One husband finds practical relationship lessons in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Standing up for your rights is part of the American fabric of life. But in marriage, if you want a deeper level of intimacy, sometimes you have to set your rights aside for the sake of your relationship. Sometimes you have to give up on being right and focus instead on doing right. 3 Tips For Reviving Relationship Intimacy
Do you have it in you to give grace when your husband makes a bone-headed mistake? Can you respond with calm kindness when your wife is blatantly disrespectful to you? It’s not easy. It’s against our self-protective and self-centered human nature. But the bottom line is that we have to want intimacy more than we want perfection.
3. There is hope and promise for tomorrow. Did you ever consider Easter Sunday from the perspective of the Saturday between the cross and the resurrection? The disciples had given up their lives to follow Jesus. It had cost them everything. Then, in the course of one week, they watch as Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday collapses into his arrest and crucifixion. Even though he had told them all this would happen, they still did not believe. And how hopeless the Saturday after Jesus' death must have been. 4 Common Relationship Communication Problems & How To Fix Them
Maybe that's not so different from a troubled marriage. When you marry, you chose to become one with your beloved, entering hopefully into the covenant of marriage. In a sense, it’s a life commitment not unlike the disciples had made. You are saying, "I'm all in. All I am is yours. I'm with you to the end."
Sooner or later, though, the early exuberance and tingly feelings run into real life. Times get hard. Jobs are lost. Parents and kids get sick. Seemingly insurmountable troubles and conflicts arise. Stuff happens to your marriage, and sometimes it feels hopeless. 5 Relationship Skills For Resolving Conflicts
The beauty of the cross is in the promise of Easter, where God shows His natures as a redeemer and restorer. If your marriage is in a time of stress and pain, put your hope in the one who sees past the immediate circumstances of your life and into a hopeful and wonderful future. It is very possible that God could use the current difficulty in your marriage to create something even more beautiful and enduring than you could ever imagine.
As you celebrate Easter with your family this year, take some time to reflect on the meaning for your marriage. Allow the wonderful and powerful spiritual truths of Easter breathe new life into your relationship, and your bond will be stronger for it.
What does Easter's message of supreme love mean to you?