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. Scripture tells us God does not change. But man does and needs to grow continually in God’s grace. Man has changed so much that he no longer exclusively gives God the infallible credit for his origin. Christians should know better! Either we believe the scriptures or we don’t. As long as you omit the Word of God in your life and marriage you cannot, or will not experience the fullness and abundance of life that God wants for you. It is also the primary reason why many are unhappy and fulfilled. God wants to be involved in your personal life. Stop running from Him and run to Him. Please begin to give God his rightful place in your life!
I truly, wholeheartedly believe that God made man and woman to fulfill a purpose. I also believe the reason we
have such an influx of problems in marriage is because we ignore what the bible has to say in regards to life and living.We have allowed others to ridicule us and insinuate we are Pharisees when we talk about the scriptures. We then timidly seek spiritual direction for our life and marriages. If you know Jesus you should know better. No, not in a rigid legalistic fashion like they did. The “Pharisees” knew the scriptures well. It was a good thing they knew the scriptures. That in itself was not enough. The problem was that they did not know Jesus! They did not even recognize Him visibly right before them in the flesh. There is a big difference between “knowing of” and “knowing intimately” who Jesus really is!
We who are truly Christians are without excuse. We should truly know who Jesus is! We should make it a priority to continuously strive to develop a growing spiritual intimate relationship with Him. We should encourage others to do so as well. Why? The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher to equip us for whatever is necessary in this life. God allows us to experience the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit, when we are obedient to Him. I am not ashamed of the Gospel! Gospel means Good News! Call me a Pharisee because I’m calling on Jesus I know who He is. Do you know Jesus? If you don’t know Him now is a perfect time. Just ask Him into your life. Believe that Jesus was born of a woman; the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life. He was crucified, dead, hung on the cross and was buried. It doesn’t stop there. He arose from the grave with all power and ascended into heaven. He sacrificed His precious life to redeem us from the curse of sin. It is by the shedding of His blood and accepting Him and His Word as TRUTH; that we can truly be cleansed from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. Invite His Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence and commence getting to know Him intimately. How? Pray and begin to study His WORD! The Bible is the history of His life.
In this day and time as we look around it should be clear to see anything goes? Pandora’s old box has lost its lid. But God’s principles are forever. The majority of our television talk shows are infested with story upon story of lives out of control. People who choose to live any kind of way. Encouraging others to do what feels good to them! Just outwrongly boldly proclaiming their right to live in sin. Don’t get distracted by what you see. God still ordains marriage. When Jesus died on the cross He atoned for our sins. He eliminated the enmity that stood between God and man. The veil of the temple was rent in two. From top to bottom. (The veil was where the priest went behind to intercede for the sins of the people.) We who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior are now a part of the royal priesthood. Nothing stands between Him and you but unconfessed sins. Remember He is aware of EVERYTHING! Don’t allow sin to hinder your walk with God. Daily confess your sins and repent! Please begin to allow His Light to lead and guide you. If you don’t know the scriptures don’t just take my word for it. Please use this as an opportunity to study them for yourself!
In each of us is a deep void. God can only fill that void. Begin to live now to please God! His love is the key
ingredient. Marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship with the Church. The Church is His bride. Remember
your vows. Did they include God? All right then; don’t just know how to repeat your vows. Or were you really just going through the motions? Commence to know and trust God! He is able to keep your marriage from failing.
When two come together in marriage they come from two different living environments. The two of you have the opportunity to create your own living environment. What power! You promised to do what? Or were you just repeating what you heard. Stop where you are right now. Revisit that moment. The moment you decided that the person you married was the love of your life. The one who God has designed to be your soul mate. Not cell mate. There is a difference you know? You should not feel as though you are trapped. Don’t allow your marriage to sentence you to an imprisoned life of misery. (Exercise = Take some time and review your vows!)
Marriage gives us the opportunity to establish a healthy loving, spiritual, emotional and physical relationship with the opposite sex that is ordained by God. Each spouse comes to the relationship with baggage of some sort. The relationship can allow each other to unpack their baggage. Where it can selectively be discarded or deposited in its proper place. We must consciously learn not to, or we must depart from, using marriage as a baggage dump. Proceed to take the garbage out of your marriage. Don’t recycle junk. Discard it in the trash!
Why is it we can respect everyone else except the very one we have vowed to love, cherish, honor and…… You know the rest. But my relationship is terrible. My husband…… I’m not sure if I still love……… You cannot change anything that has transpired but you can from this day move forward. No not pretending as though you have superficial amnesia. Remembering from whence we have come will allow us to enjoy where we are going? I am thankful that my husband and I share a life history together. We even occupied the same humble residence as children but at different times. His family moved out. It was then converted into a larger living space. My family moved in. This just personally confirmed that we were destined for one another. Together we appreciate from where God has brought us from. There was and is no need to paint a certain picture for one another. Our beginnings has helped us to relish and appreciate all that God has allowed in our lives. I know that He definitely works everything together for good.
Think with me a moment. When you find yourself in route to a particular destination and you suddenly discover you are lost what do you do? Perhaps you take out a map. Or ask someone who knows the way? Or just ask anybody you see? Or use your navigation system? Or use “On Star”? Or do you just wander around aimlessly and hope you will stumble your way through. Hopefully you pause; get your bearings and proceed in the proper direction. Well let’s pause and get our bearings. Where are you going in this relationship? Do you have a destination? Start developing a marriage with purpose and direction. Make it your goal to design a healthy home environment. A place where you can find rest and find solace from the world. Take control declare your home a home of peace. A place where God’s way is the ruling force. A place where God’s presence is
welcomed. Would Jesus be welcomed in your home if He were to return today?
Begin to work with the implements that are in your possession. Remember that unlimited source we discussed.
No everything won’t just fall out of the sky. If dysfunction and bad habits have made their nest in your relationship it will take time to remodel. While you are going through an environment remodel consciously be aware of hazardous behavior. Initially when you begin to reconstruct your environment the process will be quite painful. The realization of dysfunction can be paralyzing. When left unnoticed dysfunction seems normal. If you continue to walk in denial you will continue in a downward spiral! If you choose to work through the pain I guarantee you will see wonderful amazing results!
Gold has to be refined in the fire. Learn to lean and trust in God. Begin to give God your emotional baggage load. (Had you noticed when you take the “l” for load out of gold you have GOD!) If you make up your mind to have a marriage with direction; your path guide must be God’s Word and the Holy Spirit as your navigator. After all His Word is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto your path” Psalms 119:105 KJV. When two people dedicate themselves to God and each other their life has unlimited potential. Remember “when two or three are gathered in His name He is in the midst.” God is always right there, He’s everywhere. Just humbly invite His presence in! God our Creator has a plan for each of His children. But we must be in tune. No hook-up, no access. You can reach Him 24/7. The wonderful thing about God is His accessibility. Always remember He’s everywhere!
Do you respect your spouse? Of course you do in public. Or maybe not? What about at home? When you are alone? You see it’s not about what everyone thinks. It’s not about how things look to others. It’s about really being who God wants you to be. Let’s begin by respecting and honoring our spouses. God is everywhere and He sees and knows everything. But he/she makes me so angry! But he/she doesn’t respect me! When we begin to respect our spouses we are obeying God. But you don’t know he/she has so many bad habits like… We’ll get to some of those bad habits later. The point is to obey God. This does not mean to cater or to encourage any wrong behavior in your self or anyone else. After all our entire goal is to create a restful healthy
haven? No it won’t be hassle free or forever blissful. But it can be a place of peace and rest the majority of the time. A place where love freely abounds. A place where we can be encouraged to spiritually mature. Not a legalistic fortress. But, a warm cocoon. A safe haven. A sanctuary. We must learn and begin to practice spousal mutual respect and accountability.
We have somehow misconstrued our perspective and often default to the old cliché no one’s perfect. (See article on the “Nobody’s Perfect Club) This is a truism no one is perfect. The perfection the Bible often refers to means to be complete or mature. It doesn’t imply idealistic flawlessness. The Bible says, “He who says he is without sin is a liar.” Neither is any one better than anyone else. Did you know people don’t come in grades like butter? Nor does it matter how prosperous or scandalously deprived we might be. There is nothing that was created that was not created through “Jesus Christ”. Whatever you do or do not need He knows. When we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness everything will be added until you” Matthew 6:33 KJV. God will and can provide!
Yes differences you will have. You know the things we don’t agree upon. What does really matter is how we try
and reconcile our differences. Yes, we can be angry. But God tells us “be angry and sin not”. I personally don’t like war. But I don’t opt to compromise for peace at all cost. I really prefer to come to a reconciled point. Maybe you like arguing. Disagreeing can be good, but with boundaries. Do you like to argue or do you like to hurl insults? It’s better not to say anything at all if you are going to say something you may regret. If you always say things you don’t mean stop! Take off pride and put on self-control and meekness. Don’t confuse meekness with weakness. Meekness is power under control. The point is we must learn to mutually respect one another’s point of view, even if we greatly differ in our opinions. Just agreeing to disagree can sometimes be a cop out! But agreeing that what is best for the relationship is best for both. Learn to let God’s WORD settle your disagreements. Proverbs tells us “a soft answer turns away wrath.”
Don’t allow everyone else to do as they please in your living environment. Let them know that you have house
rules. The rules don’t necessarily have to be rigid. Leave some room for flexibility. Don’t allow anger, bad habits or any other destructive behavior to become the theme of your home habitat. If they have taken up residence move them out! Put them in the remodeling garbage bin not in the recycler. Unhealthy environments are breeding grounds for illnesses. Make it a priority to resolve problems. Stop letting them fester like a needle in a haystack. This will only allow you to blow up like a keg of dynamite and not know why? To the other extreme don’t bury your head in the sand like an ostrich as though everything is all right and it’s not. Find a middle ground somewhere between the dynamite and the sand. This will keep your relationship grounded on a level that you can deal with any situations. Don’t wait until some terrible physical or psychological illness presents itself at your door. Some people just choose to live on the wild side of life. Life gets easier when we
accept how difficult it really is. Learn to take time to enjoy the short time we have here scripture tells us “our life is but a vapor”. What if your spouse died today? I thought that might get your attention! Spend more time with God and less time in garbage. Home should be a haven of rest away from the turbulence of life. God’s design for marriage includes submission.
SEVEN POINTS TO PONDER
1. God has ordained marriage.
2. Your spouse should be your friend as well as companion.
3. You should know what God has to say about marriage.
4. Marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship with His CHURCH.
5. It’s important to keep and honor your marriage vows!
6. There is always room for improvement!
7. Mutual respect is a key ingredient to a healthy marriage.
NEXT:Chapter 2 – Why Should I Submit To You ?
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, We are one of the few couples that married at an early age. We were high school sweet hearts! I remember my pastor saying he saw a rare quality in our relationship. He had genuine love, concern and support for us. We respected his wisdom he had acquired over his many years. He was well into his seventies when he married us. Although he has gone to be with the Lord I will forever remember his words of wisdom!
I am also thankful that my Mother loved my husband dearly. He was her son -in -heart. My Mother has also gone on to be with the Lord who she loved dearly. At her beautiful and wonderful “Home going Celebration” my husband shared that in all our 33 years there was never a cross word between them. I share this because it was in that moment I realized what dear special gifts from the Lord was both of their relationships to me. I was my Mom’s only daughter and there is no doubts in my mind how much she loved me.
My Mother, husband and I shared some very special time and moments together. She never tried to come between us. She always encouraged me to respect my husband. Since we were one in agreement the three is a crowd did not apply. When any third party causes division this is definitely when three is a crowd! I also realize this is not always the case. In law-problems can be and often will induce marital conflict, interference and problems.
I must say that as my father’s only daughter he loved me as well. We spent many hours talking during my adult years before he died of cancer getting to really know one another. My father was in his 40’s when I was born. He was raised by a Methodist female minister which was quite rare in those days. I can recall many amusing stories of the early 1900’s he shared. He could recall way back when cars had kerosene lamps as lights. He too loved my husband and was happy that I was happy. I remember when the two of them together installed our new kitchen floor in our town home. I am thankful that my parents loved me and loved my husband. I have attempted to share little tidbits of my life to further give you a glimpse of any personal prejudices I might have.
My husband and I have always enjoyed spending time together. When we first met we’d pack a lunch and just
go to the park and sit and talk for hours. Or we would just take a long quiet drive. I just loved to hear Him play the piano or organ. Still to this day I will lie under the harp of the piano and just listen. It is a real treat. The Lord has really gifted him in this area. I believe it has attributed to him being so level headed. I know that music can calm the agitations of the soul. The time we spent together really gave us time to get to know one another. It’s important to spend time together just to share your fears, desires and aspirations. I will always cherish how it feels to know how deeply someone loves you. It is an indescribable feeling! There is a freedom that inhabits the relationship when you are open and honest with one another. True love is not contingent on things or circumstances! Love is trusting and never suffocates! Love is a precious gift from God!
In the beginning when God made Adam, He realized although Adam was in his unflawed state he still needed a helpmeet. A helpmeet is a partner. Someone to love, share, and confide in. Don’t let anyone or anything come between you and your spouse. There is a saying that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. There is certainly some truth in that saying. A couple should be united and committed. Your wedding vows should be taken seriously. Remember your commitment is to God as well as to your spouse. Always remember the circle!
Since marriages are under attack it is easy to see why the divorce rate is so high. The world continually advertises that marriage is obsolete. Or it’s okay that marriage lasts until I get tired of you. Or until those “intoxicating affections” run out! Marriages in the Christian community are statistically no different. I have found in general, people who are really committed to their marriages are usually more dependable. Infidelity is not of God! Trust can not be established when there is no sincere commitment. Marriage is the arena to work out your differences. Differences you will have.
If you have been married more than once work on letting this be your last time. You already know what it feels like to have someone or something come between you. It wasn’t pleasant I’m sure. When you recognize those tell tell signs do something. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a point of no return. The world has blinded the eyes of many. It has seduced the population to indulge in whatever feels right. It’s okay to change partners like a suit of clothing. It’s okay to have extra marital affairs. It’s okay to have everyone else before your relationship.
Too often single parents allow there children to fill their void in life. There is a fine line between being close to
your children and allowing them to be too close to the point you can’t develop and intimate relationship with
your spouse. It creates an unhealthly dependence between you and them! It establishes an unhealthy bond that keeps them fixated in a child like emotional dependency, often way into adulthood. There are many adults who have not grown up emotionally. They have not been able to move beyond the “apron strings”. Initially this may feel okay. But in the long run it causes them to not be able to “make it on their own”. They may even leave the nest but will find a replacement spouse or friend to supplement your place. Quite often they will reach to drugs and or alcohol to fill their void. Gently begin to clip those wings if you see any truth in what I am saying! Begin to release them before it is too late! It is not my intentions to lay a guilt trip on you. What if you died today? What would they do? Just look at what God has to say. He knew that Adam in his sinless state needed a companion. Adam needed a wife not a mother. When we grow, our relationships with our children must grow and change as well.
God wants your physical, emotional and spiritual needs met. He wants you to be whole. But it has to be done on His terms. Again I say don’t let anyone come between you. Does this mean you can’t have anyone else in your life? No. It means that your relationship with your spouse takes top priority. Erect healthy boundaries to protect your marriage. Remember to keep the lines of communication open. Remember two become one in marriage. Remember to cleave to one another! It is important that you develop healthy relationships with your children as well!
Marriage is meant to be a two party partnership. If you already have children or when they do arrive keep this in mind. Don’t allow the children to feel they must take a side. Keep them out of your personal differences. This will help you to create a healthy home environment. This will allow them to grow uninhibited. It will help them to freely love both of you. If you have allowed them to take sides, it’s never too late to stop. We unconsciously can implement relationship dynamics that are unhealthy. Once your eyes are open don’t allow pride to stop you from changing what you now know is wrong. Humility is honorable in the sight of God. Practice makes permanent. Practice including Godly principles in your home environment. I realize and have said before “differences you will have.” But disagreements are natural.
How you handle your differences will determine how well your children will handle their differences in the future. If you yell, kick, fight, rant and rave guess what? They probably will too. How you deal with situations makes a strong impressionable model. If you change partners every five minutes guess what? Even when you do model good behavior to your children there are strong influential worldly models that impact them. Parents have an awesome responsibility. Many have been taught you have the right to do whatever you please to your children. Wrong! Children are entrusted to us by God to rear in the fear and admonition of Him. They are not possessions to do with as you please. Children raised by united parents are by far a lot more stable. But they still will have their own personal issues to grow through. The love, patience, time and energy you put into them will help them weather the storms of life. It will give them a strong foundational base to fall back on in the midst of this perverse and unstable world. Did you know children don’t belong to you?
I would also like to insert in this chapter. Overly physically reprimanding your children will result in anger. I know this is a controversial subject. We were very strict parents. I believed in and used the rod of correction. I also implemented restrictions. But I explained to them that when they disobeyed, they were responsible for taking away their privileges. I thank the Lord that I never had a child to curse, or raise their hand to me. Nor did or has one spent a single night in juvenile or jail. Whew! I say this out of context of this chapter because unruly children can be that three is a crowd component. You can spend the majority of your relationship policing your children. Ask your self do you want to discipline a behavior or do you want to punish?
If you are a parent that lived in a worldly fashion before your children, be patient. Although you have changed some of those scenes may be reenacted in the life of your child. Remember behavior is modeled. Perhaps you lived before them properly? There is still room for improvement! The world still has it’s influence. Patiently allow them the freedom to grow. Give them some room with boundaries. Use this time to strengthen your patience and trust in the Lord. Remember He brought you through. In His time He will bring them through. In the meantime begin to sow the fruits of His Spirit in your life.
Taking out time to spend with friends and love ones can be great. Recreational outings can be fun. Spending time with friends and love ones is quite okay, but not to the point there is no time reserved for your marriage. Often in marriage when there is a lack of intimacy, friends become supplements. Meaning they can distract you from feeling the void in your own relationship. In this case their presence can actually inhibit the development of your relationship. How? You can spend so much time with others that you don’t develop a personal relationship with one another. This can be unhealthy to a degree. Anticipating time alone with one another brings thoughts of dread. If you can’t enjoy each other alone this is a real problem. Begin rebuilding your relationship. Just something as simple as watching a movie or taking a walk. Make it a point to find mutually satisfying activities.
Have you ever noticed how many marriages fall apart once the children are gone? Well, the children was what
held it all together. You stayed together for the sake of the children. Over the years you simply lost sight of one
another. Somewhere in time a gradual weaning took place. Quite often after the children are gone spouses virtually discover that they are two strangers. Take time to develop “two’s a couple”. Begin to nurture your marriage. Put some love logs on the fire. Don’t wait until your children are grown to realize that you unconsciously allowed them to be that three’s a crowd.
Have you ever started a fire and felt the warmth of it’s heat. Remember how it felt? A fire will keep roaring as long as you add wood to the fire. You may even let it simmer down a little. A faint glimmer of light might reflect in the low burning embers. But if you just take that ole poker and poke around a bit, add a log or two; that fire will start to roar. Its warmth will heat up a room. Keep the warmth of your marriage going. If it’s cooled down carefully and diligently poke around until you ignite that flame.
Pray for one another daily. God really does have power. He made both of you. God is always speaking. We just have to get better at listening. If He said marriage should last forever don’t you think He knows what He is talking about? That settles it! In order to keep your commitment you need God as the center of your relationship. Keep a place in your heart for your spouse and never let the flames die out. The marital relationship must be tended. Always take time to nurture your marriage. Children, friends, and relatives must be taught to respect your relationship. You must first respect your relationship! Let them know your relationship is of top priority. Remember the circle. What God has joined together let not man put asunder. Your marriage should last until “death us do part”!
SEVEN THINGS TO PONDER
1. The principles we apply in marriage are ordained by God.
2. Since 55-60% of marriages end in divorce it’s important that you don’t let anything or anyone come
3. God wants your physical, emotional and spiritual needs met.
4. Keep a place in your heart for your spouse and don’t let the flame of love die out.
5. Marriage is the perfect arena to learn to work out your differences.
6. The marital relationship must be tended.
7. What God has joined together let not man put asunder.
NEXT:Chapter 10 - Till Death Do Us Part
The financial aspect of the marital relationship is very important. We often hear that money is the root of all evil. Actually the Scripture says: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” I Timothy 6 (KJV). We must be good stewards of whatever God puts in our possession. We must learn to become financially accountable and responsible. We must learn to live within our financial ability.
I would like to recommend to the working couple considering having children that the wife’s salary goes to the reserve emergency fund. Children have an unexpected way of deciding to arrive prematurely. When the budget incorporates the wife’s salary the unexpected arrival of a newborn can cause a tremendous amount of stress if the household cannot survive on the salary of the husband alone. Perhaps the wife can supplement the lost income by establishing a home based business? The couple could barter for various services to cut down on expenses.
Today we live in a material oriented society. We must consult the Lord for direction. He has promised to supply all of our needs according to His riches. We must learn to responsibly become prudent in our financial dealings. It is my recommendation that the couple establish a budget. The budget should include the following:
Tithes or contributions to the furtherance of the Lord’s Kingdom
Insurance (life, health, auto etc.)
The couple should begin by monitoring their current spending habits for approximately (30) thirty days to attain an accurate accounting of their current spending patterns.Housing should be approximately 30% of the income, food approximately 15% etc. If you have established a pattern of living on credit make it a goal towards diminishing your over all liabilities.
When preparing your budget keep it realistic. The pressures of debt can tremendously impact the stability of your impending marriage. Many marriages buckle under excessive financial pressures. When you commence to monitor your spending habits see if you buy on impulse? Do you plan for your purchases? Do you need what you really purchased on credit? Have you considered layaway? Don’t allow your possessions possess you. God has promised to “supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4: 19. We must learn to TRUST GOD.
When a couple adheres to their budget they are implementing good stewardship. This discipline will subsequently transfer to other areas of the relationship. Take a personal inventory of your current liabilities. What are your current mortgage, rent automobile loans, student loans, clothing, etc?
How will they impede on your relationship financially? Be honest with yourself. Are you financially ready for marriage? Remember excessive debt is often a crucial factor that greatly impacts a relationship. Make a conscious effort to break any financial misconduct patterns that have been established. Always work together for the good of the marriage. Remember to prepare for unexpected emergencies. I encourage minimal use of credit cards.
LESSON HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
Take inventory of your current financial state. Prepare a proposed budget. I recommend Larry Burkett’s book; Your Finances In Changing Times. He has a Christian perspective in the area of finances. Be prepared to discuss the contents of this lesson in your next counseling session.
NEXT:LESSON 5 – Where Do We Worship ?
Many couples never discuss the area of where do we worship before the ceremony. This subject must be approached. Often times it is an assumption that the wife automatically joins the husband’s church. This is quite all right if the couple is in agreement. But what if the wife is not comfortable with the husband’s church? Or the reverse is true? The important question to ask is where can the couple benefit spiritually? Where can they as a couple spiritually grow together and work together?
In Effective Biblical Counseling written by Larry Crabb Jr., he states; “The local church should and can assume responsibility for restoring distressed people suffering from personal ineffectiveness, to full productive, joyful lives.
In order to do so it must develop its unique resources for counseling.” ( 1977, pg.190) I agree with Crabb’s perspective; the church should definitely be a sound resource that encourages the development of spiritual maturity.
The spiritual, biblical foundational strength of the church should be a determining factor. Does the church implement what it teaches? Does the Pastor adhere to what he or she teaches? Is it God – centered? Is the Word of God taught? Is He or she objective? “Together” the couple should pray and seek God’s direction and patiently await the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Where we receive our spiritual food is important, as well as our home personal, Bible study. A family that prays together does stay together when they follow God’s leadership. Couples often decide to attend separate churches. It is my recommendation that much prayer, thought and discussion is given to the matter. My recommendation is that they possibly strive to find a church that meets their needs as a couple. God’s direction is crucial in determining “where do we worship!”
LESSON HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
List three churches in order of your preferences. Prepare to take some time out to visit other worship services. Be prepared to discuss the contents of this lesson at your next counseling session.
NEXT:LESSON 6 – Ready for Intimacy
A strong Christian marriage must contain intimacy. We must develop a warm endearing closeness, a relationship in which we can be transparent. If your potential mate is the desired lifetime partner there should be not doubts in the area of trust. Marriage should consist of an ever increasing closeness. After all this should be the person who should be closer to you than anyone else? Remember the two shall be one flesh.
Intimacy does not just imply physical closeness. Many people engage in physical relationships without experiencing intimacy. Life experiences often help us to develop walls that emotionally protect us from further hurt. These walls create barriers.
These barriers must gradually come down as we learn to entrust who we are to our love one. This is why it is so important that Christians seek God’s counsel when seeking a marriage partner. When a marriage omits God’s principles and direction it can be a living hell.
GOD created us to have an intimate personal relationship with Him. Let’s practice by developing an intimate relationship with our potential spouse. The physical intimacy we later experience after the vows can be greatly enriched due to the depth of the relationship.
Intimacy can be delightful! Intimacy lightens your load and enables you to freely express who you truly are without reservation. The Bible tells us freely you give freely you will receive. Your marriage should ultimately be a safe place to express sincere intimacy.
When two come together in marriage they are coming from two separate living environments. The way in which their parents and family related have somewhat impacted their anticipation of what to expect in marriage. Consciously make an effort to abandon unhealthy relational dynamics that have been modeled. The two of you are unique; your marriage will be unique as well.
Seek God’s guidance and HIS direction. The two of you are embarking on virgin waters. Remember God knows all about each of you. When you sincerely beseech Him He has promised to direct your paths. You must be willing to be patient and willing to listen and follow God’s direction. How can you truly love someone without God because GOD IS LOVE!
LESSON HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
Ask yourself this week; do I want intimacy in my marital relationship ? Write a paragraph defining what intimacy means to you. Be prepared to discuss the content of this lesson at your next counseling session.
NEXT:LESSON 7 – What About the In-laws ?
TOO often we have selective memories. The marriage vows usually states “forsaking all others.” Why are in-laws allowed to create havoc? How we start out will greatly impact how we end up.
All others including in-laws must butt out!!!
After over thirty-eight (38) years of marriage I can truly say your spouse should come first. I visually remember the spiritual counseling of our Pastor. He explained how the ring is an unending symbol of marriage. It should represent an impenetrable circle. He emphasized how no one should be allowed to enter into that circle. The two are one spiritually speaking. The oneness experienced in marriage does not mean you give up who you are!
You are two equal halves that are spiritually joined together in the ultimate human relationship. Although equal you both bring different aspects to the relationship. It is a quest like no other. You must learn to walk in a harmonious cadence.
True oneness in marriage cannot be experienced if you allow in-laws to penetrate the circle. If necessary let them become out-laws (smile) it is not necessary to alienate yourself from your relatives. It is crucial that you establish boundaries. The boundaries need to clearly define their limitations. There must be a weaning period. The couple must spend quality time fortifying their union.
Don’t hastily share every aspect of your spats. You will find in time you will get over them; they won’t! They will keep an ongoing tally of wrong or hurtful events. When you display respect for your spouse it is highly possible they will too.
Don’t allow them to disrespect your relationship. Remember to exercise patience with them. Forsaking all others does not mean being in considerate. After all they need time to adjust to the two of you as well. There are situations prior to marriage that oftentimes create hostility among family members. If this is the case I recommend the couple agreeing not to let the relatives use your house for a battleground. Adamantly insist no excess baggage dumped or parked on your abode!
What does a spouse do when their mate can’t cut the old apron strings? What happens if a spouse embarrasses their mate in the presence of other family members, friends or in-laws? Do you ignore their comments? Do you ruminate on the unpleasant encounter? The couple considering marriage should be aware of possible unpleasant encounters. What do we do? How do we deal with the situation? Remember marriage gives you the opportunity to develop a healthy living environment.
Oftentimes when one comes from a hostile living environment they unconsciously duplicate that familiar habitat. Role playing certain situations and reversing positions will give you a simulated area to experience dissension. Spiritual warfare is alive and kicking. A conscientious soldier prepares for battle; even if war never comes to pass. When a couple is united they can be a force to reckon with. In-laws, out-laws anyone else watch out! Read and meditate on Ephesians 6.
LESSON HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
Select a possible in-law problem you foresee is likely to occur. How will you resolve the problem? Read Ephesians 6:10-20 it describes the armor of God. Congratulations if you do not foresee any problems. Knowing what the spiritual armor consists of will be helpful at any rate.
NEXT:LESSON 8 – Commitment
Commitment must be a key ingredient in a successful marriage. You can’t go into a marriage with the attitude if it doesn’t work I’ll ……. Just get divorced. I suggest you not marry at all. Prenuptial agreements may sound logical, but they really represent a lack of trust. You should think long and hard before taking the final step.
Marriage is a covenant agreement! This agreement is made to one another and to God quite often in the presence of many witnesses. A covenant is a solemn binding agreement.
In the state of California alone the divorce rate is in excess of 55% of marriages resulting in divorce. Guess what? The divorce rate in secular society differs very little from that of the Christian community.
What a poor example this presents to the world. This extends not only among the lay people but to the clergy as well. We must learn to be “Covenant Keepers.” What does “death us do part” imply?
In the Marriage Builder Larry Crabb states; “Without a thorough confidence that God will never ask His children to do anything that does not have their well-being in view, we simply will not be able to arouse a desire to honor the commitment of marriage. And that is as it should be. It makes no sense to follow the direction of a guide whose motivation you do not trust. Our failure to readily follow His leading reflects a lack of deep confidence in His goodness. We wonder whether He is merely using us or wants to BLESS us.
The problem with unsteady commitment is not centrally a problem of the will; it is rather deficient belief. We simply do not believe that God who tells us to remain committed to our marriage partners is good. If we knew He was good, we would sense a deep desire to follow His leading.” (1982, pg 116) This view presents a very interesting perspective. God expects no less than commitment in the marital relationship. You should really think about the seriousness of commitment!
God commands us to submit to one another. We can submit to the boss, the preacher, the teacher, the doctor, but not to our spouses. Something is terribly wrong! We must get our priorities straight. If you can’t keep the commitment; “Don’t Make it.” Christ died that we might experience the abundant life! He has overcome and conquered sin’s reign in the life of God’s children. This means that we can “do all things through Christ that strengthens us.”Philippians 4 (KJ V). Yes, He will and does forgive? Although God is a loving, kind amd forgiving God we must not take advantage of His mercy. There are consequences we must experience when we sin.
If you are pondering marriage it cannot be till lust us do part. Nor can it be till feeling good about one another does depart. God never asks His children to do anything that is not in their best interest. Don’t bypass the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If there is an inkling of reserve hold off, postpone that date! Don’t allow pride to cause you to make a grave mistake that will impact you for a lifetime.
Marriage doesn’t mean that you have to give up personal happiness to provide happiness for your mate. The love each mate has for the other should encourage them to be all they can be with God at their side! Our personal needs can only truly be met by God. Marriage gives us the opportunity to minister to one another. To minister means to serve.
When you honor your marriage commitment you are honoring God. You are saying yes to His will and His way for the male and female marital relationship. Male to male or female to female is not HIS way! It only represents the world’s acceptance of sinful alternative lifestyles. The world continues to desensitize itself to sin. It continues to entice unbelievers as well as believers to resort to its sinful seductions.
Christians must study God’s Word and seek Godly counsel. The Bible provides us with a plethora of excellent examples when God’s instructions were not obeyed. It records the consequences as well. There are definite consequences for sin. We can’t avoid them. But as God’s children we can learn to sin less. The Bible teaches us that having sexual relations with someone other than your spouse is sin. Unfaithfulness is a growing cause where marriages result in divorce. Divorce is hurtful and destructive, not only to the couple but to family and friends as well.
It is only through and by the grace of God we can truly make a lifetime commitment to “Marriage God’s Way.” Marriage should not be entered into lightly. I cannot stress this point enough! (It is sad but true many have been deceived by spouses who have not been honest nor divulged pertinent information that would have altered their decision to marry) I recently spoke to a couple that I had counseled. Although they had discussed many subjects prior to marriage their response was you can never prepare too much!
The actual marriage relationship is quite different from courtship. Bear in mind God’s way is not “to drink the milk before you buy the cow.” A trial living arrangement is not acceptable nor should it be a Christian option. Marriage is for mature, responsible people. Under the optimum of conditions there is still and will be adverse situations to deal with. Marriage is about developing character. It is about LOVE and unending devotion and ongoing spiritual growth. Think of it as epoxy! When the two adhesive thermostatic components come together they form a permanent bond. Whatever you join yourself together with becomes a part of you. Think again, again and again!
God intends for marriage to be a lifetime monogamous commitment. Christians should never entertain divorce as an option as entering into marriage. This is what JESUS has to say in regards to divorce; “It has been said, anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not break your oath, but keep the oath you made to the LORD.” Matthew 5. This is why it is so very important that we think spiritually and not carnally when entering into the marriage covenant. Yes, God is forgiving. But if you are not without doubt why make a commitment you are not sure you will be able to keep? To be “Spiritual minded is Peace” But to be carnally minded will eventually lead to death of the relationship!
Divorce is not acceptable neither is unfaithfulness! A spouse who is unfaithful is a self-centered individual. Their selfishness inhibits their ability to minister to the needs of their spouse. When a marriage commitment is made each spouse should put the needs of the other first.
The man’s body belongs to the woman. The woman’s body belongs to the man. “Now for the matters you wrote about. It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but to the wife. Do NOT deprive each other except by MUTUAL consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourself to prayer. Then come together again so that satan will not tempt you for lack of self-control!
I say this as a concession, not a command. I wish that all were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one man has this gift, another that. Now to the unmarried and the widow I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried as I am. But I they cannot CONTROL themselves; they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this command (not I, but the LORD): a wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
To the rest I say this (I, not the LORD): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him; for the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified by her believing husband.
Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in Peace. How do you know wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband whether you will save your wife? Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in lie that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in the churches.” I Corinthians 7 (NIV). This is what God has said in regards to the marital relationship.
When a marriage is marred by unfaithfulness and deceit, its by-product results in insecurity, mistrust and wounded hearts. It not only effects the couple , but their relatives as well as other close relationships the jointly share. Not confronting such a serious matter as unfaithfulness will ultimately destroy any relationship.
Unfaithfulness does not have to dissolve the marriage. If it does occur reconciliation should be considered? We should always encourage reconciliation if at all possible… The Lord’s direction must be frequently consulted through much prayer and meditation upon HIS Word. Undesirable relational patterns can be broken, but, only when one is truly repentant.
We should encourage the Fruit of the Spirit to abide and abound in the marriage relationship. A harmonious marriage is a precious gift from God. We must faithfully strive to sincerely keep our covenant that we have made to one another as well as to our Heavenly Father.
LESSON HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
This lesson is very important. Marriage as I have said before is a serious step. Your assignment is to write a letter to one another expressing the depth of your commitment to each other. Find a tranquil unobtrusive place and share your thoughts with one another in the presence of the Lord. Remember “How Do I Love Thee” will impact the rest of your life. It is our commitment to God and His principles that will help us to remain faithfully commited to our spouse.
In Christian counseling the goal should always be to seek God’s direction. It is important that the counselor be prayerful, compassionate and yet remain objective. The counselor possesses no power to change the behavior, attitude or motivation of the counselees. The counselor should desire to be a useable vessel yielded to God’s Word. Although educational training and various counseling models are invested in the counselor; God’s Word and principles contained therin is always the superlative model for Christian counseling. Dependence upon His Word is what makes Christian Counseling essentially unique.
To truly be a Christian means to desire to live a life that pleases God. Yet we have many Christians who have not developed a personal intimate relationship with Him. How can we know what God’s will is for our life and not have a relationship with Him ?
How can we consider making such a serious vow as marriage and not know what it entails ? When our automobiles need reparing we go to the mechanic. When our roof leaks we look for a roofer. When our soul desires a soulmate we need to consult our Creator who is the soulmaker. Life is full of many valley and mountaintop experiences. Knowing God will greatly impact how we weather each storm as well as the outcome of our life quest experiences. One must be willing to put forth a serious effort to know our Creator. God cares for us so much that He has given us accessible directions in His Word for a successul marriage. A successful marriage is contingent on our ability to trust and obey His instructions.
The counselor should be prepared for a possible spiritual warfare. Often misunderstandings can arise. Relationships can sour amidst much resentment and persecution.
It is of utmost importance that the information discussed during the counseling sessions be kept in the strictest confidence. When entrusted with information we should respect the right of confidentiality.
God has created us in His image. God has all power. He alone is sovereign. He patiently and graciously allows us to choose. He never forces us to do anything. It is only by obedience to God’s direction we can truly partake in the abundant life Christ’s death and resurrection has made available to believers. It is our duty to inspire and urge the couple to be willing to submit to the principles God has provided in the bible. Marriage is ordained and sanctioned by God. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. ” Proverbs 3:5-6(KJV).
I wish you a loving, eventful, committed, lifelong, God-centered marriage. “What God has joined together let not man put asunder.”
Compatibility means being capable of existing together in harmony. It means to be free of adverse or unwanted effects when present together. Compatible plants are able to fertilize freely. In the marriage relationship harmony is a key ingredient. We must have a common ground of existence. The marriage union is communion with God and one another. Look around you, despite the plethora of material comforts and gadgets available there are many unloved, unfulfilled, unhappy people.
When pondering marriage consider how compatible you are with the potential spouse. If we perceive life to be a pursuit for happiness we invite frustration. Instead we should see it as an opportunity to pursue our God given purpose. Marriage will provide a lifetime companion to pursue God’s purpose with, one to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But, we must be certain that the one we are considering is willing to remain through the “thick and thin” or should I say for better or worse.
Marriage is something that must be cherished and nourished. Some people take better care of their pets and possessions than their marriages. We must have our priorities right. Remember to keep the embers burning. Embrace the courtship and continuously reflect and ignite the flames of love. Not the surface infatuated love. The deep unending love that God has prepared for the undefiled marriage bed.
Mature Christians should realize we are stewards of whatever God puts in our possession. We are held accountable for whatever he puts in our possession. The exuberant attention gradually dissipates. But do not allow the relationship to become like a pair of old comfortable slippers.
Take a good look at your fiancée! Is this just a surface attraction? What happens when the evening of life begins to bloom and the wrinkles are quite apparent? Will the attraction still be there? Do you enjoy the same things? What really irritates you now?
Who will do the dishes? Who takes out the trash? Who cleans the toilet? Where do we squeeze the toothpaste? Who walks the dog? Who cleans the bathroom? Who sleeps on what side? Who takes care of the finances?
Although petty in thought these issues can become the catalyst to enormous battles. We must; learn to agree that compatibility is a desired atmosphere. We must strive to resolve any conflict that hinders the development of a healthy relationship!
We tend to subjectively view life from our own experiences. This can cause conflicts misunderstandings and disagreements to surface. We must take time to carefully listen to each other. We must be committed to developing good communication skills.
We must learn to be accepting and forgiving of one another’s shortcomings. Everyone has shortcomings. But we must never reinforce wrong behavior in one another, nor should we attempt to justify our own wrong behavior.
We must practice sincere humility towards one another. We must become passionately sensitive to the point we can relinquish a wrong point of view. We must commit to seeking godly counsel when resolving relational conflict. We must acknowledge that God’s way is the right way.
God will never lead us to do anything that destroys a relationship that He has truly ordained. Take a good look at the person you want to marry. Can you truly put him/her first in your life? Can you honestly forsake all others?
Are the two of you ready to allow God’s Word to direct your marital path? Remember marriage is a commitment to God as well as to your partner!
When we fail to readily follow His leadership we display a lack of TRUST and FAITH in HIM! If you are not discouraged at this point and you sincerely want to make a commitment you are probably ready to move towards creating a harmonious marital relationship!
LESSON HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
During this week list three (3) areas you feel the two of you are compatible. Be prepared to discuss the contents of this lesson at your next counseling session.
NEXT:LESSON 4 – Finances
Today in this 21st century when considering getting married please don’t go into the relationship thinking that you will be able to change each other. When planning your big day; The Sacramento Bride & Groom can help you plan out your wedding! For those of you who have never been married before, you must allow for a period of adjustment once married! Living with someone is not the same as dating or being married. You have not really made a total commitment and you realize that you can opt out at any time…
After the honeymoon period is over and you hit a kink see this as an opportunity to take your marriage to a deeper level! It is during this time you need to work together rather than pull farther apart!
If you have not married; please do not manipulate your potential spouse into a relationship; because if you do it will be an ongoing dynamic in your relationship! You should genuinely care for this person and desire to grow together! You want to encourage transparency in order to build a strong secure marriage! Before marrying really have some candid and open discussion as to how you would like things to be in order to see if you are on the same page! Don’t just assume?
For those of you in the Sacramento Area, The Healthy Marriage Project teaches a class that helps builds couple and family strengths! It is called “Smart Steps!”
It is a good thing to find out more about what each other likes and dislikes! Are you a morning person? Do you sleep with socks on? Do you snore? Are you patient? Do you yell scream and curse to get your way? Or do you sulk and stay quiet, remote cold and unexpressive? Or do you like to talk things through… Do you quit when the going gets tuff?
It really is the seemingly little things that add up and lead to arguments! It is easier for some to say how they feel when they are angry! Learn to be open and honestly discuss how you are feeling… Don’t make sorry a sorry word! Chill out and warm up to one another! It really is better to say “I am hurt!” Don’t let pride and insecurity dominate your marriage! How else will you settle disputes? Please do not think that by not talking about issues they will go away; they won’t!
Now that we have discussed some of the not so good things we can move towards what it takes to build a better marriage! You sit down at work and discuss whatever the problem is, right! Why? Because work is a priority and you do not just opt out of your job when things are not going your way! It is important that you like and respect one another in marriage even more so! Why? Because you say you love this person! You love them enough to get to know them better! You like them enough to care about their wellbeing! You care enough to develop loyalty in your marriage! Make sure to have a weekly marriage date! It is important not to lose sight of this or you will just take one another for granted and improving the marriage will no longer be a one of your top priorities!
Life is about priorities and taking the time out to do or tend to the people and things that are important to you! Marriage is the ultimate relationship between a man and a woman! If your marriage is going to last you have to make a conscious effort to work at it and keep the embers of love burning! To keep it exciting! To do interesting and adventurous things together still! You want to build a mutually satisfying sexual relationship between you as well! Coming together physically as one should be a special time of sharing… To experience a time of euphoria that can be experienced when you freely give of yourselves to one another in a loving environment. Keep the embers burning and be affectionate and caring towards one another! Each couple is different so together build what works for you…. It is okay to have your physical needs met, no reason to be ashamed. The marriage bed is honorable in the eyes of the LORD! Tend your marriage as you would a lovely well kept garden! Take care and tend it as you do everything else that is important in your life. If you leave your clothes lying all over the place and hang them up whenever you want to guess what? If you are selfish and insensitive and don’t really care what happens, guess what? Be attentive, respectful and thoughtul towards one another!
Preventive maintenance is the key! Each marriage is different and each marriage is what you make it! If you want to make it better and if you want to improve start improving you! Stop neglecting yourself and only fixing yourself up for everyone else or when you go to work or attend worship…! Men are visual and so are women. Change for the better not the worst! Do you take care of yourself like you did when you were dating? We are older; no! Still no excuse! Age like a fine antique… Or do you just throw yourself together now because after all you are married to him or her so what! Be the BEST YOU at any age!
Your marriage can last! Marriage can be a wonderful experience of growing with the one you love! Make it a point to get better not bitter! You truly can continually refine your relationship!
Make it a point to keep your marriage and your spouse happiness a priority! You can still enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. But don’t let everyone else but your spouse know what is going on with you and how you are feeling about you or them! Keep one another and your marriage a priority! True Love lasts through forever! You both desire what is best for one another and you want one another to be the “Best You” you can be with one another by your side! This is true when God is in the center of your marriage! You want and desire your marriage to last! You can’t make them happy but you can contribute to creating an intimate, loving, caring, warm, transparent, stable, mutually inviting environment where both of you can continue to grow and flourish together and make a beautiful fragrant bouquet that says “I LOVE YOU!” Now and through FOREVER!