Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meeting Needs: Biblical Marriage (Part 4)

God designed marriage to meet the first problem of the human race: loneliness (Genesis 2:18-22). Adam was alone and God said that this was "not good." God created a woman who would join together with the man and by God’s design; they are spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically exactly suited to each other.

Marriage begins with a need, a need for companionship or friendship and completion. Marriage was designed to relieve the fundamental loneliness that people experience. One good definition of love is meeting your spouse’s needs. To the degree that you don't meet each other's needs, the two of you are still alone. In many broken marriage relationships today, the husband works to get his needs met by control and the wife works to get her needs met by manipulation. This approach keeps us alone.

Husbands, meeting your wife’s needs is part of God’s call to “cleave” or “pursue” her. Wives, respecting your husband with how you treat him everyday meets a deep need in him.

While meeting your mate’s needs is the call to both husbands and wives, I want to help men tune in to the needs of their wives. Here are some of her key needs:

  1. She needs you to be the spiritual leader of your home (One woman I know says her husband “is the most sexy when he is reading the Bible.”)
  2. She needs you to be her partner in raising the kids and caring for the home.
  3. She needs you to pursue her.
  4. She needs you to communicate with her.
  5. She needs her friends.
  6. She needs you to encourage, affirm and love her.
  7. She needs emotional fulfillment.
  8. She needs you to understand and empathize. She needs a shoulder more than a mouth. More than a solution, she needs you to listen.
  9. She doesn’t need a newer car or bigger house but she does need the assurance that together we can face the best and worse hand in hand.

As Christ came to serve and give his life for us, so let us serve one another in our marriages. This becomes very practical… just meet the need before you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Husband “How To” Lists: Biblical Marriage (Part 3)

The Companionship Model

God’s design, as we understand from Genesis 3:24, is a companionship model of marriage. The primary factor in establishing a relationship on a solid foundation is that your relationship be based upon deep friendship. “Cleaving” and “knowing” are foundational to companionship. Friendship can be described as “a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each others company.”

Men are by nature builders and “fixers”. We want to build things and fix things that are broken. When it comes to marriage, husbands may look to make their marriage strong but are often uncertain how to do it successfully. I want to share some practical ideas that will help husbands retain or revive their own skills in relationships.

First, however, let’s consider various ways husbands can create marital problems. This is a “What NOT To Do” list!

How Men Destroy Marriage

  • Don’t compliment her.
  • Don’t demonstrate you are thinking of her.
  • Don’t interact meaningfully with her.
  • Be deceptive.
  • Withhold money and spend it only on what you want.
  • Do things with your buddies rather than with your children.
  • Criticize her frequently.
  • Don’t pay attention to her.
  • Don’t do anything around the house.
  • Make her feel stupid.
  • Try to remake her.
  • Be lazy.
  • Compare her to other women.
  • Verbally abuse and humiliate her. Demand, dominate and demean.

Now let’s discover what husbands can do to produce a strong marriage…

How to Build Your Marriage:

  • Treat your wife as your partner and teammate.
  • Tell her with your eyes that you love her, but tell her also.
  • Give her non-sexual affection. Hold her hand in public, open the door for her, pray for her and help her.
  • Stay connected to her. Let communication flow.
  • Praise her at least once a day.

In the marriage seminars my wife and I have done over the years, I’ve said to both husbands and wives, “Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity that working out at a health club.” Husbands, let’s build well every day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Men Who Love: Biblical Marriage (Part 2)

The book of Ephesians speaks very powerfully to three areas of our life: marriage, parenting and jobs/career (see Eph 5:22-6:9).

Ephesians 5:33 states "…let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Paul speaks on marriage and uses the illustration of Jesus and the Church. Men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church. What does that look like? Jesus laid down his life for his bride. As men and women, we want to preserve our lives, but in marriage we give up our lives for our spouse. Jesus gave up his life for you.


Paul refers to the original instructions regarding marriage that are found in Genesis. These 24 words that are the key: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Eph. 5:31). There are three elements here:

  1. Leave
  2. Cleave ("hold fast")
  3. Become one

Paul calls for men to love their wife and for wives to respect your husbands (v. 33 is drawn from Gen. 2:24).

Paul tells the men to do three things. First is to LEAVE. Leave anything that does not contribute to your oneness. Second, men are to "CLEAVE" (King James Version). This means the husbands are to aggressively cleave to or pursue your wife. This is what it means to love her. It is about a commitment. As you do commit to one another, you BECOME ONE. Commitment allows love to be sustained. You behave your way into feelings; you don’t feel your way into behavior.

Ephesians and Genesis place the bulk of marriage responsibility on men. It is the husband who takes the responsibility of leadership in a good marriage. The husband’s great priority is to love and lead his wife. Many men are afraid to lead. They’ve not been trained and they easily err toward passivity, abdication or domination.

Practical steps in "cleaving" or loving

In marriage, there are many ways for a man to love his wife. Here are some practical ways for a man to genuinely express love his wife. Here are some suggestions:

  • Affection Hold her and accept her. Pursue her and surprise her with a gift. You may want to express public affection. Put her first and remember the little things! (Yes, they matter!)
  • Connection through communication Be attentive when she talks to you and look at her. Smile when you talk and answer her questions. Treat her as an equal. Be sure to listen and don’t instinctively try to "fix" her problem. Call her and tell her when you’re going to be late, laugh together and pursue her!
  • Honesty Enough said.
  • Openness Share your life with her. Value her and be open to share your feelings.
  • Financial support As a leader in the home, you are to provide for her well-being.
  • Family commitment She appreciates your involvement with the children. Help her around the house. This goes a long way in showing her how much you love her!

Men, it’s time to rise up and follow Christ’s example in your marriage. Lay down your life and pursue your wife!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Marriage Problems? Biblical Marriage (Part 1)

In Strike The Original Match, Chuck Swindoll relates this humorous story:

“Four-year-old Suzie had just been told the story of Snow White for the first time in her life. She could hardly wait to get home from nursery school to tell her mommy. After relating how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life, Suzie asked loudly, ‘And do you know what happened then?’

‘Yes,’ said her mom, ‘They lived happily ever after.’

‘No,’ responded Suzie with a frown, ‘They got married.’

Getting married and living happily ever after are not necessarily synonymous.”

Marriages today often reveal the struggles that can arise as two people commit to love each other and live life together. In Bill McCartney’s autobiography, Sold Out, the former Colorado football coach wrote about his lifetime of failings, especially in his marriage. “Tucked away in the folds of my life are countless episodes that could strip away the mystique and pretense of what some think of me.” He calls himself a “highly flawed, ordinary man who has made it through only with the help of an extraordinary God.”

Sold Out is presented as Bill McCartney’s story, but the book also contains nine sections written by Lyndi, his wife. They provide a good window into Bill’s spiritual journey. Lyndi reveals the monumental price she paid as McCartney’s “trophy wife,” a woman who for years stood on the sidelines while McCartney coached Colorado’s football team to a national championship. Her comments help underscore what brought their never-great marriage to a crisis in 1993, when Lyndi says she found herself in “an emotional deep-freeze.”

That year began in soap-opera fashion when, on New Year’s Day, Bill came clean to Lyndi about an affair he had had with another woman two decades earlier in their marriage. That confession, which the McCartneys chose not to put in the book but was reported by the New York Times, left Lyndi devastated. At the time, Bill was at the pinnacle of his coaching career. In a manner typical of the way he operated at the time, he confessed his adultery just moments before walking out the door to coach the Fiesta Bowl game.

In the months that followed, Lyndi’s emotional and physical health reached the breaking point. To cope, she rarely left the bedroom of their home. She contemplated taking her own life. For more than seven months she vomited every day, losing 80 pounds. Bill, busy with football and with managing the Promise Keepers movement, remained oblivious. While Lyndi had no intention of leaving her marriage, she says she began building emotional siege walls” between herself and her husband.

“The Lord was the only one I felt I could trust.” Lyndi claims she wasn’t bothered by Bill’s lack of attention during their 30-year marriage “most of the time.” She stayed reasonably happy with her responsibilities as a mother “most of the time.” But she admits they lived separate lives. As her husband soared to the pinnacle of his career, “I just felt like I was getting smaller and smaller.”

God used two events to turn McCartney around. One was a Promise Keepers rally where men were told to write down the number their wives would give their marriages if rating them on a scale of one to ten. Bill rated their marriage a six. The second event was in the fall of 1994, when a guest speaker at their church stated, “If you want to know about a man’s character, then look into the face of his wife. Whatever he has invested in or withheld from her will be reflected in her countenance.” Bill literally turned to face his wife and saw in his wife’s haunted, empty eyes his own sinful neglect staring back at him. “Escorting my wounded wife out to the church parking lot, I began to pray about the timing of my resignation from the University of Colorado.”

Whether you find yourself in a struggling marriage, know somebody who is having marriage trouble, are enjoying your own marriage or are just wondering about marriages today, let’s start with some good news. God created marriage! He did this so men and women would come alongside one another and partner together. Since God also created us, He has also given us the Bible that instructs us how to live life according to His creative design. I want to explore what a Biblical marriage relationship looks like in my upcoming blogs. I believe God’s truth can bring healthy life into marriages. As scripture states, “Marriage should be honored by all” (Heb. 13:4).