An Open Letter to Erin and Jared On Their Wedding Day: The Key Principle For Success
Dear Erin and Jared,
Congratulations on your wedding day! What a wonderful thing to invite your family and friends to come and witness the birth of your new family! It’s a big deal.
Hey, since I’m a marriage guy I thought I’d share with you a very simple but profound truth that will serve you both well the rest of your lives. It is is a saying of Jesus that, unfortunately, has become a platitude, not a lifestyle. It’s easy to say. It takes the grace of God to do:
Treat others as you would have them treat you.
It’s commonly called the Golden Rule. It’s very well-known. It’s not very often practiced. It’s impossible to keep, unless you humble yourselves before the Father of all creation. It’s the narrow road. The road less traveled.
Nearly every day I hear excuses why someone can’t do it anymore. They’ve given up. They are done giving and getting nothing in return. “Enough is enough.” ” I ain’t gonna take no crap. ” “I ain’t gonna live this way.” “I deserve better.” “You think I’m gonna live like this?”
And they give up. And they divorce with PRIDE! And the websites are crawling with snakes who preach their accolades of “You go, girl!” “Stand up for yourself!” “You’ll be fine!” “I just wanna be happy!” They don’t have to give anymore! They rejoice in the day they dumped his sorry butt. Ha! Ha!
Why is it so difficult? It’s easy to give if the other is giving back. Newlyweds are all aglow. It’s hard to imagine not having all these loving feelings, all this tenderness, all this affection, all this giving freely for the other.
But those intense loving feelings fade in a few months. It’s normal for it to fade. It’s good for those intense feelings to be fade. If they didn’t you’d starve to death! Remember this is a new family FOR LIFE. You need to harness your gifts together for the next 60 plus years! You can’t be all gaga all the time!
But it’s not easy to give if the other isn’t giving back or can’t give back or refuses to give back or scoffs at giving back. Still Jesus’ command impels us on. His injunction means we need to give to the other even if they don’t or won’t or can’t give to us.
The more common practice, the one that is leading to so many divorces today, is
to treat the other the way he or she treats you.
That’s the wide road. Why do people give up treating each other the way they want to be treated and instead treat the other they way they are being treated? You’ve heard the saying “Love is patient?” A lot of people aren’t patient today. It seems a cliché. It’s hard to live. Consider the cost:
Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
There you have it: Your commitment to each other must be stronger than a whim. It must be stronger than a feeling. Feelings come and go. A feeling won’t get you through a dark night or a decade of difficulty.
A decade? My mom and dad got married during the Truman Administration. You think it was great for them the whole time? How much has the world changed since then? How much have the two of them changed since then? The Golden Rule got them through all the ups and downs. The Golden Rule rises above heartache and despair and selfishness and poor choices and setbacks and tragedies and darkness and hurt.
And for you? Sixty years from now will be 2073! What? We could make it that long? Sure. If you treat the other the way you’d like him or her to treat you; not how the other is treating you.
Here’s how marriages normally flounder:
You are mean to me. I’m nice to you. You are mean to me. I’m neutral to you. You are mean to me. I’m mean to you. You are meaner to me. I’m meaner to you. You are meaner to me. I’m even meaner to you.
Pretty soon we spiral downward and there’s nothing left. And somebody leaves in a huff saying they ain’t gonna take no crap and, of course, nobody’s learned to be nice even if the other’s mean and their second marriages crash and burns quicker than the first and so on and so on.
Here’ how the Golden Rule works:
You are mean to me. I’m nice to you. You are mean to me. I’m nice to you. You are mean to me. I’m nice to you. You are neutral to me. I’m nice to you. You are nice to me. I’m nice to you.
Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t ever get it and you are still mean to me. In any case doing good is it’s own reward.
It’s pretty hard to be nice to your spouse when he is mean to you. It’s even harder to be mean to your spouse if he is nice to you! How long will that occur? Pretty soon the mean person will realize she’s a jerk!
You don’t have any control over how kind your spouse is, but you do have control over how kind you are.
Paul ties these two contrasting lifestyles together nicely in 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
That’s a curious notion: if you are kind to each other the tendency will be for you to be kind to others and in so doing you will spread God’s good grace wherever you go. You won’t just have a loving, thriving family, you will be a blessing to others in the world.
And to that I’d say, “Good for you.”
Warmly in Christ,