THE MARRIAGE JOURNEY

Today I have a special treat.  My long-time friend 
David Richardson is guest blogging for me.  
You can CLICK HERE to head over to 
David’s blog page, or you can click on the 
link in my blogroll on my homepage.  I told 
him he could blog about whatever he wanted to, 
and this is what was on his heart.  Thanks David 
for a great post with important reminders 
for us in our relationships.

Twenty two years. That’s how long Lara and I have been married. We started our marriage fresh off the heels of graduating from college. Now we’re on the verge of sending our oldest child off to college. Time sure flies!

Lovebirds!
Lovebirds!

We’ve learned some lessons along the way. I’d like to share them with you today because maybe some of the things we’ve picked up along the way will help you with your own marriage. Of course, we know there is plenty more to learn. But here is what we’ve gathered to this point about being husband and wife:

[1] Work at it. Good relationships don’t just happen. They demand effort on the part of the husband and the wife. Lara and I have had to learn new skills, hang in there during the not so easy times, and work on better understanding each other. I’m seeing that marriage requires intentional effort.

[2] Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. We see that it’s vital to share honestly with one another our thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. Men cannot read the mind of women, and women cannot read the mind of men. That just doesn’t happen. The phrase “I shouldn’t have to tell him/her” is one you might as well forget using. Unless your spouse is a mind reader, yes you do have speak up and communicate. How can your spouse know there is a problem if you don’t communicate? How can your spouse know to take care of a need in your life if you don’t communicate? See my point. You and I both have to speak up if we want good marriages.

[3] Forgive. I’m not a perfect husband. Far from it! I have failed Lara some along the way. And she has let me down at times too. We’ve realized that we are fully capable of wronging each other, and that puts us at a point of decision. Either we can stay mad and grow bitter at one another, or we can forgive. I’ve come to see that forgiveness means we bypass bitterness and refuse revenge. In other words, we say what needs to be said, let it go, don’t stew over it, and choose not to inflict a hurtful payback on one another. Has your spouse hurt you? Let me encourage you to do something: Forgive her or him as God has forgiven you.

[4] Seek counseling. It’s ok to sit down with a counselor and talk through issues. I will unashamedly tell you we’ve done that before. And it was good for us. A counselor helps a couple talk through issues that maybe they would not discuss on their own. If your marriage is struggling, and you just can’t seem to fix it on your own. reach out for help. It’s a smart thing to do.

[5] Put your spouse first. Selfishness destroys marriages. The biggest regrets I have so far about my marriage all go back to the times when I’ve been solely focused on me. That has never worked well. So I’m seeing that marriage requires I focus on caring for her. And, at the same time, she focuses on caring for me. The same is true for you and your spouse. You both have to put each other first. And this only works if both of you do this. It can’t be the sort of deal where one is putting their spouse first and the other is not. Both parties have to be on board with this.

[6] Look to God. I don’t want to sound preachy here. But I will say that having God in our lives is what has saved and improved our marriage. God is loving, forgiving, and patient. Because we look to Him, He helps us love, forgive, and hang in there with each other. I don’t know if we’d still be together if it wasn’t for God. We need Him as individuals and as a couple. So do you! Through Jesus Christ, you too can have a relationship with Him that helps you in every area of your life, including your marriage!

I enjoy my marriage now more than I ever have before. Really, I do! It’s not perfect. No marriage is. But it is a good union between two people who are willing to work at it, get real, forgive in the midst of failure, look out for the needs of each other, and seek help from above.

I wish you well in your marriage. Hang in there with that special someone you looked at and told “I do.” With God’s help, you can make it. And even better than that, you can enjoy it too!

FORGIVENESS

Today is a guest post by my buddy David Richardson.  David and I met when we were doing doctoral work together, and have kept up our friendship through the miracle of the interwebs.  I asked him to write us a blog post, and he wrote a very good one.  You should check out David’s blog at http://www.daviderichardson.blogspot.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter@davidrich70.


For a moment, I was an angry Dad.

Early on a Saturday morning, I was watching my six year old son play goalie in a YMCA soccer game.  Emerson was really doing well in defending his goal.  Finally, a kid from the other team managed to get a great kick past my son and score on him.  That did not bother me.  I knew that was eventually going to happen.  But what got to me was what happened next:  the kid who scored the goal stood there, pointed at my Emerson, and had a few “choice words” for him.  I could hear the trash talk on the sidelines where I was standing.  My son just stood there and said nothing back to the bully from the other team.

That’s what made me angry.

I did not like seeing my boy called out like that.  So I walked over behind the goal and stood there a few feet from my son as the game continued.  I kept saying “You’re doing good, boy!  I’m proud of you.  Keep it up.  Daddy’s right here with you.”  He couldn’t say anything back because the game was going on.  But he was nodding to let me know he heard me.

Finally, it was halftime.  I walked out onto the field and hugged my son. Then I asked him how he felt about what happened.  Emerson looked at me, smiled, and said, “It’s ok, Dad.  I already forgave that boy.”

I was not angry anymore.  Not at all.  Instead, I was inspired by that sacred moment on the YMCA soccer field in central Florida.

Forgiveness.  What a beautiful thing.  It’s not always easy.  But it is always right.

I’ve come to realize that when we forgive, we do two things:  (1) Refuse revenge.  (2) Bypass bitterness.  It does not mean what the other person did to us is “ok”.  But it does mean we choose not to pay them back or stew inside with bitterness.

I’ve forgiven folks before.  And I’ve needed folks to forgive me along the way too.  Every time it happens, I am reminded that few things are more beautiful and powerful than that.

That’s the Gospel.  God forgives us when we lie on a tax form, cheat on a business trip, gossip on the phone, or bully on the soccer field.  Then we are in turn asked to extend each other the same blessing.

Life’s too short to stay angry and lick our wounds as the victim.  There comes a point where we have to let it go and forgive.  And when we do, we heal enough to move on with the life God has laid out for us.

Emerson reminded me of an awesome truth that day.  Forgiveness is the way to go.  Always.

May God help us all forgive each other in the same way He has forgiven us.