My husband, Chuck, and I have been taking part in the marriage/couples' series at the Rock called The Night. The Night is a monthly session in which Mark Driscoll’s book, “Real Marriage – The truth about Sex, Friendship, & Life Together, is presented via the accompanying DVD. Couples are invited to watch the DVD as a group, which is a video showcase of Mark presenting each of his chapters. He also gives insight on marriage, Scripture, and his own experiences as a spouse. The sessions end with a brief Q&A, prayer, and a handout that gives talking points for a post discussion.
Mark as a public-speaker is phenomenal. He is engaging, insightful, and extremely powerful in his delivery of the Word. There are so many verses that speak to the covenant of marriage and Mark touches upon many of them in each chapter. He opens up about his own marriage as he speaks about the up’s-and-down’s of marriage. I find this to be extremely courageous and forthright. It serves to give the listener a feeling of solidarity and relief knowing that each of us has the ability to enjoy a happy marriage when they place Christ at the center of their union.
My husband and I have taken away a great deal from each session. Chuck and I call them nuggets. We’ll look over at each other on the car ride home after Sunday service and say. “So, what was your nugget today?” We each find that something hits us right between the eyes. It is always different for each of us. We enjoy sharing perspectives about what we have heard. Sometimes it feels like we each sat through a completely different sermon! There have been a number of “marital nuggets” harvested as a result of this series.
This month’s session has been the most impactful and profound. The session is entitled “Men and Marriage” and Mark spoke about the fact that a husband is the center of his home and what he refers to as the “Head”; the leader of his home and of his marriage. Mark explained that biblically, a woman is supposed to be submissive to her husband and couples face scrutiny from society about living in such a union. Society says that a woman is supposed to be strong and forceful, to make her own way in the world through assertion and confidence and should never take orders from a man. I can feel my own neck bobbing and weaving as I say that! I was raised in a matriarchal home and it was ingrained in me that I didn’t need a man for anything.
In my humble opinion, society has it all wrong and the true message behind a submissive wife is lost in translation. Being submissive to a husband requires real strength and conviction of self. It demonstrates an understanding of scripture and the comfort it brings. A marital union is a covenant between two individuals who love and respect one another, who are committed to their vows, and who seek to honor God through their union.
I have ample respect for my husband. He has a heavy burden on his shoulders and he strives each day to carry it with grace and dignity. The Bible says that a husband is required to love his wife as Christ loves the church. A husband is required to lay down his life for his wife and children. He is required to afford not only financial provisions to his family, but emotionally and spiritually as well. A husband will give an account not only for his life to God but for what he did as a husband and father; as the head of his home. For all this, I am proud to follow my husband with my heart along the path he lays out for us each day.
Chuck demonstrates each day that he is my loving caretaker, my loyal confidant, my best friend, and the man who stands face-to-face with me in all things. We tackle life together and lean on each other for support and respite. As Miles once said during a Sunday service when he talked about Ruth and Boaz, I am happy to kneel before my husband because he’s already kneeling before me in grace.
As I sat through Mark’s presentation, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of all that God requires from a Christian man. And likewise, awed by the fact that the man I married is at a station in his life where he strives each day to be that Christian man. Granted, he stumbles along the way like the rest of us do, but gets up each time committed to making each day better than the previous one.
I have never felt more in sync with my husband since we made a commitment to God and placed Him at the center of our union. We follow the Word and seek guidance through what is written. We pray together, we ask God for strength and forgiveness, and we thank Him for the abundant blessings received daily.
During this particular session, the Pastor asked each couple to share how long each had been married. He went around the room until he got to about 10 years and we still hadn’t raised our hands. He looked right at us and asked how long we’d been married. We both said in unison, “25 years this September!” to a round of applause from the room. I’ve never felt more accomplished as I did in that moment. The young man sitting in front us turned toward us and said “You’ve gotta give me your secret!” My husband and I just smiled and I told him, “Hang strong!”
In that moment, the twenty-five years I’ve spent with my husband flashed across my mind in pictures. A stream of images; the two young faces who looked at each other on September 23, 1989 and took vows; the births of our four children; the first time we fought and I spent the night at my mother’s house; the first time we made up; the first time I heard “Mrs. Thompson” and realized someone was speaking to me; all of it, a lifetime of memories with the man sitting next to me. What a ride it’s been! I rested my head on his shoulder and took it all in.
I’m certainly no expert and my marriage has had the same up’s and down’s that many others have had. If pressed to give one piece of advice to couples looking for the secret to a long lasting marriage, it would be to marry your best friend. Marry someone whose company you enjoy, someone who makes you laugh, someone who you enjoy just hanging out with and doing “nothing” with on a lazy Sunday. Marry the person who you can’t wait to run to with every bit of newsworthy event in your day; that’s the person you marry. It makes everything that comes at you so much easier to work through and it gives a foundation to build upon. A friendship is something that bonds individuals together and it carries weight in how you stand by one another, even when something goes wrong. It’s easier to forgive, it’s easier to compromise, it’s easier to sacrifice for a friend; someone who would do the same for you.
Romance ebbs and flows and the fire that young couples feel when they first meet and fall in love dims as you age. Don’t get me wrong, the feelings of love strengthen, but the “honeymoon phase” is called that for a reason. It’s a season in every relationship that comes and goes, but a friendship is forever.
Chuck and I are both looking forward to what next month’s session will bring. I promised him I would not peek ahead and read the next chapter so we could process the info for the first time together. If you’re reading this and married, then come out and join this group. You won’t be sorry and I assure you that you’ll leave with your own little “nugget” of wisdom.22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, Ephesians 5:22-33