My first job at 16 was a lifeguard at a local waterpark. I thought it would be the perfect summer job. I mean, what could be better than spending my summer days sitting on a lifeguard stand getting paid to look cool and get a killer tan?
Oakley mirrored sunglasses…check.
Red Swim trunks…check.
Whistle to blow at little kids being punks…check
Training to actually know what to do in the event of someone drowning and not having a pulse…what?! Didn’t anticipate that one.
Insert CPR training.
CPR is a lifesaving technique designed to revive vital signs that have ceased to function. If you need to give someone CPR, you know the situation is dire. Something needs to be done quick or the person will die.
I want to suggest that your marriage has some vital signs as well. If any of these vital signs are absent from your marriage, the situation is dire. Something needs to be done quickly or your marriage will die.
Don’t wait for your marriage to “stop breathing” to start checking its vital signs. Regardless of whether your marriage is on its death bed or just needs a tune up, the place to start working is on its vitals:
- COMMUNICATE – A marriage trying to survive without communication is like someone trying to live without oxygen. Its impossible. I’ve heard it sad that communication is the “oxygen” of your relationship. Remember the early days of your relationship? Long talks, hours on the phone, letters, emails, text messages, etc… Communication brought life to your relationship in the beginning and it also is needed to sustain the health of your relationship moving forward. Here’s a few tips:
- Listen – Ted Tripp has said that the art of communication is not expressing your thoughts but rather learning how to draw out the thoughts of another. This requires a combination of unselfishness and skill. Unselfishness to be willing to set your agenda aside and be willing to seek to understand what is happening with your spouse. This can best be done by developing the skill of asking good questions.
- Praise – I believe this is the “lowest hanging fruit” in the area of communication. Try and catch your spouse doing something good and tell them about it!
- Dream – Dreaming together cultivates an environment that draws out what matters most for a husband and wife. Talk about a dream vacation or a dream job. Or, ask your spouse what a dream day might look like for them. Do you have a dream for what your kids lives will be like at 13, 16, 21, or 35? Dreaming is fun, but don’t only do it for the sake of intimate communication. Ask you spouse what you can do to help them accomplish some of their individual dreams, or talk through what you can do as a couple do accomplish some of your mutual dreams. Plan a dream session with your spouse and see what comes of it.
- PRAY – You’ve probably heard it said that couples who pray together, stay together. I couldn’t agree more. Why? Prayer invites God to work in your marriage. Max Lucado is famous for saying, “When we work, we work. When we pray, God works.” Marriage is hard enough with God’s help. Why would you choose to try and do it on your own? We all need help in marriage. One of the most significant ways we can get help is to invite God to work in your marriage through prayer. Here’s a few posts to help you:
- REPENT -Repentance is an on-going heart attitude that looks for, agrees with, and turns from sinful heart attitudes and behavior. The result is godly sorrow that leads to seeking forgiveness from the ones we’ve hurt and ultimately leads to lasting change. Repentance is contagious. When you repent, the heart of your spouse is typically softened. The opposite of repentance is an on-going heart attitude of ignoring, rejecting, and having a general complacency and justification of sinful heart attitudes and behaviors. The result is pride that leads to an increasingly sinful life that leaves a wake of destruction for everyone in your path…especially your spouse. In short, repentance leads to revival. A lack of repentance leads to rebellion. Take that to the bank. Here’s a few ways to move in the direction of repentance:
- Ask God for it – Repentance is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25). It isn’t something we can muster up in our own strength. When we experience repentance, our first response needs to be one of recognition and thanks to the One who gave it.
- Take a step of faith towards it – If I waited until I felt repentant for my sin to ask my wife for forgiveness it would seldom happen. Lack of feeling repentant should not delay taking a step in the direction of repentance. If you lack feeling repentant, ask God to give you the gift of repentance while simultaneously taking a step of faith towards repentance by confessing any known sin to your spouse. Many times confessing sin to your spouse is a significant step in the direction of feeling repentant.
- Embrace it as a mindset – Repentance is not something once done and forever accomplished, but it is a way of life and an attitude of the heart that is lived day in and day out. It is constantly asking God to reveal and help you turn from sinful attitudes, motives, and behavior. We should constantly be asking God, “…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). As God reveals ways you have sinned against your spouse, confess to God and receive his perfect forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and confess to your spouse (James 5:16).
Let me re-iterate. CPR is not just for dying marriages. Practicing communication, prayer, and repentance will help dead marriages come alive, make good marriages great, and help make great marriages greater.