Do you _____________________(fill in the blank) take this ________________(fill in your spouses name)  to be your _________________(fill in your spouses role) to love them, to honor them ...For better or for worse...for richer or for poorer...in sickness and in health...By power vested with the authority of God I now pronounce you husband and wife. . Beautiful vows! It's the best part of the entire wedding ceremony. We go through so much just to get the point of saying those vows to our loved one. 

The thing about our wedding day is that it is one of the happiest days of our lives. There is an excitement in the air about a new beginning, about starting with a clean slate in the relationship and in the eyes of God. Everything that happened prior to the marriage was before you were all in....committed with 100% of who you are in front of the world and in the front of God. There is something amazing about seeing your spouse either standing at the alter waiting for you, or walking down the aisle looking like an angel that just stepped right our of heaven. Remember what you were thinking right at that moment. I do! I remember thinking I am the luckiest person in the whole world. God loved me enough to give me my spouse. I remember thinking I am going to be the best husband a wife could want. I am going to treat her like a queen.

Sometimes I reflect on that day as I face trials in my marriage. Not everyday is fun when being married. There are some really hard days where tensions are high, the enemy is attacking and honestly the feeling of why bother, or I quit is trying to fight it's way in. Maybe you have felt this way. Maybe you are feeling this way now. 

Just this morning my wife and I were talking about our wedding vows. I don't ever recall committing to God leave my wife when is she sick, or when she is worse, or poorer. I made a decision with my life to God and my wife. To love her and honor her when she is worse, when she is sick and when she is poor. It is during those down times that my love, and honor to her and God has an opportunity to shine the brightest. The decision I have to make in reality is actually an attitude one. My attitude drives my character and my character drives my actions. If my attitude towards my spouse during the down times is "peace out" then my character and my actions clearly show me as a liar and person who gets going when the times get tough. 

Its is during those tough times I may possible miss out on the greatest acts of God in my marriage if my attitude is not on point. I can't control my spouse (as much as I would love to sometimes) but I can control ME. I can control my attitude and my faith to see and experience God move in my marriage. I have learned a wonderful thing about the tough times in my marriage. When I feel like I am on empty, and nothing left in my spirit to give, and I keep my attitude focused on looking up and searching for God more, it is then that God steps in with an infinite reserve tank. I experience him in a fresh ways as I learn to rely on him and trust him as he honors the marriage vows. 

I have come to learn that God wants you to have a great marriage. He is willing to step in and fight your marriage and he never gives up. His attitude never changes. His love never stops. He offers a hope that only he alone can offer when you feel like you are done.  All you have to do is look up instead of looking down.  

What do you focus on in your marriage? Your rights or your responsibilities? So many of us find ourselves focusing on our rights. It's all about what we want, what we disire and expect from our spouse.  Our unmet expectations is often the source of our greatest conflicts. My wife isn't living up to what I expected of her.... my husband has let me down....so often I hear statmentst like these from couples whose marriages aren't living up to what they each expected it would. How about you? Is your marriage living up to what you dreamed. Is it meeting all your expectations? Notice how questions like these cause us to think and spotlight our desires and not those of Jesus.

Here's a question... is your marriage living up to what Jesus wants? The fact that there is next to no difference in the divorce rate of "Christians" and "non-Christians" is appalling! So why is this the case? Because our marriages don't reflect the compassion of Christ...instead they embody the conflict of Satan. Marraige quickly becomes all about me and less about what the other person wants. We are quick to anger and slow to forgive and forget...and it's because we lack the compassion and humility of Christ.

Here are some thoughts from Philippians 2:1-11

1. How do you encourage each other in the marriage? Show me a man that is encouraged by his wife who thinks he can do anything, and I will show you man that can conquer the world. On the flip side, show me a woman who is not lifted up by her husband, and I will show you a woman who is defeated. Christ has got to be the center of your encouragement in your marriage for your marriage to make it. PERIOD!

2. How do you fellowship with one another? Are you spending more time away from your wife and talking about your wife to your friends than you are her? Women, are you spending more time at your prayer group talking to them about your husband instead of talking to him? Men, what have you placed as priority in front of your wife? Women, are you children top priority over your husband? Just because you may be a mother doesn't mean you stop being a wife. God first, Husband & Marriage second, Kids third....so many marriages are destroyed because of the priority of the kids have become first...Let me just ask this question...do you really want your kids to grow up in a broken marriage so they can learn from your example? Is that the priority you want for your children? If your marriage is going to make it you have to fellowship with one another. Jesus own words...where two or more are gathered in my name I am THERE...

3. How much compassion do you show? The real question is how forgiving are you...or do you hold your spouses mistakes over their head? Do you create an expectation of your spouse that they can't never live up to and thats why it seems they are always letting you down? Here is a reality check. If you were to stand next to Jesus would you be mistaken for his twin? NOT AT ALL!!! You are not that great! Humility creates compassion. Remembering how you have been forgiven causes humility. If you marriage is going to make it you need to have the compassion and the forgiveness of Christ as your focus.

4. Are you seeking your ambitions or your spouses? At the end of the day most marriages look like this...one person has given up his or her dream for the other person. They put their ambitions on the back bunner, and here's the reality...most people will hold resentment as a result. Men... 9 times out of 10, your spouse is not that interested in watching you do something like fishing or playing video games. She may say with a smile on her face she is...but she is BORED out of her mind. Women....men don't want to want to do the dishes. When both spouses are seeking each others ambitions its amazing how those ambitions seem to open up to Jesus. Your spouse is your help mate and you have a purpose that Jesus has set before you. Always remember that.