Five Ways Your Marriage Can Change the World

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Genesis 12:3b …in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

(God to Abraham)  ESV

Many years ago our family participated in a Pro-life rally and march in downtown Charlotte. Our ten year-old daughter, boldly marching with her sign, suddenly found a microphone from the local TV station thrust in front of her face.

“What are you doing here today?”

Without hesitation, our Johnny on the Spot leaned into the mic and said, “I’m changing the world!” Later, while watching this micro-interview on the 6:00 news, I thought her answer a little over the top. My jaded attitude said, Isn’t it a bit arrogant to think my actions matter that much?

In the years since, I’ve tried to hear my daughter’s statement through her young mind. The world needs help. The world needs changing. So if not to change the world, why go up against anything big?

My daughter’s comment on TV got me thinking…

What about marriage? When God said Abraham and Sarah would change the world, did He mean just through their offspring, Isaac? If so, why did He make them wait until they were almost one hundred years old to produce that child? I believe one possible reason for the epic wait was that something big would happen along the way to Isaac.

Their marriage.

The Abraham/Sarah marriage included decades of trusting and not trusting God, of disappointing each other, of misunderstandings and near-death decisions. Bless the world? God emphasized His statement again in I Peter 3:6. Sarah serves as the model for us wives.

“…And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

But she had issues! Yes. Most of our biblical heroes stumbled big. As with their lapses in judgement and obedience, God still uses cracked pots to hold and distribute his message. That includes us. Sarah called her husband Lord because in the Eastern nations this title served as a model for proper respect. We wouldn’t call our husband Lord, but the respect without fear part sure challenges me! Respect without fear is no small order. It will take a lifetime to learn what that kind of respect, the world changing kind, looks like.

Your marriage, too, though imperfect, is meant to change the world. Here are five ways.

1. A good, working marriage increases the productivity and creativity of each partner. Couples who resolve conflict, avoid resentment and misunderstanding, cause energy to flow into the workplace. When times of crises and desert come, both at work and in the home, the habits of kindness and forgiveness help get them through. These relational habits spill out at work, along with new ideas and fresh ways to solve problems. The world does change when energy flows from loving relationships.

2. A good, working marriage marriage makes a peaceful home. Children thrive at school and play when Mom and Dad like each other as well as love each other. They feel secure when they see their parents apologize, hug, and kiss. This sense of well-being and security changes the atmosphere wherever those happy people are. All the other kids want to be at that house. Peace, fun, and contentment change the world.

3. A good, working marriage gets noticed out in public. Everyone loves to see couples who make eye contact and laugh together. Onlookers smile. We get the message. We wish we had that- and we think we know what “that” is. Parks, tour buses, hiking trails, museums, resort lobbies, and restaurants attract more users, at the very least, and may even be transformed, when loving couples fill the spaces with their enjoyment.

4. A good, working marriage reproduces itself. True, children from happy homes sometimes divorce. Marriage is complicated at best, miserable at worst. However, many studies show that homes where kindness and passion live produce children more likely to stay married, just by their good modeling. Don’t we all pick up relational habits from the home in which we grew up? Commitment and love are caught as much as taught.

5. A good, working marriage spreads the Gospel. God designed marriage to be a reflection of His great love. He’s the One Who drew the blueprint and planned to change the world through our marriages. Since the gospel is the greatest love story ever told, we spread it knowingly or not, as we love each other in the most intimate of relationships.

Our marriage is meant to change the world. Doesn’t knowing that put all its difficulties in a different light?  For, although it can be the most hurtful, the most demanding, and the most complicated of relationships, something really, really big must be in all the hard work.

Talking ‘Bout “My Girl”

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.

When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May…

My girl, (my girl), talkin’ ‘bout my girl…”  -The Temptations

Such a simple thing. Hubby comes into the kitchen, brushes past me, and without eye contact or emotion says,  “You are one hard-working girl.” Not a hard-working lady. Or hard-working woman. Or even hard-working chick.

Before our marriage, during his career as a professional musician, my husband played that song hundreds of times- often several times in a night. The crowds loved “My Girl” then and the world loves it still. But, why did it pop into my head today as if for the first time? I realized that in thirty-nine years, (That’s how long we’ve been married.) he’s never referred to me gender-wise with any other term. Of course, I’m also those genderless names of Honey, Sweetheart, and Love. But mostly, I am “his girl.”

He would even tell the kids, “Don’t you cross my girl. She’s your mother and my wife.”

As I thought about his consistent use of the tag, I wondered if it’s made a difference over the years. What if he’d used just the other terms of endearment? Or called me by my name or “The Mrs.” These questions brought up a distant memory from VBS teaching days (my mid-forties) when a misbehaving six year-old referred to me as “you old lady.” I immediately burst out laughing, it sounded so crazy. Seems I have been affected by my husband’s pet word, for a long time. But how?

Self-Esteem

Since reality says I’m way past girlhood, being called Girl has affected my self-esteem. I don’t mean self-worth. I find my worth in God’s view of me. But when women pass the girl stage of life, they may tend to feel “past their prime.” The term “Girl” evokes a sense of freshness, radiance, and warmth. When he calls me that, I feel all those things, even if only for a moment.

Attraction

“My Girl” speaks of security and belonging. His “Come here, Girl,” sounds more alluring than “Come here, Woman,” or Lady or Chick. Now I admit there are times when the latter references might “stir things up” a bit quicker. But normally, when he draws me into his arms with this playful name, I want to move toward him. I think it’s because I sense he wants me for me. Not for what I have to give him.

Sense of Aging

As hard as it is to admit, I feel more like a girl because that’s exactly how he sees me. Always has. Here I am in my sixties, but besides having (a bit) less agility, the mirror is the sole conspirator against my sense of “girlness.” Denial? Self-trickery? Maybe.

However, doesn’t love see everything in its best light?

If your husband hasn’t used this reference to you lately, and you haven’t thought of yourself this way, here’s my advice to you:

         Keep the attitude of being your husband’s girlfriend. You are your husband’s lover, wife, and business associate, all in one package. Concentrate more on the girlfriend part, and tell him you love being his girl. Call yourself a girl when referring to yourself. “I am one tired girl!” “This girl really likes you, Mr. Hunk!” You get the idea. Don’t call yourself Old Girl, though. That’s an automatic penalty.

         Finally, think of your grown daughters as your forever girls. My oldest daughter just turned thirty-seven, and she is still my girl. I will always be her mother, and she’s the mother of her own brood. We belong to a sisterhood of girls- for life!

Autumn Marriage- Natural vs. Purposeful

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Sitting at the kitchen table with my husband and a rotisserie chicken sandwich,  I shared my latest attempt at poetry. Not bad, he said. Over-the-moon I didn’t expect by any means – poetry is another language, after all… But then he surprised me by adding some sage comments. If I could just record this… But wanting to quote him is nothing new – he’s insightful, verbal, and wise. Dozens of conversations with him roll around in my head, and many surround this topic of aging. I really should start to record.

So, here’s the jist of what he said today.

We “over-55ers,” at some point go into a transition. The sex drive which used to draw us together was a natural thing. (“Doin’ a What Comes Naturally…” popped into my head… I squelched the urge to burst into song.)

But the natural fades. And if we decide to wait for the old drive to come back, thinking this must be a quirky stage we’re going through, we will likely be waiting a long time. Disappointed.

So the natural must become purposeful.

Then he mentioned those expensive little pills men use. Couples who say they don’t work have to remember: They supply blood where needed only upon arousal. So a man’s brain, having been jump-started on purpose, makes the pills work.

All this goes to show that “natural” is gone. Forever. But only in the area of sex! It seems that what comes naturally now is a myriad of routines. Hubby observed that our ruts grow deeper with age. So once out of the habit of making love more or less regularly, getting back into it must be purposeful – even disciplined.

Does this mean if we don’t quit making love, the desire won’t quit either? The answer would seem to be yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Love requires bending from routines or making different ones. It means getting out and having fun. (We just put four, yes, 4 days of all-day free fun on our calendar!) Yet bending is the very thing age, time, and difficulties attempt to take away. Emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and physically!

We have to resist the temptation to relax into autumn marriage like a pair of old, comfortable boots. We have to get out there and dance in them, risking uncomfortable blisters!

Or find a country lane to bike or stroll.

Do something purposeful.

Isn’t this the challenge of love in autumn?

Okay, I did add that last part about the boots. But the rest he did say. Yet if it weren’t for the twinkle in his eye, I might have thought he just liked the chicken sandwich.

Here’s the poem. It can be from you to him or him to you. Let me know in the comments what you think.

If You Love Me, Make Love to Me

 

Committed and faithful, that’s us, Babe.

You love me, I clearly see.

Yet something has faded between us.

If you love me, make love to me.

 

The passion we shared all those years ago…

Is it lost in mundane daily debris?

Why on opposite sides of the bed now?

If you love me, make love to me.

 

Distance no longer means safety.

Lovers hurt and disagree.

Do you still choose to choose US?

If you love me, make love to me.

 

What? Embrace the work of staying connected?

Of talking and talking ‘til almost three?

But look at the compensation, Babe!

If you love me, make love to me.

 

Would you meet me in the middle?

You know, we’re worth it, you and me.

Your warm touch is my treasure, Babe.

If you love me, make love to me.

by Joan Reid