Restoration means something became damaged or broken. How did it happen?
–Every marriage begins with two flawed individuals. Both are sinful and both are selfish.
–Therefore, each marriage needs restoration before it begins.
–In the truest sense, every marriage begins and evolves dysfunctional at some level.
–We are taught by this world to love only when we “feel” like it, not because we made a vow for eternity. The world abandons others when they are deemed no longer desirable or useful. “I don’t feel in love with you anymore.”
–We are taught by this world that people fall in and out of love, not go through normal bouts of emotional, spiritual and physical seasons of change.
–We buy into a contrary, cheap definition of love by this world than the depth discovered in I Corinthians 13. That’s why we may so casually abandon a mate and the vow made to God. Then unscrambling the egg becomes very difficult.
–Men often self-destruct themselves (wreck-less and selfish living) and blame/abandon/reject their spouse.
–Women often abandon their mates needs as a reprisal, eroding the relationship further.
–Emotional secrecy (hiding the truth) becomes the degrading element that destroys intimacy and contact-fulness. Let the drifting apart begin. Those who are deceptive take their deception into all relationships, often including second and third marriages.
Where does the serious trouble start? Usually when one or both will not acknowledge and own the above statements.
–Two working people. If I am working at myself and my own need for personal maturity, then I expect less of my mate and others to do this work for me.
–that each the other develops and maintains a decent work ethic connected with rigorous honesty.
Beyond feelings of any nature, all relationships require attention, honesty and arduous work.
–that a resolve to have a NO EXIT policy (divorce) exists —“until death do us part”
Rain comes down from the sky without fail. The earth absorbs some and the rest is run-off. Run-off creates erosion unless something is growing there that has sufficient roots. So then marriage is also about creating the kinds of roots that fend off erosion in the persons and their togetherness as a couple. Rain represents the tough times and the unpredictable hardships that WILL come to this and every couple.
Don’t expect to find too many role models in Hollywood or anywhere millions of dollars are common place. Marriage can become, and usually does, a reflection of greed and discontent. These lives have no root and therefore no commitment beyond personal satisfaction.
–that a definition is used.
“Marriage” is a God thing. He invented it and He defines it. Some couples merely have a contract. If neither are devoted Christians, there will rarely be a devotion as taught in the bible. If only one is a Christian, there is even more work to do.
Christians marry as a sacred covenant. Jesus used such marriage as a picture of himself and the church (a bride that He will never abandon).
How well did their parents prepare them for this? Did they provide a good example?
Statistics say, often not. So each couple must find additional resources on their own as they launch out.
Perhaps they will make fewer mistakes than their parents. Perhaps not.
Lessons for Christians from Ephesians 5:
“That a husband loves his wife AS CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH (v25)
What does Christ say to you and me? “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
“That a wife always put her husband first AS THE CHURCH PUTS CHRIST FIRST.” (v24)
“That we all “Honor Christ and put others first”. (v21)
Decisions are needed:
1-Say no and say it often. Couples are no stronger than their individual characters. Marriage can survive a waning love “feeling” but immaturity, dishonesty and deceit must be forcefully reckoned with. The word NO is very important especially in matters of finance, sexuality, religion, raising children. For example, a resentful “yes honey–go ahead and buy it, though we don’t have the money”, added to more of the same will build up to a BIG NO. Not enough necessary little no’s in any relationship means a BIG one is coming. For many–the BIG NO is “I’m leaving you.”
Have a good battle of wills when needed and affirm what is and is not acceptable in the relationship.
I have a doctor friend who recommends that all of this be done in the nude as a means of neutralizing egos. I suppose it is an option.
2- Keep it real and let change happen without force and threat. Man marries a woman hoping she WON’T change (figure, doting over him). Woman marries a man hoping that he WILL change (grow up, be less selfish, listen, pay her attention and be emotionally open) Disillusionment comes at the level of unrealistic expectation. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
The “until death do us part” recognizes and includes changing health and physical characteristics of both.
Mind–read and study (Philippians 2:1-11)
Body–stay in shape (I Corinthians 6:12-20)
Spirit–nurture your faith in God (Colossians 3:1-17)
Individuals who strengthen these three areas on a regular basis will bring to the marriage health and well-being.
If one gets lazy or becomes incapable, the spouse is called on to carry a disproportionate load.
4-Respect one another at the most basic level.
Men tend to use love to get sex (control and power). Women tend to use sex to get love (control and money). Nature urges it and society/media/economics reinforce it.
Love and sex in marriage are blessed by God, but the using element is deadening to the relationship. Do not use/abuse sex or each other in the process. (I Corinthians 7:1-5)
All of this is basic Erosion Control. Each marriage will have such damage at all times. It is a matter of containment.
Do regular maintenance. If you see it getting out of hand, don’t ignore it until it can’t be ignored any longer.
Never tolerate abuse of any kind. NEVER. Verbal or physical. Separate before it can happen or call the police if it does.
5-If you need help, go immediately to your nearest counselor and begin filling the ruts caused by your neglect.
Licensed therapists very often offer the help needed.
Many pastors / ministers are willing to counsel. If not, they make referrals as needed.
Everybody needs help and every marriage will benefit from greater wisdom.
Put aside the pride and embarrassment that would keep you from seeking and receiving help.
Go in knowing that sometimes separation is well advised to give the couple time for introspection and refocus.
6-Stay with it. Put your head down and move forward with conviction that keeps you focused.
Time passes quickly and people change slowly. Love is patient–at least a maturing love is. (Philippians 3:12-16)
Christians do well to remember that God is not our happiness Genie. (nor is our spouse)
He is busy conforming us to the image of Christ and He often uses our spouses in this process. Don’t run away.
7-Bundle all the energy you used to use in trying to change your partner–
Then use it to pray in your time of aloneness and discouragement,
“Lord, it is my task to love_____________, and your job to change him/her.”
Forgive me for trying to take over your job. I cannot change myself, much less him/her.
Do your work in me that makes me the mate I need to be. Through Jesus I pray.”
Love and beauty is when I cease trying to change/fix my partner and chose to accept and love instead.
8-When Children are involved
Remember that you are their teacher in all things mature, loving and devotion. If they one day marry, they too will marry a sinful, selfish person, as well as offer the same to their spouse. They too will know moments of romantic bliss as well as the dry, uninteresting and often hurtful times that define every marriage. Teach them how to love unselfishly and how to give more than take. Demonstrate a mature love to them that doesn’t abandon when times are tough.
Restoration means starting new and fresh. Whoever said that marriage would or should not need restoration failed to understand basic sinful nature and the call to maturity by means of hard work and devotion.
Restoration is impossible when one or the other insists on ending the marriage in divorce. But even then, there is hope in change. God will change us as we invite such change. In which case, I can be restored, even if my marriage is not.