A Workable Marriage-Counseling Template

newlywedsPer some requests, I’ve decided to post the marriage-counseling template that I shared in last Sunday’s message at Grace. As I stated in that message, when a couple asks for my help in strengthening their relationship, I urge them to gently but honestly ponder and discuss the following questions:

  1. Based on an understanding of Scripture and the desire of our heart, what would our marriage look like if it were a “10”?
  2. How does our marriage compare to that “10”? Be careful to answer this question gently, without inflicting any unnecessary wounds with your words.
  3. Where have we wounded each other?
  4. Where have we stopped “husband-ing” each other? The word “husband” used to be a verb that referenced the cultivation or tilling of land. Implied in the name husband, then, is the idea of cultivating and tending to the relationship.
  5. Where do we need to ask for and extend forgiveness?
  6. What action steps would most quickly move us toward that “10” standard? Each partner can usually list two or three simple things that, if done, would jump-start the healing and recovery process.
  7. What tools do we need to receive to begin those steps? It’s great to have an action plan, but if we don’t have the necessary tools to complete the steps, the problem will compound and we will struggle with additional feelings of failure or inadequacy.
  8. Are we full of the Holy Spirit? And if we’re not, do we now how to get full?
  9. How do we work this process while speaking nothing but “gentle”? Remember, harshness is a death sentence to a marriage relationship, but gentleness is its lifeblood. 

Happy Anniversary!

This Sunday, Cinco de Mayo/May 5th, is my wedding anniversary, marking eighteen years of married life with Jessica.sc00806408

The Proverb writer concluded his book of wisdom in Proverbs 31 by listing all of the things that the “wife of noble character” did well. I thought I would take a second to list some of the things that Jessica doesn’t do well.

  • She doesn’t gossip
  • She doesn’t give up on people
  • She doesn’t stay content with comfortable, status-quo Christianity
  • She doesn’t do stuffy religiosity very well
  • She’s not the best at staying serious all of the time
  • She doesn’t warm up to endless talk without action
  • She doesn’t get uptight over petty issues
  • She’s not very good at carrying offenses toward people
  • She’s terrible at watching injustice without wanting to intervene
  • And finally, her judgment isn’t necessarily as sharp as it could be…she had her pick of eligible suitors and somehow she ended up with me

Happy anniversary, Jessie! 🙂

Summer Reading Program–Week Eight

Sweethearts Box
Sweethearts Box (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grace Church Summer Reading Program: Lord, Make My Life a Miracle by Ray and Anne Ortlund. Chapters Eight and Nine: “Be a Christian Wife” and “Be a Christian Husband”

“I would like him to have kind eyes, a nice laugh, and a fun sense of humor.”

“I want him to be sensitive, good with children, and a great communicator.”

“I want him to take care of his appearance and health, but I don’t want him to be overly obsessed with it.”

“I want him to be good with money.”

“I want him to be responsible but still have an adventurous side to him.”

“I want him to love nature and the outdoors—and, oh yeah, dogs, he must love dogs.”

“I want him to love God more than he loves me (but I certainly want him to be crazy in love with me).”

“I want him to be romantic, thoughtful, and kind.”

“And I want him to think I’m the prettiest woman in the world.”

Before marriage people often have a pretty extensive list of the quality traits that they’re looking for in their spouse, but after enough time has passed many couples “settle” in their marriage. No one sets out to “settle” in the selection of their mate, and yet as the busyness and daily-ness of life sets in a lot of couples settle for being roommates instead of sweethearts.

This is not God’s intention for our marriages, and in chapters eight and nine of their book Lord, Make My Life a Miracle Pastor Ray and Anne Ortlund deliver a stiff one-two punch to married couples who have gotten a little lethargic about pursuing and fulfilling the vows of their marriage covenant. In chapter eight they address wives, and in chapter nine they address husbands.

These chapters are intense and challenging—but that’s good because our marriages are worth fighting for and paying a price for, and sometimes it’s good to be challenged to re-prioritize our priorities.

If you’re married, please read both chapters in their entirety, and then faithfully pay the price to continue building a marriage worth fighting for.

For more information about our summer reading program go to www.gracechurchlaverne.org.