The Marriage Quadrants, Part Six

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender concludes our series about the Marriage Quadrants, a theoretical framework of marriage that informs how he engages and works with couples. (You can find a PDF laying out the quadrants at the bottom of this post.)

“Each couple is a unique culture, a different language, an entirely new world. And yet are there commonalities? Yes.”

If you’ve spent the last five weeks listening to this series, you might be wondering: where does a good marriage fit in? Is there even such a thing as a ‘good’ marriage? Dan returns to the themes from earlier in the series, about the relationship between affiliation and individuation, or intimacy and impact, before diving into four categories that mark strong and vibrant marriages: the presence of desire, how the couple engages conflict and contempt, the growth of curiosity, and an ever-deepening care for one another, for oneself, and for God.

“The currency of evil is to draw our hearts toward that criticism and condemnation of ourselves and others that only creates fragmentation.”

Dan reflects on his own marriage with his wife, Becky, as he discusses the growth of curiosity and care. “The more I know her, the more I know I don’t know her,” he says. The more he becomes an ‘expert’ in knowing his wife, the more he realizes how much there is still to discover. This curiosity yields a humility that is essential to deep commitment and a deepening of care.

“We are so far beyond a ‘good’ marriage. We’re talking about a kingdom of God marriage.”

“The real task of therapy is to be able to be in the play of the kingdom of God, wondering what it is for my life, your life, our life to be that which serves the living God in all of our lives.”

Dan also shares about what he looks for when he meets a new couple as a therapist. Where are the entry points that will lead us into deeper clarity, passion, desire, and care for one another? More often than not, says Dan, we must first go into death and name our wounds and heartaches before we can ever move toward the creativity and intimacy of resurrection life.