Posts tagged Christian marriage

Marriage Monday: Kill Your Wife Daily

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Kill Your WifeAlright, admit it, the title to this blog made you want to come read it, right? What could this post possibly be about? Kill your wife? Seriously? Yup, it’s the best thing for her. Well, how do you kill someone more than once? Isn’t that impossible? No, but it’s a necessity for a healthy marriage. But it doesn’t come naturally to us guys (at least it doesn’t for most men I have known, including myself).

You see, men are hunters. We like to chase things. We are up for a good challenge. We like to set goals, devise plots plans, execute those plans flawlessly and drag the trophy home. Its just how we work. We get laser-focused intensity on a single target and we go for it with gusto. Carpe Diem!

Ladies, let me ask you, how many different hobbies has your husband had? More than one? Several you say? Why is that? Because we get interested in something, read every detail there is to know about it, try to do it as many ways as possible, make sure we are better at it than any of our friends, perfect it, and then we are done. Once we make the kill, that is, once we master it, we move on. As an aside, the reason guys play golf for decades without ever losing interest is because it’s so incredibly difficult to master the game. The challenge keeps us going back to get frustrated that we can’t put a tiny, two inch, white ball into a four inch hole.

So how does this relate to marriage? Think about the first time you saw your wife gentlemen. Your radar went off, you focused, and you accepted the challenge. She became the hunted. It became your mission to catch this wonderfully beautiful (I am assuming she was beautiful, I understand that some ladies just have good personalities, and that’s alright. But she had better be beautiful to you. Get me?) creature. So you began to study her. You spent late nights on the phone. You spent money on frivolous items. You did things that you never expected to do. You did whatever it took to “catch” the person you are married to. Congratulations, you made “the kill” and you “dragged” her home (hopefully not kicking and screaming) to live with you.

The question is, what happens next? Now that the thrill of the hunt is over what are you doing? For many men, once they make “the kill” they move on to hunt something else such as a career, hobby, or having the nicest manicured lawn in the neighborhood. This is not how it should be, however. Marriage isn’t a one-time kill. That is, the hunt never ends. Think of marriage as a catch-and-release-then-hunt-what-you-let-go type of endeavor.

When you stop hunting your wife and fail to do many of the things that let her know you appreciate her, a natural drift occurs. Other things start to seem more important than your relationship. I get it guys, life gets busy after the “I do’s”, especially when you add some kids to the mix, but if you don’t have a good marriage it soils all the other areas of your life. As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life. Hunt her daily.

We are reminded in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The word “united” is the Hebrew word dabaq. It means to catch by pursuit or to pursue hard with affection and devotion. That is our calling guys, to pursue our wives daily with sincere affection.

How are we doing here? I am sure we have good intentions, but good intentions won’t make our wives feel loved or cherished, will they? We have to hunt daily. Continually be a student of our wives, remind them the how much we care about them, and invest significantly in their lives.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.

Josh

Marriage Monday: The Universal Language

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Universal Love LanguageConfession. I took two solid years of Español (that’s Spanish for all you English only people) in college. To this day, I can say a handful of Spanish phrases, most of which are extremely unhelpful. I know how to say rug, pants, underwear, potatoes, count to thirty, and sing a song about a Cockroach. None of that will ever help me negotiate my way out of a Mexican prison (should that need ever arise) if I am ever taken captive down on Méjico. Wouldn’t it be much simpler if everyone just spoke the same language?

So what about love languages? You remember the book by Gary Chapman right, The Five Love Languages? Essentially, he says we all have a different language that communicates how we like to be loved or know we are being loved. He divided the love languages into the following categories: Words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts.

People try to love their spouse in the language that they themselves “speak”, but that might not be the language their spouse speaks. If someone feels loved by receiving gifts then they naturally buy gifts for their spouse in order to communicate their love, but Chapmen says, their spouse may feel loved by hearing affirming words. So the underlying principle is, learn what language your spouse speaks and love them the way that they like to be loved.

It is an interesting read. Thousands of couples have done it together in small groups. It has four and a half stars on Amazon as reviewed by 1,649 people. It always seemed to make sense to me, but I think there may be more at work here than speaking your spouse’s specific language.

When I read the Five Love Languages, my primary language was words of affirmation and my SSL (second love language) was physical touch.  So, all my wife has to do is tell me nice things and hold my hand and I am feeling some kind of loved. Easy-peasy.

Several weeks ago, however, something happened that got me thinking. One thing that grates on my nerves is having a dirty vehicle. I like our cars to look clean, smell clean, and not have 2 month old M&M’s melting in the dark recesses under the seats. I enjoy washing the cars. Give me a beautiful day, some soap, and a shop vac, and I am thrilled. This one particular week, however, my car was filthy. It had been several weeks since I got to wash the car and my week was hectic and my schedule was packed. One day when my wife was out she washed the car, vacuumed it, cleaned the seats, and wiped the entire interior.

It was nighttime when I had to get in the car, and I noticed my rear slide in the seat. WAIT, “I know that feeling” I said to myself. That’s what the seats feel like after mink oil has been applied. But….what…who…? I looked at the floor. Vacuumed. “Devon, did you wash the car?” “Yup. I knew it was stressing you out.”

In that moment, I had just been handed a blank check. Someone just slapped me upside the head with warm fuzzies for my wife. She washed the car. I couldn’t thank her enough. But wait, you say. Acts of service isn’t your love language. It is words of affirmation and physical touch. That’s right, but her act of service meant the world to me that week.

So that caused me to wonder. Maybe we do all tend to have a certain way that we feel more loved or tend to express our love just like Gary Chapman says, but maybe there is a universal language? Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking his book. You should probably read it, but maybe there is something bigger here than several different languages. Maybe the universal love language is simply doing something for you spouse. Anything at all.

As the years creep by in a marriage, it is easy to let all the things that you use to do begin to slip. Maybe it isn’t what you do for your spouse that matters as much as the fact that you actually do something. I think if we take the time to invest emotionally, let them know that we care, think about them, and want to see them happy, what we do won’t matter nearly as much as the fact that we have chosen to let them know how valuable they are to us.

We should still study our spouse and try to meet their specific needs and pay attention to the unique ways they feel loved, but above all else, let’s make sure we continually communicate that we care. There are millions of ways to do this. Let’s not get too bogged down in trying to figure out exactly the perfect way to communicate we love them, let’s just make sure we invest in them often to show we care. What we do doesn’t matter near as much as that we DO! Let’s not use our inability to love perfectly as an excuse not to act. Action, doing, making the effort often, that is the universal love language.

Tonight, as I hopped in bed with my laptop while my wife settled in to read for five minutes until she passed out she asked, “You about to blog?” I told her yes. “Got a topic?” “No, not yet Dev. You have a suggestion?” “Yea, you could write about how great your wife is?” So here is it. Thanks for all the ways you invest in me. The many things you do mean the world. You are pretty amazing. I know your love language is not words of affirmation, but you are pretty great.

What have you done/said/given to remind your spouse how great they are lately?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Love Believes the Best.

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Love Believes the BestI strongly believe that a large portion of our lives are driven by our thoughts. What goes on in our minds comes out in our lives. How we think about other people determines how we feel about them. This applies to our marriages as well. If you think good thoughts about your spouse, you will feel positive emotions toward them. If you are constantly downgrading your spouse in your mind, you will feel frustrated with them. Marriage expert, John Gottman, affirms this idea in his research on marital relationships. Spouses that think about or view their spouse in a positive light are much more satisfied in their relationship. When bad things happen in the relationship, the fact that they think good thoughts about each other gives them an added boost to overcome the trouble. He calls it “Positive Sentiment Overide.” That is, the positive thoughts, and feelings that result, override the negative and troublesome times.

In his “love letter” to the Corinthians, Paul weighs in on this idea. He crafts this amazingly complex, yet simple, definition of love. He writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Then he adds what is relevant for our discussion on our thought life as it relates to our spouse, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

You see, throughout our married lives there will be many different situations where we could call into question our spouses motives, intentions or decisions. There are also times when we have expectations that do not get met how we thought they should. “Why did he do that?” “Why did she do it this way? I figured for sure she would do it like this.” “Why didn’t he come through like he said he would?” “Is he just doing this for some self serving reason?” “I thought we were going to do this, and the plan got changed?” Unhealthy marriages are fraught with suspicion. That is, one or both spouses question the intentions, motives or decisions of the other.

Sometimes, in our marriage there is a gap in our knowledge between what we expected and what actually happens. We determine what goes in that gap. Unhealthy marriages choose to believe the worst. “You said we would do this, and we didn’t. You are just being selfish.” “You said you would be home by five and its six-thirty. You just don’t care.” You can probably come up with your own example from your own marriage just fine. Sometimes, our spouses fall short of our expectations.

But, when that happens we can choose to believe the best about our spouse or we can assume the worst. Maybe our partner has a good reason for why they behave in certain ways. So why not find out the reasons that underlie their behavior instead of assuming the worst about them. If you assume the worst in every situation, you will begin to view your partner in a negative light.

That is where Paul comes back in. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love looks for an opportunity to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Love doesn’t jump to conclusions, it waits for an explanation. Love tries to protect and guard the relationship. It doesn’t allow negative thoughts to seep in. It trusts, even when it’s difficult. Love hopes, it doesn’t write the other person off prematurely. Love chooses trust over suspicion. Love gives the other person the benefit of the doubt. Love looks for the most generation explanation of the other person’s behavior.

How we think about our spouse really determines the temperature of the relationship. We can assume the worst about their behavior and intentions or we can believe the best. Now, I am not saying we gloss over problems. I am not saying we ignore evidence of trouble. I am saying when it comes to how we think about our spouse and their actions; we choose to believe the best about them instead of assuming the worst.

How is your thought life? Maybe we need to start believing the best about our spouse. We might see them in a whole new light.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Best of 2012: How To Change Your Spouse In Two Words

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Best of 2012_NoHere we are at the end of 2012 already. Where has this year gone? Regardless, it has been an incredible year!! This week, I will be taking time off to spend with my family. Instead of new entries we will be counting down the most popular posts of 2012. Thank you all so much for an incredible year. I am humbled and honored by those of you that choose to walk through this journey with me. Merry Christmas! Looking forward to another wonderful year. I pray we all “Walk Good” in 2013.

This first post was originally published on January 9th of 2012. It was the 8th most viewed post of the year, and it was actually the very first “Marriage Monday”. Need to change your spouse? It can be done in two words. I hope you enjoy this reminder.

I get to work with couples often, and it is pretty common to hear: “We are having problems in our marriage, problems for which I have no responsibility in. Could you please fix my spouse?” Spouses have been blaming their partner for thousands of years. When Adam indulged himself with the forbidden fruit, what did he say? “It was her fault. Blame her. She gets the comeuppance. You really should have stopped with me. This chick is trouble with a capital T.”

So often, we look at our relationship and think, “Our marriage would be fine if I could just change my spouse.” Well, I am going to tell you how to do just that in two simple words? Sounds too easy, huh? Two measly words. Maybe you are thinking, “I can really change my spouse in two simple words? Like, for real?” Yep. You surely can.

Are you ready? Are you ready to hear the secret formula for partner permutation? If you really want to change your spouse, then CHANGE YOURSELF. Those are the two simple words. Change yourself. If you want to have a better marriage, then change yourself.

No one person can be held accountable for all the problems that exist between two people. Now, don’t get me wrong, one person can have the fattest half of the problems. I see couples frequently where one person contributes majority of the problems, but each person must take ownership for their share.

Here is a secret. You can’t change your spouse. You don’t have that much power. In fact, you really don’t have the ability to control much at all in this life (even though we like to think we can). The only thing you can really control is….well…..you……..just…….you.

So what would happen if instead of exerting so much energy into changing our spouse, we instead spent that energy on changing ourselves? I can promise, it is time much better spent.

Sometimes, not always, when our spouse sees us changing it prompts them to try too. Then this beautiful reciprocal relationship is born where one spouse does what is pleasing to the other while the other does the same. One person has to make the first move. So how about it? Wanna change your spouse? Then change yourself.

You can forward this post to your spouse if you want. Not really. This is about changing yourself. Remember? If you were fixing to send this to partner go back to the top and read slower. To change your spouse, change yourself.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Love Is Not Prideful

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Ever hear the tragic story of the blue whale?  He learned a final lesson we would do well to remember. “When you get to the top and you’re ready to blow, that’s when they harpoon you.”[1] When we think that we are on top of the world, and we are ready to let everyone know how great we are that is when we get knocked down a few rungs.

Paul, in his treatise on what love is, reminds us that “Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy, is not boastful, and is not conceited.” These last two really go hand in hand, often we boast because we think more highly of ourselves than we should. Here, Paul is really attacking our pride.

When we are conceited, we overestimate our abilities. You know the type, right? The husband who is so full of himself he is unwilling to see his shortcomings? The wife who thinks that not only her husband should realize how great she is, but everyone else’s husband should too? Pride, being boastful or conceited, is a blinder within a marriage. It keeps us from seeing our failures and inhibits our willingness to accept our faults. The greatest problem, however, with being conceited is that we become the focal point of our own lives.

When we feel the need to toot our own horns and flaunt our abilities within our marriage something has gone incredibly awry. It is hard to love our spouse when our energy is spent loving ourselves. When we get the bighead, we tend to expect others to serve us.  We know that love is about service, and service is the great antidote for pride. We must remember that pride warps the truth and leads us to believe that we deserve to be served. Love, on the other hand, keeps us grounded and reminds us to serve the one we love.

When it comes to boasting, perhaps our time would be better spent boasting about our spouse. Not in the annoying “my spouse is better than yours” sense, but in an affirming and honest way. This is a healthy form of pride. I love hearing my wife tell others about how God has used me to meet certain needs or wants in her life. I also love building her up around others and including them in the ways God has used her as a blessing in my life. We should be quick to promote the character of our spouse in the company of others, but we can’t do that when we are focused in ourselves.

Let’s remember that everything we have has been given to us. We have no reason to develop an overinflated view of ourselves. Let’s keep our focus off ourselves, and seek to serve our spouses. All the while remembering to use our words to build them up.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” – Mark 10:45

Walk good. Love wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Wanna brag on your spouse? Let’s hear it!

 

[1] Rick Warren

Marriage Monday: Love Is Kind

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Chuck Swindoll tells about a couple that had just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. He says, “They were by then, I’m sure, great-grandparents, because they were in their 70’s. Ted has lost much of his hearing during this time. And yet they were still getting along together and celebrating this great anniversary. Their family came from all over and enjoyed celebrating together through the midmorning into afternoon. Finally, toward sundown, all the family went home. Bessie and Ted decided to walk out on the front porch and sit down on the swing and watch the sunset. The old gentleman pulled his tie loose and leaned back and didn’t say much. Bessie looked at him somewhat in wonder and said to him, ‘You know, Ted, I am real proud of you.” The old gentleman turned and looked at her rather quizzically and after a moment said, with a puzzled look on his face, “Well, Bessie, I’m real tired of you too!”

We have been looking at the famous “love chapter” in 1st Corinthians 13 as it applies to those of us who are married. Paul starts off by telling us to be patient, that is, we don’t seek to strike back when we are mistreated. Paul then goes on to tell us that love is also kind.  The verb used here for kind means to be gentle. The story about Ted and Bessie gives us a good example of Ted not practicing patience (longsuffering) or gentleness.  Instead of looking back throughout the events of the day and the history they had together, he ignores the immediate context and pops back with a harsh statement.

At least Ted can somewhat blame it on his fleeting hearing, but what about the rest of us? So often we simply forget that we should be gentle with one another. Not candy-coating situations or ignoring problems, but gentle in mood, manner, and how we relate to our spouse.

Often, couples are harsh, snarky, or quick tempered when it comes to the person they have willingly chosen to spend the remainder of their life with. A number of times I have seen one partner grilling the other out when their cell phone rings, and their mood turns sugary sweet. They have short pleasant conversation with whoever is on the phone, and when the phone call is ended Mr. Nasty shows back up and finishes the verbal assault. We can always choose to be gentle, but sometimes we decide to trample on our partner while ignoring the meaning of love

It is easy to take our partner for granted, act now, and apologize later, but this is not love being made manifest. Love is always kind. It is gentle. It treats the other person softly. Even when done wrong, our response should be one of gentleness.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Love Is Patient

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Last week, we asked “what is love?” and began constructing an answer based on what Paul says in I Corinthians 13. The goal is to understand how this chapter relates to us in marriage. First we notice that love is patient. Here, patience carries the connotation that we are to be patient with those that do us wrong. It means that we do not seek to retaliate when we are mistreated.

I wish I could say that spouses never do one another wrong, but unfortunately this is not the case. It is often one’s spouse that can inflict more damage than anyone else. Sometimes it is through hurtful words, a lack of follow through in key areas, betrayal, or misplaced priorities. Whatever the case, couples often hurt one another as can be evidenced by the current state of many marriages and the divorce rate in America.

People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. Thus, the cycle of pain grows.  A husband and wife are certainly no exception. Sometimes couples hurt one another in an isolated incident and other times there is a habit or struggle that plagues a marriage. Yet, we are reminded that love suffers long. It is patient. It does not seek to retaliate.

When we are done wrong, being reminded that love is patient can be a tough pill to swallow. When we are treated unfairly our natural reaction is to strike back. As the saying goes, revenge is sweet, but revenge is the antithesis of love.

Paul is not saying here that love is co-dependent. Love does mean we sign ourselves up to be hurt in the same way continually. It does not mean that we live a passive lifestyle. Practicing patience does not imply that we forget about being treated with respect and disregard healthy boundaries. There are times when we have to construct walls that keep the same offenses from happening. No one is to become a doormat in their marriage.

Practicing patience within marriages simply means that we be willing to turn the other cheek. It means instead of getting even we practice forgiveness. Again, forgiveness is a difficult thing to put in practice, but it is completely necessary; more so for our sake than anyone else’s. When we refuse to forgive we construct a mental and emotional prison for ourselves. Forgiveness gives love wings. It frees us from our own mental prison, and it releases the person who hurt us of the debt they owe us.

I have seen many marriages implode due to the fact that one or both parties were unwilling to let things go. They continually sought to punish the other for past transgressions. For love to grow we cannot harbor any roots of bitterness because they eventually grow into colossal trees that are unmovable.

Let us also remember that we are married to another human. They will make mistakes and hurt us time and again. Instead of taking these hurts and meeting them with reciprocity, what if we practiced patience instead? In place of meeting hurt with further hurt let’s talk to our spouse about how they hurt us. Sometimes they are unaware that they have done so.

So what about when they are aware that they have hurt us? We still practice patience. The last thing that will fix the situation is lashing out at them and seeking to do them wrong. Instead we must deal with the problem, and let them know how what they did affected us. If they are unwilling to change and seek to continually hurt us in this way then we construct a set of boundaries that will not allow them to do so.

Love is always patient. It suffers long. It never seeks to retaliate. It forgives instead of holding a grudge.

Patience is waiting for God to solve problems that we cannot. – Unknown

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Timeout

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I know you may find this hard to believe, but sometimes couples have arguments. Sometimes couples get mad at one another’s behaviors and inform one another in varying tone and intensity. Spouses do not always see eye to eye and are going to have disagreements. I always chuckle a bit when I hear a couple say, “We don’t have arguments; we have discussions.” Call it what you will, every couple has to hash things out from time to time. I get to see arguments….er…I mean…discussions lived out first hand in my office quite often. The disagreements that couples have range from downright silly to highly significant. Sometimes I just pop popcorn, put my feet up, and enjoy the show. Disagreements are unavoidable. When you put two people, with their own problems, together in a house they are going to clash from time to time.

At times, disagreements consist of a short conversation, no one gets too emotional, and it ends as quickly as it began. Other times, disagreements turn into a major ordeal. I have seen an uncountable number of couples yell, scream, curse, and demean one another, simply because they were mad and they let their emotions run away with them. When this occurs, these arguments are like an emotional wrecking ball; there is so much to undue and repair when they are over.

One important part of learning to communicate is realizing when a “timeout” is needed. When a conversation starts to get intense, emotional, or heated, one or both partners need to call for a timeout and each go their separate ways. Notice I said, each partner needs to go their separate ways, not one partner leaves and the other charges after. Not one partner storms off and emotionally disengages. One person says, “Hey, we need to take a break” and they do just that.

When a couple starts to argue, or have an intensely emotional discussion, something starts to happen within their bodies. Their heart rate spikes (anywhere from 100 to 165 beats per minute), breathing quickens, blood pressure mounts, perspiration increases, and adrenaline is released, which kicks in the “fight or flight response.” The fight or flight response is what is activated within the body when danger is felt. This is productive when you are walking down the road and spot a snarling lion. It gives you the boost you need to run away or engage in combat. The problem is, your body doesn’t make the distinction between a snarling lion or a snarling spouse.

When these physical changes start to happen as the couple argues, they have disastrous effects on the conversation the couple is engaged in. Due to the physical changes, one’s ability to concentrate and take in information is drastically reduced. This means the couple is no longer physically able to hear what the other person is saying. Problem solving is also inhibited. Once a person’s body is in this physical state, there are generally two things that happen. They either fight or they leave the conversation by giving a cold shoulder. That is why it is called fight or flight. See what they did there?

This is why it is extremely important that couples take a timeout when conversations begin to escalate. A timeout keeps the couple from having to repair unnecessary damages later. It allows the couple to come back later and actually hear what the other person is saying.

It takes a full twenty minutes for the body to return to a calmed state. Timeouts should be at least twenty minutes before the couple returns to address the conflict. It should be noted that if you take a timeout, and seethe about the argument, your body will stay aroused. When taking a timeout, each partner must not continue to hash things out in their minds by carrying on a mental conversation. They should find a way to relax or distract themselves.

When it comes to taking timeouts, one mistake couples often make is that they never come back together and address the problem. They sweep it under the rug instead of meeting together to deal with the issue. Eventually, the rug gets really lumpy and they have some major cleaning to do.

It is normal to have disagreements. Sometimes these disagreements can get heated. We must implement taking timeouts to avoid saying things we don’t mean, and so we can hear one another. However, never let important things go; always come back and deal with the problem.

Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1:19

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Part 2

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Last week, we began looking at what John Gottman labels “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. “ These are four specific interactions between spouses that, if not alleviated, will wreak havoc in a marriage and pave the way for divorce. Criticism is the first horse that rides with destructive intent. The second horse that comes close on the heels of criticism is contempt. Contempt can be described as open disrespect from one spouse toward the other. It one-ups criticism in a vile way, and involves tearing or putting down your partner in painful ways.

We have all been around couples where one spouse berates the other. The tension in these situations is palpable. Contempt takes many forms, such as: put-downs, rolling of the eyes, biting humor, name-calling or pointing out inadequacies. It is the communication of general disgust with one’s partner. The form I see most often is where one spouse will use harsh “humor” toward the other all in “good fun” but really means every word.

When contempt enters the relationship, the partner does not point out things in order to fix them. He or she acts in a contemptuous manner simply for the sake of hurting the other, degrading the other, and having an argument.  Invariably, it escalates the conflict within a marriage instead of solving any problems. Isn’t it interesting that two people, who started life together, with an attitude of wanting to be together, can reach this point? It happens extremely often.

So what is the cause of this second horse flaring his nostrils in a relationship? Contempt builds up from criticism and unresolved issues within a relationship. It occurs when problems, disappointments, annoyances, or whatever are continually swept under the rug and percolate in the mind of the partner until the only feelings one has for the other are disdain and disgust. It is evident when contempt has galloped into the relationship.

Generally, at this point it takes pretty drastic intervention to get things back on the right track. When one finds that all of their thoughts toward their spouse are negative it is past time to act. Do something! One of the biggest problems in marriages is that people wait until the ship has sunk before they start trying to bail water.

We must not wait to resolve issues. Deal with them when they arise. The mere passage of time does nothing to resolve problems. In fact, time just keeps the problems bogged down and allows bitterness and contempt to creep in.

My wife and I (who just like everyone else have our stuff to deal with at times) have a question that we ask each other almost daily. We constantly inquire “How is everything in your heart?” Why do we do this? Because we have worked with enough people to know that once things get lodged in a person’s heart without being addressed, it always leads to problems.

How is everything in your heart? How is everything in your marriage? Is there criticism? Has contempt moved in? Things don’t change unless we work to change them. Nothing moves unless it’s shoved. Deal with things in the present.

Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. –Ephesians 4:26-27

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: The Blame Game

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It is interesting when you first get married to find out all of the quirks and eccentricities that have gone unnoticed about your spouse. Some of these are endearing and cute, while others are less so. My poor wife had no idea what she signed up for when she married me. I am thankful that she didn’t read the fine print. One of my charming habits, of which she was unaware, is that I use the microwave as a storage compartment of sorts. If I open a package of snacks or goodies and have some left, I will often stick the remainders in the microwave for safekeeping.

As newly weds, only couple of months into our marriage, I had a “snack pack” of Doritos in the middle of the night and only ate half of the bag. As was usual, I folded the remainder up and stuck them in the microwave near the back. The next morning I hear Devon screaming barely audible over the smoke detector, “The microwave is on fire.” I sprint frantically into the kitchen to see flames shooting out of the microwave. My immediate response was, “What did you do?” “How can you possibly blow up a microwave?” It was later discovered that I left a molotov cocktail  of sorts, comprised of Doritos and aluminum foil in the microwave. I had always heard you cannot heat foil in the microwave, and let me attest that this is no joke. I later apologized for jumping on Devon’s case and purchased the microwave of her choice with great humility.

Isn’t it funny that in our marriages when something goes awry we are quick to shift the blame to our spouse? This has been happening since the very first couple. When Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and eat of the fruit they had been commanded not to, God shows up wanting answers. When God questions Adam, he replies, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Adam blames God for making her and Eve for giving him the fruit. He sees himself as a passive victim.

Our natural tendency in our relationships is to blame our spouse for the problems as they arise. Nobody wants to be wrong. Rarely do we want to own up to our failures, shortcomings, or sins.  Sure, our spouses are going to make mistakes and mess up. At times, they will mess up in a big way, but who are we to assume that every marital dysfunction is the result of our spouse’s behavior?

Maybe we need to take a look in the mirror, at times, and examine what ownership we need to take of the problems. Perhaps, we need to be a bit slower in making judgments and be willing to give our spouse the benefit of the doubt. We must understand that with marriage comes difficulties, and no one person is responsible for the entirety of struggles in a marriage.

If we will just take some time to think before we blame, we might realize that it is our fault the microwave is on fire.

“Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” – James 1:19

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

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