Marriage in God's Hands

Fight Or Flight (Managing Conflict)

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Willie Oliver, Elaine Oliver


Series Code: MGH

Program Code: MGH000054

00:29 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:31 I'm Willie Oliver, Director of Family Ministries
00:34 for the Seventh Day Adventist Church in North America.
00:37 I'm Elaine Oliver, Willie's partner in ministry,
00:39 and a Marriage and Family Consultant
00:41 for the Seventh Day Adventist Church in North America.
00:44 We're delighted to be with you today.
00:47 In my work as Director of Family Ministries
00:49 for the Seventh Day Adventist Church in North America,
00:52 I often have to deal with the whole issue of marriage.
00:56 While it's most challenging, it can also be one of the most
01:00 rewarding enterprises that any human can be involved in.
01:05 I think we have found that to be true
01:07 in our almost 25 years of marriage.
01:09 We know that even though we're a couple in ministry,
01:13 that marriage still presents many challenges.
01:18 And we are awed by the fact that God has given us
01:22 this wonderful gift of marriage.
01:24 And given us an opportunity to better understand
01:27 His intention for marriage and what it can look like,
01:31 what it can be like.
01:32 We're determined that we are not only going to be married
01:36 for a life time, but we're going to be happy in marriage.
01:39 And so, we hope that as we share with you today
01:42 that you will get a clearer and a better understanding
01:44 of God's plan for marriage.
01:47 What a wonderful opportunity to deal with the issue of marriage.
01:52 Marriage is the first institution established
01:56 by God at Creation.
01:57 And it's not an afterthought.
01:59 It wasn't an afterthought even though when you look in
02:02 scripture you get the impression that when Adam was naming
02:05 the animals, he arrived at the place where
02:08 there was not one like him.
02:09 But really, it was God's intent from the very beginning
02:13 for man to not be alone.
02:15 If we go to the Bible, to the book of Genesis
02:18 chapter 2 and beginning with verse 18,
02:20 we see what the Word of God has to say about this.
02:23 And then on to verses 20-25.
03:17 We want to share with you this whole notion of marriage.
03:21 What God intended.
03:22 I love that text because it talks about
03:27 the most beautiful love story ever.
03:29 And yet, we know that somewhere along the line,
03:32 things went awry.
03:34 And Adam and Eve suffered some challenges in their marriage.
03:39 Just like so many couples today.
03:41 There's a wonderful quote that we have found over the years.
03:44 And it goes like this, "Getting married is easy.
03:48 Staying married is more difficult.
03:51 Staying happily married for a life time would be considered
03:54 among the fine arts. "
03:55 Wouldn't you agree with that?
03:57 Absolutely
03:59 So this whole marriage institution is,
04:03 in order for it to be wonderful, is it possible,
04:07 I guess I should ask, is it possible
04:09 for it to be wonderful?
04:10 Are we able as couples to experience the joy
04:18 and the oneness that God intended at Creation
04:21 when He created Adam and Eve?
04:23 Well, it is possible.
04:24 And at the same time, we have to be mindful of the dynamics,
04:29 those special principles that God has laid out
04:33 for marriage to be able to work the way He intended it to be.
04:39 So, should we take a look at the reality of marriage?
04:43 What is the reality of marriage?
04:46 Well, here's the reality of marriage that couples will
04:49 naturally move towards a state of alienation.
04:51 I often say that you have a husband and a wife
04:55 in front of a pastor, a husband and a wife to be, a couple.
05:00 And the pastor has just declared them husband and wife.
05:03 They're walking down the church aisle.
05:06 And I usually say they're heading for
05:08 alienation and separation unless they're intentional
05:11 about connecting with each other each day.
05:15 People often say, "Well we grew apart. "
05:19 And my response to that is, "We are going to grow apart. "
05:23 And the reason we grow apart is because we're human.
05:26 And because we're human and we have sinned,
05:29 the Bible says that sin is the transgression of the law,
05:32 and this sin is a reality that separates people.
05:37 So, unless you are intentional of connecting every day
05:41 with your spouse through the power of God,
05:44 you're going to be drifting apart.
05:46 In my work, I travel quite a bit.
05:49 And I remember when our children were much smaller, younger.
05:52 I intended in my heart that to be connected to Elaine
05:57 and to be connected to our children,
05:58 that no matter where I was, I would call home every day
06:02 and speak to Elaine.
06:03 So, how do you stay connected, because nature hates a vacuum.
06:07 And if you're not connected, and if you're not in touch
06:10 with each other and with Jesus Christ,
06:11 something is going to go awry.
06:14 That's absolutely right.
06:18 But what we want to share with couples,
06:20 with those of you that are listening,
06:22 husbands and wives can become one.
06:25 We can either choose to live with what's wrong;
06:29 we can go through life with a lot of resentment,
06:33 a lot of hurt, and a lot of animosity towards each other.
06:36 Or we can trust God, we can rely on God's Word.
06:40 Because He certainly does provide
06:42 a blueprint for us in marriage.
06:44 And we can learn how to love one another.
06:48 We can learn how to love in the way that God wants us to love.
06:52 And I truly believe that God intends for us
06:57 to have great marriages.
06:58 And He's given us in His Word, concepts.
07:02 And just whatever it is we need in order to have
07:09 the type of marriage where intimacy can grow.
07:12 So, tell us a little bit about intimacy.
07:14 Because whenever we talk about intimacy and we
07:17 say that we're going to talk about intimacy,
07:19 people are a little confused as to what
07:21 this intimacy looks like.
07:23 Well, God is very clear in the Word of God,
07:26 in the book of Genesis 2:25.
07:37 This nakedness that we're talking about, invariably,
07:39 people think that when they read this text in scripture,
07:43 that it's referring to sexuality.
07:46 That it's referring to a man and his wife having intercourse.
07:51 While that might be true, it really goes beyond that.
07:55 The whole notion of nakedness means that there's nothing
08:00 to hide, that what you see is what you get.
08:03 That the man and his wife are so intimate
08:07 in their relationship with one another
08:09 that they're open in every facet of their lives.
08:12 For example, this is not only physical nakedness,
08:16 it is spiritual nakedness, it is emotional nakedness.
08:20 If there's something in my soul, there's something that
08:22 happened at work that I'm not happy about,
08:25 I can come home and talk to Elaine about that.
08:27 There's an openness about that, I can be vulnerable.
08:30 Cry if I need to cry as a man.
08:33 Invariably in our society, we are afraid to allow men to cry.
08:38 "Oh, that's not manly. "
08:39 But the truth of the matter is, that's why men die more quickly.
08:44 Because they don't release their emotions.
08:46 There ought to be someone, certainly your spouse
08:49 that you can be open with.
08:50 And I'd like to encourage men to be open with their spouses.
08:53 So here, when the Bible says naked and not ashamed,
08:56 it's talking about nothing to hide.
08:59 You're not doing something behind your spouse's back.
09:01 You're not trying to in any way be deceptive.
09:07 You want to be open.
09:08 You want to be spiritually connected.
09:10 You want to be talking about, you need prayer.
09:13 And invariably I need Elaine to pray for me.
09:15 And I'm happy to share with her, "Pray for me. "
09:18 "You know, I'm not feeling so strong today, pray for me. "
09:21 So when the Bible speaks about naked and not ashamed,
09:24 there's a wonderful image of having nothing between you.
09:31 That's absolutely wonderful.
09:32 I think Matthew 19:6 clarifies this even more where it says:
09:47 We're talking about oneness. What is this oneness?
09:49 What does it look like?
09:50 How do we achieve this oneness, and what does God intend
09:54 for us when He says that they are no longer two, but one?
09:58 When we talk about oneness, we realize that the whole
10:02 theme of oneness runs through the theology of the Bible.
10:06 We see that God the Son, the Father,
10:09 and the Holy Ghost are one.
10:11 It's one God.
10:13 Three individuals, three personalities, but one God.
10:17 Also the Bible speaks about Jesus and the church being one.
10:23 It also speaks about marriage as the quintessential relationship
10:28 of oneness in scripture.
10:30 What often happens when couples have children
10:35 is that they tend to concentrate on the children
10:38 instead of on each other.
10:39 Not that you shouldn't concentrate on the children.
10:42 But you should concentrate on each other first.
10:45 Here's a reason why.
10:46 The only relationship in scripture where we're one
10:50 with anyone else is marriage.
10:53 Not one with my parents.
10:54 Not one with my children.
10:56 I'm only one with Elaine.
10:59 So this oneness is a special oneness.
11:02 And it's God ordained and designed.
11:05 We should also talk about the fact that when we
11:07 talk about this oneness, when we talk about coming together,
11:10 about being married, that God is talking about a covenant.
11:13 He's not talking about a contract.
11:15 And we hear so many people today talking about the contract.
11:19 And whether or not the deal is going to be broken
11:22 if something happens.
11:23 And that' not what God intended.
11:24 God intended that we form a covenant, a promise if you will.
11:29 Just like He made a promise to us, His people.
11:31 And this relationship is one that is spiritual,
11:35 as you mentioned earlier.
11:36 It's emotional and physical.
11:39 So, it's not just the benefit of the physical.
11:41 Sometimes, young couples are so excited about the physical part.
11:46 But this is a lot deeper, because truly, there is no
11:50 physical, there's no true physical relationship
11:54 if there isn't the spiritual, if there isn't the emotional.
11:59 And that's what we need to understand when God
12:01 is talking about oneness.
12:02 It's this covenant of two coming together as one.
12:06 We talk about it actually, as a three fold relationship
12:10 where we have God, we have the husband and the wife
12:13 coming together, understanding God's plan
12:18 for unity and marriage.
12:19 That we join with Him in this venture.
12:22 Or I should say adventure, because that's what
12:24 marriage really is.
12:25 It is an adventure and it certainly has
12:27 been an adventure for us in our marriage.
12:31 Indeed.
12:32 When you speak about covenant, I usually think about
12:35 a promise that is made.
12:37 And this promise that's made is not contingent on whether or not
12:41 someone did something for me.
12:43 The fact is, we make a promise to each other.
12:46 And that promise we keep, because we made it.
12:49 It's not based on what the other person is doing.
12:52 It's simply based on the fact that we made a promise.
12:55 And this promise in God's will, is to be permanent.
12:58 In the book of Malachi chapter 2 and verse 16, God says,
13:01 "I hate divorce. "
13:02 He doesn't hate people who have been divorced.
13:05 He doesn't hate people who are divorced.
13:06 But He does hate divorce because it's separation.
13:09 It separates people.
13:11 And God's plan for marriage is that there be unity.
13:15 That people be together.
13:16 That they grow this relationship together.
13:19 Not for a year or 5 years or 10 years, but for eternity.
13:24 Well, in a little while, we'll come back
13:27 and speak to you some more about this oneness
13:29 that we're talking about.
13:30 Right now we're going to go to break.
13:32 And stick around and stay with us and come right back
13:35 as we continue with our topic on the intimacy of marriage
13:39 and the power of one.
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14:22 Welcome back.
14:23 We've been talking about the power of one,
14:25 intimacy in marriage.
14:26 We've covered so far, the notion of oneness
14:29 and two becoming one, and what God intends
14:32 for oneness in marriage.
14:34 We're going to continue our discussion talking about
14:36 this mystery of oneness.
14:38 What exactly is this oneness and how does it look?
14:42 We often joke around and say, "Well, God intends for us to be
14:48 one, but which one?"
14:50 And in many relationships, that's not a joke.
14:53 So we want to explore this concept
14:57 of oneness and what it means.
14:59 And it certainly dissipates any myths about the fact that
15:02 perhaps God wants one personality to subsume
15:06 the other personality.
15:07 And that is definitely not what God intended.
15:10 When God talks about us being one, He certainly intends
15:14 as He understands that He made us as such unique beings.
15:18 That we came into this world with our temperaments
15:22 and our personalities.
15:23 And we bring that to the relationship.
15:26 And we bring that into this oneness.
15:28 But when we talk about becoming one, we also need to understand
15:32 that God wants us to understand that we have to,
15:38 I guess what we say is, have a compromise of autonomy.
15:43 That we are no longer operating just for ourselves.
15:47 So when we talk about oneness, we are talking about
15:50 accommodating the other person.
15:52 So someone might say, "Well does that mean that I have to
15:55 compromise on everything?"
15:57 "What if there's something that I like, if I like red
15:59 do I now have to like blue only because the other
16:02 person likes blue?"
16:03 And that is certainly not what God is talking about.
16:05 Well, I find it interesting that the whole notion of
16:10 accommodation and the whole notion of not
16:13 being subsumed by the other.
16:15 And in our culture we like to talk about the fact that
16:19 as men, we are the leaders of our home.
16:23 And Christian men like to often quote Ephesians, where it says
16:31 in Ephesians 5:22, "Wives submit to husbands. "
16:37 And yet, that's not really what the Bible is talking about.
16:41 When we look at scripture and God's plan for marriage,
16:45 we see that this whole leadership is
16:48 not necessarily being a boss.
16:49 This whole notion of leadership is being a leader.
16:53 And a leader doesn't need to set the law down
16:57 because you're actually one.
16:59 And if we're one, then we are negotiating.
17:02 And we're talking together, we are in contact with each other.
17:06 And we are consulting with each other.
17:08 And we're not just moving forward like,
17:10 "Well, the buck stops here and I need to make this decision. "
17:13 If we look at verse 21 of Ephesians 5, it says,
17:17 "Be subject to each other out of reverence for Christ. "
17:21 Indeed, what it's talking about is the mutuality in marriage and
17:24 the fact that God wants us to be partners in this enterprise.
17:28 There's something else about this oneness
17:30 that I really enjoy.
17:33 And we find it in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 12
17:37 and also 1 Corinthians 14, where it speaks about the body as one.
17:43 It's a unit and yet it's made up of many parts.
17:46 And it uses the body as a metaphor for the church,
17:49 for the body of Christ, that we have different organs
17:53 with different functions, and yet they're all
17:56 intricately united and together.
17:59 Let's say in marriage, husbands have their roles to play,
18:04 and wives have their roles to play,
18:06 and God has us doing different things
18:08 but we're complimentary and we're working together
18:11 and we're working as a body.
18:13 Have you ever been hammering and all of a sudden
18:16 your hammer slips and you hit your finger?
18:19 I usually say, "ouch. "
18:21 Of course, unless you're really masculine and you just look.
18:24 But most of us say, "ouch. "
18:26 That's because the whole body hurts
18:28 when a piece of the body hurts.
18:31 And this is what God is talking about
18:33 when He's talking about oneness and unity and togetherness.
18:36 It's not a separation.
18:38 It is an organic relationship where we feel together,
18:44 we work together, we worship together.
18:47 So that as husband and wife, we can be on the same page
18:52 and lead our children to the kingdom of God.
18:55 That is so powerful, it's just the whole notion of oneness
18:58 and how God has laid it out for us.
19:01 But unfortunately, we understand that in real marriages
19:04 there are certain obstacles to enjoying this oneness.
19:09 And so we want to take a look at
19:10 what some of these obstacles may be.
19:13 Because we believe that if we can identify
19:15 where the challenges are going to be, then we can understand
19:19 how we can offset them.
19:21 And then put our marriages back on the right track
19:24 so we can have this oneness that God intends for us to enjoy.
19:28 So one of the challenges, one of the obstacles to oneness
19:32 would be what we call defensiveness
19:35 and the fear of rejection.
19:36 As we become more intimate with each other,
19:40 this is the challenge of marriage.
19:42 The other person knows us, probably better
19:44 than most other people.
19:46 And when Adam and Eve sinned, what did they do first?
19:51 They covered themselves. They were afraid.
19:54 So they covered up the places where they were most
19:57 different from each other.
19:58 The idea of covering up our differences.
20:03 And don't we do that in marriage?
20:05 Because we know that the other person knows us so well and
20:09 we have shared very intimately with one another
20:13 our thought, our emotions, our feelings.
20:15 When we experience some type of distress in our marriage,
20:21 we begin to cover ourselves up.
20:23 We no longer share with each other.
20:25 And that is definitely an obstacle to oneness
20:29 because if we're no longer sharing with each other
20:31 on an intimate, on a close level,
20:34 talking about more than just the weather.
20:36 And isn't that what happens in relationships?
20:39 That once we start to go down this road of covering up,
20:43 we do only talk about the weather.
20:45 We only talk about taking out the trash.
20:47 We only talk about picking up the kids from school
20:51 or from their after school activities.
20:53 And that becomes an obstacle to oneness.
20:57 Well, one of the problems is that you begin shutting down
21:01 certain parts of your marriage, so that you don't talk about
21:03 them because you think you have different opinions.
21:06 But instead of not talking about them, what we've learned
21:09 is that every crisis situation is an opportunity for growth.
21:13 It might cause a little tension but as you talk
21:16 some more about it, and as you work through it and
21:19 as you share with each other intimately about
21:21 what's going on, there is a tendency for us to get
21:24 on the other side with a greater understanding
21:27 of where our spouse is coming from.
21:28 And then we are growing because we have gotten to know
21:33 more about that individual.
21:34 One of the other obstacles in marriage is
21:37 wrong doing and selfishness.
21:39 We want to do it ourselves. We want it to go our way.
21:44 And while we didn't pay much attention to our parents
21:46 when we were growing up, invariably we want to do it
21:50 the way the Oliver's did it.
21:51 The way my family did it, that's the way
21:54 it's suppose to be done.
21:55 Well, the Powell's had their way of doing it, and it's not bad.
21:58 But really, the right way to do it
22:00 is the way the Oliver's did it.
22:02 That's the tendency we have once we get married.
22:05 We want to be the pre-eminent one.
22:07 And what we're talking about here is oneness.
22:10 So instead of doing it the Oliver way,
22:12 the way I was brought up in my family of origin,
22:15 or the way the Powell's did it, the way Elaine was brought up
22:17 in her family of origin, we want to do it the Oliver/Powell way.
22:21 So we create a new reality because there's a new unit.
22:25 We're married to each other. We are a "one".
22:28 We are one and we are an "us".
22:30 And now it's a new reality.
22:33 I love that. Absolutely.
22:35 We have to understand, as we've been talking about, that
22:38 it's no longer just about me, it's no longer just about you.
22:42 But it is about the "us".
22:43 And it's worth stressing again and again.
22:46 Because in marriage, we can destroy our marriages
22:50 just thinking about, "What's in it for me?"
22:53 "I know the best way. "
22:57 And I think it's worth stressing the "us".
23:00 That we have a new identity.
23:02 Just like when we are born again.
23:04 And we're reborn in Christ.
23:09 It's the same thing with marriage.
23:10 And that's why God uses marriage as a way to more clearly
23:17 illuminate when He talks about His relationship with us.
23:21 That notion of being one with us.
23:24 Another obstacle to oneness is lack of understanding.
23:28 We think that because we are Bible-believing people
23:31 that we read the Bible every day, that we understand
23:35 how to do marriage, how to be one.
23:39 Now clearly, and we've said before that God does provide
23:42 a blueprint, but sometimes we don't really abide
23:46 by the blueprint.
23:47 We don't do the things that God asks us to do.
23:51 So just because we're reading the Bible doesn't mean
23:54 that we are going to know how to talk to one another.
24:00 So what that means then is that we need to be able to go
24:03 someplace where we can be taught.
24:05 Because the dynamics of marriage don't come naturally.
24:09 Even though we think, "Well this should just come naturally. "
24:11 But it doesn't.
24:12 And so we want to talk here as we come towards the end is,
24:15 how can we preserve this oneness.
24:17 What kinds of things can we do to have this oneness
24:21 in our marriages?
24:22 And one of the first things we can do is by
24:25 being committed to destroying the obstacles
24:28 in our relationships.
24:29 In the bible, in the book of Colossians 3:19, it says:
24:42 It's so easy for husbands and wives to have bad feelings
24:45 in their marital relationship.
24:47 And so what we need to do is to destroy
24:50 these obstacles to oneness.
24:53 Being committed to destroying every obstacle
24:56 in our relationship and speaking kindly and gently
24:59 and nurturingly to our spouses.
25:04 We also need to be more intentional about
25:06 improving as a spouse.
25:08 Yes, we do need to improve.
25:10 Often times, I say to people that I find myself
25:14 praying for my husband.
25:15 And that's a good thing, we should pray for our spouse.
25:17 But one of the things that I've learned to do
25:19 is to pray and ask God to help me be the kind of wife
25:23 that He wants me to be.
25:25 Help me to be a better person.
25:26 James 1:19 says it well.
25:42 I think that sums it up when we talk about
25:43 being our best selves.
25:46 If I take the time to listen to you then I actually benefit
25:51 because I have a better understanding of who you are
25:54 and how I can be a better spouse to you.
25:57 And one other way of doing that is being dedicated to knowing
26:00 one's spouse deeply.
26:02 I hear often, people who have been married for 20 years
26:05 or 30 years, and the marriage is still rocky.
26:08 It's not going better.
26:09 That's because we've lived one year 30 times over.
26:11 And what we need to learn to do in marriage
26:13 is to grow every day.
26:15 And for that the scripture says in 1 Corinthians 13:4,7,8
26:37 So we need to be dedicated to knowing our spouse deeply.
26:40 And being kind about it, and being intentional about it.
26:44 Because love never fails.
26:47 And we also need to have a commitment to oneness.
26:51 Ellen White says it well in Happiness Homemade.
27:17 Now the whole enterprise of marriage is difficult.
27:19 It's hard stuff. But...
27:21 There's nothing more rewarding than working together through
27:26 the Spirit of God to bring ourselves in marriage
27:31 to be one with our mate.
27:33 It's God's plan.
27:34 And there's a promise of success in Philippians 4:13.
27:39 And it says, "I can do all things through Him
27:41 who strengthens me. "
27:43 God bless you and stay strong.


Revised 2014-12-17