To Have and To Hold #4
I love the wedding scene in the movie She’s Having a Baby starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern. Kevin Bacon is obviously nervous like all grooms. McGovern’s character seems cool and calm. Her wedding vows are the normal vows but the Kevin Bacon character seems to hear something completely different when the vows turn to him. Of course it’s all in his imagination. What he hears is this:
Will you have this woman to be thy wedded wife?
Will thou comfort and keep her in sickness and in health”
Will thou provide her with credit cards and a four bedroom, 2 and 1/2 bath home with central air and professional decorating, a Mercedes Benz, two weeks in the Bahamas every Spring?
Wilt thou try to remember the little things that mean so much like flowers on her anniversary and a kind word when she’s had a rough day and an occasional “Gee, Honey, You look pretty today.”
Will thou be understanding when she’s tired, head-achey or upset about something, when she feels ugly or has a big pimple on her chin?
Will thou not be such a pig when you shave and shower?
Will thou listen patiently to long stories kids colds, kitchen towels, clothes, shoes, sore feet and designer checkbook covers?
I love that scene because, despite all he thought he heard, he said, “I will.”
I’ve actually used those vows as a joke couple of times at wedding rehearsals for special young men like my oldest son. He nearly freaked out when he heard them. His eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger and he finally said, “Are those really in there?”
That’s why Hollywood doesn’t write the vows. Marriage is serious business. The thing is, when we get married, we each come with our own set of expectations. And after a couple of years we figure out that most of those expectations won’t come true.
A man went into his Pastor’s office and said, “You’ve just got to help me, Preacher. You’ve got to help me get an annulment for my marriage?” The Preacher said, “Now, you know I can’t do that John. Marriage is supposed to be forever. You’ve only been married for a year. Besides, don’t you remember, you took her for better or for worse.”
With a deep sigh, John said, “Yeah, I know, but she’s so much worse than I took her for.”
Unfortunately, sometimes life and marriages get like that. For some reason what we thought would be better gets worse. Even the greatest marriages have their problem days or weeks or months. The thing that distinguishes great marriages from others is that both partners take the vows of forever, seriously. Their commitment to one another and to the marriage comes first. That commitment gives the marriage stability.
As a consequence they have the best marriages. That’s what I want to talk about today. How you can have the BEST marriage possible.
Let’s look at Scripture for today. Romans 12:9-13
 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
While these verses were written to and about the church, I think they apply to marriage as well. You see, everything we are going to hear is predicated on our faith and trust in God. That’s where we begin. That’s how we have the BEST marriage possible using Biblical Principles. The word BEST is an acronym for ingredients in a marriage which help to make it the BEST marriage possible. This acronym comes from a chapter in Dr. Ed Wheat’s book, Love Life for Every Marriage published by Zondervan.
A. The first ingredient is: Be a Blessing. Be a blessing to and for your spouse. Here in Romans 12:10 Paul writes: “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”
That’s what being a blessing is all about. It’s part of that mutual submission we’ve talked about. Here it translates into mutual affection and honor. In our marriage vows we pledge to love, comfort, honor and keep each other. And when we exchange rings we do it as a sign of our vow to honor the other person. We’re called to honor our spouses as a way of blessing them. Have you ever been a blessing for your spouse?
Sometimes everything in our lives comes from together to apart and gets turned upside down; it’s especially in those times that we need to be a blessing for our spouse. In those upside down times it often takes a lot of work to be a blessing but it is more than worth it. WATCH
B. Isn’t that amazing. Everett Statler sent that to me and it just seemed to fit perfectly with what it means to be a blessing. Now, everything may not get turned upside down for you or your spouse but there are other ways, little ways in which you can be a blessing.
One in particular is to pray for your spouse. Not just a general prayer but a prayer that reminds you just how special they are to you. Something like: “Lord, I give You thanks for bringing Mary into my life. She has been an inspiration and a constant source of joy. Help me to rejoice in the love I share with Mary and the beauty she brings to my life. Bless her with Your presence today. Guide her in all that she does. May she be a blessing to the students in her classes and to the School. Bring her safely home. And Lord, help me to be blessing to her. Help me to be a good husband and to make her happy.”
I don’t pray that prayer often enough. But I do pray that prayer on a regular basis. I want to be a blessing for my wife. I want to honor her in all that I do. I don’t always do that. I fail miserably at times, we both do, but that’s our intent. Help build the BEST marriage possible by Being a Blessing.
A. The second ingredient to the BEST marriage possible is Edifying your spouse. Now I don’t mean putting them so high on a pedestal that the only thing they can do is fall and disappoint you. What I mean by edifying here is to be supportive. To edify means to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement. Now that doesn’t mean you should start nagging until he quits watching football or wrestling or start complaining every time she buys a new romance novel. Instead it means to encourage and help stimulate the other person in all areas of life. We’re especially called to encourage each other intellectually, morally, and spiritually.
Here in 12:11 Paul writes: “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” One of the best ways to “be ardent in spirit and serve the Lord” in your marriage is to worship and attend Sunday School together. Worshipping together is an outward sign to those around you and to each other of Who comes first in your marriage and in your life: God. Being involved in a Sunday School class helps encourage you intellectually, morally and spiritually. You will still grow at a different pace than your spouse but you will be growing together spiritually, morally and intellectually.
B. I think edification also has to do with supporting one another. Part of being a blessing to your spouse is to edify your spouse by lifting them up and supporting them.
Do you know what the most critical time of your day as a couple is? According to a brief article I read, there are two. The first four minutes after you get up in the morning. It sets the mood for the rest of the day. And the first four minutes you share together after being apart all day. They set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Think about it. How do you feel when your spouse walks in the house and just immediately starts grumbling and growling about their day, especially if you’ve had a marvelous day and are in a great mood. Or before you’ve had a chance to unload about your day. It ruins the whole evening.
This article said we should try to keep those eight minutes as positive as possible. That if we take time to set a tone of love and support first thing in the morning and first thing after having been apart all day, the stresses we are under will be less burdensome and we will have a happier marriage. Have the BEST marriage possible by edifying your spouse. (1)
A. The third ingredient in the BEST marriage possible is sharing. I’m not talking about the kind of sharing they taught us in kindergarten, though that helps, especially when there’s Pizza or Bluebell Ice Cream involved. The kind of sharing I’m talking about is communication. The major dysfunction in failing marriages isn’t sexual, it’s verbal. People quit talking and they quit listening. They quit sharing their feelings. Couples who share their feelings and have a greater amount of openness with their spouses have stronger marriages. They know each other better.
Mark Gungor says that this is one of those critical areas of a marriage because we want to share ideas, dreams and the like with someone we love, someone who cares about us. If they won’t or don’t listen or even worse if you come with an idea and you’re shut down with a phrase like, “Well, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” That person will begin, sometimes unbeknownst to themselves, to find others to share those innermost thoughts with.
It’s also very important to remember that there are two sides to any communication. The best form of communication is made up of two good listeners. Listening to your spouse is important.
B. I remember an old story that I sometimes share with couples as they prepare for marriage. It seems there was this couple who had been happily married for 25 years. Because of the nature of their jobs, every morning the husband got up first and fixed breakfast for himself and his wife. On the morning of their 25th there was a card and flowers and he made breakfast as usual.
He set everything on the table, then he reached over and opened a brand new loaf of bread. When he did, he reached in and gave his wife the heel. She exploded, “Why do you always do that? For 25 years you’ve given me the cast off of the loaf of bread. For 25 years you’ve given me the heel. I hate the heel.”
He looked dumbfounded and simply said, “But it’s my favorite piece.” For 25 years he thought he had been making a small sacrifice, giving his wife what he considered the best. And for 25 years she thought he was giving her the dregs all because they didn’t communicate.
A golden anniversary party was thrown for an elderly couple. The husband was moved by the occasion and wanted to tell his wife just how much he loved her. His wife was very hard of hearing, and often misunderstood what he said. With all the family members and friends gathered around, he toasted her: “To my dearest wife, after 50 years I’ve found you tried and true!” Everyone smiled approval, but his wife said, “What?” He repeated loader, “AFTER 50 YEARS I’VE FOUND YOU TRIED AND TRUE!”
She harumphed and shot back, “Well, let me tell you something buster, after 50 years I’m tired of you, too!” We could quote Paul and Romans 12:14 here: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” but it really doesn’t apply. The point is, be open with your spouse. Communicate. Share with your spouse so you can have the BEST marriage possible.
A. The final ingredient to our recipe for the Best marriage is Touch. There really is no substitute for the simple touch of a loving hand or an arm around the shoulder. Think how you feel when a colleague pats you on the back and says, “Great job.” Or think about how good it makes you feel when a child spontaneously explodes all over you with hugs and kisses. You might have to fight the stickies but it makes you feel great.
B. There is scientific evidence that kissing is beneficial to your health. A group of German psychologists, physicians and insurance companies cooperated on a research project and found that the key to longer, happier, healthier and wealthier lives was the morning good-bye kiss. Husbands who kiss their wives every morning before leaving for work usually live five years longer than those who do not. A kissing husband has fewer automobile accidents, loses up to 50% less time from work because of illness and earns 20-30% more than a non-kissing husband.
One of the doctors involved explained, “A husband who kisses his wife every morning begins the day with a positive attitude. These unaffectionate fellows start the day with feelings and doubts about their own worth. You see, a kiss is a kind of seal of approval.” There was an editor’s note at the end of the article which stated that while the study only dealt with men, they were certain that it was just as true for women as it was for men. (2)
The point is to take time for touching. It will help you “live in harmony with one another” as Paul instructs. An unexpected kiss, the pat on the back, the little affectionate things you do. Rekindle some of the spark with a simple touch.
In Romans 12:9, Paul writes: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.” Marriage is good. Hold fast to your marriage. Through your love of God and your faith in Christ build it into the BEST marriage possible. Be a Blessing, Edify your spouse, Share with each other and take time to Touch each other. That’s our challenge Bless, Edify, Share and Touch, these are Christ-like qualities we need to have the BEST marriage possible.
Today as we close in prayer and take time for reflection, I want you to focus on how you CAN grow more Christ-like not only in your marriage but in all of your relationships. If there is something keeping you from living a fully Christ-like life, then give it to God. Leave it at the cross and renew your covenant with God. Then focus on your relationship with your spouse, or your best friend or your family or whoever God has placed in your heart today. How is God asking you to be the BEST Christian possible so you can live out your faith in every aspect of life. How can you reflect Christ’s love?
And during these moments, if your heart has been touched by God’s presence, if you have felt the Holy spirit move and would like to spend time in prayer at the altar or make a public profession of your faith in Christ and join the fellowship of our church, then come forward as we sing our Hymn of Invitation.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. From Leonard Zunin, in Contact: The First Four Minutes, quoted in Keep The Fire Glowing: How A Loving Marriage Builds A Loving Family, by Pat and Jill Williams (with Jerry Jenkins), Revell.
2. Parables Etc., July 1990
Other References Consulted
Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage, Mark Gunger
We can Work It Out, Clifford Notarius & Howard Markman (Berkley Publishing Group, New York, 1993)
Love Life For Every Married Couple, Ed Wheat and Gloria Okes Perkins (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1980)
Fighting For Your Marriage, Howard Markman, Scott Stanley and Susan L. Blumberg (Jossey-Bass Publishings, San Francisco, 1994)
The Interpreter’s Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)
The New Interpreter’s Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)
Willaim Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, (The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians) pp. 129-130. The Wesminster Press, Philadelphia, 1976.
Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651, June 1995
The Pastor’s Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651, June 1995
The Autoillustrator, P.O. Box 336517, Greeley, CO 80633
Stories for Preachers and Teachers Software, HeavenWord Inc. 1999
Bible Illustrator for Windows 3.0, 199-1998, Parson’s Technology, Inc.
Leadership, P.O. Box 37060, Boone, IA 50037-0060