Marriage is not simply being in love or deciding to live together; it is a covenant you make with God. When the honeymoon is over, everyone discovers marriage is not at all what he or she thought. One deception that causes many marriages to fail is the deluded idea called "falling in love." This comes from novels, movies, etc. Marriage is not "falling in love"; it is a commitment to grow in love. A happy marriage is not something you fall into; it is something you must work on daily. It is not easy. That's why you stand before God, family, and friends, and promise to remain faithful, true, and committed to your spouse as long as you both shall live.
When you were dating, and even now in your marriage, this idea of "falling in love" makes you think something critical is missing from your relationship if there is not some kind of romantic ecstasy. In addition, you begin to feel there must be someone out there somewhere who can produce that romantic experience called "falling in love." This is a dangerous delusion because if you can fall in love, you can fall out of love.
Even loving someone with all your heart is not enough for a maximum marriage. In the Bible, the heart refers to the seat, or core, of your emotions. What does Jeremiah 17:9a reveal about your heart?
Your heart or feelings are very deceitful because they change, but the love that maximizes a marriage doesn't because it is a commitment you make. The truth is, even if you were not madly in love when you first got married, that's OK. You start where you are and grow in love, not "fall" in love. Love is not a feeling or emotion you fall into. Love is a commitment you make to another person. How does 1 Corinthians 13:7 describe love?
Love is not an emotion or feeling because emotions and feelings change. Love is being committed to a person even when that person isn't very lovable, and the emotions or feelings are long gone. Love always perseveres; it always hopes and never gives up.
It is very important for married couples to know the difference between love and romance. Most people are surprised when they look up the word "romance" in the dictionary. The dictionary defines "romance" as "a fictitious tale of wonderful and extraordinary events, characterized by a nonrealistic and idealizing use of the imagination." Another definition is "an exaggeration or fabrication that has no real substance." Romance is what most TV shows or movies mistakenly or deceitfully portray as love. Romance is nothing more than infatuation.
Marriage is based on love, not romance. Love is not an infatuation that goes away; it is a lifetime commitment you make to another person. Marriage is also a deal you make with another person and with God. It is often a very difficult deal to keep, and at some point, most couples would like to break it.
Many times a husband or wife feels like Abraham did. God promised Abraham a son through whom all nations of the world would be blessed. However, at age 90, Abraham thought God couldn't deliver on the deal, so he asked God to give him an heir through his good friend Eliezer (E-lee-A-zer) instead. Abraham had been waiting for years. He was discouraged and tired because he thought he had no choice but to call off the deal. When Abraham told God he was ready to give up, God took him outside and told him what in Genesis 15:5?
In other words, God told Abraham, "The deal is still on." Many times a marriage relationship gets into a similar situation. Marriage can be very discouraging, difficult, and even seem hopeless. You think, "God, this isn't going to work. You will have to give me happiness and fulfillment through someone else." Then, you feel like you have no choice but to call off the deal.
However, regardless of how you feel or the circumstances in your marriage right now, the marriage deal you made with your spouse, when you stood before God at the altar, is still on. The miracle-working God who gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, when they were well past childbearing age is the same miracle-working God who will help you take your marriage, regardless of its problems, to the maximum.
To maximize your marriage, the first thing you need, regardless of the hurts or failures, is to understand "the deal is still on." So, maybe you just need to say to your spouse right now, "The deal is still on." Maximizing your marriage requires acknowledging your marriage deal is still on.
Having a maximum marriage requires we keep God in on the deal. There is no problem in your marriage that you and your spouse cannot work out, if you let God in on the deal. The way you do that is through prayer. In Matthew 21:22, what did Jesus tell us about the power of prayer?
That is a promise from the lips of Jesus Christ. But all Bible promises are based on two premises. The first premise is this: before you can claim any promise in the Bible, you must be living as best you can in obedience to the Bible, God's Holy Word.
Second, you must pray according to God's will. How does the Bible affirm this fact in 1 John 5:14?
This means when you pray for your marriage, you must pray in God's will. And, God's will is that you have a happy, fulfilling marriage, where both your needs and your spouse's needs are met. His way is always reconciliation and not giving up.
God wants to help you maximize your marriage. With God's help, a good marriage can be made better, and a problem or hopeless marriage can be transformed in a loving, fulfilling relationship. According to Jesus in Mark 10:27b, why is this possible?
The miracle-working God who gave Abraham a son when he and Sarah were well past childbearing age and who raised Jesus from the dead can perform miracles in your marriage. However, for Him to do this, you must understand the deal you made with God in your wedding vows is still on. From this day forward, make God the third Partner in your marriage, and you will begin to see Him work miracles in your marriage.
This deal can be summed up in one word: commitment—the most important tool in maximizing marriage. For Christians, divorce is not an option. How does Jesus make this clear in Matthew 19:5-6?
The word translated united (KOLLAO, cleave in the KJV) means to join or mix. It referred primarily to metals that were melted and mixed to form alloys such as bronze, a mixture of copper and tin. Once blended, the metals cannot be separated.
Jesus uses this word to describe marriage because the Evil One will use the inevitable difficulties and problems in your marriage to separate you from your mate. He will do everything he can to divide what God intended to be permanently joined together. If you are already divorced and remarried, whoever you are married to right now is God's will for you.
Marriage is not a romantic fairy tale; it is commitment that lasts a lifetime. Making a marriage work is tough. That's why we stand before God and promise, "TIL DEATH DO US PART." As marriage partners, you need to agree that divorce is not an option. Then and only then will you be compelled to work hard at maximizing your marriage.
The deal you made on your wedding day is still on, and it can be summed up in one word—commitment. Commitment is the most important tool for maximizing your marriage. But this is not enough. There are three other tools we will discuss.