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MARRIAGE: Get a Marriage 'Tune Up'! Part 2

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

5 Threats to Oneness

The conference speakers also talked about the ‘5 Threats to Oneness.’

Threat Number 1 was how difficult adjustments in marriage can threaten oneness. Things like contrasting backgrounds, selfish motivations, and differing expectations can lead to isolation if adjustment aren’t made.

Threat Number 2 said that couples entering marriage equipped with the world’s plan would find their oneness threatened. The worlds plan is based on a 50-50 performance of you itch my back then I’ll itch yours which is destined to failure and Isolation, not Oneness.

Threat Number 3 to Oneness is failing to anticipate selfishness in your marriage. Our natural tendency is to be self-centered and this is destructive to relationships. We marry with “Stars in our eyes” and we don’t always see this reality.

Threat Number 4 to Oneness is failure to work through inevitable difficulties and trials. There is a failure to anticipate difficulties in marriage and a failure to respond to them properly.

I love James 1:2-4. It’s one of my life verses and it says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” It’s like an oyster when an irritating object, like a piece of sand, gets under its shell. The irritation is stopped by encrusting and smoothing it with a pearly formation.

Every irritation that gets into our lives today is an opportunity to create a pearl in our marriage. The more irritations the devil flings at us, the more pearls we have. We need to welcome our trials in our marriage and cover them with love and forgiveness and the irritation will be smoothed out as the pearl comes into being. A true pearl is simply a victory over irritation.

Extramarital Affairs

Threat Number 5 to Oneness is extramarital “Affairs”. It’s an escape to anything outside the marriage. This could be an extramarital love affair, but it could also be a career affair, materialism affair, activities affair, or just plain old apathy affair. Those in ministry need to be careful of having a ministry affair.

In my manual there was a cartoon graphic of a husband in the living room watching tv holding a remote with his back to his wife in the kitchen making dinner with her back to him. Between the 2 of them was an outline of a huge invisible brick wall. They had unknowingly built it brick by brick over the years by not dealing with the ‘Threats to Oneness’ in their marriage.

When I saw that cartoon in my manual I told Laurie “That’s my mom and my dad!” Looking back, I could see that they had built a huge wall between the 2 of them brick by brick, year after year by not dealing with the threats in their marriage. Remember I told you that my first sister was stillborn. I found out later that there was a lot of un-forgiveness, unresolved bitterness and resentment from her death.

My mom went to the hospital alone to give birth. She says my dad was out fishing. He says that he was working. It sounded like they never forgave each other for it. Overtime with more disappointments and discouragement that came up during their marriage, they built this vast impregnable wall between the 2 of them. Their marriage slowly fizzled and died as I wondered,“Could that ever happen to me?”

5 Phases to Marriage Deterioration

At the conference they also said that there were ‘5 Phases to Marriage Deterioration.’

Phase 1 starts as the Romantic Phase. A new life together is exciting. Oneness and happiness are the goals in the relationship but the couple have no plan to achieve them.

Phase 2 is the Honeymoon Phase. Life is good. There are twinges of disappointment but they are quickly ignored and smoothed over.

Phase 3 is the Reality Phase. I think that’s where Laurie and I were at the time of the conference. The relationship begins to take on a new dimension with careers, children, finances, in-laws and the trials of life. The struggle to change each other starts to set in. Disappointment and discouragement can dominate the relationship.

Phase 4 is the Retaliation Phase. Unresolved resentment & bitterness begin to take their toll. I think this is where my mom and dad was at after my first sister died. The man may pour into his career or interests outside the home. That’s what my dad did. The woman might pour her life into her children or seek a new career for purpose. That’s what my mom did. The view of marriage has gone from focus on each other to focus on my wants and my needs. Unknowing, a wall is being built between the two of them as despair and isolation sets in.

Phase 5 is the Rejection Phase. The life in the marriage is all but gone and leads to its death. There could be an emotional separation or withdrawal between the 2 as the wall is being built which could lead to a physical separation or divorce. In the case of my mom and dad, I watched them slowly go through an emotional separation for years or a silent divorce which eventually led to a physical separation or the actual divorce after the nest was empty.

Like I had said, I felt like our marriage was doing fine over the first 11 years but unknowingly, it had grown stale. We were both pursuing our careers and caring for our girls. But, we had lost sight of each other. I realized at that moment during the conference that Laurie and I were on the same path as my mom and dad. I also realized that I had to make a change or who knows where our marriage was heading. I put a stake in the ground that day to be more intentional in our oneness. I’m not sure if I had not gone to that conference that weekend that I’d be here today celebrating over 40 years of marriage. As Christ followers, God wants our marriages to thrive, not just survive.

Love Letters

During the conference, we had 3 Action Points that we were to work on with our spouses to help build Oneness. The second Action Point was to write a ‘Love Letter’ to each other. I though, I got this. Not a problem on this one. That first summer when we were dating, I’d write love letters to Laurie all the time while she was in the U.P. We wrote our ‘Love Letters’ for the Action Point and went up to our hotel room to read them privately to each other.

I told her that I’d go first. I started to open my mouth to read but nothing came out. Laure said “Are you OK.” All of the sudden, I just started started sobbing. I realized right then and there that something wasn’t right. Laurie said “That’s ok, you don’t need to read it to me. I know it’s hard”. I told her “Yes I do. This shouldn’t be hard. It should be easy. I used to write Love Letters to you all the time when we were dating”.

I took a few minutes to regroup but started to read my love letter blubbering like a big baby the whole time. Laurie then read hers to me through many tears. We both came to the realization that we hadn’t said words like those to each other in a long time. It was like an enormous weight came off the both of us and let me tell you, it was a defining moment in our marriage.

Marriage 'Tune-Up'?

After that weekend, Laurie and I realized that we needed to to do this again on a regular basis to keep our marriage ‘Tuned-Up’ and not let it go stale. Since then, we have gone to 10 more Marriage Conferences. I know a little overkill. We have also led 15 Family Life-Art of Marriage workshops at a number of churches and camps. When we do that Art of Marriage workshops, we tell the attendee’s that we don’t do it just for them, but we also do it for us as a reminder not let our marriage grow stale or go into auto pilot.

Our marriages can be like driving home from work every day. I remember driving home from the school that I taught at to home for many years. It was about a 20 minute drive. Sometimes it seemed like I’d go into autopilot. I’d be listening to the radio or enjoying the silence, and before I knew it, I was home. I didn’t even remember driving certain towns or the stop light in my town.

I know, that’s a little scary, right? I’ve found out that there is a term for it. It’s called highway hypnosis. You can actually turn the wheel, accelerate, decelerate, all the while in a semi-conscious state of mind.

Marriage Hypnosis

But, the same thing can happen in our marriages. We can go through all the twists and turns of married of life, a peck on the cheek before we leave for work, come home, say hi to the kids, watch the news, have dinner, pay the bills, get ready for bed… and start all over again the next day. This is what I’d call Marriage Hypnosis and it’s easy to fall into.

So here’s my point. I’d like to encourage all of you who are married or someday might be married or for those who have family or friends who are married, to not let your marriage go into AutoPilot and get a tune up from time to time. It could be a weekend conference, a workshop or maybe a date night to keep it running smoothly and purring like a kitten. We all need to do something so we don’t fall into Marriage Hypnosis.

How many of you take your car in to get an oil change & tune up every 3-5,000 miles? Now why wouldn’t we get our marriages tuned up from time to time also.

I’d like to close with a poem. It’s called ‘Laughter in the Walls’ by Bob Benson. It’s a poem about a husband and wife who raised their kids and now the nest is empty. It’s obvious that they have finished well together in Oneness.

Laughter in the Walls

I pass a lot of houses on my way home—

some pretty, some expensive, some inviting—

But my heart always skips a beat when I turn down the road

and see my house nestled against the hill.

I guess I’m especially proud of the house and the way it looks because I drew the plans myself.

It started out large enough for us—I even had a study—

two teenaged boys now reside in there

and it had a guest room, my girls and nine dolls are permanent guests.

It had a small room Peg had hoped would be her sewing room—

The two boys swinging on the dutch door have claimed this room as their own. So it really doesn’t look right now as if I’m much of an architect.

But it will get larger again—one by one they will go away

to work, to college, to service, to their own houses,

And then there will be room—

a guest room, a study, and a sewing room for just the two of us.

But it won’t be empty—every corner, every room, every nick in the coffee table will be crowded with memories.

Memories of picnics, parties, Christmases,

bedside vigils, summers, fires, winters,

going barefoot, leaving for vacation, cats, conversations,

black eyes, graduations, first dates, ball games,

arguments, washing dishes, bicycles, dogs, boat rides,

getting home from vacation, meals, rabbits, and

a thousand other things that still fill the lives

of those who would raise five kids.

And Peg and I will sit quietly by the fire and listen to the

laughter in the walls.’

Let’s pray. . .

Jesus, Thank you for the opportunity to bless these families. I pray that my words were inspired by you. I pray that you would bring comfort to anyone in a tough spot in their marriage or have been through a tough marriage. Let them feel your love, your warmth, your forgiveness, your comfort and your peace.

Help our marriages to represent our relationship between the Christ, the groom and his bride, the church.

As Ephesians 5:25 asks “Husbands to love our wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Lord, help us men to give up our lives for our wives as Christ gave his life up for us.

Wives, Eph. 5:33 says that you are to show respect to your husbands. Lord, we know that when wives show respect, husbands are more likely to show love. And when husbands show love, wives are more likely to show respect. And this incredible cycle of love and respect flows in the marriage. Protect it. Lord, we come against anything that would try to break that cycle.

Please help those who are married to be continually intentional in their Oneness. Take away any selfishness and help us be a servant like You, Jesus and serve our spouses.

Tear down any walls that have been built up over the years through unresolved conflict, unforgiveness & resentment. Help us to have the courage to address conflict in our marriages with Christ’s love and grace. Lord, I pray through our trials and irritations that You would produce a string of beautiful pearls in our marriages.

I pray that maybe this might be a defining moment for some marriages. None of us want a marriage that’s just surviving. We want a marriage that’s thriving. Only though your strength and power that we can have that.

Lord, help us to not allow our Marriages to go into Auto pilot but to take the time to keep it tuned up on a regular basis; if that be a weekend conference, a camp like this, workshop, date night or whatever it might be, Lord. Help us to be bold and to take action.

Your formula for change is inspiration plus application equals transformation. Help us to take your your words of inspiration that we read and apply it to our lives and that You would transform our marriages.

We pray all of this in the name that’s above every other name, in the name of Jesus we pray and everyone said “AMEN”!

Thank you checking out my blog. For more information on marriage, check out 'Keeping Bed Bugs out of your Marriage' by clicking here.

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