Tim and Lea Lundy share how you can recalibrate your marriage toward a more biblical model of marriage oneness.
Tim and Lea Lundy share how you can recalibrate your marriage toward a more biblical model of marriage oneness.
Bob: You and your spouse are different, right? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Pastor Tim Lundy says, “Sometimes it’s just hard.”
Tim: I love the way Rita Rudner puts it. She says, “I love being married. It is so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” You know there is some reality about that because you have those differences. Sometimes those differences can rub on each other, but you recognize in order to experience harmony you have to have differences.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 16th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Today we are going to talk about how we can learn to appreciate and even embrace our spouse’s differences.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us. If you went to the average person and said, “Okay, what is the goal for marriage?” I mean, if you went to the mall and just said, “I’d like your answer to this question: The goal for marriage is what?”
Dennis: My happiness.
Bob: That is exactly what the average person thinks.
Dennis: And, you know, what we want to do? We want to equip literally tens of thousands, if not millions, of couples across our country and around the world to know how to experience marriage as God designed it.
Bob: To have the right answer to that question.
Dennis: That is right. That is why we asked Dr. Robert Lewis to join us here at FamilyLife. Over the past three years, he has been creating a series for churches called Marriage Oneness. Robert joins us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Robert: Thank you, Dennis, great to be back.
Dennis: The spokes-couple, I guess I can say this—
Tim: That is the right way, or the poster children.
Dennis: The poster couple—
Tim: That’s right.
Dennis: Tim and Lea Lundy join us again also. Tim, Lea, welcome back.
Lea: Thank you.
Tim: It is great to be back, Dennis.
Dennis: Tim is my pastor. Lea is the first lady of Fellowship. As I mentioned, he is featured as the teacher and really the trainer, Robert,
Dennis: …on Marriage Oneness. This subject of oneness really does need to be addressed today because a lot of people know we should be one, but they have no idea what it is or how to get there.
Bob: Yes. I’m just curious. Do you think if you went to the average couple in your church, and you pastor a great church with folks who love the Lord, would they be able to answer that question of what’s the goal of marriage well?
Tim: No. Unfortunately, I think even in Bible teaching churches, people don’t know how to define the goal of marriage; they don’t have a vision for marriage. So, if you asked them, you’d hear everything from raising kids, companionship, friendship. I think for most people it is happiness.
Dennis: Lea, you grew up in a solid, Christian family.
Lea: Yes. I did.
Dennis: Did you know when you got started in your marriage with Tim almost twenty years ago what oneness was all about?
Lea: Not to the level that I do today. Definitely not. You know, you are in love, and you get married. It is a dream.
Dennis: It is. Then, you find out it is game time.
Lea: That is right. Then, reality settles in.
Bob: Then, it becomes an anxiety dream. That is what it becomes.
Lea: That is right.
Tim: Lea woke up pretty quick with me.
Lea: Did not.
Robert: It is laced with some Freddy Kruger moments.
Dennis: This series is an eight video training session. One of the things I really appreciate about you, Tim, is just around the theme of oneness; you don’t just take us to the beautiful moments, as Robert was talking about. You do take us to some of those ugly moments and difficult moments around conflict and disagreement.
Bob: In fact, at the very beginning of this eight week series, you go right to the goal. You address the issue of what oneness is supposed to be all about. I think it would be good for our listeners to hear as you teach through this because I think they’d benefit from hearing a reorientation around the purpose of marriage in the first place. This is from Session 1 of Marriage Oneness. This is Tim Lundy talking about the goal of marriage.
Tim: I think it beats in the heart of every single one of us to want something more than just a marriage. We want a partnership. We want companionship. We want that person that knows us like nobody else in the world. You know what we want? We want the term I call oneness. Oneness. You see it in your notes, the oneness factor.
This is a theme. This is going to be a drumbeat of this series because I want us to lift our eyes together. Instead of just being married, I want us to dream and look again and have a vision of what marriage could be as couples experience oneness. I will talk about this theme time and time again. The reason I do is because if you look in the Bible that is the theme you will see over and over again when the Bible describes marriage.
If you look at the very beginning of the Bible when it first describes marriage for the very first time all the way back in Genesis the prototype when it sets the standard for marriage back in Genesis 2:24. It says, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife.” It is describing marriage there. “They will become one flesh.”
You say what does that mean? What is one flesh? There is part of it that is very obvious. The verse says they were naked, they were unashamed, they were together. But I have got to tell you, one flesh has got to be more than sex. Even sex itself is more than just a physical act. It is two people coming together and that openness. When it says they are unashamed. It means you are sharing more than your bodies. You are sharing your lives.
Jesus said, “So, these two will no longer be two. They’ll stay one because what God brought together nobody should pull apart.” You hear what he is saying here. He says God has done something here and brought their lives together.
You know, there is a term that we use in modern culture that I think captures it so well. What does it mean to come together in oneness? When we describe that kind of relationship we say, “she’s my soul mate.” You know that feeling that every so often you look across a crowded room and you catch each other’s eye and you just know you share a bond. You look at her, and I just think, “She’s my soul mate. She’s for me. I’m for her.” That’s oneness. That’s what our hearts long for.
The reason your hearts long for it is because that is how God designed it. That’s what He wants for every single marriage. Why do I say that? Because go back to the verse. Look He puts it in big, bold words right at the very beginning. He gives the purpose statement: For this reason. That’s His “For this reason” a man leaves and cleaves.
Notice He could have put a bunch of things at the end of that phrase. He could have said for this reason—here’s the reason that a man leaves and cleaves so they can have companionship. For this reason a man leaves and cleaves, so they can raise children. This reason a man leaves and cleaves because it is the right thing to do; you are supposed to get married. It doesn’t say any of that, does it?
What was God’s original design from the very beginning? For this reason, you leave and cleave so that you could be one. God wants you to be soul mates. That’s how He designed it.
So, how do we experience that? How do we take it beyond just this thing we hope for and we dream about and maybe we long for to something that is reality? We’ve got to drill down a little bit in it. We have got to unpack and understand what it means. So, even when I talk about soul, I don’t want to leave it in just this soft, big term.
When you think about being soul mates, here is what it is—you see it right there in your notes. This is what marriage oneness, being soul mates together, its soul level harmony of mind, heart, and will. It is soul level harmony of mind, heart, and will. At some point, you have got to connect at a mind level, at a heart level, and with your will. You connect on those three and you experience soul level harmony, you’ll experience oneness.
Now, notice I’ve put the word in there harmony. That is a key word. It really is because we are not talking about sameness. Oneness talks about closeness not sameness. You are different people. You’ll always be different people. You don’t have to be around Lea and me very long. We are soul mates, we love each other, but we are different people. Sometimes we see life very differently.
I love the way Rita Rudner puts it. She says, “I love being married. It is so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”
You know, there is some reality about that because you have those differences and sometimes those differences can rub on each other. You recognize in order to experience harmony you have to have differences.
If you know anything about music, musically in order to achieve harmony, you don’t have the same note being played. It is two different notes played at the same time. When you play those notes together, they create something that is richer and fuller and more beautiful.
Maybe another way of picturing it, maybe it helps me because I love ice cream. I mean, it is my favorite dessert. I love to get a soft serve ice cream cone. You can get a vanilla cone, or you can get a chocolate cone; but the best is when you pull that middle lever, the vanilla and the chocolate they come out together. You look at that ice cream cone. You can clearly see there is the chocolate, there is the vanilla, but you can’t divide those anymore. Then, you eat, and you go, “Yes, this is better together.”
See that’s what we are describing here. We are talking about a soul level harmony. A soul level combination where you come together and you will be different. As we talk through all the different arenas of marriage over the next eight weeks together, we are going to see those differences so clearly in different ways. We are also going to see how you can bring who you are, fully who you are, as individuals into that relationship and experience harmony together in that.
There is a couple of other things you see that maybe they are obvious insights to you, but I just point them out to you about oneness. When we talk about oneness, we need to realize that oneness should deepen over the life of a marriage; it should deepen. There is never a point where you arrive. Where you go, “Okay, we are there. Yes. We’ve experienced oneness. There is no more to have.”
I want to tell you I don’t care how many years you’ve been married there is something new around the bend. There is some new opportunity; there some new challenge. There is a place that you can go to a deeper level of oneness.
For me, the most beautiful picture, I love when I see an elderly couple that you can clearly see these two are soul mates. The couple that they’ve been together for years and you can see the love that they still have for each other and the depth of their relationship.
I had the privilege of really getting to see this with Lea’s grandparents, Katie and Billy Fraser. What a couple! These two loved each other. They were married for over sixty-five years. They loved people. They just gave their life away. They had a special relationship for each other that was so unique.
I watched them especially those later years as their bodies started failing. Billy’s eyesight started failing; so, he couldn’t drive anymore. So, Katie had to drive, but she needed a hip replacement. So, she couldn’t walk very well. So, Billy had to help her walk. You just watched the two of them negotiating life. As they would do it, it was never begrudgingly. They loved helping each other.
Even to the very end, as Billy’s health was failing, we didn’t think he could live. His doctor couldn’t figure out why he was alive until one day Billy said, “You know, I’m going to stay alive because I’m determined to outlive Katie because I don’t want her to be on this planet one day alone.”
Right at the end, her health failed. Time after time, he would go up to her hospital room and hold her hand. Here is what he said to her over and over, “Katie, you are so beautiful” and stroke her hair. He would talk about their memories together. The last night he leaned over and said, “Katie, I love you, but it is time to go home. Why don’t you go on to heaven; and when you get there tell them, ‘Leave the gate open because I’m going to be right behind you.” She passed away that night, and three weeks later he followed her.
Folks, they were soul mates for sixty-five years. They never stopped growing in that relationship; but I tell you as I saw that and witnessed it, everything in me said, “I want that. I want to grow in that.”
Bob: We’ve been listening to Tim Lundy from the first session of Marriage Oneness, which is a new eight week curriculum for couples to go through in a local church setting to help them recalibrate their marriage. Just to get on the same page around what marriage is all about.
Tim, that’s healthy. If you never get to tools for communication or how to handle money, just to have the goal together and be re-centered in that can really make a difference in your marriage.
Tim: Having the definition alone has helped our marriage because you now have common vocabulary that you are sharing. So, when we are struggling, we can ask, “Is it a problem of soul level harmony of mine? Are we on the same page on where we are going? Do we have an emotional connection? Are we really sharing what we feel?
Or is it just an issue of commitment that we look at each other and go, ‘Are we mutually committed to the same things?’” Having those terms, those vocabulary, the common language gives us a simple and easy way of communicating at a deeper level.
Dennis: Lea, I know from firsthand experience. When Barbara and I have taught material, there is a learning curve for the teacher couple.
Lea: That’s right.
Dennis: It is kind of like God says, “Okay, I want to see if you really got that.” Did you find that there were some lessons that you and Tim went through because you were leading this eight DVD video series for couples?
Lea: Well, yes. I think Tim did such a great job unpacking the definition of oneness over those eight weeks; yet, he would get to one. Money, for example, that happens to be one of the areas that we as a couple have struggled with more over the years. You get just kind of that panic thinking, “What are you going to say?” Sure enough, it will be the very area that you know he says it and does it well; and then, right there—
Dennis: Why don’t you tell them what Tim said, Lea?
Bob: About money?
Dennis: About money and about your differences.
Lea: Oh, thanks. Put me right on the spot.
Bob: That’s been a source of conflict?
Lea: That has been a source of contention, no doubt. Yes. I just say all the time that five, six kids we have living in our house right now and we can’t live without Target. Target has to come.
Tim: No. You need to understand, though, is that when the bank statement comes out, and I look and, literally, I start personalizing Target. It was like my nemesis because I would go through the statement and there is Target again and there is Target. It kept showing up.
Dennis: So, you feel like it is Tim against Target?
Lea: And it was Tim against Target, no doubt.
Tim: The thing that we learned in it having the details and information. Lea started saving all the Target receipts; and so, she waited for it. The day I went through the bank statement, I finally said, “I’ve had it. What is it with Target?” She handed me the receipts, and she said, “Please tell me which part of that I shouldn’t have purchased.”
Dennis: You are feeding, clothing—
Lea: Feeding, clothing, cleaning—
Dennis: Laundry for a small dormitory.
Lea: I even went as far as to cut out the occasional pushing the cart down the picture frame aisle, the house décor, the clothes. I would cut that out. Then, when I would get clothes for the children or whatever, I would—he would say, “I see clothes on here. Why are there clothes on here?”
Tim: You are making me out to be a tyrant.
Lea: I’m just saying—
Tim: I don’t want to clothe the children.
Lea: Let’s be honest. I’m just saying that I would say—
Dennis: Just let your toddlers come to church naked.
Lea: That’s right. That’s right. My argument would always be “Well, Target or Dillard’s your choice.” It was, it was—that was something we had to come together on.
Tim: It was great in that having that information made all the difference. I had visions of her just walking through Target grabbing things willy-nilly as she went. Then, having that in hand, I realized, “Okay, she knows what she is doing. I need to trust her with that.” It was a point of communications for us.
Dennis: It was a point of differing backgrounds. You kind of grew up in a home where George Washington had tears coming out of his eyes because you were squeezing the dollar bill so hard.
Bob: Robert, this is one of the topics, this topic of money, you unpack this in a whole session.
Bob: As couples go through the material, they don’t just watch a video and say, “Well, that was good. Now, let’s go home.” You really want them to engage with it; so, that what Tim and Lea have talked about are really is the set to the spike. That spike is when they start talking about their own issues, right?
Robert: That is exactly right. They get to do that right from the very beginning because Tim sets them up by saying, “You know you are going to have some strong challenges this week in your oneness work because we are going to ask you to unpack how you spend your money.” They talk about that in the circle up group, but then that week they have to do some pretty detailed work on unpacking first where their money goes monthly.
Most couples have never set down and objectively looked at with a budget that we provided in the work book, where there money is spent on a monthly basis. Then, they come to their oneness date. They sit down, and they look at it. They have questions they answer around that; and then, they create another budget. It is the budget where would we like our money to go monthly. Out of that they make some changes where they begin to direct their money, rather than their money directing them.
That is what becomes a way of having that common direction that Tim spoke about in Session 1 that oneness is all about. Because part of oneness is having a common money direction that we both agree on together. When we do that together, then we start experiencing a heart connection that makes us love each other even more because we are together. Together is better.
Dennis: What we are really talking about here is how a couple was meant to sing in harmony. You both can’t sing the same melody. You wish that would be how marriage would work some days, but you married the other person because they may be a base and you may be a soprano. Or pick it, whatever you want to be.
The point is you marry because you create harmony. To do that, you need to be singing off the same song sheet.
You say together, “You know what? You’re not the enemy. You are not who I am fighting against. It’s the budget is the problem. Let’s fight against it together in our differences in our backgrounds that we come at money.” I just hope frankly that there will be a bunch of listeners who after hearing us talk about this, will say, “You know what? I would like to bring that to our church.” Eight weeks long, maybe sixteen weeks long.
Bob: You could go every other week with the videos.
Dennis: Make the off week the time to do the project that Robert is talking about. It is all about transformation. It is about peoples’ lives being changed. It is about, I think, very importantly, it’s about the church becoming the family equipping center in the community.
Bob: Here is one of the things that makes Marriage Oneness different than a lot of what is out there. A lot of video curricula like this you sit down and you watch the DVD and then it is done, and you go home.
Dennis: It is a spectator’s sport.
Bob: That is right. In this case, it is a highly interactive, participatory video driven, video assisted program. In fact, as you get together with the other couples who are going through Marriage Oneness the video part is just one component of what your experience is going to be.
There will be some interaction time. There will be homework for you to do as a couple. There is an assessment that is a part of Marriage Oneness to help you personalize this material so that you can get a better handle on your strengths and weaknesses as a couple and know where you need to focus in building a stronger marriage.
Of course, we have got more information online FamilyLifeToday.com about Marriage Oneness. Whether you are a pastor or just a motivated lay person in a local church who says, “We need to be doing something to strengthen marriages,” we can help make that happen. Let’s talk. Let’s see how we can partner together on this.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about LifeReady Marriage Oneness. You can order from us online if you like or you can call toll free 1-800-358-6329. That is 1800, F as in “Family”, L as in “Life”, and then the word “TODAY.”
As always, we want to say a word of thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. The reason we’re on today is because folks like you in the past have made that possible through your financial gifts to this ministry. We appreciate your donations to support FamilyLife Today.
This week, if you are able to make a donation to help support this ministry, we want to invite you to request a copy of the new devotional guide for families that Barbara Rainey has written called Growing Together in Courage. Barbara was on FamilyLife Today a few weeks ago talking about this. We had a great response to the time with her; and so, we are making this new devotional guide for families as a gift to you this week if you are able to help the ministry of FamilyLife with a donation.
Go online FamilyLifeToday.com to make your donation. If you do, type the word “COURAGE” in the key code box on the online donation form. Or call us at 1-800-FL-Today. Make a donation over the phone and just ask for the family devotional on courage. We would be happy to send it out to you. We appreciate your financial support of the ministry.
Tomorrow we are going to talk about roles and responsibilities in marriage. What is optional? What do you just put your heads together on who is going to do what? What is biblically prescribed? We are going to hear more about that tomorrow from Tim and Lea Lundy. Dr. Robert Lewis is going to be here with us again. Hope you can be back as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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