Big Apple Chapel is a New Testament based church in New York City, modeled after the pattern of the early church, with a strong emphasis on following Christ as a community of His disciples.

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BAC Sermons

Family Life Part I: Marriage...Feast or Famine?

2006-09-04 Ephesians 5:22-6:4


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Bad Objective= To get my needs for ____________ met through my spouse and children.

(security, significance, worth, pleasure, companionship, etc.)

Better Objective= To profitably reflect the unity, love and wisdom of God.

                Unity= Intermeshing of distinct personalities for the accomplishment of a worthy objective

                Love= Self-sacrificially do what is in another's best interest

                Wisdom= Choice of the right objectives and right means of attaining them


Mastercraft a Dovetailed Bond rather than Mishmash a Butt Joint

                emotional glue and nail vs. straighten, trim, smooth, cut to mesh, fit together


Admire, Accept and Appreciate God's Perfect Gift to You Proverbs 18:22

                Adjust, Accommodate, and Affirm the Differences  (Opposites Attack, Mayhall. NavPress 1990.)

Disillusionment (disappointment - fault-finding - reduced love & attraction)...Erosion/avoidance/anger...Detachment/isolation…Separation
"It is an unending task of true lovers to be sure the fun and affection outweigh the boredom and resentment."


Resolve, Remove, and Reduce Sources of Conflict Song of Solomon 2:15; Ephesians 4:29-32

                Communicate over effect and cause

                Out with the excess baggage, erroneous expectations, and self-centered slop

                No hiding and hurling

                Forgive as you've been forgiven (graciously, undeservedly, permanently)

                Learn your lessons well or you'll repeat them in a living hell

                Chose to compromise on what's right and change yourself on what's left (as a gift of love to your mate)

                Transform your filters, values, self-talk and tapes (parental, societal, and other) {otherwise, see "L" above}


Readily Fulfill Roles and Responsibilities Ephesians 5


                Obeyer of the Director's/Manufacturer's Directions

                Lover (not just Liker or Lustor)

                Executor of Developmental Tasks: Leave, Cleave, One Flesh, etc. (Passages of Marriage, Minrith et. al. Nelson 1991)

                Server of Needs: Identify, Purify, Satisfy  (His Needs, Her Needs, Harley. Revell 1986)

                                Acter:    Affectionate, Conversationalist, Transparent/Trustworthy, Economic Earner, Responsible Father

                                Starr:     Sexual, Team/Playmate, Attractive, Resourceful/Domestic, Respecter/Esteemer


Invest in Intimacy on all Levels: Intellectual, Social, Spiritual, Emotional, Sexual

                (Love Life, Wheat. Zondervan, 1980. Intended for Pleasure, Wheat. Revell 1977.)

                “Great sex is the fruit of the tree called intimacy, planted in the cultivated and watered ground of relationship”-BC


Align you Attitudes and Actions with Christ's  Philippians 2

                Maturity = having enough self-esteem/worth to be other-: centered, serving & esteeming


Grow with Godly Goals Galatians 6:7

                Individual and Corporate (Couple)

                Spiritual Maturity (Christlike) and Ministry

                Social and Recreational (Leisure)

                Accountability (Life Friends)


Expect to Triumph through Trials Philippians 4:13

                Cherishing Commitment


Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:

1. What attracted you to your spouse and why did you decide to marry him/her?

2. What expectations do you think would most help or hinder a magnificent marriage? What are expectations doing to yours?

3. What have you found helpful in developing the oneness or unity God designed for marriage?

4. If you could wave a magic wand and change anything about your marriage or mate, what would it be? Why?

5. Explore with your mate which attitudes/actions could have the greatest benefit if incorporated into your relationship.


Psychologist Norman Wright said, "...within each of us is the hunger for contact, acceptance, belonging, intimate exchange, responsiveness, support, love and the touch of tenderness."


One author explained commitment like this... "A successful marriage is not one in which two people, beautifully matched find each other and get along happily ever after because of the initial matching. It is, instead, a system by means of which persons who are sinful and contentious are so caught by a dream bigger than themselves that they work throughout the years, in spite of repeated disappointment, to make the dream come true." (From The Recovery Of The Family by Elton Trueblood). Make it obvious to your mate that you are committed to making your marriage work.

There is an old proverb that says, The road to the heart is the ear. I believe it. That explains why many marriages are growing cold when out of the 10,000 plus minutes in every week, the average couple spends only 17 minutes in close communication. That's the chilling fact.

Refuse to take your mate for granted. Kind words of appreciation, lending a helping hand and creative, unexpected actions that show you value and esteem your mate will go a long way in keeping your relationship warm.


Excess Baggage: Third, do whatever you must to make amends, repair damaged relationships, and release your emotional load. Taking reparative action is an essential step in the unburdening process. But before you take action, check out your plan with your spouse, or some other objective person, to make sure it is constructive.

Fourth, in those things which you cannot change, restore, or improve try to make peace with the past. Accept yourself as having done all that you can and then accept God's forgiveness. Affirm the present and the future by investing yourself in constructive living now.

Guilt, disappointment, and resentment accumulate within a close relationship, as they do within an individual. By mid-marriage such feelings often have built up like a wall between the partners, diminishing or shutting off satisfying communication. As a couple lowers this wall, loving, tender feelings usually flow spontaneously between them.




When flowers are not watered, they die. The same is true of marriages. When husbands and wives become indifferent - when they become dull to each other's minds, spirits and bodies - the marriage is deprived of life-giving water. As a result, it withers. However, husbands and wives do not have to succumb to the devastating effects of indifference. A few simple principles can be applied to prevent indifference from growing to dangerous proportions. Simply being aware of the possibility of indifference is the first step in combating it. Know some of the danger signs, such as becoming too busy to spend time together, communicating less frequently, and having separate goals and activities.

A second step is to work together toward common goals. What happens when family members stop working together toward common goals? Husbands and wives begin to go their separate ways. Each becomes self-centered and concerned only with his or her individual interests. When a common objective is pursued with one's partner, there will be interaction. You must look at each other. You must spend time together. You will grow together instead of apart. Thirdly, create more joy experiences. Have you lost the art of enjoying life? Many of us apparently have, since thousands of couples allow their marriages to get in a dull rut. This is unfortunate because there is great potential for the marriage relationship to be one of the most joyful experiences in life. How can you make joy happen in your marriage? One way that joy and vitality can be added to your marriage is so simple, yet so seldom practiced. Sit down with your spouse and list the things you must enjoy doing in life. Then ask yourselves how often you actually do these things. Make an effort to increase these fun things in your life. You will find as you seek for different ways to make each other happy that you will add to the beauty of your marriage and to the pleasure of your life. Another way to strengthen your marriage is to renew it. Sit down together and decide what you do and do not like about your marriage. Make a list of the behaviors you would like to change and those you would like to increase. Agree to eliminate those things that are causing dissatisfaction or distance in your marriage. Put more emphasis on the positive aspects of your relationship by participating more often in activities and behaviors which make each other happy. The result may amaze you.




Michelle Weiner-Davis: You have got to be kidding. I've been a marriage therapist for nearly 30 years and I've yet to witness even one open marriage work. Setting morality or the dangers of STDs aside, this idea of managed monogamy ‑- talk about an oxymoron ‑- is a disaster waiting to happen. Even if spouses have good intentions and believe they've agreed upon fair rules for fooling around, all bets are off once they open Pandora's box.

Dr. Ruth: Because I'm a sex therapist, I see the people who have problems, and that probably slants my view in a predictable direction. But boy, do I see problems when couples have been having sex with other people ‑- even when both parties initially consented to the idea. Two happily married people might think that their relationship can survive introducing other partners into the mix. But when one partner gets jealous, then the damage done to the relationship is often irreparable.

Are there couples that engage in this agreed-upon cheating without incurring any harm? Possibly. So I guess the question becomes: What are the odds of a relationship falling apart because of such behavior? I can't be certain, but if you value your relationship, there is no acceptable percentage of risk in my book. It's my belief that the old monogamy is far better than the new one.

Sarah Stedman: This question made me wonder if I am just an old-fashioned, socially programmed sexual Neanderthal. But the truth is that I have a system of spiritual values for human dignity that I stand by, and this phenomenon called "the new monogamy" flies in the face of every quality I consider to be essential to the success of a long-term relationship: commitment, mutual respect and the spiritual celebration inherent in two people building a life together. This new version of monogamy sounds like a glorified excuse for self-indulgent, irresponsible behavior, and my suspicion is that there are a lot of younger people out there who are just as frightened by that concept as I am. http://love.ivillage.com/lnsproblems/lnscommitment/0,,LC_8rr1x01j,00.html


1. Self-esteem  in.rediff.com/getahead/2005/may/20marriage.htm

Nothing is more important to intimacy than your sense of self-worth.

How you feel about yourself in relation to other people is a major factor in the quality of your intimate relationships.

Trouble in a relationship almost always involves a problem with self-esteem. If one of the spouses has a low self-esteem, it can reflect on the marriage in a number of ways: the spouse may perceive the marriage as an unequal match, may feel unworthy of the partner's love.  And, consequently, put up with the partner's undesirable behaviour. Over time, this creates a sense of dissonance in the marriage and builds mistrust and resentment.

Increasing your self-esteem cannot happen overnight. It requires concerted effort. It will also require the support of your spouse and other family members. Start appreciating the good traits in yourself. Learn to look at situations objectively rather than simply assume that everything is your mistake. Try and be assertive when you feel something is not really your fault.


Marital Adjustment: What Are The Common Problems?

 David Olson of the University of Minnesota, who has studied over 15,000 married couples, recently said that 50% of married people will never be happy, unless they get unusually good therapy. Other researchers agree (Strean, 1985); about 30% of marriages are "empty shells"--little love, little talk, little joy. Only about 25% of couples have "really good marriages." The remaining 25% could achieve a good marriage if they got therapy and/or really worked on obtaining the necessary skills via training or marriage enrichment (or, you can add, self-help). Olson believes the needed skills and characteristics are: communication skills (chapter 13), conflict resolution skills (chapter 13), compatible personality, agreement on values and religion (chapter 3), and good sex (later section).

 Women have more complaints about their spouses and marriages, compared to men (Brehm, 1985). Is this because women are more critical and want more or because men give less? I'd guess both. Women initiate the break up of dating and marriages more often than men. Although the underlying "causes" are unknown, these are the commonly stated marital problems (Weiten, 1986):


Having unrealistically blissful expectations of marriage guarantee our disappointment (discussed in chapters 6 and 8). Living together may help us "get real" about what to expect from a relationship. In any case, it helps to be totally honest and discuss your feelings, your expectations, and your weaknesses, long before marriage.

Partners may have very different role expectations, i.e. who does the cooking, deciding, working outside the home, etc. Make these decisions jointly, honestly, and openly, don't just hope that the husband will do half the cooking and that the wife will stay home with the kids. Research indicates, contrary to popular belief, that the wife's working outside the home does not increase marital problems or harm the children's development.

All marriages have money problems. If not "there isn't enough money," then the conflict is likely to be "I want to spend our money on something else." Work out these problems ahead of time in terms of basic priorities as much as possible.

Poor "communication " is the most common complaint (68%) among couples seeking counseling. The average couple talk only 4 minutes per day! This can be corrected; it is discussed below and in chapters 9 & 13.

Problems with relatives are common, especially when one spouse remains dependent on his/her parents for money or emotional support.

Sexual problems (see end of chapter) occur in about 45% of the couples seeking marriage counseling. But sex may not be the basic problem; you don't want to make love if you are uptight, sad, or mad.

Although your mom and dad may not have told you, marital satisfaction goes down for most couples after children are born. The work load becomes much greater. Parents frequently disagree about how to raise and discipline children. There are jealousies and criticisms: "You do too much for them" or "You don't do enough!" Of course, children are wonderful blessings (usually) but they aren't "good for the marriage."

Sometimes couples drift apart. They seek different friends, develop new interests, grow in different directions. When there are few common interests, it is a problem.

There are other common problems--jealousy, being taken for granted, unfaithfulness, criticism and nagging, bossiness, clinging dependency, domination, abuse, loss of love, self-centeredness, etc., etc. Don't expect it to be easy; there are many challenging barriers to having a good marriage.