HIS Needs HER Needs | Markers of a Healthy Marriage

What Are The Markers Of A Healthy Marriage For A Christian?

Richie Thornton
May 22, 2022    35m
Join us in today's message as we explore what the Bible tells are the markers of a healthy marriage for a Christian. A healthy marriage requires teamwork. It also requires encouragement and intimacy. However, the most important aspect a marriage can have and should have is Jesus Christ at the center. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Richie Thornton: [00:00:00] So we're excited about that. And I know that isn't nearly as long as some of you have been married. Some of you all have been married double, triple, quadruple the amount of time that that we have. But I do know this. We've learned a thing or two in the eight years that we've been married. And we've by no means perfected this. But we have learned, hey, there are some principles that if we continue to practice, not just one day, amen? But repeatedly over a long period of time, it will really help your marriage tremendously. And it will help you have a more happy and harmonious marriage. And I just want to share some of that with you this morning. Let me ask you this. How many of you want or desire a strong, happy, healthy marriage? Raise your hand. I don't know a person that says, oh, no, brother, I want my marriage to be miserable. I don't think we say that. You know? Let me ask you this. How many of you- So you're married. You want a strong, happy, healthy marriage. But maybe you're in here this morning, and you're not married. But one day you hope to have a strong, happy, healthy marriage. Raise your hand on that one. Okay. Keep them up. Everybody that's got your hand up, look at the single people right now. If you notice their hand up after service, just make your way over there. Say hey. Okay.

Richie Thornton: [00:01:31] But my hope this morning is that whether you're currently married now or you're looking to be married one day, I pray that the Lord would use me this morning to impart something useful to you, something that would encourage you, something that would challenge you, something that would equip you to experience the type of marriage that you truly desire. And let me say this. Even if you aren't married today, please don't count yourself out of the message. Amen? I want to say this. There's something in here for everyone. There's something in here, it may apply to your relationships, your dating relationship. It may apply to your community, your relationship with a boss. It may apply to your relationship with the Lord. But the point is do not count yourself out because there's something in here for everyone. So this morning I want to come out of Ecclesiastes 4 verse 9 through 12. This is a familiar passage. It says this. Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if to lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Verse 12. The one may be overpowered. Two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Richie Thornton: [00:03:06] This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. I've preached this passage in all kinds of different settings. I've preached it at funerals. I've preached it at weddings. I've preached this passage when talking about small groups and talking about community. And today we're going to look at this passage through the lenses of marriage. So today, right now, here's the message. I want to give you four insights that are going to help you create a strong, happy, and healthy marriage in Jesus' name. So, point number one, here we go. A healthy marriage requires teamwork. Let me say it again. A healthy marriage requires teamwork. Ecclesiastes 4:9, it says, Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. Let me ask you a question. Do you feel like you and your spouse are a team? In other words, do you feel like you're working together? Do you feel like you're working against one another? Like there are times in your marriage where you feel like you're pulling in opposing directions? Do you have that sense of togetherness in your relationship? See, I know this. In most relationships in the beginning, this is very easy.

Richie Thornton: [00:04:22] I mean, you're in love. You've got the butterflies. You've got the fuzzies. They've got apps that partner. They've got no problems. They're just perfect. You know? And by the way, when a couple comes to me for like marriage counseling, hey, we want to get married and hey, will you give us marriage counseling? I say, yeah, I'll do that. Let me start with this. Have y'all had a good knockdown, drag out fight yet? And what was it about? If they say no, I say you're not ready. But here's the thing. In the beginning, I mean, they just seem perfect. And this sense of togetherness, it comes very easily. Right? And even if there is a disagreement, man, you're so in love. You just you work it out, and you move right past it. You're like, baby, we're together. We're a team, and let's conquer the world. Right? But then you get married for a year or two years, and all that perfection just drifts away. You're like, I married the devil. Not Joy. But you did. Okay? She's saying she married the devil. And here's the thing. Over a bit of time, that sense of togetherness and teamwork, it can fade as disagreements and conflict, they begin to rise. And if they go unchecked, it can feel as if you're drifting farther and farther and farther apart from one another. And that sense of togetherness and intimacy begins to leak. And guess what? Whenever this happens, everything else begins to shake, and it can feel like your marriage is falling apart.

Richie Thornton: [00:06:01] This can happen over money. Right? My mom used to say two things to me growing up. I remember she said, Richie, make sure you and your wife are on the same page about money and make sure you're on the same page about sex. Yes, Mama. Okay. I will try to do that. But disagreement can arise over money. What can happen is you've got one partner, they're tight and frugal. And the other one just spends it as quick as it comes in. This can happen over sex. One may have a high libido and the other not so much. One will take it as often as they can get it, and the other one will take it or leave it and mostly leave it. And that leaves one frustrated. Hey, that one. My wife's good to me. She's good to me. Amen. Somebody praise the Lord over that. She's up here turning all kind of shades. Oh, my God. We're not streaming this one, huh? Yeah, we are. Okay. This can happen over personalities, right? One can be an extrovert and the life of the party. And the other may be more introverted and just happier to stay home and not really socialize. One will say yes to every party, every gathering, every event, every barbecue, every graduation. I mean, if there's an invitation, they are going to say yes and they are going to be there. And the other one said, Would you quit saying yes to everything so that we can stay home and rest for one night?

Richie Thornton: [00:07:41] This can happen over parenting. One may be more stern and the other more relaxed. One may be more of a nurturer while the other is more of a disciplined disciplinarian. For instance, my kids, they can be arguing in the other room, tearing the house down, climbing on the dressers, pulling out clothes. I mean, it's a madhouse in there. And, you know, then one of my daughters comes in and she asks me a question and she asks the same question like five times. But most men, you know what I'm talking about. We've got this magic switch that when we get home and we hit that chair and that button, it tunes out all the noise and we just don't hear anything. And so, I mean, they're arguing and they're tearing the house down and they're driving my wife up the wall and my daughter's asking me five questions. And then finally, Joy says, Richie, do you not hear Addie talking to you? I said, What? Well, no, what you say? I didn't hear you either. You know? She's like, she just asked you five questions. Will you answer her? And so there's just a difference. People are built different. This can happen with chores. Who's folding the clothes? Who's making the bed? Who's doing the yard? My yard needs a mowing right now because that's on me. Who's getting the kids ready? This can happen with schedules. This can happen with communication. This can happen in the holidays. We going to my family's or we going to hers? Some of y'all know what I'm talking about. Where are we spending Christmas? Where are we spending Thanksgiving?

Richie Thornton: [00:09:20] These are all hot points to where, you know, in the beginning there was just this sense of togetherness. But over time, it's like these things arise and if they go unchecked, you begin to drift farther and farther apart. And now you're not operating as a team. You're working opposed to one another. And guess what? That can be hell in a marriage. So what do we do? Here's the thing. If we're going to function as a team in our marriages, there has to be a sense of togetherness. It takes intentionality. It takes communication. It takes some compromise on both parts from the husband and the wife. And here's the key. It takes a willingness to share power on both sides. What do we do? First, you've got to discover the topic. Hey, where do we feel like we're not together? Is it the chores? Is it the money? Is it sex? Where do we feel like we're pulling apart and we're not operating as a team? So you discover what that is, and then you actually sit down and talk about it. I know that this is tough. You sit down and talk about it, not 5 minutes before you've got to walk out of the door. You sit down where you can actually give that conversation the time that it requires, the time that it deserves. Okay? Some of you, if your schedule is like ours, you're like, well, when is that going to happen? I don't have that time. Here's the thing. We make times for the things that we value. If you don't have time, you better make time because your marriage is second to your relationship with Jesus. Okay? Find some time. Maybe you've got to get a sitter. Maybe you've got, Hey, I need you to watch the kids because we've got to have some communication. You etch out a block of time where you can have this conversation. Then you start the conversation. This is a two-way conversation, by the way. That means you talk, the other one listens, and then it's their turn.

Richie Thornton: [00:11:25] They talk and you listen. Okay? Think about it like bouncing a ball. Last week, Pastor James, he had a basketball on this stage. Think about it like bouncing a ball and say you're having conflict about sex since that's the most popular topic in this series. Well, you know, it may sound something like this. You know, I'm kind of frustrated in my sex life. And, you know, could we make this happen a little more? And you say, what do you think about that? Boom, you just bounce the ball. And then they say, well, X, Y, Z, whatever the issue is. They let their point be known, and then they bounce the ball back to you and say, What do you think? At this point, the conversation is going to start to change just a couple degrees. Do you want to know why? Because both husband and wife have now made their heart, their point of view, their expectations. They've now communicated where they stand. And so this is the key to the matter, is that when the conversation begins to shift just a few degrees because now you've got to compromise with your partner. And what you do is you keep bouncing that ball back and forth and bouncing that ball back and forth until together you come to an answer on that issue and one party didn't arrive there on their own. You both came to that conclusion together, and now it's a win-win for both of you. You're no longer working opposed to each other. You're working together, and now you're a team.

Richie Thornton: [00:13:14] Can I tell you something? Being kind of vulnerable. My wife and I got into an argument last night. I know none of y'all ever get in arguments. But it happened with us. And just miscommunication. High stress. Right? Weekend, we traveled, and we get home and it just gets messy. Right? And what we could have done, and I'm telling myself, I don't even want to preach anymore. I got to go preach on marriage and here we are, clawing each other's eyes out. You know? I got to preach on marriage. But here's what we did. We kept bouncing that ball back and forth until we settled our issues. And guess what? We went to bed well last night. You see, you can put this thing off and you can keep putting it off and you can keep ignoring it and acting like the problem's not there. And guess what? It's just going to get worse and worse and you're going to drift farther and farther apart. What is the issue? What is the subject that you're not working together on>? Etch out some time in your schedule, sit down with your spouse, and bounce that ball back and forth. Have the conversation until together you come to a resolution. Let me speak to the guy in here that may be thinking this. Well, brother, that just doesn't sound like a biblical marriage. I'm supposed to be the head of the household and she should follow. Well, buddy, how is that working out for you so far? No. You want to be the spiritual leader of your household. Then take the initiative. Sit down with your wife and have a conversation that I'm talking about and share the power a little bit and together, arrive at a conclusion. Somebody say, Amen.

Richie Thornton: [00:15:07] Number two, a healthy marriage, it requires encouragement. Number one, you've got to function as a team. But number two, a healthy marriage, it requires encouragement. Ecclesiastes 4:10. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. To me, this is speaking of encouragement. Women, let me tell you something this morning. We all know what a man's greatest need is. Amen? Do we know it? Do we need to go back? Really? Okay? Do we know men's greatest need? Say yes. Okay. But number two is very close. It's not as good, but it's very close. Okay? And that is encouragement. Wives, when you believe in your husband and when he knows that you're his number one fan, when your husband knows that you've got his back, when you begin to encourage him and let him know that, baby, I believe in you and you can do it and you hung the moon and the stars at whatever it is. If you let your husband know that you actually believe in him, can I tell you something? He will jump through a wall for you. I love the way Pastor Steven said it. The last service that captures it so well, he was talking about the same thing. He said this. He said, I want the person who knows me best, speaking of his wife, to believe in me the most.

Richie Thornton: [00:16:39] Can I tell you something? Ladies, your husband may feel like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders. He may feel like he can't carry one more thing. If one more thing goes wrong, he's about to break. But guess what? If he knows that you're in his corner, that you've got his back, that man, you bring that word of encouragement that you believe in him, he'll say, Put one more on me. He'll say, Come on, I can take another lap. I can do one more rep. I can keep pushing because that is what your encouragement means to him. You know, Pastor James, his encouragement means the world to me. Pastor Josh, his encouragement means the world to me. My mom, my sisters, my brother-in-law, their encouragement, they believe in me, it means the world to me. Guess what? If my wife does not believe in me, all that stuff means nothing. I want the one who knows me best to believe in me the most. This doesn't count as crying. Men, this is important for women too, not just men. Joy, she'll asked me periodically, she'll say, Tell me something you love about me. And I'll always say this. Inside or out. What do I mean? Do you want me to tell you something about your heart and your character? Or you want me to tell you what looks good on you? You know? And, guys, let me give you a hint. It's both. It's both. But, guys, we're really good at complimenting the outside, and we're not always as good at complimenting the inside. But can I tell you something? That encouragement means just as much to them as it does to us. If you think something about your wife, let her know it. I mean, speak it. Don't keep it all bottled up. Tell her. Let her know how valuable she is. Let her know how strong she is. Let her know how thankful you are for her. Tell her the things that you notice about her.

Richie Thornton: [00:18:44] There was an older gentleman at a church that I came from. And I would tell my wife, I said, Boy, that dress looks good on you. And he said, Brother Ritchie, can I tell you something? Yeah, Mr. Luther, go for it. He said, Why are you speaking life over that dress? What the heck are you talking about, Mr. Luther? He said you just complimented that dress, not your wife. You said that dress looks good on you. He said, What you should tell her is, baby, you look good in that dress. I said, You know what, Mr. Luther, I'm going to do that from now on. And so if she's wearing something I like, baby, you look good in that dress. You see, it changes the dynamic because now I'm speaking life into her, not just something she's wearing to tell her how hard she's working. Tell her the little things that she's doing. Tell her that you see and that you care and that you value it. I hope you hear me this morning. In this life, we're going to get knocked down. But one can help the other up with just a little bit of encouragement. But pity the one who has no one to help them up. So let encouragement be present in your marriage.

Richie Thornton: [00:20:03] Number three, a healthy marriage requires intimacy. Ecclesiastes 4:11. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Y'all going to let me get real on this one? Paul, can I get real? Rio. Rio. Y'all gave me permission. If two lie down together, there is a heat that is produced in the marriage. How many of y'all know that sex is God's idea and it's His design? He didn't create Adam and Eve and put them in the garden, and then they started making love and God's up there like, Whoa, what are y'all doing? That's not what's supposed to happen with that. Oh, my gosh. I can't believe my creation is doing this. Sex didn't take God by surprise. It was His design. He invented it. Okay? Here's what I want to say, that the Bible says marriage is honorable among all and the bed undefiled. That means that sex between a husband and a wife in the confines of marriage is a beautiful, holy and God-honoring encounter and act. 1 Corinthians 7:5, Do not deprive each other of sexual relations unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limit of time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. I must not be very spiritual because I have never said to Joy, Not now, baby. I'm praying. I mean, I would just say, God, you going to have to wait because, you know, and then come back and finish my prayer. But apparently, it happens because it's in the Word.

Richie Thornton: [00:22:01] He says, Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. You see, God, He has ordained sex between a husband and wife in the confines of marriage. And when that happens, it is absolutely a beautiful thing. The issue is that Satan and the world has so twisted and perverted and marred what sex was supposed to be, its original intent, that we've got it all messed up now. You see, something that was supposed to be pure and holy and exclusive between a husband and a wife, for many, it's just become casual. It's become common. It holds no sacredness anymore. It holds no value anymore. So many have just become so cavalier when it comes to sex. The world preaches that you can you can hook up. You can do this with whoever you want. You can have as many partners as you want. It's okay to try it before you buy it. It's okay to experiment in your sexuality. It's okay to do all these things and it's all just okay. But guess what? It's not okay. And that's not the way that God designed it to be. You see, if this attitude were only in the world, that would be one thing. But it's not just in the world. It's trickled into the church. It's trickled into the body of Christ. It's in marriages, and it's destroying marriages. I want y'all to hear me this morning that my goal is not to shame anyone. My goal is not to condemn anyone.

Richie Thornton: [00:23:43] We have a saying here at Journey Church. Help me out. I mess up, you mess up, we all mess up. And God knows that I've messed up, and I need His Grace. Amen? But let me ask you something. My goal is to preach the truth so that God may set some free. If we don't preach the standard. This is not popular, by the way. But if we don't preach the standard, how are we going to come into alignment with the Word and with the will of God? Let me ask you something this morning. How is the world ever going to get any better if the bride of Christ herself isn't being faithful to her groom? If the church and the body of Christ is living outside the confines of their marriage and cheating on their spouse and cheating on the Lord, how are we ever going to change this world? You see, we should be setting the example. If we're going to have a genuine, deep, heartfelt intimacy in our marriages, part of the answer is we must allow God to transform our heart and mind on the matter of sex. I know there's a lot of building blocks to intimacy, right? This is not the only answer. But let me tell you, if we don't get this right, we're not going to get any of the other stuff right. We have to have a renewed biblical view whenever it comes to sex.

Richie Thornton: [00:25:09] Let me read this Scripture to you out of Song of Solomon 7, verse 10. This is the woman speaking to her beloved. It says this. I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. Let me ask you something. Can your wife say that of you? That I belonged to my beloved and his desire is for me. Can she really say that? Let me tell you something, guys. Your wife is jealous for your desire. What I mean by that is she wants your sexual desire to be for her and her alone. Guess what? She doesn't want to share your sexual desire with anybody else. Can I tell you that? She doesn't want to share that with your ex. She doesn't want to share it with your coworker. She doesn't want to share it with the cashier at Super 1. She doesn't want to share that with anyone. She wants your sexual desire to be for her exclusively alone. Y'all are like, it's awfully quiet. That's why it's so important. That goes for women, too, by the way. I don't want to share my wife's sexual desire for me with anybody else. Because when we sense that that's happening, that's when we lose the intimacy. That's when the togetherness begins to pull apart. That's why it's so important that we guard our hearts.

Richie Thornton: [00:26:53] Proverbs 4:23. Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it. Guard your heart and guard the heart of your spouse. If you've got someone on the side that you're having intimate conversations with, that you're sharing details, deep personal details of your life with, that you know that you shouldn't, you need to repent and you need to stop. Maybe you've been getting a little flirty with that friend or that coworker, and you're starting to develop those feelings. Guess what? You need to repent, and you need to stop. I've heard this saying, that affairs do not begin just by simply jumping in the bed with someone. No, it starts small. It's the small foxes that spoil the vine. You flirted a little too much. You texted in secret a little too much. You had that meetup without anybody knowing about it. And then guess what? Before you knew it, you were in that full blown affair. Maybe you are in that full blown affair. And I know it's difficult. I know that you've developed some feelings, and I know that it could get messy. But you need to cut it off, and you need to be faithful to your spouse and faithful to your marriage. Maybe you have a temptation or a struggle. You look at porn. Maybe you need to set some boundaries in your life. Put the phone in the other room at night. Maybe you need to get some content blockers on your phone. Maybe you need to set limits on how long you can look at your phone. Maybe you need to get some accountability partners in your life. Maybe you need to have some serious conversations. I'm saying all this because we need to get aggressive. We need to get some fight back in us. We need to ask God for a holy discontentment and a stirring. Because here is what I know. The enemy is not stopping. Satan is hell bent on destroying your marriage. And so we can just keep going and act like, well, everybody's doing this. And guess what? Your marriage will end in a failure.

Richie Thornton: [00:28:57] I know this heavy. Is this okay? Here it is. But do we value it? Do we value marriage? Do we value sex? Or is it just cavalier? Oh, everybody, it really doesn't matter. It matters. And if we don't get serious about this stuff, it just comes in. The little foxes, the little foxes. And it erodes the intimacy, and it destroys marriages. My tone this morning is anger towards the devil. Amen? It's not anger toward, I want every person to hear me. Man, I love you. I love you. And I want to see your marriage successful. I want you to have intimacy. So that's what I want you to take away from this today. I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. Do you want some hot intimacy in your marriage? Here's what you need to do. Commit once again. I belong to my beloved exclusively and my sexual desires are for my spouse and not anything or anyone else. And guess what? Watch the heat come back into your marriage. Number four, a healthy marriage requires Jesus at the center. Ecclesiastes 4:12 The one may be overpowered. Two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Psalm 127:1. Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Let me ask you something. Have you been trying to build your marriage yourself? Have you been laboring and it just feels like you're not getting anywhere? Like you're just spinning your wheels. Have you kind of pushed Jesus to the backburner in your marriage and now you feel the results and the effects? You're not functioning as a team. You don't have the intimacy. You don't have the togetherness. Well, today is the day to invite Jesus back into your marriage. You've heard the cliché. A couple that prays together stays together. Right? Well, guess what? That's not just a cliché. It's actually truth.

Richie Thornton: [00:31:23] The University of Georgia, they did a study. Their research showed that couples who engage in religious activities like going to church together, it was proven to strengthen their marriage, especially in the latter years. Here's the point. Jesus wants to work with you in your marriage. Today, would you consider inviting Him back into your marriage? Maybe that's doing a short devotion together. Maybe that's praying with your spouse in the morning before going to work. Maybe that's serving together somewhere in the church or attending a small group. Maybe you pray together that God was strengthening your love and commitment to your spouse. Pray for a deeper intimacy in your marriage. The point is, invite Jesus into your marriage and find ways to serve Him together. Because Jesus is that third strand in your marriage, and a three-cord strand is not quickly broken. I know we covered a lot today. But as we get ready to close, I pray that you would find one point that stuck out to you this morning. Find one point, one challenge, one truth that stuck out to you this morning and go back and implement it into your marriage. Begin to practice it consistently over a long period of time, and watch your marriage strengthen as you develop a strong, happy, healthy marriage.

Richie Thornton: [00:32:51] Maybe you'd say you haven't really been functioning as a team. You've been working against each other and not really with each other. But today you want to commit to work as a team, and you're going to commit to communicate. And men, you're going to take the initiative. I'm going to sit down with my wife and we're going to talk about it and we're going to bounce that ball back and forth, working together to come to a compromise. We're going to share the power, and we're going to come to a decision together. Maybe you want to commit to encourage your spouse more. You want to lift them up because this world is tough, and it knocks us down. But I want to be that encouragement to my husband or to my wife. Maybe you need deeper intimacy in the marriage when one of the ways that we experience that is we're not going to share those sexual desires with any other person or thing except our spouse. We're going to stop flirting. We're going to stop sharing those intimate details. We're going to set up boundaries and guardrails. We're going to do everything we can to fight for our faithfulness in our marriage. Maybe today you need to put Jesus at the center of your marriage. You've kept Him on the back burner and you're feeling the results of that. It's playing out before your eyes. But you said no longer. Today I'm putting Jesus at the center. Today we're making it a priority. Today we're going to seek Jesus in the marriage. We're going to ask Him for a deeper commitment. We're going to ask Him for a deeper connection and a deeper intimacy.

Richie Thornton: [00:34:28] Here in just a moment, Pastor Darrell is going to come up. We're going to have altar workers all at the front. Maybe you want special prayer over your marriage. We want to pray for you. Maybe your marriage is great and you just want to go to the next level. We want to pray for you. Jesus wants to help you in your marriage. Maybe as a couple, you want to join the church. Maybe as a couple, you say, you know what, we've just kind of been on the sidelines too long. It's time to get active. Maybe you want to serve together. Maybe you want to join a small group together. Maybe as a couple or individually, you haven't made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life. But you know what? You say, Today is the day you feel Jesus knocking on the door of your heart. Don't go another moment. If He's calling you, you need to surrender.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360