Friday, February 26, 2016

Building a Strong Marriage: Learning to Battle Back to Back

Today we welcome Rebecca Bruner! Last week we talked about how the sole goal of marriage is not happiness. Today, Rebecca is helping us dig a bit deeper into no only the purpose of marriage, but a battle plan. 

Marriage Can Sometimes Feel Like a War Zone.
Be Certain You Are Fighting the Right Opponent!

Have you ever wondered why God created marriage? Looking at things from a strictly human-centric point of view, we might assume that He did so just to satisfy our desires for companionship, romance, and procreation. Adam was lonely, and therefore God gave him Eve. 

I think far too many people approach their marriages from this perspective, evaluating the success or failure of their relationships only on the basis of how well their own felt needs are met. They ask themselves, “Am I satisfied with my marriage?” rather than, “Is my marriage glorifying God and advancing His cause?”

I’m convinced that, from the dawn of creation, God intended marriage to play an essential role in His battle plan. His original design for men and women involved an elegant interdependence between the sexes. Neither the man nor the woman could accomplish all that God envisioned for humanity by working alone. He intended that they complement one another, working in harmony within the one-flesh union of marriage to fill the earth and subdue it. 

God intentionally crafted two people who were completely different from each other. They had different strengths, different vulnerabilities, different perspectives on the world. Only with their combined strength could they hold the enemy at bay.

We must not forget that, even in Eden, there was an enemy poised to strike. Satan had already fallen. Otherwise, there could not have been a tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. When Adam and Eve sinned against their Creator, they were actually joining a rebellion already in progress, one that began at the moment Lucifer said in his heart, “I will be like the Most High.”

God intended the differences between men and women to give married couples a tactical advantage in defending each other against the enemy. Too often, the enemy exploits those differences to undermine our unity. While Satan tempts wives and husbands to fight head-to-head against each other, God wants us to learn to battle back-to-back against the real enemy, defending each other’s greatest areas of vulnerability with our unique strengths. 

So the next time your marriage starts to feel like a war zone, take a moment to ask yourself: who is the real enemy here? Ask God to help you recognize that your spouse is actually your ally, someone He has specially designed and provided to cover your back.  

When you evaluate your relationship, don’t just ask yourself, “Am I satisfied with my marriage?” Because marriage isn't really about YOU--what you want, what makes you happy--it's about God, and honoring Him in your relationship, even in seasons of hardship and crisis. It's about learning to cover your partner's back, and allowing him to cover your back in the midst of the spiritual war zone in which we live.

1: Tell us about your latest book, and any personal inspiration behind it. latest book is entitled A Wife of Valor: Your Strategic Importance in God’s Battle Plan. It’s based on material I have been teaching to Christian women’s groups for many years. When I first got married, I was only nineteen, and I had many misconceptions about womanhood, marriage and male/female relationships that I needed to unlearn. With the help of a godly older woman who mentored me, I was able to study the scriptures and have my mind renewed. I went from battling against God and His design for my life and marriage to surrendering to Him and embracing His truth. I finally recognized that my husband and I were actually on the same team, which put an end to a lot of senseless bickering. I wrote A Wife of Valor: Your Strategic Importance in God’s Battle Plan to pass on the crucial lessons I have learned to other Christian wives. My hope is that readers will apply these biblical principles to strengthen their marriages, and perhaps avoid a few of my mistakes.

2: Is A Wife of Valor available to purchase now?
My current project is a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to underwrite the cost of publishing A Wife of Valor. By pre-ordering copies of the book and other perks, fans and supporters can help me raise the money to get this book in print. You can check it out at:

3: Please share your favorite scripture with us.
The one that is especially dear to my heart at the moment is
Psalm 68:11-12 “The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host: Kings of armies flee, they flee, And she who remains at home will divide the spoil!” (NASB)

I love these verses because I feel that God pointed them out to me as an encouragement regarding His plans for my book. In A Wife of Valor, I share what the Lord has commanded to wives in His Word. I believe by faith that a great host of women will embrace these truths with joy and proclaim the good tidings to others. These verses remind me that I don’t need to worry, and I don’t need to fear. God will put the armies of the enemy to flight. I can sit home and wait for Him to bring in the spoil.
www.rebeccabrunerauthor.comCONNECT WITH REBECCA
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Suggested Articles:
Happiness is no the Goal in Marriage
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage: Building Intimacy, Not Walls
Helping Kids Cope with Deployment

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Building a Strong Marriage: Happiness Isn't the Goal in Marriage

When the wedding is over, and the guests go home, married-life starts.

Many of my friends, including myself, are or were military wives. We know homecomings, military balls, ceremonies, and mandatory fun events are not the whole of our marriage. These happy times are mixed in with the, well, the not so happy.  

At times it’s easy to love our spouse, and even a wonderful experience to do so, but other times…after kids, juggling schedules, dinner fails, a 60+ hour work week, pay cuts, hurtful words spoken intentional or unintentional, conflict of interests…well, sometimes things like that can make marriage a challenge. 

But that’s ok. We want to build and strengthen something worth fighting for, something worth our time and energy, even if it’s a challenge. Marriage is worth that challenge. Anything God ordains is worth that challenge.

One of the ways we begin to strengthen our marriage is by shifting the focus off of our happiness. Yes, happiness is great and all, but if it’s at the expense of someone else’s happiness, is it even true happiness? Wow, that just got philosophical! 

I argue that a self-seeking pursuit of happiness is not happiness at all, but selfishness. Yes, we have needs, even wants, but by transferring our focus to our spouse and their happiness…well, something close to magic happens…we find happiness—actually, contentment, which is FAR GREATER than happiness. It’s deeper, heartier, full of substance and value, whereas happiness changes on a whim, based on our current situation.

If happiness isn’t the goal of marriage, what is?
That’s a whole other blogpost my friends, but to sum it up, a purpose, but most definitely not the sole purpose of marriage, is to make us into better people as we serve each other in love, putting the other before ourselves. 

How do we do this? How do we stop focusing on happiness as our sole goal in marriage?
         1) Think about your spouse. Write down the things they enjoy. What are their goals? What makes them feel loved? Perhaps ask them these things in order to find out, or observe them more often.
Keep this list, and work to meet those goals and do those things that make your spouse feel loved. I HIGHLY recommend learning your spouse’s love language. Check out The 5 Love Languages, and The 5 Love Language: Military Edition.
      2) Pray for your spouse. Make a list of things to pray about for them. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Pray for their relationship with God to continue to grow.
  • Pray that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control overflow in and out of their lives. 
  •  Pray for wisdom in the decisions they have to make at work and in the family.
  • Pray for them to get the rest they need at night so they are able to get through the work week.
  • Pray for their self-image—that they would see themselves the way God sees them.
  • Pray for their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical protection.

Remember, happiness is great, but there’s so much more to marriage that’s worth our time in pursuing--like each other.