Weathering the Storms of Marriage

29 10 2012

The East coast is getting pounded with hurricane Sandy as I write this.  The winds are increasing in speed, the rain is pouring down, the creeks, rivers and tide waters are rising as the power companies are on standby alert.  It’s frightening and exciting all at the same time.  We’ve seen storms before, as well as hurricane’s, but this is to be “one of the worst.”  I have prepared with tying everything down, bringing items into the garage, storing food and water and purchasing extra gasoline.  Not sure what else to do other than wait it out, pray and watch out for our neighbors’ needs.  Marriage storms are a bit similar, i.e., unpredictable at times, can’t really know the intensity, and unaware of the potential damages forthcoming.  The main difference may be in getting caught off guard due to the fact that we don’t possess an internal doppler radar system for predicting marriage storms.

Storms, however, are unavoidable within our marriages.  When two people are close enough to see and feel emotional rises and experience power and control losses, damages may occur.  In the eye of the storm (or heat of the argument) we tend to become short with one another and allow words to be spoken that under normal circumstances we would never say.  Emotions seem to force the parts of us that we like to keep hidden, those parts that only relational hardship and pressure will release.  We push back in an offensive manner only to find a stronger wind blowing from our partner against us.  What do we do?  Getting louder accentuates emotional response for yourself and your mate.  Proverbs tells us that a quiet answer turns away anger.  But a quiet answer doesn’t really get our point across.  Ephesians says to speak the truth, but simply speaking the truth can be mean-spirited.  What’s the key?  Speaking to the storm in a quiet tone of voice, telling the truth with love and grace as an anesthesia and maintaining a spirit of love will increase your chances for minimal damages.  When the damages are minimal, there’s a lot less clean up work.

When it comes to Marriage, Do you have a Consumer’s Mentality or a Committed Mentality?

22 10 2012

Imagine you’re at the “husband restaurant” looking over the menu.  Your waiter comes and you ask him, “Do you have any of those good-looking husbands who are tall, lean and somewhat handsome (“somewhat,” because too attractive causes problems with other women)?”  Your waiter assures you there are a few remaining.  You then add,”…a little smart on the side, but not too smart (you need to be able to win the arguments), skilled with his hands…a mister-fixer-upper would be nice.”  “Oh, and for dessert, I’ll have some of that, “likes housework over sports and spending time with the guys.”  The problem is that when your server brings him he’s undercooked, green, can’t do a thing with his hands or he’s overcooked and thinking he knows it all.  He’s not tender and he is clueless when it comes to emotional issues.  You tell your waiter, “Take him back, he’s not at all what I ordered; in fact, I think you brought me someone else’s order by mistake!”  Consumerrrrr.

When we marry, most spouses are a little rough around the edges, but God loves rough around the edges – He specializes in it.  He will use your spouse in your life to tenderize you and bring you truth.  At times it hurts, but if you remain teachable it will “hurt good.”  Consumers criticize their mate’s brokenness, but the committed fight for him or her with a redemptive spirit.  The consumer tries to change their mate to be more like themselves.  Their thought process goes something like this, “If he were more like me and the way I think and act then married life would be so much easier.”  Their core belief is, “My way is the right way.”   The committed are thinking, “It’s not my way or his way, but our way.”  The committed have thoughts, words and actions toward the redemptive purposes of God in their marriage.  The committed are not making unfair comparisons, but are walking by faith toward a deeper level of connection.  The reason?  They realize the deep need for the same level of commitment and grace for themselves.

Loving Women/Respecting Men II

15 10 2012

An interesting concept in scripture is when a man desires to be an overseer.  There are some Biblical guidelines and character traits given, one of which is found in I Timothy where it says, “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.”  A man will struggle with his job, his family and his ministry if he feels a lack of respect from those whom he relates to.  When a man feels more respect from his guy friends, his job or hanging out at the fire company rather than his home you will find him desiring to spend the bulk of his time at these places.  Further, when a man experiences a put down in public, he will feel disrespect.

On the other hand, when a woman experiences a put down, she will feel a lack of love.  If she feels that lack of love from her husband, she will begin to separate herself from him emotionally in an effort to protect herself.  Loving your wife through loving acts of service, loving words and physical touches of love will draw her closer to your heart.  When a father expresses love to his daughter and a mother expresses respect to her son, those parents will reach into the very core of their child calling forth their womanhood and their manhood.  Men, ask your wife in what ways can you grow in your expressions of love toward her.  Women, ask your husband in what ways can you grow in showing and expressing respect and honor.   And, please, start by sharing one way, not twenty.

Loving Women/Respecting Men

8 10 2012

Why do you think the scripture tells men to love their wife and women to respect their husband?  (See Ephesians 5:33)  Something that seems to come natural to women is love; they know how to love deeply.  Wives thrive on loving words and actions.  Men need women because women teach men how to love.  Mothers are so amazing when it comes to loving unconditionally.  Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s a face only a mother could love?”  Love is natural for a woman; therefore, she naturally desires love from her husband.  A woman can love to her own detriment.  I have known women who love men who abuse them.

On the other hand, the scriptures indicate that men are to be respected.  Do men not need love?  No, but ask a man would he rather feel (un)love from his mate or disrespect?  Respect literally means to give honor.  A woman says, “How can I show respect if I am not loved?”   A man expresses, “How do I love if I am not feeling respected?”  Where did this begin?  Listen to this paraphrase of Genesis 3:15 written by Hebrew scholar, Ronald Allen, “God then spoke to the woman as a consequence of her rebellion…I will magnify your pain in giving birth.  I will also allow pain to come into your marriage relationship…you will tend to desire to usurp the role I have given to him (your husband) as the compassionate leader in your home, rejecting his role and belittling his manhood.  And the man on his part will tend to relate to you in loveless tyranny, dominating and stifling your integrity as an equal partner to himself.”

To be continued…

Longevity in Marriage

1 10 2012


How long do you expect to be married?  Seriously, how many years do you think you’ll be one with your mate?  My parents are married for 62 years and my in-laws are married for 73 years.  Perhaps it’s good, at times, to consider the other end of a marriage relationship rather than just looking at today.  What is it that you want the last years of your relationship to look like because, honestly, you are working toward that moment right now, today. What do you desire your marriage testimony to say, “It was rough and rocky, but we stuck it out?”  Or, how about what my wife recently observed while sitting with her parents at the doctor’s office?

Harold, my father-in-law, pushed his bride, Betty, into the exam room via a wheel chair and then he shuffled slowly to his seat directly across the room from her.  Mary, my wife, was seated between the two of them where she could witness what would happen next.  In the silence of this waiting period, Mary caught her mother and father looking into one another’s eyes  and then her mother began to move her lips in total silence and mouthed these words to her lifelong partner, “I love you.”  Harold, with a twinkle in his eye, immediately mouthed those same words back.  That’s it; that was the total conversation before the doctor arrived on the scene.  A brief moment caught in time reveled two hearts who will finish the journey of marriage and their marriage testimony amazingly well.

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