Do you hear voices? I don’t mean the hallucinatory type. I mean the voices of influence. I mean the voices of those with whom you surround yourself. They might be friends or neighbors. They might be family members. They might also be those you don’t know in person, but you listen to what they have to say on television, podcasts, or on social media.
Whether we realize it or not, the voices we listen to influence and persuade us. They have a say in the choices we make and the direction we walk. They persuade our thoughts and beliefs. They influence our emotions and responses.
The question is, what do the voices you hear say about your marriage?
Consider these scenarios:
Perhaps you meet a group of friends for coffee. One by one, they begin to share stories about their marriage. One person complains about a spouse and another agrees. Before you know it, everyone is talking about the annoying things their spouses say and do. Maybe you share a story or two of your own. Your friends lay down their verdicts about your spouse. You leave that gathering with a growing sense of bitterness toward your spouse and your marriage.
Or maybe you sit down to lunch in the break room at your job one day. A co-worker announces he is getting a divorce. He says, “I’ve tried to make it work, but we just don’t love each other anymore.” The other’s gathered nod in agreement and say things like, “You need to do what makes you happy” and “Sometimes it’s just time to move on.” You return to your desk thinking about the changes you’ve seen in your own marriage over time. The phrase, “Sometimes it’s just time to move on” keeps swirling around in your mind and you realize just how much the conversation influenced you, and not for the better.
There are voices all around us speaking into our marriages, whether we want them to or not. Many of these voices influence us to give up the fight for a healthy marriage. Because we are sinners, it doesn’t take much for our sinful hearts to turn away from God’s call on our marriage. It doesn’t take much for us to cast aside God’s definition of love found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It doesn’t take much for us to find reasons to be irritated and impatient and unkind to our spouses. Indeed, our hearts are wayward and fickle.
That’s why we need voices speaking life and truth into our marriages.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).
We need friends and mentors who step into our lives and exhort us to stay in the fight.
“It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools” (Eccl. 7:5).
We need those who will remind us that love is more than an emotion that comes and goes with the tide of desire. We need reminders of what Biblical love is, that it’s not a temporary feeling, but an action; it’s not about receiving, but about giving; it’s not self-serving but self-sacrificing (1 Cor. 13). We need friends who will remind us that Christian marriage points to who Christ is and what he has done in laying down his life for the church (Eph. 5:22-33).
This means we need to hear from older couples who have endured dark and stormy seasons in their marriage and have come out on the other side, stronger than they were before. We need to hear from them what to expect from marriage and their testimonies of God’s grace and faithfulness, in both the good times and in the hard. We need to hear that people do change over the course of a marriage and how God uses marriage to sanctify and transform us.
We also need couples in our life who are committed to model what it looks like to love one another, even when marriage is hard. We need people who are honest about the challenges in marriage, but who are equally confident in the Holy Spirit’s power to change and transform. We need friends and couples who will walk alongside us in our marriages, saying not necessarily what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.
We need their voices to rise above the cacophony of the world.
As believers, we are in the world, but not of it. We are bound to hear things that have a negative influence on our marriages. We can’t escape that. But what can we do?
It may mean staying away from those who encourage gossip and negative talk about each other’s spouses.
It may mean turning off the television when a show dishonors marriage.
It certainly means surrounding ourselves with wise friends, counselors, and mentors who will speak louder than the rest.
It definitely means turning to God’s word and reading what he says about marriage, love, and how he works in our lives.
It always means bringing our marriage to the throne of grace in prayer.
Friends, the world is not for you and your marriage. But God is. Pray that he would bring people into your life to speak truth and model what it looks like to love as Christ has loved us.