God has given me such a heart for marriages that I am deeply affected when I hear of a marriage that is ending. I cried for Jon & Kate and their eight. I prayed for Arnold & Maria. Heidi & Seal. Demi & Ashton. When the marriage fractures are closer to home – in my neighborhood, my church, my family – then my heart gets broken. My husband has had to comfort me through many tears I have cried for the death of a marriage, the fracturing of families. Sometimes I consider that the downside to God sharing his heart for marriage with me – in the world today, that heart is often broken.
I care about the marriages around me. I want to see them flourishing and growing, full of hope & love & joy, staying together! So, if you are like me, not only wanting to improve your own marriage, but also to support the marriages around you, then join in this fight of faith with me with…
(1) Be An Encouragement: One of the truest ways I’ve found to encourage the marriages around me is to be open & real about my own marriage. I share where we have struggled and still struggle. I share what God has shown us, and how we’ve made it through. It encourages others to get real about what is going on in their relationships, and to share. So often, the encouragement is just hearing that no matter how it may seem, no marriage is perfect and they are not alone in what they are going through.
(2) Be An Example: Dave and I might not have an opportunity to share our story with everyone we meet, but we still have the opportunity to minister to the marriages around us by living out as an example. Not of a perfect marriage or a perfect couple, but one who works at it everyday. Do you act & speak respectfully to one another? Do you make them a priority in your life? How do you speak about them when they aren’t around?
(3) Be Available: I was tempted to write “be involved” because so often we stay out of the marriages around us because we don’t want to ‘meddle’. As we are ‘minding our own business’, our friends or family’s marriages are failing. What is more loving really? Be available by asking “Hey, how are you and Joe doing?” particularly when you know they are going through a stressful season of life. If you know they are in a tough spot, be willing to offer the help you can – prayers, babysitting, an invitation to the marriage conference coming up, your story (see number 1).
(4) Be An Advocate: The first thing my friends realize when they come to me to discuss hardships in their marriage is that I am ‘pro-marriage’. The only side I’m willing to take is the side of the marriage, the often forgotten party in the fight. I clearly know that God’s heart is to see every marriage honored, and I’m on HIS team. This isn’t me taking the stand of “keep the marriage at all costs” in the extreme cases such as abuse or repeated adultery or abandonment, but outside of these situations, my belief is that my friends best life, the life God desire to give them, will be provided within this divine relationship, not outside of it.
(5) Be A True Friend: Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for a friend is to rebuke them. My fellow FLT author, Rebecca wrote a great post about this last week (Rebuke: An Act of True Friendship). A true friend is willing to lovingly confront a friend who is openly disrespectful to their spouse in public, or putting her kids’ far above her marriage, or is a little too flirty with that coworker, or whatever the behavior may be. This type of action requires lots of prayer first, to make sure you’ve got the right heart about the matter before you decide to speak. The point isn’t to step in and judge, but to offer help in the humility of your own marital and moral shortcomings.
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