7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 4 – Communication

I can’t remember the movie, but it has one of my all-time favorite quotes concerning marriage. In the movie a young woman is talking to a friend who happens to be a marital therapist. She is struggling in her relationship with her husband but continues to deny any need for therapy. During one particular fight she happens to run into her therapist friend and says; “I don’t need therapy, but if I did, what advice would you give me?” His response is profound. He says, “Learn what you want and learn how to ask for it.”

Mic Drop…

Strong communication and the ability to empathize with each other is one of the keys elements of a strong marriage. However, before we start working on how to strengthen our communication skills, we should define it and describe the different levels of communication.

Definition – Self-revelation in which someone reveals something about themselves and another person reveals something about themselves in response.

  1. Hallway – This level of communication is what most of us experience as we walk down the hallways at work or church.
  2. Reporter Talk – This level of communications takes place when we simply share facts. You may tell each other what you saw or what you did but seldom expand beyond that.
  3. “Know what I think?” – At this level you share your ideas or judgments on a subject. This level of communication allows you to share a little more about your inner world as your opinions are based on your experiences, viewpoints and education.
  4. “Let me tell you how I feel.” – This is a high level of communication. At this level you share emotions and gut level feelings, hopefully in a healthy manner. The distance between this level of communication and the previous level is often a giant step. Many people find it hard to share their feelings on certain subjects or topics because they feel others may be disappointed or angry with them. This is risky communication that requires vulnerability and bravery.
  5. “Let’s be honest.” – This is the apex of communication. This level of communication is the platform from which we can build an intimate, healthy relationship.   It allows us to speak the truth in love. It is where we are honest but not condemning; open but not demanding. It allows each of us the freedom to think differently and feel differently, trying to understand why our spouse feels and thinks the way he or she does all the while looking for ways to grow together in spite of the fact that we think differently and feel differently.

So, how much time each week do you believe the average couple spends on communication levels 3 – 5? Would it surprise you that the average couple spends less than 7 minutes a WEEK on meaningful, deep communication? Of course, that means that most of our day to day communication takes place at the same level as when we pass someone in the hallway at church on Sunday. Acquaintances pass each other in the hallway and the following exchange takes place; “Hi Tom. How are you doing today?” “Great Sally. How about you?” “Fine Tom. Thanks for asking.” A wife comes home and is greeted by her husband. “Hi honey. How was your day?” “Oh, it was fine baby. How about yours?” “Fine.”

Next week we will be discussing fighting, which is simply advanced reactive communication, if done well. However, this week let’s spend some time communicating about some basic considerations for proactive effective communication.

Set Time Aside Weekly for Deeper Communication…

If possible, set aside a few minutes each day for checking in with each other. However, with our insane schedules, it may be more realistic to set aside an hour each week to catch-up. As children age, you may find yourself better able to make time daily. Remember, it is a choice to make time for each other. Create your own questions if you want, but at the very least share what is going on in your head and in your heart. If you need a place to start here are a few questions to think about asking each other.

Continue with the Cards…

The “Love Map” cards, provided in class a couple of weeks ago, are a great way to share both cursory and intimate information on an ongoing manner. The more you share your dreams, desires, expectations and even your favorite movie, the more you grow together as a couple. The more you show each other that you care about these things and are willing to work together towards them, the more intimate you become as a couple.

Treat Each Other with Dignity and Respect…

The people we love the most are often the ones we take for granted, and often hurt. We filter our negative emotions towards others as a way of showing respect towards those we have casual relationships with but often lash out without a filter towards our spouse. We can often be hurtful, impatient, critical, contemptuous and mean to those we love the most. Remember, you have the spirit of Christ living within you. Therefore, you have the ability to control your tongue, you just have to make the choice to do so.

Scriptures that Might Help…

1 Thess. 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Encouragement is critically important in a marriage. In our world, there is a critic on every corner, on every channel and on every screen.   Wouldn’t it be amazing to come home every day to a spouse who encourages you by recognizing your character and strengths? Giving thanks every day for your spouse helps keep you in the right mind-frame for a healthy marriage. Periodically telling your spouse why you are thankful for them helps them stay in the right mind-frame for a strong marriage.

Proverbs 15:28 – The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

Think before you speak. Are the words you are speaking designed to build-up and encourage or will they most likely be destructive? Do you speak highly of your spouse in their absence? Do you speak words of encouragement to them? Even words of correction can be given in a way that is not destructive to a marriage.

Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Even when your spouse opens a conversation in a destructive way, you can choose to respond in a Godly way. Showing sacrificial love, self-control and empathy is the hallmark of a mature Christian. Doing so early in an escalating conversation can prevent a destructive argument.

Proverbs 19:11 – A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offense.

Understand that your spouse will sometimes have a bad day and may speak without thought or wisdom. Being patient with them and expressing your forgiveness, love and respect towards them during a time that you have been wronged is also a hallmark of Christian maturity.

As with everything we have discussed so far, communication requires a commitment of time and intention. The good news is it does not take a tremendous amount of time. Spending 10-15 minutes catching up daily, or spending an hour over coffee each weekend, pays off huge dividends over the long haul of a marriage.  Dividends that increase intimacy and builds a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 3b

Sensuality

Like romance, sensuality is another important part of intimate relationships that suffers from our busy lives.  Your sex life may become a little sparse after the twins, but often sensuality is dropped completely.  Sensuality is the physical enjoyment of each other.  While it includes intercourse, it is not limited to intercourse and includes things such as a gentle touch in passing, holding hands, running your hands through your spouse’s hair while watching TV, or a simple foot message.  Kicking it up a notch and you will find yourself giving each other full body messages with scented oils.  Sensuality can engage all five senses and often requires planning.  It will be hard to share chocolate dipped strawberries in bed if no-one does the dipping.  A candle can’t be lit unless it has first been bought.  Sharing your favorite romantic music  requires someone to create a playlist and purchase a speaker.   A fully body message is better with the right kind of oils and, at my age, a massage table.  Even though sensuality may take a little time, the payoff in vulnerability and connectedness is significant.

However, not all sensuality requires an investment or planning.  Simply making it a habit to hold hands, feed each other a spoon full of chocolate cake over dinner, or walk with your hand in the middle of her back all adds to sensuality and intimacy.  This evening, take a few minutes before going to sleep and share with each other what you think of when you think of sensuality.  What is one thing you can add to your “intimacy map” that would help improve your romantic life?

Another Resource

Our friends at Fierce Marriage took some time to provide some additional resources in this area.  You can find those resources here.

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 3a – Romance

Romance is really a recent development in marriages. It was seldom thought of or even expected until Byron and Shelley broke onto the scene with their silly romantic poetry and sonnets. Well, except for scriptures written around 900 years before the birth of Christ. Song of Solomon is a full book of scripture dedicated to romance and sexual love.

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 3 – The Act of Marriage

The Act of Marriage is the title of a book published in 1998 and was one of the original attempts at a Christian discussion concerning sex.  It leaned towards boring and is not one of my favorite books.  However, I love the title.

The expression of our sexuality is one of the key “acts” we engage in when we marry.  If people were honest, they may admit that the sexual drive was one of the things that made marriage desirable in the first place.  Even the scripture tells us that “if you burn with desire you should marry” (1 Cor 7:9).  Sex allows us to connect in an emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental way like no other act can.  Sex is a powerful drive designed by God to connect and continue to connect two individuals in a marriage in a deep and meaningful way.  It is so important that God gave us an entire book of the bible on this topic.

In marriage circles sex is one of the most discussed topics.  This week we will be posting a couple of posts on sexuality, sensuality and romance.  Each of these topics make up the triangle of the act of marriage.  While a great sex life does not in and of itself result in a great marriage, it can be thought of both a thermometer and a thermostat in regards to your marriage.  On one hand a great sex life reflects a strong and intimate marriage.  On the other hand developing a better sex life can result in a stronger more intimate marriage.

On most marriage podcasts a large percentage of questions circle around this topic.  How often should we “do it?”  Why is he always thinking about sex?  Why does she get so angry when I turn down their sexual advances?  Is that all they think about?  Deeper questions include why do I feel rejected as a person when he is not interested in sex.  What baggage do I carry in regards to sex?  What are the activities I am engaged in that prevents intimacy and sex.

There are a few reasons why sex is such a huge issue in marriage and why many fights surround this issue.  First, baggage we bring into a marriage concerning sex is often confusing and sometimes painful.  One in three women have been sexually abused in some way.  This abuse ranges from unwelcome pressure from boyfriends in a woman’s developmental years to rape at some point in a person’s life.  Additionally, the Christian mantra historically has been; “sex is dirty, shameful and disgusting and should be saved for the one you love.”  This baggage causes confusion and pain in the area of sexuality and can create significant barriers to intimacy.

Second, men and women respond in significantly different ways concerning sex.  Barring physical issues and stress, a man is usually ready for sex at any given time.  A sexy smile, a light touch on the arm or even a bumpy bus ride and a guys is ready.  Men have a biological drive towards desiring sex more frequently due to high levels of testosterone.  Women, on the other hand, have been created differently.  They are generally slower to warm up and sex is often a secondary issue that follows children, work, budgets, housework, and time on Facebook.

Finally, we live in a sex addicted world where pornography makes sex about a physical need at best and twists it into a pathological drive at worst.  In general, pornography sets unrealistic expectations, demeans women and men alike, and twists a person’s view of sex into something that is neither intimate or loving.  Many people think that pornography shows too much concerning sex, in reality it shows to little.  It reveals something about the physical but omits vulnerability and intimacy.  In short, sex is not just about genitalia.  In her book, A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, Sheila Wray Gregiore, says it this way:

Sex is not just about genitalia.  It’s about relationship. When God said “the two shall become one flesh,” He didn’t mean it only physically.  Only focusing on the physical neglects the real power sex has to bod two people together in other ways,  not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.1

Further, God, in his wisdom, designed sex to be contained and controlled within a covenant relationship.  What this means is that the only person that can minister to my desire for sexual intimacy is my spouse.  Since there will often be one person who desires sex more than the other, there may be one who has to make the choice to serve the other by providing for sex when they are not really in the mood.  Or, there may be one who has to show patience with the other when they are not in the mood and decline your sexual advances.  Sex is a place where we are often asked to exercise the fruit of the spirit, either through sacrificial love, sacrificial service, sacrificial patience or sacrificial gentleness.

In this post I would like to provide a little, straightforward insight into how guys view sex.  It may not apply to your guy, but I think it applies to most guys.  Afterwards, I will do the same for the guys concerning women.

For Women Only

When sexual needs are met, men are better at being human…

The sex drive in men, especially younger men, is a powerful force to be reckoned with.  When sexual desires are not being met we simply do not always think clearly, are more likely to succumb to the temptation to isolate and withdraw, and can sometimes just be mean.  This drive is a combination of the need to be emotionally connected and the physical need for release.   These two driving forces are connected in a way we simply do not fully understand.  It is difficult to control our tendency towards frustration and anger when we are sexually frustrated.

Much like women, men have cycles too…

Testosterone build-up in the blood system will create an increasing need for sex.  I know, not very romantic, but it is a drive that men have very little control over and the emotional results can often lean towards frustration that presents as anger.  Understanding his cycle, how often he desires sex, can have a significantly positive influence on every aspect of your marriage.  When women do not understand this and fail to plan accordingly, men lean towards withdrawing when our needs are not being met.

Like women, men have a need and a desire for intimate connection…

While you experience this through conversations, time spent on activities, holding hands etc., men feel most intimately connected during and immediately after sex.  While his desire is physical and often presents that way, when he walks by and runs his hand over your posterior, it is also a call for intimacy, not just sex.  Pay attention and learn to read between the lines and learn your man’s moves.

When you reject his advances, he feels like you are rejecting him…

I know nothing could be further from the truth, and it may seem childish, but there it is.  It can be deeply painful, especially if it happens often.  Again, from the book Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex quotes from husbands in her research:

“I don’t feel loved because my wife doesn’t want sex. I feel like she doesn’t want me personally.”

“You know there is a lack of interest, but you don’t really know why. You start to think, What is wrong with me?”

“I feel rejected, like my wants, needs, and desires don’t matter.” “It really hurts. I feel like a failure and a horrible husband because she almost never lets us have sex. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I feel.” 

Men do know, at some level, that you are not really rejecting them.  We understand you my be exhausted, distracted or simply not feeling “sexy.”  As Christians, we know that even if we were being rejected that we are still loved, accepted and valued by God. However, it is sometimes extremely difficult to assimilate that truth when we are feeling sexually frustrated.

When you initiate sex he feels like you want him, are satisfied by him, and love him…

“I don’t have to remind you that you like chocolate cake.  You enjoy chocolate cake so you eat it when it is around.  The cake does not have to remind you that you like it.  If you really enjoyed sex…”  So started a coaching conversation about sex.  Ladies, he really does not understand that sex is not a thought that crosses your mind 227 times per day, because it probably crosses his.  He thinks if you really enjoyed sex you would initiate more.

Initiating sex lets him know you think he is sexy, that you desire him and that he is your “Thor.”  I know you can’t make the thought of initiating sex cross your minds 2-3 times a week, but you can set a reminder on your phone.

He wants sex to be exciting…

Try something different every once-in-a-while.  Have you ever made out in a state park;  spent some time fooling around in the guest bedroom; wore a cowboy hat or a superwoman cape to bed?  Have you ever had the police respond because the neighbors called in a loud noise complaint when the kids were at grandma’s?   I am not encouraging activities that would land you in jail, but you can have some fun and do something different every once in a while.

For Men Only

Have a Reality Check…

Women do not see sex the same way you do.  They need time to open up emotionally and this means you get to spend some time talking with her, going on walks holding her hand, etc.  Remember, love is patient and kind.  Show her some of that patience and sacrificial love and learn what she needs to prepare for sexual intimacy.  While sexual attraction is more physical for men, sexual desire is more of a mental thing for women.   In addition, learn what she enjoys and what she does not enjoy.  Learn to serve your wife through sex just as you serve her in other ways in your marriage.

Dude, Show Some Self Control…

I know that the gentle pat on the bottom is a way that you show affection.  However, she is probably not going to take it that way, especially if you take the opportunity to do so 12 times a day  with one of those times being at the grocery store on the baby food isle.  It makes her feel like a piece of meat.  Cut it out.

Bring the Romance…

While you may be ready for sexual intimacy at the drop of a hat, it may take a little longer for her.  Let her know you are thinking about her during the day.  Text or call for no reason but to say you love her.  I know you think about sex 15 times a day but you need to actually express it to her.  Just thinking it does not communicate intimacy.

Plan a date each week.  Yes, it’s your job.  Try for at least 1 time per week, even if it is just a brief lunch.  Put away the phone and actually pay attention.  If your not a natural romantic, get a book.  It is a skill you can learn.

Learn How to Express Your Needs…

Quit pouting when you don’t get your way.  Withdrawing to your room and playing video games will most likely not result in her getting hot and bothered and jumping you in the middle of Call of Duty 12.  When you are feeling disconnected, let her know.  When you are feeling lonely, let her know.  It is in sharing feelings that a woman feels connected.

Brush up On Your Approach…

“Hey, you wanna do it” is probably not the best approach when you want intimacy.  Learn how she wants to be approached, what she needs to feel secure and loved, and then watch the sparks fly.

Homework

  1.  Open the homework questionnaire and answer the questions from your perspective.  Set a time one evening later in the week to share and discuss your answers.  Try and set aside some time where you are not interrupted.
  2.  Listen to the Podcast from In This Together regarding “Talking to Your Spouse about Sex.
  3. If you want another podcast to listen to, check our the Fierce Marriage Podcast as Ryan and Selina Frederick discuss the “Five Anchors of Sex.”

 

 

Gregoire, Sheila Wray; Gregoire, Sheila Wray. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) (p. 205). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 2 – Fighting the Four

There is no shortage of advice that can be found concerning marriage.  Advice that ranges from learning how to effectively listen to your spouse to how to spice up your sex life with nutritional additives.  People mean well and many times the advice worked out well for them.  In fact, many counselors base their advice on what has worked in their relationships more than on scripture and longitudinal research.  However, there is long term, longitudinal studies that provide insight into how we interact as men and women in an intimate relationship.  I often refer to scriptural truths as Capitol “T” truth (what God says) and scientific evidence as little “t” truth (what science says).  I love it when both of these “truths” align and can shed light on what works in marriage.

The Four Horseman of the Apocalyptic Marriage

If you have been to one of our Love and Respect Workshops, you have heard the facilitator, Dr. Eggerich, refer to research from the University of Washington.  This research, that spans 4 decades, time and time again supports what God says in his word.  Especially the scripture in Ephesians that deals with the need of a woman to be sacrificially loved by her husband and the need of a husband to be sacrificially respected by his wife. Time and again his research points out how kindness, gentleness, forgiveness and being tenderhearted provide a significant defense against what he calls The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in regards to marriage.  The four horseman are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.  Every marriage has at least a small dosage of these poisons in them.  However, when any or all of them run rampant, a marriage veers towards destruction.

Ephesians 4:32 is not what we would consider a “marriage” scripture.  It is a call for all brothers and sisters in Christ to treat each other as God has treated them.  If you have an accurate understanding of how much God loves you, is kind to you, is tenderhearted towards you, and how much God has forgiven you; if you understand his grace towards you; you will find that it is easier to treat others in the same way.  If we are called to treat our brothers and sisters with forgiveness and kindness, how much more are we called to treat our spouse in the same way.

Thanksgiving

Do you regularly express thankfulness to your spouse? The first horseman, criticism, often takes place when expectations are not being met and disappointment sets in. It often starts with complaining, which is how we express ourselves when needs are not being met.   However, when these complaints are not effectively communicated we sometimes shift from the problem being the problem to our spouse being the problem. When that happens criticism of our spouse often follows. A healthy complaint might be “I wish you would hold my hand when we walk because it makes me feel secure and loved.” Criticism would sound like “You are so insensitive, why don’t you hold my hand like Jim does when he walks with Kim?” In essence, you start criticizing the character of your spouse. This creates underlying disillusionment and resentment. The answer to criticism is thanksgiving. Last week we ended with a challenge of expressing thanksgiving. Thanksgiving helps us keep things in perspective and allows us to be thankful for what we have, work on what we desire, and prevents the horseman of criticism from galloping over our marriage.

Empathy

Are you open to the problems and complaints in a marriage or have you crossed over into contempt, the second horseman.  Contempt often surfaces when expectations go unmet and no attempt at working on an issue takes place.  People become frustrated, angry and can sometimes just be mean.  When complaints turn to criticism, and people start attacking each other’s character, it is like driving a stake into your partner’s heart.  People then become hard-hearted and withdraw to a defensive position.  The opposite of this is empathy. A person with empathy sees a problem but instead of attacking the other person, they commit to attacking the problem.  They understand that both partners in the marriage have baggage, that both partners are being “transformed” into the image of Christ, and that they are part of that transformational process.  They are there to sacrificially love the other, being patient as God works out the changes that need to take place.

Forgiving

As the third horseman, defensiveness, surfaces in a marriage, individuals may begin to build their defenses in an effort to reduce the pain involved in resolving issues. Defensiveness surfaced when couples start blaming each other for the problems in their marriage. They may each attempt to take the high moral ground claiming their individual perspective is accurate or “right.” They may defend themselves with scripture, something they read in a marriage book or something they heard in a TED Talk. Most of the time defensiveness is rooted in pride and is the result of forgetting that both partners are influenced by sin.  Your spouse is not perfect, and neither are you.  God is in the process of perfecting us but all of us have a ways to go.  Understanding this, and understanding what you have been forgiven for in Christ, allows you to approach marital problems with forgiveness.  The greatest growth in a marriage comes from repenting (turning away from sinful behaviors) and forgiveness.  Confessing, or realigning your perception with the reality of God’s word, is key to this cycle.  It is this that protects you from being defensive and then stonewalling your partner in a bid to protect yourself.

Stonewalling, the last of the four horsemen, often surfaces after there have been unmet expectations, resentment, criticism and defensiveness in a marriage.  Working to prevent the first three horsemen often prevents the fourth from surfacing.  However, if that stage has already become the norm for your marriage it may be time to look outside of your marriage for a coach, counselor or pastor to provide help and insight.

While it is often easy to focus on the horsemen, this week I am going to challenge you to focus on the treatment.  How are you (in Christ) fighting criticism with thanksgiving?  How are you (in Christ) fighting contempt with kindness?  Have you withdrawn to a defensive position, stonewalling your partner or are you (in Christ) committed to deal with your problems with confession, repentance and forgiveness?

Homework/Resource

This week we would like to introduce you to the Lasting App.  This app distills over three decades of research into 5 minute “bit size” activities that you and your spouse can engage in every day.  While provided in small chunks, the content is massive and the paid subscription gives you access to tons of topics including communication, sexuality, conflict, appreciation, etc.  Linking your phone with your spouse’s phone allows you to share responses from surveys that are often revealing and insightful.  You will find that though it is based on a number of longitudinal studies, the designer of the app is a christian so the content is generally consistent with scriptural truth.  Try the free portions of the app and if you feel it is helpful consider the subscription, which is generally lower in cost per year than one session of therapy.  While it may not be a replacement for therapy when needed, it can be part of a regime that can prevent the need in the first place.

God Bless and have a great week guys.

ABC Reviews Lasting

 

 

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 1 – Expectations

Are Your Expectations Realistic?

I personally love the science behind marriage – communication, sexuality, emotion, and commitment all work together to create a unique and exciting marriage.   As believers, we also need a strong understanding about what scripture has to say about the covenant marriage.

Many times problems surface in a marriage because we have unrealistic expectations of marriage due to television, movies, books, social media, etc.  It is therefore important to explore this topic.  Let’s take a look at what scripture has to say about the purpose of marriage.

Your Marriage is Not About Your Marriage.

A strong marriage is not an end to itself.  A strong marriage creates a foundation from which to minister and serve.  A strong marriage reflects the image of Christ and the Church.  A strong marriage creates a fellowship between two people that strengthens both partners and allows them to better express their giftedness and talents.  A strong marriage forms the foundation of a stable family and therefore creates a stronger foundation for the church, communities, cities, states and countries.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Fellowship.

In Genesis we see the first purpose of marriage, fellowship.  God created the heavens and earth, placed man in the garden, gave him a job and said “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)  It is the first time that God created and did not say “It is good.”  This is often referred to the “pregnant pause” in creation where God focuses on his preparation for woman.  He puts Adam to work naming animals. As Adam does so, he finds that there is a female for every male, “but no suitable helper could be found.”  (Genesis 2:20)  God made sure Adam knew what it was like to be alone so he would appreciate the fellowship of his wife.  When she was created, he was so happy he actually broke out into song.

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”  (Genesis 2:23)

Additionally, marriage is about woman being created for man as a loving partner (Genesis 2, Proverbs 5:19), a wise adviser (Proverbs 31), and as a family manager (1 Timothy 5:14).  Husband and wife together, acting as best friends, serving one another in unique ways, makes up the fellowship of marriage.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Procreation and Sexual Purity.

One of the first commands God gave man was to “subdue the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)  For this purpose God created a sexual drive for the purpose of intimacy and procreation, usually stronger in men than women.  As with many things, the enemy uses this drive, originally meant for good and blessing, to tempt people into sexual sin.  Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognizes this and says that the answer is for each man to have sexual relations with his own wife.  (1 Corinthians 7:2)  Paul goes so far as to tell each spouse that their body is not their own and that they cannot withhold themselves from one another unless there is mutual agreement and for a short time. (1 Corinthians 7:5) Marriage is the place where sexual expression, child-rearing, and the nuclear family dynamic is held together for the glory of the creator of the family, God.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Sanctification.

I can say it no better than Tim Keller, Author of The Meaning of Marriage…

“What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have. I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.”

Later he writes:

Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel.“1

Marriage is about God utilizing the joy of marriage to teach you appreciation and thanksgiving, and using the struggles of marriage to teach you sacrificial love, respect and patience.  In short, he uses us as a couple, both in our obedience and in our rebellion, to grow the image of Christ in each of us.

Challenge:  This week think about the blessings of your marriage.  This may be difficult for about 25% of us because 25% of couples are stressed and challenged at any given time.  Do it anyway.  Give thanks to God for the blessings you have (1 Thess. 5:18) and give a word of encouragement to your spouse for what they bring into your life (1 Thess. 5:11).

1  Keller, Timothy. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (p. vi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

Remember, if you are attending 7 Weeks to a Better Marriage, your second assignment is to listen to the In this Together Podcast located here.