"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else" - Yogi Berra.
Do you have a "purpose-driven marriage?" Read on for some interesting thoughts on the subject, written by Dr Fred Lowery, from his book, "Covenant Marriage": "Here's an important principle every married person and every person thinking about marriage--should know: A good marriage doesn't happen by accident. In fact, to survive amidst all the pressures, pains and pitfalls of life in the twenty-first century, a marriage today must be more proactive and more intentional than ever before. It must be PURPOSE DRIVEN.
"What does it mean to have a purpose-driven marriage? It means that you and your spouse have a basic understanding of the kind of marriage you are trying to build and what it will take to make it happen. It means that you are willing to work together toward that common goal. But most couples I talk to in premarital counseling haven't got a clue what the purpose of their marriage is.
"When I say to the typical prospective groom, 'What is the purpose and goal of your marriage?' he shifts his feet around and finally says, 'I don't know. I just love her' (which is a hormonally driven expression for, 'I want s-x without guilt').
"When I ask the typical bride-to-be the same question, she rolls her eyes, giggles, and utters a few words in fairy-tale language about finally finding her 'Knight in shining armor.' (That's female speak for, 'I'm being rescued from my home by one who will wow me for the rest of my life.') "In a magazine article titled, 'Marriage: What's the Point?' author Susan Dixon admits that she stood at an altar in a beautiful white gown and said, 'I do' without having the slightest idea of what she was getting herself into. 'It took nearly twenty-five years and a divorce before I began to understand something I should have known before that ceremony ever took place,' she writes. 'In the quarter century that has passed since I naively repeated my wedding vows, I've become more and more aware that relationships die for lack of purpose. If there is no valid, defined, and acknowledged purpose for our relationship, chances are we'll have trouble keeping it alive.'
"Do you know what is the purpose of marriage? What is the purpose of YOUR marriage? Do you have a well-defined purpose? Do you know where your relationship is headed? Do you know where you want your marriage is headed? Do you know where you want your marriage to be 5, 10, or 30 years from now? "Do you have common hopes and dreams for the future? This is an important question because, as Neil Clark Warren writes in "The Triumphant Marriage," without a shared dream a marriage relationship 'will eventually die.' According to Warren, dreams inspire hope & thereby 'stimulates the brain and mobilize the action center. Hope stimulates planning. Planning produces behavior designed to move you forward.' The end result is positive progress in a marriage relationship. "If you can answer 'yes' to these three essential questions, Warren asserts, you have a healthy dream and will serve your marriage well: - "Is a dream equally inclusive of both you and your [future] spouse and your life together? - "Is the dream broad enough? - "Are both of you strongly committed to the dream you have for your life together?
WHAT ABOUT YOUR VALUES AND BELIEFS?
- "Do you and your [future] spouse share the same values?
- "Do you have similar religious beliefs?
- "What is really important to each of you?
"These are critical questions. Even secular counselors acknowledge the importance of shared beliefs & values in building a successful marriage. If you're not sure what you value, ask yourself:
- "What do I really want to be?
- "What do I really want to do?
- "What do I really want to have?
"Get your [future] spouse to answer the same questions, & then discuss your responses together. What values and beliefs do your answers reflect? What are you expecting out of marriage? What are the expectations of your mate? Ecstatic bliss? A romantic paradise? Do you both want children, & if
so, how many? Do you expect to make enough money to build a dream house? "How realistic are your expectations & what happens when they're not met? What happens when your relationship gets boring? When it gets bumpy or bitter? What price are you willing to pay to have a great marriage that goes the distance? Are you both willing to make the relationship an absolute priority? Are you willing to be there for your spouse even through the bad times?
"Is your marriage self-centered or God-centered? Is your 1st thought, 'What will make me happy?' Or is it, 'What will make my Lord happy & ultimately strengthen my relationship with my spouse? Do you approach your marriage as a contract or a covenant? The Bible clearly reveals that covenant oneness with your mate --oneness that is spiritual, emotional and physical --is God's ultimate goal and purpose for marriage. Two become one. If you approach marriage as a covenant, you already have this built- in purpose. Your relationship with your spouse (next to our relationship with God) is the most important thing in your life. "If you approach marriage as a contract, however, you're likely to emphasize rules and regulations over relationship. Many self-help books on the market offer practical rules for living with a spouse and promise that if you'll just follow those rules, you'll have a happy marriage. The problem is, when you emphasize following rules over building relationship, you only breed resentment and rebellion in your mate. Rules without relationship equal disaster in a marriage."
Is your marriage purpose-driven --one that honors God and doesn't pattern itself by the world's standards? As Dr. Lowrey also said: "Clearly we can no longer pattern our marriages after the people around us--if we ever could. Not only does the world not know how to divorce-proof its marriages, it is well on the way to making broken relationships the norm!" If you consider yourselves "Christians" it's important to study the Scriptures, & live your marriage as God created it to be: A sacred, permanent, covenant commitment. Line your marriage up with God's original plan and work His plan. That will involve being willing to die to our own agendas, putting our marriages and our spouse' interests above our own self-interest. Nothing less will do. Cindy and Steve Wright