Help for enduring, believing, hoping all things

In our 12 wonderful years of marriage, we have been blessed with sound Biblical teaching every time we needed it. And did we need it! Wow; it’s amazing how much you can learn, no matter how much you know (or think you know). Here are the most important influences in our marriage as it grew and continues to grow:

Parents: Sometimes you wish you could change things about your in laws, but our parents celebrated their 39th(Jerry and Charlene) and 37th(Sam and Chrissy) ¬†anniversaries in 2011, and that says a lot. My wife and I always knew you just didn’t get to give up on your spouse, no matter what. We came into marriage with that attitude, and it has made all the difference. Plus, they continue to support our marriage and have developed healthy relationships with me and my wife, which makes our commitment even stronger. Great thanks to all four of you for sticking it out.

Friends: Couples our age who have been through the same battles we face, and haven’t given up are a source of encouragement(Jeff and Wendy, Drs. Nick and Christy, Jay and Amanda). Couples a few years beyond us who have faced new challenges, and found joy and satisfaction in spite of hardships help us believe in ourselves and remember to enjoy the seasons of life (thanks Dwayne and Dee). We draw particular inspiration from friends remarried who are determined to work it out and never give up (Aaron and Leah, Daniel and Betsy, you guys rock!). We also remember those friends who got married when we did, and divorced before getting where we are. We know we are not invincible and we have an enemy who hates a good marriage, and that keeps us alert. We don’t take our success for granted or for our own credit.

Church: We have been blessed to attend several churches in our marriage, and all of them have loudly championed marriage under God from a realistic and hopeful perspective. Marriages have always been celebrated, fought for, supported, and worked through in every body of believers in Christ we have seen. And we need it. We need the accountability, the vulnerability, and the examples that other marriages in the Church provide. You can’t do this alone. Your own strength, perspective, experience, and will are not enough. You need other people in your married life.

Books: Wow, where to start? Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by Dr. John Gray, was a good general awareness book for me, especially about emotions and communication. ¬†The Act of Marriage, by Tim LaHaye, should be read by every engaged man days before his wedding. Reforming Marriage, by Douglas Wilson, frees the wife and empowers the man to lead. Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge, explains so much of why fairy tales and the Bible are the best pictures of man and woman. And it invites men to be men. Love and War, also by Eldridge, draws marriage deeper into the spiritual battles and triumphs of a marriage, with lots of practical tools and examples. Men are like Waffles, Woman are like Spaghetti, by Bill and Pam Farrel, explains even more about the sometimes frustrating-for-no-good-reason dynamics of married life. The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, helps your efforts to love your spouse be more effective and understood. Without these books in particular, we would not love each other as willingly nor understand our marriage as clearly. Proverbs 4:7 – “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Your marriage will change over time, and the uninformed will be unprepared, as our enemy desires.

Marriage Conferences: Nearly any large gathering of couples trying to improve and strengthen their marriages has to be a good thing. These are also great places to find books, movies, and other materials to maintain the momentum when you return home to reality.

Dates, Vacations, and Getaways: You need these. Life takes a lot out of you, and you must learn how to recharge together. You need stories to tell, memories to recall, funny and touching things that only the two of you share. These help you remember why you married them, and show you how much you and they have changed for the better. You must continue practicing the pursuit of each other. And your kids need to be around other adults…so they can appreciate you more. :)

Movies: If you haven’t seen Fireproof or Courageous in theaters, go rent them. They ¬†show examples of good marriages founded on Christ living in our world that Hollywood knows nothing about. It’s not about happily-ever-single-with-no-commitment, it’s about happily-only-after-the-wedding, and the adventures don’t stop there.

Our marriage is a direct reflection of the many people who have poured their knowledge and effort into us. We benefit from their work, their mistakes, their perspective, and their kindness in sharing with us. Thank you, God, for these, your faithful servants, and thanks to all of you who shared God’s plan for marriage with us.

We highly recommend marriage to all our single friends.

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9 Responses to Help for enduring, believing, hoping all things

  1. Lea McGuire says:

    James,
    Thank you for the kind words. I have always highly revered everything it is you have to say and now knowing that this website exists; I plan to keep reading. You and Amy are a blessing to us and I am greatful to call you friends.

    • james.thorpe says:

      Thank you for yours. You and Aaron could have given up at several points in your relationship, but you didn’t. You are an inspiration and we are glad to call you our friends, too.

  2. Wendy says:

    Love this post! My favorite part is the last line!

  3. Great post. We will celebrate 14 years in May and will testify that God’s first design in marriage is not to make you happy – it is to make you holy.

    I would caution you against recommending anything by Douglas Wilson though – he is a known kinist/racist who has published some very horrid things. I had read some of his works and thoroughly enjoyed them. Then I ran across this: http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Slavery-Was-Douglas-Wilson/dp/188576717X

    Just something to consider.

    • james.thorpe says:

      Thanks so much for the info. I checked out reviews of Wilson’s book at the link you gave, and read several opposing reviews that bring up some interesting questions. I think I will have to call myself unqualified to comment on Wilson’s historical views, but those who have read his views seem to become divisively passionate about doctrinal, moral, or political issues, some siding with Wilson, and some opposing him. I will say that his book on marriage was helpful to us when we needed direction and growth, and would be good for any married couple to discuss. He bases his recommendations on scripture, and it’s hard to go wrong there. He leaves out any historical or political views as far as I can remember. Thanks again.

      James

  4. Here’s a review of his Slavery treatise: http://mutualaffection.blogspot.com/

    I found it quite interesting. After 14 years of complementarian marriage (man in charge, woman submitting), Philip and I are heading in the opposite direction. We are studying Paul’s words and have come to the conclusion that God didn’t intend for men to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. In fact, I would challenge you to find Scripture that says men are to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. We are ALL priests and need no mediators between us and God. We should all be serving God according to our giftings, not according to our gender.

    The “man in charge” dynamic was a part of the curse. We are redeemed from the curse. When we order our households with the man alone leading, we are embracing curse-filled living. Our marriage was curse-filled when we tried to do this. The last few months we have experienced much more freedom and oneness as we have abandoned that dynamic and sought oneness instead. You cannot truly be “one flesh” with an authority/subject mentality. I cannot tell you how freeing this has been for BOTH of us. He feels so much less pressure and I feel free to use my giftings. Our household is growing in faith and peace as we strive to be in one heart and mind about things.

    Here is an excellent blog I found on this. Really blessed and challenged me:
    http://www.ericpazdziora.com/writing/godly-authority-a-flight-to-topsyturvydom/
    http://www.ericpazdziora.com/writing/the-myth-of-the-weaker-vessel/
    http://www.ericpazdziora.com/writing/the-bondage-of-betrothal/

    I can’t tell you how much our marriage has been blessed by this. We believed so strongly in patriarchy and quiverfull theology. I did the Above Rubies thing and loved the Vision Forum catalog. But it was killing our family. And the more we studied the Word, and the more I compared these teachings to what I know about my Savior, the more we realized how much patriarchy reflects man’s desires and not God’s. Even in the OT, patriarchy was described, not prescribed.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. I am just so excited about the freedom and refreshing and closeness we have found in our egalitarian marriage that I want to share it with everyone.

  5. I said I’d hush, but I forgot one thing.

    I’d always been taught that woman was created to be man’s sidekick. His helpmeet. But the word is “ezer” in Hebrew. Which does mean “helper” but comes with a connotation of helping from a point of strength. In all other cases where it is used in the OT, it refers to God helping us. So it doesn’t mean “sidekick” like many would have us believe.

    Read Genesis 1 and 2 with an open mind. Nowhere does God set up man as head over the woman prior to the fall. Some will argue that man is in charge because he was created first. But by that logic, fish would be in charge of man because they were created first.

    Even in the cursing, He just states that man will rule over women and women will desire man. That’s exactly what has happened in history. But He doesn’t say that is His desire for marriage or His perfect will for marriage.

    It’s hard to challege ideas you’ve been taught your whole life. But there is a lot of freedom on the other side of painful growth.

    • james.thorpe says:

      I’m so glad you have found freedom from the abusive twisting of truth that seems to happen to so many of us. Satan loves to get us into one extreme by leaving another, and finding the balance can be difficult. The best resource we have found for giving a Biblical explanation of the complementary design for men and women is by a guy named Mouser called Five Aspects. We have found John Eldridge’s books Wild at Heart and Love and War to be helpful, too. Please let me know if you have read either of them.

      James

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