Last week Martha and I were invited guests to a luncheon sponsored by KTIS Radio in honor of pastors and their wives. In addition to a great meal, the 350 who were gathered heard a stirring, heartfelt message on marriage, presented by Dr. Gary Smalley, Director of the Smalley Relationship Center in Branson, Missouri. Dr. Smalley opened his talk with a simple, succinct, and stimulating statement. He said, “The most important but often overlooked key to a truly great marriage is SECURITY.”
I’ve attended my share of marriage enrichment seminars emphasizing the importance of skills such as listening to, understanding, respecting and appreciating one’s mate as the vital ingredients in the formula of marital oneness and success. Smalley would agree that these skills are important and have their place, but only when a proper foundation for marriage is laid, which is, in a word – “SECURITY.”
“As humans a section of our brain has been hardwired to seek a loving connection with others,” Smalley said. He added, “But regardless of how hard a person may try, deep, emotionally-based intimate, best-friend-type of relationships only happen when you feel safe and secure in the presence of the other.” In other words, marriages never achieve intimacy or a deep sense of connection because one or both partners in the marriage are afraid to risk openness. Their fear of being uncomfortable, hurt, humiliated, embarrassed, or even condemned by the other is too great a risk, and thus spouses remain under the same roof but retreat to their respective corners emotionally and in effect hide from the other.
There is also the physical health aspect to consider, as some people can be very closed up when it comes to sharing information about their health in general. It is important to be open with your partner so that they know what you are dealing with so you can overcome it together. They might even be able to help, specially if you are really really sick. As an example of what could be considered perhaps embarrassing, I did go through an issue in which I could not perform, if you know what I mean. She helped me find a product that was natural and safe to use that you can find at 10naturalhomeremedies.com. I tried it and our troubles in that regard faded away. If I had dealt with this myself, looking for a product online that might help me would not have been my first, second, or even third thought to be honest.
How do couples build a foundation of relational security? In his talk, Smalley took us back to two important words, “I promise.” He told us about a man he knows who when his wife asked him why he loved her, answered simply, “Because I promised I would.” Not a very romantic answer is it? She probably wanted him to say “because you’re so beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, sexy, and desirable.” Smalley went on to share that his friend’s wife was not entirely put off by his answer, however, because it gave her a deep sense of security. There was something very reassuring about the fact that his love for her was not based on her performance, her attractiveness, or any condition she had to meet in order to earn it. Just maybe she could risk being herself in the presence of this man who had promised to love her no matter what. In his promise she sensed a basis for security.
As I listened to Dr. Smalley, my question was “Can human love be trusted enough to provide this security?” Strictly speaking the answer is “No.” People can and often do disappoint and even fail us. The source of our love, therefore, is not our own integrity or wisdom, which is flawed, but the love of God in Christ. I was reminded of I John 4:18-19 – “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear (That’s real security)… We love, because he first loved us.” True security is found in the love of Christ. It’s as we view ourselves as connected to Christ through His love for us, that we can then reflect that love and give it away to others. As we recognize at a deep level that there is therefore “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, …” (Romans 8:1), others, especially our mates, feel secure, safe, and accepted in our love for them and are then drawn to us in a sense of intimacy and openness. It struck me that it’s the love of Christ flowing through us that gives substance and strength to any sense of security we can ever hope to offer another. At the risk of sounding cliché, perhaps it would be just as appropriate to say that the key to a truly great marriage is simply the love of Christ. – MAJ