About 2 weeks before we started our Real Family series, I asked my Facebook friends: “What is one of the best pieces of advice you were given, you saw modeled, or you picked up somewhere along the way that is now a BEST PRACTICE that makes a difference in your family? What makes your family a better family?”
I had a great response and excellent advice. Most of it had to do with parenting, with a few thoughts about marriage. In this blog, I’ll share the best advice about marriage, or family, in general. I’ll share the best advice about parenting after the sermon on parenting.
ONE: Love your spouse. Model a loving marriage. This advice came from Aaron, and I say, “Absolutely.” As I’ve read multiple studies on young adults, so many of them talk about their own fears about marriage because the kind of marriage they saw modeled was not a good one. No one wants to be a part of a loveless marriage. The best thing we can do for our kids is model love. 1 Corinthians 13 describes what love looks like, and in Ephesians 5:25 Paul commands husbands in particular to love their wives just as Christ loved the church.
TWO: Develop spiritual practices for the family that shape faith. A number of people (Scott, Libby, Chad, Peter, Lauren, Rene, Dawn, Sossy) talked about family devotions, praying together, reading the Bible together, and talking about the hard issues of faith and life in intelligent ways (teaching and explaining belief). In today’s post-Christian world, the importance of mom and dad creating a spiritual marriage, home, and family matters more than ever. Parents need to model obedience and trust in God.
THREE: Every family is unique. Find what works for your family. Mark mentioned this and he is right. There are multiple pathways for how a husband and wife navigate marriage and home. For some families, one primary wage earner and one primary home-maker works well. For some families, shared work outside and inside the home works well.
The exact form your marriage and roles in marriage take is less important than developing the qualities of love, commitment, trust, and fidelity. Get these qualities in shape, and the form/structure of your marriage will work out. But without these qualities, no form of marriage will likely endure.
And love as commitment is profoundly needed in marriages so we can experience the full range of love as emotion we all desire.
FOUR: Practice forgiveness constantly. This was the most common (too many names to mention) best piece of advice given–both for marriage and for parenting. I’ll cover it more fully when I talk about parenting, but for now I’ll say this. As the message on marriage communicated, marriage is for the purpose of becoming holy. It is a process that knows we are not there yet. We all have rough edges. We will hurt one another. And when we do, forgiveness is the most important thing.
For me, I personally think that of all people, followers of Jesus who know how much they have been forgiven are positioned to offer that same forgiveness to others–77 times or even 77 x 7 times. That math doesn’t make any sense until you add in the CROSS of CHRIST.
FIVE: Don’t go to bed angry. And this was a specific piece of advice right out of the Bible (Ephesians 4:26) and applied to marriage. Don and Em both encouraged this, and Logan had a practical observation: Just don’t stay up too late arguing! The best way to get to bed on time is to practice forgiveness as the way to drain the angry conversation.
SIX: Do things you don’t want to do, but that need to be done anyway. Lisa shared this lesson on sacrifice. Every good relationship, but in particular marriage, requires sacrifice. There are all kinds of things I don’t want to do, and about which I will drag my feet and put off as long as possible. That doesn’t help anyone and it doesn’t make for a good marriage. Do what needs to be done and do it to the best of your ability, even if you don’t feel like it. It is called responsibility. It is called love.
What is one more best piece of advice you would add about marriage?
Pastor Brian Rice