A good year – 2018 – day 162

Woke early to a cold morning. Do I have to go to work?

Once I arrived at work had a brief talk to my WLB about my findings over the weekend and praying had made me feel stronger. She then let me know she had been praying over the weekend about marrying her boyfriend of nearly 10 years. She is coming up to her 25th birthday and concerned that time might be running out, but is she actually ready for the step.

I then went to my desk and commenced work. During the day, and before lunch, I had a sudden inspiration. I had read somewhere about what it takes for a successful marriage.  I did a quick search and found it. It is based on the ten commandments but interpreted to encompass the institution of marriage and the relationship of married couples. Going through this helped me as well.

The article was by Bayless Conley and found at the-10-commandments-of-marriage-11582613.html

The First Commandment of Marriage:  Exclusivity

The first of the Ten Commandments is simply this, as found in Exodus 20:3,

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

What is God saying in this commandment?  That He wants to have an exclusive relationship with you. He wants to be your one and only. He will not settle for flavour of the month.

And how appropriate in marriage as well. We are to have an exclusive relationship with our spouse.

The Second Commandment of Marriage:  Don’t Love a Substitute

In the second commandment recorded in Exodus 20:4-6, we are given the second principle for a strong marriage,

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.  For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

God commanded that we not worship carved images, whether in heaven, in earth, or in the sea.  He wanted to make sure everything was covered. God said, “Do not make images of Me and then worship them. Do not love or worship a substitute for Me. Love Me.”

Some religions have made pictures, statues, and idols and then called them holy. They are all imitations. They are all substitutes. And in marriage, we should have no substitutes either.

Love your husband only.  Love your wife only.  Do not look for fulfilment in some other relationship or in some other thing.  Find your fulfilment in that relationship.

The Third Commandment of Marriage:  Speak Well of Your Mate

Exodus 20:7 gives us our third commandment of marriage,

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Many misunderstand the term, in vain.  It means empty, meaningless, insincere, not showing due respect.

When we speak flippantly or lightly about someone, we erode our respect for that person.  Some people are just far too casual in the way they speak of their spouse, and it erodes your respect for him or her.

In marriage, few things can affect the relationship like words.  Words are containers.  They can contain love; they can contain hate; they can contain joy; they can contain bitterness.

The book of James says that our tongue is like a rudder on a ship.  It will send the ship of your marriage in whatever direction your words go.  Some people are on the brink of divorce because they talk divorce.  Just listen to the words they say.  Are they negative or positive?  Critical or encouraging?

Think about what you say.  Are you building up your partner?  Learn to speak well of your mate.  Build them up with your words.  Be lavish with your praise.  You will be pleased with where those words will take your relationship.

The Fourth Commandment of Marriage:  Spend Exclusive Time Together

The fourth commandment, found in Exodus 20:8-11,

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.  In it you shall do no work:  you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”       

Sabbath means an intermission.  It means to put down your work and rest.  Take a break.  And holy means separate to the Lord.  “If you want a long-term relationship with Me,” God says, “We have to have time together.  I want special time, exclusive time.  I want a whole day.”

In the same way, in order to have a healthy, growing marriage, husbands and wives need time together…special time, exclusive time, sometimes extravagant time.  And I think we all know that if we do not schedule it, it will not happen.

The Fifth Commandment of Marriage:  Honor Your Spouse by Showing How Grateful You Are

The fifth commandment gives us our next principle for a healthy and vibrant marriage.  It is found in Exodus 20:12,

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

Among other things, God is saying we must be grateful.  Generally, parents spend a lot of time, labour, and money…sometimes to the point of radical sacrifice…to give their kids an edge in life.

And it is a tragedy when a child is ungrateful or unthankful.  William Shakespeare said, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”  It is very difficult to have a relationship with an ungrateful, selfish person.

“Thank you” are important words to your parents and an incredibly important phrase in marriage.  It is difficult to live with someone who takes you and all of your efforts for granted.

The Sixth Commandment of Marriage:  Don’t Destroy Your Spouse But Learn to be Gentle

The sixth commandment God gave to Israel in Exodus 20:13,

“You shall not murder.”

While you might think this commandment is not too applicable, I believe it is vital.  It is telling you not to destroy your spouse!

Jesus helps us understand this principle in Matthew 5.  He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

Jesus went right to the root of murder:  anger and hatred.  If you are going to have a good, healthy, lasting marriage, you need to learn to be gentle.  People who are easily angered…who are violent or have an explosive temper…destroy relationships.

The Seventh Commandment of Marriage – Be Faithful – Do Not Commit Adultery

The seventh commandment brings us to one of the most vital principles of having the marriage God intends.  Exodus 20:14 simply says,

“You shall not commit adultery.”

In a marriage, you would be hard-pressed to imagine anything more damaging than your spouse being unfaithful.  But being faithful is not only being faithful in action, but also in thought.

Again, Jesus expanded on this in Matthew 5, and I want you to read these words very carefully.  He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Having a lustful, exploitive disposition has no place in marriage.  Love gives; lust takes.  Love serves; lust demands.  Love nourishes; lust chokes.

What a wonderful gift God has given us in this thing called sex.  It was His idea.  It is just as holy as when you lift your hands in church and worship Him.  It is God’s idea within the context and the confines of marriage.  It should be enjoyed.

But lust has no place in marriage.  It is a poison that will destroy the fabric of your relationship with your spouse.

Affair-Proof Your Marriage with Positive Affirmation

The first way to affair-proof your marriage is to season your marriage with affirming communication.

In Song of Solomon 7:1-6 we read of how Solomon affirmed his bride,

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter!  The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skilful workman.  Your navel is a rounded goblet; it lacks no blended beverage.  Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies.  Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.  Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim.  Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus.  Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple; a king is held captive by your tresses.  How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights!

Solomon knew it was vital for him to compliment his bride’s body, because, as you read in chapter 1, it is evident that it was an area of insecurity for her.

This Shulamite was a country girl.  She said, “Do not look on me for I am dark.”  She was tan from working out in the vineyards.  And compared with the fair-skinned, pampered ladies of the court, she felt very insecure.

So Solomon very wisely builds her up in the area where she feels most insecure.

Speak affirming words to your mate rather than tear him or her down.  If your spouse is starved for positive affirmation, and it does not come from you, it opens a door of temptation.  The devil will send someone to give insincere compliments, and if a person is starved for it, they gravitate towards it.

Praise one another lavishly.  It is an important thing to do.

Affair-Proof Your Marriage with Companionship

The second way to affair-proof your marriage: being a companion to your spouse, spending time together just enjoying each other’s company.

Back in Song of Solomon 7, we read this in verses 10-13,

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.  Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages.  Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom.  There I will give you my love.  The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

Notice that Solomon and his bride just hung out together.  It was a vital part of their relationship.  And so must it be for any thriving marriage.

If you have drifted apart, I suggest you each make a list of things you like to do or things that you might like to try.  It could be anything from antique hunting, going to garage sales, taking walks, bicycling, fishing, going to museums, watching football, shopping, gardening, snorkelling, reading, skydiving, cooking, hiking, puzzles, photography, whatever.

Once you have made your lists, compare them and see where things overlap.  Then find two or three things, and endeavour to do those things together.  Have fun together.

Set time apart to do at least one activity together every couple of weeks.  If you have kids, get a babysitter so it is just the two of you.  It will be the best gift you could give your children.

If you do not do things together, you will find yourselves drifting apart.

Affair-Proof Your Marriage Through Intimacy

The third way to affair-proof your marriage is by making intimacy a priority.    

Let me take you back to the Scripture we read yesterday, Song of Solomon 7:10-13,

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.  Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages.  Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom.  There I will give you my love.  The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

These verses paint a beautiful picture of intimacy between a husband and wife.  Couples need to have physical intimacy.  In fact, the New Testament commands the husband and wife not to deprive one another except by mutual consent, and then only if they are going to fast and pray.

So how do you create an atmosphere of intimacy?  It starts with affirming your spouse.  Notice that Solomon has been affirming his wife, complimenting her, building her up.

Now, guys, you need to understand that women are wired differently than you.  In order for a woman to be intimate, she needs to speak and be spoken to.  You have to create an atmosphere for intimacy.

For most husbands, they just catch a glimpse of their wife in the shower and they are ready to go.  But for women, it starts differently than that.  She is aroused by words, sincere words, and it usually starts around breakfast time.

Take time today to create an atmosphere of intimacy.  If you do, you will be on your way to experiencing true intimacy.

What are the results of deliberate effort to foster intimacy?

Solomon has been complimenting his wife and affirming her.  Look at her response to that affirmation in Song of Solomon 7:10,

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.

She is digging it!  She is saying, “He really loves me!”  Solomon’s affirmation of his bride has created this atmosphere of intimacy.  And look what she says next in verse 11,

Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages.

She is grabbing Solomon’s hand and saying, “Let’s get a hotel room!”  Then there are verses 12-13,

Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom.  There I will give you my love.  The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

Friend, catch what is going on.  Solomon has affirmed his wife saying, “Honey, you are beautiful!  I am so glad I married you.  I married out of my league.  You are wonderful.  Your body is great.  I am so happy!”

Her response?  “Wow, he loves me.  I’ll tell you what, let’s go away and have a little love vacation.  Let’s take a few days off.”  That is enough to get any husband inspired to rent a hotel room!

If you want to affair-proof your marriage, make intimacy a priority!

The Eighth Commandment of Marriage:  Be a Person of Integrity

Exodus 20:15 gives us the eighth commandment for marriage,

You shall not steal.

You may be wondering how stealing applies to marriage.  Simple.  Not to steal is to be a person of integrity.

If you are always cheating or cutting corners, it will be hard for your spouse to respect you.  Your uprightness should make your marriage partner feel proud.  Your spouse and your family ought to testify of your integrity.  This is really one of the things at the heart of a good marriage.

If you are married to somebody, and you know they cheat their customers, it is just hard to respect that person.  You cannot respect someone who does not have integrity.

The Ninth Commandment of Marriage:  Be Truthful

The ninth commandment for marriage speaks to the heart of any marriage, trust.  It is found in Exodus 20:16,

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”

Someone who would lie about their neighbour, for whatever reason, is not going to make a good marriage partner.  Honesty and trust are at the heart of a good marriage.

If you take advantage of people for your own gain, speaking untruthfully to get ahead, you are not a person to be trusted.  And you ultimately are the loser.

Needless to say, he lost.

Anyone who is not truthful will ultimately lose.  And if your spouse will lie to someone else, he or she will lie to you.

The Tenth Commandment of Marriage:  Be Content with What You Have

Today we come to the final commandment for marriage.  That commandment is based on the tenth commandment given to the nation of Israel in Exodus 20:17,

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.”

This command is very direct.  Do not covet.  Don’t be discontent with what you have.  Do not make what you don’t have the focus of your life.  Accentuate what you do have and what God has blessed you and your spouse with.

You do this by celebrating your husband’s or wife’s strengths and giftings rather than thinking, “Oh, I wish he was this way,” or, “I wish she had that.”

This comprehensive extract was thought-provoking and made me realise my shortcomings in my own marriage. It is up from here!

The day went as usual with the lunchtime walk to discuss the above and then back to work and then home. 

I am feeling empowered.

Arrived home and spoke to my wife and got a negative reaction. Need to do some more homework before getting this happening.

At that after dinner went to bed…

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