Marriage: No Regrets

31 Oct

There are some marriage choices that definitely lead to the lament: “I wish I hadn’t done that.” But everyone has some ideas how to avoid regret even the humorists!ChooseWhatYouWantMarriageToBecome

Want to please your wife?

Bring her chocolate. Hug her in the kitchen. Surprise her with a gift card to a jewelry store. Encourage her talents. Compliment her cooking (or, if she doesn’t cook, her choice of a good restaurant). Leave a love note on her pillow. Shop with her – yes, shop with her! Send her flowers for no reason at all. Hold her hand at the mall. Etc. … etc. … etc.

Want to please your husband?

Make happy-hubby choices about three things he loves: Sex, Food and Entertainment.

Isn’t it obvious how different men and women can be? We’re just wired differently. What’s not so apparent is how to enjoy those differences.

One thing I’m sure of:  our choices toward our spouses can affect the relationship. (Note: This post is specifically for married couples, but some principles apply to any relationship.)

Life is so short … and so are our marriages. Even if we celebrate 50, 60 or more years together, the minutes of marriage tick  away so quickly. We need to choose what we want our marriage to become.

I made some “priority choices” early on regarding my marriage, so I don’t have a lot of regret. You may have made similar choices.

Here are my priority choices:

1) The Priorities of Oneness and Mission.

My husband and I are one flesh (Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31); there is no room for others-intimacy in our relationship. (Not even from the TV or movie screen!) We want to keep our marriage pure in our “oneness.”

Whether a couple has a formal mission statement for their marriage or just some clear, specific guidelines, this is so important. For example, my husband and I decided before marriage to be sure Jesus is at the center of our home. And the wonderful thing is, the closer we’ve gotten to Jesus as individuals, the closer we’ve been drawn to each other.

2) The Priorities of Love and Forgiveness.

Love makes any relationship blossom. Love in marriage (Colossians 3:18-19; John 13:34) includes selflessness, sacrifice and a servant’s heart as well as consistent, joyful sexual love (Proverbs 5:18-19).

And couples should learn to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me” early in their relationship (Ephesians 4:32). Every husband and wife learns to adapt to each other’s quirks, but realistically, partners will fail each other many times. Kindness and forgiveness are essential, like oil keeping the relationship running smoothly.

3) The Priorities of Acceptance and Respect.

Our husbands have so many critics in the midst of competition and comparisons in the workplace. I want to be sure I’m always my husband’s best cheerleader (1 Thessalonians 5:11), building him up not tearing him down (nagging, complaining, manipulating, etc.)

Respect should be mutual, but it is especially important for the wife to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33). Just as we may not appreciate a policeman’s attitude but we respect his authority; the wife is to respect the husband’s position as the head of the home.

4) The Priorities of Time and Focus.

In this busy world, women tend to spread themselves too thin, and sometimes, it’s the husband who gets left out. I always tried to remember that someday my children would be grown and leaving the nest but “Papa Bird” would still be around. All along the way, I cultivated our relationship. I didn’t want to end up a stranger to him.

Have you ever been in the same room with your spouse, and you forget he’s there? We can get so busy with “our stuff,” but doesn’t it make sense that the one we love deserves our focus at least occasionally? Focus also includes learning what makes your husband “tick” so you can initiate conversations where he’ll want to participate!

5) The Priorities of Joy and Contentment.

A wife has the joy of creating a “happy haven” for herself and her family. Some say the “Proverbs 31 Woman” (31:10-31) is an out of this world creature no one on earth can live like her. I say she’s a good starting point! God will show us exactly what is needed to make our particular home a refuge and place of joy for our family. (It might look different, woman to woman!)

When fires swept through Southern California a few years back, one of the families in our church lost everything. But when the ashes lay on the ground, this husband and wife still had each other and their strong faith in Christ. If you lose everything, what do you still have? All we really need is food and clothing – everything else is “fluff” (Matthew 6:31-33). The Bible instructs us, “be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

We can train ourselves to be content (even grateful) in any circumstance (Philippians 4:11-13). My husband and I have shared our love and life in a beautiful brick home we owned … and a borrowed trailer behind a church gym … and on the road living in others’ homes. Marriage isn’t about location and “stuff;” it’s about love and selflessness.

Don’t misunderstand. Our marriage isn’t perfect. No one’s is perfect. But we will all have far fewer regrets if we have some priority choices for marriage and home.

What priorities have helped you create your marriage? What priorities could you add that might cut back on future regrets?

– Dawn

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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