Listen to Matt Pavlik answer questions about how to have a successful marriage during the Daily Moments show on WKTO. The episode originally aired on April 9, 2018.
Two heads are not natural.
A car cannot be driven by two people at the same time.
A ship has one captain.
The USA has one president.
A marriage needs one person to lead and one to follow.
Having a hierarchy doesn’t make the wife inferior to the husband.
The Head needs the Body and the Body needs the Head. They are inseparable.
A husband needs his wife to be his equal. Together they make the best decisions.
Any decision made and agreed upon together is better than a decision made apart.
All for one and one for all two.
Let’s stick together me and you.
This book has 52 short chapters that you can easily read in one sitting. Each chapter has a primary principle to help your marriage. The three main sections correspond to the three main developmental areas:
|Part I||Chapters 1-7||Spiritual Foundations for Individual Health|
|Part II||Chapters 8-17||Individual Growth needed for Marital Health|
|Part III||Chapters 18-52||Marital Growth needed to keep your marriage growing for a lifetime|
As I read through Matt’s book, Marriage From Roots to Fruits, I felt hopeful. I thought of all the couples I have met along the way who looked at their relationship, present and future, with a sense of futility and hopelessness. The author gives details of God’s design for a healthy relationship, with very practical tools, filled with real life examples to encourage them along the path of healing and living victoriously.
The author uses his many years of experience as a gifted Christian licensed professional clinical counselor. To share ways of how to make a relationship work, the author explains God’s definition of marriage and how deeply God knows, understands, and cares for the struggle that can come with marriage. The author shows how God offers a path of healing, when we are able to find greater intimacy in Him.
The application of each chapter makes it easier for couples to understand God’s love for them, offering a path of healing and how to find that greater intimacy with each other and with Him along the way.
I have not read a book (manual) like it before. I believe it will help couples who are at the point of hopelessness and emotional pain to truly heal. I also feel it is very applicable for married couples who feel good about the relationship they have but want to have a stronger and deeper relationship with God and with themselves. Matt designed the book to be a tool for pastors and counselors, to use as a guide for premarital counseling, and to help hurting marriages. I feel that this book is a must-read for all caregivers.
I am genuinely excited about this book because I work with so many people with broken relationships. I will be using this book with my clients. It represents unique counseling insights with strong biblical applications, and the author does a wonderful job in expressing those ideas in a way that is understandable and applicable for those who are in need.
Will W Alejandro, M.Div. MA
Joshua Recovery Ministries Inc.
I’ve been married once and engaged twice. I married my wife Georgette in 1999. What happened before I met Georgette? Back when I was engaged the first time, my motto could have been, “Measure once, cut twice.”
After I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1993, I moved to Austin, Texas to start my career as a software engineer. Not too much later, a friend from college introduced me to a friend of hers. We developed a long-distance relationship based on our mutual interest in spiritual and emotional growth.
Around November of 1994 I figured out I wanted to return to school for a counseling degree. To do this I needed to leave Texas, so I quit my job. I asked her to marry me; she said yes.
A few months before the wedding, I moved to her location. Even though living close by was good for us, we ran into some potholes. We attended counseling together for a couple of months, which helped our relationship, but doubt lingered in the back of my mind. As we approached the wedding day, my mood shifted from excitement to alarm.
In hindsight, my first engagement was more of a logical choice rather than a realistic one. Back when I was still in Texas, I went to individual counseling. This moved me from being too cautious to the opposite extreme: too careless. My choice to be engaged was more of an overzealous reaction to my counselor’s advice. Under these circumstances, discounting the signs and red flags was too easy for me. For example, I overlooked her inability to separate from her mother in an emotionally healthy way. As you will see later in this book, this says as much about me as it does her. I can see now that my need for emotional connection overshadowed the reality that the decision to marry deserves our utmost respect.
I was not ready to be married and/or this was not the right woman for me. Fortunately, I realized my mistake before it was too late. Unfortunately, breaking the engagement one week before the wedding cut it a bit close. I learned first-hand that marriage is not something to jump into with both feet without due diligence.
In college, I majored in computer science and worked with a professor as an undergraduate research assistant. I appreciated working with him and even took his independent study class.
However, my first two years of college were difficult. I felt lost. My high school friendships faded. I attempted to make new friends, but no one seemed to understand me. To make matters worse, I was robbed while delivering pizza, which led me to quit my job.
During this time, God used my relational emptiness to draw me to Himself. I became a Christian in July 1991. I remember to this day what it was like not having Christ in my life. The contrast energizes me: one day I was antagonistic toward the idea of God existing, and the next God enabled me to believe in Him.
The final project for the independent study consisted of me building a small finite state machine (logical computer chips containing “and” and “or” gates wired together so they remember to turn on the same lights in each state, plus a switch to trigger the next state). My professor was impressed with my effort, “Most computer science people have their heads in the clouds, but you actually built something out of computer chips that works.” That feedback increased my confidence. It was exciting to learn that I am able to make the abstract understandable to others.
A few months later, my professor announced he was leaving the university because he accepted a position in Austin, Texas. He called me before I graduated and said he’d like to hire me.
In Texas I connected with a dynamic group of Christians. I felt at home with them because we shared an intense desire to grow and learn. The youth pastor named the group Ecclesia 546 (Ecclesia is Greek for church and we met at 5:46pm). This group is the best church experience I’ve had to date. I am thankful to have had the experience and regret it lasted only one short year.
God called the leader away from our church. God called me away, too. This group further influenced my desire to return to school to study counseling.
Cancelling the engagement was difficult but for the best. I spent the summer pondering and recovering from the broken relationship. Then in the fall, I moved to Columbus, Ohio to start working on my counseling degree at Ashland Theological Seminary.
Two years later, I met my wife Georgette. We met in the context of a church group, which I believe helps make the decision process more straightforward and safe. Also, I was wiser because of my previous experience. Two years later we married. Georgette and I have had our ups-and-downs, but I am grateful God brought her into my life.
Most of my life, I’ve felt five to ten years behind my peers emotionally. In my twenties, I had the maturity of a teenager. In my thirties, I was more like someone in their twenties. I suppose this could describe many people, but for me it’s been a blessing and a curse.
Becoming a Christian, knowing God and His love, attending my own counseling, marrying Georgette, and counseling others have helped me catch up emotionally. Some days I still feel like a child—but now I know I am God’s child.
I’ve had a career as a software developer and I currently work as a professional counselor. With this book, I am a published author.
My love for learning grows every day. Being behind emotionally has taught me the value of growth (emotional and spiritual), psychology (the study of the soul), and philosophy (the love of wisdom). Actually, God gifted me with understanding and gently nudged me into the counseling field when I became a Christian. I feel alive and filled with purpose today more than ever.
Finally this Book
I actually started writing this book in 2007. I’ve started it three times. The first two times I lost my sense of direction with it. Finally I’ve finished what I started! I didn’t understand why at the time, but I understand now that I simply didn’t know all of what God wanted me to put into it.
Marriage is a calling that we must first enter and, once married, re-enter daily by faith. Knowing everything about your fiancé or marriage partner is impossible. However, we can enter marriage with due diligence. Working through this book will prepare you for your upcoming marriage, or if you are already married, it will help you navigate to a place of health.
This book contains the best of everything I’ve learned about marriage both personally and professionally. You will learn how to build your marriage from establishing the roots (a strong foundation) to producing fruits (emotional intimacy, children, fruit of the Spirit, and eternally lasting ministry).
Marriage is God joining together a man and a woman, loyal to each other for life, who each contribute distinct but equally important abilities towards the completion of a fruitful mission greater than can be accomplished apart.
- The relationship between husband and wife reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church.
- God intends marriage to be a lifetime commitment, with sexual relations reserved between only one man and one woman who are married to each other.
- God hates divorce and there are natural, negative consequences for it. But God forgives and restores those who divorce as He does every time we miss His ideal for our lives.
- God made man and woman as equals, but they are not equivalent; of equal value, but not interchangeable. God intended both genders to be essential as each provides a distinct contribution, and they have specialized roles in marriage and in life.
- God made man and woman so that any man and any woman can fit together to form a one-flesh marriage. Yet God in His sovereignty knows exactly whom you will marry.
- No one marriage will be everything—like no one person can be everything. Just as a person has limits and personality, so does a marriage.
- Each marriage union forms a unique relationship that no other two people can replicate.
- Every union has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.
Difficulty in marriage is not a sign that someone has married the wrong person. All marriages have difficulty. Challenges are an opportunity for growth just as they are in other areas of life. Therefore, the hard work of marriage is to activate and energize the strengths of a unique marriage while:
- Improving upon the weaknesses when possible; and
- Tolerating them when impossible.
This means being flexible with and accepting of a partner’s healthy individual preferences while being firm and patient with unhealthy choices. A marriage will only be as strong as the individual health of the husband and wife.
Do any of these describe you right now?
- Overwhelmed by perpetual unresolved conflict;
- Drifting away from your partner;
- Experiencing the pain of betrayal;
- Confused by the complexity of marriage;
- Afraid to walk down the aisle.
Marriage: Mission Critical
God created you with a blueprint which establishes not only your identity (His end-in-mind for you as a work of art) but also your growth journey (the step-by-step plans). However, your experiences with the darkness of this world, sin, and the enemy deface the blueprint and leave you disoriented. A marriage at its best provides an encouraging companion who helps you discover your true identity. But without God, marriage becomes a place of fear and self-doubt.
In Marriage from Roots to Fruits, you will learn:
- How to experience spiritual growth and truly know God;
- How to live in your true identity and ensure individual growth;
- How to enjoy marriage growth and true love for your partner.
This book is designed with 52 short lessons which include:
- Concept diagrams: learn the principles visually;
- For Reflection ideas: think deeper about each lesson;
- Experiential exercises: know the truths in your heart;
- Next Steps actions: apply what you learn in your marriage.
Appendix A in the back of the book lists 40+ movies mentioned in almost every chapter. For each movie I include a few words to describe its theme and any cautions. The ratings span from G to R. Most of the R movies are rated this way because of the intense violence or trauma necessary to tell the story.
Use the seven questions in the appendix to help you organize your experience into a plan for growth. Here are two of the questions:
- What are the main themes and principles of the movie?
- With which character do you identify most? Least?
|1||The Notebook||Knowing what you want; persevering, maturing love||PG-13|
|2,3,4||The Passion of Christ||Jesus’ life and sacrifice||R; graphic depiction of crucifixion|
|5||The Truman Show||Confidence vs self-doubt||PG|
|6||Life is Beautiful||Self-sacrifice to make life better for others; positive attitude||PG-13|
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:3-9 ESV
The Four Types of Soil
Jesus uses the Parable of the Sower to speak about our receptivity to God’s words (Matthew 13:3-9). Let’s consider how the parable also applies to marriage. The four types of soil in the parable match up with four types of relationships. From least to most desirable, these are Path, Rocks, Thorns, and Good Soil.
- The Path / Conflicted couple alternates between extreme behaviors of intense fighting and extreme feelings of distance; they cannot begin to build a positive connection.
- The Rocks / Careless couple relies superficially on short-lived positive experiences; they cannot experience contentment with their connection.
- The Thorns / Choking couple has a history together, but are stuck in a rut; they fail to pursue a passionate connection.
- The Good Soil / Cooperating couple has endured both highs and lows; they experience closeness and distance without losing a positive connection.
The typical inexperienced couple begins as either Conflicted or Careless. Along the way, every couple experiences being Conflicted, Careless, and Choking before making it to Cooperating.
Jesus makes it clear that the hardest place to be is On the Path. In marriage, when both partners’ hearts are hard, look out! They will either tear each other apart or be so disengaged that no relationship exists. Either way, the result is an empty, unfruitful relationship.
Jesus says the seed sown along the path is like someone hearing the words but having no understanding. He equates understanding with fruitfulness. The ground is so hard the seed cannot penetrate. When growth cannot begin, a couple loses the opportunity to be a source of light in a dark world. They may be together only by habit and convenience. If they have not already given up, they are in danger of separation, divorce, or some type of extra-marital affair.
A conflicted relationship consists of either extreme conflict (battling for the last crumb) or extreme disconnection (not speaking for days). The path represents immaturity—being oblivious to how to make the relationship work.
- Intense frustration, anger, and loneliness;
- Regular unresolved conflict with defensive self-focus and hurtful words and behaviors;
- A stubborn lack of ownership coupled with blame-shifting;
- All or nothing thinking;
- Dependence on each other for contentment;
- Confusion from a lack of definition and direction;
- Rare, if any, enjoyment of the relationship resulting in a lack of positive memories; and
- High expectations and needs along with a low ability to meet needs.
A couple who lacks relational skills, positive experiences, a validating history, and an understanding of God’s intention for marriage will feel a tangible hopelessness.