As it is a creation of a new family, through the union of two different people. Marriage has proven to be the source of conflicts as well as harmonious relation of balance and teamwork among two people, if the differences and similarities that they share complement each other. Being a marriage mentor and counselor for a decade now, getting the opportunity to interact and get to know what, how and why a family of five has remained intact for the last thirty years was a great honor. Having been in marriage for thirty years -James and Linet, it was evident that the two were in a harmonious and balanced marriage and were much willing to share their journey. James has been working as a medical doctor while his wife, Linet work in a law firm. Apart from the technical skills-their profession, the two are marriage counselors who have seen and saved many marriages in the state. The interview was based on questions ranging from family interaction, spirituality and religion, marriage challenges, relationship with others, family background and boundaries, and how the family has navigated through the journey of life together and developed a family and marriage that is successful. The couple walked in the interview room and actively participated, their lightheartedness helped to keep the interview environment comfortable.
It all began by asking their family background — how they were brought up and their personal experience. Because of the distinct upbringing by different parents, the two had to write their views about their background, and experiences. Having been brought up in a Christian family, Christianity life had a significant influence on their upbringing, marriage and their current way of life. The two had a standard description of their background as stable and supportive. However, there have been moments of challenges that saw their faith tested; these challenges made their faith even more profound as they received undying support from friends (importance of faith). As much as they shared a lot in common, in terms of how they were being brought up, Linet highlighted a number of differences as she was brought up by a single mother after the demise of her father when she was a year old.
The fact that they were brought up under Christianity influence prompted a question on how they handle their differences in case they do not agree on something. So excited to answer this, James quickly appreciated the fact that they usually agree on most of the things, however, the issue of which state to settle in as their home caught James as a surprise as Linet was not for the idea of staying in Oregon. The experience made Linet feels that she had to give in when she was not contented. The Christianity influence made the two to willingly learn to keep the peace for the sake of one another without losing their sense of self.
Couples find it difficult to handles each other’s spiritual interest in marriage which is not the case for the two, the two have deep shared faith as they regard Jesus to be the foundation to their marriage. James said, “understanding that Christ-centered marriage is a type of union that acknowledges both the presence and authority of God and believes in observable difference made by Christ in their daily lives” (Ephesians 2:20). From his sentiments, they were very keen on things that could distract their spiritual intimacy, and in case of any, they desired for a better change that won’t compromise their devotion to God. Quoting from 1 Peter 3: 1-7 Linet said that “it was helpful for a woman to have a husband change his doings through prayers,” for them (women) not to stake their happiness on their (men)to change and to avoid being so nagging, demanding and angry which will be self-defeating.
As for many, managing the family’s financial resources is a big problem. The couple devised a suitable approach for it. The two knew how money could become a point of contention someday in their marriage. During the early days of their union, they agreed on different spending and family saving habits. They consistently communicate openly with each other on philosophy about money, challenges and family priority needs. They embraced positive communication and approached it as a process that involves openness, deep heart connection, and empathy (James 1:19).
Often passion and affection among couples abound during the courtship period. Keeping love light burning has been seen as a challenge to many couples. Love and affection is significantly affected by daily life pressures, and they find less time for cuddling. As Linet echoed, love and the way one shows love to their spouse changes over time, the two had to navigate such changes a little differently. They usually renew their wedding vows annually, to make them remember they are there for each other as seen in many successful marriages, the two honor and treasure each other by keeping a conscious account of the things they value. Just like Jesus made the last supper (Luke 22:19) as a commemoration of His redeeming work on the cross. The two commemorate both tangible and physical blessings of their relationship.
An inquiry on how they handle chores and responsibilities prompted a response. Being a vibrant couple, the two have resolved issues on male and female roles based on the scriptures. They openly share personal expectations, preferences, and hammer that is done out of the God-honoring plan that foster equity and fairness on how they share responsibilities. They aim to function as a team and “bear one another” (Gal: 6:2)
Agreeing to the fact that life is a journey, full of difficult times. But how did such times and moments affect their relationship with God, their families, and friends? Quoting “couple who stick to each other understands the Gods constitution for marriage,” James said, they view marriage as a sacred and solemn mystery before His – God’s eyes. The two clearly understood that divorce wasn’t an option for their misunderstanding. They understood marriage as a lifelong adventure, full of triumphs and defeats. Relating to Jesus teachings, James quoted Hebrews 12:2 that “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” and the two presses on towards achieving their ultimate goal both through thick and thin.
Understanding how they relate to God and friends in difficult moments, it was wise to know how the two cope with life changes, stress, and crises. Linet was first to react on this; she stated that successful marriages and couples (Christians) in most cases consider it so strange when trials, temptations, and pressures come their way (1 Peter 4:12). Instead, they are prepared for trying moments and often seek help from outside when necessary. In all kinds, life adversity, the two have taken pains to anchor their marriage to a solid rock.
To know what exactly holds the two together, knowing their passionate interest as individuals were the key. Sine memorial the two build their relationship on shared interest, morals, values and goals. They have scheduled night dates and outings where they develop meaningful traditions as well as family rituals helping them to maintain healthy practice and stability between togetherness’ and independence.
Apart from having their relationship close, how do they relate with other people? The couple embraces the fact that they need people and people need them too. They have made it a habit of connecting with other likeminded couples in the neighborhood regularly. They actively engage in nurturing communities, actively participate in their local church through which they actively give and receive technical, spiritual and financial support as well.
Case scenario of their role as marriage counselors and mentors
James gave an example of their conjoint sessions when a couple approached them, as their marriage was dozing off. He narrates “In an age of mergers, couples in marriage chaos usually reach a stage where they feel so totally misunderstood, shut out and unaccepted. They then feel their relationship to have reached levels of desperation and hopelessness. Neither of them feels that the other partner can acknowledge and comprehend the partner’s pain hence a dissatisfying and unrewarding relationship. Joyce and frank, who have married five years ago, decided to leave a separate life from each other three years after their marriage. Joyce, a businesswoman, on their escalating family conflict, Joyce complains of her husband’s (Frank) numerous infidelities and her ideologies of making personal changes. From the family business ventures, Joyce felt that she had concessions which made her have no desire to quit the relationship. She recently established a successful business that drew her tension way from their conflictual marriage. At the same time, Frank faced business reversals that forced him to relocate his office back home increasing their interaction at home. They decided to move in different spheres, and none had a desire to address the mutual distance conflicts. As Joyce narrated, personal agenda, which was dominated by independence, emotional involvement outside marriage and dependence affected their marriage. The marriage was dozing and highly stirred by frank’s business difficulties and his visibility at home. While none of them had desired to have their marriage shortcomings solved”. From the case scenario, James expressed how marriage can be mend or broken by the two people involved if they are distancing themselves from prayers and not understanding Gods constitution on marriage.
Unknown to many, marriage comes with labels, and it requires to be assembled to make it whole continually. It takes a lifetime journey full of work and efforts to put things together in the right way. In many ways, couple plunge in marriage without reading the instructional manual, self-assured that they will figure out when challenges come their way, this forces them to re-read the manufacturer’s instructions. However, most of the common marriage challenges as illustrated by James and Linetcan be traced to the couple’s neglect of reading, abiding and being obedience to Gods command on marriage.
As seen earlier in Genesis, God was clear on His design of marriage. God himself explained the marriage design and principles which if adhered to, couples can build a satisfying marriage on the solid rock which honors Him. Take home message from the exemplary marriage of James and Linet, God designed marriage for companionship and as an illustration of couple’s relationship with Him, also marriage institution before God, and it is intended to be missional. From the case scenario, one could learn the harm of isolation in the relationship. Joyce and her husband allowed the enemy of their souls to enter in their marriage and later made them not to be one. In John 17, when Jesus was praying He prayed for the church to be one, He knew that when couples are in isolation, they can be convinced of anything. Mentorship is also an important factor in marriage; every couple needs a mentor who is a lap ahead of them in seasons of life. Finally, it’s normal for less staunch Christians to suffer from spiritual amnesia, couples should ever be grateful for the little things, big things, and milestone that reminds them of the goodness of the Lord.
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