This blog is not written for women in abusive marriages. The advice offered in these posts will challenge both husbands and wives, but the advice could be counter-productive if it is applied in an abusive relationship.
There’s a popular joke in New England that expresses just how much affection Patriots fans have for their beloved quarterback.
A wife wakes up furious with her husband. “I had a dream last night that you had an affair with Giselle Bundchen!” she shouts and hits him with a pillow.
“That’s ridiculous!” the husband protests. “I’d never do that to Tom Brady.”
That joke expresses just how grateful Patriots fans are for the seven Super Bowl appearances in the Brady/Belichick era.
Believe it or not, there’s a powerful marital truth buried in the Patriots’ success.
You may have heard me say or write, “A good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make,” and the Patriots prove that’s equally true with the game of football.
In their AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots had just one first-round pick starting on offense. Even more surprising, three undrafted free agents started. And yet New England all but wiped the field against the Steelers’ vaunted defense. The once famous steel curtain looked like a paper wafer against sixth-round draft pick Tom Brady and his cadre of receivers.
When marriage is tough, we naturally think the problem is with the personnel—usually, our spouse (though I talk to some of you who freely admit the problem is primarily with you). And the thinking goes, with such weak personnel, the only solution is to get a new team.
But what if, like the Patriots, you can develop a Super Bowl winning team with undrafted free-agent talent? What if, with some helpful coaching and practice, you can rip apart other teams—surpass other marriages—even though they may have “superior” natural talent?
What I love about pursuing a cherishing marriage is that it can be pursued. There are habits, attitudes and actions that slowly build a Super Bowl experience in marriage.
A woman stopped my wife last week after a Bible study and told her that after reading her foreword to Cherish, she wanted to tell her, “I want your life for a day because I have never felt that.” Husbands, that’s so sad. And Lisa reflected back to me, “If her husband would do just a little bit of cherishing she’d be so happy because he’s set the bar so low.”
Let’s take what we have—maybe a bunch of sixth round draft picks and even undrafted free-agents—and resolve to do something very special with it.
It begins with being true to your promise—we promised to cherish our spouse and we need to take that seriously. The reason some of us didn’t cherish our spouse before was because we thought love was enough. We need to be convicted that we promised more than mere love on the day we got married. We have to want to cherish each other and be committed to cherishing each other before it begins to happen.
Second, we need to change our mindset. We need to pursue viewing our spouse as Adam or Eve, the only man or woman in the world, accepting the “commitment of contentment” that we entered into on our wedding day.
Third, we need to begin showcasing our spouse, following the analogy of “the ballet is woman” and seeking to out-honor the person we married.
Fourth, we can then add on, as appropriate, the actions that reinforce a cherishing marriage—there isn’t enough space to mention all of them here, but this includes things like catching bids, sacrifice and saving, winning the mind games, embracing the uniqueness of your spouse, and unleashing the power of the Gospel so that you can continue to cherish an imperfect spouse.
What I’m saying is that (absent overt abuse that necessitates separation), you can begin to apply a cherishing mindset and actions to a dull or apathetic marriage and watch it take off. The testimonies are already pouring in about how merely being challenged to pursue a cherishing marriage is changing so many homes and relationships.
Guys, what do you think your wife would say, and what would be the expression on her face, if you just showed her a copy of Cherish and said, “Help me learn how to start cherishing you like you’ve never been cherished before”? Can you even imagine how your wife might respond? She’s given her life to you; she has stood beside you. Why not reward that commitment and affection by learning how to cherish her?
Wives, if you can relate to the woman who stopped Lisa after the Bible study, prayerfully print this blog out, hand it to your husband and say, “Can we talk about this? Can we really try, in 2017, to build a marriage in which we cherish each other? I want to learn how to cherish you better, too. Let’s not just play the game of marriage. Let’s learn to win at it.”
Remember, even if you’ve had a slow start, when it comes to marriage or football it’s not always about what you already have. Sometimes, it’s about what you do with it.
Are you willing to give cherishing a shot to take you to the “Super Bowl?”