Thursday, 17 June 2010

It's Just That Simple - Or Is It?

In his book Love That Lasts Gary Ricucci, author and Christian counselor, writes, “And so often when I raise with a husband his relationship with God, he wants to focus on his relationship with his wife. Men, there will be no progress in leading and loving your wife if you fail to fellowship with God. In my experience, healthy and growing marriages are invariably led by men who are consistent and intentional in their pursuit of God. Struggling marriages usually are not. It’s just that simple.” Or is it?
Yes, no and maybe. I think I’ve covered all my options.

If fellowshipping with God is the key why do so many Christian marriages end in divorce? Because in most cases I believe the husband is a causal Christian (attends church primarily on Christmas and Easter) or a Christian by default (he doesn’t follow Islam, Buddhism, etc. therefore he must be a…). As one humorist said, “If I were to sleep in the garage it doesn’t make me a car.” To assume that a husband who refers to himself as a Christian is actively pursuing the disciplines of a Godly man would be a gigantic miscalculation.

What about those marriages that appear to be thriving, who are admittedly not based on Christian principles. I so want to talk about a high profile golfer at this point but I will refrain. I think the operative word is “appear”. Does that mean that there are no solid non-Christian marriages? - Absolutely not. Do I think the odds of a marriage being exceptional are much higher if the marriage is headed by a husband who is God loving, God fearing, and God seeking? – Absolutely.

Who decides what a healthy and growing marriage is anyhow? In the short term – you do. From a more eternal perspective – God does. I put on 25 pounds within months of my wedding day but that’s not the kind of growth Ricucci had in mind. I think healthy and growing refer to the couple’s spiritual, emotional and physical relationship. Are they more deeply committed to one another today than they were yesterday? Do they understand that they are part of God’s pre-determined growth plan for one another? Is the couple earnestly seeking to extend the love and respect that is commanded by God in Ephesians 5:33? Does the couple laugh together? Does the couple enjoy to the max the incredible gift of intimacy that the Lord has provided? Does the couple approach areas of disagreement as opportunities to grow and better understand themselves and their spouse?

What do you consider as being growing and healthy descriptors of a marriage and what are the contributing factors to having such a marriage if it is not tied to God?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Return My Kidney

You know that your marriage is not going well when your spouse asks you to return the kidney that he/she donated to you. Fortunately the divorce lawyers, in just such a case involving a New York couple, concluded that a kidney was not to be considered a marital asset to be divided.

How can things deteriorate so dramatically in the relationship of a couple who at one time professed a deep, abiding love for one another? Yet, it happens every day, 365 days a year. Divorce is no respecter of age, education, financial status, celebrity status, body type, or religious values. There is no simple answer. “If only she would…” “If only he could…” I’d love to say that Christians have the answer, that they understand that in the eyes of God they have entered into a covenant relationship, one that is not to be broken. I’d love to be able to say that, but I can’t. Christian marriages appear to be ending at approximately the same rate as non-Christian marriages.

I’m sure there are a number of contributing factors for “I do” becoming “I don’t because you didn’t”. My personal opinion is that the number one reason for couples breaking up is self-centeredness. Andy Stanley refers to these marriages as “I Marriages”. It is all about me, my needs, my desires, and my expectations. To over simplify it, Andy suggests that when our desires become expectations we are in a no win game. His rational is that somewhere along the line couples have converted their relationship into a debt/debtor relationship. For when a desire migrates into an expectation it is the same as saying “You owe me.” You owe me dinner on the table every night at 6:13; you owe me 47 minutes of meaningful conversation every night; you owe me clean laundry, folded just the way I like it; you owe me kind words and affection that don’t always translate to sex.

So you see, If you give me what you owe me it’s no big deal, it is what I expected. And if you fail to give me what you owe me I’m unhappy, you reneged, I’ve been cheated, I want out!

Fill in the blank – “My husband/wife owes me _____________. The answer should be nothing. If you have inserted anything else you have identified an expectation.

Before you ask for your kidney back you might want to ask yourself “Have I made our marriage all about me?” “Am I unhappy with my husband/wife because they do not meet my expectations?”