Posts Tagged ‘marriage’


2 Corinthians 9:6 – “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

Amy and Randall had been married for eight years, and they loved each other. However, when he was angry or upset, Randall became moody and would withdraw from Amy and the kids, except for occasional outbursts of anger. When his manufacturing business was struggling, he would sit silently through dinner. Once, during this period, the children were arguing at the dinner table. Out of the blue, Randall said, “Amy, can’t you keep these children in line? I can’t even have a moment’s peace in my own home!” And with that, he stormed out of the kitchen into his home office, turned on the computer, and stayed there until the kids went to bed.

Amy was hurt and confused. But she had a pattern of “handling” Randall’s moods. She would try to cheer him up by being positive, encouraging, and compliant. “He has a hard job,” Amy would think. “Nurturance is what he needs.” And for the next few hours, and sometimes days, she would center the family’s existence around Dad’s mood. Everyone would walk on eggshells around him. No one was to complain or be negative about any subject, for fear of setting him off again. And Amy would constantly try to draw him out, affirm him, and make him happy. All her emotional energy went into helping Randall feel better.

Amy and Randall’s struggle illustrates the importance of the first law of boundaries: “The Law of Sowing and Reaping.” Simply put, this principle means that our actions have consequences. When we do loving, responsible things, people draw close to us. When we are unloving or irresponsible, people withdraw from us by emotionally shutting down, or avoiding us, or eventually leaving the relationship.

In their marriage, Randall was sowing anger, selfishness, and withdrawal of love. These hurt Amy’s feelings and disrupted the family. Yet Randall was not paying any consequences for what he was sowing. He could have his tantrum, get over it, and go about his business as if nothing had happened. Amy, however, had a problem. She was bearing the entire burden of his moodiness. She stopped what she was doing to take on the project of changing her moody husband into a happy man. Randall was “playing,” and Amy was “paying.” And because of this, he was not changing his ways. Randall had no incentive to change, as Amy, not he, was dealing with his problem.

What consequence should Randall have been experiencing? Amy could have said to him, “Honey, I know you’re under stress, and I want to support any way I can. But your withdrawal and rage hurt me and the children. They are unacceptable. I want you to talk more respectfully to us when you’re in a bad mood. The next time you yell at us like that, we’ll need some emotional distance from you for a while. We may leave the house and go to a movie or see some friends.”

Sowing and reaping has to do with how spouses affect and impact each other’s heart. Amy and Randall had a problem in relational sowing and reaping. He was being hurtful and difficult, yet Amy took the consequences of his behavior for him. In their relationship, the one who has the problem isn’t facing the effects of the problem. And things don’t change in a marriage until the spouse who is taking responsibility for a problem that is not hers decides to say or do something about it. This can range from mentioning how her spouse’s behavior hurts her feelings, all the way to setting a limit on the behavior. This helps place both the sowing and the reaping with the same person and begins to solve the boundary violation.

This devotional is drawn from Boundaries in Marriage, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.


Colossians 3:12-14 –“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

I (Dr. Cloud) was leading a seminar, and I asked the audience of married couples to stop for a moment and think of their spouse. I told them to think of all of the wonderful things that they love about their spouse and to concentrate on how awesome that person is and how much they love him or her. “Think of the wonderful qualities that you admire and that attracted you to that person. Let those feelings fill you,” I told them.

Then, after they were feeling all giddy and in love again, I asked each person to turn to their spouse who was idealizing them at that moment and to repeat after me, “Honey, I am a sinner. I will fail you, and I will hurt you.”

You could feel the sense of discombobulation in the room. In one moment, they were shaken from the ideal to the real. Some began to laugh as they got it. Some felt even closer to each other. Some looked up confused as if they did not know what to do with my invitation.

But that is reality. The person you love the most and have committed your life to is an imperfect being. This person is guaranteed to hurt you and fail you in many ways, some serious and some not. You can expect the failures to come. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” We can expect failure from even the best people in our lives.

So the question becomes, “What then?” What do you do when your spouse fails you in some way or is less than you wish for him to be? What happens when she has a weakness or a failure? How about an inability to do something? What about an unresolved childhood hurt that he brings to the relationship?

Other than denial, there are only a couple of options. You can beat him up for his imperfections, or you can love him out of them. The Bible says, “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Nothing in a relationship has to permanently destroy that relationship if forgiveness is in the picture. No failure is larger than grace. No hurt exists that love cannot heal. But, for all of these miracles to take place, there must be compassion and tenderheartedness.

What does that mean? I like how the Bible describes God’s compassion: “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior” (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary). For God to have compassion on our brokenness or sin is certainly to stoop to an inferior. But we need the same attitude toward an equal spouse for two reasons:

First, you forgive what is inferior to the ideal standard. You humble yourself to identify with your loved one, who is experiencing life in a way that is less than you or even he would want. You give up all demands for your spouse to be something he isn’t at that moment.

Second, if your spouse is hurting or failing, you are not morally superior, but you are in the stronger position at that moment to be able to help. God never uses the stronger position to hurt, but always to help. As Paul puts it in Colossians 3:12-14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

What a picture that is! “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” What if you “wore” these qualities every time your spouse failed or was hurting? I think we would see a lot more healed marriages.

But that is not the human way. The human way is to harden our hearts when we are hurt or offended.

I was talking to a friend the other day who had offended his wife in a relatively minor way. But to her it was not minor at all. As a result, she did not speak to him for several days. Finally he asked her when she might forgive him. “Will it be before next month? Before Christmas? Just let me know so I can get ready.” She finally broke and started laughing, and things were fine again. She saw how unnecessary her “hardness of heart” was to the offense.

Hardness of heart, much more than failure, is the true relationship killer. Jesus said in Matthew 19:8 that failure is not the cause of divorce, but hardness of heart is. This is why the Bible places such a high value on tenderheartedness.

Today’s content is drawn from Boundaries In Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2014 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Visit BoundariesBooks.com for more information.


1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “ “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.””

When my wife, Barbi, and I (Dr. Townsend) were first married, we used to have conflicts about conflict. Looking back, it’s kind of funny as I later went on to write a Christian relationship book called Boundaries in Marriage. Imagine watching us have boundary conversations about how bad our marriage boundaries were. Barbi’s approach to conflict was to avoid it. My approach tended to be more blunt. We’d talk about a problem and it wouldn’t go well. One of us would misunderstand, we would pull away from each other, and the problem wouldn’t get solved.

One day, I asked Barbi, “When we argue, I never stop loving you. Is there anything I can do to make this better for you?” She thought a minute and said, “Maybe if you let me know you love me before you confront me, that might help.”

I thought that was a good idea, so I agreed. The next time I wanted to have a talk with her about a concern, I walked in the room and said something like, “Honey, I just want to let you know I really care about you and I hope you feel safe with me.” Then when I brought up the problem, things went better for her and for us.

This method of having successful conversations went on for a while. As time passed, however, something changed. I needed to bring up an issue, so I began with, “Honey, I just want you to know…” Barbi said, “Stop! It’s okay. I know you love me; just get to the problem.”

We had a good laugh about it. Over time, she had begun feeling safe enough not to need reassurance before each conversation. She realized that I love her even in the midst of confrontation, and she was ready to go straight to solving whatever problem needed to be solved.

When God created marriage, he gave us one of his best gifts. He provided a permanent and safe connection for a man and a woman to experience love, joy, meaning, and purpose together. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” God designed marriage to be a whole-person connection. This means that, more than in any other human relationship, every part of you ideally is to connect and cleave to every part of your spouse. The love you share should be complete as you intertwine your lives and emotions around each other.

Because marriage is such a wonderful type of relationship, confrontation within the marital relationship is very important. Who is better qualified to understand and speak to someone about a problem than the person who is living life right next to him? You are intimately involved with him. You see the real person, imperfections and all. His ways and actions affect you; you are not dispassionate about him. More than anyone, a spouse should be able to see what her partner’s true problems are.

Marriage is not about making each other happy; it is about growing and helping one’s spouse to grow. For instance, Ephesians 4:16 says good marriages are a large part of how the body of Christ “grows and builds itself up in love.” Happiness can and does come to a good marriage. Happiness, however, is a byproduct of growth and life. It is not the goal.

Confrontation brings empowerment, which is the ability to make choices and changes in your relationship. God created all of us to be change agents for each other. We have a responsibility to influence the people in our lives to be the best possible people they can be. For instance, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

Healthy confrontation helps us grow by making us aware of what we are doing and how our behavior affects others. God uses us to deliver the ingredients of growth to the people in our life. Part of the reason we are with whomever we are with is to provide those ingredients for those people. While most would agree that we can’t make someone change, it is also true that we can do much to encourage change.

As Barbi and I have learned to confront each other lovingly, directly, and effectively, we are often pleased in the change not only in our marriage but also in ourselves. We feel a sense of power that we can make changes and that we have choices. God designed all of us to connect and act, and confrontation helps put the “act” into the connection.

Today’s content is drawn from Boundaries In Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2014 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Visit BoundariesBooks.com for more information.

 


This is not a sexual purity recovery marriage summit, however, the leaders of Castimonia feel that working on your marriage and relationship is as important as working on your own recovery.

The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch’s Marriage Summit entitled Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage which will be happening on February 7-8, 2014.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to enrich your marriage! This year’s Summit will include a Friday night opening session and dinner from Hasta La Pasta and sessions on Saturday morning. We will obtain a wealth of marriage insight through video sessions filled with truth and laughter from Mark Gungor, CEO of Laugh Your Way America LLC, and Pastor of  Celebration Church. Sessions include: The Tale Of Two Brains, The #1 Key To Incredible Sex, How To Stay Married And Not Kill Anybody, and Why He/She Does That.

We hope you will join us to be enriched• equipped• encouraged!  The cost per couple is only $30 and childcare is available with registration. Please don’t delay! To register, click here:

http://www.thefellowship.org/events/marriage-summit-2014-2014-02-07


Four Things I Learned That Helped My Marriage
by Wood F.
Oringinally posted to The City on June 3, 2012

I’m a fella who did not get what he deserved – I got grace, forgiveness and love.  Real love.  I’m coming up on a very important, personal anniversary this June 15th.  As I refect on these last 21 years of my life, I see some things God had done in the process of transforming me.

I’d like to share just some things, not all of them – and my sharing does not imply that I have acheived perfection in these things, just progress.  Perhaps by my sharing these things, you will find something helpful that you can usetoo.

First, I learned to communicate with my wife.  Nothing strikes utter fear and terror in the heart of a husband than to hear his wife say, “Honey, we have to talk”.  But, I learned how to listen to her and hear more than her words – I learned to hear her heart.  She learned that I am not always in touch with how I’m feeling or thinking about something, so she learned to help me get in touch with my own thoughts and feelings.  It wasn’t easy to accomplish this – but, we worked at it, hard, everyday – and still do.  I learned the art of communication cannot be accomplished passively.

Second, I learned that Betty is My Bride.  I call her that often, in fact, as often as I can.  I find it changes my attitude towards her.  Calling her “my wife” just seems like I’m identifying a possession, but calling her “My Bride”, well, that’s different.  I see her as a personal gift from God, like Eve was to Adam.  If I ever want to know how God feels about me, I just look over at her, and there is living, breathing proof that God knows me, cares for me and loves me.  I learned that when she challenges me and calls me into accountability, that I should listen to her. I find that if I’m getting defensive about something, then that usually means she is right.  I don’t always respond well to that kind of chastening, but I have discovered that she sees things I often overlook.  She fills in my blind spots for me and if I listen to her and heed her advice, life improves in many ways.  Her challenges to me, often save me from making foolish decisions.  See what a gift from God she is?  She is My Bride.

Third – I learned to spend time with her.  In fact, I would rather hang out with her than anyone else.  I would rather sit next to her on our Love Seat, than do anything else in the whole world.  That is a fact.  I would rather go to a movie, eat out, watch TV, clean house, do laundry, cook, drive somewhere, go camping or pretty much anything – as long as I can do it with her.  She is my best friend.  I carve out moments of the evening, days of the weekends, nights of the weekdays – just to be with her.  I text her, email her, call her – just to be in touch. She is priority number one.

Fourth, I learned to be her encourager.  I love nothing better than finding out what she would like to learn or experiment with, and make sure she can do it.  I love to brag on her talents, encourage her explorations and cheer her on when she is doing what she loves.  I don’t really care if what she wants to do costs money – so what?  I spend it on her and for her.  If I earn extra money by doing some side jobs, I love to give it to her or spend it on her.

My basic philosophy that guides me in all this is found in Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

What that Scripture tells me, is that I am to give up my life for My Bride, just like Jesus gave up His life for His Bride.  I am to do all I can to make certain she knows how precious she is.  I am to do all I can to make certain she knows how loved she is.

If your marriage is in need of revival – if you feel your marriage is in trouble and you are looking for a sliver of hope to hang onto, then remember these words from Isaiah 42:3a, “

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

God wants to your marriage to be a source of peace, contentment, restoration, fulfilment, satisfaction – and so many other good things.  Marrage is supposed to be a blessing.  If you will surrender your will to God, and allow Him to be in charge, your marriage can be so much more than you ever thought it could be.  You cannot do this apart from God.

I guess my words are meant mostly for husbands, so, fellas, get out there and love your Bride the way Jesus loves His church.