christian marriage matters

Because your Christian marriage matters

People Watching

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Today I spent about an hour in a department store looking for coats because of the unseasonably cold July days we’ve been experiencing. Yes, before you ask I bought a coat on July 29,2014 (who does that)?!

While shopping I was touched by a man standing outside the dressing room (emotionally not physically in case you were wondering). He looked to be in his late 40’s and he was standing and waiting for his wife to try on a few things. She came out in every outfit they had chosen together to meet with either his approval or objection. Not so abnormal I’m sure, but what amazed me was his his reaction to the items he liked. The wife was no spring chicken and this husband wasn’t doing a Donald Trump. He was however so in love with his wife of more than a few years that everyone could feel it. Rather than just give a nod or a disagreeing shake of the head, he would say things like ‘oh you look beautiful in that’ or ‘honey that was made specially for you’. The wife would emerge from the dressing room in a shy, slumped over unassuming manner and his response to how she looked would change her demeanor, her facial expression and even her posture.

They had two teenage daughters who were unaffected by their discourse which made me assume this is the norm. Then I received the revelation. This man has loved on and almost overly affirmed his wife for so long the girls don’t know any different. Think about the expectation of excellence in marriage he has set for these growing young ladies. It makes me sit back and wonder, ‘what if every marriage was like this?’

I’ll leave you with this:

Let’s use this couple’s example of love and selflessness (cause I’m sure he could’ve found something better to do than hanging around the women’s dressing room) to improve our relationships.

Serve more than you’ve served before, love more than you’ve loved before and do more than you’ve done before. With that, go forth and be the world’s greatest spouse.

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Proverbs 5:18 NIV

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Happy Divorce-I-Versary

Divorce-i-versary

Happy Divorce-I-Versary

The definition: the annual celebration of the day a divorce is finalized.

The new normal is to celebrate divorce. I’ve seen people go all out by purchasing cakes, inviting numerous friends and laughing and making light of ending their marriage. Do I have a problem with this you ask: MOST DEFINITELY!!!

How many times have you attended an ‘I failed out of school party’ or an ‘I got fired party’? These are rare because they’re not worth celebrating, and neither is a divorce.

I begin by sharing this is my opinion, I’m entitled to it just as you are to yours. My purpose is not to offend but rather to share a differing perspective. Feel free to share yours.

As I was saying, I totally disagree with the idea of celebrating divorce. Marriage is a sacred relationship. It requires vowing to be faithful and true to one individual and making that vow before God and a bunch of witnesses. Divorce is an admittance that you are not willing or able to do the work involved in living up to that vow. I realize it happens and many times for reasons that are out of the control of one of the individuals involved, however the reality is divorce still signifies a failure or a loss. It signifies the death of the love that was once so vibrant, exciting and overwhelming.

The average wedding costs $29,000 and the average divorce costs $20,000.

In opposition to these alarming costs, the average counseling session costs $100, the average Bible costs $20, the average church offering is $10 and pastoral counseling and relationship building are free. We are willing to put tons of money into the wedding and the divorce, however we don’t utilize the marriage building resources until it’s too late.

And here comes my list for divorce proofing your marriage:

-get counseling early and often. Premarital counseling and mentorship is vital. You need someone who will address the difficult questions and issues that a couple caught up in puppy love can’t seem to imagine could ever happen to them. Most couples wait until they’re on the verge of divorce before seeking counseling. It’s the last resort. Rather than waiting until there’s a problem why not be proactive and sit down with an impartial third party on a regular basis. My husband and I do what he terms a ‘marriage tune up’ once a year just to make sure we are on the same page. This also arms us with resources and strategies to improve our relationship.

-get married friends. Surround your marriage with other healthy couples. Develop friendships with these couples and limit your time with singles. I know this sounds crazy but singles have freedoms that married individuals do not. I don’t want it to sound like marriage is a prison which is the image society sells. I do however want to be honest in recognizing that the hardest part of marriage is taking two independent individuals and having them become one. There are some compromises that must be made. Surrounding yourself with singles often creates tempting situations and unnecessary disagreements with your spouse. Married couples understand the compromise you’ve made, but they also see the benefit these compromises afford you.

For a quick side bar: I have a friend who together with her spouse have decided they will not participate in the popular social media platforms so many of us access daily. This works for them and while singles may say this is silly, any married woman who has ever had to question the young lady on her husband’s timeline saying how much she misses him, or any husband who has ever been offended by the man who tells his wife they need to get together, it can be helpful.

Growth groups and dating circles are great ways to develop married friendships. Hold a monthly (bi-monthly or even annual) activity for couples to do together. It grants adult time, relationships with other like minded individuals, it give the ladies girl-time and the men guy-time, but allows you to have fun and grow together rather than apart.

- get with God. Allow God to be the head of your life and your marriage. Read your Bible together and apart. Pray together as often as possible. You may consider joining a Bible study or taking classes together to increase your Biblical knowledge as a team. The most important factor in a marriage is the God-factor. Let him take control and be willing to trust God in all decisions and disagreements. Putting God first reminds you that you are not in control.

Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate
Mark 10:9, New King James Version

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But What About Me

Wordle: Weddings

Speaking the Language of Love

Marriage is supposed to be a 50/50 relationship. You’re supposed to give as much as you get, but in reality this never happens. There is always one spouse in greater need at any given moment. Is this fair, probably not, but you signed up for it. Our society has comfortably made divorce the easy out when ‘he’s not making me happy’ or ‘she doesn’t give me what I need’. We buy the lie that this can’t be from God because God wouldn’t allow me to be miserable. But what if just for a moment we focused on our spouse instead of ourselves.
What if our focus was on making our spouse the happiest person in the world?
What if everyday we woke up with the goal of making our spouse smile?
What if we worked as hard at making a successful marriage as we do at making a successful career?

How do we do this with the annoying spouse we have? As Nike said many years ago:
“JUST DO IT”

Some ideas
Figure out your spouses love language and speak it until you’re blue in the face. If they are:

Acts of service: Serve away. Clean their desk, massage their shoulders, wash their car, serve breakfast in bed and the list goes on.

Physical touch: Get to touching. Touch their arm when you speak, hold hands everywhere, touch until they can’t take it.

Words of affirmation: Affirm, affirm, affirm. Make him feel like a star and make her feel like a queen. Use your words to build and not break. Say every compliment you think of and no longer keep any of them to yourself.

Receiving Gifts: Recognize first that this isn’t always the bling, and the extra expensive gifts. As Gary Chapman says, “A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, she was thinking of me or he remembered me” (Chapman, 2004, p. 82). These gifts can be anything from a diamond ring to a flower picked on the way in the house. Something that takes thought but shows your spouse you care.

Quality Time: Chill with your boo as often as possible. They don’t want a thousand dollar date night, they just want you, there and attentive to their needs. That means no cell phone, or iPad, no book to read just in case (unless the two of you are reading together), just the two of you.

Find your spouse’s love language and then love away, because in reality marriage is 100/100. You need to give all of you and your spouse should do the same. Remember you can’t force it because all you can control is you. I can guarantee however that most individuals develop a desire to give when they get, so trust me, eventually they will reciprocate. Giving all of you is the goal because this is where ‘Happily Ever After’ truly begins.

To those of you that are living in misery I give you God’s word:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:44-45 (New International Version)

Chapman, G. (2004). The five love languages. Chicago,IL: Northfield

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