[From Julie] Today we get to hear from another one of my heroes. Phyllis May (yes I know people with names other than Wilma and Phyllis) and her husband Steve served the church at Tintern for almost 16 years (1979-1994) where Noel now works. Steve married Noel and I in 1993 and he and Phyllis did our marriage counseling and served us in all kinds of ways. Phyllis has been a tremendous helper and fellow servant in ministry. Steve and Phyllis have been married for 40+ years and have four grown children and many grandchildren. They are still a wonderful example to their family and to us. The two of them are dear to Noel and I and I am so glad she had something to say about what a Christ centered marriage looks like:
From 1971 to 1979 there was a sitcom on TV entitled “All in the Family”. Carroll O’Connor starred as Archie Bunker and it was a very funny show dealing with issues of the day like racism, feminism etc. Archie and his wife Edith were constantly arguing but you knew that their love for each other was deep and lasting. One particular show they are still arguing but it had an interesting twist. Archie is yelling at Edith and saying, “Why do you always put me first? Why don’t you think about yourself for a change? You never think of yourself. It is time you did.” I suspect that the writers were running out of things for them to fight about and came up with this which in the context was very funny. I thought at the time and still think that this is the way a Christ centered marriage must look from time to time.
I have experienced this from time to time especially in areas like choosing which restaurant to go to. Makes the decision time longer but it can go something like this. “Let’s go to the Swiss Chalet.” “No, I know that you don’t like that restaurant very much – let’s have KFC.” “No you hate that food and you are only saying that because you know how much I like it.” Inevitably someone will shout – “make a decision and think about yourself for a change”.
I remember another time when I caught my husband returning my wet towel from my dressing room to the bathroom. I thought about that and realized my towel was always in the bathroom when I needed it so I said do you do this every day? He said most days I do. I was going to point it out to you but I thought to myself that I was going to say to you – “it is so easy just to return the towel so why don’t you do it?” And then I thought if it is so easy for her to return it I guess it is just as easy for me to do it so I haven’t said anything. As my love and respect for him increased in my heart I wondered how many other things there were that he just covered up and did and said nothing.
I think that in a Christ centered marriage these scenarios will happen from time to time. On a side note isn’t it wonderful all the places God can use to teach us lessons if we are careful to watch for them.
In a Christ centered marriage when things get tough and doubts arise and each wonder if they should have signed up for this position there is no threat from either partner of separation or divorce. These 2 words are never heard in the discussions in a Christ centered marriage.
A Christ centered marriage will make one appreciate God’s wisdom and love in the way He set marriage up. In Ephesians 5 we have the passage that women love to hate. You know the one that talks about women submitting and men being the head. I used to find that passage difficult especially in practice. From my observation in church circles it seemed that most of the time especially in solid marriages the wife had tremendous influence on the decisions. Maybe she was really the head of the household. It seemed in my own marriage that no decisions were made without a lot of input from me. I wondered if I was in submission in the way that God wanted. Then I did a study of Esther and I realized something new at least to me. In Esther God makes use of the tremendous influence that women have on men because of their sexual surrender. He used this influence to save the Jewish nation and make Christ’s birth into the Jewish race possible. It occurred to me then that God created us this way. The woman’s sexual surrender influences her husband and gives equal input into the decisions of the household. In fact I concluded that the more spiritual the husband the more he will pay attention to the needs and input of his wife. In a Christ centered marriage there will be the huge benefit of two people loving, surrendering and leading a household together. Pretty efficient way to get things done I would say.
These are some of my thoughts regarding a Christ centered marriage. I am thankful for the degree of Christ that we have allowed in our relationship. I wish I could say that it was 100% but I am afraid that all too often we have resisted and suffered because of that resistance. But as in all aspects of life it goes better with Christ at the wheel.