Happenings around Antioch

Here’s one way to help your marriage

I will admit it. I don’t listen to many podcasts. In fact, I don’t regularly listen to any. But every now and then I hear about one, usually from my wife, that is a must hear. I would put Michael Hyatt’s latest podcast in that category. It is entitled “Four Commitments for Building a Successful, Long-term Marriage,” and it will take exactly 31 minutes out of your life. Michael is the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and has spent his career in the publishing industry. He has also lived the last 34 years loving the same woman and with her, raising five daughters.

Michael usually speaks about leadership in his podcast, and he prefaced this one with these comments: “… your marriage has everything to do with your effectiveness as a leader. Whether you realize it or not, as people observe your marriage, they make several inferences about you and your leadership:

  • They learn about your priorities and what matters most.
  • They learn how you treat the people who are closest to you.
  • They learn whether it’s all about you or you are a team player.

If your marriage is going to survive — and thrive — you will need to be intentional about it. Great marriages don’t just happen.”

His first commitment is, “Commit to continuing education.” Specifically, invest in the time it takes to get to know your spouse. Read good books on marriage. Go to marriage conferences. Get good, solid marriage counseling. Beware: Not all marriage counselors are created equal. Do your homework on this and get recommendations from people who have been helped through counseling. As for good marriage books, Cindy and I recommend “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper.

The second commitment is, “Commit to spending time together.” There is simply no substitute for time alone with your spouse. It doesn’t have to cost money, but it will cost time away from the TV or the Internet or the cell phone or the myriad other things we can water while our marriage is withering on the vine.

The third commitment is, “Commit to following a specific set of boundaries.” Michael’s are the same ones that I have adopted for my own life and ministry. Do not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex. Or travel alone with someone of the opposite sex. Or flirt with someone of the opposite sex. Those who regard these guidelines as rigid and restrictive may choose to ignore them. Many have, and the end result has sometimes been a marriage, family and career wrecked by an affair.

The fourth commitment is, “Commit to speaking well of your spouse.” Michael tells the story of going to a large and thriving church with his family years ago. The pastor was in his 30s, full of energy, a dynamic preacher and a warm, empathetic counselor. But whenever he and his young wife were together, they took shots at each other. At first it was all in jest, and others laughed. Then the comments got more biting. Michael and his wife ended up going to another church but heard later that the young pastor’s marriage ended in a messy divorce, and it was revealed that both spouses had engaged in a series of affairs. Here are just two benefits to speaking well of your spouse. One, “affirmation shifts your attitude toward your spouse.” Two, “affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery.”

The Bible says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” These four commitments may help us to do just that.

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J. Mark Fox is the author of A Faithful Man, his latest book, and the pastor of Antioch Community Church on Power Line Road in Elon. You can find all of Mark’s books on Amazon or other online sellers. Email Mark at