Jonathan & I attended a marriage conference with our church on Oct 31-Nov 1. I know I have shared before, but we are incredibly blessed that God placed us in a Sunday school class with such incredible mentors. They teamed up with another godly couple and Sunday school class to prepare for the marriage retreat. There were about 25 couples total. It was held at Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, Ga (on the campus of Barry College) and the facilities were absolutely GORGEOUS.
Somehow I managed to make it through the whole weekend without taking a single picture, so these are straight from Google. I wanted y’all to be able to see the facility though.
This was the group who went. We were the last ones to the picture (top left) because I had to potty. Story of my life.
Marriage is SO, SO important to me. God takes our vows to Him very seriously, which means we should too. It is so sad to me to look around and see the state of the family unit across America, and I know that all roots back to bad marriages. You can take one look at the divorce rates in our country to see that not everyone takes marriage seriously. No one is ever going to convince me an differently than believing that the BEST way to be a great parent is to be a GREAT spouse. Kids NEED to see that. Great families start at home.
I am convinced that the only way to turn this nation around is to bring restoration to the family unit, and the best way I know to do that is to start by focusing on solid marriages. I am EXTREMELY passionate about godly marriages, but having been married for over 4 years & watching both of our sets of parents have marriages going strong after 35+ and 40+ years, I know it takes WORK. It takes a lot of effort. Compromise. Forgiveness. Devotion. Did I mention work?? Jonathan & I know strive to live a life pleasing to the Lord and to honor him through our marriage and family, but we also know that we are not immune to struggles. That’s exactly why we are such big believers in "Fixing the roof while it's not raining."
The retreat theme was “Life for Marriage…Marriage for Life” and was based on Galatians 2:20.
They used some videos from Jimmy & Karen Evans’ video series called Marriage on the Rock. Here is the link to their Youtube page with tons of great videos. Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if you & your spouse took 10-15 minutes every evening before bed to watch just ONE video? I can’t think of a better investment of your time.
It was a really impactful weekend, but one thing I have learned from attending lots of conferences is that you need to pick just a FEW key points to work on and start implementing them. It will take work & time, but you can discipline yourself to start making changes & daily progress. That is more effective than trying to take it ALL in because that’s too overwhelming. What I took from this particular conference was very personal, so instead of talking about that specifically I’m going to share some bullet points with some of the points that stood out to me the most. (They purchased the license for Marriage Today: Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans if you’re interested. Would be a great small group or Sunday school study.) Enjoy!!
- God has a plan for you to enjoy an awesome marriage, but you can never be husband/wife your mate needs you to be without Him.
- He desires for you to fully surrender your life to Him, trusting Christ to live and love through you.
- Christ IN us is the Life needed for a successful marriage. He wants your marriage for life to demonstrate His commitment to us, His bride, for eternity.
- With the Lord, we can experience a fresh dependence on the Father to walk together in marriage one day at a time.
1) The Foundational Laws of Marriage: Marriage works when you do it God’s way.
- 4 Foundational Laws:
- Law of Priority: God designed marriage to operate as the top priority, except for your personal relationship with God.
- Law of Pursuit: Never quit pursuing your spouse. Marriage requires work. Are you pursuing your spouse the same way you did when you were dating?
- Law of Possession: Never make an important decision without the input and agreement of your spouse. Everything you owned before marriage is now yours together.
- Law of Purity: Learn to quickly say “I’m sorry, I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
- God has created marriage based on 4 foundational laws. He will bless and protect every couple that honors these laws. Even though you may be convinced that your spouse has most of the problems, you cannot change your spouse. You can only change you. Listen carefully to the warning signs from your spouse when your priorities are in the wrong order. Pursuing your spouse isn’t just work for special occasions, it is a daily decision that you are going to work on the relationship so that your marriage gets better year after year. True intimacy comes from two people creating an atmosphere where they can share everything and admit they need each other.
2) Understanding and Meeting Your Spouse’s Needs: Our different needs can bring us together.
- God has made us to be different. Let us not make these differences a battleground, but rather celebrate God’s unique design.
- Selfishness destroys marriage. The best marriage is two servants in love.
- His needs: Honor/Respect, Sex, Fun & Friendship, Support at Home
- Her Needs: Security, Non-sexual affection, Open & Honest communication, Leadership (These are all general…the rule & not the exception.)
- Only Jesus can meet our deepest needs. We may open ourselves up to Him to meet our spouse’s needs. His life in us meeting needs through us. That’s when marriage is amazing and long-lasting.
- When a woman gives her husband honor and meets his needs, it fills his world and draws him back to his wife. Many women are waiting to honor their husbands until they see the change in his heart. This is backwards from what God says. Only the Lord can change your husband, but you can be the agent of that change by praising him for what he does right.
- Just like men need their wives to be honoring and fun, women need men to sacrificially love them. By following Christ’s example to be a servant leader, men can fulfill their wife’s desires and reignite the passion in their relationship. For a man, meeting your wife’s needs is not just a matter of responsibility, it is the basis for romance and spiritual connection in your relationship.
- Wives- win your husband with a gentle and quiet spirit, without a word. The enemy is the “accuser of the brethren.” We are not meant to be accusers, so stop nagging, blaming, and criticizing.
- Most people take the energy God gave them to LOVE each other and spend it trying to change each other.
3) Destructive Husbands and Wives: You can disarm destructive behaviors in your relationship.
- The Four Reasons We Become Destructive
- Past hurts
- Bad friends & negative influences
- The four main destructive behaviors in marriage:
- Control & dominance
- Checking out
- Cruelty & abuse
- Whether control, criticism, past hurts, or unforgiveness, we can all be destructive in our behavior. We need to realize that we can’t change our spouse, but we can take responsibility for ourselves. Freedom occurs when we admit our destructive behaviors to God and each other. Commit to building up your spouse with praise and positive actions. As you do your part, God will heal the destructive areas of oyur marriage.
- Forgiveness means cancelling a debt. 1 Cor: Love does not keep record of wrongdoing.
- Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
- Pray for your enemies, even if your feelings don’t line up.
- Pray for and BLESS those who persecute you. You can’t hate those you’re praying for.
4) Parents- Past and Present: Everything we do affects our family for generations.
- More than any other factor in your life, parents have the greatest impact on us. If your parents had a good influence on your life and then you get married, you carry that influence into marriage. But the problem is any negative influence you saw from your parents, you also brought that into marriage. You may not remember everything your parents said, but you do remember the example they modeled for you. We have all been greatly influenced by our families. The good news is, we can overcome any negative behaviors in our lives so that future generations live in freedom and blessing. (EVERYTHING we say and do affects our children and grandchildren for FOUR generations. -Exodus 34:7 WOW!! What in incredible responsibility.)
- More is “caught than taught.” We speak more with our actions than our lips.
- We want mercy for ourselves but don’t want to give it to others.
- These next two pages were extremely valuable, so I just had to take a picture because it’s way too much to type. Definitely some great info about parents & in-laws.
5) Sexual Fulfillment in Marriage: God’s design for sex is a lifetime of pleasure and delight.
- Sex should be something we enjoy and look forward to in marriage. In a healthy relationship, there is effort and forethought given towards sex to make it fun and pleasurable. However, Satan’s ultimate goal is that we be ashamed of our sexuality so that we don’t talk about sex with our spouse.
- God created our sexual differences to make our relationship more fulfilling. For example, men are in tune with their emotions after sex while women need to be emotionally in tune with their husbands to feel sexual. Men are visually responsive. Women are relationally responsive. Men are compartmental. Women are inclusive.
- The Five Ingredients to Sexual Fulfillment:
- Commit to meeting your spouse’s sexual needs in a committed and faithful manner.
- Communicate your sexual needs and allow your spouse to communicate.
- Commit to sexual purity to protect the integrity of the marriage.
- Create an atmosphere of sexual pleasure.
- Communicate and deal with sexual problems together.
- God built the fence to keep the wild animals OUT. We can have FUN within the bounds God gives.
- Do not withhold from your partner.
- Sex is a special gift from God and sacred to marriage. We are different by God’s design and when we respect and serve each other, we complete each other and our marriage becomes fulfilling for us both. We have to work at creating a pure sexual atmosphere in our marriage where we can communicate, pursue each other, and meet each other’s needs. We have to be committed to working out our problems promptly when they arise as as our sexual needs change throughout life. It’s especially important to women that you romance your wife and meet her emotional needs.
- Guard yourself before marriage. Obviously this post is geared toward marries couples, but it is so important to help our children understand that sexual immorality and anything outside of the marriage bed is sin. There are consequences (no matter what society says, this is what the BIBLE says) & that can negatively impact marriages. Encourage & pray for sexual purity.
SO….there you have it! I hope you got some value out of that the way I did the first time & rereading it to write this post. Here is my best encouragement to you. Choose 1-2 areas to really focus. Study scriptures, pray God’s Word, and focus on improving in that area daily. Focus on what YOU can change in your marriage. Our natural tendency when talking about marriage or reading a post like this is to focus on our spouse’s shortcomings and what they can do differently rather than on our own iniquities. We tend to minimize our own actions and maximize others. I pray you recognize that as pride and avoid the natural urge to focus on the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a plank in your own. (This is especially a struggle for me.) Focus on the things YOU can do today to improve your marriage, set the example that will impact your family for generations to come, and have the long-lasting abundant JOY God designs for our marriage. It’s never too late for restoration…