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Good Marriages Don't Just Happen

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The Secrets of a Satisfying Marriage - Part 3 of 12
Philippians 2:2 & Ephesians 4:3
Bobby Earls, September 19, 1998, FBI
Ephesians 4:3. We're in a series called the "Secrets of a Satisfying Marriage." God's ideal for your marriage is harmony, intimacy, and unity. The Bible says in Philippians 2:2 "... Live together in harmony and love, as though you only had one mind and spirit between you." In reality very few marriages live in harmony, unity and intimacy. In fact, if the truth were known, most people would say, "I feel cheated in my marriage. I'm disappointed in it. It's not at all what I expected it to be." What happened? Good marriages don’t just happen. I don't care who you marry. Good marriages just don't happen. They are intentional. They take time, commitment, and most of all they take effort.
Ephesians 4:3 "Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit." Circle "every". Today I want to talk with you about the six secrets of a satisfying marriage. We'll look at each one of them in detail in the next six weeks together. I want to identify them. And I want you to evaluate yourself on these six areas -- six keys -- to a satisfying marriage.
Most of us at some time in our lives have an annual performance review at work. When you're doing your taxes, you probably do an annual financial review. Some of you get an annual physical checkup. I want you to do a check up on your marriage today. Evaluate yourself along the lines of six things.
1. Communication
2. Consideration
3. Compromise
4. Courtship
5. Commitment
6. Christ
Proverbs 13:17. It takes communication to have a successful, satisfying marriage. "Reliable communication permits progress." Circle "progress". If you want to make progress in your marriage, you've got to talk. Eighty-five percent of all marriage problems is poor communication. Newsweek released a statistic that said, "The average couple talks to each other alone four minutes a day. The average couple spends 47 hours a week in front of the television and spends about 30 minutes total in communication per week. It's no wonder we don't communicate. We don't talk with each other.
Communication is a skill you've got to learn through practice. Men and women have very different communication needs. A little girl, when she's born, develops linguistic skills much faster and is much more proficient in conversation than little boys. That becomes a life long talent. The fact is that women do talk more than men. The average man talks about 20,000 words a day. The average woman talks about 30,000 words a day. When the man comes home from work about 5 p.m. he's all used up except maybe 50 words. So he's going to grunt his way through the evening. But the wife, because she has a bigger storage, has ten grand to expand. She's dying to talk! This causes great frustration in a marriage. You've got to learn to communicate.
Evaluate yourself in communication -- one to ten. If communication in your marriage is at a minimum level, give yourself a "1". If you say, Sometimes we're on the same wavelength, give yourself a "4". If you plan to talk together, schedule times to talk, give yourself a "10".
Ephesians 4:2, "Show your love by being helpful to each other."Consideration simply means paying attention to what they say, showing common courtesy, treating people with respect. Consideration means you go out and bring in the groceries, even if it is the 4th quarter. Consideration means you wait until she has both legs in the car before you pull out of the driveway!
It is amazing how quickly consideration vanishes once we get married. We're very considerate when we're dating. The five stages of a married cold:
1st year -- "Baby, darling, I'm worried about that sniffle you have. I've called the paramedics to rush you to Frye Hospital for a checkup and some rest. I know you don't like hospital food so I'll bring your meals."
2nd year -- "Sweetheart, I don't like the sound of that cough. I've arranged for Dr. Johnson to make a house call. Let me tuck you in bed."
3rd year -- "You look like you've got a fever. Why don't you run down to the drug store and get some medicine. I'll watch the kids."
4th year -- "Look, be sensible. After you've fed and bathed the kids and wash dishes, you really ought to get in bed."
5th year -- "For Pete's sake! Would you stop coughing? I can't hear the television! Would you mind going into the other room while this show is on? You sound like a barking dog."
Reminds me of the guy that said, "When I first got married my wife brought me my slippers and my dog barked. Now my dog brings me my slippers and my wife barks."
Two lovers walking down the street,
She tripped. He murmured, "Careful, sweet."
Now married, they walk down the very same street.
But when she trips, he says, "Pick up your feet!"
We loose consideration for each other. James 3:17 "Consideration is a mark of wisdom." When I'm inconsiderate to my wife, I'm stupid. The wise thing is to be considerate of your husband, of your wife.
If you're considerate when you're in a good mood, give yourself a "1". If you help your mate out when they ask you, give yourself a "5". If you look for ways to lighten your mate's load, give yourself a "10". Look for ways to make your mate's life easier.
This is a real mark of love. 1 Cor. 13:5 "Love does not demand it's own way." The unloving thing to do is try to change your mate. The loving thing is to not demand your own way. Many people at the wedding, while they're saying "I do" are subconsciously saying, "I'll redo!"
There is a progression in marriage:
First you walk down the aisle, then you come to the altar and then you sing the hymn. Aisle - altar - hymn (him).
Love does not demand its own way.
Three facts of life:
1) You will have conflict in marriage. Every marriage has conflict.
2) There are some issues you're never going to agree on. Because you're different.
3) Compromise is the evidence of real love. You meet in the middle. You're flexible. You yield your rights. Give and take. You learn the art of negotiation. You learn to compromise. That's very important to learn this skill if you're going to have a satisfying marriage. You have to compromise on many things:
The kinds of vacations your take. Some people like to see 102 events in 52 days. Other people want to go to one place and stay put. We relax different ways. You have to compromise.
... the way your kids are raised.
... how often you make love.
... when you make love.
... the way your money is spent.
... how often you see the in-laws.
... how you spend your day off. What makes you think you have the right to spend it anyway you want to? You're in a family now.
More marriages die from inflexibility than adultery, alcoholism, or abuse. It's a fact that we're just plain stubborn. We don't want to change or negotiate or compromise. We want our way and that's why most marriages die.
If you are stubborn until you get your way, give yourself a "1".
If you don't talk about issues you don't agree on, give yourself a "-1". If you stay with an issue until you work it out, give yourself an "8". If both of you go the second mile with each other, give in, do more than your share, give yourself a "10".
Proverbs 5:19 "Let your mate's affection fill you at all times with delight." Physical affection is vital, absolutely vital to a satisfying marriage. If there were more courting in marriage there would be fewer marriages in court. The real problem with many marriages is that what you did to win your mate's love you have not continued to do to keep your mate's love. You've stopped courting.
Husbands and wives see each other at the absolute worst part of the day. A few minutes in the morning when you're getting up. You're stressed, trying to get ready, pressured to get to work and get going. Busy getting on with the day. And at the end of the day a few minutes when you're tired and exhausted, irritable and you have no more to give. You see your mate at the worst times of the day. You've got to intentionally plan for courtship.
Eccl. 9:9 "Enjoy life with your wife whom you love." Date your mate. The things she did before she was your wife, do those same things with her now that she is your wife. Make your relationship a priority, become best friends, have fun. You must develop things that you like to do together. You must find common ground. It is intentional; good marriages don't just happen. You've got to find a hobby you both like to do. Find a recreation you both like to do. Find some fun things you both enjoy doing. Marriages are built on shared relationships.
If your courting is nonexistent, too busy to have fun, give yourself a "1". Have you noticed that the longer you're married, the more you share the chores but the less you share the joys? You don't have fun anymore. Life becomes a burden and not a blessing. If you schedule at least a weekly date, give yourself a "10". A date night or a date lunch.
It takes commitment for a satisfying marriage. Mal. 2:16 "`I hate divorce,' says the Lord, `Make sure you do not break your promise to be faithful to your mate.'" It's interesting to me that the media has discovered the value of commitment recently. Newsweek, "How to Stay Married -- the Divorce Rate Drops as Couples Try Harder to Stay Together". The lead off article: "The age of the disposable marriage is over. Instead of divorcing when times get tough, couples are working hard at keeping their unions intact and finding that the rewards are worth the effort." Article USA Today, "Measuring Our Quality of Life -- Happily Married". Heading says, "Strong commitment brings satisfaction." Another: "Commitment, the Key to Marriage".
You'll never build a great marriage if divorce is always an option for you. If it's always back there, lurking in the back as a potential option, you will never build a great marriage. It's just too easy to walk out. When the times are tough and every bone in your body says, "I'm not going to take this anymore! I'm splitting!" -- if divorce is an option, you'll take it.
You have to lock the escape hatch on your marriage if you want a great marriage. Throw away the key. You must assume "Till death do us part. I made a promise to God and I'm going to keep it if it kills me!" Commitment is what makes a marriage great. If divorce is an option then you're not going to put forth the effort.
Before Penny and I were married we told one another that divorce was never going to be a part of our vocabulary. It’s not an option. It’s not a consideration. We’ve made each other mad. We’ve hurt each other, disappointed one another and let each other down. But never have we considered divorce. Many times in the first years of our marriage if there had been a place to go we might not have made it. But because we had locked the escape hatch, thrown away the key, and said this is not an option in our case. We are committed to make it work. That forced us to change, to be flexible, to compromise, to grow instead of being selfish
When you make a commitment, it means also that you don't use the threat of divorce when you get ticked off. When you get mad, you don't hint at leaving. And you don't use scare words. They are off limits, hitting below the belt. Unacceptable. No matter how mad you are and how angry and how much you hate that person at the moment you do not bring up the issue of divorce because it's not even an issue. That's what commitment means. You made a promise before God.
Most people do not understand the meaning of commitment. Definition: Commitment means being willing to be unhappy for a while until you can work things out. Good marriages do not just happen. They must be worked on. It takes effort.
Like the guy who recently had his 25th wedding anniversary. He stood up in front of all his friends and said, "I'd just like to thank my wife for 15 great years of marriage!"
You don't have automatic satisfaction. You've got to work at it.
One of the greatest enemies of commitment is what I call the Myth of Incompatibility. That word is so unscientific. Incompatibility. What does it mean? Usually it means there is a problem with his "income" and her "patibility".
Quotes from two of the most imminent psychiatrists of the day. Paul Tournier, To Understand Each Other, "So called incompatibility is a myth invented by jurists in order to plead for divorce. It is likewise just a common excuse for people to use to hide their own failings. Misunderstandings and mistakes can be corrected when there is a willingness to do so. The problem is a lack of complete frankness." The issue is not incompatibility; the issue is selfishness, stubbornness, unwilling to compromise, unwilling to change, unwilling to work to save the relationship. Don't call it incompatibility, call it what it is -- self-centeredness. "I want my way".
Paul Popino, director of Institute of Family Relation, "I don't believe incompatibility exists. Almost any two people are compatible if they try to be."
The point is, marriage is what you make it. Our marriage will become what we are both committed to making it.
Evaluate yourself on the commitment level:
If you say, I'm toying with the idea of leaving, give yourself a "1". If you say you use divorce as a threat when you're mad, give yourself a "2". If you say, divorce is not an option, give yourself a "10".
Christ gives you the power and the desire to do the other five. He gives you love when you run out of love. Phil. 2:5 "Your attitude toward each other should be the same as that of Jesus Christ." How do you have that attitude? Get Him in your life. Ask Him to put His Spirit within you, help you think the way He thinks, to treat your husband the way Jesus would treat him, to treat your wife the way Jesus would treat her. The greatest thing you can do for your husband/wife is become a godly person, become like Christ and treat that person like Jesus would.
How do you do that? First invite Christ into your life. Ask Him to fill you with His presence, His Spirit, His thoughts. Then you commit your marriage to Christ, commit your family to Christ. Say, "God, I dedicate my marriage to You." Begin praying together. At mealtimes, maybe in bed together at night holding hands. If something is on
your heart, hold hands and pray about it. Maybe morning is a good time. Spiritual intimacy produces physical intimacy. Get into the Bible -- begin reading it. Memorize verses together.
Statistics again, from Marriage and Divorce magazine, One out of every three marriages ends in divorce. But when they're married in a church ceremony, it drops to one out of every 50 ending in divorce. When the couple is married in a church ceremony, they attend church regularly, pray and read the Bible together, the divorce rate drops to one out of 1,105.
What is the secret? Christ is the center of their relationship. When both of you love Christ, even more than you love each other. When the husband focuses on growing toward Christ and the wife focuses on growing toward Christ, it automatically brings them together. Christ is not going to fight with Christ.
Evaluate the place Christ has in your marriage:
If He has no place in your marriage, give yourself a "0". If you attend church together and discuss the messages, give yourself a "5". If you pray and read the Bible together regularly, give yourself a "10".
These are the six secrets of a satisfying marriage. We're going to spend the next several weeks looking at them in detail. If you're single, these exact things refer to any personal relationship. If you ever have any hope or thought that you might marry someday, you need to be committed to these things. Good marriages do not just happen. It takes communication and consideration and compromise and courtship and compromise and Christ.
I want to challenge you today to commit your life to Christ totally and unreservedly -- 100%. Say, "God, You made me, You have a plan for my life, I want to get in line with it. Jesus Christ, as much as I know how, come into my life." Then commit your marriage to Christ. Do whatever it takes, for the duration, "till death do us part." Commit yourself to becoming the person God wants you to be. The issue is not looking for the right person. The issue is be the right person. Then watch what God can do in your life.
As we close, I realize that marriages are at all levels in this crowd. Some are very good and some are barely hanging on, the rest are in various stages in between. If you'd say today, "Let's try a new start. I'm not saying all our problems are solved or that we'll solve them overnight but let's try a new start." Pray, "Lord, help me to communicate better when we don't understand each other. Help me to be more considerate. Help me to be willing to compromise and not always demand my own way and not just think of myself. Help us to restore the courtship in our marriage and focus on having some fun
time together and not get too busy for each other but make our relationship a priority to enjoy our life together and express affection. I want to be committed to my husband/wife. I want my marriage to make it." If you've never invited Jesus Christ into your heart, do so right now. Say, "Jesus Christ come into my life. Save my life and save my marriage. Come in and strengthen my life and marriage. Make me what You want me to be and make our marriage what You want it to be."
The Secrets of a Satisfying Marriage - Part 3 of 12
Philippians 2:2 & Ephesians 4:3
Bobby Earls, September 20, 1998, First Baptist Icard
Phil. 2:2 (Ph) "... Live together in harmony and love, as though you only had one mind and spirit between you."
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit..." Eph. 4:3
1. _____________________________________________________
"... Reliable communication permits progress." Pr. 13:17 (LB)
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2. _____________________________________________________
"Show your love by being helpful to each other." Eph. 4:2b (GN)
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
3. _____________________________________________________
"... Love does not demand its own way." 1 Cor. 13:5 (LB)
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
4. _____________________________________________________
"Let (your mate's) affection fill you at all times with delight ..." Pr. 5:19b (RSV)
"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love ..." Eccl. 9:9a
| ----------------------------- |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
5. _____________________________________________________
"`I hate divorce,' says the Lord ... `Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your (mate)." Mal. 2:16 (GN)
| ----------------------------- |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
6. _____________________________________________________
"Your attitude (toward each other) should be the same as that of Jesus Christ." Phil. 2:5
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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