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Practical Advice on Making a Marriage Stick, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
February 24, 2022 7:05 am

Practical Advice on Making a Marriage Stick, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Today, from Chuck Swindoll, practical help for your marriage.

Cynthia and I are learning together to cultivate complete honesty in our relationship. The believer is told to lay aside the old self. Now, in the same word used, he's told to lay aside falsehood. But it's not automatic. It's a command.

It's a directive. Laying aside falsehood, speak truth. Chuck Swindoll will agree that marriage is hard, but he'll do far more than simply validate our struggles. He's going to offer biblical wisdom on how to survive and even thrive when things get rough.

Chuck titled today's message, Practical Advice on Making a Marriage Stick. There's a wonderful passage of Scripture that says, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, with all wisdom, teaching, and admonishing one another in psalms, in hymns, in spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. In your worship folder, you'll find an outline for today's message, and it is based on Ephesians chapter 4, the last eight verses. If you will allow me, I'd like to read for you Ephesians 4, 25 through 31.

As we continue our series on the home and family in the 21st century today, we'll be thinking about practical advice on making a marriage stick. The principles are in Ephesians 4, 25 to 32 it is. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

He who steals must steal no longer, but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good so that he will have something to share with the one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. We do hail the power of Jesus' name, and if angels prostrate fall, surely the least we can do is bow as we stand in allegiance to our Savior and your Son, our Father. We exalt in His presence in this room. We exalt His name together. Our words of praise know no bounds as we attempt to shape words to fit the virtue of His life. Thank you for His precious countenance that covers us, for His power that protects us, for His leadership that guides us, for His grace that forgives us, for the loveliness of His appeal that draws us and warms us and breaks our hearts. Thank you, Father, for overseeing our lives with such vigilance, for caring about each detail, each heartbreak, each grief, each pang of pain, each fear that haunts us. We care so much, our Father, about this matter of marriage. Help us as we work toward that goal of living our lives like Christ in the presence of those who know us best. Forgive us, Father, for the wasted hours spent wrangling and arguing over non-essentials. Thank you for bringing us back to things that matter today. May your Word be lifted from print on the page, and may it turn from mere terms to truth to live by. Thank you for the privilege of our occupation, for the pleasure of earning a living by your calling and grace. This is not our treasure we share with you.

This is your treasure you so rightly deserve. We give not because you have a need, but because we have a need to know how to be more generous and grateful. So out of the abundance, our Father, we pour forth our hearts of praise as we again hail the power of Jesus' name. In His great name we give, and in that great name we pray. And all His people said, Amen. Well, you never know what to expect when you speak on the home and family and you begin on the subject of marriage.

People in the congregation are always creative and they bring a pastor different things to look at to consider, like the sign a lady brought me this week that reads, The most difficult years of marriage are those following the wedding. I thought I'd put that up right there. Be a little reminder for you.

No, I won't do that. It's like the fellow struggler who put it this way. I married looking for the ideal. I got the ordeal.

Now I want a new deal. Woman had been married for 70 years and decided it was time for a divorce. So the judge asked her, through all of these years, why?

She answered, Look, enough is enough. Some guys don't even get it ahead of time. I read this past week about a man who could not win the heart of this woman that he had fallen in love with. So he decided he would win her through the mail. So he began writing her a love letter every day, even sent her cards on the weekend. She still didn't respond, so he increased his output to three letters every 24 hours, along with the cards on the weekend.

Ultimately, he wrote more than 700 letters and more than 100 cards. And she married the postman. Some people have fun joking about marriage, but interestingly, Sir Winston Churchill never did. His love for Clementine was not only well known, it was talked about across the British Isles, all through the Second World War and even years beyond. After more than 55 years of marriage, a reporter interviewed Mr. Churchill and asked him the telling question, If you could live your life again, what would you want to be?

With a twinkle in his eye, he answered quickly, Mrs. Churchill's next husband. Isn't it amazing that some married couples experience such dismal, dark years together, so unfulfilling, so heartbreaking and argumentative and angry years. And others who live just a few doors away or around the corner or in another town or attend the same church would be able to say our marriage is solid and satisfying and it's sure. It just gets better as the years go by.

Why? Why is it some stick and some don't? I mean, we all laugh at the fact that the difficult years of marriage follow the wedding and I've never seen, never seen a marriage anywhere near ideal. I've never seen a marriage that didn't go through times of enormous hardship and crippling struggles, grievous pain. In fact, it seems, though it sounds strange, that the best marriages seem to be the product of that kind of challenging hardship. We looked at three couples all too briefly last time, Adam and Eve, and we saw that in 900 and more years of his life, there is never a recorded word that he and Eve split up. Even though the life changes they went through were harsh, the fall into sin, the being driven from the perfect environment of the garden, homeless and helpless to change their course of action. They have children and one boy kills his brother, of all things.

The troubles just seem to stack up and multiply. We learned from Adam and Eve that a marriage can survive the harshest of consequences. Then we skipped over a few hundred years and we interviewed a prophet named Hosea and a very unusual woman named Gomer, a prostitute, whom God told him to marry.

He did. After three children she went back to the streets and God told him again to go and buy her back and marry her so the nation Israel would know of God's love for the people who had turned to spiritual harlotry as they embraced idols instead of the one true God. The marriage was to be a model of God's love for his own people who prostituted their faith. We learned from Hosea and Gomer that a marriage can overcome the most extreme of challenges, just like the one you perhaps are going through right now. The harshest of consequences, the most extreme of challenges and then we looked at the mother of Jesus, Mary, and her husband Joseph.

What a strange set of circumstances. He marries this virgin who is telling him that she has conceived a child who is from God, in fact the Messiah. Joseph, believing God and trusting her, gives himself to a marriage and all of the stuff that must have accompanied the small town of Nazareth as their marriage blossomed and she gave birth to this virgin born child, teaching us that a marriage can endure the strangest of circumstances. I don't know what the consequences or the challenges or the circumstances are in your marriage, but I can tell you this and the basis of these examples in the scriptures, but surely it isn't worse than that, is it?

Surely the consequences and challenges and circumstances aren't that bad, aren't that extreme. And so it's with that in mind and that's sort of forming the foundation of these next few moments we have together that I'd like that to be a backdrop, a very realistic backdrop to these practical pieces of advice we pull out of Ephesians 4, 25 to 32. Let me push the pause button here and take off my preacher hat and put on my husband hat. Since I don't know another marriage better than I know my own, with your permission and forgiveness, I'm going to do a whole lot of personal unveiling of our life, our marriage, which has endured now more than our 50th in June of 2005. My desire in making us the example is not to make my wife squirm since she has no clue what I'm going to say, or at least she didn't before she attended the last service.

I want to clarify some things that are important for me to say. First of all, please do not think by my using us as an example that we have it all together. We do not. We have gone through many if not the same conflicts that you have gone through, the pressures, the struggles, the heartaches, the disappointments, the messes, the mistakes, the failures, the faults that you also have gone through. There's nothing in us that makes us anything special. It wasn't because we came from parents who had their lives all together. We came from loyal parents, faithful parents, but we did not come from perfect homes. In fact, one of the earliest conversations we had, as the Lord showed us, it wouldn't be long before our family would be started and it was going to be a responsibility to rear them God's way. We both decided we would not raise our children exactly as we were raised. We need to make some course corrections.

We need to make some decisions that will alter the direction from which we had come, though again, we loved our parents greatly. I'm not using us as an example because I've entered the gospel ministry. There is little in the ministry to strengthen a home. Aside from having to hear yourself preach regularly, there is really very little in a church to make a home stronger for the pastor.

So it's not about ministry that causes me to say this. It's not because we were given wise counsel. We had two faithful pastors, but not one word of counsel during our 18 month engagement.

Not a word. To the day they married us. And it isn't because we are kind of laid back and easy going. It isn't because we both have such soft and weak wills that we just sort of relaxed and pliable with each other. I'm using us as an example because I don't know of another couple I can be this candid about.

And I do so understanding that we're still in the process. This is not about what we have learned. It is about what we are learning in our years together.

So why is it we're still together? What are some of those tips that might be able to be applied in your marriage and in your home? Well, I find all five right here tucked away in the last few verses of Ephesians 4. There are no imperatives until you get to verse 25. And then from 25 to the end of the chapter, there are 11 of them. An imperative is a command.

It's telling us to do something based on several of these commands. I'd like to draw five principles that are all practical advice for keeping a marriage together, making it stick. The first one is in verse 25. Therefore, as he sums it up, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you, if you will allow me, with his married partner. For we are members of one another.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases the first part of verse 25. No more lies, no more pretense. Tell the truth. Cynthia and I are learning together to begin with to cultivate complete honesty in our relationship. We're learning to cultivate complete honesty.

Now, where do I get that? Well, you'll observe, just as in verse 22, the believer is told to lay aside the old self. Now, in the same word used, he's told to lay aside falsehood. Set it aside.

But it's not automatic. It's a command. It's a directive. Laying aside falsehood, speak truth. The Greek sentence reads, putting off the lie, speak truth. The lie is, in Greek, ta pseudos. P-S-E-U-D-O-S. We get, obviously, our word pseudo from it.

In Greek, you pronounce the P. In English, it's silent. Pseudo sounds to us like the word phony. A person is a pseudo-intellectual. They're not really an intellectual.

They're trying to make you think they're an intellectual. Pseudo is the term used, and it's rendered here lying or falsehood. John Calvin called lying a monstrosity. Another man writes, a lie is a stab into the very vitals of the body, a shaft from the kingdom of darkness.

And yet, we lie. Lying wears many faces, from mild to extreme forms of deception. Diplomatic hedging, stretching the facts, not telling the whole story. Staying silent when we should speak. Flattery, telling another what he or she wants to hear, rather than what he or she needs to hear.

Very common in marriages. Trying to look better with the other than we really are. Hiding our fears, our real feelings. Not telling the truth about our motives. Or if we're on the phone, about our whereabouts. We hedge, or we do until we stop the lying. I like the way John R.W.

Stott renders this. Fellowship is built on trust, and trust is built on truth. Change the word fellowship to marriage, it fits. Marriage is built on trust, and trust is built on truth. Now I've observed that most of us cultivate the habit of lying while we're dating.

We don't just suddenly start being liars once we say, I do. For example, you probably told your wife-to-be that you loved opera. So you went to these miserable performances time after time and just sat there, grinning like a possum eating briar, thinking, you know, this is just wonderful.

This is just great. You're trying to impress her that you really love opera. She's thinking, oh boy, I finally found a man that loves opera. Then you marry. You're not going to an opera. You know you're not going to go. Why did you say you would go before?

Because you lied. Now she does that with fishing. She's willing to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning and fix those miserable tuna fish sandwiches and get in that boat and go out on that lake, freezing her buns off, getting ready to catch little tiny fish saying, oh, this is so romantic, this is so fun.

Then you marry. She's not going fishing. Why did she tell you she liked fishing?

Because she wanted you to like her. Rather than, you know what, opera stinks. You know what, I am not interested at all in fishing. You can do that, but I'm not going to do it. That's how you keep from lying.

So what do you do? Instead, you talk truth to your partner. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Some of you have covered up for so long, you'd have a hard time finding the truth. Even though it's the truth that sets you free. No marriage is more in bondage than a marriage that is wrapped in lies. I wonder how many of you, if you were given just a simple four by six card, could fill out completely and exactly the truth regarding the major details of your partner. You may think you know, but you don't know unless your partner has made the determination to stop lying and tell the truth.

It's tough to do. Flattery, overstatements, exaggeration, these are substitutes for telling the truth. And honesty is one of the major virtues in a marriage that endures. You're listening to Insight for Living. We're midway through a message from Chuck Swindoll titled, Practical Advice on Making a Marriage Stick.

And there's much more teaching ahead, so please keep listening. And then to learn more about this ministry, be sure to visit us online at insightworld.org. And then let me remind you, we've been featuring an engaging daily devotional from Chuck. It's called Wisdom for the Way. In this inspirational book, Chuck provides 365 daily reflections. And we believe this wisdom from the Bible will help you discover balance, how to cultivate your most cherished relationships, and how to resist the temptations that can destroy a marriage and family. Ask for a copy of Wisdom for the Way.

The Deluxe Leather Soft Edition is available for purchase when you go to insight.org slash offer. Chuck's personal mission is to help you learn more about the Bible and its relevance to your life. It's all made possible, of course, because people just like you give voluntary donations. Through your gifts, you're receiving a constant source of Bible teaching for yourself and for countless others who've come to rely on Chuck as well. Our email inbox is filled with affirming notes.

Each one tells the story of God's faithfulness as men and women learn to trust in Him. Like the comment from Alberta, Canada that said, Chuck, thank you for displaying true grit during this pandemic. Your daily broadcasts have sustained us tremendously. People from all walks of life are benefiting from the gifts of those who support Insight for Living. To give a donation right now, call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. You can also give online today by visiting insight.org slash donate. Join us again when Chuck Swendoll explains how to make a marriage stick, Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Practical Advice on Making a Marriage Stick, was copyrighted in 2004 and 2006, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2006 by Charles R. Swendoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-31 19:55:53 / 2023-05-31 20:04:15 / 8

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