In our living room is a symbol my husband, Dale, and I used in our wedding. It’s a three-fold cord of red, white, and gold. It symbolizes that the commitment we made to marriage wasn’t just between the two of us. The covenant is between three of us, with God at the center. Scripture says “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). That’s how we want our commitment to be, and that takes making daily choices to keep our commitment strong.

Of all the major decisions in life, making a commitment to marry is one of the most important and for some, the hardest. Hopefully, this decision is far more important than buying your first car or house or deciding where you’ll go on vacation.

A commitment to marry is more than just signing a contract. Marriage is a sacred covenant, a plan God created for our benefit. In the Bible, God made covenants with His people, but others made covenants, too—like Jonathan to David and Ruth to Naomi. They were committing to love, serve, and care for each other. Covenant promises are unconditional—there is no escape clause or money-back guarantee. It’s made on the foundation of faith and love—and it’s permanent.

Permanent is a word seldom used today. In our culture, everything seems disposable—even relationships. Commitment wavers when it’s based on what makes us feel good or is convenient for us personally. God’s plan is so much bigger. Just as He has never left us or forsaken us, even in our worst sinful state, so He wants us to know and enjoy the permanence of an intimate relationship with our mate.

We all know couples, maybe even our own parents, who divorced. Maybe they grew tired of each other or one of them “found someone new.” Whatever the reason, they broke the commitment they made, and the painful consequences of their choice affected many others.

That’s not God’s plan for any of us.

We also know couples, married for decades, who are happy, despite the challenges they’ve faced. Our friends just celebrated fifty-five years together! Bob and Gayle love each other dearly. They are the closest of companions and deeply committed to each other. Dale says, “When we grow up, let’s be just like them!” Couples like them give us hope for our marriage. As you journey through your marriage, find one or two couples who model what marriage should look like, especially if healthy marriages have been rare in your life.

Who are your role models for marriage? Tell them what a blessing they are to you. I’d love to hear about how they made a difference in your marriage.

Adapted from Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2013, all rights reserved.

Susan Mathis is the author of The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

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Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship. It will affect every aspect of your marriage. It can help you inform, explain, influence, and build intimacy with one another.

Good personal communication is the act of revealing yourself—your past experiences, present feelings, and future dreams. It’s sharing your fears, needs, and desires carefully and honestly. Communicating well is also about setting boundaries, confronting problems, admitting when you’re wrong, and extending grace to another.

“Honesty is paramount,” Ben says. “Authenticity—being who we really are no matter what—is critical. I experienced the lack of it in my first marriage, and I didn’t want that again. I’m so glad that Jennifer is the same person whether she’s speaking at a conference or sitting on the front porch with me. And I want her to know who I am. I believe that real love is knowing someone with all their faults and loving them still.”

When Adam and Eve sinned, they broke the communication they had with their Creator and caused isolation from Him. They covered up and hid; they were dishonest and ashamed. God never intended that, and He knew that a life of dishonesty and hiding would be painful and counterproductive. That’s why God delights in His people overcoming negative communication patterns and learning to communicate in healthy and loving ways.

“Be proactive in revealing who you really are,” Ben says. “Learn to be authentic in every area of your life. Allow your mate to know you completely and get to know him or her completely, too. And when you’re communicating about something, let your mate know what your thought process is, not just the decision you made. Let her see how you got there so she can understand how you think and how you make decisions.”

How have you learned to reveal yourself to your mate? We’d love to know.

(Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.)

Susan Mathis is the author of The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & HappinessCountdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, and four other books. She is vice-president of Christian Authors Network. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

 

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