, rather than, trying to change each other, builds a working relationship. We learn to be content and enjoy the differences and count our blessings where we find them.
Marriage is Gods idea and His invention. It demands maturity. When we do it HIS way we have His fullness.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)