Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stages of Relationships

by Ron Carpenter

Re: Taking time to give your relationship some perspective and finding balance in life

This is where you make the decision to either see things that annoy you about him as unique, or view them as things that get on your nerves. You either embrace them as things that complete you, or you decide they’re things you’ll have to tolerate the rest of your life. You say things like, “I don’t know if I can take this.” Yet, it is right here, at this point in life, when kids, work, friends, PMS, hormones, and everything else that you have to balance determines the future of your relationship.

It’s balancing who does the housework, and yard work, who’s going to change the oil, who’s getting up at 3 AM to feed the baby and who’s getting up at 5 AM to change the baby—these are the balancing acts of life. They’re not always easy, and if you don’t watch out, you might lose the hope and potential that first got you together by bogging down and just trying to work from one day to the next.

The fact is, the passion, excitement, fulfillment, and abundant joy you’re supposed to experience in your relationship does not have to be over, nor does it have to take a back seat to the duties of what it takes to run a family and a life. You can still have the honor, and respect, still dream about a bright future, still do things together, still walk through life together. But, you have got to learn how to manage life, and that is the critical distinction between strong relationships and weak ones.

More people prefer to complain about a thing than target, attack, and subdue it with the person they were connected with by God in the first place. It’s easier for me to sit back and tell you everything that’s wrong with you than understand why you are the way you are.

It still amazes me after all the years I’ve been in church, how many people I’ve seen go to the alter, extend all kinds of grace and mercy to crack addicts, thieves, cheaters, and liars—give miles of compassion for people stuck in destructive cycles, habits, and perversions—and go right back to the pew where their wife sits and be unwilling to give her an inch of grace or mercy.

What happened to grace in the home? What happened to the forgiveness you gave her when you were dating, and now, you extend it to everyone else except the very one you’re in covenant with?

What if God got tired of you? What kind of relationship would you have if God attacked you with everything HE didn’t like about you, instead of covering it and forgiving you?

The fact is, our marriages are a typology of Jesus and the church. Men, listen to me: the way Jesus treats the church is how we’re supposed to treat our wives. And wives, the way you respect Jesus is how you’re supposed to respect your husband, and until that relationship is played out like Christ and the church, the typology is broken.

If someone never heard a preacher, picked up a Bible, or watched Christian TV, they should look at your marriage and find the affection Jesus and the church have for each other. That’s what He meant it to be like.

Relationship Builder Action Step: Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Read it together. Write down every attribute that describes Godly love. Then talk together about examples of how you exhibit each of these and extend each to each other.

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