Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A checkup for marital health

To maximize my physical health, I try to maintain a pretty regular regimen of visits to the Y.  Part of that has recently involved a shift in my diet, including, among other things,consuming more eggs.  When I mentioned that to my wife, she said, "The last time your cholesterol was tested, it was too high.  You shouldn't be eating a lot of eggs."  "I don't think so," I responded.  "My cholesterol's always tested pretty low."  Who's right?  We don't know.  Therefore, I'll likely have that tested sometime soon.  We can think part of our body is healthy, but without a trained third party giving us a checkup, it can be hard to tell.

Even more than our bodies, our marriages need regular check-ups.  In light of last year's flood, rebuilding our house, the growing needs at church, etc., this has been a stressful year in the life of the Perrys.  A few weeks ago Terri and I knew we needed a wise, third party perspective based on the gospel to help us accurately assess our marriage as we seek to love each other more effectively and deepen our intimacy.  Honestly, both of us have marital blind spots and sin tendencies which we've lived with too long.  Left unidentified and unattended, those blind spots and sin patterns tend to slowly erode joy and peace in the home.  So, we made an appointment with a Christian counselor in Grand Forks referred to us by a good friend.  At first, I had my misgivings.  Would her theology be sound?  Would she be gospel-centered?  Would she be trustworthy and helpful?  My fears proved groundless.  We had a very refreshing time together and Terri and I are both looking forward to the next time we meet so we can explore more of how Christ's grace can transform how we (sometimes) relate in sinful, selfish and idolatrous ways .

At Trinity we are big on 'doing gospel life together' in ever-deepening relationships.  Therefore, we should be moving toward honestly and trust in each other's lives (and marriages), learning to spot sin patterns and repent and forgive often and well.  The mainstay of our journey of sanctification, for marriage as well as our individual lives, should be a network of close relationships we're building with other believers based in the local church.  At the same time, sometimes a set of more objective, trained eyes can help spot some unhealthy relational patterns missed by even our wisest friends.  I believe we all - especially those of us who are married - could benefit from a seasonal 'relationship checkup'.

The good news for you is that you don't need to drive to Grand Forks for such a check-up.  Though most of my time is spent preparing sermons and doing leadership development, one of the pastoral duties I like most is marriage counseling.  Unfortunately, most couples wait to contact me until they're facing a crisis or their relationship is coming unglued.  Don't let that be true of you.  Just as your body needs a physical check-up seasonally, so does the health of your marriage.  In fact, your marriage needs it even more.  I'm sure you already have lots of plans for this summer.  How about adding an appointment with Andy to that list?

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