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.





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.)





Seven Benefits of Praying Couples

8 04 2019

My wife and I have found a place of intimacy that far exceeds any level of intimacy within a marriage through our connecting in prayer.  We have made this a priority for many years and have grown our marriage in numerous ways through the vulnerability of prayer together.  Here are seven benefits that we have identified from praying together.

  1. When we pray, we find agreement with God and with one another. Agreement is far more powerful, life-giving and life changing than disagreement.
  2. Through prayer together we are not so self-focused, but rather, we are focused on God, one another and the needs of those we are praying for.
  3. We are recognizing our need to trust outside ourselves. We are realizing we cannot provide all the needs or answers.  We are humbling ourself to say, we need God.  Prayer reminds us and our family that God IS our source.
  4. Prayer helps us to grow in grace and patience. We learn to wait on God.  We also learn to confess our needs, brokenness and vulnerability. We, before God, recognize our need for forgiveness.
  5. We communicate our life issues when we pray and that helps us to hear out loud those needs. We pray what is on our heart and when we hear one another’s heart, we know what deeply touches us and concerns us.
  6. Prayer changes us as we learn to listen to God. It changes us financially, emotionally, mentally and sexually.  In all ways we are changed as we reach out to and then hear God’s still small voice.  Our hearts and our minds are transformed through prayer and we experience a greater level of oneness.
  7. Praying together increases our intimacy. As intimacy increases our trust levels increase and as our trust levels increase, our strength and bond together grows stronger.

Helping you to start your prayer trek

  • Purchase a devotional book, read and then pray.
  • Take turns praying/reading.
  • Start small or brief and grow your time.
  • Find a specific focus and pray.
  • Walk your neighborhood and pray.

  • Pray together with your children teaching them to pray.
  • Pray in the car when there is a lull in the conversation.
  • Pray when one of you or your children are not feeling well.
  • Pray with thanksgiving to God repeatedly.
  • Bless one another in prayer.  Bless one another’s day, workplace, etc.
  • Ask your spouse how you can pray for them.




How Our Differences Can Strengthen Our Marriage

17 12 2018

Before we said, “I do” we diligently worked at not having or experiencing differences with one another, at least not out loud. We wanted to be argument free and not allow anything to inhibit our communication.  But not long after saying “I do,” for many of us that changed.  We trusted our marriage vows to hold us together while experiencing differences, even when they became heated.  What changed?

 

Nothing changed other than we gave ourselves permission to be freer at being ourselves.  No longer held back by what the other may think, we let our emotions and our words find freedom of expression even if those expressions were hurtful.  If you have observed this in your relationship, you’re not alone.  Let me share a rich truth that my wife and I have discovered along the way.

 

After we marry a new reality sets in and we realize differences really do need to be dealt with. While we have to acknowledge some of our differences as purely selfish, a few are simply a different view or opinion.  Not wrong, just a different perspective.  If we stay in immaturity, we will not listen to or make any attempt to understand our mate’s different view.  We will perceive them as wrong and it will be our goal to convince them our way is the right way.

 

However, that is not the goal and such an approach will lead us to greater frustration.  As we grow in maturity, love and understanding, we begin to realize God gave me this person to be different, to see another perspective and to strengthen our relationship through our differences.  When we can embrace this truth, we will discover a greater whole, a more complete oneness and a healthier appreciation for those differences. In other words, one of us see’s what the other does not and in the end we’ll make a better decision and be able to embrace a more complete understanding.

 

Allow God to use your differences to strengthen your marriage!





Eight Huge Benefits of Becoming Debt Free

26 11 2018

My wife and I have been practicing debt-free living for years now.*  I say practicing because it takes discipline to reach and discipline to maintain.  So here are eight encouragements or benefits that we have discovered when it comes to debt-free living.

1. Freedom: My wife and I feel so free – free to give, free to purchase and free to save for the future.  We have more money to do these things rather than being enslaved to and feeling the pressure of our debt.

2. Ownership: Owning your car or your house is an amazing feeling that continues the feeling of freedom.  You will have less stress in your life.  Who doesn’t desire less stress?

3. Agreement: You will have and discover a greater sense of agreement in your marriage and your family.  If you’ve agreed to become debt free and you reach that goal, what else can you agree about and reach?

4. Children: Your children will see you more often. You will not feel required to sign up for all the overtime you possibly can.  And besides, you’ll be an amazing financial example to your kids, your family, your friends and your neighbors.  If you can do it, you’ll be helping them to believe they can too.

5. Opportunity: Becoming debt free automatically provides better opportunities to give more money away, to help someone in need.  Rather than feeling that feeling of tightness, you will be looking for and watching for investment opportunity to increase your finances and have the cash to do so.

6. Security: You will be and feel far more secure. Debt increases the feelings of insecurity and rightly so.  You may be one last paycheck from disaster with an ongoing debt load.  While being debt free there is far less fear of financial disaster and crisis.

7. Servant: The Scriptures tell us that the borrower is a servant to the lender. Whose servant are you?  To be debt free is to not be encumbered by enslavement to another. You are literally no longer enslaved to your job or the next unexpected car repair or house repair bill.

8. Savings: You will grow a savings account and an emergency fund faster.  Your retirement savings fund will grow faster.  Your college fund for your children can grow faster.  Every savings fund can realize increase when you are no longer borrowing and having to pay back another co-owner with interest.

And if all that’s not enough to convince you, how about this?  You will have less arguments over money in your life.  If married, you and your spouse will enjoy less financial disagreement and more financial agreement.  You’ll have more resources for eating out along with short and long-term vacations or mission trips. Living debt free loosens what has been wound tight for so long.  Purpose in your heart today and begin taking steps to become debt free.  You’ll never regret it.

*A point of clarity concerning living debt-free is investment for growth. Some consider investments that grow in value, like real estate, to not be debt.  I would consider it debt with the opportunity for growth/gain in value or perhaps “good debt.”








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