Staying Together Chapter One: The “Me” In Us

17 07 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. Now available to purchase at a 30% discount with House to House Publications. 

We live in a consumer-oriented society. We can obtain almost anything we desire, and we can have it our way, in our color, in our price range. If it doesn’t fit, we can return it. If it breaks, we can replace it. We can call toll-free numbers, complain to our boss, or even hire a lawyer if we are dissatisfied. I (Steve) once had a briefcase on which the handle fell apart. It can be pretty tough to carry a briefcase without a handle, so I contacted the company directly. The customer service person asked for the model number of the briefcase and said she would have a replacement sent to my door, at no cost, no questions asked! Literally the next day there was a box at my door with a brand-new briefcase in it. As a consumer, this company won me over.

Marriage, however, is not for the consumer; marriage is for the committed. Consumerism can spoil us. What happens when we bring consumerism into our marriages? We might expect to have everything our way. We might expect to have our needs met first. We might even expect our spouse to act like a customer service representative, bending over backward to win us over. We might expect a kind, cheery, or calm response to all of our selfish questions and requests. And because the customer is always right, if we act as customers in our marriages we feel perpetually justified.

After years of counseling and speaking all over the world, hearing story after story from many different couples, we have come to realize that most social scientists have missed the mark when it comes to identifying the primary cause of marriage breakup. While finances play a part, as do compatibility and sexual issues, these are all secondary to the primary reason—selfishness. When we become a consumer in our marriage, we become selfish and frequently used to getting what we want.

One time in a marriage counseling session, a husband responded, “I give her whatever she wants. She doesn’t work outside the home. She has a car. All I ask is that she…” That sentence could be finished with any number of things—get up and cook me breakfast, give me a back rub and listen to me when I come home from work, balance the checkbook, run the entire household, cook delicious meals, always be available for sex. You get the picture. The spirit of consumerism says, “I give to my spouse, therefore, I expect a certain return.” If you’re looking for a specific return, then you are looking for an investment and not a committed marriage relationship.

Order the book here.

Or other options: B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #22

30 06 2017

 

In 2011 my first twenty-one blogs were titled, “Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For.” I loved the idea of starting a blog about something I am passionate about: preparing for marriage. I recently read through all 21 of them once again and did a bit of editing. In doing that, I realized I missed a really important area. That area was spiritual formation through prayer.

In learning to place God first in our lives, my wife and I have discovered that our similar spiritual values and our longing to pray for and with one another are vital to the health of our relationship. Dating to eventually marry a fellow believer with the commonality of core spiritual values has created a oneness in our relationship that is simply unsurpassed to any and all other areas of marriage unity.

When we encounter a difficulty or a bump in the road of marital bliss, our first response is to pray together. The scripture relates that the reason we fight and argue is because we do not pray first. (James 4: 1-2) If we can discover this freedom with the one we are looking at as a life mate, we are well ahead of the game. Why? Because our relationship with Jesus and our ability to pray and look to Him is the most intimate thing we can do together. And, it is by far, the most mature act. Look for a life mate that looks to God first, it will take a lot of pressure off of you.

Start reading those first 21 blogs here.  Or, recommend them to a friend who is looking for their life mate.





That One Ideal Partner, A Soul Mate?

19 06 2017

Is it really possible to find that one special person, your soul mate for life? With the potential of literally millions of people on the earth today and the possibility of tens of thousands of connections, is it even remotely conceivable to find “the one?” Should we be holding out for this one special person…the only one for me? It’s a romantic thought isn’t it? And it seems that God placed that desire within each one of us.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “In such a great inevitable love, often love at first sight, we catch a vision, I suppose, of marriage as it should have been in an unfallen world.” Tolkien was married to Edith until her death at age 82. He once told his son that theoretically there might be someone better suited for him out there somewhere other than Edith, but then concluded, …”So what?”

I agree, especially after looking back from the 42nd year of marriage mark. You will never convince me that God had nothing to do with our saying “I do.”   We know He did, but then again we also realize that we could have made other choices and reached the same milestone.   Marriage takes time to settle. It takes a full-on commitment from both parties and it takes lots of grace. Someone once told me that in life you’re either in a storm, coming out of a storm or about to enter one. Having that life mate to weather the storms together is nothing short of a miracle from God.

 





Supporting One Another as Husband and Wife

5 06 2017

There are so many practical ways to support our spouse on a daily basis. We have grown in this over the last 42 years. It does mean dealing with our own selfishness and seeing the needs in another, maybe even before they see them. For your marriage encouragement, here’s a dozen ways to provide your life mate some support.

 

  1. Try not to over manage one another. Give each other space. Stay away from the constant, “Did you do this?” And the, “When are you going to…”
  2. Speak words of encouragement. Of course there are a lot of things to nitpick about, but try encouragement first. For example, “I appreciate how you keep up with the wash without complaint” or “Thanks for working so hard and helping to provide for our family.” Words of encouragement turn something mundane into something to conquer.
  3. Call forth your spouse’s gifts, both spiritual and practical. Most often your spouse does not see all of their gifts. When you believe in them and encourage them to use their gifts, you are in effect calling forth something that God has placed within them.
  4. Be protective of your spouse. Watch out for the things that your spouse does not see coming or is not tuned in to. We all need protected from things people say or do that might be hurtful to one another.
  5. Pray with your spouse. Do not pray at them, rather pray for them. Cover one another in prayer. Do not just have their back, but have all of them. There is no greater intimacy of support than prayer.
  6. Compliment your spouse regularly. Be sure to tell them when they look good in that new shirt or new haircut. Let them know regularly that you are still attracted to them.
  7. Communicate regularly even if it’s about nothing. Send your spouse a text in the middle of the day to say hi or that you love them. Let them know you are thinking of them. Send them a card in the mail or put a Post It note in with their lunch.
  8. Praise in public; construct in private. Verbally affirm your spouse around others. Never challenge your spouse in front of others. If a word of input is needed, save it for a one-on-one time.
  9. Take time to regularly have the deeper talks. Do not let your communication go for days without connecting deeply concerning your relationship, the kids, your job, your spiritual walk or the finances.
  10. Speak words of honor. Honor is often lost in our cultures today. When speaking a word of honor your spouse will feel honored, appreciated, praised and trusted.
  11. Be physical. Touch your spouse, hold hands and kiss several times a day. Put your arm around one another. Rub each other’s back. Hug for no reason other than good, comforting and sustaining physical touch.
  12. Be a rock. Let them know you can be counted on. Be there and be on time. Be faithful in all you do and say, especially in your walk with God. Never give yourself emotionally or sexually to anyone or anything other than your spouse.




How Married Are You?

27 03 2017

I would love to create some scientific measurement tool to give to couples so they could discover how married they actually are. You say, “How married they are; whatever does that mean?” It means how connected, unified, truthful, in agreement and simply stated: how one they are. Here’s how I see this marriage measurement tool working…

There would be a series of questions where the couple would either gain percentage points or they would lose percentage points depending upon their responses. At the end, the percentage that remains would be how married they are. So, for example:

Do you have separate bank accounts? Yes -3% No +3%

Are you free to look through one another’s mail/email? Yes +4% No -4%

Do you pray together? Yes +9% No -9%

Do you share PIN numbers? Yes +5% No -5%

Do you regularly keep secrets from your spouse? Yes -7% No +7%

Do you always tell your spouse the truth? Yes +8% No -8%

You get the idea. In the end, we would discover just how married we desire to be. Author Gary Thomas asks, “Are we going be 60 percent married or 90 percent…or, are we committed to…100 percent?”





Fifteen Really Cheap or Free Dates

13 02 2017

images-6Running out of ideas for inexpensive, but fun date nights? It’s time to celebrate your Valentine, so here are a few ideas, many that my wife and I have enjoyed over the years:

1. Visit an open house or a new model home for creative decorating and renovating ideas.

2. Try a new hiking or biking trail in your area.

3. Rent a Red Box movie or download a free movie.

4. Visit several local thrift stores or a flea market and enjoy some bargain hunting.

5. Go on a coffee, tea or ice-cream date.

images-5

6. Is there indoor ice-skating in your area? If not, try bowling.

7. Take some back country roads you’ve never driven on and see where you end up.  Keep the conversation going while you enjoy the drive.

8. Try a new museum or art gallery. Look for tours you haven’t been on in your locale.

9. Visit your favorite wing night restaurant.

10. Take advantage of free music concerts at local parks.

11. Cook together or create a new dessert.images-7

12. Go on a scenic photo shoot and take some selfies. Then, post them on-line or on Facebook and ask your friends to guess where the pictures were taken.

13. If you’re near your home area, take your spouse to a favorite childhood spot.

14. Watch a really old movie you love or never viewed before.images-4

15. Take a night walk. Be sure to use a reflective vest and carry a flashlight.

Bonus date: Dig out your old photo albums, sit on the couch and laugh!  Send us your ideas.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!





Love Locks

6 02 2017

imagesYou most likely know about the railings of the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge in Paris, France. For years couples have been placing pad locks on this railing and then throwing the key into the River Seine as a romantic ritual of their love. Eventually the city had to intervene. It seems that according to those who know such things that the added weight of thousands of locks affected the integrity of the bridge and needed to be removed.

In June of 2015 forty-five tons of symbols of love were removed from the bridge railings. When I read about this it made me wonder how many of those couples were still enduring, committed, making sacrifices for images-2one another and “locked” together in love. In 1975 I said “I do” to my bride, Mary, while at the same time saying “I don’t” to every other woman. We never put a padlock on the bridge in Paris, but we have remained committed in our love to God and then to each other. I guess when God’s word says that His love endures forever (Ps 106:1), He provided a picture to us that love can, at the least, endure a life-time.








%d bloggers like this: