As promised in a post last week, I'm providing a link here to the June issue of the LifeSharer letter, the monthly newsletter/personal encouragement of Vital Signs Ministries. This month's letter tells you about our participation in the World Congress of Families IV conference in Warsaw, Poland, as well as the Turning the Tide conference right here in Omaha. There is also a most exciting story of a baby saved from the abortionist...right at the last possible moment. Don't miss it.
And also on tap in the June LifeSharer letter are the much-requested notes from a wedding sermon I had given a couple of weeks earlier. In fact, because a few friends specifically suggested I publish them on Vital Signs Blog also, here they are, gleaned from our nearly 36 years together:
Denny's “Top Ten Hints for a Marvelous Marriage”
I hope you find them of value. And, if you think that the fuller version or perhaps a related presentation of mine, “Must the Music Fade? Cultivating Romance and Respect in Marriage,” would make for a useful talk for your church, Sunday School, Valentine’s banquet, etc., please give us a call.
#10 Take nothing for granted.
* Routine can be a comfort, but it can also be a killer of spontaneity, passion, gratitude and fun.
* Cultivate a spirit of appreciation and fight against a spirit of comparison.
* Understand that love is action, and like all actions, it involves time, effort and dedication.
As the old Belarusian saying goes: “A wife isn't a guitar. You can't play with her awhile and then hang her on the wall!”
#9 Build up your partner.
* Discover the compliments that are especially meaningful and speak them often.
* Be a helper. Be a giver.
* Convince your spouse that you are their biggest fan as well as their best friend.
Billy Sunday, the famous major league infielder turned evangelist once advised husbands: “Try praising your wife...even if it does frighten her at first.”
#8 Hang out with godly people.
* The company that you keep as a couple is far more important a factor in a successful marriage than most realize.
* Develop friendships as a couple and make sure they are with people of spiritual vision and a dedication to Christ's kingdom.
* Accountability, inspiration, assistance – all these blessed gifts come from New Testament fellowship. Don't neglect them.
(Watch out for this next one)
#7 Do not let television rot your value system!
* Don't be fooled; you will become what you watch and listen to.
* Furthermore, do not let “the tube” be a thief that steals time and affection and priorities from either of you. Let me say this plainly: the couple that frees themselves from the tyranny of television will avoid many of the traps by which modern marriages are being destroyed.
#6 Never criticize your spouse in public.
* There are times for disagreement, but never in situations that have an audience – including your kids! I can think of few things uglier or more stupid than seeing someone make fun of or otherwise tearing down their life's partner to others. Be positive and loving and cheerfully supportive.
# 5 Pray!
* Pray frequently.
* Pray together.
* Pray over common problems and concerns and obstacles.
* Pray with rejoicing as God wins victories and bestows His power.
* Pray with a willingness to do.
* Pray, pray, pray and pray some more!
#4 Fight fair!
* There's an art to confrontation, and it's an art which you must learn with proficiency.
* Set rules by which you will engage in conflict; for instance, no rage, no threats, no leaving the house, no name-calling, no use of force, no comparison, no foolish and unfair exaggerations.
* Have you heard about the simple technique of holding each other's hands when an argument starts? I couldn't recommend that approach more highly.
#3 Serve God as a team.
* I see situations all too frequently where a husband and wife, who claim to be serving God, are yet involved in totally different activities. Now, it is certainly not required to constantly be in each other's presence, to be stumbling over the other. But when a husband and wife have a devotion to authentic “team work” (whether as friends, lovers, parents, or servants of Christ), there is more joy, more understanding, more confidence – and yes, more efficiency and fulfillment.
#2 Keep falling in love.
* Do not be content with memories. Let God make your marriage an active thing – much more than just that album of wedding photos.
* The best way to keep falling in love? Keep growing; be a different person (better, bolder, more godly) than the day before. Learn things. Read. Do.
The romantic English poet Robert Browning wisely observed that: “Success in marriage is more than finding the right person, it is being the right person.”
* Engage life as a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.
* Be an adventurer rather than a spectator.
* Grow in grace as individuals and your relationship will grow in grace as well.
And what’s Number One?
* Maybe this is the toughest of all, but like the others I've already mentioned, you know it's necessary.
* So, don't mock God or belittle His forgiveness of you. Instead, learn from His character. Like Him, learn to forgive. After all, Jesus, in long-suffering compassion, reached out to you and died for you both when you were yet sinners. You are called, by His holiness and by His grace, to live in the same way.