Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Far-Reaching Effects of Your Marriage

Leslie Basham: Kim Wagner says wives have a big effect on their husband’s work.

Kim Wagner: It is incumbent to get your marriage right because the marriage relationship actually affects every other area of your life. The man is impacted negatively in his work relationship if that marital relationship is not right.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, March 21.

For several weeks, Nancy taught through the Song of Solomon in a series called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” Yesterday and today we’re following up with a related series called, “Enjoying a More Intimate Marriage.” Nancy’s talking with women in our audience. We’ll hear insights they’ve gotten on marriage while studying the Song of Solomon.

If you have younger children with you, know that some of this discussion includes mature topics.

Now, let’s get back to the discussion.

Heather Patenaude: As a mom of three little kids, cultivating intimacy with my husband, you have to be super intentional. When I went to True Woman in Fort Worth in 2010, during the panel, Holly Elliff said something to the effect: “God gives you the energy to what He’s called you to do, but so many of us are doing things that He’s not called us to do.”

That hit my heart because I was trying to be busy outside of my home with what I thought God was wanting me to do. It was then that God said, “You have an audience of One, and I want you to live out this message in your home with your husband and with your three sons.”

That meant cutting things out of the calendar. My calendar, for the most part, is very empty. I mean, it’s not full of stuff so that my husband and I can have face time every day together. We can have date nights monthly. We filter everything through the question of: Does this cultivate oneness between us? Every time we go to bed, what we’re watching, our computer habits, vacation, ministry, everything: Is it cultivating oneness in our marriage?

Since then, what the Lord has been able to do is He’s been able to move me aside and has allowed there to bloom things that never would have bloomed had I continued to pursue what I thought God was wanting me to do. As Christian women, as moms, we feel like we have to be busy, busy, busy, busy, and God may say, “During this season of little ones, just be focused on your kids and your husband,” and watch what He can bring to you.

I felt like God’s brought ministry to my home. People come to my door. I hardly need to leave. The ministry comes to me, and I’m able to minister with my husband and my boys get to watch it. They get to see us doing God’s business, and it’s a lot more exciting than feeling like I’m trying to pursue something that God’s not doing. He’s gone before, so He’s laid the path.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Heather’s mom is sitting next to her. Julie, you’re in a different season of life than your daughter. What would you bring to this discussion in terms of encouraging younger women as you look back on raising your children and cultivating intimacy in your marriage while you’re raising a family?

Julie: I think back to that time—we have three daughters—and we all were doing Song of Solomon at the same time. It really helped our marriage. I wondered if it was going to scare our girls, the topic. I wondered if it would put a little fear in them at that age. But I can see through the years how it’s really blessed all of us.

I think we should be able to talk to our children about these things freely and openly, even a dad with his children. When you said that Hebrew men didn’t read this until they were thirty, our eleven-year olds are so far advanced in what they know, and they need this.

Woman 1: You have talked a lot about pursuing your husband, and I was wondering how can a wife pursue a husband who has let himself go and repulses her?

Nancy: That’s an important question. Let me just broaden it to say: In the Song of Solomon we’re seeing the ideal, but most people aren’t living in the ideal. We get a lot of emails from women and men who are married to someone that’s very difficult to live with. When the passion is gone, and the attraction is gone, and you’re starting in a hole, I know there’s no quick fix. How does a wife be expressive, admiring, engaged, pursuing in a marriage where she really isn’t any longer—for whatever reasons—feeling attracted to him. Maybe there’s good reasons for that, humanly speaking. Speak to that wife.

Kim Wagner: I think, really, asking God to change your heart and asking God to let you see him, as you said in the study, as Christ sees you, as God sees your husband. Ask God to help you see the potential for who he can become. And physically, that may not happen. But to focus on who he is, his inner man, and to love him for that, and to ask God to change your heart and to do that work in you.

Terry Morledge: You want an opportunity to be like Christ? That’s a perfect opportunity. You want an opportunity to show grace? That’s a perfect opportunity. So we pray: “Oh Lord, make me more like You.” There’s an opportunity to love someone who is not lovely, to show grace to someone who is not showing you grace. So that’s the overarching principle behind it.

And practically, what you do is, pray (and I think you do). Take the 30-day challenge. You look for things that you can praise him for. You look for things that are positive in your husband. You just persevere in your faithfulness in your marriage, in the part you’re supposed to do.

And so the challenge is, by the power and grace of God, can we do that to our husbands? I believe the answer is, “Yes.”

Kim: I’ve heard you say so many times, Nancy, that you make the choice, and your heart will follow. So many times it’s just by giving him acts of love, even though your heart isn’t there yet, but you’re doing it as unto the Lord, to bless him in that way, it does change your heart. It does cultivate that love relationship.

Nancy: Let’s remember, too, one of the keys things in this study is the transforming power of true love. You see this in the Song of Songs. This girl starts out sunburned by the sun, which we think is beautiful, but they didn’t. She says, “I’m dark. I’m not beautiful. My skin is leathery from the sun, and I’m a poor peasant girl. Who am I? I’m not royalty. Why would he love me?” But he does love her.

By the end of the book, people are praising her as this beautiful woman. She’s been transformed. What they’re seeing is a reflection of his beauty that has become her beauty as she has spent time with him in his presence, communing with him. It's the transforming power of love . . . that’s what’s happening in our lives. As God loves us, our lies are being transformed into the image, into His image.

Well, could that not also be true in many human relationships, not all? Your walking with God doesn’t guarantee that your mate will. But how many times have we seen the transforming power of love in a marriage where one mate sets out to love an unlovable mate with the love of God, the love of Christ. Over a period of time . . . this is not to be manipulative . . . it’s just the power of love, of grace, and over a period of time, they have seen God soften their mate’s heart. They have seen God change them into . . . things flourish under love.

Don’t underestimate the power of living out love to impact your mate and even if it doesn’t, it will change you. You will find yourself experiencing shade and the protection and the goodness of God in your humility that might not otherwise have been the case.

Everything flows out of the presence of God and your relationship with Him. You cannot have a wholesome and holy marriage if you don’t have a wholesome and holy relationship with the Lord.

Now, if you have a great relationship with the Lord, that doesn’t mean that marriage is going to be a piece of cake, because God uses suffering to sanctify. Right? God uses hardship, disappointment, loss, failure to change us, to make us more desperate for Him, to show us His grace.

So there’s no easy way to a great marriage. There’s no quick way to a great marriage. But the only way to a great marriage is by the avenue of a relationship with the Lord, which is why we start with the heart of this Song of Songs being God’s love for us, and that’s the source and the pattern and the means, the sustaining means, of having a marriage that goes the distance.

Carrie Gaul: I had such a sweet friend when Dennis and I had been married maybe twelve or fifteen years. I didn’t know any of this when I got married. Nobody talked about this. I had a sweet friend. We walked almost every day, and she just came alongside and started asking me questions. I was, like, dumbfounded. I’d been married for fifteen years. She began the process of, really, discipling me as a friend. She would say things like, “Carrie, this isn’t, like, an option. This isn’t a once-a-month event.”

So she started encouraging me to talk to Dennis about it. This was before cell phones, so we only had a house phone . . . the cavemen days. She would call me in the mornings and oftentimes, 6:00 or 6:30 she would call me and just say, “Just checking in, seeing how you did with meeting your husband’s needs last night.”

Now, there were times . . . Not very many friends call at 6:30 in the morning. I wouldn’t answer the phone because I knew it was her, and I didn’t have a good answer. But that sweetness of helping me walk through that, and God’s given her passion for it even today. It really is a life message in her heart. She’s developed a whole blog called “Three-D Intimacy” and ministers to women deeply that are hurting in this area.

But I would just encourage us as women to be talking to each other, talking to our friends, making it a part of discipleship with our married friends, just saying, “How are you doing?” and using that as an encouragement.

Woman 2: It’s easy as a single, when you hear how hard it is for women, to get scared. I have friends who really struggle with fear because of pornography and how that affects men. So do you have anything to say to women anticipating the future?

Nancy: Well, even single women hearing from married women how this whole area of sexual intimacy is not something that is easy for them. So you hear single women saying, “Why get married?” So why should they get married and anticipate this as a gift rather than a burden?

Terry: We also need to talk about and we would want to motivate those single women to say it’s a reflection of intimacy and communion with a person that should point us to our love relationship with the Lord. So it may not come naturally, and you may have to get through some lies you’ve believed or some issues or some sin.

But a lot of things in marriage are like that. Right? I mean, if it’s not that, it’s money, or it’s the way you relate to your parents or in-laws. I mean, there are challenges, there are tests in any of those things. That doesn’t mean we give up, or we don’t pursue it, or it’s too hard, or “I just can’t have that.” I mean, the reality is God wants us to have that in marriage. That is His will.

And so I think you’re making a great point. Seek an older woman, if that is something you’re scared about or as you go into marriage. Seek somebody out and ask them. Now, the challenge is, you may ask the wrong person. You may need to ask a couple of people because, you see, there are moments in my life, if you’d ask me, I would have had to lie to say the right things. But if you ask one person and you don’t get a great answer, you go on to somebody else. That’s the thing. You don’t know what’s going on in people’s bedrooms. Right?

But I just think it’s something you need to pursue and think of in a positive, intimate, good way. It’s a huge blessing.

Kim: It is worth it to pursue that.

Nancy: There’s no greater intimacy, ultimately, than abiding in Christ, and that’s what you want to see reflected in your marriages, where you become one soul, one flesh, one heart, one mind. That’s the objective.

Terry: I do want to encourage the single women who are fearful that they’ll marry someone who has this deep, dark addiction, which, I think, is very prevalent in our culture, so I can see how you’d be afraid of it. One thing my dad taught me was, to marry a man who is teachable.

If you’re pursuing marriage with a man, his character is what you’re going to want to filter through, not just your own emotions. Involve other older couples to say, “Is this man teachable?” Because if he is teachable, and if he goes to Christ for issues that surface in your relationship, he will go to Christ when there’s issues that arise in the bedroom or financial.

So filtering, looking at young men, saying, “Is his character of high integrity? Is he willing to let people in and be transparent and vulnerable? Is he prideful? Is he humble?” Because then you’ll see. You may fear there’s an addiction there, but if he’s willing to live his life like you say, Nancy, with the roof off and the walls down, you have to know the Holy Spirit will be after him if he has a secret sin.

But for single women, knowing that there are men out there with that high quality of love for Christ. There are. I was twenty-eight when I got married. I didn’t think there were any left, but God provided a man who had saved himself physically. At thirty-one, he was still a virgin and pure. I didn’t think that was possible. He has high integrity. He’s teachable. I say that just to encourage the single women.

Carrie: I just want to add, one of the things Dennis has said to me over and over is that when he and I are doing well in our physical relationship, the struggle, the temptation, which is real to every man on earth, isn’t there. It’s just so much different when we’re doing well in our own relationships. So I want to encourage wives with that.

Kim: What my husband often says when we’re meeting with couples is that it is incumbent to get your marriage right because the marriage relationship actually affects every other area of your life. The man is impacted negatively in his work relationship if that marital relationship is not right. With your children, in your church, really, at the heart—if you’re married—you must work on getting that marriage relationship right because it does affect negatively every other area of your life.

Diane: Okay, I’m not a public speaker at all, but when Nancy talked about how God can redeem marriage, during my marriage, one or the other of us has had just about every struggle mentioned today, every sin and heartbreak and difficulty. But nothing is beyond God. He has taken the ashes of a marriage that we and everybody else saw as hopeless and dead, and He has restored it. He has drawn us together like I never thought possible. He’s drawn both of us so much closer to the Lord. And after thirty-some years, we’re finally having the kind of marriage that is depicted in the Bible. Just don’t ever count that out.

Nancy: Lord, I just want to thank you for that precious testimony that Diane just closed with here, and that is, she just pointed us to Your amazing grace and said that this story’s not over; that You are a great and redeeming God who’s making all things new. Thank You for doing that in her life. Thank You for doing that in her marriage.

I pray that women who haven’t reached that mark yet where they’re enjoying what You intended for their marriage, and they’re wanting to throw in the towel and think, because of their failure or their husband’s or both, that they could never have the sweetness of what we’re reading about in the Song of Songs; I pray that they would hear her testimony and take heart and would know that You can restore and redeem the years the locusts have eaten. You really can make all things new. I pray that they would hang in there, hang to You, cling to You, run to You.

Thank you for the reminder, too, we’ve heard from a number of women today who’ve been married decades—some of them many decades. It’s a good reminder for younger wives and women not even married yet to know that sweetness of marriage and the intimacy of marriage as You intended is not forged overnight. It’s not the honeymoon that tests and proves that love. It’s the test of time and letting You work and calling out to You and letting You transform both husband and wife.

So Lord, we’ve heard some challenging words. We’ve heard sobering words. We’ve heard encouraging words. But I pray that at the heart of all of it, we would see it’s all, all, all about grace. It’s that running to You to find mercy and grace to help in time of need.

So I pray for every marriage represented here, every marriage listening to this conversation, every woman in every conceivable kind of marriage: newlyweds, almost married, married many years, and widows even reflecting on years of marriage. I pray that in every heart You would do a sweet work of grace.

For women who are struggling to meet their husbands’ needs in various areas, including physical intimacy, I pray that they would take the challenge to cry out to You, to ask You for help, to ask You for grace, to ask You for wisdom.

There are women listening who are married to men who are addicted to pornography. And we haven’t really addressed that question in any thorough way at all. Even if we had hours to talk about it, we can’t meet that woman’s need the way You can. So I pray that she would cry out to You. I know that those answers may not be quick. They may not be simple. They may not be obvious. But I know that You give wisdom, and I know that the wife who runs to You will find mercy for her own sins, and grace to help her deal with the sins of others, and grace to help her in her time of need.

I pray, Lord, for single women who have been listening to this conversation. I pray that their takeaway would not be, “Ooh, marriage is really hard.” It is hard. But life is hard. And You are good. You use these challenges in marriage . . . we’ve seen this illustrated here . . . to sanctify, to change, to conform men and women to Your image.

And Lord, it’s not just about having a happy marriage here, though I think You want that. That’s the ideal. But even more than that, it’s about being fitted for heaven, being shaped and molded and humbled and dependent and growing and seeking You and broken at the cross and dying to self and to our own aspirations and ambitions and pressing into pain and obeying when we don’t feel like it and trusting You for the joy in the obedience.

All of that is about who You’re making us so that one day we can have in heaven full, uninhibited, unreserved, unrestrained, no barriers of sin or shame or guilt, a beautiful, perfect, precious eternal relationship with You, our heavenly Bridegroom.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She’s been part of a discussion with Terry Morledge, Kim Wagner, and other Revive Our Hearts listeners about developing intimacy in marriage. When you get this two-day series on CD, you’ll be able to hear quite a bit more material. Some of this conversation on marriage wasn’t appropriate for the radio, but it’s included on the CD.

The series is called, “Enjoying a More Intimate Marriage.” You can find it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

One of today’s guests, Kim Wagner, has written a book that will help you build your marriage. She experienced a loss of intimacy with her husband primarily because of her harsh words, but she watched the Lord change her heart, teach her how to love, and restore her marriage. She shares very helpful insights from this experience in the book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.

The book is part of the True Women Imprint from Revive Our Hearts. We’d like to send you a copy when you support the ministry with a gift of any size. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Fierce Women when you call with your gift. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Well, image that your husband of two years is murdered, and you feel all alone in a foreign country. Elisabeth Elliot knows what that’s like. As she tells the story, you’ll get very valuable insight on how to handle suffering in your life. Hear about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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