daily Broadcast

Why Marriages Don't Work Anymore, Part 1

From the series Broken Hearts Broken Dreams

Remember your wedding day - the planning, the dreams, the excitement?  Do you wish you could rekindle those “just-married” feelings and passions all over again? Chip gets this series started by explaining how you can spark that flame of love, and at the same time build a friendship and foundation that will stand the test of time.

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Message Transcript

I think there are few things more painful in our lives, then being in a marriage at a time where it just isn't working, where you feel wounded, where you're wounding. Sometimes you're the wife in that situation. Sometimes you're the husband. Sometimes you're the child. I know what it's like when parents yell. I know what it's like when alcohol is in a home and you wonder whether your mom and dad are going to split up.

Weeks ago we had a very special time where we asked people with any need to come and we just will pray for you. One out of every three people that I prayed for, "Will you pray for my marriage? It's falling apart. Will you pray for my mom and dad? Their marriage is falling apart. Will you pray for my son and my daughter-in-law? Their marriage is not working."

So what I want to do is I want to talk to you today about why most marriages don't work. And then we're going to talk about how to make yours the exception.

My background is in psychology in undergraduate and graduate work. And if I brought three professional counselors in here, let me give you the top three that they'll talk to you about. Number one reason marriages don't work is ongoing unresolved conflict. It can be about finances, sex, in-laws, work, priorities, habits, toothpaste tubes, you name it, right? but ongoing unresolved conflict. You fight. You shut down. She's silent. This happens. Conflict, conflict, conflict. And after a period of time...

And by the way, marriages that don't work don't always end in divorce. A great majority of marriages that don't work, they just co-exist. You just make up a new set of rules and you live in the same house, but the joy, the romance, the love, the connection, the environment, the design that God has is almost completely missed.

The second reason that a professional would tell you is not just ongoing unresolved conflict, but the lack of communication. Now by that don't hear people don't talk, but sometimes they talk, talk, talk, talk, talk and then they scream or they say nothing.

But communication is the meeting of meanings. In other words, communication is what's on your heart and what you really feel, you share and it actually gets received so the other person actually gets what you're actually saying.

And when you bypass, and when you don't communicate or you don't talk or you don't feel like what's inside your heart really gets connected with that other person, then you feel wounded and hurt. And the irony is - I’ve spent a lot of times with couples - often people can be trying as hard as they can and their very attempts to love the other person produce some of the worst things because they don't get how to do it.

The third thing that a professional would tell you is it's not just conflict or communication, but it's commitment. Under pressure when the first baby comes or under pressure when there's two-year-olds or under pressure at work or under pressure when you're lonely. Is lots of people in a very sex-saturated world find their eyes wandering and they either fall in love with the screen or another person and they break their marriage vow of fidelity.

And there are a few things that will damage your relationship, not necessarily irreparably, but there are few things that will damage your relationship than being betrayed sexually. Now, what I want to tell you is that that's what the professionals would tell you and I would like to suggest that all those are true. But they're primarily symptoms. They're not the cause.

The number one reason marriages really fail is most people have no idea of what a marriage is supposed to be. And if you don't know what it's supposed to be, you don't know how it works. And if you don't know how it works, then you find yourself frustrated.

Let me give you a picture. I'd like to give you a good close up shot. Does anybody recognize what these are? Can we get a good close up shot of this? These are pieces of Lego's, right?

"Here's your job - You’re ready? Got this? Put this together so that every single piece in this box fits together to make something beautiful." I will guarantee you on a certain day at a certain time someone has a design for every piece in there. I will guarantee there's a picture on the front of a Lego box and on the directions that every single little piece on that it fits. And here's what I will tell you that's amazing to me not being very gifted in this area. I've watched five-year-olds who can't read take a box like this and then take a little pictorial thing like this and sit on the floor of my living room and put the thing together. It's unbelievable.

Now, here's what I would like to suggest. How successful would you be even as an adult? Now, you're smart people, right? I mean, you're going to go, "Even I can do this." Well, I guess I can't. I guess I don't fit. I told you I wasn’t very gifted at this. There are some of these things...You're not a rocket scientist like, "Those two things go together." And you can piece some stuff together.

This is how most people do marriage. "You did what? Well, you know...My parents or this. I watch a movie over here. I got a background here. A guy in the locker room said that, I've had a couple movies over here and marriage and love and finances and in-laws and how it's all supposed to work." You just have all this and you start just piecing it together and it doesn't work. But if you had the design. In other words, a Lego engineer started out with a picture. Okay? And when you see the picture, not unlike a puzzle you can say, "Oh, this is what I want to do. I want to make one of those."

The average adult Christian or non-Christian does not have a clear picture of God's design for marriage. Therefore, you don't know whether you're making progress or not, you don't know what she's supposed to do, what you're supposed to do, you don't know how to do it, when to do it, you don't know why the pieces don't fit and so you have conflict.

And then when you have conflict, you try and figure it out, but then you can't communicate. And then you get really, really frustrated and so you start loving something or someone else. And it can be work or it could be kids or it can be another person.

Here's what you've got hear. I'm going to give you the design and I'm going to show you some ways that you can learn to put these into practice, in our joint counseling session, just us together, I just want to say, when you leave you'll have the design and you'll go, "Oh." So that's how God designed marriage because He made it and He made it good.

And I will tell you, this little thing here, it’s designed, so that a five or six or seven-year-old could actually do it. And the goal is that they won't be frustrated, right? that they would have fun. Right? Aha! Can I tell you that God's design for your marriage was not like, "Oh, this is like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I'm going to create something that frustrates mankind."

The whole goal was that you would feel unbelievably loved, and accepted, and fulfilled, and connected and then it would be a joy and there would be purpose together and there would be passion together and you would go. "Oh, my lands! The greatest gift in all the world
with this amazing commitment and connection with another person that actually produces this amazing thing called life."

And so here's the design. The picture for me is best pictured by an equilateral triangle. And since God made it, God's at the top. And then you'll notice at the bottom left is the man and the bottom right is the woman. And God's design is Genesis 2:24. And if you're like me and didn't grow up reading the Bible, you have no idea what that is. So if you have a Bible, open it Genesis Chapter 1. If you don't, this is going to be like your greatest time ever in church. I didn't grow up in church, but this would be my greatest time ever. Turn to page one. Right? Can you just… page 1 – that works!

So if you'll turn to page one, its Genesis chapter 1, and chapter 1 is basically a macroscopic view of creation where God gives an overview of all that He does. And it opens up in verse 1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

And at the end of the creation story, skip down, you have to go to page two on this. Verse 26. Then the pinnacle of God's creation. Then God said, Let Us make man in our image in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and the livestock and over the earth and all the creatures moving upon the ground. So God created man in His own image. When you read man think mankind. And in the image of God He created him; male and female, He created him. So in mankind. In the first Adam was all the components of male and all the components of female. Mankind. And God blessed them and said, Be fruitful increase and fill the earth and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every living creature.

Now, if this was a movie, that would be the wide-angle lens of this is the big what God created and then Chapter 2 is the zoom lens that says, "Now, I wonder how He did it." And so it gives very specifically how this all occurred. And then you pick up the story that we're interested in verse 18. And the Lord said It's not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him. The Hebrew word here is a corresponding part. It's literally the picture of one piece of a puzzle that going to get connected to the other piece of a puzzle so it fits correctly.

Now, the Lord formed out of the ground all the beasts and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man named each living creature was his name. And so the man gave names to all the livestock and the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon the man and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place where the flesh had been. And the Lord God made woman from the rib that He’d taken out of the man and He brought her to the man. So it's a gift. And the man said, "This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! So she shall be called, “Woman,” for she's taken out of Man.

Verse 24. Jesus quotes this twice. The Apostle Paul uses it. It's the most foundational verse in Old and New Testament about the purpose of marriage and what marriage is. For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, will be united - or literally cleave to his wife - and they will become one flesh. And then here's the result of a marriage that works. And the man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.

And let me tell you that the nakedness here goes well beyond anything of physiology. They were naked emotionally. They were naked psychologically. They were naked physically.

The goal of marriage from the designer, God, is oneness. We're to reflect His image. And He takes a man and a woman and He says, My goal is that you progressively become one. Now in our psychological terminology, you might write this in your notes - write the word intimacy. Because that's the way we think about it. That's what oneness is. It's intimacy. It's connectedness. It's the sense of being loved and accepted just as you are.

What I'd like to suggest is it's not just in the physical domain, but it's oneness spiritually. Write the word spiritual at the bottom of your equilateral triangle. God wants a man and a woman in a marriage to be one spiritually. And after you write the word spiritually, what I want you to do is put - are you ready? Put Co-worshipers.

God's actual design is that you and your wife would come together and talk to God together.

Actually, there would be a priority about things like what you're doing right now and you would be sitting next to your husband or your wife and singing songs of worship and learning about Him and even maybe reading the Bible at times together and talking about its application in your life. There is a spiritual connection.

The second area of oneness is psychological. Next, to this one, I want you to write best friends. In fact the emotional and the psychological, the Bible would use the word your soul - Your mind, your will and emotions. God wants you to have a connectedness of personalities, a connectedness of mind, an ability to share an emotional connection that you know when you have it where there are times you don't have to say anything. You're just with them. And so you have a love that's spiritual that comes from God, that supernatural called agape love in the New Testament, where it's a love that gives and expects nothing in return.

And then here in the psychological and the emotional, you're best friends. And the Bible calls this phileo love. That's taking walks together. That's hanging out together. It's drinking coffee together. It's working in the yard together. It's sitting down and writing out the bills together. It's processing together, "What are we going to do with one of our kids?"

It's sharing together about "Wow, that the pressure in the job situation." It's you being your mate's best friend.

And then finally, at the top, God wants us in our marriage relationship to have physical intimacy. And the Greek word here would be eros love. And so the word you want to jot down is passionate lovers. God created sex. Sex is a very important part of the marriage relationship.

There’s actually, in a man's mind and endocrine system, when he is in physical union with his wife, oxytocin is secreted it into his brain. It causes a man, especially those of us that maybe it's difficult to share, this happens in the brain and causes a sense of bonding with his wife. And most men are more open to share and kind of what's going on your life, in your heart and feel a freedom in a security. God’s designed it and hardwired this intimacy into the spiritual realm, the psychological realm, the emotional realm and the physical realm.

Now, here's what you need to understand. They're all interrelated. When I said you might be surprised, and this is true unfortunately of not just men in general but I do a lot of work with pastors, and when I asked most pastors, "Do you pray with your wife?" The answer is "No."

In fact, when couples are dating I encourage them to pray now and then, but don’t pray too long with one another. It builds unbelievable bonds. There is an amazing correlation between spiritual unity and sexual intimacy. In fact, when you even go through Scripture, when it talks about passion, it will often use metaphors and similes about the love of the bride and the bridegroom.

And so what you have to do is realize that the spiritual oneness, the soul oneness, and the physical oneness are all related.

And here’s… I do a little test now and then. If I had just the men in the room, ladies close your ears. If you could just take your relationship to the next level as either passionate lovers, best friends or co-worshipers, which one - just honestly. It's just us guys - would you like to see it go - anybody have any idea whatsoever, what about ninety-something percent of the men would say? "Yeah. It's more physical intimacy." A man feels profoundly loved in ways he can't understand when he makes love with his wife.

If I had only the women here...now, by the way, this is not an either or and it's not like the others are unimportant and guys don't want to be best friends and oneness and all the rest. I'm just saying as a general rule, when I've talked to lots of audiences, if I would have a large group of women - and the guys shut your ears - and I said, "When it comes to, "Where you're at in your marriage and what's going on right now?

And if I said spiritual oneness or being best friends or physical intimacy, which one do you feel like, "Gosh, if we could go to the next level, if we'd be connected, where I feel like my heart aches," most women would talk about being best friends."