Preparation

We have learned over the years that before a meal we need to prepare our food to be cooked. If we wash it first, the food taste better, it is cleaner, and therefore healthier after removing the dirt, grime, and possible diseases that come with harvested crops.
We have also learned, the hard way at times, that a surgeon needs to prepare before performing a surgery. Again, we have figured out that if we wash the dirt, grime, and possible diseases off of the hands before the surgery, the risk is a lot lower that the patient will be infected with bacteria or worse and have a harder time recovering, if they recover at all.
A teacher, before presenting a lesson, should prepare the lesson. Reading over it, making notes, making sure the audience will understand the information being presented.
With each of these examples one can easily see the benefits of taking time to prepare for the tasks at hand. Why is it, when it comes to marriage, that we do so little to prepare. The bible says in Ephesians 5:26 for husbands to make your wives holy and clean by washing her with the word. We should be open and communicate with our spouses often and intimately. We should share in the daily decisions that are presented to us. Be a student of your spouse, learn your spouses love language and talk to them in that language so they understand and receive the message. Prepare for the tasks at hand. We know there is an enemy trying to steal, kill, and destroy our marriages. Put on the armor of God that He has given us to use. Help your spouse each morning be ready to enter the day. Encourage them with who they are in Christ. If we will help our spouses each day to face the day at hand, we will increase intimacy and closeness in the relationship.   More victories and fewer defeats. I believe it is well worth the preparation to get the benefits of the results, what about you?

A Renewing of the Mind

A few years back, Patty and I were reading a marriage book. The author spent a lot of time focused on behavior. At one point while reading the book I was supposed to stop and ask Patty what I could do to make her feel romanced. She shared a couple of things that were helpful. One way I could express romance was to open the door for her when she got in a car or entered a building. According to the book, I needed to make sure I did these things so she would feel loved.  Now that she had shared,  I should open the door for her every time.  That is when the issue of door opening became complicated.

There were two issues at play; I now felt I was required to open the door for her whether I wanted to or not;  In addition, she had an expectation on her part that I would follow through with the action because she had shared a simple way for me to romance her.  She then determined she would help me by standing at the door waiting for me to open it when I forgot.  I would be starting the car and she would be standing there, waiting.  I would look at her waiting by the door frustration settling in.  I would think, “God gave her hands so I don’t know why she can’t use them.” Then I would get out, walk around the car, and open the door all the while grumbling under my breath. Resentment started to build.

One morning I was thinking about who God says I am.  You have probably heard it but if not God says I am loved, accepted, valued, a favored son, a servant, a saint, etc. Great way to start the day.  Then, He started telling me who Patty is.  I had not asked but apparently I don’t always ask the right questions.  Patty is a child of the King (that makes her a princess), a person He delights in, His favorite daughter, passionately loved, completely accepted, and highly valued. When you start thinking about it you have to come to the conclusion that God had given this favored daughter to me and, furthermore, had given me to her. I was to be one of his expressions of love to her. One of the ways I could express that love was to open the door for her. I can’t fully explain, but as this realization sank in there was a change in the way I saw both who she was and who I was in relation to our marriage. This realization changed the way I thought about opening the door for her. It was no longer a response to an expectation or a chore, but something I wanted to do because it was part of who God calls me to be. Part of my identify in Christ is that I am an expression of God’s love to Patty and one way I can express that love is by opening the door for her. This is the business God is involved in, renewing minds and changing hearts.

I know people who really don’t want to be married, people who have given up on their relationships, or people who simply live together as room-mates. They may try all kinds of things from the Love Dare Challenge to the Respect Dare Challenge to regain that spark in their marriage, and these are all well and good in their place. Many times, however, what they really need is a new way of thinking. A new way of seeing their spouse, their marriage and even themselves. What they need is a revelation from God so they can see their spouse, marriage, and self from God’s eyes. They need His perspective and point of view.

This week meditate on how God sees you and your role in your marriage to his favored child. Be open to hear from Him concerning how He wants to change the way you see your spouse. Once you start to see these truths the behaviors can’t help but follow.

Thought for the Week: Am I open to seeing my spouse the way God sees my spouse. Am I open to being a expression of His love for them.

Romans 12: 12 – Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

Note:  Patty no longer waits for me to open the door.  If I do, she is thankful.   If I forget, she uses the arms God gave her and opens her own door…and is thankful.  God worked on her expectations while he was working on my point of view.  I am constantly amazed at His ability to multi-task.  God Bless.

A Wife Does Not Recognize What Her Complaints and Criticisms Do

Can you relate at all with the following scenario?

A husband says to himself early in the marriage, “I’ll pray with her and we can be in a Bible study together with other couples.”

As the months pass, he experiences something that de-energizes him: Immediately after one of their regular prayer times together, his wife comments, “You forgot to pray for my mother who isn’t feeling well.” After another prayer time a short time later, she accused him, “You didn’t pray for me. Do you ever pray for me?” Then a couple weeks later, after their couples Bible study one night she says to her husband, “I can’t believe you said what you did to Mary about her son swinging from the rafters at church and needing a time-out. She is struggling as a mother. That was insensitive.”

A Wife Does Not Recognize What Her Complaints and Criticisms Do

It doesn’t take long for the husband to pull back from his wife spiritually. As a result, he stops offering to pray with her and grows quiet at the Bible study.

Thousands of Christian wives are complaining their husbands are not the spiritual leaders in the family that they desire them to be. Certainly that is true for an alarming number of families and an important topic to discuss with men and challenge them unashamedly to step up and become the leaders God calls them to be. But could it also be true that many wives have not given proper thought to the ways that they have unknowingly contributed to the lack of male spiritual leadership in their home?

Most wives expect their husbands to support them when they are emotionally vulnerable. Day after day they expect their husbands to be their burden bearer. They want to talk to their husbands about their emotional needs and experiences as wives, mothers, and women.

Yet, when it comes to empathizing and affirming a male in the area of his struggles, which few women have, it is amazing to me how many wives tend to confront their husband’s behavior from the point of view of a mother. Instead of building on the man’s spiritual strengths and continually affirming these, many women look at what he is not doing and tries to change him.

Bottom line, a husband loses energy in his efforts to be a spiritual leader in the same way an overweight wife loses energy every time her husband says something negative to her about how she looks or what she is eating. God did not design the nature of the female to respond positively when the husband continually has an attitude about her body image. Instead, she’ll shut down. So too, God did not design men to respond positively to a woman who continually has an attitude about his spiritual image.

What makes the latter point worse is that a man can love his wife’s spirit while challenging her to be healthier. But, when a wife judges a man’s spirit, she has gone to the core of his being. Where does he go now? He stonewalls. He closes off. He protects himself from her. She, of course, feels unloved and cannot imagine why he is treating her this way. All of her girlfriends and her mother and sisters agree. And the Crazy Cycle spins even faster. Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love.

I do not share this in order to excuse husbands from serving in their families as the spiritual leader. The husband is called to serve in such a way no matter the response of his wife and children.

Scripture does not allow space for the husband to place blame on others and become slack in his leadership responsibility.

However, what is his wife doing to affirm his strengths? How does she encourage him when he begins to take even the smallest of strides in leading their family spiritually? Does she allow him grace when he comes up short in the standards that she has set for how she wants him to lead?

-Dr. E

Originally posted at www.loveandrespect.com

Author:  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

The Thick of Thin Things

Thursday Patty and I were headed west, separately.  She was heading west to visit her dad, a monthly visit now that he has recently moved; and I was headed west to my Mom’s house to mow the desert (no rain for weeks).  Somehow we ended up west bound on Interstate 20 in the same location.  She pulled up behind me, flashed her lights, then pulled up beside me trying to get my attention.  She honked, flashed her lights, started singing Mama Mia, all to no avail.  I was talking  to one of my team members after she had experienced a challenging day in the classroom and apparently it negatively effected my situational awareness.

Is it just me or does that happen a lot with the ones we love.  Not necessarily on Interstate 20, but in the day-to-day practice of living and loving.   We get focused on almost anything else and fail to pay attention to the ones we love the most.  We get caught up in what Steven Covey called the “thick of thin things.”  We pay more attention to the lawn mower repair than the little princess wanting to share high tea with dad; the game instead of the bride of our youth; we waste time on the next episode of House Hunters instead of noticing that our spouse has had a really rough day.

Part of the challenge with us guys is that we get focused.  While women may be able to multi-task to some degree, we men are programed to focus on one thing at a time.  When that one thing takes a few days, we may fail to notice the needs of our spouse.  I read an article recently about how a husband had fought with his wife over his insensitivity towards her need for some attention.  She had become irritated that he was simply not paying any attention to her as he was spending the weekend completing a paint job on his car.  As the fight progressed she used the “A” word (always) as in “You always pay more attention to (fill in the blank) than you do to me.” She was not feeling cherished, loved or appreciated.  After some thought he realized that he simply got swept away in his activities and often went days without really expressing appreciation or engaging with her in any meaningful way.  His answer was simple, set two reminders.  The first reminder goes of every morning at 9 am and reminds him to think about how lucky he is to have such a great wife.  Periodically, he follows the thought up with a quick text telling her how lucky he is and why.  He knows that words of encouragement mean something to her and so, being the wise man he is, he uses this time to invest in their relationship.  The second reminder goes off at 8 p.m. and reminds him to kiss and hug his wife.  Sometimes it is  quick kiss, sometimes a chance to catch-up, sometimes a little more; but each time he is reminded that he needs to focus on the most important human relationship in his life, the one with his wife.

I know ladies, not overly romantic.  Richard Gere didn’t have reminders in Pretty Woman.  Maybe so, but  God made men and women different, and one of those differences is the ability to focus intently on one thing at a time.  While focus is extremely helpful when hunting for dinner on the great plains, it may work against us a little when we need to focus on relationships.  Help a brother out and just kiss us when the alarm goes off.

Have a great week all.

When Did We Become Roommates?

I was talking to some friends about how things were going in their marriage the other day, and the recurring theme was boredom.  How is it our marriages go from hot and spicy to the same old day in and day out routine of just living together as strangers passing each other in the night?  How do so many of us get to this place so quickly in our marriages?  It may help to  go back to when it all started.

When you start to date, you are intentional about the relationship.  As a guy you are in pursuit or on the hunt for that special someone.  You enjoy the chase and the woman enjoys being chased.  Everyone is on their best behavior and out to impress.  Then they get married and the hunt is over.  Everyone returns to their normal self and the urge to impress is gone.  Guys think, “well I got the woman so no need to continue to pursue her.” Girls think, “well I got the man no need to continue to flirt and beguiling him.”  Life takes over with the every day routine of going to work, coming home, eating dinner, going to bed, only to wake up and start the whole cycle all over again.  Then you start adding kids and now there is no time for each other because it becomes all about the children.  BAM! Now you are roommates!  Yes it can be that simple.

I also believe the roommate scenario can cycle in and out of your marriage depending on how busy your life gets.  So… how do we stop the madness and keep it from happening to us?  Be intentional.  Your spouse has to be a priority for you.  You must continue to pursue, flirt, beguile, and put your best foot forward.  You need to continue to date.  Why?  Because after the kids are gone, you are left with your spouse, and you don’t want to be strangers.  You want to start your marriage with the attitude of it being “you and your spouse against the world” and end with “you and your spouse against the world.”  Of course this is a challenge.  The devil does not want unity in your marriage.  He wants division, strife, and conflict.  He wants to kill and destroy your marriage because your marriage is to be a reflection of Christ and the church.

Just as God pursues us and continues to woo us into a love relationship with Him, we are equipped to do the same with our spouse.  Just as He expressed His love for us at the cross, so we are equipped to sacrificially show our love for one another in our daily walk.  His desire is to show his love for us through our love for one another.    So… Guys continue to pursue your wife as God pursues his people. Let your marriage bring glory and honor to God as you and your spouse serve him together as a unified reflection of Christ and not roommates.

Trust

Trust is a delicate thing and is the foundation of all truly intimate relationships.  For many, it is hard to trust others due to past experiences or pains from past abuses.  We almost always approach the discussion on trust from the perspective of “Can I trust (fill in a name)?”  However, it is just as important that we approach the issue of trust from the perspective of “Can I be trusted?”

In a Christian marriage, trust is even more multi-faceted.  I have to learn to trust my spouse in a very intimate way and in every aspect of my life.  I trust my spouse with my finances, children, possessions, time, sexuality, emotions, and my heart.  It is no small thing and when trust is broken in a marriage, it negatively effects every aspect of our life.  The trust we have in our spouse is never static and is always growing stronger or eroding.  Here are some questions to think through:

  • Are you trustworthy?  –  The answer is that in Christ, we are.  As we access and depend upon the heart and mind of Christ we can be counted on to seek the other’s best interested; never engage in activities that hurt or harm our spouse; sacrificially act in ways that encourage, build up, and strengthen our spouse.
  • How can you build trustworthiness?  – How are your actions effecting your spouse’s ability to trust you?  Each of us learns to trust the other by determining whether or not we can depend on them.  Do your actions, thoughts and deeds remind your spouse:
    • I will choose to love you regardless of your actions
    • I will choose your best interests over mine regardless of the cost
    • I will choose to forgive regardless of your behavior

When high levels of trust are present in a relationship, amazing things happen.   Sins against each other are discussed and forgiven quickly and we are able give each other the benefit of the doubt.   Little problems remain little and don’t grow into larger problems.

So what are you doing to improve the level of trust in your relationship?  How are you allowing Jesus to express himself through you in a way that allows others to trust Him, rely on Him and depend on Him?  How are you being the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus thereby being a more trustworthy person in your relationships?