Summary: Gives biblical and practical advice tohusbands and wives on creating a strong long-lasting marriage.

“Enjoying the Traits of our Mates”

Do you remember when you first saw him or her? You turned to your friend and said “whooooo is that?” (real slow)

I remember the first time I saw Julie. She was walking; I luuuuuuved her walk.

Do you remember meeting for the first time? You knew there was chemistry. You thought “oooo - I like this person.” You were excited but trying not to show it.

Do you remember the first time your hands touched and instead of acting like it didn’t happen, you held on to each other? Do you remember the chills that went through you?

Do you remember when you stayed up all night talking to each other, wanting to know everything you could about that person, not wanting that night to end?

Do you remember when you knew you were in love? When you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your life with that person. You were a team -- a good one. You made a commitment to become one forever.

But then do you remember when that person hurt you deeply. You not only hurt but you doubted. You wondered what happened to that oneness?

But you made up -- it was a good make up. But again more disappointments, more hurts. Expectations kept not being met.

And now here you are. Maybe it’s still a good marriage, but you know it’s not as good as it could be. Or maybe it is a strained marriage and you long to be one again.

Either way, you’re not alone. Every marriage sees conflict. Every marriage has shared more pain than anyone outside that marriage knows. Every marriage is a journey of hills and valleys. Highs and lows.

Just as children go through certain developmental stages from birth to adulthood, marriages go through similar developmental stages. Psychologists at the Minirth-Meier Clinic have identified 5 stages married couples pass though as they build strong, and deeply satisfying marriages.

The first stage is Young love -- the first 2 years of marriage.-- Where couples overcome idealistic notions of marriage and begin to become one family.

The next stage encompasses the 3rd thru 10th years of marriage; it is called Realistic love. This stage is often the most dangerous stage in the marriage.

The 11th thru 25th years is the stage of Comfortable love.

As one woman told me who is in this stage, it’s like oatmeal -- not exactly exciting, but comfortable, warm, and satisfying.

The fourth stage is Renewing love --in the 26th thru 35th years. It is a time of accepting some inevitable losses, and having an empty nest, but it is also a time of recommitment and rediscovering each other.

Lastly is Transcendent love -- the 36 year and thereafter. According to those you have made it this long, it is the best part of marriage. It is a time of achieving the oneness that Jesus talks about -- that “the two shall become one.”

But again, it’s that second stage of Realistic Love that so many marriages don’t survive.

Researchers at Denver University looked at long-term marriages, and discovered that as a trend most marriages decrease in satisfaction the first 10 years then they rebound and eventually far surpass the years of Young Love.

Additionally, it has been discovered that the median duration of marriage before divorce is 6.5 years.

This pattern of falling in love and then experiencing the predictable drift apart is as old as the beginning of time. In fact in Genesis Adam and Eve established a barrier to oneness that we all have followed.

First of all Genesis 2:20-23 makes it clear that Men and women were created for mutual dependency. God, who is all-in-one, put part of who he is in the male and part of who he is in the female. We are similar but different.

And it is our differences that attract us to each other (2:24-25). The beauty is in our differences. Wouldn’t it be boring if men and women were all the same?

But because we are sinners our differences eventually begin to divide us. Isn’t interesting that after Adam and Eve sinned they covered the thing that was most obviously different from the other? They were afraid they wouldn’t be accepted.

We’re also afraid that we won’t be accepted. So we cover ourselves with our emotional fig leaves.

But when we discover that that is not enough. The blame game begins. When God confronted Adam and Eve and asked why they were hiding from him and why they were covering themselves from each other, they said it’s not my fault.

And we do the same. When our expectations aren’t met, we assume it must be the other person’s fault. And when our differences, that first attracted us to each other, begin to get on our nerves and divide us, we blame the other person.

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Richard Laraviere

commented on Aug 12, 2008

I have not even read all the pages of this message, yet, this has to be the greatest that I have ever read. Brian, an excellent job with this one!

Jim Cross

commented on Aug 22, 2008

Very good, thank you for the practical and thoughtful insight.

Menton Shields

commented on Sep 9, 2009

Brian, God''s Holy Spirit led you to share this and for one I really appreciate this. May God continue to bless as you seek and do His Will, in His Name Bro.Frank Shields

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