“The reason that marriage doesn’t work in America today is because we want to retain our individuality but be one with another person in marriage. It doesn’t work that way. That doesn’t mean we are no longer individuals. It just means that you have to sacrifice for marriage to work.”
“More than 95 percent of the couples who have come into my office in preparation for marriage haven’t had a deep conversation about anything in the marriage relationship beyond where to go on the honeymoon and what china pattern to register.”
—from Our Secret Paradise
Make Your marriAge Work
Reclaiming Paradise in Your Marriage
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
CBN.com How is it that couples who started out being incredibly in love with claims of finding their soul mate suddenly only a few, short years later throw their hands up in disgust and seek a divorce, claiming ‘irreconcilable differences’? Wedded bliss quickly turns to disappointment and bitterness. What happened?
Jimmy Evans and his wife, Karen, have been helping couples for more than 25 years find love again in marriages that seem beyond repair through their ministry, MarriageToday™. Having almost been a divorce statistic themselves after only three years of marriage (they married around the age of 19), Jimmy and Karen know the heartache of being right at the brink of a painful breakup.
Jimmy and Karen were high school sweethearts. Like most couples, they believed their feelings for each other would be eternal, that their marriage would just all magically work out, as if love would simply conquer all.
But poor conflict resolution skills, major misunderstandings of each others’ needs, and misconceptions about how each spouse should act caused a major rift. Each began to believe they married the wrong person. Each believed that their marriage was a mistake. And these two were good, churchgoing people.
Jimmy eventually believed his marriage was not salvageable, so one night, in the midst of a huge fight, Jimmy angrily demanded Karen to leave.
Fortunately, that same day, God spoke to him out of this Scripture passage: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26, NIV).
Jimmy prayed that the Holy Spirit would teach him how to be a husband. “That instant,” says Jimmy, “it was like scales fell off of my eyes and I just saw what a jerk I had been. I just never thought that I had a problem. I thought that every issue we had was Karen’s issue. That verse saved our marriage. And the Holy Spirit began to teach me how to be a husband, literally.”
Jimmy apologized to Karen, saying he was sorry for the first time ever in their relationship. And God began to restore all that was lost.
And now, more than 33 years, Jimmy and Karen both understand how to make their marriage work. Says Jimmy proudly, “Our marriage is better today than it has ever been.” Together, they help struggling couples not only survive their marriage, but truly thrive in their marriage.
Would you like to know what the Evans’ have learned? I hope you just said yes, because I am about to share with you some more of what Jimmy Evans told me in an interview I did with him about his book. And because he said so much good stuff, read part two of this interview.
But don’t just read this article and walk away. It’s my hope that you would also go pick up Jimmy’s book Our Secret Paradise: Seven Secrets for Building a Secure and Satisfying Marriage. When you do, get ready for some truth. Be prepared to ask yourself the tough questions, and be inspired to know that God has an awesome plan for your life through your marriage.
And if you aren’t married, this book is for you, too. I say this because as I write this, I am single. I often find myself reading and re-reading portions of this book because it is so deep and so right-on. It helps me gain the correct perspective. So don’t think this is just a book for married folks.
The main nugget I learned from talking with Jimmy and reading his book is that marriage is not all about making us happy. It’s not about us. Ultimately, it’s a God thing.
“Marriage is the most counter-intuitive thing on earth. It just doesn’t make any sense to the natural mind. The reason it doesn’t is because God created it, and God operates on a different set of rules than we do,” says Jimmy. “Most people enter into marriage with their natural mind, but it requires a spiritual mind because it is a spiritual relationship.”
Let’s look at that often-quoted Scripture about marriage, taken from Genesis 2:24 that says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Amplified). Though most of us are familiar with this passage, many of us might not know that the word cleave in this verse means “work.” The conclusion we can draw from this knowledge is that no one can coast in marriage. God did not design it that way.
“One of the greatest romantic misconceptions that people have about love and romance,” explains Jimmy, “is if I marry my soul mate, if I marry the right person, then the chemistry will make the marriage work. And if I have to work at it, then there is something wrong. If I really have to work at the marriage, there is something wrong with you, because if I married my soul mate, we would just be getting along all of the time. This is just the biggest lie in the world.”
Ouch! OK, I’m guilty. How many times have we heard or used those terms “soul mate” and “marry the right person”? But shouldn’t we be with our soul mate? Shouldn’t we be compatible? Hold on. Jimmy explains it so well.
“Soul mates are not born; they are made,” he reveals. “The way you become a soul mate with someone is by going through difficulty together. It is staying together and working it out and learning to respect each other and learning to know each other. Every great marriage that I have ever seen – and there are a lot of great marriages and I have a great marriage – is the result of two people who went through bad times together and stayed together through the process. Through the fire, they became soul mates and they became one.”
Beyond those gushy feelings, there should be this understanding that marriage means you are going to have to put some effort forth.
“When a person gets married God’s way, and you come into it expecting to work, expecting to sacrifice, you have to give to get a return, you have to sow to reap, and you just understand the basics that God puts into everything, marriage is a wonderful thing,” says Jimmy.
Read Part Two: Pathways to Paradise
Check out Jimmy and Karen Evans' Web site www.marriagetoday.org.
Purchase your copy of Our Secret Paradise.
Send Laura an e-mail
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.