A marriage that thrives or merely survives?
Presented at BBC on Oct. 5, 1997 at the Maximum Marriage Seminar
Someone has said: “Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning hand springs or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.” But as any married couple can testify, a successful and mutually satisfying marriage is not easy. It demands work, an investment of time and energy and resources. But if you are willing to work at your marriage, you will experience a relationship that not only survives, but thrives.
How can you have a thriving marriage? Let me give you 6 Suggestions.
- Cheer Your Mate.
a.) I didn’t say “jeer” your mate, but cheer your mate. Be their #1 cheerleader. Be the president of their fan club. You know that life and circumstances can easily get us down and depressed. Your mate should know that if there’s anywhere they can go for refreshment and encouragement, it’s home.
b.) I love what Proverbs 12:25 says: “Heaviness in the heart of man weighs it down, but a kind word makes it glad.” Provide that “kind word” for your mate, every day. Don’t get on their back…Get on their team! Get out the pom-poms and cheer for them.
- Challenge Your Mate.
a.) By this I don’t mean to engage in a verbal showdown; instead, challenge them to be all that God intends for them to be. Lead by example. Regardless of whether you are the husband or wife, you can still lead by example. Determine to do what is right in the sight of God.
b.) Solomon says: “Two are better than one.” This has wonderful implications. You are to complete each other, not compete with one another. See your mate as the tool in God’s hand to help mold you and develop you. Don’t preach to each other or push each other. Simply live consistently in front of each other. It will rub off.
- Cherish Your Mate.
a.) Ephesians 5 talks about nourishing and cherishing your mate. Let them know how important they are to you by the priorities you possess.
b.) In the Reader’s Digest, a fellow named Alan Morris contributed a story about his friend Don who was an avid basketball fan. He said, “When I sat at his house recently, he was talking nonstop about various teams. At one point Don’s wife snuggled closer to him and asked, “Do you love me more than basketball?” Don paused, then said, “College or NBA?” This might sound comical but your mate will soon realize what is most important in your life. Let her/him never question your commitment to them.
c.) I like what Agatha Christie said, “An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have: the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.”
- Charm Your Mate.
a.) By this I don’t mean that you have to bend over backwards in order to earn your mate’s approval. However, something happens after the honeymoon. We stop courting our mates. The things we did to win them soon get shoved aside.
b.) Don’t allow the romance in your marriage to leave. It must be cultivated. Sarcastically, someone has remarked: “When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing: either the car is new or the wife is.”
c.) Keep doing the little things. They will go a long way in your marriage.
- Choose Your Mate.
a.) Here’s what I mean: when the choice on a Saturday is between doing what you want to do or doing what she wants to do, more often than not, do what she wants to do. This communicates to her that you value her interests and feelings above your own.
b.) Mike Holmgren was the former Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers. After being invited to the Green Bay franchise, they had a press conference to introduce him. “At that conference,” he said, “I boldly stated that my priorities in life are faith, family and football—in that order. I remain committed to those priorities.” After securing the Super Bowl Championship, Holmgren still maintained his perspective. He said, “I’m grateful to have led ‘The Pack’ to the play-offs in four successive seasons—including last season when we became Super Bowl champions—but I will not risk losing my marriage or my family for my career. If pro football ever begins to undermine what matters most in life, then I’ll go back to coaching high school. It’s that simple! Win or lose, I now realize what really matters: It’s not the Super Bowl rings—it’s the crown of eternal life that Jesus Christ has won for us through His victory on the cross. My priorities in life are faith, family and football—in that order.”
c.) This can be summarized in one word…priorities. And this comes from the word prior. In other words, what comes prior to anything else? What comes first? Your needs or her needs? When scheduling conflicts arise, and you side with your mate instead of your hobbies, that let’s them know how important they are.
d.) Let your mate know that he’s #1 in your life. In your actions and affections.
- Chat With Your Mate.
a.) You know what this is referring to. It’s the big “C” word when it comes to marriages…communication. You know and I know how important it is.
b.) Communication is always two-way. Imagine as a kid getting one walky-talky for Christmas. It wouldn’t do you any good without its mate. Why? Because in order to use them you’ve got to have someone corresponding to you on the other end.
c.) We forget this simple principle in communication. We give our opinions, share our feelings, give directives, and all along we think we’re communicating. But remember this definition: “Good communication can be explained as someone transferring what they know, understand, and feel into the understanding of the other person. It involves both good speaking and good listening.”
d.) When communication is one-sided, it can be comical. You may have heard the story of the frustrated judge preparing to hear a divorce case:
“Why do you want a divorce?” the judge asked. “On what grounds?”
“All over. We have an acre and a half,” responded the woman.
“No, no,” said the judge. “Do you have a grudge?”
“Yes, sir. Fits two cars.”
“I need a reason for the divorce,” said the judge impatiently. “Does he beat you up?”
“Oh, no. I’m up at six every day to do my exercises. He gets up later.”
“Please,” said the exasperated judge. “What is the reason you want a divorce?”
“Oh,” she replied. “We can’t seem to communicate with each other.”
e.) Take time every day to speak to one another and to listen to each another.
CONCLUSION There once lived an ancient Persian by the name of Ali Hafed. He owned a very large farm filled with orchards, grain fields, and beautiful gardens. He had many investments and was a very wealthy and contented man. But one day he was visited by an ancient Buddhist priest, a wise man of sorts. They sat by the fire and the priest recounted the detailed history of creation, as he understood it. He concluded by saying that diamonds were the most rare and valuable gems created, “congealed drops of sunlight,” and if Ali had diamonds he could get anything he wanted for himself and his family.
Ali Hafed began to dream about diamonds—about how much they were worth and about how he could get some. He said, “I want a mine of diamonds,” and he lay awake nights scheming of ways to acquire some. And in the process became a very discontented man.
One morning he decided to sell his farm and all he had and travel the world in search of diamonds. He collected his money, left his family in the care of a neighbor, and began his search. He traveled Palestine and Europe extensively and found nothing. At last, after his money was all spent and he was in rags, wretchedness, and poverty, he stood on the shore at Barcelona, Spain. A great tidal wave came rolling in, and the poor, discouraged, suffering, dying man could not resist the awful temptation to cast himself into that incoming tide. He sank, never to rise again.
His farm was sold to a stranger. One day the man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm led his camel to his garden brook to drink. As the camel put its nose into the shallow water, this new owner noticed a curious flash of light from a stone in the white sands of the stream. As he stirred up the sands with his fingers he found scores of the most beautiful gems … diamonds. This was the discovery of the most magnificent diamond mine in the history of mankind—the Golconda. The largest crown jewel diamonds in the world have come from that mine. Ali Hafed’s diamonds were in his own backyard but he didn’t even realize it.
Your marriage diamonds are in your own back yard. Don’t look elsewhere for them. Don’t overlook them. Don’t minimize them. Mine them!
 Decision Magazine, October, 1997, pp8-9.
 John Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You, p58.