Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

Getting Rid of Bitterness

September 9, 2009

Have you ever heard the expression don’t get angry get even? Well, there may be a better way to deal with that unexpressed anger than vengeance. Let’s look at two negative ways and one positive way of responding to anger and bitterness.

First, there is unexpressed anger; holding it inside and letting it smolder. When we do this, the bitterness becomes like a malignant cancer slowly destroying the fiber of life. Then, there is uncontrolled expression of anger. Like an explosion it destroys everything in its range. Such an outburst is like an emotional heart attack and may produce permanent damage.

There is a better way. It begins by saying to yourself, “I’m extremely angry and bitter about what my spouse has done. But I will not allow their wrong to destroy me and I will not attempt to destroy them. I will turn my spouse over to God who is just, and I will release my anger and bitterness to God.” The Biblical challenge is “get rid of anger and bitterness” (Col. 3:8).

Confess to God that you have held your anger inside and that you are bitter. Ask His forgiveness for handling your anger in a sinful way. Then confess your bitterness to your spouse and ask forgiveness. Find a counselor or trusted friend who can help you release your spouse and your anger to God, in order to live a constructive life in the future. Let me admit that a one time confession of bitterness may not eliminate all hostile feelings. If the bitterness has been there a long time, the hostile feelings may die slowly.

Paul said, “Never pay back evil for evil… Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:17,19). You may have been greatly wronged by your spouse, but it is not your responsibility to punish them for their sin. They must face God with their sin, and God is a just judge. Verbal retaliation accomplishes no constructive purpose. Seeking the good of your mate, which the Bible calls love, has much potential for good.

An Intimate Marriage

August 31, 2009

We did not get married in order to find a convenient way to cook meals, wash dishes, do laundry, and rear children. We married out of a deep desire to love and to be loved, to live life together, believing that together we could experience life more deeply than apart.

How can we experience this? Let’s look at the five essential components of an intimate relationship: sharing our thoughts (intellectual intimacy), discussing our feelings (emotional intimacy), spending time with each other (social intimacy), opening our souls to each other (spiritual intimacy), and sharing our bodies (physical intimacy).

Intellectual Intimacy
From the moment we arise in the morning, our minds are active. Intimacy requires that we share some of our thoughts with each other. I am not talking about only highly intellectual thoughts; they may just be ones focused on finances, food, or health. When two minds link, they build intellectual intimacy.

Emotional Intimacy
The sharing of feelings also builds emotional intimacy. Be willing to say “I’m feeling a lot of fear right now,” or “I am really happy tonight.” In making such statements, we are choosing to be intimate with our spouses, to reveal to them what’s going on in our emotional world. Learning to talk about emotions can be one of the most rewarding experiences of life.

Social Intimacy
Social intimacy has to do with spending time together around the events of life. As I share these events with my spouse, our horizons are broadened. Another part of social intimacy involves the two of us doing things together, alone or with others. A picnic in the park or even on the deck can add excitement to an otherwise drab day. The things we do together form some of our most vivid memories, and they also build social intimacy.

Spiritual Intimacy
Spiritual intimacy is often the least developed of all the intimacies of a marriage, yet it has a profound impact upon all other areas. It is fostered not only by verbal communication, but also by shared experience. One wife said, “There is something about experiencing worship together that gives me a sense of closeness to my husband. We hold hands during the prayers. We share with each other what we liked about the service.” Intimacy flourishes as we share our spiritual journey. Next week, we will discuss physical intimacy.

Time for a Game Plan!

July 20, 2009

If you entered marriage believing that you could merge lives

 effortlessly, the first thing you need to do is change your expectations. The truth is, living together requires many adjustments.

Remember this is not like trying to put up with a college roommate or the person splitting the rent in your apartment, where you can choose to ignore minor irritations or strange habits until the end of the lease. This is your life partner, the one you vowed to stay with until death. And not just stay together, but build an intimate relationship. This week we’ll talk about bringing two lives together in harmony.

You found out he snores like a lumberjack. She squeezes the toothpaste in the middle. He thinks Burger King and laser tag are the ingredients of a romantic evening. She sings the wrong lyrics to every song on the radio.

The key to working through such irritations is to keep them in their proper perspective.  Don’t turn molehills into mountains.  There is so much about each other that made you fall in love with each other, focus on these things when the little annoyances seem to become big annoyances.

Too many couples view marriage as the finish line of their relationship. They work and work to make it to their wedding day, then sit back and wait for “happily ever after” to begin.  If you didn’t enter marriage with a strategy for keeping the relationship alive then you’re in trouble. The wedding is the first step, not the final one. To make your relationship work over the long haul, you need to put the same kind of time, energy, and effort into it after the wedding that you did when you were dating.

How did you act when you were dating?  Did you give gifts?  Did you always make sure that you had quality time for each other?  What are some ways that you can keep that love for each other alive beyond the “in love” feelings?

What’s in it for me?

June 22, 2009

Unconditional love means that we love, and thus seek the best for the other person, regardless of their response to us. We receive this kind of love all the time. God always bestows 

(photo courtesy of http://www.sacredotter.com/)

His love on us unconditionally and His challenge to us in marriage is to love each other like He loves us. This kind of love focuses on meeting the needs of the other person. It is the greatest gift you can give your spouse. It is not based on their behavior, but on your desire to love them as Christ loved you.

In a healthy marriage, we will actually give unconditional love before we realize we’re receiving it. Far too many people are waiting for their spouse to make the first move. Someone has got to take the lead. Why not you?

Let me give you a suggestion. Say to your spouse, “I’ve been thinking about our marriage, and I realize that I have loved you conditionally. I think love should do better than that, and I want to make a fresh commitment to our marriage. I am going to ask you to give me one suggestion each week on what I can do to make your life better. Whatever you suggest, I’m going to do my best to do it.”

photo courtesy of: by joemess from austin source Wikimedia and http://acobox.com

Still want to understand love better?  Read 1 Corinthians 13, slowly, carefully and out loud.


Money! An Asset or Liability?

June 5, 2009

Sometimes it seems as if the more we have, the more we argue about what we have. The poorest of couples in America have abundance compared to the masses of the world’s population. I am convinced that the problem does not lie in the amount of money that a couple possesses, but in their attitude toward money and the manner in which they handle it.

I think a lot of us have an idea in mind of what the perfect home, perfect car, perfect job that seems to be the benchmark of what would make us happy. We get there and then realize, “No, that not quite enough.” Author Jeanette Clift George has said, “The great tragedy in life is not in failing to get what you go after. The great tragedy in life is in getting it and finding out it wasn’t worth the trouble.”

When life focuses on getting more money, we have the wrong focus. Our marital relationship and our relationship with God are far more important than how much money we have. Getting our priorities straight is the first step in making money an asset to marriage rather than a liability.
What ways can money be a liability to your marriage? Discuss what you think it looks like when money is an asset to your marriage.

He’s Got Personality

May 13, 2009

Have you ever gone on date with a person and all they wanted to do was talk about themselves? Their life, their problems, their emotional baggage strewn out for you to look at and analyze. It’s probably because they’re a babbling brook. Many of you may be asking what in the world that means.

When it comes to communication there are two extreme personality profiles. First is the babbling brook. This person is constantly picking up the phone to talk to others, in fact, if they get someone’s voicemail they call someone else. If they can’t get someone on the phone they’ll talk to themselves. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. Some of you are probably turning red saying, “That’s me,” but don’t get too embarrassed because there are likely others out there saying, “I wish I could find someone like that, then I wouldn’t have to worry about conversation starters.”

This personality type is called, the “Dead Sea” personality. These people are perfectly content not to talk. In fact, if you say to a Dead Sea personality, “What’s wrong, why aren’t you talking tonight?” He/she is likely to respond, “Nothing. What makes you think something’s wrong?” These are the kind of people who don’t find long silent car rides awkward, rather they find these car rides enjoyable.

Babbling brooks have a great time with Dead Seas because they are such great listeners, and Dead Seas love not having to carry the weight of the conversation so they enjoy time with babbling brooks. The good news for two babbling brooks is that you can both learn to become better listeners. Likewise two Dead Seas can learn to be more open and to find things to talk about.

Which are you, a babbling brook or a Dead Sea? What ways have you tried or learned to become more balanced?

Knowing Your Needs

May 7, 2009

After dispelling some of the myths about dysfunctional marriages, you may have been left with more questions than answers. The problem is we all have needs and sometimes it’s hard to know what they are.

What are the inner needs which motivate much of our behavior? Let me mention three.

1. The first is the need to love and be loved. I feel good about myself when I am helping others. Conversely, I feel significant when I believe that someone genuinely loves me and is looking out for my interest.

2. A second inner need is the need for freedom – the desire to order my own life and not be controlled by another. Free to have thoughts, desires, and feelings as a person.

3. A third need is the need for significance – to feel that my life counts for something.

It should be clear that if we don’t understand the inner motivation of our spouse’s behavior, we will likely misjudge their behavior and hurt them deeply. It is worth the effort to try to discover the inner motive behind your spouse’s behavior.

One of the inner needs which motivates our behavior is the need for peace with God. That is why religion is a universal phenomenon. If your wife is attending a weekly Bible study and you are complaining that she is getting too religious, you are going to stimulate her defensive mechanisms, because you are striking at one of her inner needs. Far better to encourage her pursuit and ask yourself, “Which of my needs is going unmet that motivates me to get on her case about her Bible study?” Chances are, you’ll find your answer.

When you share your need with her and she is open about her own needs, you can find a way to meet both of your needs. It should be apparent that in order for this to happen, you must both be in touch with your own inner needs and respect the needs of the other. You are there for each other. This is God’s design.

How can you share your needs with your spouse? What support system do you and your spouse have besides each other? How does it help you both maintain your relationship with each other?

Dispelling the Myths about Dysfunction

May 6, 2009

Unfortunately, many people in desperate marriages base their lives upon commonly held myths. This week I want to expose some of these myths and challenge you to take constructive action in your marriage.

Myth #1
The first myth is the idea that my state of mind and the quality of my marriage is determined by my environment. “I grew up in a dysfunctional family, so I am destined to failure in my relationships.” This kind of approach leaves one helpless.

Our environment certainly affects us, but it does not control us. You can keep a positive spirit even in a bad marriage, which will affect your emotions and your actions. God can give peace of mind even in the worst of situations.

Myth #2
You’ve probably heard this one: “People cannot change.” This myth fails to realize the reality of human freedom and the power of God. History is filled with accounts of people who have made radical changes in their behavior. From St. Augustine, who once lived for pleasure and thought his desires were inescapable, to Charles Colson, the Watergate criminal who repented and began an international agency to offer prisoners spiritual help, the record is clear: People can and do change, and often the changes are dramatic!

Don’t give up on yourself or your spouse. God is in the business of changing lives. Begin with prayer, and believe that God can and will change you and your spouse.

Myth #3
“When you are in a bad marriage, there are only two options: be miserable for life, or get out.” This myth limits one’s horizons to two equally devastating alternatives.

But there is always something you can do to improve a marriage. You can be a positive change agent in your marriage. Being miserable or getting out are not your only options, and there are loving solutions even in desperate marriages.

Myth #4
“Some situations are hopeless.” Have you said those words? Have you believed them? The person who believes this myth usually also concludes, “My situation is hopeless. Perhaps there is hope for others, but my marriage is hopeless. It has gone on too long; the hurt is too deep.” This kind of thinking leads to depression and sometimes suicide.

God is the God of hope. When you put your hand in His hand, He will lead you through the valley of despair into the plane of hope. With God no one and no situation is hopeless. Focus your eyes on Him rather than your situation.

The Stand-off

April 29, 2009

It only takes one person to break the silence. Have you been standing off, refusing to give in and call, waiting for your spouse to make the first move? Why wait? An effort to communicate that you care, that you are open to working on the relationship may be all that it takes to get the process going.

“He failed me. Why should I try to reconcile with him?” That line of reasoning is perfectly normal, but not biblical. In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus instructs us to reach out to those who have sinned against us and seek reconcile. If they won’t turn from their sin, then we take someone with us and lovingly confront them again. If they still refuse to talk with us, then we turn them over to God. We pray for them. We seek to win them by the love of Christ in us.

Reconciliation is hard in any relationship, and it’s even harder in marriage. But God is good. He offers healing. If you and your spouse have been separated in the past but are now reconciled, share an encouraging story for others who may be in that situation right now.

From One Widow to Another

April 24, 2009

On last weeks Building Relationships….

One topic that we often don’t hear about on Sunday morning is widowhood. Though we don’t often discuss it, it is vitally important. One of the difficulties of such a topic is that we often think we’re invincible. And when someone we love loses a spouse, what do we say? How do we comfort them?

Author and speaker Miriam Neff joins us to tell her story. She tells about her husband, Bob, and what it was like to lose him to ALS. She opens up about the sorrow she felt, and how she dealt with the loss.

To listen to the broadcast: Click Here or click on the individual segments (1) (2) (3) (4)

Find out more about Miriam Neff, author of From One Widow To Another: http://www.widowconnection.com.

You can also find her new book at: http://fivelovelanguages.com/building_relationships.html