This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Â Â Â Â Â Matthew 1:18 (NCV)
Marriage. I sometimes wonder if it isn’t God’s idea of Comedy Hour. Create two very different types of the same species, put in attraction to each other, establish this covenant called marriage â€“ and watch the drama and comedy that comes LIVE every day, every week.
Seriously, I know that isn’t what God did. He created His children and despite our bad choices that resulted in sin, He has made it possible for us to live with Him forever. But while we are here on earth and in this time, He said that we should not be alone and so He did create this covenant called marriage. But we too often forget that the covenant is not just between a husband and wife but between a husband, a wife, and God Himself.
I read again Matthew 1:18-25 that begins with an engagement and a surprise pregnancy. The groom, Joseph, knows he isn’t the father and the bride, Mary, honestly admits that Joseph isn’t â€“ God is. In these times, an engagement is like a marriage so Joseph will have to divorce Mary to dissolve this engagement. But he gets a dream with an angel who tells him to go through with the union. Then the baby, God in the flesh, is born in a barn. Joseph has another dream and they have to run away to Egypt to escape the threat of King Herod. No family. No friends or fellowship to support them.
I cannot imagine the conversations that went on between this young couple. Communication may be the single most difficult aspect of marriage. Telling the new person in your life what you are thinking, feeling, and in turn, interpreting what you hear them say and how they act â€“ it is so very difficult. It takes patience and extra effort that isn’t always readily available during the stresses of trials and tragedies, even everyday life. After more than 30 years of marriage and spending the last 12 years really trying to learn from my LORD, I have three points that I wish I had known when I started:
Identify the weak areas in our communicating. For my husband and I, we realized before we were married that talking about money was going to require some extra effort from us. We think and see money in very different ways. I don’t mean how and where we spend it. We pretty much agree about that. I see our cash flow like a ledger. Money has to be very visual to me. My husband sees it as the whole and then divided into piles. We use different words that describe the same thing and so we don’t always understand each other. The other thing we have to keep in mind is time. I am not a morning person. My husband isn’t a late night person. So we don’t talk about money or any difficult subject before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.!
Have a ‘Key Phrase’. It’s important to have a phrase that indicates to the other person that this is an important conversation and that you need their attention. They, in turn, need to be honest and admit if this is not a good time to talk and then make an agreed time to come back and talk â€“ soon. There are times that I can talk about money or our business and then there are times that I am just not up to it. But if I know that my husband needs to talk about this, then I say, â€œCan we meet and talk in about 30 minutes?â€ and go have some quiet time and settle in to a good place to have that conversation.
Take intentional time. One thing that we have learned with being partners in our own business is that we need to meet 3-4 times a week and talk about goals and tasks. A marriage deserves at least that much. That can be really challenging when you have children and so many activities demanding your time â€“ including individual time with God and sleep! But having a meal alone or just a walk together or make a time to come to the dining table for a cup of tea that says this is â€œour timeâ€ is so very important.
Mary and Joseph had a lot on their plate. Most of us who are married today also have full plates, just different kinds of things to move around. These points that I listed are important but we must never forget that vital third party of our covenant. Our LORD. Whenever and however we communicate in our marriage, we must begin and end with Jesus. Start any conversation with a prayer and continue the conversation under the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Start the day with a prayer that says, â€œHelp us, LORD, in all that we say and do in our marriage. You are the head of our household. You are our wisdom and guide.â€ And at the end of the day let us turn to Him again and ask for His correction and give thanks for all that God has done in our marriage that day.
50% of marriages fail. I wonder what that percentage would be if we realized our weakness and how important God is to the keeping of the covenant that we have made.
The song today was written by a troubadour of the 1970’s named John Denver. Like many people he had difficulty expressing what was in his heart by sitting down and looking the person in the eyes. And so he wrote this song for his wife. A song, a card, a flower can all be a beginning to help us express ourselves. But like much in life that is worth more than gold, there are no shortcuts to taking a deep breath, asking God for help, and just taking the time and effort to communicate with the one we love.
Annie’s Song written and sung by John Denver (1973)