Masterpiece Marriage

Disicipleship Bible Studies
"Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!"

Shannon Baptist Church
101 N.
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Shannon, Illinois 61078
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written by Pastor David Wood

MAKING A MASTERPIECE MARRIAGE...EVEN IF IT IS A MESS!

Commitment | Expectations | Reconiliation | Communication | Love God's Way | Commiunicating Love | Roles of the Wife | Roles of the Husband | "What a guy has got to understand!" | Sixth Sense | Romance and Intimacy | Review

Lesson One
Commitment
Good News — You can have a masterpiece marriage!

God made one already!

When you're looking at a masterpiece painting, or masterpiece sculpture... the further you look, the more impressed...

Two observations about a masterpiece marriage.

1st observation:
I. Marriage is good!
I don't want to belabor the obvious, but God's creation of marriage was "very good."

How many marriages today are experiencing a good marriage relationship? I dare say, not many. Counselors consistently hear how horrible marriage is for many! You've probably joked with the groom at a wedding, "Well, friend, you can still run out the door. You don't have to lose your freedom." The Greek poet Palladas said, "Marriage brings a man only two happy days; the day he takes his bride to bed, and the day he lays her in the grave."(1)

Contrast that view with the Bible view.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
God blessed them. Picture that.

God said, "Very good!" So good, so worth it, so right! Why did God say "very good?" Relationships! Life is all about relationships.


2nd observation:
II. Marriage demands commitment.

Genesis 2:24


I read of a man who said to his wife right before they divorced, "Marriage shouldn't have to be work. You fall in love, get married and that's it." I think I know why that marriage ended in divorce.
Marriage takes work!

In order for you to develop a masterpiece marriage you're going to need to work at three commitments.

1. Make a working commitment to make your Marriage Permanent!

Genesis 2:24 Cleave — that means use super glue.
Your marriage must be the priority relationship over every other human relationship.

At our wedding ceremony before the minister spoke and before we said our vows, we wanted it known that the word divorce wasn't even our dictionary. It wasn't in our language. That adamant declaration has helped us through rough times throughout the years.

A large percentage of married couples in our church has experienced a broken marriage. Each of them would say that they never want anyone else to experience what they went through.
Make the choice, the commitment, to make this marriage permanent! That will require some repentance! Turning from what you think to what God thinks!

Let me give you one simple key to the working commitment of a permanent marriage.
Pray! The family that prays together stays together!

Romans 7 emphasizes that marriage is permanent.
Read Malachi 2:16 "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away." Why does God hate divorce? Answer: It injures the people God loves.

Commit to obey the Bible that your marriage is permanent. When you do, you are 80% of the way to making your marriage a masterpiece!

Here's what happens.
As long as divorce is an option, someone is insecure. When you're insecure, you focus on yourself! You will kick into your protection mode!

NEVER threaten divorce! It's cruel. It's wrong. It's selfish. It's not a game! One hurts the other, the hurts escalate.

2. Make a working commitment to obey God.
This is where the first marriage went south.
I want to challenge you to get in the habit of obeying God regarding your relationships. It won't be easy. It won't come naturally. But, when you do it will be worth it in the end!

John 13 Happy are ye if ye do these things.

Psalms 112:1 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
In order to obey God, you have to know what God says...
Psalm 1

3. Make a working commitment to die to self.

How?
1. Admit and forsake sin.
Proverbs 28:13

Say: It's not my mate's fault, it's me!

2. Humble yourself.
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
How?
Say: It's not about me, it's about my mate.

It's impossible to be humble apart from the Spirit's control.
In the next lesson we will discuss the Biblical model of Spirit controlled living.

Discussion Questions:

List Five Problems in marriages that make marriage seem bad.

What Biblical perspective could you add to help a person that says, "I've fallen out of love with my marriage partner"?


What topics would you like to see addressed in this Masterpiece Marriage Seminar?

List several suggestions about how a husband and wife can pray together.



Lesson Two
Review:
Marriage is good. ( Is your ATTITUDE right regarding your marriage. Do you see it as a good thing?)
Marriage takes work!
Committed work!
My seven year old daughter asked a question out of the clear blue. She said, "Dad what does commitment mean?" That's an important lesson for anyone to learn. I had to think carefully. I answered, "Work hard and refuse to quit." That's commitment.
Anything worthwhile having is worth working hard for and refusing to quit.
Make three commitments:
1. Commit to make your marriage permanent.
2. Commit to obey God.
3. Commit to die to self.


Expectations
What expectations did you bring to your marriage?
Do you expect to be rich? Did you think she would always agree with you?

Psalm 62:5 "My soul, wait thou only upon God for my expectation is from Him."
We're going to learn how pertinent this verse is in developing healthy relationships for God's glory.

Offenses will come! Why?

1. The fall
Genesis 3

Genesis 3:16-19 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Results of the curse:
The wife won't want to follow. Nagging Frustration
The husband won't want to face responsibility. Angry Agitation

Our sin nature shows up in a variety of ways

A newly married couple have their first house. They have a yard to mow. The wife grew up in a home where the husband always did the yard work. The yard looks horrible. She's waiting for him to notice and mow the yard. She waits some more.
Then she finally says, "You need to mow the yard."
Scenario #1 – He ignores her... eventually she does it herself.
Scenario #2 – If you want it done do it yourself.
Scenario #3 – OK OK I'll do it. Then he slams the door, grudgingly mows the yard and then gives her the silent treatment.

Which scenario do you find typical? What is the problem?
Two sinners wanting their own way. Who's going to rule?

Sin separates.
If you're experiencing a relationship that's pulling apart, ask yourself, "Where's the sin?"

2. Physiology
The way we're made. God made men and women different!
Men and women have:
Different expectations
Different needs
Different mindsets


Chart

Men / Women
Leader / Completer
Physical strength / Birthing strength
Project oriented / Relationship oriented
Objective perspective / Subjective perspective
Ego / Emotion

/ Sixth Sense
/ Feels the heart of God

We'll discuss in greater detail these differences under our discussion of the Biblical roles of husbands and wives.

"Fall Proof" your marriage

Ephesians 5:17-21
1. Check your influences.
Be Spirit controlled.


The word Filled simply means to be "controlled."
1. Present tense... continuing choice
2. Passive voice ... permissive... yield control
3. Imperative... command!
The command is to "continue to yield to God's command of control!"

How can I be Spirit filled?
*Become a child of God!
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

*Be obedient to God's revealed Word as the Spirit prompts.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:18,19
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Spirit Controlled = Word controlled

Change (Repent) from focusing on "my"{ expectations to God's expectations. Let the Word of God determine your expectations.
Live Spirit filled!

2. Check your attitude
Sing
Ephesians 5:19,20
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

3. Check your pride
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
With this point, I want to use the word check in a little different way. With point one and point two, the word check referred to examine. With point three, check means to leave it at the door.

Submit hupotasso... Willingly come under
1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one's self, obey
4) to submit to one's control
5) to yield to one's admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject

The word "submit" in the original New Testament langauge came from a Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".


Table Discussion Questions:

1. How might the young couple in each of the scenarios, handled their situation properly?


2. List 10 differences between men and women, other than physical differences.

3. What reasons can you think of for the efforts to erase the differences between men and women.

4. What part of the submission definition do you have the most difficulty with?


5. List ways Ephesians 5:21 might be helpful in your situations.



Lesson Three

Review:
Marriage is good.
Marriage takes work! (Prayer)

3 commitments:
1. Commit to make your marriage permanent.
2. Commit to obey God.
3. Commit to die to self.

Fall proof your marriage:
1. Check your influences
2. Check your attitude
3. Check your pride

A while back, an advertisement billboard read, "I will show you how to mend a broken heart. Answer – Duct tape."
Duct tape is good for a lot of things, but it won't do a thing for broken relationships. That ad shows me that those people haven't a clue of what it will take to remake a relationship.

Reconciliation– to change or exchange, making peace
Turning from animosity to companionship

"Of all the great words that the New Testament uses to explain the saving work of Christ–redemption, justification and the rest–reconciliation is perhaps the most full and expressive."

"What is reconciliation? The general idea conveyed by the Greek root from which the relevant terms are formed is that of change or exchange, and the regular meaning which these terms bear both in secular Greek and in the Bible is that of a change of relations, an exchange of antagonism for amity, a turning of enmity into friendship. To reconcile means to bring together again persons who had previously fallen out; to replace alienation, hostility and opposition by a new relationship of favour, good will and peace; and so to transform the attitude of the persons reconciled towards each other and to set their subsequent mutual dealings on a wholly new footing."

"The initiative in reconciliation may be taken either by a third party who stands outside the dispute, or by one or other of the disaffected parties themselves, either the one who gave offense or the one who took it."(2)

Two ongoing household reconciliation projects:

Reconciliation Project #1
1. Work the forgiveness triangle with God at the top (authority).

God




Offender / Offended

The offender can launch reconciliation by going to God first for forgiveness and then to the offended.

The offended can launch reconciliation by going to God first with the offense and then to the offender.

They betrayed Him. They lied about Him. They falsely accused Him. Then in a grotesque anger they scream, "Crucify Him!" They beat Him. They spit upon Him. They stripped Him. They humiliated Him. They drove large spikes through His wrists and feet. They crucified him. They mocked Him on the cross.

Then Jesus said, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).

How could Jesus say such a thing? Father forgive them?

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you
(Matthew 6:12,14).

Nothing is more foreign to our human nature than the matter of forgiveness.

Memorize the forgiveness principle:
"Forgiveness is not between my mate and me, but between God and me."
"The letting go is not the letting go of a wrong, but rather a letting go of my "rights."

I can't begin to tell you the number of times my wife has been offended at me, or I at her. We've not felt like forgiving the other.
Then the thought hits us. Forgiveness is a matter of obedience, not feeling.

"God says I have to!"

How do you go to the offender with the offense?
Recognize a sin has been committed.
Reckon that something needs to be done about the sin.

God's justice must be satisfied by the punishment of every violation of His law. And the due penalty of our iniquity is infinitely severe: eternal damnation. Nothing we can offer God could possibly atone for our sin, because the price of sin is too high.(3)

Realize that the sin needs to be forgotten (our term) remembered no more (God's term).

Reclaim the reconciled relationship by initiating kindness.

(2 Cor 5:18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
(2 Cor 5:19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Project #2
2. Work on communication skills with the goal of understanding.

Learn to talk through issues to get to the heart of the problem.

What is the problem
What happened?

How do you feel about the problem?

What do you think about the problem?

What do you want?
Who is in control?

What does God think?

What emotion will God give?
(Love Joy Peace...)

What should be done about the problem that pleases God?

Lesson 3
Table Discussion Questions

How does what we learn of reconciliation with God affect our concept of reconciliation with our mate?

How does "Who is in Charge" affect our ability to forgive?

Why is God's forgiveness triangle absolutely essential to marriage?


What ways can you apply "Getting to the heart of the problem?"

Lesson Four
Communication

By nature we are self centered. When we're self centered, hurts will come! It seems that those who are the closest to us are the ones that hurt us the most! Words hurt!

We fall into a typical cycle.
With on going communication conflict the husband withdraws.
His thought is, "She's unapproachable. She'll argue. She'll fight. Why try."
The wife senses that withdraw.
She begins to feel insecurity, fear, anxiety. "Is he being honest with me?"
She questions his motives. She starts pushing him to change.
She lets it be known that she's unhappy. She's irritable and critical.

At this point, the husband feels like a whipped puppy.
What romance is to a woman, admiration is to a man.
He doesn't feel admired any more. He feels like a failure.

Now he feels threatened by the fear of failure in his relationship.
So, what does he do? Withdraw some more!
He withdraws to his job, his hobbies, his buddies at the bar.
He aim is to avoid the conflict. He thinks, "If we don't talk about it, the problem will go away." Yet the more he things about things at home, the more he becomes bitter! Bitterness is not anger. Bitterness is blame! "It's her fault!"

The wife sees her husband withdrawing more.
She feels inadequate. She's desperate. She begins to make plans, contingency plans to protect herself and her children. She starts keeping a list to justify her plans. She pushes him to change even more.

The couple has stopped communicating all together. No. they are communicating a lot! They are screaming "Silent Treatment" communication. The silent treatment communicates more than yelling.

What do you do to get out of this cycle?
Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

You have a choice to make.
You can focus on your rights (Old man...Selfishness)! Or you can repent and focus on a spiritual solutions (New man... Spirit controlled).
Where do you find spiritual solutions?
Turn to Ephesians 4
The last part of Ephesians 4 and the first section in Ephesians 5 reveal to us two Spiritual solutions to our communication difficulties. (Good for any relationship!)

Before we get to the Biblical communication solutions, we need to know what communication is.

What is communication?
When the speaker knows what the hearer is thinking about what he just said. It means getting on the same page with what we really intend to communicate to the hearer.

In Ephesians 4:25-32 we come across the 1st solution: Communicate God's Way

Learn to communicate through conflict the way God wants you to.
Learn to communicate Biblically by applying yourself to the five admonitions given in Ephesians 4.

Five Admonitions:
1st admonition
A. Be Candid – very honest, nothing to hide

(Eph 4:25 KJV) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

Honesty is openness, nothing to hide.

Sure, that kind of communication makes you vulnerable.
Guys especially have a hard time with this.

2nd Admonition
B. Be Current

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

After the emotion is gone, talk! Make sure the issue is settled before bed. You've heard the advice, "Never go to bed mad!"
What happens if the conflict occurs right before bed and there is still emotion involved?

If a conflict does arise right before you go to sleep (and it will!) and it cannot be resolved before your fall asleep, call a truce and establish a time when it will be completed.
How to call a truce:
Pray together and acknowledge:
1. God is in control
2. We'll obey God about this matter
3. We'll establish a time to readdress the disagreement.

Guys, have you ever noticed that your wife wants to talk just before bed? If you will listen, she will have security!

What will happen if you don't get in the habit of communicating solutions before you go to bed?

Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
So many guys start looking around. Temptation begins.

3rd Admonition
C. Be Constructive

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Edifying – building up
Grace – helpful

The value of a good argument shows up when you both realize that your goal is not to win, but to understand!

Seven Rules for a Good Clean Fight

1. Before we begin, we must both agree that the time is right.

2. We will remember that our only battle aim is a deeper understanding
of each other.

3. We will check our weapons often to be sure they're not deadly.
You Always!
You Never!

4. We will lower our voices and slow down instead of raising them and speaking faster.

5. We will NEVER quarrel in public, or reveal private matters.

6. We will discuss a cease-fire whenever either of us calls for a "halt."

7. When we have come to a solution, we will put the matter away until we both agree it needs more discussion.


Key phrases:
"Help me understand."
"Are we ready to seek solutions?"
"I was wrong for ___________ . Will you please forgive me?
"Are we o.k.?"


When you both can understand, you can see solutions that will be constructive and helpful!

4th Admonition
D. Be kind!
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

It's NEVER right to hurt with words!
There is a right way to say what you need to say.
WRONG way, "You idiot!..."
RIGHT way, "You know, I've been thinking... would it be a good idea if... (Phrase it with a question)"

5th Admonition
E. Be Conciliatory
Means having an Attitude that says, "I've already Forgiven You because God expects me to."

****Before you ever start the talk, forgive!
(What if I'm not ready to forgive??? OBEY GOD!)

If you haven't forgiven, you're probably not ready to talk.
Confess your sin of un-forgiveness as disobedience to God's command.

You know what happens? If we haven't forgiven first, when we get into the discussions our need is to communicate our hindered.
In the process we are unkind, to let the other person know we think they've been unkind.
We communicate bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice rather than love.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
We grieve the Holy Spirit

Communication through conflict starts with obedience to God's commands. The Holy Spirit will remind you of that!

Lesson 4
Study Questions
What can you do to move beyond the "silent treatment?"
List five verses addressing honesty.
What can you do to help resolve conflicts before the end of the day?
What is communication?


Lesson Five
Ephesians 5:1,2
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

2nd solution: Love God's Way

God's Love / Self Love
Suffereth long (vs 4) – "Sacrificing self to wait for God's way and timing"; patient; has the divine power to wait; long-fused; doesn't retaliate even when it has the power; gives to others not what they deserve but what God gave us!
Desires own way and own timing; suffers if can't have it's way NOW!; impatient; resents any departure from own schedule; won't wait for God to work; snaps at people. "I want it this way, and I want it NOW!" "I will teach him a lesson he won't soon forget."

Is Kind (vs 4) – "sacrificing self to meet others' needs"; passion to be active and useful in the lives of others; kind in words and deeds; doing the unexpected, undeserved, and unrewarded; "love in a 1000 act play."
Nasty and hurtful in words and deeds; acting in favor of "me" instead of others; always putting conditions on others' love. "Why should I do that for them? They didn't do it for me." "Others? It's all I can do to keep up with my wants and needs."

Envieth Not (vs 4) "Sacrificing self to cheer for or weep with others"; does not "boil, seethe, stew"; is content with God's control; doesn't compare for the purpose of looking "down on" or "up to." Envious – "To boil, to seethe"; laughs when others weep; weeps when others laugh; resents and wants what others have; wants to be what others are; displeased by prosperity in the lives of others; judges others worthiness by comparing it with his own. "It's not fair! I should have that."

Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (vs 4) – "sacrificing self to remain small"; doesn't parade to gain applause"; not proud; points to God, not self; doesn't brag or boast; doesn't inflate self.
Proud – "a wind bag"; praises self; will become anything so others will notice; brags; attempts to impress others; tries to appear to be what he is not; never admits he is wrong; mad when others are too selfish to notice; points to what he's accomplished. "Hey! Look at me!"

Doth not behave itself unseemly (vs 5) – "Sacrificing self by being a lady/gentleman"; doesn't present the love of god in an ugly, misshapen way; behaves like a lady or gentleman; proper; courteous; does the right thing at the right time.
Rude, crude, boorish; draws attention to self: loud, silly, moody, harsh, poor manners, inappropriate actions, words, timing, fashion (fads), or appearance (flashy or dowdy). "I can't help it. That's just the way I am." "I do what I want when I want to do it."

Seeketh not her own (vs 5) – "Sacrificing self by not demanding rights"; is not selfish; is a servant; GIVES! Not grasping for "my" rights, "my" time, "my" money, "my" comfort, "my" things. (Rom. 12:10: Phil 2:3)
SELFISH! – rejects God's way for own way; seeks to please self. "I demand my rights." I am right." "I want my way!" "What I want is more important than what you want!" "It's my ; I'll do what I want with it."

Is not easily provoked (vs 5) – "Sacrificing self to be calm"; "(not) to sharpen, to stimulate"; "(not) to arouse in anger"; not soon angry for it's own causes; is not oversensitive and touchy. (Heb. 10:24)
EXPLODES! – an earthquake in the spirit; reacts in anger instead of acting in kindness; retaliates; sudden outbursts; angry for selfish reasons; "You can't do that to me and get away with it." (Prov. 13:10)

Thinketh no evil (vs 5) – "sacrificing self by not keeping score"; "does not reason out evil"; not jealous; does not take permanent account of something for the purpose of bringing it back up; believes the best about a person; gives the benefit of doubt; forgives.
Uses indelible ink; builds a case for evil; enters wrong into a ledger so that they can't be forgotten; jealous; thinks evil; won't forgive and go on. "I remember when he..." "You always/never do that." "I haven't forgotten what you did to me!" "I know what kind of person he/she is." "I know what he meant when he said/did that.!"

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (vs 6) – "Sacrificing self to love what God loves and hate what God hates"; "to joy together with the truth"; excited to do the biblical thing. Love doesn't take iniquity by the hand and escort it into some area of his life. "If God likes it, I'll like it. If God hates it, I'll hate it."
Rejoices in iniquity; entertains sin; escorts it right into his life; gets a thrill out of sin–it's own or someone else's. "It's my life; I'll do it if I want to. I'm strong enough to handle it." "It's my body; I deserve a little pleasure!" "Did you hear about what did?"

Beareth all things (vs 7) – Sacrificing self to cover others' weaknesses"; covers, supports, protects; covers anything it can righteously cover; love bears, not bares.
Uncovers and exposes someone's sin to others unnecessarily; bares, doesn't bear sin. "I don't mean to gossip, but..." "Did you hear about ? She did a terrible thing! Don't tell anyone, but it's a fact that..." "Well, my wife/husband has her/his faults too!"

Believeth all things (vs 7) – Sacrificing self to believe the best about God and others"; "to suffer oneself to be persuaded"; puts the best interpretation on events; believes in the best outcome; doesn't look to condemn; looks to save, not to judge.
Wants to judge, condemns; plays up the doubts; believes the worst; cynical, suspicious. "I told you he was no good!" "I know what he's thinking." "I know why he did that!" "So what do you want from me this time?" "He said he would change once before, but..."

Hopeth all things (vs 7) – "Sacrificing self by not giving up"; anticipates a good outcome when God's truth wins out; hopes in every situation, against all evidence; confronts people with the truth in the hope that they will obey and change. As long as God's grace operates, failure is never final.
Acts hopeless; talks hopeless; feels hopeless; gives up; quits praying; doesn't trust God or follow His way; "He's hopeless." "Why try? He'll never change!" "That's just the way I am. I'll never change."

Endureth all things (vs 7) – "Sacrificing self by staying put when he feels like quitting"; all things at all cost; to abide under courageously; digs a trench and stays put; stays when feels like running. Quits. "I've tried, but that was the straw that broke the camel's back."
"I'm not sticking my heart out there again so he/she can chop it off!" "I'll cut and run while I still have some dignity." "I can't handle it anymore!" "You wouldn't be able to handle it either if you were in my shoes."


LOVE NEVER FAILETH! (vs 8) – It always accomplishes God's work on earth and in Heaven. It is SUPERNATURAL in it's origin and its results.
Self love ALWAYS FAILS! (Ga. 6:7-9) – "He that soweth to his fleth shall of the flesh reap corruption.


Chart by Ken Collier, The WILDS Christian Association.

Tim Lehaye lists six major problems of marriage in his book, Spirit Controlled Family Living.

Discuss how God's love cures and Self love aggravates these problems:

Anger

Worry

Selfishness

Immorality

Discontent (Self-Rejection)

Depression

Lesson Six
Recently, Ann Landers died. You've seen her articles, Ask Ann Landers the answer lady. I was reminded of a column she wrote strangely entitled: "Ann Has No Answer." She stated,
"The sad incredible fact is that after 36 years of marriage, Jules and I are being divorced. As I write these words, it is as if I am referring to a letter from a reader. It seems unreal that I'm writing about my own marriage. That we are going our own separate ways is one of life's ironies. How did it happen that something so good for so long didn't last forever? The lady with all the answers does not know the answer to this one. Perhaps there is a lesson here, at least there is for me. Never say, "It couldn't happen to us!"(4)

Left to our own way, no one has the confidence that divorce won't happen to them.
But, when a couple chooses God's way for their marriage they'll have God confidence that it won't happen to them!
You can say, "It will never happen to us!"

Review:
Deal with the sin issues. Ask forgiveness quickly!
3 commitments:
1. Commit to make your marriage permanent.
2. Commit to obey God.
3. Commit to die to self.

Fall proof your marriage:
1. Check your influences
2. Check your attitude
3. Check your pride

Reconciliation Projects
1. Work the forgiveness triangle with God at the top (authority).
2. Work on communication skills with the goal of understanding.

Ephesians 4 Five Admonitions about communication
1st admonition
A. Be Candid
B. Be Current
C. Be Constructive
D. Be kind!
E. Be Conciliatory

Ephesians 5 Self Love vs. God's Love I Corinthians 13 worksheet

Lesson Six: Communicating Love

The Greek language has five different words that we translate love.
Agape = Unconditional sacrificial commitment
Phileo = Companionship, enjoyment of a friendship, things in common
Storge = A Natural affection, belonging
Eros = Sensual passion
Epithumia = Desire (Negative use was translated "lust")

Love is multidimensional
It's one thing to say you love someone, it's another thing to communicate in many different ways that you love them.
Husband: "Of course I love my wife, why do you think I work so hard on my job?"
Wife: "He doesn't love me. If he did, he'd..."

In your marriage, how well are you communicating multidimensional love?

Communicating love requires purposeful expression.
How well do you communicate love in these areas? (Avoid mid range numbers 4-6)

Expression of Love Rating ( 1– low 10–high)
Bringing gifts
Speaking words expressing love
Listening focusing/quiet enough to listen
Fulfilling commitments
Helping with responsibility with the right attitude
Availability – taking time
Touch
Thoughtful acts without being asked
Eye "desire" admiration
Transparency
Correctable
Encouraging
Positive humor
Sacrificing your own desires for the one you love
Complementing
(A good resource: Languages of Love Gary Chapman)

Communicating Acceptance

Two ways:
1. Choosing to value
We are accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Accepted=Valued Treasured possession!

Wives need to know they are a valued treasured possession!

2. Choosing not to focus on negatives
"Love thinketh no evil" 1 Corinthians 13:5b

"Your own partner can sometimes be your enemy. Or at least there will be things you will not like about him/her... We tend to hate the one we love. We hate because we love. Like a jewel collector who spots a flaw in a pearl he admires. He will despise the flaw because he loves the pearl. It is because you consider your partner so precious that you dislike his/her faults, even if they are very small. In fact, we all have the uncanny ability to enlarge postage stamp faults into billboard size defects.
These little things– leaving the socks on the floor, the lights on, the gas tank empty, cupboard doors open– can hurt if not properly handled. We can permit these little matters to eat away at our relationship like beetles eat the center out of an oak. Forbearance and forgiveness, springing from Christ-like love, will be needed for any marriage no matter how naturally compatible the partner might be."(5)


Note: Those who have never felt acceptance will have the greatest challenge communicating acceptance. Those who have not experienced acceptance must dwell on God's truth– I'm accepted by God, I'm wanted by God, I'm chosen by God, I'm sought by God, I'm forgiven by God, I can be close to God. Then, they must purposefully communicate that acceptance to others.

Note: If you have unconfessed sin in your life you'll not experience acceptance with God and therefore struggle with offering acceptance to others.

Table Discussion projects:
How can you apply the two ways of communicating acceptance? (Be specific)
1. Value

2. Not focusing on Negatives

Lesson Seven
The Role of the Wife
God's expectations for the wife

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Notice:
Command– Submit
Motivation– As unto the Lord
Reason– For the husband is the head (decision center)
Extent– In everything

Behind every Godly successful man is an obedient Holy Spirit controlled wife. Prov. 31:25
If it wasn't for my wife, there is no way I'd be doing what I am doing for God. I've seen so many guys get put on the shelf because of a wife that was not a help.

Ladies your husband needs you!
Don't be in this marriage to get your needs met. Be in it to meet your husbands needs!
Get a heart for your husband! You can make a profound difference. A submissive Godly woman can transform her husband when she stops trying to manipulate him and instead is willing to serve!
So how do you comply with this command with the right motivation for the right reason and to the right extent?

1. Purpose to submit to his leadership.

Order your will under his will!
When a husband loses his will to lead there is a great danger developing.

You may say, "You don't know my husband. He won't do anything. He's just a couch potato. He's totally irresponsible."
What has happened is that man has lost his will to lead!
Nothing crushes a man more than when he doesn't feel he can lead his wife!

He'll pull away (It's not right that he does that!). He'll give up trying.
When that happens you've sealed you doom in your relationship, and generations will be infected!
You may say, "Well, if I submit to my husband, he'll abuse the privilege. He'll take advantage of me!"

Obviously, your husband should readily accept your appeal to a decision. He should want your perspective. But if he doesn't, and if he does take advantage, God will deal with him. Who can do a better job of reaching your husband? You or God?
Actually, by obeying God about this, you're giving God a great opportunity to convict your husband. Read I Peter 3. God will deal with him!

2. Purpose to support his heart.
Be an encourager It's easy to be knocked down. The whole world is against him. He'll fight depression. If he's facing a midlife crisis it's simply a matter of a wife who is not communicating support.

Remember the man's thing about ego? When a husband hears his wife say, "good job!" Nothing can stop him. If my wife is for me, the whole world can be against me, we'll be o.k.!

Two questions:

1. Does your husband want to come home?

2. Does he feel like a man at home?

You know what buttons to push. You know how to communicate to him that he is wanted! The way you dress, the way you greet him, the way you kiss him, communicates "I want you."
[what does your grungy old robe communicate?]

The main thing a husband needs is to be wanted!

3. Purpose to serve his needs
Remember, the highest mark of maturity for a Christian is a servant's heart.

Round Table Discussion questions:

Read Titus 2. How does that chapter relate to your home?


Lesson Eight
The Role of the husband (Many responsibilities, two basic roles.)

God's expectations for the husband

1. Lead in decision making

Life is made up of choices. Learn to make wise choices! Every choice has consequences!
The head is the decision making center. The head can't function without the rest of the body, yet the rest of the body follows what the head decides. If the head decides to do something foolish, who suffers?

Be the spiritual leader in your home! Make spiritual choices! Set Spiritual standards.
Establish Spiritual priorities. Shoot for Spiritual goals. Do you have spiritual goals for your wife?
What are your spiritual goals for your wife?

Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Are you ready to present her to the Lord a sanctified and cleansed vessel, holy and without blemish?

Be the leader in every day decisions as well. Do you find yourself wimping out, "Whatever you want, dear." NO! Make a decision for her!

2. Love in action!

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Consider Christ's example!

*Christ left all! Sacrifice
".... made himself of no reputation..."
Guys, leave your hobbies, buddies, momma. Your 1st priority is your wife!

*Christ loved first!

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

When your perspective changes from insisting that she love you in all the ways you expect, and you start choosing to love her in the ways she needs, your wife will love back even more!

*Christ looked to meet our needs
He who knew no sin became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Purpose to meet every need your wife has! How do you know what are her needs?
Learn to listen. She'll tell you!
How many of you have heard this: "You're not listening to me!"
Just like you need time alone with the Lord, your wife needs time alone with you!

Your wife has two basic needs
Need #1
Your wife needs security!

Protect her.
*Financially
*Time commitments.
She'll have the tendency to get over extended. Say no for her!
*Pray with her!

Need #2
Your wife needs to be valued

What ever happened to chivalry?
What ever happened to that twinkle in your eye for her?
What ever happened to those innocent little touches?
Do you value her opinion?
Don't cut her down
Don't compare her to other women, especially your mom!
Compliment! Compliment! Compliment! (Repeat the last three admonitions)

Lesson Nine
"He just doesn't understand me!"
What a guy has got to understand!

Her need for security – leadership
Her need for words – listening
Her need for tenderness – longsuffering

I. Your wife wishes you could understand that she needs you to be her spiritual leader.

Macho fades. Humor fades. Riches fade.
She desperately needs to be able to respect her husband.
Husband's number one need– to be admired
1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

How can you help her respect you spiritually.
Example!
Read your Bible.
Ask her to pray with you, regularly.
Serve the Lord
Listen to her Spiritual insights.
Study and answer her Spiritual questions.... The Answer man!
Make wise choices.
Demonstrate the Spirit's control.
Ask for forgiveness when you've been wrong.

II. Your wife wishes you could understand her need for a listener.

Case study in Romancing Your Marriage page 174

Wife's number one craving– to be valued.
What most communicates value? Survey...
"Listening to me"

God does this for us!
Psalms 17:6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.

Psalms 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

Psalms 116:2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

"Isn't it amazing how well we listen to a good friend when we are interested in the subject? Yet, what happens when the discussion is between husband and wife? Often we tune out the conversation, ignore our spouse, and use all sorts of body language to let the other person feel that we are not interested in his thoughts or opinions.
But did you know that your reaction to your spouse's words determines how much he or she will communicate with you? If you come across as unyielding, then your spouse may feel that it is worthless talking with you and may quit talking altogether. Yet, if you listen to the other person's reasoning, try to relate to what he is saying without judging what is being said, and then give replies that are fair and reasonable, you are opening the door to loving communication in your marriage."(6)

What she needs from you to know you're listening:

1. Eye contact
Each time you look away you communicate diminished value.
Each time you focus on her eyes you communicate increased value

2. Replay what she says
"So what you're saying is..."
"Let me see if I understand correctly"

3. Don't let your mind wander to other things like work or household projects.

4. Accept her thought pattern, even if you don't understand it.

God created your wife with a wonderful sixth sense. That sixth sense cannot be expressed in logical terms. Husbands who learn to heed the radar of the "sixth sense" save themselves from great heartache!

Don't say, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"

5. Be aware of your body language.
Some estimate that
90 % of communication is visual, only 10% is verbal


3rd area
III. Your wife wishes you could understand her need for longsuffering.
Love suffereth long

She wishes you understood her physiological changes.

Two points of discussion:
1--The Monthly child bearing prep cycle and 2--Menopause

Pastor! Are you crazy! Don't you know those are things we just don't talk about.

If our goal is to have marriage relationships that are getting better and better, we're going to have to address the road blocks!

Most marriages run into major trouble on these two points.
Couples don't know how to deal with the tensions.
Couples aren't prepared for the challenges of menopause.

Most divorces occur either early on in a marriage or around the silver anniversary. Why?

1st point of discussion
A. Monthly child bearing prep cycle

We all have our ups and downs, men and women alike. Guys typically have about a 2 week cycle of emotions. Yet with your wife the swing in emotion is more pronounced.
(Pastor you didn't need to tell me that!)
God has beautifully designed the woman's body to be prepared to bear a child.
Every month she experiences major physiological changes.
Husband, she really needs you to understand those changes.
Let's trace the typical fluctuations in the hormone levels and the reasons for that fluctuation.
On day 5 the pituitary gland orders a supply of estrogen to prepare the body for the potential of a child. She becomes Super woman, she can do it all! She's organized on top of the world ready to handle anything. She'll have the tendency to over commit.

The best way a man could begin to comprehend this level of adrenaline energy would be with this illustration. If a robber were to hold you up at gun point, screaming in your ear, holding the gun to the back of your head, you're going to get a rush of adrenalin. That rush of adrenalin is close but not enough to describe what happens within your wife's body every month.

Then around day 15 ovulation occurs. The egg is presented ready for the miracle of life.
There is a two day drop in energy level. She wonders why she's depressed. She's lost energy. Why? The estrogen flow slows.
Then the body goes to work again. The body begins producing progesterone. Progesterone prepares the womb for the possibility of a baby. With the progesterone build up she begins experiencing a tension and anxiety. She's tied up in knots.
During the last 4 to 6 days when the body determines that there is no baby, it begins a tearing down process. She'll have headaches. She'll have anxiety. She'll be quick to draw both barrels.
Days 22-28 are the hard days. Then God has it fixed that on days 1-4 there is a cry of disappointment and a cleansing relief, ready to begin again.

Heed several admonitions to both the husband and the wife:

For the husband – During those depressive energy drops.

1. Listen!

Take her seriously. She needs to be able to share how she feels without you preaching at her or knocking her feelings.
Don't withdraw.
So often the guy during times of tension with his wife starts to feel so sorry for himself. Well, if that's the way she's going to be...

2. Help!
Voluntarily do the dishes. (Gasp!)

3. Be reassuring.
"We'll get through this." Don't say, "Well, it's just the week before! You're not thinking clearly!" BOOM! You've just set off the nuclear bomb! Instead, give her an extra back rub, leg rub, foot rub.

Try to be understanding. Measure what you say. Don't allow negative talk. Never use words that hurt! Don't talk finances during this time. Don't lecture. Don't step in and logically solve her frustrations. Just give affection!
Gary Smalley says, "She needs your shoulder, not your mouth"

For the wife –
1. Avoid major confrontations or decisions during this time.
Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light!

2. Remember, things will get better!
Chart your patterns. If you know what you're dealing with, you won't take the tension so seriously.

3. Exercise

4. Ladies, stay alert spiritually. URGENT!
Plan extra time in your quiet time. Gain God's perspective! Be obedient to the Holy Spirit's prompting. If you say something rude, confess it. Follow the "I was wrong" formula.

The Lord can give victory!
Remember, when you are weak God can make you strong!

If you're walking close to the Lord and close to your husband, you'll discover a strength you never knew before to address and control your responses to the tension and frustration.

Thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory!

2nd point of discussion
B. Menopause

Men don't have a mid life crisis. A mid-life crisis simply reveals that he is selfish in his priorities and that he is weak on relationship.
Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

Ladies, however, physiologically, can expect major changes. Normally "Change of Life" begins around 47 to 50 years of age. For some, the process can begin in the late 30's and early 40's.
This process can take from a couple of months to several years.

God designed the female body to begin shutting down the complex child bearing process.
Apparently, the pituitary gland gives the signal to lessen the flow of estrogen. The body frantically tries to adjust to the frustration of hormone level changes. Frantic frustration is a good description.

There are physical symptoms

*Most will incur digestive disorders.
*Most will experience hot flashes!
The body is adjusting...
*Some experience dizziness, trembling, fatigue, insomnia, a racing heart beat.
*She'll wonder, "Why am I trembling? Why is my skin so dry? It's never been that way before."
*She may even become convinced that she has a serious disease!

Outward symptoms
Guys,
*You'll notice Extreme depression! Why's she so down?
*You'll see that she has a low frustration and tolerance. Things that normally she'd handle with easy become major conflicts.
*You'll wonder why normal noises will really bother her!
"The T.V. is too loud. The grand kids are too loud. I just can't handle them right now."
There's a constant ringing in her ears.

What should be your response as a couple to menopause?

1. Consult your doctor.
2. Maintain a practical perspective – know what is happening and why.
3. Maintain a growing marriage relationship!
Stay in the Word to be Spirit controlled focusing on God's expectations. Continue communicating. Build intimacy.

4. Look forward to the opportunities ahead!

Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
Aged – presbutas... Ladies with dignity... Good ambassador
Holy – ieropretas – worthy of reverance!!!

Our society places a premium on youth-- Appearance, shape, appeal...
The Bible places the premium on respected age.
Menopause can be the most eternally productive, enjoyable time of your life.

Lesson Ten
Sixth Sense

Why won't he talk with me?


Learning to talk


Learning to dream

Lesson Eleven
Romance and Intimacy


Lesson Twelve

Review

 

(1) Morton Hunt, The Natural History of Love (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1958), 58.
(2) Packer, J.I., God's Words: Studies of Key Bible Themes. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981, pp. 121-127 as referenced in "Marriage and Family Counseling" by Jim Berg (Bob Jones University Press, pp. 2,3.
(3) John F. MacArthur, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness (Wheaton, IL: Corssway Books, 1998), 13.
(4) Ann Landers, Field Newspaper Syndicate, Chicago Sun-Times.
(5) Dr. Charles M. Sell, Achieving the Impossible: Intimate Marriage (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1982), p. 25.
(6) Reclaiming Intimacy Robert and Debra Bruce Bethany House 1996, page 85.

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