My wife and I have been married nearly 13 years and something I’ve learned during that time is that “marriage was intended to be the deepest bond one can experience and the highest commitment one can offer.” (Keller) As Jesus said, “The two are united in to one.” (Mark 10:8) So, from the moment I said, “I do,” life was no longer about me as an individual because my life is no longer an individual life. I have been united with Carol and we are now “one flesh.”
On our wedding day we became one, but since that time we have been living out our “oneness” in a world that seeks to divide. Schedules, commitments, ministry, work, all good things, but they can easily hinder oneness. Throw in to the mix my sinfulness … my pride, selfishness, fear, lack of patience, etc. Mix the inward sinfulness with the outward temptations and you get a nice recipe for lack of oneness.
For marriage to be all that God intends for it to be, you will have to fight for oneness in a world that seeks to divide. To fight for this oneness, there are some things we can to do after we say, “I do.”
This “to do” list for marriage comes from our lead pastor, Mark. I think they are important things to do after saying, “I do.”
Do What You Used to Do. Are there things you enjoyed doing before you were married that you no longer do? Are there things you enjoyed doing before you had kids that you no longer do? Chances are those things you used to do developed a great sense of intimacy and oneness between you and your spouse and you miss doing them. Life has a habit of getting in the way. We are often driven by the urgent instead of the important. Ironically, the important but NOT urgent things are usually the most important for us to focus on. So, what are those things you used to do that helped you win each other’s heart? Create space for those things and do what you used to do.
Do What You’re Supposed to Do. Am I pursuing Jesus? Am I allowing myself to fall more and more in love with Him? Am I finding my ultimate identity in Him? If I’m not, I will place expectations upon my marriage and my wife that they were ever meant to fulfill. Am I loving my wife as Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself up for her? (Ephesians 5) Am I being a servant-leader? Far too often I want to by-pass the word “servant” and simply jump to “leader.” When I do, I’m using my position or strength or authority in a way that is disrespectful toward my wife and the woman God has created her to be. Am I shepherding her heart? As a woman, our culture bombards my wife with an onslaught of “You’re not enough” messages every single day. Am I counteracting those messages with my words and actions? Am I telling her how pretty she is? Am I pointing out the amazing things she does? Are my eyes convincing her of her beauty? Am I letting her know what I love about her personality? My wife is never going to tell me that I am encouraging her too much, so there is no reason for me to hold back! Am I helping her feel as if she is my earthly priority? Am I extending her grace and relying on God’s grace? Extending grace and relying on it is the foundation of a healthy marriage. The more I realize how much I need the grace of God in my life, the more I’ll be willing to extend it toward my wife. This is just one reason why the Bible is so powerful. It is a very clear mirror for me. Is my life reflecting what it tells me to do in my marriage?
Do Something Together. Shared activity is a wonderful way to bond (especially for men). Serving together, walking together, reading together, exercising together … find something you both enjoy and do it together. Even if you’re not necessarily verbally connecting the entire time, finding a common interest and doing it together helps create oneness and also gives you both something to talk about and something to look forward to.
Do Something New. It’s easy to get in a rut. Sometimes you just need to shake it up and do something new. Talk to each other about things you’ve always wanted to do, but have never had the chance. Try to find ways to make those things happen. It could be as simple as a new style of food to try or as adventurous as going skydiving! It’s not so much what you do here, but rather the fact that it’s new and fresh.
Any one can fall in love— I did — and, it is likely that you did too. Think about it— all it really takes to fall in love is a pulse. And it only takes half a pulse to fall into lust. I think falling in love is the easy part. Staying in love is another matter; staying in love requires a plan and some learned skills. (Fields) With God’s grace you’re able to do what you need to do after you say, “I do.”