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On Being One Flesh
The Audacity of the Bridal Paradigm
The Path of Intimacy
Shame and Intimacy
Grace In Marriage
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Monday, May 6, 2013
Big Marriage Mistakes You May Not Even Know You Are Making
But what if there are things you are doing to hurt your marriage that you aren't even aware of doing? That's the reason for today's post - to make you aware of some subtle but potentially marriage-destroying actions and outlooks that could be affecting your marriage relationship without you even knowing it.
As you read through the list below, take the time to do some serious introspection. Ask yourself if you have slipped into any of these behaviors, even partially.
1) Missing the Purpose
"The purpose of my marriage is mostly to get what I want and need in order to make me happy."
I put this one first, because I think this kind of thinking is much more prevalent that many people even realize.
We have a very "me-centered" culture, and that culture almost can't help but seep into marriages. Thinking that your marriage is mostly about getting what you want, however, will set you up for a life of marital discord and struggle.
I have an interesting dichotomy for you to ponder. You need to own your own happiness and not put the responsibility for it on your spouse. But you also need to live as if you own your spouse's happiness too. Do all in your power to bless him or her, to give yourself fully to your marriage and to live a life of selfless love.
2) Focusing on Changing the Wrong Person
"My marriage would be so much better if only my husband/wife would..."
Go ahead, fill in the blank. I know you've said or thought things like this before. We all have.
This one kind of goes hand in hand with #1. It's so much easier to put the onus of change on our spouse than it is to own up to our own shortcomings and areas of weakness. It's especially easy to slip into this mindset if you have bought into the lie that marriage is all about your own personal degree of happiness.
The truth is that you only have the power to change you. If you want a better marriage, start with your self.
I recently heard someone say of marriage: the best way to work on your marriage is to draw a circle around yourself and work on everything inside the circle.
3) Settling For Less Than Total Intimacy
"We don't have sex very often, but other than that I would say we have a good marriage." ~says the low-drive wife.
"I leave the spiritual stuff to my wife. That's really more her cup of tea." ~says the spiritually disinterested husband
"There is just no way to make room in our schedule or budget for regular date nights." ~says the busy couple
God designed marriage to be a place of complete intimacy. His design and desire is that in every marriage "two become one" in every dimension of their beings: spiritually, emotionally, sexually, financially and relationally. Too often couples settle for a lack of intimacy in one or more of these dimensions.
The thing about intimacy is that there is always more of it to be had, regardless of how great your marriage is. Never stop going for more. You can have as much intimacy as you want or as little as you are willing to settle for.
4) Waiting for Later
"I'll work on my marriage some day when..."
The problem with this kind of thinking is that someday usually never comes.
You might be tempted to think that there will be time to work on your marriages after the kids get older, after the craziness at work settles down, or after you are financially more secure. So you wait. But when that some day comes, you just might find your marriage in total crisis.
Don't wait. Today, and every day, is the day to invest in your marriage.
5) Going for Equal
"The best marriages are when everything is 50-50."
If you've read here for very long, you already know how I feel about the whole 50/50 idea. It's just dead wrong.
When equality becomes your goal, it automatically sets up a competitive, scorekeeping environment in your marriage. Everything gets graded and measured to see who comes out ahead. The truth is that most who want a 50/50 split, aren't actually interesting in equality; they are interested in "winning" (or at least not "losing"). It comes back to issue #1 again. It's all about me.
According to the Bible, our model for marriage is Christ and the church. There is nothing in that relationship that is 50-50. Christ gave himself completely, 100% for the sake of having us as his bride. He wants 100% of us too. He desires a relationship with us that is 100/100. That's how marriages are designed to work best.
Our goal should be to out-love, out-give, out-surrender and out-bless each other.
- - - - - - - - - -
So there you have my top five. I could add more, but I'd like to invite you to chime in with your own set of "marriage mistakes that couples may not even know they are making."
Let's hear it! Leave a comment.
- This post today from The Generous Husband, Paul Byerly, was very timely. How Do You Focus on the Positive and Still Deal with Problems?"
- This post was prompted by this article from Prevention Magazine. "7 Mistakes Even Smart Couples Make."
image credit: bbbar / 123rf.com
Just out: the May issue of "Pathways," my monthly newsletter completely focused on building the intimacy in your marriage.
- To preview the latest issue, "Intimacy in the Tough Times"
- To subscribe to Pathways (and get my free Intimacy Challenge ebook), click HERE
Monday, April 22, 2013
Useless Tidbits About My Life and Blogging
Since Kate at One Flesh Marriage offered her post “10 Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Wife,” I’ve been itching to offer up my own true confessions.
So here they are in no particular order:
1 – I’m an Engineer
This one might surprise you, or it might make you say, “Oh, now it makes sense.” I have no formal training as a writer or marriage counselor or any other educational experience that applies to this marriage blogging thing I do (except the school of life!). So please forgive my poor sentence structure, mis-use of words and notoriously poor proofing skills. Next time you catch me dangling a participle, just say to yourself. “It’s okay, he’s an engineer.”
2 – I’m a Perfectionist
This one makes #1 hard for me. I don’t like doing anything half way. The fact that I don’t have the time I would like to research, optimize and edit each post causes me no end of frustration. I almost always eventually catch my mistakes, but it is almost always after the post has been seen by 1,000+ people. And I cringe every time.
3 – Blogging Is Harder Than It Looks
Truth be told, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this blog a little over three years ago. I thought to myself, “I like to write. I have a passion for marriage. How hard can this be?” It didn’t take me long to find out that doing this well takes much more time and energy than a full-time employed person can possibly give it. Still, I write on. It’s been especially difficult lately now that my “day job” has significantly encroached into my blogging schedule, which is why my last post was more than two weeks ago. See also #2.
4 – I Enjoy the Marriage Blogging Community
Jenni and I have formed some wonderful friendships with fellow marriage bloggers. These relationships with others in the marriage blogging community came as a total surprise to me, and it is a wonderful bonus to be able to “lock shields” with others with a similar passion to see marriages become all they can be. There are so many doing great stuff that I can only keep up with a fraction of the many great blogs that I have come across.
5 – I’m a Worship Leader and Song Writer
It doesn’t come up much here, but my other calling from God is as a volunteer worship leader at my church. I’ve been doing that since high school - a lot longer than I’ve been involved in marriage ministry. I’m blessed to be in a church (Northlands Church near Atlanta) full of wonderfully talented musicians and full of people who love to pour out their hearts in worship. I also write music – mostly worship songs for our local church.
6 – I Love to Learn
I have an insatiable curiosity. I am fascinated by history. I love to delve into science and technology. I am plugged into news and political commentary pretty much every day, either online, on TV or on the radio. My family gets annoyed with me for reading every informational plaque in the museum. Oh, and I can’t resist a “cool map.” Of course I also love to learn about marriage. At any given time I have at least ten unread marriage books on my Kindle (and even a few in paper).
7 – I Still Have a Lot to Learn
I have a wonderful marriage and a wonderful wife, but we are far from perfect. I actually don’t think the perfect marriage exists, because there is always more: more intimacy, more passion, more selfless love, more trust and transparency – more of all the stuff that makes a marriage great. I make my share of marriage mistakes, but I’m thankful that I have a wife who is full of unconditional love for me. Sometimes I need Jenni to gently remind me of my own advice!
8 – I Have Too Many Ideas for Posts
I keep multiple lists of post ideas, which I add to weekly. These lists now run into many dozens of potential posts. If I had the time, which I don’t, I could write a post every day of the week - maybe twice a day.
9 – I Have “Finished” Writing a Book On Marriage
Actually, I finished the draft one year ago this month. Unfortunately it took me so long to write it that I now need to do a major amount of editing and revision. I don’t actually agree with some of what I wrote back when I began writing the book, which goes back about four years or more. (I can’t even remember exactly when I started working on it!) I have also written a marriage small group curriculum that goes along with the book. We have used it a few times in our own church. Some day there will be time to finish these projects.
10 – I Love Jesus
Hopefully this one doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you: I think Jesus is awesome and amazing. He is the reason I do this whole marriage thing in the first place. It is in learning to first be His bride that I have learned how to be a husband (think about that one).
So there you have my true marriage blogger confessions. There are others I could offer, but these are the ones that came to me first. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, please leave a comment.
Others from the marriage blogging community are chiming in with their confessions. If you are a marriage blogger, jump on in. If I missed your confession post, please add your link in the comments.
Kate from One Flesh Marriage – 10 Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Wife
Brad from One Flesh Marriage – 10 Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Husband
Lori - The Generous Wife – Confession Time
J from Hot, Holy and Humorous – 10 Confessions of a Marriage & Sex Blogger
Julie from Intimacy in Marriage – 10 Confessions of a Sex-Blogger
Debi at Romantic Vineyard - Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Wife
photo credit: art3d / 123rf.com
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Do you want to be a GREAT husband or wife?!?
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Do I really need to say anything more? Is there any better place than your marriage to act on Jesus’ compelling call for us to serve one another?
It's your turn: what do you think it means to serve your husband or wife? How have you served or been served by your spouse this week?
Photo credit: ginosphotos / 123rf.com
Just out: the April issue of "Pathways," my monthly newsletter dedicated completely to building the intimacy in your marriage.
- To preview the latest issue, "When Two Become One." What does it mean to live as one flesh?
- To subscribe to Pathways (and get my free Intimacy Challenge ebook), click HERE
Monday, March 25, 2013
Selfless giving. It may be the aspect of “True Love” that is one of the hardest of all for us to consistently attain in marriage. Yet without a doubt, it is one of the biggest keys to building a strong, lasting and delightful marriage.
With the “True Love” series we are examining the many dimension of love expressed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. There are countless verses that describe the selfless nature of Christ's love, but here is one of my favorites:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.Even though we were hopelessly lost, totally messed up, and mired in our sin, God’s great love came to us as a free gift in the form of His Son Jesus, to save us.
Ephesians 2:4-5, 9
He doesn’t wait until we get our act together or until we start behaving ourselves. No His love reaches out to us right where we are. He pursues us relentlessly (see my last post), even though we were dead in our sins, in order to redeem us unto Himself and have us for his very own. Forever.
Give Gifts not Favors
There is a subtle difference between a gift and a favor. A gift is freely given, without the expectation of something in return. A favor, on the other hand, is given with strings attached. I’ll do for you if you do for me.
In marriage favors come with agendas and expectations. It might be the hope of getting something we want. It might be the goal of changing our spouse to be how we want them to be. It might be to control or manipulate.
Marriage is the place for gifts, freely given, out of love, without precondition or the expectation of something in return. That’s Jesus’ example to us.
Yes, it’s true that when we serve and bless and meet the needs of our spouses, they will tend to respond in kind. But beware going in with a “give-to-get” mentality in your giving. Such a self-serving approach is not sustainable and it sets you and your spouse up for disappointment and failure.
Discover the Joy of Selfless Giving
There is great joy to be found when we learn to genuinely embrace giving simply out of love. The Bible tells us that “for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross.” I believe that joy was found in the intimacy he would gain with us through his unconditional, sacrificial gift.
When we can empty ourselves of our agendas and expectations and show love in ways that we know will bless our husband or wife, we discover the pure, deep joy found in delighting each other – and we discover a wide path to intimacy.
Put Away the Scorecards
I know it’s really tempting to keep score on who is giving more. Of course we will always tend to score things in our favor, don’t we? But regardless, I’m not just asking you to score fairly or even in your spouse’s favor. I’m asking you to throw out the scorecard altogether!
Yeah, it’s radical. Yeah, it’s hard. But truthfully, that is the way we are called to live and love – without scorecards.
Are you ready to toss out the scorecards and to begin to live a life of lavish love – love without conditions? Can you think of one thing you can do this week for your husband or wife that you can give without expecting something in return?
Think of it. Then take joy in doing it!
photo credit: dirkercken / 123rf.com
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The longer you are married, the more important it is to keep pursuing each other.
I didn’t make much headway in February with my “True Love” series, so I’m starting afresh in March with another attribute of Christ’s love for us: His relentless pursuit.
What does Jesus’ relentless pursuit look like?
It looks like him leaving the perfection of heaven and coming to earth, humbling himself to take on our human form. As if that weren’t pursuit enough, he went on to be cruelly killed on our behalf in order to make a way for us to dwell with him in intimacy forever.
Now that’s what I call pursuit!
And He did all this “while we were yet sinners,” even knowing that some would reject Him completely.
Pursuit that Never Ends
As if that still weren’t enough, we have this promise from Scripture:
For He, God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you nor let you down (relax My hold on you)!I love how emphatic the Amplified version is about God’s relentless pursuit, His absolute determination to stay connected with us and to be faithful to us – no matter what.
Hebrews 13:5b (AMP)
God is a lover – it’s who He is. His love is relentless, eternal, and unstoppable.
That’s how he wants love to be in marriage.
Relentless Pursuit in Marriage
I know it may sound a little odd to say that you have to still pursue your spouse regardless of how long you’ve been married. But the truth is, the longer you’ve been married, the more important it is to keep pursuing each other.
It’s so easy for us to slip into a kind of comfortable familiarity over time, and we begin to take the wonderful gift of our marriage for granted. That’s a death sentence for marriages!
Why is pursuit important in marriage? As I shared before, pursuit communicates four very important messages to your husband or wife:
- Desire - Pursuit says “I want you.”
- Commitment – Pursuit says “I would choose you all over again.”
- Passion – Pursuit says “I want you bad enough to keep coming after you until I get you.”
- Pleasure – pursuit says “I find delight in you.”
If you want to read some specific suggestion on how you can continually pursue your spouse, read the post “Endless Pursuit” mentioned above.
Or you could always ask your partner, “What things can I do to make you feel pursued?” They may or may not know how to put it into words. Pursuit is not a concept most of us give a lot of thought to, but we know it when we see it.
What have you done in the past few weeks to make your partner feel pursued? What does your spouse do that makes you feel pursued? Share your stories and experiences with a comment!
Photo credit: william87 / 123rf.com
PS In case you missed it, I started this series with “True Love Puts Relationship Ahead of Rules.”
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