18th July 2019
On Monday, Deb and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We are so grateful to God for taking us—two people with very different personalities, backgrounds and interests—and making us one. We know that we are better people for the influence of the other.
The Office for National Statistics estimated in 2012 that 42% of marriages in England and Wales would end in divorce. This is a tragic statistic. How does young love, with all its hope and optimism, end in the heartbreak of broken promises and relational breakdown?
In their excellent book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller identify two apparently conflicting attitudes towards marriage in this modern era. On the one hand, there is an idealism about marriage, a belief that our potential spouse should be a ‘perfect’ partner, meet our every need, that they should ‘complete’ us. It’s an idea communicated in many romantic comedies—and fairy tales! But because such idealism is not reflected in actual experience, it is coupled with a deep pessimism, a belief that no marriage can or will last for long and divorce is almost inevitable. What a sad state of affairs! But Keller argues that a Christian view of marriage is very different and offers hope:
According to the bible, God devised marriage to reflect the saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole life union.” (The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller)
Over the years, Deb and I have found that our differences have tended to complement each other rather than cause tension. We are continually learning from each other, and together we have matured as people. We aim to do our best to serve and bless rather than demand and complain. That said, we continue to provoke each other to grow, even though it can be painful at times—as I heard someone say recently, growth is just another word for change!
As we look back over three decades of marriage, we are immensely grateful to God for His commitment to us, for the family we have built, and for the love and companionship our marriage provides. While on holiday last month enjoying an early celebration of our 30th anniversary, Deb and I read Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Littell Greco, another book we would recommend. We often take the opportunity to read something together when on holiday, as part of our commitment to investing in our relationship. If you are married, why not consider reading a book with your spouse? No matter how many years you have been together, there is always more to learn.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
7th June 2018
It’s amazing how much the media found to say about the Royal Wedding – whether that fascinated or bored you, it was reassuring to know that every family, however grand, has its challenges!
We had a wedding in the family recently – not quite on the same scale but with all the fun of catching up with relatives we hadn’t seen for a while and getting to know the ‘new’ family that’s joining ours. As the bride and groom made their vows, it was a great moment to reflect on how our marriage is doing. As we ate together with family, it was a reminder how important family is – mum or dad, son or daughter, sister or brother, uncle or aunt – we belong.
On the day of course, weddings are filled with joy, but as a pastor I get to look behind the scenes, meeting with couples to prepare them for the big day. Some couples have been through many challenges to get to their day; for some marriage is a discipleship choice, moving from living together to a lifelong commitment made before God; others are just full of heady optimism as they start the journey of marriage.
William and I celebrate 40 years of marriage this summer. We had no idea what lay ahead when we made our vows – I was still a teenager! We have lived in three different countries (well four counting Wales!), thirteen different flats and houses and one caravan! In it all we can testify to God’s amazing grace and faithfulness over the years. In the frustrations and disappointments, the surprises and successes, our heavenly Father has led us and provided for us. The hardest challenges have been dealing with our own characters and choices. There has been such tender joy when we have chosen forgiveness over resentment, and perseverance over giving up on each other. We can still look each other in the eye and gladly promise to love, honour, comfort, and cherish each other – choosing to be faithful for as long as we both shall live.
If you’re married, why not take a moment to review how you’re doing – what can you celebrate together this summer? Or reflect on your family life – is there someone in your family who would love to get a call from you, a relative you need to forgive or invite round for a meal? Let’s build family in a way that points to the preciousness of human relationships.
As a church we are God’s family, He is our Father, we belong together – every Sunday and group meeting let’s keep intentionally welcoming and including new people into the family.
Hilary Dalziel assists in leading the Catford site and is the main driving force behind Groups at King's. She is part of the Pastoral Care Team, oversees marriage mentoring and organises much of the training of pastoral care staff and volunteers. Hilary is married to William and they have three grown up children.
Steve Tibbert is on sabbatical and will be back in September.
Posted by Hilary Dalziel
19th October 2017
As part of our commitment to continuing to invest in our relationship, Deb and I decided some time ago to read a book on marriage together each summer. This year we excelled ourselves and read two! While our boys were serving at Newday, we took the opportunity to escape to the South of France where the weather and scenery provided the perfect context to discuss over meals some of the interesting issues raised by our reading.
The first book we read was Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Little Greco. Unlike many marriage books we have come across, this one is written by a woman, with input and testimony from her husband, and gives a slightly different angle to some of the subjects that are often covered in Christian marriage books. She takes a similar approach to Tim and Kathy Keller in their classic The Meaning of Marriage, being less of a practical ‘how to’ manual and more of a challenge to consider underlying attitudes and character. The chapters on handling conflict and the influence of your upbringing were particularly helpful. We had some fascinating and extremely helpful discussions while reading this very well written book and would definitely recommend it.
Douglas Rosenau is the author of Celebration of Sex, the ‘must have’ book on intimacy in Christian marriage – it is one we recommend to all married couples at King’s. So when I saw that he has written another book, Total Intimacy, I ordered it immediately. This shorter book on romance looks at the subject of marital intimacy from different angles. It stresses the importance of friendship and emotional connection as well as sexual love. This is more of a ‘how to’ book and again led to some very good discussions for Deb and I – another one to add to your reading list.
You don’t have to go to the South of France to spend time reading and investing in your marriage – although if you can, I highly recommend it as a romantic place to visit! But I would encourage all of you who are married to be intentional about building a great relationship – read a book together, make time and space to discuss it and act on what you learn!
Posted by Steve Tibbert
15th June 2017
Yesterday morning I read a powerful article by Kay Warren. It is an open, honest and deeply moving account of the difficulties she and her husband Rick have encountered in their marriage. She does not shy away from describing the challenges they faced; nor does she underplay the hard work needed to ensure that their marriage did not stay in a place of pain and disappointment. Their determination to work at and build their relationship means that they can now say with certainty they are “the best thing that has ever happened to each other”.
I find myself wondering why testimonies such as this are so powerful. I believe it is because they are not afraid to say that marriage can be hard - that a happy, successful marriage does not happen by chance, but by each person being determined to work at the relationship. I believe that when a couple as successful and high profile as Kay and Rick Warren have the courage to share their story and admit that their relationship has not always been perfect, it gives the rest of us permission to admit that yes, we too have experienced challenges in our marriages. I believe it gives us courage and faith to work on our relationships and not live in denial if there are problems.
Like most young couples, Deb and I experienced difficulties in the early years of our marriage. We had challenges in our love life, our communication, how we dealt with conflict and the expectations we had each brought into the relationship. And over the course of nearly 28 years we have had to keep on talking, learning, growing, apologising and forgiving. It takes work – it does not just happen – but although it has been painful at times, it means that we too can say “we are the best thing that has ever happened to each other”.
Our years in pastoral ministry have confirmed that our experience is pretty normal – most couples will encounter challenges in marriage. It is with this in mind that Deb and I host a marriage enrichment seminar each year called Sex, Romance and God. The morning aims to help each of us understand and learn to love our partner better. This year, it is happening on Saturday 24th June, 9.45am to 1.00pm, at our Catford site - further details here. Whether you’ve been married for one month or several decades, the seminar is an excellent opportunity to invest in your marriage.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham, Lee and Beckenham. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.