This has been a hard week in the United States, with the death of citizens and police officers and a lot of mourning, reflection, and conversation. I’ve seen repeated pleas on Facebook from people longing for our citizens to get past this violence and move toward peace and understanding for one another.
After hearing the news, my own fingers hovered above my keyboard as the Facebook status prompt stared back at me. I wanted to say my own piece, to add something brilliant to the discussion.
But I didn’t. I didn’t know what I could add to the discussion. Rather, I just kept thinking that we need to somehow return to the basics.
I see it in violent conflicts across the world, in racial tension here and elsewhere, in churches with internal battles, in our workplaces, communities, and homes. And I see it all the time in marriages. How we miss the opportunity to do what’s right because we don’t really have the foundational principles running through our lives.
Frankly, it’s why my own marriage struggled for so long. Sure, I could break down all the reasons we had problems, explain the inherent difficulties of merging two lives from disparate backgrounds, and on and on. I could even say that God wasn’t answering my many, many prayers that He heal my marriage. Except that God and I know better.
What ultimately improved my marriage was me getting back to the basics. I had to learn how to daily treat my husband the way God wanted me to treat him — with patience, kindness, love, honor, selflessness. And, believe me, I’m still on the journey of learning. As imperfect as I am, I have a long way yet to go.
I know some of you are struggling through some great hardships in your marriage. And you have no idea how things can turn around. I’ve heard some of your stories, and there are some heartbreaking challenges you face. You’re probably questioning your spouse’s love, your marriage’s future, and perhaps even your own faith.
When we go through crises — whether a country faced with cop/citizen conflict or a despairing marriage — we might do best to breathe and think about returning to basics. What can really make a difference in the moment.
Jesus gave the standard, and it’s one I now try to live my life by. You probably know it as The Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).
Matthew 7:12 is another source for this statement, and in that passage Jesus says that principle sums up all the law and the prophets. Yep, it all comes down to this — treating others the way you want them to treat you.
What would that look like in your marriage today? What if you really listened to your spouse the way you want to be listened to? What if you valued his opinions the way you want him to value yours? What if you tried to meet his intimacy needs the way you want him to meet yours? What if you prayed for him the way you want him to pray for you? What if you sought the very best for your beloved the way you want him to seek your best?
I give all kinds of advice on this blog, trying to break down what the loving response looks like in a particular situation. And I find inspiration and practical help from others who do the same. But the foundational principle for everything I say comes down to the Golden Rule: Treat your husband or wife with the same loving care you’d like him/her to give you.
Today, let’s all ask ourselves how we’re doing with that. I bet every one of us could do better.