The Journey with Ron Moore

Many, perhaps you, believe themselves to be reasonably selfless…right up to the moment they say, “I do.” Then a life-long struggle with selfishness is discovered and joined.

Today, Ron Moore helps you to win that struggle in your home.

Young Jewish boys were not allowed to read it (but I bet they did). I’m talking about the Song of Solomon, the Old Testament book about a man and woman passionately in love with each other. The writing, set in poetry, describes dating, marriage, and the problems that inevitably occur. But most of all the song is about God’s gift of sexual intimacy between a man and woman in the context of marriage. The book pulls no punches regarding sex. Yet it is no way vulgar or crude.

Three Hebrew words in the song best describe the components of intimate lovemaking.

  1. Rea

This Hebrew word means “spirit love,” and is translated “friend” throughout the song. That’s where healthy sexual relationships begin—a non-sexual relationship, usually in the company of others. This allows you to see how a person acts and interacts with others. Friendship provides a safe place where you can begin to talk with one another and learn the substance of a person’s heart.

This is important because a major desire for couples is to have a friend in their partner. In one study conducted with couples in all stages of the marriage relationship, couples were asked to rank a list of possible goals for their marriage. The single most important goal listed was to have a friend in one’s partner (Markman, Stanley, & Blumberg, Fighting For Your Marriage: Positive Steps for a Loving and Lasting Relationship, pp. 233-234). In another study aimed at determining why singles wanted to get married, 84% described friendship as the primary reason. This should not be surprising since the essence of marriage is the meet man’s need for companionship and loneliness. Researchers Notarius and Markman note that many divorced couples say that in the process they “felt like they lost their best friend” (We Can Work It Out: How to Solve Conflicts, Save Your Marriage, and Strengthen Your Love for Each Other, p. 132).

  1. Ahab

This Hebrew word describes “heart love” and describes the emotional part of love. It is that indescribable feeling that mysteriously causes two people to desire to spend their life together. When a man and woman “fall in love” they can think of little else. Ahab is used in this song to describe “lovesickness” (2:5b…for I am faint with love) and “emotional loyalty” (3:1— …the one my heart loves).

  1. Dod

This Hebrew word describes physical love. It means “to caress, rock, embrace, and consummate.” Throughout the book, it is translated “lover.”

 

These three components—connection, commitment, and consummation—make for true sexual intimacy. Any one by itself or any two are incomplete and unbiblical.

  • Consummation without connection or commitment is animalistic.
  • Connection and consummation without commitment are called fornication.
  • Connection and commitment without consummation lead to frustration and temptation.

But all three together—spirit (rea), heart (ahab), and body (dod)—now we’re talking! Now we’re singing love songs! This is the one-flesh relationship that only God could invent and design!

Does your job require you to speak a lot?  Do you like to talk a lot? Are you married or in a relationship? Then you are at high risk for Foot-In-Mouth disease. The Proverb says, “When words are many, sin is not absent…” (10:19). For sure, when words are many, something regretful or downright stupid is sure to escape your lips.

Here are three remedies for the dreaded disease.

  1. Don’t say the first thing that comes to your mind.

Researchers call this “editing.” It is the discipline of reflecting on what you say before you say it. Some people pride themselves for “speaking their mind.” But Scripture is clear that speaking is not something to be proud of.

            Everyone should be…slow to speak…. James 1:19

            …a man of understanding holds his tongue. Proverbs 11:12

            He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23

So, slow down…and think before you speak.

 

  1. Wrap what you need to say in kindness.

Researchers call this “leveling.” Scripture calls it “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  Communication must be clear, truthful, and transparent. Many spouses are afraid to level with each other for fear of expressing feelings in a way that will be hurtful. One way to speak the truth in love is to use the X, Y, Z approach.

            When you did (or didn’t do) X in situation Y, I felt Z.

            Instead of: “You jerk! You forgot Valentine’s Day, again!”

Try: When you didn’t buy me a gift (X) for Valentine’s Day (Y), I felt hurt and insignificant in your life (Z).

 

Instead of: “You really make me happy!”

How about: “When you held my hand (X) as we walked into your companies Christmas party (Y), I felt deeply satisfied and secure (Z).

 

Feeling can be expressed with words such as: glad, warm, nervous, frustrated, low, bad, angry, lonely, euphoric, sad, excited, irritated, happy, pleased, embarrassed, anxious, or agitate

 

  1. Timing is everything.

There is certainly a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Communication at the wrong time will not be heard or will be misunderstood more often than not. Communication will not be effective when the listener is preoccupied, tired, or stressed. That’s why “hallway” conversations at work and at home create confusion and misunderstanding. When you need to communicate something important, make sure the timing is right.

Marriages never explode. There is never one event that causes a couple to call it quits. Instead, the demise of a marriage is more like a slow leak. After a time, the marriage goes flat. Too many couples were not willing to fix the leak in the first place. And too many couples are not willing to invest the time, put in the hard work, and effect the personal change needed to restore and grow the relationship.

So the key is to maintain a sense of oneness.

I use three words to describe this biblical concept of oneness.

 

  1. Connection

Connection is the intercourse of body, mind, spirit, and emotion. All marriage couples understand the oneness of body in the sexual relationship. But that same connection has to be present in other areas as well. The physical connection comes most naturally. Mental, spiritual, and emotional oneness takes time to nurture and develop.

 

  1. Mission

I believe couples must have a marriage mission. The chief end of man is to bring glory to God, so the primary purpose of marriage is to do the same. A husband and wife have to be going the same direction at the same time for the same reason—in one word—mission. God brought you together to do what you could not do alone. He has a mission for your marriage.

 

  1. Mystery

Ready for a profound statement…man and woman are different. Shocker, right? We are wired differently. We view things differently. But here’s the kicker. Diversity creates strong oneness. If we are willing to deal with our differences, the differences will fuse oneness instead of driving us apart.

 

So how do you define oneness in marriage? What do you do to create and maintain it? What are some things that threaten oneness in your marriage?

The most important thing about parenting has nothing to do with parenting.

The primary component of raising our kids is how Mom and Dad love and respect each other.

The husband and wife’s relationship is key to allowing a child to mature with security and provides a solid platform to form personal faith and values. A marriage done God’s way allows children to see faith in action and sets the example of a loving relationship that has a really good chance of being replicated when it’s time for our children to experience love and marriage for themselves.

And a godly marriage is not just important when the kids are young; it’s just as important when our kids have kids of their own.

Robert McQuilkin exemplified this Parenting 101 love for his wife, even when she suffered from the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. McQuilkin, who at the time was president of a Christian college, resigned to take care of his wife. Here’s what he wrote in his resignation letter.

My dear wife, Muriel, has been in failing mental health for about eight years. So far, I have been able to carry both her ever-growing needs and my leadership responsibilities…. But recently it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time she is with me and almost none of the time I am away from her. It is not just “discontent.” She is filled with fear—even terror—that she has lost me and always goes in search of me when I leave home. Then she may be full of anger when she cannot get to me. So it is clear to me that she needs me now, full-time.

[This] decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel “in sickness and in health . . . til death do us part.” So . . . as a man of my word, integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her for the next 40 years, I would not be out of debt. Duty, however, can be grim and stoic. But there is more; I love Muriel. She is a delight to me—her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of that wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resistance in the face of her continued distressing frustration. I do not have to care for her; I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person.

“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Wives should love and respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Read all the great books on parenting after you have read the Bible—THE Book on parenting – that reminds us the most important thing about raising our kids is not about our kids, it’s about doing marriage God’s way.

 
Parenting Resources:


Fresh Faith Podcasts:

Parenting Sermons:

Blog Posts

In the past, the Supreme Court has heard arguments for and against changing the definition of marriage. Christian cannot be silent on this issue. Here are five arguments for traditional marriage from God’s Word.

 

  1. God’s Design of the Body

God formed the man from the dust of the ground. The word “formed” means “to shape or fashion.” It gives the picture of a potter working with clay to shape his intended product. The human body, with all its parts—inside and out—was designed and formed by God, the great Potter. The formation of flesh lay lifeless until the Creator stooped down and breathed in life. With the breath of God filling his lungs, man became a living being—body and soul.

 

  1. God’s Partnership Design

God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”[1] So he took from the man’s side and formed the woman. The word “helper” is a word usually used to refer to God himself. It describes one who provides what is lacking, one who completes and one who brings healing. God’s desire in creating the woman was to complete the man. Together the couple can honor, serve, and reveal God’s person in a way neither could do alone. And they are to complete each other physically as well.

 

  1. God’s “One-Flesh” Design

God designed the bodies of men and women with sexual parts that fit together. The act of intimacy is a vivid picture of the one flesh relationship. The emotional and physical act of sex is a deep experience of the one-flesh relationship. But the forming of a man and woman was for more than sexual pleasure or the experience of oneness. Men and women are to leave their parents, be united to each other and experience physical, emotional, spiritual, and missional oneness.[2]

 

  1. God’s Population Plan

God’s plan for forming the man and woman differently included the marvelous and miraculous process of reproduction. God gave man and woman the awesome privilege and responsibility to create a new being. This new person can only come to be from what man and woman provide. It takes both the male and female to “be fruitful and increase in number.”

 

  1. God’s Parenting Plan

It takes a man and a woman to bring a child into the world. And God’s design is for a mom and dad to raise the child into adulthood. A child needs what only a mother and father can give.  Interestingly, the characteristics of both a mother and father are found in the person of God.[3] God’s command is for children to honor and respect their mother and father.[4]

 

Marriage between a man and woman is God’s idea and his design. We must stand strong for traditional biblical marriage.

 

 


[1] Genesis 2:18

[2] Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7-9; Ephesians 5:31

[3] Psalm 91:4; Matthew 23:37; Exodus 15:3; Zephaniah 3:17; Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:7; et. al.

[4] Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:3; Ephesians 6:2

 

Do you find it difficult to pray with your spouse? If the answer is “Yes” you are not alone. It is estimated that less than 10% of all Christian couples pray with each other. It’s not surprising. Praying with your spouse is as vulnerable as it gets. You are praying with the person and to the God who both know you intimately. While you can impress others with your lofty “Christianese” prayer clichés, your spouse just rolls his or her eyes (actually, can you roll your eyes with your eyes closed? Never mind).

Vulnerability is not the only reason spouse don’t pray with each other. There are different expectations. There are different styles of prayer and preferred times of the day. And, let’s face it: prayer is spiritual warfare. Satan doesn’t want husband and wives praying together.

But…regardless of the challenges, couples must develop the habit of praying together. Here are five ways to help you get started.

 

  1. Make praying together a priority.

Urgent things will always crowd out the most important things. Make prayer a priority.

 

  1. Set a time to pray.

God is not open for prayer only between 4:00—6:00 a.m. There is no sacred time to pray. Establish a time that works for you and your schedules. God is not impressed by length but by sincerity.

 

  1. Begin by praying silently.

If you are not used to praying together, begin by sitting or kneeling next to each other and praying silently. When comfort and trust is built, finish the prayer time by praying aloud.

 

  1. Write out your prayers.

If you are not comfortable praying out loud together, write out your prayers and read them to each other. In time, your reading will turn to paraphrasing and your paraphrasing to spontaneous prayer.

 

  1. Start a family prayer journal.

Make a list of the things that you want to pray about. Leave some space so you can record how God answered that specific request.

 

Prayer is simply communicating with God. Let him know what’s on your heart individually and collectively as a couple. Pray that God will keep your marriage strong. Pray that he will give you needed wisdom in raising your children. Start praying for your children’s spouse when they are young. There is a lot we need to be praying about! And a lot we need to be praying about together.

Sex is not simply a physical act. The one-flesh relationship that God intended involves a spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical oneness. That’s why sexual tension in a marriage is much more that what is going on under the covers.

Here are ten sex issues in a marriage.

 

  1. Criticism: Sexual attraction and enjoyment is diminished when he/she  is regularly torn down by words.

 

  1. Anxiety: When sex is viewed as simply a physical act, fear of performance and acceptance is high.

 

  1. Guilt: Guilt may come from the view of sex in one’s background. If sex was always spoken of in a negative way at home and/or church that will have an impact. Also, sex may be a reminded of past sexual experiences.

 

  1. Resentment: This arises when one or both partners feel used.

 

  1. Communication: When communication about sexual expectations, needs, and fears are not discussed sooner or later problems will arise.

 

  1. Predictable Mechanical Sex: A lack of sensitivity or a too much predictability strips away romance.

 

  1. Lack of Sensuality: Husbands, if you show physical affection to your wife only as a lead-up to intercourse…there are going to be some problems.

 

  1. Lack or Loss of Trust: Mutual trust is one of the essentials of intimacy. Partners are reluctant to be vulnerable and giving to a person they can’t trust.

 

  1. Physical Appearance: There is a direct correlation between a negative perception of one’s body and inhibited sexual intimacy. God planned that the husband and wife are to be “naked and unashamed” before each other as part of the one-flesh relationship (Genesis 2:24-25). Husbands, tell your wife how beautiful she is. Take a page from the playbook of Solomon (Read Song of Solomon 1:8, 10, 15; 2:10, 13; 4:1, 7; 6:4; 7:1, 6).

 

  1. Expectation: Our culture has us thinking that sex is an earth-shaking, chandelier-swinging, mind-blowing event every time. In an Time magazine article the authors made this point:

 

…It’s hard to imagine a culture more conducive to feelings of sexual inadequacy…Tune in to the soaps. Flip through the magazines. Listen to Oprah. Lurk in the seamier corners of cyberspace. What do you see and hear? An endless succession of [people] preparing for, recovering from or engaging in constant, relentless copulation. Sex is everywhere in America—and in the ads, films, TV shows and music videos…the impression branded on our collective subconscious is that life…is a sexual banquet to which everyone else has been invited. (Oct. 17, 1994)

 

That describes the way many people feel. But we have to have realistic expectations. Sometimes the kids are down the hall. Sometimes the dishes are in the sink. Sometimes parents are sick. Sometimes there are pressures and stress at work. All of life plays into every day ordinary, married sex. Sometimes it is chandelier swinging…but there is also beauty in its ordinariness.

 

In his book A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis describes a proper view of intimacy. He writes,

[My wife] and I feasted on love; every mode of it—solemn and merry, romantic and realistic, sometimes as dramatic as a thunderstorm, sometimes as comfortable and unemphatic as putting on your soft slippers. No cranny of the heart or body remained unsatisfied.

 

Married sex is with the person we love…the person we have fun with…the person we have committed our life to…the person who knows how weird we are and loves us anyway. Sometimes it is mind-blowing…sometimes it is need-meeting. But it is always with the one we are doing life with and in the context of commitment and invested relationship.

Miscommunication? I know…I know…no way it was your fault. The speaker—your husband or wife—messed up the message. He mumbled his words. She rambled on and on. It was his fault…it was her fault.

Not so fast, Captain of Communication! It is possible that the message got muddled somewhere between the speaker’s lips and your ears. I’m just saying…it’s possible. In fact, there are several things that could have confused the words as they were in route. Researchers call these “Listening Filters.” Here are six filters and how to deal with them.

 

  1. Inattention: The failure to listen closely.

Inattention may be caused by external factors, such as children playing or noise from the television. It can also be caused by internal factors, such as being tired, preoccupied with a pressing issue, or bored.

Listening requires effort. Find a time when you can focus. Turn off the television. Put the kids to bed. Don’t enter into deep communication when you are exhausted or under pressure. Plan a focused time to talk (and listen).

 

  1. Mood: The state of mind, feeling, or spirit.

We listen more effectively when we are in good mood. A bad or grumpy or argumentative mood turns communication south quickly.

When the listener (or speaker) is in a bad mood, communication should be put on hold for a time. It’s not going to end well.

 

  1. Expectation: To presume something will occur or appear.

The listener tends to hear and understand what he/she expect to hear and understand. This filter causes the listener to begin interpreting the message before it is complete.

Don’t determine what your spouse is going to say before it is said. That’s not fair. Remember, communication is the verbal delivery of the heart. Give them the respect to hear their heart.

 

  1. Style: The manner of mode of expression

There are different styles of communicating a message. Shocker, right? Some people are very expressive. Others are more reserved. Some speak with rapid fire. Others speak slow and deliberately. When the speaker is communicating in a style that is different from yours, you have a harder time understanding the message.

But…this is something we have to deal with. Respect the different communication style of your spouse.

 

  1. Self-Protection: Putting up a defense.

If you have hurt me with your words before, I am likely to put up “listening shield” to guard myself from the possible pain, discouragement, and/or disappointment. Reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18). You might have stabbed me once, but I am not going to let it happen again.

This filter has a history, and histories are hard to overcome. I will offer you a Speaker-Listener technique in a future blog that will help.

 

  1. Memory: Recollection of the past.

Some of the biggest arguments are about what was said (or what a person thought was said) in the past. After all, we have perfect memories, right? J

When there is confusion about past communication, four things should be done.

  • Accept the fact that neither your memory nor your partner’s memory is perfect.
  • Accept the fact that you may not have communicated clearly.
  • Accept the fact that other filters may have blurred the reception of the message.

Clear up the confusion with fresh communication and move on.

Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry is the philosophy of safe and clear communication put forth in Scripture. A method that will help turn this philosophy into practice is the Speaker-Listener Technique. It is very simple, yet very powerful. This technique will force you to speak reflectively and listen receptively.

The intentional use of this method will help your daily communication become more effective. The method should be strictly applied when issues are emotional and/or sensitive.

 

Rules for the Speaker-Listener Technique (From Christian PREP, Inc., 1993)

 

Rules for Speaker and Listener

  1. The Speaker has the floor.
  2. Share the floor.
  3. No problem solving.
  4. Stay on one subject at a time.
  5. You can stop the flow for a moment if something is not going right.

 

Rules for the Speaker

  1. Don’t go on and on.
  2. Talk in small chunks (a sentence or two).
  3. Stop and allow the Listener to paraphrase what has been said.
  4. Speak for yourself.
  5. You can pass the floor at any time to the listener to hear his side of the story.

 

Rules for the Listener

  1. Paraphrase what the Speaker is saying.
  2. You can ask for examples or explanations of something that the Speaker said.
  3. Do not offer your opinions or interpretations until you get the floor.
  4. Concentrate on what the Speaker is saying, and attempt to edit out your internal responses.

 

Two things:

  1. When I teach this material, I give a magnetic “floor” to use as a physical reminder of who has the floor.
  2. Remember: When you need to use this technique the most, you will want to use it the least.

Many, perhaps you, believe themselves to be reasonably selfless…right up to the moment they say, “I do.” Then a life-long struggle with selfishness is discovered and joined.

Today, Ron Moore helps you to win that struggle in your home.

Far too many couples are convinced that a weekend marriage seminar, or the newest book on marriage with be the silver bullet that “fixes” their relationship. We all wish it were that easy. There are no quick fixes for marital satisfaction. Certainly, seminars and books can be the catalysts. But relationships improve (or not) only if couples are willing to do the hard work of applying the new knowledge and skills. Albert Einstein well said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were when we created them.”

Stable and satisfying marriages are enjoyed by two people willing to do the hard work. In my doctoral work, I took couples through a process of pre-testing, an enrichment program, and then post-testing. Not surprisingly, the couples who did the least amount of work in the enrichment program scored lowest on the post-test and the couples who did the most work scored highest. Marriage is an ever-changing connection that has to be continually examined, recharged, and redirected as new circumstances, stages, issues, and problems arise.

 

Here are four very basic things you can do to get started:

  1. Take 10 minutes 5 days a week to read a devotional together. I suggest:

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Heirs Together for Life, Charles and Norma Ellis (Banner of Truth, 1980)

Becoming Soul Mates, Les and Leslie Parrott (Zondervan, 1995)

 

2. Take 5 minutes 5 days a week to pray together.

Praying together can be difficult for many couple. Here are some things that will help.

  • Establish a set time to pray. Make the time work for you and your schedules.
  • If you are not used to praying together, begin by praying silently together. When comfort and trust is built finish the prayer time by praying aloud.
  • If you are not comfortable praying aloud together, write out your prayers then share them with each other. In them you will be able to develop the discipline of praying openly and honestly.
  • The more you pray together, the more you will want to pray together. Also, you may want to check out a couple books by Ken Boa, Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Spiritual Growth and Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Intimate Worship (Zondervan, 1997).

 

  1. Begin dating again.

A major desire that spouses have is for their partner to be a friend. Re-fresh your friendship by going out and having fun together. Dates need not be expensive. A walk in the park or on a trail provides much opportunity to talk and enjoy one another’s company. If dates have fallen by the wayside, begin with one a month. Have some fun.

 

  1. Schedule a thirty minute weekly meeting.

Establish a time to meet once a week where planning, conflict resolution, and healthy communication can take place. I know it sounds too simple, maybe even too formal. But a weekly meeting is an important habit to establish in a growing relationship. With busy schedules, it provides a time to put upcoming events and activities on personal calendars. Researchers Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg note that a weekly meeting provides a tangible way to place priority on your relationship by carving out a set time. So, find a comfortable place, grab a cup of coffee, and take a few minutes to get on the same page.

Oneness in marriage means that a husband and wife are headed the same direction at the same time for the same reasons. Jesus said that in marriage, a man and woman are “no longer two but one.”

So what are the things that blow up oneness, and how can we deactivate the bomb before is explodes?

  1. Failure to commit your relationship to the Lord. 

Too many couples spend more time worrying about getting a wedding dress, the guest list (do we have to invite Aunt Lizzie?), and the playlist at the reception (but we have to have “On the Pontoon.”) than they do about properly preparing for marriage.  Therein lies the problem: honeymoons and first homes cannot supersede committing one’s relationship to the Lord.

Too many couples think marriage is about them. It’s not! Marriage is about honoring God. Marriage is about doing together what you could never do alone.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Bow together before God and commit your relationship to Him.
  • Plan a public time of re-commitment (we do this every spring after our marriage enrichment class).
  • Commit to pray daily with and for your spouse.
  • Worship and serve together in a vibrant community of believers.

 

  1. Failure to “Leave” and “Cleave.”

When God designed marriage, He said that all former relationships are to become secondary, and their new relationship is to be primary. The husband and wife are to be united to each other and never let go. “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Place your relationship with parents behind your relationship with your spouse. NEVER talk to you parents about marriage issues. NEVER.
  • Place your relationship with friends behind your relationship with your spouse. You might have to give up Monday Night Football with the boys.
  • Marriage is a room with no exits. Vow to each other (again) and God (again) that you will not leave the relationship. Remember that “for better or worse” thing you said on your wedding day?

 

  1. Busy distractions.

Emails are a blessing and a curse. Cell phones are just a curse. Anyone can reach you at any time. Then kids come and, of course, since they are going to be a professional athlete, we have to have them in three sports at a time (forget family meals).

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Weekly meetings. Once a week set aside a time to schedule the week’s events. Keep a family calendar, evaluate your busyness, and make the necessary changes.
  • Learn to say “No.” In fact, learn to say “NO!” Is it really worth spending weekends apart so one of you can fly with Sally to Sarasota for a soccer tournament?

 

  1. Keeping up with the Jones. 

Money is not only the root of all evil; it is the demise of many marriages. The hidden issues that come with money (power, control, care, etc.) drive wedges between husbands and wives.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Get a grip on your finances.
  • Downsize if necessary. If you have to work seventy hours a week, travel around the world, miss your children growing up and see your marriage fall apart just so you can pay for all your stuff and feed your ego—it ain’t worth it!

 

  1. Stages of life.

Marriage is full of adjustments and changes. First there are the adjustments of being married. Lori and I had numerous arguments on whether or not the bathroom door should be open or closed when not in use. In her family it was opened; in my family it was closed.

There are adjustments and changes in raising children—the toddler, elementary, middle school, and high school. One day, you’ll be dropping them off at college. It’s a killer. Then they get married. Walking my daughters down the aisle was another killer. Someone said it’s like handing over a million dollar Stradivarius violin to a gorilla.

There are adjustments and changes as our parents age and our last child leaves.

If we don’t do stages of life well, one day we sitting together in an empty home staring at a person we don’t know.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Keep Dating. Yeah, I know, it sounds too simple. But having a consistent time where you can get away from kids and issues of life, be together, have fun, laugh together, and talk in relaxed moments will allow you to grow together through the stages of life. Sometimes Lori and I go out to eat or to a movie. Sometimes we sit on our front porch and talk (like we used to do on her front porch when we were dating).

 

  1. It has to be my way.

James says that our fights and quarrels come from the desires that battle within us. “You want something but you don’t get it” (see James 4:1-3). Some husbands and wives are just downright selfish. If they don’t get their way they pout, at best, or use others emotions of marriage as weapons. Some use sex—the giving or refusing—as a power play to get their way.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Admit your sin.
  • Seek forgiveness from God and your spouse.

 

  1. Unhealthy communication.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). We know that to be true. A lack of communication or unhealthy communication will crater a marriage. In communication we share our heart. If we can’t do that with our spouse, oneness is in jeopardy.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Ask God to guard your tongue.
  • Learn the “Speaker-Listener” technique (I will teach it to you in an upcoming blog).

 

There are many other things that blow up marriages. Some things, like affairs or abuse, need professional Christian counseling. What are some other things you would add to “Things that Blow Up Oneness in a Marriage?”

Marriage is not a casual agreement. It is a covenant made before witnesses and God. Jesus tells us that God is the one who joins the husband and wife together “and what God has joined together let no man separate. Scripture says, “It is better to not to make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:5).

So let’s think about the commitment it takes to keep our vows. I have adapted a good bit of the following from Scott Stanley’s excellent book, The Heart of Commitment.

 

TWO KINDS OF COMMITMENT

  1. Constraint Commitment: The external pressure to stay together. 

Constraint commitment involved the outside forces that compel couples to stay together. They include

  • Social Pressure: If we split up, our family, friends, and community may disapprove.
  • Morality of Divorce: Most Christian couples know that God hates divorce.
  • Children: Parents don’t want to hurt their children by splitting up.
  • Finances: Divorce is expensive and may well alter your lifestyle.
  • Termination Procedure: There are several steps in ending a marriage that take time and money.
  • Alternative Quality: Most people want to be married, even if they don’t want to stay married. There is great concern if others will be interested in them as a future mate.

 

  1. Dedication Commitment: The internal state of devotion to a person.

Dedication commitment is the inner longing of a person to stay in a relationship. It is evidenced by the desire to not only continue in a relationship, but also make personal sacrifices to improve it. Here are some sources of dedication.

  • Relationship Agenda: This exists when couples build mission and purpose into their relationship. They plan for the future; in essence, saying that they are committed to be in their spouse’s future.
  • Primacy of Relationship: This is demonstrated by couples making regular times for each other, establishing the priority of dinner together, scheduling dates, and scheduling meetings to work through problems and issues.
  • Couple Identity: This refers to the degree to which a husband and wife view themselves as a team. One way this is demonstrated is when couples use plural pronoun (we, our, us) instead of singular (I, me, mine) in referring to their relationship. Words mean something. They express our hearts. 
  • Satisfaction with Sacrifice: The degree to which the couple takes pleasure in doing things for their spouse’s benefit and enjoyment. 

Dedication and constraint commitment are not mutually exclusive. Dedication commitment increases constraint commitment. And constraint commitment provides a foundation for dedication commitment to grow and flourish. The experiences of a relationship like buying a home together, having children, the death of parents, are significant investments into a relationship that increase both dedication and constraint commitment.

 

At the end of the day, these two types of commitment work like epoxy glue. You need them both to keep your vows…that you made to God.

I believe far too many young men and women enter the dating game with no real plan. This leaves them open to move forward in a relationship based on immediate emotions. Too often they find themselves involved before they take a hard look at the person with whom they have fallen “in love.” “Love is blind” as the saying goes. Deep emotion can keep us from seeing another person’s true character.

Young people (and old people for that matter) move through dating, to engagement, to marriage without a thorough assessment of the person they are getting ready to look in the eyes and say “for better or worse.” Even when the relationship gets out of hand many feel it is too late to adjust or jettison.

 

Therefore, it’s important to make decisions before you get involved in a relationship.

 

Below is a process I call MATE. This is an evaluation process parents can use with their children to talk to them about the type of person they want to date. This is also a process young adults can use as they maneuver the complicated and confusing path of looking for a future spouse.

MATE

MATE is an acronym for Must Have, Add-ons, Take it or leave it, and End of the Road. I will explain each of these below. I asked our own children, ages 16-27, to give me examples of each. Two of them are married. Input from my daughter-in-law and son-in-law are included as well.

Certainly, some of the examples are subjective. You will not agree with all of them. You will need to guide your children to a list of their own. Use our examples to start the discussion.

MUST HAVE

This represents the starting point, the must haves. These things are non-negotiable. They must be there from the start. The relationship doesn’t even get started unless these are present.

 

Must Have Examples:

Believer


Person of character


Person of high moral values


Industrious


Easy to talk to/spend time with


Physically attractive

Respects you without requiring you to change


Respected by peers

 

 

ADD-ONs

Just below the “Must Haves” are the preferred things you desire in a relationship. These are not showstoppers, but they are serious considerations. They are the things you may or may not want to live with or without.

 

Add-On Examples:

Spiritually mature


Knows calling/vocation


College graduate


Gets along with family/friends


Similar views of husband/wife and mother/father roles 


Good sense of humor


High (or low) activity level


Challenges me intellectually (makes me think)

Has a good relationship with his/her parents/family.


Wants a good relationship with family of origin and spouse’s family


Good conversationalist


Makes me laugh


Willing to lead


Shows empathy


Willing to be spontaneous

 

Take It or Leave It

You could go either way. These are optional things. Electives. Available but not obligatory. May be family of origin issues.

 

Take It or Leave It Examples:

Good singing voice


Athletic


Likes the Oklahoma Sooners


Wants to live in the same places


Close with family


Would rather vacation at the beach than the mountains


Volunteers in the community


Specific physical characteristic (I was looking for someone taller than I was, and I did succeed. Note: This came from my daughter-in-law who is 5’5” and my son is 6’3”)


Likes coffee


Has tattoos


Eyebrow ring


Willing to travel and/or move away


Morning person


Likes dessert


Enjoys playing games


Likes repairing things


Likes dogs

 

End of the Road

These are showstoppers. A character trait. A bad habit. An annoyance. If this person did this thing or acted this way there will be no future. This discovery may not be made until months into the relationship. However, if it shows up, game over.

 

End of the Road Examples:

Not a believer


Does not respect his mother


Addicted to video games


Allergic to peanut butter


Drug use


Smoker


Alcohol abuse


Unwilling to listen


Loud chewer


Crazy laugh


History of lying/deceit


Does not get along well with immediate family/close friends


Large debt with no plan to try and actively decrease


Unwilling to travel and explore


Rude to waiters at restaurants


Not well matched on significant issues (denominational differences, political differences, etc.)


Manipulative


Lazy


Explosive temper


Abusive


Previous marriages/relationships

 

I encourage you to use the MATE process with your children. We have had a great time discussing this with our children. Let me know how your children respond.

Just as each person has a unique fingerprint, so each marriage has a unique “marriageprint,” a distinctiveness that belongs to each couple alone. God unites couples to do together what they could never do alone. God has brought you together as man and wife to do what no other union in the world can do.

So what is it that God wants you to do? What impact does He want you to make?

To help you answer that question, I’d like to show you how to write a Marriage Mission Statement. The statement is the product. The real work to marriage mission is the process that you need to work through together.

 

Why Should We Write a Marriage Mission Statement?

  1. A mission or purpose defines the long-term reason for the existence of your marriage. Marriage is more than having a ceremony and setting up a house. A mission provides the meaning and significance. It articulates why your marriage is more than individual gratification.
  2. A mission describes a marriage bigger than the parts and the sum of the parts. Internally focused marriages are not fulfilling. Successful and satisfying marriages have a mission to God, each other, family, church, community, and the world.
  3. A mission guides a couple to a goal and motivates them to make the sacrifices necessary to reach the goal.

 

Writing a Marriage Mission Statement

I have every couple I marry write a Marriage Mission Statement. The statement is printed in the wedding program and I include it in the ceremony. I understand that the mission will become more specific as the couple’s relationship matures. But the mission helps a couple begin their relationship in harness together, heading the same direction at the same time for the same reasons.

Here are some examples of Marriage Mission Statements:

We made a decision to honor God together after choosing him for ourselves. We believe God brought us together and has plans for us that we cannot achieve on our own. This means stepping out in faith to follow God, recognizing that his plans may not be our plans. We desire to serve each other living out Im Third, knowing this will require sacrifice, dedication and most importantly love. With that in mind we commit our lives to each other and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

We publicly proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is through Him alone that our sins are forgiven and that we may have a personal relationship with God. We commit to love one another with Jesus Christ as the foundation of our marriage. We commit to use the gifts The Lord has blessed us with to serve our family, friends, church and those in need. We pray that by Gods strength and guidance this mission statement will not be only words but visibly evident to others in the way we live our lives from this day forward.

We publicly acknowledge our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, for it is by His grace and perfect will that we have been brought together. We commit to always keep Christ as the foundation of our marriage. We promise to always encourage each other and continually grow in our relationship with God, both as individuals and as a couple. We will not let anything come between us, and we will demonstrate our love for each other every day. We commit to honoring one anothers dreams and desires. We are committed to prayer and being in Gods word daily. We will raise our children in a house that loves and serves the Lord by demonstrating to them the importance of living a life holy and pleasing to God. We promise to love and support our extended families. We desire to build relationships and to serve within our church family. We commit to serving people both in our community and around the world. We commit to demonstrate to a watching world that God has us on a mission to further His kingdom.

It is the hit song of the scriptures…a passionate love ballad that extols the joy of sexual intimacy.

Ron Moore offers a guided tour of Solomon’s “Song of Songs.”

Sexual intimacy is essential to a fulfilling marriage. But trying to meet your partner’s intimacy needs by giving them what you want will result in a less than satisfying experience.

Let’s examine the process of becoming “one flesh” and what each partner needs from the other.

Remember the happy abandon you and your partner experienced as a young couple…the exhilarating activities, friendship and laughter that bound your souls together?

Recapture your joyful connection all over again.

What causes conflict in a marriage?  Well, sometimes the triggers are in plain sight and sometimes, maybe even many times, it will take a search light to find them.

Ron Moore offers the signs you should look for in your marriage.

Prayer

Do you need prayer?

Email prayer@ronmoore.org.

RON’S SERMONS

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