God and your marriage

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from “Kingdom Marriage: Connecting God’s Purpose with Your Pleasure” (Focus on the Family, September 1, 2016).

A healthy vibrant marriage is all about focus. Is your focus on God and His purpose and power, or is it on yourself and what you want?

A couple came to my office for counseling not too long ago, and they brought a list with them. This list must have had at least 30 or more things written on it.

I remember feeling instantly depressed as I watched them pull out that list. It was as if I was a balloon, and someone had taken a needle and deflated me. “How am I going to help them solve so many issues?” I thought as they began to read each and every item on the list.

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On and on they read, naming what sounded like legitimate sources of conflict. These were real issues, and I could see why they were not getting along.

Once the couple finished reading the list, the husband handed it to me. In a split second, I had to make a decision. Was I going to go through this list with them and provide input on each issue they’d written down, or was I going to address the source of their conflict?

I looked at the list. Then I looked at the couple, both of whom had hopelessness and even anger written all over their faces. Then I looked back at the list, carefully and thoughtfully penned. And I tore it up. Right there in front of them.

I looked at the list. Then I looked at the couple, both of whom had hopelessness and even anger written all over their faces. Then I looked back at the list, carefully and thoughtfully penned. And I tore it up. Right there in front of them.

You can imagine what their faces looked like then. They had taken quite a bit of time to prepare this list for our meeting, and I had just shredded it.

I leaned toward them and said in a soft but firm tone, “What you just gave me is the fruit. It’s real, but it’s the fruit. It’s like a firecracker that shoots up into the sky and explodes. Only one thing is shot up there, but when it explodes, it goes into all of these other directions. What I want to talk to you about is the ‘one thing,’ not the explosion.

“We could talk about these 30 things on your list, but nothing will ultimately change in your marriage, because this one thing is missing: the spiritual foundation of your relationship. Without establishing and maintaining a solid spiritual relationship, your list of 30 things, once solved, will just morph into another 30, and you’ll wind up back in here the same time next year with another list of 30 things to solve.”

I could tell they were both listening intently, so I continued. “Get this one thing right, and all the other things will fall into place. Get a divine perspective on your marriage as the foundation for your home, and you’ll discover who your true enemy is — and it is not each other.”

When we fight in our marriages, we assume that our spouses are the problem. And that’s exactly what the Devil wants. He wants you to believe that your spouse is the problem — not you.

He knows you will never fix the real problem if you believe that the person you are fighting with is the problem. But your spouse is not the problem. The problem is a spiritual one brought on by your own sinful flesh or by a rebellious and clever enemy of God.

Think about it: Much of what you end up fighting about in your marriage has nothing to do with what you are really fighting about, does it? There’s something deeper — an unmet need, a lack of trust, a lack of respect, or any number of other things. These are the root of the problem and the fights. However, what makes a marriage strong is loving with a biblical love grounded in patience, kindness, loyalty, grace and more, which is in alignment with God’s covenantal purpose for marriage.

Yet a lot of the things we end up fighting about have to do with the consequences of our own choices, as well as the demonic realm working against us.

One little thing can easily turn into a conflict that puts us on a path to divorce court. And we end up wondering how something so small could destroy something so big.

It can do that because, again, it’s not that one little thing. It’s about breaking the marriage covenant through a lack of submission (by both parties) under the transcendence of God, a lack of alignment with each other and God, or violating the covenantal rules of love and respect.

It’s like asking how one small piece of fruit in the Garden of Eden could have caused so much pain. It caused so much pain for all future generations because it wasn’t just about a piece of fruit. It was about the effect: the curse, which came from the cause, which was disobedience to God’s rule.

This is an excerpt from “Kingdom Marriage: Connecting God’s Purpose with Your Pleasure” by Dr. Tony Evans, which will be published Sept. 1.



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