When a church has a preventive approach to marriage, the problem is that they never know what they have prevented, so they don’t have emotional stories to tell. When a church creates a tool or sets up a relationship to “save” a marriage, it often results in a measurable and sensational story; which is great. We will not know until heaven what good marriages were made great, what divorces were prevented and everything in between. But there is no argument that preventing a couple from crisis is far superior to crisis intervention.
Most of us know what anxiety feels like when it’s happening to us, but it can be difficult to know how to help someone we love when they are being riddled with it. It’s easy to feel at a loss, not knowing what to do or say. Can’t they just get over it, already? Unfortunately, it’s easiest to write off a spouse’s anxiety and come up short when it comes to offering comfort and help. So today, we’re sharing tips for helping your husband or wife overcome the panic monster when it attacks.
This is an encouragement to those who are limping in leadership. I entered ministry after a long career in the business world. I had significant life and leadership experience, but honestly, some of it was learned through tremendously painful experiences. Not only did I not have the pedigree of most pastors, it was actually following a sizable business loss—where we were forced to sell our business and basically start over financially—when God called me into ministry. The truth is, the best leaders I know have a limp of some nature. It may not be visible, but if you are around them long, they will display remnants of a previous injury.
“In this world you will have trouble . . .” Jesus said those words to His disciples, in John 16:33. And thousands of years later, we can all give a resounding “Amen” to that, can’t we? In the years you’ve been living and breathing, you undoubtedly experienced some degree of disappointment. But trouble doesn’t always last forever. Maybe it takes days, months, even years, but eventually we may discover that some seasons are harder than others. Things level off. Get better. Seem more hopeful. And when that happens, there’s the potential for something really devastating that can happen.
Year number nine was my best year on staff as the Director of Premarital Ministry at Watermark Community Church. The ministry I helped lead grew like crazy‑pre-married couples were challenged, encouraged and heard the gospel. We were having a great impact in both our church and in the Dallas community. In April of 2015, the staff team I put together a national conference like none other, and my boss and I stacked hands and agreed to continue to partner together in marriage ministry for years. Then Came Year 10.
Today, my assistant Kelly made a great point . . . she tends to do that. Her point was, the challenges many couples face comes down to an issue of “casual marriage.” She went on to explain that, just like in our Christian lives, in marriage, we can take for granted the good thing we have. We can become consumed with the daily grind and miss the importance of the person to whom we’ve committed our lives. And what we see played out nearly every day is the slow, drifting apart of couples who once felt the fire of love burning brightly. If this situation is left untreated long enough, it is very difficult to reverse the damage and close the gap between the now distant couple.
Crisis of any kind can put a marriage at risk. It is a treasure that must be carefully guarded. Crisis comes to parents in many forms. Our biggest one was when our daughter began getting in trouble with alcohol and drugs in high school. Our painful journey continued for years. It would include self-injury, mental illness, sexual assault, suicide attempts and rehabs – the perfect storm for marriage trouble. In times like these disagreements and conflicts increase. Irritability, misunderstandings and blame occur frequently. Grief, confusion and helplessness consume.
When we dreamed of our future spouse we had desires, hopes of what our spouse would be. What traits did you long for in a spouse? So we found someone we believed had some of these traits, maybe all of them. Because of what we saw in them, we hoped, wished for them to be a great spouse. And our spouse did the same with us. When I talk to couples in crisis, I see where many of them who have moved from desiring their spouse to be or do a certain thing, to expecting them to do or be a certain thing. The difference is anything but subtle. Here’s the potent difference between expectations and desires.
We have amazing MarriedPeople partner churches. These marriage champions are taking the MarriedPeople resources and doing things that are above and beyond anything we dreamed about. This month, we would like to introduce you to Jonathan Curry at Greater Works Outreach in Monroeville, PA.
So last week we took our kids to the OC Fair, like we do every year. We go for the rides, the exhibits, the games, and of course the deep-fried Oreos. We tried our hardest to ignore the heat, the inappropriate outfits the teenagers wear, the long lines and the prices. We had only been there an hour or so, walking around and trying to find our way to the butterfly exhibit, when all of a sudden it happened. A miscommunication and a fight in public . . . at the fair . . . with tons of strangers watching us.