By Nick & Dianna Cash
This past weekend, I was privileged to share a message of encouragement and challenge at the wedding of two dear friends with whom Dianna and I have formed a great friendship over the past two years. In addition to being co-workers together with us onboard the Africa Mercy, Nick and Suzanne were also like an aunt and uncle to our three kids.
Dianna and I were blessed to be able to do some marriage mentoring with this wonderful couple over the past several months. We spent many hours together talking, sharing, laughing, praying, answering questions, and exploring God’s best for Christian marriage together. We also did a book study together using Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.
For their ceremony, Dianna and I had a few last words of encouragement and challenge to share with Nick and Suzanne as they embarked on the wonderful journey of marriage together. What follows are 11 pieces of practical marriage advice that we wanted to share with them at their wedding:
1. Marriage is not 50/50; it’s 100/100. Sometimes one of you will be on 0, and the other will need to supply the 100, or vice versa. And sometimes you’ll both be at 0, and in those times, you just have to cling to each other as tightly as you can, and pray like crazy!
2. Marriage is being committed to resolving conflicts together. Your problem to be fixed is not the other person. You are not opponents, competing across the table from each other. Instead, sit on the same side of the table, and attack the problem before you together as a unified Team.
3. In marriage, your love is each other’s home – so whether you live in Indiana or Australia or Guinea, your home is with the other, not your physical location. One time, I was returning home from a mission trip I had gone on with my church, and I started feeling homesick. I was 30 years old, and this was the first time I had ever really felt homesickness. I was telling my friend, “It’s not that I miss my house; I don’t miss 19th Ave (my street)… I miss Dianna.” And he said, “you’re homesick for Dianna, because Dianna is your home.” Today, you two are establishing a home together, with each other. Home will be wherever the other is.
4. The must loving phrase you can say to each other is not “I love you”. It is “thank you”. Thank each other for everything! And be specific:
- “Thank you for washing that casserole dish – it was really dirty!”
- “Thank you for taking the car to get the tire pressure checked – I was worried about that noise I was hearing.”
- “Thank you for staying close to me at your friend’s party; you didn’t have to do that, but I would have felt really alone apart from you”
- “Thank you for saving the last slice of birthday cake for me; I know you wanted it, but you left it for me – thanks!”
5. Commit to praise each other in public and to confront each other in private. Commit to honor each other behind the other’s back; don’t complain about the other to other people. Solve your marital problems with each other, and if you need to bring in outside help, let it be Godly mentors who will treat your issues with discretion and confidentiality. Don’t force your parents to side with one of you. And don’t pressure friends to “be on your side”. Instead, be on each other’s side, even when you are angry or frustrated with each other.
6. Guard your friendship together above all other earthly relationships. As of today, you are leaving your parents as your primary earthly relationships (Mom, Dad, I know that can be hard for you to hear!), and you are cleaving unto one another. That means from this day forward, you are committing the rest of your life to THIS relationship taking primacy over all others. So even when you have kids, guard this relationship with each other as even more precious and more dear to you than your relationships with your kids.
7. You are a Team. Parent as a Team. Never allow an issue with a child to divide you. Sit on the same side of the table, and resolve the issue together as a Team.
8. Marriage is an excellent and constant opportunity to practice selflessness. The healthy marriage relationship is one of always looking out for the needs and interests of the other person before your own. The wonderful thing is, if both spouses are doing this, then both of their needs and interests will be met! The Kingdom of God is backwards and upside-down from the kingdom of the flesh. The flesh says, “care for ME first!”, but God says care for your spouse first. His system is so smart, because if both are caring for each other, then both are cared for by someone who loves them and has committed their lives to them!
9. The world’s way is that if something seems broken, you can just throw it out and get a new one. But Christian marriage is not like that. If something seems broken in your marriage, you don’t throw it out and get a new one; you stay in it, you work together through it; you make it stronger & better than it was before.
10. You have to determine now that the word “divorce” will not even be in your marriage vocabulary. Determine now that divorce is not something that you will even consider as an option. Today, you become one; you are making a lifelong pledge, vowing to stick with each other through thick and thin. Sticking it out through the difficulties and coming through with something stronger and better – that’s contrary to the world’s ways.
11. Faithfulness, perseverance, loyalty – these are Kingdom values that Christian marriage exonerates. Christian marriage is an incarnational ministry to the world! It is a visible, constant, present symbol of Christ and His Church. One of the greatest ministries you will ever offer to the world around you is the way you treat your spouse, the way you talk about them when they’re not around, the way you support them, stand behind them, back them up before the watching world.
I concluded our message to Nick and Suzanne by comparing them to the married couple from the New Testament named Aquila and Priscilla. In the next post, I will share why this Biblical couple is such an excellent example of a Godly marriage.