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The Connections of Marriage

Goal:

 

To help us understand the nature of intimacy and the effect it has on the growth of relationships.

 

Scripture Basis:

 

Psalms 139, Gen 1:26, 2:18, Eccl 4:9-12, Heb 5:2, Gal 6:1-4,

 

Reference Materials:

 

His Needs, Her Needs, by Harley

A View from Within Appendix A

The Hamster - Appendix B

Handling Needs Pain or Potential Appendix C

Intimacy Opportunities Matrix - Appendix D

 

Introduction:

Have you ever considered why some marriages seem to grow while others lay stagnant or crumble from within? In this lesson we will be looking at intimacy and the role it plays in creating an environment of growth in relationships. But first let me define what I mean by intimacy.

 

Intimacy: the deep innermost connection of two people, the connecting points of their union.

 

In the lesson the Goal of Love, we posed the question Is it possible that the goal of the greatest commandment (Love) is union?. I believe that intimacy and union are closely related and when they exist in a relationship, feelings of completeness, fulfillment, joy and happiness will follow. It is the connecting points of union that I am speaking of when I use the term intimacy.

 

Biblical Basis for Intimacy:

 

Ask: Is there a Biblical basis for intimacy being important to marriage? Can anyone share it? - Discuss

 

Yes, it just so happens these is because mankind was created for union. He was designed by God to be in relationships and to be united both with Himself and with others. In Gen 1:26 we are shown that we were designed for intimacy. Why? Because we are made in Gods image. He gave us a special nature that craved relationships just as He does. Gen. 2:18 further also shows us that mankind would crave relationships with each other as well as with God because before Eve was created all was not good for Adam from Gods perspective. A suitable helper, (help-meet) was needed! Now this is a huge concept, because it makes clear that we are designed to need a human partner when God designed creation, Not just after the fall but when God setup creation perfectly. Two is indeed better than one as Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 .

 

Now some will point out that in the New Testament Paul encouraged people not to marry, (1 Cor 7) but he did so in the context of what he called the present crisis. This makes it clear that there are situations when being married is more difficult than being single but in general God design for man was for relationships and the primary relationship he created was for the help-meet, the relationship we call marriage.

 

Key Message:

 

So, why is intimacy important? Because It is intimacy that feeds this union and strengthens our relationships. It is the aspects of our connections that bind us together. So lets go explore these connections.

 

 

3 Aspects of Intimacy:

 

In the Old Testament there are 3 Hebrew words used in relation to describe intimate relationships. In the New Testament there are further descriptions of these connection points. These Hebrew words are simple words and I think they are fun to memorize. Each one helps cement a different connection point in your mind.

 

 

 

Lets look at each of them in more detail

 

 

Connection #1 : Intimate Knowing Yada

 

Read Psalms 139.

 

This Psalm describes the deep understanding that God has of his created children. God knows us intimately by being able to look beyond the surface of our bodies into the innermost thoughts, attitudes and intents of the heart but how can people have this level of intimate knowing of each other?

Read Matt 12:34,35 These verses tell us that from the attitudes of the heart comes the words of the mouth and it's tones. To know each other we must spend time together talking. The more we do this the deeper we will know each other.

 

Ask the following questions

 

  1. How much time do you spend each day actually talking to your spouse ?
  2. When you talk do you communicate only about the necessities of life or do you spend time talking about your thoughts, insights, ideas, goals, spiritual discoveries, questions, memories, experiences, needs, desires, intentions, feelings and prayers?
  3. Do you study your spouse? Do you actually study them as you would a subject in school memorizing what is important to them?

 

Discuss

 

With todays hectic busy lifestyles, most people, were they honest would have to answer less than 10 minutes a day to question 1 and no to questions 2 and 3. This is not the pattern of a dating relationship but unfortunately it is the pattern of many married ones. Its no wonder marriages often find themselves in DutyLand.

 

Keys to getting beneath the surface in conversation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Message:

 

In order to grow or even remain healthy, marriages require lots of communication about the deeper things. Things that are below the surface. Things that are from the heart.

Read Heb 10:24,25 .. is it possible this could be applicable to marriages? Discuss..

 

Connection #2 : Vulnerable Disclosure Sod

 

Sod describes transparency. This includes vulnerable disclosure and the environment that allows people to take others into their confidence and share themselves in a vulnerable and transparent way. This connection is often found in the sharing of our weaknesses and the way we protect & deal with those shared by our spouse. Without it you will not get below the surface and know a person deeply.

Read the story Johnny Slept Here from Appendix A attached.

 

People often find it difficult to share weaknesses because they dont want to admit they have them or dont want others to see them. Paul counters this trend when he writes 2 Cor 11:30 .. Read it and discuss.

 

Ask : Are you open with your weaknesses with your spouse? Do you let them deep inside?

 

Another reason people do not disclose their vulnerabilities is because the environment is not safe for them to do so. Ask

 

 

Handling the more extreme weakness associated with compulsivity, addictions, mental illness, or pathological behavior require professional guidance and/or intervention and we are not suggesting that such things be protected and allowed to flourish. For sin flourishes in the absence of accountability but it also flourishes in the presence of guilt and for most common weaknesses riding your spouse over their weaknesses is not helpful.

 

Read Heb 5:2 and Gal 6:1-4. Here we find that Christ modeled the way we should go about dealing with our spouses weaknesses. Gently. It also says he could do so because he experienced weakness and that is the key to us following the same example. Gal 6:1-4 makes clear that we all have weaknesses and we are to carry each others burdens in a gentle way.

 

It is also our natural tendency is to focus on a persons weaknesses rather than on their strengths but Remember , a Christians life is only transformed as we set our mind on the Spirit, listen to Him and having listened, choose to yield our will to Him. (Rom 8:13 and 1 Cor 2:14-3:3, Rom 12:2) You cannot fix your partners weaknesses. So because of this the following points are important in dealing with you spouses weaknesses

 

 

 

Key Message:

 

Considering the above points , some commitments are needed to create the connection of vulnerable disclosure. Make and share these commitments to your partner if you agree.

 

  1. I can often find in my spouse what I lack in myself
  2. I will submit to my spouses strengths
  3. I will create a safe environment for my spouse to share their weaknesses as the Spirit transforms them.
  4. I will allow my spouse to protect and see my weaknesses, I know have them too.
  5. I will be transparent and vulnerable with you. I will let you know me deeply.

 

 

Connection #3 : Caring Involvement Sakan

 

Sakan describes the caring involvement of a person in the life of another. It involves being of use to the other providing service that meets their needs and fulfills their desires.

 

As you can see scripture is rich on encouraging people to be about meeting each others needs. Even Jesus was attended by people who were commended for working to meet his human needs. The meeting of needs extends also to marriages as rooted in Gods original decision to create a help-meet for Adam. People were not designed to operate alone. Now this principle does not mean that someones needs are not met through Christ for certainly Phil 4:19 is true. But by Gods design many needs were intended by God to be met by Christs spirit working through people. This is evident in all aspects of ministry. God works through people in many areas and one of these is marriage. His design for marriage includes people having caring roles which he intended us to play for the mutual benefit of one another. So what are our spouses martial needs? What are we supposed to be doing to create the 3rd connection of intimacy. To answer this it must first be noted that because God created man and women differently you can be sure that men and womens marital needs are different.

Read the Hampster Manual story in Appendix B.

There is a book on the market written specifically on the subject of Meeting Needs. Its called His Needs, Her Heeds and it is touted as a manual on how to affair proof your marriage. Often seen in Christian bookstores, this book is secular in nature but I was surprised to see how right on it was as compared to Biblical prescription. In it is a list of the top 5 marital needs as compiled from a recent survey. The most common responses are listed below. Look at them and ask the group Are any of these are biblical?

Survey Results: When asked What are you most important marital needs ?

Womens 5 Most Common Responses

Mens 5 Most Common Responses

  1. Affection
  2. Companionship in Conversation
  3. Honest Openness
  4. Financial Support
  5. Family Commitment
  1. Sexual Fulfillment
  2. Companionship in Recreation
  3. An Attractive Spouse
  4. Domestic Support
  5. Admiration

 

If you take the time you will find that all of them can be validated by Gods word. Some might question #1 and #3 from the mens list but if they do offer the following verses for them.

 

 

Now in addition to these, below is a compilation of other needs that are also strongly tied to intimacy in marriage. They too are biblically supported.

 

Now take a minute and decide which of these are the top 3 in your life. Share them with your spouse.

Well now that we have identified martial needs, what happens in a marriage when needs go unmet? Certainly intimacy is compromised but more than that a series of events is often set into motion that can cause many heartaches and personal problems. You see, for each connection of intimacy there is also the possibility of failure and failure in these areas block intimacy and inhibit growth of the relationship

 

 

Share the Intimacy Needs Diagram from Appendix C: Attached

Key Message:

 

Operating as a spouse with the assumption that your spouse has the same needs you do will cause a lot of trouble in a marriage. Read the manual on your spouses gender, their temperament type and then talk to them about their specific needs. Study them personally and then when you understand them, make meeting their needs and desires of their heart the mission of your heart. Do it without being asked. Do it from love. Learn what their lifes goals are and get involved in a caring way to help them achieve them.

Challenge:

 

Do you want your marriage to grow ? Consider these 3 connections points of intimacy. Yada, Sakan and Sod. Use the Hebrew names to cement the concepts in your memory and start you marriage growing.

 

As an exercise to help them get started hand out the Intimacy Matrix from Appendix B: and have class fill in the empty squares with specific opportunities where they could implement each connection.

 

 

* * *

 

See: Appendices below

 


Appendix A: A View from Within

 

My husband led me up the stairs to the 3rd floor of the old apartment building. The stairwell was dark and damp and I didnt really want to be here. We were on the way home from vacation and he had decided to take a side trip into the city. I wanted to protest but we had too many arguments on this trip already and I wasnt up for another one. Our marriage was a cold place these days and the thought of another argument brought up instant feelings of hopelessness. John had insisted that he had to show me something and said it would only take a few minutes so I went along but as we reached the 3rd floor landing I was about at my limits. I was about to complain but had to pause to get my breath. As I did John turned and proceeded down the hallway and around a corner without me.

 

After a few seconds I followed and after rounding a corner I saw that John had stopped at the door to an apartment on the right. The door was marked #312 and my husband reached up and knocked. At this point I could no longer resist and I pulled his arm and asked. What is this place and why are we here?. He looked sullenly at me and said, Its where I grew up. This was my step fathers apartment when I was six. I knew John had lived in the city but he had never spoken much about his home. John knocked again since there was no answer and after trying a 3rd time, John pulled a credit card from his wallet and began to try and bypass the lock. I grabbed his arm again and insisted that this was a really bad idea but within seconds the door was open and John was pulling me inside.

 

The apartment was empty except for an old couch and broken table which the last inhabitant had clearly not wanted. John ignored them and went immediately down a short hall into what appeared to be a small bedroom. When I caught up to him I found him staring at floor near a wall having a small barred window. The room was empty and the wall was blank yet John stood there intently staring at the floor.

 

After a few seconds, I asked, is this where your bed was ? Was this your room ?John did not move or even look at me but slowly a large tear formed on the corner of his eye and began to roll down his face. After a minute, he said No, this was my step-brothers room. I did sleep here but it was not my room. My 2 step brothers had beds and a dresser, he pointed to the other wall, but I slept here under the window on a cot. He bit his nails for a minute and then continued. I kept all my clothes in a suitcase under the cot. I guess my step dad never really wanted to think of me as permanent. He used to warn me that if I became too much trouble it would be really easy send me away. Whenever that happened I used to look at my mom , but every time she would be looking at the floor. I lived that way for 8 years. .. always wishing I had a place that I belonged, a room that was mine .. a place that wasnt borrowed.

 

Sometime in the last few seconds my hand found its way into Johns and suddenly that little boy he spoke of was very dear to me. We spent the next 3 hours sitting in that small bedroom talking about his life in that apartment and his childhood. When we left that apartment that day there was something very different in the way I felt about our relationship. It was as though a small warm fire had started within me and a spark of hope began growing.

 

When we got home, John returned to one of his never ending home projects. Two weeks before as I would watch him work I often resented his efforts as they isolated him from me. But today as I watched I no longer saw a 35 year old project-a-holic, but instead a six year old boy working hard to make a place for that he could call his own. Now I understood his heart and I loved that boy for it. Over the next 3 years we grew closer and closer as I took more of an interest in helping our home become the place that he belonged.

 

* * *
Appendix B: The Hamster

 

My marriage had become a huge disappointment. Not just to me but to my husband as well. It had started well but over the next 10 years it soon became nothing but a string of disappointments, one after the other. My husband is a good man but he never seems happy and he never seems interested in my happiness either. We are just so different. I wonder if its going to last ? We have so little in common that we dont really enjoy each other. We now spend most of our time apart and really only cross paths at dinner time. I dont even look forward to that and that is why even though it is 5pm, I am still at the pet store instead of home making dinner. Our daughters birthday is this week and she really wants a hamster and so today I am here to get one. I have already picked out a really cute one but before I bought him I went to look for a cage for him. The store clerk directed me to long aisle filled with cages and many other hamster accessories. There were so many different types of cage and accessories that I went to the store book section and spent the last hour scanning through a book on hamsters. I am so glad I did because as it turns out I really didnt know a thing about how to care for them. The manual really helped and now I have a really cute cage, an exercise wheel, bedding material, hamster food, a water bottle and lots of colorful plastic tubes that the hamster can run through. The book said these were important because a hamster loves to burrow. The book was so helpful that I bought it too. There is lots more in it I havent read yet and my daughter will need to read it too since she will have to learn to care for the hamster herself. We certainly dont want a dead or depressed animal on our hands. We want it to last. My husband would never have read the hamster book. He never reads any of the instructions that come with anything we buy. He just thinks he knows how everything works and we usually end up with parts left over after he assembles something or having that something not work properly. Now me, I always read the instructions. If you dont you wont know how to care for what you bought and caring for something makes it work well and last long. Thats what my mom always taught me. I just dont understand why people dont take the time to read the directions for things. Life would certainly be better if (pause) .. oh dear, what have I done.

 

Its been 5 years since that day and that hamster changed my life. The change began with me, but it soon spread to my husband. For on that day in that pet store I realized for the first time that I had never even considered my husband as being designed differently enough from me that I might not know how to care for him. It was so obvious to me that a hamster was so unlike me that I needed a manual to guide me but I never considered my husband in the same way. That night I started my search for a husband manual. I found one, read it and began to study him personally. Today our marriage is growing, we have both come to value our differences and my marriage of disappointment is but a memory. What changed it? We started understanding and meeting each others needs. Needs that were different from our own.

 

* * *

 

 

 

 

Appendix C: Two Ways to Handle Marital Needs

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


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Appendix D: Intimacy Matrix: Fill in each square with practical examples of how you could implement each aspect of intimacy for each area of opportunity and discuss.

 

 

Aspects of Intimacy

Area of Opportunity

Yada

 

Initmate

Knowing

Sod

Transparency & Protecting Weakness

Sakan

 

Caring Involvement

Mental Sharing your ideas and thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Emotional sharing your feelings

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual sharing your questions, discoveries, prayers and insights

 

 

 

Physical sexual relations and/or showing affection

 

 

 

 

Social mutual friendships

 

 

 

 

 

Recreational

 

 

 

 

 

Goals setting and pursuing

 

 

 

 

 

Historical sharing our experiences and memories

 

 

 

 

Crisis

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting