So, just what is an extraordinary marriage? A few weeks back, I turned things over to you all in our first “Ask the Community” post and asked: What Does An Extraordinary Marriage Mean to You?
As expected, the response was awesome, and I learned a lot from your comments on the blog and over on the Engaged Marriage Facebook page. I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a few of my favorite answers (my emphasis added) and let you know my own thoughts as well.
Mark gave his thoughts on why some settle for less:
I would say being on mission together for something much bigger than yourselves describes an extraordinary marriage. More than likely, almost every couple would say they want that, but most don’t know how or just don’t want to do the work to be extraordinary and end up settling for less.
Wendy R. did a wonderful job explaining God’s role:
To be extraordinary, be a three-fold cord. Individually, we are not perfect and will inevitably disappoint our spouse time after time. With God’s strength truly binding the marriage, it is indeed “not quickly broken”. To me, this means that if I’m really trying to conform to Christ’s example, that will make me a better spouse, and when my husband is also working toward this, God will bless the marriage with common purpose. Ultimately, as with every good thing, God gets the credit for a great marriage.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ken offered a more practical definition:
An extraordinary marriage is when both partners seek to serve each other. It’s one where communication is free flowing and each partner is safe to share issues that concern them. It’s a marriage where both partners are quick to forgive. It’s a place where commitment is unswerving. It’s realizing that you always need to be learning more about each other over time.
Tom and Debi Walter offered some wonderful insight from their 31 years of marriage:
What a great question! We are about to celebrate our 31st anniversary next month…yet, it feels as if our life together has just begun. What makes an extraordinary marriage is one where each spouse gives of themselves 100% with a willingness to lay their lives down for the other.
Difficult? Oh, yes! Especially during arguments where you KNOW you’re right. Possible? Only by the grace of God at work in both hearts.
God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness, and marriage is a great garden for cultivating holiness. If we are truly wanting an extraordinary marriage, it must be on God’s terms – we are to reflect Christ’s relationship to His church. When they see us – we are providing a mirror of Him that looks so attractive that others are drawn into the Kingdom for His glory, not our own.
And to top it all off – God helps us grow more and more in love as the years pass. Amazing!
There were many other fantastic insights as well, but I really think that these four do a great job of summarizing all that an Extraordinary Marriage represents.
What Is MY Definition of an Extraordinary Marriage?
Well, with a tag line like “Achieve the Extraordinary in Marriage…and in Life!” you know that I have some thoughts on this question. However, to be honest, I’ve never really been able to pinpoint exactly what it means…for me, an Extraordinary Marriage is one of those things that you just know it when you see it!
This is where you guys helped me think through it and develop my own, solid thoughts on this topic.
What is the Engaged Marriage “definition” of an Extraordinary Marriage? Let me start with the more spiritual aspects and proceed to the more practical examples of what it looks like through my eyes:
- It’s sacramental, Christ-centered and fully embracing of the Holy Trinity (it IS a Holy Trinity).
- It serves as a vivid example of God’s love for His people.
- It takes two people and joins them together with the capacity to do more good than the sum of the individuals.
- It lets two ordinary people combine their love of one another so powerfully that an entirely new person can be created by God through them.
- It’s based on a spirit of trust, open communication and deep mutual respect.
- It includes a lot of problems, difficulties, tough times and hurt feelings. But forgiveness and commitment overcome all obstacles.
- It doesn’t “settle” for the mediocrity and weakness that our culture says a “normal” marriage should be.
- An Extraordinary Marriage doesn’t quit.
That doesn’t exactly fit on a business card, huh? 🙂 But I think that’s a good starting point for what an Extraordinary Marriage is all about.
Do you like my definition? What am I missing or overstating? Let’s talk about this one!
You’ve done a great job clearly defining all aspects of marriage. There will always be an element of mystery involved with the definition because God says He takes two individuals and makes them one! Do we really believe that? Think of it; When God looks at us He sees one unit – we’re not like two oxes yoked together trying to cooperate and walk in the same direction. No, we’ve become one ox, and from God’s perspective there’s only one way to walk – together. Have you ever seen an ox’s four legs try to go in different directions? Not only would that be a strange sight, but impossible as well. I believe if more Christian married couples realilzed their oneness, it would force reconciliation, making divorce not an option. Thanks for this post, Dustin! It’s good to clearly define what we believe. It helps us all stay focused and committed to our extraordinary marriages! 🙂
.-= Tom and Debi Walter – TheRomanticVineyard´s last blog ..Change of Plans =-.
Thank you Tom and Debi for your wonderful contribution! You do such a great job communicating some truly mysterious truths.
I just added The Romantic Vineyard to my blogroll!
Wow – thanks, Dustin! We appreciate your encouragement! What a gift marriage is, and what a joy to spend time talking about how to make it better – not only for our pleasure, but for God’s glory!
Talk to you soon!
.-= Tom and Debi Walter – TheRomanticVineyard´s last blog ..Change of Plans =-.
Tom and Debi – great and insightful comment. I completely agree that this mysterious idea of being “one flesh” is so critically important. It eliminate the whole idea of competition in marriage, of winners and losers, when you realize how intimately joined together we actually are.
PS You guys will be going on my blogroll as well, along with Engaged Marriage, as soon as I get around to putting it up on my blog.
.-= Scott´s last blog ..What Do You See? PiP =-.
Thanks, Scott! We look forward to seeing you around! Have a great weekend!
.-= Tom and Debi Walter – TheRomanticVineyard´s last blog ..Perfect Harmony =-.
I really liked your part of the definition pointing out that our culture settles for “mediocrity and weakness” as the norm for marriage. That is so true! Society finds it incredibly amusing to characterize husbands as incapable idiots, deadbeats, or henpecked weaklings. The best sitcom wife is often nagging, working against her husband behind his back, and/or constantly complaining about her husband and tearing him down. While we sometimes laugh at all of this, it really does damage the image of marriage. We think, well, at least we aren’t *that* messed up–and then settle for mediocrity instead.
Good reminder to look to a better example for marriage than the culture around us.
Thanks, Wendy! It was really my distaste and frustrations with our culture’s view of marriage that got me thinking about creating this site. Sure, I laugh at those same movies and sitcoms, and I have certainly rationalized my own shortcomings with the sure knowledge that I was doing better than “a lot of guys.” But I firmly believe that should hold higher standards when it comes to the most important relationship in our lives!
Marriage was instituted by God. Thanks for your bold stand on shape Gods’ message about marriage. http://rafeeq.doomby.com/liens.html this website will help couple tie the knot