Maximize Your Marriage
The book of Proverbs often speaks to both men and women on one topic each. Find out what they are and maximize your marriage!
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Isn’t it interesting how the hardest things in life tend to be the best things in life?
If the best things in life were easy…they probably wouldn’t be that rewarding
Marriage….Marriage can be SO good.
It’s probably one of the greatest gifts God has given us.
But it can also be brainscratchingly difficult
So this morning, as we close our Maximize series, I want to help you Maximize your marriage.
And we want to look at good, Godly advice from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.
And just a warning before we get started…this isn’t going to be a “5 tips for better listening” type of message.
We’re going to cover some hard stuff today.
But I think you’ll walk out of here with some helpful insights from God’s Word for your marriage.
Now, first of all, what if you’re not married?
Chances are, most of you, probably will get married (or remarried) at some point, so I think this will be helpful for you.
Even if you don’t get married again, chances are you have friends in your house group, etc. who are married, and this will help you minister to them.
Listen, even if you’re in middle school or high school, the more you can hear on this topic now…the better. Seriously.
My plan for this morning is to challenge both women and men from the Bible.
When you study the book of Proverbs on the topic of marriage, there are a number of related topics that it covers.
However, for both women and for men, there is one topic for each that comes up quite often.
For women…it’s the issue quarreling (nagging, arguing, fighting) with your husband.
For men…it’s the issue of loving and being faithful to your wife.
Now a proverb…is exactly that…a proverb.
Meaning, that they are general principles for how life works.
So, it might be that you’re a woman, and you need to hear the Word for the men today. Or vice versa.
So don’t just tune out when I talk to the opposite sex
Whatever the case, I challenge you to ask God right now…to speak to you personally today.
Go ahead and ask Him.
I think it’s interesting that Proverbs highlights these two issues.
Perhaps the most famous passage on marriage in the Bible is in Ephesians 5 in the New Testament.
It’s summed up well in the last verse of that chapter
(Ephesians 5:33) – NIV
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
And you can see throughout Ephesians 5, that it’s really important for the wife to respect her husband…and for the husband to love his wife.
For a man really craves respect, and a woman really craves love.
And I think Proverbs is operating off of the same principle when it highlights the issues of quarreling women and unfaithful men.
THE QUARRELSOME WIFE
All right, let’s get started with the women…
If you read Proverbs straight through, you see MULTIPLE times verses like this one:
(Proverbs 19:13) – NIV
A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
Now, guys, before you start “amening” from the back…remember…we’re getting to you later.
But for now…more on the wife
(Proverbs 21:9) – NIV
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Why does this come up so often in Proverbs? (those aren’t the only 2 verses like that)
What’s so bad about a wife who’s always arguing? A wife who’s always getting on your nerves?
And when it says quarreling…it doesn’t just mean “a huge physical altercation..”
You get that idea in our first passage when it describes quarreling like “the constant dripping of a leaky roof.”
When my wife and her brothers were little…whenever they would keep whining or complaining about something, their mom would say, “You’re dripping.”
Why does this even matter? Why is the Book of Proverbs even hitting on this issue?
It’s because later in God’s book…in the New Testament…we see that what a man really craves is respect.
And quarreling…nagging…constantly arguing…doesn’t really lead to respect. In fact, it undermines it
And men crave respect SO much
So much so that, ladies, let me tell you this: Disrespecting them is honestly the worst way to get what you want.
If you’re constantly on him to take out the trash, or clean up the garage, or to pay more attention to you, or on how he never shares his feelings…
This is hard for women to understand sometimes…but just adding to the number of your words won’t solve anything J
Proverbs speaks an unbelievable amount to this.
And if you haven’t started reading Proverbs straight through yet…I encourage you to do so:
(Proverbs 10:19) – NIV
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
But what if you’re quarreling with him or even nagging him about something good (like spending more time with his kids)…
Even if your intentions are good, it still won’t work if your method involves disrespect
It won’t work if you say… “Would it kill you to come home from work once in a while and be a father to your own children?”
It won’t work like that. You’re disrespecting Him in the process.
You’re stabbing him in his deepest wound.
I remember reading once that “Dear Abby” once commented (wait…pause for a moment…raise your hand if you know who Dear Abby” is?)
Now that I’m getting into my 30’s a bit, I’m actually starting to have those moments where people 10 years younger than me look at me like I’m crazy.
Dear Abby was a nationally syndicated advice columnist (who happened to go to the same college my parents did in Sioux city Iowa)….which I was reminded of often as a child J
But I remember reading once that she said, “At the top of her list of the most common problems she saw in her letters, was men saying, “My wife doesn’t understand me”
And wives, I would just ask you, “Have you taken the time to understand your husband?”
Don’t just answer with your gut, “Yeah, he’s lazy, he plays video games like a teenager still…what do you want me to say?”
See, communication is so difficult in marriage, that we actually spend most of our times just pointing out the other person’s problems…rather than ever getting to the bottom of the problem.
Maybe he’s still playing video games because he’s trying to escape from something.
Maybe he’s at work so much because he’s not happy with where your marriage is…
But do you know that?
Do you understand WHY he is acting the way he is acting?
If you don’t…and you want to…you can not figure it out through quarreling.
Like the Bible warns you…if you try that…he’s going to move out on the roof….even in a MN winter.
If you disrespect your husband in our culture…especially in public…he’s in a lose/lose situation.
If he fires back at you…he looks like a bully.
If he says nothing…he looks like a wimp.
So how do you get to him if there is something that needs to be fixed in your marriage?
Let me give you a couple of ideas:
#1: Stop trying to fix Him, and pray for Him instead.
(Proverbs 17:14) – NIV
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
#2: Give yourself a voice again…by respecting him.
If you want him to hear you again…respect him first.
If you’re thinking… “David, I would, he’s just not very respectable. He’s no Abraham Lincoln here…”
I bet that’s not true. Otherwise you would have never married him.
Here’s an idea: Start making a list of where you think he’s respectable.
And then…start telling him that you respect him for that.
And mean it! Don’t just use this as manipulation.
“Respect” doesn’t mean “saying he’s always righ”t or any garbage like that…it’s just merely valuing and honoring some of his great qualities.
#3: Have couch conversations…not kitchen conversations.
Here’s how I think of it: If there’s something you need to fix in your marriage…have a couch conversation, not a kitchen conversation.
In other words…say, “Honey, I really want to talk about something. Could we, plan to sit on the couch (and hold hands)…and talk about something later tonight when the kids go to bed?”
And have a PLANNED, QUIET, CONTROLLED conversation.
Where you’re affirming him & admitting your own weaknesses and what you bring to the problem as well.
But kitchen conversations…conversations in passing…conversations while you’re making dinner and he’s entertaining the kids…rarely work.
Fly-by naggings NEVER work.
And if you think they’re working…he might be acquiescing to you, but inside he’s growing bitter
Kitchen conversations never work.
When Lindsey and I had the twins, the first 3-6 months were pretty nuts…as you can probably imagine.
And it was really stretching as an individual and as a husband.
And one of the things I regret is having “kitchen conversations” about how I was struggling to adapt to getting up 3 times a night and being a dad of two infants…twinfants…all of a sudden.
And I remember…one night…at 3am…telling her “How hard it was…and I don’t think I can do this…”
And that conversation didn’t go well.
And I woke up the next morning…and we made a rule, “No more conversations at 3am.”
Unless, it’s “Can you get me another diaper? No talking.”
If you really want to solve something…have a “couch conversation”
You’re much more likely to speak with respect.
So wives, I just ask you, what is it that you can do to Maximize your Marriage here?
Is there something you need to stop doing?
Is there something you need to start doing?
Is there a couch conversation you need to have?
Do you even need to apologize to your husband about something?
That sounds scary.
If you’re not sure…ask God. Ask Him.
Okay, now that the men are all like, “Yeah, ask God! He’s got plenty to say!!”… Let’s turn the tables.
But I must warn you…I know we’ve been playing around some…but this is serious stuff.
Just as a husband craves respect…a wife craves love.
She desires to be cherished.
To be special. To be his one and only.
And just as women are may be more susceptible to the sins of quarreling, nagging, and disrespect…men have their own kryptonite to a healthy relationship.
And for a lot of men, Proverbs says that kryptonite is sexual LUST.
In fact, Proverbs talks an astonishing amount about lust.
It dedicates 3 entire chapters to it (5 – 7)
And I want you to ponder this: Proverbs was written 3,000 years ago. Yep. 3,000.
And lust was a huge problem.
If it was a huge problem back then…it is nothing short of an epidemic today!
For a couple of reasons:
We live in a sexually confused culture where we think anything goes.
Sure…you’re teenagers…no big deal! YOLO!
Sure…move in together…no big deal!
Sex outside of marriage has been wholly and fully accepted by our culture.
Yet, I want you to think for a moment about how schizophrenic we are in our “logic:”
We say…that sex outside of marriage is just fine, but then we get married, and we say, “NOPE! NO sex outside of my marriage…marriage is SACRED!”
Despite our growing laxness on sex, the number of Americans who view adultery as wrong is actually increasing (and quickly) in America.
In 1991, it was 73%, in 2006, it was 80%!
80% say it’s wrong!
But, internally, we’re confused about it
We don’t like the standards when they’re inconvenient for us, but we crave them when we’re trying to hold our own marriage together.
On top of that…in our digital age…especially if you’re a man…your eyes are absolutely inundated with sexual images (whether you want them or not…)
And it will be…now…and for most of your life…one of the biggest threats to you maximizing your marriage.
Because it’s a seductive lie.
The idea of being with another woman, might seem totally worth it….but it is not.
And Proverbs spends a lot of time trying to convince you otherwise.
In fact, I want to encourage every man in this room to read Proverbs 5-7 this week.
It gives great wisdom…such as this:
(Proverbs 5:3-5) – NIV
3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
Her lips drip honey at first. It seems like it would be good…but it is not.
I’ve unfortunately talked to many who’ve committed adultery, and here’s what they would tell you, “NOTHING is worth a lifetime of regret. “
No pleasure…no feeling…is worth blowing up your life for.
Many times, affairs happen when marriages are falling a part at home.
A spouse thinks that the grass will just be greener on the other side.
But it’s not.
When you look close, that green grass was just a mirage.
And, in only 10% of affairs, do the cheating parties end up married.
Trust me, it wasn’t about that person.
And if they do end in marriage, the divorce rate is astronomically high.
But here’s the thing, lust is so prevalent in our society, that you don’t even have to be unhappy in your marriage to be susceptible to this (that’s why the Bible talks so much about this)
In facts, some stats say that anywhere from 1/3 to ½ of people who have affairs are actually HAPPY in their marriages when it happens.
But the lure…the drip of honey…is just too strong.
And men…hear me on this…you can’t play around with this stuff. AT ALL.
(Proverbs 6:27-29) – NIV
27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
28 Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
no one who touches her will go unpunished.
My challenge to men in this area…(if you want to protect your marriage…if you want to maximize your marriage…if you want to have a 50th wedding anniversary)…
My challenge is to be ruthless about lust. In all forms.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re scooping fire into your lap, but saying, “It’s okay, just my clothes will catch fire first…that part won’t hurt.”
Don’t take risks.
For example…these are some principles I live by:
Don’t share your major life problems or marriage problems with another woman.
That just creates dangerous opportunities for that person to “understand” you like your wife doesn’t.
So often it starts that way.
Don’t ride in a car with another woman alone.
Don’t go out to eat or get drinks with another woman alone
And unless it’s 100% work-related during the 9-5, don’t text women who aren’t your wife, your mom, or your sister
Some of you are like, “Whoa…OVERBOARD…that’s overboard!”
Maybe it is…but the problem is…our hearts are not pure.
You do not have the soul of an angel, but the flesh of a sinner.
And if you put yourself in a situation where sin can grow…it will. It will.
And my challenge to be ruthless about lust doesn’t just apply to women that you know…but to those you don’t as well.
Perhaps the scariest lie of our time is that pornography is harmless.
I assure you it is not.
You don’t even have to ask a Christian to figure that out.
Most psychological studies would agree w/ that
Even the secular, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is saying that pornography is becoming one of the leading causes of divorce
One of their studies says that at least one spouse’s pornography obsession is cited in at least 56% of divorce cases as one o the reasons for divorce.
It’s not harmless.
PSYCHOLOGY and BIOLOGY would agree.
You can not let your brain dwell on something for an hour a day, 3 times a week, and not be changed.
It’s impossible. For it to be harmless is literally, biologically IMPOSSIBLE.
It will change how you look at women.
It will change your sex life. Your tolerance level.
It’s an addiction.
If you watch pornography 3 hours a week…you’re just going to want more.
And then…it’s certainly not harmless.
(Proverbs 7:21-25) – NIV
With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.
24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
Listen to me…stop this before it ends in slaughter.
Stop this before it ends in the END of your marriage.
If I’m speaking to you today (and statistically…I know I’m speaking to A LOT of you)…end this now.
Some of you here…need to do the hard thing…and get honest with your wife.
It’ll be the hardest, best thing you ever do.
The only way to maximizing your marriage later is to walk through the fire now.
Be honest. Come clean.
And then get help.
Before you do anything, go to CovenantEyes.com and put a reporting system (that’ll email your wife) and a filter on your computer.
It’ll cost you a small monthly fee, but it’s cheaper than divorce lawyers.
Invest in what’s right.
And know that most of this stuff is addicting.
You won’t stop it just by swearing it off.
The patterns are too seared into your brain.
It’s not enough to just put walls up and not fix the heart. Get with a group of guys who are finding recovery in this. .
Check out Quest 180 at Eagle Brook Church.
They have a group for lust addiction.
We have brochures in the hallway.
Or simply google it…I trust you know how.
Listen, none of this stuff is easy.
I don’t think it’s easy. At all.
It’s so difficult, the only way I find any success in it, is to be absolutely RUTHLESS about it.
It’s hard work, but my marriage is worth hard work.
And it’s important that you understand this:
Lust is ultimately a lie of fantasy.
It’s not real. It’s not real.
If you acted out on that fantasy in your mind… it would, in fact, be no fantasy at all…it would…very shortly…ruin your life.
Men, one of the best things you can do is to simply stay in reality.
And live your OWN life to the fullest.
Don’t spend your time thinking about how much better it would be with that person or this person…
You already have a life. Live it.
It’s the only life that you have the potential to live to the fullest without having to blow up anyone’s life first.
(Proverbs 19:14) – NIV
Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
Your wife is from God.
She’s a GIFT to you.
There are some amazing things about her.
So stop dreaming about how amazing you would be to that other woman, and try being amazing to your own wife first!
Try it! No seriously, try it!
Make a commitment to take your wife out on dates every week…or at least twice a month.
And listen, you don’t have to go to some fancy restaurant.
Culver’s is better than nothing…is it not?
She feels loved when you make time in your schedule…for JUST HER.
Be open with her…and listen to her.
Share what you’re feeling. Listen to what she has to say.
Women feel loved when you connect with them.
And show loyalty to her and let her KNOW that you cherish her. You might. But do you tell her?
Praise her, speak positively about her in front of others, and only have eyes for her.
And start living a great life in the REAL LIFE that God has already given you.
(Proverbs 5:15-18) – NIV
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
God has given your wife to you…so that you two could have joy together.
And if you’ve already failed in some of these areas…
Seek help. Seek a new start. Do it right this time.
And remember…that’s what Jesus died on the cross for.
Believe in Him…accept His forgiveness.
He died for porn addicts, adulterers, quarrelers, divorcees, prostitutes, and even the prideful people who are feeling good about not being one of the first categories.
He loves you!
And…maximizing your marriage…having a great marriage…takes an unbelievable amount of work.
To get serious about how you talk to your husband…to get serious about respecting him
To be ruthless about lust…
These sort of things that the Bible talks about…they take an unbelievable amount of work.
But the Bible gives us wisdom for a reason.
Remember…some of the hardest things in life…tend to be the best things in life.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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