WORKING THROUGH DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIPS
The Bible begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding, doesn’t it? And you know what? The greatest love song in human literature is in center! But there are many that are not experiencing this wonderful relationship because of selfishness. (Explain what I see in marriages. Husband – TV & football season, video games, no help with household chores, etc. Wives – TV & romance movies, shopping with the girls, etc.) Let me use one Scripture to address this area of selfishness: Phil. 2:1-7.
Man’s greatest hunger is for acceptance and understanding. One reason our society is so infected with loneliness is that selfish freedom has become widespread. So we don’t want to risk losing our freedom by getting involved. Young people are waiting longer and longer to get married. We don’t want to lose our freedom by running the risks of long-term commitments. We have a lot of lonely people today because the price of unwillingness to make permanent commitments is to live on a level where all relationships are temporary. Unless we are willing to surrender some freedom to make permanent commitments, we must prepare to pay the price of loneliness. Love ends loneliness…but love has a price tag! The price of love is a commitment to nurturing unity.
Commitment to God, and then to each other, is the glue that is going to hold our marriages together. Nurturing unity takes place when we are committed to make the other person blossom through every season that a marriage goes through. (Thank you Dennis & Nancy) Even physical intimacy can’t reach it’s satisfying potential unless there is a oneness of spirit as well. Unity at the heart provides the basis for releasing the ultimate in physical ecstasy. (We will deal more with intimacy in our last session, 2 weeks from now.) Communication is the Farris wheel that takes us to the top of unity. Without it, true oneness will be illusive. (We will deal more with communication next week.)
But even self-giving love and open communication alone won’t hold a marriage together for long. Once the romance of the newlyweds wears off, we are hit in the face with the harsh reality that we just signed a contract with someone with an independent mind that has their own desires that don’t match with our desires. (Draw flow chart on overhead of “Your Needs”) Communication soon loses its loving flow and it’s used as a weapon to destroy the unity. Commitment is the only glue that holds marriages together for a lifetime. The greatest gift parents can give their children is the demonstration of faithful, loving commitment to each other. Without commitment, the relationship is too tentative and will have ups and downs more frequent than a roller coaster.
The most serious violation of marriage is adultery. When physical intimacy is pulled out of the marriage and used separately, it fouls the whole relationship. Trust is never quite the same again, and there is always a question of which person is in the mind of their partner. It’s so serious of a rupture to the relationship that Christ stated it could be a legitimate end of the relationship (Matt. 5:32). We will address to topic of divorce in a minute, but I want to address one of the questions handed in: What does pornography do to a marriage? (Open discussion) What’s God’s Word have to say to help us in this area? Matt. 5:27-29; 1 Cor. 7:1-5
Let’s now deal with several questions that dealt with divorce. Let me say this: No one has a perfect marriage. One day we all will…on the day when Christ is wed to us. But imperfections without commitment leads to broken marriages.
1. Does grace cover divorce and remarriage? Yes. Grace covers a multitude of sins, and can cover them all except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
2. Why do some churches refuse to perform the marriage of one who has experienced divorce? I can’t answer for other churches directly, but perhaps it’s because they have no room for grace outside of what the Scriptures says about divorce.
3. Does God refuse to bless such a marriage if it occurs in spite of a church’s refusal to bless? That’s a loaded gun with a LOT of territory behind it. To address it, I have a handout. (Hand out “Unraveling the Tangle of Divorce)
4. Does He see that union as adulterous? (See same handout)
Divorce leaves behind it shattered lives. It taints the view of marriage in the eyes of our children. And it doesn’t honor God’s original plan, nor bring it the glory it had when He first instituted it.
So how do we come back to strengthening our marriages? By reinforcing the commitment to understand each other’s needs so we can become best friends!
(Hand out and review “Comparison of Emotional Make-Up Between Men & Women”) (Exercise – share with your spouse which ones are significant issues in your marriage)
(Show picture of stereo component differences)
(Hand out and review “Coping With “Little Things”)
(Read email: “Upgrade from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0)
(Hand out and review “Seven Basic Needs”)
One of the best things we can do for the health of our marriage is to nurture the relationship into your best friendship. Though there are many ways to do this, perhaps the “window of words” can paint the picture clear enough in your mind. I want to share with you some quotes from others about making your spouse your friend. (Read “Marriage is For Friends”)
I have a final blessing – one that is part of an Apache Wedding Ceremony. Please stand and face your partner, holding their hands. “Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be a shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be a companion to the other. Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place, to enter into the days of your togetherness. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.” Amen.