“A good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make,” said Gary Thomas at the Sacred Marriage Conference last weekend at ROCKHARBOR Church. “And you have to choose to keep making it.”
Gary, author of “The Sacred Marriage” and “The Sacred Search.” challenges the Hollywood version of love, singleness, dating, and marriage.
On Valentines night, he spoke to over 500 singles, encouraging them to search for God’s purpose in their lives instead of searching for the ideal person. He said to pursue holiness, not happiness, in their relationships.
Last Friday night and Saturday, he spoke to over 500 people, mostly couples, about God’s design and desire for marriage.
“God uses the most fundamental relationship of humans to show who He is, and who we are,” Gary explained. “We need a perspective on marriage based on God’s eternal purposes, and to learn how to become a God-centered spouse.”
Gary said the Hollywood view of marriage is all about finding the one right person, even if you have to go through several divorces to find that right one. Many people wrongly assume the purpose of marriage is to make them happy, and they give up when their spouse no longer does.
“Its not easier to just start over,” Gary said. “That’s a complete misunderstanding of human relationships. If I get married just to be loved, it’s selfish. Love is a lesson to be learned, not a feeling to be felt. God designed men and women to be different. Marriage takes two rather selfish, self-absorbed people and teaches them how to love each other. It will revolutionize your marriage if you get this. There’s so much more hope in this approach. Even if you have bad habits and patterns in your marriage, you can make new decisions every day, practice the right skills, persevere and have transformation take place. There’s no book called ‘Perseverance,’ but we need to see how crucial it is. You can grow and change; marriage doesn’t survive on romantic feelings alone.”
“Researchers have found that it takes between nine and 14 years for two people to stop thinking of themselves as individuals and to start thinking of themselves as a couple,” Gary continued. “It takes time to go from thinking of ‘me’ to thinking of ‘we.’ Just because you make vows doesn’t mean your brain isn’t still looking out for yourself. The patterns in our brain need time to change, to be refashioned. It’s so sad when couples never make it to their first decade; they haven’t given their brains enough time to build around each other. Don’t give up before you enjoy the fun of building shared memories and a lifelong journey together.”
Gary pointed out how common it is for the things that draw us to our mate during dating days can end up driving us to counseling later.
“You can ignore a little pebble in your shoe if you are just walking to the mailbox, but you can’t if you are going to run a marathon,” Gary said. “The differences in your marriage aren’t something to be overcome, but to be worked with. Marriage can help you become the man or woman God created you to be.”
“We think we need to find someone who loves us, but God already showed us that He has met our deepest need to be loved,” Gary continued. “God wants us to learn to love His sons and daughters extravagantly, to excel in it. Enter every day of marriage looking at the opportunities to learn to love and serve. Love out of reverence to God, and He will reward you. May God continue to make your marriage a truly sacred, soul-shaping union that reflects Christ’s love for the church.”
ROCKHARBOR hosts a marriage conference every year near Valentines Day, and many couples, like Newport residents Darlynn and Gary Vyneman, attend yearly.
“This is our third year coming to the marriage conference,” Darlynn said. “We always learn so much. We think of this time as our annual marriage tune-up to get inspired and refocused.”
“My takeaway is that to improve the relationship I have with my wife, is to grow myself,” Gary said. “This was great.”
Cindy speaks to women’s groups and can be reached at [email protected]