The best marriages are those where the distinct uniqueness of each partner works in a beautiful symmetry that enhances each person’s strengths and weaknesses. The worst marriages are those partners who do not know how to help the other person to mature into the best Christlike versions of themselves.
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If you meet with me for counseling or any discipleship situation, you’re probably going to walk away with a few pictures. For years I have kept a stack of printer paper on my desk, which I used to sketch spiritual concepts. A picture is worth a thousand words, as you know.
Jesus, the master illustrator, was accomplished in this method of teaching others. He used illustrations to take a person from the concrete and practical, to the abstract and spiritual (Luke 12:27). He used real-life examples to communicate lofty, God-focused truths.
He would draw in the sand (John 8:1-11) or point to the sky (Matthew 6:26) to make God’s truth come alive in the minds of His hearers. He used hair, lilies, birds, and fig trees (Matthew 21:19). I imagine the time spent with Jesus was visually stimulating and spiritually refreshing.
Because every discipleship opportunity provides more information offered than what a person can retain, it is wise to take advantage of the eye and the ear gates, plus give them some things to take home for further review.
After the Lord invented the iPad (Matthew 5:45), I transitioned from the old school printer paper method to the new school electronic method. I started sketching biblical truths on my iPad while projecting them on an external monitor so my counselee could see them.
After the counseling session, I would turn the sketches into PDF files and email them to the counselee so they would have a visual walk-through of our counseling time together.
Later, I would transform the sketch into an infographic and place it on our website. The infographic in this article is from a “counseling moment” with a couple who came to me for help.
Breaking Down the Graphic
The divided heart at the top of the page shows the goal of marriage—one flesh, but as you can see, there is division in their one-flesh union. The black arrows demonstrate the direction each person in the union should go.
Before their marriage, they were individuals, but after making a covenant, they were supposed to begin the lifelong journey toward more in-depth one flesh-ness.
The long arrow at the bottom of the page illustrates how the husband expects his wife to adapt to his likes and preferences rather than leading her into the mysterious one flesh relationship, which allows both their strengths and weaknesses to assimilate into the beauty of Christ and His church. (See Ephesians 5:25-33)
Marriage in Trouble
What Is the Point
The problem with a marriage like this is that the husband wants his wife to be more like him rather than both of them pursuing a biblical reflection of Christ and His church. His general attitude and practice place pressure on her to conform to his wishes.
It is the classic marriage problem of a husband expecting his wife to adapt to his strengths rather than helping her to mature according to how the Lord has gifted her. Rather than seeing and leveraging their differences for something magnificent, he is removing their differences while demanding her to assimilate to a marriage made in his image.
Here are a few examples:
- He likes organization, but she does not. He demands her to be an organized person, but it’s not her gifting.
- He is punctual, but she is not. He rails on her for not being like him—on time.
- He does not excel at being social while she does. He squeezes the social life out of her by isolating from others.
Strengths and Weaknesses
He is a man with strengths and weaknesses, but he cannot see how his wife’s abilities could be some of his greatest assets. Rather than leveraging her gifts to make himself a better man, he masks his weaknesses, while draining the life out of her strengths.
If he repented, he would be more open about where he fails, while seeking help from his wife to fill in those gaps where he is incomplete. Adam was missing a rib, and Eve was the perfect person to make him whole.
The key to success in the one flesh life is when two people are willing to humble themselves through many conversations where they can talk about their strengths and weaknesses. Their goal is to make the most of their strengths while transforming their shortcomings.
Stable marriages have a God-centered mission in view. Their main aim is to come together to form a greater “oneness” to make God’s name fantastically great in all the contexts in which they live.
This idea became apparent to me years ago as I perceived Lucia’s administrative gifting. I’ve often said, “Lucia could run a small third-world country.” She has the gift of administration, which would make me a fool to drain that strength from her.
Fanning the flame of her gifting has released me to use my strengths in other areas, which permits us to magnify God more profoundly than what either one of us could do individually.
A Spouse’s Prayer: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” – Psalm 34:2.
Call to Action
- What are a few of your spouse’s strengths? How are you helping your spouse to use those strengths?
- What are a few of your weaknesses? Are you allowing your spouse to enter into those weaknesses so your marriage can be stronger?