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“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together”Psalm 34:3


As we begin this course on The Spiritual Dimensions of Marriage, it seems appropriate that we begin with a focus on the Lord. As a couple, how can we magnify the Lord?  How can we exalt His name together?

The first stage of this marriage building course is to believe that the One True God who wishes to bless our marriage abundantly is only a prayer away. It is from this place of first beginnings that we can build inmost friendship and lasting romance in our marriage.

In his book, His Needs/ Her Needs, Willard Harley provides compelling research about the importance of having positive loving associations with each other. It is not enough to say, “I love my spouse.” We must be able to say, “I am IN love with my spouse.”  What is the difference, and why is this difference the single most significant factor in determining the quality of a marriage?  How can we move from loving our spouse to being in love with our spouse?

Come and see!   

 
Course Overview

In this course we combine the universal spiritual principles contained within the Ten Commandments with well researched marriage education skills. All presentations and assignments will be based on contemporary research in marriage education and timeless spiritual principles. Our goal is to provide the information and the encouragement that you may need to help you enjoy the deepest blessings of true marriage love.


Intention for the First Class

The topic for tonight is SPIRITUAL FOCUS. It is about honoring our commitment to God as our One True God, and our commitment to our spouse as our One True Love. Often we may know that the spiritual dimension of our lives is most important, but in actual practice we give it little time. Similarly, we may say that we are committed to our relationship, but in reality we just don’t make it a time priority.

Looking at the Past:

This first class will provide a structured opportunity to focus on the loving memories that have been important in your relationship. These memories provide a foundation that will continue to nourish your marriage.


Looking towards the Present and Future:

This week you are encouraged to maintain a “spiritual focus.” In doing so, you may discover that your innermost being will be continually filled with spiritual qualities that flow in from God. Then, from this spiritual base, whatever you do with your spouse will become delightful and enjoyable. In this way, the present moment becomes a part of your relationship treasury.


Spiritual Foundation  

“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together”Psalm 34:3

As we begin this course on the Spiritual Dimensions of Marriage, it seems appropriate that we begin with a focus on the Lord. As a couple, how can you magnify the Lord?  How can you exalt His name together?

The first commandment provides the first step: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” This means that God should be first in our lives. We should not allow any “other gods” to come between us and the One True God. While we may no longer worship idols, we break this commandment whenever we bow down to the false gods of anger, resentment, inordinate pride, self-pity and materialism, etc.

Instead of succumbing, we can quickly shift our focus to the One True God, allowing the Divine Presence to expand in our consciousness and in our lives. As ancient wisdom teaches, “What we focus on expands.” Or, as it is written in the Old Testament, “O magnify the Lord with me.”

To “magnify” the Lord, then, is to focus on the Divine qualities that are so abundantly available at all times—the Divine Love, Compassion, Patience, Understanding, Gentleness, Courage, Kindness—which are infinite in number and are summed up in the brief biblical phrase, “His name.” The word “name” in sacred scripture stands for the Divine qualities of the Lord, the very same qualities that we pray might come into our lives and into our marriages when we say, “Hallowed be Thy name,” “Call upon the name of the Lord,” and “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”

To honor the One True God, we must first notice the negative states that want to claim our attention and quickly turn away from them. Instead, we call upon the name of the One True God.To shun something is to turn in the opposite direction. If we notice that we are feeling impatient with our spouse, we can pray for patience or kindness. If we notice that we are feeling angry or resentful—especially in our marriages, we can pray for compassion or understanding. This is how we magnify the Lord; this is how we exalt His name together.

But how do we keep these qualities in our consciousness? How can we remember our spiritual focus? This is the next step of our spiritual curriculum. It is the practice of the Sabbath Commandment—“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” This next commandment asks us to quiet our self will so that we can hear the Lord speak to us. It is a receptive state where the Lord’s will becomes active in us. Remembering the Sabbath is about associating this state of being with a passage of scripture (or some other quotation) which will powerfully bring us into that state.

The words, “Be still, and know that I am God” can bring us into a state of peace; the words, “Be strong and of good courage,” can lift us above our fears and doubts. These are the words of scripture that open the way for the Divine qualities to be present with us.

Whenever our external actions are rooted in these qualities, we magnify the Lord, and we exalt His name together.


Psychological Foundations (with a focus on Marriage Education Research)

In his book, His Needs/ Her Needs, Willard Harley provides compelling research about the importance of having positive loving associations with each other. As a marriage therapist, he came to realize that his work was not primarily about resolving conflict, but rather about restoring love. He further claims that it is not enough to say, “I love my spouse.” We must be able to say, “I am IN love with my spouse.”

In order to determine areas that could bring them closer together, Harley asks couples to identify their own relationship needs, to share them with one another, and then to learn how to satisfy each other's needs. These needs can be spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical and/or recreational.

Harley also says that it is essential for each person to take a positive and active interest in the things that their spouse loves to do. It’s not just about being interested in those things; it’s about doing things together. Harley maintains that if a couple can spend 15 hours a week doing things together that they mutually enjoy (and that are healthy for the relationship) they develop deeper friendship and greater romance in their marriage.

Sometimes, it is simply a matter of choosing to be interested in the things that your spouse is interested in, and doing it not because you have to do it, but because you want to do it. Harley goes so far as to say, “Do it enthusiastically.”  The more a couple does this, the more attractive they become to each other and the more closely they bond.

A basic premise of behavioral psychology is that we are associative creatures who build up associative patterns. For this reason it is important to build up a set of romantic associations with our spouse. If we begin to act in loving and romantic ways, we will begin to feel loving and romantic.

The idea of not just loving your spouse, but being “in love” with your spouse is powerful.

It meets the deeply spiritual hunger that yearns for marriage to be more than a mere legal and moral obligation, but rather a freely chosen union which can give us the most fulfilling relationship we can experience.


Putting it together

Just us we choose to love the Lord as our “One True God,” we choose to love our spouse as our “One True Love.” Often, when we first meet we have the highest ideals and the noblest intentions for our relationship. Building a marriage is about keeping those noble intentions in mind while giving healthy, positive and affirming attention to our marriage, and especially to developing a deeper relationship with our spouse. As we build this relationship over time, the Lord will bless our marriages with ever deepening friendship and sweeter romance.

Therefore, the first stage of this marriage building course is to believe that the One True God who wishes to bless our marriage abundantly is there to support us at every turn, and is always only a prayer away. As we turn our focus away from those things that block our relationship (with God and with our spouse) we consciously focus on God, allowing the Divine presence to direct our thoughts and guide our feelings. This is what it means to have a spiritual focus.

It is from this place of spiritual focus that you can build inmost friendship and lasting romance in your marriage.  This week, your focus in your marriage will be to spend time together in mutually enjoyable activities that are healthy for your relationship. You can stop saying, “I have to do this,” and start saying, “I get to do this because it will bless my marriage.” Spending time together in enjoyable, spirit-filled ways will create lasting, loving memories that will keep your relationship solid now and into the future.

The blessings of married love are innocence, peace, tranquility, inmost friendship, full trust, and a mutual desire of mind and heart to do the other every good. –Emanuel Swedenborg, True Marriage Love, 180


Assignment

Spiritual Focus: One True God/ One True Love
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together”—Psalm 34:3


  • Develop your spiritual focus. Stay connected to the Source by praying for God’s qualities to come into your life. Keep positive scripture in your mind to help you stay focused. In your journals, expand your list of those activities that you mutually enjoy together and that are healthy for your relationship. Then commit to spending 15 hours this week enjoying each others company. You may include this class as 3-4 hours of that time commitment. (If  15 hours seems unreasonable, see how many you can actually do; then work on improving it until you can reach at least 15 hours per week)
  • Prepare one journal entry to turn in at the beginning of next week’s class. This will be your reflection on keeping the assignment. What did you learn? What came up for you? What was difficult? What was rewarding? What did you appreciate?