By Derrick B. Barbee.
I am a huge sports fan! If you are like me, this time of the year brings about tremendous anticipation as you look forward to the end of the Men’s College Basketball’s regular season and conference tournaments and to the beginning of the “real” season: The NCAA Tournament; better known as “March Madness”. For the uninitiated, this is the Holy Grail of college sports, inspiring last second victories, songs, t-shirt slogans, and entire communities of college basketball enthusiasts to band together in support of their favorite teams. It captures the attention of the entire nation for one whole month, concluding with the championship game during the first week of April. In homage to this annual month-long plethora of college basketball viewing, let’s examine three tools to help your marriage to “march” in the right direction!
Formation: Every successful college basketball team must learn several good formations. A championship-caliber team has certain plays or formations that they run in order to score points against their opponent’s defense. In fact, in crunch time, when the game’s on the line and winning plays have to be made that will decide who will win the game, coaches will often default to specific offensive or defensive formations that they know will almost always lead to a basket or a defensive stop of the opponent’s offense. In our marriages the same maxim holds true. Our marriage playbook should have some go-to formations in it that we know can help us when we need them. These marriage tools are the things that will keep us moving forward as a couple and keep us from getting “stuck”. Also, we must be aware of the challenges that come to our marriages when we get out of formation…when start just doing what we want as individuals and allow our spouse’s (or teammate’s) needs to go unmet. This can totally disrupt the formation and result in confusion as to what plays we should be operating from in our marriage. Let’s remember to always try to stay in formation!
Family: During this year’s tournament, several teams in both the men’s & women’s divisions sported t-shirts that read on the front: “Family”. For these teams, this one word symbolized their commitment and dedication to each other as teammates both on and off the court, both for this season and seasons to come, both now and long after their college playing days are over and done. In our marriages, family is everything. Some married couples who do not have children do not consider themselves to be a family. However, once a husband and wife are united in God’s covenant you are instantly transformed into a family. Family is the bedrock of society. Without families the world as we know it would come crashing down. Strong families create strong churches, and strong communities. Strong churches and communities create strength in every other sector of society. There is a reason why God, in His infinite wisdom, said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Gen. 2:18, NASB) God created the first family with Adam & Eve and gave them dominion and authority over the entire earth (Gen. 1:26-28, NASB). Our first responsibility is to our family as constituted by our marriage. Our biological families (and any other version of families) now must take a back seat. To keep our marriages moving forward, let’s be diligent in focusing on the family!
Fans: The one definitive common denominator of every March Madness game is this: fans! At every game (67 total games played over four weeks), for every team (68 total teams), there will be thousands of fans rabidly cheering on their favorite teams. The word “fan” is short for the
word “fanatic”. A fanatic is defined as: a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity.
The institution of marriage needs fans. Marriage and its biblical definition have been under steady assault for about the last two decades. Sometimes it seems as though the voices of those who seek to redefine its meaning are louder than those who adhere to God’s original intent for it. We need more advocates that will actively and aggressively hold fast to this intent, no matter how politically incorrect it has become in our society today.
Our individual marriages need fans. Every married couple should be intentional about creating a circle of people who are over-the-top, ridiculously excited about their marriage, people who will devote their time, energy, and resources to assisting them in ensuring its success, preservation, and edification. In this day and age, marriage does not just need supporters, or friends, but it needs people who are publicly and demonstrably in love with it.