Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Marriage That Goes the Distance

Leslie Basham: Have you been faithful to your husband? Before answering, listen to author Linda Dillow.

Linda Dillow: When I talk to women, often I hear them say, "Well, I haven't had an affair." I love this quote that faithfulness is more than the absence of an affair. Faithfulness is the presence of love, devotion, honor, loyalty and encouragement.

Leslie Basham: It's Friday, September 10; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Today's program is inappropriate for children and you might want to get your kids involved in something else. But, Nancy, I hope people will hurry back because we are going to talk about something exciting.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That's right, Leslie. And I think our listeners are also going to get some real hope. You know, you look around today and see so many marriages falling apart and today, we are going to talk about how to create a marriage that will last a lifetime.

Our guest this week has been Linda Dillow, the co-author of Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex. I also asked my friend Holly Elliff to join the conversation. She is a wife and a mom, and God is using her in many ways to minister to women. Linda, Holly, thanks for being here today.

Linda Dillow: I am happy to be here, Nancy.

Holly Elliff: Right! I am as well.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It's been a good week and we have touched on some tough issues but really important ones. As we look around, we know couples who made it a long way into their marriages, and then got to year twelve or twenty two or even up to almost fifty years of marriage and then could not make it last any longer or didn't make it last any longer.

And the pressure"¦in fact, I talked to a woman not too long ago who said, "I have been living with this man who is my husband for 18 years. I put up with all this difficulty and stress, these problems, this pain in my marriage and I could not take it any longer." And she has just left her husband and three teenage children.

Part of me wanted to say to this woman, "What are you doing? You are not thinking straight!" But I looked into her pain-filled eyes and saw her heart and I thought, Here's a woman who has been in so much pain in this marriage that she doesn't know how to think straight. She doesn't know how to go the distance.

So, help us talk to women, who, maybe their marriages haven't gone that far; but they are just hanging in there, holding on but not really growing in intimacy and oneness. What does God's Word have to say that will be an encouragement and a help to those women?

Linda Dillow: I love the way you said that, Nancy, because we stood before God and our families and friends, and ultimately that vow was to God, as well as to our husbands. And so we talk about going the distance and being faithful to our husbands but, ultimately, we are talking about a faithfulness to God. I love Psalms 15 [:1], the question is asked, "Who may ascend to the Holy Hill? Who may come and live in the presence of God?"

This is my paraphrase but it says "The woman who keeps her oath, even when it hurts, even when it hurts." And if we look at the marriage vows: "For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health," you know, I think most young women (or whatever age they are getting married) when you walk down the aisle, you hear the three words you want to hear: better, richer and health. And that just doesn't happen.

My husband has had many physical problems in the last years ending with serious heart problems and is on a pacemaker. His energy level has been very low. There have been days of discouragement. And I can remember one day I went before the Lord and I said, "You know, God, I thought after 38 years of marriage that I was going to really know this thing called marriage. And I was going to know how to be a wife."

I mean, surely, it becomes secondhand. And I said, "God, teach me all over again how to love this man, who for the first time in his life is weak. Because he is such a strong man, how do I build him up in this physical weakness that he does not like? And God, teach me how to be creative and learning to cook a whole new way for what he needs for his heart."

Holly Elliff: And in different seasons of our lives, how we minister to our husbands is going to be different. It is going to change. And so are we women who are willing to go the God's Word to continually seek Him for wisdom and how to meet our husbands' needs?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, there is a wonderful passage in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, chapter 2 [:4]. It is familiar to most of us. It talks about what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus: "You have left your first love." And we rightly applied that to our relationship with the Lord Jesus. But don't you think, Linda and Holly, that this passage also can be applied to the marriage relationship?

There is a need to keep that love fresh, intimate and tender. Let's walk through this passage and just see what does God's Word say about how to, if a love has begun to wane, if it is not as intense and intimate as it once was, what are the steps that Jesus gives us to restore that first love, that passion that ought to be, not only in our relationship with the Lord but also in the marriage realm.

Linda Dillow: The first step He gives, Nancy, is to remember. We are to remember what we were thinking, the commitments we made when we stood at that altar and said, "For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health."

We need to remember back to the things we did at first. Holly, do you remember? We wanted to please the man God had given us and we were creative. He was our top priority next to the Lord Jesus and we let him know that.

Holly Elliff: And the pressures of life so many times affect our marriage. They make it harder for us to hear each other. There are times when Billy and I can't have a whole conversation. We left our house the other night at 10 o'clock and went to a coffee shop just so we could finish a conversation we were having. And so we do have to work harder. And I think, as we are married longer, we have to work harder at fulfilling those vows in the right ways.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Another thing I often challenge women to remember is, especially if the woman has come to the place where everything about her husband is driving her nuts and she is seeing him through these negative glasses, I say to her, "Remember back to what it was that attracted you to him in the first place, what were the qualities you saw, that you admired, that you respected."

And I find that as women begin to rehearse and recall and remember those qualities, chances are many of those same qualities are still there. They may have been buried with layers of negative thinking or criticism, but they are probably still there.

Linda Dillow: So I think the first thing we see in the passage in Revelation is that we are to remember.

And secondly we are to repent. We are to repent for our wrong attitudes and our wrong perspective and then, we are told to return and do the deeds we did at first. And for a wife that means to think back like Holly and I can think back. When you said, Nancy, that together we have been married seventy years! My goodness! We're not as old as that!

Holly Elliff: Sound like a long time!

Linda Dillow: It does! And we have been married a long time, but I can still remember my wedding day. I can still remember that first year of marriage. And God says that we are to return and do the deeds we did at first.

Holly Elliff: There is never a time when I can quit thinking of myself as my husband's girlfriend. I need to still be his lover. I need to still be, not only his friend, but also his lover.

Linda Dillow: When I talk to women, often I hear them say, "Well, I haven't had an affair." And I love this quote that faithfulness is more than the absence of an affair. Faithfulness is the presence of love, devotion, honor, loyalty and encouragement.

Holly Elliff: And that's going to take place on days that are hard. It's going to take place when there are health issues. As you mentioned, Linda, with your husband, that we are instructed to make choices, to love our husbands to fulfill those vows in a way that honors God.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let me just say that my desire and my prayer for every woman who is listening to Revive Our Hearts, every married woman, is that your marriage will go the distance. And it will not just survive but that it will thrive.

And so I want to challenge you as we close this series this week on intimate issues, Are there some things you need to remember? Remember back to what it was like when you first married. Remember back to the vows, the promises that you made.

You made those promises before God and they still hold. And then it may be that you need to repent, to repent perhaps of not being faithful in your marriage. It may be that there have been emotional or physical affairs that you need to repent of and you need to make some things right with your mate.

It maybe that others would look at you and say, "Well, she's been faithful to her marriage. But have you have really been faithful to love your husband in the ways that God calls you to love him, have you been faithful to meet his needs, including in the physical and the sexual area of your relationship?

The Scripture says, "Return and do the things that you did at first" [Revelation 2:5]. I know that many of you, as you've been listening, God's been speaking to your heart and you have been challenged. The Spirit is bringing conviction. You say, "I need a fresh start in my marriage." You know, you can get a fresh start.

If you write to us, we would love to pray for you and for your marriage. We have a team of people who pray for our listeners and we would love to include you. You can send your request to Revive Our Hearts. I also hope you get a copy of the book we have been talking about all week. It's called Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow.

It will give you some practical ways to let romance blossom in your marriage. You can order it by visiting our Web site or you can call us at 1-800-569-5959.  I really hope you will take some of these steps and get a fresh start in your marriage. You can't change you husband, you can't make him want a fresh start, but you can get a fresh start with God and before God and your mate.

So I would just like to lead out in a prayer and say a prayer that I am going to encourage you to pray as a married woman. If this applies to you, then just express these words or ones like them from your heart to the Lord. You might say something like this, "O, God, forgive me for slacking off in my marriage, for not loving my husband with the fervor which I vowed the day that we married.

And please restore in me the passion of that first love and give me the strength to demonstrate that love to my husband. And, Father, how I pray for every listener who is married. And I don't know the condition of the marriage. I don't know the condition of her husband. I don't know where they are. And I know some of those marriages are just hanging by a thread.

If You don't intervene, O, Lord, they are not going to make it. But I believe there is grace and that You are the God who redeems and salvages and puts back together broken pieces in lives, in marriages. And, Lord, I am crying out to You and my sisters, Holly and Linda, are joining me here together today. And we are crying out for a miracle. We are crying out for Your intervention.

O, Lord, we can't change the men around us. But we can let You change our hearts. And I pray that You will reach out and extend a helping hand, a healing hand, a hand of hope and mercy and grace into every hurting woman's heart today. And even those whose marriages are not in a desperate or extreme situation, would You call them to a place of returning to first love?

First love for You and first love for that man that You have given to them so that their marriages as believers may reflect to the world, the wonder, the greatness and the beauty of Your great redemptive plan and heart. Do it, Lord, for Jesus' sake I pray, Amen."

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.