Practices, Reflections

Rick Warren on Marriage

Six characteristics of a satisfying marriage by Rick Warren

When
my wife, Kay, was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, the doctors
hospitalized her about halfway through her 12-week chemo regimen
because of her serious reaction to the therapy. The effects of the
chemo plunged her into the misery of extreme nausea. Kay was wiped out,
and I was keeping visitors away so she could get some sleep.

I sat there, quietly thanking God for my wife and for his amazing
invention of marriage. With all its ups and downs, I'm certain marriage
is God's primary tool for teaching us unselfishness, sensitivity,
sacrifice, and mature love. As I looked at my wife, I saw that life is
a precious miracle, and that I’m privileged to care for her in sickness
and in health.

Reflecting on what makes a satisfying marriage, I keep returning to
six characteristics that we as pastors need to hold up as a standard to
our people — and practice in our own marriages:

Communication  This is a skill you must learn through practice, but the bottom line is you’ve got to talk to each other. I read once in Newsweek that the average couple only spends four minutes a day talking to each other.

Consideration – The Bible teaches that we should
show our love by being helpful to each other. Being considerate simply
means paying attention to what your spouse says, showing common
courtesy, and treating each other with respect.

Compromise – We’re taught in the Bible that “love does not demand its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5, LB).
The unloving thing to do is try to change your mate; instead you should
yield your rights and learn the art of negotiation and compromise. I’ve
seen more marriages die from inflexibility than I’ve ever seen from
adultery, alcoholism, or abuse.

Courtship – If there was more courting in marriage,
there’d be fewer marriages in court.  You need to date your mate,
making your relationship a priority — specifically developing things
you like to do together. 

Commitment – I find it interesting that the media
has finally discovered the value of commitment. Some headlines I’ve
seen lately include: “Measuring our quality of life — happily
married;” “Strong commitment brings satisfaction;” “Commitment — the
key to marriage.” There were many times in the first few years of our
marriage when Kay or I might have bailed out, but we’d locked the
escape hatch, agreeing that divorce was not an option. This forced us
to change, to become flexible, to learn compromise, and to grow out of
our selfishness.

Christ – Jesus gives you the power and the desire
to develop the other five characteristics. He gives you love when you
run out of love. The greatest thing you can do for your spouse is to
become like Christ and then begin to treat your spouse like Christ
would. Marriage and Divorce magazine discovered that one out
of every three marriages ends in divorce, but when the couple is
married in a church ceremony, and they attend church regularly, and
they pray and read the Bible together, then the chances for divorce
drop to one out of 1,105.

When both of you love Christ even more than you love each other,
then you’ll automatically grow together: Christ is not going to fight
with Christ. 

As a word of testimony, nothing has challenged me so much as the
challenge to build my marriage; yet nothing else in my life has been so
rewarding. It is well worth the effort.

From Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox #192, March 2, 2005, © Copyright 2005 Pastors.com