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Why We Marry Who We Marry

Dear Barbara,

For Karen and me, the first years of our marriage didn’t represent a journey of healing but a journey of pain. Both of us were wounded as individuals. Because of those wounds, we could not find agreement. We fought. We didn’t understand each other until God began to heal Karen. Through her, He healed me.

Looking back, I can see the sovereignty of God at work in putting us together—even though we drove each other crazy at first. It turns out that God was doing so much work behind the scenes of our relationship. We just didn’t quite understand it.

Like the tip of an iceberg visible above the water, there’s always much more below the surface of why God puts two people together. Failing to understand what God is doing is what causes the pain.

There are two choices we make when we’re dating and getting married that we need to understand.

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First, God wires us to seek a spouse who will be our compatible opposite. This happens subconsciously. Most people approach marriage thinking, “I want to find someone just like me.” That may be true from our perspective, but that’s not what God is doing below the surface.

In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” The word translated “helper” is ezer. It means to supply what is lacking. That’s why God created Eve. He didn’t create another Adam, because Adam didn’t need a second version of himself.

In marriage, you don’t need another you. You need someone who supplies what you are lacking. That is what happens in your subconscious: You’re looking for someone who completes you—someone who is compatible.

Compatibility is not based on sameness. It’s based on beliefs, values and character. Karen and I are polar opposites in personality, but we both love Jesus and are heading in the same direction in life. You want a person who shares your life goals, your passions, and your values. You date to find that person.

The second subconscious decision we make is to find a committed partner who will walk us back through our past so we can heal. Many of us think we’re looking for someone who’ll take us as far from our past as possible. But God has sovereignly wired us to pursue the opposite.

For eight years, marriage professor Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife Ruth LaKelly Hunt researched why couples fight. They came to this conclusion: We are all wounded from our past, and subconsciously look for a spouse who has the best chance of healing us. We fight because we are unaware of that healing dynamic.

For instance, I’m not wired to feel. My emotions have always been buried far beneath the surface. Karen helped me find them. She helped me walk through the hurts of my past. It was a painful process, but through our conversations, she helped me identify my wounds and access those emotions.

Karen believed in me and God used her to heal me. I accepted the healing she brought to our marriage. When we allow those subconscious decisions to come into the conscious realm—when we make the decision to accept and heal each other—that’s when marriage becomes a healing journey. That’s how God designed it.

Blessings,

Why We Marry Who We Marry

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When the Heart Is Taxed

When the Heart Is Taxed

April 15

“But God said to him, ‘ You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

-Luke 12:20-21

Usually this date in the United States is income tax return deadline day. Throughout the land, people with clammy hands, stressed-out hearts and furrowed brows are trying to figure out how to settle with Uncle Sam. There are some, however, who aren’t worried. They are the people who paid throughout the year through withholding or quarterly self-employed payments. They are square with the tax man, or he may even owe them money.
    
In Jesus’ parable in Luke 12, the rich man hadn’t made any “payments” at all. He had clung to his wealth, sating his soul and body, but on deadline day, he lost his very soul. Judgment is coming when our sin-debt will be levied. “Jesus paid it all,” says the old hymn, but it does us no good if we don’t receive His gift of salvation before the taxing day of the heart. The Bible says “now is the acceptable time… now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)  

Settle the issue with God today and you will have nothing to fear when the “eternal tax-man cometh”!

TODAY’S HEART FOCUS
Ask the Father to help you make sure your heart is ready for its day of judgment. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, pray this prayer as the sincere desire of your heart: Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died for my sin and rose again, and you are the only Savior. I give you my life today. I turn away from sin. Come and live in my life through your Holy Spirit. In Your Name, Amen.

Fear Can Be Real

Do you know that Jesus felt fear? We know that He experienced every aspect of being human, and fear is definitely a common human emotion.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, before His arrest and crucifixion, the Bible describes Jesus as being “in agony.” That comes from the Greek word agonia, which was used to convey great fear or distress.

We often suffer from a fear of the unknown, but Jesus had full knowledge of everything He was about to go through.

Because Jesus was fully human—as well as being fully God—this fear could have caused Him to make a fear-based decision. But faith gives us courage, and Jesus acted above His fear. He felt fear. But He didn’t let fear control Him. Fear-based decisions are never in compliance to God’s will.

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That’s why Jesus went to the cross. Luke 22:42 tells us He prayed, “Not my will, but Yours, be done.”

Not all fear is bad. There are some good types of fear. If you are driving and someone swerves into your lane, you will immediately feel an instinctive, gut-level type of fear. That kind of fear causes you to react in self-preservation.

That’s good fear. It’s circumstantial. It passes almost as quickly as it arrives. But bad fear is a tool the devil uses to keep us from doing God’s will, and it is the type of fear that sticks around. It is perpetual. It hangs over you.

Good fear is protective. It causes you to swerve to avoid a collision.

Bad fear is paralyzing. It stops you in your tracks.

Good fear is instructive. It helps you do the right thing.

Bad fear is confusing and fatalistic. It has you wondering what’s going to happen tomorrow. It has you waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Good fear is empowering. It fills you with adrenaline, quickens your reflexes, and prepares you for what’s coming.

Bad fear is enslaving. It takes away peace and influences you to do the wrong thing. It prevents you from following God.

We all experience the good kind of fear, which is helpful. But because we are human, we are also vulnerable to the bad kind of fear. The important thing is to learn how to overcome the bad fear when we face it.

First, admit your fear without shame. That’s what Jesus did when He was in Gethsemane, asking God to “take this cup” from Him. God is light but the Devil is darkness. Satan wants us to keep our fears hidden.

Fear ends when we expose it. We need to bring fear into the light of healing. The truth literally will set us free.

Second, we have to submit our fears to God. Jesus said, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus admitted to the emotions He was feeling, but relied on the strength God gave Him to rise above those emotions. Everyone experiences fear, but great people act above their fears.

Finally, focus on God’s presence and love. Psalm 23 says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

God’s presence is with you. He goes before you. His love sustains you. He can help you change your mind about fear.

Blessings,

How to Change Fear

Draw Me Nearer…


The God Who Heals
  
by Sarah Young, from Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort

From Sarah Young

Rejoice in Him

I am a God who heals.

I heal broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships. My very Presence has immense healing powers. You cannot live close to Me without experiencing some degree of healing. However, it is also true that you have not because you ask not. You receive the healing that flows naturally from My Presence, whether you seek it or not. But there is more — much more — available to those who ask.

The first step in receiving healing is to live ever so close to Me.

The benefits of this practice are too numerous to list. As you grow more and more intimate with Me, I reveal My will to you more directly. When the time is right, I prompt you to ask for healing of some brokenness in you or in another person. The healing may be instantaneous, or it may be a process. That is up to Me. Your part is to trust Me fully and to thank Me for the restoration that has begun.

I rarely heal all the brokenness in a person’s life. Even My servant Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient for you,” when he sought healing for the thorn in his flesh. Nonetheless, much healing is available to those whose lives are intimately interwoven with Mine. Ask, and you will receive.

James 4:2 KJV; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Matthew 7:7

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Come to Me for understanding since I know you far better than you know yourself. I comprehend you in all your complexity;

no detail of your life is hidden from Me.

I view you through eyes of grace, so don’t be afraid of My intimate awareness. Allow the Light of My healing Presence to shine into the deepest recesses of your being — cleansing, healing, refreshing, and renewing you. Trust Me enough to accept the full forgiveness that I offer you continually. This great gift, which cost Me My Life, is yours for all eternity. Forgiveness is at the very core of My abiding Presence. I will never leave you or forsake you.

When no one else seems to understand you, simply draw closer to Me.

Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly. As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people.

Psalm 139:1-4; 2; Corinthians 1:21-22; Joshua 1:5

Excerpted with permission from Jesus Calling: 50 Days of Comfort by Sarah Young, copyright Sarah Young.

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  Your Turn

Finding comfort in Jesus begins with a deeper relationship with Him. His presence is what brings healing, renewal, and peace. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about our God who heals! ~ Devotionals Daily

The Battle for Control and Dominance

Dear ….,

In 1998, the famed psychology professor John Gottman released a fascinating study. For six years, he interviewed 130 newly married couples in a project about listening in relationships. He compared them to another group he had been monitoring for 13 years.

The purpose of the study was to gauge the effectiveness of a certain kind of communication, but in the process of researching so many couples he came to an unrelated conclusion: The common element among the most successful couples was shared control of the relationship.

Or as the couples put it, “receiving influence from each other.” The health of your marriage depends on the degree both of you are willing to receive influence from each other. That means control of the marriage is shared. When one spouse dominates a relationship, that dominance creates damage.

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Other research has shown that the most successful families are those in which the husband treats his wife as an equal but takes a leadership role in initiating the well-being of the home. Children who grow up in this kind of home are the most emotionally healthy.

They understand what leadership looks like. They understand what it’s like for someone to take initiative. They also see an example of a mother and father treating each other as equals and sharing input on decisions.

Because women seek security in relationships, this also benefits them. That’s why they want their husband to take the lead on certain issues—with a Christ-like spirit of love and sacrifice. These issues include the family’s spiritual life, discipline of the children, finances and even romance.

But a male- or female-dominated home leads to dysfunction. Some personalities are naturally dominant, and tend to end up in relationships with a more passive spouse. That’s what happened with Karen and me. She was meek and quiet. I had a strong, overbearing personality. I would win every argument.

What do you do if you’re in a dominant marriage? First, you have to be honest with yourself. Don’t sugarcoat your situation. Admit “I’m being dominated.”

Second, you have to stand up. A marriage is like a teeter-totter. Your actions directly impact the person on the other side. That means you don’t have to wait for your spouse to change—you can initiate the change by standing up for yourself. This will change the entire equilibrium of your marriage.

When Karen finally had enough of my dominance and stood up to me, she forced the issue. She lovingly insisted on having a voice. In the process, I recognized my chauvinism and God began to heal me. It forced me to sit down.

Today, I will not make a decision without Karen Evans—period—and our marriage is so much healthier. I still have a dominant personality, but I’ve learned to control it. I’ve learned when to sit down. What about your marriage? Is it equal? Are you “receiving influence” from each other?

Or does one spouse dominate?

Blessings,

The Battle for Control and Dominance

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Discover how to stress-proof your marriage

Discover how to stress-proof your marriage

There’s one thing that will reduce stress in your life—and marriage—more than anything else.

It’s making God’s priorities your priorities.

You see, the secret to reducing stress isn’t having more money, a bigger house or a better car. It’s getting your priorities right and having a strong relationship with God. And here’s why.

God the Father loves you personally and knows you intimately. Matthew 6:33 says when you trust him completely, he will take care of everything else in your life—including your marriage!

If you’re feeling stress in your marriage, then you need to do five things today:

1. Trust God and His promises. Repent of any unbelief you may have toward God’s provision.

2. Prioritize your relationship with God as sacred as you treat worry and fear as sins and enemies.

3. Prioritize your daily relationship with your spouse and children as sacred as you build disciplines and traditions to protect them.

4. Break off unhealthy close relationships with worldly or driven people as you build relationships with committed believers. 

5. Reject the lie that money will make you happy and will provide best for the needs of your family.

I hope you will take the time to make these five items a priority in your marriage today.

Also, I want to ask you to do one more thing.

If you ask me, couples serving in the armed forces endure some of the greatest levels of stress. Extended periods away from each other and the constant threat of being in harm’s way; all of it can take a huge toll on these families. That is why we want to provide as many military couples as possible with free tickets to one of our XO conferences. But to do this we need your help.

Help military families attend an XO Marriage Conference

Your gift today will help military families attend an XO Marriage Conference, giving them strength for their relationship with God and each other.

Tickets for the conference cost $90, and our goal is to give 100 military families the opportunity to attend the conference free of charge. So please give as generously as you are able below!

When you give below, we’ll send you a link to a special message from Jimmy called ‘Stress-Proofing Your Marriage’ to say thanks for your support and to help you experience God’s best for your relationships.

If you are a military couple and are interested in attending one of these events, send an email to ThankYou@marriagetoday.com.

Changed Landlord!

You don’t owe the old landlord anything

October 24

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.


-ROMANS 6:11

No one names his child Judas. Have you noticed? The name Judas is associated with betrayal…in fact, it is a pejorative term. But I do not believe Judas was Satan incarnate (as some have suggested), or even that he was a man whose intentions were evil from the start. He had the potential to become a committed follower of Christ, but he allowed his fleshly nature to sway his thinking—and ultimately, his actions.

Imagine that you live in an apartment house owned by a mean, spiteful landlord. You’ve been late on the rent, and he has charged you exorbitant interest. You are so far into debt to him that you could not move out if you wanted to. This landlord controls your life, and abuses you because you have no recourse. Then one day, a new landlord comes, announcing that he has bought the building. The slate is wiped clean. All debts are canceled. But still, the old landlord calls, saying, “You owe me. You owe me. Pay up.” Guilt, fear and habit could keep you in bondage to the old landlord…but you wouldn’t have to be. You are under new management. You could ask your old landlord to take up his claims with the new owner. When pressure and fear and disappointment began to hammer Judas, when he was stumbling and debating about what the future might hold, he could have talked to Jesus. He was with Him every day. But he didn’t. He kept listening to the old landlord. When Satan tries to get his hooks in you, you are not doomed to fall. You don’t owe him anything. Tell him you’re under new management. Tell him to take it up with the new landlord.

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Neither do I. Not as a tenant in a apartment, or spiritually as a Christian!