Read an Excerpt
The Marriage You've Always Wanted
By Gary Chapman
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2009 Gary D. Chapman
All rights reserved.
The fundamental building block in any relationship is conversation—two-way communication. I share my ideas and you listen. You share your ideas and I listen. The results? We understand each other a little better. Continue conversation over a period of time and we get to know each other. The same is true with God. The only way we get to know God is to spend time conversing with Him.
Ways to Mark Your Bible
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Many Christians have viewed Bible reading and prayer as formal religious exercises. In reality, Bible reading should be equated with listening to God, and prayer is the process of talking and listening to God. Many Christians have also tended to see Bible reading and prayer as two distinct experiences. We read the Bible, close it, and then start praying about things totally unrelated to what we have read. It is as though we say to God, "What You have said is relatively unimportant. Now You listen to what I have to say." All of us have encountered people who respond to our comments in a similar manner. That is, when we finish speaking, they change the subject and begin telling us something unrelated. Most of us don't care to be around such people. The greatest insult we can give another person is not to listen when he or she speaks. It is not any different with God.
If you are going to learn effective communication with God, you must join Bible reading and prayer. One way to do that is to mark your Bible as you read and then go back and talk with God about what you marked. Begin your Bible reading with this prayer: "Lord, I will read this chapter from Your Word. I want to hear what You have to say to me. Keep my mind alert and speak to me as I read." Then, with pencil or pen in hand, read the chapter and mark anything that impresses you. Various ways to mark a passage are suggested in the box on this page.
Having read the chapter, go back to those statements that you marked and respond to God.
You may respond by asking God a question. "Lord, is this verse really saying what I think it is saying?" or "Lord, I don't understand. How is this verse related to the verse I read last week on this subject?"
You may respond to God by thanking Him for some truth that you have marked. "Lord, thank You that You do love me with an unending love. That really makes me feel secure. Thank You, Lord."
You may respond to God with praise. "Father, I want to praise You that You are indeed, as this verse says, 'the creator of the ends of the earth.' I praise You as Creator and Sustainer of all life, including me."
You may want to respond to God with a request. "Oh, Lord, I really do want to love others. Pour Your love in my heart today and show me how to express love to my spouse."
Your responses to God will be as varied as your responses to others. You should express your honest feelings, thoughts, and ideas to God. That is the purpose of communication. God shares His ideas with you and you respond to what He has said.
Having talked with God about the things He has brought to your attention, you are now free to change the subject. You may then talk with God about something unrelated to what you have read. You share with God your concerns, feelings, and desires. Pray for your family, your job, your church, and other concerns.
This two-way process of talking and listening to God should be a daily experience for the Christian. Few things are more important in developing a relationship with God than your personal time with Him each day. Thus, our goal this week is to begin establishing a brief time each day to have an open conversation with God. This will be a regular part of The Marriage You've Always Wanted Bible Study. Remember from the introduction that this is one aspect of your daily growth exercise. With your Bible and pen, find a quiet place and begin today. We suggest that you read through one book of the Bible before beginning another. If you have not already chosen a book, you may want to begin with Philippians. List the chapter you read each day below.
1. Read John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Write Jesus' definition of eternal life according to this passage. __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________
2. Briefly describe how you get to know someone. _________________________________________________________ ___________________________
3. All relationships have a beginning point. When did your relationship with God begin? __________________________________________________________
4. Read Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." All relationships are enhanced by communication. According to Psalm 119:105, what is God's primary means of communication? His _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ __________________________
5. Read Psalm 119:9–11: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Check some of the results of hearing and obeying God's Word.
 Live according to God's Word
 Seek God with all my heart
 Never have problems
 Not sin against God
 Not stray from God's commands
 Be happy
6. Read Jeremiah 15:16: "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." According to this passage, what effect did the Word of God have on Jeremiah? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ ____________________
What does it mean to "eat" God's Word? _________________________________________________________ ___________________________________
7. Read Psalm 119:12–16: "Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." List several ways found in these verses in which the psalmist responded to God's Word. _________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________
8. David said, "I will not neglect your word" (Psalm 119:16). What are some of the activities that will help us remember the Word of God?
 Writing it down
 Meditating on it
 Applying it
 Memorizing it
 Saying it aloud
 Discussing it with others
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
9. Did you list memorizing as one method of remembering? In The Marriage You've Always Wanted Bible Study we will memorize key verses that give us life principles, truths that will shape our relationships in marriage. One such verse is, "Be kind and compassionate to one another" (Ephesians 4:32).
We will concentrate on learning this portion of this verse this week. At least once a day repeat the reference, the verse, and the reference again. The reference is twice as difficult to remember as the verse. Repeat this sequence now.
Be kind and compassionate to one another.
10. Write one way in which you could express kindness to your spouse this week. _________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________
(If you cannot think of one, ask your spouse and write the answer above.)
 Check here when you have expressed the kindness you noted above.
Note one way in which you were not kind to your spouse during the past few days. ______________________________________________________
(If you cannot think of one, ask your spouse and write the answer above.)
11. Not only does God talk to us through Scripture, but God wants us to talk to Him about His Word. Read Psalm 119:33–40. Match the Scripture passage with the requests David made of God. Write the correct letter on the line beside the reference.
Not only does God talk to us through Scripture, but God wants us to talk to Him about His Word.
____v. 33 a. Turn my eyes away from worthless things.
____v. 34 b. Direct me in the path of your commands.
____v. 35 c. Preserve my life in your righteousness.
____v. 36 d. Fulfill your promise to your servant.
____v. 37 e. Give me understanding.
____v. 38 f. Turn my heart toward your statutes.
____v. 39 g. Teach me ... to follow your decrees.
____v. 40 h. Take away the disgrace I dread.
Check your answers below.
12. Read this passage again as a prayer to God emphasizing the words me, my, and mine. Make it a personal prayer.
(answers to Bible study item 11: g, e, b, f, a, d, h, c)
As you begin The Marriage You've Always Wanted Bible Study, list three things you would like to see happen in your relationship with God and with your spouse in the next few weeks.
My Relationship with God
Three things I would like to see happen in my relationship with God:
My Relationship with My Spouse
Three things I would like to see happen in my relationship with my spouse:
Include these desires in your personal prayers this week, as you have your daily time of listening to and talking with God.CHAPTER 2
Enhancing MyConversationwith MySpouse
Last week we talked about getting to know God by means of personal conversation with Him. This week we will discuss getting to know each other as husband and wife by the same process. The Scriptures indicate that husbands and wives are to become "one" (Genesis 2:24). They are to share life to such a degree that they have a sense of unity, or togetherness.
"We are a team."
"We know each other."
"We understand each other."
"We choose to walk in step with each other."
"Our lives are inseparably bound together."
"We are one."
These are the statements of happily married couples.
Becoming "one" does not mean that we have lost our personal identities. We retain our personalities. We have personal goals and ambitions. The typical husband and wife spend many hours each day geographically separated from each other, each pursuing different activities. Marital "oneness" is not sameness, it is rather that inner feeling that assures us that we are "together" even when we are apart. For this to happen, each partner makes the commitment to help the other develop as a person and to reach our potential as individuals and as a couple.
Such "oneness" is not automatic. Becoming "one" is the result of many shared thoughts, feelings, activities, dreams, frustrations, joys, and sorrows. In short, it is the result of sharing life.
Verbal conversation is the primary process by which we share life. All of us know couples who seem to have a genuine sense of "oneness." Unfortunately, most of us know more couples who seem unable to "get it together." The major difference between these two types of couples is that the former has developed consistent communication patterns while the latter has not. One makes time for conversation, while the other simply lets things ride.
Last week we discussed the necessity of establishing a brief time each day for conversation with God. This week we will begin to establish a daily communication time with our spouses. Knowing God is a process that requires regular two-way communication. Knowing and becoming one with your spouse will require the same.
After completing your Bible study, you will find a learning exercise that will help you begin to establish regular communication with your spouse.
1. Read 1 Corinthians 2:11: "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him?" What fact stated in this passage makes communication a necessity in a good marriage? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________
Becoming "one" is the result of many shared thoughts, feelings, activities, dreams, frustrations, joys, and sorrows.
2. If you are the only one who knows your thoughts, why is communication so important in your marriage? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________
3. Read 2 Corinthians 6:11–13: "We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also." What is Paul's request of the Corinthians? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________
In what way had Paul set the example for the Corinthians according to these verses? _________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________
What may have hindered the Corinthians from opening their hearts and communicating freely with Paul? (This is a thought question, not found in the text.) _________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________
What might keep you from opening your heart and sharing freely with your spouse? _________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________
4. Read 1 Corinthians 14:8–9: "Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air." The context of 1 Corinthians 14:8–9 is guidance for speaking in the church. What principle or guideline might we learn from this passage for communication in marriage? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________
He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.
5. Can you think of a recent example in your marriage when you did not speak very clearly, and thus your spouse misunderstood? What problems did that cause in your communication? Briefly describe it here. _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________
6. Read James 5:12: "Let your 'Yes' be yes, and your 'No,' no, or you will be condemned." What communication principle is found in this verse? _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________
Can you give an illustration in your own communication when you said yes but meant no? Briefly describe your illustration. _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ __________________________________
Excerpted from The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman. Copyright © 2009 Gary D. Chapman. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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