Marriage conferences can encourage and challenge us with the principles they teach. But how does it work in real life? Would you like to hear from some not so perfect couples? We’re continuing a short three-episode series on marriage and in this episode, you’re going to hear from two couples who have been married a while. They talk about how their marriages have endured and flourished over the years.
We want to help you raise strong disciples of Jesus Christ, who can stand strong in today’s culture, and you can get the audiobook of the Disciple Making Parent absolutely free.Simply visit: http://www.thedisciplemakingparent.com/freeaudiobook/
I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent Podcast where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children. Marriage conferences can encourage and challenge us with the principles that they teach, but how does it work in real life? Would you like to hear from some not-so-perfect couples?
Hi, my name is Chap Bettis and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. And we’re continuing a short three-episode series on marriage. In this episode, you’re going to hear from two couples who’ve been married a while, as they talk about how their marriage has endured and flourished over the years.
Our church held a marriage conference taught by Deepak Reju, the counseling pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist and author of numerous books. You can listen to the previous podcast to hear session three of that conference on overcoming conflict. But in the fourth session, Deepak wanted to interview different couples who had been married a while. And due to time constraint, I’ve had to edit it down to just two couples. So Deepak’s voice is the one you hear asking the questions, and the first couple to respond to the questions is Kevin McKay, our lead pastor, and his wife Melissa. Kevin and Melissa have been married for 19 years, and as you will hear, they’re in the midst of the parenting busyness with three children, 15, 12, and 10.
And the second couple is Sharon and yours truly. We’ve been married for 34 years at the recording of this panel. We have four children who are ages 31 to 25. And when Kevin, our lead pastor, asked us to be on the panel, I responded back, “Are you sure you want us up there? We are not the perfect couple by any means. We’re coming to learn and grow ourselves.” But he insisted. And so after Sharon and I prayed about it, we agreed. So this is a reality interview where we get pretty personal about how we’ve had to work at our marriage.
But let me just set the context. This panel was in front of our church family who knows us and loves us, and the particular questions were on communication and conflict. So what you’re about to hear is a compression of some of the different storms that Sharon and I have walked through over the 34 years. If you’ve been married and in ministry for 34 years, you will have storms. But marriage is more than storms, and the truth is, we are doing well. We love each other, enjoy each other, and yes, even like each other. Our church knows that, but since you’re only hearing this conversation I want to put your mind at ease.
If this podcast helps you, please share it with others and let us know. That would be so encouraging. We’ve had numerous people thank us for being authentic and they felt like God used the panel in their lives to encourage them to press on.
Well, before we start, I want tp remind you that we give away the audiobook of The Disciple-Making Parent absolutely free. We’re on a mission to equip parents to pass the gospel to their children. And the reason we work on our marriages is because we’re living the gospel in front of them. The book, The Disciple Making Parent, is the centerpiece of our ministry. It’s been endorsed by Al Mohler, Tim Challies, and others. So you can have the audiobook for free. Simply visit thedisciplemakingparent.com/freeaudiobook. That’s thedisciplemakingparent.com/freeaudiobook. For now, let’s listen in as several couples let you in on lessons that they’ve had to learn on communication and conflict.
Deepak: Can you share some of the strengths of your marriage? And this is by God’s grace with humility. But how have you seen the Lord use some of the strengths to help you in your marriage? Who wants to go first?
Melissa McKay: A big thing is we are for each other. You said that earlier, and that’s something we kept saying last night and this morning as we were discussing. But I truly believe that Kevin’s for me. And often in our little Monday night women’s prayer group, bible study, we’re often saying that. Like, our husbands are for us, even though you know, X, Y, Z is going on, or I’m struggling with this. That’s what I definitely believe.
Kevin McKay: And I would just say we like each other. We do. It’s friendship. I think we’ve built a good “house.” Looking at that diagram, we’ll get to maybe some of the challenges to that house sometimes, but I think we’ve built a great house. And part of it is we’ve just always been able to have fun together. Oneness has been something we’ve always sought with one another, and we just enjoy one another. I like her.
Deepak: Good. Good. Thank you.
Chap Bettis: I’d say we both committed to the Lord, committed to each other, and committed to the church. So there are times just coming to worship has caused us to get our focus off each other. And do you want to speak to prioritizing?
Sharon Bettis: Prioritizing time together? I think that’s been a theme throughout the ups and downs of 34 years has been making sure that we prioritize our relationship and take time through the good and the hard. So those hard conversations take time and you have to have them if you’re going to get through.
Deepak: Good. Thank you. Now, okay, I was nice to you on the first one. Here’s the second one. How has your marriage changed over the years? Have you seen God change you over your marriage? What’s different now about your marriage compared to the very first year of marriage?
Kevin McKay: The first year of marriage was kind of unique because we were seniors in college and we just continued to have a lot of fun in college. So that did characterize the first several years of marriage. It was just years of fun. I think we just really enjoyed being with one another. DC was like one long date in some ways. That’s just what it felt like.
So I would say that the way God has worked in our marriage has been that he’s just matured it, kind of building those floors of the house. It’s just matured through the years. So the things we’re experiencing just beyond just having fun to real, meaningful conversations and life experiences. And we have had to work through some stuff or experience trials in life together. But he’s just deep into the relationship so that it’s, I’d say, more intimate and mature.
That’s the way it’s changed. It’s been good.
Melissa McKay: So part of that maturing is just through God’s grace, and just through prayer often in the morning. You know, just praying for God to help me to care for Kevin, help me to notice him, help me to love him well. So through that, I feel like God’s showed us how to better understand him over the years and to notice you more and you notice me more. Like instead of getting all those opportunities to go and have fun and date nights and hanging out, now it’s busy and we’ll get into a lot of that- just the busyness of life. And when we don’t get all that time, it’s been sweet to be quicker to recognize or see things.
Chap Bettis: Well, it looks like we are representing the couples that are very different and have to work really hard, so I’m glad you guys had a lot of fun.
Deepak: Thank you for representing that contingent.
Chap Bettis: When I was asked, I’m like, I don’t think you want us up there. So the question, how have we matured?
Deepak: How’s it changed compared to the first year to now? How’s it changed over the course of, now for the two of you, 34 years?
Chap Bettis: I was actually an elder and we did not take time that we should have to invest that first year. So, I think, getting to know each other. Hopefully I’m leading better than I was. I think to me, also figuring out there’s the ideal and then there’s the reality. And I want to keep aiming for the ideal, but I also, I’m married to a real person. She’s married to a real person. And there’s some things where we just love each other and keep going. But hopefully it’s sweetened over time.
Deepak: So does that mean you started pastoring the very first year of marriage? You guys entered into ministry immediately?
Chap Bettis: Yes. I was a lay elder.
Deepak: Oh, you were a lay elder then? Okay. And then when did you both enter into, like, you are the pastor, you’re the pastor’s wife?
Chap Bettis: Two years later.
Deepak: So this is fairly early on in ministry.
Chap Bettis: Yes.
Deepak: Early on in marriage, you’re feel like you’re in full-time ministry.
Chap Bettis: Yep.
Deepak: Which puts an additional pressure into your marriage.
Chap Bettis: Yeah.
Deepak: So. . . how was that? Is he accurate?
Sharom Bettis: He was accurate in that our first year was very hard. We got married quickly, so a short engagement, and just had a lot to work through that first year and it wasn’t pretty.
Deepak: Okay. Could the two of you give us a little bit of a flavor?
Come on, just a little bit of something from the first year.
Sharon: I have a story. So we were having some intense fellowship one evening after work. . .
. . . and I had been baking. So I had put some pumpkin breads in the oven and we were becoming more intense in our fellowship and decided that we were at an impasse and we probably should call our good friends and co-elder couple and who lived in our same town.
So we just called them, they said come over. We went over, resolved our conflict, but forgot about the pumpkin bread.
So we had to call up our landlords and say, “Can you go up and take the pumpkin bread out if we haven’t burned the house down already?” And they came out like bricks, but everything was fine.
Deepak: But the conflict got resolved?
Sharon Bettis: The conflict got resolved. That time.
I will say that over the years I, I have thought of our marriage like a dance. And if you think of a waltz that just smoothly goes across the floor and it’s very lovely. And I feel like these two couples- we’ve been surrounded by couples like this and our marriage has been a lot of stepping on toes. And it’s been awkward. And we’ve had seasons where it’s just always felt hard. So that has been an underlying theme, which makes us celebrate this season even more because we feel like we’ve worked through so much of that and it’s been a lot of hard work. But we’re reaping the benefits of it now because we have an empty nest and we’ve had time to think through, talk through, many of the mistakes that we made and how we wanted to change that going forward, and I’ll share a story later about change.
Deepak: Yeah. Well, and just to say I really appreciate that because in my line of work, what I often get is the couples who didn’t make the investment over all those years, and then they hit empty nester, and then they’re just shocked at how little’s left of their marriage. And they show up in my office. So I just appreciate that you’re demonstrating that if you do the hard work, you can reap the fruits later on.
Alright. Third one. Being teammates. Can you tell us some of the hard things you’ve faced together and how you’ve seen God work to help you get through them?
Kevin McKay: Well, I think we’ve faced various trials, like a serious health issue with Melissa and that sort of thing. But I think in terms of our marriage and communication, it’s the greatest challenge to our “house”- I’m using that diagram still. The problem that you pointed out last night is busyness. So there have been at least a few times where Melissa and I have been on a walk. And I’m thinking of one specific one on Blackstone Boulevard back in, what was that, 2009? 10? And it was the first time I’m walking Melissa, and she’s tearing up and she’s basically telling me we can’t keep on going like this. And I don’t know how else to say it, but it was a real come-to-Jesus moment where I needed to do something different regarding my schedule.
And so then I found Travis, Travis came, and Travis, you saved our marriage, man. Thank you.
[audience laughter, applause]
Deepak: Thank you, Travis!
Kevin McKay: Melissa can speak to this, but everywhere that we have a problem in our marriage or when communication gets weak, it’s, it’s usually because of this, and I feel like it’s me. It’s been me my whole life.
I was thinking about this last night, if you asked my mom, “What was the greatest challenge in raising Kevin?” she would probably just take a deep sigh because she’s tired. I was just always going, doing something. There was always the next thing. When I was in youth ministry my supervisor said, “Kevin, you’re wearing all of us out.” I was going. I don’t know, Travis might say the same thing. So that’s where the challenge is, I think, in our marriage. It all comes down to time. So when we’re missing each other, it’s because we’re not, when we’re missing communication wise, we’re not. . . I don’t know. What would you say to that?
Melissa McKay: I would say that’s right.
I think it’s been that part of that maturing and maybe the struggle is realizing I’ve got to say something quicker. And then for you, for us to be able to communicate, we communicate this quicker. Just to say, “Yeah, we’re struggling with this. What’s going on?” We review. I’ve asked Travis a few times, like, “So we’ve we’re talking and I think he’s hearing me, but I feel like we’re revisiting this a lot. Can you help?” A group that I meet with Monday night, I feel like that’s been a help. But I think that’s the next question.
Deepak: Good. Bettises, as teammates, can you tell us some hard things you’ve face together and how have you seen God work through those things to help you?
Chap Bettis: 35 years, lots of hard things, but I remember one time where. . . So you use the word teammates; I think of it like a three-legged race. So whatever affects one affects the other. So right around 2000, 2001, we went through a really hard church discipline situation.
A friend, a close friend of Sharon’s, it was a doctrinal issue which at that point had not blown up nationally. And so this guy’s- me- taking this position on this issue. So it was sort of a church upset issue. I’m the bad guy. A friend is hurt. And it affected us. Because you’re in a three-legged race, if it’s affecting me, it’s affecting her. If it’s affecting her, it’s affecting me. I think just spending time trying to talk through all the different issues. She’s my closest sheep, she’s my closest person I’m pastoring, helping her to understand.
So I think, um, yeah, we’ve had probably a couple of different things like that where you go, “Oh, the building’s on fire” in a sense. I need to pull the fire alarm. I can’t keep going with life. She pulled the fire and I’m like, “Oh, this is an important moment.”
Deepak: So can we stay on that for just a moment? I’d love to hear, especially from the wives, when do you pull the fire alarm?
Just to the conversation you just had, do you want give an example? When did you pull the alarm? The come-to-Jesus moment?
Melissa McKay: It’s the bitterness. If I feel like I start growing bitterness towards you. Is there another way to explain it?
Deepak: And do you say something?
Melissa McKay: I feel like there’s like passing marks. I think hopefully it’s more clear communication now, or just kind of out front saying something instead of. . . I feel like there was jabs before, right? Or kind of like, “. . . Oh, wasn’t that right?”
Kevin McKay: I think, yeah, the bitterness would come out. Where it’s developed now, because
I’ve been able to recognize I do this, this is me. And at one point during this conflict, part of the resolution was a couple things. One is it really helps Melissa if we put something on the calendar that says like, that’s her time. And if she knows that’s coming, she can give me up.
Deepak: She can count on having undivided attention, talking things through with you.
Kevin McKay: Yes. So having that there really helps her. But the other part is, she can recognize like, Hey, that thing is sort of happening and I know what that means. And at this point, she’ll sort of joke, but it’s not a joke. It’s like, I don’t really like you right now. And that’s my cue of I need to start pulling back and getting something on the calendar that she can see.
Deepak: Okay. Good. Bettises, when do you pull the fire alarm?
Sharon Bettis: So he told me I could share this. Gave me permission.
Deepak: Thank you Chap.
Sharon Bettis: We were in the throes of ministry and kids. So we had four kids close together, and Chap was wrestling with expectations with his congregation. And so that was coming home with him on Sundays. And so Sunday afternoons were not a pleasant time for a period. So we revisited that conversation and I didn’t feel like I was being heard, so I told you to set aside this Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Chap Bettis: It was a Nathan moment.
Sharon Bettis: I set up babysitters and we went to the park and had a come-to-Jesus moment. And it was very successful because there were no kids, no interruptions, no time schedule, and we had enough time to work through what to do about this. And so that was the end of it.
Deepak: Hold on for a second. So how did you know, Hey, we need to have this conversation?
Sharon Bettis: Because I couldn’t take it anymore?
Deepak: Do you want to add anything Chap?
Chap Bettis: Yeah, I think that all the time, there’s this love overlooks. And then you go all the way up to Matthew 18, I need to get the pastors involved. So there’s all these issues, which is, where is that? And sometimes I just overlook and then some it sort of comes up and then ultimately I can get the church involved. I think that’s what you’re asking.
Deepak: I am, and I’m asking about when to pull- I love the word picture. The fire alarm is just basically saying, you’re saying to your spouse, “Okay, we’ve got to deal with that. It can’t keep going on. Something’s got to change.” So I like that: babysitter, park, no children. You could have had like a come to Jesus banner waiting on the bench in order for Chap to realize that it’s pretty clear there’s a conversation about to happen to deal with it.
Good. All right. So shifting into some more deliberate things about communicating, what are your strengths in communication in marriage?
Kevin McKay: I think having that common goal of achieving oneness and really wanting unity in the marriage means that when we’re doing our evaluation, generally speaking, I think there’s that level of trust in what the other person is saying and believing the best, and quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. So I think in our communication that that desire for oneness comes through on some of those things.
Deepak: Good. Do you want to add anything? Good summary. All right. Bettises, strengths in communication.
Chap Bettis: I think we’re pretty self-aware. Part of the difficulty is if you don’t know yourself and what you’re going through. . . I think we’ve had good teaching. I don’t know if we mentioned that before. And that’s helpful. Kind of trying to have the same rules. We’re playing from the same rule book.
Deepak: Good. Anything you would add?
Sharon Bettis: Having the same values all the way through. And then like I said before, making sure that we have regular times together for communication and putting that on the calendar. So I think that’s something we’ve done really well over the years. And maybe we’re unusual that we needed it more, but yeah.
Deepak: Please, please.
Chap Bettis: So one of the things, and I didn’t recognize this till later, but when we had four children and we started because we weren’t talking basically just trying to survive, we weren’t communicating well. Lots of stuff was coming at us. I think a strength of communication- I got this tip from somebody else- but basically having a notebook where we write things down because we didn’t have to bring them up in the moment. So if something’s bugging me, it’s not a fire alarm thing, but it’s still on there. And then having a time set aside to talk. And so during the busy kid years, the coffee date was consistent and we’d go out and we’d just talk about some of these things. So I think that’s part of the investment you talked about before, but I think that was a strength that kept us going.
Deepak: Yeah. I’ve described like if you think of family life stages. . . You start having children, those first 10 years, you can see the margins start compressing and you’re like one child, two children, three children. I think once you hit three to four, it’s like, Whoa, where’d the margins go?
And my marker has been when the youngest child becomes five, then you begin shifting in the other direction. So 5, 10, 15, you just see an expansion of the breathing room, in your ability to do that, to get the empty nester. And what I love about what you guys are talking about- so in your case, four, am I remembering right? Four. You established the pattern of communicating when the margins were compressed. That’s a good sign because it’s only going to get better in terms of your ability to have freedom to be able to connect with one another. But that’s the time to set the pattern. Don’t wait until the youngest kid is 10 to start doing something about it, in helping one another. That’s great.
Was that, that it? Do you want bring that up, or is there something else?
Chap Bettis: I just think, when we think about. . . so there are individual elders of a church, but they regularly meet together to benefit each other and the people, the flock. Similarly, a couple, I just think we should think that same way. You may not need to go out if you’re have one child or you’re just married, but there needs to be some time where you’re like, How are we doing? And I can save those medium things for, I don’t have to bring it up right now, but I do want to talk about it.
Deepak: Good, good. Thank you all. Strengths in communication in marriage.
Chap Bettis: You’re going to add something, but we were taking copious notes during our last session, which is really good. When we get in the midst of a conflict, we need to grow better in stopping the conflict.
Sharon Bettis: I think this is a good place for me to tell a story if that’s okay.
Deepak: Sure. Please.
Sharon Bettis: Because it illustrates some growth in my own life, praise God. And it really is God. But I think that my tendency for many years was to bring up an issue and then either blow up, which is never helpful- arguing is never helpful, or give up, which was more typical of just kind of throwing up my hands and giving up that I’m going to be able to convince him of something.
So like we mentioned in this season of having an empty nest and having brain space, time, being able to prioritize our communication and improving it and resetting some of the ground rules that we had not been doing well when we were super busy with high schoolers. And so I had a potentially life-altering issue that I needed to bring up with Chap and, and he was not open to it.
And so I just started talking to God about it. This is an opportunity for me to grow. How am I going to handle this? I determined that I’m not going to throw up my hands and I’m not going to blow up, but I’m going to lift up this issue to him and to the Lord on a regular basis until God makes it really clear one way or the other.
Three years later of regular conversations, a lot, a lot, a lot of prayer and a lot of self-control because it was changing my patterns, which was hard, really hard work. And a lot of testing my trust in the Lord and testing my ability to trust the Lord with Chap, which I think is a little different than trusting the Lord. It’s being able to give my spouse to the Lord and just lay him at the foot of the cross and say, this is not mine to do and I give this up to you, Lord. And so three years later, God changed his heart on this issue and it just blew me away because his testimony that I heard him telling somebody else was, “God changed my heart.” Not “I gave into my wife,” not, “I finally gave into her. The dripping faucet, I couldn’t handle it anymore.” It was, “God changed my heart.” And we are united on this issue. And I just have wanted to share that today because I wanted from the very beginning for this issue to become a testimony of the Lord’s work in our life, in our marriage. And it totally was.
And so, praise God that he really showed himself when I committed myself for three years to pray about one issue.
Deepak: So hold on, keep the mic for a second. So how was it waiting? Because it required a lot of patience and trusting on the Lord. Just speak to that.
Sharon Bettis: Yeah, it was hard. It was hard. I kept a notebook. I journaled my prayers, because I wanted to see the progression and I shared it with a few special people who are here. So they walked through that with me, or I shared it towards the end. It took a lot of self-control and it was truly changing my patterns, and that was a prayerful process.
Deepak: Good. And Chap, do you want to comment on that in terms of, as you’re on the other side of this.
Chap Bettis: Well, so I just don’t want anybody to think it’s a life-changing medical issue. Yeah, it was. It was moving, basically. Closer to her parents ad your work. And I think you’re going to get into that in the next question, so maybe we can skip over that. But my idols were, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m busy doing very important stuff, I know this is going to be a huge deal. And I didn’t want to move. I’m happy where I’m at, so.
And I really appreciate that. Travis just preached on 1 Peter 3, and I think that’s an example of. . . So it wasn’t an emergency, it wasn’t a. . . It was an issue that’s appropriate to pray and trust the Lord, and wait.
And I do feel that way. Because I believe as husband and wife, like as a man, I should never just give in. I need to sign off on the decision. At the end of the day, this is our decision. I’m signing off. This is our decision. And we’re not going to move ahead unless we’re united.
Deepak: And that emphasizes the unity and oneness. Though you’ve come and said, “Hey, we, we need to think about X,” you’re not just saying, “Well, just because you want to, we’re going to,” but no, we’re going to be unified as we decide to move forward on this and I’m not going to do it begrudgingly. I’m going to trust that the Lord will work through both of us to get us to that place.
Okay, good. Thank you. All right. Now a concrete example of a conflict. And any dynamic of it you want to give us. What was the problem with conflict? What were you desiring, hoping for? You know, any rationalizations, self-justifications, what was gripping your heart. . . Just give us a concrete example to help us understand. Now you’ve given us some flavor of it. Now you can roll out an example.
Kevin McKay: There would be lots of examples like this. Even again this morning, not sharing the schedule ahead of time. We’re talking about it, but making plans because I’m running ahead, her learning about it, has expectations for what else might be going on, and we have a conflict of what’s going on in the heart.
I probably need help here. If you want to talk about that. But I feel like there’s lots of times like that and there’s just a general sense in which I’m not thinking of the other person. This is what we’re doing, this is what I’m doing, it’s kind of maybe some sort of stream of selfishness going on there that would just not make time to communicate that.
Melissa McKay: Just the expectations I feel like I hold, I think we touched on that, that I definitely have expectations of what’s supposed to happen, what needs to get done, and when we’re not fully communicating that, yeah, those are quick. And I need to communicate my expectations. So I feel like you can communicate the plan, the schedule, and what am I expecting?
Deepak: Yeah, thank you.
Chap Bettis: In the interest of time, I think we just did that with the whole house move.
Deepak: Yeah, I think so. And then, so that last example that you just gave in terms of working through, anything you want to add to that to illustrate it? Or I think we kind of covered it.
Chap Bettis: I mean, we’ve got a million examples, but we’re like, “No, we’re not going to share that one. No, we’re not going to share that one.” I think the house one’s good.
Kevin McKay: Deepak, I’ve got another one that’s just real practical. These are small, but I can think back to the times that we’ve had just a little bit of a back-and-forth. I can think of one time where Melissa asked me a question and it was a fine question. It was totally benign, and I somehow turned it into sort of an offense. And part of it is because- these are sort of the differences between us, the dog and the cat thing. I’ve been like wanting to impress her from day one. Like dating-wise, I think we almost broke up three times just because I didn’t think she liked me. And so I’m always wanting affirmation. That’s a thing that I think a lot of men have. Like you were doing last night. Melissa was laughing because that’s me.
And so a totally benign question became almost a suggestion, or it was implying that I was failing at something. And so I responded- this was years ago, but I responded in a way that was, I think, harsh.
Kevin McKay: And I just had to stop and go, Why did that just happen? And underneath that is in some ways just plain fear of man. Pride thing. I want her to think I’m awesome and she just asked a question that suggested I’m not. So I’m going to respond kind of strong, defensively. And it caught her off guard, which is what made me stop and go, What is going on here in my heart? Because evidently, based on the way I responded, her question was not suggesting that. It was like she was caught off guard by that. So I had to come back to just, Okay, Lord, why is it that I need this kind of affirmation? What is it that I need to get from you so that I can be the kind of husband I need to be?
Deepak: And that speaks to something that Chap was saying earlier in terms of the self-awareness as you’re trying to begin to work through it, and what you begin to learn of your own self as you begin to. . . All those difficulties are heart revealing opportunities to begin to understand more of yourself in the midst of those moments.
All right, so we’re almost out of time. Not everybody needs to answer on some of these, but does anybody want to suggest what are the things you’ve learned about how to reconcile? Or particular ways that you move towards reconciliation? Anything that you do. So it could be setting up the babysitters, a come-to-Jesus conversation, making sure everything’s set aside so you can have a direct conversation. Anything else you want to throw in, in terms of things that have been helpful in moving towards your spouse and reconciling in conversation?
Chap Bettis: To me, I think it’s easy when we’re in a disagreement to sort of do a mathematician: I was 10% at fault, but she’s 90% at fault. And when she apologizes for the 90%, I’ll apologize for the 10. But I remember the late Dr. David Powlison used an illustration with a jar of acid. And the idea if you’re bumped and you spill acid on the other person, and then so why did you throw up all over that other person?
And people say, “Well, because I was bumped, because she did such and such.” But the answer is because there’s acid in the cup. Meaning I’m responsible for my actions and my reactions. So even if- and my math is usually off. So even if it’s 50/50 I am 100% responsible for my reactions. I can be like Jesus in that moment. And so therefore, if I’m living before the Lord, I can be the first to genuinely ask forgiveness because there was acid in my cup. Stuff came out of my mouth. I’m responsible for my reaction. So instead of saying, “Well, this, this, this, this, and this.” I think that’s being the first, owning your own sin, getting the log out of your own eye no matter what.
Deepak: And Chap, would it be fair to say, then, trying to build off of that humility can engender humility? If I take the first step and show a Philippians 2 humility, not that I expect it out of them, but you wouldn’t be surprised that the Lord will bring some kind of fruit from that if you’re willing to humble yourself first in owning your stuff.
Chap Bettis: Yeah. To me, to me, walking before the Lord. So going back to that church- I mean, which issue are you talking about, Chap? You brought up four or five big times in your marriage. But one of those times, I was just like, I need to walk before the Lord. I don’t know. I’m not doing this transactionally: Well, if I’ll do this, she should do this. I just need to humble myself and maybe the only reward’s going to be on the final day. I don’t know. It may be. But often one person humbles themself, the other person humbles themselves.
Deepak: Good. Thank you. Anybody else?
Kevin McKay: Real briefly, I think the things that you shared earlier or things that have been helpful for us is just being specific about sin. You know, naming it and confessing it and then actually asking for forgiveness. I think it’s easier to say, “I’m sorry.” It’s much harder to say, “Please forgive me.” But it’s been helpful for reconciling.
And then the other thing that I would say is that getting other people involved has been helpful for reconciling. So those few times where it’s kind of a pulled-a-fire-alarm thing, without other people in the church also coming in to be a help there, I think it’d’ve been harder. But outside help in the church from wise people who are also willing to help us has been, I think, great for reconciling.
Deepak: Yeah. All right. So lastly, in an audience this large, there can be more than one couple who’s struggling right now. And so do you just want speak to them? And anything you want say to them to just give them some hope or encouragement?
Chap Bettis: Yeah. I think every verse applies to your marriage. We were singing How Firm a Foundation as a song. And it talks about going through fiery trials. Like, Oh, okay. When I’m martyred I’ll be– No, when you’re walking through a fiery trial, the Lord is over my marriage. God sees. God cares. God knows. And so it’s not like, Oh yeah, he’s so busy. He’s forgotten my marriage. So then how can I, before the Lord, be faithful no matter what? I don’t know if this marriage is going to survive. I can’t control that other person. I can only control myself, and I want to be totally faithful to him and be rewarded. And God sees, and I think there are lots of hidden acts of service that the Lord will reward on the final day that will never be seen in church.
Deepak: Yeah. Thank you. Kevin, you were going to say something?
Kevin McKay: I think my encouragement is that our relational conflicts with one another stem from sin, our own hearts. That’s why marriage is hard. In some ways it’s not that complicated. Marriage isn’t hard because we can’t figure it all out. It’s hard because of our sin. So the hope and encouragement there is that we have the gospel. So if we are pursuing Christ and growing in grace, there is hope for our marriage.
You know, even going back to Sharon’s example just waiting, even if we can’t change our spouse, we can work on our own stuff. In many ways in pre-marital counseling, I’m telling the couples this all the time, just grow as a Christian, pursue Chris focus on that, and you will have a better marriage.
And so if you’re struggling here today and you guys don’t know how you’re going to work through this particular conflict, I would say just start with growing as a Christian. Pursue the Lord. Go to go to church, hear good sermons. Meet up with another brother or sister and just confess sin, work on how do I need to grow and just pursue Christ, grow as a Christian. And the answer is there in the gospel. That is the answer to our sin. So find ways to preach the gospel to your spouse and to yourself and try to live that out. And so for all the seems-complicated stuff, I think the spirit will take care of that, and so there’s hope to go forward. If it’s you, you’re here this morning and you’re struggling, pursue Christ. He’s the hope.
Melissa McKay: And just to add the importance of prayer. I feel like the Lord has been so kind because I feel like it’s just like not in me to be affectionate and kind and to be thoughtful sometimes for Kevin. And I feel like the Lord just consistently praying for years and for the Lord to just help me for the spirit to help me to change and to be something better.
Deepak: Good. Let’s say thank you to panelists.
Chap: You’ve been listening to The Disciple-Making Parent Podcast. For more information about the book, The Disciple-Making Parent, or how our ministry can serve you, visit thedisciplemakingparent.com.