As someone who is passionate about the intersection of faith and family, I am always looking for ways my spiritual life can teach me truths about my marriage.
We will soon be celebrating Easter. Many of us will be gathering with family and friends to remember Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, and the good news of Sunday morning. Leading up to that day, though, I'd like to reexamine the lessons. There is always something new to learn about Easter, especially when it comes to love. I see several practical marriage lessons in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
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1. Give until it costs you something. In the cruel crucifixion of Jesus we see the ultimate expression of sacrificial love. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13, NIV). The Generous Man: How Helping Others is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do
Giving selflessly to your husband or wife is one of the best ways I know to keep your marriage strong. The University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, in their "The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2011" report, says of generosity in marriage, "Married fathers and mothers who make a regular practice of being generous to one another enjoy markedly higher levels of marital quality and stability." The study found that above average daily generosity resulted in couples being 32 percent more likely to report being very happily married.
It's not all that likely that any of us will be called on to actually give our lives for our spouse, but when was the last time you gave of yourself in a way that it really cost you something? Asked a different way, how often do you react negatively when you are called on to sacrifice your time, energy, emotions or finances for the sake of your spouse? If you can't recall a time, then it's time to change your attitude. 5 Ways To Be Generous with Your Spouse
Generosity is great, but generosity that requires sacrifice is an even greater act of love.
2. Relationships matters more than rules and rights. What was the reason for the cross? Salvation? Forgiveness? Peace? I can make a pretty strong case that it was for intimacy. The Bible makes it pretty clear that Jesus came in order to have us as his bride for all eternity. He not only made a way for us to have intimacy with God forever, but also made it so we can be close to God right now while we walk the Earth. Jesus came not for what we could do for him, but so that we could be with him. 7 Stages of Marriage: Laughter, Intimacy and Passion Today, Tomorrow, Forever
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In Jesus, we see a life of radical love. He turned a lot of the "laws of religion" upside down and inside out. Time and time again, we see how he placed a higher value on people and relationships than on the legalistic rules of the day.
We all have lot of unwritten rules in our marriages. You could call them expectations, pre-conditions or traditions. And there's nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves. The problem comes when we put them ahead of our actual relationship. Sometimes, for the sake of your marriage, you have to set these things aside. Just like Jesus did, I encourage you to put your relationship ahead of your rules.