Increase the Good, Decrease the Bad

As we approach Valentine’s Day, it’s always appropriate to consider our relationship with our spouses. Jill and I will be celebrating our 35th anniversary this year. Our married life together hasn’t always mirrored a Hallmark romance movie; in fact there isn’t a married couple anywhere who has significant time together who wouldn’t agree with me. Married life can be challenging, frustrating, and discouraging.

But after nearly 35 years of married life, both Jill and I would agree, without a doubt, that we are tremendously blessed and grateful to be married to each other. The joy and happiness we experience together far outweighs the negative times we have also experienced.

Marriage in many ways is a tangible, real-life picture of our faith journey. As we walk in relationship with Jesus, sometimes the joy and satisfaction are incredible and powerful. Other times our faith walk is more like a walk of obedience. We obey because it is the right thing to do; not necessarily because we feel like it. In Ephesians 5 Paul talks about this in detail. However – before he digs into the meat of what that means, he makes a statement that we often overlook. Ephesians 5:21 says,

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Submit to one another. Submit. Another word might be surrender.
Out of reverence for Christ. Reverence. Another word might be worship.

(Alan’s translation):
“Surrender to each other as a practical way to worship Jesus.”

When we make a conscious choice to surrender to our spouse and honor him/her above our own self, we are – in a very practical way – “doing” at least 2 of Clear Creek’s rhythm statements: surrender and worship. As we submit and surrender to each other, we are in fact worshipping Jesus. This can be demonstrated in 1000+ different ways in our relationship together. When we choose to surrender to each other – as an act of worship – disputes, conflicts, and arguments will shrink down to their proper place.

One of the couples I used to work with said their goal was “…to increase the good, and decrease the bad…” in their relationship. I’ve always thought that was very simple and yet very profound. If we truly desire to make our relationship with each other the best it can be, that must be the goal, not necessarily winning the current argument.

By the way – “increasing the good and decreasing the bad” – is what God wants for our marriages as well!

This year, at Valentine’s Day, instead of buying diamonds (very expensive!) or chocolates (very fattening!), try doing something else: as an act of worship, surrender to your spouse in an area that he/she wants, needs or is passionate about. I can just about guarantee that this will increase the good feelings and decrease the bad feelings you both share.

Written by Alan Wheatley

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