Discover the Power of Marriage by Facing Challenges Together
by Neil Kennedy
My wife and I were going through one of the most difficult seasons in our lives; yet, it was during this season that I discovered the potential of our marriage.
To be honest, I’ve had it pretty easy in marriage. My wife is very intelligent. She is beautiful. And she is a godly woman. Arguments have been few and far between. We’ve never been separated, nor have we ever talked divorce. What I didn’t realize was that our marriage was tapping into a very small amount of our potential.
Due to an abrupt transition in my career our family relocated to another city. My children were forced to leave friends and the school that they were flourishing in. The sudden change put pressure on my finances.
Challenges do not run alone but like a pack of wolves they howl at night terrorizing your fears and growl when they’re attacking. As soon as you focus on one of the challenges, another one takes a bite. They’re relentless. Your energy is drained and your emotions are confused.
Of course, as a man—a husband and as a father—I couldn’t allow myself to speak out of my fears, nor could I transfer my fight to my family. It would be cowardly for me to whimper and whine about my insecurities.
Don’t get me wrong. I flirted with depression. I swallowed stress and gained weight. It was hard to get moving into making the next move but I had to do it.
When facing difficult times, don’t try to draw your strength from your wife and children. Tough times calls for you to be strong.
What they needed from me is to be reaffirmed and strengthened. My children wanted to know that everything was going to be all right. My wife needed my strength and confidence that our family would not be torn apart and that our children would be taken care of.
It happened in the most ordinary of mornings. My wife looked at me and said, “Neil, we’re better than this.”
When she said that to me, it went deep into my soul. Her words were powerful and affirming. She reminded me of who we are and we’re about. We have often used the motivational phrase, “Man up!” Short and rough. But it is effective. That’s exactly what I needed to do.
At that very moment, we unlocked the potential of our marriage.
Do you know Jesus said that agreement taps into the potential of God? Jesus said, “If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19 HCSB)
When my wife and I decided to face the tough times together, the first potential that we unlocked was the power of agreement. The Greek word agree is the same word that we use to describe a symphony—where woodwinds, bass, percussion, and stings come together to perform the most amazing orchestrated music known to ears.
Kay and I started walking each morning together. Literally, we put on our shoes and walked for three miles. Not only did our pace on the pavement harmonize together, we also began to harmonize in our efforts in other areas. Beating the pavement didn’t just help us physically, it coordinated our minds, and released our dreams. We started dreaming again.
What I had to do was acknowledge my role in isolating myself and the decisions that I made for our family. Although my motivations were protective, keeping my wife out of the decision making process kept us from the power of agreement. How could she agree with me? I didn’t invite her to the table of decisions.
I began to ask the simple question, “How do you feel about this?” Kay was able to bring a perspective that I hadn’t considered. Her ability to discern a matter has become immeasurably valuable to making a wise decision.
Every relationship is governed by the line of respect and familiarity. Familiarity creeps into a relationship with subtle murmurings and quick bites of demeaning words. Put downs and dismissive tones replace encouraging and empowering words.
When there is respect in a relationship, both the husband and wife maintain their individuality, yet complementarily become one. When that happens, the potential of the marriage is remarkable.
Empowerment is the legitimate transfer of authority and power. A husband has authority under the headship of Christ, just as Christ has authority under the headship of God (1 Corinthians 11:3). This protocol is the channel of authority that empowers, strengthens, and builds up the other.
Out attitude should follow the example of Christ, who did not grasp his position in equality with God, but humbled himself; therefore, God exalted him (Philippians 2:5-11).
5. Servant Leadership
One of the biggest obstacles to reaching the potential of your marriage can be found in the misunderstanding of leadership. Contrary to popular culture—both historical precedent and Biblical teaching—the head of the household is the man. However, the Bible is also clear—leadership is designed to serve, not to be served.
Paul instructs wives to submit, which means to properly align, as in subjecting oneself to another. Obviously, husbands have misused this instruction to oppress their wives. There are men who have used all sorts of religious teaching to oppress women and abuse their individual rights.
No woman should be treated better than being married to an authentic man—a man who understands his purpose of protection, empowering, promoting and prospering his wife. Just as when a man submits to the lordship of Jesus Christ with the expectation of benefits flowing from his leadership, a wife should expect the benefits of her husband.
After Paul’s instruction to wives, he encourages husbands to love their wives and not be bitter toward them. To embitter is to exasperate, which means to “arouse anger as a form of punishment.”
I’ve seen men who have plotted to make their wife angry. They play emotional games, as if they’re in junior high and just learning to have relationships. Don’t do it.
So, if you want to tap into the potential of your life together, take these 5 keys and empower your marriage.