In a recent sermon at Parkview Alliance Church, I spoke about marriage and the need for married couples to actively pursue a healthy marriage. Marriage, like a healthy garden or a crop, needs to be tended regularly to be healthy. Unlike popular thought, healthy marriages don’t occur spontaneously but take constant hard work and diligent effort. To help people reflect upon and apply this in their lives, I came up with the concept of a Marriage “Full-Court P.R.E.S.S.”
As a former competitive basketball player, I am familiar with the need for good defense at times when the game gets close and the pressure mounts. When this is the case, the most common, and arguably, the best course of action is a full-court press. I want to take that metaphor and use it in the context of marriage, suggesting the following five practices (not comprehensive) that can aid in producing a healthy marriage.
The Full-Court Marriage P.R.E.S.S.:
- Pray Together. Prayer is the intimate conversation, existing within relationship, between humanity and an Almighty God, made possible through Christ. At the heart of prayer is intimacy. It is impossible to have a healthy prayer life without being open and honest with God. If you pray with your spouse, not only will you grow in your relationship with God but also with your spouse as you share intimately together and before God. If you are going through difficulties, try praying together! Invite Christ in to your situation and your struggle and see what God will do. Recognize that if things are difficult in your marriage, this will be the last thing you will want to do but I would argue, for a variety of reasons, that it is also the most important thing you can do together and for each other!
- Recreation. This is a simple and often neglected part of a healthy marriage. You need to have fun with your spouse. It is hard to be angry and annoyed with each other when you are having fun together. It is an important part of growing intimacy together and enjoying life with one another. Find an activity you both enjoy and do it together!
- Extend Forgiveness. Admittedly, it is difficult to extend forgiveness in big things but it is easier to do so when you have extended it in small things. Do not do what is called “Gunny Sacking;” in other words, do not hold on to things until they blow up and unloading all your carried grievances at one time. Instead, seek and extend forgiveness often! This is why the Bible says we are not supposed to let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26). Extend and offer forgiveness frequently!
- Say “thank-you” & “I love you” lots. This seems simple and is frequently stated but it is also absolutely true and foundational to a good marriage. You can’t say it too often and you need to find different ways of expressing it (words, gifts, cards, physical affection, time, etc.).
- Seek Help. A common mistake many couples make when things get rough, when something bad happens, or when communication begins to break down is that they delay getting help until it is the last resort. Don’t make this mistake! Seek help from a pastor, mentor, or counselor before things get worse. Remember, the process of counseling is confidential and the counselor is an advocate for your health and success!
Jesus affirmed the teaching that, in marriage, two people become one. In marriage the husband and wife leave their families and join together in a life long commitment together. This is a commitment that takes work as couples P.R.E.S.S. themselves, with God’s help, towards health and vitality. Whether your marriage is good or struggling, put on a full-court P.R.E.S.S. and experience a healthy marriage together. Remember, a common enemy of a great marriage is a good one. Don’t settle for good, P.R.E.S.S. on towards great.