For the last four weeks our pastor has been delivering sermons on marriage - its importance, its Biblical history, and how to make it last. Today was the fourth and last sermon on how to give up your own personal difficulties to God so He can keep them from interfering with your relationship. Bottom line was that it's difficult to have a sound relationship with your spouse if you both don't have a sound relationship with God.
Last week he told us a story of his own marriage of 35 years to his childhood sweetheart and about how putting God first in your marriage is the best way to ensure its longevity. He quoted the Biblical verse in Ephesians about women submitting to their husbands and told all of the men "That specific verse is written for women, not for you. You have your own verses that tell you what you need to do in your marriage. Those verses are Ephesians 5:25 and 5:28 - "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" and "Husbands, love your wives as you love your own body."
He then went on to relay the following story which I found not only touching but inspirational. It seems, even though she is a Baptist, his wife likes to dance. OK - it's not really against Baptist rules to dance - at least not anymore. When he was a kid, however, our pastor was raised in a small Baptist church in Louisiana and dancing was something that was forbidden, or at least frowned upon.
He said that since they were first married his wife would tell him she'd like to go out dancing sometime - even if it was just once. Being a man much like myself, whose feet don't really connect with any part of him that has rhythm, he always refused.
He told us at their home in Fort Worth they each have a place where their mail goes. One stack for her, one for him. Any time a local dance studio would send out a flyer for dancing lessons he would find it laying on top of his mail stack, open so he would see it first thing. He ignored them. She never gave up and continued placing the flyers with his mail over the years.
One day last year he came home to another flyer. This one was called "Dance Class For The Rhythmically Challenged". It was as if the flyer had his name on it. This time he decided he would swallow his pride and do something for her. He made arrangements to attend the class and found that rather than a class full of men who could actually dance he was in a class of people just like him - people who couldn't dance but decided to learn.
Since then he has been taking dance classes. He and his wife have joined a dinner-dance club and they go out sometimes for an evening of dancing. He's says he's not Fred Astaire but he makes his wife happy.
I remember the last thing he said about it. "Dancing is not one of my favorite things but it's another opportunity for me to love my wife."
Putting your spouse before yourself is one of the best ways to keep a marriage happy. Finding ways, even small ways, to show your spouse you love her/him, over and above just telling them, adds to the unification of the two and to the overall strength of the marriage. And that can't be a bad thing, can it?