God can direct you in your marital relationship. The adversity He allows is to help us build integrity. From this day forward make a sincere attempt to improve your relationship with your spouse. Take a moment and see where you are. Is your relationship headed in the right direction? Ask your self do you really want your relationship to improve?
God really intended for marriage to last for a lifetime. The scriptures clearly tells us “what God has joined together let not man put asunder”! Asunder; means to not let anything pull you apart or separate you. Why do we so very often fail to seek God’s advice when seeking a mate? We instead allow our feelings and emotions to often guide us in a direction that leads to a futile destiny. In our haste for companionship we can often make commitments that really should not be. Many often marry on the rebound. Loneliness and/or rejection can compel one to enter into a relationship too soon! Hurt and pain can hurl you into a relationship to escape rejection and loneliness. Swept away and blinded by an over whelming sometimes even sensual infatuation we fall heart first into marriage. Many will fall prey to what I choose to call temporary or “intoxicating affections”. Its symptoms merely mimic true love! All too often once the blinders come off you find yourself saying “what have I done?”
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Intimacy is an important ingredient in a strong fulfilling marriage. Intimacy involves transparency. There is no true intimacy without being truthful with one another. It involves growing to the point you can allow your intimate personal defenses to rest. You are able to allow your spouse to inhabit the depth of your being. Together you intimately caress the intangible you. You together grow to the point you are freely able to become vulnerable. The walls come down. A pathway to the heart is established.
Marriage should consist of an ever increasing, warm endearing closeness. After all your spouse should be closer to you than anyone else. Remember the two shall be one flesh.
Don’t confuse intimacy with sex. Many people have sexual relationships and never experience intimacy. Life’s lessons can be…..
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NEXT: Chapter 6 – When You Have Been Married Before
Marriage is a partnership. It is meant to be a relationship where two imperfect individuals come together that share a common bond of love. This bond is ideally meant to last “to death us do part”, for a lifetime. Many people never anticipate what it’s really like to live with someone.
Marriage is more than spending a few days together or a week or two. It should last a lifetime. Often initially the infatuation is so strong the two of you almost feel invincible. Often the couple is oblivious to the reality of it all. Thinking that their feelings will make up for their differences. Yes, differences you will have, but that’s normal. It is how you decide to resolve those differences that are important. When reality sets in they realize “I didn’t think about this or that”. Who does what? When and how often?
You wake up one morning and wonder……..
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NEXT: Chapter 5 – What About Sex And Intimacy
Did you know listening is an art? We must learn to value what each other has to say. When your partner is talking don’t mentally construct your response or rebuttal. Consciously attempt to clear your mind. Sincerely, actively and tentatively listen to what your partner is saying. Let it be your goal to attentively comprehend what they are trying to relate to you. Make it a goal to be intimately interested in what your spouse says to you.
Few people really listen to one another. Why? Because we are often so busy trying to relay our own inner self. Instead of actually listening we are often mentally constructing what we want to relay. Learn to really value what the other is trying to transmit. Even when we think we know what they are going to say. Even if it seems trivially unimportant. Allow them the freedom to express themselves. Think of it as a time to exercise patience. To love means to hear. When we attentively listen we’re saying you matter. I value what you are saying. You are important to me!
The next time you engage in a conversation with your spouse…
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NEXT:Chapter 4 – That’s Your Responsibility
When we submit we yield to the power or will of another. Submission is a humble compliant act. It is not an inferior position. It is a position in which we can learn integrity. What is integrity? Webster defines integrity as; an unimpaired condition; soundness. Adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. Completeness.
It is only with God can one ultimately find completeness. The marital relationship is when two become one. When they leave and cleave spiritually the two should become one flesh. Notice that our physical body has two arms, two hands, two eyes, two ears, two legs and two feet. These body parts are designed to work as a team.
For example; to advance forward one foot has to step out first (unless you want to hop). Does this mean one is more important than the other? No! A symphonic cadence develops when two walk together in love.
The Bible tells us that the wife should submit to the husband in all things. This establishes our walking order. But don’t just stop there. It also tells the husband to love the wife as Christ loved the church.
< NEXT:Chapter 3 – Why Don’t You Listen ?
Marriage is for two mature responsible adults. One male and one female. Or one man and one woman created by God. It was God’s idea from the beginning of time that man and woman co-habit in a loving monogamous relationship. God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. He placed man in the Garden of Eden to work and care for it. He even gave man instructions. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die”. Genesis 1: 16-17 NIV
It was God who decided that the man He created should not be alone. “The Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2: 18 NIV. God decided that Adam needed a companion. He caused Adam to sleep deeply and extracted one of his rib bones. From this he made woman. She became bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. Woman came out of man. She came from his side. Someone for him to love and cherish to be close to his side.
Why all the historical religious stuff? Remember anything can be religious. This is a profound spiritual truth! God is the exclusive Creator of mankind. Man and Woman came from God. Not apes. No big bang! Not evolution! Who made the first car? Who made the first stoplight? Who made the first TV? Who invented computers? Give credit where it is due! GOD made man and woman.
God’s design for marriage has not changed! The Supreme Court of the United States has voted against the WORD of GOD and has sanctioned same-sex unions. It is so very important to know that MARRIAGE GOD’S WAY WORKS!
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Each of us has a unique inborn Temperament. Our temperament determines how we react to people places and things. It is given to us by God. It is also the determining factor in how well we handle stresses and the pressures of life. I would like to share with you some information in regards to temperament. I have personally
experienced the benefits of understanding temperament. Just know that each of us has a part in the puzzle of life. Spiritually speaking we are all members of the body of Christ and each of us has a place within the body. Yet we are all uniquely different. “God is not a respecter of persons.”
The idea of temperament is not new. GOD has placed in each one of us a unique temperament. Our environment is made up of the things we smell, see, hear and learn. Our mind is similar to a computer. It keeps a detailed record of all our life events. We are a by product of the things we take in. They help shape our personality. Our personality is a mask we develop to protect us in the world. There are there basic components to our temperament. Inclusion; to the degree we like or do not like to relate to others. Control; how we establish a satisfactory relationship with others in respect to control and power. Affection; the need to maintain a level of love and affection with others.
There are many variations of temperaments. No two are alike. But to the degree you better understand your self it will help you develop a healthy environment. Living in a healthy environment will help lessen the level of stress you experience. Begin to respect the differences in others. God has uniquely made each one of us.
NEXT: Chapter 9 – Two Is A Couple Three Is A Crowd
Each and every marriage is different. I have said before the formula that works for me may not work for you.
Just like what looks good on you may not be well suited for me. We were not created as I always say to be
“Cookie Cutter Christians”. Life would we be quite boring if we were all alike. We need to learn to respect our unique differences. Sharing our life experiences shines light on the darkness. The foundational principles we should apply in marriage are ordained by God. Love, truth, mutual respect, fidelity, and commitment should be woven into the fabric of your marital relationship. A God given soul mate is a precious jewel. Since 55-60% of marriages end in divorce it’s important that you don’t let anything or anyone come between you. After 33 years of marriage I still remember our late Pastor Rev. Ruth Johnson telling us that marriage was a circle. That we should not let any one come between us. God must be in the center of your marriage! Your committed relationship with Him will fill the void in the center of the circle. The Holy Spirit will teach, lead and guide you how to love your partner. Begin to divorce proof your marriage. In order for your marriage to weather the
storms of life God must be at the helm. Think of marriage as and unending circle with God invisibly and ever present in the center.
I vividly remember our pastor explaining the significance of the wedding ring. How it represented a circle. How we should not let anyone else in the circle. You see a circle is complete it has no end.
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Caring Enough To Listen=Communication
An emotionally safe marriage establishes a foundation of trust. Your partner is supposed to be your helpmate. Someone to help and encourage each other to improve. Someone to tell you when you are wrong. Someone to allow you some space, or room to think when needed. Someone to learn to love you the way God defines love. Marriage was meant to be a safe place to grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally. This is why God has given us healthy boundaries. Jesus died so we might truly experience God’s love. God is the only One that really knows how to love unconditionally. This is why it is important to consult Him often. No one is ever right about everything. Life is too short. God is quite clear about some things. Choosing to do otherwise will always cause some type of conflict. Our lives are supposed to be centered around God and His principles. It is very important to personally study and know His Word! When you know that you have stepped outside of those boundaries. Repent! Get back on track! If you have an addictive nature get help! God is able to keep you from falling! Never want to be right just for the sake of being right. This only hinders your relationship as well as your own personal growth.
Do not seek out someone to support you when you are wrong. This is one of the biggest problems in relationships. There are too many people who are willing to support wrong. This may give you some immediate self gratification. But in the long wrong it really just weakens you and will eventually erode the moral fibers of your relationship. You really are being the bigger person to simply just admit when you are wrong. It is not always an issue of right or wrong. Sometimes you just do not agree. Sometimes you just feel quite strongly about something. But it has not manifested in a way that you can explain it or define it. This is when patience is developed. In its abstract stage just wait until “a little more paint gets on the canvas”. This is why your relationship with the Lord is so very important! God really does know, in His time He will help you and guide you, when you allow Him. Remember His idea of Marriage is having a “helpmeet”. That has not changed. It is very important that you develop your personal intimate relationship with the Lord. Trusting Him will further help you to effectively communicate to your spouse or whoever.
If trust has been broken it is vitally important that you immediately make it a top priority to do whatever is necessary to begin to restore it. Don’t wait or put it off any longer, and let it continue to fester and ferment. This will become cancerous and further help to erect an emotional barrier. This greatly hinders intimacy. Remember intimacy helps you to be transparent. To openly say how you feel, what your needs are and how you deal with those needs is not always easy. But you must start. Quite often in life one has been hurt. They have been abused emotionally and or physically. Barriers have been erected. Unresolved issues are really the root cause of a lot of emotional outbursts. In some cases this can also hinder your ability to develop a strong healthy deep marital relationship. To fill that void in many cases you will just develop a lot of surface unfulfilling non threatening shallow relationships. Or you become a people pleaser. You often go along with the majority even when it goes against what God has said not to do. If this is the case you really lose who you really are. If you do not stand for something you will fall for everything. Did He not say “Don’t be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of your mind”? God does not want you to change like a chameleon just for the sake of acceptance. Nor does He want you to keep your hurts locked inside. God wants to transform you from inside out and help you discover a healthy balance. Pray and ask Him for direction or to place someone in your path to help you. Then listen and trust God. Learn how to respond differently. God really does know what has happened, is happening and will happen. If this has been the case start by opening up to Him. Remember God already knows. God is Omniscient! He knows everything. He is there for you and He really does want to help you become all that He created you to be.
Jesus came that we might be free. Not free to say and just do anything. Not free to dibble and dabble into any and everything of the world. He wants you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. But free to live your life to please God. In many instances Biblical concepts have actually been laid aside and secular ways and very worldly social methods have been embraced and taken a stronghold. The ways of the world have become accepted and are quite commonplace within the Church. Lord help us! God wants to help you have a quality existence. God really can make a difference in your life and marriage. God will allow whatever you have been burdened by to lift. His yoke really is easy and His burdens are light. God is Omnipotent. Ultimately everything is under His control. He has all power! When you are burdened down by anything begin to commence to learn to give it to Him. How do I do this? By taking responsibility for your part and giving the rest to Him. God is more than equipped to handle what we cannot. Remember He created us therefore He knows all our limitations. He is just waiting for you to submit to His will and way. Then just wait on Him. Waiting can be hard. It is also an opportunity to grow spiritually and acquire patience. God has promised to supply all of our needs. Don’t always think carnally when it comes to your needs. God is more than enough and has healthy ways to fulfill all our needs. It is important to know as well that God has put in all of us a void that only He can fill. You can count on all of God’s promises!
As you grow spiritually you begin to mature. This will help you to develop as the person God intends you to be. God knows where you are but He does not want you to stay there. This also may require you to walk alone sometime. But know with God, you are really not alone at all. He did not leave us alone here on earth to be tossed to and fro. His Holy Spirit can fill you in a way that nothing or no one else can! When you allow Him to fill that void that only He can fill you will never have to feel lonely again. Nor do you have to carry any burdens alone. As you learn to trust Him you learn to lean on Him. He is able to anchor you! Jesus Christ carried the burdens of the world for all of us! You owe this to yourself as well as to your spouse. As you react and respond to them in a way that pleases God you help them as well as yourself. This will help you to point the finger properly. Meaning whenever you properly point the finger, remember the biggest finger points back at you. Always remember to check yourself as well as the person you are putting in check. Here is an opportunity for spiritual growth. This encourages them and reflects the spiritual benefits acquired by spending time with God. Remember as a help meet you want them to be all they can be for the Lord. You want them to break free of whatever strongholds they are shackled by. You want them to grow spiritually, mature and learn to give whatever hinders them to the Lord as well. Ultimately this is our purpose in life. It is not to please man; But to please God. Living to please God will help you immensely. As a matter of fact it is really easier.
Man looks from the outside. Too often what is temporal (temporary) is the focus. What is eternal is much more important. Take personal inventory and see how much you are caught up in superficial stuff. Too often worship becomes banal and ritualistic. God is put on a quick time construct. Too often the ways of the world are adopted and given more priority. Your goal should really be to live so that when you pass through this life, God will not be a stranger when it is time to meet Him face to face. This does not at all mean you live in a “fantasy religious zone”. God really can direct your path. He also wants us to enjoy life despite the serious situations that arise from time to time. God knows and looks at the heart. God is so very awesome! He really does know just what you need and when. He really does want you to have a rewarding and fulfilling marriage. You cannot change anyone. But when you submit to the Lord He can and will help you to change. This is true of anyone that is willing to submit to Him. “God is not a respecter of persons.” This in turn will strengthen your inner spiritual life. You will begin to reflect the brightness that God’s internal Comforter provides. This also makes way for a balanced life. Any seasonal disappointments, trials, situations, past or current issues that arise will not define what the sum total of your life is all about. God wants to be included in every area of your life. Remember He is Omnipresent! God will help you rise to each of the challenges life presents and see you through each and every one of them. God wants to be the captain of your soul! His peace surpasses the understanding of man!
Communicating with the Lord is very important. Meditating on His Word is important. Applying what you are learning is crucial. As you spend time with Him He will help you to communicate effectively with your spouse. Take time to listen to your spouse. Then take some more time to listen to God. Remember it is necessary to listen attentively and objectively in order to hear. Be willing to make whatever changes that are necessary to take responsibility to improve your part in the relationship. God is able, willing and ready to help you. God is always just a prayer away……
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the basic principles of communication in marriage.
Next: See Developing Intimacy