Posts Tagged ‘ understanding ’

Want a Happier Marriage? Just Ask.

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It’s interesting to me how much I have learned over the past 10 years with my wife Valerie. Things I have learned about her, about marriage, and about myself. I also find it interesting (and slightly amusing) how LONG it has taken me to figure out some things. And that brings me to the just of this post:

“If you want/need something, 90% of the time, you need to ask for it”.

Wow. revolutionary huh? Yeah, I thought so too. But think about it! How often to we expect our wives to read our minds about whatever we might be thinking? This can apply to everything from sex, to what we have for dinner.

Then, when our wives don’t read our minds like we think they should, we get miffed about it. Miffed about something they didn’t even know about us wanting. Because she’s not a mind reader.

So if you want sex tonight, and you would like it a certain way, ask for it! If you want a back-rub after a long day, ask for it! If you want tacos for dinner tomorrow, ask for it! If you don’t like the way you deal with conflict, bring it up! It’s your marriage, and if you want it to be as good as it can be, quit expecting your wife to “just know” what’s bugging you, or what you need or want at any given time.

Now a word of warning, she may say “no” to want, but at least you asked, and if she’s like 90% of other “normal” wives, she’s going to want to do her best to make you happy, if she just knew what THAT was.

So go for it! Want a happier marriage? Start by ASKING for it!

Five Things Your “High Drive Spouse” May Never Tell You –

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In most marriages, there is a “higher drive spouse” (HDS) and a “lower drive spouse” (LDS). If this doesn’t apply to your marriage, you can safely disregard this post.

In most cases, the Husband is the HDS, and the wife is the LDS, but this is becoming more and more not the case. A great resource for wives who are the HDS, is  “Spice & Love – A Higher Drive Wife”. Because of this, I’m going to avoid addressing the issue as just one applying to husbands, and address it in general. 

In our marriage, we were pretty typical; for the first year or so, our sex drives were pretty well matched. Most times I initiated, and she was more often than not, very willing to go along.

Then came the kids, and all the “distractions” that come with both pregnancy, and taking care of the little life that is now your responsibility to feed, clothe, and diaper. It was during the 2nd and 3rd year of our marriage, when the bedroom started to be much more of a place to fall into bed and sleep, then a place to have fun together sexually. It took a lot of give on both sides, and keeping the lines of communication open, to get back to where we are today.

But knowing how it feels doesn’t do anybody any good, unless we use that knowledge to help our LDS (husband or wife) understand. That’s what it took in our marriage, to turn things around. My wife had no clue what sex meant to me, and how it was so much more than “just the act” to me, until I sat her down, and lovingly explained how I felt, and poured out my heart to her about the hurt I was feeling from her constant rejection sexually.

So that’s what I want to do with this post. I want to offer the LDS a peak inside the mind of their HDS spouse, without even having to get off the couch (or computer, or whatever you’re reading this thing on). 😉

Five things your “high drive spouse” may never tell you – 

  • It’s part of who we are – As a HDS we need sex and lots of physical touch to feel loved. What does this mean to you? Well, let’s say you do EVERYTHING you can think of for us, that YOU would think shows us that you love us (cooking meals, cleaning the house, working on the lawn, caring for the house, etc, etc, etc) – we will still not feel loved without you being sexually open to us. It just doesn’t work. It’s like trying to put everything BUT gas in a car to make it run. It’s not going to work. We CRAVE the sexual relationship with our spouse, and without it, we feel unloved, un-cared for, and un-important.
  • We can’t just “turn it off” – I know as the LDS, it’s hard to understand this, but for us HD spouses, it’s a constant thing on our mind. It may not always be on the front burner, but it’s always there somewhere. Even if we just had sex, within a few hours, the thoughts like “I wonder when he/she’s going to want me again”, or “how long until I can convince him/her to love me like this again”, start to creep into our heads. We start to wonder if we’re “freaks” or  if there is something wrong with us, because you seem to not (or very rarely) ever NEED it like we do. That’s why we get so frustrated when you exclaim things like “that’s all you ever think about” or “just turn it off!”, because we don’t know how, and it makes us angry that we can’t.
  • The pain of “NO” becomes too hard to hear after a while – When a HDS asks their spouse for sex, it’s a HUGE thing to us. We usually have thought about asking, and what would be the best way, or what would go over the best, or what kind of mood you’re in, or how you may react – for a long time before we ask. It may have also taken us a while to get up the nerve to finally ask. So when we finally do, and you either brush it off, or roll your eyes, or give us a “oh come on, really?”, it hits us pretty deep. We of course don’t admit this most times, and try to make a half-hearted attempt at turning it into a “oh, it’s ok hon, if you’re not into it right now, don’t worry about it”, or something like that, but it hurts. We feel like we just put a very intimate part of ourselves out there, and you stomped on it. After a long period of “not tonight” responses, we tend to stop asking. Not because we don’t long to be with you, but because the pain of being rejected – yet again – hurts too much. To us it’s like burning your finger on a hot pan, and then going back the next day, and doing it again. After a while, it’s just worth it.
  • We don’t expect you to be us, we just want you to be “naked and smiling” – We understand you don’t have the drive that we do. We understand you’re not going to be raring to go at all hours of the day and night. We get that, and we’re fine with it! What we’re trying to ask for, and most times do a lousy time explaining, is we just want you to ACCEPT us for who we are. We already feel like there’s something “wrong with us” for wanting to have it 3 or 4 times a week, and you constantly telling us to “go take a cold shower”, or rolling your eyes like “are you kidding me?” makes us feel that way even more. There was a time where I started to hate my sex drive. I even looked for ways to get rid of it. I thought “if I can just get rid of this, we’d never argue about anything!”. But what we found out is that God created ME to have that drive, and have the not-so-fun-job of being the one that makes sure we don’t go to long without sex, a that we keep that connection, that the LDS doesn’t realize they want/need as much/bad as the HDS, but just don’t have the feelings to do so, without a little “un-burying” of those thoughts from the pile of other things that may still be on your mind from the rest of the day. That’s why if you as the LDS could just make enough effort at the start, to be “naked and smiling”, even if you may not even feel like sex at the moment, you’re showing us that you care about us, and love us enough as our wife/husband to say “I don’t really need it right now, but I realize that you do, and I’m the only one that can legitimately meet this need for you, and so I’m not going to only do it, but smile while I do.” There’s nothing that drives a HDS more batty, and hurts him/her more, then when you are perfectly able (not sick, pregnant, headache, flu, etc) to meet our need, but refuse to do so for no reason. It feels like you are just dangling a treat in front of our nose, and then putting it back in the drawer and saying “nope, maybe tomorrow”. Ouch! And did I mention super frustrating to a HDS? We just need you to be ok with who we are. We need you to love who we are. We’re ok with you saying “honey, I love you and I’ll do whatever you need, but I just can’t get crazy into it tonight”. That still says “I love and accept you”. What hurts is the refusal to love us for who we are.
  • Meeting a sexual need, doesn’t always mean intercourse – Please don’t misunderstand us here, if we’re asking for you to connect sexually with us, it doesn’t always have to mean full-blown intercourse. It can be as simple as rolling over with a smile on your face and saying “sounds like you need something taken care of” and helping us manually, or something to that effect. That does a TON for the HDS, when he/she is wanting to be intimate, but time/desire/energy just isn’t there at the time from the LDS. Don’t expect it to lessen the desire the next day to “fully connect” with you, but it goes a HUGE way in the heart of the HDS in showing him/her you love her, and understand his/her need – and while giving you some time to fully wrap your head around sex the next day.

Hey, you made it all the way to the end alive! Hopefully you’re not thinking you’re married to a complete wierdo after this, but instead have some sort of idea where your HDS is coming from.

What say you? 

 

I’m Starting To Grow Up.

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My eldest son is about to turn 6 years old. He was born premature by 7 weeks, and came out weighing a mere 4.14 pounds. I remember holding that precious tiny bundle there in the delivery room, thinking “how can something this small, ever grow up to be an adult sized person?” I’ve watched this little boy go from not being able to get around at all, to being able to run and jump at will. I’ve listened to him learn how to form words, how to show emotions, how to understand how things work, how to be honest, how to say “I’m sorry”, how to share – in short, I’ve watched him grow up.

It’s funny how this applies to marriage. I know me for one, got married with not much idea of how to do anything, or what I needed to be for my wife. In the “infant” stage of marriage, I expected to be able to have sex whenever I wanted, I expected her totally fulfill me in every area. I didn’t think we would fight like “every other couple”, because after all, we’re in love, and other couples “must just not be doing it right.” I had lots of expectations of what our marriage would look like, mostly based off of what I saw my parents act out growing up. As you can imagine, a lot of my “expected normal” hit the fan within the first few days.

I wonder if God looked down much like I do with my kids and smiled as I learned the hard way to be less about me, and more about my wife and family. The times that I failed (and still fail), the times that I mess up what an “older” husband would have no problem navigating. The “growing up” process. Learning to be married. Learning to give when I don’t feel like it.  Learning to go from crawling, to teetering on those first steps, to maybe a good solid walk, and someday being able to run without falling (or at least as much).

I’ve come to realize there is a process of maturing in a marriage. Not just reading the “top ten things you need to know about your marriage” book, and going “ok! I’m all finished!”, but truly maturing in both your relationship with each other, and also with God.

I feel there are times where just as my son didn’t like the idea of using the “potty” at first, and wanted to stay in diapers, we too can become stubborn. Refusing to grow because it’s “more work” to grow. It takes an “effort”. We might even fail over and over before we get it, and complain that “it’s too hard”, or exclaim that “it was better/easier the way it was”, complaining and muttering the whole way, not realizing how much further we really have to go, and how much better marriage (and not having to be an adult in diapers) can be.

Fast forward to today – almost 8 years from the day I said “I do” to my lovely wife. I feel like I’m about as old as my marriage is, when it comes to understanding it. Like an 8-year-old, I feel like while there are times I have those “ah ha!” moments and go “so THAT’S what she’s thinking when I say that!” I still struggle with things like communication, and putting my wife before myself. But I AM getting there. And I’m learning to DESIRE to always be working on my marriage. There is no “pause” in marriage, there is only forward or backwards.

So, what have I been learning lately, that a lot of you probably already know, but maybe some of you who are just starting out, haven’t figured out yet? Here’s the two biggest things I’ve been trying to get down in my daily walk. If they don’t apply to you, go back to reading the sports page. If they do, hopefully you’ll you find encouragement to keep doing, or start doing it/them better.

#1 – Flipping my idea of a “perfect marriage” upside down – Ok, what if instead of thinking the goal of marriage is supposed to make us happy, we thought of marriage in the light of “marriage is a tool the Lord uses to cause us to grow and become more like Him”?

Think about that for a minute. We get so caught up in the “I NEED TO BE HAPPY” culture, we forget the BENEFIT of STRUGGLE. How many times have I muttered under my breath “why can’t she just be more like me! See things MY way a little more?!” And the Lord has to remind me “Gerad, what are you LEARNING from this?”, and you know what? After we’ve come through it, and even though it’s sometimes painful, we come out of it stronger, and more equipped to handle whatever conflict/strife/issue that arises the next time. The bond is strengthened. Character is built. Our relationship with Him is strengthened.

Now don’t lose me here, I’m not saying that marriage is always an un-happy, hard to deal with, issue filled, mess – what I’m trying to get across, is that when it DOES arise, use it as inspiration to buckle down and strengthen the commitment you have to the marriage, instead of saying “nope, this is too hard, I’m done” and walking away. We are FAR TOO WILLING to hit the “panic! I’m not happy!” button, instead of taking a deep breath, backing up, and saying “Lord, what are you trying to get me to learn here? Give me the understanding and strength to grow through this in the way You want me to.”

#2 – I’m learning to serve my wife – I’m learning (and failing, and getting up and failing again), to serve my wife without thinking in the back of my head “she owes me one now, after I do all this”. There is an unexplainable joy that comes from truly serving my wifebecause I WANT to, not because I’m hoping it will improve my odds tonight, or I’m trying to get it so she “owes me one”. Finding little ways to say “I love you”, learning how she thinks, and then making sure to support her in the way she needs, taking my time and putting HER needs first in the bedroom, understanding her need to feel she knows my heart, and I’m emotionally open to her – all ways (way too many others to list) I can serve my wife. Because she always deserves it? No. Because that’s the example Christ set for me to follow when I didn’t deserve it? Bingo.

Please hear my heart as I write this stuff guys – I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m some kind of “perfect guy” who writes a marriage blog, and has it all together. A guy who never struggles with anything, and has the picture perfect marriage and kids. I do struggle. I don’t know it all. I have a LOT to learn. I fail. A lot. But by God’s grace, I keep going. I keep putting one foot after another. I keep on driving for a better relationship with my wife. Through the times when my mind says “you don’t even like her right now”, I push through the pride and love her anyway. But it’s hard. And I don’t always succeed. But until I take my last breath, I will ALWAYS try. Why? Because it’s what God has called me to do as a husband. It’s what God has called YOU to do as a husband. It’s making us more like Him. It’s making us grow up. And that’s worth it.

“It’s HER fault I’m not happy!”

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I want to pose a question for you. One that is not easy to answer. One that is hard to answer HONESTLY. Here’s the question:

Are you counting too much on your wife (an imperfect person, who will always fail) to make you happy, or in the Lord (perfect, never fails) to satisfy this “need”?

Let me explain. I have found periods in my life when I am relying TOO MUCH on my wife to satisfy my every need – whether that be sexual, emotional, or otherwise, and becoming either depressed, or angry, or both, when she doesn’t “measure up” to this impossible mark I have set in my head.

Let me let you in on a little secret – your wife is NEVER going to meet your every need. As hard as she may try, it will never TOTALLY fulfill your every need. And you know why this is? Because the LORD is the ONLY one who can.

Here’s what usually happens (or at least to me) – we get busy with “life”, and start putting less and less priority on spending QUALITY time with the Lord in the mornings, maybe still having “devotions”, but not really seeking His face, or cultivating a relationship with Him. At the same time this is all going on, I’m starting to depend more and more on my WIFE to make me “happy” or feel “fulfilled”. This never has a good ending.

Now as with everything, there are “exceptions” to this scenario, but I’m telling you men, if we are not putting the LORD first in our lives, and trying instead to make our WIVES “fill that spot”, we will go through life always feeling unfulfilled, frustrated, and mad at the world.

What would happen instead, if we TRULY put the LORD first in our lives, and let HIM fully satisfy our deepest needs and desires? If we sincerely got rid of the sin in our lives, and committed to living a life dedicated to serving others, and putting our wives and families BEFORE ourselves? All of a sudden the “pressure” on our wives to be EVERYTHING for us (including the things they’re not supposed to fulfill) is gone!

The Lord never expected our wives to take HIS place! On the contrary! “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33  Did you hear what he said there? EVERYTHING? So that means that as men, we need to make darn sure our walk with Christ is at the first and foremost position in our lives, and then our wives, families, job, etc follow after that. Instead, we tend to be lazy in our spiritual lives, and then get mad at our wives for not giving us this or that, and for causing our unhappiness, when really, the dissatisfaction we feel is from a lack of connection with God, not our wife. Our wives are just easier to take it out on.

Yes, you’re supposed to have a close relationship with your wife. Yes, you’re supposed to be best friends, and cherish and adore your bride. Yes, she is supposed to fulfill your sexual needs (notice I said “needs”, not “wants”), and love and support you. But she is going to fail. She’s human.

Sorry if this post isn’t a “feel good” one today. The Lord has really been working on my heart lately about this stuff, and I feel we as Christian husbands, have really fallen short in really BEING the Men in Christ that we CLAIM to be. Instead, we seem to take the easy road out, hit church every week, read a Bible story or two to the kids at night, and put a mental “check mark” on our “God time”. This is NOT good enough. This needs to change.

So maybe it’s time to take a long, hard look at where your spiritual life is REALLY at right now. Do you feel like you have a live, active, relationship with Him? Do you look forward to your time with Him everyday? Or has He just become something your “affiliated with”, but don’t really pursue? Maybe it’s time we stand up and really mean it when we say “For me and my house we will serve the LORD”. Maybe it’s time we quit blaming out wives for not “fulfilling” what God didn’t create them to fulfill. 

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.

“Can you please speak in a language I can UNDERSTAND?!”

Have you ever had to put something together like a baby crib, bike, etc, and opened the box only to find the manual inside was only in German, or some other foreign language? Doesn’t work so well.

Not speaking in your wife’s “love language”, and expecting her to understand you, will get you just about as far. I remember early on in our marriage, I decided to show my wife how much I love her, so I decided to get her a nice big bunch of flowers on my way home from work. I went to the flower shop, carefully picked out the “perfect” bunch, and proceeded to bring it home. I couldn’t wait to see my wife’s reaction to what I KNEW would be just what she needed to hear “I love you!” from me. As I walked in the door (beaming with “aren’t I a good husband” pride) and handed her the flowers, she said “Oh, thanks hon! Put them on the counter and I’ll get them in some water. How was your day?”. “Really? That’s it?” I remember thinking. I was expecting her to go on about how sweet I was for bringing her flowers, and how much it meant to her, etc, but all I got was a “thanks hon”. Where did I go wrong?

What I didn’t realize then, was what I guess was pretty obvious to everybody but me: Her love language was NOT gifts. What I would come to discover over the years (and with reading the book The 5 Love Languages), is her love language is TIME. Now this is not to say that she didn’t like a thoughtful little gift from me here and there, but if I would have asked her if she would rather have a bouquet of flowers, or a couple of hours of my undivided attention, she would pick the latter every time.

So what’s the point? My point is, I think we spend a LOT of wasted energy trying to tell our wives we love them in a way that WE understand (sex, etc,), instead of working on saying it in a way SHE understands. It would be like going up to somebody in the grocery store, and asking them if they knew where the chips were – in German. Pretty sure the odds are the poor clerk is going to look at you like you’re from the moon (You know that look from when your wife looks at you that way…lol). We have to remember to TRANSLATE our attempts at telling her “I love you” into ways that she understands. Ways that will be much more effective at filling her “love tank” than if we said it in a way that made sense to us.

The problem with “speaking her language” is that it takes some effort from us as husbands. We have to constantly remember that what we may THINK we said, is probably not what she HEARD. For example, if you say “Hey hon, I’m going to get a load of my laundry done”, she may hearhey hon, you’re not doing good at getting the laundry done, and so I am having to do it now”. Or when we feel a little disconnected with our wives, our effort to restore that connection may be “hey hon, I would love to make love later”, in which she heard, “Hey hon, I haven’t spent any time with you lately, but I need to use you for my physical need” – Not AT ALL what we were trying to say.

It doesn’t come naturally for us guys, but with some practice, there’s this little voice in your head that goes “Wait! Before you say this, how is she going to hear this?”, and it helps you re-phrase what you were going to say. If you need help figuring out what your wife’s love language is, Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages” is a great help, or just pay attention to what your wife is most complaining about. If she always says “you never spend any time with me”, odds are, her language is “time”. If she is always buying people little gifts (including you), odds are her language is “gifts”. See what I mean? Most times, what we do most for the other person, is what we’d like done for us.

Being able to understand how to communicate with your wife, in a way that resonates with HER, is a HUGE benefit. Unfortunately it’s not easy. With practice however, it’s well worth the effort, and you will notice the frustration factor go way down in your marriage.

“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.