Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 “Living with an Unbeliever” LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 "Living with an Unbeliever" - Many believers find themselves married to unbelievers who have no interest in the things of God. While it can be challenging, God didn't leave us without instructions for such situations.Many believers find themselves married to unbelievers who have no interest in the things of God. While it can be challenging, God didn’t leave us without instructions for such situations.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 15 “Living with an Unbeliever”

 

We’re wrapping up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about living with an unbelieving spouse.

 

Marrying an Unbeliever

 

First, let me say that if you’re single and contemplating marriage, you are only free to marry “in the Lord.”

A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord (1 Cor. 7.39).

That phrase “in the Lord” means “in Christ” or “in the common faith.” While Paul is speaking, specifically, to women in this verse, the principle applies to men and women who are single, biblically divorced, or widowed and is addressed in 2 Corinthians, as well.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6.14-16).

This is not a suggestion. It’s not Old Testament. It’s a command. Unfortunately, some people come to the Lord with the idea that His Word is just a nicer way to live, perhaps the ideal, but we’re still free to do it or not. That has never been the case.

We women are, particularly, prone to try to justify dating and marrying unbelievers:

“Well, he comes to church with me.”

“I think he’s close to getting saved.”

“How will he come to know the Lord if I break up with him?”

“He believes in God.”

“He’s OK with me going to church.”

“It’s not a problem for us.”

“He’s a Christian, but he doesn’t believe in going to church.”

Need I go on?

I’ve counseled many women who were dating or engaged to unbelievers. I have explained God’s clear commands and warned them of the natural consequences of choosing to disobey God (Gal. 6.7-8). Sadly, few listen once they are emotionally attached, especially, if they have further disobeyed God by becoming sexually involved.

Many have come back later and said, “I should have listened.” Because …  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 14 “Parenting as a Team” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 14 "Parenting as a Team" - Many people consider parenting to be the mother's job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But parenting isn't a one-person job. God intends for moms and dads to parent as a team.Many people consider parenting to be the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intended for moms and dads to parent as a team.

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 14 “Parenting as a Team”

 

We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about how important parenting as a team is to our marriages and to our children.

Ephesians 6 says:

¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

There is so much packed into those four short verses. More than I could ever address completely in a single post. So, if you’re a new believer, new to parenting, or have a desire to grow in this area, I have provided an extensive list of resources in another post, “Parenting from the Foot of the Cross.” I hope you’ll check it out.

But, for today, I want to focus on the team aspect of parenting.

Many people consider parenting largely the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But notice, Paul addressed verse 4 directly to fathers.

Of course, he’s speaking to mothers, as well. But the father, as the head of the home, has the responsibility to see that children are brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 5.22-24; 6.4). He is the one who will ultimately answer to God (1 Tim. 3.4-5).

But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intends for moms and dads to parent as a team.

I understand there are many godly single parents out there. Some are single, not by their own choice. Others came to Christ after becoming parents or are single for a variety of other reasons. But I think we would agree that God’s design has always been for children to be raised in a home with a mother and a father.  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 13 “Healthy Communication”+ LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 13 "Healthy Communication" - "Communication is to a relationship what blood is to the human body. Communication nourishes and sustains a relationship. Remove it, and you no longer have a relationship." The Bible has much to say about the importance of healthy communication and the results of bad communication. James said the tongue can be "set on fire by hell." So, how can couples grow and become more intentional when it comes to healthy communication?“Communication is to a relationship what blood is to the human body. Communication nourishes and sustains a relationship. Remove it, and you no longer have a relationship.”

The Bible has much to say about the importance of healthy communication and the results of bad communication. James said the tongue can be “set on fire by hell.” So, how can couples grow and become more intentional when it comes to healthy communication?

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 13 “Healthy Communication”

 

We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about the importance of regular, healthy communication to a thriving marriage.

The authors of Family Life’s book Preparing for Marriage have this to say about communication:

Communication is to a relationship what blood is to the human body. Communication nourishes and sustains a relationship. Remove it, and you no longer have a relationship.

No wonder marriage counselors everywhere, constantly, hear the lament, “We just don’t communicate!” Even when there are other serious issues, lack of communication worsens them. Few people learn to communicate, solve problems and resolve conflict well, unless they are purposeful and determined to do so.

Even couples with great marriages will, often, tell you, they didn’t start out knowing how to communicate. Many will admit to years of struggle and heartache in this area. Couples who thought they could talk about anything during their dating time can find themselves hurt, angry, and frustrated as they move into the early years of marriage.

But sadly, if we don’t learn to communicate well, those feelings can grow and last for years. Those couples may resort to living separate lives or they may simply divorce.

 

Healthy Communication or Evil Communication

 

The Bible talks about all kinds of communication, not all of it healthy!

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise (Prov. 10.19).

An angry man stirs up strife,
And a furious man abounds in transgression (Prov. 29.22).

Whoever hides hatred has lying lips,
And whoever spreads slander is a fool (Prov. 10.18).

Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman (Prov. 21.9).

James said this in chapter 3 of his epistle:

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

So while communication is vital, it’s important how we communicate. We can allow our tongues to be used for good or for evil. How many marriages have been burned to the ground by tongues loaded with the fire of hell?!  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 12 “Loving Leadership” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 12 "Husband's Role - Loving Leadership" - Jesus' instructions about leadership could be characterized by three words: love, sacrifice and servant-hood.Leadership books, seminars, articles and posts abound in every realm of life. Sales companies want to lead their teams to more sales. Company executives want to motivate employees to loyalty and greater profits. Ministry leaders want to inspire more involvement and greater commitment to the church and its purposes.

Some lead through manipulation. Some through strength of character or charismatic personality. Some try leading through force, fear, or intimidation. But Jesus’ explanation of leadership contained none of those things. It might seem counter-intuitive to many. It surprised, even, His disciples.

Jesus’ instructions about leadership could be characterized by three words: love, sacrifice and servant-hood.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 12 “The Husband’s Role: Loving Leadership”

 

We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today’s post is on the husband’s role, that of loving leadership.

Ephesians 5 says:

23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 4: Friends & Counselors -Just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of his home. This is not a matter of personality or what works for each couple. God says the husband is the leader of his home.

He may default on his role. One of the complaints I hear from wives is, “My husband won’t lead. He leaves everything to me.”

Wives may refuse to submit to their husband’s leadership making it very difficult for him to lead effectively. In fact, some husbands simply throw up their hands and quit trying to lead, believing it’s not worth the battle.

In some marriages husbands and wives fight constantly over who will have their way. Their children live in a minefield where an explosion can happen at any moment.

Others divide responsibilities and assets and proceed to lead two separate lives. There’s my money and your money. I do my thing; you do yours.

Some husbands try to maintain control with their fists or some other manifestation of anger. Some by being harsh or treating their wives and children like their employees.

But what does God have to say? Lets look at the rest of Ephesians 5:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

Three Key Words

 

We could sum up Christ’s teaching on the husband’s role in three words: love, sacrifice, and servant-hood. God has called husbands to loving leadership.  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 "RESPECT" - RESPECT: It's a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It's tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don't give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.RESPECT: It’s a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It’s tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don’t give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT”

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s hard to see the word with out thinking about the old Aretha Franklin song (although I may just be showing my age). Aretha sang, “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect … just a little bit.”

I’ve heard that same plea across the counseling desk many times, especially, when husbands don’t keep their eyes where they belong, when they flirt with other women, or when a wife doesn’t feel her husband is showing her the proper honor in some other way.

We all know what it’s like to feel disrespected.

Those are real concerns. A husband should honor his wife in the way he interacts with her and with others.

But, wives are not the only ones who are disrespected. In fact, if we’re honest, there is a lack of disrespect toward husbands and fathers, in general, today. Maybe it started during the women’s movement. You know, “I am woman, hear me roar.” Often, the implication was, I can handle things. Get out of my way. I don’t need a man.

Think about the typical family show in the 50s and 60s: Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Leave It to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show. Fathers held a place of honor. They were wise. Their wives and children showed them respect.

Now think about the typical family sitcom today. Often, the father is the bumbling idiot and the butt of the jokes. Wives are out conquering the world or rolling their eyes over their husbands’ actions. Children are anything but respectful.

While husbands, wives, and children should all show respect for one another, God has specifically commanded wives to respect their husbands and children to honor their fathers and mothers.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5.33).

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6.1-3).

I’ve been doing a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today we’re going to focus on the importance of respect in the wife’s attitude toward her husband.

 

I’ll Respect My Husband When He Deserves It!

 

Someone is thinking. You don’t know my husband. He doesn’t deserve my respect. You don’t know what he has done. He’s not a believer. He’s a drunk … a womanizer … lazy … you pick the adjective. He doesn’t care about me. He never shows me respect. I’ll show him respect when he deserves it and he shows me respect. Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 “Resolving Conflict” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 "Resolving Conflict" - Conflicts and disagreements happen in the best of marriages, but what happens when we aren't resolving conflict biblically?Conflicts and disagreements happen in the best of marriages, but what happens when we aren’t resolving conflict biblically?

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 10 “Resolving Conflict”

 

In the first few weeks of this study we talked about some of the key components of marriage, then we covered the wife’s role and submission. Last week I shared a video by my husband Mike. His explanation of biblical decision making has helped many couples understand how to honor God in an area that can be difficult.

Mike uses a 4-way stop intersection to explain both the husband’s and wife’s roles and the responsibility each of them have to not allow differences to escalate into conflict.

But what happens when couples don’t seek to resolve problems biblically? And why is it so hard, even when we know what we should do? Look at James 4 for a minute:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask (Jas. 4.1-2 NASB).

Lust isn’t just about sexual desires. It can be the result of any strongly held desire. When we lust sexually, we’re so controlled by the desire for sexual pleasure that we’re willing to sin by going outside of God’s ordained will to obtain it.

When we lust after other things, we fight and quarrel, rather than resolving problems biblically. The things we want have become controlling desires and we, too, are willing to sin to get them.

Lustful desires might be having the house we want, spending money on a certain purchase, being in control, spending holidays or other times with our biological family, raising our kids a certain way, or a host of other things.

Even good things can become lusts if we’re willing to sin to get them or to hang on to them.

 

Unresolved Conflicts

 

Sometimes, when conflicts arise we go on the attack, verbally or physically.

Sometimes, we put up the “do not enter” sign. Our spouse learns that attempts to discuss the matter lead to anger, withdrawal, tears, or various forms of withdrawal. So conflict goes unresolved.

Sometimes, one spouse or the other is a controller. He or she may control through manipulation (tears, anger, withholding sex or affection) or fear and intimidation. It’s “one way, my way.”  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 9 “Decision Making & 4-Way Stops” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 9 "Decision Making & 4-Way Stops" - What can a 4-way stop intersection teach us about submission, biblical authority, and decision making within marriage?What can a 4-way stop intersection teach us about submission, biblical authority, and decision making within marriage?

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Decision Making & 4-Way Stops”

 

In the first few weeks of this study we talked about some of the key components of marriage, then the wife’s role, and last week we looked a little deeper at submission, what it is and what it isn’t.

If you missed the last two and you’re struggling with the idea of submission or not even sure if it’s biblical or fair, I encourage you to go back and read them.

Today I want to look at a practical explanation of what submission should look like and how it ties in with the husband’s role as leader (Eph. 5.25).

My husband does a great job of explaining what I want to share, so I’m going to let him do just that. This little video is an illustration he uses in the counseling room and when he teaches on the subject.

 

 

Some of you might be thinking, I would submit if my husband preferred me like that! We need to remember that our job is to trust God and allow Him to work in our husbands.

But we also need to understand that, in the same way, that a husband’s love for his wife is purifying and causes her to want to love him back, a wife’s respect and willingness to honor him and follow his leadership, softens his heart both toward her and toward God (1 Pet. 3.1-4).  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 8 “Submission, the S-Word” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 8 "Submission, the S-Word" - Submission, it's the "S-word" that raises our blood pressure and, sometimes, makes us wonder about God's idea of fairness. What is submission, anyway? Is it unfair to women? Is it unrealistic? Did men come up with the idea as a way to keep women down? Or is it really a biblical concept? If so, what should it look like?Submission, it’s the “S-word” that raises our blood pressure and, sometimes, makes us wonder about God’s idea of fairness. What is submission, anyway? Is it unfair to women? Is it unrealistic? Did men come up with the idea as a way to keep women down? Or is it really a biblical concept? If so, what should it look like?

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Submission: the S-Word”

 

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the key components of marriage that God laid out in Genesis 2.24: leaving, cleaving, and weaving. Last week I began talking about the wife’s role in a biblical marriage and today I want to go a little deeper on the subject of submission.

Epesians 5 says:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

We’re to submit to our husbands in everything with one exception. I talked about that and some of the common objections last week. I also discussed the fall and its effect on the relationship between husbands and wives, especially when it comes to submission.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God said to the woman …

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
    and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
    but he will rule over you” (Gen. 3.16).

Our desire would be to control or rule over our husbands and their desire would be to maintain control.

As women the list of ways we try to take control in our marriages is not very flattering. Among them are words, anger, tears, put-downs, nagging, criticizing, withholding sex, and all kinds of manipulation. And the list of ways we justify taking control is just as bad:

“He’s not a believer.”

“What if he’s wrong?”

“This is not the first century!”

“Men wrote to Bible to keep women down!”

“I have more education.”

“I make more money, so I should decide how it’s spent.”

We might not, actually, say some of these things, but they are often in our hearts and minds.

As I said last week, we women use what we’re good at to take control, often our words (nagging, criticizing) and emotions (anger, tears, bad moods).

Men’s sinful responses aren’t any better. They, often, either withdraw (sometimes with another woman, sometimes by becoming passive and uninvolved) or attack (with their fists or by trying to rule with an iron hand.)

And it’s certainly true that passages like Ephesians 5.22-24 have been used in sinful, unbiblical ways to try to control women.

But we can’t throw out submission because it’s been abused or misunderstood any more than we can throw out other passages of Scripture because they’re hard to understand or obey.

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3.14-16).

 

So, what should submission look like?

 

You might be surprised. First, let’s talk about what it’s not.  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 7 “The Wife’s Role” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 7 "The Wife's Role" - The Wife's Role: If there is one aspect of marriage that is often turned upside-down in today's culture, it's the roles of husbands and wives. If there's one issue that is usually part and parcel of marriage conflict, it's the roles of husbands and wives. If there is one subject that is most often misunderstood, it's this one.The Wife’s Role: If there is one aspect of marriage that is often turned upside-down in today’s culture, it’s the roles of husbands and wives. If there’s one issue that is usually part and parcel of marriage conflict, it’s the roles of husbands and wives. If there is one subject that is most often misunderstood, it’s this one.

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “The Wife’s Role”

 

Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the key components of marriage that God laid out in Genesis 2.24: leaving, cleaving, and weaving. Last week we focused on how to weave our lives into the one-flesh relationship God’s wants us to have.

Today we’re going to talk about the wife’s role in a God-honoring marriage. Epesians 5 says:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Wives are to submit to the leadership of their husbands, according to verse 24, “in everything.” There is one exception and we’ll talk about that in a minute, but the commandment is plain.

For many of you reading this, that statement is not a surprise. It’s “old news,” if you will. You’ve heard it taught many times and you’re seeking to live it out. You, probably, even accept it as a good thing.

But for our culture as a whole, “them’s fightin’ words”!

Besides hundreds of hours of counseling, my husband and I taught our church’s “Preparing for Marriage” course for many years. I’ve seen so many prospective wives start the class excited to be there, until this subject rolled around. The more outspoken ones challenged the idea.

If you’ve ever talked to a new Christian or an unbeliever about submission, you’ve likely heard many of the same arguments:

“I believe in mutual submission.”

“That was for a different culture.”

“This isn’t the first century!”

“Paul wrote that and he was not even married (or a woman hater)!”

“Men wrote that and were just trying to keep women down.”

“You can’t take the Bible literally.”

“We’re not going to have THAT kind of marriage!”

“We talk about everything and decide together.”

You can probably come up with a few more. Some just reject it out of hand without even trying to understand what the Bible says.

 

Mutual Submission

 

imperfect authorityThere is mutual submission (Eph. 5.21). All of us are prefer others as more important to ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4). We’re to die to our own selfish desires (Lk. 9.23-24). Husbands are to be willing to die for their wives, not just literally, but in how they live out the command to love their wives as Christ does the church (Eph. 5.25). Wives are to die to their selfish desires to have things their way. Even parents must learn to die to self as they choose to do things for the good of the family as a whole and their children, in particular.

But just as Ephesians 5.25 has a specific command to husbands (more about that in the weeks to come), verses 22-24 above have a specific command for wives.  Continue reading

Marriage Made in Heaven? Part 6 “Weaving 101” + LINKUP

 

Marriage Made in Heaven "Weaving 101" - We all want intimacy in our marriages. We want our spouses to spend time with us, to consult us about decisions, to share our hopes and dreams, and to encourage us when we're struggling. We want openness and humility. We want to be treated kindly and to receive grace. Are there things we should be doing and not doing to achieve those things? And, if so, what are they?Weaving: We all want intimacy in our marriages. We want our spouses to spend time with us, to consult us about decisions, to share our hopes and dreams, and to encourage us when we’re struggling. We want openness and humility. We want to be treated kindly and to receive grace. Are there things we should be doing and not doing to achieve those things? And, if so, what are they?

We’ve been discussing the three components of marriage God laid out in Genesis 2.24 and other places in Scripture: leaving, cleaving, and what we’re calling “weaving,” growing in a one-flesh relationship. Last week we started talking about “weaving” and today we’re going to go a little deeper on the subject.

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Weaving 101”

 

As you remember, our foundation Scripture is:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2.24).

As I’ve said, the three key components mentioned here are all critical to a God-honoring marriage. They are “leaving,” “cleaving,” and “weaving (becoming one-flesh)”

Three weeks ago I focused on leaving. Briefly, it means we no longer depend on our parents emotionally, financially, or relationally. It means what they want or expect does not take priority over our spouse’s wishes and it means not running to them with every problem.

Two weeks ago, we talked about cleaving, including the fact that marriage is a covenant relationship.

Last week we began discussing what it means to become one-flesh.

Again, this one-flesh relationship includes the sexual aspect of marriage, but it is much more. Wayne Mack in his book Strengthening Your Marriage says, “Marriage is a total commitment and a total sharing of the total person with another person until death.”

Weaving our lives together means becoming one-flesh relationally, socially, and financially, as well as, physically. It’s a sharing of everything: thoughts, ideas, dreams, abilities, problems, fears, concerns, successes, and failures.

 

2 Kinds of Math: “1 + 1 = 2” or “1 + 1 = 1”

 

Because my husband and I have done so much marriage counseling over the years, we often notice how couples interact with one another. One of the saddest things we’ve observed is how often older couples go to a restaurant for dinner and eat the entire meal with hardly a word exchanged between them.

How does a couple who were once newlyweds, excited about marriage and each other, become so distant they can spend a hour sitting across the table with nothing to say? It happens one day, one choice at a time.

When God said, “they shall become one flesh,” we could say God’s marriage math is “1 + 1 = 1. That kind of math doesn’t happen by default. It takes effort. It takes laying down pride and selfishness. It takes making the time to communicate. It takes putting the other person’s preferences ahead of your own. And it takes being vulnerable and open to change.

Sin, selfishness, and pride are the enemies of a one flesh relationship. And without God’s help to change us from the inside out (2 Cor. 5.17), we are all selfish and prideful at our core. Even as believers in Christ, we’ve got to choose to put off pride and selfishness and to do those things that contribute to a strong, thriving marriage (Lk. 9.23-24).

But with many couples, the process of weaving never really happens or it gets short-circuited along the way.

Sometimes short-circuiting begins almost before the honeymoon is over.  Continue reading