Three Phases But One Goal

There are three general phases in marriage.  It usually starts with an overwhelming attraction that pumps our bodies with dopamine, oxytocin, seretonin, vasopressin and various other neuro-chemicals, produced by our brains, that create in us a wonderful sense of pure euphoria. We fall deeply in love (what can be called limerance)  and then absolutely NOTHING can stop us from being with our true love.

This may last for up to three years, but then…it happens.  They somehow begin to change. They stop being the person they were. The prince starts begins to act more like a frog. The queen starts to behave more like the wicked witch. What happens next is a period of storms that has been called the Power Struggle (Hendrix) or the Trust phase (Gottman). The question that’s  unconsciously asked is, “Will you be there for me when…”,  I’m Sad? Angry? Depressed? Ugly? Ashamed? Lonely? Bored? etc… and the answer, a lot of times, seems to be “NOPE!” We have now entered the struggle of trying to make our spouses love us the the way we need to be loved! We begin to criticize, judge, manipulate and coerce them into how to love us correctly and get increasingly frustrated and angry, even enraged, when they don’t. We argue, we build up resentments, we have miscommunications but, the good news is, it’s  all part of a process that can lead to the greatest and final phase.

The final phase is a marriage which has deeper emotional roots and a profound sense of  intimacy which, by comparison,  actually makes the first “falling in love” phase look weak! The unfortunate thing is that not everyone gets to this place. Some  divorce,  some remain in a marriage with a deep sense of resentment, loneliness and betrayal, while others  will remain in a power struggle without much growth.

Once you understand the original and spiritual foundations of marriage, like a compass pointing to true north it can help us navigate where we are and where we want to be.

 

Matthew 6:10

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

 

The previous petition in the Lord’s prayer was for God’s name (his reputation and unique attributes)  to be held holy and is followed by a petition asking us to pray for Gods kingdom to come. The term, “kingdom of God” is  foundational to understanding the message of Jesus of Nazareth. Without an understanding of this term, it would be difficult to understand the primary message of the Son and the entire reason for his coming. One could substitute “kingdom” for rule, dominion or absolute sovereignty. For our exploration here, we will focus on the simplest definition of the kingdom of God, which is God’s active rule in the universe.

Wherever His will is accomplished there is the territory ruled by THE king and under His authority. At this point in Jewish history the kingdom of God was the primary underlying expectation of the masses, and also of  the teachers of the law who understood Scriptural prophecy. They expected God to do something AMAZING!

In other words, we are to be praying for God’s intentions and underlying motives to become a reality in our lives.

God’s intention and primary motivation for marriage.

Take a moment and read through Genesis 2:15-25.

God wants marriage to be a covenant!

What’s a Covenant?

Marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant! A covenant is based on a bond while a contract is based on potential failure. A contract is  based on the possibility there could be a breech of that agreement and is meant to provide reassurance and enforce consequences. If a contract is broken, by just one party,  it breaks the contract. If I sign a contract to have some electrical work done and the electrician fails to meet the criteria of the contract, then he forfeits full payment and I can move on to the next electrician. Likewise, if I fail on my part, services may not be performed and  legal action taken to recover any owed funds.  A covenant, on the other hand, does not mean obligations are cancelled because one party fails to do his part. If one party messes up it does NOT nullify the relationship. If my child fails to show up for dinner at 6:00 PM my obligation to love, feed and care for my child is not altered or nullified (even if he gets an earful of consequences). What better environment to foster trust and commitment?

One is circumstantial, provisional, impermanent, conditional, contingent and replaceable. The other is unchanging, permanent, unconditional, irreplaceable and sacred for all time.

This is God’s underlying motivation and intention for your marriage!

 

A “Kingdom Challenge”:

For the next seven days pray  about your marriage’s current state and pray  to become aligned with God’s intentions and motivations…beginning with you. 

To have a relationship where you reveal God’s character to your spouse and to your family (God is never passive).

To have a relationship where you provide love and care for him/her.

To have a relationship that is permanent and  covenantal, not contractual.

 

Remember you are not alone (“Our Father”). It’s not you and your spouse on a deserted island. The kingdom of God is not made up of isolated souls.

Find a fellowship that supports biblical marriage and, if your in a church,  seek out the help you need.

Is there another mature couple or counselor, whom you both trust and can connect with, on a regular basis, for support and encouragement?

Do it.

 

PS

Both prayer and getting help have made a radical difference for Pam and I, a kingdom difference. One that has created a recent breakthrough in our marriage, even after 25 years.

 

 

 

About the author

Antoine Lee MEd, MC is a recent graduate of Nyack Christian College with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling. Currently he has been an independent Contractor for organizations such as Community Access as well as for the HIV/AIDS Center, Project HEAL and Women’s Support Services at Montefiore Hospital. He provided mental health in-service presentations and workshops in mindfulness training and assisted in and supported facilitation of peer support groups. He has recently completed an internship at University Behavioral Associates (Montefiore) where he helped to support transitional families. Antoine has been a pre-marital and marital counseling volunteer for over 20 years; Youth and Family leader for over ten years; motivated teaching professional with over 13 years experience addressing student needs and ensuring proper student development and an experienced 8th grade teacher with an excellent parent-teacher communication record and student motivation techniques. Antoine brings to the counseling setting his deep biblical knowledge and practical application that he has learned over the years as he has grown and matured while raising his family and helping people for over 25 years at his church. He is a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development.

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