When we stood at a church altar 28 years ago and joyfully took the vows, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," we had little idea of how telling those words would be.
Robin had no idea that my struggles with impurity were leading me towards a full-blown sexual addiction that would almost destroy our marriage. I had no comprehension of Robin's deeply seated insecurities and how devastated she would be by my inability to provide the kind of security she longed for.
Beyond that, we certainly didn't expect prematurely losing people we loved, life-threatening health crises or even coming to the brink of bankruptcy. We couldn't have dreamed of struggles with our children or times of deep loneliness.
And you could have never convinced me that we would make a challenging career transition from the full-time ministry into secular careers – testing our love for each other and our security in God.
Overcome or Be Overcome
"… In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." – John 16:33, All references NIV unless specified.
We are both romantics at heart! As a result, we've created many wonderful memories together. But it's also made letting go of our fairy tale versions of the "perfect" Christian marriage a slow and painful process.
As we see it now, we've had to make one critical decision: to either overcome or be overcome. To overcome has meant fighting for our marriage – a relationship we both believe God called us into. It has taken coming into the light with our battles, while scorning the shame (Hebrews 12:2). And, it has required recommitting ourselves to true intimacy, so that our marriage could become a sanctuary instead of a battleground.
Most of all, we've both had to dig deep to follow Jesus' example of learning obedience through suffering, with loud cries and prayers to God (Hebrews 5:7).
Through all of this, we've had many vulnerable moments that have translated into hard-learned lessons, including:
- Can There Be Light After Darkness? Overcoming starts with getting real about the struggles that often lie hidden. Light is not only the healing place for marital struggles, but also the process for getting there.
- Divorcing Shame from Marriage. Many of us unknowingly bring a language of shame into our relationship. By making marriage a shame-free zone, you can find the grace and strength to make difficult changes.
- Recovery: A Journey Worth Taking Together. When one mate struggles, the other can be tempted to either get overly entangled or disengage. Committing to recover alongside your mate will allow God to work good on your behalf, as well as your mate's.
- Turning Sex from a Battleground to a Sanctuary. Satan seeks to steal the sanctuary of our marital intimacy. By moving past impurity, manipulation, hopelessness and shame, we can restore the spiritual sanctity of sexual intimacy.
- The Christ-ian Marriage: Fertile Grounds for Restoring Hope. In an overcoming marriage, there's a bigger vision that sustains us and restores us after we fall – the vision of Christ living in each of us and in the holy temple of our marriage.
Are you searching for renewed hope for the vulnerable spots in your marriage?