Reflections and Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage (Part 2)

June 9th, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · Marriage, Relationships

This is the continuation from yesterday’s Reflections & Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage.  These are some more survival principles learned from the wilderness of marriage.   Remember I am a man so it is written from a husband’s perspective.

3. Quit assuming and ask.  Stop making assumptions.  Be careful about what you assume.  Men and women communicate differently.  Don’t assume that what you heard them say, they actually meant.  Don’t assume your partner knows what you said or intend.  “Speak the truth in love.”  (Ephesians 4:15)

Debrief.  Go over what you thought you heard, what you thought they heard you say, what you perceive as what happened and what went wrong.  Perception is 90% reality, and it is often wrong.  A great book on the nuances of male/female communication that really helped me with this is “You Just Don’t Understand:  Men and Women in Conversation”  by Deborah Tannen.  If you read it your spouse will thank you.

Don’t assume your love language is their love language.  Ask them.  Don’t assume that they like what you like.  Ask them.  If you are going to bless them ask them what would be a blessing.  If you are going to do something together, ask them what their idea of fun is.  If you are going to buy something, ask them what they think.  (Check out Gary Chapman’s insightful book “The 5 Love Languages.”)

Don’t assume your opinion is the most important one. Don’t assume you can speak for them.  Quit assuming and ask them.

4.  Be willing to adjust.  The Bible tells couples to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)   That means being willing to yield a strongly held opinion or behavior in deference to the wishes of the one we love.  As the verse says, the power to do that comes from our reverence for the Lord and trust in Him. 

When we have submissive hearts He will always see to our best interests.  But remember, the flip side of the submission coin is that we can never demand submission from another.  Submission is an attitude of respect that can only come from a free will.

Be the first to be willing to change.  Covenant love says “I am willing to change for you.”  Adjust to one another the way Ruth pledged in covenant to adjust to her mother-in-law Naomi.  “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people.”  (Ruth 1:16)

If  you are doing something that is irritating them – quit it!  If it’s sin by all means quit it.  If it is self-serving, something you really shouldn’t be doing, quit it.  If its something that is just a preference with you or a habit, at least try to quit it!  You just might win some points for trying.

Die to self!  Love is self-sacrificial.  Jesus’ love, from the Greek word agape, literally calls us to die to self.  We must die to what we want, what we think is right, what we insist upon.  The mature in Christ know how to die to their opinions and perceptions.

Compromise! – Marriage is a partnership.  What are you willing to do in exchange for what they are willing to do, to bring peace?  Paul tells us “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18)  For God’s sake, quit being so stubborn and be the first to yield.  Real joy in marriage is found in making adjustments for one another.

To be continued.  More on lessons from the wilderness of marriage tomorrow.

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2 Responses to “Reflections and Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage (Part 2)”

  1. These are great! Keep sharing! Dave and I almost have 9 years of marriage together–we appreciate the 31 years of experience and wisdom you have on us! 🙂

  2. Thanks Sarah. Sad to say, at least for me, experience is the best teacher.

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