Date Night Study Hall - Children

5 Cs of Marriage – Covenant, Communication, Conflict, Closeness and Children 

RECAP:  Closeness
Ruth and Boaz – Closeness cannot be demanded but can be given/restarted any time.
Five Love Languages, with emphasis on Physical Touch and Quality Time.

Children (The Occupants of the House)

Mary and Joseph


Matthew 1:18-25

What do Joseph and Mary sacrifice for Jesus?  What do we sacrifice for our children? 


When is the right time to have children?  Perhaps like when God made the world; enough love between the Persons that it spills over into something new.  Love loves unworthy things.

The spiritual effect of children is selflessness, turned up to 11.

St. Augustine and rightly ordered love – first spouse then child.

Parenting isn’t an innate trait.  We must seek out wisdom to become better parents (excellent book called Nurture Shock).

Communicating love to children – all five languages.  Balancing discipline (Hebrews 12:5-9) and compassion (James 2:13).

Vision for your children; who do you want them to become?  Unspoken assumptions can cause conflict or simply misshape our children.  Even an armchair needs a design plan!

The Blessing – did you receive this?  How are you passing on the blessing to your children?  Book by John Trent called The Blessing.



What else is Jesus to Mary and Joseph?  More than a child; he is their life’s mission.  He is not technically Joseph’s son, but has the importance of one of his children.

Not every marriage will have kids, and even if you do, eventually those children will move out (we hope!).  Your mission may be your children for a time but they will not be the only mission of your marriage.


1.  Adopted Relationships

2.  Adopted Causes

3.  Career Causes

4.  Community Centered

Writing a marriage mission statement.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God!

“If God spare our lives, …”  What is your dot-dot-dot?


Children:  Finding your mission

1.     If you have children or grandchildren in the home, reflect on your vision for their lives.  Get into the details; who do you want them to become?  Then place that vision somewhere visible so it can remind you for what you’re striving.

2.     Consider one way you might do some “continuing education” in the parenting department.

3.     What is the value of having a shared marriage mission? 

4.     What are some components of your family mission?  What components are you lacking that you’d like to see added?

5.     Work on writing your marriage mission statement.  Take your time and don’t rush the process.  Once you have a statement, place it somewhere that you can both see on a regular basis.

Date Night Study Hall - Closeness

Date Night Study Hall

Closeness – October 4

5 Cs of Marriage – Covenant, Communication, Conflict, Closeness and Children

RECAP:  Conflict
-       90/10 rule – Determine your 90!
-       Conflict support is necessary
         o   Friends vs Friends of the Relationship
         o   The Value of Counseling


Closeness (The Furnishing of the House)

Ruth and Boaz

Defining Closeness as intimacy, romance, emotional and physical togetherness. 
Head over heels experience vs intimacy; our goal isn’t effortless romance but costly romance.  

Ruth and Boaz – Ruth 3:1-18
Risky story, especially given Ruth’s importance! 

Note that closeness is somewhat self-perpetuating.  You cannot demand it; you can only receive it.  But you can invest in closeness at any time, regardless of your situation.  It can be restarted by intentional actions.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service.

Physical Touch

-       More than just sex (but sex matters a great deal)

-       Role of non-sexual touch in closeness

-       Benefit of sexual connection in marriage

Different experiences of how to experience excitement (visual vs emotional triggers) and different sex drives.

Cultural perspectives on sex vs God’s perspective – 1 Corinthians 7.  Tool for building closeness. 

Importance of conversation about sex on topics of pleasure, affection, frequency, etc.


Quality Time

Distinction of Togetherness vs Proximity.

Quality Time and Quality Conversation – not always synonymous.  Key – it’s only QT if you both indent and experience it as QT.  Listen to the person whose language is QT first.

Diminishing distractions in the world of 24/7 connectivity.

Role of date night, building family traditions, and shared experiences.

Communicate about Romance tank – this fills me up, this is less important to me, etc.

Acts of Service/Gifts/Words of Affirmation
-       Other routes to closeness.


Conversation: Practical Steps to Increase Closeness

1.     Go on and take the assessment to determine your love language.  Does this match what you expected?  What would you expect your spouse’s/significant other’s/friend’s language to be?

2.     Reflect on how you can do something specific and simple in the other person’s love language this week.

3.     If you are dating or married, assess your quality time.  Do you have a date night?  Do you have shared interests?  Add something to your schedule every week between now and the end of the month.

4.     If you are married, assess your physical intimacy.  Are you meeting each other’s needs?  Define expectations and if need be, schedule time.

Date Night Study Hall - Conflict

Date Night Study Hall - Conflict

5 Cs of Marriage – Covenant, Communication, Conflict, Closeness and Children 

RECAP:  Communication


Conflict (The Wiring of the House)
Jacob and Rachel


Is Conflict in a Marriage Good or Bad?

Frequency of conflict IS NOT an effective indicator of happiness or predictor of divorce.
Duration/severity of conflict IS an effective indicator of happiness and predictor of divorce.

Genesis 30:1-8 (Jacob and Rachel fight)

Layers of complexity for Jacob and Rachel:
History with Laban and Leah’s involvement, Jealousy of Leah, Rachel’s barrenness and social implications, Jacob’s divided attention, destructive solutions (Bilhah)


Why Conflict Happens:

1.  Meta - God’s design for marriage involves bringing together two self-centered people and asking them to do life together!

2.  Foundational – Low love tanks lead to more frequent/intense conflict.

3.  Specific Instances – Men:  Men respond to being challenged with point-focused, uncaring delivery that borders on attack.  Men escalate conflict when they invalidate the woman’s feelings (the argument about being angry).  Core need – respect/love.

4.  Specific Instances – Women:  Women respond to being challenged by communicating mistrust/rejection or other negative feelings & giving unsolicited advice.  Women unknowingly start arguments by not being direct when they share their feelings.  Core need – empathy/love.


Tools for Preventing Arguments:

Research suggests that men disproportionately do not allow their wives influence their decision-making, while women are much more likely to do so.  Be like Jacob!  Men, reflect on your willingness in this regard.

Practice gracious withdrawal for a moment at the beginning of conflict, coupled with a prayer, “God, why am I experiencing this anger at the moment?”  Determine the good and bad of your anger.

Treat truth like medicine.  Don’t fear truth, but speak truth that edifies, not tears down (Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:15).  Don’t overdose; give medicine out in appropriate doses and at appropriate times, not when hungry, tired, etc.

Speak criticism in the context of compliments – 3:1 rule.  Affirms underlying appreciation.


Tools for Managing Arguments:

Take turns talking, listen and repeat.

Be aware of the anatomy of an argument – Men are From Mars pattern.

Reflect on the tactics used in your argument.  How are you communicating love in the middle of your conflict? 

Remember core needs and assumptions!  Men are looking for respect/love and often trying to communicate respect/love.  Men fear and avoid emotional explosion at all costs.  Women are looking for empathy/love and trying to communicate empathy/love.  Women fear and avoid emotional distance at all costs.


Tools for Argument Aftermath:

The God of Reconciliation – Chambers – “Jesus does not mention the other person.  He says for “you” to go.”  Own the process as your responsibility.

-       Note that statistically, the woman’s willingness to cool off has a larger impact on the overall emotional health of the relationship than the man’s willingness to do so.  This does NOT release men from this responsibility, however!

Forgiveness – Don’t let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).

Blessing and danger of built-in forgiveness.  Intentional acts of loving remorse/gracious forgiveness.

Next week: Closeness (The Furnishings of a House)



Conversation: Our next steps in getting better at arguments!

1.     Why does conflict happen in your relationship?

2.     If you dare … post-game a recent argument (preferably one that’s not about something profound).  Where did you use tactics that were unfair?  What affirmation did you need?  Did your spouse need?  How could handle the aftermath better?

3.     What tools above would be useful for you?  Name one or two that you will attempt to apply yourself.

Date Night Study Hall - Communication

Date Night Study Hall - The 5 C's of Marriage - Communication

Communication (The Structure of the House)

David and his wives (Micah and Abigail)

Why do we talk?  What is the purpose of communication?

1.  To convey or gather information (this is generally the only reason a man talks)

2.  To explore and discover what it is she wants to say (He stops thinking to figure out inside, she talks to think out loud)

3.  To feel better and more centered when she is upset (he stops talking when upset and goes into his cave)

4.  To create intimacy.  Through sharing her inner feelings she is able to know her loving self.  (A Martian stops talking to find himself again.  Too much intimacy, he fears, will rob him of himself).


2 Samuel 6:16-23 (Micah and David fight)

What NOT to do:

The Lack of Background Conversation/Danger of Assumptions

-       Failure to define clear expectations

-       Failure to share similar values and/or work around different ones


Shifting from Circumstance to Character

-       Questions with no answers

-       Speaking different languages

o   Danger of men treating women like men and vice versa

o   Solutions, Empathy or Connection

-       Sandbagging


1 Samuel 25:2-43 (David, Nabal and Abigail)

What TO do:

 Process Thoughts AND Emotions

-       When do we discuss thoughts?  Feelings?  Unique male/female challenges with sharing emotion

Shift from You to Me

-       Abigail is 99.9% innocent but begins with herself and leads David to change.

Clarity in communication.  Taking turns, Echoing, focus on listening, not reloading.

No interrupting and no distractions.

Silence is NOT a good sign – they may be coming to kill you.  “What are you thinking/feeling?” is a good question always.

Overcoming the inclination to silence.  The quiet one must own the process; the talkative one must be supportive.

Goal of all communication is connection, the structural work of relationship.

Next week: Conflict (The Guts of a House)



Conversation: 15 Minute Check in

Take 15 minutes each day this week and do this check in.  You should spend roughly 3 minutes on each of the following 5 topics.  Both people must weight in, but this doesn’t need to be a long process.  Of course, you can go longer as needed, but the first couple of times stick to the 15 minute time-frame and then go back to topics later as needed (this prevents one person from giving a monologue).

1.     Appreciation:  Share something that you appreciate about the other person.  Actions are good, character qualities are better.

2.     New Information:  Keep one another informed about something that is going on in your life.

3.     Puzzles:  Ask if something is out of the ordinary.  For example, “You didn’t say ‘good morning.’  Are you ok?”

4.     Request for Change:  State a change you would like to see using this format:  “I would feel love if you …”

5.     Wishes, Hopes and Dreams:  Share your hopes for what is to come (i.e. tomorrow, next month, in 5 years, etc).

Date Night Study Hall - Covenant

Date Night Study Hall Session One: The 5 C's of Marriage - Covenant.

Date Night Study Hall

Covenant - September 13

Walking vs Swimming

Ephesians 5:25 and Titus 2:3-4- Why do we need to be taught to love?  What is love? 

Ephesians 5:25 – not about emotion; it’s about Christ.

“In love” is a consumer, self-driven connection; love is a covenant, self-sacrificing commitment.  Children as our culture’s primary covenantal relationship.

You cannot love like Christ on your own; you need Christ-in-you.


Break – explanation of class outline:

September 13 – Covenant

September 20 – Communication

September 27 – Conflict

October 4 – Closeness

October 11 – TBD

October 18 – Children (metaphorical & literal)


Covenant (The Foundation of the House)

Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 16:1-15.  Key concept – Everyone’s marriage is messed up – it’s not just yours!  Abraham and Sarah had more dysfunction than most.

Our focus in popular culture is on “boy meets girl.”  But what happens next?  What is the point of marriage and is it really better than just dating?

Aside – There are two major problems with Scriptural studies on this topic.  First, Scriptural instructions around marriage and sexuality evolve over time in the Bible.  Second, marriage is far more important in our culture than in the Bible.  This is good and bad, but beware the “one relationship to rule them all” mentality.

Marriage is a tool God gives us to experience the Trinitarian life, and to shape us into the image of Jesus.  In marriage, we care called to:  death to self, life of selflessness, creation and new life, intimacy, forgiveness, promise/covenant, faithfulness, love, union.  It is costly and priceless.

Note that marriage is a great tool but not the only one.  Romance is NOT necessary for a full life (see Jesus).

Marriage is becoming one flesh.  Both a horizontal and vertical component, hence the language of covenant “before God” (i.e. Proverbs 2:17).  So how do we recognize God in our marriage?


Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 17:15-19

Promising is essential to our identity.

God has a plan for us; this marriage is about more than our happiness (Genesis 12:1-4).  Abraham’s offspring have missional necessity.

What is the mission of your marriage?  This may change over time.  Shared mission matters.

How are you listening together for God’s plan?  Praying for each other daily is a must. 


Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 18:9-15

Praying together is ideal as well, but awkward at first.

Pryamid of God/spouse/me.

Shared community matters.

Danger of relapse – Genesis 21:1-14. 

Next week – Communication, the framing of the house.



Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     Have you experience being “in love”?  How about real love?

2.     Explain the purpose of marriage in your own words.

3.     If you are married, do you need most to work on the horizontal, or vertical, what components of the Covenantal life?

4.     If God uses marriage as a metaphor for a relationship with us, how does that shape your understanding of the life of faith?

5.     If you are dating or married, what could you do to more clearly draw Christ into your regular life together?

6.     When you relapse and forget to involve God in your marriage, what should you do?