Living a Healthy, Redemptive Marriage
My name is Phil Belier and I have been married to my sweet Debi for over 41 years. We love each other more now than ever but lots of those years have been really challenging. Especially the first 6 years where we both experienced the many “issues” that tend to surface right after the honeymoon. That caused us to even wonder if we’d maybe made a mistake in walking down that church isle on June 22nd 1974.
Here’s a few of the biggies that we struggled with early on:
- Unmet expectations – demanding the other was the problem and needed to change, or else, was prevalent.
- Lack of communication – a loss of adequately sharing feelings, hurts, struggles and joys was complicated.
- Sex – quantity and quality caused intimate and emotional weirdness.
- Children – two children in 5 years added more clueless stress.
- Household responsibilities – who was doing more or less was always a controversy.
- Irritating habits and personality differences – these continually got on our nerves.
- Anger – Selfish control-freak demands would give rise to anger leaving both feeling hurt and unloved.
- Disrespect – Words that would strategically tear down and led to physical distance, unforgiveness and bitterness.
Sound familiar? Now, let me share one or two of Debi’s – Ha!!
But really, this is where we were at in February 1980 almost six years into our marriage. We weren’t Christians, had no marriage training and handled very few of these “issues” in a healthy way. Because of this, we found ourselves on the verge of divorce. After another huge fight my words to Debi were, “We need to change our life … we need to go to church or something.”
That next Sunday, February 17th, 1980, we did just that and when the preacher said “if you want to change your life, this is what you need to do,” we walked the isle of a church for a second time, accepting God’s plan of relationship through Jesus Christ. That day was the beginning of our surrender to the Word and the Holy Spirit as God began the process of conforming us to His image and redeeming our failed marriage.
In this article, I’d like to touch on four of the following 10 characteristics that we learned in church that I feel are crucial for a healthy, redemptive marriage. The ten are:
2.You must get off the throne – Mark 12:30-31
3.You must renew your mind – Ephesians 4:22-24
4.You must live by faith – Hebrews 11:1
5.You must be led by the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23
6.You must love intentionally – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
7.You must embrace humility – Philippians 2:4
8.You must repent and forgive – 2 Corinthians 7:10
9.You must seek peace and pursue it – 1 Peter 3:11
10.You must resist the enemy – James 4:7
All these are essential for sure, but let’s look at four of these that literally saved our marriage:
1.You must get off the throne – Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”
We both lived in the realm of selfishness where the world revolved around us. We were on the throne of our life and demanded obedience. For us, God wasn’t even on the radar, we were in charge. When born again however, we learned how to honor and worship God as creator, ruler and owner of all things. We slowly humbled ourselves before Him and soon began to not only submit to Him but also to one another in love.
2.You must renew your mind – Ephesians 4:22-24 “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
At our church, we found ourselves in Sunday School Classes realizing that the Bible was a guidebook for all of life and godliness. Our marriage problems were always magnified by the stalemate between my myand Debi’s opinion. Now, we had a source to follow and agree on as the truth for all our circumstances. As we lined up our opinions with God’s opinions, our minds were renewed and unity and transformation of our relationship started to take place.
3.You must be led by the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
We realized the day that we were born again, something had happened to us. We learned that we were now a new creation in Christ and had the Holy Spirit’s presence within. Unlike our former choices that usually produced insanity and chaos, we now had the desire and ability within to not be a servant of sin any longer. In learning to examine our hearts daily and yield to the Spirit’s leading we soon experienced some fruit of an abundant life and marriage.
4.You must repent and forgive – 2 Corinthians 7:10 “For Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
We soon recognized that our marriage consisted of thousands of issues that determined its health. How we responded and made use of those issues determined if our marriage was on a good or bad path. We often did not respond in a Godly manner to everything but committed to one another to quickly repent, pray and forgive. We tried to solve each issue by seeking peace, pursuing it and showing love and respect in all our interactions.
In conclusion, I’d like to challenge all who took the time to read this to examine your life and marriage. Are you living in many of the marriage issues listed above? I bet you are. Does it need some adjustments in the 10 characteristics crucial for a healthy, redemptive marriage? Sure it does. I still do and there’s lots of growth needed in all our lives.
So what can we do about it?
Talk this article over with your spouse and determine which areas need some surrender and commitment. Make an agreement with each other to be a doer of what you’ve read here.
Then check out the upcoming marriage class with Don and Pat Robinson facilitating a DVD series by Mark Gungor called “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.” It’s funny, practical and will really help.
Also, we’ve had DVD series in the past by Gary Thomas (“Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Parenting”), Paul Tripp (“What Did You Expect”) and Jimmy Evans (“The Indestructible Marriage”). Each series has a book that would be great input along with the Word of God to develop new ways of implementing God’s plan of relationship with you and through you to your spouse and family.
Don’t wait till it hits bottom. If it has, there’s still hope and an email to the church firstname.lastname@example.org can direct you to some marriage counseling if necessary.
Much Love in Christ – Phil Belier