For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Regret is a very real emotion that can weigh us down. We have been looking at how to remove regret from every area of our lives. Today we will look at how you can live without regrets in one of the most important relationships you will ever enter into: your marriage relationship. How can you live without regrets about your marriage?
Years ago, I knew a young husband who was being deployed to Korea. I asked him, “What will you miss most about your family while you are away?” He began to pour out a list of regrets about not spending time with, helping, or supporting his wife. After a year, when he came back, I called him and said, “What are you doing?” He laughed happily. “My wife and I are on our way to the supermarket together.” The time he had spent away from his wife motivated him to make necessary and beneficial changes to his marriage.
Unfortunately, most spouses will not have the luxury of a temporary prolonged separation to get their priorities straight. Instead, most of us will be ambushed by a serious illness, by a divorce, or by a death that results in a permanent separation from our mate. At that point we will be flooded with a long list of “if onlys.” “If only I had told my mate more often how much I love him or her.” “If only we had taken that trip together.” “If only I had said no to that affair.” “If only I had chosen to forgive him or her.” “If only I could retrieve those hurtful words.” As a pastor I spend a lot of time in hospital rooms and cemeteries, and I have heard mates pour out laments about missed opportunities. But at that point it is too late for change.
Let me ask those of you who are married a personal question: If your mate were to be taken from you suddenly, what would you regret most about your relationship? Possibly your mind would race back to the argument that quickly got out of control. Maybe you would think about the times you tried to fix your mate instead of appreciating those qualities about him or her. Or maybe you would think about the opportunities you missed to enjoy each other.
You see, grief is a part of any separation, either from divorce or from death. But I believe there is a way we can lessen the pain of the inevitable separation that comes through death. That is what we will look at this week–how we can eliminate regrets about our marriage relationship.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living without Marriage Regrets” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.