Anne was completely enamored with her new car. She washed it regularly and drove it proudly. There was only one minor problem. No one ever told her about the need to have the oil changed.
She owned the car for about a year when she heard a loud grinding noise followed by an abrupt stop. She had the car towed to an auto shop and eventually learned her car was totaled.
How to have an intentional marriage
Wrecking a car was a tough way for Anne to learn a simple lesson. One piece of good advice and an investment of about $30 every three months in an oil change would have saved the car and a whole lot of money. Why do I tell you this? Because...
Grace is the oil and intentionality is the investment that keeps a marriage running well.
The better you get to know someone, the more faults you realize they have. I have heard it said, “good from afar, but far from good.” Whose faults do you get a front row seat to observe each and every day? Your spouse. Marilyn was really impressed with me until we got married.
When you know the bad stuff...
So, how do you have a great marriage when there is a mutual awareness and experience of deficiency and struggle? It is simply the grace of God. Scripture tells us “to overlook an offense promotes love,” Proverbs 17:9. It also says, “Sin will have no control over you because you are under grace not law,” Romans 6:14.
If you are in Christ, you have been loved despite your faults. While you were an enemy of God, Christ came to die for you. Ask yourself, “How am I to love my spouse?” The answer is—like you have been loved.
You'll need grace to keep things running smoothly.
To keep a marriage running well, you have to apply the oil of grace to the engine of the relationship. You don’t get locked up in frustration and anger when you offer your spouse the grace you have been given.
I’ll give you a specific example. Recently, I scheduled three out of town work appointments in an eight-day period. Translation: I was gone eight straight days while Marilyn handled all the end of the school year stresses for our kids. A friend of ours calls the end of the school year “Maycember” because it is as busy as Christmas.
When I got back from the trip, Marilyn and I had a great week together. Yes, I made a mistake, but Marilyn didn’t hold it against me. She overlooked the offense. She put me under grace. And, when we went on a date the week I got home, we still had a blast.
2 ingredients for an intentional marriage
Some would say that this type of grace just enables bad behavior. First, if your spouse is in Christ, the grace of God and others won’t cause them to want to take advantage of it. Second, using consequences to try to manipulate behavior is a bad and ineffective strategy.
Now, as we’ve said before, I want to make it clear that grace doesn’t mean enabling verbal abuse, physical abuse, or infidelity. It also doesn’t mean ignoring issues. Marilyn and I had a good talk about me doing a better job of managing my schedule. Grace means that our mistakes and struggles do not have to hinder or define our relationships.
So, when you feel offended, how do your respond? Do you withdraw? Do you dole out a consequence? Does the enjoyment of your marriage come to a grinding halt? Or, do you give grace and pursue one another to keep the marriage running well?
The second piece of keeping the marriage running well is intentionality. It is the investment. You invest in your marriage by making time for each other. You cast a vision for the marriage. Then, you work together to enjoy each other more and more as time goes by.
You say “no” to other things so you can say “yes” to one another. You fight the busy, dominated, and distracted culture to stop and just enjoy your spouse. When you are enjoying your best friend in the world (your spouse), everything in life is better.
You choose to communicate. You choose to come together physically. You choose to do fun things together. Then, you have a marriage that draws people to Christ and God’s institution of marriage.
If you want your marriage to last and grow, extend grace to your spouse and invest in the marriage. Too many marriages end up totaled and ruined because of a lack of grace and intentionality.
Grace Marriage Mission
Get together and discuss:
- How are you extending grace to your spouse?
- How are you intentionally investing in your marriage?
- How are using these two things to keep your marriage running well?
Brad Rhoads is Co-Founder of Grace Marriage and this article is part of a monthly column Brad writes for the Messenger-Inquirer Newspaper.