Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales || Spoken Word

I am including this excellent video by Jefferson Bethke to my “The Marriage Triangle” tab. Listen as he vocalizes his poem, “Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales.” This is my favorite section:

So read Ephesians 5 whether husband or wife,
wife honor your husbands, husbands give up your life.

Just like Jesus gave Himself up for His bride the church,
So men lead by serving, by putting her first.

So die to self put your flesh on a life sentence,
Because you don’t fall out of love, as much as you fall out of Repentance.

Sex. Marriage, & Fairytales

By Jefferson Bethke

If you cannot view the video for any reason, go here to read the entire “Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales” lyrics.

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The Marriage Box

Reblogged from The Isaiah 53:5 Project.

Marriage Box

Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc. The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage. Love is in people. And people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage. You have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

Please visit The Isaiah 53:5 Project to read more great blog posts.

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THE MARRIAGE TRIANGLE: Two Lives Become One #lovewins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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In the Old Testament, God created the covenant to be a binding promise between two parties. A person in a covenant becomes identified with another person, and there is a supernatural co-mingling of two lives.¹ In the marriage covenant, the two separate lives of the man and woman become one as they are pronounced husband and wife.

Marriage as instituted by God

In the Old Testament, we read in Genesis 2:23-24:

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

In the New Testament, Jesus reiterates this covenant message in Matthew 19:4-6:

Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

God created marriage to be a covenant—a bond—as the way to fully unite man and woman as husband and wife. They are to stick together like Super Glue!1

Genesis 2:24 could be paraphrased as follows:

For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall stick like glue to his wife (forcibly intimating that nothing but death should be allowed to separate them) and they shall (become one flesh as they) enter into a covenant relationship.²

What does this mean in practical terms?

When two people commit to spend the rest of their lives together in a covenant marriage, they are in effect promising to do more than their best to serve each other. Did you get that? More than their best.

Contrary to the belief that it is a 50/50 partnership, marriage needs to be 100/100. Both husband and wife need to give 100 percent all of the time. I read this the other day and really like it:

Marriage is not 50-50; divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It isn’t dividing everything in half, but giving everything you’ve got! —Dave Willis

Life is hard–much can happen on any given day, like work, family issues, sickness, and money problems. All of this “stuff” can easily take our focus off of the Lord and therefore off of each other. Marriage is not the easiest thing, but it is so satisfying when both the husband and wife are trying their best to give 100 percent of themselves.

Some days the wife may need to serve her husband more than on other days because his day isn’t going so well. Something happened at work that he feels is threatening his job. Or maybe the car needs some major repair work done and he is worried about finding money in the budget to get it fixed.

On other days, the husband may see how his wife is having a difficult time with something so he needs to give more of himself by trying to help her. Maybe one of the kids got in trouble at school. Perhaps she received the test results back from the doctor that confirms a serious health problem.

Any of these issues are difficult and can easily cause such distress that we either internalize our feelings or we can lash out at our spouses in frustration. Keeping the details to ourselves can be a huge problem because if we can’t say out loud what is bothering us, our spouse may think they have done something to bother the other. If we treat our spouse harshly because of something that is bothering us—and that “thing” is nothing your spouse has done—your spouse will start resenting you for that ill treatment.

This is where the 100/100 concept comes in.

When either husband or wife is feeling low about some situation, the other spouse can be supportive just by listening, even if it takes time away from another thing that was planned or needs to be done. Sometimes just talking about the issue out loud takes some of the pressure off. Other times some brainstorming between the couple helps focus on a point that wasn’t considered before because of the stress of the situation.

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Let’s not forget that there is one more party involved in our marriages: our Lord Jesus Christ.

How great would it be if the first thing husbands and wives did was pray together for wisdom and discernment to figure out the situation as God intends? This doesn’t mean that God will zap an answer to you right away, but the process of prayer can de-stress you so that you can think about things less passionately, more rationally.

Empathy and understanding can help alleviate stress about a situation. Humor can also be used at times. I read a great article at the Focus on the Family site titled, Bringing Laughter into Your Marriage by Les and Leslie Parrott. This is an excerpt from that article:

Let’s face it, no spouse is immune to stress. We all feel like we’re coming unglued at times. And wise experts agree that the best way for anyone to cope is with a good laugh. “Humor makes all things tolerable,” said preacher Henry Ward Beecher. “Laugh out loud,” says Chuck Swindoll. “It helps flush out the nervous system.” On another occasion Chuck said, “Laughter is the most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity.” Arnold Glasgow said, “Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.” The point is that even when you’ve had a tough day, or should we say especially when you’ve had a tough day, you need to laugh. It will help wash away the stress and keep the two of you together when you’re coming unglued. So help each other to find something funny even when it’s not easy.³

The orange theory

When Rick and I were in premarital counseling, our pastor used this illustration to show how God created husbands and wives to complete each other. If you take an orange and rip it in half with your hands (instead of cutting it), you have two pieces with very jagged edges. That orange can only fit back together one way—by fitting those uneven edges together exactly. That’s the way husbands and wives work together within marriage. The strengths of one may be the weaknesses of the other, but fitted together—in other words, by working together—they can solve a problem or complete a task that one of them may not have been able to do alone.

Let’s take a look at this in practical terms, using one of the examples I wrote about above. A husband tells his wife that their car needs some major work and he is worried about finding money in the budget for the repair. These days the first thought is usually to just use a charge card to pay for it, however, this couple has agreed to use cash whenever possible.

After praying together about this, his wife suggests several ways they can save enough money. She will buy groceries only on sale for a time. Or maybe she has been stocking up on sale items so that now she can prepare meals with what is in the pantry and the freezer. He might suggest carrying his lunch from home for a few weeks rather than buy lunch out, and even eliminate their once per week dinners out. Perhaps they have been able to afford manicures or frequent hair appointments for her, but she offers to stop those for a time, thereby putting that money toward the car repair.

Did you see how well the jagged edges of their orange fit together? Because the husband’s thoughts were initially so centered on the situation, he couldn’t immediately see how to handle it. After praying together, husband and wife together came up with good and workable ideas to save more money.

How not to keep score in your marriage

It is natural for us humans to keep score. Most of us want to know that we’re not the only ones putting forth a lot of effort. Husbands and wives need to avoid keeping score as to which one is getting more and which is getting less. Some days the husband will need to give more in serving his wife, while on other days the wife will need to do more to serve her husband.

Alvin, married 63 years, said, “Don’t consider a marriage a 50/50 affair! Consider it a 100 percent affair. The only way you can make a marriage work is to have both parties give a hundred percent every time.

And Kay, married 54 years, said, “… anybody that goes into marriage saying, ‘Oh, this is going to be 50/50,’ it doesn’t happen. You can’t live in the same house with the same person all those years and always divide it down the half.4

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In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he reminds them to:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Philippians 2:3-4

I think all married couples would do well to keep this in mind as they learn to give of themselves, their time and their God-given talents to helping each other.

One plus one equals one may not be an accurate mathematical concept, but it is an accurate description of God’s intention for the marriage relationship. —Wayne Mack


1 PreceptAustin.org: The Covenant of Marriage
2 CovenantMarriage.com: What is a Marriage Covenant
³FocusOnTheFamily.com: Bringing Laughter into Your Marriage
4 FamilyLife.com: The 50/50 Myth

 

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17 Years and Counting

As you know, I’ve been trying to keep my computer/online time to a minimum for several months. Today is Rick’s and my 17th anniversary, so I’ve chosen to repeat last year’s anniversary post with a few pertinent changes.

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Today marks 17 years since Rick and I were married in a covenant ceremony. Like all married couples, we have had our ups and downs, but through it all one thing never wavers: the love God instilled in us for each other. He brought us together and only through Him are we complete. You can read the story of our meeting and courtship here.

This collage shows only a few of the memories we’ve shared over the years.  Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are ever thankful for each other. Even though my activities these days are dependent on how I feel and how often I can get out to do things with Rick, we still have a strong love and that certain peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). As long as we continue to look to Jesus as the head of our marriage and our eternal Hope, He continues to bless us beyond anything we can imagine!

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To my beloved Rick, the other half of my orange: I love you so much! Your continuous and undeniable love for me are truly God’s gift to someone who has always had some trouble thinking of herself as lovable. 

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine… —Song of Solomon 6:3

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THE MARRIAGE TRIANGLE: Journey or Destination?

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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Life has lots of ups and downs. No surprise there, right? Some seasons have more valleys than mountains, but one thing God has taught me is that the journey is more important than the destination. I believe this can be applied to marriage, too.

The Destination

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Life is a journey, not a destination. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all desire perfect marriages, but that’s an unreasonable expectation. We are human. We make human mistakes. Sometimes, we take things too personally. Other times we react irrationally to something because of other things going on in our lives (or our selfish, prideful human nature gets in the way).

Put together a man and a woman—two sinful, selfish, and prideful people who are prone to making mistakes—and what do you have? A recipe for disaster, unless Jesus is at the helm.

If we start our marriages thinking we’ve already arrived, what happens when the reality of life kicks in? Many of us put so much effort into our wedding that we forget about life after the honeymoon. We go back to work to pay the bills. The car breaks down and needs some major work. We experience job cutbacks, or maybe lose our jobs. How do we pay the bills?

Here’s the thing: The journey is how we get to our destination, which is to love and serve God and each other.

If we truly look to Jesus first in our marriage, He will walk with us through this ongoing, daily journey.

In the same way that you deepen and grow in your relationship with your spouse, you need to mature in your relationship with God. It is more than a journey of feeling. It is also a journey of faith. You are in this for the long-term. Let’s finish this race well! 1

The Journey

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It is good to have an end to journey toward; 
but it is the journey that matters, in the end. 

–Ernest Hemingway

God uses marriage to mold us into His image by teaching us how to serve Him by serving our spouse.

I’ve written before about how much my life has changed since chronic pain and illness came to live with me. Summers are the worst for my symptoms because of the monsoon season and the accompanying barometric pressure fluctuations in Arizona. For me, this means 24/7 migraines for months at a time.

My sweet husband, Rick, does his best to take care of me during those times. Often there is nausea that goes along with these migraines and I just can’t eat much. I certainly do not feel up to cooking a meal. Although Rick doesn’t cook, he is content with freezer meals and entrees that microwave in minutes, or he’ll go get some fast food.

Rick has also gotten used to going places without me, something neither of us love. If we do make plans to visit friends, eat out, go for a day trip on our trike, or even go to church, there are too many times that I’ve had to tell him I just cannot go. He never makes me feel guilty or sad about it either. He serves me well by supporting me this way. We are a huggy couple, and one of his best ways of serving me is to give me a gentle bear hug when I need it most. It soothes and comforts me.

I try to serve Rick the best I can while dealing with these chronic pain issues. I remember to make the bed (almost everyday) and do my best to keep up with the laundry. On a semi-good day, I go to our local grocery store because it’s only about five miles away, and pick up foods that are easy to warm up or microwave. I often cannot do much, but I manage to keep the refrigerator, freezer and pantry stocked.

Part of the marriage journey is to learn more about about Jesus as you learn more about each other every day. You both went into your marriage with high hopes and much love. How does that translate into an everyday relationship?

Husbands and wives, what does your marriage journey look like? Are you truly enjoying learning more about each other each day?

Daily life these days is a rush to get everything done before it’s time to go to bed. It’s important to make time for each other without any distractions, including computers and mobile devices. Turn those off and turn to each other. Learn to savor each moment together. That is an important part of your marriage journey.

In the process of learning more about each other, you’ll find yourselves seeking the wisdom of Jesus as you daily put your trust in Him as the head of your marriage. And that can only improve your marriage relationship.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we who are the bride of Christ wait with great anticipation for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom. Until then, we remain faithful to Him and say with all the redeemed of the Lord,
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
(Revelation 22:20). 2


Greg Laurie, Harvest Daily Devotion, For the Long-Term.
GotQuestions.org, What does it mean that the church is the bride of Christ?

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Six Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage

This article by Dennis Rainey of Family Life contains some wonderful advice and goes along well with my Marriage Triangle series of articles which I write for TRC (The Relevant Christian).

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Six Steps for Resolving
Conflict in Marriage

By Dennis Rainey

There is no way to avoid conflict in your marriage.
The question is: How will you deal with it?

Few couples like to admit it, but conflict is common to all marriages. We have had our share of conflict and some of our disagreements have not been pretty. We could probably write a book on what not to do!

Start with two selfish people with different backgrounds and personalities. Now add some bad habits and interesting idiosyncrasies, throw in a bunch of expectations, and then turn up the heat a little with the daily trials of life. Guess what? You are bound to have conflict. It’s unavoidable.

Since every marriage has its tensions, it isn’t a question of avoiding them but ofhow you deal with them. Conflict can lead to a process that develops oneness or isolation. You and your spouse must choose how you will act when conflict occurs.

Step One: Resolving conflict requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to your differences. 

One reason we have conflict in marriage is that opposites attract. Usually a task-oriented individual marries someone who is more people-oriented. People who move through life at breakneck speed seem to end up with spouses who are slower-paced. It’s strange, but that’s part of the reason why you married who you did. Your spouse added a variety, spice, and difference to your life that it didn’t have before. 

Read the rest here, and while you’re on the Family Life site, please take the time to browse the great articles and resources there.

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The Marriage Triangle: Love and Respect

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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The Marriage Triangle:
Love and Respect

by Anna Popescu

A vital aspect of a mutually happy marriage is when a couple treats each other as God intended. God created men and women with different talents, desires and relationship needs. Husbands and wives need to honor each other by assuming the marital roles as God designed them.

Women crave love from their husbands.

Men need to feel respected by their wives.

Add “no matter what” to both of those statements!

A key element in this is the dreaded word, “submission.” I’m sure all Christian married couples have read Paul’s lessons on this, and let’s just say that many of us cringe when the Ephesians passage about this comes up in a sermon. It never fails to cause many husbands to elbow their wives when the words “submission” and “respect” surface.

So let’s review what Paul has to say on this subject in Ephesians 5:21-33, below (all emphasis is mine). This is where we learn about submission as it relates to marriage. Ladies, bear with me as I uncover several parts of this important topic. It isn’t only about us needing to submit to our husbands!

 

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

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This love and respect aspect of the marriage relationship is a huge part of biblical submission in marriage, and not just for the wives. Husbands and wives are to love and respect each other as partners in the covenant union they share with Jesus Christ.

That is what the Marriage Triangle is all about, and this is clearly shown in verse 21. Husbands and wives are to be subject to (submit to) each other.

Note that the command of verse 21 (submit to one another) actually applies to every member of the body of Christ. Paul is saying there is a mutual submission in the body of Christ that carries over into the family relationships. The husband shows his submission to the wife by his sacrificial love for her. His role is like that of Christ in John 13, where He girded Himself and washed the disciples’ feet, accepting the lowest task it was possible for Him to perform on their behalf.1

Though not submitting to his wife as a leader, a believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife. In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not.2

Now we move on to how wives are to be subject to (submit to) their husbands. Don’t stop reading yet, Ladies!

 

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Did you get that?

We wives are to be subject to our husbands as the head of our marriage, just as we are to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church (His bride). If we are believers in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we are a part of that Church. As such, we are all to submit to Jesus out of reverence and respect for Him and His position as head of the Church.

The wife shows her submission to her husband by following his leadership, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (v. 23).

The marital relationship is more intimate, personal, and inward than that of a master and slave. That is indicated in Ephesians 5:22 by the phrase “your own husbands.” The husband-wife relationship is built on an intimate possessiveness.3

I love this next part:

The verse seems to imply that it is assumed the wife would willingly respond in submission to one whom she possesses.3

Wives, you possess your husband as much as he possesses you! Have you ever thought of it that way before? Not as in a material possession. It is more in the manner of belonging completely to each other.

By the same token, husbands are instructed to love their wives.

I know; you’re probably wondering why Paul needed to tell husbands what they already know and feel: that they love their wives. But read on to see exactly how husbands are supposed to love their wives.

 

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

30 because we are members of His body.

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

The husband is to love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (verse 25). Yes, a husband loves his wife, but this is a different facet of that love, deeper and more a part of that covenant marriage relationship we share with Jesus.

A husband is to love his wife with the same selfless love that Jesus had for His bride when He willingly died for our sins. This kind of love means the husband is to cherish his wife, treating her with tenderness, treasuring her and desiring to nurture her.

First, the loving husband gives of himself. In his leadership role as head, he seeks to lead by giving of himself to his wife in ways analogous to how Christ gave Himself to His bride. Christ’s giving of Himself was personal and sacrificial. This great principle of self-giving sets the tone and points toward the many ways in which this love can be manifested and realized.

Second, Christ’s giving of Himself was for the benefit of His bride—He gave Himself up “for her.” Just so, the husband’s self-giving should be for his wife’s benefit. In short, we may speak of this love as a giving of oneself for the benefit of the other.4

 

And the wife is to “see to it that she respects her husband” (verse 33).

All of us who are believers in and followers of Jesus Christ should respect Jesus’ role as the Head of His bride, the Church. But in this verse, Paul is particularly speaking to the wives and encouraging us to respect our husbands and esteem them as the head of our marriage—just as we respect and esteem Jesus Christ as the Head of His Church.

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The respect asked of a wife recognizes the God-given character of the headship of her husband and thus treats him with dutiful regard and deference. Just as husbands have been asked to display their headship through likeness to Christ’s headship over His church, that is, through a love that cherishes and nourishes (verse 25, 28, 29), so now wives are asked to render their submission in a way that is most like that of the submission of the church to Christ, that is, a truly respectful submission because it is rendered voluntarily from the heart.

A wife’s respecting her husband and his headship therefore implies that her submission involves not only what she does but also her attitude in doing it. As with the husband, so with the wife, it is the heart’s attitude of grateful acceptance of the role God assigns to each and the determination to fulfill the particular role with all the graciousness God gives that Paul is urging on both wives and husbands in this last verse of his instruction.4

This is admittedly a hard lesson to learn when all around us society is eroding the concept of Biblical marriage as created by God.

Rick and I were talking about this recently, about how the media (especially TV) loves to portray the husband as a doofus who has no control over his household, and the wife, as the one who is in charge of the family because she always knows what is best. These are dangerous role models for men and women to follow because they are the exact opposite of what God has ordained for husbands and wives.

StLoveEachOtherCoupleEmbracingrive to stay strong in your marriage. Love each other with the kind of love Jesus has for His bride, the Church.

Husbands, love your wife as Jesus loves His Church. Wives, respect your husband just like you respect Jesus as the Head of the Church.

Here’s verse 33 once again, but I’ve emphasized certain parts to make a point:

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The point? Husbands and wives each have God-mandated responsibilities in marriage so that they will get along better and resolve disagreements in a God-honoring way.

Sure, there will be times when it will not be easy to remember how we are to Biblically treat or respond to our spouse. Those are the times to take our focus off of ourselves and the difficulty we’re going through, and instead, place that focus on Jesus Christ, the head of our marriage.


1Grace to You, “The Role of Women”

2Grace to You, “What Does it Mean to Dwell With Your Wife With Understanding?”

3GraceToYou.org, “Answering the Key Questions About the Family”

4Bible.org, “Husbands and Wives as Analogues of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21 and Colossians 3:18-19)”

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