Good marriages don’t just happen, they are made. The majority of couples marry expecting they will live happily ever after. When troubles come or a spouse does not meet our expectations, people often wonder what they have gotten themselves into. They did not sign up for the problems that come in marriage.

John recorded Jesus saying, “in this world you will have trouble.” Paul brought this closer to the marriage relationship in 1 Corinthians 7:28 when he wrote:; “those who marry will face many troubles in this life.” We live in a broken world, groaning for the return of Jesus Christ. No one is perfect, but many couples expect perfection from their spouses and few if any problems in life. It is a fairy tale and unattainable in this life time.

So what do we do? Consign ourselves to a unhappy marriage and life of misery? No! Jesus went on to say in John 16:33 that we could take heart because he has overcome the world. Building a positive marriage requires a proper focus—a focus on the One who has overcome the problems of the world.  It does not mean that a spouse overlooks the sin of his or her mate, but it does mean that couples are to have Christ-like attitudes. It is a matter of dwelling more on the positive than the negative attributes of one’s spouse as seen in Philippians 4:8 where Paul reminds believers to think about the noble, true, and praiseworthy things, rather than the negative.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  but made himself nothing,  taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

The point is that we are to live as the Christians we profess to be by loving one another, dying to self, turning from sin and forgiving one another as God has forgiven us. The positive marriage is not a trouble free marriage. It is a marriage of unity, oneness and other centeredness. We build this type of marriage by first clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossian 3:12). We continue by considering our spouse as our partner, the person God has put into our lives “for better or worse.” Healthy boundaries are important, but a positive marriage is an attitude, a choice we make.

Making a Choice For Your Marriage
   
Couples go for counseling because of real problems in their marriage.  Every problem is a real problem, but some are more difficult to work through. The couples who make it through the problems are the couples who move their focus from the negative to the positive. This is not easy and can only be done with God’s power and help (Philippians 4:13). We have seen this in counseling many times. A couple comes for counseling, but one or both spouses remain focused on the negative:

It’s his or her fault,
If he or she would do things right, I wouldn’t do the things I do.
I know our whole marriage has been a lie, because he lied to me about this problem.
It’s too big a sin, I can’t forgive.

The list could on for a long time. When spouses turn from the self focus of how they have been wronged,  they can begin to heal. One wife told us that she could never trust her husband again because of his pornography problem. In fact, she would never trust any man again, because of the hurt of men in her past.  But as her husband continued in open and honest communication with his wife, and demonstrated that he could be trusted, she began to open herself up to him. It has taken quite some time, but they are building a trust in their marriage that they had never had before. The wife had to trust God and allow Him to work in both her heart and her husband’s heart and make a decision to look at the positive.

Couples must make a choice for the marriage and look for the positive rather than the negative. Everyone gets into ruts through busyness, facing a season of problems or for a myriad of reasons.
Most couples will at some point get stuck in negativity. Couples in healthy relationships realize where they are and are willing to change to make their marriage positive again. Others just let it go, ‘not wanting to stir the pot, we’re surviving,’ Or only will look at the their spouses rather than taking ownership for their part in the problem.  If repentance is required, the spouse who hurt the other must repent and seek forgiveness. Some hurts will take time to heal, but they will only heal if spouses focus on what positives they do have in their relationship.


Action Point: What are you going to do?

Do you have a negative marriage characterized by criticism and demeaning comments, where you and your spouse seem to argue over virtually every problem that comes up? You don’t have remain there or worse, leave the marriage. You can turn your marriage around. It requires work and may need the help of a Christian counselor, but you can build a positive marriage.

Or, do you have a positive marriage?  Do you live at peace with one another most of the time, working together to meet the challenges you experience in life? If so, keep it up! Continue following the godly principles of marriage found in His Word. Allow the Lord to use you to help other couples have the godly marriages that God intended.

Chris Garner

Used by permission - Fortified Marriages.


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