10 Sep Promoting Oneness Through Biblical Community
As a young married couple, we didn’t receive much teaching or training in regard to marriage, especially a godly marriage. Our pre-marital counseling was provided by a grad student at our college campus, who at the outset explained that he had never had a girlfriend, much less any kind of marital experience.
As a result, we experienced some struggles in the earlier years of our marriage, specifically in conflict. There was a deep underlying need to win, to not give in, and not back down. It wasn’t until we began to hear the teaching on the One series several years ago that we were able to start to apply grace in our marriage. Understanding the Gospel and how it is applied in real life allowed us to start to extend grace to each other. The more we understood the grace we were given, the more we were able to freely give it to each other. This process took some time as it was still hard to rail against that desire to “win”, but ultimately we started to see what a marriage with peace and unity is like, and it is so much better than the small nominal gain from a “win”.
“The more we understood the grace we were given, the more we were able to freely give it to each other.”
We have also learned that change is constant, and so far the first ten years have had quite a bit of change. This requires us to often stop and assess where we are at, what we are putting our energy into, and why things seem out of control. Sometimes it is planned and we sit down and discuss, but other times it happens as we’re just lying in bed at night and we both feel distant. At those times we just start to talk through issues, trying to understand the other, not assuming the worst. Sometimes solutions aren’t arrived at, but just the process of working together and talking through things brings us together.
Life in community at Grace has also helped us maintain oneness. The teaching, the Men’s Roundtable and Ezer curriculum, the leadership, our community groups (both the one we attended and the ones we’ve led), and mentors have all contributed to our being discipled in what oneness and a healthy marriage is. One mentor, in particular, really helped us through a difficult season of our marriage.
Over the past two years the company my husband worked for was going through an acquisition and the demands were high. His hours were very long and grueling at times. I was becoming bitter that he did not have any energy left for me. I felt like I was not being pursued, and I started using the Men’s Roundtable language of pursue, protect, and provide against him. His role was to pursue me! Does he not love me anymore? Satan often attacked me in my insecurities.
“…with oneness as the goal, it is better to humble ourselves and serve one another just as Christ did for us.”
During that time I sought out a mentor/friend from Grace who encouraged me and challenged me in practical ways in which I could partner with my husband. She gave me homework that she kept me accountable to. One of which was scheduling a date night once a month. She told me that I needed to start lining up a babysitter one night a month to enable time for us to reconnect. I always heard date nights are important, blah, blah, blah, but selfishly, I was waiting on my husband to bring it up and show a desire to reconnect with me. She really called me out and showed me that this is not actually partnering with him. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I came to realize there are seasons in our life when one partner may have to take more ownership of the pursuing role for the good of the relationship. There may be other times when the husband may serve more in a nurturing role taking care of his wife after surgery or an ongoing illness, for example. Either way, with oneness as the goal, it is better to humble ourselves and serve one another just as Christ did for us. To be bitter that things are not ideal is not a healthy option.
Experiencing community and having strong mentors in our lives has helped us have accountability in our marriage and learn from others, which has been really helpful for us to identify what builds oneness and what destroys oneness. Ultimately, praying for things that are beyond our control, trusting in God’s timing, and having a gentle, open, on-going dialogue with each other are all things we strive to do to maintain oneness in our marriage. And once a month date nights!
-Sean & Stacey Wieland
As part of our One series, we’ve asked several people to share some of their experiences and stories as it relates to each sermon topic and how it has played out in their marriage or in their life. We appreciate the Wielands taking time to share how they maintain oneness in their marriage and some of the challenges they’ve had to overcome to maintain that oneness. Has the One series prompted any questions you would like addressed? We’d love to answer some in a Q&A at the end of the series. Email questions to [email protected].