During our Marriage Seminar in Nov 2018, Alasdair Groves (Biblical Counselor at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation – CCEF) talked about how to help our marriages reflect more on being “In This Together”. There were 3 main sessions. I’d like to review each of those sessions and what I gained from them in a series of posts. We all need reminders. Reminders like marriage is more than filling the void of being alone. Marriage is more than satisfying the flesh of sexual desires. Being together in marriage is more than dividing the tasks to make sure things get done, more than tag-teaming who’s driving the kids to their activities. Eventually, we all come to understand that marriage is harder than we initially thought. There are those moments when you aren’t sure what to do to move forward.
The good news is that marriage is God’s design and God has a good agenda for our marriage. God cares about you and your marriage more than you may realize. When both persons in the marriage understands His agenda and mission, we are better equipped to endure. We are better to work at conflict and respond to our spouse differently. If one of the persons in the marriage doesn’t understand or follow God’s agenda and mission, it’s really tough. Prayer, fasting, godly counsel, and living your own life according to God’s ways are steps you can take. We’ll talk more about the hope for marriage in a later post.
First of all, Alasdair shared that God’s agenda is to make us like Him. For example, marriage helps us experience oneness such as there is deep oneness in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Marriage helps us experience that true fellowship of being on the same team and the same “page”. As followers of Christ, we are daily being formed to be more and more like Him in the way we think, act, and respond. This process involves change because we are not yet perfect in reflecting Christ. God uses all sorts of things to help us in this change process including our marriage. Sometimes, there are pivotal circumstances in our life and other times they are “ordinary” moments. All of them are opportunities to work on change if we are ready to see them as opportunities to learn, love, and grow. However, this process of change isn’t always delightful. The change that we need isn’t always on the top of our to-do list nor on the top of our want list. That’s why conflict can arise. The spur in “spurring one another on to good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24-25) often hurts.
We must not see our spouse as the enemy. We must not see conflict as something to be avoided. Conflict is an opportunity to know our spouse better so we can love our spouse better. We often don’t see conflict with this agenda in mind. At the heart of conflict, our spouse is sharing their heart and their desires as well as we are sharing our heart and our desires. Frustration and discouragement and resentment ensues when the conflict is centered around our selfish agendas or our failure to hear our spouse’s heart in how we may need to change in how we are loving (or not loving) them. It’s in those moments that we are not experiencing God’s plan of oneness and deep fellowship.
So, we need to approach the conflict as though there is a hopeful way to resolve. We need to show respect by listening to the other perspective as though God is working to bring deeper fellowship and deeper oneness. When we truly care about something, we will want to learn more about it. Love drives us towards knowledge. The better you know more about the other person, the more you understand their trials, conflicts, and habits. The better you know more about the other person, the more you are able to discern what is going on and how to love them. So, it’s how you handle conflict is what matters.
Here are some great questions asked at the seminar:
What are some common frustrations I have in our relationship?
What is my agenda for our marriage?
What is my attitude about our conflicts?
Pastor of Family and Adults