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Speaking life or death

It is amazing to me how many couples choose to speak the truth, using words as laser beams into the hearts of their mate. After decimating their mate, they hide behind the phrase, “I was just telling the truth.” Your words will speak life or death into your mate.  Practice taking responsibility for the fact that words cut like a knife, or as the Apostle James says, “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” (James 3: 5) How can we improve our marriage by listening more and speaking less?

A better way to look at stress

As strange as it seems, easy living and a stress-free existence can be disadvantageous for animals and for us humans. Think about the big male lion lying in a cage at the zoo. All his needs are met, and his hunting skills are useless. His muscles turn flabby, and he yawns his way through the day. Meanwhile, the lion that’s roaming free on the plains of Africa, stalking and competing for his next meal, remains fit and strong because of the challenges and dangers he faces.

Within limits, adversity is beneficial to you and your spouse, too. Troubles that require comforting leave you better able to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). Physical suffering, when endured in the name of Christ, makes it easier for you to say no to sin (1 Peter 4:1). Hardships due to your faith lead to restoration and strength (1 Peter 5:9–10). Trials also produce perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3). There are many other examples of this “adversity principle” at work in Scripture.

Human beings who have survived hard times are tougher, more resilient, and more compassionate than those who have never faced difficulty or pain. You might remember that the next time your family is battling adversity in the jungle of life.

Changing our view of things

It is so very easy to complain. It is so easy to see the problems in our lives. We notice what is wrong with our lives, with our mates, our children and even our friends. It’s easy to see what is wrong. However, you must change lenses so that you see what is right in your life. Take a moment and reflect on the blessings you enjoy every day. Do you enjoy good health? Thank God. Do you have good friends? Thank God. Do you enjoy your owning a home, material blessings? Again, thank God. Notice what is right in your life and give thanks for it. 

Did you notice that?

Who doesn’t want to be noticed? Perhaps we don’t want to be the center of attention, but we want to matter, to be noticed. Jesus was an incredible example of someone who took note of others. He noticed details of a person’s life that others had overlooked. One senses that He cared about the details of a person’s life. Do you take time to notice what is going on in your spouse’s life? Do you give them time to share their story, the passions of their heart? Take time today to notice your spouse and watch as they delight in your interest. 

Maybe, you can work toward earning a degree in your spouse!

I am sorry

There is nothing that feels so healing, soothing and comforting as a well-spoken apology. Half-apologies, on the other hand, deepen the wound. When apologizing, consider the admonition that “godly sorrow leads to repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:10). If truly sorry, we will admit wrong, taking full responsibility for our actions without excuse, admit sorrow, a statement of understanding of the impact of our actions and a plan for restoration. Are you sorry for how you have hurt someone and are you ready to make amends?

There are nine words that will transform your marriage if you are willing to say them –

I am sorry

I was wrong

Please forgive me 

How do you face conflict?

We know that we will have conflict. Whenever two or more people are gathered, there will be conflict. People are different, with different needs, different desires and different agendas. Add a mood or two on top of all that and you have the makings for conflict. Yet, we can choose to enter into the conflict, or stand outside and observe. Even more important, we can bring a measure of peace to the situation. Watch today for times when you might have otherwise joined the fray, but today you choose to stay outside, watching, praying and bringing peace. What can you do this weekend to make your home more peaceable?

Interference in marriage – part 3

Most problems in marriages arise from one of four sources: (1) communication problems, (2) sexual difficulties, (3) money management differences, or (4) in-law issues. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that communication is far and away the most common and most serious problem. Husbands and wives sharing thoughts, concerns, dreams, and needs with each other is vital to a strong marriage.

When God created Adam and Eve, they had no communication breakdowns with Him or with each other. A major component of the image of God in us is the ability and the need to live in relationship with others. The fall of humanity distorted the image of God in us, and twisted our ability to live in harmony with God and with one another.

Husbands and wives live in close proximity, so they must communicate with each other all the time. We have no real alternative if we want to live together happily. Yet, various forms of static can make marital communication difficult. Let’s look at three major kinds of interference.

Interference 3: Gender Differences

Genesis 1:27 says, “male and female He created them,” reminding us that from the beginning God made men to be men and women to be women. It’s possible to make too big a deal out of this; we really aren’t from different planets. However, you get all sorts of static on the line when you fail to consider how differently your spouse looks at life and approaches problems.

The interferences from our tongues, unresolved issues, and the “stuff” of life can be amplified by the different ways men and women approach socializing, processing information, and solving problems. As long as you expect your spouse to react to events the same way you do, you’ll probably keep on hearing static on the line. Abigail and David are good examples people who didn’t let a stressful situation keep them from respecting each other’s perspective on life. Give your mate that same consideration these two strangers gave each other, and you’ll find your life enriched, too. Try that this weekend and see what happens!

Interference in marriage – part 2

Most problems in marriages arise from one of four sources: (1) communication problems, (2) sexual difficulties, (3) money management differences, or (4) in-law issues. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that communication is far and away the most common and most serious problem. Husbands and wives sharing thoughts, concerns, dreams, and needs with each other is vital to a strong marriage.

When God created Adam and Eve, they had no communication breakdowns with Him or with each other. A major component of the image of God in us is the ability and the need to live in relationship with others. The fall of humanity distorted the image of God in us, and twisted our ability to live in harmony with God and with one another.

Husbands and wives live in close proximity, so they must communicate with each other all the time. We have no real alternative if we want to live together happily. Yet, various forms of static can make marital communication difficult. Let’s look at three major kinds of interference.

Interference 2: Unresolved Issues

Every time a married couple doesn’t resolve a problem between them, it becomes a weed planted in the garden of their relationship.

25Laying aside falsehood, speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:25-27 (NASB)

Unresolved issues are like weeds in a relationship. Left to take root, they spread through the garden, fertilized by anger and frustration. Weeds ignored over the years choke the garden of marriage. A couple stops talking about heart issues, such as dreams, fears, delights, and the relationship withers.

Many communication issues arise from the daily “stuff” of life. Example: A mother is exhausted from chasing her preschooler all day and getting up in the night with her baby. She hasn’t a shred of energy for sex. Her husband comes home frustrated with the corporate grind, and wants to unwind in a time of intimacy. She thinks he’s an insensitive, demanding jerk; he thinks she’s an unappreciative, unresponsive iceberg. Trouble brews in paradise. What can you do this weekend to eliminate or minimize this interference?

Interference in marriage – part 1

Most problems in marriages arise from one of four sources: (1) communication problems, (2) sexual difficulties, (3) money management differences, or (4) in-law issues. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that communication is far and away the most common and most serious problem. Husbands and wives sharing thoughts, concerns, dreams, and needs with each other is vital to a strong marriage.

When God created Adam and Eve, they had no communication breakdowns with Him or with each other. A major component of the image of God in us is the ability and the need to live in relationship with others. The fall of humanity distorted the image of God in us, and twisted our ability to live in harmony with God and with one another.

Husbands and wives live in close proximity, so they must communicate with each other all the time. We have no real alternative if we want to live together happily. Yet, various forms of static can make marital communication difficult. Let’s look at three major kinds of interference.

Interference 1: The Tongue

The Bible often refers to the tongue when it wants to address the totality of our spoken communication. Let’s see what Jesus clarified about our speech.

34For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment of every careless word they have spoken.

Matthew 12:34-36 (NIV)

2We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. 3A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. 4A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! 5It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. 6By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony into chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. James 3:2-6 (THE MESSAGE)

The tongue is like a bucket dipping into the well of our heart, bringing up what it finds there and pouring it out on those around us. Every outward behavior or word has a corresponding inward belief in our hearts. In a world full of distorted beliefs and desires, the tongue can cause us a lot of trouble in our marriages.

We can set fires in many ways: with vicious talk, demeaning words, nagging, bullying, manipulation, and controlling speech. How can you change your marriage by controlling your tongue?

You need a second honeymoon – part 4

Destressing, improving your friendship, and, of course, sex are three great reasons for a second honeymoon. How about one more?

It reminds you why you got married. 

Remember that guy or gal you fell in love with? The one who made your tummy flutter, your heartbeat pound, and your eyes light up? You’re still married to that person.

In the usual busyness of life, we can forget what attracted us to one another. We get used to each other and perhaps take our relationship for granted. But taking a second honeymoon can remind you exactly why you committed your love and life to your spouse.

You might need a reminder of your own good taste–that you married someone pretty awesome. And so did your spouse.

Of course, there are additional benefits of travel, including the activities you do, the lodging and views you enjoy, and/or the meals you savor. But as a couple, it’s important to find time to be just us two. It can benefit your relationship in these four ways and others. Maybe it’s time you took a second honeymoon.

“Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages” (Song of Songs 7:11).