Changing Seasons of A Marriage (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

CHANGING SEASONS OF A MARRIAGE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on February 3, 2018) 

Genesis 8:22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season…”

Changing Seasons of a MarriageWe all have our favorite seasons. Many of us love the Fall with its changing leaves and beautiful colors. Some of us love Winter with its cooler temperatures. I know a lady in our church who left Florida because she got tired of the warm weather! She makes it a point to remind me that a perfect forecast is when they’re calling for below freezing! Personally, I love Spring because it’s a glimpse of the resurrection that awaits us. And, what can I say about Summer! Long days, beach trips, and the yellow inferno, which some call “the Sun.” No matter how much we love one season more than another, we cannot hold on to our favorite ones or skip over those we don’t like. They all change in due time and each one is essential for the next to arrive. Without Spring, there would be no Summer and Summer prepares us for Fall, which in turn ushers in Winter. In the same way, a marriage also has different seasons. We may prefer one over the other but we cannot hold on to any or skip over the ones we don’t like. I want to briefly explain the various seasons of a marriage and how that understanding can enhance your relationship. My information is coming from two books that have helped me greatly in my pre-marital and marital counselling: “Passages of Marriage” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt; “Seasons of a Marriage” by H. Norman Wright. Altogether, there are five seasons in a marriage:

  1. “Fall Season” – It is romantic love filled with captivating colors and perfect temperatures. The air is full of expectations that the colors will never fade and the temperatures will never change. Unfortunately, the leaves start falling, the temperatures start dropping, and only the barren woods and brown grass remains. Unfulfilled expectations can sometimes lead to hurt, anger, and bad choices.
  2. “Early Winter Season” – It is marked by a growing realization that love is not enough to face the dropping temperatures. Bills, mortgage, and car payments have to made. But, it’s not all bad. It can also be a time of much joy and excitement with the arrival of new members in the family! New roles and adjustments have to be made but it is fulfilling. Warning: It can also be a time when silk sheets get replaced with flannel!
  3. “Late Winter Season” – With no Punxsutawney Phil in sight, the days seem depressing and meaningless. Being locked up indoors, the defects in each other become more distinct and annoying. Cabin fever can sometimes drive people to venture out to re-discover themselves. Someone cleverly called it the “go-away-closer disease,” where the spouse wants to be closer and yet pushes the other person away. If properly handled, it can actually lead to deeper intimacy and commitment.
  4. “Spring Season” – Just when it seems that winter would last forever, the leaves start budding, the flowers start blooming, the birds start singing, the temperature starts rising, and “love is in the air.” Having weathered the harsh winter of life, people become more realistic and mature. Don’t take this as some “as good as it gets” life. Instead, it brings a far richer love and appreciation for one another.
  5. “Summer Season” – Far from being the “last years” of a marriage, these can be the “masterpiece years.” Michelangelo began his work on the Sistene Chapel at 76 and created the architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli at 88. Having been through the hurricanes of the Fall, blizzards of the Winter, hay fever of the Spring, and other unexpecteds of life, you are well-qualified for a masterpiece marriage.

Remember: “Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall; All you got to do is call” on God and he will see you through any season of your marriage.

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Two

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy2This morning we are in part two of our miniseries from the Beatitudes titled “KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.”

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: “You have heard…‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Before we can unpack this passage, we need to lay down some foundations regarding marriage. Last weekend we laid down the first layer of foundation that, at its core, marriage teaches us about God. Through marriage we understand God’s image, through marriage we receive God’s gift for companionship, and through marriage we encounter the great mystery of the relationship between Christ and the church. But all of that is marriage as it relates to God, just the first layer of the foundation.

This morning we will look at the second layer of the foundation, which is marriage as it relates between a man and a woman – two individuals created in the image of God, basically the same in many ways and yet polar opposites in others. Who is superior? The man is infinitely superior to the woman in being a man and the woman is infinitely superior to the man in being a woman. They’re both wonderful but different.

Would you agree with that statement – “Men and Women are different”? In 1992 a book came out titled “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray. Nobody could have predicted that this book would become a best seller. It went on to sell over 9.5 million copies! Why? Because it attempted to answer one of the greatest questions of all times – how to understand my husband or my wife? That is a tough question! Illustration: Once upon a time a man was walking along the beach and came across a bottle in the sand. He pulled out the cork and out came a genie in a cloud of smoke. This is just a story. To thank the man the genie offered him one free wish. “Well,” said the man, “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I’m afraid to fly and just thinking about going by ship makes me queasy. Would you mind building a road to Hawaii?” The genie said, “Man, that’s a lot of work. I’ll have to build pilings going down to the ocean floor and bring in tons of material and concrete. And the distance is over 2000 miles. Do you have another wish instead?” The man thought for a second and then said, “I’ve been trying to understand my wife. What makes her laugh and cry and what makes her mad? Do you think you help me figure out my wife and how she thinks?” The genie said, “Would you like the highway to be two lanes or four?”

We joke about it but in many homes it’s not a laughing matter. Those very differences that at first seemed so attractive, cool, and cute become in time so annoying, frustrating, and “so not worth it.” Nobody gets up one morning and decides – “I think I’m gonna cheat on my spouse.” It’s the consequence of months and years of failing to understand the opposite sex, appreciating the differences, and working through the problems. Let me ask you some questions: How do you see your spouse? Do you understand and appreciate the differences? Or do you see your spouse as a strange creature? Do you see your spouse as God’s gift specifically designed for you? Do you see your spouse as your enemy? Are you saved? You need Him in your marriage.

This morning we will try to understand how men and women are different. But first, let me make it clear that what I am sharing is generally true. There are men out there who can sew and knit and there are women out there who can kick my tail.

  1. Different Physically

Men are generally stronger than women. On an average, men are 10% bigger than women with 20% more body mass. Men have 90% greater upper body strength and 65% greater lower body strength. On an average, a man is stronger than 99.9% of women. Why did God make man this way? Listen to Genesis 2:15 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Adam’s job was to provide for Eve and protect her. Hence, men build muscle easily, bruise less easily, and have thicker skin and thicker skull. They have broader shoulders and stronger bones. They are able to throw things farther. They are built for physical confrontation. That’s why men love aggressive sports and movies. Ladies – no matter how much you try to change him and put him in a tutu, that’s not how God has wired him.

How about women? Because women, on an average, are smaller than men, they have less blood flowing through their system than men. On an average, women have about 0.875 gallons of blood while men have 1.5 gallons. Also, the erythrocyte density (Red Blood Corpuscles) is about 20% less than men. What happens when there is a drop in the temperature? The women’s body is so designed that blood flow to the skin and extremities shuts off and is directed to the vital organs in order to maintain their core temperature at 37 degrees. (If temperature falls below 35 degrees, it can cause hypothermia.) Why all this? God has placed this protective mechanism in women so they can protect their unborn children and family. That’s why a woman’s core body temperature on average is 0.4 degrees higher than a man’s body temperature but their hands and feet are freezing cold! On an average, it is 2.8° lower than man’s hand temperature.

For e.g. During the winter Nicole will often tell me – “it’s cold!” Then she’ll stick her hand on my face – “Feel this!” And in bed – she’ll stick her feet on me! It’s like a block of ice!

For e.g. Even at church – women are cold and the men are hot. Why? Because we are built that way! Ladies – “Yall can put on a jacket but what’s the alternative for men? Sit in their underwears!” Why do I flail my hands and vary my tone? To keep the men awake!

What else? Women have a softer skin than men. They have a thin layer of subcutaneous fat (under the skin) that keeps their skin feeling softer and smoother. Any wonder, a baby cries and dad picks him up and he/she cries even more. Then, mom picks him up and he/she stops crying and looks at the dad! What the baby is saying is she feels more comforting! But, because of this thin layer of celluloid it’s easier for women to gain weight and harder to lose weight. Men – be understanding.

What else? Men have a lot of energy but women are built for the long run. Why? Men have to finish their task in daylight but women have to take care of their children and family all day and all night. Men – be understanding and don’t say your wife is lazy.

Knowing all these physical differences, how should be we behave towards each other? Listen to 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Meaning: Ladies – you are called the weaker vessel. That does not mean “lesser.” Let your husband be the man that God has designed Him to be. Husbands – knowing that women are weaker than us, be understanding towards your wife and honor her. What if you don’t? God will not listen to your prayers.

Application: Men – are you treating your wife with understanding? Are you treating her with honor? Women – are you trying to make your husband something he is not? Do you respect him?

  1. Different Psychologically
Men and women brain 2013 study

Men and Women Brain Study 2013 (Credit: Ragini Verma, PhD, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

A human brain has a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere. Right brain – imagination, intuition, feelings, non-verbal communication, etc. Left Brain – Logic, analysis, linear mathematics, sequencing, facts, etc. Men primarily use the left side of their brain while women use both. People have tried to dismiss that for some time but in 2013 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a major study using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging which confirmed that there is big difference in the way men use their brain and women use their brain. In studying about 1000 brain scans they noticed that there is greater neural connectivity from front to back within one hemisphere in males that facilitates connectivity between perception and coordinated action. On the other hand, the wiring in females goes between the left and right hemispheres, which facilitates communication between the analytical and intuition.

This is what it means – because of how men are wired, they are task oriented, avoid their feelings, and focus on the facts and because of how women are wired, they are better at intuition, remembering things, sharing their feelings, and emotionally involved. This is why – Men cannot multitask but women can. Nicole has to constantly tell me to stop and look at her. Women have better intuition than men. So many times she has told me “I don’t know what it is but there’s something not right about this person.” How? They are picking up information from the left and the right brain.

What else? On an average, men are more practical and women are more sentimental. In order to protect and provide for the family, men had to be more in touch with facts. In order to nurture and comfort the children, women had to be more in touch with their feelings. Hence, men are more pragmatic and women are more romantic. Nicole often tells me – “You used to be so romantic back we were dating. What happened?” “I had a goal to marry you. Mission accomplished.” Men – we need to show romance even though we have our wives now. Ladies – please be patient with the men. They’ll try harder. Listen to Colossians 3   18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Every week Nicole and I take time to go on a date. I’m very busy and so is she but this is our way of meeting each other’s needs. She listens to my facts and I try my best to be romantic.

Let me make a quick point here – there’s an application here for the church. This is why the Bible always has male leadership in the Temple and in the church. Because when it comes to spiritual truth men are better at following facts. “Thus says the Lord.” That’s it. Women, on the other hand, are willing to say – “Do what makes you happy.” “God understands your heart.” By the way, there is a difference between male heretics and female heretics. Male heretics – there is no God or Jesus is not God’s Son or the Bible has mistakes. Female heretics – “there are many ways to God” or “we should not judge anyone.” But what would happen if the church was nothing but men? We would kill each other! It’s women who create opportunities to fellowship.

  1. Equal Spiritually

Even though men and women are different physically and psychologically and even though we have different roles in the home and the church, we have the same equal standing before God. Both men and women are sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is the Savior for all. When we receive Him into our lives, we become one in Christ.

Listen to Galatians 3 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Are you saved? Is Christ at the center of your home and your marriage? Today you can invite Him and He will bring wisdom and grace and patience and compassion and all the things that you need.

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