By Joemon Joseph
Sunitha and I got married when we both were 24. The factor of romance was high, but the maturity factor was low. Each week was filled with inter-personal conflicts which we found difficult to resolve. Very soon we found ourselves meeting our pastor every week after the Sunday service. It worked!
My wife grew up in a hospital campus; she was the only non-medico person in an entire family of doctors. Nevertheless, she was also no less than a doctor. So guess what! Whenever I would fall sick, she would ask me to go to a hospital. Having grown up all my life in Mumbai, I have always gone to the doctor down the road. I didn’t feel the need to ever check his medical credentials.
My explanations to my wife was that we needed to visit the hospital for only major surgeries, and not for every ache and pain. This was enough
sparks for the fire. The issue seemed trivial, but we had major fireworks. As we met with our mentors, we began to understand how our upbringing played a role in our relationship. We realised that there was a need for both of us to ‘give’ and ‘take’. Slowly we began to understand each other better, working together became a joy and we began to
realise what God had called us for.
This helped us to empathise with couples with different struggles. The enemy tries to tear apart our relationships but God restores us and uses
those journeys to help others. As we have been helped, we have helped others.
Some of our learnings in this regard are:
- Marriage is a journey and couples need periodic input, feedback and a sounding board. Be available!
- Discipling can only happen in the context of relationship. Build a loving and sacrificial relationship with them.
- Truth should be spoken, but in love. This will not only build them up but will strengthen your friendship with them.
- Input and advice should be given to both spouses. No one is a Mr. Perfect or a Mrs. Perfect – both need to take responsibility to work things out;
- Homework after every session is important. The growth of the relationship depends on how serious they are in applying the truth.
- You cannot be the only help that they should receive. Expose them to various books, messages, seminars and courses on marriage. We will never know when revelation would strike.
- The focus is not problem-solving, but releasing the potential in them. Give them opportunities to function and grow in their ministry. Appreciate their strengths and pray for them.
- As we see God working in them, we can help them to walk in the purposes of God. Remember it is not about fitting them into our ministry department.
- Learn from them and allow them to challenge you. It’s a mutual learning experience. Be willing to receive as you work together on your church vision.
- Pray and release them towards greater things. That was the model of Jesus and we can be secure in that.
In the last 15 years of relating to people I have realised that genuine sacrificial love is what builds people.
That’s what Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
Further resources on marriage
- The Marriage course by Nicky and Sila lee,
- How to keep the honey after the Honeymoon by Stanley and Esme Mehta,
- Biblical Portrait of Marriage by Bruce Wilkerson,
- Love and Respect by Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs
- Christ Centered Marriage by Neil Anderson and Charles Mylander.