I. Four Basic Assumptions
1. Good marriages don’t just happen. They are the result of time plus commitment plus effort plus prayer.
2. Most marriages could significantly improve with just a little effort.
3. Since marriage was God’s idea, the first step to improving your marriage is to find out what God says about how your marriage should work.
4. Since your marriage is the greatest single investment you will ever make, you ought to do whatever you can to protect that investment.
II. Five Primary Causes of Marital Stress
1. Financial Pressure
2. Inability to Communicate Deep Feelings
3. Confusion Over Roles
4. Unresolved Anger
5. Time Pressure/Exhaustion
III. Four Biblical Purposes of Marriage
1. Companionship Genesis 2:18
2. Procreation Genesis 1:28
3. Sexual Fulfillment I Cor 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4
4. Testimony of God’s Love Ephesians 5:22-33
“In a society like ours, where healthy marriages are the exception and not the rule, if we can build marriages that move against the prevailing tide, we will have a fantastic base from which to share the message of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors.”
IV. What Makes a Marriage? Genesis 2:24-25
Principle # 1: Leaving 24a
Principle # 2: Commitment 24b
“Nothing you can do will ever cause me to leave you.”
Principle # 3: Intimacy 24c
Principle # 4: Transparency 25
V. What Makes a Marriage Christian?
“There is a huge difference between a marriage of two Christians and a truly Christian marriage.”
Answer # 1: A Marriage is Christian when it is built upon exclusiveness and intimacy. v. 31
1. Marriage begins when a man and a woman leave their parents and pledge exclusive loyalty to one another.
“You are not ready to be married until you understand that from the moment you say, “I do,” your husband or wife is to be more important to you than your own family.”
2. Marriage establishes a relationship that is more intimate than any other human experience.
Answer # 2: A marriage is Christian when it reflects the love between Christ and his church. v. 32
1. Marriage as a mystery.
2. Marriage as a mirror.
Answer # 3: A marriage is Christian when the husband and wife love and respect each other. v. 33
1. The Husband’s greatest duty in marriage is to love his wife in ways she can see and feel in her own heart.
“You are responsible not only to love your wife; you are also responsible to make sure that she knows she is loved.”
2. The wife’s greatest duty in marriage is to respect her husband for who he is as the head of the home.
“Marriage is a voluntary partnership between a man and a woman. It is a lifelong commitment between two people who stand on an equal basis before God. Both the husband and wife are equally created in God’s image; both are able to approach God with their prayers; both are the special objects of his love. There is to be mutual love, mutual respect, mutual listening and mutual decision-making. No one is to lord it over anyone else. Both are to serve each other’s deepest needs. But within that partnership of equals, the husband has a special calling and so does the wife. The husband is called by God to be the leader in the marriage. His leadership is to exercised in gentleness and grounded in deep love for his wife. The wife is called by God to stand by her husband, to follow his loving leadership, to encourage him to fulfill God’s calling, to fully interact with him on the issues of life, to share with him in making wise decisions, and to treat him with respect as he struggles to be the man God has called him to be.”
Some Crucial Distinctions:
1. Headship and Submission–What it Does Not Mean
–For the husband, headship does not mean
–Making all the decisions yourself
–Ordering your wife around
–Refusal to admit your mistakes
–Talking but not listening
–For the wife, submission does not mean
–Agreeing with your husband all the time
–Doing whatever he says whether you like it or not
–Doing wrong because your husband tells you to.
–Never speaking your own mind
2. Headship and Submission–What it Does Mean
–For the Husband, headship means sacrifice and
Definition: Headship means believing that God has called you to lay down your life for your wife and your children, putting their interests at their center of your heart, knowing that someday you will give account for how well you cared for them.
–For the Wife, submission means supporting and believing.
Definition: Submission means believing that God is able to work through your husband to accomplish his will in your life. Submission is thus fundamentally between a wife and God as she learns to trust him day by day.
“In any healthy marriage there will be plenty of discussion. No one person has all the answers. The wise husband looks to his wife for guidance before making a big decision. The wife wife makes sure her husband has her full input before the decision is made. Will couples ever disagree? Yes. What happens then? You talk it over, you wait, you pray over it, you postpone the decision until their is a unity of spirit between the husband and wife. In a good marriage, a husband will rarely (if ever) make a decision against his wife’s wishes. If that ever happens, the husband will make sure he has listened carefully and repeatedly to everything his wife has to say and will assure her of his love and best intentions even while making a difficult decision. He will never make any decision hastily because he knows that he is responsible for his entire family before God.”
VI. Loving and Repecting–What Does it Mean?
–Key Verse: Ephesians 5:33
1. To the Husbands–”Love your wife”
A. By encouraging her
B. By nourishing her
C. By protecting her
D. By cherishing her
“You cherish something when you value it highly. You show the value of something when you give it your undivided attention. There is no greater gift you can give your wife than the gift of your undivided attention.”
2. To the Wives–”Respect your husband”
A. By a positive attitude
B. By a forgiving spirit
C. By speaking well of him in public
“Marriage is the center of the family and the family is the center of society. When the institution of marriage is strong, the home is strong, the church is strong, the city is strong, and the nation is strong.”
VII. The Seven Basic Needs of a Husband
1. He needs to know that his wife respects his ability to make difficult decisions wisely.
2. He needs to know that his wife centers her affections exclusively on him.
3. He needs to know that his wife believes believes in his dreams.
4. He needs to know that his wife is satisfied and fulfilled in their sexual relationship.
5. He needs to know that his wife appreciates the fact that he works hard to support his family.
6. He needs to know that his wife will speak frankly when she disagrees but will support him in the final decision he must make.
7. He needs his wife to make their home a safe haven where he can retreat from the pressures of the world and find encouragement and hope to keep on going.
VIII. The Seven Basic Needs of a Wife
1. She needs the stability and direction of a spiritual leader.
2. She needs to know that she is meeting vital needs in her husband’s life that no other woman can meet.
3. She needs to see and hear that her husband cherishes her and that he delights in her as a person.
4. She needs to know that her husband understands her by protectingher in areas of her limitations.
5. She needs to know that her husband enjoys setting aside quality time for intimate conversation with her.
6. She needs to know that her husband is aware of her presence even when his mind is on other matters.
7. She needs to see that her husband is making an investment in her life that will expand and fulfill her world.
IX. How to Deeply Respect Your Mate
I. A Beginning Definition
A. The Dictionary
B. The “Second Look”
2. For the Wife Ephesians 5:33
A. Respect is Both Earned and Given.
B. Respect is a Matter of the Heart.
C. Two facts to keep in mind when you feel your husband
hasn’t earned your respect:
A. You can refuse to speak evil of him
B. You can refuse to give in to bitterness.
“Bitterness is a choice, just as forgiveness is a choice. No one can make you bitter. You choose bitterness the same way you choose forgiveness. Choosing forgiveness may seem difficult, but it is far easier than living in the sinkhole of a bitter spirit.”
3. For the Husband I Peter 3:7
1. The husband is to respect his wife by virtue of her high value.
2. You are to assign value to your wife.
“Does your wife know how precious she is to you? Men tend to assume their wives know and so we don’t have to tell them over and over again. Wrong! She doesn’t know. You have to tell her over and over again. And then you show her you mean it by the way you treat her!”
4. What Respect Really Means
A. “I accept you with all your weaknesses.”
B. “I appreciate you for all your strengths.”
C. “ I affirm you in all your dreams.”
X. Seven Keys To Good Communication James 1:19
1. Learn the 16 most important minutes of each day.
1. The first four minutes after you get up.
2. The last four minutes before you leave the house.
3. The first four minutes after coming back home.
4. The last four minutes before going to sleep.
2. Pray together.
3. Write Out Your Feelings
4. When you are angry, don’t say everything you are thinking.
5. Become an active listener
6. Use word pictures to convey your feelings.
7. Shoot up an “Arrow Prayer” to the Lord
“Communication is possible whenever one person is willing to look at another person and see beyond the outside to the real person inside. This is what real love is all about. You live with anothe person for years and see them every single day as they really are. You know them better than they know themselves. You know their weaknesses, their failures, their hidden fears, the bad habits. And when the bad times come, you don’t turn around and walk away. Instead you reach over, you smile, you give them a kiss, and you say, “I love you.” True communication happens whnever you look at another person and say, “I see th way you really are, and I’m not leaving you. I’m sticking withyou to the very end.” That’s what it means to really love another person.
XI. Forgiveness: The Overlooked Key
1. A Biblical Case Study Matthew 18:21-35
A. Forgiveness is difficult but it is not impossible.
B. As long as we focus on what others have done to us, forgivenss is impossible.
C. What we refuse to forgive, we hurt ourselves most of all.
D. Whatever forgiveness costs us, unforgiveness costs us far more.
2. Three Sincere Questions
A. “What about the person who says, “I can forgive but I can’t forget?”
B. “What do you do when the other person won’t admit they are wrong?”
C. “Does forgiveness mean I have to let people walk all over me?”
“We need to become great forgivers. Why? Because forgiveness will save your marriage when nothing else will.”
3. Practical Steps Toward Forgiveness
A. Writing a letter of forgiveness to your spouse
B. Talk it over with a close friend
C. Ask God to forgive your spouse
D. Memorize Psalm 103:12
E. Meditate on Matthew 6:12
F. Perhaps it means asking forgivenss for your sins
G. Ask God to bless your spouse in every way
H. Take a step of active love toward your spouse
“Forgiveness will mean different things to different people. The cost will differ depending on the magnitude of the offense. But the result is always the same–liberating freedom from the past and a new foundation on which to build a healthy marriage.”
XII. Biblical Sexuality
1. Why We struggle in This area
1. Guilt from the past
2. Wrong teaching
3. Uncertainty of what God says
II. Three Misconceptions
1. Sex is not dirty.
2. Sex is not evil.
3. Sex is not unChristian.
III. Seven Biblical Truths About Sexuality
Principle # 1: Sex is God’s Idea. Genesis 1:27-28
Principle # 2: Sex is God’s Good Gift to the Human Race. Genesis 2:18
Principle # 3: Sex is God’s Number One Way of Becoming One Flesh. Genesis 2:24
Principle # 4: Within Marriage, Sex is Holy and Good. Hebrews 13:4
1. There is a huge difference in the way men and women think about sex.
2. Achieving harmony in the sexual area is the work of a lifetime.
Principle # 5: Sex is to be a normal and regular part of marriage. I Corinthians 7:1-5
Principle # 6: A healthy sexual relationship builds a strong marriage and protects against immorality. Proverbs 5:18-20
“Is it possible for a marriage to be truly God-centered and yet have a sexual relationship that is sensual and erotic? Absolutely! The fact that we have a problem with that concept says more about us than it does about the Bible.”
Principle # 7: Sex in marriage is like returning to the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:25
“When two people who love God come together physically in the marriage relationship, that coming together is not just for them. It is also for God. That act of coming together not only gives them pleasure; it also gives him pleasure. It is an act of worship in the highest sense. When we give ourselves completely to the one we live, we are really giving ourselves to God.”
XIII. Commitment: The Final Key
1. Three Things God Wants You to Remember
A. Keep your vows! Ecclesiastes 5:4-6
B. Honor the Covenant! Malachi 2:14
C. Remember the Warning! Hebrews 13:4
2. How to Stay Married For a Long, Long Time
A. Do make it a priority to spend lots of time together.
B. Do thank God for what he has given you.
C. Do reaffirm your commitment in front of your children.
D. Tell your wife you love her–and then tell her again.
E. Wives, be committed to the husband you have–not to
the husband you wish you had.
F. Take 10 minutes each day for uninterrupted talk.
G. Don’t expect to be happy all the time.
H. Do take time to praise each other.
I. Remember: Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.
“All that I have tried to say boils down to this. It is possible to be married and happy for a lifetime. And it is not only possible, it is worth the effort that a good marriage requires. No one ever said being married was easy, but the good things in life never are.
We may win no medals for staying married in an age of divorce but that doesn’t matter. Staying married to someone you love is its own reward. And lest we forget, a special reward is promised to those who are faithful to the end. Since marriage was God’s idea, those who live by his rules will never be disappointed. That may not answer every question, but it ought to be enough to keep us happy and married for many years to come.”