Friday, 16 March 2012

On a Scale of One to Ten - How is Your Marriage?

Before you answer that question there might be a few questions that you would like to ask. First off, define the scale, is ten good or bad? Secondly what is the basis for measurement? Is it a feeling of general happiness and contentment; is it an absence of much conflict; or a feeling that most expectations are being met? Perhaps feeling loved (woman) or respected (man) is your criteria of good. Or is it feeling secure; a feeling of being appreciated and cherished, etc.?

The first question is easy – it doesn’t matter; you can make the scale whatever you want it to be.

The second is a trick question – sorry. This blog is entitled marriage God’s way, so you would do well to assume that the correct answer is going to have something to do with God. I suspect that God’s standards for determining the quality of your marriage are tougher than any standards you may set.

Here’s the litmus test. Does your marriage bring glory and honor to God?

I wish I could give you a check list that says if you are doing these ten things your marriage glorifies God but I can’t. What I can do is attempt to identify some of the components of such a marriage.

• God is at the center of the marriage. The husband and wife spend a reasonable amount of time, most days, with God in prayer, and/or in His Word. Prayer precedes any major decision and includes both partners.

• Self-centeredness is the number one enemy of your marriage. With the help of the Holy Spirit, other-centeredness must rule as much as possible.

• The husband has made it a lifetime goal to continually learn how to love his wife. The model is Christ’s love for His bride, the church. It doesn’t mean giving in to everything his bride wants. It means being discerning and seeking to do what is always in her best interest. It means being willing to lay down his very life for her. His Biblical role is to lead, protect and provide.

• The wife understands that respect is what God has identified as being of primary importance to her husband. The Amplified translation expands that term to include notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly. And yes, she is called to submit.

• In Genesis 2 when God said “I will make a helper for him (Adam)” He used a term for helper that is only used two other times in Scripture, both applying to Himself. It implies one who is desperately needed.

• Sex is a gift given to married couples by God to connect them emotionally and physically. In a marriage that glorifies God sex is actively pursued by both the husband and the wife.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dreaming and Divorce

There is an old adage “you become what you think about.” Now that is not totally true since as a teenage boy I thought a lot about girls and I didn’t become one, nor have I ever become a chocolate chip cookie. But, as with most adages, there is some truth buried in the words.

For the Christian, theoretically, divorce is not an option since you have entered into a covenantal relationship which should not be broken other than under some limited and reasonably well defined conditions.

However there is nothing preventing you from thinking about it, i.e. daydreaming “what if I were single again?” or “what if I were married to (¬¬fill in the blank)?” To say that daydreaming about divorce is a slippery slope would be like saying Mozart was okay as a composer. Be honest with yourself, you are only going to focus on the most positive aspects of being single or being married to someone else that you think would be Mr. or Miss Right. We suffer from amnesia when we reflect back on the struggles of being single. We choose to forget that Mr. or Miss Right is a sinner, saved by grace. They have their own set of matched baggage that they carry around with them, problems they keep hidden from the outside world.

Fantasizing about something that God has forbidden normally doesn’t turn out well. For one thing there was this incident with a piece of fruit in a garden and then there was David and Bathsheba; and Hollywood provides us with a new entrant in the things not turning out well category on a daily basis.

There was also an adage that said “anticipation is greater than realization.” If being single again seems tempting, spend some time talking with someone who has gone through a bitter divorce. Divorce exacts a very high price emotionally, financially and spiritually.

Perhaps worse than daydreaming about something you think might be better is to focus on the negatives. We tend to whip ourselves into a frenzy about how thoughtless, how uncaring, how insensitive, how lazy, and/or how cheap our current partner is. By ruminating over and over again about our spouses shortcomings we are building an emotional wall that we may never be able to dismantle.
Daydreaming misdirects your energy. Spend the same amount of time thanking God for the spouse He has given you. Focus on their good points. Ask God what it is that He wants you to learn as a result of being married to the person that He has provided.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Marriage and Depression - The Spouses Role

Have you ever tried to have a discussion with someone about a topic of which you had little knowledge? Though I try to avoid such conversations, I am now about to embark on one. The topic is marriage and depression, which you probably could have figured out from the title of today’s blog.

Because I have never personally been depressed I cannot begin to describe with any accuracy the hopelessness and despair that one who is suffering with a deep depression must be experiencing. It almost seems as though they are in a dark bottomless pit, filled with tar with no hope of escape. The possible causes of depression are too numerous to cite, the duration is hard to predict and the cure can be elusive.

So what is the spouse of one who is suffering from depression to do? I have had some experience in this area though it has been some time. In my opinion it is important to contact a psychiatrist. Though one’s family doctor can certainly prescribe something that may do the trick this is not their area of expertise. In addition I would encourage my loved one to seek a counselor. As a Christian, I would preferably seek a Christian and/or Biblical counselor. It is my understanding that one of the most effective ways to combat depression is with the combination of drugs and counseling.

As the care giver I would ask the psychiatrist and the counselor what they believe you should do. It is important for you to be able to encourage and support your loved one, recognizing that the road could be a long one. The more you understand about the illness the easier it might be for you to cope.

It is also my understanding that exercise can help but depending on the level of depression even a walk could be more than the patient can consider. It is also my opinion that positive self talk can be a definite ally. If the patient allows his/her mind to roam most likely it will go down a negative path. It is important to get off that mental trail and back on to the main road. The negative path will always lead to the same destination and that is not good.

Too often we Christians want to throw a Bible dart at our loved one, thinking that will help them snap out of the doldrums in which they find themselves. So we quote Bible verses such as Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. This is rarely helpful. It would be helpful for you to pray for and with your loved one’s deliverance from the pit of despair and for God to give you the grace that you will need to cope.