Every marriage has a 100% chance of success. Today’s attitude of marriage often takes on an image of uncertainty as if marriage is a risky or chancy venture. For this attitude to be a reality, love itself would have to be a virtue that lacks stability. Is marriage risky business? Any risk or jeopardy within marriage is never found in the institution of marriage but in the persons of marriage. Marriage never fails. People fail.
So how do people fail in marriage? If a couple fails in marriage, it is nearly always a failure in personal growth and knowledge. With the right information and personal growth of maturity and selflessness, everyone has a 100% chance of success in marriage. Success in marriage requires personal growth and knowledge. Marriage is like an airplane. The plane is as successful as the skill of the pilots. Though I have stated this fact before, it bears repeating… “Most men have studied more to obtain their driver’s license than they have studied to be a good husband and father.”
It should serve as good news that marriage failure is actually knowledge failure and personal growth evaporation because the necessary knowledge needed to have 100% success in marriage is abundantly available to all. Pride and ego within men often keeps them destined from enjoying heaven on earth in marriage. My personal advice to unmarried women is –“Refuse to marry the man who will not study success in marriage with you before marriage.” Such unwillingness reveals pride and arrogance. If he is not wise enough to realize his need for marriage skills and knowledge now, he will not seek such skills later. To marry a man that will not study success in marriage before the wedding is as foolish as boarding a plane with a pilot that has never had flying lessons but rather thinks he is capable of being a pilot just because he loves you. No measure of true and sincere love will ever take the place of the need of getting wisdom and knowledge and understanding.
There has never been a generation of people that needs knowledge to have success in marriage as now. Today’s culture has so twisted and distorted sound thinking that to marry without proper marriage skills reduces the chance of success dramatically. I assure you, the price of ignorance in marriage is far greater than the price to obtain the skills for success in marriage.
Today’s twisted and distorted thinking about love has penetrated marriages that has had success but lost its sound mind. What once was a beautiful Christian couple and marriage now is on the verge of divorce because the husband lacking wisdom began to flirt with another woman on Facebook that soon escalated into an affair. How could this happen? Wisdom was replaced with foolishness. The law of Facebook within marriage is: “Never be engaged with another person of the opposite sex on Facebook without your spouse’s permission and knowledge of the person.”
Current training in marriage skills will address the danger of pornography, social media and texting. Where the mind goes the heart will follow. Unfaithfulness in the mind will eventually lead to unfaithfulness physically.
It appears many are willing to pay the price of continual fighting and arguing rather the pay the price for growth. How is it that the getting of wisdom and knowledge is less attractive than separation and divorce? It does not make sense that a couple would rather see their children suffer through a bad marriage than pay the price for obtaining marriage skills and personal growth.
There is simply no excuse or reason for a bad marriage. Everything needed to learn and know for success in marriage is available to all. Not one troubled marriage exists today because there is no known cure. Happiness in marriage is possible for every couple with the right information. While there are many things in life we have no control over, marriage is not one of them. Marriage is not a risky venture. It is immaturity and the lack of knowledge that produces a risky and perilous life. The state of marriage can only produce what the couple puts into it. It is never productive to blame someone else for the lack of knowledge and marriage skills. If you can read, you can get knowledge. If you can grow, you can succeed. Just do it!
The Top Reason Couples Grow Apart
The average couple can spend as little as one hour total alone per week. The average couple with kids sometimes none. The average two people having an affair spend at least 15 hours per week together. Think about that. Those two people somehow manage to find 15 hours alone in spite of all of their other commitments.
Remember when you and your spouse were first together and you couldn’t get enough of each other. You spent hours talking and laughing, learning about each other, what you cared about, what your dreams were, what your fears were. What most people don’t realize is those things in our lives continue to change over time and if we’re not checking in and spending time alone, we are by definition growing separately and potentially growing apart. One study revealed that 70% of married men have emotionally grown apart from their wife. This happens whenever a man fails to spend time alone every week with his wife.
Professional marriage counselors suggest spending 8 to 15 hours a week alone with each other as a married couple. That may seem impossible, but consider the cost of growing apart. Consider the price of loneliness. The price a couple will pay growing apart from each other is far more than the price to connect 8 to 15 hours together. Don’t say we do not have the time. Everyone has the same amount of time. It’s all about priorities.
All too often couples find themselves in marriage counseling with no major issues to fuss about except that they have just grown apart. If you don’t continue to connect throughout your life, you run the risk of being married to a stranger. And, how can you work on communication, how can you work on affection or money issues if you never have the opportunity through one to one connection with each other. Unless you have time alone to talk to each other, be affectionate with one other and enjoy each other, marriage can be difficult in a variety of ways. The relationship between the couples is the foundation of the marriage and family. If married couples don’t have a relationship, everything else suffers. There’s no way to have a relationship without spending time together alone.
Think about it, it is virtually impossible to be in love with someone that you’re never alone with. Sure you can love them but be “in love”? No.
Ok, so what is alone time?
Alone time is not watching TV together, going to a movie together, reading your own books in bed while lying next to each other, even being in one room while the kids are awake and in the other. And alone time is certainly not being in the same room with both of you looking at your Facebook pages.
Additionally, going out with other couples – while it’s very important to have close friends that support the marriage, this is not alone time. And finally, family time: also very important - but it doesn’t count as alone time as a couple.
Alone time must be in a place where you can make eye contact and talk only with each other for a significant block of time. It occurs anywhere you feel like you can let your guard down and connect. This should not be a chore. We don’t have to talk about the heavy stuff every time but at the same time we can’t spend all of our time discussing the basic running of our lives. Have you called the plumber? Have you paid those bills? Who’s taking the kids to soccer practice? These are all things we need to discuss but they don’t help you connect on a deeper level. Everything is easier and more comfortable in your marriage once you spend more alone time together.
Following are some ground rules for alone time together:
1. Be present. When you’re together you need to have your mind in the moment/pay attention. Put away your phone and electronics.
2. Be flexible. If the park is closed, find something else to do. Be willing to explore and be spontaneous.
3. Take turns choosing what to do.
4. Have a good attitude. Get on board and have fun.
5. Be positive. Your mood is your choice.
Remember, you married to share the rest of your life connected together.
Loving Your Spouse As God Loves You
“I love you with all of my heart.” While this statement sounds sincere and wonderful, it is never enough to love your spouse with all of your heart. With few exceptions, most couples marry each other because they do love one another with all their heart. Some research reveals that 50% of married couples who married loving their spouse with all of their heart end in divorce. It is never enough to love each other with all of your heart. While this may seem contrary to what you have believed about love, allow me to explain.
Mankind was created by God as a spirit with a soul that lives in a body (1 Thess. 5:23). Because man is a three-part being, God commanded man to love Him (God) with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind and with all his strength (Mark 12:30). God as the creator of mankind understood that man must love with all his mind in order to love with all his heart. The heart of man can never remain in love with all his heart that which his mind does not cherish and protect. Man’s ability to love with all of his heart is directly connected to what he’s thinking and how he is thinking.
The Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. How does God stay in love with people that sin against Him so often? The answer is amazing. God loves us with all His mind. God’s ability to love man despite his repeated failures is founded upon how God thinks towards man. God not only loves man with all His heart but he loves man with all His mind. Allow me to prove this in the Bible:
Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
The unchangeable love of God towards man is directly connected to how God thinks towards man. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). The challenge of marriage is never with the heart of man but in the mind of man. No couple ever falls out of love with one another in their heart without first failing to love one another with their mind. Nothing in a couple’s marriage will ever affect their heart without first affecting their thinking. Love in the heart of man cannot be touched without going through the thoughts of man. The moment that man begins to entertain negative thinking towards his spouse, the love in his heart towards his spouse begins to become affected.
A study was conducted that revealed 70% of married men are emotionally divorced from their spouse. While most of these men still confessed that they loved their spouse with all their heart yet because they failed to love their spouse with all their mind they became emotionally detached. The love that they confessed that they had in their heart toward their spouse lacked intimacy, tenderness and warmth because their mind was unprotected from negative thinking towards their marriage and their spouse. What the mind of man does not lavish with praise and cherish with joy and protect with energy, the heart will never stay in love with.
Love in the heart of a couple towards one another may keep them living together, but if the couple has not learned to love one another with all their mind, intimacy and romance can slowly die. It is not how many years you been married that counts but how many years have you been “making love” to each other with all of your mind.
I challenge you to daily make love to your spouse in the privacy of your mind and watch love in your heart grow wild.
Feeling Alone In Marriage
Ashley slipped into her Daddy’s study and asked, “What are you writing about?” “Isolation,” the father replied. “Do you know what that means?” His blue-eyed, blonde-hair, freckled-face 10 year old daughter said, “Oh, that’s when somebody excludes you.”
Ashley’s definition of isolation is better than the dictionary’s which says isolation is “the condition of being alone, separated, solitary, set apart.” For most of us, isolation is indeed “when somebody excludes us.” Husbands excluding wives and wives excluding husbands is exactly what happens when loneliness and isolation infect a marriage. When you are excluded, you have a feeling of distance. You experience a lack of closeness and little real intimacy. You can share a bed, eat at the same dinner table, watch the same TV, share the same checking account, and parent the same children… but you can still be alone. You can have sex, but you don’t have love; you may talk, but you don’t communicate. You may live together, but you don’t share life with one another.
An alarming number of good marriages are unaware of this problem. Often the feeling of isolation and loneliness within marriage is quiet and secret. In many ways, marriage naturally seems to move toward a state of isolation. Unless you lovingly and energetically nurture your marriage, it is easy to begin to drift away from your mate emotionally and not know the effect it is having on your spouse.
Why is this true? Daring the span of dating, couples seek to put each other first. After all, they’re trying to “win” each other’s love. Communication is rarely a problem. Priorities center around time with each other. Sharing your day with your date was easy and fun and enjoyable. But after marriage communication can begin to dam up as priorities become focused on making a living and paying the bills and raising children.
It is very helpful for couples to be sensitive and mindful of how well they communicate and share the details of their life with each other. Allow me to offer a few suggestions on how to keep your marriage free from loneliness and isolation.
Make it a priority to spend time together every day where ever it is possible just to talk and share your day with each other. Call each other once or twice during the day as a habit just to say hi and that I love you. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make each other feel important and included in each other’s life. Your spouse married you to share life together.
Once a week go out on a date with your spouse even if it’s something simple like going to the park for a walk. Remember that the feelings of loneliness and exclusion are not weakness but a reality of life. Marriage should be the annihilation of loneliness and isolation and not the creation of it.
Take vacations together at least once a year. Vacations as couples have more to do with sharing life together than being on vacation together. Yearly vacations should be a top priority for every couple that is serious about making their marriage all that it can be. For most couples this will require planning and saving money throughout the year. A common mistake that couples make is that they convince themselves that they are too busy to take a vacation. Anytime that a couple finds themselves too busy to take a vacation together…the reality is that they are too busy to build a great marriage.
Perhaps you have heard this formula for a happy marriage before:
Take one cup of love, 2 cups of loyalty, 3 cups of forgiveness, for courts of faith, and one barrel of laughter. Take love and loyalty and mix them thoroughly with faith… blend with tenderness, kindness, and understanding. Add friendship and hope. Sprinkle abundantly with laughter. Bake it with sunshine. Wrap it regularly with lots of hugs. Serve generous helpings daily.
The above formula for a happy marriage gives no place for loneliness or isolation or exclusion. One of the best advices that I can give to any couple is to spoil each other generously. Treat each other as king and queen. Lavish each other with sincere appreciation. The golden rule of marriage clearly says that you should do unto your mate as you want your mate to do unto you.
The Divine Design Within Marriage
There is a divine design within marriage. God created marriage to work within this design. Woman (as wife) was designed to be man’s (her husband’s) helper. Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (Genesis 2:18 NLT). By divine design the wife was created to help her husband produce heaven on earth in marriage. The wife’s position is a helper to the man. The woman follows the leadership of the man by divine design within marriage. When man fails to lead, crisis is inevitable.
The more I (lead) treat my wife as a Queen…the more I empower her to treat me as a King. She follows my lead by design. The more consistently I (lead) express affection and love for her…the more I enable her to honor me. As I (lead) value her… she values me. The more secure the wife feels, the more respect she shows for her husband. Respect is earned by how well a man leads. It is the divine design within marriage. This is good news to the man who is wise. God has given man the responsibility for his marriage. His wife will help him build or destroy. She follows his leadership. She…by divine design…is the helper to the man as he leads.
It is interesting that nowhere in scripture do we find any instruction for the woman to live with her husband according to knowledge. However, this is the instruction for the husband. First Peter 3:7, instructs the husband to live with his wife according to knowledge…or in an understanding way. By divine design God instructs the husband to have knowledge and understanding in how he lives (leadership) with his wife. By God’s design the wife follows the knowledge and understanding of her husband. As he skillfully builds his marriage, the wife helps him accordingly. The wife cannot build a proper marriage where there is no positive leadership from her husband.
The husband is the builder…the wife is his helper. Dear husbands, what kind of marriage are you building? You are the muscles that build the home. Your wife…while she assists you…was not created with the muscles to build the home. It is the divine design within marriage. Every house reflects the wisdom and creativity of the builder. Every marriage reflects the builder…the muscles (knowledge) of the husband. Marriage mirrors the wisdom (or lack thereof) of the husband.
The greatest discovery the husband can learn is that by God’s divine design his wife was created to respond “helpfully” to his love, to his affection, to his honor towards and his protection over his wife. God has not failed in His design. It works when the man works it. This divine design can be seen in how God created sex to work within marriage. It is the husband that leads the wife into sexual fulfillment. The wife follows the affection and the love of her husband…not his “need” for sex. When the husband fully discovers this amazing truth, heaven on earth in marriage is not far away. The husband creates the blueprint of his marriage that the wife helps him build. The husband leads…the wife follows with her help and guidance.
Conflict is certain whenever the wife seeks to “play out” the role that by divine design the husband were created to play. It is important for the wife to keep in mind that by divine design the husband was not created to follow his wife. Whenever the wife attempts to take the lead that the husband was designed for…she becomes as his “Mother.” No marriage will ever have heaven on earth as long as the wife is acting like the husband’s “Mom.” By divine design the husband will reject and defend himself against this behavior from his wife. The wife that is wise will understand the divine design.
God’s divine design within marriage has been under attack. Far too many TV shows depict the man or husband as a wimp or jerk undermining the divine design. It is time the man takes his role and resumes his responsibility as the leader in the marriage. Weak leadership make poor marriages.
MEN…take responsibility for your marriage. Understand that your wife by divine design was created to “help” you…not “lead” you in building an amazing life together.
Just Because I Feel Like It
Out-of-control emotions is saying things that you know in your heart that you should not say but you say them anyway just because you feel irritated. Undisciplined emotions is acting in a manner in which you know is not right or proper but you behave that way nonetheless just because you feel angry. When wisdom and knowledge and understanding are consistently trampled upon through emotional outbursts, then serious help is needed.
Happiness in marriage demands disciplined emotions. There is nothing that jeopardizes and eats away at the happiness within marriage like out-of-control emotions spitting out its vomit of hurtful words and offensive behavior. When a man or woman masters his or her emotions they position themselves for the greatest happiness that life has to offer. Emotions are a beautiful thing. Imagine a life where you could not feel any happiness or sorrow or joy or love or peace. But just like food is a beautiful thing, if we fail use food in the right way, it can be the death of us. Emotions that are undisciplined or out of control will become as cancer within marriage sucking out the quality of life. Allow me to offer the following suggestions in keeping emotions in check.
1. Do not defend undisciplined or out-of-control emotional outburst as an acceptable or understandable behavior. Over a period of time when a person continues to allow themselves to emotionally spout out hurtful and offensive words and behavior, they become immune to its effects upon other people even to the point of expecting others to understand that this is just the way they are. Defending undisciplined emotions has never helped a single person. Defending unacceptable behavior is making it stronger.
2. Understand that you possess the ability to be in control over your emotions. Improper words and behavior rocketing from undisciplined emotions occur because of choice. It is a lie that you just cannot help yourself. Every man and every woman can learn to master their emotions. It may be true that you have yet to learn this mastery, but it is within your reach. It’s important to understand that control over your emotions is an attainable goal.
3. Refusing to make excuses for emotional outburst with the understanding that you can be in control of your emotions leads us to our third suggestion in controlling our emotions. We must eliminate from our vocabulary phrases such as, “This is just the way I am,” or “You make me feel this way.” Such talk should be replaced with phrases such as, “I can be in control of my emotions… I don’t have to act this way… I will master my emotions and learn to speak and act out of wisdom and not feelings.” God has given mankind a powerful tool in being able to talk himself out of behavior that is self-destructive and talk himself into behavior that is profitable for happiness. But as long as we are defending our emotional behavior and refusing to take responsibility then we are outside of the door that leads to the mastery of our emotions. It will become a very difficult task to conquer out-of-control emotions without proper self-talk. It is improper and negative self-talk that has fueled and created out of control emotions. Only by getting rid of negative self-talk, defensive self-talk, and self-centered self-talk can we master undisciplined emotions. You can talk yourself into control of your emotions.
The starting point of conquering your emotions is a sincere desire to do so. Feeble desires bring feeble results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. To master undisciplined emotions one must be passionate about the goal. The more energy you apply to the task, the greater the results will be. The price that you will pay for undisciplined emotions will be far greater than whatever price you could possibly pay to conquer your emotions.
The price of undisciplined and out-of-control emotions includes broken friendships, unforgiveness, divorce, separation, being let go from a job, stress, failing health… just to name a few.
So let’s review: 1) never defend emotional outbursts as an understandable behavior. 2) Understand that you possess the ability to master your emotions and be in control. 3) Talk yourself out of uncontrolled emotions and into disciplined emotions. Learn the power of self-talk.
Have Valentine’s Day Everyday
What makes Valentine’s Day so special? Why is it that more flowers and candy is purchased during this season than at any other time of the year? The answer to these questions is extremely important. For they hold a magic key to true success in keeping romance and excitement alive in your marriage.
There are three things that make Valentines’ Day effective and powerful.
Number One: Valentine’s Day brings attention and focus towards romancing and blessing your spouse. This is indeed a very good thing. It is easy to get so caught up in making a living that we fail to stay focused on what really is important…our relationships. Anything in your life that brings attention and focus towards blessing and romancing your spouse is precious and valuable. This is why having a date night every week is proven to be wise and helpful in keeping intimacy and excitement in marriage. Don’t fall prey to the excuse that you are too busy to have a date night each week. What would your spouse say if Valentine’s Day came and went without any response on your part to bless your spouse with some thoughtful expression of your love all because you were too busy? Valentine’s Day requires time and effort to make it work for your marriage. So does keeping excitement and romance in marriage. Yes, it does require effort and planning. But consider the cost of being too busy. Consider the price of failing to stay focused in giving proper attention towards keeping romance alive in your marriage. Romance in marriage is like a flower bed, if you fail to give it proper attention, it will fade away.
Number Two: Valentine’s Day is so special because it stirs thinking concerning how to romance and bless your spouse. Valentine’s Day provokes targeted thinking. Valentine’s Day is unlike Christmas in that Christmas can be celebrated without the deliberate effort to spark romance and love in your relationship with your spouse. Imagine giving your spouse a pair of socks for Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day creates targeted thinking. It stirs the imagination to be romantic and exciting. And the more thought and effort put into Valentine’s Day the more exciting and profitable it can be to your marriage. Expressing your love and appreciation towards your spouse on Valentine’s Day does not require expensive and elaborate gifts. It just requires your thoughtfulness and heart of love expressed in some tangible way.
Number Three: The third reason why Valentine’s Day is so special is that movement or action is demanded. The focus, attention and the thinking all requires action to be carried out. Focus and thinking without action is worthless. Many a spouse has had to apologize because while they became aware of Valentine’s Day approaching and thought about doing something special, they fail to take action.
So let’s review: Valentine’s Day is special because this day (1) creates focus and attention on romancing your spouse, (2) it stirs thinking concerning how to romance your spouse, and (3) it demands action in romancing your spouse.
Focus…thinking…and action. If this is what makes Valentine’s Day so special, then everyday can be a Valentine’s Day if only we will stay focused…thoughtful…and active in romancing your spouse throughout the year. Obviously, we are not suggesting that you actually buy your spouse flowers or candy every day, but that every day you have focus and thoughts that produce movement and action in expressing your love.
Every day is a good day to say, “I love you.” Every day is a good day to give a warm and loving hug. Every day is a good day to be deliberately thoughtful of ways to love and bless your spouse. The more that every day becomes a Valentine’s Day, the more blessed your marriage will stay.
Our children need to see mom and dad loving, hugging and romancing each other. They need…no must hear mom and dad say often, “I love you.” Never underestimate the powerful and positive effect that tangible and visible expressions of love between mom and dad have upon your children. Our society today so needs more (many more) Valentine’s Days. I trust this Valentine’s season will not be the only time this year that you give extra focus…thinking…and action towards romancing your spouse.
Think Yourself into a Better Life
You are the sum total of how you think. Success or failure as a human being is not a matter of luck, or circumstance, or fate, or the breaks, or who you know – or any of the other tiresome, old myths and clichés by which the ignorant tend to excuse themselves. Success or failure in marriage, career and in life is a matter of how one thinks.
We all want good results from life, in our home, in our work, and in all our contacts with other people. The most important single factor that guarantees good results…day in and day out…all the months and years of our lives…is a healthy thought-life!
What do I mean by a healthy thought-life? A healthy thought-life is thinking on purpose and with purpose. As with a healthy diet, a healthy thought-life requires intentionality. A healthy thought-life is no more an automatic reality than a healthy regiment of diet and exercise. Eating healthy requires deliberate effort and planning. So it is with a healthy thought-life. Your life will never arise above the discipline of your thought-life. As your thought-life is, so will be your life.
WHATEVER KEEPS YOU FROM A HEALTHY THOUGHT-LIFE - KEEPS YOU FROM A BETTER LIFE.
Just as your weight, energy and physical health follows your diet and exercise, so your marriage and life follows your thoughts. The benefits of a healthy diet and exercise will be experienced in your physical body. The benefits of a healthy thought-life will be experienced in every area of your life.
Successful people simply think different that non-successful people. So what does a healthy thought-life look like?
A healthy thought-life is pro-active about WHAT it thinks.
A healthy thought-life is sensitive to negative thinking and replaces such with constructive thinking.
A healthy thought-life deliberately creates and maintains a productive attitude with on purpose thinking and self-talk.
A healthy thought-life reads books and materials that strengthens and empowers the mind for health in its thoughts.
A healthy thought-life immerses itself in meditation, reflection and contemplation of possibilities and opportunities.
A healthy thought-life rejects and resists self-pity and self-defensiveness and accepts accountability and responsibility.
A healthy thought-life functions and operates as a creator, a builder, an architect, a designer, and as an engineer designing and drafting out the life desired.
Our life, our marriage and our happiness mirrors the discipline or the lack thereof in how and what we think. Until this truth is realized, efforts to improve the quality of our life will continue to fail.
Every created living thing has within its DNA natural instincts on how to live and survive. My wife and I have dogs and goats. Not once have we ever had to train our female goats or female dogs in caring for their newborns. It is amazing to watch animals just by natural born instincts care for their newborns. No training is required. No schooling is necessary. God given instincts take over.
However, man is not born with natural instincts to think healthy. It requires training and discipline to think healthy. Our thought-life is as an open field. If not cultivated and cared for, weeds and unwanted growth will automatically take over.
It must be noted here that an educated mind is not necessarily a healthy mind. Many a CEO, successful businessman or woman, and professional sales people have destroyed their success and marriage all because of unhealthy thinking. It is a mistake to equate healthy thinking with the education of the mind. Even men who have reached the top as President of the United States have fallen into shame and reproach all because of unhealthy thinking.
Nothing will ever replace the deliberate effort to develop healthy thinking. Your behavior, your attitude, your life and your marriage are all the by-products of your thought-life. Your thoughts make you or break you. Your thought-life is your most valuable possession. Your feelings follow your thinking. Your love for your spouse and marriage is solely determined upon how you think about your spouse and marriage. This is why only a foolish man fails to praise, honor and give glory towards his wife in front of his co-workers and friends and family. A man will never highly value that which he does not speak highly of. And no man will never speak highly of that which he does not think highly about.
Growing a Strong Marriage
Do you have a personal growth plan? Seriously! Do you have written goals for personal growth? Do you have action steps written down as to how to achieve your goals for personal growth? Just as your toaster is designed to operate by electricity, so marriage is designed to have success by personal growth.
Happiness in marriage demands personal growth. A common mistake made among newlyweds is that once married their focus centers upon making a living, a career, buying a house, becoming financially established and having children while personal growth is either ignored or not even realized as a need. A spouse that fails to recognize his or her own need for personal growth tends to blame the other person for their own faults and weaknesses.
Marriage is as a non-cultivated field of opportunities for personal growth. Without engaging in personal growth, marriage can easily become a life filled with struggles that simply are not necessary. What do I mean by unnecessary struggles? It is not necessary to fight, argue, and be-little one another because of immaturity. Why is it not necessary? Because immaturity can be eliminated through personal growth. If immaturity and self-centeredness was an unavoidable flaw in man’s character where man was helpless to do anything about it, then the struggles that come from immaturity and self-centeredness in our relationships would just be a way of life that we would all have to just deal with. A prolonged struggle within marriage with all of its fighting and arguing and hurting one another is simply because of prolonged failure to grow personally.
Without a personal growth plan for you…not your spouse…but you, your marriage are destined to remain the same. Your personal growth…if its real growth will bring the best out of your spouse. There is no such thing as personal growth that does not positively affect other people. It’s impossible for a husband to personally grow and not love his wife and marriage more. However, a man can grow intelligently in his career, in his finances and in his achievements and yet all the while be failing as a father, as a friend and as a husband. In other words, an educated mind is not a transformed mind whereby personal growth is experienced.
Isn’t it amazing that a man or woman can get the highest level of education in our Universities and never have a class on personal growth? Isn’t it amazing that a person can attend church all of their life and never have a class available to them that maps out personal growth for their life? It appears that if a person wants to grow personally that they have to be personally proactive to grow.
Is it because we assume that as we grow older we just naturally grow personally? Is it because we just assume that if we attend church regularly that we will automatically grow personally? Growth is never an automatic thing. Growth requires a deliberate and intentional effort on our part.
Anyone who is serious about having a better marriage must be serious about personal growth. Personal growth does not come by desire, or by wishing it or by feeble efforts. Make no mistake about it; the price you’ll pay for not growing is far greater than any price you’ll ever have to pay to personally grow. The price that your love ones, your spouse, your friends will have to pay for you not growing is greater than you think.
This article does not allow space to map out a personal growth plan. But outlines of personal growth plans, examples of personal growth plans are all available free online for anyone who wishes to be engaged in personal growth. Simply Google “personal growth plans” and you will find PDF files and other sites they can help you grow personally. Why would you bother to do this? Because if you haven’t grown up by now, it is obvious that you need help.
Author John C. Maxwell writes in one of his books, “When Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is definitely the problem.” When reoccurring issues of conflict keeps coming up in your relationships, you are the problem. The Bible says if a man will humble himself before God that the Lord will exalt him in due time. It may require humbling ourselves concerning our need for personal growth, but the rewards are far greater than you think.
Don’t Settle For Successful Existence
Great marriages do not evolve because one married the right person. Rather, great marriages are created because one becomes the right person. Growing marriages have growing partners who have not settled into a mold or rut but who are living to become a better friend and better a spouse.
Often, married couples settle for successful existence. They know their marriage is not perfect but at least their marriage is not as bad as others they know. At least they have a nice home, a nice car and an income that provides for the family. But why settle for success in existence when you can have heaven on earth. There are a lot of marriages indeed exist but are void of real personal growth and happiness. Often men feel satisfied that they are successfully providing for the material and physical needs of their marriage while they are ignorant of the emotional needs of the marriage. We all need money and nice homes, but women do not marry money…they marry a man who they trust to meet their emotional needs. What are emotional needs? Ask you spouse! But here is a start: The need to be loved, the need to be cherished, the need to feel precious and valuable, the need to be protected, and the need to be held close.
Don’t settle for successful existence. Couples often brag about how long they have been married. Even a person in prison can claim a successful existence having been in jail for 50 years. “Well, at least I never got physically beaten or went without my basic needs being taken care of.” Who would celebrate that life? So what that you have been married 15 years. Out of those 15 years, how have you grown in your ability to love unconditionally, forgive freely and quickly, and honor and respect your spouse privately in the home? Don’t settle for successful existence. Even prisoners can boast that claim. Real life is all about inward growth that blesses your world.
Great marriages are growing marriages and growing marriages grow because of growing spouses. Marriages are mirrors or the reflection of the condition of the heart of two people. A marriage reflects what is in the heart of the couple. To grow the marriage one must grow on the inside. It is madness to live life attempting to change the outward behavior while ignoring the heart itself. Anger, quick tempers, words that offend and hurt are heart problems not behavior problems.
Successful existence happens whenever and wherever a couple has learned to tolerate each other’s weaknesses and live life without the benefits of personal growth and development. Successful existence always leaves an unlocked door for someone else to enter into and meet an unmet emotional need. Marriages that successfully exist can have heaven on earth through inward change called personal growth.
Never forget this rule of life: You cannot think-it…you must ink-it. Wanting to grow, desiring to grow and seeing the need to grow will never produce growth without inking-it. That is, without writing down on paper your plans for personal growth. If you are not serious enough to write out written goals and a written plan for personal growth then how will you ever walk it out? No one ever attempts to build a house without a written plan. Nor can you and I build our marriages without a written plan. Otherwise, we must settle at best for successful existence.
Allow me to give a few suggestions for personal growth.
List (ink-it) your desired goals for personal change and growth. After each goal, write out the following questions and provide the answers. “What tools do I need to help me obtain this goal?” “What are the benefits of reaching this goal?” “What are the unwanted results of failing to reach this goal?” “Who can I ask to help me, mentor me and or coach me in reaching this goal?” “What will be my greatest hindrance in reaching this goal?”
After you have listed your personal growth goals and answered all the questions, map out a daily plan that will provide you with necessary steps toward your goals. Don’t make this complicated. Your daily plan should simply be time you deliberately set aside for reading, meditating and praying over your goals. The key to successful goal accomplishments is daily focus through daily writing out the goal. A written goal is a forgotten goal unless it is written out daily. Real living is forever growing better.
Two Things to Avoid in Marriage
Two Things to Develop
Author Jimmy Evans says, “Every marriage has a 100% chance of success with the right information.” Is success in marriage really that simple? Yes! Assuming, of course, that the “right information” is acted upon. Marriage can be and should be the one place on earth where an atmosphere of peace, acceptance and love is always found. Heaven on earth in marriage is possible for you and your marriage.
There are two things that success in marriage builds upon and there are two things that destroy success. Every couple that desires real success in marriage must develop and maintain respect and honor towards each other…especially during times of conflict and offences. There is no greater destroyer of happiness in marriage as disrespectfulness. Disrespect and the lack of honor towards your spouse are two things that must be avoided in marriage at all cost. So what does respect and honor look like in marriage?
· Respect and honor is never talking to your spouse as if they are stupid and dumb.
· Respect and honor is never belittling your spouse because of what they said, done or how they are behaving.
· Respect and honor in marriage never uses words such as, “I told you so,” or “Your just like your mother, or “You always do this,” or “You never…” or “If only you…” or “Why do you always…”
· Respect and honor protects and values your spouse’s opinions, feelings and emotions.
· Respect and honor in marriage relates to your spouse as if Jesus Himself was in the room listening and watching.
Respect and honor requires maturity and self-control. Where maturity and self-control are absent, even the smallest issues of offense generate floods of wrong words. Unfortunately, our society is promoting self-centered “it’s all about me” attitudes. Wherever a troubled marriage continues to decline, without fail you will find that immaturity and self-centeredness dominates the marriage. But even self-centered babies can grow up if they choose to. It is a choice. Respect and honor is a choice. You can be respectful and honor your spouse if you choose to. It may be a battle to conquer years of immaturity but it can be overcome. The only reason immaturity, disrespect and the lack of honor exist in marriage is by the decision to remain the same.
Success in marriage is built upon giving grace and space towards your spouse. These two things must be developed and maintain within the marriage relationship for success to thrive. It is God’s amazing grace that causes men to turn to God with surrender and love. So it is within marriage. Extending grace and space towards your spouse causes love to bear long-lasting fruit. So what does grace and space in marriage look like?
· Grace and space allows your spouse to get mad at you without your quick defense.
· Grace and space understands that your spouse is not perfect.
· Grace and space allows your spouse to express their feelings, emotions and frustrations while you listen with empathy.
· Grace and space seeks first to understand before it demands to be understood.
· Grace and space allows time for apologies without being cold-hearted until it comes.
· Grace and space is the first to ask for forgiveness even when it knows it is right.
· Grace and space loves unconditionally.
Often, we take advantage of God’s grace knowing that He will forgive. Often, we even abuse God’s grace. But thank God, His grace never is exhausted. If there is one person that we should in return extend such grace, it should be to our spouse. Often, we want God to treat us with grace while we treat one another with demands and intolerance. Success in marriage where true happiness flourishes must have grace and space to grow and overcome weaknesses. Pushing one into perfection never works. Forcing one to change through guilt, demands and condemnation only strengthens unwanted behavior.
Respect, honor, grace and space; these are the ingredients for success in marriage.
Making the Best of this Christmas Season
Is it possible to eat and drink enough on Sunday’s so that you will not have any hunger or thirst cravings for the rest of the week? Can you exercise hard enough on the first day of each month so that it will not be necessary for you to exercise any more for the rest of the month? Obviously, the answers are no and no. Our bodies are design to require daily food and exercise. Marriage functions much like our bodies. It requires a daily flow of love, respect and affection.
It does not matter how beautiful the wedding was or how great the honeymoon was, it will not carry the marriage…not even for a month. It does not matter how sweet last night’s intimacy was, if today you fail to love, respect and give affection, last night simply will not be enough. Last night’s dinner can never taste so great and be so good that your body will not need some amount of water and food today.
A mistake many make is thinking that because they sincerely love their spouse in their hearts that this matters in daily life. It is the same as thinking that because you have T-bone steaks and potatoes in the refrigerator that you should not be hungry. It is not how much love you have in your heart for your spouse; rather it is how much you show and express that love on a daily bases. Affection and respect are like physical food, life quickly burns it up.
Couples that fail to understand this are more likely to have the roller-coaster marriage with the ups and downs and good and not so good days. The process of “making-up” after a spout should not be the main event of expressing your affection and love. Couples that daily feed their marriage words and acts of love and affection will experience not only better days but much more of them.
We have entered a time of the year when life often accelerates and those closest to us are pushed aside from the affection and care they actually need more of at this time. Make your marriage your top priority during this Christmas season. Nothing is more important than loving your spouse with extra affection and warmth during the holidays.
This Christmas season put forth serious effort to be consistent on a daily bases in showing affection, respect, honor and love towards your spouse. To do this requires time, effort and planning…much like it does to eat healthy. Be watchful and do not allow what should be the best time of the year for married life to become stressful and regretful.
Many allow themselves to get caught up in the busyness of the season that they sacrifice the real joy of Christmas…expressing love and appreciation to God and family. As we enter this busy time of the year, get together with your spouse and family and agree to put on and keep on your best behavior towards one another to make this season fun and meaningful.
Know that there will many opportunities to get frustrated and stressful. So stand guard and resist such opportunities. Remember, no one and no circumstance can make you perturbed or irritated without your surrender and permission.
Begin each day from now through the new year with an extra effort to be thankful for all you have knowing that even the poorest of us still live as kings and queens compared to most of the world. Be quick to apologize if anger should get the best of you. Go out of your way to make this season the best one ever for your spouse. Not with big expensive gifts but with sincere floods of affection and love.
For God so loved the world He gave His best gift possible. So love your spouse and family this Christmas season that you too give your best effort to express and show love each and every day. Wrap yourself up and give your spouse what he/she married you for…your daily affection and friendship.
How to Keep Love Flowing
It is a myth that the reason for some couples’ marriage being so wonderful is that they just married the right person. Every marriage has the same chance of success – every marriage. No marriage has an advantage over another because of physical beauty or plenty of money or that “the two were just meant to be together.” Every marriage begins and or ends with absolutely equal in the chance of being successful and lasting forever. Why is this? The answer is because we all have the “same tools” to build our marriage. Not one couple has better tools or different tools to build success and happiness in their marriage. Allow me to make this point clear: Every marriage stands equal in its chance of success and happiness. No one who married in love married the wrong person. However, you can become the wrong person that fails to use the tools every married couple has.
So what are the tools that every marriage has equal access to? The tools are “words.” The Apostle James says that the tongue is as a rudder on a ship that turns the ship in whatever direction the rudder turns it. Today we can say that the tongue is as a steering wheel that can take the car in whatever direction it is turned. Every car has a steering wheel making every car equal in its chance of directing the driver towards whatever destination that is desired. Wouldn’t it be foolish for a car salesman to attempt to sell a particular car over another claiming that this car has a more advanced steering wheel that will assure the driver of getting to his or her destination more successfully?
Just as a mechanic can take his tools and build a super-fast engine, so can every couple take their tools and build a super sweet marriage. Just as a construction worker can build any building with the right tools, so can any desired marriage be built and maintained with the right tools. What separates men is their ability to use their tools. Any marriage that appears to be more glorious than others simply use their tools more effectively. Better marriages do not have better tools. Better marriages are more effective in speaking the right words more effectively and more consistently.
Arguing and fighting cannot exist without words. Love flows through words and is maintained through words. Please do not miss this: “Love is expressed through words and is suffocated by the lack of the right words.” For this reason it is false that a couple can “fall out of love.” There is no such thing as “falling out of love.” Rather, if love has stopped flowing it is because words that love flow through have stopped being spoken. Just as electricity flows through wire, so love flows through words. If you desire a more electricity in your home, you must provide better wiring than allows more electricity to flow. If you desire more love and happiness in your home, you must provide better words for more love and happiness to flow through.
Many homes have burned down because the homeowner made the mistake of attempting to pull to much electricity through wiring that did not qualify for that level of power. Many marriages have burned to the ground because the couple attempted to build their home with words that did not qualify for everlasting love to flow through. There is nothing complicated about building a successful marriage. Successful marriages are built by the same tool that got you married – words such as… “I do; I love you.” With words a couple get married and with words that couple will build their marriage or destroy it. No couple falls out of love. If love is lacking then right words are lacking.
One of the number one reasons why a spouse becomes involved in an extramarital affair is that the spouse meets someone who spoke better words to them. How you and I speak to our spouse will determine how successful our marriage becomes. Do not buy into the lie that if you marry the right person your marriage will be successful. The right words make you the right spouse. Poor marriages become poor because of poor words.
The good news is that everyone of us have available to us the right words. No one has any special rights to better words. We all can speak the right words. The question is, “Are you speaking words that love can flow through?”
The Addiction of Pornography
According to leading experts, the addiction to pornography is greater than the addiction to drugs and alcohol combined. A major factor for this is because pornography is AAA – that is Anonymous, Available and Affordable. Unfortunately, pornography is only accelerating off the runway having only begun its flight of destruction.
In a press release from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (divorce lawyers) reported that the most salient factors present in divorce cases are as follows:
• 68% of the divorces involved one party meeting a new lover over the Internet.
• 56% involved one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”
• • 47% involved spending excessive time on the computer.
• • 33% involved excessive time spent speaking in chat rooms.
In 2003, a Focus on the Family poll showed 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home. As of 2003, there were 1.3 million pornographic websites; 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003). The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review). Unique worldwide users visiting adult web sites monthly: 72 million (Internet Filter Review). Number of hardcore pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review).
A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event. 51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).
The Internet was a significant factor in 2 out of 3 divorces (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2003 - divorcewizards.com). 9 out of 10 children aged between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet, in most cases unintentionally (London School of Economics January 2002). Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old (Internet Filter Review). Largest consumer of Internet pornography: 12 - 17 year-old age group (various sources, as of 2007).
Why all these statistics? It is obvious that porn is a cancer in our society. Marriages are under attack from the AAA of pornography; therefore, this issue must be addressed in every pulpit of America. But when was the last time you heard a sermon on the dangers of porn?
Allow me to offer some simple but powerful suggestions in overcoming an addiction to pornography.
1. 1. You will never “think” your way out of any addiction. Nor will guilt and shame ever set you free. But you can “talk” your way out. So talk and talk a lot to yourself that you are bigger than this addiction. Reason with yourself as to the benefits of getting free of porn. Talk to yourself daily as to how this addiction is hurting you and your relationships. Learn to talk and see porn as an enemy not a joy and a pleasure. Yes, you can talk yourself out of the addiction to porn.
2. 2. Learn to see different. See yourself better than a secret porn addict. Learn to see women as daughters of God, precious and valuable in His sight and not as sex objects.
Learn to see porn as a devise that is use by the devil to mock women and destroy men. See porn as Satan’s trap.
3. 3. Fear pornography. Understand that it is an addiction and is a destroyer.
4. 4. Pray hard knowing that God is for you and not against you. Believe that He is not mad at you but on your side ready to help you. Freely talk to God about every issue of your addiction. He already knows all the details, so you will not surprise Him in anything you say.
5. 5. Change your habits. Take up new activities that take mind off the trigger points that pull you into porn. Examine when and where you are most likely to view porn and change your habits.
6. 6. Pay close attention to the first thought you have in any given day about porn. At every thought say out loud, “I do not have to yield to pornography.” “I am not a slave to pornography.” Just say,”No!” Remember, in order to yield to pornography you must first agree to it in your mind. But if you say out loud, “no” and state the reasons why, you can talk yourself out of any addiction.
7. At every thought of viewing porn, learn not only to talk against it but do something right away to take your mind off porn. Run, call a friend, exercise – just do something as you talk your freedom.
Respect - Honor - Value
How you speak is just as important as what you speak. Right words spoken wrong can be as damaging as wrong words. Conflict within marriage has never caused a single problem. It is words that are spoken from conflict that causes problems or heals the conflict. Often, the most damaging relationship mistake that couples make is not what they say but how they say it. Take for an example a dog. You can scream at a dog, “I love you” and chances are that dog is going to run away. It was not the words but how the words were spoken. On the other hand, you can speak kindly, gently and lovingly to Spot the dog, “Come here Spot because I want to rip your heart out with this butcher knife” and Spot will gladly come.
Just as a dog, we as human beings respond not only to the words spoken but how the words are spoken. You can be right but speak the wrong way and lose in the relationship. Mastering the skill of body language, tone and volume with words can take the bite out of any conflict or issue that arises within marriage.
The goal in marriage is not to ever have any conflicts but to create an atmosphere that can handle whatever conflict or issue that may arise. The atmosphere that can weather any storm that may arise is:
Speak with respect both with words and body language. Rolling the eyes, shaking the head and frowning with disapproval are sure ways to add fuel to the fire. For many, speaking with respect during conflict or issues is extremely difficult. Screaming, cursing, and belittling can often be how one feels dominate and powerful. People who are insecure and who struggle with self-worth often are the worst offenders at speaking with disrespect. Little people (on the inside) feel the need to talk down to others in their attempt to win. Real strength and power is the ability to keep respect both with your words and body language as you work through issues and conflict.
Show honor towards the other person. Never attempt to make the other person feel stupid or dumb. Mocking, laughing and making fun of your spouse during conflict is pride and self-centeredness on open display. Simply put, to keep honor towards your spouse during conflict is to show a courteous regard toward your spouse at all times with and through your words and body language. Walking away, looking away, and turning your back on your spouse as they are speaking is not showing honor towards them. A good rule of thumb here is…don’t expect honor if you cannot give honor.
Demonstrate value towards the other person. Treating your spouse as if their opinion and feelings do not matter is destructive. Learning to value your spouse’s feelings is just wise. You cannot show value doing all the talking. Listening with a sincere desire to understand shows real value towards your spouse. Have you ever had some arrogant clown pretend to be listening to you but their facial expression was saying, “Oh sure, whatever you say dear.” Remember, you have not listened to your spouse until you can repeat what they have said and express the feelings they are feeling. When you value your spouse you will listen with empathy and insincerity.
A huge mistake that wives often make in dealing with conflict is that they talk to their husbands as if he is a child. Thus the treat their husbands as if they are his mother. Even if he is acting like a child, talking to him and treating him as his mother only makes the matter worse. Who wants to make love to his mother?
A huge mistake that husbands often make in dealing with conflict is that they talk to their wife as if she is inferior to him. A sure way to prolong the conflict is make your wife feel inferior.
An atmosphere of respect, honor and value will guard and protect your marriage from many unnecessary battles. Extra martial affairs normally occur when at home respect, honor and value are not found but are discovered with someone else somewhere else. We love to be around someone who shows us respect, honor and value. Many a person has been willing to give up everything just to have it.
Self-centeredness – The Great Destroyer
Do you consider yourself self-centered? Chances are you do not. What if I told you that we all (you and I) are self-centered on some level? As a fallen race (sinful), we were born with self-centeredness within us. This is why no one needs to teach a young child how to throw a fit when what they want is denied.
The question is not “Are you self-centered?”, but “How self-centered are you?” To reject that you are not self-centered to some degree is evidence that you are indeed self-centered. The purpose of exposing this flaw within us all is, “How can you and I overcome and conqueror what we do not recognize that we have – self-centeredness?”
By default, we are all self-centered. Our culture and social media supports and aids in the development of self-centeredness. Have you ever heard of “prenuptial agreement?” A prenuptial agreement, often shortened to “prenup,” is a legal agreement entered into by an engaged couple prior to being married. It provides for an agreed upon distribution of assets if the marriage ends in divorce. A similar agreement called a postnuptial agreement is signed after a couple is already married. How self-centered can you get? Self-centeredness in our society is now called “just being wise.” Without a doubt, self-centeredness is exalted and promoted within our culture today as self-health and protection.
Self-centeredness must be acknowledged where it is found and conquered. Still not convinced that you share in being self-centered? Allow me to give a few characteristics of being self-centered.
· The eyes of self-centeredness focus more upon the defects of your spouse than on the defects of your own life.
· The voice of self-centeredness murmurs, gossips, exposes the wrong of others and complains.
· The ears of self-centeredness enjoy hearing gossip and shameful actions of others.
· The hands of self-centeredness are quick to rise up in defense and are willing to fight for its own rights and opinions.
· The attitude of self-centeredness makes you unteachable, unchangeable and unconcerned.
· The prayers of self-centeredness speak more of its own needs that the needs of others.
· The friendship of the self-centered depends more upon how you please that upon how it pleases.
It’s no wonder why self-centeredness is typically viewed as the most unappealing personality trait in a potential friend or partner – not to mention in your spouse. Most of us struggle to maintain a sense of compassion and understanding toward others. Self-centered people, on the other hand, don’t bother to take the time to understand another person’s point-of-view or feelings. Self-centeredness is the great destroyer within marriage. Once it tightens its hold upon it prey, it chokes out joy, intimacy and happiness. Behind repeated conflict and reoccurring fights is self-centeredness.
In dealing with self-centeredness, we must see it for what it is – a real enemy that must be dealt with. It is a cancer that eats away at the quality of life, marriage and family. We must therefore take self-centeredness seriously and be determined to get rid of it. Self-centeredness does not go away on its own. It is not outgrown in age. It cannot be ignored. Self-centeredness must be conquered.
Following are simple but powerful steps toward conquering self-centeredness.
1. Acknowledge where you are self-centered and remember, we all have it.
2. Repent of it and ask for forgiveness.
3. Ask God and your spouse to help you conqueror it.
4. Give yourself space to fail as you get up and go forward.
5. Read good books and yes the Bible dealing with self-centeredness.
6. Practice the opposite. Look for ways to give and put others first.
7. Meditate upon how to love, forgive and bless others more.
8. Limit your activities with other self-centered people.
Don’t allow the great destroyer to abide in your home and life. The surest way to overcome unhappiness, or even anxiety or a number of other common mental health problems, is by choosing to forget the self and get to work, so to speak. We can choose to be self-centered or we can choose to be other-centered. This choice and action of other-centeredness is the surest way to happiness and peace. Putting others first is not self-denial, it is self-renewal.
100% Guaranteed Success
Every marriage has a 100% guarantee of success with the right information. Whenever and wherever a couple marries because they were in love with one another that marriage will grow and thrive through all the storms of life with the right information. I do not mean to over simplify the often challenges of marriage, but I do mean to boldly declare that love with knowledge, wisdom and understanding will survive any storm or challenge. In fact, conflict and challenges only strengthen love when love responds with the right information.
In our last article, I pointed out that the average couple will spend exceedingly far more on a successful wedding day than they will spend in their lifetime together on making their marriage heaven on earth. This is insane! An expensive wedding and a lavished honeymoon doesn’t make a successful marriage. Nevertheless, the average couple puts more money into the wedding than into making a great marriage.
Unresolved conflict and repeated arguments within marriage is house built upon the lack of information. Married life is not so complicated that there are no solutions to conflict and arguing within marriage. But without the right information, finding a local address can be frustrating. It was not the address that made it difficult to find but the lack of information and direction that made the address frustrating to find. It would be foolish to blame the address. With the right information and tools (GPS) finding any address is a breeze. With the right information, every marriage has a 100% guarantee of success.
It’s startling to discover how many married couples choose to accept an average marriage with its ups and downs as if things could not be better. If life can be better, why not fight for it rather than one another?
Obtaining the right information starts with understanding the major role “words” and “thoughts” play in marriage. Until a couple learns how to master their words and their thoughts, life will never be what it could and should be. It is impossible to have heaven on earth with a mouth that is uncontrolled. It is impossible to have a great marriage with uncontrolled thinking. Just like a mechanic can take his tools and fix a troubled engine, so a man can take the tools of words and thoughts and conquer any need or problem in life.
Married couples needing counseling will never be given a magic blue pill to solve their issues. They will not have a heart operation or some other surgery. The only way to help a couple with marriage problems and other issues is to change how they have been thinking and what they have been saying.
Troubled marriages are homes where wrong words and wrong thoughts rule.
A man sat in the office of a marriage counselor complaining about his wife. “My wife is just goofy,” he said. He continued to explain how his wife always speaks out of her feelings and fails to be reasonable and intelligent in her opinions. The marriage counselor ask this husband, “Have you ever worked for a boss that made you feel stupid and dumb never embracing your opinions as worthy of consideration?” “Why yes,” responded the husband. The counselor asked, “How did this boss make you feel about yourself and your job?” The husband quickly answered, “Lousy. I hated that job,” The counselor looking this husband in his eyes as he leaned forward said, “You are that boss to your wife.”
For the first time in his married life, this man sat back and considered his words and how he had been thinking about his wife. He went that day and repented before his wife and asked for her forgiveness. This couple not only built a great marriage but became marriage counselors themselves. No magic blue pill was taken; just a change in words and thinking.
A house built upon wrong words and thoughts is bondage. No marriage will ever be greater than the words spoken within that marriage. The quality of marriage will ever arise above the quality of the thought life. Until you take control of your words and your thoughts you will never be in control of your future. It would do many good to look themselves in the mirror and say, “YOU are either my BEST friend or my WORST enemy.”
Great Marriages Just Don’t Happen
You may have never considered having a plan to create the marriage you
desire. You are not along. If you are like many, you may be praying
for a wonderful marriage but without a plan you may be praying a very
long time. Great marriages just don’t happen. Imagine packing
up the car and heading off for vacation without any plan as to where
to go and what to do. While such a vacation could turn out to be fun,
chances are it would create a lot of unnecessary trouble and conflict.
Just because a man is in love with cooking doesn’t promise him
success in starting his own restaurant. Without a plan as to how to
advertise and market his restaurant, success and growth is unlikely.
The truth is far more planning and energy and money goes into creating
the wedding day than in creating a great marriage. It just doesn’t
make sense to plan a great wedding day yet fail to have a real plan to
create a great life after the wedding day is over. Great marriages just
don’t happen. Early in my marriage I discovered an anger problem
that I never realized I had. My anger did not cause me to shout or scream
or throw things but go into “silence mode.” I could go days
and never say a word to my wife except what I had to say such as, “I’m
not hungry” after she cooked a good meal. But I also discovered
that I did not enjoy this behavior nor did I enjoy how it made my wife
feel. So I made a decision to conquer this anger and behavior. I realize
that I was not going to “outgrow my anger.” Rather, I was
going to have to conquer my anger by choice. My plan was: 1. Read various
books dealing with anger. 2. Pray hard concerning my anger. 3. Ask my
wife for help. 4. Be quick to apologize. 5. Never allow a day to come
to an end without making right what anger had made wrong.
Great marriages just don’t happen. So what is your plan for creating
and maintaining a great marriage? Allow me to offer some suggestions
in establishing a plan.
1. Read books on marriage as a lifestyle. Can you become a doctor without
reading? Can you become a lawyer without reading? Why do couples think
they should have a great marriage without reading? What career can you
be really successful in without reading books and articles and such concerning
that career? Great marriages just don’t happen. What marriage book
are you in the process of reading now?
2. Limit your time and involvement with others that mock and criticize
their spouse and marriage. If you play with chickens you’ll never
fly with the eagles. Don’t ever expect to grow hanging around those
that are satisfied with their marriage because at least their marriage
isn’t as bad as others.
3. Find a mentor that will help keep you motivated in creating a great
4. Listen to marriage training DVD’s and messages. There is tons
of good stuff online that are free to you.
Remember: Great marriages just don’t happen.
5. Stop trying to change your spouse and focus on changing you.
6. Ask your spouse to join you in becoming serious students of marriage.
7. Choose to be teachable. Choose to change where necessary. Choose to
8. Become an expert at making your marriage great.
Great marriages just don’t happen. Fight the good fight for your
marriage. Your spouse is worth it. Your kids are worth the fight. There
are no magic blue pills that promise a great marriage. It is not always
easy to change old habits, but is it worth it. Consider the price many
pay to spent more money than they make. Consider the price that 50% of
married couples pay through divorce for having no plan to have a great
marriage. Great marriages are not always made up of great couples but
just ordinary people who developed a plan to create a wonderful marriage.
Some of the greatest marriages are those that have conquered incredible
odds against them yet determined to fight the good fight for marriage
with purpose and with a plan. Great marriages just don’t happen!
Loving Your Spouse With All Your Mind
You can change how you feel about any person by changing how you think
about that person. This is one of the greatest discoveries married couples
can learn. Long before love grows cold in the heart, the mind developed
an adverse thought life. It is impossible to love with all your heart
that which you fail to love with all your mind. As a man thinks in his
heart, so is he. The battle for happiness in marriage is won or lost
in the mind. No marriage is greater than the thoughts concerning the
marriage. Within the thought life is where the boundaries are made as
to how great life is.
Men may take all your possessions away. They may strip you naked leaving
you with nothing. But no man or circumstance will ever force or make
you think in your heart without your permission. The battle of the mind
is greater within the person who has never learned to think on purpose
with purpose. It is easy to educate the mind, but much more difficult
to direct the thoughts of the mind with purpose. Learning to control
and navigate the thoughts of the mind requires deliberate effort to think
affirmative and constructive thoughts despite negative emotions and circumstances.
When we speak of thinking with purpose we mean thinking deliberate helpful
and wholesome thoughts on purpose as a means to build and defend your
Behind unresolved conflict in any relationship is uncontrolled thinking.
It is not what is happening around you that is destructive; rather it
is what is happening within your mind that creates destruction or resolution.
Our society has become more and more focused on the outside for reasons
for its troubles. However, it is not outside pressure or circumstances
that steal happiness. It is inside the mind – poor uncontrolled
One of the best ways to control your thoughts and think with purpose
is to get understanding and knowledge. For an example imagine that you
are in the waiting room of a hospital waiting for a friend. It is a peaceful
morning and you are enjoying reading the morning newspaper. A man with
three small children walks in and sits down across from you. His little
girl is crying loudly. His two boys are yelling and fighting each other
while the father just sits motionless looking at the floor. You patiently
wait expecting the father to address the chaos his kids are causing,
but he just sits there without saying a word. Negative thoughts soon
fill your mind concerning this scene. Finally you speak up with frustration
and ask the man if he could please control his kids. The father looks
up as if awakened from sleep and says, “Oh please forgive us. We
came here this morning to visit my wife and their mom and learned she
died just before we arrived and we don’t know how to handle it.” With
this new understanding and knowledge, you are now empowered to think
different. Not only do you think different, but you respond and behave
Understanding your spouse can empower you to control and think with a
purpose that defends, honors and supports. The more knowledge and understanding
one has about their spouse and their personality the more empowered the
mind will be to think healthy and helpful thoughts. If you missed the
last article, we discussed the four types of temperaments. Knowing your
spouse’s temperament can be very helpful in understanding why he
or she acts the way they do.
Another way to control your thoughts and think with purpose is by choice.
Making a quality decision to love your spouse with all your mind never
happens by chance. In the Bible the book, Song of Solomon is a love affair
of the mind. The Bible actually teaches mankind how to make love to your
spouse with your thoughts. The honeymoon is an affair of the mind. Therefore,
the honeymoon lasts as long as the mind celebrates and makes love to
Learning to celebrate, make love and cherish your spouse in your thought
life can be the greatest force within your marriage. You would never
invite a man into your home and allow him to sit in your living room
cursing your marriage and spouse without throwing him out by force. Yet
many a man allows his thoughts to curse his marriage and spouse without
even fighting back.
8-2-12Why Do You Act That Way?
Effective communication and listening skills involves knowing your mate’s
personality. To help you better know and understand your spouse, consider
the following types of personalities.
The Sanguine is the popular person who wants to have fun out of every
situation and be the life of the party. Sanguine love to talk.
The Choleric is the powerful person who wants to take control of every
situation and make decisions for others. Choleric love to work.
The Melancholy is the perfect person who wants everything done in order
and done properly and who appreciates art and music. Melancholies love
The Phlegmatic is the peaceful person who wants to stay out of trouble,
keep life on an even keel, and get along with everybody. Phlegmatics
like to rest.
It is amazing how quickly we can learn to spot these people and therefore
know how to approach them correctly or be married to them.
The Sanguines are the easiest to spot because they make grand entrances,
love attention, attract people with their magnetism, exude charisma,
and tell funny stories. What they want to hear from you is how attractive
they are, how you like their hair, make-up, dangling rhinestone earrings,
or anything else they have put on to ensure that you notice them.
The Choleric Powerful Person is easy to spot because he walks with authority
and appears to be in charge of everything. Such people don’t want
to waste much time on trivial activity with no obvious results or converse
with people who have nothing to say of any consequence. They are frequently
telling other people what to do and pointing out the “dummies” of
life. They accomplish more than any of the other personality types, can
quickly assess what needs to be done, and are usually right. They don’t
need to be affirmed on their looks, but they love praise for their accomplishment;
their speed in problem solving; their constant goal setting, their loyalty
to God, church, mother, business, or country; and their sense of fair
The Melancholy Perfect Person is usually very neatly put together and
intellectual looking. These people are usually quiet, reserved, and a
little ill-at-ease in social situations where they don’t know everyone.
They would rather talk quietly with one person in depth than banter with
a group. They consider compliments on clothes and external niceties to
be trivial and want to hear about the inner virtues of integrity, wisdom,
and spiritual values. They often marry Sanguines who can’t find
their way inside these deep virtues and who keep telling them how cute
The Phlegmatic Peaceful Person is amiable, easy to get along with, and
relaxed. These people fit into any situation, blend in with the wallpaper,
and modify their personality to get along without conflict. They laugh
with those who laugh and cry with those who cry. Everyone loves the low-key
nature of the inoffensive Phlegmatic, and though they aren’t loud
like the Sanguine, they do have a witty sense of humor. They often lean
while standing and sit in comfortable recliner chairs if at all possible.
They don’t need a lot of praise like the Sanguine, nor do they
want to be in charge like the Choleric, or get too deeply involved like
the Melancholy. They do appreciate being noticed once and a while, being
included in conversations that they won’t push into on their own,
and being told they are of value and their opinion is respected. Since
they often marry Cholerics, whose idea of value is wrapped up in how
much is accomplished in a given day, they don’t get appreciated
for their quiet and gentle spirit. They, in turn, find it difficult to
praise the constant projects of the Choleric because it wears them out
just thinking of them.
While it may be true that we all different in our personality, it must
be remembered that no one has any excuse to say, “Well, this is
how God made me, so just deal with it.” It is extremely helpful
to understand your mate’s personality as well as your children
and friends. Such understanding empowers us to be for more forgiving,
longsuffering and less defensive. Communication becomes easier when we
understand why our mate acts the way they do. Study this carefully and
get to know your spouse even better.
The Truth About Murmuring
With a bold voice she said, “I don’t murmur, I simply speak
the true facts about my husband.” I often get this type of response
after speaking on the subject of murmuring within marriage. For many
murmuring is defined as speaking lies about someone or a circumstance.
Therefore, as long as you are speaking facts and the truth, you are not
murmuring. So what is murmuring? In the context of the Bible, murmuring
is speaking about someone or some circumstance with unbelief that God
has or is working it all out.
In the book of Numbers, chapter fifteen and sixteen, the people of Israel
were in the wilderness without any water and food. So the people began
to cry out to Moses about having no water and food. It was a fact that
they had no water or food. It was the truth that they had no water or
food. The circumstance was real. But in this story, we find that God
called their crying out to Moses as, “murmuring.” But wait.
They spoke the truth. They spoke the facts. So what is murmuring?
Anytime we speak as if God is not in control; any time we speak as if
God is not helping us; anytime we speak as if God has not heard and answered
or is answering our prayer, it is called murmuring. It is impossible
to be in real faith and yet murmur at the same time. In other words,
if I believe that God is changing and healing my marriage and working
all things out for my good, I will not and cannot murmur about whatever
is happening at the present time within my marriage. I cannot be in faith
toward God and yet be murmuring at the same time.
Murmuring is speaking about someone or some circumstance where the heart
has no faith that is God is working it all out according to His miracle
power. Where there is no faith, there will be complaining and murmuring.
It is not uncommon to hear a wife or husband say, “I have been
praying but my marriage is getting no better.” The very words reveal
no faith that God is at work. Therefore, the words become murmuring.
Murmuring then serves as a gauge or a meter that measures unbelief. The
more we murmur, the greater the unbelief. So what do we do if we find
ourselves murmuring about what we want God to change?
First, we need to repent of our murmuring and our unbelief. We must always
remember that God cannot change what we murmur about because without
faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
Second, we need to set our hearts on God’s love and mercy and that
He is for us and our marriage and desires to heal and change whatever
needs to be healed and changed.
Thirdly, we need to release our faith with our confession that God is
at work and that God is hearing and answering our prayers.
We must set a watch over our mouths and our hearts that we never fall
into the trap of murmuring about that which we need God’s help
in. In the story of David and Goliath, we discover that everyone murmured
about how big and strong Goliath was - except David. David never joined
in the murmuring but rather spoke about how big and strong his God was.
God did not need a perfect or a super strong man to defeat Goliath. God
simply needed a man who knew how to “talk” victory.
The trouble with conflict and strife in marriage is that it tends to
create words that murmur and complain. Prayer often becomes nothing more
than murmuring and complaining to God. Because conflict and strife are
so connected to our emotions, couples often find themselves slaves to
their feelings and therefore speak out of their emotions rather than
out of a heart of faith.
Stop and ask yourself, “How would it change the way you talk if
God clearly spoke to you, “Cast all your cares upon Me for I care
for you. All things are possible with Me. Whatever you ask in prayer,
believing I will do.” Did you know that all these things God has
already spoken to you in the Bible? All you have to do is believe and
Tips For The Romantically Challenged
One of the joys of dating before marriage was that constant flow of
creativity in finding romantic things to do together. Romance flowed
easily. In fact, there wasn’t enough time to do all that you wanted
to do. But after marriage, being romantic can become the short foreplay
Allow me to offer a few tips in staying creative and fresh in romancing
1. Never Stop Dating Your Spouse. Couples who are “too busy” to
date are just “too busy.” Dating your spouse can be simple
and fun such as going for a walk together as you hold hands. It can be
listening to music together at home as you slow dance. Or dating your
spouse can be a night out at your favorite restaurant or movie. Whatever
you do, do it on purpose to romance your spouse. Having a scheduled date
night with each other can ensure that you are spending quality time together
on a regular basis. If you wait until you are “feeling” spontaneous
or “in the mood” to be romantic, you may end up waiting a
long time. Never stop the ongoing activity of romancing each other. Write
cards or letters to each other often. Leave “love notes” around
the house where it will be easily found. From time to time have a candlelight
dinner at home. Keep the surprises coming – the flowers, small
gifts and new sexy lingerie. Hey, to have an exciting marriage, you have
to stay exciting!
2. Shower Your Spouse with Praise. Make it your lifestyle. If you master
anything, master the art of giving praise. Never let your praise be so
rare that your spouse questions what your motive is for the compliment.
Prove this for yourself. The more you shower your mate with praise, the
better perception you have for your mate. Allow me to say it another
way. If you want a more attractive spouse, give more attractive praise.
What you praise, you value. What you speak well of, you just like better.
The more you murmur or complain the worse perception you have for your
mate. Praise not only effects the one being praised, but it changes the
one giving the praise for the better. Rest assured the starting place
where love fades is in the absence of praise.
3. Try New Things. Boredom is the mortal enemy to relationships. Failed
marriages fail to keep things new and exciting. Explore, think, look
around and discover that you are far from exhausting the adventure of
this awesome world we live in. Don’t live in small corner of the
world waiting to die. Get out and do things new. Do the old things in
a new way or in a new place. Need I explain? Just stay fun and fresh.
4. Get Away. Do not fall for the lie of thinking you cannot afford to
take time away. The truth is you cannot afford not to. Failing to get
away is a mistake for any marriage. Fight hard to avoid the trap of becoming
so caught-up in making a living that you forget to live. It’s easy
to do. If you fail to plan for your vacations, chances are you will fail
to take a vacation together. Put aside money every week for your getaways.
Time away with each other doesn’t just happen for most of us. It
must be planned including saving the money necessary for the getaway.
Plan now that you can enjoy later.
The above tips for keeping romance in your marriage may be simple but
if practiced are effective. Following are serious warning signs that
romance has died or is dying in marriage.
Enjoy spending times with others more than alone with your spouse.
Have not gone out with your spouse for a month or more
Less communication now than a year ago.
Arguing over the same issue over and over again.
Don’t enjoy spending time together.
Have not hugged or cuddled for a month or more.
Don’t know what to talk about when together.
Any of the above issues can be turned around if you are willing to begin
romantically dating each other again. Dating in marriage is as important
as eating good healthy meals. Marriage may be able to survive for a while
without dating, but the time will come when the lack of romance will
If Only Men and Women Knew
God created man and woman in His likeness (Gen.1:26). While both man
and woman share in God’s likeness, God created woman with a likeness
of Himself that He did not put in man. And likewise, God created man
with a likeness of Himself that He did not put in woman. Now stay with
me and allow me to explain. God requires respect and acknowledgment.
The Bible instructs man to acknowledge God in all his ways and respect
Him with our submission to Him (Prov. 3:6; James 4:7). God created the
man (not the woman) with this likeness of Himself. This is why the Bible
instructs the woman, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22 KJV).
God also requires of man his praise and worship and celebration unto
Him (God). In fact, without our worship and praise unto God, it is impossible
to really have an intimate relationship with God. Now catch this! God
created woman with this likeness of Himself. Therefore, just as God requires
sincere affection and honor, so woman has this likeness as well in that
she too most have sincere affection to have a true intimate relationship
If men and women only understood this truth. If men only knew that they
(the man) holds the key to the intimacy of their marriage. The wife is
not the key-holder to how close and intimate the marriage is – the
husband holds this key in how much he lavishes his wife with affection
on a daily bases. Just as God dwells in the praises of His people, so
the wife will dwell with respect and acknowledgment in the affection
of her husband (Ps. 22:3).
If men only knew that the woman must be shown affection and when given
this affection she creates an atmosphere of peace and joy and contentment.
Proverbs 21:9 reads, “It is better to dwell in the corner of the
house top, than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (KJV). I
assure you, what makes a brawling woman is the lack of sincere affection.
Just like with God, when man does not walk with his wife (the woman)
with joyfulness and gladness of heart that flows with affection, life
isn’t good (read Deut. 28:47-48).
If men only knew that their marriage is as good as their affection toward
their wife. Do yourself a huge favor; lavish your wife with sincere daily
affection. She will honor you with respect and acknowledgment. This is
tight but right! Show me a troubled marriage and I will show you a husband
that has been grossly failing to lavish his wife with affection.
My good friend whom I will call Bill is an excellent example of the power
of affection. His wife whom we will call Sue was not a Christian. Sue
was addicted to reading novels. She had hundreds of novels in every room
of the house. Sue worked as a housewife raising their two children. When
Bill would come home from work, Sue would be laying on the couch or in
bed reading her novels. Supper would not have even been started. The
house was the way Bill left it that morning. Sue had been busy reading.
This continued for over two years. Bill seldom had supper prepared by
his wife. But early in this circumstance, Bill made the decision not
to nag his wife about this but rather he would either fix supper himself
when he returned home or he would stop and eat before he went home. Bill
continued to show affection towards his wife through this time rather
than allow this to be a conflict. One morning (having never gone to church
before) Sue asked Bill if she could go to church with him. Bill had placed
Sue in the Lord’s hands and had been patiently waiting for the
Lord to change his wife as he stayed in affection toward her. That Sunday
morning, Sue gave her life to the Lord and walked away from her addiction
to novels throwing hundreds of them away. Together they have been serving
the Lord ever since working in the church and enjoying a wonderful marriage.
Bill could have destroyed his marriage long ago. But Bill was wise.
Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8). Affection never fails. Man, do you get
Unconditional Love and Respect
Author Dave Earley in his book “14 Secrets to a Better Marriage” list
secret number 5 as; Husband, unconditionally love your wife. Wife, unconditionally
respect your husband.
Dr. John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington, spent
twenty years studying two thousand couples who had been married between
twenty and forty years to the same mate. These diverse couples had one
common denominator for the foundation of their success in marriage. That
one denominator centered in their conversation or communication with
each other. They communicated in a loving and respectful tone. Dr. Gottman
observed “a strong undercurrent of two basic ingredients: love
If a husband will unconditionally love his wife and if a wife will unconditionally
respect her husband their marriage will spiral upward through whatever
circumstances. Why is love and respect so important? Dr. Emerson Eggerich
says, “Without love from him, she reacts without respect; without
respect from her, he reacts without love.” In other words, if the
husband fails to love and the wife fails to respect, the marriage spirals
downward. The less love and respect, the faster the downward descent.
The beautiful aspect of the love and respect spiral is that YOU have
the power to speed the process. The more the husband gives his wife love,
the easier it will be for her to respect him. In the same way, the more
the wife respects her husband, the easier it will be for him to love
Wives, if you want more love, show more respect. Unconditional respect
is as powerful for your husband as unconditional love is for you.
Husbands, if you want more respect, show more love. Unconditional love
is as powerful for your wife as unconditional respect is for you.
Just as you can accelerate the process, you can also slow it down or
even send it in the wrong direction. If a wife does not receive love
from her husband, she will not give respect in return. And if he doesn’t
feel respect from his wife, he will react without love.
So what does respect look like from a wife? Many wives mistakenly develop
a destructive habit of attempting to change their husband into what she
desires. No husband wants to be corrected, instructed, nagged, yelled
at or “mothered” into submission to his wife and her ways.
In a national study, 400 men were asked to choose between these two scenarios:
(a) being left alone and unloved in the world, or (b) feeling inadequate
and disrespected by everyone. Seventy-four percent said if they had to
choose one, they would choose to be alone and unloved.
Wise and understanding wives stop trying to fix, train, or change their
husbands. Instead they show them more respect – unconditional respect.
But doesn’t he need to earn my respect? Not unconditional respect.
Such respect is not earned, it is freely given
Allow me to share just a few suggestions for greater love and respect.
Wives, you can give more respect by the following:
1. Connect with your husband as being your best friend and recreational
2. Eliminate nagging, reminding, correcting, arguing, and manipulating
3. Provide for his sexual fulfillment.
4. Praise his attempts to show spiritual leadership in your marriage,
family and church.
5. Honor him by speaking well of him in front of others.
Husband, you can love your wife better by the following:
1. Be your wife’s best listener.
2. Step up and be a leader. No woman is inspired by a wimp of a leader.
3. Honor her with taking care of things the man should take care of.
It’s hard to respect a couch potato when the house/car/lawn is
in need of repair and maintenance.
4. Be your wife’s hero.
Make it easy for your wife to respect you. Yes, your wife should respect
you unconditionally. But your unconditional love makes it much easier
for her unconditional respect. Wives, make it easy for husbands to love
you. Yes, he should love you unconditionally. But you can make it much
easier by showing him unconditional respect.
Remember, it is not conflict that flushes love down the drain in marriage.
Rather it is disrespect and unloving words and behavior. Practice unconditional
love and respect. Without it, no marriage will rise to the top.
Faith in God and Marriage
So you have faith in God. How is that working out in your marriage?
The quality of your marriage is the true value of your faith. If a man’s
faith in God cannot produce heaven on earth in his marriage, then his
faith is of little value on earth. What benefit is it to sing in church
how great God is and then go home to a “not so great” marriage? If
the principles of God’s word cannot produce joy and peace and happiness
in marriage, how can we intelligently expect those principles to offer
real hope to a hurting world? How can a man celebrate a God that
doesn’t work for him at home – in his marriage? Make no mistake
about it. The problem is not God but man. Principles that are not acted
upon are worthless. An exercise machine is only valuable when you work
it. A membership at the local gym is of no worth if you seldom use what
it has to offer. Only a fool would brag about his gym while physically
suffering for the lack of exercise. Many couples brag about their great
church and faith in God while they fail to exercise their faith at home
and in their marriage.
God’s word contains the very principles that when exercised will
created heaven on earth in every marriage. But those principles must
be “worked out” at home – not in church. The starting
place to change the world is at home. No man can constantly practice
in the marketplace what he fails to practice at home.
The Bible says, “If a man slaps you on the right cheek, don’t
get angry and fight back, but offer the other cheek instead.” (Mat.
5:39) How can a man ever practice this principle in the world if he cannot
practice it with his spouse? Faith is worthless unless practiced at home.
Even an atheist couple is better off practicing turning the other cheek
than a Christian couple who fails to do so.
The Bible says, “If a man makes you go a mile, don’t complain;
volunteer to go an extra mile as well.” (Mat. 5:41) How can a man
practice this principle with his boss if he cannot practice it with his
wife? This principle exercised as married couples would be a strong resistant
to murmuring and complaining. This principle would help delete self-centeredness.
Couples who go to church together and then return home where they are
quick to get angry and get frustrated with each other’s behavior
has a faith that is worthless in marriage. Who cares what you believe,
what do you practice that you say you believe? The faith you practice
at home is the only faith that has value. If God is not awesome in your
marriage, how can He be awesome through you elsewhere?
The Bible says, “Forgive those who have offended you in some way.” (Mark
11:24-26) Every man’s ability to forgive begins at home. Couples
who hold offensives for weeks and months are failing to exercise faith
in God’s word. Yes, it is true, if a man or woman cannot learn
to forgive and forget at home, they will never forgive and forget in
The George Barna Research Group reveals time and again that Christian
couples divorce as often as non-Christian couples. The problem is not
God but man’s unwillingness to exercise God’s principles.
Re-occurring marriage conflict is man failing to “work out” God’s
The Bible says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever
is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” (Phil.
4:8) Love needs right thinking to grow. The Bible has provided the foundation
for everlasting love within all relationships. Think with excellence.
Long before love dies within marriage, thinking becomes destructive.
It is true in every case. Show me a troubled marriage and I’ll
show you troubled thinking.
There is great reward in “working out” the principles of
God’s word in marriage. They will produce heaven on earth. In addition
to going to church, practice what you hear at home. The Bible says, “We
have not because we ask not.” (James 4:2) Have you been asking
God for heaven on earth in your marriage? Have you been asking God to
help you grow up and think right? Have you been asking God to help you
go the extra mile with your spouse? Remember, God cannot help those who
do not ask in faith.
Pro-Active or Re-Active
Which Are You?
A dominate characteristic of highly successful people is their ability
to be consistently “pro-active.” Pro-active people take personal
responsibility rather than play the blame game. Pro-active people make
things happen rather than allow things to happen. Pro-active people are
intuitive concerning things that need to be done to improve and excel
their lives’, business and marriage.
On the other hand, re-active people are always responding to life as
it daily unfolds. Re-active people allow things to happen and then scramble
through each day attempting to control and contain the things they are
allowing to happen. Re-active people tend to blame others, the economy,
the government and even God for the very things they are allowing to
happen. Which person best describes you?
It is striking to discover how many married couples that are content
at being re-active concerning their marriage. Re-active couples develop
a false sense of integrity for their ability to “make-up” after
a knock down fight or an “all too often” blow-out. It is
not unusual to see big smiles on their face as they share their explosions
of anger with pride as if they deserve praise for their awesome skill
to fight and hurt each other and then after-ward “make-up.” For
re-active couples this can become a normal lifestyle. Re-active couples
develop creative skills at making excuses such as, “Well, no marriage
is perfect.” “Everybody fights and argues from time to time.” The
attitude of re-active couples soon becomes, “Hey, at least we don’t
physically abuse one another.” Or, “At least my marriage
isn’t as bad as some I know.” Huh?
Pro-active couples take personal accountability for their behavior and
weaknesses and therefore are much more apt to take the steps necessary
to conquer their weaknesses rather than simple re-active to them. Pro-active
couples take control of the quality of their marriage by paying the price
to change where necessary, grow up as needed and in so doing build the
marriage they have always dreamed of. Pro-active couples see different.
They see marriage books and marriage counseling as necessary tools to
build and grow their marriage. Pro-active couples see God as a real source
of help to “KEEP THEIR MARRIAGE STRONG.” Re-active couples
see God as a source to help “PUT BACK TOGETHER” their marriage.
Re-active couples read marriage books only to learn recovery skills.
Re-active couples will go to marriage classes or marriage counseling
ONLY after the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain to
change. Re-active couples tend to relate to marriage counseling as the “Red
Cross.” That is they see marriage counseling only as an aftermath
option. The Red Cross does not prevent crisis, they respond after a crisis
hit. Therefore, to re-active couples, marriage books and marriage counseling
is primarily used after the crisis has settled into the marriage.
How sad that most marriage books are purchased well after a problem within
marriage has escalated out of control. Time and again, a spouse will
start reading marriage building books only after their spouse gets into
an affair or files for divorce. Marriage counselors know all too well
that what makes their passion for strong marriages so difficult is that
most couples, being re-active, wait until their marriage begins to crumble
with hurt, pain and injury before they become pro-active and seek help.
By large, we live in a re-active world. By default, we are re-active.
It’s even in the church. Re-active Christians are always praying
to overcome what they have been allowing for years. I have learned that
the Bible is far more than a book to help us respond to life, but rather
primarily a book to teach us how to pro-actively create the life we desire.
So allow me to ask once again, which are you? Pro-active or re-active?
You can become pro-active. This will require that you take personal responsibility
for everything in your life. Being pro-active means that you “make
things happen” with the “power of choice.”
You can do. Pro-active living is the best life to live. Stop complaining
about things and start doing something about it – today.
Are You Listening?
With tears in her eyes, she said, “I never saw it coming. My husband
just woke up one morning and said he was leaving me.” It is not
unusual to hear friends and family say of one who committed suicide, “We
had no clue that anything was wrong.” But there are clues. The
question is, “Are you listening?”
Jesus made a remarkable statement in the Gospel of Mark chapter 4 verse
24, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen,
the more understanding you will be given” (NLT). How close to you
really listen to your spouse? How you listen can determine the quality
of your marriage. What does it mean to be a good listener? In a simple
definition, a good listener is one who can not only repeat what has been
spoken, but can articulate the feelings of the one they have listened
to. Learning to be a good listener can be one of the greatest assets
you possess in your relationships.
So how can spouses become good listeners? Allow me to offer the following
1. Understand that words do not come from thoughtless thinking but from
the heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaks” (Luke 6:45). Words – all words proceed from what
is taking place in the heart of man. “Do you still love me?” When
a spouse asks such a question, what do you hear? Do you hear the “cry
of the heart” or just words? Because words come from the heart,
that question becomes a mirror of what is in the heart. A heart expressing
such a question reveals one of two things. Number one such a question
could be the heart simply needing assurance of your love. Or it could
be a revelation that the heart is feeling fear that love is fading away.
So to simply respond, “Of course I love you” does not provide
the heart with the answer it needs. To answer that question from careful
hearing is to respond with sincere, visible and audible declarations
of your love. It would do couples well to consider carefully the words
spoken by their spouse especially with understanding that out of the
abundance of the heart, their spouse speaks. Words reveal what the heart
is feeling and thinking. You are not hearing their feelings, you are
hearing their heart.
2. Stop hearing your spouse nag or complain and START hearing instructions
as to what needs to change. What seems like murmuring and complaining
and nagging is really the cry of the heart asking you to change. Stop
hearing bitterness and anger and hear correction. What your spouse nags
you about could be the little fox that is stealing romance and intimacy
within the bedroom. Understand that there is a cause behind every complaint.
Consider that cause. Is it reasonable and rational? If so, then receive
instruction and change. Could it be that the reason your spouse constantly
nags you and complains is because you have yet to hear? When it is perceived
that the words you say are not heard, it is only natural for you to say
them again and again. If your spouse constantly nags you with complaints,
it is probably because you have yet to listen carefully.
Much pain and stress and unresolved conflict could be avoided if only
good listening habits were practiced. If your spouse complains that you
spend more time watching TV than with her/him, then hear carefully. It
is not just a complaint. It is an expression of the heart with a need
to have more time with you.
3. Stop hearing your spouse with your defense up and your guns ready
to fire back. Just listen for a change. Put away your self-defense and
lay down your guns and listen. Consider the heart. Consider the pain
or joy being expressed in words. Did you know that most affairs develop
because a spouse finds someone who just listens? It’ true! Why?
Because a good listener bond easily. If you desire greater intimacy within
your marriage, you cannot overlook the necessity of being a good listener.
When your spouse speaks, stop what you are doing and listen. Ask questions.
And do not forget to listen well with your body language as well.
Taking heed to how well you listen is a solid foundation for building
a great marriage.
Guarding Your Heart, Protecting Your Marriage
Have you ever heard these lies? “There is no such thing as a faithful
husband.” “No marriage is without fights and arguments.” “There
is no such thing as a perfect marriage.” “Adultery is no
big deal, no one is perfect” There is no mistake about it, our
society through social media, internet and television plays down the
integrity and godliness of marriage. Marriage is under attack. When men
and women can have affairs both physically and mentality (porn) as freely
as they drink water, a war for marriage is underway.
There are some necessary guards that we can put into place to defend
our marriages. Allow me to list a few of them.
(1) We must guard our eyes. It’s hard not to become what you consistently
look at. What you behold you will eventually imitate. Make no mistake
about it, for our society to reduce the divorce rate, we will have to
reduce our intake of television. Chances are that if your heart allows
you to watch (R) rated movies on television, it also allows you to view
porn on the internet. One of the sure signs that one is viewing porn
is the habit of watching “R” rated movies and MTV on television.
Don’t be deceived. If your heart allows “R” rated movies
it will allow porn because “most” (R) rated movies already
show some version of soft porn. The point is that our eyes only
see what our heart allows. Therefore, if the heart allows some poor viewing
it will be open for more. It should be a warning sign if your heart feels
no conviction over watching sex, violence, and other sexual provocative
viewing. In the book of Job, it is written that Job had made a covenant
with his eyes to only look upon his wife. For such a covenant to be made
today, most men would have to unplug the internet and destroy the TV.
(2) We must guard our ears. Our ears should protest the mockery and slander
of others. Listening to programs that make fun and jokes of marriage
and others only reveal a heart that lacks character. Character deficiency
in the heart keeps the doors of the heart cracked open for many other
shameful activities. It should not surprise anyone to discover shocking
behavior from those that enjoy reading and listening to gossip, jokes
and mockery of other people. Our ears can only be open to hear what our
heart allows. Learning to guard our ears means that we refuse to tolerate
negative speech - period. Character in the heart will not allow the ears
to listen to others mock marriage or down play integrity within marriage.
It would do us well to be careful how we hear and what we hear. It is
difficult to maintain true value in the heart concerning that which you
are hearing negative words toward. In other words, that which you hear
praised, you tend to feel value toward. What you hear mocked and joked
at you tend to feel less value toward. Take heed to how you ear.
(3) We must guard our words. It is not possible to cherish what
you speak poorly about. Learning to daily praise your spouse and marriage
with words keeps your heart in love. Negative words are always a heart
issue. Out of the abundance of the heart a husband murmurs about his
marriage. Out of the abundance of the heart words that hurt and wound
are spoken. No matter how you slice it, words come from the heart. No
one has ever given anyone a piece of their mind. Words spoken simply
reveal the condition of the heart.
(4) We must guard how we think. As a man thinks in his heart so is he.
The number one destroyer and devourer of marriages is a poor undisciplined
thought life. Until you master your thinking, you will always be a slave
to behavior and words that set you back rather than advance you forward.
As a man thinks so goes his life. The greatest bondage a man can be bound
by is negative thinking. Thinking that blames others for its own ways.
Every counselor knows that if the thinking of a man cannot be positively
changed, the person will never be changed.
The Power of Encouraging Words
Words have the daily power to propel us through life. They can lift
us up or drag us down, especially when spoken by those closest to us.
Words can wound us deeply or encourage our hearts with joy. Words have
the power to build or destroy. Words can make or break us, both as individuals
and as a society.
Marriage can never be better than the words that fill the home. Peace
and joy flourish where encouraging words of love and acceptance are found.
So many folks work so hard to get ahead in life. They spend a ton of
money on an education only to wreak it with words. This is why the man
that cannot control his mouth will never control his life. Conflict within
marriage does not destroy or hurt the marriage. Life’s difficulties
do not hurt marriages. The real destroyer of great marriages is wrong
words. The words we say to each other ALWAYS have an emotional effect – good
or bad. What have you been saying lately to your spouse?
The words you speak can have a profound effect on the people they reach.
Are you encouraging or discouraging? Are you building up your children,
your spouse, or your friend? Or are you tearing down your own family
with words of criticism, bitterness and judgment? Are you causing the
destruction of your self-esteem by speaking ill-suited words over yourself,
your health and prosperity?
Chances are, if you are losing the fight to have peace and joy in your
marriage, you are losing the battle with words. Intimacy and love have
no chance to survive the attack of criticism, bitterness and judgment.
Intimacy and love are like gentle flowers that can be easily trampled
upon with wrong words.
It would do us well never to forget – not even for a single day – that
the emotion of love cannot co-exist with negative words that condemn
Words that build and encourage can make one the most valued and appreciated
person in any office. Our society focuses far too much attention on the
outward physical appearance for beauty. What makes a person truly attractive
is the kind and wholesome words they speak. Words are the key to the
heart. We all remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break
my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But the reality of life
is that not only can words hurt us, they can destroy everything dear
There are achievement seminars that people can attend. There are many
good self-help books that are indeed worth reading. I am a big believer
in reading marriage books. Nevertheless, I am keenly aware that until
we get our mouth under control, we will continue to struggle in life
especially in our relationships.
Allow me to offer the following advice to harness the power of words.
1. Ask for forgiveness from those you speak poorly to. Ask them to help
you be better. One man promised his wife $5.00 every time she caught
him saying something negative and hurtful to her. Are you that serious?
2. Put sticky notes in your car or truck, on your mirror, or wherever
you spend the most time to remind you to speak caring and loving words.
3. Ask a friend to call you every day to remind you to make love to your
spouse with your words.
4. Be quick to humble yourself and apologize every time you speak negative
to your spouse. Don’t wait until later. Do it at once.
5. Pray and ask God for His help.
Take control of your words. Learn to enjoy building people with your
words. The more encouraging words you share with others the more encouraged
you become. Try it and discover for yourself the excitement and joy of
freely and lavishly giving compliments and praises to others. A bad day
can always be turned around into a great day through the power of encouraging
words being spoken out of your mouth.
So allow me to ask again, “Have you encouraged or discouraged today?
Are you building up your children, your spouse, or your friend? Or are
you tearing down your own family with words of criticism, bitterness
and judgment? Are you causing the destruction of your self-esteem by
speaking ill-suited words over yourself, your health and prosperity?”
3-14-12 Love is a Language
Susan felt her husband Bob did not appreciate her. After all she washed
his clothes, cooked his meals, washed the dishes and kept the house
looking neat and clean. Often Susan would ask herself,
What more do I have to do to be appreciated?” Is it possible that
Bob really did not appreciate his wife? Was Bob self-centered and uncaring?
Or could it be that Susan simply was not speaking Bob’s “Love
Susan’s primary “Love Language” is “acts of service.” This
means that the way Susan “feels” loved is by the things others “do” for
her. Because Susan feels loved by “acts of service,” she
naturally thinks that she is loving her husband by her “acts of
service” such as washing his clothes, cooking his meals and keeping
the house clean.
However, Bob’s primary “Love Language” is “words
of affirmation.” This means that Bob “feels” he is
loved by the way others speak to him. When others such as his wife praise
him, honors him with words and shows respect with her words, Bob deeply “feels” loved.
Here’s the important fact! As long as Susan overlooks or ignores
Bob’s primary “Love Language,” no matter how hard she
strives to serve her husband, Bob will never feel truly loved.
When the feelings of love begin to die in marriage, the first place to
check out is, “Are you speaking each other’s “Love
Language?” Don’t be deceived. As simply as this may sound,
speaking your spouse’s “Love Language” is vital to
the health of love within marriage.
Steve was the number one sales person in his company. Because of his
hard work and long hours, Steve quickly became the most sought after
sales trainer in his nationwide company. This meant many weekends away
from his wife Brenda. Steve loved his wife and would always send her
flowers, cards, and gifts every time he was out of town. But Brenda felt
unloved. When she voiced her feelings, Steve was shocked. Steve could
not understand how Brenda could feel unloved by him. He was always faithful
to go out of his way to send her gifts expressing his love for her. He
worked hard to give her all that she wanted. How could she feel unloved?
She had it all.
What Steve failed to understand was that Brenda’s primary “Love
Language” was “quality time.” Brenda loved the money
and appreciated Steve’s hard work, but these things did not make
her “feel” deeply loved by Steve. “Quality time” together
expressed to her Steve’s love more than all the other things combined.
Yet Steve did not see that way.
While Steve was often out of town, Gary would stop by the house to check
up on Brenda to make sure she was OK. Steve actually asked Gary to do
this since Gary was their best friend. Brenda began to look forward to
Gary stopping by. After all, she enjoyed quality time with others. Gary’s
concern for Brenda and his time with her began to develop a bond between
them. Neither Gary nor Brenda had any intention to fall in love with
each other. But Gary was speaking Brenda’s “Love Language” and
Brenda was speaking a Gary’s “Love Language” which
was “quality time” as well. One weekend while Steve was out
of town, Gary and Brenda had an affair. The affair continued for several
years. Brenda actually looked forward to Steve leaving town.
As strange as it may sound, Brenda still loved Steve and wanted to stay
married to him. How could that be? Steve was providing the financial
security Brenda loved while Gary was providing the “quality time” she
also longed for.
Speaking your spouse’s “Love Language” is no small
thing. Not only do affairs happen when couples fail to speak each other’s “Love
Language,” even the smallest conflict can become unbearable. Yes,
there is a place and a need for unconditional love within marriage. But
without the “feelings” of love, unconditional love only positions
you to endure to the end.
Marriage is more than a strong commitment. It is a place where “feelings
of love” empower us to fall in love with each other again and again.
Don’t ever let someone else speak your spouse’s “Love
Language” better than you do.
Common Love Busters
What is a “love buster?” All the various ways that spouses
are inconsiderate of each other’s feelings and their needs are
called “Love Busters” because that is what they do -- they
destroy the love that a husband and wife have for each other. A “love
buster” can also be called a “love withdrawal” from
your spouse’s love bank.
In his book called “Love Busters’” Dr. Harley, reveals the
most common “Love Busters” found in marriage. He lists these “Love
Busters” into six categories:
Independent Behavior and
The first three of these Love Busters are instinctive, yet thoughtless,
ways to try to get what you want from each other. When a request doesn’t
work, a spouse will often revert to a demand (“I don’t care
how you feel -- do it or else!”). If that doesn’t get the
job done, a spouse will try disrespectful judgments (“If you had
any sense, and were not so lazy and selfish, you would do it”).
And then, when all of that fails, an angry outburst often represents
the last ditch effort (“I’ll see to it that you regret not
having done it”).
Of course, demands, disrespect and anger don’t really get the
job done. You generally don’t do things for your spouse because
of these Love Busters, you do them out of care and consideration. If
your spouse is demanding, disrespectful and angry, you tend to be less
caring and considerate, leading you to do less for your spouse. Instead
of giving your spouse what he or she needs, demands, disrespect and anger
cause you to resist. I want you to have what you need in your marriage,
but demands, disrespect and anger will not get it for you. They will
prevent you from having what you want if you revert to these destructive
But when you indulge in these three Love Busters, you do more than fail
to get what you need -- you also destroy the love your spouse has for
you. All of these instincts, and the habits they help create, cause your
spouse to be unhappy, and that causes Love Bank withdrawals.
The fourth Love Buster, Annoying Habits, is behavior that is repeated
without much thought that bothers your spouse. Marriage is a partnership
of incredibly close quarters, where just about anything you or your spouse
does is almost sure to affect the other. If you want to stay in love
with each other, your habits, even the innocent ones, should make Love
Bank deposits, not withdrawals.
The fifth Love Buster is Independent Behavior, the conduct of one spouse
that ignores the feelings and interests of the other spouse. If your
decisions are made as if your spouse doesn’t even exist, you will
find yourself running roughshod over your spouse’s feelings and
your Love Bank account.
Finally, the sixth Love Buster, Dishonesty, causes massive Love Bank
withdrawals whenever it’s discovered. And spouses usually discover
each other’s dishonesty because of their emotional closeness to
each other. If you or your spouse have a tendency to lie or distort the
truth, chase that bad habit out of your marriage before it ruins everything.
Your marriage will never be what it could be as long as you allow Love
Busters to drain the feelings of love from your marriage. Love Busters
produce negative feelings, hurt, anger and resentment. Make no mistake
about it, Love Busters exist because of immaturity. To conquer any Love
Buster requires proactiveness. No one can remove a Love Buster out of
your marriage except you.
The most common way a spouse deals with Love Busters is to apologize
after the fact - after the damage has already been done. Consider this,
it takes seventy positive affirmations to undo the deep hurt that one
negative statement has made to your spouse. Seventy! Your apologies never
undo what your Love Busters have done. Just because your spouse accepts
your apology doesn’t mean that the damage done have undone. Strong
marriages are not good at apologizing, they are good at overcoming Love
I am still amazed at how many couples take so lightly offending their
spouse with some Love Buster and then think that “I am sorry” is
good enough. It is not good enough and never will be. What is good enough?
Growing up and overcoming Love Busters.
Meeting Each Other's Need
Fulfilling marriages just don’t happen. It requires absolutely
no training or education to fall in love and get married. But to stay
happily married requires much more than “having fallen in love.” The
divorce rate overwhelmingly proves my point.
So how does a couple stay in love? Can a couple really stay romantically
in love after years of marriage? The answer is absolutely YES! If a couple
will continue to do what they did to cause their spouse to fall in love
from the beginning, that love will remain strong and alive. So what caused
your spouse to fall in love with you and want to marry you? Couples fall
in love because they found someone that makes them happy and meets their
emotional needs. They married expecting that the happiness they felt
dating would continue on.
The good news is that the happiness and pleasure of being with each
other that was present during the time of dating can indeed continue
throughout marriage. Just keep on making each other happy and meeting
each other’s needs. The trouble is that during dating making each
happy was the number one priority but after marriage that priority is
overtaken with making a living, raising kids, and a host of other responsibilities.
When couples learn how to rediscover that number one priority of making
each other happy, love and romance stays alive and well throughout marriage.
So how do you make your spouse happy? Meet their basic emotional needs.
For the typical woman, her most basic need is affection. Most women can
never get enough of it. For men, his most basic need is sex. Yes, he
too can never get enough of it. What the typical man fails to understand
is that for women sex without affection is as enjoyable as taking a shower
with no hot water. Sure, it can be done but not without complaints. What
the typical wife fails to understand about her husband is that sex with
her without her equal excitement and enjoyment is like riding a bicycle
rather than a Harley Davidson. Sure, it may get him where he wants
to go, but not without complaints.
Husbands would do themselves a huge favor if they would become experts
at giving their wife sincere affection. For the typical marriage, a wife
that isn’t excited about sex is because she isn’t excited
about her husband’s affection. A common complaint from husbands
is that they wish their wife would desire sex more often. But in almost
every case, it isn’t a problem with the wife; it is a lack of affection
problem from the husband.
Affection for the wife involves much more than compliments, hugs, kisses,
and back rubs but also honesty, trustworthiness, humility, openness and
transparency to name just a few. It also involves seeing her husband
care for the children, help her with chores and just being there for
her as she expresses her feelings. Back rubs and kisses without undivided
attention when she needs to talk just won’t work. Gifts and candy
without quality time together doesn’t work either. So what does
a wife want? Everything! All of you!
But wait! The rewards are well worth the surrender. Happiness, joy,
peace, fulfillment and meaningful sex, what more can a man want? The
Bible tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the Church giving
His life for the Church. The husband that gives his life for his wife
means far more than his willingness to die fighting for her. It means
that a husband is willing to die to his own ways, his own priorities
and his own desires to put his wife first in everything. Only then can
a wife be free to give him everything in return.
It is true. Fulfilling marriages just don’t happen. There is nothing
more important than making a great marriage. Who cares how successful
you are at your job if your marriage is ho hum. Who gives-a-rip how great
your church is if you go home to just an OK marriage. I would rather
have a ho hum church yet a great marriage any day. So never stop working
at making a great marriage.
There is a common characteristic of all marriages that end in divorce.
This same characteristic is found in every ho-hum marriage. Our creator
and God said,” My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge” (Hosea
4:6). Every time I hear of another divorce I realize that the lack of
knowledge has destroyed another marriage. Every time I hear of a couple
fighting and arguing I realize that the lack of knowledge is at work
Because knowledge is so abundantly available to everyone, divorce and
unhappiness in marriage is indeed avoidable. Knowledge is not required
nor is it necessary to fall in love. But make no mistake about it, knowledge
is necessary to stay romantically in love with your spouse. I can fall
in love with flying planes without any knowledge of flying whatsoever.
But I will never enjoy being a pilot without knowledge. A man can fall
in love with a woman as his girlfriend, but he will never enjoy her as
his wife without knowledge.
Why is knowledge so necessary? Because men and women are so different.
According to Dr. Harley, (author of “His Needs Her Needs”)
most women need affection above all else from their husbands. But most
men don’t have a clue what that means. I must admit that I was
among the ignorant husbands. I knew how to “have sex” with
my wife but I lack knowledge how to affectionately “make love” to
my wife. However, once I started my journey of getting knowledge, not
only did my wife enjoy “sex” but I began to enjoy “making
love.” I am still on the wonderful journey of getting knowledge
and will be until I die.
Dr. Harley’s first law of marriage is, “When it comes to
sex and affection, you cannot have one without the other!” Please
know that this law pertains to marriage – not to “males” (men). A
male can have sex without affection, just ask the prostitutes. But within
marriage, “When it comes to sex and affection, you cannot have
one without the other!”
Almost all men need instruction (knowledge) in how to become more affectionate.
There is no better teacher than the wife herself. Every husband should
sincerely ask his wife to help him learn what affection means to her
and how he can more affectionately love her. A couple engage in this
type of communication can experience marriage and love that is heaven
on earth. A real man will ask his wife how to make love to her - what
she likes and does not like - how to romance her - what she likes him
to say and do and follow through with her advice. Husbands should not
be intimated to ask their wife such questions. Men need to humble themselves
and admit, “Yes, I can “have sex” but I need help in
pleasing my wife sexually.
Only ignorant husbands expect their wife to enjoy sex without a lifestyle
of daily affection flowing from him to her. Here are a few of Dr. Harley’s
daily habits that go a long way toward helping husbands become more affectionate:
Hug and kiss your wife every morning while you are still in bed.
Tell her that you love while you are having breakfast together.
Kiss her before you leave for work.
Call her during the day to see how she is doing.
Bring her flowers once in a while as a surprise.
Buy her gifts for special occasions.
After work, call her before you leave for home so that she can know when
to expect you.
When you arrive home from work, give her a hug and kiss and spend a few
minutes talking to her about her day.
Help with the dishes after dinner.
Hug and kiss her every night before you both go to sleep.
Taking the time and making the effort to daily make your wife feel like
she is the most important, beautiful and valuable person in the world
will be the best investment a husband will ever make in his life. Giving
your wife daily affection is the greatest way of keeping her Love Bank
fill with your deposits so that whenever you need to “make love,” your
account has plenty of love available.
The Love Bank Concept Part Two
“It’s not that we hate each other, but we just no longer
are in love.” Sound familiar? Actually, there is no such thing
as, ‘we are just no longer in love with each other.” Love
never dies in any marriage. Whenever two people get married because they
fell in love with each other, that love never dies or fades away. What
happens is that the “words” and the “behavior” that
produced the feelings of love change. Love never dies, rather the words
and behavior dies off that produced the feelings of love. Right words
and proper behavior make up most of the love deposits made in your spouse’s
Love Bank. Wrong words and wrong behavior are indeed withdrawals.
Dr. Harley’s concept of the “Love Bank” as he teaches
in his book, “His Needs, He Needs,” really helps to understand
how and why the feelings of love seem to fade away among many couples
after the wedding. In every one of us is a place called the “Love
Bank.” Whoever we allow into our life automatically opens
an account in our love bank. As with any bank, there are deposits made
and withdrawals. What determines the value of your account is the number
of deposits made. Life can quickly become stressful and painful whenever
we make more withdrawals than deposits. It is just as true in marriage.
Whenever a couple make more withdrawals than deposits in their spouse’s
Love Bank, problems are sure to arise as the feelings of love appear
to fade away. Sound too simple? It is but it is true. Your spouse will
always have feelings of love for you when you learn how to daily make
love deposits. As long as a couple are making love deposits into each
other’s love bank, conflict and other issues are easily solved
and worked out. We all know the frustration that comes from having no
deposits made into the checking account. It is just as true in our Love
Feelings of love flow out of a Love Bank full of deposits. It is a happy
face whenever the bank account reads more than enough money to do all
that you want to do. So it is with our Love Bank. So how do we make love
deposits into our spouse’s Love Bank?
The highest qualities of love deposits are those that meet the needs
of your spouse. In his book, “His Needs, Her Needs,” Dr.
Harley list five basic needs of a man and five basic needs of a woman.
Every one of the following needs are emotional in nature. The numbering
of needs DO NOT represent the greatest need to the least important need.
Individuals very as to what is their most important need.
The five needs of a woman are: (1) Affection, (2) Conversation, (3)
Honesty and Openness, (4) Financial Security, and (5) Family Support.
The five needs of a man are: (1) Sexual fulfillment, (2) Recreational
Companionship, (3) An attractive spouse, (4) Domestic support, and (5)
Admiration or respect.
You and your spouse fell in love with each other because you made each
other very happy, and you made each other happy because you met some
of each other’s important emotional needs. So what happened after
marriage? Usually the focus changed from meeting the other person’s
needs to meeting my needs. The only way you and your spouse will stay
in love is to keep meeting each other’s needs. Even when the feeling
of love begins to fade, or when it’s gone entirely, it’s
not necessarily gone for good. It can be recovered whenever you both
go back to making large Love Bank deposits.
Often the failure of men and women to meet each other’s emotional
needs is simply due to ignorance of each other’s needs and not
selfish unwillingness to be considerate. Fulfilling those needs does
not mean you have to painfully grit your teeth, making the best of something
you hate. It means preparing yourself to meet needs you may not appreciate
yourself. By learning to understand your spouse as a totally different
person than you, you can begin to become an expert in meeting all your
spouse’s emotional need. This we will learn in the weeks ahead.
The Love Bank Concept
In his bestselling book, “His Needs, Her Needs,” Dr. Willard
F. Harley, Jr. shares his concept called the “Love Bank.” Every
person (without exception) has a “Love Bank” says Dr. Harley.
So what is this “Love Bank” and how can this concept transform
Within each of us is a place (in our hearts) that records the (emotional)
effects that others have on us. Dr. Harley calls this place the “Love
Bank.” With or without intention people we allow into our lives
make love deposits or make love withdrawals from our “Love Bank” account
that has his or her own personal account in our “Love Bank.” The
question is, “Are the people closest to us making more love deposits
into their personal account in our “Love Bank” or are they
making far too many love withdrawals?
A love withdrawal is any negative emotion that is produced within our
hearts from hurtful words, disrespect, angry outburst, criticism and
such like. When we have a negative encounter with our spouse, love units
are withdrawn. A love deposit is any positive emotion produced within
Almost everything a husband and a wife do affects each other either positively
or negatively, and that effect determines the feelings they have for
each other. Feelings of love flow from our “Love Bank.” However,
when little deposits are made, only little feelings of love will flow. This
is how “feelings” of love fade away after marriage. Without
realizing it, more love withdrawals are made than love deposits. When
couples learn how to consistently make meaning love deposits into their
own personal account within their spouse’s “Love Bank,” the
feelings of love and romance will continue to flow from the spouse to
the depositor. Any time “another” person (other than
the spouse) make more love deposits into his or her mates “Love
Bank” then that “other” person will have a more positive
flow of feelings come back to them? This is the number one reason why
extra-marital affairs occur within apparent healthy marriages. Affairs
are waiting to happen when “other(s)” have greater love deposits
than the spouse. Wise couples make it a priority to be the greatest investor
of love deposits into their mates “Love Bank.” The “Love
Bank” concept is simple but powerful when put into practice.
Often couples experiencing challenges within their marriage are encouraged
to “stick it out as you love each other unconditionally.” They
are reminded that “marriage is a lifetime commitment and that God
hates divorce.” While it is important to have “unconditional
love” for our mate and have life-long commitment to our marriage,
if the “FEELINGS” of love are not flowing, “unconditional
love and commitment” will not be enough.
There is no such thing as “unconditional (romantic) feelings of
love.” There is no such thing as “committed to (romantically)
feel in love.” With over 37 years of marriage counseling, Dr. Harley
has again and again proven that the “feelings of love” must
be present within marriage for marriage to continue to be a true marriage
and not become a “living together partnership.” Again, let
me say, “Yes, it is important to have unconditional love and commitment
to a lifetime together.” However, romantic love is not unconditional
love. Romantic love flows from positive feelings produce from someone
allowed into the heart because of positive love deposits being made. I
know plenty of marriages with unconditional love and commitment as the
couple sleeps in separate beds and live separate lives except when they
go to church and look like all the other married couples.
Thank God that my wife loves me unconditionally. But sweet hallelujah
that my wife also loves me romantically with passion and physical desire.
Her unconditional love creates mercy for me when I make too many love
withdrawals. But make no mistake about, if I continue to make more withdrawals
than love deposits from her “Love Bank,” her “unconditional
love” for me fail every time to keep the “honeymoon” celebration
alive and well.
Marriage must have both unconditional love and “positive and romantic
feelings of love.”
Over the next several issues, we will discuss in further detail how to
make powerful love deposits that create a flow of passionate love and
what are the major love withdrawals to avoid.