Recently I spoke with a wise friend. I am thankful to have wise friends. I wanted to make sure this dear friend knew that he had not only earned the right to speak into my sinful heart, but I wanted him to know that I invited him to do so. He assured me that he had heard me invite him in, and also said thank you for the RE-UP on his invitation. Why did he say thank you for the RE-UP? He said it because he was grateful for the renewed permission to speak into my life. Have you RE-established, or RE-UPPED, your invitation to have your closest companions speak into your life?

First, make sure your closest confidants know they are invited and then continue to invite these people to speak the truth in love as your relationship develops. For example, if you are married, you should RE-UP with your spouse often. After 10 years of counseling ministry, there is clearly one problem that continuously gets in the way of relationships growing in grace: Thinking we know the other person. Thinking we know anyone, especially our spouse, is trouble. Ultimately, what are we communicating if we have someone “figured out?” One thing it communicates, and that our spouse hears clearly, is that the past is the indicator for future results. But where in that is the hope in the Lord’s power to change our spouse? Another thing it communicates is an abdication of our duty to be one of the Lord’s instruments in helping our spouse change. Allow me to walk this out in a real-life example.

I once met with a couple that had been married for nearly 50 years. We’ll call them Jon and Jan Jones. After building trust in relationship for some time together, I was invited to speak into their marriage. I posed this question: Are you still getting to know one another? They both audibly laughed at me. Longing to be in on the humor, I asked, what is so funny?! “We appreciate what you are trying to do young man, but we’ve been married longer than you have been alive!” Since I couldn’t argue this point, I agreed, and the Joneses attempted to RE-assure me that they already knew each other and desired to ‘move along’ in the counseling process. “Chase, get to something really helpful, please. Didn’t you hear us? My wife is mad at me ALL the time, and she nags me for checking out after getting home from such a difficult day at work. I’d like to see her work 10 hour days at 70 years old!” “Jon, I’ll bet I would get a lot more attention if my name were Budweiser or I was star in your favorite TV program!” I continued to ask many different questions, but the same theme continued to emerge. They were both convinced they knew each other, and if their spouse would hurry up and change, they could finally be happy.

Praise the Lord, Jon and Jan were still asking for help after 50 years of marriage and through the power and work of God’s Holy Spirit they were able to recognize that what they were doing was not working. They were attempting to change one another. Over time, we helped show the Joneses where they were asking for help and where they were assuming they had their spouse and their problems figured out. Obviously, trying to play the Holy Spirit by searching motives and changing behavior in our spouse does not go well.

Neither person knew how to help the other. They had stopped getting to know one another and certainly were not looking for the other to speak into their life. How could this marriage move towards Oneness without such help from one another? Thankfully the Joneses called after about one month to report their marriage was moving in a different direction. They celebrated with me. “Young man, we realized that we actually have not been ‘getting to know one another,’ so we’ve been working on learning about the other person.” Imagine that, after fifty years of marriage, the Joneses continue to grow in getting to know one another. It’s only when they committed to getting to know one another better rather than changing one another that they became truly helpful.

For those of you who are getting along or having slight disagreements in marriage, please let your spouse know that not only do they have permission, but you are inviting your husband or wife to speak directly in your life. If you are able to invite such directness, then you truly believe your spouse loves you. If you are growing a Kingdom-minded understanding of what Love truly is, you believe that your spouse has your interests above his or her own. Invite your spouse to speak the truth in love directly into your life today and remember to RE-UP as the years roll by and life continues to change. Without a doubt, your marriage will benefit as you continue to learn about your spouse.