A Good Marriage – Loved and Cherished – Part 1

Marriage is a covenant between two different and unique people that should never be questioned or dissolved. It is a sacred vow before God to be united for life.

 

There is nothing in a marriage that cannot be resolved if both parties of the couple are humble enough to be flexible, to forgive slights – no matter how huge or earth shattering they are – and to lay down our life for one another.

 

If the circumstances are unbearable, a period of separation for the purpose of reconciliation is much better than getting a divorce. We cannot “move on with life”, but we can trust God to bring about a resolution in His perfect way and timing.

 

If our spouse is abusive, we can get a new phone number, and have a friend read his/her mail before we do, if we fear it is abusive. We can change jobs if necessary, and alert our friends to keep our business private. We do not need to live with abuse.

 

However, divorce is a blight on society and a lifelong wound on our life that never heals. It impacts the children of divorced parents and weakens their resolve to continue in their own marriage and to work out issues with compromise and preferring one another.

 

Cherishing one another is the greatest guarantee against divorce. To cherish means to look at one another with affection and loving consideration; we consistently show love beyond measure; adore one another; dote on each other and cherish one another from deep in our heart.

 

Rather than competing with one another, or expecting our mate to function outside of their calling and provision from God, we can discover our mate’s gifts and talents and depend on them for these traits.

 

We can hire a mechanic or handyman, if our mate is not gifted in that area, or engage a housekeeper or share the chores if our wife works too many hours to keep our home to the standard that we like it.

 

Communicating honestly and brainstorming together to find alternative methods, thinking and behavior is a healthy habit, which prevents bitterness from tearing apart our commitment to one another.

 

If both members of the couple are humble enough to make the effort to change our behavior, as well as to communicate more honestly with each other, then a Pastor, a successfully married older couple, or a counselor may help to improve our communication with one another.

 

We all bask in the Sonshine of a heart-felt compliment. Making each other feel loved and cherished is the best gift we could ever give to one another, to our family and to our children’s future mates.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we have a choice each day to build up or to tear down our relationship with one another. Help us to make it our goal to act loving, to quickly forgive slights, and to readily and patiently bear with one another’s fears and foibles. Remind us not to withhold love or approval, so that we do not compound one another’s self-doubt.

 

Give us Your wisdom to stop enabling one another’s insecurities. Help us to help each other to overcome the lies Satan planted in our heart during our childhood. Help us to help one another to feel unconditionally loved and cherished, not only by You, but by each other as well.

 

Thought for the Day:

We can prevent jealousy and insecurity in our relationship by speaking honestly about what we did with our day, who we were talking to on the phone and why we said or did something with another person in a particular manner that may have appeared as flirting or inappropriate for a married person.

 

A Good Marriage – Common Ground

Winning is not the ultimate prize of life; it is the manner in which we finish the race that counts the most. It is often the last straggler across the finish line that receives the most attention, because they persevered to the very end.

 

Winning an argument is not necessary to feel validated either. We can concede that we are wrong, if indeed we are, without any shame or recrimination.

 

We have a viewpoint that differs from our employer’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, child’s, parent’s or spouse’s perspective; but no less right or wrong than theirs.

 

There is nothing heroic about destroying a marriage, because we soon realize that we were acting as pawns on Satan’s game board, playing right into his hands and wreaking havoc for generations to come.

 

If both parties in a disagreement are willing to bear with one another and to lay our life down for each other, there is always a way to peacefully resolve all issues and to avoid fighting and drama.

 

Neither of us is the enemy, we are simply fellow sojourners in this life with equal rights and privileges in the family of God. Quickly apologizing from the heart for any hurt we cause during a disagreement goes a long way in keeping unity in our relations.

 

Repairing our relationships is so much more mature than rending them in half and going our separate ways – leaving a trail of broken hearts and lives behind us. A trained counselor can help us to negotiate our differences.

 

Seeking wisdom from God’s Word and His Spirit during times of prayer can also help us to breach any gaps in our unity. We negotiate until we find common ground on which to stand.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You remind us not to separate what You bind together. You admonish us not to break any vow that we make, but to honor our commitment to one another with charity, patience and kindness. You want us to work together to find an equitable solution to any conflicts in our marriage, as well as in our affiliations at work and in Your Body.

 

Give us Your wisdom to maintain peace and to show Your agape love to those who wound us; to turn the other cheeks and to bear with one another’s idiosyncrasies and foibles. Give us patience to love one another as Christ loves the church; so we can represent living sacrifices as a testimony to an unbelieving world.

 

Thought for the Day:

There is nothing heroic in winning at the cost of someone else’s expense; but in laying down our life and serving one another with the love of our Father toward us.

 

A Good Marriage – The Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine

Over the years of marriage, we recognize who our partner is and what they are not. We also develop a better understanding of our self and why we respond to people and events the way we do.

 

We come to identify what triggers negative reactions in one another, so we can avoid these issues whenever possible. We make concentrated efforts on working together to find mutually acceptable plans when our original personal preferences conflict.

 

We also fearlessly attack our personal issues and give the Holy Spirit full reign in our life, so that He can transform us with the mind of Christ. One way to recognize our faults is to pay attention to what our spouse complains about – do we procrastinate, withhold affection, watch too much TV, neglect to help one another with projects or daily chores?

 

Small adjustments in our schedule or habits will make a big difference in marital bliss and harmony. We can learn one another’s love language and show each other love in ways that will fulfill our mate’s needs and allow them to feel nurtured and cherished.

 

This will erase the small irritations which eventually erupt into major disharmony – the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). Do we expect too much from one another, forgetting that we are only human?

 

Do we greet one another as we would our best friend, or do we take one another for granted? We all appreciate being greeted with enthusiasm as someone who is highly cherished.

 

Do we agree to disagree or do we always feel like we are right and our partner is wrong? Do we need to have the last word, or do we stop talking when we have made our point?

 

No one like to live with condemnation, condescension, griping or constant belittlement. It is so good and pleasant when we dwell together in harmony (Psalm 133:1). This unity draws us closer to one another and makes us want to spend more time together.

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to recap once we calm down after a disagreement. Help us to honestly relate how we felt during the “fight” and what thoughts were going through our mind that we did not take the time to articulate. These thoughts fueled our emotional response during our discussion, and our spouse deserves to understand why we reacted as we did to their comment, behavior or reply.

 

Remind us to seek You in all of our decisions and discussions; not to rely on our own understanding, but to allow You to direction our thoughts, words and actions. Help us to be led by Your Spirit rather than to react in our flesh; but if we do act carnally, encourage us to ask for forgiveness from one another and to calmly discuss the situation until we find an equitable solution.

 

Thought for the Day:

Looking into each other’s eyes during a discussion enables us to see within the windows of each other’s soul; speaking honestly about how our partner’s words and actions make us feel will help us to understand one another better too and to make our interactions more intimate and productive. – Matthew 6:22-23

 

A Positive Lifestyle

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). With each sunrise, God’s mercies are fresh, new and rejuvenating (Lamentations 3:22-24). This is true whether we are in the midst of a hail storm of trials, or free of all worry and stress.

 

God sends us hugs throughout every single day: the alignment of numbers on the digital clock, a new flower in our garden, the sunrise and set, a formation in the clouds, a stranger’s smile, an unexpected check in the mail, our neighbor’s manicured lawn and flowerbeds, etc.

 

We can even create positive experiences for our self, our mate and our children to enjoy throughout the day – refreshing treats that minister to the body and soul.

 

Rather than listening to the negative self-talk in our mind, programmed there by Satan’s lies and people in our past, we can look in the mirror and tell our soul what we like about our self – our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual assets.

 

We can give joy away if we smile at a stranger, make a new friend, start a new ministry, and practice encouraging others. This brings joy to our soul as well as theirs. Here are other ideas.

 

Plan the menu for the week full of your favorite foods. Take a break from your perpetual diet and eat a pizza full of toppings you enjoy, and indulge in one soft drink that was your favorite as a child.

 

Adopting a pet gives us a focus outside of our self and saves the life of an abused or unwanted animal. Write cards or letters, emails and make phone calls to shut-ins, neglected family members and those in the hospital.

 

Starting a new hobby that we have always wanted to try or auditing an interesting class at the local college improves our soul. Listening to uplifting music in the comfort of our recliner or even dancing around the house as we dust will still our troubled soul.

 

We can take time to lay flat in silence on the couch or bed and take deep breaths – this releases much needed endorphins and oxygen into our bloodstream.

 

Watching a comedy on TV or in a movie will help us to laugh and lighten our mood. Spending time in nature, walking through the grass in bare feet or gardening will help us to connect with the beneficial chemical output of the earth.

 

Think of your own ways to enhance the joy in your life. We can even start a support group with “Secret Santa’s”, prayer partners to share our burdens, and Bible study groups in our neighborhood. The list is endless.

 

Prayer:

Father God, too often we allow Satan to drown us in the worries, stress and burdens in life. We forget that You are our burden bearer and our Provider. You sustain us through good times and bad. You encourage us with Your Word and by Your Spirit. You teach us to encourage one another.

 

Remind us that Your Spirit abides within us with constant words of love and affirmation, and Your Word is full of verses written by people who experienced similar circumstances to our own. Your Word is a light to our path and a lamp for our feet (Psalm 119:105). We love you with all of our body, spirit and soul – our feelings, choices and emotions.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our positive, Christ-centered focus initiates the joy, strength, inspiration and creativity in our life, which all come from God’s Holy Spirit within us.

 

 

 

A Good Marriage – In Crisis

A crisis in a marriage calls for immediate action. We can either drift apart ending in bitterness, unforgiveness and probably divorce; or we can pull together, brainstorm for an equitable solution and pray together as we walk in the Spirit.

 

Divorce is never an option. It destroys lives – especially the life of the children involved in the marriage. They often feel abandoned, at fault for the divorce, and they inevitably question their parents’ love for them.

 

They never learn to resolve conflict in their own relationships and often end up with the same results. Thankfully, a few of them will make wise choices and find mates that balance their personality or are willing to compromise and find common ground.

 

There is nothing more fulfilling in this earthly realm than to have a mate that cherishes us and thinks of us above him/her self. One that will laugh with us – not at us, enjoy hobbies together and serve God right alongside each other.

 

There is no fear in this type of love. We have the confidence that our partner will not throw us away like a sack of trash. They will help us to overcome our fears and insecurities and to love us in spite of them.

 

It is hard to feel secure when our partner does not allow unconditional love to flow from them to us. We are always on edge and never sure of our place in their heart, because we feel their condescension and derision.

 

God’s love is unconditional. A commitment of Agape love in our marriage, shown in action and especially in word, will eradicate our fears and insecurities and give us a solid faith on which to stand (1 John 4:18).

 

We can count on Him to walk in and with us through every trial we experience in our marriage (Isaiah 43:1; Psalm 23:4). He infuses both marriage partners with His fruit in order to dwell together with understanding and unity.

 

Prayer:

Father God, an anxious heart wears us down, but consistent love from our mate goes a long way in building us up (Proverbs 12:25). Remind us not to allow discouragement in a troubled marriage to tear us down, because You are always with us and in us regardless of where we are and with whom we live (Joshua 1:9).

 

Help us not to worry when our mate grows distant from us, because You care for us and will work in our life for our ultimate good (Matthew 6:34; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 35:4; Luke 12:22-26). We humble our self before You and leave all of our worries in Your capable hands, because You care about us and will deliver us in Your timing and way (1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalm 55:22; Deuteronomy 31:6).

 

Thought for the Day:

The Lord is our Savior, not another person, vocation, place or thing; only He can provide us with the security and fulfillment that we long to possess during this lifetime. – Psalm 27:1

 

Creative Conflict in Marriage

 

A good marriage takes effort. When two – usually opposite – personalities combine under one roof, they often end up donning the boxing gloves and duking it out! Of course there is a simpler solution.

 

God gives us these diverse personalities and gifts, because together we can make wiser decisions. When we are at an impasse, we take the best from both of us and make a third, mutually agreeable choice which makes so much more sense.

 

By keeping our eyes on Jesus, we find God’s perspective and will, and we walk together in peace through His Spirit. We find comfort and wisdom from God’s Word and encourage one another (Psalm 119:71, 75-76).

 

We join our strengths and help one another to overcome our individual weaknesses. This takes humility, and pride will only gum up the works. Having to be right and the need to have one’s own needs met first are no basis for wise decisions – they are part of our insecurities.

 

Together we help each other overcome our idiosyncrasies and failings and guarantee that our unified decisions are in God’s will. Rather than accuse and fight when we disagree, we can brainstorm for that third alternative.

 

Trials and tribulation are easier to handle when faced together. Our frustration, discouragement and disappointments are shared by someone who loves us unconditionally. We comfort each other in our self-doubt.

 

God has a purpose in every trial, and He plants the seed for a miracle in each one of them (1 Peter 4:12). He works out all of them for our ultimate good. Both partners in the marriage are blessed as we keep each other strong and face life’s devastating events as lovers and friends.

 

Our intimacy with God and with one another strengthens through every trial, which we face together. We learn to depend on one another rather than to fight one another; and together we depend on God’s goodness more than on our own resources.

 

Prayer:

Father God, the difficulties and perplexities of life often wear us down and cause us to adopt defense mechanism, which cause negative issues in our marriage. Help us to heal from our personal, unresolved conflicts and to dwell with each other with understanding (1 Peter 3:7). Satan may influence our past, but we do not have to allow him to continue to hinder our present or future life. Help us to draw near to You and to resist Satan’s lies, so he will flee from us (James 4:7).

 

Thank You for linking us with a mate who will strengthen our weaknesses, help us to heal from our past hurts and challenge us to seek Your joy and comfort. Teach us not to attempt to change our mate, but to change our self and to rely on You to meet our needs. Help us to work together as a couple to live in unity with Your Spirit and with one another.

 

Thought for the Day:

Momentary trials lead to long-term blessings, which last a lifetime when we depend on one another and on God to see us through them.

 

Living without God’s Spirit and Word

Imagine living in Old Testament times. No Bible, except the Pentateuch at the Temple, and no Holy Spirit abiding within our Spirit. No intimate connection through Christ with the presence of God within.

 

Sure, there was an occasional Christophany when Jesus appeared to an individual; but how many times did that happen? Once in a while the Holy Spirit embodied a person, such as a prophet, but the normal rank and file person had no connection with Him.

 

If I had no Bible and no Holy Spirit, I would be in an asylum. Emotional, mental and spiritual meltdowns would be the natural order of my day. My emotions and melancholic thoughts would dominate my life.

 

Bereft of God’s Spirit and Word, I would drift with the tide of life and get deeper and deeper into undertows and whitewater designed by Satan to snuff out my natural life.

 

I barely survived like this for the first 18 years of my life; but in God’s mercy, He saved me and gave me the fullest measure of His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-19).

 

I weep uncontrollably at the thought of not living as the temple of the Spirit of God (Psalm 51:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). The presence of God’s Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance with Christ, and it assures us that we are truly Born Again (Ephesians 1:14).

 

How could we survive one moment of life disconnected from the life-giving flow of God’s Word and the security and direction of His Spirit’s presence in our life?

 

Thankfully, God’s Spirit does guide each moment of our day with precision and comfort (Proverbs 3:5-6), leading us with His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). We can approach God’s throne with complete confidence (Hebrews 4:16). He is all we ever need.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for Your Spirit and Your Word. I do not know how people survive without Your intimate presence in their life. I do not go one moment of the day without consulting You, casting my cares on You and praying for Your blessings and a more intimate union with You.

 

I feel so blessed to be living in this day and time with the internet access and the speed at which we can connect to Your Word day and night. Your Word is truth and we devour it ravenously; it is sweeter than honey and the honey comb (Psalm 119:103). We can never have enough hours in the day to show our appreciation to You for all You do for us.

 

Thought for the Day:

Having no intimate union with the Trinity, enjoying no assurances from the promises of God’s Word, abandoned and alone without the unconditional love daily showered on us by our Heavenly Father would leave us rudderless in a sea of deprivation, confusion and illusion.

 

Keepers at Home

Younger women in today’s modern church are too busy with their feet running to and fro in order to spend much time in their own homes (Proverbs 7:11). Careers along with raising children and events such as Girls Night Out is the phenomenon that causes much of this.

 

The Bible advises the “older” women to teach the “younger” how to excel as a keeper at home (Titus 2:4-5). It is definitely a lost art in this contemporary society.

 

“Apples of Gold” is a wondrous ministry promoting this concept ( http://www.applesofgold.org/home.shtml ) Several years ago, the ladies in our church went through this program with uplifting and lasting results.

 

The younger women were so grateful to the older ladies who mentored them – giving them skills and wisdom, which their moms were never able to share with them for one reason or another.

 

There is no Biblical precedent for Girls Nights Out, or Women’s Conferences that take up a whole week-end of a wife and mother’s time, as well as eating into the family budget to pay for the whole event.

 

Single women often have the time and financial resources to participate in this type of fellowship with other singles, but married women can avail themselves of the teaching and ministry of their local churches.

 

Books, Videos and CDs also give us a chance to learn women’s related issues on our own or in a local church class. We can even learn Biblical truth by teaching or assisting in a children’s class.

 

Fellowshipping as couples, and even families, promotes strong church ties and deep friendships with spiritual people in every age group. The best way to learn as a couple is in a class where the spouses both hear the same information.

 

This gives us something to discuss in our private times, opportunities to hold one another accountable for what we learn, and resources that we can research together to teach us to deepen our relationship to one another and to Christ within us both.

 

The Pastor’s Bible studies on Sunday and Wednesday evening are full of Biblical principles for every Believer’s life; yet, so few people avail themselves of this rich and valuable opportunity to grow in Christ and to mature spiritually.

 

Prayer:

Father God, Your plan and desire for women is to love our husband and children, and to make them our priority in our life. You state in Your Word that we can learn to live self-controlled and pure lives; so we will not discredit Your reputation by our words and behavior.

 

Teach us to manage our homes well and to live as co-heirs with our own husband. Help us to share with him our opinion, wisdom and leading from Your Spirit, but to ultimately submit to his decisions for our family. If he is rebellious against Your Word, we can pray for him to submit to your Word, strengthen our own ties with You, and attempt to find areas where we can agree as a couple.

 

Thought for the Day:

There is never a good reason for divorce, because with mutual submission we can always find a third alternative with which we can both thrive as individuals, as a couple and as a family; as keepers at home, we uncover God’s fulfilling role for our life.

 

 

Married, but Lonely

There are TV shows, websites and dating services that encourage married people to find companionship. Their mates are too busy or uninterested to spend time with them, so they seek attention elsewhere.

 

Like most men, when my former husband had time off, he spent it in his chair – reading, watching TV, surfing the internet and playing electronic games.

 

I would sit with him to watch TV shows that he was interested in and which did not bore me to death or inflict my soul with grief. However, I actually felt unappreciated, taken for granted and neglected.

 

I was reduced to cook, housekeeper and a roommate. We had rare times of companionship, but no real relationship. I thanked my husband for every moment he did spend talking to me.

 

However, I eventually started to seriously communicate that I needed more of his time and attention, especially as our children left home for college. He called me demanding and resented me for wanting him to spend quality time with me.

 

He ended up divorcing me and relishing his time alone, free from marital expectations and relationship. A few years later, God brought a new man into my life.

 

He too was preoccupied with work and hobbies; although he obviously cherished and appreciated me. I often felt lonely in this relationship too and wondered if all couples experienced this drought of affection and attention.

 

I started making specific requests for his undivided attention and gave him ideas on how I would like to spend that time. He made sporadic attempts to give me a few moments of time in his busy schedule.

 

It took about 5 years for him to realize that he enjoyed our times together as much as I did. He started to schedule time for me into his calendar without me having to ask, and he kept those appointments.

 

We took strolls in nature, sat on the porch rockers, did chores around the house together, snuggled in his chair or stretched out on the couch or bed to talk for a few minutes now and then throughout the week.

 

We went on dates to local restaurants, attended city functions together, sat together at extra-curricular church events, started regular devotions together, read the same books and conversed about them, spontaneously discussed current events, and shared what we were learning in our daily quiet times.

 

Nothing extravagant or expensive, just frequent little moments of togetherness every day that meant so much to both of us. He stopped taking me for granted and noticed when I needed help.

 

Over the years, he increased these little thoughtful gestures that mean so much to me. He opened car doors, carried heavy boxes, engaged me in conversations throughout the day, told me frequently that he loved me, and complimented me on my outfits and hair.

 

Whenever he went to the refrigerator for a snack or drink, he offered to get me something too. When he had time, he often asked if I needed help with a chore or fixing a meal.

 

He carried in the groceries and took them out of the bags to make it easier for me to put them away. He even started writing me love notes when he sent me his Bible verses to make slides for his Sunday sermon.

 

Our love flourishes under this constant state of blessing one another with thoughtful gestures of kindness and concern. We grow more in love with the Lord and one another each and every day.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for a husband who dwells with me with understanding and does not view my requests for attention as demands and unrealistic expectations – a husband who learned to appreciate and cherish me and our times together.

 

Thank You for using us as an example to younger couples and engaged couples; so they too can learn to cherish each other and not to take one another for granted. Make us a light in the world of darkness and use us to do Your will with every moment of our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

Taking each other for granted is never acceptable behavior; instead, constantly appreciate one another and share acts of love and kindness at every opportunity.

The Healing Journey – Part 1 – Schizophrenic Bride

As a young bride of 20 years old, I wanted to be the perfect wife. As a co-dependent, I did not want to nag or disagree – so that my husband would love me.

 

My uncle told me that if I was even half the wife my mother was to my dad, I’d be a great wife; so not to worry. I did learn a great deal about being a loving and submissive wife from my mom.

 

She lived with a manic-depressive husband. She learned to soothe the savage beast in him; but she had to learn not to take his words and behavior to heart.

 

She had her own interests and pursued them with a passion; yet, was home every day when her four children returned from school; and she had supper ready every night when my dad walked into the house from work.

 

As I started my new life as a wife, I would wince and swallow every hurt, disappointment, deprivation, abuse and neglect without saying a word, just as I learned from my mom.

 

I stuffed my feelings and opinions too. However, the trouble with me started because my threshold for pain was too low and my Italian temper, inherited from my dad, flared up too quickly.

 

I eventually started blowing up like a volcano, and then instantly cooled; but I did not realize the deep scars, which my outburst left on my husband’s soul. He thought I acted like a schizophrenic.

 

I was sweet and caring most of the time; and then without warning, I erupted at what seemed like the slightest provocation without any apparent reason.

 

This problem arose because of all of the power of all of that internalized pain. The full force came out in an Italian temper tantrum when I finally did blow over the last straw – which actually did appear – to any by-stander – to be a very small and inconsequential provocation.

 

I lived broken, fearful and insecure like this for 22 years of marriage until my former husband decided I was too wounded for him to live with any longer. He saw no option for us but divorce.

 

God used my husband divorcing me as my breaking point to help me to totally surrender my life to Him. With no job or alimony, I faced the future in total dependence on God and He proved Himself more than faithful.

 

I clung to Christ with every rasping breath and God redeemed my life yet again. He sent me to a minister who helped me to heal from my past; and He turned my mourning into dancing and restored to me all of the years, which the canker worm destroyed (Joel 2:25).

 

Prayer:

Father God, no one is perfect in this life. We are all products of our upbringing, but we are responsible for our responses to life as they occur. Although we try to overcome or hide them, we drag our wounds around with us like hindering baggage. Show us clearly that Satan’s lies are keeping us linked to these wounds from our past, buried deeply within our subconscious mind.

 

Thank You for teaching us to recognize these lies, to hear Your truth about them and to discard them as we walk away from them with healing from Your wings (Malachi 4:2). We live to serve You another day with all of the fullness of Your Holy Spirit within us.

( http://www.theophostic.com )

 

Thought for the Day:

God works out even the most debilitating circumstances in our life for our ultimate good. – Romans 8:28