Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Way Out: You need to GIVE it AND to TAKE it!

Ever been caught in a crossfire between a couple? Where the words or attitudes start flying, and the statements being made go a little deeper each statement? The couples that have the most effective communication are couples that know how to make a way out of the cycle...

I've been around couples who are constantly looking to give the other that "way out" of an open disagreement. One person may say, "you know, you haven't emptied the garbage lately..." or ANY such statement relating to something they've "fallen short" of. Instead of reacting, the person says something like, "awww..... I need to empty the garbage more for you to show you I love you, don't I?!" -- and the argument swiftly ends!

I've also been around couples where one statement leads to another and there doesn't seem a graceful way for either to then enter back into the normal conversation.

One of the most IMPORTANT things you need to learn in your marriage is how to GIVE and TAKE a "way out" of provoking, accusative statements or cycles.

Think ahead of ways to GIVE a way out to your spouse: ways of throwing them a "lifeline" to grab hold of before they drown (mostly because we're the ones who pushed them out of the boat to begin with!) If the conversation is getting more accusative or threatening or finger-pointing at THEM, instead look to lighten it up and let them "keep face". Things like: "Well, you may not be too good at ________, but your intentions are the BEST....;" "Oh, you're so cute, if I can just LOOK at you who CARES if I have to do all the dishes myself!...;" "I know you'd help me more if I really asked you to...;" "Don't worry, I'm working on a few areas MYSELF that I need to get better at!" or something like that where your spouse can gracefully enter back into a normal conversation...

Think of ways to TAKE a "way back" if the accusations are being hurled against YOU! Grab a lifeline from statements like, "You know, I have been a little oblivious to his/her need in this area, I need to pay more attention!;..." "I know it's been difficult for him/her; I need to help out more...;" "I really need to work on being a better husband/wife!;..." ANYTHING to show your TRUE (hopefully) humility and acknowledge SOMETHING on where the hidden or outright accusatory statements lie.

Challenge: LISTEN to what your spouse is saying and acknowledge the accusatory remarks or diffuse them effectively; and LISTEN to the way YOU are speaking TO and ABOUT your spouse and give a generous amount of GRACE to let them now drown in the sea of accusations!

Read the Recipe for a Happy Marriage Poem below and see which ingredients you need to be sure to add more of in YOUR MARRIAGE to be sure it stays happy and healthy!

Recipe For A Happy Marriage Poem

4 cups of Love
2 cups of Loyalty
Dash of Faith
3 cups of Kindness
4 cups of Understanding
1 cup of Friendship
5 spoonfuls of Hope
1 barrel of Laughter
Pinch of Forgiveness (no substitutions)
Dash of Thoughtfulness (not optional)

Take love and loyalty and mix thoroughly with faith.
Blend in kindness and understanding, add friendship and hope.
Sprinkle abundantly with laughter. Garnish with forgiveness and thoughtfulness.
Bake with sunshine.
Serve daily with generous helpings.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beneath the Surface

Proverbs 20.5-7 A motive in the human heart is like deep water, and a person who has understanding draws it out. Many people declare themselves loyal, but who can find someone who is really trustworthy? A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone.

A man or woman of understanding will see the heart and motives and innermost thoughts of their spouses and "draw it out" in understanding them and trying to meet their needs. We need to be that someone who is "really trustworthy" -- not just who "declares themselves loyal" but is REALLY trustworthy to our spouses. They can TRUST us with their innermost feelings. We make time for them to discuss things with us, maybe even things we don't agree with, but we truly listen to hear their heart. A wise woman or man makes notes of things going on in their spouse's life and tries to help their spouse through difficult situations or times. This may mean hiding it in your heart and doing something about it later, or addressing the issues their spouse is trying to communicate.

See beneath the surface. Is your spouse truly irritated at every little thing in life all of a sudden, or is something "bigger" bothering them that they need to talk through and deal with? Do you notice that your spouse is isolating him/her-self all of a sudden and not interested in talking things through? Be that person who has understanding and draws their feelings out. Be creative in doing this, and show yourself to be trustworthy of them committing their thoughts to you. Give their thoughts consideration and credence, acknowledge how they feel, and then have wisdom on how to proceed.

When you see a tip of an iceberg in the water, you need to know that 90% of the iceberg is UNDER WATER. This is an important precept to remember in your marriage and in any relationship: if you see a "tip" of something surface, remember that there is a LOT going on underneath the surface!

Have and live integrity too. Keep your partner's secrets to yourself only. Never share negative things about your spouse to others who may not have the benefit of seeing all the good things they do, and may not have the grace to deal with the things they need to work on. Your spouse will know if you share negative things about them to your friends and family, and it will tend to isolate them, which is a serious problem for many couples. Have integrity behind closed doors. Be honest with others; be honest with yourselves. Be honest with your spouse. Be truthful, trustworthy, loyal, conscientious. Live an open and honest life... And your children will be blessed (fortunate, happy, to be envied). The opposite is true as well. When you do NOT live righteously (the RIGHT way) with integrity, your children will follow suit, and their lives will be cursed.

Challenge: Live BIG. Work hard at being a person of understanding who draws the heart of their spouse out and helps them be the best they can be ALWAYS. Take time for this most important part of your relationship! And live righteously with integrity, making a difference for generations to come...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Put your HEART into it!

"The heart makes commitments, the will makes choices, and behavior is where it all comes out. The heart work, or lack of it, is revealed in behavior, what you see every day… Sometimes what's going on in the heart is a mystery, but behavior is always on display."

So began the Bible study on parenting that I am teaching at our Church on Tuesday mornings, and from which this study is taken from. (Parenting is Heart Work – order book here if interested.)

I was thinking of how much (as usual) these "heart principles" relate to our marriages.

What do you see from your spouse's behavior that reveals where their heart is?

What do you see from you OWN behavior that reveals where YOUR heart is?

This is a challenging and paramount question since Proverbs tells us:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it ARE the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

How do you determine what is in YOUR heart (so you can change and go from "glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord – 1 Cor 3.18) or in the heart of your spouse (so you can see areas that your marriage needs to be worked on)?


Luke 6.45 tells us that from the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak. This means that if you simply listen to what is coming out of your mouth you will hear where your heart is. Sometimes this "showcase" of my heart (what I am saying!) makes me realize areas that I need to submit more to the Lord and deal with in my life to get rid of termites that can eat away at the best that God has for me (Song 2.15).

Listen and make mental notes of what your spouse is saying too, and although you don't need to point things out on the spot, look for creative ways to improve your relationship by addressing things on your spouse's heart that their words reveal.

The greatest enemy of listening is wanting to tell your own story. Be careful not to give your opinions too quickly, or others will shut down their hearts from receiving any input from you! An accepting, safe, listening ear often opens the heart in ways that nothing else can.

What do you treasure?

What are you or your spouse interested in? What do you think about – where do you spend money – what do you want to do? Matthew 6.21 tells us that where our treasure (deposit) is, there will our hearts be also. This is key. Desires, hopes, dreams, wishes… these all start in the heart and then come out in conversation.

We invest in the things that are in our hearts. We need to inspire our spouses, and be inspired OURSELVES by the Lord, to get a bigger vision for life and have the RIGHT things to set our hearts on! We need to be aware of things that aren't bad in themselves, but that we know don't contribute to our growth as a person, and we need to limit the time we spend on those things.

When you see something in your behavior or your spouse's behavior, ask "What's the HEART issue?" Then develop a strategy that addresses both the heart issue and the behavior.

The solution needs to acknowledge the behavior problem and work toward different actions. At the same time the deeper heart issues need to be challenged. By taking a two-pronged approach, you can bring about lasting change while learning appropriate behavior conducive to the desired outcome for your marriage!

We need to learn to look at our behavior and the things we say with discerning eyes, and see our hearts through the things we say and do. And we need to be CHALLENGED to consistently look for and apply ourselves to change our hearts so that we may more and more consistently grow into the best that the Lord has us to be in our marriages and in our lives!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psa 139:23-24 KJVS)

Challenge: What does our words and behavior show us about our hearts that needs to be tweaked, addressed, or completely overhauled? What does our spouse's words and behavior show us about where their hearts are – areas that we can be a part of positive change? Allow the Lord to infuse HIS love and HIS power into your heart and watch the difference reflected in our words and actions!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lifting Each Other Up!

This Scripture stands out at me the past few days…

If we could take one thing from this study today, it would be to

truly SUBMIT to one another in our marriages.  It is an awesome picture if you see each person constantly trying to SUPPORT their spouse, for the good of their marriage and direction together, lifting the other person UP by coming under their authority, with both people submitting one to another…


WHY?  In the FEAR of God – terrified to do otherwise.  Why not:  as you REALLY understand the end result of disobeying God in this area, you WOULD be fearful! 


“Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.”

(Eph 5:21-33 MESSAGE)


One thing that is interesting though is where it says to submit to one another out of "fear" of God. 


"Fear" is actually "phobos" –  "(to be put in fear); alarm or fright: — be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror."


Other places it is translated are:


         Matthew 28.4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.


         Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear,


         Acts 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.


         Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.


         2Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.


         2Corinthians 7:1   Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


         Philippians 2:12   Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.


         1Peter 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.


         Jude 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.


The word "submit" means:  TO SUBDUE – overcome, quieten, or bring under control; bring under control by force; SUBMIT – accept or yield to the authority or control of another person