iMarriage Study Guide

iMarriage Study Guide

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by Andy Stanley

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Until Expectations May You Part

Giddy with excitement and burning with love’s fire, engaged couples are filled with desires and expectations! Wonder and eager anticipation propel them forward. Then comes the marriage and if they take the wrong approach, those unrealized expectations and unmet wants can turn a life-giving covenant relationship into


Until Expectations May You Part

Giddy with excitement and burning with love’s fire, engaged couples are filled with desires and expectations! Wonder and eager anticipation propel them forward. Then comes the marriage and if they take the wrong approach, those unrealized expectations and unmet wants can turn a life-giving covenant relationship into a dead-end contractual agreement. Suddenly your marriage has no love, joy, or peace. In this marriage-makeover DVD and study guide from Northpoint Resources, Andy Stanley ’s three key teachings help you transform your expectations and examine the “I’s” of marriage: “Keeping My ‘I’ On You,” “Putting Your ‘I’ Out,” and “It Takes Three.” Broken into six DVD sessions with discussion questions, this is one lesson your marriage won’t survive without.

Until Expectations Do Us Part

Standing at the altar we all had a picture of what our marriage would look like. The problem is this picture of marriage ends up as expectations that we unload on our spouse. The weight of these expectations will rob your marriage of love and joy. As a spouse you never feel like you measure up and you never feel like you are good enough.

So what are you to do with your expectations? You can’t deny them because most expectations started out as God-given desires. In this six-session companion study guide to the DVD, Andy Stanley explains that you must instead learn to transform your expectations and look to God if you are to experience marriage as it was designed.

This study guide is complete with a leader’s guide and six lessons including conversation-starting exercises, discussion questions and application steps.

Story Behind the Book

Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of three North Point Ministries campuses, with a cumulative congregation of more than twenty thousand. As couples voiced their various marital struggles to him, the common root problem became undeniably clear. The “me” syndrome, or the “I” effect, was tearing apart husbands and wives who were once head-over-heels in love. To help couples step back from their immediate circumstances and realize the bigger picture, he preached a series called “iMarriage.” This DVD and study guide will empower couples everywhere to transform their marriages into the one God intends for them.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Multnomah Publishers

Copyright © 2006 North Point Ministries, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-59052-665-1

Chapter One

Great Expectations

If we're honest, we'll admit that we all approach marriage with a set of desires and wishes that we hope will be realized as a result of forming a union with our spouse. We have ideas about when we'll have children, how we'll spend time together, and what lifestyle we'll enjoy.

But what happens when our dreams for marriage fail to materialize? What if your partner never gets around to doing his or her part so you can finally experience life as you've always envisioned it? What if your ideas for life as a married person collide with your partner's ideas? In this session, we'll look at four common responses when our box full of dreams gets shelved. And we'll discover the difference between pouring your heart and soul into a marriage and pouring it into the person you love.


From early childhood, most people dream of getting married someday. We have vivid mental images of what it will look like and feel like to finally be a married person. We imagine where we'll live, what we'll drive, where we'll go on vacation, and how many children we'll have. Many people have detailed ideas of what they'll talk about, what they'll do on Saturday afternoons, or what they'll eat on Wednesday nights. What are some ofthe dreams of marriage you always envisioned before you were married?

VIDEO NOTES (Read This or Watch Session 1 of the DVD)

We all approach marriage with a picture of how it is going to be. Even if you are single you have already begun to imagine what marriage should look like: She will submit. He will submit. We'll save money. We'll spend money. We will spend our discretionary time together. I need my space and friends. Christmas is just us in our own little bungalow. Christmas is at my mom's with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins ...

At the center of all this is "I." I imagine. I desire. I have always thought. I expect. We have drawn a picture of marriage designed for me and by me. Bottom line, we have agendas for the people we are marrying. And wouldn't you know it, your spouse also has an agenda and a set of expectations as well. They have an "I."

Eventually the I's collide, and we all react in one of four ways:

The first option is to leave. "This is not what I thought it would be." The problem with this option is that we take "I" with us. We just move on and dump our expectations on someone else.

The second option is to conquer and try to change our spouses. This is an attempt to get "her" to be "I."

The third option is to conform. When we conform we try to become somebody we are not. "I won't be 'I,' I'll be 'him.'" On the surface things look good. But eventually, the truth surfaces and somebody is taken by complete surprise.

The fourth option is to compromise. This works great for a while. However, compromise is still about "I." "I will as long as you will." "Didn't we do it your way last time?" Compromise leads to scorekeeping and it kills intimacy. It is really another way to be committed to "I" because I want MY marriage to work out.

While there are areas in your marriage where compromise is important, at some point you should move beyond compromise as a way of dealing with your differences. We'll talk about the best way for handling differences over the next several sessions. In this session, we'll stop to identify how you have been handling your expectations thus far.

{"What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow." -Nathaniel Hawthorne}


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Take a few moments to discuss your answers to these questions with the group.

1. How have the following affected your expectations going into marriage? What pictures of marriage have you tried to imitate or avoid?

* TV

* Books or magazines

* Your parents' marriage(s)

* Other marriages

2. Have you ever felt like you just couldn't measure up-that you just couldn't meet the expectations you felt were placed upon you? Maybe this occurred with your parents, your spouse, your boss, a coach, or someone else. How did this affect the relationship?

3. What about leaving? Why is this option sometimes tempting? What is the problem with this option?

4. Have you ever tried to make your spouse more like you? Does it work? What message does this give your spouse? 5. When expectations collide, one of the most popular options is to compromise. However, compromise can backfire when you are more committed to your marriage than your partner. Have you observed this?


* Everyone comes into marriage with a set of wishes and desires.

* When our desires for marriage turn into expectations, conflict ensues.

* Four common responses to conflict in marriage: we run, we conquer, we conform, we compromise.]


This week, list two or three examples of the weight of expectations in your life.


God doesn't call you to be committed to marriage; He calls you to be committed to your spouse. If you think about it, it's possible to give "honor" to marriage while unloading expectations on your spouse. So what about you? Where does your commitment lie?


In the Bible, God gives us instructions for a successful marriage. Renew your mind by meditating on God's Word this week.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 1 Peter 3:1-2


To help you prepare for session two, use these suggested devotions during the week leading up to your small group meeting.

Day One

Read 1 Peter 2:21-3:1. What kind of example did Christ leave for us in how to love others? Today, focus on emulating Christ's example of unconditional love, even in the face of hostility.

Day Two

Read 1 Peter 3:1. In the same way that Christ expressed His love by submitting Himself, so wives are to express their love by submitting themselves to their husbands. How do expectations get in the way of fulfilling this command? As you go through the day, think about the expectations you place on your spouse.

Day Three

Read 1 Peter 3:1-2. When you submit to someone else, you gain favor in his or her eyes. How about when you place expectations on others? What kind of response does this elicit? Focus today on how people react to the weight of expectations that are placed on them.

Day Four

Read 1 Peter 3:7. In the same way that wives are to submit to their husbands, husbands are to be considerate and respectful toward their wives. One sign that we are placing expectations on our spouse is that we stop serving our spouse. As you go through the day, take note of how considerate you are of your spouse.

Day Five

Read 1 Peter 3:7 again. How does your relationship with your spouse impact your relationship with God? As you go through the day, pray that God would make you aware of the expectations you are placing on your spouse.

Last week ...

We saw that conflicts in marriage result when our desires are allowed to turn into expectations. We also examined four common responses when our ideas for marriage remain unfulfilled: we run, we conquer, we conform, or we compromise.


Excerpted from iMARRIAGE STUDY GUIDE by ANDY STANLEY Copyright © 2006 by North Point Ministries, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Andy Stanley serves as senior pastor of the campuses of North Point Ministries, including North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia; Buckhead Church in Atlanta, Georgia; and Browns Bridge Community Church in Cumming, Georgia. Each Sunday, more than twenty thousand attend one of these NPM campuses. Andy is the bestselling author of Visioneering, The Next Generation Leader, The Best Question Ever, and How Good Is Good Enough? Andy and his wife, Sandra, have two sons and a daughter.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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iMarriage Study Guide 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though this guide is meant for a leader in a church group or to be used with DVD support, I read as a homestudy guide. Many may find, initially, the traditional husband-wife roles dated. Keep reading, it will make sense! I had a major light bulb moment about dreams about marriage becoming expectations. If you like Andy Stanley's style, you will like this guide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago