January 30, 2017

Super Bowls and Super Marriages

Gary Thomas — 

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?

You can.

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?”

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.

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10 responses to Super Bowls and Super Marriages

  1. May I still comment on this post?

    I am reading and loving your “Cherish” book and am applying it’s principles. My marriage has been very difficult, most of our 27 years. I really do love my husband and am committed to him, but I need to work on “cherishing”.

    My husband is away for a week of work out of state, this Valentine’s week. We parted on good terms. I packed a sweetheart gift bag for him to open while he was gone. I was so excited about your book and printed the 2nd chapter on “The Only Man/Woman in the world.” and tucked it in the bag with a love-note to my “Adam”.

    Valentine’s night, my husband was extremely offended, He only read the 1st 2 pages of the chapter, and saw that it was speaking first to the husband, which he then blasted me for telling him what HE’s supposed to be doing. I explained that was not at all my intent, no finger-pointing or condemnation, only meant to be encouragement and a “lightbulb” idea that I couldn’t wait to share with him, and I urged, please finish reading!! (was I “justifying myself” here, and was that response wrong?)

    But since I didn’t put a note with a disclaimer to the first part, he was greatly offended –so much for a sweet Valentine call. HE went on to say, he USED TO (20+ years ago) treat me as the only woman in the world, and he didn’t need to “read a book” to tell him to do it — In his words, “Back when when he was working on our marriage and cared….he doesn’t anymore. It’s water under the bridge, etc.” (At a time when I was making it hard for him)

    For approx 13 years, now, I’ve been a new creation, and by filling myself with God’s love and acceptance, and Romans 8, I am sustained. Like you said, the more I receive from God, the more I am set free to give to my (husband). I totally get that.

    Please comment on how to respond to this typical scenario. I’m wondering what is our core issue??

  2. It certainly sounds odd to say, but we’d all benefit in our marriages and relationships if we treated them with the care and diligence that Belichik does his football team! It absolutely is a matter of daily, regular acts of love, affection and service, however small.

  3. Mr Thomas, I hope that you have time to respond to this:
    Can you tell me, please, how to know the difference? “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.”
    I have had friends, family members, and a Dr all mention abuse to me. But God asks me to forgive 7x77x…where do I draw the line? It isn’t physical, it is financial, transportation, etc. He is stressed out every single day about finances and his retirement goals but makes me feel terrible if I have to go to the dentist or doctor. We recently got a second car, after nearly 5 years of marriage, and I got lectured for hours about using the car frivolously, before I’d even gone anywhere or made any plans to go anywhere. He buys himself new clothes all of the time but questions every purchase that I make for our two small children, even if my out of pocket is zero.
    He absolutely refuses to see anyone or talk to anyone for advice in our marriage or parenting. He was even terribly offended one time that I had tried to speak to him about something deeply personal to me, my severe ptsd had been triggered, he had blown me off and told me to deal with it, so I spoke to our pastor about it and he called his wife and my husband in to pray over me and offer us support and encouragement. My husband was furious.
    Abuse? Yes, I’ve read descriptions of the different types of spousal abuse and some fit. Is it abuse to separate over? I have no idea. I’m concerned for the potential future impact on our children and their relationship with their heavenly Father, first and foremost.

    • After 38 years of marriage not much has changed. I have suffered a broken heart for so long that I’m thinking God is holding it together with super glue.,
      I was so sick recently and drove myself to Hospital and was admitted. I could barely stand up and almost crawled into the Hospural…When I was discharged there was no mention of my illness. No offer of help. No “hon are you feeling better” – then 2 days later my husband felt ill and was congested. I tendered to him with medicine and bought Gatorade for him and insisted he see a Doctor. It’s taken me a long time to realise that it’s not me. I’m presently in the process of packing to leave. I’m hoping maybe a seperation might help?? And please don’t take that as a cue for doing the same as every story is different.

      • Josie, just what I said to Concerned x2 is what i’d say to you. I do pray God will provide you with a true and wise friend who can support you in what sounds like a very lonely marriage.

    • Concerned x2, I’m not a trained therapist, and even if i was, a blog isn’t the place to make a big statement like this about what you should do. Leslie Vernick’s “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” can help you understand the level of abuse, and point you toward a counselor who can help you work through these issues. This isn’t anything, unfortunately, that could be helped with a one or two paragraph reply. You need much more than that.

  4. Thank you for this. I’m usually the hard-headed one. My husband is the sweetest, kindest most loving man. I can sometimes be less than unkind. These blogs help me to focus on how I am to treat my husband as a child of God, and how to cherish him for who he is, not what he can do for me.

    I’ve read your Sacred Marriage book. It completely changed the way I think of my marriage. I recommend it to everyone I know. Maybe I’ll ask for this book for my birthday 🙂

    Thank you Mr. Thomas.

    • April, I’m with you. I’m married (or 37.5 years) to the most wonderful man who has done a great job of cherishing me. I can also sometimes be less that kind and impatient for sure. You will want to get the Cherishing book for sure as I’ve read it and I’m putting it into practice and my husband is already noticing it and is loving that he sees me making more of an effort to cherish him. I think it’s a great book for every marriage as I think we can all grow in this area.

      • Vickie, thanks for the kind words about Cherish, and for demonstrating how to put it into practice! Everything I said to April–I repeat to you! Blessings.

    • April,

      Thanks for giving your husband a public “kudos”! So many husbands feel beaten up, disparaged, or taken for granted. It’s refreshing to hear one praised!