Speaker: Pastor Jimmy Evans
To get the most out of a marriage conference, listen for yourself and not for your spouse.
Remember that God created a marriage in Eden (paradise).
Four Elements of Paradise
- Sensual Pleasure
When Jimmy and his wife got married, they didn't have a peaceful marriage. Early on, people came to him for marriage counseling, but what they didn't know is that he and his wife were on the brink of divorce.
God wants you and your wife to have peace.
Foundations of Peace in a Marriage
1. Prior Agreement
Every couple that gets married does so to live a happy life together.
One thing that he learned in his pre-marriage counseling, is that many people never had those deeper conversations. What he did in his 4-5 sessions is facilitate those discussions. In one of the sessions, "Marriage Expectations," he asked questions about how many kids they wanted, a stay at home wife, whose family would you spend the holiday's with, who would do the housework, who will initiate sex, and how the money would be spent.
You would never believe how many people never had those kinds of discussions. Can two people walk together if they don't agree? No!
Three Levels of Communication
- Proactive Communication - Talk about things before it happens.
- Reactive Communication - Talk about things after it happens.
- Radioactive Communication - Because you don't proactively communicate and you are reactive, this leads to a radioactive communication (aka Someone is going to get hurt).
Four Steps To Agreeing Beforehand
One of the first things you need to know about marriage is that we are ALL messed up. Isn't that good news? Everyone is struggling with something, so join the club.
So how do you get to that peaceful place?
2. Clear Out The Radioactive Issues
2. Clear Out The Radioactive Issues
Tip: You have to give your spouse the room to complain.
Jimmy talks about a time that he complained about a broken tool. When he went to the store, they told him to simply pick out another one. He loved that store.
Pastor Evans talks about going to another store and returning a shirt that didn't fit. When he returned the shirt, they said they wouldn't take it back because it was worn. Jimmy then asked to speak with the manager. The manager comes and smells the armpit of the shirt and said, "Give him another shirt." Why would anyone go to that store?
Four predictors of Divorce
The University of Washington found that there are four predictors of divorce. They are:
"You are not a good spouse until your
mate tells you that you are"
Both spouses are the problem in a relationship.
Giving your spouse the right to complain does not mean the right to criticize. That's damaging. Complaining is about ME, but criticizing is about the other person and what they're not doing right.
"Yesterday you were angry at me and I felt bad because I didn't know what I did." Pastor explains. As a result, his wife didn't feel attacked and explained the back story.
If you feel like I'm disrespecting you then you have the right to complain. You can say whatever is on your mind and you will not pay a price. If you ignore a problem it sits, it doesn't evaporate.
The most important thing is pleasing Jesus and the second most important thing is my wife. Therefore to clear out the radioactive issues, you have to sit down and talk. You may have to go outside the house to receive help. Not your parents or your buddies, but with a pastor or counselor.
"Stop Reacting to Issues!"
Have a Vision and Plan Retreat at Least Once a Year
Pastor Evans talks about a guy named David who had a better marriage than him. While playing golf, David told him about a vision retreat. A vision retreat is where the couples go away for a weekend and pray for the issues in their life until God gives them a vision. During this weekend, they would pray for their kids (individually and by name), money, and the like. By the time Noon came around, they would go outside and have fun. As a result of this, they didn't fight for months. They felt like they were in sync with one another.
Jimmy talks about a resource called Mountaintop of Marriage: A Vision Retreat Guidebook.
The Devil doesn't want you and your spouse to agree.
Have a Regular Time of Communicating Face to Face Without any Distractions
Jimmy talks about a time without cellphones. In a marriage, there is a time and a place for technology; however, couples need time alone without distractions. Jimmy and his wife take an hour and a half to talk on a daily basis.
"We come first!"
If you feel like you don't have enough time in your day, then prioritize your calendar to include alone time. In his house, they talk before they watch TV. Jimmy knows their conversation is done when his wife turns on the television.
3. Purpose Brings Peace
Sometimes we get caught up in the smaller issues of life and fail to focus on the bigger picture. We exist as a couple to produce Godly offspring.
There will be a time when you're going to ask why you're still in that relationship. The right answer is because of God.
A 41 year old teacher left his family for an 18 year old student. His family was devastated. The couple said, "We know a lot people will be hurt by this but we are following our heart." Jimmy says he's not following his heart [crowd laughs].
Reason 1: God
Our marriage is about God. It's not about me or my needs being met. Look at what God has done in our marriage. "If you'll help us, we'll help others." Jimmy prayed. He never knew God would take him up on that offer [crowd laughs].
Reason 2: Local Church
Another reason for your marriage is to provide your gifts to the local church. Jimmy believes the local church is the hope of the world. If he got out of fellowship with the church, he would have fallen. Your friends are whom you will be like. Therefore, friends in the church, while not perfect, will help you. Church will keep you centered. The further he gets from church, the more unsaved he feels.
Reason 3: To Help Others
Another reason for your marriage is the grace. Nobody can help a person like a person who has been helped. God wants to help you so that you can help others.
4. Secret to Peace and Marriage is Partnership
Marriage is about the law of possession. Couples share everything.
Jimmy talks about a rich man who got married. His wife said that the only place that's comfortable in that house is the kitchen. He talked to the husband and said that marriage is about sharing. Everything we do, we do together. When he wanted to get a pilot's license, he asked his wife first. She said, "Yes."
He doesn't talk about who is the boss in the family because Jesus is the boss. Together they share children, grandchildren, and even money.
How Dominant People Dominate Others
Jimmy asked the audience by a show of hands, how many of you were raised in a household where one parent was more dominant than the other? [70% raised their hands]
How many of you think that dominant relationship negatively affected the marriage? [Majority of hands raise again]
Two dominant people cannot marry because there would be a homicide. Two passive people cannot marry because they would starve.
People tend to marry to the degree that they're dominant/passive.
As Karen (his wife) began to speak her mind, he wore her out. God took her side and his blinders fell off his eyes. He realized how poorly he treated her.
You read other books, the Bible reads YOU!
Prior Hurts/ Inner Vows
When we're hurting, we comfort ourselves. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. As kids, when we're hurt, we tend to make inner vows. "I'll never let a woman treat me like that again!" That's a destructive way to think.
Your father may be weak and you've become a monster (or vice versa). We go to the extremes in trying to protect ourselves.
Jimmy tells a couple of stories about guys that go to the extreme in their marriages because of something their parents did (dominating mothers) or didn't allow (soda in the house).
An inner vow is evil and it makes it hard to change (or listen). We've all done it. Marriage is a partnership. You cannot dominate the other. If you have pain, give it over to God. Ask God for help.
We're going to do everything together.
Your worry list is your prayer list. With prayer and more prayer, give it to God. Guard your heart and your mind. When you pray, the promises will guard your heart.
Stress robs you of your inner energy. When you have stress and anxiety, you will fight more. If two of you on Earth will agree together (and pray), it will be done for you.
You can have peace in your marriage. By God's grace, he and his family have seen God move in a powerful way. If he can do it, so can you.
Lord we agree to agree. We've been reacting to issues. Give us the grace to be proactive and never again react the way we have. We commit. Show us the reasons you've put us together. We pray that we become partners. We're going to share every decision. We're not going to dominate or bully each other. We 're going to pray about every issue in our family. We're going to trust you. There are so many things we cannot do, but we trust you. Amen.