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Entries in Marriage (28)

Thursday
Jun212018

How to Help Your Husband Be Holy

Julie Sanders has a knack for getting to the heart of matters. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she suggests a powerful way to strengthen marriages.

"My wants don’t always match up to God’s wants for me, but when it comes to having a holy husband, we’re on the same page," Julie says.

"We look for a mate to live 'happily ever after,' but 'happy' pales in comparison to 'holy.'"

I (Dawn) agree with Julie; and I also believe a holy husband is an integral element in a God-honoring  marriage.

Julie continues . . .

When a couple is pronounced married, some of us hear, “I now pronounce you husband and Holy Spirit.” 

With good intentions, we may enter matrimony with a plan for our mate’s makeover.

Before we say “I do,” God’s plan is underway for us both to grow more godly, producing a life more loving than we achieve on our own.

God doesn’t call a wife to change her husband.

God’s Spirit is the one who renews a life (Titus 3:5) and causes a person to become joyful, peaceful and hopeful (Romans 15:13).

Before there’s a ring on our finger or a name on a certificate, God has a plan to use our human relationships to work out His divine plan in us personally. 

1. Your MARRIAGE: a structure for holiness

Marriage results from, “what God has joined together,” (Matthew 19:6). With divine action, “they are no longer two, but one flesh,” (Mark 10:8).  

Fusing two into one isn’t easy! It creates tension and pressure as individuals learn to know each other.

To yield, share and help requires us to function in a regular structure with daily choices.

Will we respond God’s way or our natural way?

Marriage is hard, but it helps when we’re growing more holy.

2. Your HOME: a setting for holiness

A holy home helps holiness to take hold in a husband’s heart.

A house may look charming and up to date with shabby chic, whitewashed furniture or retro pieces with colors that pop. Photos with hand-lettered words like “Faith” and “Family” might adorn clean walls, and string lights may warm up the porch. 

But without hearts growing in holy ways, it’s just a well-decorated building with disappointed people inside.

Don’t get me wrong. I have string lights. A few of my colors pop, and I’m saving up to trade our sagging couch for a linen one with good lines.

But my husband’s heart is more likely to grow in holy health if I carefully curate the content of our life instead of just the collections we love. 

Even a clean house is no substitute for a clean heart.

Ask: Am I reading what is lovely and watching what is hope-filled? Am I saying what is kind forgiving?

Our hearts become what we practice. Philippians 4:8 describes the “look” we want to go for in creating a home that says, “Holy.”

3. Your LIFE: a support for holiness

A wife may not be responsible for her husband’s holiness journey, but she can cooperate with God’s plan to get him there.

Some say as a couple spends years together, they begin to look alike.  In a similar way, godly character in one spouse supports godly growth in the other.  

By removing obstacles like bad attitudes, habitual temptations, or negative influences, a wife can clear the way for God’s program of holiness in her own heart and in her husband’s.

Knowing this, let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:24) by the way we do life beside our mate.

Career decisions, family relationships, time management, recreational choices, health needs, and raising children together all have a way of creating opportunities to encourage each other to have a holy approach by having one ourselves.

A life lived with holy habits is a life with a holy influence.

Marriage is a structure God uses to grow us, in homes where we can practice holiness in our lives, as we support His plans for each of us.

Instead of taking on a spouse improvement plan, clear the way in your own heart and engage the power of prayer for God to do the heart work in your husband only He can do.

What habits in my life ensure my heart is clean, not just my house? When my husband takes steps towards holiness, what response from me would encourage his growth?

Julie Sanders can’t believe she’s been married to Jeff nearly thirty years. Now they call the Northwest home, where on summer nights you can find them sitting under a few string lights, talking over God’s plans for them. Julie writes from her online home, “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic adapted, courtesy of HarveyMade at Lightstock.

Thursday
Jun142018

The ABCs to Curing Marital Complacency

I have grown to greatly respect Cindi McMenamin for her biblical foundation and practical expressions of help for women in the body of Christ. Though this article runs in June—when so many are focused on new love and weddings—in this Marriage UPGRADE, Cindi encourages women who have been married for a while and might need some encouragement.

Cindi asks, "Would you describe your marriage as fresh, passionate, and continuing to grow? Or could it be described as stale, stunted, and maybe even a bit moldy?"

I (Dawn) don't think I've ever heard a marriage described as "moldy" before, but it sure got my attention! Who wants a moldy marriage?

Cindi continues . . .

You don’t have to be newly married to experience a healthy, vibrant marriage. In fact, yours can improve with a few adjustments to curb the complacency and keep the home fires burning. 

I know what you might be thinking:

But, so much has changed since we first married.

Or maybe you’re thinking:

I don’t feel attractive around him anymore. In fact, I feel that he barely even notices me.

Those thoughts you have not only have been mine at one time, but they’ve belonged to hundreds of other wives who have written to me over the past 15 years about their frustrations and complaints. And as I sorted through them, I related to many of them, as well.

There were nights I would lie awake next to my husband, who was sleeping in sweet oblivion, and wonder how to turn back the clock and make him see me the way he once did – as the captivating woman he fell in love with.

So many times I wished I could have back that man I married—have him treat me the same way he used to.

And then I realized there was only one way to have that back.

BE the woman I was, and do the things I did when I first captured his heart.

In Revelation 2, The Apostle John records a vision of Christ saying to a First Century church:

You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (verses 4-5).

While that was written in the context of early Christians and their complacency toward Christ, it can be applied to our marriages today.

God is not the only One who recognizes when our enthusiasm for Him has waned.

Our husbands recognize it, too.

They once received our admiration, our smiles from across the room, and our unwavering attention. Then life happened.

Children came.
Work called.
We gained a few pounds.
And a million distractions.

And before we knew it, complacency set in.

In my book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I show wives how to BE and REMAIN the woman their husbands fell in love with so they can experience more in their marriage.

  • More trust.
  • More passion.
  • More communication.
  • More understanding.
  • More forgiveness.

And more of what you didn’t realize your marriage was capable of.

Every relationship needs do-overs or fresh starts.

Here’s yours.

Go back to the basics by following these ABCs.

They will help you curb the complacency in your marriage and start down the road toward removing the baggage and rebuilding love with your husband.

A – ACCEPT the fact that your husband cannot meet all your emotional needs.

Your husband was not meant to fulfill you in every way. 

You must find your acceptance, security, sense of worth, and identity in who God says you are.

As you begin to take that tremendous expectation off of your husband and see who you are in the eyes of your Creator and heavenly Father, you will gain the kind of confidence that exudes beauty and elicits pursuit.

[But if your man doesn’t follow suit, you have done what you need to do to be more able and stable to deal with whatever comes (or doesn’t come) your way—*see note below.]

B – BE the helper he needs you to be.

In Genesis 2:18, we see that God designed woman to be man’s “helper.”

When our focus shifts to “how can my husband help ME?”—and we insist on being needed, appreciated, encouraged and affirmed—we are no longer helping. We are clinging to—and in some ways crippling—our husbands.

Personally, I have found that I am far more fulfilled when I am focusing on being my husband’s helper and companion, than when I’m accidentally being his complainer and crippler.

C – CULTIVATE a “new bride” attitude.

Remember when you were a brand new bride?

  • You couldn’t wait until you and your new husband got off work so the two of you could be together again.
  • You constantly checked your voice mail messages to see if he had called during the day.
  • You had a special sparkle in your eyes when you talked of him and a spring in your step when you walked alongside him.

There isn’t a woman on earth who doesn’t want her husband to continue to treat her like he did when they first married.

But what if we returned to the “new wife” syndrome and starting treating and responding to our husbands the way we once did?

Remember what it was about him that made you fall in love with him, and then ask God to give you back that loving feeling for him.

If you’re waiting for your husband to do something different to win back your heart, I guarantee he will when YOU start responding to him like you once did when you were a brand new bride. 

Which of these ABCs will you focus on this week so you can curb the complacency in your marriage?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, certified Writing Coach, and author of 16 books including When Couples Walk Together (which she co-authored with Hugh, her husband of 30 years), Drama Free, and  12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, upon which this article is based. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

* For more on how to draw closer to God and see Him as your spiritual Husband who can meet all your needs—thereby freeing up your spouse from your emotional expectations—see Cindi's book, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs.

 

Thursday
Apr052018

Cherish Each Day

In this Life UPGRADE, Dawn invites us to look at all the areas of our life to consider what we cherish, and how we can treasure these people and things more every day.

As I write this, I'm listening to a broadcast about a bridge collapse in Miami near Florida International University (on March 15). I wept to think about families whose loved ones died under the bridge, and the thought came to mind:

We never know our last day. We need to cherish our loved ones before it's too late.

It's not a new thought. Many have expressed the same sentiments, especially after a great tragedy like America's 9-11 or the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Hish School in Parkland, Florida.

As our minds and hearts try to wrap around these horrible circumstances, thoughts of REGRET may arise.

"I wish I had ...."

"I wish I hadn't ...."

"Why didn't I ....?"

"If only I had another opportunity to ...."

I've learned to deal with regrets.

  • I look for the LESSONS God might want to teach me.
  • I seek and receive God's FORGIVENESS for my failings, if that is a factor.
  • I try to think of positive, biblical ACTION steps to move forward.

One of the steps to my moving forward is this:  

I'm learning to cherish what I once took for granted.

To "cherish" is to hold dear, prize, value highly and treasure something or someone. When we cherish someone we protect and lovingly care for them.

I have a little plaque on the back of my bathroom toilet that I see every day. It simply says, "Cherish EACH DAY."

We often hear "seize the day," and that's good counsel too. But to cherish each day is to see value in each day.

It starts in the heart and then flows out through wise responses and actions.

Still, "cherish each day" seems generic.

To know how to cherish each day, we need to think about what we love and treasure within those days.

As I think about what I often take for granted, I've identified some things and people I need to learn to cherish more.

1. I Need to Cherish My LORD.

The scriptures admonish us: "... seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).  

When we cherish the Lord, we will seek Him and we will seek to please him with right choices.

We will have no other gods before Him—no idols that displace our love for Him. 

"... love the Lord your God will all your heat and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind..." (Luke 10:27.

And if we cherish the Lord, we will love and obey Him and His Word.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

 2. I Need to Cherish My LIFE.

This one is a little complicated. On the one hand, we are to cherish our life because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). On the other hand, our life is a "vapor," a whisp of wind. We are creatures made by a mighty creator, and He knows we are but dust (Psalm 103:14).

The Lord may call on us to make the ultimate sacrifice of our life because we cherish some things even more—our decision to follow and obey Jesus, His calling on our life and our desire to please the Father.

Certainly, taking all of this into account, I need to cherish my life because Jesus died to rescue and redeem me! (Titus 2:14) He is the one who has established my worth.

3. I Need to Cherish My SPOUSE.

In the great scripture passage about husbands and wives, Paul says,

"no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it...." (Ephesians 5:29).

This is often seen as a man's sacrificial love and care for his wife, but it also could be an outflowing of verse 21: "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Certainly, a wife's submission to her husband's leadership (v. 24) and respect for her husband (v. 33) are manifestations of her desire to cherish her husband as God's provision.

When a spouse is difficult and stubborn, it is hard to find ways to cherish. Indeed, for all marriages there are difficult times when a spouse annoys and disappoints us. Cherishing in those cases comes from Christlike character and grace, living out the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:32; Galatians 5:22-23).

4. I Need to Cherish My CHILDREN... and GRANDCHILDREN!

5. I Need to Cherish My MINISTRY.

All Christians, in one sense, are called to ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).

But also, God calls us to specific tasks whether in the secular world or church-related; and we need to cherish that calling and not consider it a burden.

The Lord gives us gifts (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-5; 8-10; Ephesians 4:4-14) to enable our ministries and vocations, serve the Body of Christ and bring Him glory. We want to be the "fragrance of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15) no matter where He calls us to serve.

Where God calls, He establishes, equips and empowers (Psalm 37:23; Isaiah 30:21; Hebrews 13:20-21; Ephesians 3:20-21).

6. I Need to Cherish My BODY.

It's too easy to take our bodies for granted. When we lose our health, we suffer greatly. God wants us to cherish our body—not in a self-focused, obsessive way, but rather to bring Him glory and preserve our ability to serve Him and others.

The Bible gives us keys to good physical health (along with other kinds of health). It surprised me to see how obedience to God's Word can promote health (Proverbs 3:1-2, 8; 3 John 1:2).

There are many scriptures about health—too many to put here. The simple truth is, our Creator knows how our bodies work and what is best. We need to follow wisdom as we respect and honor Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He doesn't want us to suffer the diseases brought about through ignoring wisdom about health (Exodus 15:26).

One thing I know for sure . . .

The boundaries God gives us are for our good, to protect us!

7. I Need to Cherish My FRIENDSHIPS.

God gives us friends in the body of Christ to challenge, teach and encourage us.

I cherish friends who:

Maybe you have some friends like that. Cherish them!

Or maybe you will think of other RELATIONSHIPS you treasure—extended family, co-workers, etc.

You may think there's one thing I've left out—THINGS!

Many have "things" they cherish—things they have or collect.

In the world's eyes, these things might be worth lots of money. But let me ask  you: How TRULY valuable are your things? Yes, we can enjoy things now, but we need to keep them in proper perspective. And we must never let our "stuff" become idols, replacing God's place in our hearts.

The Lord has challenged me on that, and helped me focus on eternal values.

"for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1 Timothy 6:7).

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19).

In recent years, I've observed the attitudes of a number of people and couples who either lost homes to fires or floods, or had to drastically downsize.

In all of these cases, the people testified that "things" were important, but not what they cherished most.

It's all a matter of perspective.

What or who do you value most? How can you express your appreciation today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Heartsand a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe

 

Tuesday
Feb132018

3 Ways to Recapture Your Husband's Heart

Pastor's wife and author Cindi McMenamin encourages women in their walk with God and relationships, and in this Marriage UPGRADE she offers wives a good challenge for Valentine'sDay—and every day.

Cindi asks, “Do you ever wish you could turn back the clock, erase the baggage, and have your husband see you the way he once did?”

That question struck home hard with me (Dawn) when I read it. Physically, I've been working on my health, weight and appearance, and it makes me smile that my husband has taken notice! But I've also wondered during my Quiet Times with the Lord, "Is there something in my spirit that has changed (for the worse) since our marriage?" Cindi has good insight for me... and all of us.

Cindi continues . . .

I’ll never forget the day I was cleaning through my top dresser drawer and found a treasure.

I almost threw out the stack of aged, yellowed papers, weathered by time and slightly torn on the edges. When I unfolded the papers and read through them, I instantly realized why I’d kept them all those years.

They were love letters from my husband—written nearly 30 years ago—that included phrases like these:

  • “I love you beyond expression.”
  • “You complete me like no other.”
  • “I love you desperately.”

As I read through them, my eyes teared up.

And then my heart dropped.

I haven’t had a letter like this from him in years.

All of the letters dated back to the first few years that we were married. And they all described the captivating woman he saw me as—the woman I had hoped in my heart of hearts that I still was.

How I would have loved to believe that I hadn’t changed a bit through the years. How easy it would have been to believe that he was the one who had become distant, more critical, less interested and less passionate than he was the day we married.

It was a little tougher to put that magnifying glass up to myself and ask if I was the one who let resentments build up or baggage get in the way.

I realized if I was to be the cherished wife who receives another letter like that one day, I would have to BECOME that woman my husband wrote to so many years ago.

Here are a few of the steps I took to remove the baggage, rebuild love, and recapture my husband’s heart. And I am confident they can work for you, too.

1. RESPOND to Him Like a New Wife.

When I asked myself what it was I was doing to make my husband write letters to me like he once did, the answer was simple: I was responding to him like a new bride. 

Remember when you were a brand new bride?

  • You couldn’t wait until the two of you got off work so you could be together again.
  • You constantly checked your voicemail messages to see if he had called during the day.
  • You had a special sparkle in your eyes when you talked of him and a spring in your step when you walked alongside him.

What would it take to get back that loving feeling for him?

If you’re waiting for him to do something different, I guarantee he will when YOU start responding to him like you once did when you were a brand new bride.  

2. REFRAME What You Say to Him.

Most of the baggage in marriage comes from words the two of you have said to one another.

Careless words. Accusing words. Hurtful words.

Many times we didn’t even intend for those words to sound the way they did. That’s why we must learn to reframe what we say to our husbands.

Ephesians 4:29 instructs us toLet 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.”

So, instead of saying, “Are you going to wear THAT to dinner?”—say instead, “I’d love it if you’d wear that new shirt you look great in.”

And instead of saying, “Why don’t we go out on dates anymore?”—try instead, “I miss spending time alone with you.”

Ask yourself, before the words exit your mouth, “Am I saying this in a way that will encourage him?”

3. REFUSE to Dwell on the Negatives!

Every married couple has experienced wounds that are best left in the past.

Negative thoughts and memories of old wounds may assault you at times, but don’t let them run rampant in your mind.

Instead, practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, which instructs us to take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Capture that thought and kill it.

And then remember why you fell in love with your husband in the first place.

  • Was it his tenderness?
  • The way he made you laugh?
  • His dependability and faithfulness no matter what the circumstance?

Focus on his positive qualities—even ones that you believe are no longer there—and you just might start noticing them again.

Which of these three steps can you begin taking today to recapture the heart of your husband?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of 16 books who has been married 30 years to a  pastor and introvert. Her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, released Feb. 1 from Harvest House Publishers. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Alexas Fotos at Pixabay.

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.