Thursday, 20 January 2011

Pull the Weeds and Plant the Seeds

In his book What Did You Expect Paul Tripp suggests that marriage is really just a long-term exercise in gardening. He makes the point that for some reason we expect our marriages to thrive without the daily work of pulling the weeds as they begin to germinate.   

Initially weeds in our garden are almost imperceptible and so it is in a marriage. Romance starts to drift; face to face communication is diminished; little conflicts fester; and we become too busy. If any of these weeds are beginning to flourish in your marriage eradicate them immediately.

There is one weed whose root is indestructible. The weed is self-centeredness. It rears its ugly stalk in every marriage because it is the DNA of sin and exists in all of us. It manifests itself in the way we think, in what we desire, in how we act, and in how we respond to our partner. While your husband/wife might be willing to point out your self-centeredness this is one weed that you might want to self-police. One of the best ways to prevent this weed from growing is to become other-centered. I believe Scripture might refer to that as loving your neighbor as yourself.

Inattention or neglect is another weed that creeps into our marriages. We begin to take things for granted. We allow our calendars to crowd out personal time together. The little things we did when we dated aren’t even on the radar screen. What were those things you did for one another before you said “I do.” 
Self-righteousness appears when our “inner lawyer” begins to internally argue in our defense while our husband/wife is still talking to us. You may want to fire your lawyer and represent yourself only after you have heard all the facts.

The variety of weeds is too large to begin to address each and every one. Suffice it to say that unless you are incredibly diligent weeds will grow in your marriage. However if you tend to your marriage daily, pull out any weed that appears the moment you spot it, and best of all plant something in its place you can have a beautiful, well maintained marriage.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Marriage Is Not a Destination

From his book What Did You Expect Paul Tripp provides the following insight:

"Although you are to be married for life, your marriage is not a destination…Marriage is meant to be a tool in God’s hands to expose your heart and to drive you to the end of yourself. Marriage is meant to expose your self-focus and self-reliance. It is meant to convince you that you are needier than you thought you were and to encourage you that God’s grace has more power to transform than you thought it did. Marriage is meant to teach you how to give, love, serve, forgive, support, encourage, and wait…So God is not only working to form your marriage into what he designed it to be; no, more foundationally he is working to reform you into what you were created to be. It is only as we grow and change that our marriages can thrive."   
Excuse me – was this excerpt meant to be encouraging? Well it depends on your view of marriage. If you came into marriage with the view of what marriage would do for you then Paul’s description of what marriage is meant to do probably left you flabbergasted.

“Drive me to the end of myself.” “Expose my self-focus.” “I’m needier than I thought I was.” Marriage is to teach me how to give, love, serve, forgive, support, encourage and wait? Who in their right mind would sign up for that program? What happened to joy, intimacy, companionship, and they lived happily ever after?

I would subscribe that a couple who truly understands that (a) marriage is for the purpose of glorifying God and (b) for the purpose of growing each of them spiritually will experience an intimacy and companionship that will bring more joy than they ever could have imagined. That does not mean that this couple will not experience bumps in the road, that’s part of the transforming growth that will help each of them be the person that God intended.

Then the serpent said did God really say, “you must give, love, serve, forgive, support, encourage, and wait?” Then the serpent said, “You will not surely have an unhappy marriage if you fail to do these things.” Sound familiar?