Day 28: Marriage Lessons #28DayChallenge

Finally, I have arrived at the end of this 28-day challenge, and I am so excited I made it to the final day! I’m proud of my persistence and grateful to God for inspiration. To wrap up this journey, I want to share 4 lessons I have learned from 4 years, 4 months, and 4 weeks of marriage (the fifth month will be complete in 2 days 😉). Let’s get on with it…

Lesson 1: Mutual alignment on expectations is critical to success. Everyone has expectations for marriage. Some of our expectations are set deliberately; others are unconsciously acquired from our upbringing, conversations, movies, etc. The more we discuss and agree on our expectations with our spouses, adjusting them where necessary, the healthier our marriages are likely to be. Whether related to sex, finances, homemaking, parenting, or conflict resolution, it is important that you and your spouse know what to expect of each other, and keep to whatever you agreed as much as possible. Most expectations should be discussed before marriage, but there will always be new or gray areas you need to agree on. So, this has to be an ongoing process.

Lesson 2: Building what you imagined takes work you didn’t imagine. I think it is fair to say you cannot know how hard or easy it will be to achieve the marriage of your dreams. Your spouse may get a major career breakthrough that suddenly eases your finances as a couple. You both may have difficulty or delays in having a child (if you want one). There are so many unknowns. The important thing is to be mutually committed to the dream you both believed in when you came together. More importantly, you have to agree on base disciplines that will undergird your lives, and stay consistent with them, as you grow together.

Lesson 3: How people feel (about you) determines how they behave (towards you). Married people are human beings, whose feelings are influenced by so many complex factors. The key is to pay attention to how your spouse feels and find out if you can do anything to make them feel better. This is not only true for women; it’s true for everyone. Whether or not you have a role to play in how they feel (especially for negative emotions), it is important to be sensitive and show understanding, cutting them a slack when they are not at their best. Don’t assume your spouse should “be mature” or “man up”. Emotions drive a lot of our thoughts, actions and lifestyles, and can be overwhelming.

Lesson 4: it’s the little things that make a difference. I thought of calling this lesson “Rome was not built in a day”, but decided it’s better to focus on what we do each day than the Rome we may be trying to build in the future. Love can find expressions in our homes and marriages everyday, if we pay attention. A kind word, a little gift, a gentle touch – they all create moments that make life and relationships count. Do not let your big dreams and ambitions keep you from showing love today or drive you to sacrifice the little things you can do to make your spouse happy today. If you stay consistent, you will find that big successes only count when we have made a habit of showing that we care.

These lessons obviously apply to many areas of our lives as they do to marriage. They all highlight the importance of communication and commitment in building healthy marriages. I pray God will grant you wisdom and grace to build happy homes in Jesus’ name.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share with your friends and also share your comments below. And for those who have followed this 28-day challenge up to this point, I say a big thank you and I wish you a happy new month of May in advance! Stay blessed!

Manna (or Manner) Lessons

So the children of Israel started murmuring against Moses again. This time it wasn’t the Red Sea that hemmed them in, with Pharaoh on the other side. Neither was it thirst that parched their throats, with the bitter waters of Marah staring at them. It was hunger that inspired their cries. Sounds legitimate, huh? But instead of believing and asking God for what they needed, they chose to murmur and complain, comparing their ‘predicament’ to the former abundance of ‘flesh and bread’ in Egypt. God heard their cries, and promised to give them quails (flesh) in the evening and manna (bread) in the morning, with a view to testing them in the process. So he sent word to them through Moses, saying that he would give them food, to prove who he was to them. But there was an instruction: they were not to gather more than a certain amount per person, neither were they to gather more than they needed for a day, except on the sixth day. On the sixth day, they would get enough for two days so that they need not go out for food on the Sabbath day, the day of rest.

And the food came as was promised. In the evening, there were quails, and in the morning there was manna, just as the morning dew disappeared from the ground. The dew seemed to have hidden the manna from view. Perhaps they had descended together from the heavens. The people went out and gathered the manna. They could grind it or crush it, cook it or bake it. It tasted like wafers made with honey. It was indeed, bread from heaven! And as soon as the sun waxed hot, the remnant on the ground melted away and disappeared. However, some of the people disregarded the instruction of Moses not to leave any of the manna they gathered till the following morning. What they left till the day after began to breed worms and stink. What they gathered on the sixth day though, did not stink when they left it till the Sabbath day, for God did not send manna on the day of rest. But some people still went out to look for manna on the Sabbath day, and God became angry with them.

So what are the lessons? One: the Israelites, like many of us, failed to remember and keep a record of the good deeds of God in their lives. As a result, they started complaining, even lamenting, when hunger came knocking. Perhaps they just refused to remember. Whatever the case, they acted as if it wasn’t God who delivered them from Egypt or drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea. They would have just asked Him – he would have done it. Two: in God’s kingdom, no matter the abundant supply of material provision available, you must learn to take what you need, not what you want. Anything outside of this simple rule is covetousness. Often times, we want God to give us what we want, re-defining our wants as needs in the process, to conform to the standards of the world. We must learn to be content with the simple provisions of God from day to day. God could even give you more than you need to test your heart and see what you would do. Don’t fail the test, take what you need! Three: God’s provision is regulated by God’s instruction and will remain intact and available for us as long as we are in the boundary of obedience. Once we disobey, however, God’s own provision can begin to breed maggots and even stink! God’s provision is preserved by God for us as long as we obey his commandment. Beyond obedience, we have no guarantees from Him. I could go on and on, but you had better check up Exodus chapter sixteen to read up the whole story and let the Holy Spirit speak to you from the abundance of heavenly treasures!

July 18, 2012