Thoughts on Marriage

Posted by on Aug 26, 2012 in Neale Davis | 0 comments

Communication:

One of the most effective things I’ve heard in how to maintain communication in a healthy marriage has been the encouragement to think theologically.  This is the best launching point to live and grow in the most important relationship outside of Christ.

 

What does that mean?

Thinking theologically in marriage is simply running your marriage through the prism and wisdom of Scripture.  In the Bible we see all kinds of admonitions and steps we can take to live wisely, but thinking theologically is more than that.  It involves understanding how the gospel applies to how we live life together.  It’s not just the dance steps, it’s also the music.  Dance steps don’t make sense unless you hear the music.

 

Often people approach marriage like a contract.  Each person negotiates for what they expect, want and are willing to do in their marriage.  Most of the time this isn’t a cognitive exercise, but it is usually driven by a very self-centered motivation, even if it isn’t blatant.  We’ve all heard of people who see marriage as a 50/50 proposition where each person is responsible for a certain portion of the marriage, but this never works in a healthy relationship.  For one thing, how do you know if you have performed and done your part?  Where exactly is 50%.  More importantly, how does this reflect biblical marriage?  In reality a 50/50 proposition is impossible to measure and there is always someone who feels “cheated” and so contract re-negotiations must happen.

 

We all know intuitively that a contractual marriage is no way to live in a healthy relationship.  Plus, it’s not scriptural.  Ephesians 5 is crystal clear how we are called to see marriage, in light of being men of God. Marriages that thrive are covenantal and carry no stipulations on the other person.  And what a relief that is.  No keeping score, no negotiations, no crying “foul” when things seem unbalanced.  Instead, a covenant marriage is a promise to be devoted to the other person regardless of circumstances or unexpected impingements.

 

Ultimately it involves capitulation to the King of Kings in order to model the same type of love and commitment he displays in Ephesians 5.  We are to love our wives like Christ loves the church.  That means we lay down our rights in order to point our brides to Christ and prepare them for their very personal encounter with him in eternity.  That means when you say “I do” you lay all of your rights at the alter.  You made a promise to care for her and take care of her, with no expectations in return.  Good, bad or indifferent you are called to provide her with the greatest sense of security on this side of heaven.  Just like Jesus did for you.

 

How does this relate to communication?  It is the forerunner of good communication.  As you love Christ and love your mate the way he loves you, the guard of self-protection is removed and the communication channels are cleared for authenticity, honesty, and safety.

The irony of this type of marriage is that as we give of ourselves unselfishly then we can anticipate the same type of love in return.  Usually.  But the reality is that both you and your spouse are still sinners who naturally seek your own needs, and sometimes this will get in the way.  Loving the way we are called to love is counter-intuitive and a real challenge.  You and your spouse will make mistakes along the way, but you are called to love her nonetheless.  As you work to provide this type of environment your spouse’s level of trust in you and willingness to talk will be much greater than it would otherwise.

 

The following points are intended to help you make tangible efforts toward your spouse and your communication.

 

  1. Walk intimately with God.  That means we need to live in light of the music of the gospel first, and then experience the dance steps of the Christian life as an overflow.
  2. Think theologically about your marriage.  This is simply recognizing that you are depraved and you must understand that you bring dysfunction to the marriage.  But it also means growing in the grace that God extends to you and confessing your sin appropriately.  Don’t worry about changing your spouse, but make sure you are living the Spirit-filled life first.
  3. Surround yourself with people who have the freedom to call you out when they see unhealthy things.  Never isolate yourself under any circumstances.
  4. Watch your workload.  Let your spouse speak honestly about how it’s affecting her.
  5. Speak to her in the way she feels loved, not in ways that make you feel loved.
  6. Seek to understand before being understood.
  7. Read and deeply ponder the ramifications of Ephesians description of how a husband should love his spouse.
  8. Listen to your spouse.  Really listen.
  9. Apologize authentically when you need to apologize.  That means saying you’re sorry and asking for forgiveness with no excuses or “buts.”  That is, “I’m sorry I offended you.  Will you forgive me?”  Not, “I’m sorry you were offended, but….”

 

Authentic, growing and healthy marriages are a lot of work and there’s no getting around that fact.  Relationships are messy and a big part of the reason is the sin so deeply imbedded in our hearts.  We tend to worship the wrong thing.  But when our affection is placed on Christ, where it deserves to be affixed, then we can see more clearly how to love our spouses.  However, all the work it takes is surely worth it.  You will never regret the good decisions you make, but you will most likely regret the bad ones for the rest of your life.

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