Summary: How to have a healthy relationship - scriptural principles of interaction, with bulletin/sermon notes.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Marriage: How to Have a Relationship That Works

Ephesians 4:25-32

Also see Colossians 3:12-13; Phil 4:8; Prov 17:9; Prov 25:12; 18:13; 23:12

A husband expressed his frustration by saying, “Mary, you’re not the woman I thought I married!” She looked at him with a slight smile and said, “I never was the woman you thought you married!”

Your “…marital happiness depends little on the person you marry. Rather, it’s how you cope with conflict.” “Your success in marriage (and in every relationship) depends on how you handle your differences and similarities. Everyone marries a foreigner to some degree.” 1

So how do you have a relationship that works? What are the necessary steps to a healthy relationship?

1. You stop being deceptive and speak the truth

It was Dr. H. Norman Wright who said, “Many conflicts between couples occur because of any one of the following: Each has a different thinking pattern or process that leads to conflict; Each has a different communication style that leads to conflict; Each has a lack of understanding and connection with the other.” 2

“Dr. John Gottman’s studies revealed the four destructive forces in a marriage – criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. He calls them the four horsemen.”

Criticism: Attacks, blames or fault-finds another person’s personality and character. Stems from our thought lives: Accusatory – use of the word “you”; Blame-game - use of the word “Should”

It would be helpful to read a bit by Rudyard Kipling on this particular destructive force (tongue-in-cheek poetry) - “Man’s timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say, For the Woman that God gave him isn’t his to give away; But when hunter meets with husband, each confirms the other’s tale - The female of the species is more deadly than the male.” 3

How our thoughts affect our relationships: Assumptions, Overgeneralizations, Magnifications, Negative interpretations, Suspicions, Resentments due to poor self-image, breakdown of trust and selfishness. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ 2 Cor. 10:5

Criticism hides in our humor and jokes. See Proverbs 26:18-19. Criticism leads to invalidation – the breakdown of friendship. Criticism also leads to destructive Guilt and Intimidation

Contempt: The intent to insult or psychologically abuse your spouse. Namecalling, negative nonverbal actions and mocking are all part of the pattern.”

Defensiveness: A natural protective response intended to diffuse attacks coming from the outside. The greater degree of defensiveness between a couple, the less the amount of emotional intimacy exists in the relationship. Those walls keep you apart.

Some wives treat their husbands like the one mother I read about recently in a parenting magazine. This mother took her 4 year old son with her all day long while she tried on dresses, at store after store. Finally, at the last store, she was trying to get her son to go back into the dressing room with her while she tried on one more dress. “No, mom,” he screamed, “I’m tired of seeing you naked!” Now most husbands don’t have that particular problem, but they do resent being treated like little boys. And they usually get defensive when treated as such.

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