Fortifying A Marriage Part 4
In order to fortify a marriage, what should be the focal point? There are hundreds of books on the market-both secular and Christian-that are focusing on one thing or another. Will knowing the differences between the sexes help save a marriage from divorce? Possibly. Will knowing the individual personalities help save a marriage from divorce? Maybe; maybe, not. The right question to ask is not what should be the focal point but who should be the focal point? Should the focal point be on the wife; her needs, her desires? No. Should the focal point be on the husband; his needs, his desires? No. Who should be the focal point of a marriage? God should be the focal point of a marriage; He should be at the center of any marriage.
Fortifying a marriage to last a life time takes being focused on keeping God as the center. A marriage between a man and a woman is a picture of Jesus and the church as Paul lays it out in Ephesians 5. For the most point, women dream of their wedding day since childhood. Some read bridal magazines and dream of Prince Charming riding on horseback. According to the Christian worldview, God brings two people together in His time. He either puts people through trials or allows them to take paths that develop and mold them into a person that their future spouse will need. God is the conductor of the marriage; He puts everything and everyone in their place (Tripp, 1999).
Jesus Christ is the foundation for a Christian’s life and marriage is no exception. Having a solid and firm foundation in marriage allows a couple to weather the storms of life. As honor is an ingredient to the marriage foundation, intimacy is another. When most think of the idea of intimacy, sex comes to mind; however, there are multiple levels of intimacy. Dr. Gary Smalley in his book Secrets to Lasting Love, suggests that there are five levels of intimacy. The levels are sharing clichés, sharing facts, sharing opinions, sharing feelings, and sharing needs (P. 28). Dr. Smalley further unpacks the levels of intimacy. Sharing clichés is level one; it’s basically surface talk. Sharing facts is level two; it’s talking about the weather, the office, what going on with friends (it’s a little deeper conversation). Sharing opinions is level three; discussing concerns, dreams, desires, etc. (the couple is getting deeper). Sharing feelings is level four; it’s discussing the deepest of emotions. Sharing needs is level five; it’s the deepest level of love and martial satisfaction (P. 29-31). Knowing the different levels of intimacy will allow a couple to develop a deeper level of communication and doing so will further strengthen the marriage.
Some couples have a misunderstanding that a lifelong marriage is centered around love. The Beatles sing “All You Need is Love” is the anthem for many marriages; however, love may not be enough to weather the storms in a marriage. With the divorce rate where it is, love is not nearly enough. Some may say, “Commitment to the ideal of marriage is needed to insure a successful marriage.” For some people, commitment might take them a little farther but the end result is the same.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in his book Love and Respect, suggests that root of a successful, lifelong, and loving marriage is found in Ephesians 5. He goes further and says that the root is found in the last verse of chapter 5 (Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. ). Based on verse 33 of Ephesians 5, the main need for a wife is to feel loved by her husband, but what is missed sometimes is the fact that the husband needs to feel respected by the wife (P.15).
Dr. Eggerichs discusses why wives don’t feel loved by their husbands and why the husbands don’t feel respected by their wives. He points out that the wife and the husband in every marriage speak different languages and view the world differently. Dr. Eggerichs says that women hear through pink hearing aids and see the world through pink colored lenses, and men hear through blue hearing aids and see the world through blue colored lenses (P.32-34). In order for each to be able to communicate with the other, both need to decode what is being said. All misunderstandings can be traced back to the fact that women and men see and hear differently. Dr. Eggerichs reaches a conclusion that at the heart of all conflicts in marriage, is a wife who wants to feel loved by her husband and a husband who wants to feel respected by his wife (P. 38). Dr. John Gottman (professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington) confirms that love and respect are the foundation of a successful marriage. When couples talk together there is what Dr. Gottman calls “a strong undercurrent of two basic ingredients: Love and Respect. These are the direct opposite of-and antidote for-contempt, perhaps the most corrosive force in marriage (P. 35).” When a couple loves and respects each other, they honor the One Who put them together.
Clinton, T., Hart, A., & Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring For People God’s Way. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Clinton, T. & Ohlschlager, G. (2002). Competent Christian Counseling. New York, NY: WaterBrook Multnomah.
Powlison, D. & Yenchko, J. (2000). Pre-Engagement: 5 Questions to Ask Yourselves. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing Company.
Tripp, P.D.. (1999). Marriage: Whose Dream. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing Company.
Smalley, G. & Trent, J. (1989). Love Is A Decision. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.
Smalley, G. (2000). Secrets to Lasting Love. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Clinton, T. & Sibcy, G. (2006). Why You Do The Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Eggerichs, E. (2004). Love & Respect. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Divorce Statistics. (n.d.) Precept Austin. Retrieved from http://www.divorcestatistics.org/
- Clinton, personal communication, August 21, 2012.