Jesus answered, ‘Don’t you know that in the beginning
the Creator made a man and a woman? That’s why a man
leaves his father and mother and gets married.
He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer
two people, but one. And no one should separate a couple
that God has joined together.’”
Matthew 19:4-6 (CEV)
Marriage is important.
It’s a special covenant, established by God, in which a man and woman willingly bind themselves together in love and become one. The Bible uses the marriage relationship as a symbol of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. It’s the foundation of a healthy family and a strong society.
Marriage is hard work…even for Christians.
It’s easy to get married, but difficult to stay married. And the goal is not simply to avoid divorce or separation. Anger, frustration, dysfunction and disconnection are not God’s intention for marriage.
Marriage depends on good communication.
It is vital for husbands and wives to talk with each other about hopes and dreams and spiritual things. Conversations need to deal with more than just work, kids and things that need to be done around the house.
Our goal is to encourage honest, open communication between husbands and wives. We believe that willingness to “risk” in this area can have huge benefits. Part of becoming successful in communication is unlearning some bad habits while cultivating new habits. Some of the bad habits couples get into are:
- Miscommunication… Everyone wants to be understood, but our ability to listen to others is often complicated by our need to say what’s on our mind. In order for good communication to occur a message has to be both sent and received accurately. If a person is focused only on sending a message it will very likely interfere with his or her ability to receive a message.
- Angry Communication… When a conversation starts as a complaint, it’s easy and natural for the receiver to immediately go on the defensive. A critical, blaming tone of voice creates a “survival” mindset in the other person, regardless of the issue. Focusing on your spouse’s failures in a harsh, disrespectful way erodes trust and intimacy.
- Passive Communication… Always giving up or giving in is also unhealthy. A spouse who consistently discounts his or her own wants, needs and feelings is also eroding trust and intimacy. Mutual respect and appreciation requires give and take, and recognizes the interests of both the husband and wife.
- Do look for something to praise your spouse for every day.
- Do make time to talk when there’s not a problem to solve or many distractions.
- Do unto your spouse as you would have him or her do unto you.
- Do appreciate the inherent differences between men and women.
- Do avoid volatile statements like “you always…” or “you never…”
- Do keep in mind what really matters. The goal is not to win an argument. The goal is to have a healthy, vibrant marriage!
- Don’t interrupt the other person.
- Don’t lose your sense of humor.
- Don’t assume that you know what your spouse is going to say.
- Don’t assume that you know how your spouse feels.
- Don’t try to have an important discussion when one or both of you is tired, angry, upset or hungry.
- Don’t stop believing that your marriage is important and worth working for.
Ephesians 5:15-33 (New Living Translation)
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk… that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit… making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord… For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church… As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Each month we will offer questions for couples to use in having healthy, spiritual conversations with each other. We encourage you to set aside some time – at least once a month – to discuss these questions in a friendly, supportive way. View the archived questions.
January Couples Questions
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:21-23 (NLT)
“We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.”
Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)
“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life. Never tell lies or be deceitful in what you say. Keep looking straight ahead, without turning aside. Know where you are headed, and you will stay on solid ground. Don’t make a mistake by turning to the right or the left.”
Proverbs 4:23-27 (CEV)
“Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits.” Song of Songs 4:16 (NLT)
Happy New Year! A new calendar year naturally prompts thoughts of new beginnings and fresh starts.
One of the great promises in Scripture is the dependability of GOD’s unfailing love for us. His unconditional love is not only steadfast and constant, it’s dynamic and current. Our relationship with GOD should never be solely defined by a decision that we made years ago. It ought to be as vibrant and real as the demands and experiences of today.
The same thing is true of your marriage. While this relationship between the two of you was officially instituted at your wedding, your love for each other ought to be as fresh and real as the obstacles and opportunities you’re facing today.
One of the challenges I give to couples during their wedding ceremony is the need to regularly renew their vows to each other. I usually share something like this in the service…
“The vows you make to each other today will be easy to say, but it will be much more difficult living them out in the daily realities of life. The promises you make to each other here before your family and friends must be renewed throughout your lives. Love is a constant choice. It must be intentionally nurtured and cared for in order to grow.”
- What specific “vows” or “promises” did you make to each other during your wedding ceremony? Go back and look at a recording of your wedding if that is available.
- What can make keeping those marriage “pledges” difficult?
- Why do you think so many couples struggle to keep their vows?
- What is one way you are trying to “follow through” on your commitment and keep your love relationship fresh and growing?
- What “vow” will you renew with your spouse as you start this new year?
We are asking our Adult Bible Study groups to identify “Marriage Enrichment Leaders” who will help to foster this emphasis throughout our church. These individuals are not “experts” nor are they claiming to have a perfect marriage. They are simply concerned members who want to nurture healthy marriages in our congregation. Our hope is that this area will continue to develop over time so that open, honest communication in and about our marriages will become the norm!
If you are interested in becoming a marriage enrichment leader for your Bible Study group, fill out the NEXT Step form.
Check out the following Marriage related resources…
Focus on the Family
Intimacy in Marriage
Check out @themarriagebed. Review past tweets. Consider following them. Do you agree? Disagree? Why? By yourself – or even better, with your spouse – read over several of their posts. Click on a couple of links.