Wednesday, 15 December 2010

What Does a Healthy Marriage Look Like

Winston Smith is an author and faculty member of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation.

When you saw the title of this blog what was the first thing that came to your mind? Perhaps you listed such things as spending quality time together, exceptional communications, extremely high level of trust, affection, intimacy, good conflict resolution skills, putting the needs of the other person first, and the list goes on. None of these answers would be wrong; in fact they would all be elements of a healthy marriage.

I felt that on the one hand Winston’s answers were surprising and on the other hand profound. They were surprising because the things I listed above are the ones that came to me instantly. As you can tell, I am into the simplistic and obvious while Winston is in to the more cerebral and deep.

Be honest would you have thought to mention that one of the elements of a particularly healthy marriage would be the extent to which we were able to help our spouse grow and mature in their Christian walk? Assume that nagging and criticism are not the preferred methods. Are you able to identify areas in the life of your spouse that you can speak into that would make him/her more like Christ AND can you do it in such a way that they will seriously consider your input and not get defensive? Yet this is the first area that Winston mentions. What might be some of those areas? Perhaps spending more time in prayer, praying together as a couple, having a consistent quiet time with the Lord, spending more time in the Word, volunteering, tithing, being more patient, sharing one’s faith, being other centered, etc.

Winston really pushed the envelope with his second reflection on this topic. You want me to speak lovingly to my husband/wife who has just criticized me in public? You want me to do something that will bless my husband/wife when they have just hurt me or sinned against me? Are you nuts?? I’d love to say that Winston is “proof texting”, i.e. twisting a verse from Scripture to mean something that supports your point of view when in fact that is not the literal meaning of the text. I’d love to, but I can’t. Sure the Matthew 5:38-48 passage deals with ones enemy but are we to then say that we should treat our enemy better than our husband/wife?

This marriage business is tough stuff.

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