Hi, this is pastor Ken with my Monday Marriage Message, thanks for joining me today. Are You Choosing Correctly?

When I go to the card store to buy my wife a card for Valentine’s day, her birthday, our anniversary or some other reason I always have a bit of difficulty finding the right one. It isn’t that they don’t all say wonderful things; it’s just that there are very few that say it the way I would. One of the things I find that many of them do say in one way or another is; “If I had to choose all over again…I would choose you.” While this is true, it is but one of thousands of choices that need to be made correctly if our marriages are to be what God wants them to be.

There have been too many times that a wife or a husband has come into my office and proclaimed that they are afraid they chose the wrong spouse when they married. Their marriages have experienced problems, some of them legitimately hurtful difficulties. The results of those have left them wondering if they made the wrong choice. Obviously I can’t be as direct and succinct in the counseling room as I am able to be in this format, but ultimately the truth still has to be spoken…the choice they are referencing is but one of many and in no way negates the necessity to continue to make the right ones…even following or enduring emotional pain.

I have had the privilege to officiate at many weddings and remember vividly my own with my lovely wife. It is there that we stand before men and God and make promises to one another for a lifetime. In a sense it is the public announcement that we are choosing one another, just as those greeting cards elude to so often. It is a very important, life changing choice we are making, and it should be considered carefully before it is made. However, though we are supposed to be choosing for a lifetime, it isn’t the final choice we will need to make in terms of being married if our marriages are to go well. While the wedding day choice is monumental, it is the daily choices, the ones made moment by moment that make or break the outcome of any marriage.

When I offer premarital counsel to a couple getting ready for the day they will proclaim their vows to one another, I teach them how to make the correct choices in each of those critical moments that will affect their marriage either positively or negatively. I advise them to install an imperative filter in their thinking, and to use it so frequently that it becomes habitual. However, they will only be willing to utilize the filter if they recognize the truth that when they marry, they are losing the right to think ever again as an individual, because they will become a part of something much bigger than themselves. So, what is this all-important filter? Literally, every decision must only be made after this consideration…How will this affect my spouse? One might ask, every decision? Yes, every decision. In last week’s episode I made the point that you and your spouse are “One Flesh” according to Jesus. So, where you are, so is your spouse whether they are present physically speaking or not. Therefore, one must always use the filter to make the correct choices. If I say such-and-such, how would it affect my spouse if they heard me? If I go here-or-there, how would it affect my spouse if they were physically with me? If I look at that website, how would it affect my spouse if they were watching over my shoulder? If I interact flirtatiously with my co-worker, how would it affect my spouse if they witnessed it? It is easy to see how these decisions need to be made with that necessary filter installed if we are going to make the right choices, but the less critical ones are equally important. Why? Because all of them help us to learn to practically carry out the command given in Romans 12:10, In Love we are to prefer one another.

The overall condition of your marriage is undoubtedly determined in the moment-by moment choices. However, it is not only our spouse we need to consider as we face the day-to day decisions we encounter. God has given us His instruction in how to walk together as husbands and wives…He even wrote it down for us so we could reference it as needed. The wise husband and wife are choosing to make time to access those written instructions daily. They are investing heavily in their own personal relationships with Jesus so they are capable of investing in their marriage correctly as well. Psalm 25:12-13 in the NIV says, Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. In terms of marriage this verse encourages us that if we correctly understand our relationship with God, that He is the authority in our lives, He will tell us how to make the right choices, and our marriages will thrive as a result. Furthermore, our children, and our children’s children will have an awesome example of a godly marriage and theirs will be positively affected because of it.

Maybe your marriage is suffering because poor choices have already been made. What then? First of all, take your frustration, hurt and even anger to the Lord. His word clearly indicates that we are to bother Him with the things that are bothering us…because He says He cares about us and so what bothers us does bother Him. (1 Peter 5:7) Additionally, this truth is an imperative understanding. Another person’s wrong choice toward me, does not negate my ability to choose correctly toward them. Any other mindset gives away all our power in the situation and there is nothing worse than being hurt AND powerless to do anything about it! Furthermore, in terms of reconciliation there is nothing more compelling than undeservedly being chosen by someone who has been wronged. Understanding that, Jesus instructed us; “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:27-28 Christ knew the power of using our power to return kindness for unkindness and wrongdoing toward us. It is indeed a powerful thing and often brings about incredible results.

Our choices matter. Our choices as married people have incredible consequences. Those choices can bring life to a marriage and keep it healthy and thriving, or they can bring pain, destruction, and even death to the relationship. Choose well.

Questions to answer:

  1. Do you see everyday decisions as having a profound effect on your marriage?
  2. What decisions do you make only after considering the effect it will have on your spouse?
  3. Do you think you need to adjust what decisions you do and don’t run through that filter?

Actions to take:

  1. Make note of the decisions you made just today that you might have chosen differently if your spouse had been right there with you.
  2. Understanding the power of decision, discern what choices that can be pre-decided and make those determinations right now so that if the occasion ever arises, the choices have already been made and you can confidently walk in those decisions.
  3. Share with each other the choices you are pre-deciding right now. (I assure you this action should not be skipped. It will have an incredible impact on the confidence of your marriage. It should even be done if poor, hurtful choices have been made in the past, perhaps even more so if this is the case.)

So now, choosing your spouse again, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, to enjoy the incredible marriage God wants you to have…Go Be Awesome!