Are You sure You want a Christ Centered Marriage?, "Communication in Marriage". Part 7
By Norman & Ann Bales Of All About Families
"It doesn't take much sophistication to know that coloring and complexion are the results of biology, not spirituality. Neither hair color nor skin tone has very much to do with success for failure in life. When it comes to describing relationships, however, we are not always so sophisticated. To hear some Christians tell it, Christian marriages are always beautiful and unblemished; only non-Christian marriages have scars. Likewise, Christian marriages always have a happy ending; non-Christian relationships are doomed before they start." - Truman Esau. Making Marriage Work.
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST RESPONSE TO THAT STATEMENT?
History of a 42 year old marriage.
To make a point regarding the previous statement Dr. Esau tells about Henry and Sarah. They have married 42 years, seemed to have a continuing romance and are the envy of their friends and acquaintances. They are highly respected by grown children, enjoy a productive retirement and work at staying fit and active. They are volunteers for charitable organizations, friendly, hospitable and devoted to each other. They would be the first to tell you their marriage is not problem free, but say it is by no means a disaster either. Many folks would think Esau was describing an ideal couple. He suggested the couple themselves would respond negatively to that evaluation. They are both agnostics.
Why do they have a seemingly stable, happy and lasting relationship even though they are not Christians? They embody Christian ideals, are committed to each other, and are unselfish toward each other and in other relationships. Matthew 5:45 says, the One who sends 'rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness' designed marriage in such a way that, as it conforms to his original intentions, it will be loving and fruitful and a blessing to both spouses." Remember marriage predates the church and Christ's entry into our world. Marriage is a God ordained institution but it is not a Christian institution. Adam and Eve did not have the advantage of Christ's example.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY MARRIAGE?
- General Characteristics of Healthy Marriages
Some of the characteristics of a healthy marriage were discussed in our previous study. They are:
Let's look at some of the characteristics of the 42-year-old non-Christian marriage:
- Healthy background
- Personal strengths
- Devotion to the relationship
- Good physical health
- Involvement in community life outside the home
These are all signs of a healthy marriage but these people have no Christian background or foundation from which these were drawn. So where did they inherit these characteristics?
In Nick Stinett's research on healthy families, he discovered the following common characteristics of healthy families.
- They express appreciation for each other. Every person who lives has the need to be appreciated. When this need is intentionally satisfied in the family, the family becomes a reservoir for replenishing our feeling of inadequacy when we are made to feel unworthy through our contacts with those who dump negative messages on us. In every marriage, it is necessary to deal with negative matters, but a pattern of fault finding inevitably erodes the relationship. (See Matthew 7:1-3) From his experiences in marriage counseling, Royce Money writes, "Every troubled couple had ceased to see the good and beautiful in their partners. But rest assured that each was an expert on what was wrong with the other." (Building Stronger Families. P. 19)
- They develop a workable communication system, which means they have a firm commitment to the family that is more important than any one issue over which they may disagree.
- They spend time together. They enjoy recreational activities together. When children are involved in competitive games, school plays or concerts, the entire family is supportive.
- They have a commitment to religious values (not necessarily Christian, but they have strong ideas about right and wrong).
- They deal positively with crises. The family becomes a support system when deep pain and sorrow invades their tranquility.