With thanks to Harper Collins for sponsoring this post on behalf of The Indivisible Devotional.
How do you make decisions as a couple when those decisions seem destined to pull you apart?
Two weeks ago I told you about Indivisible, a thought-provoking new marriage movie based on the life of army chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather. Darren was deployed to Afghanistan, and there started questioning his faith. He came home a different person, and they had to find their way back together again. One of my favourite quotes from the movie, that summed up so much of its theme, was this:
We need to stay together by not shutting each other out! And that’s what the makers of Indivisible are passionate about. So they’ve come out with a devotional for couples that you can work through, so that BEFORE the crisis hits, you’ve thought through some of these problems. People are always asking me for a devotional to recommend, and I’ve enjoyed going through this one.
I was thinking about what to share with you from it, and naturally I thought of my own marriage. I can think of four periods that threatened to pull us apart. The first was when we had issues with sex, which I’ve shared about a lot in my books. But the others are a little different. One was when Keith was in crisis in medical school, and it seemed like he wanted to throw away the life we had decided upon. One was more recent, when we were both starting to lead separate lives. And one was when our son was desperately ill.
When I was 22 weeks pregnant with him, we discovered that he had a serious heart defect that would require major surgical intervention. Even then, his chances of recovery were slim. So all through the rest of the pregnancy, we were trying to make decisions about what to do. Keith wrestled with feeling that we had to do everything we possibly could, including putting him on a heart transplant list. I felt like if things went a certain way, we shouldn’t intervene. We should let him go, because the thought of causing him pain over something that likely wouldn’t work was too much for me to bear.
So besides trying to carry the grief that we had, knowing what was coming, we were also wracked with how to make this life and death decision. And it was tearing us apart.
Some decisions are like that. Some honestly are life and death. Others are not life and death, but they feel vitally important: should we move to a different city? Should we homeschool our kids? And then there are the more mundane ones which still have the power to wrest us apart: should we spend Christmas with your family again or with mine? How do you make these decisions well, understanding that you still want to stay a unit?
Here’s what the devotional says:
The Deciding Factor
Proverbs 16:1-3 NLT
Making decisions and evaluating choices create some of the constant stresses and issues we deal with in our marriages. And often, the sheer volume of decisions at hand is overwhelming. Will we take a decision too lightly, make it hastily without enough information, and then regret it for years? Or stress, worry, and lose sleep for a week, struggling over a crossroads? Point A or B? Success or failure? One of our toughest jobs is making the hard decisions together when so much can be riding on what we choose.
Here are four practical questions to help you navigate life decisions together.
1. Has God already given you the answer?
The Bible has literally thousands of commands, precepts, and principles for how to live. Seeking out and searching in God’s Word can bring many of our answers to light. While there certainly won’t be a chapter and verse for “Lord, should we buy this house or not?” there is plenty of practical advice on how to best make a major decision. When faced with a tough choice, dig into the Word and ask God for His wisdom.
2. Has God taught you anything in the past that could apply to your current decision?
God loves us enough to often work in patterns in our lives, so we can determine when He is at work versus when it’s our own doing. Watch for those familiarities, and learn His ways in your life. He knows you, so He’s constantly leaving you a trail to His path. Your past and God’s presence can bring His light into your future.
3. Has God already made provision for what you are asking?
This is applied when you are looking not just for an answer but actual provision for a need. There are many times in life where He has already provided, and we just haven’t put two and two together yet. For example, a couple has a sudden financial need and begins to pray for provision, all the while forgetting that last month a surprise bonus was paid at work that they decided to earmark for vacation. Sometimes God provides His answers in advance of the need, and we can’t overlook those connections.
4. Why would God not want you to do it?
Looking at a decision from the other side can sometimes help you see the right choice. While it is fine to discuss why God might not want you to do something and evaluate the potential problems as well as blessings, there are times when He wants us to move forward in faith. We just need to give Him authority over our steps. Walking is simply a repeated pattern of the same movement.
As today’s verses tell us, the Lord has the right answers for our lives, and we will find them when we commit our actions to Him.
Discussing and praying together to make the right decision can be a spiritually bonding dynamic in marriage. Is there a decision on the table in your home right now? Use the four questions and explanations in the previous section to work through your decision. By working through these questions, open dialogue and honest prayer will not only help you make a mutual decision, but also grow you together in relationship and maturity in the Lord.
1. Did filtering your choices through the questions help? How?
2. Which question helped the most?
3. Do you as a couple need to become more consistent in prayer and searching God’s Word for the answers you need in life? If so, discuss how.
God’s will is not hide-and-seek but seek-and-find.
When I look back on our situation with Christopher, what I didn’t understand was that #3 was at work at the time. We were making everything into a moral question–“is it wrong to do this? Is it wrong to do that?”–when, in the end, none of that came to pass.
We didn’t have to make a decision about a heart transplant list, or about just letting him go. There were no heart-wrenching decisions; there was only one obvious way forward. God had already made provision so that we didn’t have to go through all that turmoil. We could just try to enjoy the time we did have with him. We wasted a lot of time worrying because we didn’t understand that God’s provision was real, and that He was carrying us through that time.
The lesson for me in that is that sometimes, when you’re trying to make a decision about “what ifs”, you need to wait on God’s provision.
At other times in our marriage, when other decisions confounded us, one of the other questions from the devotional applied better (when it came to homeschooling our kids, we asked #4–and realized that there were no good reasons for us NOT homeschooling, so we did!). But with all things, if we’re going to stay indivisible, we have to keep our eyes on each other, and on God, and never let the thing we’re deciding on become bigger than the love that we have for each other.
Whether you are newlywed or have been married for many years, Indivisible offers the opportunity to have an even deeper relationship with the one you love. It covers important topics, like not becoming a chameleon and blending in, but remembering who you individually were made to be in your marriage; understanding your nonverbal communication; even discovering your marriage mission.
If you want to grow indivisible, pick it up today!