Episode 056 | Because Marriage is Hard

March 7th, 2017

People are hard, and somehow the people we fall in love with and choose to spend our entire lives with can be the hardest. What do you do when your spouse doesn’t share your beliefs? Or won’t forgive you for something you’ve done? And how do we not just survive marriage, but make it great? Listen in as Pastor Matt, Justin and Stephanie talk marriage.

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Summary

When it comes to relationships, we tend to struggle the most with the people we’re closest with - and marriage is usually the prime example of this concept. In the second week of the Relationship Toolkit series all about the relationships found in the book of Genesis, we look at how sin changed the game for the first marriage ever.

Marriage takes two different people and turns them into one, and while this is a mysterious, spiritual bond that takes place, it is also a union that has to be fought for and protected. In this episode, Pastor Matt talks about one of the number one source of anger in relationships - and it’s not money, sex or arguments. Instead he talks about how competition and comparison turn us from teammates into enemies and shares the beauty of what can happen when we stop competing. The conversation doesn’t stop at what not to do, but also covers tools to unlock intimacy, and fight for what every relationship requires.

The conversation also turns to what to do when you’re married to someone who doesn’t share your faith and how to move forward when it feels like your spouse may never forgive you for a wrong you’ve done.

Not married yet? Don’t tune out. This discussion covers how and where to find someone great, who you should and shouldn’t date and what the heck to do when you’re single and would rather not be anymore.

This Week's Topics

How do we know if God is really talking to us or we just just think he is?

When seeking God’s will, you have to check your emotions at the door and follow the example of Jesus in Luke 22.42, as he walked through God’s plan of suffering to receive his blessing. Practically, this means you first need to check your desires or circumstances with what the Bible says to see if they are specifically addressed. If they aren’t, then consider how the wisdom of what the Bible says applies to your situation. It’s also important to get insight from the people who know and love you best. Finally, in particularly challenging or weighty situations, seek someone who is outside your situation (like a counselor or arbitrator) who can speak into it objectively. The take away: Check your emotions, refer to the Bible, involve community and seek wisdom from counsel outside of your situation.

How is Jesus in Abraham's genealogical line since Joseph was not his natural father?

Joseph is the divinely appointed adoptive father of Jesus. Additionally, according to the family line of David, he is also King David's biological heir. This is important because of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7.12 that the Messiah would come from his family line. Joseph is able to pass on his family line to Jesus, his adopted son, even though he isn’t the natural father of Jesus. The primary emphasis of Matthew’s genealogy is to show that Christianity is not a cult, or an offshoot of Judaism; it is the fulfillment of Scripture and God’s plan from the beginning for his people.

How did the people in Genesis 4 know to bring offerings to God, even though the law hadn’t been established yet? And what made Abel’s offering better than Cain’s?

After the fall, people got a sense that they need to give something back to God because he continued to care for them in spite of the curses in Genesis 3. Genesis 4.3 reveals that Cain brought some of his crops and Abel brought the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The content reflects the heart of the individual and God is concerned with the heart. 2 Corinthians 9.7 says, “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” Although they both knew to bring an offering to God, Abel did so out of a thankful heart, while pride and rivalry impelled Cain.

How do we keep from becoming rivals in our most important relationships?

Any time there is competition, someone is going to lose. This is why it’s key to do away with competition in your relationships. How do you do this? In conversations with your spouse, seek to listen and understand, not to win the argument. In relationships with friends, don’t compare your possessions and wealth to theirs. Learn to be content with what God has provided you. Parents, treat your children as individuals, not equals. As equals they have to compete. As individuals, they will feel loved and valued for who God has gifted them to be. In all of your relationships, seek to be the person God has called you to be and allow others to be the person God has called them to be.

Ephesians 4.26-27 says, “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” How does that practically work out in relationships?

Anger at others is caused by self-righteousness and unmet expectations. It explodes when frustrations are stored up without being addressed. Cain killed Abel because he allowed his anger to fester. In Genesis 4.7 God makes it clear that anger is eager to control us, but we must master it. Ephesians 4.26 starts by saying, “And don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Letting anger sit gives it time to grow into bitterness and resentment. You have to take responsibility for your anger and redress it with humility, patience, and love.

How do you move on from an issue that happened years ago if one spouse refuses to offer forgiveness?

Unforgiveness is rooted in fear. It is used as a means of self-protection but in actuality, it destroys grace in relationships. By not forgiving, you are sitting in the seat of God and eventually the weight of judgment will crush your soul - not the person you refuse to forgive. Self-reflection is necessary to understand your own sin and be able to give grace to others. Grace unlocks intimacy, giving grace and offering forgiveness is the only way for a relationship to flourish.

How do I handle tension with my mother-in-law?

Parenting provides a sense of purpose for most mothers. When her son or daughter leaves home and is joined to his or her spouse, there is still a tendency for mothers to continue exercising influence over their child's life. If there is tension in your relationship with your in-laws, first express your concerns to your spouse and let them be the one to address it. You may not agree with everything your mother-in-law does, but try to view your marriage as the culmination of the best of both of your families. Seek to glean wisdom from her while finding proper boundaries in your relationship. Don't use limiting access to your children as a threat, and above all, remember: grace unlocks intimacy.

How do you reach spiritual harmony with your spouse when your individual spiritual relationships are mismatched?

You may be in a different place in your relationship with God than your spouse. If so, follow the advice of Peter (1 Peter 3.1) and lead by example. Accentuate the positive. Celebrate what your spouse does well and be thankful for their contribution. Avoid criticism and speak encouraging words to them (Ephesians 4.29). Men and women operate differently in the way they seek and approach God. Offer grace, be patient and pray for your spouse, thank God for them and honor them in front of your children.

If you’re single, don't be afraid to wait for someone in a similar spiritual place as you. Religious values barely matter at all in dating, but they will affect everything once you get married. Paul warns against uniting with those who don't share your beliefs (2 Corinthians 6.14). Seek God and when dating, seek those who share your religious beliefs. Sandals Church offers a wide variety of community groups for couples, women only, and men only. If you’re interested in joining a group, go to sandalschurch.com/groups.

What would you say to those women who maybe feel their husband isn’t the “spiritual leader” they expect/desire?

First of all, consider where your picture of spiritual leadership comes from - women will have a different view of this than men will. It’s also important to realize the way feminism and culture has rallied against manhood over the past forty years, leaving men clueless about masculinity and what it means to lead well. Most men feel like they don't have what it takes to lead and constantly battle fear and insecurity. The greatest gift you can give your man is to love him and appreciate any way he leads. Encourage him, be patient with him, pray for him and make it simple to pursue spiritual disciplines together. Lead from a place of submission, which enables grace, makes him feel respected and entices him to love and want to lead well.

Relevant Resources

Check out Pastor Matt's sermon: Does Anger Really Hurt Relationships?

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