23 June 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
The School of Acts had a Pastors and Leaders seminar on 20th June in HIS church, focusing on how to have a ministry-marriage balance.
A clinically trained counselor and teacher in the Ivy League, Dr Larry Keefauver was the speaker and has published over 60 books in 12 languages. In 2001, he was also the keynote speaker for the first international conference on the Family in Malaysia, hosted by the Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
So, how do we have a healthy marriage?
1. Own your problem
Whenever you have a problem, say, “I am the problem,” since changing our mate’s behavior is in God’s department, not our job.
“Nobody makes me feel angry or sad. I am not surrendering my life to my wife and children but I am surrendering it to God, so that I am renewed in Christ. So, in marriage, I only do and say what God asked me to,” said Larry.
He gave the permission to his wife and children to check on him with respect if what he said or did was done according to the Father.
2. A covenant relationship is about meeting needs
“Your wife is not your mama,” said Larry.
When he was growing up, his mother would cook for him a hearty breakfast every morning. This was an expectation Judy did not meet after honeymoon, simply because she is not his mother.
“We can make a list of job description of a husband and wife. But to sum it up, the job description comes from asking each other, ‘how may I serve you?’ (Ephesians 5:21)?” said Larry.
After thousands of counseling, Larry came to a conclusion that the key to a healthy marriage is to meet the needs of one another. And in your whole life, you just need to meet all the needs of ONE companion.
“My wife or my husband can meet all my needs through Christ Jesus. Divorce is not an option. The only option is to repent and change,” said Larry.
3. Pray together
As a minister, Larry would pray with every church member and even strangers, but not his wife Judy.
“When you pray, you got to be vulnerable and honest. So, when I started praying with Judy, we start tearing down walls built over unfulfilled expectations such as walls of hurts, undignified conversations, unkept promises, and unresolved anger,” said Larry.
But we can pray through these walls in a covenant or trilateral marriage because God is in control. A covenant marriage meant that a husband and a wife is one flesh in God as well. Hence, He needs to be a part of the conversation and decision-making at all times.
“When you’re in a bilateral relationship, the dilemma is who is right? But if we come into unity, we need to agree in prayer. If you don’t agree with me, then let us agree with God. Let us figure out what God wants, what is right, and what is the truth,” said Larry.
4. Practice Christ-like Character
There are three things that a husband and wife should have for a healthy marriage including fear of God, holiness and humility.
There are also three cancers that destroy a relationship including manipulation, intimidation and domination.
5. Meet the Right Needs
Get to know what your husband or wife main love language is which can be physical touch, quality time, acts of services, gift giving or words of affirmation.
“If I don’t give her according to her love language, she doesn’t appreciate that and vice versa,” said Larry.
“Also, for women, their emotional bank zeroes every day. I would tell Judy that I already told her that I love her when we got married. So, why do I have to keep saying it? No matter what you do, it’s a new day the next day for our wives,” said Larry.
Sometimes, husbands judged what they did not do as their signs of love for their wives such as not cheating. But also, perhaps husbands should also think about what they have done for their wives to show their love.
6. Talk to each Other
For his counseling, Larry usually asked couples to assign 15 minutes each week just telling each other how they appreciate each other, no complaining or problem-solving.
“Have you noticed couples who don’t talk and just play with their cell phones during dinner. Turn off your cell phones and be present with each other,” said Larry.
7. Problem are fruits of unmet needs, not the roots
The roots of the problem are whether we serve each other needs. When we serve each other’s needs, the problems are usually gone.
“Out of all these marriages I counsel, I have only one percent of wife or husband who is right about the problems they felt from each other. Ninety nine percent is failure in meeting needs.”
“You put your rights as husbands and wives on the cross. You have your rights, but it is the right to meet your husband’s or wife’s needs,” said Larry.
8. Never defend yourselves
“The Lord will defend you. I don’t need to defend myself,” said Larry.
Like Moses and King David, The Lord defended them against all the negative words thrown at them. Likewise, do not defend yourself and you might save yourself from an unnecessary argument.
In a nutshell, marriage is a covenant, not a contract. Many of us want a contract relationship that is temporary, conditional-like, filled with doubts and uncertainty, self-serving, and drawn for minimum harm. But covenant on the other hand is eternal, unconditional, loving, trusting, tri-lateral, serving others, convicting and protects the other person.
“We are married for 44 years but we only got married by the covenant in the past 20 years. Before that, we survived but we did not thrive. If we’re gonna get married for life, let us enjoy it,” said Larry.
And for a marriage to be happy, ask each other, “How may I serve you?”
Firstly, communicate by being consistent, caring, constant, clear and also confronting. If you do not confront what is wrong, then you are confirming that the problem is okay (James 1:19; Prov 18:20-22).
Secondly, affirm and accept each other (Romans 15:7, 1 Thess 5:11).
Thirdly, agree with each other (Amos 3:3, Mat 18:19) to let go of a certain past and work towards a certain future.
Fourthly, pray together (1 Thess 5:16-18; Eph 6:18) and pray prophetically proclaiming that your mate in Christ is a mighty man or woman of Christ, a saint of the Most High God, a King and a priest and a spirit-empowered miracle worker, followed by signs and wonders.
Fifth, forgive one another (Eph 4:32, Matt 18:21-23). Forgiveness meant releasing unhealed past, unresolved anger, unrealistic expectations, sinful hurts and painful memories. It also meant repenting of wrong and offenses, restoring and reconciling and also resolving to go forward.
Sixth, give unconditional love through God’s eyes (1 John 4:7, 1 Cor 13); it doesn’t mean we tolerate sin. For example, say, “I believe God’s best for you is…, I believe God’s best for our finances is…, I believe God’s best for our family is…”
Seventh, give each other trust, which is faith in action (Prob 31:10-11; Eph 5:21). Trust your mate in confronting your mate’s negative feelings, wrong beliefs and hurtful behaviors.
Next, build a mission statement as a couple based on a biblical verse. For example, Dr Larry and Judy’s favorite verse is “Submit to one another out of reverence of Christ (Ephesians 5:21)” which translates to the mission statement- to honor, serve and love on another living in Christ.
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