Turning Points in My Marriage

The problem is that people donít know how to be married. They donít actually get married in many cases, though they go through a legal and possibly a religious ceremony. They are, sad to say, incapable of marriage, the kind of constant, mutual blessing that can make two people in conjugal relation literally one whole person (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is not their fault. In their world, how could they know? Who would reach them? This is the soul- searing fact at the heart of our modern sadness.Ē -Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart These words of Willardís are so challenging. Certainly his words ring true with me as I consider the culture. His words also make me want to break with a longstanding pattern Iím actually going to share something about my marriage. In the past Iíve been reluctant to share because Iíve wondered what people could possibly learn from our marriage. My wife Nikki and our relationship has been a gift, pure and simple. Still, there might be something encouraging in our story. Certainly I know when weíve received the gift of knowing Jesus we can share about it, as a gift. I guess that means I can share about this other gift Iíve received - my marriage. Seven turning points come to mind and maybe one of these would apply to you: 1. I remember the day, sitting at my dormitory desk, a short time before our wedding, when the weight of what I was taking on hit me. I realized I couldnít love my wife in my strength. I voiced the words to the Lord: ďGod, youíre going to have to give me the strength I canít do this in my strength.Ē I didnít feel anything dramatic but I didnít need to Iíd made a transaction with God. 2. Before we got married, Iíd seen one Christian couple who had devotions together and I concluded that we should pray together before we went to sleep, so we started that practice right off the bat. (I understand itís much harder to start later!) Thank goodness the practice has served us well over the years. 3. After we were married, some of my other turning points involved how I thought about our marriage, which of course shaped how I acted. The writer T. Austin Sparks helped me see the immensity of what marriage is about. He described how any problem in a marriage touches the very honor of heaven! Our conduct in marriage affects Godís glory negatively or positively. We every married couple in or out of Christ are part of the eternal drama of good overcoming evil. 4. I needed to repent from bad patterns of thinking. Something that helped me repent was another book: Lovers: Whatever Happened to Eden? By Donald Joy. (I realize not everyone can respond to books that way, but God can bring conviction in various ways!) I realized that there was subtle condescension in my attitude towards women including my wife. I needed to repent and change and see her as my equal and completion. We are one flesh, in two bodies. 5. Of course, my repentance needed some outside help. There came a moment in our marriage when my wife said: ďIím going to get some help for myself what you do for yourself is up to you!Ē After seeing how talking to a counselor and going through a relational healing course helped her I realized I needed some help. Now you may say well, I donít need counseling. Maybe not but you probably need outside friendships who can point out Godís truth and expose the lies you may have been unconsciously believing. 6. Even recently we took the scary step (for both of us) of going to a ďMarriage Encounter.Ē Itís a particular style of marriage retreat which teaches a great communication skill and thus transforms at least for us a ho-hum and functional marriage into something deeper and more fulfilling. 7. This is a subtle turning point, but oh so wonderful. Itís the turning point of renewed vision. I need vision to ďkeep on keeping onĒ in the gift of marriage. I found it in a friendís book recommendation: The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason (unlike Donald Joyís book itís still in print!) Mason draws wonderful word pictures which helped me start to grasp this wonderful truth: ďAs the Scriptures say, A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one.í This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.Ē (Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT) Thatís what we are about illustrating Godís relationship with those who know and trust Him.