Articles - General

Marriage

The marriage designed by God is a love relationship so deep, tender, pure and intimate that it is patterned after that of Christ for the Church.

  • The idea of male and female was God's idea so we need to rejoice in the differences between the genders.
  • Marriage was designed by God to meet the problem of loneliness – Woman made as a 'helper' i.e. a person who aids or supports another person as a friend. This implies companionship and completion.
  • Marriage was decreed to bring happiness – Adam was thrilled when he saw Eve – overjoyed that he had a companion like himself.
  • Marriage must begin with a leaving of all other relationships in order to establish a permanent relationship between one man and one woman – leave father and mother,cleave to each other and become one flesh. Each has a full commitment to the other – nothing should come between the husband and wife. You should look to your spouse to meet your emotional needs. Your marriage is top priority.
  • Both partners need to do all they can to form a strong bond – cleave to each other. Anything that puts distance between you, mentally or physically should be avoided. Does any action, attitude, word or decision
    • drive you closer or apart
    • build your relationship or tear it down
    • bring about a positive or negative response.
    • express your love and loyalty to your partner or reveal self centred individualism

There is a need to think as a couple and no longer as individuals – to think of the needs of the other before your own needs

  • Become one flesh – an intimacy that is not shared by others. This involves emotional, mental, spiritual and physical oneness.

MARRIAGE MYTHS

My state of mind is determined by my environment

We are not victims of our environment. The environment may influence, but it need not dictate, nor destroy our marriage or our life. Rather than being helpless victims we can overcome the pressures of our environment. Our happiness is not determined by our spouse's behaviour.

People cannot change

This myth leads to feelings of futility and hopelessness and fails to allow for the reality of human freedom. We can make radical changes in our behaviour patterns – people can and do change! Our spouse can change.

When you are in a bad marriage there are only 2 options – resign yourself to a life of misery or get out!

This myth limits horizons and choices. We can become obsessed with the question "How can I get out of this marriage and get on with my life?." We can get sidetracked by the conclusion that "My life is miserable but there is nothing I can do about it."

Some situations are hopeless

This thought leads to depression and underestimates the power of our own potential and stifles positive motivation.

By refusing to believe that our situation is hopeless we can choose to believe in the power of human potential for change and recognize that all of us are influenced by those who are part of our lives.

REALITY LIVING

I am responsible for my own attitude

Trouble is inevitable, misery is optional. We can choose the way we think about things – We can choose the attitude to our environment. We do not have to be victims of our circumstances.

Attitude affects actions

Our attitude affects our behaviour and words. We may not be able to control our environment but we can control the way we think about our environment and our attitude will affect our behaviour.

I cannot change others but I can influence them

No-one can force us to change our behaviour but we can be influenced to make changes theory that advertisements work on. This is not manipulation.

My actions are not controlled by my emotions

Actions influence emotions. Emotions are spontaneous feelings that we experience throughout life. We perform better if we temper our emotions with our thoughts and desires.

Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I am a failure

None of us is perfect. Even if our spouse's behaviour is troublesome it is positive to acknowledge that our behaviour has not always been appropriate. This does not mean that we bear all the responsibility of the troubles in the marriage, it just means that we are willing to take responsibility for our own actions. This is a sign of maturity, not failure.

Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world

Love is action, not emotion – I Cor 13 Love is a way of behaving and thinking.

Love is our deepest emotional need so the person who meets that need will have the greatest influence in our lives. You can love your spouse even if you do not have warm feelings for him/her. Love is the attitude that chooses to say – How may I help you? These loving actions meet the emotional need for love in our spouse making it easier for them to reciprocate our love. For emotional warmth to be reborn in a marriage it needs loving actions. Understanding the primary love language of our spouse will make this process more effective.

Love Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation – verbally affirming our spouse for the good things they do
  • Quality Time – giving them your undivided attention
  • Receiving Gifts – a gift shows that we are thinking about them
  • Acts of service – doing things for our spouse that are meaningful to him/her
  • Physical Touch – kissing, embracing etc

UNDERSTANDING THE HIDDEN SELF

It is important to understand the motivation behind our own and our spouse's behaviour – to understand the inner motivation and not impute motives. We can then evaluate our own and our spouse's behaviour more realistically.

Possible motivators:

  1. The need to love and be loved – much of our behaviour, positive and negative appropriate and inappropriate is motivated by an effort to meet our need for love. We ask for and give love in different ways and need to understand our spouse's love language.
  2. The need for freedom – to order my own life and not be controlled by others. In a marriage we want to be free to express our feelings, thoughts and desires. When we feel that our spouse is trying to limit our freedom, control or manipulate us we tend to become defensive and aggressive.
  3. To find the balance between meeting the need for love and the need for freedom requires give and take. To be totally free is to live life without love – it has boundaries.
  4. The need for significance – to accomplish something that will give us a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction or to be appreciated and considered special.
  5. The need for recreation and relaxation – we all look forward to fun times when we can rest and relax. We need to recharge the batteries and people find different ways to do this.
  6. The need for peace with God – people have a spiritual hunger to seek something bigger than themselves and to please that God.

PERSONALITY

Personality is our patterned way of responding to life. We are influenced but not controlled by our personality - we can learn other patterns of behaviour that are more conducive to a harmonious relationship.. When we see a better way we must be willing to take it even though it takes us outside our comfort zone. It is important to understand personality patterns as we tend to seek to meet our psychological and spiritual needs in keeping with our personality. We all have a mixture of these personality characteristics but identify with one more than the others. We tend to be attracted to those who have opposite traits to our own but often this leads to frustration in a relationship.

  1. The Peacemaker – the calm, slow, easygoing, well balanced personality who will tend to ignore conflict and avoid arguments at all cost. Conflicts therefore tend to be unresolved. The peacemaker will hold their pain inside and not communicate their emotion.
  2. The Controller – the quick, active, practical, strong willed person who tends to be self sufficient, independent, decisive and opinionated. Will not easily express compassion or warm emotion but tend to bulldoze those who stand in their way. They see the overall picture rather than the detail.
  3. The Caretaker – the self sacrificing, gifted perfectionist who always wants to meet the needs of others, dependable but has high standard of self and others. Will often burn themselves out, hold their pain inside and not recognize their own needs
  4. The Party maker – the warm, lively, excited personality – the life of the party who enjoys people and does not like solitude. Often come across as undependable and undisciplined – forgets previous commitments in the excitement of the moment.

By understanding our own and our spouse's personality we can understand why we behave and think the way we do and begin to see the other person's behaviour in a different light. This may not excuse behaviour but it will open the way for discussion in a more appropriate manner. Instead of always perceiving behaviour or comments as intended to hurt we can better understand the intention behind them and therefore not impute wrong motives.

COMMUNICATION

Hurt and anger are healthy emotions that reveal that you are human and care about your relationship. You do not feel deep hurt unless you deeply love the person that you feel has hurt you. These emotions indicate that you see yourself as a valuable person who has been wronged. However these emotions need to be processed in a positive way.

It is essential to verbally express your feelings to each other. Use "I" statements rather than "you" statements. ...I feel used...I feel hurt...I feel that you do not love me....I feel betrayed etc. These statements reveal your thoughts and emotions. On the other hand "you" statements tend to condemn and incite negative reactions

A lack of communication indicates what is going on inside – possibly the sadness of unmet needs that have stimulated resentment. It is important to assess if your spouse has any unmet needs as described above. The challenge then is to find a way to help him/her meet that emotional need and at the same time maintain your own integrity and get your own needs met.

Never assume that your spouse is always the one to blame – take responsibility for your own actions and assess if there is anything that you may have done to contribute to the problem. Then be prepared to apologise and ask for forgiveness. Also be prepared to forgive.

Don't let the emotions take charge. Talk to someone – a friend or a counsellor who can try to help you understand the situation objectively. Remember that you love this person and that is why you are feeling so angry and hurt.

As much as we may feel embarrassed it is important to seek counselling to help you deal with unresolved issues in the marriage. It is important not to let them build up into seemingly insurmountable mountains where resentment is raging and bitterness fills your heart and life. We cannot make someone deal with their problems but we can deal with our own problems. If we go for counselling our spouse may later join us. We need to take responsibility for our own lives and thoughts and this has the added possibility of stimulating positive change in the life of our spouse. God intends us to be happy in our relationships and if we follow His principles we can discover that true Godly happiness.

 

 

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