By: Jeff Pinkleton
Encompass Connection Center Board Member
I believe it was Paul David Tripp, who first spoke a hard truth into my spirit about marriage.
One of the primary goals of the God covenant with a man and woman is that they each would conform to the image of Christ. And yes, to accomplish this purpose, God wants to use your spouse to mold you into His image. More than anyone or anything else, says Tripp and others.
Sounds a bit painful, and challenging. Yes and Amen.
One of the main ways, I’ve seen this play out in my marriage to Kara, is the high priority and value of our same sex friendships. Here's what I mean...
It is a bit easier for me, leading a men’s ministry, The Gathering of the Miami Valley, where our tagline is CONNECTING MEN TO MEN AND MEN TO GOD. Most men don’t have the same wave and rhythm of time and exposure to so many high-caliber, God-honoring men. Plus, I’m wired a bit differently, to have a fairly high capacity of deeper male friendships.
Kara has less time, and is built for a smaller number in her tribe of close female relationships. We just had this play out in a crucial conversation recently where I reminded her that as long as her core of three women have my back and our back (and I trust they do), I'll give them my full support!
Kara takes regular walks with her friends. Sunday night is a protected time to grow in Christ with her two good friends and then there is a third that she does life with regularly as a friend, as a couple, and as a family.
With our friends, prayer is a priority and we often share between two friends, as couples, on date nights, and in our small groups.
I continually tell my wife, "I don’t know where we’d be, without focused effort and time spent with our same-sex friendships." Fighting for these times for each other and protecting it on the calendar is of utmost importance.
Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve issues and create fulfilling, productive relationships. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.