Since Don Britton has been there and done that when it comes to marriage, he'd like to save others the trouble.
The East Ridge small business owner and volunteer pastor was divorced in 1975 and ran into trouble in his second marriage before he and his wife, Rita, turned things around.
The Brittons, who will host a marriage enrichment seminar at the Gateway Teaching Center next Saturday, say the key for each spouse is to apply biblical concepts to their role in the marriage and to the marriage in general.
"I'm 63 and my wife is 60," Don Britton said. "We have as much passion as any 20-year-olds. We enjoy this time in our lives together."
Marriage counseling and church-sponsored marriage events can offer help to a point, he said, but each spouse has a personal responsibility to examine his or her own spirituality and to know God.
Frankly, he said, if couples are not going to walk with God they will fail at life's greatest opportunity.
"We have a greater responsibility than [ensuring our] happiness, having money in our bank account and having fun. If we've missed the kingdom of God, we've missed the whole point," he said.
Britton said the Bible is clear on the roles husbands and wives have, but don't get the idea he's some cave man who insists women should be men's slaves.
"I define [what the Bible says] in a more practical way," he said. When the Bible says wives should be submissive to their husbands, "that's her submitting to him in the context of him submitting to God. His leadership is not a dictatorship. It's more of a caretaker."
The role is similar to a shepherd looking after the sheep, Britton said. What wife wouldn't want her husband to shoulder the responsibility in the home and to watch over his wife and their children, he said.
Men, he said, are usually the problems in a troubled marriage.
"Most men are passive, lazy, selfish and disconnected from their wives and children," said Britton, who has five children (her two, his two and one together) and 11 grandchildren with his wife.
When he and his wife had trouble, he said, they came to realize he did not know how to be a husband and she did not know how to be a wife. Instead of each thinking a spouse is someone to do for the other whatever and whenever, they began looking at things from a biblical perspective.
"A husband's responsibility is to care for the family and [his wife's] needs before [his] own," Britton said. "A wife should have respect for her husband and care for him" before she cares for herself.
He said the seminar he and his wife present — they've done versions here and elsewhere for 25 years — cover issues such as communication, forgiveness, finances, love and intimacy.
Of those, Britton said, the top three issues are communication, communication and communication. Everything else, he said, flows from that.
"So many couples are just not talking," he said. "The husband is the worst to do this. [The couples] should have a weekly appointed time to let everything go, to talk out the issues before they build to a volcanic eruption."
Britton said it's a fact that couples today have unreasonable expectation about marriage and about life.
Couples, he said, should rely on biblical foundations to love one another, to consider one another, to forgive one another and to put one another's thoughts above their own.
"When you give to others, you feel really blessed," he said. "We try to convey to other married couples that there are solutions to your [troubled] marriage. They will transform your life."
For more information or to register for the seminar, call Mike Treece at 413-7958.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...