Bob is sleeping here tonight.

[From Gail and Bob Together]

[Disclaimer and HINT: Parents, included in this post – in the extra metaphor at the end – is potentially suggestive adult material. Use your own judgment when sharing this post with your children. Children, you should probably not read this without your parents’ permission – and remember you are probably not old enough.]

We are continuing our report on the three-day Marriage Conference in Tororo, Uganda, where we taught Ten Principles of a Christian Marriage. We have covered Principles 1-7 by discussing the analogies we used in each principle to clarify the material for the students [See “The Marriage Conference in Tororo (Parts 1 and 2)”]. Let’s continue…

 Marriage Principle #8 – Marriage Requires the Couple to have a Spiritual Relationship with Each Other. Here we taught an analogy from our many years of pre-marital counseling. We painted the picture that there are not just two people in marriage, but there is a third person who must be nurtured equally for the marriage to be healthy. No, this does not refer to God, though that may be your first guess. It refers to the one-flesh unit that is created when a man and woman leave their parents and join together as one. In our marriage there is Bob the individual who is responsible to have a deep and personal relationship with God, then there is Gail who is responsible as a disciple to have a deep personal relationship with God, and then there is “Meade” or “Bob/Gail” who was created on the day we got married in 1969 who also is responsible to have a deep and personal relationship with God together. To make our marriage successful, we have had to spend as much effort keeping “Bob/Gail” healthy as we have in keeping our individual selves healthy. It hasn’t always been easy. But we have certain things that we do to keep that part of our marriage happy and healthy which we taught to the group in Tororo. For instance, one of those things is that we have always practiced a weekly date night that is set aside every week just to spend quality time with each other.

Gail is sleeping here tonight. She is ministering in Mbale with her friend who is the National Director of Prison Fellowship Int’l, ministering to the children of incarcerated prisoners.

Marriage Principle #9 – Understand the Man’s Role in Marriage – Here we borrowed from John Trent and Gary Smalley (just like we did, btw, for the Blessing material in Principle #4 – to give our group the analogy that a man is a warrior. As a warrior he has two swords that he wears – the silver sword of conquest and problem solving, and the gold sword of love and nurture. We shared how the man goes out from the home with his silver sword and conquers problems all day long as he provides for his family. It is a sword of power and authority. However, if he returns home and treats his family like a problem to be conquered, he will do great spiritual damage. When he enters the home, he must remove his silver sword and hang it up on the wall, and take down his gold sword which he left there when he went out. Now, with the gold sword of love and nurture, his attitude and behavior is different from his “business” personality. Now he can give the wonderful gifts that a husband and father needs to give to his wife and children in the home.

Marriage Principle #10 – Understand the Woman’s Role in Marriage – Here we teach from 1 Peter 3:1-5. We do not suggest that a woman cannot be a leader for we have many strong female pastors attending our seminars from all over Uganda. Rather we teach that the woman is the heart of the marriage, bringing a deep intuition to the relationship that both should come to rely on. The analogy that Bob uses in this part is to draw a race car on the board, draw its big powerful engine roaring under the hood, and then draw the steering wheel. Then he asks the women, “Which would you rather be – the engine or the steering wheel?” Inevitably, they mostly pick the engine. Then he points out that if the engine is at full capacity and the car is speeding 200 km/hour down the highway, but there is no one to steer the wheel, the beautiful and powerful race car will crash and be destroyed by its own power. Bob then suggests that the woman should consider being the wheel, the one who influences where the power is used and what direction it goes. This is particularly effective in Uganda because the men like to think of themselves as powerful, large and in charge, but every one of them has experienced “power-crashes” because of poor decision-making. Bob then suggests to them that if they are one together, the engine provides the power, but the steering wheel influences the direction. We can’t all lead, and two heads will provide only conflict, so choosing to be the influence behind the engine allows them both to serve in a major role in the marriage.

Now here is another metaphor we used during the teaching. See if you can figure out which principle we were teaching…A rock falling away rapidly into the lake versus a graceful waterfowl gliding gently down to land on the lake. (See the HINT – We did say we had a frank discussion of marital issues with our students).

We hope you have enjoyed joining our marriage conference for these three posts. These concepts are basic, uncomplicated and somewhat the norm for U.S. teaching on marriage. However, here in Uganda it seems to be  revolutionary. I have heard one single girl say that she has changed the entire way she is relating to her boyfriend/fiance after the seminar. I have an overseer of churches begging me to hold another marriage seminar for his group of churches in this same region because the marriages of his pastors are falling apart. The problem here in Africa is that most people have a culturally low view of marriage – i.e., the man is king, the woman is property or sex slave meant to product 17 children before he moves on to a younger version. This low view is present even among Christians I am sad to say. This material, though basic, has apparently really given them something to think about. I pray it brings change.

Pray for us, as we are praying for you. This week I am in the middle of five days of Christian History, Reformation to the Present, at the Lake Victoria Bible Institutes at Tororo. Gail is ministering in Mbale and we will reunite on Thursday night. Blessings on you all.