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This Is Us - Marriage, Part 2

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series "This Is Us" by talking again about Marriage.  He took up where he left off last week, continuing to talk about Keys to a Healthy Marriage.

Key #3 -- Speak the truth in love.

This is from Ephesians 4:14-16, and it applies to all relationships.  Telling the truth is a really big deal to God.

Speaking the truth in love builds stability.  It's contrasted with being tossed by waves.

Speaking the truth in love complements spiritual growth and unity.

Speaking the truth in love is critical for church relationships, and especially for marriage.

Some hate confrontation and need to be reminded that burying the hurt doesn't make it go away.  Others can use the truth like a club and need to be reminded that truth that can't be received doesn't help.

There are two kinds of situations where we need this:

When we've been hurt, disappointed, frustrated:

1)  Allow God to show you your real concern.

Anger is a secondary emotion.  The distance between feeling and awareness can cause problems.  Unrecognized emotion can be at the root of passive-aggression and sarcasm.

Ask the Lord what's going on - Psalm 139.

2)  Admit your issue to yourself with grace and vulnerability.

That's the "in love" part.  You're in a good place if you're asking what the real issue is.

3)  Think FAB:

Focus on your feelings.

Avoid absolutes.

Be brief.

Make hurt the substance, not the fuel.

When we have objective criticism.

If not given in love, it can't be received.

Do your PART --

Prayer coverage

Share Active concerns.

Rehearse the criticism (with a trusted friend).

Set a Time (not heat of the moment).

This is a lot of work.  You'll do the work one way or the other!  Do it on the front end!

Key #4 - Practice your relational posture.

This one's particular to marriage, from Ephesians 5:21-33

For wives:  Submit and respect

1)  This requirement is given to wives.

Wives are told to offer submission and respect.  This is not the husband's concern.  He's not to demand it or take it.

2)  Submission, NOT obedience.

We obey God.  This is your relational posture.  It's about order and function, not about power.

3)  Motivation:  As to the Lord.

This is a way of honoring the Lord.  It's addressing something else altogether than sexism or power.

Respect your husband because that is what he needs.

Men want to know their life matters - that's their point of insecurity.

Men need their wives' respect - that's why God called you to it.

4) Degree of submission: In everything.

The emotional posture needs to be respect.  This does not mean the husband's the boss.  It looks different in different relationships.  This is an attitude.

You're not called to be something you're not.

You're called to offer respect because the man in your life is needy.

For husbands:  Love your wives.

1)  Standard:  As Christ loved the church.

Love is a choice.

2)  This means we lay down our lives for our wives.

Authority to serve.

How can you advance her agenda?

Your relational posture:  Laying down your life. 

Authority is not yours to take.  The wife offers that authority.  Authority means service and responsibility.

What we're called to do is harder than a grand gesture - we're called to do it in small, daily ways - because that's what your wife needs.

Your wife needs to be loved.

She's designed to be the recipient of your love.  Don't let your love grow cold.

3)  Goal:  To make her holy.

Not to make her happy.  This is about her purpose.

You can't do it if you don't have a connection with Christ, so work on that connection first.

When you see stains, wrinkles, or blemishes - those are the reason you're called to the relationship.  They get ironed out by love.

Key #5 - Pray together.

Statistics:  The biggest impact on a lasting marriage isn't church attendance, religious belief, or religious upbringing.  It's praying together.

This Is Us - Marriage, Part 1

Today Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series, "This Is Us," looking at the important relationships in our lives.  Today he began two weeks of looking at marriage - but he promised that everyone will have something they can learn from.

(Oh, and before that, very appropriately, we sang songs about the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.  Whether or not we're getting love from other humans, God's love is faithful.)

He listed some ground rules first:

-- Listen for yourself.  (There's something for everyone, even if you're not in the very target audience.)

-- Do not compare.

We'll hear stories as illustrations.  Do not compare with yourself or with your spouse or kids.  That brings discouragement or false encouragement.

-- Use what you can.

Pray for the time when you can use more.

Then he began on Keys to Doing Marriage Better.  (We only got to two of the three in the time.)

Key #1 -- Keep your purpose before you.

This purpose is promoting our partner's spiritual and personal welfare.

We looked at Ephesians 5:25-29 -- "to make her holy" (spiritual promotion), "feed and care for her" (personal promotion).

We want to help our spouse be who God designed them to be.

Holding up an ideal picture of what we think marriage (or friendship) should be can diminish our spouse (or friend).  Don't let that hang over your marriage.  Instead, keep your purpose before you.

Promote your spouse personally.  Promote your spouse spiritually.

"Make her holy" -- unique and utterly set apart for the purposes God made her for.

In friendship, we need to be for one another.

Then Pastor Ed interviewed Deen and Althea Salami about promoting one another.

We must fight off the tendency to keep false purposes before us, such as to provide or to please or many others.  What false purposes tend to drive you?

Key #2 -- Be realistic about your happiness.

Many of us do not have what we hoped for.  But the joy is there.  Notice it!

Don't burden your marriage with an unrealistic picture.

Know your expectations.  Unrealizable expectations will kill a marriage.  Unknown expectations will damage it.

Reality clashes with our expectations, and the result is suffering.

Then for those who have been married longer, you may have settled and dialed back your happiness.

There's only one connection that can bear up under the weight of complete trust, and it's your connection with God.

God may not meet our expectations, but He meets our needs.  Psalm 20:7; Philippians 4:12-13

Repeated studies have shown that the biggest predictor of marital happiness is the level of individual happiness before marriage.  (It's not your spouse's fault!)

Happiness is not a byproduct of marriage.

Happiness is always, in some part, a choice. (James 1:2-3 -- "Consider it pure joy...")

Happiness in marriage is cyclical and seasonal.

Often happiness is a byproduct of nurturing a deep connection with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ed finished by reading an essay from Laura Munson about when her husband had a midlife crisis and she took the stance that she was not the root of her husband's problems.

[Laura Munson wrote a book about the experience and explored it in depth.  I read that book in 2010 and wrote a review of it.  I highly recommend the book if any part of that story resonates with you.]

Pastor Ed left us all with something to think about in our relationships and friendships.