No, not the President's speech last night. I didn't watch it. Why not? If John Piper can present eternal truth in the excellent manner which he does every Sunday in under an hour, there's no reason to listen to the President politic for more than an hour. Also, for those of you who think I'm just hating on President Obama, I never watched Presidents Bush (either one) or Clinton during the State of the Union. Why? It's supposed to be a presentation to Congress about what the President has done for the country, what results he has gotten, and what are his plans for the current situation. It's been nothing but political grandstanding for years when it is supposed to be about facts and realities.
Which comes to my point. The state of the union I'm thinking about right now is the state of your marriage union. Whether you have one now or intend to have one in the future, your marriage is something to stop and think about. If you've got one, it's something to stop and talk about.
Many of us that are married know that. We've been told that over and over again by experts that we need to occasionally take stock of where our marriage is, where it has been, and where it's going. That part of the advice is sound.
The problem is, we've taken a page out of the Presidential playbook. We've changed our need to address the state of our marriage into a political effort. It's occasionally a self-promotional "look how awesome I've been" effort. More often, it's like the typical Presidential State of the Union: here's what's wrong, and here are all the ways it's not my fault. We then follow it up with good sounding, but vague, statements of intent. Of course, those statements usually are conditional and often involve things that are completely beyond our ability to control.
I'd like to challenge you to something: sit down with your spouse and consider your marriage. Not like a politician does, but openly and honestly. What things are strengthening your relationship? What things are hampering it? What specific things are you doing to strengthen your marriage?
Then, honestly, try and brainstorm 10 things that you will do that are measurable that will improve your marriage. They don't have to all be noticeable by the other person, just that you know you can see if you have done them. Then, take that list of 10 and reduce it to 5 items. Ask your spouse to choose 1 they want you to commit to doing, and you pick 2 additional. Do this together and then get back together in a few months to talk about it again.
If you're not married? Consider asking someone you trust to give you guidance on things you can do now to strengthen the relationship you'll have then. At the very least, read or listen to something to strengthen your marriage. I'd read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (linked at the bottom to Amazon. It's an affiliate link: if a million people by the book, I'll get a million dollars). Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot is a good one as well. If you're in a relationship, talk through these issues with the person you're with.
Too often we allow our efforts in marriage to be like a politician's speech: rhetoric, defense, inaction. Do you want real hope and change? It begins at home. With you.
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