I have to be honest, I almost never think about my marriage vows these days — 18 years later! I don’t ponder the “…in sickness and in health” we once vowed. I don’t reminisce about the “for better or worse” or the being there “through thick and the thin.” It all seems so long ago when we stood at the front of the church (all gussied up and swoony) saying each of these grand and sweeping statements. You know, the ones we promised each other to live by forever and ever.
The words we spoke and the vows we made were (and still are) beautiful. But it seems to me now we were also quite delusional and we might as well have promised each other the moon.
We don’t have a clue what the years will bring, do we? We don’t know what the sicknesses will look like. Or how hard the worst will be, and somewhere in the midst of life, kids, career, family, kids, in-laws, kids, busyness, kids, (oh, and did I mention kids?), we find ourselves forgetting our vows.
At least we did in our marriage. Yup, right on target, year seven with three little boys. I know, its cliche.
It seems that over and over, we humans find ourselves in difficult places. Trying but so often failing. And in our communication, we’re often misunderstanding and reading into each other’s words or actions. Each of us brings our brokenness to the table and we don’t always do the best job of living out the promises we once made.
But here’s some good news: over the course of our marriage, we’ve found two sentences that have helped us so much! Two sentences that, literally, changed everything about how we operate, how we communicate, and how we react to what the other is saying or doing.
How do we do it? It goes something like this…
First, we decide that we love each other. Then, we agree that we love each other (two different things!). Next, we acknowledge to each other an understanding about this love.
So our first sentence is: You love me.
Next, we grasp this concept: let’s not take offense. Meaning, we don’t intentionally intend (or interpret) harm to each other with words. Yes, sometimes words comes out wrong. Yes, at times they do hurt. But we never intend to be hurtful. Simply said, it’s giving each other “the benefit of the doubt.”
So our second sentence is: You want my good.
You love me. You want my good.
These seven simple words are a marriage changer!
When my husband says something that I could interpret as harsh or condemning, I simply remind myself that,”He couldn’t possibly mean it that way, because he loves me and he wants my good”.
When I feel frustrated by his actions, or they seem to belittle me; I just remember, “This isn’t what it seems, because he loves me and he wants my good.”
What happens when we live and love in light of these sentences? Instead of finding hurt and buying into the lie that it’s intentional, we start viewing each other through a truer lens. We start understanding these truths:
“My spouse isn’t trying to hurt me, because: I’m loved.”
“My spouse isn’t doing that to make me angry, because: they want my good.”
“My spouse doesn’t mean that the way it came out, because: they love me.”
“My spouse doesn’t mean to brush me off, because: they want my good.”
Sometimes, we are frustrated. We do sound harsh. We get whiny and nit-picky.
But with our two sentences, we re-interpret the intention. With our two sentences, we can re-align to our genuine intentions, because we want our spouse to know: I love you. I want your good.
We have many faults and our spouses do too. But when we look through a positive lens, when we trust that their love and intentions are good, we can see their beauty so much more clearly than their ick! It’s what I want my husband to know, that I love him endlessly and I only want his good: even when I mess up — which is bound to happen.
So for the “…in sickness” we once vowed, the “…or worse” we will face, and the being there “through thick and the thin,” let’s remember those seven precious words: You love me. You want my good.