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Intro: (Michael)When you buy your first home one of the things people talk about is that now you’ll experience the “pride of ownership.” But what they don’t tell you is that you are also now about to experience the price of ownership as well. And I don’t just mean the initial price tag. There are the obvious first purchases – lawn equipment, furniture, blinds, etc. But that is the fun stuff – it’s exciting to get into your first home. I’m not talking about those costs. What no one will tell you is that this home will need some work in the future. It won’t take care of itself – you have to look after it. And even if nothing major happens, over time you’ll have to update or upgrade some things because styles change and colors fade. Now don’t get me wrong home ownership IS wonderful but to really enjoy it and get the most out of it, you’ll have to put some effort and energy into it.

(Laura) The same holds true of marriage – it is among the greatest things in life. But things happen sometimes and repairs have to be made. And even if nothing happens, even the best of marriages go through periods where the things get stale or the colors fade.

(Michael) So we are in a series called “Home Improvement” where we plan to focus on practical advice on how to improve an already excellent marriage, do major repairs on marriages that are in trouble, and update marriages where the colors have faded. It’s a four –part series and today we begin with “Dealing with Unseen Damage” (Symptoms of Systemic Problems).

(Laura) We recently completed a home renovation project. We knew for some time that we needed to do some things but we waited for the right time and the right money to line up. But while we waited, unseen and unbeknown to us, things were getting worse and fast. We had known for some time that we had a slight water problem in the downstairs bathroom. But we really got concerned when we saw little drops of water forming on the ceiling in the foyer from water coming from the upstairs bathroom. We knew we had to act right away. We thought the upstairs bathroom problem was our main problem, but having repaired and renovated that bathroom, our crew turned their attention to the downstairs bathroom. When they pulled out the old tile they immediately noticed that the little tiny drip had done so much more damage that we thought. In fact, they had to pull out the entire floor and even replace a foundation beam under the house.

(Michael) There were symptoms but we ignored or failed to notice them. We got used to what we saw in that little bit of creeping water damage. It turned out to take significant work and cost much more than expected. But the effort to repair it was well worth it.

The same is true in marriage – things can happen over the years that, if ignored or undetected can have a powerful negative impact on our life together; foundational things that need to be addressed. But there are symptoms, symptoms of systemic problems and we want to look at those in this message.

5 Subtle Shifts that can Result in Foundational Damage

1. Communication breakdowns (We just aren’t able to talk like we used to)

A. Cause

1. Lack of knowledge of positive communication skills

2. Wounded spirit

B. Repair

1. #1 Law of communication = negative tears down, positive builds up

Eph 4:29 (NKJV) Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Eph 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Prov 18:21 (a) (NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue

2. Facts + feelings = heart

3. Avoid accusing motives by talking “feelings”

2. Unresolved Conflicts (Adding more “buttons” – topics that create reaction)

A. Cause

1. Holding on to the “right” to be right (pride)

2. Holding on to the “right” to be offended (self-pity)

3. Holding on to resentment (unforgiveness)

B. Repair

1. Repent

2. Make a radical commitment to never let the sun go down on unresolved conflicts

Eph 4:26, 27 (NIV) In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.

Eph 4:26, 27 (NKJV) “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil.

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