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The biblical definition of the roles of husband and wife has been rejected as outdated in todays "liberated" and “enlightened” society. In the name of equality, we have blurred the lines and removed the wonderful distinction between man and woman. We have offered substitutes for the family: from couples living together to homosexuals trying to adopt children. We have "dissolved" our marriages and broken apart our families at a record rate; reassuring ourselves with how "resilient" our children are, and how they will "bounce back." After all, our society tells use that all that matters is our personal happiness and fulfillment. It does not matter how your actions affect others--as long as you are "true to yourself." But we haven't found the true happiness we have been seeking outside of God's order. This new view of marriage has not been successful. Our children have not “bounced back” as we hoped. The question we must answer is this: Are we going to let secular culture dictate how we view marriage, or will we follow God's design? So many people today, and even in the church, have “bought into” today's selfish, vain mind set. Such thinking will only bring personal and marital misery. We need to return to God's blueprint for the family and do it fast. It is time that we start thinking and acting biblically, even if it means "going against the grain" of much of today’s popular thinking.
3 Introduction Pt. 2 I could have lost it all
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24
A few years into my marriage I began to see my marriage start to go in a downward plunge, nothing really fast but just a gradual decline, and I didn’t know why. This is something that had happened to me in the past, I had gotten married at a young age had a child and then lost everything, but this time one thing was different I had God in my life and He was telling me something wasn’t right, I wasn’t going to lose everything I loved. I told my wife that I was going to go away for the weekend and find out what was going on. As I went for my weekend with God I went thinking the problem was my wife, and I was going to come back and give her scriptures and so says God. He was going to tell me all the things she was doing wrong and that was it, but that is not was happened God would show me so much over that weekend and take me back even before I met my wife Tonya. I was lying in bed that night reading the Bible, praying and just talking with God, waiting for him to tell me everything my wife was doing wrong. As I lay there my inside began to hurt I began to cry uncontrollably and I didn’t know why but God started to reveal things to me about what was going on, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, I was waiting for God to tell me what my wife was doing wrong, but He started with me. He began to reveal to me that it was me and not my wife. I was driving my marriage down the road of destruction and not down the highway of happiness. God told me that I have never really committed myself to my marriage, my wife or my child. I was afraid to commit because I was afraid of loosing them. I would pick at Tonya a lot even to the point of making her mad but the reason why is because I was seeking reassurance from her. Let me give you and example of this: A child that does things because he wants so bad for that person to be his friend to accept him, he may be mean or may try giving them everything he has, what ever it is wither good or bad its to get acceptance and reassurance from the other. This is what I was doing. God continued to show me that I was still afraid that one day I would lose what I loved most, which was my wife and child, and that was tearing me up inside. In our marriage I had so much trouble letting my emotions go like my forgiveness and anger (staying mad or hurt at someone). If I got mad I stayed mad for along time even after working thru the situation and couldn’t seem to forgive like I should. By staying this way it allowed me to control it because that was one thing I couldn’t get taken away from me. I then began to write out the things that had been taken or lost in my life: MY CHILD MY WIFE MY HOME MY FAMILY MY FATHER MY MOTHER MY FAMILY MY HOME MY FRIENDS MY GRANDMA ----------Logan First Marriage My Divorce My Divorce Their Divorce Their Divorce Their Divorce Their Divorce Through Divorce Death
I have felt as thou I have lost so much thru my life and this had been brought into my marriage now and the fear of losing it was actually going to cause me to do just that, lose it. God then showed me that I was being to controlling. I asked why. He then said because of fear, but he reminded me of the verse in the Bible, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) The devil was trying to destroy my life once again by lying to me and giving me that spirit of fear. A long as I was in control then I couldn’t lose something that was important to me, if it stayed in my hands it couldn’t be taken, lost or get away from me. God showed me so much that weekend and I’m not saying that everything is perfect in our marriage now we still go thru things but we face them because we know that God has ordained our marriage. I know He gave me my wife, she is my Eve and I am her Adam. He is in control of our marriage. I prayed 4 years to God for him to send me the wife that He had for me. I didn’t date, and He sent me Tonya so I know she is the one which I will spend the rest of my life. I thank you God for Tonya, Joshua and Logan. I thank you for the people that You have put in my life to lift me up when I have been down. Thank you Lord for allowing me to experience those things that came into my life at the time because now it has made me a better person and has shown me that in the end it wasn’t more than I could bare. Lord, I thank you for being there even when I thought you weren’t. Lord I pray that this book will help someone, that will maybe just shine some light in a darkened area they may have in their life for Lord, you are that light. Lord thank you for my family and friends. Thank you most of all for giving your Son that I may have eternal life thru you and one day stand inside the gates of Heaven. In Jesus Name amen.
God bless you all, Allen Gosser
Hope! & Help! "For Troubled Marriages"……………..…………………... 6 The Role of the Husband in the Marriage…………………………………… 8 The Role of the Wife in the Marriage………………………………………... 11 How to Build Trust in a Marriage……………………………………….…... 13 Marriage……………………………………………………………………..... 15 The Meaning of Marriage “Setting Priorities”……………………………... 20 Creative Family Times……………………………………………………...... 22 Fathering for Performance or Fathering the Heart……………………….... 24 Spouses in Ministry………………………………………………………….... 27 How can I as a stepparent develop and maintain healthy relationships with my stepchildren? ……………………………………….... 29 Tools for Building an Intimate Marriage………………………………….... 32 Learn to use your tools and build the home God wants…………………..... 35
6 Chapter 1 Hope! & Help! "For Troubled Marriages"
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The statistics are overwhelming! Fifty percent of those that marry will most likely divorce. What a sad commentary on our society. How many of those marriages did not need to end? How many of them could have been saved? How many broken hearts do we need in this world? How many children will cry their self to sleep wondering what has happened to their family? Our hearts break each time we hear of another divorce in the making! It does not have to be this way! We must turn our eyes to our Father in Heaven. He is the ultimate counselor, the author of marriage, the sustainer of our lives. Marriages that are in trouble now have most likely been on a road to destruction for a long time. It just does not happen overnight! Each partner has played a significant role as to where the relationship lies today. It takes two people to make a marriage and it takes two people to break it. But just because it is broken does not mean it has to end! Many times each person is sure it is the other who has caused the "problem"! In most cases this is just not true! We must be willing to sit down with ourselves and do an honest evaluation as to what our part was in getting the marriage to this point. Most marriages dissolve because "needs" are not getting met! Did you ever ask you mate what his or her needs are? Are you each willing to meet the needs of your spouse? Are you willing to forgive your spouse? We are all human, and can fall into walking in the "flesh". We make mistakes.....but the biggest gift our Lord has given us is the power to forgive. Holding anger and resentment in your heart hurts only ONE PERSON....YOU!! Do you want forgiveness for yourself? Then you have to forgive too! Everyone is a child of God...... Jesus asked that we treat others just as He would; with love, honor, respect, forgiveness, patience, forbearance etc. How are you treating your spouse? Do you need to forgive? Release your heart of the pain today; forgive......call upon Jesus to take the pain away! It does not matter whether the other person is willing to forgive also. You must deal with yourself first! You must see what lies in YOUR own heart, not what lies in your mates. You can't make someone else change; they have to make their own decision. If you sincerely want to try and make a marriage work, start with you! You cannot make changes if you only look to blame the other, or concentrating on their faults or actions. Humbly look into your heart and start making your own changes. One of the biggest mistakes we hear people saying is that "someone" is MAKING me unhappy. This is just not possible! Only YOU can make YOU unhappy. You control your life! Are you LETTING someone else get the best of you! Good and healthy marriages are always the result of people who have come into marriage happy with themselves from the start. They do not look to marriage as the way for them to become happy. It is unfair to your spouse to insist that they are THE ONE who will bring you your happiness! We are all changing as time passes by. Sometimes the goals we had when first married are not the same. That's okay! Do you take the time to ask one another what your goals are? Are you willing to combine your goals to walk this life together, or do you selfishly want everything your own way? Marriage is a combining of two spirits. A oneness, together, to make our way through life as friends, lovers and companions. This requires compromise, unselfish behavior, love, patience, honesty, loyalty, forgiveness and most of all humility, ALL of the time! These things we must do daily to remain lifelong partners in our marriage. It is also an understanding that we as people are human with needs, and hurts. Communication is absolutely essential in a healthy marriage. We must always find time to talk. We must always find the time to see how the other is feeling. We must be willing to bear our souls to our mates when we are hurt....not bury the hurt deep inside until one day we don't even know the person we are married to. This happens because the anger has risen to such levels, we no longer see him or her with "love". We must be willing each and every day to look at our spouses as a "Child of God", which we ALL are. Jesus loves both of you.....all the time! He is willing to forgive every time you ask. Can you say the same? So many people go into marriage with expectations that probably cannot be attained. Do you need to review with yourself what marriage is? Open your Bible and study God's Word for marriage. Do you know your biblical role as a husband or wife? Did you go into marriage with the idea that "I'll try it"? Solid
marriages are built with the knowledge that this is "FOREVER"! It is THIS FOUNDATION that keeps the two from wandering too far apart! What is YOUR true vision of marriage? Do you both share that vision? If you honestly desire to try and make your marriage work, you will need to examine yourself. Then, you will be able to honestly speak to your partner with humility, as to what YOUR role has been to bring the marriage to this point. Your own humility should be the base for the other person to examine his or her role also. This may not happen exactly in the time that you wish, but you must pray for this person and leave the rest to God! One of you is going to have to break the misery, the silence, the anger, and the tears. Work on yourself to become the person that God has intended you to become as husband or wife. Make YOUR life the example! In God, everything is possible! Your marriage can become the marriage that our Father wants for you! Seek God everyday, obey His Word and walk in His light. He can bear your burdens, He can heal the pain and He can bring you both to a brand new life. Give thanks to God today even for the trials in your life. God has a wonderful way of turning our bad times into such joy! Don’t ever forget that! Keep Him your first priority. Always! May God Bless you abundantly in your life and in your marriage
8 CHAPTER 2 The Role of the Husband in the Marriage
Every marriage is going to experience some serious challenges and difficulty. What you must do is make sure that you are doing your part in the marriage. One of the primary reasons for the break-up of so many marriages today is the failure of men and women to understand and apply the specific roles and responsibilities God has given to the husband and the wife; and the bulk of that responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the man! When a man is out of the will of God, he is a menace to himself and everyone else. Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, just about brought a whole ship down because of his disobedience. Many husbands do the same to their marriages. Their marriages are in trouble because they are unwilling to obey God's commandments to them. Let's look at some of those specific commands to a husband.... Read Ephesians 5:22-33 I. The Husband Must Love His Wife Verses 25 sums up the main responsibility of the man in four words: "Husbands love your wives...." Husbands hold the key to a flourishing marriage. Men are to be initiators. The wife comes into full Spiritual maturity and submission in response to the husband loving her as he should. A. Love as Jesus Loves. How are we to love our wives? The passage says, "just as Christ... loved the church and gave himself for her" (v25). How did Christ demonstrate his love? Primarily by example and death: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8/see also John15:13). As a result of Jesus' selfless love, the church loves Jesus and submits to Him: "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). In the same way, when the wife sees the love of her husband, she will love him and submit to him; but this cannot be our goal! Our goal as husbands must be to fulfill God's command to us and leave our wife's reaction up to Him. B. Be Willing to "Lay Down Your Life." Read Philippians 2:3-9 To "love as Christ loved" and "lay down" your life means that you must focus on your partner's needs and not your own. Verse three tells us to do nothing through "selfish ambition." Remember, Jesus said," The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20: 28). “He made Himself of no reputation."[v.7] The literal translation of this verse is “He emptied Himself." Jesus had a complete attitude of unselfishness. "He humbled Himself." [v.8] True authority comes from humility. Authority does not mean to manipulate and try to be lord over someone (that is insecurity). A man who is constantly lecturing his wife on his authority probably has very little. A husband must be firm and decisive, but also humble and unselfish. Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time, was called "the meekest man on the face of the earth." Meekness is not weakness; it is power under constraint. True authority is given by God: "The head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). Spiritual authority is rooted in a paradox: "if anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:35). Jesus demonstrated this principle when He washed His disciples feet: "Jesus, knowing
that the father had given all things into His hand ... rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself ... and began to wash the disciples feet ..." (John 13:3-5). C. Love Unconditionally. Do you love your wife? The fact of the matter is that many wives are not sure if their husbands love them. There are three different words in the original Greek language for love. Each one of these "loves" has an important part to play in the marriage, but one of them should always prevail. 1) Eros (love on the physical plain) Eros is initial love that attracts a man and woman together. This sexual love plays an important role in marriage, building intimacy and closeness. It is a way of expressing your "oneness" as a couple. It is part of "being fruitful and multiplying." And it is a source of sexual fulfillment-- a God given desire to be fulfilled only in marriage. Scripture says, "drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well. Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth" (Proverbs 5:15, 17-18). Paul speaks of the importance of this love in marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5: "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by natural consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self--control." The problem with eros is that it is essentially selfish. It takes, wanting to give nothing in return. 2) Philio (love on an emotional plain) In contrast to eros, philio, takes, but it also desires to give. It is a "friendship" type of love. It has been defined as “a love that comes as a result of a pleasure or delight one draws from the object loved." 3) Agape (love on a spiritual plain) In contrast to philio, agape springs from a sense of the preciousness of the object. Agape is primarily determined by the character of the one who loves--not necessarily the "lovableness" of the object. It is not feeling emotion. It is unconditional. This is the kind of love God commands us as husbands to love our wives with. The world's love is always object-oriented. A person is loved because of physical attractiveness, personality, wit, prestige, or some feature or trait that we find appealing. This type of love is fickle, however; for once that trait found "lovable" is diminished by age, or someone more talented or gifted comes along, this fickle love ceases. A Sacrificial Love Our love for our mate is to be an "agape" form of love, since that is the kind of love Christ displays toward the church. A pastor once said, "Loving as Christ loves does not depend in the least in what others are in themselves, but entirely on what we are in Christ." The husband who loves his wife for what she can give him loves as the world loves, not as Christ loves. The husband that loves his wife as Christ loves His church gives everything he has for his wife, including his life, if necessary. If a loving husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife, he is certainly willing to make more sacrifices for her. He puts his own personal likes, desires, opinions, preferences and welfare aside if that is required to please her and meet her needs. He dies to self in order to live for his wife, because that is what Christ's kind of love demands.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 A Patient love This passage in 1 Corinthians gives the definitive illustration of agape love. Verse four says that "love suffers long." In other words, this type of love allows your spouse to change in God's timing. A Kind Love Verse four also states that "love is kind." You display this type of love to your wife through such things as tenderness, gifts, and telling her that you love her (see Proverbs 31:28; Colossians 3:19). II. The Husband Must Spiritually Lead Returning to Ephesians 5, notice what Paul writes after likening the love Christ has for the church to the love the husband should have for his wife: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her ..."(vv.25-26). Too many men in Christian marriages are not the spiritual leaders they should be. At best, many are passive. At worst, they are actually hindering the spiritual growth of the family. Yet, no one can be a greater hindrance to the wife's spiritual growth than the husband. On the other hand, no one can be a greater encouragement. Looking after your wife's spiritual well-being The husband's first priority must be to make sure that his wife is properly aligned with God! He should recognize that her personal happiness as a woman, wife and mother all hinge upon her relationship with the Lord. You can't say, "that's her problem!" Remember, you are now one. And the husband needs to be the spiritual leader in the home. Peter writes, "Husbands, likewise dwell with them with understanding, give honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:17). The phrase "dwell with" literally means "to dwell down with; to be aligned to." In other words, you are allowing God to work in your lives. You are "settling down," and not looking for any excuse to "get out of the house." It comes as no surprise that one of the major causes of unfaithfulness on the part of the wife is the continued absence of the husband. A failure to lead will spiritually hinder you. Husbands, notice that a failure to "dwell" with your wife will result in your prayers being hindered. This happiness is hindered because "your relationship is out of order." Jesus speaks of this same principal in Matthew 5:23, where He says that if a person brings a gift to the alter and remembers that someone holds something against him, he must "leave his gift at the alter" and seek reconciliation with the individual he has offended (Matthew 5:23). One of the key ways we can do this in our marriage is through communication. We must not let anything or anyone close this life line off. Interestingly, Paul refers back to Genesis in his description of the role of husbands in Ephesians chapter five: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife ..."(v31). The key to a healthy marriage--and open communication--goes back to the principal of "leaving and cleaving." You must cherish and honor that oneness, that friendship. AN ENCOURING THOUGHT…. Husbands, you may feel like loving your wife "as Christ loved the church" is an impossible task. Remember, the "love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5)." God has given you the ability to do this through the power of His Holy Spirit. So make sure you follow Paul's admonition just a few verses prior to this description of the husband's role to "be filled with the spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).
11 CHAPTER 3 The Role of the Wife in the Marriage
In understanding God's design for the wife in the Christian marriage, it is important that we understand the internal struggle that makes following God's principals so difficult a struggle that dates back to the Garden of Eden (Eve). 1. The Source of Struggle: A Woman's Desire for Headship After the fall of Adam and Eve, God told Eve, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Genesis 3:16). In essence, God was saying, Things will be different now, Eve. You are going to have a bend in your nature, as will Adam, which is a direct result of the curse of sin. That bend in a word is selfishness. With the fall and its curse came the distortion of woman's proper submissiveness and man's proper authority. As a result, women have a sinful desire to assume or take man's authority, and men have a sinful inclination or desire to put women under his feet. This was not part of God's original design for man and woman. Note I did say PROPER submissiveness ladies and PROPER authority men. 2. The Secret to Success: God's Blueprint for a Successful Marriage Read Ephesians 5:18-33 A. Be Filled with God's Spirit. As mentioned before, the first step in following God's design for married couples is to "be filled", or contorted by, the Spirit. To attempt to do what God is telling you to do with out the Holy Spirit's help is impossible. The calling of God is the enabling of God. B. Before a word is said about wives submitting to their husbands, both spouses are commanded to "submit to one another in the fear of God" (v.21). The word used for "submit" means "to get in order under something." In a military sense, it means "to rank beneath, to rank under." C. Wives must submit to husband's loving leadership. Though Paul starts out with "ladies first" in the roles and responsibilities of the marriage partners, it is clear that the wife's submissiveness can and will be a response to the husband's godly and loving leadership. A husband is not to treat his wife as a servant or a child; but as an equal for whom God has given him the responsibility to care and provide for, to love and to protect. We are all submitting at some point. Wives are called to submit to the loving leadership for their husbands, and husbands are to bow to the needs of their wives. The issue is not superiority or inferiority: It is about sacrifice; It is about your mate. Most importantly, it is about obedience to God! 3. The Principal of Authority in Marriage When God calls a woman to submit to the leadership of the man, this is not saying the woman is any less than the man, because she is not. Galatians 3:28 says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Jesus Christ.” Although there is no difference between man and woman in the nature of their salvation of standing with God, there is a principal of authority in the family. Those who struggle with this concept will be helped by considering Paul’s word: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3).…………………………………………………………… What does this verse mean when it says that the "the head of Christ is God? The bible speaks of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are co-equal and co-eternal. This verse is saying that God the Father is the head if Christ-not in essence or nature, but in function. Jesus was in His very nature God, but He "laid aside" His rights and privileges and humbled Himself as a servant. The relationship structure of Jesus Christ to God the Father is the same one presented to us in marriage. Though the husband and wife are equal in their standing before God, in order for the family to function in harmony, the woman, with no loss of dignity, takes the place of submission to the headship of her husband. God's divine design intends that the wife's respect, help and obedience would be matched by her husband's servant leadership as they submit together to the lordship of Jesus Christ and to each other. I seek my wife's input and wisdom before making most of my decisions. In describing the "woman of virtue" in Proverbs 31, the following is said:
"Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (Vv.11-12; 25-27 / NIV) There will be times where, in the interest of the family, a husband must make certain decisions that may not be popular. At those times, the wife needs to accept that God, having put her husband in that position of authority, will speak to his heart. 4. The Motive and Model of Submission A. The motive of submission wives are told to submit to their husbands "as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). Wives need to submit to their husbands as an act of submission to the Lord. Scripture reminds us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man" (Colossians 3:23). That very attitude can change the way you do everything. Ruth Graham has a sign over her sink that reads, "Divine service done here daily." In other words, make that meal, change the diaper, sing that song, perform those household chores as if you were doing that job "unto the Lord," and submit to your husband in the same way. Those who are in authority over us do not always command our respect. They may not inspire us as we would like them to. We might even disagree with them at times, but we recognize that their authority comes from God. So we do those things "for them" as much as we do it "for the Lord."
CHAPTER 4 How To Build Trust in a Marriage
When there is no trust in your marriage, you are headed for an abusive relationship or you may be in one already
Trust is probably the most important ingredient in building an intimate relationship between husband and wife. Trust is something that can be cultivated and nurtured if you will follow the guidelines below. I can sum up the essence of building trust in one idea: Create a safe emotional space for your spouse. If you are not actively working to build a safe emotional space, than you are probably building an unsafe one. One man defines an abusive relationship in the following way. He suggests that an abusive relationship is one in which one person is afraid to express his or her feelings and opinions. Needless to say, an abusive relationship is one where there is no trust. The key to avoiding abuse and promoting trust is to consciously strive everyday to build a safe emotional space. And let me say at the outset that, if you feel you are in an abusive relationship based on the definition I just gave, seek help immediately. Never tolerate abuse! GUIDELINES FOR CREATING SAFE EMOTIONAL SPACE • Constantly work on improving your communication skills.
Develop the skill of being a good listener, which is one of the hardest skills to develop. Being a good listener means you don't interrupt your spouse. This requires great discipline and respect. Learn to ask, "Are you finished?" Always make sure you've fully understood what the other person has said. A simple tool to use for this is the well known "mirroring technique." You reflect back what the other person has said. It may sound a bit contrived but, believe me, it really works. What you have to learn to do is say something like, "Let me make sure that I've understood what you just said. It sounded to me that you want me to..." If you are an "advanced" listener, try not only to reflect back the content, but the emotional tone as well. For example, "It seems you are really annoyed with me and you want me to be more careful the next time I..." A crucial component of good communication is the consistent use "I-statements" as opposed to "youstatements." I statements unite, while you-statements alienate and create distance. An I-statement begins with "I feel ...” A you-statement begins with "You make me feel..." A you-statement is almost always experienced as an attack. When I own my feelings and opinions by using an I-statement, I am communicating that I am taking responsibility for the issue and not blaming my spouse. • Take responsibility to express your needs and express them clearly and assertively.
When a person feels he or she cannot express their needs to the other person, then this leads to a break down in trust. We often don't express our needs for two reasons. Either we are afraid of rejection or we are afraid of feeling ashamed for having such needs. When a couple can express and meet each other's needs consistently this is one of the most powerful ways to build trust in a relationship. • Be positive and give pleasure.
We naturally trust people who treat us nicely and who seem to like us. It's very hard to distrust someone who seems to constantly be going out of his way to please you! A key tool to use here is the "5 to 1 rule." This means that before you say anything negative to your spouse, you must have expressed at least five positive things. Only then, are you allowed to say something negative or critical. • Don't allow issues to go unresolved.
This requires that a husband and wife develop good problem solving skills. I can't tell you how many couples I've worked with whose problems are rooted in a lack of problem solving skills. When issues don't get resolved, then resentments develop and fester. And when resentments develop then trust is lost. • Learn to fight fair.
Just in case you didn't know, fighting is a part of any good marriage! I mention this because there are some people who live with the naïve notion that in "good marriages" couples never fight. The problem is not that couples fight, but how they fight. If you fight unfairly, then you destroy trust. If you fight fairly, you build trust. Here are a few important pointers to make sure that when you fight, you fight fair: i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. Never resort to name calling or putdowns. Keep to the issue at hand. Never bring up old stuff that may be unresolved. The present fight is not a license to dump all your old garbage. Never use phrases that are absolutes such as, "you never" or "you always." Never bring the other person's family into the issue to support your case or to attack your spouse's. Agree beforehand on a method how to take a time out if one of you feels that the fight is getting out of hand. Don't start a fight later in the night, when you're both tired and therefore more likely to have less control over your emotions. And again, do your best to use "I-statements" rather than "you-statements," which feel like attacks.
Trust is one thing that takes a long time to build and a very short time to destroy. Be careful how you treat each other. Many people wrongly believe that in a good marriage, you can "relax" and not have to monitor everything you say and do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In a good marriage, you must always be monitoring your behavior. This is the key to building a strong relationship and trust.
Chapter 5 Marriage
Basic Needs and How to Meet Them When God created man and woman, He created them to complement each other. He indicated this when He said "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). God formed woman to round out man's incompleteness, so that physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and even spiritually, male and female would not be rivals, but mates. Much of the tension and conflict in marriage today, as well as in other relationships, comes directly from an emphasis on rights and a de-emphasis on responsibilities. When the two are reversed, however, and marriage partners focus on personal responsibilities, they are less apt to fight and more free to serve. Instead of each being concerned with getting his way, each will be concerned about meeting the needs of the other. This section focuses on some of the basic needs of husbands and wives. It is for those who wish to take seriously their responsibilities in the marriage relationship.
Basic Needs of a Wife The understanding of a wife's needs as opposed to her husband's will admittedly rest in the understanding of womanhood and manhood and the differences between the sexes. Cultural ideas about men and women have fluctuated over the years. At the present, equality has so carried the day that to suggest differences between male and female is rather unpopular. But to ignore differences is both unrealistic and unscriptural. Not all the cultural ideas about male and female, of course, were correct before the twentieth century either. God made male and female, however, and they are not the same. Furthermore, their differences are not matters of worth or importance. To say that men tend to look at a project as a way of getting something done and that women tend to look at the same project as a way of building a relationship is not to say that one is better than the other. Rather, it is to recognize that men and women are different. What then are the needs of a wife? 1. A wife needs someone who understands her. "Likewise ye husbands dwell with them according to knowledge..." (1 Peter 3:7). This Scripture speaks to the tendency of a husband to be preoccupied with interests outside of his home and marriage and to ignore things about his wife which are important to her. Every woman has habits, fears, tendencies, likes, and dislikes. In marriage, she feels the need to be understood, and the husband demonstrates his understanding of her by living with consideration toward her. Notice the Scripture does not say simply that a husband should know his wife, but that he should live with her according to his knowledge of her. 2. A wife needs someone who accepts her as she is. This is but an extension of the need to be understood. The Scriptures speak of the intimacy of marriage as "knowing" one another. Marriage is disclosure, letting each other know the heart and mind -- "the real you." Such disclosure can be either painful or wonderful, depending on acceptance. A husband sends clear messages of rejection to his wife by such actions as comparing her negatively with other women, ridiculing her personality, and overloading her with responsibility and then criticizing her for failure. Acceptance does not mean approving of everything a wife
does or is, but it recognizes a wife's unique personhood and gives her the support to become all that God intended her to be. 3. A wife needs someone who cherishes her. This is again a step beyond accepting. Both accepting a wife and cherishing her depend upon understanding her. Cherishing is but another way of saying a wife needs to be loved. Love is probably the most basic need of a wife in marriage. And certainly it is no accident that repeatedly in the New Testament the instruction to the husband is "Love your wife." Paul wrote, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies . . . for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Ephesians 5:28, 29). The word cherish here means literally "to warm, as a bird warms its young." A wife needs to be understood. She needs to be accepted as a person. But she needs also to experience the tender affection of her husband. She needs the security of being held close to the heart of her husband, not as a mere plaything, but because she is counted dear and priceless. We should note here that meeting these first three needs is a growing process. Each depends on the former. A husband cannot accept his wife if he does not understand her, and he cannot cherish her if he does not understand and accept her. 4. A wife needs someone who demonstrates strength and wisdom in leadership. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Peter 3:7). When the Bible refers to a woman as the "weaker vessel" it does not necessarily mean weaker in every way. It does not mean she is inferior. It does reflect, however, that women are drawn to strength in men, provided it is a considerate strength. The tendency of men is to flaunt their strength in ways that dominate women, and thus to exploit women's weakness. Such "strength" loses its attractiveness fast. A husband uses his strength as God intended by working for the protection of his wife and children, by shielding them from hardship and harm whether physical, emotional or spiritual, and overall by guiding the home with consideration for them. 5. A wife needs someone who is faithful. "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame" (Song of Solomon 8:6). Intimate love calls for the exclusion of all others. Thus, there is a very proper jealousy in love which says, "I belong to you, and you belong to me." A wife needs the security not only that her husband loves her, but that he loves no one else in the same way. Of course, there is an improper jealousy rooted in selfishness. This jealousy demonstrates itself in suspicion and fear, and in effect, puts a stranglehold on a husband. But nonetheless, a wife needs a faithful husband, and a husband who understands this need in his wife carefully guards her trust. He does not flirt with other women nor look at raunchy magazines. He guards his eyes, his humor, and his heart. And he focuses his love faithfully upon the ONE woman in the world who is his wife.
Basic Needs of a Husband In many ways, the needs of a husband are the counterpart to the needs of his wife. God made the woman with a view to male needs (Genesis 2:18), and thus He equipped her with just the proper resources for meeting those needs. So just what are the needs of a husband? 1. A husband needs someone who depends on him. God has given to the man the responsibility of leadership in the home. There is something about the dependence of a wife which calls to the manliness of her husband. His very male hood wants to provide, to nurture, to care for, and to protect; and he finds satisfaction and fulfillment in meeting the needs of his wife. Even as the husband can misuse his strength to dominate, so the woman can misuse her weakness and dependence to manipulate. Many are the women who have used their tears, their headaches, and their whining to play upon the male hood of their husbands in order to get their own way. Such "weakness" gets old fast. A wise wife allows her husband to be her provider, but does not control him from beneath. 2. A husband needs someone who accepts him as he is. Everyone has a basic need for acceptance, and inasmuch as marriage is the deepest level of human friendship, it has the most potential for meeting that need. It likewise has the greatest potential for rejection. Nagging criticism and discussing a husband's
failures with others are probably the two most common ways a wife signals rejection of her husband. Acceptance, as noted earlier, does not necessarily mean complete approval. It does mean recognizing a person for who he is, as opposed to fighting that reality, and supporting him in becoming all that God intends him to be. 3. A husband needs someone who encourages and supports him. In describing His intentions in making a wife for Adam, God said, "I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). The woman is a "help." This does not mean she is a tagalong, someone who comes in handy at times, but that she was designed to fill a necessary role as man's mainstay. Her mind, her will, her energies are hers to use, not in competition with him, but in union with him to complement his mind, his will, and his energies. Certainly, much of the wife's potential to encourage and support depends upon the husband's willingness to talk and work together. But a wise wife will recognize that every husband has weaknesses, and she will not allow her support and encouragement to mope continually at the foot of his failures. She will instead clearly ally herself with him so that both his strengths and his weaknesses are improved by her presence in his life. A very practical way in which a wife can encourage her husband is by her gratitude. Her smile, her expressions of thanks, her willingness to find joy even in difficult circumstances will fill one of the most basic needs in his life. 4. A husband needs his wife's womanhood in the home atmosphere. "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands" (Proverbs 14:1). "The aged women likewise . . that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home..." (Titus 2:3-5). While the husband is responsible for leadership in the home, he is inadequate by himself to build the home. He needs the womanhood of his wife to establish an atmosphere of order, beauty, cleanliness, and care. Contrary to modern thought, homemaking is not a dull, servile work for lower-intelligence women; it is a full-time, lifetime responsibility which demands creativity, intelligence, and management skills of the highest caliber. The womanhood of a wife is in many ways the heart of the home and, as such, is the fulfillment of her husband; and the career-minded wife leaves a void both in her home and in her husband which nothing can replace. 5. A husband needs someone who is faithful. "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…" (Proverbs 31:10,11). Fidelity is imperative on both sides of the marriage relationship. Even as faithful love stirs the sweetest emotions in human relationships, so unfaithfulness stirs the bitterest emotions. There is probably nothing as devastating to a marriage as the realization that a third party has invaded the sacrosanct realm of intimacy. Wives need faithful husbands; husbands need faithful wives. A godly wife will guard her manners, her speech, and her appearance, reserving her womanly charm and beauty for her husband alone. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works" (1 Timothy 2:9,10). Understanding one another's needs in marriage is the first step love takes toward meeting those needs. If we focus on our needs rather than on those of our partner, we may easily stumble in self-pity rather than move ahead in love. Much of the success in marriage depends upon the willingness to give ourselves to meeting the deepest needs of one another. This is the exercise of love, and love is the cement of marriage.
Common Errors in Marriage The pitfalls surrounding marriage are many, and the pressures to fall into them seem to increase as life grows more mechanized and streamlined. Many are the mistakes marriage partners can make nowadays; we will consider a few of the more prevalent errors. 1. Financial bondage. The pressure is on to buy and have and consume. What is not affordable now is payable later. So we are told. All too soon, married couples find themselves neck-deep in debt and perhaps at the same time only ankle-deep in love. In the late 1980s, the average indebtedness of a 28-year-old in the U.S. was $66,000. Forty percent of Christian couples were paying at least $2,000 per year in interest, excluding mortgage interest. One survey showed that 20 percent of "Christian" couples were on the verge of divorce and that 90 percent of these couples pointed to financial problems.
What is financial bondage? It is when we cannot do what is right or proper for ourselves, for our family, or for the Lord because of overriding interests or obligations in financial matters. Bondage may come by the pressure of debt, unpaid bills, or business entanglements. It may, on the other hand, be the result of wrong financial attitudes such as desire for wealth, worry over investments (or the lack of them), or a willingness to fudge in dealing with others. Staying out of financial bondage is possible only by a steadfast commitment to the principles of God's Word and by using common sense. Consider the following pointers: • • • • • • • • • • • • • Seek God's kingdom above all else. Be honest, fair, and generous in all financial dealings. Value family togetherness and up building activities above financial gain. Use finances as belonging to God. (You are manager, not owner.) Look for opportunities to invest in eternal ventures, not earthly. Avoid all material involvements which rival spiritual goals. Avoid partnerships. Avoid borrowing, especially for consumable or fast depreciating items. Do not use credit cards unless you pay accounts off each month. Never co-sign. Pay bills promptly. Pay taxes honestly. Work hard, live simply, give liberally, save wisely.
2. Irresponsibility. According to the Bible, the husband is responsible to lead in the home and to provide for the needs of his wife and family. The wife is responsible to support her husband in his work and to keep (literally, be a guardian of) the home. Problems are caused in marriage when responsibilities are neglected. A husband, who fails to hold a steady job, for example, or racks up unpaid bills, inevitably creates insecurity in his wife and problems for the marriage. A wife who leaves the house in a perpetual mess or who spends undue time visiting, hobbying, shopping, or otherwise running here and there causes frustration for her husband and children. Problems are also caused in marriage by either partner attempting to fill the other's role. Some husbands attempt to dictate household procedures in a way that makes the wife feel her territory is invaded. A wife at times may try to control her husband, or take charge of his incompetence in such things as financial management and family worship. The problems in the long run always multiply by this role shifting, because at heart it becomes a working against rather then a working together. Many a child, when grown, will testify to the struggle of honoring a father or mother who is out of place. Following are a few pointers: • • • • • • Talk about responsibilities. Ask each other to describe any areas of neglect. Listen. Ask for pointers in filling personal responsibilities. If there is disagreement about responsibilities, talk together with a minister about the problem. Pray about your responsibilities. If there has been a pattern of irresponsibility, start with improvement on one thing at a time. Make yourself accountable to someone for regular checkup and encouragement sessions. Write out your commitment to your responsibilities. Be reasonable, but be specific. Where your partner is weak or neglectful, consider how you can be supportive without stepping into that responsibility. Make a list of suggestions.
3. Lack of communication. This problem is compounded by the hurried pace of the modern age. Husbands and wives rush in the morning, rush through the day, rush through supper, rush away for the evening rush home, and rush to bed. Hurry always increases the possibility of misunderstandings and decreases the possibility of discussing them. It is unfair to any marriage to regularly let the problems of the day accumulate until bedtime and then try to resolve them. Unfortunately, some couples don't even try to
resolve their problems. Married life becomes an existence in the same quarters, a place where communication is seldom deeper than hello and good-bye. While lack of communication is harmful to the total marriage, the wife generally notices it first and minds it most. A wife needs to hear the sound of her husband's voice; she needs to have the assurance of her husband's full attention. When a husband is uncommunicative, his wife feels insecure and left out. When he does not give her his full attention, she feels unimportant. The husband tends to respond to these feelings with reason--his wife is assuming things unfairly, she needs to relax and quit getting emotional. He is often right that she is assuming wrongly, but he is far from right in believing this is simply her problem. A wife's communication needs are often different from her husband's and he is responsible for meeting her needs. Sometimes this means setting a slower pace, sometimes it means missing the evening newspaper, and sometimes it means consciously taking time to talk about things. On the other hand, a wife needs to consider her husband and his needs as well. Sometimes pressing duties mean a husband cannot talk immediately. Sometimes a husband is under the weight of a decision or responsibility in which he needs thinking time, and he may find it hard to keep his mind on his immediate surroundings. If talk time is needed in a full schedule, setting a time limit may be helpful. A husband's anxiety level may rocket out of control if his wife says, "Let's talk," and he knows he has only ten minutes. Consider these pointers for bettering husband/wife communication: • • • • • • • Keep work schedules trim. (Avoid jobs which demand prolonged absences.) Arrange for times when you can be alone other than nighttime (eating out on occasion, gardening, walking, etc.). Frequency of these activities should be mutually agreed upon. Refuse to harbor resentment toward one another. Commit yourselves to working through misunderstandings and disagreements. Be honest and open. Avoid communicating negative feelings indirectly. Do not make important decisions without openly discussing them. Postpone decisions where there is strong disagreement. (A husband should avoid overriding his wife's objections in decisions, even when she has trouble stating her reasons. Many godly husbands have testified to God protecting them from a wrong decision through a wife's intuitive objections.) Never share information with others which betrays trust. Never belittle, rail, ridicule, or nag. Regularly express gratitude, commendation, and encouragement. Be polite and courteous. Say "please," "thank you," "pardon me," etc.
• • • •
4. Improper ties with the past. One of the most painful problems in marriage is the problem of past relationships interfering with present loyalties. The most common example is where either husband or wife has parental ties which override loyalty to the marriage. The Bible describes marriage as "leaving" and "cleaving." For a husband and wife to join properly to one another, they must properly leave their parents. This does not mean forsaking parents in a hostile sort of way. It does mean that a husband finds in his wife what once he found in his mother, and that she gives to him the loyalty which she once gave to her parents. In giving sons and daughters in marriage, parents must learn to release their children. While giving advice is proper, particularly when it is requested, interference in decisions violates God's order. The interference may come through emotional pressure, bribery, or visiting too frequently. Whatever the distance in miles between the two families, a proper distance must exist in loyalties so that there is freedom in decision making. The following pointers may help: • • • Separate living quarters should be maintained and respected. A wife should avoid regularly testing her husband's ideas with her father's. A husband should avoid regularly suggesting that his wife check with his mother about how to do things.
• • • • If counsel is sought from parents, a couple should go together. Both husband and wife should avoid saying, "That's not how my mom or dad used to do it." The husband should avoid a habit of saying, "My mom always...." And the wife should avoid a habit of saying, "My dad always...." Activities with in-laws should not demonstrate favoritism. A persistent problem with parents interfering should be discussed with them frankly but kindly.
The Meaning of Marriage (Setting Priorities)
When we hear of another divorce we are always asking, "Why?" "What is happening to marriage?" And we wonder, "Will it happen to me?" We need to take a realistic look at what marriage really is. Marriage is a union of two individuals. Each comes with his / her own ideas, attitudes, and ways of doing things and handling problems. Suddenly he had to learn to live with the other's ideas, attitudes, and ways of doing things and handling problems. How well the marriage works depends on how well a person understands himself and how well he can tolerate and accept the differences of his mate. I have heard some people say, "All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes the trouble." We are prone to be very impatient when love and marriage do not solve all of life's previous problems. Romantic love is not worth anything if it is not well grounded in reality. Marriage is over glamorized in the media and we naturally expect more than any one human can possibly deliver. Husbands expect perfection in every area, total cooperation, and understanding; wives expect fulfillment on every level. After all, the advertisements show only gleaming silverware, sparkling crystal, and romantic candlelight, clean and cute babies. They never show a sink of dirty dishes, chipped dishes, and unshaven husband, wife with no makeup with her hair every where, or a crying, spitting baby with a dirty diaper. Reality is sometimes not only a shock, but also a surprise. Nobody likes surprises like these: he comes home tired and irritable; she is not always sexually responsive; someone has to take out the garbage and clean the house; money will only stretch so far and you thought Daddy was going to provide the extras forever; she's a night person, he's a day person, etc. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, We all expect some magic in every place--jobs, home, vacation, children, marriage. We all want the ideal, the perfect, in everything. We need to learn that when a good thing happens, when a good relationship develops, it is the result of working creatively with realities, one at a time. A fantasy concept of marriage on the part of either husband or wife needs fast help whether from other married friends or competent counselors or pastors. Never hesitate to seek help; it will be a growing experience for the both of you. Giving up "fantasy" or "magical" notions about marriage does not mean you lose the beauty and mystery of this most intimate relationship. It does mean that you can realistically approach each other without having to forever wear a mask or hide a part of yourself. It frees the couple to express, without fear of being misunderstood, their innermost feelings and longings. You can dream together, but also realistically plan together. Your marriage is not soundly built until married love has taken the place of romantic illusions. Most of married love develops after marriage. This means that even sturdy, married love requires attention to remain healthy. From the very beginning you need to creatively nurture your relationship. Little things do mean a lot. I know with my wife Tonya and I, we have what you call those loving greetings and farewells "hug them; kiss them before you leave for work and tell them that you love them." Have those affectionate glances in a crowd or while you are out with others, this is cultivating your relationship, helping it to grow, continually nurturing must take place, however you accomplish it. If you plant a seed and you never water it and care for it what will happen to it? It will die! To me, the seed is the love that was planted when we first met, the water is the little things, that I just mentioned, from there we will grow in our love, married love. Marriage is potentially the most totally intimate human relationship. It is a beautiful and delicate mystery that is never completely solved; there is always more to discover.
Not only is marriage exciting and mysterious, it is also a frightening step. It is really a "leap into God's arms". Marriage has been compared to a man and woman dancing together on a high tightrope. All have at least one fall; some break their necks when they fall; but if the husband and the wife both have faith and commitment, they fall into the net God spreads out to catch them. There they roll into each other's arms and then they can climb back onto the tightrope again. A healthy marriage needs to have goals and priorities. There needs to be overall, lifetime goals for your lives together, individual goals, and short-term pegs along the way. I don't mean high-sounding goals like these: WIFE: I will make our home a calm, quiet haven of rest; it will be well organized and run smoothly. HUSBAND: I will provide my family with all the things they need to be happy; my wife can always depend on me for all her needs. WIFE: I know my husband isn't perfect; he drinks too much sometimes and he doesn't always follow through on commitments, but I love him so much and I'll make him so satisfied and happy that he will change. HUSBAND: We will buy a house in 2 years, start our family in 5 years, and go to the Islands in about 3 years. We will be happy. HUSBAND & WIFE: Our goal is to have a successful marriage. We will have a nice home in a nice neighborhood, 2 cars, intelligent, well-behaved children (a boy first and then a girl), and an ego-satisfying job, total sexual fulfillment every time, no sickness, and no conflict. (IF YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN WHAT IM TRYING TO SAY BY NOW GOOD LUCK AND I WISH YOU THE BEST) These may sound farfetched to you, but a lot of people and couples have this idea about life and marriage. Priorities in any part of life have to be reexamined and adjusted frequently. Now is a good time for you both, individually and as a couple, to do this. Goals play a large part in the patterns we cut out for daily living. Perhaps a good way to identify your priorities would be to state the goals for your life. In order to keep this within the realm of possibility, let’s start this week. Think of some areas of your marriage that you'd like to change or improve. Perhaps you're getting into a rut or maybe you're having trouble separating your business cares from your home responsibilities (I think these may be a major thing for many marriages today). This applies to both husband and wife. One or both may be working outside the home and the frustrations experienced at work is easily transferred from work to home and from co-workers to the spouse, this is something that I have caught myself doing with Tonya at times. Thank God I have gotten a lot better. I just tell them now that they are not going to steal my joy... So do what I did, change the pattern. How can you actively work on this? Let’s say this couple got into an argument nearly every evening after the husband came home from work and before dinner. She had gotten into the habit of greeting him with a recount of all the woes, both great and small, of the day. He had no time to shed the troubles he had accumulated before she hung more on him. He became more and more withdrawn and she resented this feeling of isolation. This situation could be resolved by allowing each one a little space. Let him have some time to shed the work and all the troubles he gathered from work and throughout the day-- a glass of juice, soft drink, or coffee in a quiet place, with nothing but pleasant conversation or no conversation and no children for even 10 or 15 minutes, listen to him or her when they need it, basically just peace with nothing coming at you... this is basically something that the both of you could decide on, you know what relaxes you. You may find that it may work wonders for the relationship. Remember that two people whose commitment is to God and each other can come through anything. Sometimes we hear a remark like: "Jane and Bob have an ideal marriage." Chances are that while Jane and Bob may have a good relationship and life, they also encounter the thorns and booby traps common to human relationships. We should never succumb to the temptation to pattern our lives after others' because what is ideal to one couple may be intolerable to another. Now here is a final thought for you. Marriage can be happy, satisfying, successful, and rewarding. It is not a fixed state of perfection; it must always be a moving, alive relationship, adjusting and changing to accommodate all the situations of life. Did anyone say to you when you married, "Now you can settle down"? They were saying, "Now you're grown up. Now that you are an adult, nothing will change any more." Nothing should be further from the truth. This would be like saying to a person who has just become a Christian, "Now you're saved; that's all you have to do." The Christian life is to be one of dynamic growth. The New Testament is growth oriented, and the inspired writers often rebuke Christians for not
continuing to grow. Marriage and families should also experience growth as we move through the changing cycles of life. This cannot be automatic or always upward. Life is a constant "becoming." Then we have to ask. "Becoming what? Where am I going? Where are we going? Continued growth creates vitality, excitement, feelings of accomplishment, and the ability to cope with crises in one's marriage. There are peaks and valleys in any relationship. And family life is no exception.
CHAPTER 7 CREATIVE FAMILY TIMES
All of us have gone through it… all of us have experienced it. The desire to do something as a family that will focus our families on Christ. We’ve all felt it before, the prodding, telling us that we need to do something about it… but what? What do we do? Where do we go for ideas? Well, never fear. Before we allow that burning desire to turn into a heaping pile of ashes… here are some ideas that just might get those creative juices flowing!
Instead of just reading a Bible story, act it out. Check out or rent a Christian video to use. Do a service project together. Serve at a rescue mission or homeless shelter together. Put a bunch of open-ended questions, written on pieces of paper in a hat. Have each person pull one out and answer (keep going until all the questions are gone): • “The time I felt closest to God was…” • “The time I felt the farthest from God was…” • “I feel encouraged when…” • “If I could ask God one question it would be…” Memorize a verse together as a family. Create a “Family Prayer Calendar” of people and issues that everyone in the family has input into and is committed to praying for. After attending a worship service together as a family, talk about what impacted each of you. Have a worship service in your home, complete with singing, Scripture reading, and a devotional (preferably by one of the kids). Have everyone in the family take a piece of paper, divide it into four sections, and draw the following four pictures. Have each person describe their picture and any Scripture that may go along with it. • Draw a picture of God • Draw a picture of what it means to love God • Draw a picture of what it means to love others • Draw a picture of your own relationship with God Write your own Psalm, either individually, or as a family. “God is Like…”: Look around the room and find objects that can represent a character or quality of God. Share it and any verses that can apply. (“God is like this chair, because I can fully put my trust in him, knowing He will never let me down.”) Write notes of encouragement to the other people in your family, expressing what you appreciate about them. Get a ball of string. Hold on to one end of the string. While throwing the ball of string to another family member, say something encouraging about that person. Make sure that everyone gets to throw
the ball to everyone else in the family at least once. Talk about the “web” that is created, how that represents the bond you have in Christ and as a family.
Try and think of one specific reason to be thankful for each letter of the alphabet… A through Z. “Pray Your Cards Right”: Get a deck of cards, shuffle them, and place it in the middle of your dinner table. Starting with one person and going in a circle, turn over a card and offer a sentence prayer following this pattern (go around the circle at least a few times or more): • Heart = Thankfulness • Spade = Area of your life you need to grow in • Diamond = Dream or goal for the future • Club = Your family (an area of need or desire) “Random Acts of Kindness”: Decide as a family to do one thing, once a week, for the next month that will be “random act of kindness” to someone in your world. Let your children pray for anything, anywhere, anytime!
CHAPTER 8 Fathering for Performance or Fathering the Heart
WRONG: FATHERING FOR PERFORMANCE To know what something is, sometimes you have to know what it’s not. “My son is getting straight A’s,” boasted John’s dad. “He’s a starter on the football team, and, best of all, he isn’t into earrings, tattoos, and all that weirdness. He’s not like so many kids today.” What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe nothing, but maybe a lot. Too many Christian dads concern themselves primarily with how their children perform. As long as their children perform well—doing okay in school, looking clean-cut, saying “please” and “thank you”—these fathers believe everything’s fine. Yet the Bible says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). When we father for performance, our discipline becomes a way to get our children to stop doing something we don’t want them to do. We establish rules and punishments to get our children to conform. Fathering for performance means to focus on getting rid of unwanted behavior and replacing it with acceptable behavior. It may work for a while, but it stinks as a long-term solution. Six-year-old Collin wouldn’t stop punching his sister. “Collin,” his dad warned, “if you punch your sister you’re going to be restricted to your room for twenty-four hours—no TV, no music, just reading. Do you understand me?” Collin loved TV and music, so he resolved not to hit his sister. And he didn’t—for two days. But when she irritated him again, he let his fist fly. With enough promise of reward or threat of punishment, most children can exercise the self-control they need to perform for a period of time. The greater the promise or threat, the longer the child can hold out. But a deeper problem exists. Despite how cute and cuddly he seems, left to his own nature (the flesh), Collin is not a nice, pleasant, self-controlled child. Collin didn’t become “different” because of his behavior. His father attempted to control his behavior, but he didn’t help Collin deal with the beliefs of his heart. As a dad, you can get your children to behave for a while if you make a big enough promise or offer a big enough threat. Sooner or later, though, their true natures will come through. Eventually, they’ll reject this performance approach and act out of what’s really in their hearts. That’s why we have to grasp this difference between performance and heart. They have to be molded by Christ to love God and others from the heart.
RIGHT: FATHERING THE HEART By contrast, when we father the heart, we seek to go beyond what our children do to why they do it. Rewards and punishment have a place, but only as they focus on changing the core affections of a child’s heart. One day, when the Morley children were young, Pat’s wife was talking to a friend. This woman wondered what she could do to make sure her children never messed around with drugs. Patsy said, “For me, I’m not primarily concerned with their behavior. I’m interested first in what’s going on with their heart.” And that’s the difference between fathering for performance and fathering the heart. Fathering for performance gets children to behave right. Fathering the heart helps children believe right.
The following table contrasts these two systems
Fathering for Performance Emphasis on conformity Atmosphere of fear Parental control Focus on present Performance Playing a role Coming down on our children Surface interaction Assumes the worst Status quo Pronouncements from on high Uses people, “business relationship”
Fathering the Heart Emphasis on transformation Atmosphere of safety Freedom within boundaries Focus on future Development Being authentic Coming alongside our children True communication Believes the best Growth and change Questions and discussion Intimacy and vulnerability
FATHERING THE HEART IS GOD’S PLAN From the very beginning, God’s plan has been that the family would pass His message on to future generations. Picture yourself in your church on a Sunday morning. Let your mind wander around the congregation. Take a look at the teenagers around you. There’s Jeff who works at the grocery store. Becky from down the street is sitting with her parents. Luis sits beside his girlfriend Tammy. Now with the faces of those young people still in your mind, consider this: there is significant evidence that eight of these children will drop out of the church by the end of their senior year in high school and only four of those will come back. Why is that? What’s going on? What can we do about it? (Compiled statistics from Howard Hendricks, Jay Strack and Barna reports) According to two Boston College professors, we have entered into a period of the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history. They predict that an astonishing $40.6 trillion dollars will be passed down from parents to children during the years 1998 to 2052. (Paul Schervish, “The New Philanthropists.”)
Yet at the same time, we are squandering a great spiritual heritage—so much so that, in many cases, there is very little spiritual wealth available to transfer to the next generation. As we see more and more young people drift away from Christ and His church, one cannot help but wonder, “What will become of us? Will the church be a viable force in the world in 40 more years?” There are dozens of other equally chilling questions.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN DADS DON’T FATHER THE HEART The Bible shows that this decline starts when a generation of dads doesn’t “deliver the goods” to the next generation. Judges 2:10 says, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” And what happened to them? The verses that follow show that this new generation “did evil, forsook the LORD, followed and worshipped other gods, and provoked the LORD to anger.” And what did God do to them? Judges 2:14-15 tells us they were “handed over to raiders” and “plundered.” They were given over to “their enemies whom they could no longer resist” (at this point think alcohol, drugs, pornography, unwed mothers, STD, materialism, etc.). God was against them for a season. They were in great distress. None of us dads, after even a moment’s reflection, would knowingly “transfer” this kind of tragedy to our kids. Yet for many of us, that’s what we received from our dads, and now we are repeating the cycle. Unless God intervenes to turn the hearts of this generation of fathers toward their children, we’re going to lose this generation of kids to the gospel of Jesus. Frederick Taylor, the father of Scientific Management, said, “Your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting.” What he meant, of course, was that if you are manufacturing bicycles and every third bicycle assembled is missing the front tire, your system is perfectly designed to produce that result. But it works for the family too. Many Christian parents have a system perfectly designed to get mediocre and devastating results. Even though most Christian dads would say they want their children to turn out well, many of them are on "autopilot." They just hope and pray that somehow, some way, by the grace of God, their children will live for Christ. They love their kids, but let the kids have too much say (ask any kindergarten teacher and you will learn discipline is the #1 problem). More diligent dads think work hard at getting their children to live up to a set of expectations. But they don’t focus on what is going on in their children's hearts. That’s why so many "moral" children grow up to reject Christ. They say, “All dad cared about was getting me to obey, but he didn’t really care about me— not personally.” Biblical Christianity gives us a fathering “system” perfectly designed to disciple our children to love God and others from the heart. When we bring our children into the presence of Jesus, He transforms them from the inside out. When we help our children ask “Why?” instead of “What?”, God can help them see where their hearts are not fully set on Him. When we demonstrate our love for Christ, our children learn that their deepest joy will only be found in loving God and others. Father your children’s hearts for their good and the glory of God. APPLICATION 1. What system did your father use? How has that influenced you? 2. What is one way you could father the hearts of your children this week? What will you do?
CHAPTER 9 Spouses in Ministry
They say that behind every good man is a wonderful woman. Well, the same is true the other way around – behind every good woman is a wonderful man. For any spouse in ministry, the support of their mate is crucial in their ability to effectively win people for Christ. Marriage is a life-long partnership and when a spouse is involved in ministry, that partnership is needed the most. Dave Beck, Director of Human Resources for Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada, talks about the role of husbands and wives in ministry. 1. Encouragement It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, young or old – everyone needs encouragement and support in what they are trying to accomplish. Even a little encouragement goes a long way. In Hebrews 10:24 it says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Here are a few steps towards being an encourager: • Value the ministry of your spouse. If you recognize that they are actually part of a ministry that is helping to fulfill the great commission, it won’t feel like an intrusion on your family life. It is a great thing to contribute to God’s plan and make a difference in people’s lives. Recognizing your spouse’s role in that makes their job more satisfying. Recognize that this is a ministry that God has given to you as a couple. It takes both of you to accomplish God’s plan for your lives. Work together to make it happen. God wants us to bring everything to Him in prayer. When you pray with your spouse about their ministry, not only does it encourage them but it also shows that the matter is of value and importance. Showing concern and interest in your spouse’s ministry will be a great encouragement to them. An objective point of view can bring clarity and certain issues to light.
• • •
2. Responsibility Be responsible for your own spiritual development. Your role in your spouse’s ministry might not be hands on but you are still contributing by being supportive and enabling them to do their job. Taking time to be with God and working on your own individual relationship with Him benefits everyone in the end. 3. Communication Communication is key in maintaining a healthy, loving relationship. To keep the communication channels open, be open and honest about the boundaries that you and your children need. Knowing ahead of time what is expected helps with planning and what is needed from the both of you. 4. Boundary Management With boundaries fully in place, you have to be diligent in making sure that those boundaries aren’t overstepped by either of you.
• • Be willing to be a mirror to your spouse. Reflect back to them what your children and you are feeling about their time spent in ministry. Speak up and tell your spouse when they are spending too much time in ministry related matters. Remember, if you don’t enforce these boundaries it could affect your relationship with each other, your spouse’s relationship with your children and even your spouse’s health.
5. Recognize the Spiritual Battle Wherever God is doing miracles in peoples lives and using people as his instruments, the devil is also there trying to destroy all the work. Be aware of how the devil can take a little thing and blow it out of proportion. In Ephesians 6:12 it says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Don’t give the devil power. Rely on God for everything, for he alone can conquer everything. Marriage is a partnership and when a spouse is in a ministry that partnership is needed the most. Having someone to share the joy of bring people to Christ makes the process worthwhile. When two are working together for Christ marriages can be strengthened, lives can be changed and God can be glorified.
Chapter 10 How can I as a stepparent develop and maintain healthy relationships with my stepchildren?
One of the most challenging and complicated problems facing families today is the issue of developing and maintaining healthy relationships with stepchildren. Undoubtedly, many new spouses must feel, upon entering into a stepfamily situation, that they are suddenly expected to act like Superman and "leap tall buildings with a single bound." Though stepfamilies may look like traditional nuclear families on the outside, the dynamics on the inside are very different. Two completely unique family cultures, two completely different sets of traditions, two completely different ways of dealing with issues must now reach happy (or at least peaceful) coexistence in one family. Think about it: Roles for everyone are jumbled and confused…responsibilities are not clear cut as they usually are in a traditional family…activities once taken for granted (disciplining children, media and recreation choices, purchasing gifts, etc.) must now be reconsidered in light of their impact on new family members. Even something as basic as what titles you should use for each other needs to be discussed and decided upon as a family. As a Christian stepparent, your ultimate goals should be no different from those of any other Christian parent. You should seek to honor Christ in your life, and you should seek to teach and model biblical principles to your children and help them apply those principles to their lives. Your challenge is how to reach those goals. Following are a few suggestions for how you can work with your spouse to create a family environment where adults and children alike are faithfully growing and learning to apply God's principles in your lives. Note that, while several of these suggestions apply to any family, you will need to find special ways to apply them in a stepfamily situation. Make your marriage your top priority in family relationships. Stepparenting is often hampered by a new couple's lack of commitment to build a strong marriage. Many remarried couples have experienced the truth of Jesus' words in Matthew 7:24-27: " Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the
sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Because of the unusual pressures they face, a new husband and wife who have children from previous marriages often have virtually no honeymoon period to concentrate on building a strong foundation for their marriage. So when the storms of a stepfamily hit the home, many couples crash and experience divorce quickly—often within the first two years. Your marriage is the most important relationship in your family. Why? First, because it sets the tone for the stability and security of the home. Your children have not experienced this type of stability lately, and they need it. They also need to see a model of what God's design for marriage should look like. Second, you will draw strength and unity from your marriage relationship more than any other human relationship. Your spouse's encouragement will help you keep going despite the flack you might be taking in the battle.
Teach and model sacrificial love in all your relationships. As children go through the pain and bitterness of divorce, and as they wrestle through their emotions watching their parents marry someone other than their biological parent, their understanding and perception of love is seriously challenged. Stepparents Edward and Sharon Douglas write, "Feelings of disappointment and anger may surface in children who are suddenly forced to adjust to a new family after separating from their biological parent whom they deeply love and care for. . . . The loss of a special relationship is one of the deepest psychological losses experienced." Some children will take the blame for their parents' divorce and will think, "My parents don't love me." Others may be asking, "What is love? Is there really any such thing?" As doubt and cynicism set in, children often reject expressions of love toward them—not only from their stepparents but even from their biological parents. This is why it's critical that parents both teach and model sacrificial love in their relationships. John 15:1214 says: " This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Stepchildren may need to be reintroduced to this type of love. As they hear parents communicating and modeling Christ's love, the recent, imperfect examples of love will slowly but surely fade into the background. Teach and model repentance and forgiveness in your relationships. Joshua once said, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Are you proclaiming this to your children by your words and by your actions? To what extent are you willing to go to make this a reality? Modeling repentance and forgiveness in all the relationships of a stepfamily situation may be one of your greatest challenges. Yet it will make an incredible impact on everyone in your family. For example, you may face ongoing struggles with your ex-spouse—over time with your children, over differing standards of morality, or any number of other issues. This ex-spouse may act unreasonable and even vindictive. It is incredibly challenging to deal with a biological parent who has different ideas, values and expectations about the way their child should be raised.
In your anger and frustration, you may be tempted to malign the character of your ex-spouse in front of the children. You may want to seek revenge. But this is also one of the greatest opportunities you will have to model the love and grace of Jesus Christ. You have a critical choice to make: Will you model to your children how to walk in the flesh, or how to walk in the Spirit? Will you express grace and forgiveness? Your children and stepchildren need you to lead them. It won't be easy. However, the Bible exhorts us to teach and model how to resolve conflict correctly—through repentance, through forgiveness, and through His grace. Your example of Christ-like patience and kindness can show your children and stepchildren that God is at work in your stepfamily. And it will do something even more important—it will show them the Gospel. Your real-life example of forgiveness can give them a picture of Jesus Christ, who "…was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. …He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth." Isaiah 53:5,7 Allow bonding to proceed at the pace of the child. Don't expect to quickly develop a close relationship with a stepchild. Dena Sposato, who with her husband, Steve, directs a ministry for stepfamilies, writes, "It may take as many years as the child was old when the marriage occurred, for a 'family feeling' to develop between stepparent and stepchild. Children who were in the teen years when the marriage occurred may never bond to a point where the stepparent is a parent figure to them; they may develop only a good friendship." Allow the biological parent to assume primary disciplinary responsibilities for each stepchild. You need to develop a relationship with a stepchild before you begin to be involved in discipline. "Don't rush it, or the bonding could take even longer and cause conflict in your stepfamily," write Steve and Dena Sposato. "If the stepparent begins giving consequences and discipline before the child trusts that they are loved and safe with the stepparent, the relationship can be damaged." Young children may accept discipline from you more quickly, but with older children and teenagers, it may take at least a year. Talk regularly with your spouse, agree on boundaries and disciplinary actions, and back each other up as you deal with your children. Establish God as the overriding authority in all of your lives. Children need to know that God has given you the position of authority over them. But more important, they need to know that: • • God is the divine authority who can be trusted in all things. You are submitting your life daily to God's authority.
For a child adjusting to divorce and remarriage, the world has been turned upside down. They are working through emotions of grief and loss, as well as anger, guilt, and fear. Even their sense of right and wrong has been significantly challenged through a series of events that have occurred before their very eyes. No longer is the world black and white but instead many shades of gray. Wise stepparents will communicate to their children that though " A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps" it is ultimately the Lord who is in control (Proverbs 16:9). And though they may be questioning decisions and the authority of their parents, His authority is always to be trusted for there is no end to "the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" His judgments are "unsearchable" and His ways "unfathomable!" (Romans 11:33). They may not always be willing to listen, but children will take note as you model a submission to God's authority. As they see you honor, respect and obey God in all matters, they will begin to follow your lead.
This becomes especially critical as stepchildren question and challenge the decisions of their stepparents. Or as you fail and fall short as a parent. Faithfully and lovingly going to Scripture when you're questioned, and humbly admitting when you're wrong, will show them that you follow God's commands even when it's hard. This deep respect for God and His Word and His authority over your life will serve to create and atmosphere that fosters good, healthy relationships with your children.
CHAPTER 11 Tools for Building an Intimate Marriage
Sharon and her husband built the garage and decided to live there until the house was constructed. Five years later, they were still in the garage. The house plans still took a prominent place on the wall… but life was busy. They hadn’t planned to let construction slip…it had just happened as the busyness of day-to-day took center stage. They were fairly comfortable for the moment…but building had stopped. Building a marriage is much like building a home. You put deliberate plans in place and then you actively pursue the construction. Day-to-day business must be guarded against, and the building must be conscious. When building stops, status quo settles in. Having a deliberate eye on construction can keep building fun and productive. The marriage relationship is the highest of all human relationships. It can be a complete sharing of heart and soul, mind and body, or it can be simply a living arrangement of co-existence. Most marriages are somewhere in between. Any marriage can benefit from implementing some new or re-sharpened tools to move deliberately in building into a growing relationship. Here are five practical and positive tools to use in building your marriage. 1. The team tool Remember you are a team. When two team members forget they are on the same team and begin to compete with each other, no one wins. Marriage is not about winning; it is about pulling together in the same direction. Stop for a moment and look honestly at yourself. Do you need to win every argument or be right about some insignificant disagreement? Maybe he is the one with that need to be right. Remember you are on the same team. In things that don’t matter, drop it. In things that do, plan for a time out and set a date to re-visit the issue. Verbalize the fact that you are a team. Bring in a third party if you repeatedly stalemate on one issue. Think in terms of “I choose us.” 2. The response tool Don’t react; respond! Your reactions actually tell more about you than your actions do! Take time to think before you just react! Evaluate why you react in certain ways and plan ahead of time what you are going to do next time it happens. Know what your buttons are…do you react negatively if he is late getting home
and didn’t call? What situations do you find yourself reacting in? Choose to be conscious of the “I choose us” frame of mind and think about your reactions. Many couples get on a merry-go-round of reactions and find themselves in a hostile environment neither of them wants. Choose to respond instead! 3. The blessing tool Give a blessing today! In the book The Blessing, Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent describe the deliberate practice of expressing honor and devotion to other people. It’s actually a practice with deep biblical roots. Many marriage partners have come to this special relationship without ever having received honor or devotion. Sometimes they come with trust issues because these things were not a part of their heritage. Begin today to put words of honor and devotion into your partner’s heart. Speak truth from your heart. Let him know what you appreciate about him. Affirm his positive traits. “You give such attention to detail.” or “Your boss knows he can depend on you.” If you have to stretch a long way to find something, start where you can. It may be something like, “I appreciate how you provide for our family. Thank you.” Or “Maggie really needed you to see that test she did so well in. Thanks for taking time to listen to her.” For some, this tool will be easy to use. For others it will feel awkward and hard to put to use. If you draw a blank in finding words of affirmation begin to watch carefully for the little things you can affirm. Ask God, who sees the best in all of us, to reveal to your heart some positive qualities you can affirm. 4. The sharing tool Share as much of life as possible! Share your time, share your thoughts, share your interests, and share his interests. This is a tool that must be deliberately engaged or life will push it aside. Time spent together doing things affords a connection opportunity. History together is built one event at a time. Make sure you are inputting positive events that build a positive archive. Plan dates, a movie night, dinner out, or even a coffee date is a good way to keep sharing alive! If life has crowed the sharing out of your relationship, be deliberate in building it back in. Start small, share a certain TV program and sit beside him. Share a cup of coffee or a glass of lemonade for a couple of minutes in the middle of a task he is doing. Even cleaning the garage or basement together can connect you. Reminisce briefly now and then. “This old bike brings back memories of those good times we had biking that summer before we moved.” Share your time. Go with him to look at a car or take a trip to Home Depot. Begin to share your thoughts. 5. The contact tool Make daily contact! It is entirely possible to live with someone and not make any or very little contact. Contact is an excellent building tool and you can use it in a variety of ways. Each day try to connect in one way, whether emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually. Think about it and try to be deliberate. Some construction tools look overwhelming, yet when you know how to use them they are extremely valuable in the building project. • • Emotionally – Share a thought that goes beyond picking up milk or confirming the time of an appointment. Use “I feel…” comments. Offer support emotionally. “You’ve had a lot of pressure lately. Why don’t you sleep in a bit Saturday?” “I know we are in a financial crunch right now, but we’ll do what we have to do and together we’ll get through it.” Encourage in any way you can. Remember that communication is only seven percent the words we speak and the rest is our tone and body language. Tone and body language are the emotional language we speak.
• Mentally – Connect by sharing a newspaper article you read, a news commentator you listened to or from a book you are reading. Ask him his opinions and listen to them. Share a story from your day or ask a question about something that interests him. Physically - Give lots of non-sexual touching such as a quick hug, a hand on the arm, a pat on the hand or the back. Touching says “I care” and touch is one of our basic human needs. If all touching has become a signal for sex, touch on the way out the door, touch casually, touch in passing. Do make time for the sexual contact as well. Plan for it. Dwell on the good things about your husband. Have a relaxing bath, get out a candle and surprise him with a sense of pleasure at being together. • Spiritually – Many couples never share on this level even if they share the same faith. Spiritual sharing gives a third dimension to a relationship. Share a thought or a reading that inspired you. Take time to pray for him. Let him know you are praying for him. Pray together if possible.
Endeavor to connect regularly on all levels. But what about me? These tools all focus on you as the builder. It is more important to be the right partner than to have the right partner. You can only change you. You cannot change your partner; you can only change how you relate to him. But what if your emotional and spiritual gage is on empty? What if you need someone to build into you? Plain and simply, the answer is God! No, don’t stop reading… its true and it is a very practical thing you can experience. God loves you. He has only your best in mind. He waits for you to invite Him to share the journey of life with you. When you open your heart to receive His love and forgiveness for living your life your own way, He comes in and begins to build into you so you, in turn, can build into others. Invite God into your life; invite him into your marriage. He is the well from which you can draw. Ask Him to give you insight into your husband. Ask Him to give you a loving and responsive heart. Ask Him to give you strength and wisdom. Ask Him for words that build up and bless. Ask Him for patience. He created you and He created marriage. He is the master builder; and the One who is truly qualified to help you use these tools. On your own you can find a measure of success in applying these tools. But God holds the manual and, when invited, He can enhance your life and your marriage in ways you never imagined. Why not invite Him now?
LEARN TO USE YOUR TOOLS AND BUILD THE HOME GOD WANTS Let me ask you a question, have you ever tried to hammer a nail in with a screwdriver? Of course not, and why, because somewhere down the line as you where growing up someone taught you that a hammer was used for that job and a screwdriver was used for screws. But sadly today many marriages have either forgotten how to use or never learned to use God’s tools. These tools are what will keep a marriage and home up and running and not run down or even worse, condemned and unlivable or in other words couples separated or divorced. I once was counseling a Christian couple that was going through many challenges in their marriage. While counseling them God brought to my mind that we have forgotten how to use the tool’s that He has given us to build a strong marriage. One of the very first things we forget is what I call the “I’m a man I don’t need instructions” disease. We try to put things together but don’t know how because we don’t know what to use for the job and how to use it correctly. It’s kind of like this; I buy a new bicycle for my son Joshua, I have the instructions, tools, and all the parts needed to put it together but having the “I don’t need instructions” mentality I go ahead and start putting it together. Now it’s all together but I have a lot of pieces left over, Oh well, it seems sturdy and ride able so I go ahead and give it to my son to ride. Everything seems fine until a week later. The handle bars fall off, then the back wheels and now the front. What happened? Remember the pieces I had left over, they had a purpose. Our marriages are the same, God gives us the instructions on how and what to do in order to put a marriage together but yet we seem to have pieces left over. Why? Because we didn’t go by God’s instructions and now our wheels are falling off. See God has supplied us with all the instructions on how to use every tool we have, we just have to get into His word and apply it. This is what happens with many marriages, they have all the tools needed they just didn’t know how to use them. Ok we have read and studied the instructions, we have all the tools needed and we know how to use them properly, now what? We must build that home upon “The Rock”. The bible says that a wise man builds his house upon the rock and when the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; the house didn’t fall because it was build upon the rock. The foolish man didn’t build upon the rock and the same came against it and it didn’t stand, but fell and great was that fall. By reading God’s instructions we see that we need to first, build upon the rock. First and foremost, God should be the center of our lives and within our homes. Our first building project should be to build a foundation upon God
within our marriages, so that when the rains of trouble, floods of life, and winds of tribulation come beating upon our home it will stand. As the counseling went on God had me to draw out a house and to list it this way.
God is our shelter and foundation, our family is covered and protected by God. But in our home many times there comes a point that we must fix things or start remolding it. The home starts falling down around us, first it’s the wallpaper then a strip of trim then there’s the hole in the wall. So we start fixing those problems inside our home. But we forget about the foundation, we forget that the big problems are happening outside. But we are just worried about the little things going on inside. You see unless our foundation stands solid the whole house will come tumbling down. Those little things on the inside that we are trying to fix, the fusing and fighting, the hurt feelings, the anger and the feelings that you are alone in the marriage, this all derives from somewhere else and that’s where we find it in our foundation, rooted in and sometimes deep. These are the cracks that have formed overtime they are problems we never took care of at the time but allowed it to grow and get worse. Now it’s causing damage on the inside. Once again we are trying to fix something but we are still having parts left over. You can’t just do a quick fix; it must be complete and wholehearted. You will never find in the Bible where Jesus ever once did any thing half way or did a quick fix, it was always complete. When He healed the blind man did he only heal the one eye and leave the other blind? When He made the lame to walk again did He leave them with a limp? NO! Why? Because He did it complete. I have heard many times over the years growing up that duck tape will fix anything but I’m here to tell you that the only thing that will fix anything is God. So do you want the marriage God wants for you do you want the family God want’s for you then stop doing it yourself, read God’s instructions and I mean all 66 books. Start using the tools that God has given you and use them the way God meant for you to. Stop having left over pieces. Make a promise today to God, yourself, and your family to put God’s plans into action. Now open the doors to the tool shed and get to work. Go to the enemy’s camp and take back what he stole from you!!!!
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