3 Marriage Commitments That Are More Consequential Than You Think

Listen Time ~19 Minutes | Download Episode Notes

Marriage is meant to unite two people as one, but unexpected trials and difficult seasons can create distance between couples. In this episode, Mark and Mackenzie Carter reflect on 20 years of marriage and share three helpful commitments for building a strong, healthy marriage with God at the center.

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Episode Notes

1.  Fulfill your vows.

  • Sometimes there is nothing to figure out, it’s just hard. Decide to fulfill your vows. Just don’t leave (except in abusive situations).
  • Just serve your spouse.
  • Affirm and celebrate what they’re doing right.

2. It’s YOUR job to meet your spouses needs, and not someone else’s.

  • Be careful of too much distance.
  • Your spouse has needs that God has assigned you, and they will look different than your needs. Learn how they want to be loved, you can’t just do what would bless you.
  • Watch out for threats and rivals.
  • Watch out for other people’s emotional needs that impact your unity.
  • Be completely transparent.

3. Patiently Seek God both personally AND as a team.

  • The vision is to synchronize with both Jesus and spouse and in that, Jesus syncs us.
  • Even if you make the wrong decision, you were in it together.

Want to go deeper?

Check out the Marriage Throwdown Audio-Teaching Series from the Bible Leadership Store. You can also grab a FREE copy of the first message, Teams That Go the Distance.

Related Resources

This post is included in a sermon goodie bag on Happiness. Check out these related resources!

Podcast Transcription

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Three Marriage Commitments that are More Consequential than You Think


Carter: Welcome to the Bible Leadership Podcast. We’re going to connect your Bible to your leadership and your leadership to your Bible. This podcast is all about leading with proven leadership principles in mind, but also knowing that we’re accountable to God, for how we lead and where we lead and the best place to find answers to those kinds of questions is in the Bible.

Now, if you’re just joining us and this leadership community, thank you so much for being here, you can always find more leadership content at BibleLeadership.life. And If you enjoy this, why not share it on social media, especially Christian leaders need to keep one hand on the Bible and one hand on the steering wheel.

Today’s a special day on the podcast because my wife Mackenzie and I are talking about three marriage commitments that are more consequential than you might think. I can’t wait to get started. Let’s get after it.

What up everybody? Well I’m so excited, I’ve got a very special guest today on the Bible leadership podcast. It is the one and only Mackenzie Carter.

Mackenzie: Hey y’all!

Carter:  I’ve been looking for an excuse to get her on the podcast and so Kenzie and I’ve been married for 20 years now; we’ve actually been together for 22. But recently, we were on our 20-year anniversary in Jamaica. We don’t go there a ton, but every ten years or so we go there, and we absolutely love it. And we were just kinda reflecting on twenty years of marriage, you know, as we were just talking, we’re thinking it through, and it seems like as we’re evaluating the years of our marriage, there was at least one major unexpected trial that we did not expect, that was ridonkulously painful, but produced fruit also on the other side as we persevered. There were things that you know, God allowed to happen that we just didn’t know we’re going to happen. Things like sickness, things like moves, things like church plants that fail, things like job losses, things like difficulties with some kids from time to time, from a health perspective. And so, there’s always just been things within the five-year chunk; oh my gosh, that was way harder than we thought.

Mackenzie: Yeah, unexpected.

Carter: And we were able to see God bear fruit through that long term. So, first and foremost, I think we just want to encourage you today if you’re married, if you’re in a season where it’s just hard, can we just encourage you, man, keep going.

Mackenzie: Yes.

Carter: Like, just hang on. I know that you didn’t see it coming, you didn’t expect it, but we all get a portion of a certain amount of trial.

Mackenzie: Yup.

Carter: And it was worth it now on the other side. What we want to do is, spend a few minutes today, giving you three helpful commitments that we’ve learned in twenty years of marriage. We’re just like, hey man, what are the patterns. Yeah, like, you know, we counsel a lot of people we have over the years. And we see things go right, we see things go wrong; and we’re just asking if we could boil to the top, some of patterns that we learned over that twenty years that were more helpful than you would think, these are what they are. So, three helpful commitments of twenty years of marriage. Kenzie, what’s number one?

Mackenzie: Number one is fulfill your vows.

Carter: Yeah, fulfill your vows. I know it sounds even like, can that really be it? It really is. Sometimes, my friends, it’s not so much that there’s really anything to figure out. Sometimes, it’s just hard. Sometimes all you can do is grab their hands or grab Jesus hands and say, I don’t even know what to do. It’s not like there’s a plan that gets me out of it.

Mackenzie: Right, right.

Carter: I’m just going to fulfill my vows like that’s your ministry in this moment. So, there was a season early on, when we’d already had some disappointments because of a you know, a failed church plant that turned into a church split. But then, not long after that, I got sick, and I got real sick. I got sick to where the point where Kenzie had to fulfill her vows of taking care of her man in sickness and in health. Oh, h. She had to become the primary breadwinner. I had to stay home; I couldn’t even go to work. She didn’t whimper, she didn’t complain, she drove me to the hospital. She you know, cried out to Jesus when she was a little scared because her man’s sitting there writhing on the floor in pain. And you know what dude, there was no answer, other than just fulfill your vows. I would encourage some who are in a tough moment right now. You know, dude, maybe one of the most important decisions you can make is just don’t leave. Just decide, I don’t know what to do with them, so I’m just going to serve them, that’s my ministry.

Mackenzie: Yeah. I think something that’s so important as a team because, that’s what we are, we’re a team. Yep, that’s the word, is that we need to affirm our spouse. We need to be rooting for them because in this world, there are so many people that are going to come down on your spouse; there’s gonna be so much hard that hits him or her, and your job is to be their biggest cheerleader. You are the one behind them. You are the one cheering them on. You are the voice that’s here that says you can do it. I am here, I am behind you, and here’s what you’re doing right, here’s what’s good.

Carter: I think Kenzie and I both have the love language of affirmation. And it’s been so helpful.

Mackenzie: It has been, yes.

Carter: To say, hey man. let me just tell you what I see you doing right because the whole world is telling them what they’re doing wrong.

Mackenzie: Exactly.

Carter: So, somebody’s got to stand. Dude fulfill your vows. tell them what they’re doing right.

Mackenzie: Yep.

Carter: Kenzie used to model this too. I had to leave at 4:30am, she used to get up at 4am, she would make me Cream of Wheat. Now, she could have been like “get your own butt up, make your own dog-gone whatever” but she wouldn’t do it man; and she got up and what was it, it was really affirming me. It was dignifying and saying we’re in this together.

Mackenzie: Yes, yes.

Carter: You’re going through a hard thing, she’s home with the baby and I think just meeting folks in the low moments, just own there are low moments.

Mackenzie: Yes.

Carter: You don’t have to even agree about everything.

Mackenzie: Or understand them.

Carter: Yeah, yeah. You just gotta be like, hey God hasn’t called you to understand everything. Uh oh. He wants you to be a team. And we need to realize the team gets tested, and sometimes the way to pass the test is not to be right,

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: It’s to grab their hands.

Mackenzie: Yes.

Carter: And say, I am with you. I’m fulfilling my vows. Thou he slay me, I will trust the Lord. I’m fulfilling my vows. Now of course, there’s areas where yes, Jesus gives two outs for why you might want to get a divorce but beyond those, my friends, fulfill your vows.

Mackenzie: Yes.

Carter: That’s how you pass the test. God’s trying to grow all of us up, not just one of us. That’s number one, fulfill your vows. Kenzie, what’s number two?

Mackenzie: Number two is, it’s your job to meet your spouse’s needs, not

someone else.

Carter:  Be careful about too much distance. Be careful about too much time away from one another. My friends, married people are supposed to be together.

Mackenzie: Yeah.

Carter: Genesis 2:24 that is why man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one. Dude, they’re supposed to be one, they’re supposed to be together. And I think the time that we live in, people are just too comfortable with spouses being apart for too long. There needs to be time to fill one another’s love banks and if we don’t, the enemy will send somebody else to. So, there’s an incredible book by Willard Harley called “His Needs Her Needs. We take couples through this.

Mackenzie: It’s so good.

Carter: It’s really just an incredible paradigm. They’re not even really writing this in a Christianish perspective, but it’s some Christians, but they’re, they’re writing hey man, in order to avoid divorce, you need to fill your spouse’s love banks. And they’re there whether you recognize them or not. There are things like affirmation, time together, protection, security, fun, you know, a clean environment, a peaceful house, and some of you, I’d be tempted to say, oh, gosh, that’s sexist, that’s misogynistic. It’s not really defining who has to do what, it’s just saying these are banks that your spouse has.

Mackenzie: And they are.

Carter: They’re there. Yeah, you can’t change them,

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: And you can’t really fill only your banks and think that theirs are going to be filled. And when you don’t fill them, we begin to have debts in those banks. You have a negative balance.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: And so, the enemy, that’s his plan, he sends somebody else to fill those tanks, because he’s trying to split families apart. So, the smartest thing we could do is be proactive about filling one another’s banks. Your spouse; here’s what it is, dude your spouse has needs that God assigned you

Mackenzie: You.

Carter: You’ve got to do it and God expects you to do it.

Mackenzie: You know, it sounds simple, but it’s so true. These needs are going to be different than your needs. It’s so easy for us to just attribute well, of course, they’re going to need what I need and so we just love them in the way that we receive love. But that’s actually not filling their love tanks. And so, we need to really study our spouse, we need to understand them, we need to understand what makes them tick, what builds them up, what they like, what they love; and then we need to fulfill it.

Carter: What are some banks that I have that you don’t necessarily have?

Mackenzie: I mean, I have some of them too, but you love peaceful environments. So, when you come home from work, if it’s a madhouse at home, that is not filling your love banks.

Carter: Yeah, yeah, that’s hard on me.

Mackenzie: Yeah, yeah.

Carter: Kenzie probably has a more pronounced need for quality time.

Mackenzie: Yeah.

Carter: Now, I could resist that, and I probably did a little bit in the beginning years; not intentionally, I just didn’t get it.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: But I’ve just learned dude, if you don’t fill that, and we had this conversation the other day. I said Kenzie, if the enemy was gonna send somebody to try to take your heart away from me, what would he do? And she said,

Mackenzie: He would come, and he would try to fulfill my emotional needs by listening, by affirming, all those kinds of things.

Carter: Yeah, listening to her emote about stuff, that’s who the enemy is going to send.

Mackenzie: Understanding.

Carter: He’d send a dude that’s going to pay attention. So helpful even though it sounds awkward; people are like, I can’t believe you talk about that. It’s so helpful, because it really reminds me, and I already kind of knew that, but it’s a good reminder where the hole in the armor is. Yeah, like enemy knows it, Carter, it’s your job to guard it; so that means you make sure that you’re doubling up on that. And then of course, just watch out; watch out for other little decoys that the enemy would send. In other words, we have to have our eye a little bit on who are the potential threats in our life.

Mackenzie: You see who’s on your radar.

Carter: Yeah. Is there anybody that’s making you a little bit jealous? There’s been multiple times I’m like, really? That person makes you jealous? Or whatever. And vice versa. And it doesn’t really matter if I think they’re a threat; if the other spouse thinks they’re a threat,

Mackenzie: They’re a threat.

Carter: Then get them out. You know what I’m saying? Distance yourself, because the team has got to be what it’s all about. Sometimes it’s not people; it’s projects or priorities. So sometimes it’s the kids in sports, sometimes it is the project that takes you out of town for too long; and it’s not that you can’t do all those things, but what happens is, those things begin to become central, meaning everything is about that win.

Mackenzie: Right, right.

Carter: And the spouse is beginning to feel neglected, and there’s just gotta be a resistance that, so okay, we’ll kill it in that direction for a little while; for a minute for a few weeks. But then we’re going to come back together after that, we’re just going to even say it and declare it; that thing’s not the center, we and Jesus are the center.

Mackenzie: In this world that we live in, it seems like the it’s very kid centered, very kid centric, and honestly, I think it’s a trap. We love our children, we are for them, we give to them. I mean, they are blessed, but they are not the point. They are not the point, and so, it’s really important to make sure that you and your spouse are a team first and that with each other you parent your kids, you make decisions.

Carter: It doesn’t help anybody if your kids become an idol.

Mackenzie: Right? It just doesn’t.

Carter: And dude, they can be.

Mackenzie: They can.

Carter: Jesus, He won’t have any rivals. Jesus will sometimes oppose it. Or like, oh no, what if they’re not in everything? Like, dude, I’m just telling you, you’re doing a disservice to your kids.

Mackenzie: You are.

Carter: Because what they need is to see the strongest marriage they possibly know.

Mackenzie: Amen.

Carter: And yes, you need to find things for them to express themselves and grow and all that. Absolutely. But not everything.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: You know what I’m saying? There’s gotta be just an understanding in the home. Mom and Dad are the center of this thing and it will actually make them happier kids. There was a time a few years ago, when, and I know some of you are really good at this. Some of you, you can have people in your house.

Mackenzie: You love it.

Carter: You have such a ministry of hospitality. We have a little different variation that we can have people over for dinner, we do that all the time.

Mackenzie: Yea, we love that too!

Carter: We try to disciple people that way. We can’t do the in-home discipleship though. And I know there’s great pastors throughout the centuries, their families have done that, not us. So, we tried that for a little while. And, you know, we’re trying to be an encouragement to this person that lived with us for a little while. And that started really good and it felt Christian like, hey, we’re doing this, but the emotional needs of this person began to so take center stage of the house. That guys, for us it began to rob the peace and so it began to get us in conflict a little bit. Like, okay, I’m trying to be Christian, but now it’s taking away from my marriage in a way that’s detrimental; and we just learned we can’t do that. So even sometimes, when it’s a Christian thing, dude, you’ve gotta say this is taxing my marriage too much. If the marriage gets too weak dude, what do you have?

Mackenzie: Right?

Carter: Like it’s not worth junking your marriage. We have to protect it from threats. It’s our job to meet our spouse’s needs, not somebody else’s. What does that mean? It means get back to your job. Like, that’s your job. Go meet your spouse’s needs. What about after hard seasons Kenzie? What have you found that’s helpful for us to resynchronize on stuff like that?

Mackenzie: So, after a push season, or after a hard season, what we always try to do is get away together, whether that’s get away for a weekend in Lake Geneva or something where we can recharge, and it’s just about us. We push really hard and God is going to give you those seasons and take them; like take them, but then come back together and recharge together.

Carter: Yeah, we think about them like maybe this isn’t even medically right, but it’s like an extra dose of antibiotics after a hard season.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter:  We need more help than normal because we were just taxed. And you know there’s time to pray and think again and dream again. I think that’s the most beneficial times, parts of our time away together, is we’re both very stirred up by vision and by dreaming; and if we go too long with like, oh, man, it’s all work and no dreaming it’s the law of diminishing returns. It’s not going as well.

Mackenzie: And we even do that on a daily basis with our couch time. After dinner we come together for just 15 minutes, but it’s that reconnect every day that is so important.

Carter: But again, it’s all of it. You know, these are a little bit practical, but it’s all an expression of this principle of dude, be careful not to have too much distance. Having too much distance is going to give you challenges you did not need. So, Kenzie, those are really good. Number one to fulfill your vows. Number two, it’s your job to meet your spouse’s needs, not someone else’s. And then number three, what do we got?

Mackenzie: It is patiently seek God, both personally and as a team.

Carter: Personally, and as a team. The vision is to synchronize with both Jesus and spouse, and while we’re synching with Jesus, we actually are synching with our spouse; but you need both touch points. When you have a lot going on, dude, when you’re, we’re running here, there and everywhere, you can just get a little bit off; and this is important to this person, and this is important to this person, and the team hood begins to disintegrate a little bit; and this is where, and people tell us about this; you become roommates.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: You’re doing your thing in your life, but it’s more like the other person’s life is just happening around your life.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: You’re not actually conquering life together. So that’s where it’s got to be like, I’m going to seek Jesus, and then we’re going to have times of seeking Jesus on a daily basis where we say, look, here’s the things that are difficult, wrong, hard. Let’s pray about them together, so that we what? So that we synchronize to keep both of us synching to Jesus. And I think this is a big idea, because spouses, you’ve got to be able to say to your spouse, hey man, I’m for you. I want to do what you want to do, but what does God think about that? I’m a little bit more entrepreneurial, so Kenzie’s probably saved my butt seven or eight times. I’m like, Kenzie I think we should do this and God’s probably in it. Probably. And she’s like, well, you know, why don’t we pray? Let’s see what God says. And either I’ll come around, or she’ll come around, or we’ll meet somewhere in the middle like, wow, we both think that’s jacked up now. Or God says tweak it a little bit, or whatever. But married people, can we remember, God is supposed to be the leader. Like, this cord of three strands, God is the center strand.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: And so, we don’t get to just have our own lives that are like, well I hope God’s in it.

Mackenzie: Right.

Carter: The power of a marriage is, dude, you get an extra helper in prayer to make sure that you’re going in the right direction.

Mackenzie: And then there’s peace as you move forward. 

Carter: You gotta have peace man. Instead of like, I’m vying for my thing and she won’t get on board. Everybody humble ourselves and put everything on the table and say whatever God wants, that’s what we’re going to do even if our spouse isn’t in agreement.

Mackenzie: Amen.

Carter: Many of you heard the story. I was up one morning, early on in marriage, looking to a mentor, his name is Pete. I said Pete, I just can’t get Kenzie, you know, to get on board with this thing. And he said, bro, I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone stupid enough to do something like that without their wife. And it was such a, like a defining moment for me, because it affirmed in my heart forever since then, of like, dude, if you have to do it without your spouse’s approval, there’s something wrong.

Mackenzie: There’s something wrong.

Carter: God brings unity; you need to keep praying until you guys are in unity.

Mackenzie: Yeah, God will speak. If it’s His will, He will speak.

Carter: And maybe it’s just a patience thing; let’s all get patient and be like, okay, if I need it to happen in the next 24 hours, that’s also, beware of voices of haste. There’s also something’s wrong, if you don’t have time to pray with your spouse; dude, I’m not saying there’s never circumstance where it’s a great opportunity, you gotta jump, but let’s be very careful with that. Even there, if you’re going to jump, there better be unity in agreement. Well Kenzie, I’m sure we could go a lot more rounds around and talk about a lot more.

Mackenzie: For sure.

Carter: Again, what are they? Three helpful commitments and twenty years of marriage they are, number one, to fulfill your vows.

Mackenzie: Number two, it’s your job to meet your spouse’s needs, not someone else.

Carter: And number three, patiently seek God both personally and as a team. Hey, folks, awesome to be with you today. I want to thank my special guest Mackenzie Carter. Kenzie, thank you so much for being a part of it.

Mackenzie: Thank you for having me.

Carter: Well, friends, thanks so much again for joining us today. There’s a lot more leadership content at the website on BibleLeadership.life and depending on where you’re viewing or listening to this, don’t forget to like and subscribe. And if you want to support the bible leadership podcast by becoming part of the BLP family, you can check out our Patreon page at patreon.com/bibleleadership. Thank you so much for all those patrons who regularly support the podcast you are making this possible, and if you’re interested in supporting, you can pledge for as little $3 a month. Anything helps to keep the podcast going. As always, check back soon for more leadership training designed to keep you leading from the Bible, not just with it. Don’t forget to lead strong today. Jesus needs you to lead humble but also to lead strong.


Posted on July 9, 2019

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Michelle Stone
Michelle Stone
4 years ago

This was a helpful and well delivered message. I also believe it is helpful for single folks who have an opportunity upfront to watch for agreement on these commitments.

Vanessa Jaworek
Vanessa Jaworek
4 years ago

This is so good. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

Julia Delia
Julia Delia
4 years ago

Excellent podcast! Thank you for doing these. The advice is spot on.

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