We have a good marriage.
That’s great and all, but what if we could have a great marriage? Dare I say it—an excellent marriage?
obsessing over pondering this question, I began to wonder whether or not I know or have ever known of any couples that could honestly admit that they enjoy an excellent marriage. What does the word excellence even mean?
Recently, I was challenging some of my singers on the topic of pursuing excellence in their craft when I said, “Excellence is about being that good at what we do so that we are not a distraction.” If I truly believe that excellence requires removing distractions, then what pray-tell is excellence in marriage?
(I am better with music.)
One does not have to be a talented musician or even have a trained ear to know when someone has just sung what we like to call in the business, a “bad note”. There it is. Poor thing can’t even blame it on a jazz chord. Its there in all its bad— sour, awkward, Christina-Aguilera-singing-the-National-Anthem-at-the-2011-Superbowl-kind of bad. You the listener undoubtedly miss what’s next because you are still recovering from the bad note and shuddering at the self-inflicted humiliation poor Christina inevitably feels.
Maybe we all don’t go around singing to our husbands and wives, but the Old Testament Proverbs totes truth for both singers and spouses:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. — Proverbs 18:21
A harsh word spoken in the angry heat of a regrettable moment lingers long like a bad note sung at a major event. The one who hears it may very well turn a deaf ear to the words that follow because all they can think about is the bad note— the one that killed the moment, that spoiled the song, that distracted from the rest of the performance. Bad notes, or bad words in our marriages, spoken in carelessness, thoughtlessness, recklessness, whatever-the-ness tend to loop in the listener’s mind. While the speaker carries on, all they hear is shame and blame on play repeating.
If excellence in marriage involves eliminating the bad notes, wouldn’t it serve me well to be just that good at renewing my mind and taming my tongue? What if I chose words that breathed life and health rather than tangling my spouse up in a distracting loop of negativity? Perhaps then we could understand and maybe even enjoy excellence in our marriage.
How would you define excellence in marriage?