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Let Me Draw You a Picture of a Marriage in Trouble

Let Me Draw You a Picture of a Marriage in Trouble

The best marriages are those where the distinct uniqueness of each partner works in a beautiful symmetry that enhances the other’s strengths while compensating for the weaknesses. The worst marriages are those partners who do not know how to help each other become a mature picture of Christ and His church. Their strengths do not support the other spouse, while the weaknesses become annoying interruptions.

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Visual Discipleship

If you meet with me for counseling or any discipleship situation, you’re probably going to walk away with a few pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. For years, I have kept a stack of printer paper on my desk, which I used to sketch spiritual concepts. A few years ago, I bought a tablet to show the sketches on a screen in the office and later zip them up to send to my counselees.

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). Christ 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 than 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. Sometimes 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 for help.

Breaking It Down 

The divided heart at the top shows the problem and 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 partnership should go. Before their marriage, they were individuals, but they began a lifelong journey toward more in-depth one flesh-ness after making a covenant.

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.)

The problem with a marriage like this is the husband’s general attitude and practice that places pressure on his wife to conform to his wishes. Of course, a wife can do similarly, especially if she has strengths that outshine her husband’s.

Rick's BooksWhat Is the Point

Expecting your spouse to adapt to your strengths while ignoring your weaknesses rather than helping them mature according to how the Lord has gifted them will always create strife. Rather than seeing and leveraging the differences for something magnificent, a spouse may try to downgrade, ignore, or remove the differences while demanding the spouse assimilate to a marriage made in the dominating spouse’s image.

Here are a few examples:

  • The wife likes organization, but it’s not his gifting. She demands him to be an organized person like her.
  • He is punctual, but she is not. He rails on her for not being like him—on time.
  • A spouse is social. The social spouse manipulates the other spouse to morph into something more “acceptable.”

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Knowing your spouse is better than you in specific ways is a massive benefit to the marriage. Not recognizing this or restricting your spouse from “flexing their gifting” can kill a marriage. For example, a husband may choose to mask his weaknesses while draining the life out of her strengths. Alternatively, he could be transparent about where he fails while asking his wife to use her strengths to help him.

Adam was missing a rib, and Eve was the perfect person to make him whole. A key to marriage success is when two people are willing to humble themselves through many conversations and talk about their strengths and weaknesses. Their goal is to make the most of their strengths while transforming their weaknesses.

These ideas became apparent to me years ago as I perceived Lucia’s administrative gifting. 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 ways, 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

  1. What are a few of your spouse’s strengths? How are you helping your spouse to use those strengths?
  2. What are a few of your weaknesses? Are you allowing your spouse to enter into those weaknesses so your marriage can be stronger?

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