Monday, November 17, 2008

What it Means to Stand for Your Marriage

Welcome to At the Well, where we gather each Monday to talk about our role as wives, mothers, etc., as we are in pursuit of living a life pleasing to the Lord as women. Chelsey is hosting this week at Joyfully Living for His Glory.

The topic she's chosen this week is a good one.

What does it mean to you to take a stand for your marriage?

Taking a stand for my marriage means to always support my husband, to never bad-mouth him to others, and to always be willing to remain committed to our marriage. Divorce is a word that is no longer in our vocabulary. As I said in an earlier post, there was a time in our marriage where we hit a rocky spot. More than one, to be exact. I bailed twice on him. Both times both sets of our parents told us we were better off apart. Neither set encouraged us to fight for our marriage. Fortunately, God restored our marriage. We had issues, yes, but not worth divorcing over. We learned how to communicate properly, how to love each other, what our roles were as husband and wife and daughter, and we remarried. I also learned not to say a bad word about my husband to others, especially those who loved me. After all, they only heard one side of the story, and in their own protective and loving way, it caused problems. Fortunately, God restored that, too.

I say we have been married for 17 years. Our first wedding was in May of 1991. We legally divorced in late 2002 and remarried May of 2003. We don't count that second marriage. We don't count the divorce. We only count the first time we married. Committment was obviously not part of taking a stand for our marriage in the early years. I could blame it on lack of example, but I won't. We were divided, we were spiritually immature (not that we have "arrived", but we are growing closer to Christ each day), and our parents, both sets, are happy that we've worked things out. "But God!" He seeks to unite, not divide.

When Steve and I were married in May of 1991, we recited a passage that Ruth said to Naomi in the Book of Ruth.

"Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." ~ Ruth 1:16-17 (NKJV)

When I remembered that, I was reminded that the unity expressed to Naomi from Ruth was what I had expressed to Steve.

I believe that unity is a vital key in taking a stand for your marriage. Fight tooth and nail for it, my friend. Don't give up easily. Seek counseling if you must. But first of all, seek God. We didn't. Learn from my mistakes.

Discussion Questions

What does commitment in marriage mean?

"To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife." 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NIV)

This verse sums it up pretty well for me. The Greek word for separate in verse 10 is chōrizō, which means:

1) to separate, divide, part, put asunder, to separate one's self from, to depart
a) to leave a husband or wife
1) of divorce
b) to depart, go away

While there are a few valid reasons we may chooose to separate from or divorce our husbands; adultery, abuse, danger, to name a few, in a good marriage, we are commanded by God to stay in it. We don't bail out on the small issues. Some issues might not seem so small at the time. Please understand that I do not judge people who are on second, third or fifth marriages. If you've been a product of divorce and are remarried, I do encourage you to make a committment to stay in the marriage God has placed you in now. Love your husband with all your heart and purpose not to let divorce be a part of your vocabulary. If you feel you must divorce your husband, talk to your pastor or a counselor first. Obviously, we can learn from the mistakes of our past and commit to take a stand for the marriage we are in now. Sometimes we do need outside help for circumstances that arise in our marriage. Based on my experience, I believe that outside help probably needs to come from a pastor or a counselor, not a loved one.

What kind of wife are we called to be to our husbands?

I'm going to share a few verses with you that I think are indicative of what we are called to be as wives. I'm going to bold some of my favorite qualities.

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." ~ Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)

"In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything." ~ 1 Timothy 3:11 (NIV)

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." ~ Colossians 3:18 (NIV)

For those of us unequally yoked, whether we are married to a non-believer or to a believing spouse who has drifted in his walk with Christ, I'd like to add this verse.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives," ~ 1 Peter 3:1 (NIV)

Here are some hopes and dreams that perhaps Bathsheba had for her son Solomon's future wife...

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." ~ Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV)

What are ways that we can Biblically stand for our marriage?

S -Seek God's best by praying for our marriages faithfully, during good times as well as the bad. "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

T - Talk positively about our husbands and our marriage to others. Never slander him. "In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything." ~ 1 Timothy 3:11 (NIV)

A - Admit when we are wrong and confess it to our husbands and to God. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." ~ James 5:16 (NIV)

N - Never neglect our husbands, um, intimately. /blush/ "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 (NIV)

D - Decide that divorce is not an option when hard times come. Seek God, seek counsel, but don't give up at the first sign of trouble. "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife." 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NIV)

Thanks for visiting with me At the Well this morning. I have a big day ahead of me, including visiting with a friend for her sister's funeral visitation and some meetings throughout the day, so I may be late in visiting with you, but I'll be around later.

In the meantime, step over to Chelsey's at Joyfully Living for His Glory and visit with some of the other ladies. I have a feeling there are going to be some great things shared this morning! Would you like to share your thoughts, too? Do a blog post and link up! I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Melanie said...

I love the thoughts you shared today on this important topic! Our world does jump to divorce so quickly. I know sometimes it is the only way and I never judge others on it, but I also know that many consider it the easy way out, too. And, that... I just don't get it. I want to STAND for my marriage, to fight for it!

Have a great Monday!

Betsy Markman said...

Great thoughts, Laurie Ann, and chock full of Scripture (just the way I like it!)

Thanks for your imput!

Dawn said...

What a great topic Laurie Ann! You are such a blessing to all!

LauraLee Shaw said...

Just knowing your background makes your teaching easy to believe and receive, Laurie Ann.

Love this:
N - Never neglect our husbands, um, intimately. /blush/

That's a biggie, and I'm glad you were brave enough to post it, pink-faced and all... ;)

He And Me + 3 said...

Awesome! Everyone can always work on their marriage.

Patty Wysong said...

I loved the acronym, LaurieAnn! Such very good points in there!

Denise said...

Praying blessings for you, and your marriage dear one. I love you.

Joyfull said...

What a powerful post! Thank you for your honesty and sharing the journey God took you and your husband on and the lessons learned. Thank you for the encouragement and practical suggestions to biblically stand for our marriages.

momstheword said...

Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly about your marriage. What a beautiful post. What a beautiful picture of how God can and does heal a marriage! Loved the STAND acronym too.

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

I loved what you said about not talking negatively about your hubby...I cringe when I hear women do that!

It is some important not to belittle them and to be their wife that speaks encouragement.

Beautiful post, my friend!

LAURIE said...

Laurie Ann,
Once again great insight and teaching. Because you have walked thru the fire and personally seen how God makes a difference in a marriage - you are a walking testmony! I loved your acrostic of STAND. May we all take a stand for our marriages! -Blessings, Laurie

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

One of the things I love most about God is that He can set the crooked things straight in our lives. He saved my marriage, too.

Susan said...

Hey Laurie Ann,

This was soooooooooooooo good! What a powerful testimony you have in your marriage.

Thanks for taking time to share awesome scriptures and thoughts on marriage.


Lisa said...

Laurie Ann, I am going to share this with some very dear people I know who are struggling. I have been praying very hard for their marriage and I feel God has not heard me even though I know He has. Please help me pray for them too. their names are Frances and Alma, they have been married over 50 years but i think Frances has some dementia, I think, unless he is just being a jerk. I haven't shared this request with too many people, I have even used their middle names to conceal their identity from friends, they are very dear to me and their separation will affect me greatly. They both love the Lord. I feel very strongly on asking you to pray because I have talked to the Lord and my faith is weak, and I have asked forgiveness for that. Hebrews 11:1 I keep saying.

JesusRulzMe said...

Oh beautiful and wonderful sister!

I LOVE how you and Steve don't "count" your divorce and remarriage...I don't think God does either as He "counted" you as one the first time you made covenant b/t the two of you with the Lord God! How cool is that?

I'm so excited to know how the Lord so graciously and kindly restored your marriage! He's so awesome in every way! I'm so broken-hearted for those who don't know it.

You're such an incredible source of God's joy and love to me!

I love you dearly!