Which Ring Are You Wearing?
Marriages go through different stages and seasons. While at times these can be challenging and difficult, there is a path towards growth and fulfillment. Bestselling author and international speaker Jackie Bledsoe shares a model for a lasting and fulfilling marriage based on his book, The 7 Rings of Marriage.
There we were sitting across from our pastor pouring out our hearts and all our marriage problems. It was bad, real bad, and we knew it.
Stephana’s eyes were filled up with tears. Mine were filled with shame. We knew he was about to confirm our thoughts about the terrible place we were in as a couple. And we hoped he could help, but weren’t sure he could.
What he said in response caught us both off guard. And if, I’m being honest, it was a huge disappointment to us.
He looked right at us and said, “life is just hitting you...what you’re going through is hard but you’ll be fine.” He even had a slight grin.
It can’t be that easy...can it?
Wait, what?! We just told you all of our mess and cried and looked all sheepish and stuff. And you respond with “it’s all good.” We wanted more. We needed more. We thought it was much deeper and more complicated than “it’s all good.” We thought he didn't know what he was talking about. Either that or he wasn’t really listening.
What we didn’t know, that our pastor did know, was he’d seen and counseled many couples just like us. With the “worst” marriages, a crazy husband or wife, and the biggest, most divorcable challenges a couple can face.
He’d also counseled couples who’d been there, done that, and have amazing marriages. And now, we are one of those couples in the second group.
We later learned that what we were facing at that season of our marriage was not the sum of your marriage although it seemed so. It wasn’t always like that and it doesn’t have to always be like that. If you’re in a “tough spot” now, that goes for you too.
Marriages go through different stages or seasons. We call those stages The 7 Rings of Marriage.
A Success Path for Couples
We were so unprepared for marriage and had no idea what to expect. Couples just aren’t prepared for all -- the good and bad -- that may happen in marriage. But as we continued to say yes to one another and to our marriage. And yes to the counsel we were receiving from our pastor and other couples who were marriage mentors to us, we began to see and experience all of these rings
Not only did we experience them we learned that each ring taught us valuable lessons and skills that helped keep our marriage growing instead of regressing.
The 7 Rings of Marriage showed us the picture, the end result we wanted, and allowed us to take steps to get there. And as we began to share the 7 Rings with other couples it’s done the same thing for them. We believe all couples who have lasting and fulfilling marriages have or will eventually experience all 7 Rings.
So, what are the 7 Rings and how do you know which of the 7 Rings you’re “wearing” right now? And most importantly, what do you do once you know what ring you’re wearing?
We have a free marriage assessment that couples quickly find out where their marriage is now and get a 3-step plan to gain those skills necessary to keep their marriage growing. Click here to assess your marriage.
So, let’s give you a preview of the 7 Rings…
1 - The Engagement Ring
Of course, this is obvious. Before marriage you get engaged. It’s the beginning of things. But for those couples who are already married (even years into marriage) it’s important to pay attention to this ring.
One of the most important things in your marriage should happen here. This is where you build (or rebuild) the foundation of your marriage. Your foundation will determine how large of a marriage “structure” you can build, and how long it’ll stand.
The best possible foundation you can build for your marriage is one built on a relationship with Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27). No matter what disagreements you have, if your foundation is built on Christ you always have one thing to agree on -- He will be our guide through it.
2 - The Wedding Ring
This is another obvious ring when we are discussing marriage. The wedding ring is a symbol of commitment. When someone sees you wearing your wedding ring, they know you are committed to another person. When you see your wedding ring, you are reminded you are committed to your spouse.
Not only are you committed to your spouse, but you both are committed to Christ. This is not a superficial commitment, or contractual agreement. No, this is a covenant commitment -- for better or for worse.
There is no out, and there should not be. This covenant relationship requires total commitment in all areas of your life. It’s about oneness as you are now one (Genesis 2:24).
3 - The DiscoveRing
This is a fun ring, albeit it could be scary and have you doubting your sanity when you said yes to marrying your spouse. No, seriously, this ring is exactly what it says -- it’s a season of discovering things about your spouse and your marriage. And yourself as well.
Typically after you are married and begin to share a life (and home) together you start to learn things about your spouse that aren’t all that great. A friend of ours says, “what was once attractive can become appalling.”
The thing you want to develop during this ring and throughout your marriage is to take that unintentional discovering and turn it into intentional discovering. You want to find ways to always be learning more and more about your spouse, your marriage, yourself, and your God (remember this is a covenant relationship between the three of you). The goal is to form a habit of lifelong learning about your spouse.
4 - The PerseveRing
If the DiscoveRing was the fun ring, this ring is the exact opposite. Ironically, many times what you discover can lead to the challenges you face during the PerseveRing. I’ve been told that I left out a ring. That The 7 Rings of Marriage is incomplete because I didn’t didn’t include suffering.
Well, suffering happens here. But there is a difference between suffering and persevering. Suffering seems like a no end in sight terrible situation without any benefit. But persevering has purpose. God allows us to go through things and He teaches us to expect “fiery ordeals” and trials (1 Peter 4:12).
But when we face them he wants us to count it all joy and have a perspective that will produce something great in us through what we face. That’s what this ring is about. You will face marital challenges, but God has purpose in them. This is what allowed our pastor to smile when we laid out our issues. He knew God was up to something.
5 - The RestoRing
While there is purpose in your persevering that doesn’t mean you come out of it unscathed. At some point in your marriage there is going to be something that leaves a mark. It will leave you scarred and broken.
This is where restoring happens. This is where you or your spouse, and your marriage go through a healing process. It requires a lot of forgiveness as the issues in our marriage all are a result of our flawed nature. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.
So, with two flawed humans becoming one, brokenness happens. But God uses our brokenness. He will restore your marriage and all that was lost. You can’t bring healing to your marriage alone or in your own power. You have to humbly give it up to Him (Nehemiah 6:16), be obedient, and allow Him to do what he does. And this sets you up for the final two rings.
6 - The ProspeRing
This is what you signed up for right? This is what you expected and dreamed of right? To be married and happily ever after. Well, yes, but even if you are here now it doesn’t mean you are problemless.
You still face issues (from within your marriage and from outside of it). But with the maturity of all you’ve faced, all the rings you experienced, and all the marriage skills you’ve developed along the way, now your perspective is different.
The issues don’t phase you and you’ll probably realize that some of your best times in marriage happened during some of your hardest times (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
7 - The MentoRing
You have experienced a lot. You’ve had some marriage threatening issues and some heaven on earth type of marriage experiences. You could mail it in and live life to the fullest -- happily ever after.
But you realize your marriage is bigger than you. Those problems you went through and were working and praying so hard to get through (or keep secret) weren’t just for you. The lessons you learned will help you face bigger problems, but those lessons aren’t just for you (John 9:3).
Now is your time to allow God to use you and your marriage to be a blessing to other couples. This may be on a small scale like helping your own kids prepare and have an amazing marriage. It could be leading marriage small groups or a marriage ministry. It could be writing books, speaking on state, something on a very large scale.
No matter what God calls you to do, be willing to say yes to Him and share the grace and love He’s shown you and your marriage.
Which ring are you wearing?
While learning about The 7 Rings of Marriage, you’ve probably identified with at least one of the rings already as most couples do. That is great. We want to invite you to take it a step further by taking the marriage assessment and intentional action steps to keep you growing and living out the marriage you’ve always hoped for.
Jackie Bledsoe is a bestselling author and international speaker who's reached over 100,000 people with his book, The 7 Rings of Marriage™. He's also an entrepreneur who shares what he's learned from starting a blog, writing a book, and turning it into a business. He wants to help you take a similar path by using what you already know to build a business and stay happily married!
He and his wife, Stephana, are the founders of Happily Married Couples, a marriage brand that helps couples better connect and communicate, so they can create marriages worth celebrating.
Jackie and Stephana have been featured on Good Morning America, ABC News, The 700 Club, Moody Radio, The Huffington Post, Yahoo!, CBN’s Turning Point International, YouVersion's Bible App, HomeLife Magazine, and more.