Before you play any game, you need to know the rules.
For Christmas, we got a game for our son called 7 Wonders. In the game, you each receive a different game board with one of the Seven Wonders of the World on it. Your goal is to win by earning the most points, making your Wonder more powerful than your competitors’ Wonders. At first, it’s really complicated, and it took us a few tries to figure out what the heck we were doing, let alone come up with any kind of strategy.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard to play. When you know the rules and you understand all the different ways of earning “points” for your Wonder, you can make the decisions you need to give you the best chance at winning.
Rules are important. If you don’t know the rules, you shouldn’t even play the game.
Rulebooks are Important
If you are a player in the National Basketball Association, you need to read and commit to memory 68 pages worth of rules. You have to know everything about throw-ins, dribbling, goaltending, or faking free throws because if you don’t, you could end up getting penalized or causing your team to lose. Some violations can even get you a fine. Too many infractions and your team may decide you’re just not worth the effort to keep on the team.
Other sports have similar rule books with lots and lots of rules. Basketball is actually the shortest rule book I found. The NFL has a 92-page rulebook, Major League Soccer’s is 144 pages, and the winner of all is Baseball at 184 pages!!!!
That’s a lot of rules to remember. No wonder Donovan McNabb, a former Quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, was at one time unaware that a football game could indeed end in a tie. (Unfortunately, he discovered this when he was part of a game that ended that way.)
From a New Jersey Newspaper at the time:
Just to recap: McNabb, a 10-year veteran of five Pro Bowls, did not know only one overtime is played during the NFL regular season.
“I’ve never been part of a tie,” McNabb said. “I never knew that was in the rulebook. But it’s part of the rules and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to the next opportunity of getting out there and trying to drive to win the game, but unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie.” Seriously?
If knowing the rules in a board game or sport is important, how much more necessary is it that we know the rules for marriage?
Learning and living by specific rules will give you a better chance of marriage success. It helps eliminate unrealistic expectations and creates order and stability. If you don’t recognize and follow these rules, the penalties will start to stack up until your spouse starts to think it’s just not worth it.
God hates divorce. It is not his will that any marriage should fail.
So, God has a rulebook for marriage too. It’s the Bible. And though that book is way more than 184 pages, I think we can narrow down the rules to a few categories for easy digestion.
Knowing these rules and living by them will help you win at marriage! And marriage success is more important than winning at any sport.
Do not threaten your spouse with divorce. Decide early on, that divorce is not an option for your marriage, and that you will both do your best to work out your problems together.
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Matthew 19:8
Like a successful sports team, a successful marriage needs structure. Follow God’s leadership structure with God as the head of the family, the husband, the loving leader, a wife who respects her husband, and kids who obey their parents.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4
Put your spouse’s needs first. Serve one another as Jesus demonstrated service to others.
And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:44-45
Act as a team in all circumstances. If one of you wins, you both do. If one of you loses, you both lose too.
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6
To have marriage success, you can only make changes to yourself. Work on your own issues before you try to fix your spouse. It’s a very, very rare occasion when all the problems are one person’s fault.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
Do not talk badly about your spouse, either in public or to them directly. Honor your spouse by speaking well of them at all times.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
End each day with a clean slate. No grudges. Forgive and forget. It may be easier said than done in some cases, but it can be done.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Don’t lie about anything. The truth will always come out, and it can destroy the trust in your marriage.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25
Love unconditionally. Commit to loving your spouse in a way that is more than just a feeling. Couples with marriage success know that feelings come and go, so deciding to love no matter what is important.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Be content with what you have. Don’t go looking to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Worry about your own grass.
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 1 Timothy 6:6
Knowing the rules is the first step. Next, you need to build a game plan. How can you act out these rules in your daily married life? That’s where we can help you.
In our Marriage Mentoring Programs, we don’t just tell you what to do, but we walk alongside personally and guide you, encourage you, and pray for you. We want to take what we’ve learned over the past 28 years and share it with you so you can win at marriage!
Which rule for marriage success do you have the toughest time following? What can we do to help you with that? Fill out this contact form and let us know!