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.

 

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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 2 – Identity of Our Own

I was 45 at the time my first marriage dissolved right before my eyes. I chose to face this new abandonment issue with the courage of an unsinkable Molly Brown, who heroically survived the sinking of the Titanic.

 

My boss at that time, a healing codependent, taught me that I am a person too, and I may minister to myself just as diligently as I minister to other people. That came as a revelation to me.

 

From this point on, I started to care for my own needs rather than to expect my mate or children or friends to care for them. I realized that Jesus encourages us to love others as we love our self.

 

To ignore our needs and to expect others to meet them is a classic codependent behavior, which needs healing. I got in touch with my body, soul and spirit and started to pay attention to and to meet my needs.

 

My joy increased as I realized that God continued to provide for me, and that He cared about me on every level of life. He died to save me from myself and to help me to enter into His ultimate rest (Hebrews 4:10).

 

I spent the next two years learning that God is our true husband (Isaiah 54:5). He provides for our every need as we trust in Him and rely on His benevolence and grace.

 

There is nothing too difficult for Him (Luke 18:27). He can work miraculous wonders on our behalf, even when we least expect it. He provided me with a job, a home and new friends who nurtured me.

 

They too were recovering divorcees and many were codependent, just like me. We learned from each other, had fun times together and met each week to learn how to begin life again as single people.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for giving us teachers with wisdom on how to get free from our past, to heal from our current situation and to look forward to the future with faith in You. We learned to depend on Your love rather than a person’s love and to trust You even when we cannot trust people.

 

You bring us out of moments of depression, provide for our every need, put a new song on our lips and give us an identity of our own that has its source in You rather than in our accomplishments or in other people. You are our all in all both now and throughout eternity, and we delight in living in Your courts and finding refuge under Your wings.

 

Thought for the Day:

We come to the breaking point in our life where we invite Christ to be more and more at home in our heart, so that we can be filled with the fullest measure of His presence.

– Ephesians 3:16-19 (Amplified Bible)

 

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

 

A Fulfilling Marriage

The marriage of a man and a woman is a union of two individuals joined as one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11; Ephesians 5:31). God intends for them to serve Him, as co-heirs with Christ of His entire Kingdom (Romans 8:17).

 

At first, a couple’s attraction increases their love for one another. Yet, over time they gradually stop considering one another, doing the tiny thoughtful gestures for one another that mean so much and sharing the same goals and purpose in life (Ephesians 5:33).

 

As the years progress, the couple eventually take each other for granted, stop romantic overtures and make other pursuits their priority in life. They co-exist, but do not work as a team or care about each other’s needs as much as they care about their own.

 

To the Wife:

There are many women who take their husband for granted. Some insist on spending more money than he makes. Others find their fulfillment in their home and children or in their job and ignore their husband’s needs.

 

They get caught up in the pressure of their daily demands and make no time for their husband. They forget that men need visual stimulation to feel loving, and they make no effort to groom and dress nicely for him at home.

 

They forget to make his favorite meal, to shop for his preferences and to make time to listen to him share about his day. A wife is given the privilege of following the outline given in Proverbs 31.

 

She will flourishes as a wife, mother, homemaker and business woman in this creative capacity given to her by God. God’s Spirit will give her wisdom and strength to minister to her family.

 

To the Husband:

A man will expect his wife to be sweet and accommodating and to keep him as her primary focus (Ephesians 5:25); yet, it is often the husband’s poor choices, which keep the marriage in a state of perpetual insecurity and financial loss.

 

No woman can be sweet and submissive when her husband stops considering her needs and keeps her life in turmoil. Then he blames her hormones or personality for her negative reactions to him.

 

God desires to charge the husband to dwell with and to provide for his wife with love and understanding (1 Peter 3:7). If he does, then his wife will more easily submit to His loving leadership.

 

A man’s responsibility is to protect his wife and to give her the feeling of safety and security she deserves. He will not take her for granted, if he realizes everything which she does for him throughout the day after day (Ephesians 4:2, 32; Romans 12:16).

 

To the Couple:

Any couple can keep romance alive with spontaneous little gifts, daily times to snuggle, helping each other around the house, date nights, listening with focused attention, and an unexpected phone call or an email during the day proclaiming their love for one another (1 Peter 4:10). Try it and see!

 

Prayer:

Father God, the opposite sexes are just that – opposite. It seems that You played a trick on humanity by causing opposites to attract. However, Your plan all along was for opposites to complement one another.

 

We can draw from one another’s strengths to make up for our own weaknesses. Remind us that we are a team, and we will dwell together in unity as we work and pray together under the direction of Your Holy Spirit (Psalm 133:1).

 

Thought for the Day:

As we make an effort to increase our love for each other until it overflows, we will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Ephesians 5:21

The Emotional Disconnect during Holiday Celebrations

The first Mother’s Day I celebrated after my husband decided that there was no option for us but divorce was the hardest day of my life. I felt a deep loss because I was separated from my children by hundreds of miles.

 

I went to fellowship with my church as usual, but did not celebrate, because I was too full of grief. I ended up leaving the service early, going to my tiny duplex and eating my homemade ravioli and marinara sauce to assuage my emotional pain.

 

Mother’s and Father’s Day, as we celebrate them every year, leave out those men and women who were not able to have children. They grieve this loss every day of their life, but especially on Mother’s and Father’s Day.

 

What about men and women who lost a child during pregnancy or maybe even at birth; or those people who chose abortion or adoption in a moment of crisis and are now full of grief, remorse and guilt?

 

There are people who came to Christ after a period of suffering through jail time, addiction, mental illness or estrangement from their mate; and now it is too late for them to bear children.

 

Other individuals lost their beloved mother or father through death, and many lost them way too early in life. Some have a parent drifting away from them through Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer or some other debilitating disease.

 

They are forced to put on happy faces during the hardest day of the year for them. Their grief is invisible to the rest of us, but it is eating them alive as the rest of us celebrate our children and our role as mother and father.

 

Then there is that percentage of people who suffered cruel treatment at the hand of a parent who was debilitated by health and psychological issues. Insecurity and the loss of their basic human needs, which were never met, affect every moment of their life.

 

These beloved persons suffered mental, emotional and physical abuse, deprivation, humiliation, degradation and belittlement as children and are still crippled today with physical, emotional and mental handicaps.

 

Many of us come to Christ and receive His healing, hiding our self with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4). Some of us teach our self how to parent our self with nurturing, cherishing and constant care; or to come to God for His nurturing care (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Some of them suffer alone, because we no longer allow our self to get to know one another in churches. We smile at each other when we enter and leave the one hour service on Sunday morning, but we do not know one another’s heartaches and trials.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to get to know one another in the church; so that we can support each other, especially those men and women who suffer silently with deep wounds that may still be raw and infected, or that created a gaping chasm in their life.

 

Remind us that as a church, we can make holidays less of a challenge and more of a blessing by celebrating all people, not just with those who actually bore children and have healthy and nurturing parents, but also by sharing in the loss and grief of every person in our congregation all through the year.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our church can have ministries that do more than celebrate or help spouses and parents, but that also minister to all men and women regardless of their marital or parental status. We can learn each other’s stories of loss, grief and suffering; and support one another each day of the year.