Consider these challenging words and practical questions from Paul Tripp about the moment-by-moment aspect of building a healthy marriage in What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. He reminds us that reconciliation in marriage is a lifestyle, not just a response when things go bad.
If you are a sinner married to a sinner, then it is very dangerous to allow yourself to coast as a couple. You simply will not live a day together where no act of thoughtlessness, self-interest, anger, arrogance, self-righteousness, bitterness, or disloyalty will rear its ugly head. Often it will be benign and low-level, but it will still be there.
If you are going to have a marriage that lives in unity, understanding, and love, you must have a little-moment approach to your marriage. God has crafted a life for us that does not careen from huge, consequential moment to huge, consequential moment. You can probably name only two or three life-changing situations you have lived through. Every day we lay little bricks on the foundation of what our life will be. The bricks of words said, actions taken, little decisions, little thoughts, and small-moment desires all work together to form the functional edifice that is your marriage.
So, you have to view yourself as a marital mason. You are daily on the job, adding another layer of bricks that will determine the shape of your marriage for days, weeks, and years to come. Things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively. The problem is that we simply don’t pay attention, and because of this we allow ourselves to think, desire, say, and do things that we shouldn’t.
Here are a handful of helpful questions to consider:
- Do you fight for your own way in little things or see them as an opportunity to serve?
- Do you allow yourself to go to bed irritated after a little disagreement?
- Do you leave for work day after day without a moment of tenderness?
- Do you allow yourself to do little rude things you would never have done in courtship?
- Do you still ask for forgiveness in the little moments of wrong?
- Do you complain about how the other does little things, when it really doesn’t make a difference?
- Do you make decisions without consultation?
- Do you invest in the friendship intimacy of your marriage?
- Do you complain about the other’s weaknesses? Or do you see these as opportunities to encourage?
- Do you search for little avenues to express love?
- Do you keep records of wrongs?
- Do you regularly express appreciation and respect?
- Do you swallow little hurts that you once would’ve discussed?
- Do you turn little requests into regular demands?
You can have a good marriage, but you must understand that a good marriage is not a mysterious gift. No, it is, rather, a set of commitments that forges itself into a moment-by-moment lifestyle.