June 5, 2023

Lessons I’m Learning from a Blessed Marriage (Part 2)

Written by Boyd Bailey

Empathy is a way to connect to the emotion another person is experiencing.” Brené Brown

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today –June 5, 2023

Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers. Bless your fresh-flowing fountain! Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose— don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a prostitute? for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger? Proverbs 5:18, MSG

Last Friday, my wife Rita and I celebrated 44 years of marriage. What? I know, it should probably be against the law to marry at 19, ha! But we did. I had only been a new believer for three months. Yes, ignorance on fire for Jesus! Fortunately, our common faith commitment is what got us through. I was the focused hard worker, and Rita was the bubbly wife making our home hospitable. The euphoria lasted about a year, and then we began to realize there was much, much more to marriage than doing our own thing without truly engaging in each other’s needs, wants, and wishes. We experienced undergrad/grad school the first six years of marriage, with both of us working. After 2 ½ years, a little one was in tow. Joy and pain complicated our faith journey.

What is a healthy marriage? A healthy marriage is not without issues but is a relationship that has clarity and commitment to have a plan to process pain and to grow in love with one another. A healthy marriage has checkups as needed with a marital expert and regular check-ins with a mentor and/or committed peer group. Healthy marriages are intentional.

A Healthy Marriage Requires Empathy and Truth

Empathy is as much a learned skill as it is a spiritual discipline. I like Brené Brown’s definition, “Empathy is connecting with people so we know we’re not alone when we’re in the struggle. Empathy is a way to connect to the emotion another person is experiencing; it doesn’t require that we have experienced the same situation they are going through.” Empathy is an emotional connection. I am learning with Rita how important it is for us to be connected in love and trust to experience the richness of our relationship. I know when we are disconnected: when we feel distant, preoccupied with a problem or person, or just exhausted. So back to Brené, she has  some very helpful practices to implement when one or both hurt and need empathy:

When I’m having a hard time or my feelings are hurt, and I share what I’m feeling with someone, I like that person to: 

look right at me
look away a little so it doesn’t feel so hard
give me a hug
give me some space
say something so I’m not just standing there
just listen and stay quiet

Once hearts are connected with empathic understanding and love, then there is the necessary trust, respect, and attention span to share and understand truth. Humility first offers comfort in the form of empathy and then, in the right timing and tone, shares truth that hopefully helps bring healing. Truth without empathy makes matters worse, but in love draws us closer!

A Healthy Marriage Requires an Authentic Love Relationship with Jesus Christ

Most of all, when a husband and wife have a vibrant, growing love relationship with Jesus Christ, they are, by faith, connected with the divine. So now, individually connected with God, they are positioned to be connected with one another. Like each standing at one of the two ends at the bottom of a triangle, and together moving up toward the tip top is the image of a couple growing closer in intimacy with the Lord in heaven and in intimacy with each other on earth. Individually to be a beloved child of God brings them together in oneness as bride and groom. Stay connected in love with the Lord and with each other, and experience a healthy marriage!


Heavenly Father, grow my heart of empathy for my spouse and deepen my love with you through Christ’s love, and in Jesus’ name, amen.


Ask your spouse how you made them feel loved this past week and how you can pray for them this upcoming week.

Related Reading

Exodus 2:6; Psalm 78:38; Matthew 18:27; 1 Peter 3:8

Worship Resource

Hillsong Worship: Christ is Enough


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