Archives For Marriage

We all know that women are very different then men. However, we don’t always appreciate it.

Over the last several years I have watched my wife prepare for birthday parties, holiday seasons, or other special events. She, like many women, gives considerable time and attention to the details. In particular she works to ensure that the colors, design, and even the most minute matters are covered. I’ve seen gum balls color-coded, paper cut outs, cup cakes and napkins match, balloons, sparkly soda, snow sprinkles on a red table cloth, swirly straws, and even a big metal bucket filled with ice to so people will feel “festive” when they get their drink. This is what women do. Men on the other hand, we think function. We reuse our forks, wipe our chin on our sleeves, and pass on the straws. We skim past the details without noticing.

In the past I have noticed the details and asked, “why?” My wife lovingly instructed me that it is an expression of creativity, joy, and love. It is festive.

While struggling to pull this type of thing off my self, I have come to appreciate it. What’s more, I’ve come to baptize it into the spiritual realm so as to love my wife more, appreciate our differentness, and marvel at God’s design.

If you were to comb through your Old Testament you would find that God is a God of detail. You have chapters and chapters of detail about the tabernacle in Exodus. We have dimensions, colors, types, and all other specifics. Like the detail that my wife expends I can zoom past these. I understand the big picture and pass on through to the next chapter. I understand the expressions. I understand the expressions?

The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ. The types and shadows of the Old Testament ultimately point forward to Jesus (1 Cor. 5.7; 1 Cor. 10; Lk. 24). The chapters of description of the tabernacle and the temple demonstrate the infinite beauty, holiness, and varied complexity of Jesus. When God speaks of these symbols he showcases his love for the glory of Christ. God goes through great detail to construct the shadows in order to serve the substance (Jesus).

Therefore, when I look at the frills, the colors, the designs, the Pinterest Boards, the sketches, and the actual parties, I can marvel at the way in which my wife loves the person she is honoring. This reminds me of how our Father loves to honor our glorious Savior. Far from zooming past the details we can spend a moment to marvel at these reflections of creativity that express love. We will find ourselves appreciating the way our wives honor others while seeing the Father express his love for Jesus.

Wise and helpful diagnosis here from Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect? He is noting how often a couple will ask, “What happened to us? How in the world did we end up here?” The answer is not acute but a chronic problem.

It feels to them that they have driven into some kind of marital fog. It feels that what was once bright and sunny has suddenly gone dark. But nothing has been sudden. The changes of their marriage have taken place in progressive, little steps. In those unremarkable moments that occur in every marriage, wrong thoughts, desires, words, and actions changed the character and direction of their marriage; they took place in little moments, and no one was paying attention.

We all do it.

It’s not that we suddenly quit loving one another. No, that’s not what typically happens. Marriages don’t typically change with an explosion. Marriages typically change by the process of erosion. Even where marital explosions take place, they usually take place at the end of a long process of erosion. The movement of a marriage from an active commitment to an active lifestyle of unity, understanding, and love rarely takes place in one step. Rather, this movement takes place in ten thousand little steps.

The problem is that as these changes are taking place we tend to be asleep at the wheel. What we once committed to value and protect has progressively become the thing we take for granted. What we were once deeply appreciative of, we have become used to having over the long haul. The person that was so much the focus of our affection and attention has morphed into little more than the person that we live with—you know, a part of our environment and daily schedule. (Tripp, What Did You Expect?)

Sound words for marriages plagued by isolationism.

Marriage really is a human covenant of companionship. God wasn’t so much giving Adam a physical helper for the work in the garden as he was giving him a companion.

God knew that he had created a social being, and because of Adam’s social hardwiring, it was not good for him to live without the companionship of one made from him and made like him. You could argue that this is the most basic reason for marriage. God created a lifelong companion for Adam, and his relationship with Eve would exist on earth as a visible reminder of God’s love relationship with people and as the God-ordained means by which the earth would be populated as God designed.

So the character and quality of the friendship between a husband and wife always functions as an accurate measure of the health of their marriage. It is also an accurate barometer of trust. When trust is present between two people, their appreciation and affection will grow, and as these things grow, friendship flourishes. Tripp, What Did You Expect?

I wrote an article for the Ligonier Blog on the gospel and marriage. Here is the intro and summary:

When a new leader is appointed in an organization change is inevitable. The incoming boss will set policy, establish tone, and reflect an attitude in their organization. The same is true for our marriages. The new leader I am referring to here is not a new husband but rather the true husband, The Lord Jesus Christ.

We know from the Scriptures that a Christian marriage is never simply a union of two people but two people united together in Jesus Christ. This is another way of saying that Jesus is our head, the Lord and the life-giver of our marriage. When a couple embrace the truth of the gospel, whether in conversion or sanctification, there are always corresponding changes associated with Jesus being the head of the marriage. Below are three of the more common changes that Christ works into a marriage as he rules it through the gospel.

The three changes are:

1. From Selfishness to Service
2. From Laziness to Engagement
3. Self-Righteousness to Humility

You can read the rest of the article here.

It seems that everyone has an opinion about Gay Marriage, and these opinions are rarely ambivalent. Christians have (and rightly so) been outspoken in their opposition to a redefinition of marriage. This recasting of the institution of marriage is not, we would argue, a progressive and healthy advancement but rather a disastrous detour from what biblical, therefore, right and good.

At the same time and while marriage is on the front burner, particularly the undermining of God’s plan for it, let me ask a question. Are Gay and Lesbians the only ones who undermine God’s plan for marriage?

The answer is, “Of course not!” Just because you are hetero-sexual does not mean that you are reflecting God’s plan for marriage. You don’t get a pass just on marriage because you are not Gay. The basis of a marriage reflecting God’s plan is how it reflects the gospel. In other words a marriage is reflective of God’s plan in so far as it reflects the marriage between Jesus the husband and the church the bride.

This is where it gets quite personal for us inside the Christian camp. God’s plan for marriage includes the following:

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We have all heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This may be good advice for elementary school children but it is not preferred for husbands.

Am I saying, “Feel free to insult your wife.” Hardly. Instead I am saying that we need to try harder, look deeper, pay more attention.

Along these lines Timothy Witmer writes to husbands in his book Shepherd Leader At Home, (p.40):

You should thank her just for her willingness to have hitched herself to you!…There are plenty of (other) things you can say to build up your wife. When is the last time you complimented her appearance? When is the last time you thanked her for all she does in taking care of you and the children? Even more important is taking the opportunity to praise her for her character qualities. Be sure to be specific. The writer of Proverbs 31 was very specific about the praiseworthy traits of an excellent wife. She is praised for everything from being a good seamstress to being a good businesswoman. However, the summary statement focuses on the most essential thing. ‘Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’ (Prov. 31.30)

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Many times married couples struggle with communication. Whether it is because of laziness, selfishness, or distraction, we take our eyes off of the proverbial ball named romance. The way back is always intentionality, transparency, and consistency.

As I was thinking about this is my own marriage I came across this quote from Theodrick Bland. He was engaged in battle during the American Revolution. He wrote his wife and what survives is a clinic for us in written and verbal communication. Take note men. This is gold.

Writing his wife Martha in 1777 from the battlefield in New Jersey he said,

….my dear, when you are writing, write of nothing but yourself, or at least exhaust that dear, every dear subject, before you make a transition to another; tell me of your going to bed, of your rising, of the hour you breakfast, dine, sup, visit, tell me of anything, but leave me not in doubt of your health…Fear not, yes ‘you will again feel your husband’s lips flowing with love and affectionate warmth.’ Heaven never means to separate two who love so well, so soon; and if it does, with what transport shall we meet in heaven? (Meachem, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power), p.90

Notice how he wants the details, the particulars. He wants to enter into her narrative and see and enjoy it as he enjoys her. These details may seem mundane in our own day-today lives but they are not. And how can they be? They have your Love’s fingerprints and fragrance upon them! Therefore value them, ask of them, speak of them, and write of them! This will aid communication and kindle romance in your marriage. It may also help explain why your wife loves to get the details from your life as well.

In his very helpful book on marriage What Did You Expect? Paul David Tripp nails one of the fundamental issues not only of marriage but of the human experience. We do well to listen and think through this:

One of the most tempting fallacies for us–and for every human being in this fallen world–is to believe that our greatest problems exist outside of us rather than inside us.

It’s easy to fall into thinking this way, because we have a lot of material to work with. We do live in a broken world where things don’t operate as was intended. Every day is filled with difficulties and obstacles of some kind. We live with flawed people, and our lives will be complicated by their brokenness.

Despite this, the Bible calls us to humbly confess that the greatest, deepest, most abiding problem each of us faces is inside, not outside, of us. The Bible names that problem-sin.

Because sin is self-focused and self-serving, it is antisocial and destructive to our relationships. Here’s where this goes: it requires each of us to say that our greatest marital problem exists inside us, not outside us. —Paul David Trip, What Did You Expect? pp. 73-74

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 Jn. 3.16)

What is love? In short, love is joyfully and willfully sacrificing yourself in the service of others for the purpose of seeing them blessed. This is what we see in the gospel and this is what Christians endeavor to do as we respond to the gospel. The Gospel is the most heart-melting and liberating truth. It models and motivates true love.

The type of love we have in the gospel is total acceptance even in light of full disclosure. God knows how sinful we are but accepts us eternally based upon the doing and dying of Jesus.

As has been said by others before, “We are more sinful than we can ever have imagined but we are more loved than we can ever have hoped.”

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With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job.

There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.

I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.

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Can you imagine a husband making a funny joke and then, at the punchline landing a solid jab to his wife’s shoulder? Of course not. It’s out of place (and perhaps domestic abuse). However, in the context of a male friendship such behavior is widely practiced and acceptable. What’s the difference? (I’m about to get profound here…) Simply, women are different then men. Husbands and wives are different. And this is a good thing, something to be celebrated.

However, it is also apparently an evasive truth. One of the most common non-spiritual, basic, counseling I give to a husband is: don’t treat your wife like a guy. Believe it or not, men seem to forget this fact about as often as we leave our dirty socks on the floor. One of the chief areas this is seen is the area of romance. Many men think that they can woo their wives by treating like men. We think that we can just snap our fingers or just jump right to physical intimacy without any regard for emotions.

Guys, this doesn’t work.

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Doing Things Together Apart

Erik Raymond —  October 5, 2011

It was about 13 years ago. On the other end of the phone line I heard my wife say something that I was quite unprepared for: “I cannot believe you got your own email address. First this, then what?”

You may remember that prior to the year 2000 many people (not all) did not use email as a primary communication tool. This was certainly the case for us; we had previously shared an address. This does not lesson my wife’s point however. She was concerned about any wedges in our relationship, however subtle that would have the potential for creating separation. As I look back I am thankful for her alarm.

One troubling observation that I have repeatedly made as I’ve observed married people is the tendency to live lives together apart. This occurs when people are united on paper but in practice they are two individuals. While they may share an address they are living very much separate lives. This is a pattern I have noticed among Christians and non-Christians, as well as people who are young (20′s) or older (60′s); doing things apart together does not seem to discriminate.

What does this look like?

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Can you imagine a husband making a funny joke and then, at the punchline landing a solid jab to his wife’s shoulder?

Of course not. It’s out of place (and perhaps domestic abuse). However, in the context of a male friendship such behavior is widely practiced and acceptable.

What’s the difference? (I’m about to get profound here…) Simply, women are different then men. Husbands and wives are different. And this is a good thing, something to be celebrated.

However, it is also apparently an evasive truth. One of the most common non-spiritual, basic, counseling I give to a husband is: don’t treat your wife like a guy. Believe it or not, men seem to forget this fact about as often as we leave our dirty socks on the floor.

One of the chief areas this is seen is the area of romance. Many men think that they can woo their wives by treating like men. We think that we can just snap our fingers or just jump right to physical intimacy without any regard for emotions.

Guys, this doesn’t work.

Continue Reading…

In his very helpful book on marriage (What Did You Expect?) Paul David Tripp nails one of the fundamental issues not only of marriage but of the human experience. We do well to listen and think through this:

One of the most tempting fallacies for us–and for every human being in this fallen world–is to believe that our greatest problems exist outside of us rather than inside us.

It’s easy to fall into thinking this way, because we have a lot of material to work with. We do live in a broken world where things don’t operate as was intended. Every day is filled with difficulties and obstacles of some kind. We live with flawed people, and our lives will be complicated by their brokenness.

Despite this, the Bible calls us to humbly confess that the greatest, deepest, most abiding problem each of us faces is inside, not outside, of us. The Bible names that problem-sin.

Because sin is self-focused and self-serving, it is antisocial and destructive to our relationships. Here’s where this goes: it requires each of us to say that our greatest marital problem exists inside us, not outside us. —Paul David Trip, What Did You Expect? pp. 73-74

A 5 Minute Sermon for Husbands

Erik Raymond —  February 21, 2007

Being a Christian husband is hard work. In fact, it is impossible to do on your own. The requirements of modeling the husbandry of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives is nothing short of staggering. However, Christian men are to be encouraged with the reality that God graciously supplies the supernatural fuel to accomplish such things.

Many times in talking with guys I have found them overwhelmed with this high calling. I have given this little sermonette on responsibilities of a godly husband countless times to my friends in Christ. So I share it here with an aim towards encouragement and the glory of God.

Husbands are to Love their Wife

It is interesting that God commands the Christian man to love his wife. In Ephesians 5 we see this result from being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (5.18). So, a fruit of being controlled by God the Holy Spirit is a persistent love for our wife.

The stakes are pretty high here though. We notice that the point of reference for the Christian man is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

The Christian man is to be continually engaged in the self-sacrificing, humble, heavenly love that so characterizes the Lord Jesus Christ. This particular love is to be unique to his wife and should be so radical and counter cultural that people scratch their heads with wonder as to the motive for such a love.

I am thankful that whether I am hurting, tired, wounded, despairing, overwhelmed, rejoicing, or excited, my Savior attends to my words, needs and cares. How convicting this is to the husband who so often look right through the eyes of his wife while she expresses her needs, or worse yet judge her needs of the moment as less than worthy of whatever happens to occupy his attention. Does not Jesus’ faithfulness to his bride not convict you?

Men, I want you to do something that has been helpful to me. Every time your wife calls you, whether verbally or on the phone, think of yourself calling upon Jesus for communion. You picture your Savior attending to your needs and you likewise attend to hers.

Further this duty for Christian husbands is not conditional! We are to love our wife…regardless of how lovely or unlovely she is! For sinners like us are the model, and Jesus has loved the horrifically unlovely, and is committed to making us lovely, even through the washing by his own blood.

Husbands are to Lead their Wife

One result of the fall is the inverted headship of the husband and wife. The man is too often content to indulge his flesh and let his wife run the show. Likewise, the wife, has a desire to rule her husband (Gen. 3.16—the word carries with it the meaning of wanting to rule or master..cf. Gen.4.7). Too often this Adamic epidemic pervades the home. The Bible is clear, the husband is the leader of the home. Therefore, he is to step up and lead like a man of God. This is not a shovenistic, suppressive, or cold leading, but rather a self-sacrificing leading that is fueled by heaven and characterized by love. Simply, this leading is supposed to look like Jesus leading the church. So men, you can be confident that when you pray for God to help you be a better leader in the home, you are praying according to the will of God.

Do not overlook the fact that we are accountable for this leading. We are not just supposed to be taking things as they come standing in a passive posture. Instead, we are supposed to be out front as leaders, ever mindful of our commission, responsibility and accountability before Almighty God.

Husbands are to Learn their Wife

This too, is often overlooked. Peter, as directed by God, commands us husbands:

husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Pet. 3.7)

The word for understanding is gnosis, often translated knowledge in the New Testament. We are to know our wives and live like it.

Well this is pretty simple right? How do you get to know your wife? For starters, you can talk to her. Spend some time getting to know her. In case you have not noticed your wife does not think or feel just like you. Thank God she is different…right?! I don’t know about you but I am thankful that my wife is different than me!

Sometimes Christie and I will be talking and one of us will use the phrase ‘disconnected’. This is an alarm for both of us that we need to sit down and talk. I need to hear what is on her heart, what is affecting her. In short we need to connect, to talk, simply for me to gain some understanding as to what she is thinking about/feeling.

The other side of this is that men are to be working hard at knowing about their wife. Some examples, to consider, what kind of hobbies does your wife have? What are her interests? Favorite food, games, music, style of clothes? Brand of make-up? Type of perfume? What is she afraid of? What makes her cry? What makes her laugh? This is just a list off the top of my head, make your own list of questions :/.

I have found that it is helpful to have a file on my wife. I am a perpetual student at the University of Christie. It is helpful to always try to have your ears open to gain new clues as to who your wife is. I have a file where I write stuff down, plan things, and evaluate our time together.

Man this is hard, but it is also fun. My wife is so different than me and really it is the differences that are so attractive. So buckle up men and be committed to learning your wife so that you may more effectively lead her and more thoughtfully love her.