A sanctuary is a place of refuge where we can feel safe to be ourselves. It is a place where no matter what happens we will be unconditionally loved. It is a place where we can relax and be ourselves. To most of us, home is such a place. A place where we can be self-centered, lazy, not watch what we say, and take our spouse for granted. Oops, did I just say that?

Unfortunately, we are all guilty of it. When we are in public, at work, or with our friends we are very careful with what we say and how we act. Ever conscious of our and others' body language. Before we speak, we think about how it will be received and any possible consequences. It is GAME ON! Then when we are under our own roof and no one is looking we just don’t put the same effort out…GAME OFF. We become lazy; when I was in the Marines, we called it “dropping our packs.” We just want to relax and do nothing…after all, don’t we have a right to do that?

Think about how much nicer you are to your spouse when others are looking than you are when no one is around. It is sad, but too often true. For example, early in my marriage, after I had a hard day at work, I just couldn’t wait to get home and relax…after all, I deserved it because I had worked hard all day. The tricky thing is, my wife was with the kids and worked hard all day thus she deserved a break too. So there you are, two people with expectations to relax and dump some responsibility. It didn’t take long for both of us to be disappointed and it often led to “intense fellowship.”

What Wendy, my wife, and I learned the hard way is that your “GAME” must always be on--there are no breaks; especially at home with those you love. Never take them for granted. Never “keep it real.” Never give ourselves permission to take time off. Have the attitude that we are an unworthy servant,[1] put your spouse first[2] by looking out for their interests[3], and outdo one another in showing honor.[4]

Successful marriages are never 50/50 – which is two people trying to give half effort and maybe or maybe not meeting in the middle. James C. Hunter said, “Anyone who ever said marriage was 50/50 probably wasn’t married very long.”[5] If you are not 100% committed to making your marriage work, as though its success is 100% dependent on you, then your marriage is in trouble. Make a commitment here and now to live as if 100% of your marriage’s success depended on your ownership through God’s help and support. Remember what Jesus says in John 15:5b, “apart from Me you can do nothing.”[6]

[1] Luke 17:7-10
[2] Matthew 20:26-27; Mark 10:31
[3] Philippians 2:4
[4] Romans 12:10
[5] James C. Hunter, The Servant (New York, NY: Crown Business, 2012), xvii
[6] Michael A. Burner, The Guys Rules (Spring Valley, CA: Lamp Post Publications, 2019), 103

by Michael Burner

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