“Every day of marriage is a new adventure in which God is trying to teach us something. God doesn’t necessarily want it to be easy. If we’re one with another, then we’ll be able to hear what God is saying to us and learn together.”
Please read the above statement again because it has such a powerful message for us all to engraft into our thinking. It’s a quote from Travis Turner who, along with his wife Carol works with Life Partners Christian Ministries, Inc.
We sometimes forget in the “everydayness” of life that God cares more about our character than He does about our comfort.
And because of this, after marrying, we will find areas of our lives together, where God will be working to teach us what it means to love someone sacrificially. Our marriages are to be visible pictures of Christ’s sacrificial love for His church. And in order to do that, we must “die to self” everyday of our lives so Christ may live in and through us.
To help us in this mission, we’d like to share excerpts from an article written by Tracy Munsil, featured in the Arizona Citizen Magazine in March of 2008. In it we found God-given wisdom, shared by Travis Turner, to help us build marriages that are “good.” But as Travis says, “Good Marriages Don’t Just Happen.” And we agree:
“‘One starting point in a good marriage is spending time together,’ said Turner. That sounds simple enough—a date night here and there, an occasional movie. But by that he means at least 30 minutes a day, giving undivided attention to your spouse, just to maintain your marriage relationship.
“More time is needed if you’re in the process of building or repairing your marriage. ‘It has to be prioritized and specific,’ explains Turner. ‘If it’s not, you just won’t get the time you need. That means scheduled time with the TV turned off, the kids in bed, no telephone, all distractions eliminated —one-on-one time of real communication with your spouse.’
“‘It’s very difficult to do in our culture. Yet, if we don’t spend the time growing and cultivating the marriage, it causes disharmony and hurt. All of us are changing and we need to take the time (and MAKE the time) to grow together. If we don’t get that time, we pay a huge price. We lose connection with our spouse.’
“Turner, a former football quarterback for the University of Nebraska, has been involved in the Life Partners ministry with his wife Carol for 13 years, after problems in their marriage surfaced while he was serving full-time in pastoral ministry. He finds that one of the pitfalls common to Christian marriages is husbands and wives confusing spiritual ‘busyness’ with genuine spirituality.
“‘We spend a lot of time doing, rather than being like Christ,’ he said. ‘We go to church, and do this and do that in ministry, and try to measure our spirituality by those things, rather than allowing the fruits of the Spirit be the evidence of our spirituality.’
“‘Our marriage becomes a byproduct of what’s going on in our lives spiritually,’ he said. ‘If we experience joy in our spiritual life, we’ll see joy in our marriage. Too often we’re busy doing spiritual things, but we don’t experience a spirit of contentment over our role in God’s economy, in what God has called us to do.’
“In addition to spending scheduled, uninterrupted time together daily, Turner offers advice specific to husbands and wives. First, he suggests that husbands get in the habit of praising their wives on an ongoing, daily basis. ‘Men need to learn to recognize positive character traits on a regular basis and to learn to build up their wives. We need to tell them how valuable and special they are,’ he said. ‘We need to make our wives feel appreciated and confident, like Christ would do. But are we willing to sacrifice the time, thought and effort it takes to do this?’
“As for the wife, according to Turner, she needs to be honest with her husband, and tell him how he’s affecting her and the kids. ‘This is very difficult for the wife to do. She has to be willing to risk herself with her husband, giving input about his diet, about his tone of voice with the kids, about his pace of life or work habits, about everything,’ he explained. [We want to add a note that seems appropriate here. It’s important for the wife to realize that she’s not just to give input in any old manner possible, but to give it in a Christ-honoring ‘respectful’ way.
“The Bible tells us to ‘speak the truth in love.‘ It also says that ‘a soft answer turns away wrath‘ and this is especially true when discussing something that could be interpreted as ‘nagging.’ Don’t just blurt out what’s on your mind —be careful and prayerful in how you deliver it so it can be received as graciously as it’s given.]
“Travis goes on to say, ‘Only the wife can say, ‘I would rather live with less finances and more of you.’ That’s really hard to do and I don’t envy having to be a wife.’ Turner suggests that the husband can make his wife’s job easier by being willing to hear what she has to say. ‘I can make it easier for my wife if I’m concerned about my attitudes, about being Christ like and being teachable, than getting defensive,’ he said.
“Turner argues that an equally serious threat in the Christian community as legal divorce is ’emotional divorce,’ which happens when the spouses in a marriage are disconnected from one another. ‘Their marriage looks real good from the outside, because they’re no longer affecting each other,’ he explained. ‘You don’t know what their marriage relationship is like until you get real close.’
“But the warning signs are clear, including putting personal activities, friends or church involvement before the needs of the spouse. When in a state of emotional divorce, couples experience a significant distance between them that undermines the closeness of their relationship. At the point of emotional divorce, the couple needs to recognize their situation and begin taking steps to renew closeness and connection in their relationship.”
Travis made an excellent point when he talked about taking the time to communicate, giving each other our undivided attention. It has to be “prioritized and specific” as he points out. We need to be pro-active in making the time to build one another up.
We made the time to communicate with each other in relationship building ways before marriage (or we wouldn’t have fallen in love and gotten married in the first place) and now we need to make the time to communicate everyday so we continue to grow together in this ever changing world we live in.
The enemy of our faith is a stealer and a robber. If he can get us so busy that we’re side-tracked from spending specific relationship-building time with each other, he’s succeeded in robbing us from having the loving relationship God wants us to have. We need to “be still” and let God be Lord of our time and energies so we’re not robbing our marriage of the time that we need to invest into it. If we do so, He will guide us so we lovingly build each other up instead of tearing each other down.
If you find yourselves “emotionally divorced” in how you communicate with each other ask God for the wisdom and insight you need to turn this situation around. As promised in the Bible, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.“ (James 1:5)
In closing, you may want to check out the web site for the Life Partners ministry. They have some interesting testimonies and resources that you may find helpful. Their web site is Lifepartners.org
We pray that together, because of Christ, we will grow up together in Him, so our marriages truly reflect the love of God to everyone we’re with.
Steve and Cindy Wright