Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

“Fifty Shades of Danger”

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With the movie coming up on Valentine’s Day, I’m reposting this from a few years ago….

Note: While this is a topic that mostly effects wives, I feel that it can have a very negative impact on a marriage, and leave the husband not only confused, but wondering how he can measure up to what the wife is reading. It is on this premise, that I write this post.

I’m sure you’re heard of it by now. The series of “erotica” books called “Fifty Shades of Grey” that has sold millions of copies so far in both paper, and e-book form. While erotica has been around for a long time, the popularity of the Kindle and other “e-reader” tablets take away the embarrassment of the consumer having to go to a store and purchase something from a clerk. This I understand. What amazes me however, is the broad acceptance that our culture is giving this brand of smut. Even NBC Nightly News did a full piece on it, acting as if it was “the new acceptable thing” for moms to use to spice up their love lives. Really?! Would the same coverage and acceptance be given to a book series of pornographic images depicting bondage and other fetishes for men to view?  Pretty sure Brian Williams wouldn’t be doing a full three-minute news piece on that one. But how is Fifty Shades of Grey any different? Just because porn targets guys (very visual), and erotica targets girls (emotional, turned on by romance), it doesn’t make it any different. It’s the SAME THING put in a different package! It’s as if the women reading and talking about this set of books (married or otherwise), think it’s ok to read very vivid depictions of people engaging in sex (including “bondage” etc.) because “oh, it’s just a book”.

I was sitting somewhere having lunch the other day, and the table behind me had a few ladies talking about the books. I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief, as I listened to them all talk about it like it was some kind of sexual aid, or way for women to “get back in touch with their sexuality”. They were talking about it over coffee like it was the latest iPod, or trend in clothing. Not one of them (2 of the 3 had wedding bands on) even suggested that it may not be appropriate for them to be reading.

It got me thinking – let’s flip this around for a minute. If I walked up to these same women (even if they were non-Christian), and asked if they would mind if their husbands viewed pornography on the internet once in a while, I’m pretty sure they would respond in a very negative way. I don’t think they would they say that porn was ok because it “helps men get in touch with their sexuality”. Or would it be “ok” if it was a certain kind of “high end” porn that was sold at – let’s say – Barnes and Noble? So why is this “mommy porn” as the media is has been calling it – somehow acceptable?

Let’s check out some of the reasons our “good friends” in the media have been giving us so far –

“It re-kindles the sexual relationship in your marriage” – Sure it does! Just like just like porn makes guys want to make love to their wives! Too bad they’re thinking about the woman in the video, not their wife, when they’re doing it. Does it make the women reading this erotica “horny” and want to jump in bed with their husbands? Yes it does! But is it because they want to build their relationship with their mate? No! It’s because something external (in this case a fantasy that no husband can ever live up to in real life) has turned them on, and since the guy in the books isn’t real, they’ll take whatever then can get – in this case, their husband. What a sad way to approach the sexual relationship that God has created to bring such closeness.

“It’s a way for women to figure out what they really want in the bedroom” – Yeah, kind of like offering a child cotton candy for dinner, lets the child figure out what they “really want” for their meal that evening. Just because something may “feel good” or “taste good” at the time, doesn’t mean it’s best for us, or even remotely healthy. In the same way that the child would grow unhealthy eating cotton candy for dinner every evening, so a marriage grows unhealthy when fantasy about another person is brought into the marriage bed. The marriage bed should be where the couple is able to explore each others bodies, and become closer together, not driven further apart by unrealistic expectations and fantasy.

 “It’s not like it’s hurting anybody, it’s just a few books” – Funny, these excuses are starting to sound a lot like a guy rationalizing pornography. In the same way a wife’s heart is wounded by the husband viewing porn, the husband – while at first may be more than happy to oblige the wife’s strange new desire for more sex – will begin to feel like he is just being used to fulfill a fantasy, and that she is no longer making love to him, but to something or someone in her head instead. He will then start to feel like he is inadequate, and think “if I were good enough in bed, we wouldn’t need to do this stuff she has read about, and she would then think it was exciting to be with me”. It cuts at the very heart of the husband.

It can also affect the overall attitude in the home, because if mom and dad aren’t doing well in their sexual relationship, the marriage suffers. That makes mom and dad a lot more likely to have a “snappy attitude” with each other, and in turn – with the kids. 

To sum it upIT’S JUST NOT WORTH IT! There are so many things out there trying to snip and tear away at our marriages. We have to be PRO-ACTIVE in guarding our hearts and minds against anything that would pose a threat to that. There is a temptation to become “bored” or “fall in a rut” with your sex life after you’ve been married a while – but take it as a challenge! Sit down and TALK to each other about your sex life – what’s working, and what’s not. Change it up a little! There are no rules saying “you have to only have sex in your bedroom” (There’s a great post by “J” at “Hot, Holy and Humorous” called “Where to have sex” that is a great look at having fun with locations), or with the lights off, or only after 9pm. God has given us the AMAZING gift of sex as a married couple, and blessed it! It’s to be something that is treasured between the couple as a pleasure only shared between them. Let’s not take away from, or cheapen what He created to be so incredible, when done in the protection and commitment of the marriage relationship.

Wives: Be your Husband’s “Mind Candy”

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I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I think my mom would say I had a whole mouth full of them, when I was growing up. Nerds, Skittles, Gummy Worms, Now and Lateryou name it, I would eat it. We used to go to a small little general store where I grew up as a kid, and they had a little barrel of gummy worms at the register (this was before people cared too much about germs), and you could take the little set of tongs, and pick out as many gummy worms you wanted for 5 cents each. It was the highlight of the whole shopping trip for me.

I guess it’s no surprise I have the same tendency for sweets as an adult. It’s hard to find a gummy bear I don’t like. And I don’t know about you, but there are times when NOTHING sounds good but a something sweet. Ever felt that way? It’s like you get a “sweet craving”, and nothing else quite satisfies at the time.

Ok, so what the heck am I talking about, and what does it have to do with you?  Don’t go back to Pinterest yet, hear me out!

Your husband thinks about sex several times a day. I know it’s hard to imagine, but for most guys it’s up to 20 times a day. Not long drawn out thoughts, but it crosses his mind. Call it a “sweet craving”.

Now if he’s a good, upstanding, Christian husband, who is trying his best to keep his mind  pure from sexual influences besides his wife, most of these thoughts center around you. If not, that’s a whole other post. Either way, what I’m trying to get across, is that YOU can help decide what his mind “eats” to satisfy those little “sweet cravings” during his day.

For example, let’s say he heads to work, but before he walks out the door, you give him a kiss, and say something like “you know those red lace panties you like? That’s what you’ll be taking off me later tonight.” Or “Want to try a new location later?”, you have just given him “mind candy” that will last him the whole day. Now every time his mind thinks “sex” during the day, he’s thinking about those panties, or where you’re going to do it later. Remember, he’s going to think about something sexual, several times a day – why not give him something worth while to think on?

Man Mind Tip: Guys LOVE it when they feel like their wives are OK with their husbands thinking of them sexually. Even better when our wives GIVE US something to think about sexually! It’s like winning the car on The Price is Right.

It’s hard for wives to understand, but most of the time, church, society, etc has made men feel “dirty” or like there “must be something wrong with them” because they “think about sex all the time”, or have been told countless times “is that all you think about!?”. But here’s the deal (and I can hear the collective gasp) – A man’s high sex drive (as long as it is fueled by nothing but his wife, not porn, etc.) IS NOT “un-natural”, or “dirty”, or “need to be toned down” in any way! God DESIGNED it this way! As his wife, DO ALL YOU CAN TO ENCOURAGE your husband in this area. Assure him that you WANT him to be thinking about you, and you LOVE it that he finds you beautiful/sexy. I’m not saying you must have sex anytime he wants it, but he needs to know that you’re his “sure thing” (GREAT post from J at HH&H), and you love the idea of him finding sexual satisfaction in YOU ALONE.

That’s why giving him something to think about all day, means so much to him. He LOVES it that you care enough about HIM (not the kids, dog, PTA, dishes) to think up those little “treats” during the day. “But what if I don’t think “that way” during the day? I have 3 little kids at home, and am lucky if I can find 10 minutes to use the bathroom, let alone send my husband sexy messages.” I understand you have 15 irons in the fire most of the time, but I can’t tell your enough how much something that takes 30 seconds, can mean to your husband.

“A few M&M’s, or a FULL candy bar?” – Ok, so you’ve head the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, I swear it must have been written by a man, because let me tell you, it’s true. Now I’ve heard a lot of marriage bloggers with several different opinions on sending each other sexually “suggestive” photos via text/email, and you do what you think is best here – but I say what good is technology, if you can’t have a little fun with it? (Ok, now I am starting to sound like a classic man again). Let me explain. If you have an Android phone (I think you can get this for the iPhone too), go to the Play Store, and download an app called “Audio Manager (hide)”. This handy little app takes cover as a volume app to anyone that may see it on your phone, but if you hold your finger on a hidden spot on the screen, and put in a pin number, it’s really an encrypted “digital vault” to hide those photos/videos you wouldn’t want your mother in law to stumble upon when she was browsing through the grand kids birthday party photos. My wife and I have used it for a couple of years now, and it works great! All you have to do when you get a photo you want to hide, is simply click on the “share” button on your phone, and “share” it with the Audio Manager application – POOF! It’s not in your photos anymore!

Then the only other things you would need to be careful about, are things like double and triple checking that you’re sending the photo to the right PERSON (Your husband, not a random friend), and then knowing your husband isn’t going to open it in his work email, not knowing what it was, in front of the entire board of directors. Awkward. Basically, my advice is: BE SMART about it, know where you’re sending it, and then – HAVE FUN with it! Oh, and another word of caution: IF you’ve never sent a picture like this to him before, he may think you’ve totally lost it, or have finally opened up the cooking Sherry after a long day with the kids. But don’t worry, after the initial “Wow! Really?!” Response, he’ll have this big goofy grin on his face the rest of the day.

I’m going to end this post with this – we (husbands) realize you’re not wandering around all day every day in some sort of sexual high. Life happens. Kids happen. Schedules happen. We get it. The stuff I’ve mentioned above doesn’t have to be an everyday thing. What I’m asking is that it be a more than once a week, or month, thing. I know it’s not how you think. I know it’s hard to understand that sex goes through his head so often, I know you’re thinking “I’m just not “ready to go” all the time like he is”. It’s ok! You’re not “strange” for not being sexual as much as he is. But what I’m asking – even pleading with you – is to realize that your husband IS dealing with these thoughts day in, and day out. He IS trying to keep his mind on his wife, and not other images/videos/commercials that the world is trying to bombard him with all the time. And he NEEDS you to come along side him and say “baby, I understand it’s a struggle to keep your mind pure, and I want you to know that even though I might not always “feel” like having sex, I am, and will always be, your “sure thing” if you need me. I don’t want you feeling like you need to “supplement” your drive with something else, because you feel like you can’t come to me for it.” At this point, if you’re wondering why your husband isn’t looking at you anymore, it’s probably because he’s trying to hide the tears in his eyes. You have no idea the weight you have just taken off his shoulders, and the stress you have just relieved. If you can somehow get to this point in your relationship with your husband, you will be a complete hero in his eyes.

The moral to this story? Don’t forget the power you have to help your husband’s “sweet tooth” center around you. And to him, you’re WAY better than candy anyway. 😉

Miscarriage: A + B doesn’t always = C

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When you were growing up, dreaming of someday getting married and starting a family, it all seemed so easy in your head. You would find the girl of your dreams, get married, have lots of great sex, and therefore, end up having as many kids as you wanted, whenever you decided to have them. Simple. Easy. Right? Sadly, not at all.

About a week ago, my wife noticed her period was a few days late. Not being too concerned because her cycle isn’t always “exact”, we waited a few days. Still nothing. I brought home a pregnancy test, and we found out we had our own little “Christmas present” – unexpectedly on the way. While it was definitely a surprise, we both soon took to the idea, and were looking forward to having another “little Harris” to love, guide, be part of our little family.

Two days later, she started spotting. The next day there was more bleeding, and after going to the doctor to see what was going on, we found out what we feared the most – we had miscarried again.

I shared our first miscarriage story a in a post called “Miscarriage: The subject that never get’s brought up”. Being newly married at the time, we had no idea how to deal with the emotions we both felt, and felt in different ways. Being married a little longer now, and now having our third miscarriage a few days ago, we understand a little better how each other is going to react, and what we both need from each other for comfort/healing.

I think we fail to understand how many couples struggle with having kids. How many times couples have heard the words from their doctors like “it looks like it was a pregnancy that just didn’t develop”, and finding themselves staring at the exam room wall, lost in thoughts like “how could this happen again?” Or “I don’t understand, it was going so well” or “we wanted this so badly, how could God let this happen?”. The pain in these situations is deep, and for the most part suffered in silence. The couple being too afraid to say anything, because they don’t want people to think there is “something wrong with them”. After all, nobody else has problems like this, right? Why can’t we just be “normal” like everybody else, and have kids whenever we want? But what we don’t realize, is for the most part, it’s not “easy” for any couple.

I don’t know how many friends/coworkers, who after hearing our story, have come up to me and said things like “we have lost 3 also”, or “we tried for 3 years before we got pregnant”. What I think we miss is how COMMON this really is, and how desperate couples are to find support, and understanding from other couples, but it’s the subject nobody brings up. Too many misconceptions, to much of a “downer”, people don’t know what to say, it’s awkward, etc – all reasons we have for NOT talking about it. And every one of them bad reasons. If we would get over ourselves for long enough to admit we needed support, maybe we would be able to heal faster, grow stronger, and recover better, but no – our “go to” answer is usually “I’m fine” – when in reality “fine” is not at all how we feel.

Him vs. Her: The healing process – Husbands, when this happens, we need to be keenly aware, that how YOU will want to deal with the loss, and process it emotionally, is going to be totally different from what you wife is going to need/want. The faster you realize this, and come to grips with it, the better off you are in being able to support your wife during this time, without becoming totally frustrated at her instead.

If you’re like most guys, you are going to be sad for a few days from the loss, and then you’re going to start to get this “ok, we lost this one, but let’s fix this thing and just try it again” attitude. For us, we feel out of control by the whole situation, and as a guy – who usually has a “I can fix anything” outlook, it scares us that we can’t do anything, or control the circumstances. This means after we get through the sad phase, we tend to start looking at how we can make it right again, or “fix” what we lost. We tend to look at it almost like we would if we wrecked out car – yeah, it sucks we lost our car, and have to go through the whole process of getting a new one, but sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, isn’t going to make it any easier. Let’s get to looking at new cars, and replace the one we wrecked! Come on, let’s FIX it!

But to your dear wife, this is the last thing she wants to hear is “we can always try again”. As a woman, she needs time to grieve the loss of this child. To her it’s not just something that didn’t work out, it was a child – HER CHILD – that was LOST.

You can talk to her until you’re blue in the face about how she “just needs to move on and let it go”, and she will not only respond badly, but start to resent you for not being able to grieve this loss with her. She will begin to feel like she is totally alone in her grief/sadness, and even become angry that you’re not showing any emotion about it.

What she needs from you is total LOVE and SUPPORT. She needs you to hold her while she cries, and reassure her (without attempting to fix) that it’s all going to be ok. She needs to hear you talk about your sadness (and yes guys, this is a HARD one for us) in losing your child – what you were planning to do with him/her, thoughts you had about it, etc. This helps her not feel alone in “missing” or grieving the loss of the child. She needs you to ASK her if she’s doing ok, and not getting mad, or rolling your eyes when she brings it up 6 months later, and tells you she’s been thinking about it quite a bit today.
I know it’s not the same for us, and we sometimes don’t understand the time is takes for our wives to heal, but so what? As if this is the first thing we don’t completely understand about how God created our wives. What matters is that we ARE there for them, and regardless of how long it may take, we make sure they know we are ALWAYS there for them if they need to talk about it, or even just cry while we hold them.

Also, make sure she’s not the only one that ever brings it up. Mention to her on a random day, that you were thinking about it today, or how you can’t wait to meet your other children in heaven some day. The smile you’ll get from your wife will be priceless.

Talk it out with your wife also. Help her understand you’re not trying to “bury it”, or pretend it didn’t happen, you just deal with it differently than she does. That way she isn’t expecting you to grieve in the same way she does. If it’s the first time you’ve been though this loss, she’s not going to know what you do, any more than you know how she’s going to handle it.

Remember, the WORST thing you could do it both shut down and build a wall between you. Talk, talk, talk – I don’t care how hard it is for you, you MUST keep those lines of communication open during times like this. Your marriage depends on it. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves, and do whatever it takes to help see your marriage through it. Don’t settle for “oh well, she’ll get over it at some point, I don’t even know what to say to her anymore” – even if you don’t know what to say, tell her that! At least you’re not just giving up.

While the loss of an unborn child is a deeply sad, and horrible thing, there is a closeness and a trust that is built and made stronger between the husband and wife, IF the two sides are allowed to grieve in the way they need, and there is a willingness to ACCEPT the other person’s way as “ok”, not criticized, or downplayed, or made to feel bad that they either haven’t or have “gotten over it” yet, or so fast.

Neither side is “the right way” or the “only way” to get through it, and the sooner the both of you accept that, the better you’ll be at healing together, growing your relationship because of it, and gaining a deeper understanding of the mate God has given you. It will get better. The pain will begin to lessen. You will be able to move on. Just understand it is a process. One that you BOTH need.

The Church and Marriage; Are we doing enough? (Survey RESULTS)

For the most part, most of this survey turned out like I had assumed it would. Sadly, I think ministry to “normal marriages” in the church (ie ones that aren’t falling apart yet) is for the most part coming up very short in most of our churches.

You remember the old saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”? I think it may apply in this situation. Because most married couples in church feel the imaginary pressure to pretend everything is “fine” and not admit they may be struggling to understand their spouse, or even living in a dead or dying marriage, they don’t say anything, and therefore, get looked over.

So, the church goes on creating ministries for the seniors, youth, college students, young adults, women, men, children, etc, etc, all the while not realizing that the core of most of their congregations, are hoping they would offer some type of down to earth, usable, real-world instruction – on how to understand/live with their husband/wife on a daily basis. They’re desperately trying to figure out how to communicate effectively, how to fight fair, how to have a fulfilling and exciting sex life, and see their sexual relationship in the context God has designed it to be, how to deal with in-laws, how to keep their marriage fresh with young children – the list goes on!

As you’ll notice in the results below, sex is a HUGE issue that people feel the church needs to address MUCH more, and when it does, be done in a real world, usable way.

So what’s the point to all this? Am I just trying to depress everyone? Not at all. My goal is to inspire those of you who are interested in marriage ministry to STEP UP and offer to lead/host/teach a marriage class in your local church!

And before you start in with all the “I’m not a good leader” or “I’m not good in front of people” crap, remember, we’re starting with NOTHING in most churches. Even if you don’t feel like you’re the next James and Shirley Dobson, you’re WAY better than what your church has going now. Remember Moses? The guy who couldn’t speak without stuttering? God seemed to be able to use him alright. Or Sampson? Or Paul? Not exactly “picture perfect” people before God used them, but God seems to work best through people like that. People like you and me.

The need is GREAT! The church is only as strong as the families in it, and the families are only strong if mom and dad’s relationship is strong and cared for. It’s pretty hard to show the world God’s plan for the family/marriage, if we are dealing with the same issues they are, and not being any more successful at dealing with them. No wonder they’ve started to turn to Opera and Dr. Phil.

So, as you look over the survey results below, I want you to really take a minute and ask God, “Lord, is this something you want me to help out in?”. If it’s not something you feel led to help out in, then great! But if it IS something the Lord has laid on your heart, get with your pastor, or church board, or whoever you need to, and talk about starting a marriage building ministry in your church! Not only will you learn and grow in your own marriage, but you’ll have the privilege of watching other couple’s faces light up when they finally start to understand each other!

So ask yourself this question: Why not you?

 

Here are the results (there were 76 responses):

Putting our wives FIRST; Do we REALLY?

I was reading an excellent post over on the Warrior Wives blog, called “Do His Stuff First”, and it really got me thinking.

It got me thinking about how much we as husbands REALLY SHOW that we care about our wives needs/requests, and how much we show that to them on a consistent basis.

Now I know, you’re sitting there reading this going “now wait a minute here man, I care about what my wife needs/wants! What are you talking about?!” But hear me out.

How many times have you been busy with something (like watching TV, playing with the kids, working in the garage, etc) and your wife casually says something to you like “Hey hon, I need you to fix the handle on the kids dresser when you get a chance. The kids were messing around with it today, and it broke off” or “When are you going to be able to help me clean out that spare closet? I can’t do it by myself”. Most times we reply with a “sure hon, I’ll get it”, and then go back to what we’re doing – only to forget she even asked, until two weeks later when she comes back to you (a little annoyed) and asks you when you might be able to get to doing what she asked you to do a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, guilty as charged.

But what if we decided to actually put HER needs BEFORE our own? In other words, what if we show her that we VALUE her, by putting HER requests, in front of our own “to do” list. I know there’s a lawn to mow, and a car to wash, and the bills to do, and the house to paint, but do we realize that when we ignore, or put off our wives requests, we are in a way saying, “You’re important to me, but not enough to put you before my stuff”? Sure, we’re not meaning it that way, but how do you take it when you ask her to do something for you, and she forgets, or puts ends up putting it off for a couple of weeks. You start to feel a bit “unimportant” and like you’re a ways down on the priority list. Well, she feels the SAME WAY. 

Oh, and this post is kicking my butt all over the place, because I’m famous for saying “sure hon, I’ll get it”, and then having my poor wife come back two weeks later when I’ve forgotten she even asked, and looking like a complete stooge. This is a real easy one to preach about, but a whole other thing to actually walk out. 

So, next time your wife asks you to take care of something for her, don’t blow it off, or roll your eyes like “yeah hon, sure. I really have time for that”. Instead blow her away by jumping right on it, or if you can’t possibly do it right away, make SURE it gets done as soon as humanly possible. Sometimes saying you care about her, needs some action behind it.

The role of DAD; Our kids desperately need us.

The last few days, I’ve had the blessing (ok, so sometimes my face may not have said “blessing”) of taking care of our 3 kiddos (5, 3 and 1) while my wife went to the Woman’s Advance at our church (great thing to send your wife to by the way, to get refreshed and recharged – but that’s another post…). It was really nice to have some “down time” with just the kids and I. And it got me thinking.

Sometimes I think we as men, can view life day-to-day, as one big “task list” that needs to be done, in order to feel like we’ve accomplished and “conquered” the day.

What I’m afraid we also tend to do (most times not even realizing it), is put “quality time with the kids” way down at the bottom of that mental list.

We tell ourselves “I’ll get to that when I get all this more important stuff is done”forgetting that being a DAD to our kids (even if that means just building a Lego castle with your son, or letting your daughter “do your hair” with bows and barettes) is one of the greatest callings God has given us. Spending time with them – not “left over” time, but quality, purposeful, time –  is one of our most important jobs as dads.

Our sons are trying as hard as they can to win our approval, even when they mess up. They’re also trying to figure out what it means to be a “man” in today’s world. And you know what that means, they’re looking to DAD. You remember the feeling – always thinking Dad was about the coolest, strongest, best dressed guy you knew. But are we taking the time to really talk to our sons? To encourage them? To show them how to treat women respectfully and with honor? To show them the value of hard work? What it means to be a man of your word? When they show anger towards us or their siblings, do we show them anger back? Or take that chance to take a deep breath ourselves, and help them understand how to work through it, instead of blow up? If we aren’t training our sons up to be men of God, and what it looks like to be a “real man” in God’s eyes, who will?

Or how about our little daughters? You know, the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever laid eyes on? The one that goes around telling everybody she’s “daddy’s princess”.  Do we even realize what an impact we have on her little sense of self-confidence? How she’s crying out to us “Dad, do you think I’m beautiful? Do you notice me when I spin around in my dress? Do I have value? Do I measure up?”. We forget the impact we have on our daughters. We need to spend that time with them just cuddling on the couch, asking her about things she’s interested in, taking her on “daddy daughter dates”, telling her she’s beautiful. And do you know why these things are so important? Because if we don’t, she’ll end up finding another boy who will.

I don’t know about you, but when my little girl gets into her teen years, I want her confident in her daddy’s love for her, in feeling valued, in knowing that she can come to me anytime for support, or just to hold her through the tough times. The more we seek to fill this God-given role for our daughters, the less likely they will be to try finding it out from another boy, until the appropriate time when God sends her the mate He’s chosen for her – to take over for me.

Don’t view time with your kids as “optional”. It should be just as important as spending time with your wife. I’m pretty sure when we get to Heaven, and God asks what we did with the children He entrusted to us, it’s not going to go over well if we say “Well, I didn’t spend much time with my kids, but you should see how much landscaping I got done, and how many contracts I closed at work!”. God didn’t call us to have an amazing yard. He called us to train up the children he’s given us.

Our kids just want to see that their dad values them. Over work. Over getting the house clean. Over his golf game or ESPN.

Sometimes it seems like we’re not “training them up” by just playing cars, or doll house, but if we could only see the impact we’re having on them, showing them they matter to us, we’d do it so much more often.

They’ll always be more “stuff” to do. Our kids are only in our care for a short time. We don’t have to be perfect, we just need to be “there”. Don’t short your kids what they desperately need from you – being their DAD. 

“Christian Couple” – Is it just a cute title, or an actual lifestyle?

I heard a statistic on the radio today while I was driving to work, that really got me thinking. The statistic said that over 50% of marriages today, end up in divorce. Most of us know that one. But the one that got me, is that the divorce rate among CHRISTIAN couples, was slightly HIGHER than non-Christian couples. Yes, you read that right – HIGHER than non-Christian couples.

What that is telling us, is that not only are we no different or more successful at marriage than secular couples, we’re actually WORSE at it! What’s even more embarrassing is, we as Christians claim to serve the God that CREATED marriage! CREATED IT! Oh, and did I mention that He left us a book called the Bible that tells us how to have a successful marriage? And we still don’t get it. If this doesn’t convict us as Christian couples, I’m not sure what would. Here we are, as Christians, commanded to be the “salt and light” in the earth, and show people that even though marriage is hard work, and at times very trying, it can be done, and be one of the most rewarding relationships here on earth, if you follow the principles in His Word! But what have we done instead? We’ve actually proven the opposite point of what we should be!

If I’m a non-Christian “looking in”, why in the world would I want to bring Christ into my marriage, if the odds are actually BETTER if I don’t?! 

Sorry if this post is suddenly a hard one to read, but it’s as much aimed at me, as it is anyone else, and we can’t keep looking the other way and excusing it. It’s ridiculous.

So what am I saying? That Christ doesn’t help in marriage? That’s it no use? Not at all! What I’m saying is that WE HAVE FAILED as “Christian” couples to FOLLOW principles laid out in the Bible, that lead to having a successful and fulfilling marriage. No, put the rock down, and really think about it. You can get all “huffy” and start in with the “well, come on now, I think that’s a little harsh…” garbage, but may I direct your attention to the glaring statistic mentioned above? Yeah, it’s still there. 

Maybe we as “Christian” couples, are a lot better at “looking good” to others, than really applying  the principles in His Word to our marriages. Like the whole “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Eph 5:25” thing. Easy to say, but hard to do. Or how about “Do to others as you would have them do to you – Luke 6:31″. Also an easy one to preach, but hard to live out. How about Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Eph 4:29″ I could keep going, but I think you’re starting to get the point.

Now I’m not suggesting that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – I get that we fail, and we are human. What I don’t get is why if we call ourselves “Christ followers”, we don’t live that out in our marriages. No one’s asking us to be perfect, but what God is asking to do, is use His Word. To study His Word. To apply His word. Why is it that we are more likely when we have an issue in marriage, to listen to what the latest book, or “expert” has to say about it, than we are to say “you know what honey, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this”? And don’t try and tell me that the Bible doesn’t say any thing about “your problem”. That’s just an excuse to let yourself off the hook for digging into the Bible, and finding it. Just because you don’t know of it, doesn’t mean it’s not in there. You just have to go find it, and that takes a little effort. Something we don’t like to put out.

Or when was the last time you actually PRAYED over a problem in your marriage? You know – prayer?! How long has it been since you’ve both gotten down on your knees, grabbed each other’s hand, and prayed something like this: “Lord, we’ve got a problem here that we can’t seem to overcome by ourselves. We know you’ve put us together in this marriage, and we need your help understanding one another. Please help us find some common ground as we discuss this, and help us figure out what to do. In Your name, amen” If you’re like most of us, it’s been a while. Why? Why do we depend on the “Dr Phils” of the culture to help us with our marriage, when the very one who CREATED marriage, is supposedly the very God we claim to “follow”? Are we just lazy? Are we just so weak in our walk with Christ that we don’t know how? Yes – these are hard questions to ask, but I think it’s high time we asked them. 

Marriage is not about us! The whole point of having a good, fulfilling, Christ centered marriage, is not for us to be able to jump around and go “hey, look at us! We have a good marriage!” No, the whole point of a successful, fulfilling, Christ centered marriage, is to proclaim to the world, “Look at how the Lord has brought together these two sinful, selfish, and imperfect people, and given them an unconditional love for one another – against all odds, against all trials, against all the things that have come against them. Isn’t God amazing!?” It is to bring HIM glory, not ourselves. It’s not to boost our own egos, or congratulate ourselves that we have somehow “cracked the marriage code” and have a good marriage. On the contrary! I believe God created marriage to be a challenge. He never said it was going to be a walk in the park. What He did do however, is give us a manual to guide and help us through every situation. One that as “followers of Christ”, we’re supposed to be using. 

Val and I have couples come up to us and say things like “man, you guys just seem to have the perfect marriage”, or “do you guys really have issues too?”. Do we have issues? Really?! That’s like asking if the sun is “really all that hot”. Our marriage is just as hard, and has just as many issues as anybody else’s does. But it’s humbling to know that people NOTICE our marriage, because of the way we treat each other, and how we seem to actually “love” each other openly. It’s almost like it’s so rare in today’s culture (unless you’re newlyweds) that when you do have a close marriage, it almost sticks out like an “odd” thing! But here’s the key! When we get those comments, we have a choice to go “yeah, I guess we are pretty good at this” and take the credit ourselves (even though we don’t deserve any of it), or say “You know what, we haven’t done anything different from any other couple, besides follow what the Bible has to say about marriage as close as we can.Have we had several trials, struggles, and rough spots in our marriage? Too many to count. But if you commit to seek out what HE has to say about each issue you encounter, instead of relying on your own emotions/feelings to rule the situation, you CAN overcome any trial/hardship that comes your way. It takes work. It takes determination. It takes the Lord working on your hearts. But it CAN be done. 

I truly believe if we as Christians really began “living the lingo” instead of just talking a good game, and then going home and complaining, back biting, withholding sex from each other, loving only if they love back, harboring hurts, using cutting words, calling names, not accepting blame for our own faults, etcwe could bring the percentage of successful Christian marriages well into the 90% range. There is NO REASON this isn’t a real possibility. Well, besides ourselves. We are the only ones that can limit what we allow God to do our marriages. He’s a gentleman. He’s not going to barge his way in and fix our marriages for us. He waits for us to ask. And that’s all it takes – just inviting Him into your marriage. Inviting Him to help two sinful, self-centered, short-sighted human beings, and allowing him to work in our hearts first, and then our relationship with each other.

So let’s challenge ourselves! Let’s see what the Bible has to say about marriage! Is your sex life struggling? Maybe check out Song of Solomon. Are you having anger problems? Look up “anger” in your concordance, or even Google “scriptures on anger”. Having struggles with communication? Raising kids? Or (insert problem here)? Find it in the Word! Now this isn’t to say there aren’t GREAT resources and books from amazing Christian authors, pastors, etc. that we should use and take advantage of – I’m just saying let’s start with the Bible, and then go from there, Instead of starting with everything else, and forgetting the Bible all together. 

The world is looking for hope when it comes to marriage. And so far, they’re not finding it in “Christian couples”.  Up to this point we have been more apt to throw in the towel than the world. Not only is that incredibly sad, I think it’s high time we change that. Let’s start acting more like the Christ followers we say we are, and less like the world we claim to not be a part of.