Turning Points in My Marriage
The problem is that people donít know how to be married. They
donít actually get married in many cases, though they go through a
legal and possibly a religious ceremony. They are, sad to say,
incapable of marriage, the kind of constant, mutual blessing that
can make two people in conjugal relation literally one whole
person (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is not their fault. In their world,
how could they know? Who would reach them? This is the soul-
searing fact at the heart of our modern sadness.Ē
-Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart
These words of Willardís are so challenging. Certainly his words
ring true with me as I consider the culture.
His words also make me want to break with a longstanding pattern
Iím actually going to share something about my marriage.
In the past Iíve been reluctant to share because Iíve wondered
what people could possibly learn from our marriage. My wife Nikki
and our relationship has been a gift, pure and simple. Still,
there might be something encouraging in our story. Certainly I
know when weíve received the gift of knowing Jesus we can share
about it, as a gift. I guess that means I can share about this
other gift Iíve received - my marriage.
Seven turning points come to mind and maybe one of these would
apply to you:
1. I remember the day, sitting at my dormitory desk, a short time
before our wedding, when the weight of what I was taking on hit
me. I realized I couldnít love my wife in my strength.
I voiced the words to the Lord: ďGod, youíre going to have to give
me the strength I canít do this in my strength.Ē
I didnít feel anything dramatic but I didnít need to Iíd made a
transaction with God.
2. Before we got married, Iíd seen one Christian couple who had
devotions together and I concluded that we should pray together
before we went to sleep, so we started that practice right off the
bat. (I understand itís much harder to start later!) Thank
goodness the practice has served us well over the years.
3. After we were married, some of my other turning points involved
how I thought about our marriage, which of course shaped how I
acted. The writer T. Austin Sparks helped me see the immensity of
what marriage is about. He described how any problem in a marriage
touches the very honor of heaven! Our conduct in marriage affects
Godís glory negatively or positively. We every married couple in
or out of Christ are part of the eternal drama of good overcoming
4. I needed to repent from bad patterns of thinking. Something
that helped me repent was another book: Lovers: Whatever Happened
to Eden? By Donald Joy. (I realize not everyone can respond to
books that way, but God can bring conviction in various ways!)
I realized that there was subtle condescension in my attitude
towards women including my wife. I needed to repent and change
and see her as my equal and completion. We are one flesh, in two
5. Of course, my repentance needed some outside help. There came a
moment in our marriage when my wife said: ďIím going to get some
help for myself what you do for yourself is up to you!Ē After
seeing how talking to a counselor and going through a relational
healing course helped her I realized I needed some help.
Now you may say well, I donít need counseling. Maybe not but you
probably need outside friendships who can point out Godís truth
and expose the lies you may have been unconsciously believing.
6. Even recently we took the scary step (for both of us) of going
to a ďMarriage Encounter.Ē Itís a particular style of marriage
retreat which teaches a great communication skill and thus
transforms at least for us a ho-hum and functional marriage into
something deeper and more fulfilling.
7. This is a subtle turning point, but oh so wonderful. Itís the
turning point of renewed vision. I need vision to ďkeep on keeping
onĒ in the gift of marriage. I found it in a friendís book
recommendation: The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason (unlike
Donald Joyís book itís still in print!) Mason draws wonderful
word pictures which helped me start to grasp this wonderful truth:
ďAs the Scriptures say, A man leaves his father and mother and is
joined to his wife and the two are united into one.í This is a
great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the
church are one.Ē (Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT)
Thatís what we are about illustrating Godís relationship with
those who know and trust Him.