Tools For Marriage

TOOLS FOR MARRIAGE Father James Chelich 1990 The Word of God… “Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.” 1 Corinthians 13 This is perhaps the most frequently chosen passage of Scripture at weddings. Rightfully so. It expresses a beautiful sentiment. But there is a way of employing this passage so as to open it up to its deeper meaning and the profound invitation contained within it. Read the passage aloud but every time you come across the word “love”, replace it with your name. Both of you do it — first one, then the other — using your own name in place of the word, “love”: “N_____ is patient; N_____ is kind. N_____ is not jealous, N_____ does not put on airs, N_____ is not snobbish. N_____ is never rude, N_____ is not self- seeking, N_____ is not prone to anger; neither does N_____ brood over injuries. N_____ does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to N_____’s forbearance, to N_____’s trust, N_____’s hope, N_____’s power to endure.” Now if you have done this little exercise at all carefully and thoughtfully, you may find yourself feeling a little embarrassed. Your name doesn’t seem to fit comfortably, does it? Take note but don’t fret, none of our names do. We all fall short of what is wanting in love. We all fall very short of what is needed in a marriage. The outlook for the future of your relationship and marriage would be pretty dismal if we left the passage at this point. But we won’t. I want you to read the passage once more, but this time replace the word “love’ with the name “Jesus”: “Jesus is patient; Jesus is kind. Jesus is not jealous, Jesus does not put on airs, Jesus is not snobbish. Jesus is never rude, Jesus is not self-seeking, Jesus is not prone to anger; neither does Jesus brood over injuries. Jesus does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to Jesus’ forbearance, to Jesus’ trust, Jesus’s hope, Jesus’s power to endure.” I hope you will agree that his name fits well. I also hope you see my point. Without this kind of love your relationship and your marriage will never endure. At best it has a 50/50 chance of survival. Neither you nor your intended spouse possess the kind of love needed in the measure required. Be humble enough to admit it. Jesus, however, does. If your relationship and your marriage are to have a future, Jesus must be brought into your relationship in a living, personal way. He must become a full partner in everything your marriage is about. …and a Couple of Crosses I give you these two little crosses to use on a day I pray never comes. But the day may come when you find yourselves driven or drifting apart. You will be able to feel the distancing taking place inside you and between you. Perhaps it will be some little thing said or done. Perhaps it will be something unsaid or neglected. Perhaps it will be a major offense that takes place; or perhaps it will just be a lot of little things that have piled up on top of each other. Whatever it might be, should you find yourself at the point where either of you feel the distancing or experinece injury, go immediately and find your cross. Place it on your spouse’s pillow. Now, if you should come home one evening and go into the bedroom and see this little cross on your pillow, take pause. You may well want to be angry with your spouse for putting it there. But it is not your spouse’s image on this cross. It is the image of the crucified and now living Jesus — the living Jesus to whom you are vowed accountable in love and in marriage. It is Jesus who is summoning you. Take the cross from your pillow and place it in your pocket until bed time. Then sit with your spouse by your side on the edge of your bed and be silent a moment. Let the one who placed the cross on the pillow be the first to speak — but not to the other. Speak to Jesus. Speak aloud so that the other can hear, but address Jesus. Speak to him as if he were actually present. He is! Tell Jesus what you are feeling. Tell Jesus what has happened or what you perceive happening between you and your spouse. Don’t worry about the right words, just make sure you are talking to Jesus when you say them. If you do this, I guarantee that Jesus will give you the right words to express your feelings clearly — without rancor, without wounding or angering the one sitting next to you. When you have finished, be still. Now let the one who found the cross speak. But, again, not to your spouse. Speak aloud and directly to Jesus. Tell Jesus what you are feeling about what you just heard your spouse telling him. Then tell Jesus the full content of what is in your own heart. If you do this, I guarantee that Jesus will give you words that will faithfully express the burden of your heart — words that will not further wound or distance you from your spouse. When you have finished, pause. Now turn to each other and begin to talk with each other. Be mindful that Jesus is still present. It is Jesus who will give you ears to hear each other, eyes to see each other in a new light and a heart to perceive what has led you away from one another and the way back to each other. If you do all this, I guarantee that you will go to bed that night more in love with one another than ever before. Jesus gives you a Choice not a Chance As I showed you above, you can read the Word of God sentimentally or your can read it in such a way as to allow it to penetrate you to the very core, to bring you face to face with the truth, to invite you to accept Jesus himself as a living partner and source of the love needed for the future of your marriage. I hope I have also shown you that your marriage need not be a 50/50, “maybe it will work and maybe it won’t”, stab in the dark. Your relationship need not fall victim to the moods of the human heart, the wounding circumstances of life or the human inadequacies that we all carry. Jesus is more than ready and more than willing to be a very real and effective partner in your marriage. But you have to decide. You can’t have it both ways. Jesus as a sentiment can offer your marriage nothing substantial. Jesus as a living partner can make all the difference in the world. “A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become as one.” Genesis 2:24 “Thus they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore let no one seperate what God has joined.” Matthew 19:6