We had a great discussion on Sunday about the things Jesus said about marriage and divorce. Around 20 people stayed for almost 90 minutes of Q&A. I love that our community thinks deeply about these things. So many really good questions.
As I think about the conversation, here are some questions that came up in my mind that I thought might be helpful.
1. David, you talked in your sermon about a really tough period in your marriage. What were some things that helped you and Laurel to work through that?
There were 2 things that Laurel and I were trying to rebuild: trust and respect. These characteristics are essential for any marriage– you can face anything if they are present and everything feels challenging if they are not. Respect came as we did the work we needed to do. Watching someone work hard and face their character weaknesses and the consequences of their sin builds respect. You appreciate their hard work and you respect the priority they have made it. Trust takes longer. For me, I prayed this: God, do whatever it takes to heal this part of my soul. ‘Whatever it takes’ is a scary prayer. As I said, I took a long leave of absence from work. I checked in with Laurel every day, asking ‘is there anything you want me to know about how I have hurt you or what you are working on?’ I always initiated that and when I didn’t, it broke trust. Obviously, trust is critical. And it takes regular, methodical, consistent action to build and to maintain.
2. Are there some resources that I can read about marriage in general? The SCOTUS decisions in particular?
I try to read one book on marriage a year. There are so many good ones out there. I always learn something new and helpful. My marriage relationship is my highest prioritized relationship, so it’s worth some reading investment. Tim and Kathy Keller wrote, The Meaning of Marriage. It was super helpful to me. What is marriage? is a good primer as you think about the SCOTUS decisions. Sex and the iWorld by Dale Kuehne is very well done and expands the scope of the conversation to sexuality, personhood, and relationships in general.
These 2 articles are quick takes on some of the cultural conversations around marriage: Sex without bodies by Andy Crouch and Why marriage is (and isn’t) the point by Dale Kuehne [a shorter take on his thesis mentioned above].
3. Anything I can do to work on my marriage? Absolutely. Every day.
- Build your spiritual intimacy— pray together everyday, I encourage men to initiate this– It will always feel awkward, get over it. Ask each other about Quiet Times and your devotional life, dream spiritual dreams of who you want to be, talk about what you are learning about from the Lord.
- Build your emotional intimacy: be transparent, walk in the light, listen, learn empathy, ask good questions, text each other abt what you are doing/ feeling, leave notes.
- Build your physical intimacy: have regular conversations about love-making. Talk about frequency, time of day you prefer, things that feel loving. Give tons of non-sexual affection– touch, hugs, kisses that aren’t meant to end in sex– ‘just becauses’. Make love as much as possible.
4. How do I know if my marriage is hurting? Ask yourself questions like these: Am I hiding anything from my spouse? Is there an argument that keeps re-surfacing? Have we not had sex for 30 days? Have we not been on a date by ourselves in 30 days? Have we not prayed together in 30 days?
‘hurting’ is different from ‘trouble’. You need some help. Perhaps you just need to stop, go out to dinner, and acknowledge what’s going on and smile and make a plan. Perhaps you need to have a trusted couple over for coffee and talk the 4 of you about what you are noticing. Perhaps you need a referral to one of the great counselors that are in the area (Restoration has money to help you pay for it, if you need it.)
My prayer is that you hold fast to your spouse. Cleave. Keep working. Find encouragement from God and others when you need it. The church is meant to be a place where you don’t walk alone.
Have a great week.