I just got back from our second annual XO Marriage conference at the church and it was an incredible weekend. Marriage is the second greatest relationship that we have in life and one that we must continue to work to improve. Linnie and I have been married for over thirty years and we still learn so much when we put time like this weekend into our relationship. I truly believe that if we have stronger marriages, we will have a stronger family, stronger church, which will lead to a more populated Kingdom. So I thought as I sit here looking over my notes, yes I take a lot of notes, don’t judge me, I thought I would unpack some of the things that I took away from this weekend and hopefully, it will help someone out.
- Money will not make you have a happy marriage
The truth is that money is not the answer to a happy marriage. Jimmy Evans said, “If you are not happy in your relationship with God and your marriage then money will not make you happy”. So many times we think that money is the answer to everything but it is not. In marriage, money is a resource, that we as a team, use to make life easier, but it is not a cure for all that is going wrong in our marriage. In a marriage, we have to realize that each of us looks and deal with money very differently and we have to work to have a common vision. In our marriage, we must have a vision where we both agree and money has to be a part of that vision.
- Submission is not just a wife thing
Though the Bible does tell the wife to submit to her own husband (Ephesians 5), it is not just the wife that must learn to submit. Tim Ross said, “A Godly woman has no problem submitting to a man that is submitted to Christ”. The husband has to first submit to God if they expect their wife to submit to them. Paul says that when the husband has given sacrificial love to the wife, meaning that he has shown a willingness to lay his life on the line, then the wife is to give respect to the husband. With God, there is always an order that must be followed. The weekend was all about serving one another, and meeting the needs of your spouse over your own needs, which is what a Godly marriage is all about.
3. Is there any area of your life where you can be lazy & complacent & it gets better?
I thought this was a powerful statement because it is so true. There is no area of our life where we can do nothing and find that it gets better. Our marriage is a part of our life where we have to put the time in and we have to make an effort to improve. Some may say after thirty-one years of marriage what in the world can you learn, which I would reply, A Lot. My marriage is the second greatest relationship in my life and my marriage is worth all the work and effort that I can put into it. My relationship with my wife and with Jesus are two areas that I cannot afford to take for granted but have to do all that I can to improve who I am. We cannot complain that our marriage is not any good if we are unwilling to put the time into it.
- If the grass is greener on the others side then it is time to water your lawn.
This is a statement that Pastor Craig Groeschel made and it was something that I thought was awesome. Over the years of pastoring, I have seen several marriages end because people got to looking for greener pastures. The truth is that 86% of divorces happen over issues that are insignificant, which means they could be avoided. If people would spend the same amount of effort working on the marriage as they do complaining, and dreaming about someone else then there would be far fewer divorces. The truth is the green grass that you thought was on the other side, many times is fake and you only find out when it is too late.
- Marriage is about serving
As a Christian, we were created to serve Jesus first, and serve our spouse second. The problem that many have in marriage is they are selfish and only think of meaning their own needs. The thing is that what you love the most is what you serve the most and for many, they serve only themselves. For us to reach true joy we have to follow the example of Jesus and we have to serve one another. There is no better place to display this than in marriage. The last lesson that Jesus taught His disciples as he was in the last hours of His life was how to serve one another. Serving even when the person that you are serving does not deserve it is being like Jesus. Jesus washes the feet of Peter who would deny Him, the others that would abandon Him, and the very one that had betrayed Him. Marriage is not about getting what you want but it is about serving your spouse.
- Our Vision has to be large enough to reach another Generation
As married Christians, we are supposed to be people of vision but our vision has to reach beyond us and affect the next generation. Vision is about making connections that are going to help the next generation reach higher than the previous one. Our marriage is about serving one another and advancing the kingdom of God by investing in the generations that are following us. If our vision is only about us then it is not a vision that has come from God and we must seek to be more. Marriage allows us to expand our vision.
- God has wired us to be bounded to one person
Our brains are wired to bond with one person. “Humans are the only animals that have sex looking each other in the eyes” Mile McPherson. The world has perverted sex but the truth of the matter is that God has created sex for us to enjoy. There are boundaries that God has placed on sex which are for our safety but sex is God’s creation, not the devils. When sex is done in the boundaries of God it creates an intimacy that is the true joy of sex and that only comes in marriage. 64% of men watch porn at least once a month and this is one of the greatest killers of true intimacy. We must do all that we can to protect the intimacy of our marriage and one of the best ways is, to be honest with one another.
- Never make a decision out of emotion.
The truth is that your emotions change from day to day and moment to moment. There are times when your emotions are just wrong, and the devil has access to your emotions. That means there are times when you are thinking something that did not come from you or God but from your enemy. You cannot make a decision about your marriage out of emotions. Growing apart is not an option but we must grow closer in our relationship with Christ and our relationship with one another. There is no way that a Christian that has a right relationship with Jesus can fall out of love. Jesus says to love your spouse, love your neighbor, and even love your enemy, which covers everyone so we have to love.
The theme of the XO Conference was being a servant and I think that is what makes the best marriages. In a world where everyone only thinks about their own needs and what is going on with them, we have to be more like Jesus and realize that it is all about serving.