The lifestyle of being a life-long learner will continually reinforce two key truths about marriage and your spouse. First, your spouse is different from you in ways that have no moral significance. Yet, the closeness of marriage tempts us to begin to think of our spouse’s differences as being “bad.” This reveals our tendency to try to “make our spouse in our own image.” It also reveals that we’ve lost the enthusiasm to learn about the person God has blessed us with.
“Worshipping God as creator in your marriage means that when you look at your husband or wife, when you consider your spouse’s personality and gifts, and when you think about how differently he or she is hardwired from you, you will celebrate the glory of God as creator, expressed in who he designed your spouse to be (p. 279).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?
The exercise “Celebrating Our Non-Moral Differences” [link: Non-Moral Differences] is designed to help you think through and talk about this common marital pitfall. If you have been married for a number of years, a fruitful exercise is to use this chart to see how you and your spouse have changed over your marriage. In addition to marking where you are now, mark where each of you were on these variables when you married. Use a blue highlighter to cover the range between where the husband began and is now. Use a pink highlighter to mark the range between where the wife began and is now.
Second, your spouse is being continually crafted by God and you must continually pay attention or you’ll get left behind. Because we will be married to dozens of people over the course of a single marriage, we must commit to a lifestyle of learning our spouse or we’ll be as out-of-touch as someone with a cell phone from five years ago. A huge part of creating a gospel-centered marriage is enthusiasm for learning and participating in what God is doing in/through your spouse’s life.
Introduction: The longer we are married the easier it can be to view the ways our spouse is different from us as “bad” (moral language) or as a sign of incompatibility (threatening language). This exercise is to help you see and celebrate the non-moral differences between you and your spouse. The attributes listed are neither morally good nor morally bad. Neither side nor the center is necessarily “holy.” If you view these characteristics as moral qualities it will be harmful to your marriage. Your responsibility is to celebrate how God made your spouse and put the gospel on display finding ways to express loving unity in the midst of non-moral diversity.
Instructions: Write your initials where you believe you are on each spectrum. Write your spouse’s initials where you believe he/she is on each spectrum. Compare your assessment with your spouse’s assessment. Talk about (a) ways the two of you have viewed your differences as “bad” and this has caused conflict, (b) ways that your differences complement one another well, and (c) how you have changed over the last few years.
Download the worksheet here: Non-Moral Differences
Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703