AGP MARRIAGE SERIES WEEK 8 {Love & Respect: God's design for marriage}

This is the post that prompted me to start this Marriage Series. A few months ago, Kevin and I started reading You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. Through reading it together, we have learned a lot about each other and about God. We have learned that in order to have a satisfying and long lasting marriage you have to be selfless with your spouse, showing them endless amounts of love and grace.

Society tells us that marriage will make us happy and that we can find satisfaction in our spouse, but that is not what God designed marriage for. We were not called to get married just to satisfy our own desires. God created marriage for the two to become one; to become a team who can glorify God through their relationship. A team who can focus on God's mission for the earth which is to love others well. I love this quote from the book:

When we focus on our relationship with God and loving others well, our marriage becomes bigger than us. We become satisfied when we take the focus off of ourselves and onto others. This is not an easy task, but spending a few minutes with God each day can put your soul in the right place to love your spouse well. I know that when I don't read my Bible or listen to worship music for a few minutes I tend to snap more easily at Kevin. I become more focused on myself and what I need instead of thinking about how I could serve him that day. 

Another thing that Francis Chan talks about in his book is thinking about your spouse on the day they will meet Jesus face to face. One of our jobs on this earth is to be a part of the story God weaves in our spouse and loving them into the person God made them to be. Through encouragement and speaking the truth in love we can be a part of the person they become when they meet Jesus on the day they transition from death into heaven. How cool is that?! On the day of judgement I want to know that I was able to love Kevin well and serve him in our marriage. I don't want want to waste my life by focusing on myself. Who do you want to be on the day you meet your Creator? Do you think about the day your spouse will meet Jesus? These are deep thoughts but are vital in changing the way we live our life on earth. 

Below are a few thoughts from other couples on God's design for marriage and how they connect spiritually in their relationship. 


brian & alissa

How long have you been married?
2 1/2  years

Have you read "Marriage in the Light of Eternity" by Francis Chan or another Christian book on Marriage? What did you learn from it?
Brian and I started that book recently! We were given the nightly devotional called "Night Light" by James and Shirley Dobson as a wedding gift. We found it to be very helpful during our first year of marriage. It helped us to recenter ourselves on God and not just on the excitement and newness of our marriage. 

What do you believe God's design for marriage was? Are there any verses that come to mind to explain?
I had a friend in college, before he got married he explained that individually two people can praise God well. But when brought together in marriage, we can praise him even better! I love that. I love that we are no longer two individual people, in the eyes of God we are one. Ephesians talks about this in chapter 5 verse 31: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 

What is one of your favorite things about your spouse that reminds you of Jesus?
His serving attitude. He is always looking for ways to make me feel loved, but he knows my love language is acts of service. So that is his greatest gift to me. The way he cares for me and serves me in the little and big ways, reminds me of how God loves us in both little and big ways!

Do you read together, pray together, in a bible study together? How do you stay spiritually connected?
We are part of a small group at church and that has helped us join our walks of faith together. I used to think my faith journey and relationship with God was independent of my relationship with Brian. I guarded my heart when we dated, so that I wouldn't get hurt. But since being married God has opened my heart even more to Brian connecting our faith walks and relationships. We've grown more in our faith since being married, and it's been wonderful.

If you had one piece of Godly advice for a newlywed couple in their first year of marriage what would it be?
Pray. Pray for one another alone. Pray for each other together. Pray before meals. Pray throughout the day. Invite God to be the sole provider in your marriage. It's not going to be easy, but as you become weaker individually, you will grow stronger with God. It makes your relationship that much more important, and gives it a greater purpose, when you invite God to be a part of it. When we began to focus on Him together instead of on each other, the image became clearer of our marriage. 


GAVIN & ELIZABETH

   Photo by Bonnie

Photo by Bonnie

How long have you been married?
4 years

What do you believe God's design for marriage was? Are there any verses that come to mind to explain?
I believe it is to glorify HIM. It is so easy to see marriage as something for ME. Of course my husband is a gift. But at the end of the day, we are to be grateful to the Lord for our spouses and to lead them to Christ. 

What is one of your favorite things about your spouse that reminds you of Jesus?
Gavin is very patient with me, even when I am really mean. 

Do you read together, pray together, in a bible study together? How do you stay spiritually connected?
Yes, we read the Bible together every morning. It is so important to our walks with the Lord and to grow together. 

If you had one piece of Godly advice for a newlywed couple in their first year of marriage what would it be?
Pray for your spouse instead of getting bitter or nagging them. There is always room for growth.


matthew & haley

How long have you been married?
2 years

What do you believe God's design for marriage was? Are there any verses that come to mind to explain?
I believe that God designed marriage for us to become closer to him. To love another individual through the highs and lows of life and love another person unconditionally. Verses from Ephesians 5 come to mind for me.

What is one of your favorite things about your spouse that reminds you of Jesus?
The way she gives selflessly to others.

Do you read together, pray together, in a bible study together? How do you stay spiritually connected?
We pray and read together.

If you had one piece of Godly advice for a newlywed couple in their first year of marriage what would it be?
To enjoy it and pray through all situations together. 


joe and shi

How long have you been married?
2 1/2 years!

What do you believe God's design for marriage was? Are there any verses that come to mind to explain?
I believe that God's design for marriage is to ultimately glorify Him through the way we love and respect each other. It's hard because we are two very different and imperfect people, but we do great things for God's kingdom with communication and trust. "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

What is one of your favorite things about your spouse that reminds you of Jesus?
I love his laugh! It's very funny and infectious. He's very patient, kind, and does what he says he's doing to do (fulfills his promise). That reminds me of Jesus!

Do you read together, pray together, in a bible study together? How do you stay spiritually connected?
We like to pray together and participate in a small group/Bible study. We also spend some intentional time talking about heart matters or processing together what we're learning.

If you had one piece of Godly advice for a newlywed couple in their first year of marriage what would it be?
Our pastor recommended that we spend our first year of marriage NOT having the responsibility of being involved in church leadership or ministry. Instead, he recommended that we take a break and spend our first year of marriage really getting to know each other and establish a lifestyle together. I didn't listen to this advice and juggled a full-time job many different leadership roles in the church. This led to burn out and not enough quality time as a newlywed. So my version of this advice is to let go of what you don't need to do in order to make room to cultivate a healthy marriage -- go on dates, be curious and ask lots of questions, and talk about who's going to do what chores. You're a team!  


Diving in to the topic of Love & Respect

I combined two different posts for this topic because they are similar. Another book that Kevin and I have read together is Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. This book changed the way I think about love, relationships, and men. Growing up I was never taught how much men desire to be respected. I was surprised to learn this statistic from the Eggerichs while reading the book. "We asked 7,000 people the question, 'When you are in a conflict with your spouse or significant other, do you feel unloved or disrespected?' 83% of the men said "disrespected" and 72% of the women said "unloved." Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue. We believe love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts unlovingly when feeling disrespected, and a wife reacts disrespectfully when feeling unloved."

I found that so interesting and helpful. After reading the book, I started to understand why Kevin would react the way he would when we would have conflict. My hope in our marriage is for Kevin to feel respected which then leads to him feeling loved. Knowing these principles will also change the way you react during a conflict. If I realize I am upsetting Kevin, I can ask the question, "How am I disrespecting you right now?" It can help us figure out what the deeper issue is in the conflict. Same goes for Kevin, if I am feeling upset he can ask, "How can I help you feel more loved in this situation?"

Working hard at seeking peace after a conflict is one of the fundamental aspects of a healthy marriage. Remembering that you are on the same team and that the faster you forgive, the faster you can move forward. There is much to learn about resolving conflict and working through things together, but knowing that deep down the woman needs love and the man needs respect is helpful. 

Let's hear thoughts from a few couples on love and respect and what God has taught them through their marriages. 


THE BECKER FAMILY

How long have you been married?
35 years

Have you read the book Love and Respect? 
Yes

How do you feel most loved by your spouse? How does your spouse feel most loved by you?
I feel most loved when Erich initiates to spend time with me and prioritizes me in his life. When he makes a plan, and executes it without me, I feel incredibly loved. Erich feels loved when I appreciate him and tell him how much I respect him. He also feels loved when there is meat thawing on the counter!

What has God taught you about your spouse in your marriage?
That his difference from me, is just what I need to grow in. He is the perfect balance for me. I see our differences as a great strength in our marriage.

Do you feel that it is true that the deepest thing men want from their wife is to feel respected and the deepest thing the woman wants is to experience love in the marriage? Why or why not?
Absolutely, and learning what love and respect looks and feels like to one another is one of the joys and challenges of a life long marriage. Until we talk about it together, we just go on the definitions that we have in our limited understanding. One of the best questions we can ask our spouse is, "what makes you feel respected (or loved)?"

What is one piece of advice you would share with newlywed couples about caring for your spouse and their deepest needs?
Don't assume you know what is meaningful to your spouse. Ask questions and be ready to learn and practice those things they tell you. And practice gratitude! It is very difficult to stay mad at someone for whom you are grateful. Your spouse is a gift. Keep telling him that and give thanks to God daily for the one he blessed you with. 

What is one of your favorite memories together?
So many. Most revolve around our family and planning times of fun and traditions together. We also love traveling together. 


Matt & Martha

How long have you been married?
almost 1 year!

Have you read the book Love and Respect? If not have you read another marriage book that has impacted your marriage? What did you learn?
Martha: I've read "Love and Respect" and "The Meaning of Marriage." From "Love and Respect" I learned that I can communicate disrespect with more than just my words, my tone of voice and body language ought to be respectful as well. "The Meaning of Marriage" taught me a LOT about God's will for marriage as a reflection of His own character within the trinity and His relationship with the church. 
Matthew: In order to avoid writing a book, I'll just say that the Bible itself has had the most influence on my marriage. Reading about God's sacrificial love for us all is how I learn to love people, especially my wife. 

How do you feel most loved by your spouse? How does your spouse feel most loved by you?
Martha: I feel most loved by Matt when he tells me that he forgives me (which I need often!) and when he is physically affectionate. 
Matt: I also feel the most love through physical touch, and also when Martha goes out of her way to help me. 

What has God taught you about your spouse in your marriage?
Martha: He's showing me the value of Matt's traits that are different than mine. Matt is (among many other things) patient, kind, and laid back.
Matt: Since we got married, I am continuing to learn what kind of attention to give her depending on the situation she is in. I also continue to learn how much fun she is in every situation. 

Do you feel that it is true that the deepest thing men want from their wife is to feel respected and the deepest thing the woman wants is to experience love in the marriage? Why or why not?
Martha: I do because this philosophy aligns with God's design for the different sexes with men as worker/protectors and women as nurturer/creators. (Of course our God-given designs look different on every person and therefore in every marriage!)
Matt: I don't think anyone would truly want to be disrespected or unloved, but I just don't feel as though I can speak for every single person's absolutely deepest desire. 

What is one piece of advice you would share with newlywed couples about caring for your spouse and their deepest needs?
Martha: I'm finding that my own expectations of Matt's needs are not always correct/complete, so I'm trying to learn to LISTEN to him better. I know that through the years both of our needs will change dramatically, so we'll have to continue to listen and learn.
Matt: A great way to find out what someone needs is to just ask them what you can do, or what they want, and not to judge or criticize them for whatever they say or don't say. Also, be patient when waiting for a response. 

What is one of your favorite memories together?
Martha: There are SO many moments that I treasure with Matt that it's difficult to pick just one, but one day that lives vividly in my memory is the day we spent together in Columbia, SC after his Basic Combat Training graduation. We'd been apart for more than 10 weeks, so though we'd exchanged many letters, it was a joyful reunion and a long day spent together catching up. 

Matt: Like Martha said, we've known each other for quite a while, but one memory that stands out to me is the day we got engaged. I had a lot planned, and I wouldn't change anything about how it all turned out!  


THE WEAVER FAMILY

  Photo by Katelyn James

Photo by Katelyn James

How long have you been married?
11 years

Have you read the book Love and Respect? If not have you read another marriage book that has impacted your marriage? What did you learn?
Liberated Through Submission. This book really helped me understand God's word as it relates to our roles. Even if my husband is failing to lead, God still calls me to lovingly submit to my husband. I can choose to not love and respect my husband, but if I do, I am living in sin. 

How do you feel most loved by your spouse? How does your spouse feel most loved by you?
I feel most loved by my spouse when he prays for me, pays attention to me, and cares about the things I care about. My spouse feels most loved by me when I respect him as the leader of our home. When I having a loving attitude towards him, and when I speak kindly to him.

What has God taught you about your spouse in your marriage?
God has taught me that the greatest example of how we are to love one another is looking to the example of Christ's sacrificial love for us. I need to love my spouse sacrificially. 

Do you feel that it is true that the deepest thing men want from their wife is to feel respected and the deepest thing the woman wants is to experience love in the marriage? Why or why not?
I am not sure this is their "deepest" desire, but I do agree with the statement that men desire to be respected and women long to be loved. 

What is one piece of advice you would share with newlywed couples about caring for your spouse and their deepest needs?
Even before you are married you  should invest time with an older married couple preparing for what married life is like. Those first few years can catch you off guard if you are not prepared for what is to come. The best piece of advice would be to read your bible, follow God's word for your life (wives submitting and loving their husbands, husbands leading your wife, loving her in a sacrificial way), and trusting that God is in control and sovereign over your life. 

What is one of your favorite memories together?
One of our favorite memories together was a weekend away in St. Michael's, Maryland. We got to enjoy a couple days being able to slow down, talk about our lives and the lives of our children, and prepare for how we want to go about the rest of the year. It was so relaxing and I felt like we were on a great date that lasted 2 days straight! 


I know this post was long, thanks for reading! I pray that God will continue to teach us how to grow deeper in our marriages and love our spouse well