I recently had the opportunity to briefly speak at the wedding of my brother-in-law. It was an absolute honor. And he asked me to give some advice to the new couple. But he also gave me a 5-minute limit! So… to say the least, it was difficult to elect what I should include.
But as I reviewed my notes on the last marriage book and study we did, Kingdom Marriage by Tony Evans, I started to find a few things that spoke to me and stood out. I shared them with my brother and his lovely bride. And I figured I would share with you too. And I have a few more minutes here to elaborate. So here you go. Here are 3 things to remember (and never forget!) in marriage.
#1 – You Are on the Same Team!
Mathew 12:25 says, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Tony Evans points out, “This is why it is such a high priority for the Evil One to bring discord and disharmony into homes and marriages.”
Whatever satan can divide, he can control. So satan wants couples to think the other person is the problem… And in some abusive cases, that may be the case. But in reality, at least in most cases, that is not true. We can be our own worst enemies because we can create division.
So often in marriage, we harp on negatives instead of celebrating positives. So often in marriage, spouses put each other down. Spouses are sarcastic and destructive with their words. Spouses harp on one another and nag. Spouses shoot down new ideas. Or spouses hyper-focus on their partner’s downfalls, instead of celebrating their strongest qualities.
But this is the exact opposite of how it should be. Tony Evans puts it so eloquently: “Your marriage should be the one place where you are encouraged, reminded of your strengths, and given the motivation you need to live out those strengths well.”
That is how it is supposed to be! How many of us feel encouraged today? How many of us feel we are valued for our strengths?
We need to be encouraging our spouse daily. We need to be reminding them of the good they’re doing in life. We need to be speaking life into our spouses. What are their strengths? What do they always do for you and/or the family? Speak to them about that. Thank them for that. Fill them up with life and hope and encouragement.
So as I said to the happy couple; Remember you are now one flesh. And one team. So, be for each other. Build one another up. Always.
#2 – Forgive Unconditionally
Whether it be a fresh wound or a wound from the past, it doesn’t matter. If we don’t allow forgiveness into that mess, it will extinguish our marriage. Because “Unforgiveness is like an untreated wound in the soul.” It will fester and it will destroy.
My wife and I had to swim through some murky waters because of my past and the past hurt I caused her. Each time it came up throughout the years, it sucked to have to trudge through it. But my wife does not hold that grudge against me. She has allowed me to be free from those past transgressions. And more importantly, she has allowed herself to free me from that hurt.
Even in the smaller wrongdoings and fights, we have to forgive fully and unconditionally. No paybacks, no expectations, no ramifications. Even if the person hasn’t yet asked for forgiveness, we still have to forgive… which is extremely hard to do.
But we have to remember what unforgiveness will do. It will devastate the heart of the person carrying it. And it will devastate a marriage.
In marriage, we must forgive like God does, unconditionally. Conditional forgiveness is no forgiveness at all.
#3 – Remember How You Got Here
One of the most enlightening things that came from the study and the book came in the form of a question. Evans asks something along the lines of, “Is the way you talk to your spouse, the way you talked to them when you first started dating?”
It kind of rocked me. And forced me to think about the way I speak to my wife. And even more powerful, it forced me to think about the past. It made me think, “how did I talk to her when we were dating?” It made me think about all of our past too. I remembered so many good times. I remembered when we were young and oh so in love. I remembered how much effort I put in to get her. Where was that effort now? I remembered how she was so excited when we got married, because, as she would put it, “we get to have a sleepover every night!” The energy and excitement of being together was enough. But was that zeal still there today?
Most marriages are not built on nothing. They are built on love and excitement and energy. Think on those words. Does that describe your marriage? That is why we must remember.
Because not only will it remind us of the good times and the reasons we fell in love with that person, but it will also remind us of the love, energy, and tone we took into our relationship… which ultimately (and hopefully) should help us bring it back into our relationship today.
This intentional remembering is something all couples can benefit from. We should be taking the time to remember and doing it frequently. Because remembering the past and how we got here, reminds us of so much good.
So choose to remember. Remember when you first met. Remember the way you talked and behaved when you first started to date. Remember how you got here. Remember why you chose to propose and remember why you chose to say yes. Take the time. And “Make every attempt to frequently remember… so you can rekindle that which caused you to marry in the first place.”