Growing Respect in our Marriages

5 08 2019

Someone once shared with me these words, “I’ll respect him when he starts respecting me.” Still another said, “When she starts acting respectable, I’ll show her respect.”  Really? Since when is respect conditional upon another respecting you?

 

Do you show respect to your boss even when they are not in some way earning that respect?  Do you respect out of a desire to obey God, regardless of what you feel the other is or is not doing?  Were you aware of the fact that there are respect clauses in the Scripture?  Peter wrote that we were to “…treat them [wives] with respect,” and Paul wrote “…the wife must respect her husband.”  (I Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:33) There were no additional words that stated if the husband or wife also showed respect.  Then again, there are no words that state we can demand respect — that’s not how it works.

 

Judas did a lot of disrespectful things as a disciple of Christ and yet Jesus still washed his feet along with the others.  The woman caught in adultery was not the most respectable and neither was the woman at the well and our Savior showed much respect and forgiveness toward them.  Perhaps your wife or your husband has not always shown you respect, but that does not give you license to return the same.

 

I love how author Gary Thomas weighs in on this very subject, “As our partners and their weaknesses become more familiar to us, respect often becomes harder to give.  But this failure to show respect is more a sign of spiritual immaturity than it is an inevitable pathway of marriage.”  He also notes, “When there is mutual respect in marriage, selflessness becomes contagious…. If you want to obsess about them [weaknesses], they’ll grow, but you won’t!”

 

How is respect growing in your relationships, especially within your marriage?

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Marriage Minefields and Hidden Memories

22 07 2019

Marriage minefields are fields where we have buried or hidden devices (memories) just below the surface.  We actually move forward in life by frequently looking backward.  Most day-to-day life is not filled with new revelation but memory. Memory helps us to find our way home after work.  Memory is used daily in order to live life.  Life without the ability to recall even the slightest, most mundane details or important ones would be disastrous.

 

When we have an issue in marriage, we quickly go to our memory bank and pull up a pleasant experience, a neutral experience or a negative experience.  If we find ourselves connecting to a pain-filled memory, we can begin to sweat, experience an increased heart rate and be inundated with a flood of negative emotions. When this happens, we know we have connected to a memory minefield.

 

Some of our memories contain lies or misbeliefs and still others are inaccurate. It was not uncommon for John and Elizabeth (not their real names) to experience knock-down, drag-out arguments. In sheer frustration late one evening, John looked at Elizabeth and said, “That’s it; I’m out of here!” Immediately, Elizabeth went silent and fell to the floor in a fetal position, where she sobbed uncontrollably. Even though John ran immediately to his wife, knelt beside her, and desperately tried to console her, it was as if he had left. Elizabeth didn’t or couldn’t hear his voice or acknowledge his presence. John later discovered that when his wife was six years old, she overheard her parents fighting. Her father’s words rang out as he screamed, “That’s it; I’m out of here!” Elizabeth never saw her father again

 

John was not her father; he was her dedicated husband. However, when Elizabeth heard that same phrase, she immediately associated the words with her father’s words from her childhood. That former experience was automatically connected to the present experience. The characters were different, but in her mind the outcome would be the same. The deep, wrenching pain of loss she once associated with her father’s abandonment returned as if it was programmed for this exact moment. Everything in her being was telling her, “Now my husband is leaving me too.” The pain was unbearable, and those same feelings of abandonment returned with a vengeance.

 

Elizabeth was no longer fighting with John; she was wrestling with pain-filled memories planted in a minefield just below the surface. Was it the argument they needed to resolve, or was it Elizabeth’s past hurts that needed to be healed? From many stories like this one, I have come to believe that most relationship issues in the present have a connection to the past; therefore, what seem like marital issues are often individual issues. I am convinced that when Jesus heals our individual issues, sins, hurts, and disappointments, marriage relationship issues can also be healed. *

*Adapted from Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve and Mary Prokopchak





Praise in Public; Construct in Private

15 07 2019

Many years ago, a wiser, older, more mature couple taught us this phrase: praise in public; construct in private.  By that phrase they meant to always provide a word of praise for your mate when with your family, at your work place, with your friends or in any social setting.  They also encouraged us to never, ever put our mate down, shame them, humiliate them or correct them in a negative sense in public.  We took this counsel to heart and have adapted it for our marriage relationship.

 

When in public, it is difficult to be in a conversation with a person who frequently speaks negatively of their spouse.  It is embarrassing and it is often shamed-filled.  When a life mate feels the need to continually place their partner in a negative light, I question their own esteem.

 

Concerning praise, the writer of Proverbs puts it this way, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”  As married persons we are responsible to, called to, encouraged to speak praise of our life mate publicly.  If we do not have words of encouragement, then we should practice not speaking anything.

 

When we bless our spouse before others, we are blessing ourselves and when we speak negatively and put our spouse down, we are putting ourselves down.  How so?  When we marry, two have become one.  What affects one affects the other. Praise in public; construct in private.





Stop Punishing Your Children; Rather, Correct Them

8 07 2019

Honestly, the most difficult times were when I had to enforce a boundary for my children as their father. Providing the appropriate discipline in the appropriate manner was often a challenge. Is there a difference between punishment and correction?

 

Punishment has to do with me preserving my right to be angry with my child and keeping my posture as the one in charge. It says that my child must pay for what he or she did wrong. Punishment is often done out of anger lacking any training toward change, put simply, a more powerful parent enforcing his or her will upon the weaker child. Punishment is more about inflicting shame and pain for wrongdoing.

 

Correction, on the other hand, is not just about reward and punishment; it is more about challenging actions and shaping a will in a life-giving method. It is training out of a spirit of love. It is more about guiding and forming the spirit of the child rather than reinforcing the will of the parent. It is less about anger and more about what’s best for the child.

 

Correction takes time to administer because it includes instruction toward a different and healthier future. Punishment on the other hand is normally abrupt, more about reaction and often with little thought. Proverbs 29: 15 says that the rod of correction imparts life – correction imparts life!  Job 5:17 tells us, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”

 

As parents, share the responsibility of correction and do not make one parent the mean one and one parent the nice one.  Switch it up so your children can identify your father and mother heart.





Dealing with Lechery in Marriage

24 06 2019

Perhaps lechery is a word you are not familiar with.  If you look into its meaning the dictionary states, “…unrestrained or excessive indulgence of sexual desire.”  I have come across this “desire” within some marriages.  Usually, it is the man who relentlessly pursues an inordinate desire for sexual relations, but this is not always the case.

Let’s be clear by stating that sexuality is something God has said “yes” to within the boundaries of marriage.  It is something we should “desire” and “indulge” in regularly, but who defines “regularly” for you and your life mate and who then defines “excessive?”

Well, you both do.  You find what works for you.  You find what you both can agree to and enjoy.  You find what honors, respects and blesses your spouse sexually and you purposefully and unselfishly pursue that.  You also find what might be the cause of “…unrestrained or excessive indulgence.” We need to discover what is at the core of our lives that promotes something which is bringing harm to our marriage bed. Why? Because God’s gift of sex is never forced or abusive to another.

Let me give you some harmful effects of sexuality that can make their way into marriage.*

 

  • Sex can be harmful if it is demeaning to another.
  • It is unhealthy if it makes another person feel less valuable or used.
  • It is unhealthy when it is purely selfish, used only for physical gratification.
  • It is unhealthy when it shames another.
  • It is damaging when forced or coerced and the law of “love does” not rule.
  • Sex is not healthy when used as a replacement for affection or tenderness.
  • Sex is unhealthy when it violates someone’s conscience.
  • Sex is unhealthy when pornography is involved in any form.

Sexuality within the confines of marital commitment actually increases the marital bond.  It fosters the growth of intimacy. It serves to reduce stress and anxiety by providing a special tone of togetherness and a release of tension.  It provides a private and intimate shared experience and a bond of emotional security.  It promotes a sense of well-being and happiness within the marriage and, of course, it is a gift given to us by our Creator to enjoy through many years of married life together.

(*Some of the above points are adapted from the book, The Sexual Man by Archibald Hart.)





A Boring and Predictable Marriage

10 06 2019

Recently we took our five-year-old grandson with us for a weekend away.  It wasn’t uncommon for him to say, “I’m bored” or “This is boring.” I forgot how much entertainment a young child needs.  It makes me think about how boring and predictable our marriages can become.  So much of life is routine oriented, repeated each and every day like that old movie, Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

 

Then again, I also realize some of us prefer routine, it’s comfortable and safe for us.  Still others desire a change of routine, something new and exciting.  All too often the one is married to the other and I think it could be a God-ordained union. Each marriage needs the stability of a routine and each marriage needs pushed toward something new and exciting.

 

Recently Mary and I celebrated 44 years of marriage.  Quite honestly, there have been those
“long, flat roads” as author Gray Thomas puts it.  But it takes those to appreciate the new and exciting times in marriage.  We did a cruise for the first-time last year; that was new and exciting.  This year we went to San Diego for a “just us” vacation.  That was awesome.

 

But you know what? Most everything in between those times was typical routine for us and we loved that too.  Perhaps the key is to recognize, be aware of our long, flat stretches and then introduce something new and exciting in between.





One of Our Greatest Returns from Marriage

3 06 2019

The Bible reveals, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” (Eccl. 4:9) My marriage has had multiple “good returns” and I am so thankful for them.  We’ve had the return of answered prayer together, the return of investment into the lives of others, the return of years of mission work, the return of children and grandchildren, etc.  God’s returns just keep on coming.

 

One of the greatest returns, however, is that since being married in 1975, we have never had to face the world we live in alone.  Since saying “I do” we’ve had one another by our side. It is an amazing and comforting feeling to know you have one another’s back and to know you will not give up on your mate.  It’s a bit inexplicable I suppose.

 

We all know there will come a day when one of you leaves this earth. Do not wait until then to appreciate, complement and work toward that better return.  Be the one who serves fully and completely by laying down your life for your spouse.  Be the one who does not give up, who continues to grow and change and be the one who allows the difficulties in life and marriage to become better versions of who each of you are becoming.








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