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Monday, October 6, 2014

My marriage vows are all about what I am going to do. 

Since the name of this blog is Journey to Surrender, I figure once in a while I should circle back and talk about surrender in marriage. So what does it mean to have a surrendered marriage?

The first kind of surrender involves giving your marriage, your self and your spouse over to God. This is what I refer to as the vertical surrender in marriage. That's a topic for another post.

Today I want to focus on the horizontal surrender in marriage. In essence, this kind of surrender means the surrender of self. Self-centeredness, self-protection and self-reliance don't fit in a surrendered marriage. Surrender, in this context, means not looking so much to your rights as to your responsibilities and to the good of your relationship. At times it may involve laying aside your personal preferences, sacrificing your self for the sake of your spouse and for the good of your marriage.

Surrender is not necessarily easy, but it is hugely rewarding.

If couples could really get this, I mean really learn to live lives of surrender, each unto the other, it would radically alter the course of their marriage journey for the better. That is a big promise, but I honestly believe that this kind of mutual surrender creates a wide pathway to a strong, passionate and intimate marriage. It's why I do what I do here.

My Wedding Vows Point to Me

Think for a moment about your wedding vows.

We used traditional vows at our wedding. The vows I made to my wife before God and the witnesses gathered there are all about what I promise to do. There were no ifs, ands or buts. There were no escape clauses or convenient outs. I promised to love my wife, for better or worse. I pledged to care for her, whether we be rich for poor. I made a covenant to stick by her side that includes times of sickness and times of health.

Over our 32 years we've seen both ends of the spectrum of good times and tough times. If you are like most couples, you probably have too.  Whether you used a traditional form of vows, as we did, or wrote your own, the promises you made point to the choices YOU vowed to make and the things YOU pledged to do for your spouse. I'm pretty sure you didn't include any ifs, ands or buts in your vows either.

You and I, when we said our vows, we said, in essence, "I'm in this for keeps, no matter what." We believed our love was worth it, and we committed to endure any hardship.

I love how Danny Silk writes about this in his book Keep Your Love On.
A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice. This choice must be based on who they are, what they want, and what they are committed to doing as individuals. 
Traditional marriage vows express the nature of this choice beautifully. The two people standing at the altar do not say, “You will. You will love me and cherish me in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” And they don’t say, “I will love you as long as you love me. I will be faithful to you as long as you are faithful to me.” Their vows are all about what they are going to do. “I will love you. I will protect you. I will serve you. I will be faithful to you, no matter what.
Every Day is A New Set of Choices

None of us are perfect at this surrendered marriage thing. We are all going to struggle with the many "selfs" that want to creep in. Self-focus is as easy and natural as breathing in and out. But we don't have to live self-absorbed. We have choices.

I'm thankful that every day I have a new set of choices before me when it comes to how I'm going to approach my marriage. God's mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). So I start each day with a fresh dose of grace to live the marriage I want to have instead of the marriage I used to have. Hold fast to this fabulous truth.

Choose today to focus more on your half of the marriage equation than on your spouse's half. Think of one small action you could take today that would bless your husband or wife? What choice can you make today that would put your relationship ahead of your personal preferences?

Don't worry about how your spouse will respond or if they will respond with a similar kind of selfless surrender. You can only control only your end of the vows. Remember that you pledged "no matter what." It doesn't matter how or even if they notice.

Refuse the bait of offense when your actions go unappreciated or unnoticed. Yield your feelings of offense to God and press on. Tomorrow, you will have another set of similar choices to make.

When you screw it up, and you will, forgive yourself. Give yourself the same grace God gives. And move on.

Today, and every day, ask yourself, "What Am I Going to Do for My Marriage Today?"

Do you have a story to share of how a decision to surrender changed your marriage? Share it in a comment.

image credit: lightwise /


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