Justin and I went to the XO Marriage conference this weekend. There were over 20,000 people that participated in the marriage seminars. Most were simulcast watching (over 450 churches participated), but we were fortunate to be there live at our home church which is Gateway Church in Southlake, TX.
They brought in some of the best marriage specialists for this conference. I appreciated all of the speakers and information presented. Some of my very favorite speakers of the whole weekend were Dave and Ashley Willis. They have a blog and website http://www.strongermarriages.com where they help millions of people each month. Their information is practical and applicable to all marriages. At the conference this weekend, they presented three policies that every marriage needs to be successful. Below are the three points they made and what I took away from their insightful presentation. I hope you get something out of it as well!
1. Always Be Truthful
This seems pretty logical, but are you really being truthful about all areas of life with your spouse? Is there a secret bank account or a “security blanket” in case things don’t work out? Do you hide spending? Do you have friends on Facebook that if your spouse knew about they would not approve (such as an ex)? If so, you aren’t being completely truthful. I could go on with examples, but you know what I am referring to and you know if you are holding back information and truths from your spouse.
Truth is the foundation of a marriage. When deceit and lies exist, your marriage is corroded. There shouldn’t be anything you hide from your spouse.
We also need to be an “open book” in our marriages. They can ask us anything and we answer honestly. This is what is called being “naked in marriage”. “The level of honesty you have with your spouse will determine the level of intimacy you have with your spouse.” -Dave and Ashley Willis
It order to have a truthful marriage you need to institute a secret free guarantee in your marriage. This is the promise to one another to always be open and honest. It is also a promise that you are willing to answer any questions they may have for you about ANYTHING. This is being transparent in your marriage. This is being vulnerable. Which is what creates intimacy in your marriage. If you aren’t willing to be vulnerable with your spouse who are you being vulnerable with? Are you sharing your hopes, dreams, and secrets with someone else? Your mom? A sibling? A co worker? If you are, then you need to check yourself and your marriage. Maybe its time for a sincere and open conversation with your spouse about being transparent and vulnerable with one another in all areas of your lives. Your spouse needs to be your closest friend, your greatest lifeline, and the person with whom all of your life truths are shared.
What happens when you are not truthful with your spouse and you withhold information? You can end up with an empty marriage, especially when empty nest time arrives. Your children will grow up and move out and you will realize you have a hallow marriage. You lost the intimacy somewhere along the way, perhaps because you began sharing your vulnerability with another person who isn’t your spouse. This isn’t about having a physical affair, it’s about emotionally leaning on someone other than your spouse for your primary support. Which can be just as damaging to a marriage as a physical affair and in some cases be considered an emotional affair.
2. Never Make Assumptions About Your Spouse’s Feelings
Communication is key to making any relationship work. Your most important relationship with another person is that of your spousal relationship. Even if you have been married 10 years, 20 years or 40 years, don’t assume you know exactly how your spouse is feeling all of the time. People are always changing and evolving. Nobody knows another person’s thoughts and feelings completely. Heck, sometimes we have a hard enough time understanding what our own feelings may be.
Nobody is a Professional Mind Reader.
You may think that you can read your spouses mind or that they should know what you are thinking. However, nobody is a professional mind reader. Unless you are God, you can not know what they are thinking and feeling all of the time. Here is a great verse about making assumptions:
Ecclesiastes 10:13 “Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions will be wicked madness.”
Dont be a fool. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t fall into the trap of “he or she should know”. No, they shouldn’t. They are human. If you have feelings about something, then verbalize it so your spouse knows what you are thinking and feeling. Don’t assume that they should already know. If you are having a difficult time in marriage or just a life situation then verbal communication with your spouse is essential.
The word fine should be banned from spousal vocabulary. It is a loaded word that can have so many meanings. It is typically used when we don’t want to express our true feelings or emotions. We need to avoid using this word and instead express ourselves in a proper, communicative way. The Willis’ gave a great acronym for the word fine:
Don’t use the word fine.
3. Never Let Your Spouse Face a Struggle Without Your Support
Galatians 6:2 says “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. This verse is especially applicable to the spousal relationship. You were made to support one another. You need to be one anothers GREATEST supporter. That means support in the good and the bad. If you spouse is going through a struggle, it is your duty as a spouse to be there and to be the greatest supporter, encourager, and helper. On the flip side, if your spouse is passionate about a project, job, or anything else in life, you need to be their greatest ally and supporter of this passion.
Usually both spouses are not full of strength at the same time. We all have personal ups and downs. Even when you experience a loss together, one person may have more strength one day and the other spouse will have more strength the next. One person is not always the strong one. Which is exactly why spouses need to support one another during their individual times of weakness. We can’t all be the strong one at the same time.
Every marriage has struggles. Those struggles make up the story of life. How will your struggles be told later? That you were there to support one another? That you helped one another when there were times of weakness, loss, or devastation? It is your story to tell in the future and you determine how it plays out together.