Many couples go through a marriage ceremony but quickly forget the significance and the vows they made that day. Our vows were not a simple contract set up between husband and wife that says if you do this I will do this. This kind of view on our wedding vows leads to many couples calling “breach of contract” when one spouse doesn’t do what the other thought he or she should have. Rather, our vows are a covenant that we make before God to do what WE promised. Reminding ourselves of this is an important part of keeping our marriages on track. This is something we talk a lot about in our Married Life Essentials Event on Partnership.
Surfing the net, I came across an article in People Magazine about a tradition that Seal and Heidi Klum have put in place to remind one another of their wedding vows. Every year they have a vow renewal ceremony with their family and friends:
"It's so special to us, something we love and something our children have gotten accustomed to," Klum says. "It's like, 'Hey, Mom and Dad love each other and they get married every year!' "
Added Seal: "Each year, Heidi and I get remarried. It's a great party, but for about an hour, we go off on our own down to a private beach. We sit there with the kids and read vows to each other as the sun sets. It's a very special moment to us."
What a great way to recommit to one another and do so in front of the kids so they see what a good marriage is all about and what it takes to commit to one another. I don’t know anything else about their relationship or their lifestyle but in this area of their lives, they seem to have a great tradition. How about you? Have you ever considered renewing your vows to one another? Do you even remember you vows?
This weekend we continued our talk about faith and focused on the life of Mary the mother of Jesus (it was mother's day after all! Guys if you are just now realizing that, it's too late:). During his talk, Pastor Tom talked about the guilt we can feel as parents over how our children turn out which I think is something important for those of us who are parents to consider. We usually take the following verse as a promise or formula of how to get our kids to turn out right:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
By reading that verse it seems like all we have to do is the right training for our kids and they will turn out great. If our kids don't turn out great or get into trouble in life, then obviously there is something wrong with the parents training, right?
Well not really (thankfully)! Pastor Tom pointed out three things about that passage:
1. In this world, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. This proverb is not about guaranteeing your kids will turn out perfectly if you're perfect, nor is it about blaming yourself for the fact you are less than perfect. We live in an imperfect world.
2. In heaven, there is a perfect parent. God's actions towards us are always perfect. Yet, look at how many of His children have turned away from that love. It started in the garden of Eden! If God's perfect love towards us cannot guarantee that none of his children will ever fall away, how can we put that burden on our parenting? Kids have free will and can choose to do the wrong thing even if they know what the right thing to do is.
3. This proverb is not an individual promise but a universal principle. It is saying that 9 times out of ten if you teach a child the right thing they will end up doing the right thing. Sometimes it takes a while to sink in (it says when they are OLD they will not depart from it).
So we don't need to beat ourselves up as parents or tell ourselves that our teachings are wasted if our kids are not following them. None of the things we teach our kids are wasted. It just means they are not yet applying them but one day they may start. I don't know about you but it is a relief to know that the things I am trying to teach my kids are things they may use later in life even if they don't seem to "get it" or want to follow it now.
To help you understand how to train your child we have resources here at Saddleback Church like our parenting classes
and to help you with your marriage in the parenting years, we have a class for Parents of K-5 kids
(TOMORROW NIGHT) and one for New Parents just starting out. Check the Events Calendar
for future classes and resources.
This past weekend, Pastor Rick told the story of some fisherman who had tried everything to catch fish and had come up empty. Yet on that same day, they caught one of the biggest haul of fish ever because of their trust in and obedience to Jesus. There were several points that Pastor Rick covered that have a direct impact on our married lives. For many, marriage can become a place of extreme emptiness and just as the disciples had to invite Jesus into their boat and then obey what he told them to do, we need to do the same when it comes to our marriages. Here are some ideas on how this might apply to our marriages.
Give Jesus Complete Access to My Life
Have you given Jesus complete access to your marriage? Have you turned over complete control to him? When it comes to relationships, especially couple relationships, we have a hard time giving God access because we know that doing so would involve a level of commitment on our part. When we give Jesus complete access to our relationship we know that we can’t hold anything back, including our own faults and the things we are holding onto as “rights” that we feel we deserve. When we give Jesus complete access it means we completely surrender everything to him. Surrendering means that we give up our demands and our “expert” opinion on whose fault it is that things are going wrong and we ask Jesus to do the real inspecting and diagnosis of what the problems are.
As you look at your marriage right now, have you completely surrendered the issues and the results to God? Or, are you telling God “I know you are God but I know my relationship better than you do?” What hurts or fears do you need to give him complete access to?
Admit My Efforts Aren’t Working
Admitting we can’t fix something or that everything we have tried has failed is a difficult thing especially when it comes to our relationships. Many of us think that it would work if our partner would just “get with the program.” So we keep doing the same things over and over again expecting different results which I believe is the definition of insanity! Yet to admit that I am wrong feels too vulnerable and feels like justifying all the things I feel my spouse has done to me. As a result many couples live life doing the same things over and over again refusing to change until the other person does first.
As you look at your marriage, what things are you stubbornly holding on to that just are not working in your relationship? What do you need to do to stop doing those things? What confessions do you need to make to God and your spouse?
Obey Whatever Jesus Tells Me to Do
Obedience is a word people try to avoid in life. It feels like a power play or that someone else gets to tell us what to do. Yet that is exactly what we are called to do as followers of Christ. Since he is God, anything short of obedience really is trying to be God in your own life. When it comes to marriage, many of us don’t really want to obey what Jesus tells us to do. Sure we know we need to love our spouse and be faithful to our vows, but Jesus obviously did not have our spouse in mind when he said that. He couldn’t possibly ask me to obey what he would have other “normal” couples do because our marriage is anything but normal. The reality is that God created marriage and he knows your situation and that doesn’t change what he asks you to do. Working with many couples I can tell you that the core issues are usually the same the details are the only thing that is different. So why not obey the one who created marriage and try his way out?
As you look at your marriage, what is keeping you from obeying what God has asked you to do? What is the worst thing that could happen if you attempted to be the spouse he has asked you to be? What is one thing you can do today to show your desire to obey as it relates to your marriage?
Expect Jesus to Turn Things Around
Most people don’t obey because they don’t really trust that the results will work out the way they think they should. Deep down we fear that God will leave us in a lifeless marriage that tortures us for the rest of our lives. Jesus does not ask us to obey because he wants to torture us. He asks us to obey because he knows what is best and he sees the big picture while we only see now. I can’t tell you how many marriages that have been turned around and people would aspire to today that hung on one decision to follow God’s guidelines and work hard to make it work. If those couples had decided to throw in the towel at that moment they would have missed the joy they are experiencing today. They expected that Jesus could turn their marriages around and they lived as if they believed that to be true.
In you own marriage, do you trust that Jesus can turn things around? Or, do you feel your problems are too big for him to handle? In what areas do you struggle with trusting Jesus? Why?
If we are to have marriages that reflect God’s original intent, then we need to invite Jesus into the boat of our marriages, give him full access to our lives, obey him in every way, and then expect him to turn things around and trust that he will. If you find yourself in a place of struggling in your own marriage, please don’t give up! Take advantage of all the things we have to offer you at Saddleback Church. Attend our Married Life Classes and Events. Come see one of our counselors. Do whatever it takes to turn your marriage around. It is worth it!
First, the same rules that apply to face to face meetings should apply to Facebook. You would never have ongoing dates with members of the opposite sex to discuss your life and marital problems in public would you? ( If you answered yes than that is for another article). Of course not because you know that is not right. Also, it would cause all kinds of problems with your spouse and with others who would see you and suspect you might be having an affair. The same is true for Facebook or any other social media service. Just because no one can see you doesn’t mean it is ok.
Second, if you are writing things you would never want your spouse to see, stop it now. Have an open check and balance system in your marriage when it comes to Facebook. Allow your spouse access to your account. Only use your account when your spouse is in the room. Let your spouse know who all your friends are and even have the freedom to check your email account when you get updates. If you are not willing to be open you are probably already having conversations you shouldn't have.
Third, don’t friend old flames or people you dated in the past. It is probably a good idea to not even have the temptation around. You can completely avoid the temptation by just not “friending” people who could step into this kind of role in your life.
Fourth, avoid the instant chat feature and texting. If the only form of communication is to write on the other person’s wall, you avoid the long drawn out conversations that feel private that can lead to the kinds of emotional affairs described above.
Finally, limit your online social media time. Don’t get consumed in living in the never ending, always on world of social media. Only check your Facebook page once a day when your spouse is present. Don’t substitute real live face to face relationships for online virtual relationships. You have a real life to live!
Hopefully you will consider the potential hazards of allowing social media to dominate your life and do everything you can to protect your marriage and family. I haven’t met a person yet who said they went on Facebook to find someone to have an affair with. It is something that snuck up on them and happened subtly over time. They thought they were immune when they first started so just be wise in how you engage and interact with these services. While you may never act on or have an affair, having anyone that you compare your spouse to in an unfavorable way will negatively effect your marriage
Anyone who had children knows that the pace of life picks up when you add kids. Life is already moving at a fast clip, but when you add kids to the mix, time seems to speed up. Our kids have school work they must do that involves our attention (why do we still have to do homework as parents?), sports or other activities that we must prepare them for and attend, and the everyday events of family life that take up our time. In all the rush of trying to raise children and take care of all of their needs, many of us struggle with what to do in our marriages.
For many couples the marriage just takes a back seat to family life. We just figure it is not our season right now. After all, the kids need to be our priority. When the kids move out and go to college, then we can reconnect. I know this sounds funny but it is reality for many couples. That is why you see so many couples who wake up one day and find the kids have gone and they wonder who this person is that they are married. There has to be a better way to integrate the health of our marriage into the craziness that is family life.
To help with this transition in your marriage, we have put together an event called: Married Life Transitions: Parents of Grade School Kids. This event is designed to help you understand what is really going on in the head of your spouse as it relates to the kids and your marriage. Believe it or not, men and women think very differently about these things and if we understand what is happening for our spouse during this transition we can maintain a healthy marriage, model for our kids what relationships should look like, and have the family life we always wanted.
When you think about the fact that there is no guarantee for our kids when they grow up that they will turn out right, we need to do everything we can to "hedge our bets." What we know from research is a healthy marriage plus a healthy family plus individual choice equals the potential for a healthy kid. The only two you can control is your marriage and the family environment (you can't control your kids choices later in life no matter how hard you try). In our time together we will talk about how to shore up the two things you CAN control.
Join us by clicking the link below to register! The event is FREE!!!
May 11, 6:30-8:00pm (during kids small groups), Refinery Gym.
With the advent of new technology, things never before considered possible are now just a key stroke away. Who would have ever thought we could catch up with old friends and family to see how they are doing and what their lives are like no matter where they are located in the world? Those old high school buddies and prom dates that you always wondered what happened to them can be found with a simple search and an invite to connect as friends. It’s like a huge high school reunion without having to buy new clothes, get a make over, and lose weight. What an incredible service, right?
Well for many, Facebook has become a source of pain and caused the breakdown of their marriages and relationships. It all starts off innocently really. You find an old high school flame or someone you may have had a crush on. You become friends and see that he/she turned out great. You begin to write on each other’s walls and eventually discover the ability to live chat when you are both online at the same time. You catch up on old times and share stories about your lives now. Pretty soon you start sharing personal things about your life including your struggles, maybe even problems in your marriage, seeking advice on what to do. You start to realize this person you are talking to seems to be perfect in every way and you both struggle in your current relationships. As you commiserate together, you begin to wonder “what if?” What if we had dated beyond high school? What if we had gotten married instead of marrying our current spouse? What would life have been like? You begin to believe that all of your dreams that you left behind could have really happened if you had married this person instead. You begin to complement one another and even flirt a little. Pretty soon you both share that you have feelings for one another. The excitement of being complemented and wanted by someone else and new feelings of possibilities causes you to want to meet. Now your conversations are more hidden as you realize that if either of your spouses found out what you were talking about it could cause real conflict and of course you both care about the other person’s spouse and family and would never want to see them get hurt. The more you talk the more secretive your conversation gets and you find yourself quickly closing your chat sessions and developing codes you use with one another to let the person know the spouse is in the room. Eventually you decide to meet and without meaning to an affair happens.
I could go on with the story but you get the point. Facebook “hook ups” are happening more and more as people begin to discover this new technology. Does that mean Facebook is evil? No, not in itself. What it does mean is that you need to be aware of the dangers of entertaining a “what if” scenario and put some checks in place to guard your heart against the potential emotional connection that can happen through this and other types of social media.
Welcome to our new Married Life Website and Blog. I will be posting articles and thoughts on the topic of marriage and relationships as well as news on events and other happenings in the world of couples ministry. Feel free to comment and open a dialogue with others. I am excited to see the community that we might be able to build here online. Stay tuned...
During the 40 Days of Love we learned a lot about relationships from the things Jesus taught us in the Scriptures. I thought it would be good to look at each of the sections from Tom Holladay's book, The Relationship Principles of Jesus and see how we might begin to apply these to our marriages. We will use the six sections in the book in two posts. Feel free to comment on the blog with your own stories about how you have been applying these principles to your own relationship:1. Place the Highest Value on Relationships This one is particularly important in our society today. I did a survey of our congregation on marriage and had a list of issues that most couples face in their marriages. I asked which of the areas was the biggest problem in your marriage. The number one result, even above communication and sex, was time. It seems so simple to give time to one another and many people when asked if they spend time with their spouse would say yes, all the time:). But time is not just proximity. Time involves investment. Investment in our spouses that includes things like undivided attention, times to laugh together, slowing the pace down, catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives, sharing the things God has placed on each of our hearts, etc. If you do not have a regular time that you are connecting together as a couple, my question would be this, what truly is the highest value for you? (Hint: take a look at your calendar). 2. Love as Jesus Loves You Ahh love! This is probably the most misused and misunderstood term in the human language. We use love for all kinds of things from food to romantic love to personal preference. But when we think about love from the perspective of how Jesus loved us, it takes on a much deeper meaning. You see Jesus Christ loved us so much that he came to earth to serve. Think about that for a minute. The God of the universe could have come down wielding a scepter and demanding that we worship him, but instead he came as a servant carrying a towel to model that true love comes when we serve others. Not only that but he died on the cross for you and all your sins. He died for you and I even when we turn on him at the drop of a hat. In the same way he loved us enough to sacrifice his life and to offer forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In the same way we too are to love our spouses. If you have anything you are holding against your spouse and refusing to forgive you are saying that Jesus’ standards were too low and you know better than him. I know many people have experienced hurt in their relationships and yes there is room for proper boundaries, but it seems that many people equate forgiveness with reconciliation and feel they have to do both right away. There are major issues that need to be dealt with through the help of someone else like a counselor or pastor, but most of our issues of lack of forgiveness have more to do with our refusal to let go of what we feel our spouse owes us. How are you doing in loving your spouse as Jesus loves you?3. Communicate from the HeartCommunication is one of the biggest issues most couples report as the source of conflict in their relationships. Communication is not just about words that are spoken. It has to do also with issues of trust and honesty. For many of us we have been hurt in relationships in the past and we have made the commitment to never be hurt like that again. So rather than communicate directly and be honest with our spouse which builds trust over time, we decide to communicate in indirect means to get our needs met that we feel will protect us from getting hurt. Some of us are manipulative. We are good at giving "hints" at what we want and we communicate without using words. That way if we are ever confronted we can say with some level of honesty that we never said anything! Others of us take the route of trying to control our spouse and spend our time telling our spouse what to do and not leaving anything in the relationship up to chance so we don’t get hurt or surprised. Still others are so afraid to do anything that we just don’t communicate at all and disappear at the first sign of conflict. Then we wonder why everything happens to us and feel like a victim. Do any of these ways of indirect communication seem honest or truthful to you? If we want to love our spouse the way God asks us to, we need to communicate from our heart in open and honest ways. How well are you communicating love to your spouse?
When it comes to books on marriage there are definately a ton of resources available to couples today. But every once in a while you stumble across a book that makes you stop and think and may even change your paradigm a bit. One of those books for me was Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.
In this book, Gary attempts to set a good biblical view of marriage that is different from what we have traditionally fallen into. Instead of seeing marriage as a second class spiritual state because you weren't holy enough to remain celebate or categorizing marriage into the realm of relationships, Gary proposes that marriage could be one of the most effective places for spiritual growth to take place. His premise is this "what if God designed marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy?"
Think about that for a minute. We focus so much on our happiness when it comes to our marriage that we soon start to feel entitled to more and we begin to see our spouse as someone who drags us down instead of helping us to grow. Imagine for a minute what would happen in your marriage if you chose to allow your spouse to speak into your life and if you began to see your marriage as the best place for your character to be shaped like Christs'. What do you think it would do for your own spiritual growth? What about the growth of your marriage?
If you are looking for a good book to read, pick this one up. It is deep but well worth the read. Also, Gary did a video study for us at Saddleback on this book that you could pick up on the patio if you want to do it in your group.
We have our next MarriedLife marriage retreat coming up on March 7-9 at the Bahia in San Diego in the Mission Bay area.
This year we will be talking about learning the skills to implement Relational Intimacy and it should be a great time to get away and spend time with your spouse. As with all our retreats it is limited to the first 50 couples and we are already half full! So if you are interested you can sign up on the calendar and events page or by contacting Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.