Build a Better Us is a Christian network bent on, as its slogan declares, helping “everyday people build extraordinary marriages.” Thompson admits he isn’t a relationship expert. God, however, is—and that’s who the Build a Better Us program is centered on.
Here are four vital, Christ-centered characteristics of every successful marriage:
Build a Better Us strategically offers couples a network, not just case-by-case marital counseling.
“What you see in the scriptures is the people of God especially are supposed to be known by the other people of God,” Thompson told Wade-O Radio’s Jodie Walton. “Because marriage has become an exclusion from being known by the people of God, we’ve actually made it a secret place. And in secrets and in darkness is where Satan dwells.”
Build a Better Us encourages not secrecy, but transparency. It plugs couples into small groups to not only receive Biblical-based marriage counseling, but accountability partners.
As Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Couples are expected to hold each other responsible and submit to one other, which takes some sacrifice.
I believe that it is absolutely essential to have a support system of other married couples. This support system helps my wife and I gain wisdom, experience, encouragement from others, which brings opportunities to receive life giving grace into our marriage. I have come to realize that isolating our marriage from outside support is an appealing path to hidden dysfunction. Essentially, if our marriage is in isolation, we are apart from intentional engagement to pursue health. Our marriage in isolation would gradually lose a proper response to our unhealthy issues. We would become slowly starved of sensation and feeling to the areas that need to most attention, care and restoration. – Chad Jones, Reflection Music Group rapper and Build a Better Us participant
Marriage isn’t about finding a partner to be the missing piece in one’s relational puzzle, but this is what marriage has become for many — it’s about persevering servanthood.
“A lot of us are just looking for the one,” said Thompson. “We’re looking for that person who can complete us, but not cause a lot of friction as we connect and become a union.”
Friction in marriage is frequent, to which the United States’ divorce rates testify. Its 2011 rate of divorce per 1,000 people, 3.6, stands at over half its rate of marriages per 1,000 people, 6.8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thompson credited postmodern culture with influencing this destructive, self-satisfaction-focused trend. Postmodern truth is based on experience. When a couple with this mindset experiences relational hardship, the cultural norm is separate and pursue happiness in another puzzle piece.
“When we look at God’s norm, he calls us to sacrifice our life,” said Thompson. “He calls us to submit to him. He calls us to pursue our spouse. He calls us to be in faith, despite the way we feel.”
Sacrifice is of the utmost importance. I believe Jesus gave us the greatest example of that by giving up himself for his church. So, if we are to truly model Jesus, then we have to give up ourselves in our marriages as well. – Derek Minor, Reach Records rapper and Build a Better Us participant
Sacrifice is effortless to a humble heart.
Without humility, inevitable arguments bear the potential to end in a statistic, adding to divorce totals. Humility allows you to prioritize the relationship over being right. And ironically, humility is the result of knowing how frequently you’re wrong, yet God never stops giving grace.
“If I as an individual don’t believe that I am regularly and daily receiving the grace of God, when a situation arises in my marriage that calls for grace,” said Thompson, “I can’t give it.”
These keys intertwine. Just as humility is a prerequisite to sacrifice, humility is obtained through the No. 1 key on this list.
The greatest misconception of marriage is that conflict between a husband and wife is rooted in their relationship.
“The fundamental issue has nothing to do with the husband and wife, even though they’re involved as an expression,” said Thompson. “The broken relationship is typically between the individual and God himself.”
When a husband and wife’s relationship with God is strong, their relationship will naturally flourish. If one’s relationship with God becomes weak, everything is at risk to break down.
Humility becomes an afterthought to winning the daily debate. Sacrifice takes too much effort. Accountability becomes an annoyance.
God is ranked No. 1 on this list intentionally — having him No. 1 in one’s life is the ultimate key to a flourishing marriage.