I’m a marriage counselor; I like to see people get married. I see them six months later. Now they come in, they look like this [Henry frowning]. The day they got married, they looked like this [Henry smiling]. Now they look like this…[Henry frowning] . They come in, and they say to me, “I am married.” That’s a pretty good thing, isn’t it? To be married? These people thought that marriage would make lovers out of them. Only single people think that. Married people know better than that, don’t they?
You know, marriage does not take the place of the Holy Spirit in your life, but when you get married with the idea that this human being that I’m marrying is gonna transform my life, this person is gonna turn me into a loving, kindly, gentle, cheerful, happy person. That person is gonna do that for me. That’s what we hope for, isn’t it? We very quickly discover that that’s not the way it works. So I think it’s good to take a look at what goes into marriage. You know my wife and I, we said to ourselves, something like this … ”I will love you and comfort you, and keep you in sickness and in health. Forsaking all others, keep unto you as long as we both shall live. I take you for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.” I very sincerely told her that. You know that’s a human impossibility, isn’t it? But we dutifully tell each other that, don’t we, when we get married? She told me the same thing. I didn’t know that I couldn’t carry it out. You know that woman turned into a stubborn, hostile, selfish, woman. You know, this is what she told me she was going to do, but that’s what she did. The trouble is that I turned into that kind of a person too. So here we were, I took the first two years of our married life, it was a pretty miserable experience, because what we were doing was trying to outsmart each other, and trying to out maneuver each other. You know, it dawned on me that my wife was smarter than me. Have any of you found that out when you got married? That your wife was smarter than you? Those were a pretty rough two years, until we found that there is a possibility of having a change of heart …. toward the circumstances that would come your way, and toward the people that would come your way. There’s such a thing as your behavior being independent of what other people do and the circumstances that come your way. I should explain too, before I get too far. I’m on my third marriage, not my first, my third. That requires some explanation, because sometimes I get them mixed up when I speak. Eva and I were married for 42 years. The first few I don’t want to talk about. We encountered the Lord, we asked the Lord to change our hearts. We had the 40 wonderful years. We traveled the world, telling people how to fix their marriages. It was just a glorious time, and she lost the battle of cancer, and I married again. A healthy, vivacious, young lady, never sick in her life. Three years later, she dropped dead one day in the middle of a sentence. Now Jo and I …. Jo, will you stand? That’s my third wife, Jo. Some people think she was rather courageous by taking me on. We’ve been married for nine years, and we’re doing the same thing. We’re traveling around as much as possible, and trying to help people fix their marriages. Your marriage is fixable no matter what it’s like today. We ought to look at some of these things. What do we start off with? We start off with two spirited people. I didn’t say spirit-filled people, I said spirited people. Eager, ready to go, but then the true nature of this relationship starts to show up. For instance, one fellow told me, he and his wife came in, they weren’t married too long. But the first day of their marriage, they had a new car, new clothes, lots of money; they start out on their honeymoon, and the first thing that happened. They took off down the highway. He’s going 70 miles an hour down the freeway, and she says to him, “Honey, you’re going too fast.” And he said to her, “Look, don’t bother your pretty little head about the driving, just take it easy and relax, and leave the driving to me.” This is what they tell you when you go overseas in an airplane. They tell you how to use the floating equipment in case it sinks, and they say, relax now, take it easy. Well, that’s what we look for when we get married, and so he said to her, “Just relax and take it easy.” What he did was to ignore her wishes all morning long. Now she sat there in that car, resisting and resenting his choice, and he didn’t pay any attention to her at all. He was used to that. He grew up that way. He didn’t pay any attention to what his folks said, so he was just normal, he didn’t pay any attention to what she said. But she’s sitting there all morning long protesting his driving in her head, with a smile on her face, but resenting it in her head. Pretty soon, it’s time for lunch. So he says to himself, in his head, “I want to get as far as I can away from home today, so I think we ought to stop in and get a quick sandwich, and then we’ll be on our way.” And she says to herself, “This is the first day of our marriage; I’d like to stop and have a sandwich somewhere, and just linger over it for an hour or two, and then go on our way.” See, their heads don’t work together. So he says to her, “What do you say we stop and have a quick sandwich?” She said to herself, “Oh brother, there go my plans.” She said to him, “I think that’s a great idea.” So he’s relieved, and so they stop and have this quick sandwich, and he tears into his sandwich, and by the time he’s half through, she hasn’t opened up hers yet. And she’s saying to herself, “Boy, you sure take big bites. I didn’t realize that you make that much noise when you eat.” Folks, this is their first day of their marriage. He’s thinking to himself, “Why don’t you hurry up?” He got her back into the car pretty soon. They took off 70 miles an hour, so she spends the afternoon protesting his driving. Well pretty soon, it’s time to stop. He says to himself, “I want to get off this road now, and after all, there is an exit, and I don’t want to spend too much money, so I’m gonna look for one of those pink stucco motels.” She says, “This is the first day of our marriage, I’d like to find the nicest place we could find.” So he says to her, “Where would you like to stay?” She said, “I’d like to stay in the nicest place that we can find.” So he says to himself, “Oh brother, there goes my money.” She says to herself, “That’s a relief.” Do you see what’s happening to these people? You know, there’s the Biblical principle involved here. See, he’s not very happy with her because of the way she’s behaving. That’s what he said. She’s not happy with him because of the way he is behaving. Outwardly, all is well, but inside, their minds are not together. Now there’s a passage of scripture that I want to call to your attention; very critical passage of scripture. It’s in Philippians, chapter 2. Now, this is not written to the Philippians, but I think there are more than two Philippians. This is what it says. Now the first verse is very important. The first verse says, “If there is any consolation in Christ” … you’re relaxed and at ease, and comfortable, because your comfort and your relaxation comes from God, not from what’s going on around you … “If there be any consolation in Christ, and if there be any comfort of love, and if there be any fellowship of the Spirit, and if there is any affection and mercy …” Doesn’t that sound great? But who acts like that? He sure didn’t measure up to that, did he? He missed it by quite a bit. So did she. But it says, “If you do these things …” then you can move down to verse 2. This is why people are having so much trouble with marriage. They can’t move on to verse 2 because of the condition of their own hearts. Well, the condition of your own heart depends upon what you do to present yourself to this marriage partner. You have to bring the fruit of the spirit to the marriage. The marriage does not generate the fruits of the spirit in your life. Marriage will reveal what kind of spirit there is in your life. Get that? Did I say something wrong? Marriage will reveal what’s in your heart. Well, if you can’t qualify in the first verse, you’re not going to be able to do the second. One time some friends of mine and I, we wanted to climb Mount Whitney. Mount Whiney is the highest peak on the continental United States, almost 15,000 feet. We start out the first day. We start up that mountain; we began to see people coming down. What they were saying is, “We gave up, it’s too tough.” Some of them didn’t have the right equipment. Some of them were not in condition. You don’t climb a mountain just because you decide to climb a mountain. If you’re gonna climb a mountain, you better get into condition before you start climbing a mountain. You thinking about climbing a mountain doesn’t get you there. You thinking about getting married, that doesn’t get you there either. Marriage will only bring out of you what’s already there. If there is anything gonna happen different from what you’re used to responding, that something has got to happen to you first, which has nothing to do with marriage. Now this simple, little principle, I’ve helped many, many people get that through their heads, who in their study of human relations, assume that the way you respond to life is based upon the way you’ve been treated all your life. It doesn’t have anything to do with God; it has to do with your history, and your background. That will dictate how you respond to life. That’s not what the Bible says, that’s what the psych book says. The Bible says that if you need love, or joy, or peace, or gentleness, or kindness, you’ve got to ask God for it. It doesn’t come from marriage. It’s not one of the benefits of marriage. I remember two kids that came to see me. They were two wealthy kids from wealthy homes, and she liked him because he didn’t let his father push him around. He really had some spunk. He told his father he can have his old money, I got my girl, and we have our love to keep us one, that’s all we need. You can have your money. Don’t be telling me what to do. She admired him for that, and he admired her because she had the same attitude toward her folks. We aren’t going to be having our folks telling us what to do. So they moved across the tracks, in this nice little apartment. They’re used to big, lots of space. Now they’re in this little apartment. One day he comes home, shortly after they were married, and she’s crying, and she says, “Look at this kitchen, this old stove, and this old refrigerator, I just can’t stand these.” His heart went out to her, so he went down to Sears, and on the credit card, he bought her a new stove. Transformed her overnight, just like that. Now he’s got a happy wife! All he has to do is buy her something, and he’s got a happy wife, right? Well, how long did that last? You know, she was really thrilled with her stove for awhile. One day he comes home, and she’s crying again. Sniff, sniff. “This refrigerator alongside this nice stove, I can’t stand this old refrigerator.” So, his heart goes out to her, and he wants to be a nice husband, so he buys her a new refrigerator. It’s easy; all you do is use a card. Well, when he came to me, they had a new kitchen, new floor, new table, new everything. They had a new couch in the living room, and they were mad at each other. Why? What they brought to their marriage was mutual selfishness. Now they were directing their selfishness at their parents before they were married. Now they were directing at it each other. You see, that’s all they had to offer each other, is mutual selfishness. Well, that’s tough. Well, as I say, at the foot of the mountain, you don’t climb a mountain just because you like to climb the mountain. You had better get into condition. We got the one day up (it was a two day climb), we got up above the timberline. That means there’s no timber. That means it’s cold and hard, just rocks. I laid out my sleeping bag on this rock, it was hard. I saw a fellow over there; he had a piece of this rubber matting, foam rubber about this wide, about eight feet long. That looked mighty nice to me. I don’t know but then I said to him, “How much will you take for that?” He said, “Mister, tonight, there is no amount of money that can buy it. Tomorrow morning I’ll give it to you.” See, he was ready for the climb. The uphill climb, it’s hard, it’s tough. I didn’t step right on a stone, I sprained my ankle. I grabbed a handful of thorns; my hand was throbbing. We were aching and tired, and delighted to get to the summit. What a wonderful experience. Listen, if you have your heart in what you’re doing, you can put up with a lot of pain. You can put up with a lot of difficulty. You’re glad to hurt. You’re glad to ache, if your goal is right. So, to prepare for the climb, you have to be in condition, personally. I can’t go into that too much. We have a workshop called The Heart of the Problem. If your problem is your own inner misery, we can help you with that. You see, that’s not a function of the marriage. You don’t fix the marriage in order to take care of your misery. If you fix the marriage, then you are a miserable person that’s got their marriage fixed, but you still got to deal with your heart. Okay? Well, my wife and I had that experience. We realized that we were not prepared to do what we said we would do. She could not devote her life to making me happy. I could not devote my life to making my wife happy, I COULD NOT! There had to be a change of heart in me, and a change of heart in her. But now assuming two people, there’s goodwill between you. See, I can look around here; you’re sitting beside each other. What’s the relationship between you? I can’t tell. I remember I had a boss. I hated him with a passion. He could transform me with one word into a furious, hateful person. He would say, “BRANDT!” That’s all he had to say is one word. That man determined what was going on in here. Is that right? Well, I hated him. Now how does a hateful employee approach his boss? Like this … (laughter). This is what mean, nasty, hostile people look like. You see, if you don’t fix the inside, sooner or later it’s going to come out. Anyway, assuming goodwill now, you need to understand the difference between your response to your environment, which is something between you and the Lord, and fixing your environment, which is between you and your partner. Are you dealing with your partner, or are you dealing with God? That’s what you have to get straight. Listen to the second verse. Assuming two friendly people, you’ve gotten married now. The idea is you made a vow to each other, you’re gonna start out right where you are at, not pending reform; you’ve got what you’ve got right now. Maybe that’ll change, but right now you’ve gotta find out what you’ve got. You’ve got something wrapped up in a pretty veil, a pretty dress, and that suit that he wears, that he’s supposed to act like he always wears those kinds of suits. Then you get the real thing. But here it is, second verse, “Fulfill my joy, that you be like-minded.” Now get that word: like-minded. Say that with me: “like-minded.” Let’s try it again: “like-minded.” Get a little enthusiasm in that. The idea here is to get your minds together; and if your minds are not together, you are not together. You may eat together. You may sleep together. You share your resources together, but if your minds are not together, you are not together. Now listen to this. “Fulfill my joy of being like-minded having the same love and being of one accord, and of one mind.” Now that’s the goal: to be of the same love, and being of one accord, and of one mind. Your job then, is to design a harness that will fit the both of you. It will determine and indicate what the rules are going to be for you living together as a couple. See, you’ve given up your chance to be an individual now. Now you’re a partner, or are you? The question is, are you partners or are you opponents? You know, you can discuss something, and if you win, your partner loses. That’s no good, is it? Or your partner wins, and you lose, that’s no good, either. That’s like two boxing. Imagine some people when they have a discussion, you can almost paint a poster, and tack it on the outside. “Fight Tonight.” See, there’s a decision to be made, so we’re gonna have a fight. Now that’s not the same as two nice people making a decision. This is the issue; I think the primary issue in marriage. Take a snapshot, for instance, of one day of your marriage. One snapshot. You slept eight hours, and you say you made love for one hour, is that long enough? Let’s say two hours. Do you realize you’ve still got 15 hours left? Now, it’s what you do with those 15 hours that’s gonna make the difference in your life. During those 15 hours, you’re gonna be forced to make some decisions everyday. You cannot avoid them. They are there, and those choices you have to make will determine what kind of a relationship you are going to have with each other. For instance, you’ve gotta eat. A lot of people today, they don’t know the first thing about cooking. Their mothers didn’t want to teach them about cooking, because their mother hated cooking, too. This is the second generation of people that hate cooking. But you’ve gotta eat. You know I found this out when my first wife died. I thought you just go the refrigerator and you take what you want, and it sorta replaced itself somehow. Then it started getting empty. I realized somebody has to replace that stuff in that refrigerator. And the one that’s gonna replace it in my refrigerator is gone! So I had to learn about some things that I’m not interested in. That is food. It is purchasing food. You have to eat, don’t you? What are you gonna eat? When are you gonna eat? How are you gonna eat? One lady was telling me about her husband. He takes some potatoes, some beans, some carrots, and mixes them all up. He likes it that way. She said, “No, that’s not how you eat. You make little piles on your plate.” He said, “What’s the difference, it goes to the same stomach doesn’t it?” Take, for instance, cleaning up the mess. You know, when you cook, you make a mess. There are pots and pans, I discovered. Somebody has to clean those. When do you clean them? His wife had the idea that these flat spot places around the cupboard are to store dirty dishes. And he thought, “No, that’s not what you do. When you’re through with the dishes, you wash the dishes, you put them away.” She says, “No, you wash dishes when you run out of dishes.” You see what I mean? You can run into some real problems just around eating. So he comes home, and he says, “Look at that mess. Look at those dishes.” You see, she was being a sweet wife, she couldn’t … well, think of some of her answers. What could she even say? She could say, “How would you like me to do it?” She could, but she didn’t. She said, “If you don’t like it, lump it.” This is around dishes. Take housekeeping. Have you ever been at home, your living room is a mess, and the doorbell rings? Isn’t it amazing the work you can get done between the first doorbell? (Laughter) I said to my wife, “I sure wish you’d treat me like a stranger, at least like the dog. What happens when I come home? Nothing!” But housekeeping, how do you keep a house? You know, you can discuss those things before you were married, but now you’re living in the same house. And they said to themselves before they were married, ”He’s sloppy, but I’m neat, so I’ll …” and “I’m neat, and he’s sloppy. We’ll just balance each other.” So you look forward to balancing each other in his housekeeping. It didn’t work that way. He thought, for instance, that she didn’t dust enough, so he would go around checking up on the cupboards, the dresser tops, and the table tops for dust, and he would write her little notes. A little short hand, “Dust me!” Now you see, you would think that she would appreciate that, wouldn’t you? You’ve all taken sides haven’t you, already? She should write him a note, “Dust it yourself.” I mean, I don’t care how you keep your house. It really doesn’t matter to me how you keep your house, but you and your partner have to get together on how to keep your house. That issue could let, you know, what the condition of your heart is, can’t it? If you have a mean streak in your heart, the issue over housekeeping will bring it out of you. Well, maybe not, maybe you’ll just swallow it. You see what I’m saying? Marriage is first of all a matter of your spirit. Take children. We’ll talk about that next session. There are people who come to see me if they have trouble with their children. But I discover, I say to them, “Tell me about your children.” And they address my question to the man. The lady answered it for him. So I addressed another question to him, she answered it. I discover then, first before they had this child problem, before we settled that, we’ve got to solve this marriage problem. They’ve got a marriage problem. So I get into the marriage problem, and I discover that I’m talking to a mean man and a woman who matches him. I discover I can’t deal with this marriage problem until I deal with these personal problems. So they come in with a problem with their children, they end up talking about them. You see, when you come down to practical issues, when we talk about the theory of walking in the Spirit, now we are not talking about the necessity of walking in the Spirit. We sure need a dose of kindness towards one another, don’t we, in this world? Then how are you gonna turn on some kindness? You can’t do it, can you? Well, I can go on, and on, and on like this, but I think there are some other things we need to touch on. And let’s just read the next verse: Philippians chapter 2, verse 2. Now we’re gong to verse 3. Verse 2 said … first of all, verse 1 said it takes two nice people. If you’re not nice toward your husband, I would advise you not to try to settle any issues, if you’re mean in your heart toward him. But if he’s mean in his heart toward you, I’d advise him not to get into a discussion with you about solving any problems. ’Cause if you’re mad at each other, all you’re going to do is start a fight, and you’re not gonna solve your problem after all. So, first of all, you’ve gotta be a nice man and a nice lady. ‘Cause the next thing you’ve gotta do is be friends. You can be nice people, but not be friends. I watched this petite, young lady come into my office, and I say to her, “Tell me about your husband.” She’s ready. She’s got one, two, three, four, five. She’ll take the whole hour to tell me what a rotten guy this husband of hers is. Well, when she gets through describing him, I feel like I need a body guard, cause I’m gonna see him next. Then in comes this nice man. He’s not like she described him, not to me, but I want to give him a chance to describe her. I just got through talking to her. You’d think she was a witch to listen to him. So you need two nice people and put them together, and they just won’t fit together. Getting married won’t solve your problem. Let’s go to the next verse: “Let nothing be done through strife, or vein glory.” Let’s stop there. What’s that say? It’s saying, “Don’t fight.” When there’s an issue between you and your partner, the first thing you’ve got to do, you’ve got to solve the problem, don’t you? The first thing you’ve got to do is check up on yourself. Are you in condition to discuss this problem? Whether you’re in condition or not is something you have to take care of yourself. Your spiritual condition is not dependent upon your partner’s choices; it’s dependent upon your choices. Your relationship to your partner will let you know what the condition is in your heart, but they won’t cause it, it will just reveal it. This is one of the benefits of marriage. It’ll keep you up to date on your spiritual condition. Don’t fight, and don’t … you’re not interested in your own way. “Let nothing be done through strife, or vein glory.” You’re not looking to get your own way, here. You’re looking to find a meeting of minds, remember? There is a barrier here, though. The barrier, I’ll describe it in the Bible verses, in Isaiah 53:6. Do you know what it says? “All of us … does that eliminate any of you? … “All of us like sheep have gone astray, and we have gone every one of us unto their own way.” That’s the sweetest music to anybody’s ears. Let’s do it my way. Well you think so clearly, don’t you? How come your wife can’t get it through her head that the way you think is the logical thing to do? Now the barrier to meeting this requirement of the meeting of the minds is the fact that you’ve got two people who want their own way. Well, that’s an issue between you and the Lord. To give up your own way, listen. For every two people that end up in a divorce court, in the marriage bureau, there’s one couple ending up in divorce court. Why? Because to have your own way is more important than the marriage. You watch that yourself when there’s an issue that comes up. The issue is, I want to do it my way, and I’m not about to budge. Your partner is not about to budge, so you stack up these unresolved issues. Let’s assume that the issue that you’re talking about is like a brick. An invisible brick: it’s that long, that wide, and that thick. You put it in place. It’s an unresolved issue. You brought it up, but you didn’t settle it. And you have another one that comes up about eating. And you have another one that comes up on how to spend your money. By the way, money always comes up all the time as an issue, doesn’t it? For instance, who should make the money? After you make the money, whose money is it? How do you spend it? Who keeps track of it? You see, when you have these unresolved issues, and you start building your wall, it’s not going to take you very long for you to build a pretty high invisible wall that divides you and your partner. It’s made up of unresolved conflicts. So, to dismantle that wall, you want to keep that wall, and dismantle is the issue in marriage, I believe. Another problem with that thought, that is, if you come to meeting of minds, it won’t stay put. It keeps shifting. Remember when you got married? You were getting along pretty good, you had to work some of these things out, then she gets pregnant. Well, that’s a whole different situation. Pregnant women don’t act like non-pregnant women. You just got used to this lady, and now she’s changed. She keeps changing. You watch her change. Well, you have a baby. Now you see, you’ve started something that will not quit. Now you’ve got a wife and a baby. You didn’t plan on that, did you? But now that baby, after a while, isn’t a baby anymore. That baby becomes a crawler, so you’ve gotta change the rules again. So you see what I’m saying. You’ve gotta negotiate, negotiate, negotiate all the time. So you get used to deciding what to do with the crawler, and you don’t have a crawler, now you have a toddler! And she’s pregnant. A pregnant wife and a crawler: that’s a man-sized assignment. Maybe by that time you’ve got another job, so you’ve got some responsibilities there. Then when you get used to that, you’ve got two babies, and a wife. Well, that’s the way it goes, isn’t it? It just keeps changing. What do you do with the preschool kid? Then what do you do with a kindergarten kid? It goes on and on, and on, and these issues become more, and more, and more crucial, right? You see, it becomes unbearable unless you keep paying attention to that wall, and keep that invisible wall dismantled. Very, very critical when it says, “Be like-minded.” That’s a command of God. This is not just a nice idea, this is a basic, fundamental requirement of any two people that have to work together have to face. This isn’t just married people, any two people that have to get along. You have to come to a meeting of minds. One time a mission executive invited me to take a trip with him around the world. Two men, not a man and a woman. Two men. I liked him, I admired him, and he felt the same way about me. There was admiration, goodwill between us. That’s what happens when you get married, isn’t it? So that’s the way we were, him and me. When we met to start our trip … isn’t it great to meet a friend that you like? To meet somebody, and your response is, “I like you.” That’s what really what you should have when you come home at night, shouldn’t it? Your wife should be radiant that you’re home! “I’m home.” “Go to bed.” Well, anyway, they called the flight, and so we had to go through a door like that one there, there’s not room for two people to go through that door, and me, I’m a humble consultant, you see, and so I say to the Mission Director, “You go first.” He says, “No, you go first.” I said, “No, you go first.” We got hung up at the door. This is a stubborn man. He insisted on doing it his way. Well anyway, I gave in. I didn’t like it though. We went to walk to the airplane; this is before the days of these fancy ways of getting to the airplane. No, we had to climb a ladder. There’s a ladder; a little narrow ladder. I said to myself on the way to that ladder, I am not going up that ladder first, so we had a debate at the foot of the ladder. Finally, he gave in. I said to him, ‘So you’re getting more sensible now. Why? Because you did it my way.” We get into that airplane and this is a trans-Atlantic flight, and there are two seats. I want the window seat. How am I gonna get that window seat? You have to think fast in this world. I came up with a plan. I said to myself, if I ask him to sit there, he’ll turn me down, and then I’ll take it. Before he could tell me, I said to him, “Why don’t you take the window seat?”