divorce

The Marriage Triangle – Unity, Part 3

Unity With Others

Although I’ve said in Parts 1 and 2,  it can’t be overstated – unity is the goal for every relationship in Christ, including marriage — The purpose for unity in marriage is different.

Inside relationship with others we try to keep unity by, getting along as much as it depends on us (Rom 12:18).  We try to keep unity by, submitting to one another (Eph 5:21).  And even though we know we’ve, freely received everything we need to get along with each other (2 Pet 1:3-4), sometimes, no matter how hard we try to keep the unity through honest conflict resolution with one another, (Matt 18:15-17) – it doesn’t work.

If a sister or brother continues to sin against you and you’ve followed the steps for reconciliation outlined in Matthew 18, then a break in friendship is the next step, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.

Marriage Eclipses the “I”

When you get married, the marriage is the top priority, you are second.

While you can be reconciled with a brother by following the steps in Matthew 18, applying the outcome works against the one flesh.  The essence of marriage is intimately close, and to treat your husband as a pagan and a tax collector is intimately far apart, and seeks to destroy the one flesh covenant.

The escape clause in Matthew 18:17 is meant for dissolving friendships — not marriage.  But, if we’re going to direct it towards marriage, then we must accept the indictment from Jesus (Matt 19:8) that comes with it, Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.

Jesus didn’t say you couldn’t divorce your husband, only that if you do, you’ll be revealing your hard heart.

So, what’s the alternative, if you don’t want to be hard hearted?

Let the covenant do the work God designed it to do—it’s based on His truth not your feelings.  It’s the connection during crisis, when God is all you’ve got left.

LOVE: a better way

When I started this series, it was because we found the original marriage triangle ineffective – it had no practical application for a struggling marriage.  The theory was too kitschy—clean, seamless.  And very logical: you both grow closer as you grow closer to God—orderly, sanitized.

It just didn’t resonate with any of the wreckage that the both of us had become, or the conflicts and raw pain that were increasing in our marriage.  Maybe it was because we had both lived by the world’s standards for so long.  Or maybe it was just the nature of who we were as a couple, I’m not sure, probably a combination.

The shift in paradigm, from the traditional marriage triangle to a new One Flesh Triangle perspective, stops the chaos of selfishness and always re-centers me to the basics of God’s love—back to the beginning of Him and me:

I love Him, because He first loved me. -1 John 4:19

During trials and conflicts (which I’m happy to say are now basically non-existent in our marriage), the imagery from the One Flesh Triangle immediately reminds me of what’s important—loving God, because He first loved me.

LOVE: begins and ends with God

But how?  How do you love God back?  He is everything—has everything.  He has so much love that it’s infinite—He gave everything and held nothing back.  Love is who He is—His mainspring.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating her brother, thinking nothing of it, she is a liar.  If she won’t love the person she can see, how can she love the God she can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt:  Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both. -1 John 4:20-21

How, is it possible to give God love?  By loving the brother who’s right in front of you:  You.Do.It.First.  Demonstrate love the way God does—Instead of giving us what we deserved, He loved us first.

I  don’t get to mistreat my husband because I think he deserves it, nor do I get to belittle him because he won’t do what I think is right.  I don’t get to toss him to the curb because he’s not the kind of husband I want him to be.  My husband’s sin is not greater than mine. (Col 3:6-7; Eph 2:1-3)

Look again at the One Flesh Triangle.  I receive God’s love but the only way to love Him back is through my husband.

And the king will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ -Matt 25:40

Read the signs

If there’s a fair amount of strife in your marriage or some triggers that never go away – If you’ve heard the same phrases repeated in arguments and disagreements –  If your communication often breaks down into “every-man-for-himself,” you might just need a new marriage paradigm like we did.

I found with our Marriage Certificate along-side the image of the One Flesh Triangle, there was (and is) no way Satan’s going to divide us—Semper fi!

 

SOUL-utions

  • Do acknowledge the love you’ve received from God through our Savior (2 Peter 1:1), it encompasses all His power and strength as you take steps to align your life under His Lordship.  God gave you all of everything you need to take that step (2 Peter 1:4)
  • Don’t let Satan trick you into getting stuck in that rut between verses 2 and 4—only concerned with what you get from God our Father.
  • When we’re born again, we’re all immature and drinking only milk-it’s the beginning growth.  But, as Paul implores us, choose meat and grow-up (Heb 5:12-14).  And when we do make that choice, Peter instructs us how to walk it out (2 Peter 1:5-7).

 

 

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The Marriage Triangle: The One-Flesh Triangle

In Part 1, I explained how our marriage experienced trouble when we tried to fit into the template called, ‘the marriage triangle’.  That instead of simplifying marriage concepts, it had made it more confusing.

What we discovered was that the triangle paradigm is more realistically suited to all other relationships within the body of Christ, except the marriage.  So it’s better named, A Family Triangle:

Within every one of our relationships with other Christians, there are three separate interchanges going on:  1-Darrell has his own relationship with God.  2-I have my own relationship with God.  3-And then there’s Darrell and I, as brother and sister in Christ.

It’s relationship #3 that defines this as a Family Triangle instead of a Marriage Triangle, it could be with Darrell or any other brother or sister in Christ whether they are friends, neighbours, co-workers, cousins, etc.

When the triangle supports all other relationships, it can’t also express the one-flesh in marriage.  The one relationship that’s not interchangeable with any other:  The Covenant

The marriage covenant anchors

The Bible leaves no doubt that the Trinity is three in one,  Father, Son, and Spirit.  Within the Trinity, there’s a rich symbolism for marriage – a supernatural blending of multiples into a single:  God is three in One – marriage is two becoming one.

In marriage, people are not separated into 3 different relationships like in a Family Triangle – they’re joined.  God invites us to covenant with Him because He knows we’ll need His help to make it work.  We cannot become a thriving one-flesh relationship without His help because it’s a supernatural relationship.

The covenant holds us together as God begins the process of infusing two earthly people into a single unit:  One-Flesh, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)

If you’ve anchored your marriage to God by His covenant, it begins and ends with Him.  He created it in the beginning, it’s His idea, it belongs to Him.  He doesn’t join your marriage … you join His marriage.

I think we forget how real that covenant is because we can’t see it.  Unlike the visible rituals of buying the government license at city hall and signing the certificate of marriage at the church, the covenant we make with God – even though unseen – is the real deal. As such, it has far more gravity.

I agreed to covenant with God in marriage through my role as a wife.  I made an agreement with Darrell too, but it’s a contract with another human, a natural being.  God’s covenant is super-natural and supersedes an earthly marriage contract.

At a glance, The One-Flesh Triangle makes the invisible visible and, if we’ve let God anchor us, we’re reminded of that gravity.  At that instant, when we need it the most – in the heat of conflict, frustration, hurt, anger (and sometimes even hate) … it can reset our hearts and minds back to what matters most:  not me, not Darrell – But God. His covenant matters most.

There are ups and downs in every marriage; some have more ups than downs and some go down further than others, but we all need a strategy to remind us of the purposes of marriage.  In the good times in marriage, no one needs a prompt.  But in the hard times, when our wedding day feels like a lifetime in the past … when marriage gets painful and it reaches that breaking point – when we start to think, “This is too hard,” the questions we needed to ask are, will I lean on my own strength or wait for God’s?  Am I going to put the human contract above my covenant with Him?  What’s more important?

SOUL-utions

  • Understand that your marriage is a completely different breed of relationship than all others found on earth; it can’t be treated the same.
  • Accept that your marriage is under tremendous strain from Satan. His main goal, since the day you got married, is to unravel your marriage by coming between the two of you so you’re separated.  He’s the ultimate predator and wants you alone – out of your one-flesh strength.
  • Believe in the realness of your covenant with God.  Trust Him with His own idea of marriage; trust Him with the role He assigned you as a wife.  Let this visual be a trigger to jolt you out of any emotions of hurt, back to the facts.

 

 

Beware of the Marriage Cannibals

What do you call it when someone turns against the team?  Sometimes we say they’re a traitor, deserter, or even hypocrite.  In medicine, it’s called autoimmunity:  an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself.

What about in marriage, when one spouse turns on the other and begins attacking the team?

In Galatians, Paul uses some graphic imagery to make an emphatic point:  Tearing at each other by biting and devouring has the same effect, relationally, as cannibalism:  Consuming one of your own.

If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? (5:15)

When a spouse does this, they’re cannibalizing their own marriage.

What does it look like to bite and devour — have I been cannibalizing my own marriage?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added)

Wow, wow, wow – if we can get a visual of just how dangerous it is to live out of our flesh instead of our spirit, we’ll be able to see how much real damage we can do to our husbands, to ourselves, and to The Kingdom –it can change our hearts.

Marriage Cannibal:  it’s a choice 

No one is a cannibal on their wedding day. In fact, we’re the opposite of a marriage cannibal on that day!  This change happens after the wedding and is triggered by who we listen to.

Marriage cannibals want you to expose all your husband’s mistakes, misdemeanors, and missteps.  They tell you how right you are and how you deserve better.  How unfair your circumstances are.  All the while inching you closer to your flesh instead of The Spirit.

Is it intentional?  Sometimes it is – sometimes women are so hurt over their own failed marriage(s) they can’t get beyond their own bitterness. They end up destroying any other marriage they come in contact with –misery loves company.  And then there are some unwittingly used by Satan:

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,  always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:6)

… and they end up being out for themselves.  They feel justified as they feed on the misery that you’re serving up from your marriage.  They do this under the guise of helping and encouraging your situation, all the while sharpening your focus on the faults of your man.  Their motive isn’t really solution-oriented, it just feels like it is because they’re giving you center stage of attention.

It doesn’t matter if the split for the responsibility of the conflict is 95% your fault and 5% your husband’s.  A marriage cannibal will talk you away from any responsibility you have while simultaneously narrowing your focus on that 5% of his.  Blame’s the name of the game.

The first marriage cannibal was Satan

He uses the same technique today that he used in the garden:  Creating doubt through a perceived sense of lack.  He wasn’t after Eve, he merely used a weakness of hers to reach his real target, Adam – divide then conquer.

Any advice or counsel that focuses on the faults of your man instead of the power of Christ’s grace, is underpinned by Satan’s methods.  You’ll know them because they’ll appeal to your flesh – just like they did with Eve.

DIVIDED:  Satan used a lie to shift Eve’s focus away from God’s truth so she’d doubt Adam, You won’t die!  Then, as a liar does, he spins it bigger, God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.

AND:  Eve doubts, The woman was convinced.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  Then she gave some to her husband.

CONQUERED:  Adam yields, and he ate it, too.  At that moment their eyes were opened.

Satan achieved a “twofer” here:

  • Division between husband and wife (Genesis 3:16)
  • Division from God (Genesis 3:24)

Cannibalism of marriage: the movement

A true saying is that, it takes two to tango.  It takes two to make the marriage work and two to break it down – but it only takes one to initiate divorce1.  In the past, when it was just our husbands that had the freedom to initiate divorce, the divorce rates2  were low.  However, when us wives got that same freedom, divorce rates skyrocketed3.

Unfortunately, it’s women that are leading the destruction of families – not men. (2 Tim 3:6-7)

When you listen to a marriage cannibal, you’ll end up distrusting God’s:

  1. Son (Hebrews 1:2)
  2. Message in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16)
  3. Power (Romans 4:17)
  4. Timing, and (2 Peter 3:8-9)
  5. Ability (Luke 1:37)

And you’ll believe that:

  1. The grace you’ve received from God through Christ is sufficient for your sin, but not for your husband’s. (Romans 3:21-26)
  2. The circumstances in your marriage are the exception and make your marriage harder than anyone else has ever experienced. So, therefore, you get a special dispensation of grace. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12)
  3. Your husband’s problems are not fixable, even by the Creator of the universe. (Ephesians 3:20)
  4. Your sins are smaller than his, and God doesn’t have as much work to do in you as He does in your husband – he’s holding you back from a good life and you want to be happy now. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)
  5. Your life will be better without your husband. You have to depend on your own ability to make that happen instead of waiting for God to make it happen. (Isaiah 43:19)

SOUL-utions

  • We all need to talk to people about problems in our marriage from time to time. Choose wisely – choose one person.  Choose as a last resort.  Don’t choose a person as a replacement of the Holy Spirit, and if the advice doesn’t lead you to give the grace of Jesus Christ, choose someone else.
  • God tells us to test fruit and He encourages us to test Him. Check the source – what does her own marriage look like?  Examine the fruit in her marriage, she must be able to back it up with real experience.  If she doesn’t have fruit yet or the fruit is suspect, choose someone else.
  • After you’re done talking to her, do you hate your husband more? Or, love him more (or at the very least, hate him a little less)?  Have they thrown gas on the sparks so your anger and self-pity are escalating to a consuming fire that needs to be fed?  Or, have they helped you diminish the sparks by sprinkling the water of grace on them?  If not, choose someone else.

 

 

 


NOTES

  1. initiate divorce:  “… 70-75% of divorces were initiated by women […] and is a rising trend.” –Michelle Langley (Incidentally, her research is part of why and when I started following trends and information about marriage)  Her book is called, Women’s Infidelity, and was published in 2005.
  2. divorce rates:  according to the National Center for Health, 50% of marriages in the United States now end in divorce with 80 percent of the initiation filed by women.
  3. divorce rates skyrocketed:  “#25. Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66% on average.” That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.

 

 

 

More Than a Conqueror

upwithmarriage_more-than-a-conqueror

 Life’s too short to not give your marriage everything you’ve got. 

What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapour (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. ~James 4:14

And then, when you’ve got no more left to give – GIVE MORE by pressing into God.  In this way, you’re strong through your weakness.

But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. ~2 Cor 12:9

And now you’ve just become more than a conqueror through Christ.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. ~Rom 8:37

YAY!

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Neglect

DRIFT

Neglect always leads to drifting.

There is no area of life where neglect is beneficial. Life – people – relationship: all require work. We were not built for static. Attending to – caring for – doing: We were built for activity.

PHYSICAL

  • Neglect to work out; your heart and muscles drift into weakness and atrophy
  • Neglect to eat right and your body drifts into poor health

MATERIAL 

  • Neglect your work you get passed over for promotions
  • Neglect to pay your mobile fee and your phone becomes useless

EMOTIONAL/MENTAL

  • Neglect to manage your emotions and your filters weaken
  • Neglect to keep your mind sharp and cognitive ability becomes dull

 Neglect = Drift = Dullness

Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away. –Heb 2:1

For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them. -Matt 13:15

Fat & Dull = Lazy listeners ‘ask for it’

We all have areas in which we have become lazy listeners that make us neglectful:  In what ways are you neglecting your marriage?

A phrase you hear repeatedly from your spouse can indicate an area of dullness. You can listen to God through your spouse or you can let regression continue. But God always corrects one way or another. Just like you as a parent wouldn’t allow one sibling to constantly take advantage the other; He won’t allow His chosen to become a family of spoiled brats that hurt each other through the inaction of neglect.

You either act through listening and hearing or God will give you the help you are begging for. (Heb 10:31)

 BEWARE OF THE BAIT

Resist the temptation to ask, “In what ways is my spouse neglecting our marriage.” God doesn’t ask us to account for each other. I won’t be held accountable for the actions and behaviours of my husband; only my own as a wife. (2 Cor 5:10)

Neglect is a tool of Satan’s that is intentionally deceptive so it can be quietly destructive.  Drifting is just a slower path than directly sinking; the destination is the same:  divorce – death of the marriage. In order to keep your marriage afloat and on course it must be driven, steered, worked and attended to.

neglect 4

 

 

Accept him as he is

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When I hope for my husband to love me according to my expectations, I’ll be lead to focus on what I’m getting instead of what I’m giving.

Misplaced expectations sets us on a cycle of trying to take from one another and traps us in bondage.  Jesus demonstrated love so we would give love to one another.

I give you a new commandment:  that you should love one another.  Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.-John 13:34

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