A period of separation can be a really helpful option in marriages attempting to recover from intimate betrayal and sexual addictions. But there are a lot of different types of separation, (some healthy, and some not) and different situations call for different solutions. Let’s cover several of the healthy options available to us and discuss when each is likely the best choice.
When it comes to marital communication, we really can’t underestimate the importance of forgiveness. We need to understand how unforgiveness is connected to pride, and how humility will change the way we relate to and speak with one another.
We’ve been studying what the Bible has to say about communication, and this week it’s all about how important it is that we all tell the truth. All the time. We need to be deeply committed, as the saying goes, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in our marital communication, and you better believe we’re going to need some help from God!
We’re talking about what it means to communicate God’s way, and last week we talked about some of the most common ways we use manipulation (gaslighting) to mess this up. We all sometimes choose to play games rather than speak plainly and honestly, but as we discussed last time, there are some whose hearts are black with evil intentions bent on control rather than mutual respect and understanding. While the manipulation tactics we talked about last week are often employed even by those who wouldn’t fall into this category, this week’s tactics are far more indicative of a very serious problem.
We can’t adequately cover the topic of communication in this series without addressing the ways in which we choose to manipulate and play games rather than speak plainly and honestly, or the times when we’re more interested in “winning” or controlling than in hearing and being heard. The reality is, I doubt there is a single one among us who has never been guilty of employing at least one of the manipulation tactics we’re going to discuss today, so we each need to carefully evaluate our own selves and bring our hearts into submission to God.
However, while we all fail to shoot straight some of the time, there are those who are so bent on control that communication has become nothing more than a way of exploiting the weaknesses of another in order to gain the upper hand in every conversation. Such people have no interest in hearing anything other than themselves, and don’t care to take the time to gently help others understand their perspective. They simply want to dominate. While we must be careful that we’re not guilty of manipulation in communication, if we’re married to a person like this, we also need to learn how to recognize these manipulation tactics and how to set up strong healthy boundaries around communication to avoid falling victim to these abusers.
We’ve been spending some time learning to communicate within our marriages according to the principles set forth in Scripture, and last time we learned all about the importance of listening. This week we’re expanding on that idea by talking about two practices we all tend to do that are major hindrances to good listening. We presume and assume. Like, a LOT! And you know what they say happens when we assume, don’t you? Well, let’s just say it’s asinine.
We’re learning to communicate God’s way as we work our way through a series intent on finding the areas in which we ruin marital communication, and re-aligning them with God’s desires. Today we’re going to discuss the importance of listening. Really listening. Not just to each other, but to God as well. Honestly, if we could all master just this one area of communication, what a difference it would make! But alas, we are a society that has forgotten how to listen. So, we must re-learn this lost virtue, and who better to learn from than our Creator?
Before we get into the specifics of communication, let’s prepare our hearts. It’s essential that our intentions as we proceed be in line with those of our Heavenly Father. This begins from a place of humility. It is only from there we can approach our spouse with any hope of improving our communication.
It’s human nature to read the kind of stuff we’re going to be addressing “for” someone else. Instead of taking the opportunity to honestly evaluate ourselves, we look for ammunition to load into the arsenal of judgement we’re building against our partners.
Friends, our goal is healing. The only person we have any power to heal is ourselves. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into our passage for this week.
Terrible communication is likely one of the most common roadblocks to healing in broken marriages. Unfortunately, we’re just really, really bad (like as a people) at communicating with each other. We’re selfish, we jump to conclusion, we’re rotten listeners, we assume and presume like nobody’s watching, we manipulate and lie, we spend all kinds of time looking at the faults of others while rarely looking inward to our own faults, and we’re just plain mean to each other. Often times, before we can even think of addressing the larger underlying issues in marriages, we have to first learn to start communicating according to the standards God has laid out for us in Scripture.
Last week we talked about the dangers of pornography in marriage from a Biblical perspective. This week let’s get informed about some of the facts surrounding this issue.
It comes as no surprise to me that the world at large has turned a blind eye to the life-shattering dangers of pornography, but I was stunned to find that even among “moral” young people, there is an acceptance (albeit an uncomfortable one) of its presence and use in their homes. It is imperative we speak truth into their lives and alert them to the life-shattering dangers along that path!
For the past two weeks we’ve been digging into Galatians 5 to help us understand the quantifiable differences between a person who is living to please the Spirit – one who is repentant and in recovery, and one who is living to please the flesh – someone who is putting on a good show, but is still living in bondage to sin. More or less, we’re trying to understand the differences between the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of the flesh.
last week we closely examined what the Bible calls the fruit of the flesh. These markers are the proof we can confidently believe when we question whether or not a person has truly repented, or whether they are still living a lie. So this week, we’ll look at the flip side of that. The fruit of the Spirit. These are the qualities that will be evident when recovery is real. When a person has genuinely surrendered to God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his life and produces very visible fruit.
Last week we started dissecting Galatians 5 in order to understand the difference between a person who is truly in recovery, and one who is still living a lie. (The difference between the fruit of the Spirit, and the fruit of the flesh) It’s important we know how to tell the difference in order for us to be able to make wise decisions about how to move forward. The good news is, God will always equip those who are His to live in wisdom! He’s given us His Word, and He’s given us the Holy Spirit. We need only submit to their leading and He’ll show us the truth! Always.
When people we love are addicts, we want to believe they’re in recovery. When they tell us they’re clean, we want more than anything for it to be true. We look for reasons to believe things are different, because it’s what we hope so desperately is reality. Too often, we allow that desire to blind us to obvious signs that contradict the promises we’ve been given by the ones we love. Often, we’ve been burned so many times we begin to wonder if we can ever really know the difference. We might even wonder if true, lasting change is possible.
I’m here to tell you, it is! Not because I’ve experienced it (though I am experiencing it) but because the Bible says it is, and I believe the Bible. So, I’d like to walk us all through this difficult topic from a Biblical perspective. I’ll show you what it says, and demonstrate its truth with what I’ve seen in the past, what I’m seeing now; and why I think they’re very different.
If you’ve been with us for the past 5 weeks, we’ve been working our way through a series on Biblical boundaries. We’ve learned a lot! Today, we’re finally going to wrap this series up with a quick reminder of who’s in control. What it’s so easy to forget in the midst of all the chaos of life is that being obedient to God in this area (really in any area) allows us to step out of the way and Him to do His work. It puts God in control!