Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Marriage Enrichment

This past weekend my husband and I participated in the Focus on Marriage Simulcast presented by Focus on the Family. I have always pursued teaching and encouragement to enrich my marriage. After my relationship with God, my relationship with my life-mate is the most important relationship I have. I have to confess, second to the Bible, that I am a book junkie. I find no shame in seeking Godly wisdom through the wisdom of others, Biblically based wisdom, whether that be in deepening my walk with Jesus, expanding my prayer experience, enriching my marriage, parenting my children, enhancing my friendships, etc. etc. I enjoy retreats, group Bible studies, and the now popular simulcasts. I just love growing.

Back to the marriage simulcast. In attending the Focus on Marriage event, I was reminded of an older couple at what was our home church of many years. Gary Chapman's book, "The Five Languages of Love", had recently been released and our church had a couples night planned focusing on this book. Each couple, individually, were asked to complete a questionnaire based on this book that would help us determine our love languages, what most spoke love to us. After we completed the questionnaire we were to join with our spouse and compare and discuss our "love language". In attendance were couples who'd been married less than a year all the way to a few couples who'd been married 60 or more years. Awesome! I looked over and one of the couples, a small almost frail couple, who'd been married 64 years were all cuddled beside each other with their sweet heads nearly touching as they discussed their "love language". My heart was so deeply touched and it has always remained a visual reminder to me that we should never, ever stop working to have the most fulfilling, glorious marriage possible. You'd think that after 64 years many couples would think they knew all there was to know about one another and having a good marriage, but this sweet couple felt their marriage, that had stood the test of time, was worth their efforts to keep it alive and fresh. This little couple have since gone home to be with their Jesus, but they left a mark on this lady before doing so.

A couple of quick thoughts from the simulcast, without much elaboration.

What I am writing will most likely not be a direct quote. I can't write fast enough during a meeting to claim it was an exact quote. =) I am going to share a few of my perceptions from what a couple of the speakers said.

Gary Thomas, who wrote, "Sacred Marriage", brought to us the premise that God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy. That could stop you dead in your romantic tracks. I don't believe he was saying God doesn't want us to be happy, but that marriage has a far more profound purpose. It is in marriage and the challenges we face within that context, that our truest flesh natures can be exposed. We are confronted with our attitudes, selfishness, weaknesses, insecurities, impatience and the list could go on forever. As we recognize these in the light of day, being our marriage, if given the "go ahead", God can begin to, as my friends Rob and Tina would say, sandpaper off those rough edges .

Another powerful thing from Mr. Thomas, was this idea...I got married "to be loved". God put me in marriage "to learn how to love".

Beth Moore also spoke at the conference. One of the things that stood out to me from her talk was that in our desire for a "great marriage" we often miss the "good in our marriage". She said we have an infatuation with idealism, causing us to overlook and miss the blessings of the "good". She also reminded us not to be passive about our marriage, fight for it when necessary.

Del Tackett spoke on creation and God's divine mark on marriage. But one thought he left with wives was that our husbands need our respect like we need their love. He pointed out, too, that we wives should not "mother" our husbands saying that it wasn't honoring or respectful to do so. My husband is not one that I could presume to "mother", but it's always a good reminder. He already had a mother and she and his dad blessed me with a wonderful man to be my love and covering.

One last thought for us wives from "Enhancing Your Marriage", a women's Bible study by Judy Rossi. A wife is essential to her husband and to all he was meant to become. Again, not as his mother, but as his help-meet and his balcony person (the person standing in the balcony of your life cheering you on-Joyce Landorf Heatherley, "Balcony People").

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