I wish I could say I have a "perfect" marriage or know couples who have it all together but that is just not the case. What I have learned throughout the years is that marriage is a learning and growing experience. Each day I get to see this growth as I draw nearer to God and place him first not only in my life but my marriage as well. I can still recall the day when I prayed for God to mold me into the perfect helpmate for my husband. I was not quite sure how this could be possible, especially because I did not know what parts of my character would have to be sacrificed to make this desire a reality. At the time when I said this particular prayer, I did not know it would require me stepping aside many times to allow God's transforming power to work within me. So without further ado here are lessons 6-11 and be sure to click on 11 Years, 11 Lessons (Part One) for 1-5 in this series.
6. Spiritual Fight, Not A Physical One
The Bible reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 KJV "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." What this means is many of the battles that we face rather in marriage or in life stem from the spiritual realm. Just this week as I was sitting here writing this series, Satan thought it was a good idea to attack my thoughts about my marriage. He even brought up old times of when we endured lustful spirits as well as created new lies in my head to get me arguing with my husband. One particular day when this happened, I took a nap, and God showed me while I was sleeping what was going on. He told me that because he asked me to write on this topic and I chose to be obedient that Satan was trying to test me in this area. Knowing this information meant that I would need God's help to be able to fight off the attacks. So when things may arise in your marriage that you are not sure where it may have come from it may be a spiritual attack and not just a physical one.
7. Surrounded By Wise Counsel
As I continue my journey of marriage, I have learned just how much wise counsel is needed. What I have seen is the people around you can either do one of two things to your marriage, and that is either speak life or death into it. For my husband and I, it was and is still important to have God fearing married couples around us because they are not only our biggest cheerleaders of our marriage but will also correct us when we are wrong to each other as well. They do not take sides when we get into a disagreement but have provided us with much-needed encouragement to endure the storms that have come our way. They have even offered to pray for us on the spot and intercede on our behalf when we could not pray for ourselves let alone our marriage. So I encourage you to ask God during your prayer time to reveal to you or even provide for you the people he wants on your counsel that will support your marriage during the good and the bad times.
8. Forgiveness Is Key
We must get to the point that we forgive our spouses as God forgives us. Think about it this way. How many times have you done something wrong in your lifetime? Did God hold it against you and ultimately stop sending blessings your way? Now granted you may have paid the price for your wrong doing but did God just abandon you for it? The answer is No. The Bible says in Matthew 6:14-15 KJV "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." A trespass is defined as an offense, a sin or wrong and in our marriages sometimes these will come up but somehow some way we must be willing to forgive one another.
9. Patience Is A Virtue
Like many who grew up attending church one of the most famous verses I can recall hearing was 1 Corinthians 13:4 KJV which says "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up..." Or you may have heard it as "love is patient, love is kind..." Well, I did not understand this verse until I got married. See the word patience can be defined as bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint and honestly does not seem to fit the vision for marriage that many of us had seen for ourselves. But we weren't meant to run from our marriages every time there was or is a problem to face, and God did not intend for us to give up so easily. So I encourage you to pray and press through with God leading the way!
10. Silence Is Golden
I used to believe that I always had to have the last word when I felt offended by my husband. Also, I would provide him with a lot of my unsolicited opinions to the point where it became nagging. Well, I learned over the years to be lead by the Lord when it comes to speaking with my husband and just how important timing is when handling every situation the may arise in my marriage. Now first and foremost I pray for God's help on how to approach my husband so that he can adequately hear me but understand there have been many times that God has told me not to say anything at all. The Bible says in James 1:19 KJV "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" and by applying these words to our relationships with our spouse just think about how many of those petty arguments could not have taken place.
11. Fully Submitted
Submission is a word that many of us have come not to like but I can tell you that submitting to God is very different. It means letting go of control or power to him so you can be helped and taken care of as well as following the primary purpose he sets out for you. I even learned how this lesson applied to my husband and his leadership in our home. (Read more about that in my blog Who's Leading Whom?) So I want to encourage you to give God the ability to be king in your life and allow him to show you, as he did for me, how to be fully submitted to your spouse too!
I can say I give God all the glory as to why I am even able to celebrate eleven years of marriage. He took my husband, and I transformed our hearts, showed us what unconditional love looks like, and continues to mold us into one flesh every day. Even though there are many other lessons I could have mentioned, these are the ones which stood out because many of them have reoccurred time and time again. Lastly, I want to leave you with this thought. "It is effortless to give up when times get hard and even easier to walk away but how will you know the fruit that is waiting for you on the other side if you choose to grow and stay?"