What Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 5: The Guide

(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)

In this series, we’re looking at your marriage as if it were a story, and hopefully a good story that you and others want to read. We’ve been talking about certain elements that every marriage needs in order to tell a good story. A good marriage story starts with a good author, and two main characters . Then, like any good story, those characters encounter obstacles and struggles that get in the way of what they want.

That leads us to the next element of a good marriage story.  

Every good marriage story needs a guide. Think about it. We have fishing guides, tour guides, and guides for almost any endeavor you can think of. So why not have a marriage guide?

In every good story, there is always a wise and experienced individual who gives guidance to the main characters as they try to figure out what to do.  For example:

  • Pinocchio had Jiminy Cricket to guide his conscious.
  • Forrest Gump had the words of his mother to guide him throughout his life.
  • Luke Skywalker had Obi Won Kenobi and Yoda to guide him in the ways of the force.

The guide’s influence may come at a critical juncture in the story or it may be present throughout the entire story, but the guide plays an important part in helping the main characters grow and get where they need to be.

Every married couple needs a guide to help them get to a better place. The guide may be parents, family, friends, books, neighbors, God, counselors, and even media. But every marriage looks for guidance somewhere.

Before you chose a guide for your marriage, you should consider what makes for a good guide. Here’s what you should look for:

  • Someone who has experience. Your guide needs to be a little further down the road than you. They need to speak, not just from their head, but from their experience. Your guide needs to be someone who’s been there, done that, and got the shirt.
  • Someone who has wisdom. Wisdom is more than just knowing stuff. There are lots of people who know lots of stuff, but still can’t seem to get their life together. You need someone who not only knows something about marriage, but has been able to put what they know to good use in their own marriage.
  • Someone who will truly love and invest in your marriage. Someone who just tells you they love you is not enough. Your marriage guide must do more than pat you on the back and say, “I’m praying for you. Hope it all works out.” They need to love you enough to invest time, effort, and energy into your marriage.
  • Someone who will tell you the truth. If your guide does not love you enough to tell you the truth – especially when it hurts…they are not a good guide. Ephesian 4:15 talks about the importance of speaking the truth in love. A wise guide knows how to apply both truth and love in tandem.

As a person of faith, I believe that Scripture is the best guide you can have for your marriage story. Why? Because it’s the words of the author directly to the characters. It’s unflinching truth delivered in love by someone who was willing to sacrifice Himself for us – despite our flaws. (Isn’t that what we all long for – especially in marriage?)

After you’ve identified a good guide for your marriage story, you must take the responsibility to:

  • SEEK them out. A good guide will not chase you down to help you. They will respect you enough to let you reach out to them. If you want their help, you have to go to them. We all want to be self sufficient and handle things ourselves, but there are times when you need to swallow your pride and take the initiative to seek out guidance from someone else.
  • LISTEN to what they tell you. Good guides tend to be good listeners, so it’s easy for you to do all the talking, but there comes a time when you need to ask them what they think and then really listen to what they have to say. Don’t try to correct their perspective or tweak their response. Just shut up and listen to them.
  • FOLLOW their advice. This is not to say your guide is always right, nor is it to say you can’t have a mind of your own. But if you’ve chosen a wise guide, you should try following their advice – especially if your ideas have been getting you nowhere. What’s the point of having a guide if you’re not going to follow their advice? (Even Jesus addressed that in Luke 6:46.)

So the bottom line is this: If we want to have a good marriage story, we can’t go it alone. We need one or more people in our life to give us guidance. We all need to humble ourselves and find our Yoda.

Do you have a guide to help you with your marriage story? Think of all the places you turn for marriage guidance. If you wrote them all down in a list and put them in order of priority, which guide would be at the top of your list? Would there be any guides missing from your list? Are you actively reaching out to these guides, or are you trying to do it on your own? Think about how a good guide might improve your marriage story.

Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg