Closeness and Commitment in Marriage: Homework

At times doing classwork brings me great joy and draws me closer to God. It also allows me to express, share, and help others with what I learned from my studies and other people, such as learning about a deeper meaning of John 13:34-35 from a sermon. The classwork in this post is for my Pastoral Marriage and Family counseling course. I am not allowed to share other students’ posts, but I can share my replies to their work.

Instructions:

Thread: You have navigated the anger, the frustration and hostility, and the depression and hopelessness and have seen the flame of love and commitment rekindled through weeks and months of determined work. You are now heading toward termination as a natural conclusion to the marital counseling relationship. What tips, biblical truths, and strategies will you provide your couple with to stimulate their closeness and commitment to last a lifetime?

Replies:  Respond to two classmates and provide feedback. Use relevant scholarly sources and scripture to support your views.

Thread: Closeness and Commitment

Author: Cassondra Johnson

Posted Date: March 3, 2021 1:10 PM

Marriage is a labor of love. Couples will need to remember to do the work it takes to keep the closeness in their marriage. According to Ripley & Worthington (2014, p. 23), “the most important thing to remember is that relationships improve by ‘faith working through love’ (Galatians 5:6, NKJV)”. Therefore, I would encourage couples to work on communication skills and practice them daily continually. Also, I would remind couples when conflicts come up to work through them using the skills they have learned. “Happily married couples handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways” (Gottman et al., 2006, p. 4). It is okay if they need to return to counseling for help (Ripley & Worthington, 2014). I would tell them not to be discouraged in tough times that there is always hope. Additionally, I would advise couples to be best friends. According to Clinton and Ohlschlager (2002, p. 487), “the greatest indicator of a successful long-term marriage is the level of the couple’s friendship.” 

Finally, I would remind them to love each other as Jesus loves them. “A new command I (Jesus) give you: Love one another. As I (Jesus) have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (New International Version, 2011, John 13:34-35). I would explain the new command Jesus gives does not replace the two greatest commands, love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, followed by love people as yourself (New International Version, 2011, Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:36-40), but brings a deeper meaning for how we are to love as Christ’s does. It is agape love which “represents sacrificial love that is steadfast and underserved” (Moitinho & Moitinho, 2020, p. 46). For example, some couples do not love themselves very well but if couples follow Christ’s example of how to love their spouse sacrificially then their marriage will not only survive but thrive.

Reply

Hello J.,

I like and agree with the statement you made in your post, “a marriage is a living, breathing, and ever-changing relationship.” I stated in my post, “marriage is a labor of love”. Life as a married couple or as a single person is ever-changing and requires adaptation as we grow and change across our life span. However, how and if couples choose to adapt will determine if a marriage lasts. Clinton & Ohlschlager’s (2002) book describes hope in marriage counseling as the willpower to change or reason to strive for a goal. “Willpower involves the belief— in the heart, not just in the head— that people can make their marriage better” (Clinton & Ohlschlager, 2002, p. 465). One of the tips I would give couples is to keep hope and faith in their marriage. Scriptures say, “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (New International Version, 2011, Hebrews 11:1). Additionally, Ecclesiastes 3:1(New International Version, 2011) says, “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Thank you for your post.

Reply

Hello T.,

I appreciate your post and the strategies and truths mentioned about keeping intimacy and passion alive in the marriage. I believe marriage is sacred and should be honor by all, along with keeping the marriage bed pure (New International Version, 2011, Hebrews 13:4). When I say honor by all, I mean outsiders should honor other people’s marriage by being careful how they interact with married couples of the opposite sex. Also, spouses need to realize that men and women define infidelity differently. According to Vossler & Moller (2020), 87% of women think sexual behaviors involve emotional engagement, whereas men consider sexual behaviors or infidelity as a physical, sexual act. Couples need to understand each other on several levels of intimacy (emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical) to keep the marriage alive (Moitinho & Moitinho, 2020). 

Likewise, I would also remind the couples to communicate with each other about their needs continuously. Additionally, I would remind spouses that it is their responsibility as a couple to make their home a safe place where each other feels loved, secure, and appreciated (Moitinho & Moitinho, 2020). Thank you for your post.

References

Clinton, T. & Ohlschlager, G.  (2002). Competent Christian counseling: Foundations & practice of compassionate soul care. (Vol. 1). Water Brook Press

Gottman, J. M., Gottman, J. S., & DeClaire, J. (2006). 10 lessons to transform your marriage: America’s love lab experts share their strategies for strengthening your relationship. Three Rivers Press.

Moitinho, E., & Moitinho, D. (2020). The Dream home: How to create an intimate Christian marriage. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

New International Version. (2011). Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com

Ripley, J. S. & Worthington, E. L. (2014). Couple therapy: A new hope-focused approach. Intervarsity Press.

Vossler, A., & Moller, N. P. (2020). Internet affairs: Partners’ perceptions and experiences of internet infidelity. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 46(1), 67-77. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2019.1654577

Love and peace my friends.

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