God Specializes in Restoration
Mark and Jill had been married for 25 years and had five children. He was a pastor, and she led a well-known women’s ministry. Together, they spoke on marriage and parenting.
But then he had an affair, left the home, and asked for a divorce.
However, God intervened and fully restored Mark and Jill’s marriage. In the process, they learned what had sabotaged their relationship and how they could more effectively strengthen their marriage. They share their new insights in a very practical book, No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together.¹
“Being real” is something Mark and Jill Savage do well in this book. They are real not only with one another, but also with their readers. I appreciate the authors’ openness and honesty.
Not only do they say, “Here are some things that happened in our marriage,” but they go beyond that: Mark says, “Here is some of the junk that was going on in my heart,” and Jill says, “Here is some of the junk that was going on in my heart.” Those insights are critical because until we look at our own hearts as husbands and wives, we are dealing with only surface issues in our marriages.
The truths in this book are important for all of us—whether our marriage is great, struggling, or broken—because being diligent in guarding the thoughts and motives of our heart is always the most important thing we do. One of the best things we can do for our marriages is to recognize and take responsibility for our self-talk and inner motivations.
Accepting One Another
And here is something that I love about this book: there is a consistent theme of accepting one another. That is what God does for us; He accepts us with warm welcome.
Jill explains the value of acceptance:
Acceptance has helped me honor my husband. It’s helped me celebrate who he is. … I’m not his mom. … I’m not his teacher. … I’m his wife, and acceptance has helped me to link arms with the man I love in order to walk through life together. (72)
Mark also recognized the need for acceptance:
I realized I wasn’t accepting Jill for who she is. Instead, I was working against her, trying to change her into what was easier and more comfortable for me. I was working to make her into who I wanted her to be. (72)
Fighting the Fades
The thesis of the book is that there are seven “fades” which gradually erode marriages, but there are also eight God-given tools which overcome those fades. Do you recognize any of these fades?
- failing to deal with unrealistic expectations
- minimizing your feelings or those of your spouse
- not accepting your spouse
- reacting to disagreement in damaging ways
- being naïve and failing to protect your marriage
- avoiding emotion
Using God’s Tools
To counter the fades, God gives us eight powerful tools: courage, forgiveness, grace, love, humility, wisdom, compassion, and acceptance.
Doing things God’s way isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is always the right thing to do. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is determining [that] something is more important than the fear. (48)
We act courageously in marriage when we persevere rather than quit. When we act with integrity rather than letting our feelings control us. … When we talk rather than shut down. When we apologize even if we aren’t the only one wrong. … Get your courage on and push through those fears for the sake of your marriage. (51-52)
When thinking through whether something needs forgiveness or grace, ask yourself these two questions:
1) Does this hurt me or just irritate me?
2) Does this need to be corrected or simply accepted as part of being married to an imperfect person? (56-57)
Let’s be aware of the fades, and let’s keep using our tools! The Spirit of God will help us to recognize and repent of the junk in our own hearts, and He will give us new attitudes, new thoughts, and new motivations. God works miracles and masterpieces in every heart and home lifted up to Him.
You Will Not Want to Miss This: A Prayer Call with Mark and Jill
Be sure to join us on April 20.
I am excited that Mark and Jill will be joining us on our weekly call. They will share some insights and encouragement for several minutes before leading us in prayer for our marriages.
Join the prayer call online or by phone. Click HERE to learn how. (It’s easy, and you will be in listen-only mode.)
A Book Give-Away
Interested in receiving a copy of No More Perfect Marriages? If so, just let me know with a comment on this post by APRIL 5. Moody Publishers will mail a complimentary copy to one person, randomly chosen.
Blessings to you!
¹Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017.
Sounds like a good book on marriage.
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Your blog, Bible studies and prayer calls are strengthening me in ways only God can do…you are a blessing! This book sounds excellent & right on target with what you’ve been teaching for years.
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Thank you, Melissa, for being a beautiful blessing to me–and to many others! May God cover you and your family with His protection, provision, and peace.