Ron and Jody Zappia were still newlyweds when their marriage began to unravel. Stunned by the crisis, they committed themselves to learning how to tie the knot of marriage so that it would hold them together for a lifetime. Almost thirty years of marriage later, Ron and Jody are sharing what they have learned in their new book by Moody Publishers, The Marriage Knot: 7 Choices That Keep Couples Together.
The Zappias learned that the marriage knot is not simply tied at the wedding altar and then forgotten. The knot must be strengthened through “everyday choices,” practices which we can learn from the Scriptures (21). “Choices” is the optimal word here because marital success is based not on the whims of our emotions but rather on the decisions of our will. Love is not something that happens to us; it is something we choose to practice.
The Zappias list seven choices that we can make to strengthen our marriage bond:
- The choice to grow spiritually
- The choice to love unconditionally
- The choice to serve sacrificially
- The choice to please (physically) regularly
- The choice to persevere persistently
- The choice to communicate respectfully
- The choice to bless abundantly
That does seem to cover everything! 😊
Ron discusses each choice in a separate chapter. At the end of each chapter, Jody shares a few comments from her perspective. Although Jody’s sections are very short, they are significant contributions to the book.
Whenever I blog about new marriage books, my goal is not so much to critique the writing or even to evaluate the book as it is to glean items that may be encouraging or helpful to you. There is much in this book to do just that, beginning with the title itself and the core premise of the book. It is important for husbands and wives to remember that marital unity must be strengthened every day. We either reinforce or weaken our marriage ties day by day and choice by choice.
Like a three-stranded braid, your marriage is woven together as you move toward God and toward your spouse. You move toward God by trusting Him and obeying Him, and you move toward your spouse by forgiving and connecting.
Here are some “gleanings” from The Marriage Knot:
Your “marriage is your greatest tool to be a witness for Christ in this world. It is your greatest testimony to bring other people to a knowledge of God, to introduce His power, grace, strength, and love.” (21)
Choose to Grow Spiritually
Regular “church attendance decreases your chances of divorce anywhere from 25 to 50 percent.” (34)
Choose to Love Unconditionally
We need to “learn to accept the other and live with glaring shortcomings. That’s called loving acceptance. Sometimes marriage is about learning to manage the tension rather than completely alleviating it.” (51)
“If you’re having trouble in your relationship, I guarantee you’re having trouble with forgiveness.” (58)
“Being unforgiving can be like a hot coal in the palm of your hand. The tighter you squeeze, the more it burns.” (58-59)
Even when you can’t trust your spouse, you can still focus on loving him or her. (63)
Choose to Serve Sacrificially
When Satan tempted the first couple in the Garden of Eden, “Adam took a step back when he should have stepped forward.” And Eve “took a step forward when she should’ve taken a step back.” (69)
Men, stop “guilt-tripping yourself for not being the spiritual giant you think you ought to be. Be done with that. Simply commit to do your part in the spiritual growth process and watch God work!” (73)
Choose to Please Regularly
“Satan likes a marriage without sex as much as sex without a marriage.” (96)
“Hopelessness is never from God, only from the enemy, and the withholding of sexual intimacy is what invites the enemy into your struggling marriage. It’s not a good plan.” (98)
Premarital sex tells your partner that it is “okay to have sex outside of marriage.” (106)
Choose to Persevere Persistently
Sometimes God “wants us to remain under life’s weight to produce something in us that we can’t produce in ourselves.” (115)
Choose to Communicate Respectfully
“When it comes to your marriage: your speck is always a log, and your spouse’s log is always the speck.” (136)
“’Be careful with your words: once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten’.” (137)
Choose to Bless Abundantly
“Prayer is the greenhouse of hope!” (153)
Praying with your spouse “creates an intimacy that precious few will ever experience.” (153)
Moody Publishers is graciously offering a complimentary copy of The Marriage Knot to one reader of MannaForMarriage. If you would like to receive a paperback copy of The Marriage Knot, leave a comment below by March 28, 2019, to be entered into the drawing. (Be sure that I am able to contact you for your mailing address if you win.)
May God bless you as you make the choices each day which will strengthen your marriage knot.
Mrs. Mazie L Cavazos · March 22, 2019 at 9:14 am
Your wisdom about marriage help me grasp my struggles with my husband and how much more I could apply with this fresh insight from your book. Glory to God Almighty to part of this royal inheritance, brothers and sisters in CHRIST JESUS.
Tami · March 22, 2019 at 11:52 am
Thank you for your comment, Mazie. May God encourage you and strengthen your marriage.
We pray for marriages every week. You can join us by phone or online. We would love to have you join us! (https://mannaformarriage.com/prayer/)
Lea Ullom · March 22, 2019 at 1:33 am
Excellent material! And so well worded! Principles (knots) we all need to have reinforced in our thoughts and marriages, no matter how long we have been married. The great truth is that God is there to help us keep the “knots” tied over the years!
Tami · March 22, 2019 at 2:05 am
Yes, that is a great point! He is the Creator and Sustainer not only of our lives but also of our marriages. Thank you for allowing Him to keep your marriage knot beautifully tied for over 57 years! ❤
Carolyn · March 22, 2019 at 12:20 am
Love the reminder that love is a choice and about our marriages getting stronger as we are turning towards God and our husbands, being woven together like a three stranded cord.
Tami · March 22, 2019 at 12:50 am
Thank you for your comment, Carolyn.
I have missed seeing you this semester! I pray that you and your family are doing well.
Maureen Sherman · March 21, 2019 at 8:45 pm
Excited to read this book Tami. I am in a restored marriage and lead/attend a Recovery Marriage group at my church. So many hurting marriages inside and outside of the church. I love when couples share hope and stick-to-it-ness by seeking the Creator of marriage. God bless the Zappias.
Tami · March 21, 2019 at 9:00 pm
Yes, God bless the Zappias, and God bless you, Maureen! I am delighted to hear that you are in a restored marriage and that you are encouraging others at your church. Perhaps you would be interested in sharing your story on MannaForMarriage.
Abigail W · March 21, 2019 at 8:15 pm
This book sounds very encouraging! I loved your little tidbits from each chapter. The communicate respectfully chapter stood out to me words can be forgiven but not forgotten. That is a powerful statement to remember! Thank you for the blog post!
Tami · March 21, 2019 at 8:26 pm
Thank you for reading, Abigail, and for your comment. May God continue to bless you as a wife … and now as a mother, too! I am excited for you and praying for you.
Candi Hutchison · March 21, 2019 at 7:48 pm
I enjoy reading MannaforMarriage and I am sure The Marriage Knot is also a great book! I am going to forward this article to my friends 🥰
Tami · March 21, 2019 at 7:57 pm
Thank you, Candi, for reading … even while you are enjoying an incredible Spring Break! Blessings to you!
Kristen Hogrefe · March 21, 2019 at 6:39 pm
Thank you for sharing about this book! As you know, I’m getting married soon, and I would love to learn from the Zappias. I really liked this point: “When it comes to your marriage: your speck is always a log, and your spouse’s log is always the speck.” I need to remember my “speck” is always bigger! Thanks for sharing about such solid marriage resources.
Tami · March 21, 2019 at 7:20 pm
Thank you for commenting, Kristen. I like the way the Zappias phrased that, too. :) Surprisingly, it has been a blessing for me to learn that I am the chief sinner in my marriage! (More about that here: https://www.startmarriageright.com/2017/05/a-surprising-truth-that-changes-marriages/)
You are going to be an excellent wife, Kristen … in less than ten days!!
Sharri A Burggraaf · March 21, 2019 at 3:54 pm
I would love to receive a copy of the book The Marriage Knot. My husband and I do the Marriage Ministry at our church and just the examples from the book were life-changing for my own marriage.
I had never thought about the fact that a sexless marriage is something satan would love as much as sex without marriage and that with-holding sex from your spouse can be what invites satan into a struggling marriage.
Also thought it interesting that it said that if you’re struggling in your marriage that they could guarantee that you’re having problems with unforgiveness.
I think I knew that at some level, but this just said it aloud and I heard it loud and clear. Thank God for giving this couple the forethought to want to learn what makes a marriage and then share the success and wisdom they have with others.
Tami · March 21, 2019 at 4:55 pm
Thank you for your comment, Sharri. I agree with you that those short statements contain powerful truths!
I am glad to hear that you and your husband are part of the marriage ministry at your church. Thank you for being involved in that important work! I would love to hear more about what you are doing.
Are you familiar with Weekend to Remember? These are fantastic events to promote at your church. There will be a WTR event in Des Moines next month and in Cedar Rapids in November. If couples use the MannaForMarriage group code when they register, they will save $100. (https://bit.ly/2JvjXyQ)
Blessings to you, Sharri!