In the last blog, I said that Jesus calls us to leap for joy in our lives and experience laughter now because we will get plenty of it in heaven. Does that work for marriage? Come on, if you have been married for a while, you are not leaping for joy…most of you. So how do you make a marriage one that you can leap for joy over?
David Jeremiah has helped me with this one by infusing some humor in the situation. He says that there are seven stages of the common cold in marriage:
First year of marriage: Husband says to the wife, “Babe, I am so worried about you sweetie. You’ve got a bad sniffle. I want to put you in the hospital for 24-hour care and a complete check-up. I know the food is bad so I arranged for your meals to be sent in from Chianti’s. It is all arranged.
Second year of marriage: Husband says, “Honey, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I’ve called Dr. Miller to come right over to the house. Will you go to bed? I will take care of the baby and you can rest and get better.”
Third year of marriage: Husband says, “Maybe you better lie down, honey; nothing like a little rest when you are feeling bad. I will bring you something to eat. Do we have soup in the house?
Fourth year of marriage: Husband says, “Look, dear, be sensible. After you have fed the kids, washed the clothes, and cleaned the dishes, you better hit the sack.”
Fifth year of marriage: Husband says, “ Why don’t you take a couple of aspirin.”
Sixth year of marriage: Husband says, “If you just gargle or something instead of sitting around barking like a seal.”
Seventh year of marriage: Husband says, “For heaven’s sake stop sneezing, you are going to give me pneumonia.”
By the way, if you didn’t laugh at that, you are in serious trouble! One of the secrets of joy in a marriage is joint submission. There is a fair amount of polarization around the term submission in marriage:
- A man went to church by himself one Sunday because his wife was ill and while he was there his pastor preached on the passage: “Wives be submissive to your husbands.” When he got home that day his wife said, “Honey, how was church?” He answered, “It was great.” She said, “What did you learn?” He answered, “Woman, come in here and sit in this chair and I will tell you what I learned.” “Here is what I learned: I am the boss and you are nothing. I am the boss of you and you are nothing.” She said with a bit of swagger, “Big deal, boss over nothing!”
- One of his buddies went to the same service and heard the same sermon and told his wife something similar. He didn’t see his wife for three weeks and then he could see just a little out of his right eye.
- (The other side of understanding) A woman is in the cemetery and is crying and the proprietor come up to her and says, “Ma’am, why are you crying?” She says, “I buried my husband this week and I can’t find his grave.” He says, “I’ve been here ever since the cemetery has been hear, if your husband is buried in this cemetery, I’ll find him. What is his name?” She says, “His name is Henry Webster.” He says, “You stay right here, I’ll be right back.” He walks away, “Henry Webster, Henry Webster.” Pretty soon he comes back and says, “Ma’am, I don’t know how to tell you this but there is no Henry Webster in this cemetery. We only have one Webster and that is Dorothy Webster.” “Oh” she says, “that’s him, everything is in my name.”
You get the point. Submission by both husband and wife to each other in a mutual selfless union honoring God first is the key to the joy in marriage. It is very hard to have joy in anything when you desire to be served and coddled at the cost of doing so to your mate. The beauty of marriage is that it confronts our selfishness and demands our service.
I wanted you to laugh today first and then look at your own marriage and do a little self-examination. During Christmas season, in front of all the grocery stores, there is someone with a little bell and bucket. The Salvation Army collects money for the poor each year in this way. When you put money in the bucket, do you wait to see what they are going to give you back? I hope not.
Well, maybe it is time for all of us to try to have bell ringer marriages.
That being said, I understand it takes two to tango. If your spouse is not willing to listen to this advice and wants to selfishly demand much of you and does not desire to reciprocate, then only the grace of God will bring you the joy of serving. Pray for it each day. God’s grace will bring you the joy in so many ways if you just devote more time to Him. In fact, that may be the reason He put you in this position!
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