Friday, 28 September 2012

Bad Apple

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

Occasionally I receive a blog from Dennis Rainey of Family Life.  Sometimes the topic has to do with parenting and sometimes marriage.  The following is an excerpt of a recent blog which addressed the need for parents to monitor with whom their children are hanging out.  However, the general concept applies to marriage as well.

One of my favorite object lessons in the sixth-grade Sunday School class I taught for many years was the “bad apples” demonstration. During a class at the beginning of the year, I brought some apples with me into the room—a beautiful, shiny red one that I called a “good apple” and a couple of others that looked nice but had at least one bruise.

Most of us have been exposed to this visual aid.  The apples are put together in a bag and after a week or two all the apples are bad. 

A recent study indicated that those couples who hung around with couples who were divorcing were more likely to divorce.  But the analogy can be carried even further.  It may be just as dangerous to hang around people who complain about their spouse OR who commiserate with you as you complain about your spouse.  These people are not helping you, though experiencing an empathetic voice may seem comforting.

Even more serious is for members of the opposite sex to commiserate about the deficiencies of their spouse or their marital struggles.  This is an affair looking to happen.

So the bottom line question is “Are you a bad apple or just hanging around with some?”

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Good Advice as Far as It Goes - Part I

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Mort Fertel
I have often utilized a non-Christian counseling blog site written by Mort Fertel’s organization as a springboard from which to launch a discussion from a Christian perspective.   From a secular perspective he usually gives sound advice.  In a recent blog entitled “Four Areas that Can Predict Marital Success” Mort offered the following statement:

There are four important areas that can predict long-term marital success. When couples agree on the basics about kids, money, in-laws, and faith, they are much more likely to remain happily married. They don’t need to agree on every aspect of these issues but sharing the same basic values about them can make a big difference in their marital satisfaction.

The target audience for Mort’s posting is most likely those who are single.  However, I’m going to address my comments to those who are married as well.  If you are a Christian and single do not consider dating a non-Christian.  By dating a non-Christian you are operating on the assumption that if you were to marry you would change the other person.  That is foolish and naive.  Or you are saying that God’s Word is not all that important when it comes to “love.”  That too is foolish and na├»ve.  For those of you who are Christians but married to a non-believer it will be more difficult for you to resolve differences in these potentially problematic areas but it can be done.  For those of you who are equally yoked it should be easier to resolve differences if your goal is to glorify God.

If you have not had a discussion about each other’s values, beliefs and worldviews this would be a good starting point.  By better understanding each other’s point of reference it could facilitate your coming to agreement in some of these areas that Mort has identified as potential landmines for marriage.  You may find that one or both of you are holding on to old paradigms that don’t stand the test of time, or you can’t remember why you hold a particular point of view, and/or you realize that certain values and beliefs have been deeply ingrained in you or your spouse since childhood.

Of the four areas that Mort referenced obviously I think faith is the most important.  Your faith will provide the grid through which you see the world and it will help shape your values and beliefs.

Part II will be a little edgy particularly for those who consider themselves to be Christian.


Monday, 24 September 2012

The Why of Marriage?

In a recent blog, Mort Fertel, counselor and author of the marriage counseling blog, asked the question “What is the purpose of marriage?”.  He explained that your view as to the purpose of marriage will impact your relationship with your spouse, particularly if you do not have a common view.  As one who has built his marriage counseling platform on the answer to that question I could hardly wait to read what he had to say.

Initially he addressed some of the primary reasons that people give for getting married.

1.    To make me feel good – “Sometimes people marry because they think marriage will lead to happiness. They think that having a spouse will ensure they never feel scared, insecure, and lonely ever again. They imagine marriage will mean they have a fun and active social life and will lead to ongoing marital bliss.  When people aren’t already happy with themselves, marriage won’t solve anything. In fact, it will likely lead to a lot of disappointment and heartache

2.    To keep you from feeling lonely – “Married people can certainly still feel lonely.                When people get married to fill a void, they may be disappointed and blame their spouse for not being able to fulfill their duties.”

3.     To have kids – “What happens when the kids are grown? What will keep you together then?”

Then Mort suggested that many Christians believe that the purpose of marriage is to make you holy and not necessarily happy, a message well articulated by Gary Thomas in Sacred Marriage.  He then suggested that each couple should develop a mission statement, defining for their marriage what they believe the purpose to be.

From my perspective 1 Corinthians 10 verse 31 gives us the answer.  31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.   Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

This is the vision I ask my clients to adopt.  The litmus test is simple because it is self-policing.  You can ask yourself “Did what I just say glorify God?” “Did my tone of voice bring glory to God?” “Did I glorify God by what I just did  (or didn’t do)?”  You will know with 99% certainty whether or not your behavior or words or thoughts would glorify God.

Would it change the way you and your spouse relate?  To quote an old TV sitcom – “you bet your bippy”.  (whatever a bippy is).  Can you imagine what your relationship would be like if glorifying God became the grid through which each of you processed how you relate? 

God asks no more and expects nothing less.