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.)





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.





9 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage and Grow Older Together

13 05 2019

Over 44 years ago, Mary and I promised to never, ever use the “D” word when it came to our relationship – divorce.  We have kept that promise.  Along the way we have discovered there are a lot of things we can do as a couple to provide strength to the marriage relationship.

After eliminating the divorce word, decide to maintain honor in your relationship.  Honor is a hard word because none of us act honorably every day, at every moment.  Honor means to hold in high respect and worth and high public esteem.  To honor the marriage relationship is to place it before the children, your job and your ministry, but not before your God.  Love God first and then your closest neighbor, your spouse.

 

Keep giving each other space.  That means when she needs some alone time, do your best to help her make it happen.  If he needs a guy’s night out, help him plan it.  That “space” can help to recharge your batteries and who doesn’t want their life mate to return refreshed?

 

Share your financial expectations and maintain your budget.  Money can cause the biggest disagreements.  At least it did in our marriage.  All too often couples have differing money values, but a money date where we openly discuss our goals and look over our finances can really help the two of us to be on the same page.  Money dates could happen as often as weekly, but need to happen at least monthly.

 

Speaking of communication…never stop.  In fact, over communicate as often as you can.  You just can’t beat talking!  Taking a daily time, at least 20-30 minutes of time that is not interrupted by the children, the phone or the TV, is invaluable to your relationship.  It will keep you on the same page.  Whether it’s the kids schedules or your weekend plans communicate, communicate, communicate.

 

Be good to yourself and to one another.  Take care of yourself and your health.  Try to look good for one another.  I know, you have baby food on your sweatshirt and dog hair on your pants, but for heaven’s sake take the time to clean up a bit, have dinner together once in a while and share words of appreciation and encouragement. It will go miles in your relationship. This also means prioritizing dating your spouse.  Dress up, get a babysitter and spend time together laughing and having fun.  The investment is worth any cost because the return is incalculable.

 

Give each other room for failure.  Failing is a part of life and through it we often learn what doesn’t work.  I fail, you fail, we all fail.  Stop being so hard on the other person, acting as though you don’t fail.  When we give room for failure, we are showing good will and giving one another the benefit of the doubt.  Walk and talk through it and then forgive. Forgive quickly. Forgiveness is medicinal and we are both desperately in need of it.  Forgive as you have been forgiven.

 

Refuse to allow sexual intimacy to be stolen from you.  It’s yours and yours only. While frequency may decrease and children make it challenging, do not lose it.  Create a schedule if you have to and maintain it.  Nothing removes the “little foxes,” those growing annoyances, like love-making and nothing keeps passion alive like sexual intimacy.  Make a promise to yourself, to one another and to the God who gave this gift to you to never let it go.  You are one and sexual intimacy reinforces your oneness.

 

The glue that holds all this together?  Prayer.  Learn to pray together.  There is no better way to communicate, resolve issues, gain wisdom or “cast your care” than to pray together.  You will find the intimacy you have only dreamed of if you’ll pray together.  You will discover answers to lifelong problems, to long-term financial disagreements, to present frustrations and to future visions and goals.  Prayer is intimacy of the highest degree in marriage as together we reveal our hearts’ desires to God and to one another.

 

Lastly, seek the wisdom of others as needed.  None of us can go it alone.  We need mentors: older, wiser married couples in our lives.  We need a local church that provides teaching for our family and causes us to look beyond ourselves and to the mission of helping others.  We need those who will challenge us to be better parents, lovers, friends, employees, business owners and servants.

Read through this blog together, discuss it and then ask your life mate how the two of you are doing in the above areas.





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.







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