Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Focus on Marriage Teleconference — available on DVD!!

Posted in Christianity, marriage by Kathy on March 18, 2009

Click here for the info — at just $59.95 for a DVD you can watch over and over, it is worth it.

It’s only available for a limited time.

It depends on your point of view

Posted in frugal by Kathy on March 15, 2009

On my other blog, I previously mentioned the Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar from Arkansas who currently have 18 children (the oldest is married; and the youngest just a couple of months old; they will continue to have children as long as possible). Anyway, I got a comment from someone who said she believes the Duggars have a right to have that many children, but thinks that they are “selfish” to use “more than their share of the earth’s resources.”

I thought about that sentence a lot. Certainly a family with 17 children uses more resources than a family with two or four children; but I think it deserves a closer to look to see if they are really using “more than their share” of resources. First, it assumes that there are limited resources, rather than renewable resources, which I think is a faulty assumption. Most of the resources used are for things like water, food, oxygen, and clothing — all of which are renewable and/or reusable resources.

Since the Duggars are frugal (living within their income and paying cash for everything), I would assume that a large portion of their clothing comes second-hand, and/or is all passed down through all the children until it wears out. Families with just a few children usually do not wear out clothes, so may end up throwing them away. Which of these processes uses more resources — brand new clothes for each child, or handing down clothes through 5 or more children?

We are not facing a water, food, or oxygen shortage — and even if we were, each human should be able to get a share of these necessities, regardless of how many siblings he or she had. I know that some people think that we are overpopulating the planet, but that is a matter of opinion, and I’ve read numerous times that we actually have more than enough resources — that all humans could stand in the state of Texas, with a three-foot “body buffer zone”; and our country could produce enough grain to feed the world — or something like that. Anyway, the problem with starvation is not that there is no food that could be given these people, but usually that food that is supposed to be used to feed the hungry is held in warehouses by despots who want to starve people into submission.

But, let’s look at the per capita use of resources, to see if the Duggars are using more than their share. Somehow, I daresay that this family of 18 (counting the parents and only 16 of the children, since one is a newborn and one is out of the house and on his own) uses fewer resources than 6 families with 3 members; or than 4 families with two parents and two adults, plus an extra couple of kids thrown in somewhere. By the same principle that school districts use to justify the use of the large school buses, rather than using minivans or cars to transport a large number of people at once, the case could easily be made that all the Duggars in one van uses the same amount of resources as two (or possibly fewer) family minivans or other large vehicle (such as an Explorer or Suburban). My sister has a 7-passenger van (not a minivan, but the larger kind), which she drives everywhere, even when she’s alone because it is her vehicle, while her husband drives a 4-seater truck back and forth to work. They have two children. A family in our church which also consists of father, mother and two children, has a Suburban which they sometimes use for just the four of them. Somehow, I bet that these two vehicles (which typically only carry 4 people each at a time) use about the same amount of fuel to go the same distance as the Duggars’ family van. If this is true, then they move the same number of people the same distance for half the cost. Even if I’m wrong, and it’s not half as cheap, I really doubt it’s more expensive for the Duggars’ transportation expenses than the average per capita transportation cost times 18.

The same thing applies to food and water. I would be surprised to find that the Duggars’ per capita food budget is more than the average per capita national food budget — and assume it to be far less, because of all the frugal methods they employ, such as buying in bulk and getting a great price.

But the real thing that gets me about comments like that, is that it focuses attention on people who are living frugally, and the assumption is made that they are wasting resources, while little or no attention is given to people who have small families but are extremely wasteful. For some reason, Paris Hilton comes to mind. I wonder how much she spends on food. She’s skinny as a rail, so she ought not eat much, but I bet it’s very expensive, and also that she’s very wasteful. Also, she probably spends thousands and thousands of dollars on her clothes every year, if not every season. It wouldn’t surprise me if what she spends — and a lot of other super-wealthy people too — I’m not just picking on poor little ol’ Paris — for food, clothing, housing, transportation, etc. is more than the entire Duggar family’s. But she’s just one person.

Now, she’s got the right to use her money however she wants; and as far as “resources” go, a cup of water is the same whether she drinks it or one of the others, even if hers costs $10 a bottle. The actual “resource” of water is the same. But if she flies a private jet every other month to Europe or Australia or even just cross-country, I would guess that she uses more fuel in a month, or at least in half a year, than the entire Duggar family does in a full year. But nobody’s getting on Paris Hilton for wasting that much in fuel. And let’s not even get into the topic of upkeep of her various mansions. I can only imagine how much electricity it takes to keep a 40,000 square-foot house cooled.

So, before people talk about large families consuming “more than their fair share of resources,” I want them to talk first about the wasteful spending of the average small family, or even of single people, who may spend more per capita than most people spend for their whole family.

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Focus on Marriage Teleconference, part 5

Posted in Christianity, marriage by Kathy on March 14, 2009

(Click here for the introduction and part 1, if you haven’t read parts 1-4 yet.)

John Trent was the 5th and final speaker at the Focus on the Family “Focus on Marriage” teleconference, and his topic was “Small Changes, Big Results.” He’s written a book called The Two-Degree Difference, with the word-picture of the minor changes a person makes to the steering wheel while driving, to maintain the proper course of the car on the road in the correct lane. He asked the rhetorical question, “What would happen when you drove your car, if you only made 10-degree changes or larger while steering?” Of course, you’d probably be pulled over with the assumption of driving under the influence. Using that analogy, he pointed out that often when you make these large changes, you may over-correct, and instead of driving into one ditch, you merely end up in the other ditch, so you’re really not that much better off.

The word “righteousness” literally  means, “to stay between the lines”

Often big problems have small solutions:

  1. Naaman had leprosy, and his cure was to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. When told of the little thing he had to do for the cure, he became offended and went away in a rage.
  2. Luke 19 says that those who are faithful in very little will become faithful over much
  3. Mark 9, in answer to the question, “Who is the greatest?” Jesus says that the greatest was the one who made himself least; and that receiving a little child in His name receives Jesus
  4. C.S. Lewis said, “Good and evil increase with compound interest” — so little things become exponential

The 5th example was the story of Rudy Giuliani, taken from the book he wrote about his experiences as the mayor of New York. I’d not heard a lot of what Dr. Trent said before, so this was fascinating to me, simply from a historical and practical perspective, so I’m going to include the details, even if they don’t particularly relate to marriage.

The year before Giuliani became mayor, the homicide rate of NYC was somewhere around 2400 murders per year (I didn’t write down the exact figure) — and this was just in NYC proper, not counting the outlying areas; by the time he left office 8 years later, the number was somewhere between 600-700 murders. To effect this great change, one might think there were great measures taken, but the changes were actually quite small. Called “The Broken Window Theory” — that when one window pane is already broken, it becomes that much easier to break another pane and then another, and finally to break into the house itself and steal — Giuliani focused on fixing the little things. [I thought Dr. Trent said that Giuliani called for enforcing laws already on the books about keeping windows in good repair; my husband thought it was just a hypothetical/theoretical situation, and this little change was not one of the things Giuliani actually enforced. I’m not sure who is right.] Anyway, other things he did was to make sure all graffiti in the subways was covered and painted over every morning before the first train left; arrested turnstile jumpers (ended up catching a lot of wanted felons this way), and arrested squeegee men. I didn’t realize that the problem with squeegee men is that they were practically extorting money from drivers — if the drivers didn’t give them money for cleaning their windshields, then the squeegee men would damage the car (break windshield wipers, etc.). Legally, the cops couldn’t arrest them for squeegeeing, nor for extortion, but they could arrest them for jaywalking, which is what they did. As soon as the squeegee men stepped off of the crosswalk to approach a car, the cops would arrest them. Before instituting this program, the NYC cops estimated that there were 2000 squeegee men in the city; only 167 men were actually arrested. [I see two possibilities here — one is that they vastly overestimated the number because the squeegee men were so visible and caused such a problem; or that as word got out about the arrests, the squeegee men stopped of their own accord — or some combination of the two.] They vastly reduced crime, including homicide, by focusing on little things.

Using a helium balloon on a long string as a prop, he talked about taking the “up there” principles and bringing them “down here” — to put them into action.

He mentioned MarriageMentors.com — to help churches train people to help and encoruage people in poor relationships; as well as the two-degree difference radio program on his website, and a commitment sheet.

Bless your spouse:

  1. hold hands (meaningful touch)
  2. spoken message
  3. attach high values (bless, “add weight”) to your spouse
  4. picture a special future for that person
  5. genuine commitment

Focus on Marriage Teleconference, Part 4

Posted in Christianity, marriage by Kathy on March 8, 2009

Here is part 1 with the introduction; part 2; and part 3.

Mixed throughout the teleconference was singer Jeremy Camp; and during his performance he told a little story about his young daughter. He came up to her one time when she was eating a cup of ice cream and, throwing his arms open as wide as he could, said, “I love you THIS much!” Since she couldn’t hold onto her ice cream with just one hand, she couldn’t reciprocate, so she held her cup of ice cream between her hand and her chest, and threw out her free arm and said, “I love you this much, Daddy!” He commented that this is the way we are a lot of the times — unwilling to give up our worldly “ice cream” in order to love God with abandon.

The 4th speaker in the Focus on the Family Marriage Teleconference was Gary Smalley. His topic was “The Value of Connecting to the Father.”

The world’s belief is that you should focus on and love yourself most, and others less; that if you have money or thrills, then you will have a quality life; that happiness and satisfaction comes from getting, having and doing, and focusing on yourself.

There are two very powerful beliefs — the first one destroys and weakens relationships, keeps you in the darkness, keeps you from God; but the second is loving God and others first, and self second or last. Loving God squashes slef-love until it is very small — that Christ is my life — “out of the heart of man flows thoughts and actions” — a belief system. Stop trying to make others change, and just work on yourself.

Often many people (particularly married) have the thought, “If you change, I will be happier”; which actually is saying that God is not sufficient.

He admitted that this was how he lived most of his marriage. The particular example he gave was the following: he loved to exercise; his wife didn’t (he pointed out that often couples are like this — complete opposites in certain areas, like night owls [almost] always marry morning people). He thought that if she would just exercise with him, he’d be happier, and their marriage would be better. He said this was him trying to do the job of the Holy Spirit, which was bad in two particulars — 1st, he was not the Holy Spirit, so he was ineffectual in his own endeavors; and secondly, he was getting in the way of the Holy Spirit, preventing Him from working in his wife’s life.

What makes a great marriage? one that is full of love — you can’t manufacture God’s love (1 Cor. 13); if you have some false belief system in your life, you may be hindered. How do you get God’s love flowing all day? — Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches, both men and women, husband and wife — helpless without the Vine. We’re twigs, and can do nothing without Him. We need to pray to God for help, because we’re helpless — blind, dumb, with broken arms and broken legs — humble and helpless.

Gary Smalley had several props on the stage, and during this past paragraph, he made use of some of them. He brought out a grapevine with some bare branches that were not attached to the vine (with a pink ribbon on one of them, to denote the wife — I thought that was pretty cute). Because the branches were cut off from the vine, there were no leaves and no fruit. He took the branches and started beating one of the branches with the other one, imitating how husbands and wives often fight and nag — “Why don’t you just…?” And particularly saying things like, “Why don’t you grow leaves? Why don’t you produce fruit?” Pointing out that it is impossible for a cut-off branch to grow leaves or produce fruit; and likewise impossible for one branch to “beat the other one over the head” to force the other one to grow leaves or produce fruit. [I can’t give the proper “visual” of this, but it was hilarious!] The only way for that to happen is for the branches to be grafted into the vine, so that they can receive the sap and nourishment from the vine in order that they can live and produce leaves and fruit. Going back to the previous exercise example — he said that after 40-some years of marriage, he finally stopped getting on his wife about exercising, and about 4 years later she took up exercising on her own with zeal. He stopped “trying to be the Holy Spirit in her life” and just focused on his own deficiencies, and let God take care of her.

Another prop he used was a big sign, such as a street beggar might have — he held this up when he talked about us being helpless. He said that for the past several years he has made a deliberate and conscious decision to start the morning off by saying what he had on the sign. I forget the exact language, but basically it was, “I’m helpless. Lord, I need your help to do anything today.” He said that in the past few years his life has transformed in many ways. He admitted that even at the age of 65 he still would turn his head and look (lust) at a pretty woman who walked by. When he was younger, he thought, “That’s just the way God made men, and we can’t help it”; but by the time old age set in, he thought he should be done with that, but he wasn’t. Then he realized that he had been wrong this whole time, and that it was indeed a sin, and that he was powerless to stop… but that God was powerful. Within just the past few years, he no longer looks, after it being the habit of his lifetime. Another example was in his driving. Like many men, he was an aggressive driver (giving several examples which were all too familiar), but that through prayer (“I am helpless”) God was able to give him a new attitude. Rather than getting angry at the old people who were driving so slow in front of him, instead what comes out of his mouth (“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”) is rather thanks to them for visiting his city (Branson, MO) and keeping the economy going. He said, “That’s not ME! I’m not like that! But somehow God has put that in my heart!”

1 John 4:7-8 — “Beloved, let us love one another” — He grafts us into the Vine; like the sap of a vine or tree, it produces leaves (sign of life) and fruit. We need the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit (the sap of the Vine), in order to love each other, so we need to pray for the other and ourselves

All your stress is from the expectation of the world.

Things you can do to help you grow:

  1. pray together — that the worldly beliefs shrink, and God’s truth grows in our hearts.
  2. Bible-reading together
  3. Study together
  4. Attending church together
  5. memorizing and meditating upon Scriptures — think of the meaning, not just the bare words
  6. listen to Christian radio (rather than worldly garbage)
  7. listen to Christian worship and praise music
  8. watch Christ-centered movies
  9. and more –as a couple, so you grow together.

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Focus on Marriage Teleconference, Part 3

Posted in Christianity, creation, marriage by Kathy on March 4, 2009

Here is part 1 (which includes the introduction — if you haven’t read it yet, please read at least the opening paragraphs), and here is part 2.

Del Tackett was the third speaker of the teleconference, and he began by saying he preferred calling himself a “teacher” rather than just a speaker, and had a “chalkboard” (not slate, and he didn’t use chalk, but I’m not sure what to technically call it) that he used later.

In Creation, there was one thing that was declared “not good,” and that was “for man to be alone.” Why?

What God has made reveals His glory — “The heavens declare the glory of God…”; Rom. 1 — what may be known of God is plain to man because God has made it plain to them… which is why men are without excuse. We see tremendous diversity, yet unity — it is not chaotic, but there is a system (within cells, organs, systems, the body; as well as the sub-cellular particles that exist in a system). The whole creation is filled with relationships — everything is in a relationship: neutrons, protons electrons; blood clotting; photosynthesis; husband and wife; extended families; etc. At the Fall, relationships were damaged — God and man (Adam hid from God); Adam vs Eve (the blame game); Cain vs. Abel (murder).

The “Divine Pause” — “it is not good for man to be alone” — it was the only time in the Creation week that something was labeled as “not good” although it was possible for God to have said that it was not good for there to be plants with no sun, or waters with no fish; but God took the time to point out this one thing in the week of creation that was “not good.” Marriage is as concrete a creation of God as is the sun, the grass, etc.

The Trinity has been in perfect order and relation since eternity past — “one God” could be thought of as “the Oneness of God” — “I and My Father are One.”

At this point, he used the chalkboard and drew a large circle and wrote the words “Father,” “Son” and “Holy Spirit” and connected them with lines (a quasi-triangle). Then he drew a similar circle (slightly overlapping with the first circle), and wrote in a similar fashion “Husband,” “Wife” and “Children.”

The husband and the wife are to be “one flesh.”

The Son submits to the Father; the wife is to submit to the husband — submission is not negative, not a “dirty word,” but existed before the Fall of man, a Divine attribute, delightful in the eyes of God.

The Triune God and the triune family bears the mark of God.

God has given blueprints for our social systems — He doesn’t give us blueprints for photosynthesis or atomic structure because they don’t disobey God, but we have a tendency to defy God.

1 Pet — “Husbands…treat your wives as weaker vessels, with honor, as joint-heirs, that your prayers be not hindered.”

Eph. 5 — “Husbands, love your wives; wives, respect your husbands” — don’ t mother them.

Here he told a short story about his own wife — she made soup and as she gave him his bowl, she said, “You’ll need a spoon, they’re over in the drawer” (as if he were a small child); to us he said (showing his thought processes) with gritted teeth — “I know I need a spoon, and I know they’re in that drawer — what am I, an idiot?!?” What he did at the time was say nothing, but plopped his bowl at the table and clammed up. Then he admonished us wives that if their husbands just clam up, it would be wise for them to rewind their minds and see if there was something like this that they did recently — treating husbands like children is disrespectful to them, and ultimately, to God.

There was another “Divine Hesitation” in a garden — the Garden of Gethsemane — “Father, let this cup pass from Me” — why? the physical pain? No — but for the first time the unity that existed in the Godhead, the unity between Father and Son (“I and My Father are One”) would be borken, to suffer the penalty of sin, separation of God. God hates divorce — it is the tearing asunder of that which was one, defying God.

The world is full of the pernicious lie that “it’s all about you!” No, this world is not about you — it’s all about God! The former attitude destroys intimacy and relationships; the consequences are huge. “Choose this day blessings” (of following God’s script and plan) “rather than curses” (of following the world’s philosophy and ideology.

Focus on Marriage Teleconference, part 2

Posted in Christianity, marriage by Kathy on March 3, 2009

Click here for the introduction and part one.

Beth Moore was the second speaker (and only woman) in the Focus on Marriage teleconference brought by Focus on the Family. Most of what I knew about Beth Moore prior to seeing her on Saturday was what I’ve read on some of the posts on this blog. After reading about her, I’ve noticed her name in other venues more, but I really didn’t know much except that she was a Christian woman who had some sort of ministry to other Christian women. Now I know why.

It really impressed me as well as my husband that when Beth Moore took the stage, she began by saying that she was used to speaking to an audience of women, so it was definitely odd to see so many men, and that she wanted to be very careful in her talk, and that she was most definitely not “lording” over the men, and she was not teaching the men, but rather she was speaking to the women, and the husbands just get to listen in. My notes are longer than my husband’s, but he did take good notes, even though she was not speaking to the men. The following is from my notes of what she said:

Eph. 5:21-33, which is of course the “marriage” and “submission” portions in the Ephesian letter — “submission” is not some sort of inequality, but rather is talking about “order” and the order of authority — somebody has to have the final say-so. Submission is a good thing, because with headship and authority comes responsibility.  If we really understood the responsibility that comes down on men as the head of the family, we would not want it.

“Union” in the original language means adhered to, glued to

How can anything so fragile, so frail, and so imperfect as human marriage be a picture of anything so glorious and divine as Christ and the church?

She and her husband were voted the least likely to succeed as a couple, and the most likely to break up the soonest. They have been married for nearly 30 years, but the early years were extremely rough; and they probably would not have made it, had she not had a baby in the first year of marriage. And she still didn’t say she was absolutely sure they would continue to make it, but “Ebenezer” — hitherto has the Lord helped us.

You can guarantee that a person with emotional baggage will attract another person with a matching set of baggage. It may be different types of “stuff” they’re carrying around from the past, but “like attracts like” in this case.

On her blog, she said there was a marriage survey in which for the most part, the respondents were couples — the comments were hidden so that others couldn’t see them, so the husbands didn’t know how the wives responded, and vice versa, but from the same marriage, the men were happier than the women. This was not because men are clueless, but because women have different expectations from men.

Many times women are infatuated with idealism — we are not satisfied with good, but reach for “great” and often overlook what we have. We want the feelings, continually, and are not satisfied with what we have.

“Submit to your own husband” — not to anyone else’s!

You cannot control your husband’s mind. That’s God’s business, not yours. Women tend to feel responsible for their husband’s spiritual lives, when the Bibles says it’s really the other way ’round.

Why can’t good just be good??? “It’s not perfect, but it’s good; and good is good, even if it’s not fantastic.” All marriages have troubles; if they don’t have troubles, it’s because they’re disconnected.

When your marriage or your man is not enough for you, Jesus is still enough.

As wives, we derive our security and identity from men who are also looking for their security nad identity — but what if we derived our security and identity from our God-derived position as the Bride of Christ? What if we saw ourselves as the ultimate visual example of Christ’s Bride on earth, rather than looking to our husbands for daily affirmation? Men are not attracted to hysterical, needy women — men are contrary, and like it when we play a little hard-to-get, and are secure in God.

Belittling and condescending does not serve us well.

There is such a thing as a good fight — for the marriage and for the spouse — not “with” but “for.” Her husband is a deer hunter, and by the end of deer season, like clockwork, they have a fight because she gets fed up with saying, “Have a good time, honey!” and insists that she come first — because it is for her marriage.

Get through it; get over it.

Sometimes people can get emotionally torn up about their past scars; but they are not just “well” — they are healed — a miracle, and an encouragement to others. Just as the people who were lame or blind that Jesus healed were miracles greater than all the people who were born “well.”

“Submission — learning to duck, so God can hit your husband.” — Tony Evans

Focus on Marriage Teleconference

Posted in Christianity, marriage by Kathy on March 2, 2009

This past Saturday, my husband and I were privileged to be among the 80,000 people who attended the Focus on Marriage teleconference brought by Focus on the Family. I hope that the presentations will become available as DVDs, because they were all truly wonderful. To give you some perspective, I practically had to drag my husband kicking and screaming, and within just a few minutes into the first speaker’s presentation, I could tell he was glad he came, and has repeatedly affirmed that sentiment in the hours and days since. To be honest, he didn’t tell me that he didn’t want to go, because he didn’t want to “throw cold water” over me; but it was very obvious that he didn’t want to get up so early in the morning on Saturday to go to a marriage workshop.

Actually, it was not a “workshop” (which is really what I thought it would be, at least partly, complete with workbook and materials, breaking up into small groups — either couples’ groups or male-groups and female-groups). Instead it was a presentation, a speech, not a “lecture” (which has boring overtones), or some other form of teaching session, in which a total of 5 speakers spoke for about an hour apiece (I’m guessing), each from his (or her) own background, on the theme of marriage. Although there was no collaboration beforehand from the various speakers, it was evident that the handiwork of God was involved, because, just like the Bible is one unit though written by dozens of different men, this conference all melded together although there were 5 different speakers.

I’ll be writing the remainder relying heavily on my notes, but I make no pretense of being able to recreate the speeches from the notes, but rather giving the sense of the speech, and how I felt, and what I learned. I will say that there were numerous times when I sat and listened while my husband took notes (because the speaker was talking more to men), and vice versa. It would be interesting to me to see what other people who were also able to attend or view the conference took away from it, so feel free to link to me and/or leave a comment about it. There were about 40 people at our particular site, and I know there were about 500 remote locations, in addition to the actual conference site in Colorado Springs. Each speaker was introduced and followed by one of the Focus on the Family staff, but unless otherwise noted, I didn’t take notes from what they said, because much of it was just introducing the person or announcing a break or the next speaker.

The first speaker was Gary Thomas, and the title of his speech was “Seeing Your Marriage Through the Eyes of God.”

If your goal is to serve Jesus, stay single. If your goal is to become like Jesus, get married. God designed marriage to make us more holy than happy. Marriage is the joining of two sinners into one, forcing them to live together, which more or less magnifies all the sins and faults and foibles of the other; and it forces us to take on the nature of a servant, as Jesus Himself did. James 3:2 says that we all stumble in many ways — everyone offends. If you think the problem in your marriage is your spouse, so you decide to get a divorce and find someone else, rest assured that that other person will also offend — perhaps in different ways, but will offend nonetheless, and you will offend the other person.

It’s redundant to say “difficult marriage” because all marriages have difficulties [WOW!] — because it is the joining of two sinners.

Most marriages fail, not for lack of “how to” but for lack of “heart to.” If you know how to do something but don’t want to, it doesn’t matter because you will not do it; however, if you want to do something, you’ll figure out how to do that thing. People who are romantically in love do not have to be told how to make the other person feel good — they do that automatically, because they have the heart to do that; the problem arises when they “fall out of love” and no longer have the heart to please the other person that they begin to have difficulty in pleasing them.

We need to rediscover the purpose of marriage: to shape our souls. The purpose of marriage is not unending romance, the “happily ever after” picture in movies and books — on the scale of human history, that view of marriage is a recent invention. Are we asking more from our marriages or our spouse than God intended? — if so, it is not the fault of marriage nor our spouse nor God if we are unhappy in our marriage! Neuroscientists have been able to measure brain chemicals of romantic attraction and emotions, and have discovered that at the most, the “romantic” emotions of marriage do not last more than 24-36 months. When these emotions fade, it leads people to question, wonder, or assume that they have “married the wrong person” because they start from the assumption that the feelings shouldn’t fade; rather than questioning the (romantic) view of marriage.

Expectations affect reaction — if you expect to be renting a compact car, but instead are given a free upgrade to a luxury sedan or a nice, roomy truck, you will be very happy with your “good luck.” If you expect to rent a nice truck and that’s what you end up with, you may start grumbling about not getting the leather seats or some other luxury you wish you had ended up with. But if you expect a luxury sedan and end up with a nice, roomy truck (a down-grade), then you will be sorely disappointed. The actual object (nice, roomy truck) was the same each time, but the expectations beforehand made your reaction different. In a similar way, if we expect to remain head-over-heels in love in marriage, when those feelings subside, we feel gypped. But it is not the fault of marriage, but our expectations when that happens! Marriage isn’t about being young together, but growing old together.

We need to become a God-centered spouse. A spouse-centered spouse responds to the spouse based on how the spouse acts or treats me, rather than treating the spouse based on how God tells me to treat him, or on how God deserves to be treated. Marriage provides the context for us to grow in the ways we need to (which goes back to the point made in the first paragraph). 2 Cor. 7:11 says we need to purify ourselves, perfecting holiness. Our difficult spouse/marriage may be the perfect training ground for us to perfect holiness within us — learning things such as patience, meekness, longsuffering, humility, etc.

If you are married to a Christian, you are married to a child of God. That makes God your Father-in-law! God feels about your spouse the way you feel about your children. You need to love your spouse out of reverence for God.

When you ask an engaged woman about her fiancé, she can talk for 15 minutes solid, telling what all he is; but if you asks a woman who has been married for more than a few years about her husband, she launches into a list of everything in which he fails, or all that he is not. When does a man become known by what he is not, rather than by what he is? Because of our expectations about marriage, and when we become disappointed because of our expectations, we focus on what we don’t have, rather than on what we do have.

We need to seek first the kingdom of God: 1) redeeming love; 2) grow in His righteousness — to be loved and how to love; 3) “and all these things shall be added unto you” — do right first, and happiness will come; but if you seek happiness first, it will elude you.

After Gary Thomas spoke, Mitch Temple (who was more or less in charge of the conference, and is a director of the marriage programs at Focus on the Family) said that one of the big problems in marriage is the idea of “consumerism in marriage” — that is, that “I am the consumer, and you are the producer.” But this is false — marriage is bigger than me.

More posts to follow!