Three Essentials of Marriage: # 3–Bless Others

This is the last in a three-part series on marriage, inspired by the three wedding dishes that have survived 16.5 years of marriage. Essential # 1, I suggested, is praying out loud, and essential # 2 is telling your story.IMG_0408

I hate it when cheesy phrases, especially cheesy Christian phrases, are true. I suppose that reveals my own particular penchant for pietistic snobbery, but no matter. The specific phrase I have in mind for this post is this: we are blessed to be a blessing.

An overly cheerful alliterative phrase? Yes, but also true. Blessed is of course a theological participle, demanding the question, blessed by whom? God is always the implied subject, the one who does the blessing. It is often, although not always, more helpful than the word “lucky,” which has no implied agent. Am I lucky that I have a strong marriage, or blessed? One could argue either way, even within a theological framework. The demarcation line between being lucky and being blessed, I would suggest, is whether or not I hoard the good thing (in this case, my marriage) to myself. That is, a Powerball winner is lucky. A Powerball winner who creates a foundation to support an awesome non-profit (say, for instance, this one) is blessed. See the difference?

Whatever it is, it is not a blessing until you share it, pass it on, give it away. I have found this to be essential in marriage. Marital bliss is really about marital bless (Dang it! Now I’m doing it). The point of my marriage with Heather, and Heather’s marriage with me, is not just us, it’s others. God brought us together to help and serve others. We are blessed to be a blessing. And if we’re not blessing others, we’re just lucky, and luck always runs out.

Enough already, I’ve made my point. Let me hang a bit of practice on it, however. For me, this essential of marriage means sharing. I am called to share Heather with others. This means I try to not be grumpy when our kids interrupt our after-dinner conversations. This also means I do everything I can to support her ministry and calling as a physician. She is a phenomenal doctor. She is intelligent, and funny, and cares about her patients, and makes a tremendous impact on the women she serves. Which sometimes means she is not at home as much as I would want her to be. There is not much room for sullenness about this, though. She needs my support, not my huffing and puffing because she missed the dinner that I made when she stayed past clinic hours to deliver a baby. There’s always another night for a family dinner, and there’s always the microwave. And a new life might be more important than Chicken in Tequila Lime Sauce.

This also changes how we go about relationships. Our involvement with others is not purely social. Again, it is about sharing–our life together can bless others, and is often blessed by others. A strong marriage needs boundaries, but it should not be a fortress.

Sometimes what is true, good, and beautiful is trite, cheesy, and kitschy–the stuff of coffee mugs emblazoned with Papyrus font. So be it. I am blessed in my marriage, and so am called to bless others. I pray that the two are never parted, til death do us part.

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  1. Hi Jeff,
    I found a short-cut on my Chrome toolbar last week called “Pastors forget about Paychecks”. Curious, I clicked on it and landed on your blog. I really enjoyed reading this series on marriage and look forward to more from you. God has gifted you and you have honed that gift into an encouraging ministry.

    Blessings to you and your family!
    Dan Jones

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