In between enjoying the grounds and fresh air of God’s creation at Warm Beach on Feb. 6-7, Dr. Dan Zink led thirteen CPC couples through three sessions of teaching and discussion about marriage. My wife, Keren, and I were so privileged to be there.
I’m a linear thinker. Events usually come in order and there’s a cause and effect relationship from one to the other. Keren is a circular thinker. There’s one main event and everything leading up to and after encircle it in a big web of relationships. If I were to classify our retreat speaker as one or the other, he would definitely be the latter. In his own words, “I try to over prepare, and then, play jazz. […] Some of you will wonder if I am ever going to land the airplane.” If you’re like me, don’t be discouraged. Try to push back against the impatience of wanting to get to the point. Relationships – deep, committed ones like our marriages – are generally a messy tangle of interconnectedness. They’re not efficient and often plain inconvenient.
In the first talk, what stood out to me so strongly was the creational reality of our need for each other. “It is not good that the man should be alone,” (Gen. 2:18). We are made for relationship. God’s design for humanity was not completed until the man and woman were both created. And he made sure Adam knew this by bringing before him every creature of the earth. There was no perfect fit for him until he saw Eve.
When the Fall happened, the curses were not just the punishment but the natural consequence of falling out of relationship with God and each other. Instead of drawing closer to one another, they turned away – Adam toward the endless toil of work and Eve toward relational overcompensation. Fast forward to Ephesians 5 and we hear from Paul about the way back, the way to overcome and turn away from these consequences. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, […] Husbands, love your wives…” These are the ways of fighting these fallen inclinations in us and returning to the proper balance of relationship with one another, returning to “we” and not “I”.
Another important point was about our fights. In the disagreements we have with our spouses, when we’re pushing our perspective on the other trying to convince them that we’re right and they’re wrong, what we’re really saying to one another is, “Do I count? Do I matter? Am I important to you?” What we all really want to know from our spouse is, “Do you really care about me?” All arguments can probably boil down to this one thing. Most of the time we are so concerned with the argument and our reasons for the argument, that we don’t even know or feel that this is the question we’re asking. With the help of Sue Johnson’s book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Dr. Zink gave us some exercises that were about getting us to recognize the real emotions and conversations we have so that we can be more about drawing closer and not pushing away.
If this whets your appetite to hear more, please listen to the talks linked below. Any and all godly effort we put into our marriages is worth it (necessary, really) for the sake of Christ’s glory and our family’s health. Linked below are also the talk outlines. If you’d like printouts of the book references, talk to Pastor Jonathan.
- Talk One – “What Is Missing in our Marriages?”
- Talk Two – “Getting on a Different Page Together”
- Talk Three – “Growing Together Together”
Here’s the Marriage Retreat Outline.