Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Marriage Success Key 1: Give 100 Percent

The old saying, "Marriage is a 50–50 proposition," is totally wrong! So-called modern, enlightened professionals may say, "Independence is our priority. We’ll intellectually agree to work together, but I’ll still reserve my personal escape route in case things don’t work out right." One needs to ask, what is the framework for our marital relationship? Is it mutual convenience? Or is it a biblically based relationship that will grow in depth and character for the rest of our lives? What does the Bible say? Notice this verse, which is foundational to happy relationships and the character that we need for all eternity: "And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’" (Acts 20:35). Or, as the Moffatt translation puts it, "It is happier to give than to get."

One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time! Some years ago, when I was very active in sports, I tended to shortchange my wife in spending time together. I still remember the time when I determined to give my time to her in some special activity that would please her. She wanted to go canoeing—that was not my favorite activity, but we went canoeing on an East Texas lake on a Sunday afternoon surrounded by pine trees, blue skies, water fowl, and peace! What I considered a sacrifice of my time, led to an improved relationship—my wife enjoyed the activity and appreciated my effort. As Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

True love is giving without expecting anything in return. When two people both give 100 percent, you have a strong bond, a strong overlap that is going to guarantee flexibility and the ability to cope with crises and problems. But accepting the 50–50 proposition guarantees a built-in weak link in your relationship!

God’s way of life is a giving way—the mature approach to life and marriage. The Bible also instructs husbands and wives to give to one another sexually. In the first century, the Apostle Paul gave this instruction to Gentile converts to Christianity, who were living in the sexually immoral city of Corinth: "Because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Corinthians 7:2–5).

Are you willing to follow this instruction? Do you express affection to your husband or wife? Simple hugs and kisses when you leave for work, and when you return, are important. A German insurance company issued a report a few years ago, concluding that men who kiss their wives every day are less prone to accidents, and are generally more successful financially than men who do not kiss their wives every day. So I made sure to kiss my wife every morning before leaving for work. One day I forgot, and backed my car into a tree. Needless to say, I make sure I kiss her every morning!

Commenting on the problem of selfishness, Dr. John A. Schindler wrote, "The only person capable of true affection is the person who can forget himself and his own immediate interest while he places the welfare and interest of someone else foremost. When both husband and wife can do that, they will have no domestic nor sexual trouble" (How to Live 365 Days a Year, p. 142).

How many husbands and wives actually practice that principle? And how many Christian husbands and wives actually practice that principle?

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