One of the neatest marriage ceremonies I have ever performed was on a pier extending out into Pensacola Bay in Northwest Florida. The weather was perfect. As a gentle, tropical breeze rippled in off the water and the sun sank into a calm, blue sea, this young couple vowed their hearts to each other. I’d met Jerry and Beth Anne at church. Jerry was a soda delivery driver who delivered 7 Up’s, Pepsi’s, and other refreshments to our church building. I had the chance to get to know Jerry by hanging around the vending machine each Thursday afternoon around three. We struck up a great friendship. Before long the young couple was coming to church regularly.
Not only did I have the opportunity to take them through pre-marriage counseling, but I also had the chance to share the Gospel with them. One week before I married them, I baptized them. What a great opportunity. I racked my brain to come up with a unique, but simple ceremony for this fun-loving couple. But this is what I came up with: “7 Ups to a Great Marriage.” Jerry and Beth loved it. Here are 7 ways to make a great marriage.
7 ways to make a great marriage
- Light up
- Dress up
- Stand up
- Start up
- Shut up
- Pull up
- Look up
Here are the words of encouragement I shared with Jerry and Beth on their wedding day. Don’t let yourself ever believe that you and your spouse won’t make it, that marriage is just too hard. Marriage is well worth the effort. Just ask Jerry and Beth.
#1 Light up.
To keep the fire going, every time one of you walks into the room, let your face light up in delight. Send the message throughout your years together that you are delighted to be in the other’s presence (Song of Solomon 2:14; Proverbs 15:13).
#2 Dress up.
Don’t allow yourselves to get sloppy. Stay physically fit. Present the best you have to your spouse. Sure you can relax, but don’t allow relaxing to become an excuse for living in a state of carelessness. Take a bath or a shower.
#3 Stand up.
Become each other’s strongest supporter and advocate. Don’t ever speak negatively of the other to friends, coworkers, or family. Assume the best about each other. Trust each other until you have solid reasons for not trusting, and even then, learn to trust again. Stand by each other’s side when times are good and when they’re not, when it’s the popular thing to do, and when it’s not. Stand by your spouse when no one else will. Believe the best about each other when it would easy not to (1 Corinthians 13:5-7).
#4 Start up.
Start each day with prayer and time alone. Couples who begin their day praying together will have an edge on the competition—more strength, better attitudes, and clearer perspectives about the challenges of the day. Prayer frames the day and its events in a heavenly perspective. Couples who do this are taking God along in their journey together that day. There’s no better companion.
#5 Shut up.
Learn when to speak and when to be quiet (James 1:19). Count to ten before responding to something hurtful the other says. Learn when to walk away and when to walk back together (Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 12:18; 16:24). Let your words ring with tones that are sweet to the soul. The tone you use may be just as important as the words you use.
#6 Pull up.
When the other becomes discouraged, you should become his or her greatest cheerleader. Become a broker of hope in your marriage. When emotions, experiences, and life say it’s not worth it, you assure your spouse it is. Find at least one thing that you can encourage each other every day. This investment will pay off a thousandfold (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13).
#7 Look up.
Don’t depend on your own strength to make your marriage successful. Look to the God who made the sea, sky, and mountains. If He can fashion such wonders, He can also create wonders within you. When you don’t know what to do or say, remember, God does. Ask Him. Some days you will not feel like being kind and serving each other, but because you serve the Lord, you will do it anyway—“as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5: 22).
When you have tried everything you know to do, when you’ve read every marriage book you can get your hands on and you’re still struggling, God is probably calling you to lookup. When you look up God will provide insight and strength you can’t get anywhere else (Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:13).
My prayer is that these Seven-Up principles will refresh your marriage from weariness, boredom, and loss of direction.
I also pray that you will be able to expose some of the myths we talked about. Myths are so deceiving. They seem so right, so natural. You may have heard them repeated over and over. But a lie is still a lie, no matter how many times it’s told, and myths in marriage can wreak a great deal of havoc.
Don’t try to expose and correct every myth in one afternoon. Work on one at a time. Take baby steps toward a better marriage. If you mess up and make a mistake, don’t give up.
Keep on dancing. You can’t waltz if you don’t keep trying.