There once was a couple who loved each other very, very much.
They loved each other so much, in fact, that every act of kindness, every gesture of service, was considered pure privilege. Whichever one of them woke up first would cook breakfast for the one who slept longer; they would surprise each other with gifts, small tokens of affection that were monetarily valueless but sentimentally priceless because they were laden with meaning; and they would tell each other constantly how much they loved each other, mainly because they just couldn't keep it in.
Over time, however, the relationship became a series of behaviors. They would still cook breakfast for each other, but only because breakfast was now the responsibility of whomever woke up first. They would still surprise each other with gifts, but only because the absence of gifts would have broken a long-standing tradition. And they still told each other how much they loved each other, but only because they had trained themselves in the vocabulary of love. The actions were the same; the motivation had subtly, drastically changed.
During those first years of their relationship, the couple overflowed with life. The latter years, however, were a slow, daily death. A kind of love was still there, but all the affection was gone. As soon as their acts of love became a to-do list rather than an overflow of desire, the shell of the relationship hardened and the inner joy gradually, achingly seeped away.
How Love Fades
Love turns to ritual quickly. The spontaneity and affection that fill a relationship with life can become rote behaviors almost overnight. Whenever we want to recapture those early exhilarating feelings, we do the things that accompanied them, assuming that the actions will spark the emotions again. But they don't. In all matters of love, actions are only a product, never a producer, of how we really feel.
This dynamic is apparent all too often, widely observable in cinema, literature and, sadly, in the firsthand experience of many. Every married couple, presumably, has at least occasionally wavered between form and feeling, trying to manufacture the former in hopes of cultivating the latter. But manufacturing form usually doesn't work. Love has to be felt.
That's the way it is in our relationship with God too. I know that doesn't jibe with most definitions of "agape," that ideal form of biblical love allegedly based entirely on fact and never on emotion. But try bringing that kind of love into any relationship that matters. Would your children be glad to know you're fulfilling your parental duties in spite of your lack of feelings for them? How about your husband or wife being content with your explanation that though the feelings have gone, the commitment to honor the piece of paper that says you're married remains? No, I didn't think so.
The fact is that the Christian life can degenerate into a set of rules suddenly and imperceptibly. There's nothing wrong with rules; they're great when the heart just isn't in it anymore and you need a temporary framework. But they're always remedial. As a long-term norm and the basis of a relationship, they drain us of life. The answer is to have the heart fixed.
That's what the Christian life is all about. It's a heart issue. The Holy Spirit didn't come into us to teach us which rules to obey—"the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). He inhabits us for an entirely different reason: unbridled, passionate love. The kind that serves because serving is a privilege, that fulfills rules even when unaware that there were rules to fulfill. The kind that gets up and cooks breakfast for the beloved. The kind that gives gifts because giving is what naturally happens. The kind that declares and demonstrates "I love you" constantly because the love just can't be contained.
Does that accurately describe your Christian life? Yeah, mine either. Oh, sometimes that kind of love is there, and it's incredible when it is. But as a pattern, we substitute obedience to form over a natural response to passion. And it's a slow, aching death. If we're not exuberantly in love with God, we're missing the essence of the Christian life.
When that's the case, what's the solution? Pardon my lack of conventionality, but the answer isn't a recommitment. Neither is it a deeper resolve or an increase in the spiritual disciplines. Not to criticize, but I've found that those things only accelerate the death of desire in a relationship. They don't make the heart beat faster. They do nothing to rekindle love.
How Love Returns
Rekindling love is all about spontaneity, adventure, passion, and pleasure. It certainly doesn't violate the character of the other person—God forbid, as in this case the other person is actually God—but it does recognize the true nature of the new heart. Rekindling love begins by understanding that God is a romantic in love with His bride.
Some generations would blush at such a notion—or worse yet, condemn it—but God makes it very, very clear in His Word. He portrays Himself as a lover in the Song of Songs and a jealous husband in the Law, the prophets, and the parables of Jesus. Are we, like most insensitive spouses, completely unable to take a hint?
If your faith is in need of revitalization, imagine what advice you'd give to the couple in the first four paragraphs. How should they get the sparks flying again? Would you tell them to focus more on the fact that they were married? Or would you encourage them to go away together, to spend some time rekindling the flame that was once there? Whichever advice you would give them, turn around and give it to yourself.
God's heart of love is not a sterile heart. He approaches you with enthusiasm and desire. If you return His passion with formulaic living, the Romantic is sadly, seriously disappointed. If you return His passion with passion, the Romantic is thrillingly, gloriously... well, wildly in love with His beloved. A relationship defined by such love is never defined by the rules within it. And it is never, ever unsatisfying.
This post was written by Chris Tiegreen. You can find the original post at: http://www.walkthru.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1048&Itemid=559
BE A MAN.
I used to think I had my stuff together. Then I got married.
Marriage is great—but it rocked everything I knew. I quickly realized my basic goal in life, prior to getting married, was to simply remain undisturbed.
This “disruption” came suddenly and was disguised as a 5-foot-nothing Swedish-Filipino woman. When I decided I’d rather not live without her, I proceeded to ask her to marry me—that is, to officially invite someone who wasn’t me to be in my personal space for the rest of my life.
This decision introduced my most significant experiences and most challenging experiences—none of which I would trade for the world.
However, I wish I’d had a bit more insight on the front end of our marriage to help me navigate it all.
According to most research, more than 50 percent of people who say “I do” will not be sleeping in the same bed eight years from now. And though Scripture alludes to the fact that adultery and abuse may be reasons individuals might end a marriage, I’d be willing to bet that most challenges experienced in marriage are the result of unawareness. Most people—myself included—jump into marriage with suitcases full of misconceptions and bad theology, entirely unaware of the unique beauty and paradoxical intentions of marriage.
The following are three thoughts on marriage that friends and mentors have shared with me. I remind myself of them often in hopes of keeping this anomaly called marriage both enjoyable and healthy.
1. Marriage is not about living happily ever after.
Here’s the truth: I get annoyed at my wife. But this is more a reflection of me than her.
I’m intensely certain that nothing in life has ever made me more angry, frustrated or annoyed than my wife. Inevitably, just when I think I’ve given all I can possibly give, she somehow finds a way to ask for more.
The worst part of it all is that her demands aren’t unreasonable. One day she expects me to stay emotionally engaged. The next, she's looking for me to validate the way that she feels. The list goes on—but never ventures far from things she perfectly well deserves as a wife.
Unfortunately for her, deserving or not, her needs often compete with my self-focus. I know it shouldn’t be this way, but I am selfish and stubborn and, overall, human.
I once read a book that alluded to the idea that marriage is the fire of life—that somehow it’s designed to refine all our dysfunction and spur us into progressive wholeness. In this light, contrary to popular opinion, the goal of marriage is not happiness. And although happiness is often a very real byproduct of a healthy relationship, marriage has a far more significant purpose in sight. It is designed to pull dysfunction to the surface of our lives, set it on fire and help us grow.
When we’re willing to see it this way, then the points of friction in our marriages quickly become gifts that consistently invite us into a more whole and fulfilling experience of life.
2. The more you give to marriage, the more it gives back.
Over the past year, a few friends and I have had an open conversation about the highs and lows of marriage—specifically how to make the most of the high times and avoid the low ones. Along the way, we happened upon a derailing hypothesis that goes something like this: If one makes their husband or wife priority number one, all other areas of life benefit.
It’s a disorienting claim. Disorienting, because it protests my deeper persuasion that success as an entrepreneur, or any professional, requires that career takes the throne of my priorities and remain there for, at the very least, a couple of years.
However, seeing that my recent pattern of caring about work over marriage had produced little more than paying bills and a miserable wife, I figured giving the philosophy a test drive couldn’t hurt.
For 31 days, I intentionally put my wife first over everything else, and then I tracked how it worked. I created a metric for these purposes, to mark our relationship as priority, and then my effectiveness in all other areas of my life on the same scale, including career productivity and general quality of life.
To my surprise, a month later, I had a chart of data and a handful of ironic experiences to prove that the more you give to marriage, the more it gives back.
Notably, on the days my wife genuinely felt valued, I observed her advocating for me to invest deeply in to my work. She no longer saw our relationship and my career pursuits as competitors for my attention, and as she partnered with me in my career, I have experienced the benefits of having the closest person in my life champion me.
Of course, marriage requires sacrifice. And sometimes it will feel as if it takes and takes. However, when we return marriage to its rightful place in our priorities, it can quickly turn from something we have to maintain and sacrifice for into the greatest asset to every other layer of our lives.
3. Marriage can change the world.
John Medina, the author of Brain Rules and a Christian biologist, is often approached by men looking for the silver bullet of fathering. In one way or another, they all come around to asking, “What’s the most important thing I can do as a father?”
Medina's answer alludes to a surprising truth.
In my previously mentioned experiment, I measured the effect that making my marriage priority number one had on different areas of my life. One of those areas was my 16-month-old son’s behavior.
What I found in simply charting my observations was that the majority of the time, my child’s behavior was directly affected by the level of intention I invested in my marriage.
Re-enter John Medina, the Christian biologist. After years of biological research and several books on parenting conclusions, what is his answer to the question, “What’s the most important thing I can do as a father”?
“Go home and love your wife.”
Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, the authors of Babywise, say it this way: “A healthy marriage creates an infused stability within the family and a haven of security for a child in their development process.” They go on to sum up their years of research by saying, “In the end, great marriages produce great parents.”
The point is that marriage has a higher goal than to make two people happy or even whole. Yes, the investment we make into our marriage pays dividends for us. But, concluded by Medina and his colleagues, the same investment also has significant implications for our family, our community and eventually our culture.
So men, women, the next time you find yourself dreaming about living significantly or succeeding in your career or being a better parent than yours were to you, do the world a favor: Go home and love your wife. Go home and and love your husband.
This post is written by Tyler Ward. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/3-things-i-wish-i-knew-we-got-married
BE A MAN.
I’m pro-marriage. I always have been, always will be and I’ll make no apologies for it. As a matter of fact, most of you should be apologizing to me. Yeah, I said it. Whether you're one with a successful marriage who's remained silent on its myriad virtues, or merely a single, lonely critic... America, you've got some 'splaining to do.
Sadly, marriage has become a punchline in today’s society. From referring to the wife as “the old ball and chain” to nearly every poorly written sitcom that we watch, the message we’re sending to today’s generation is clear… Marriage = no fun.
Men on TV constantly joke about how wives are incredibly expensive, demanding and overall vacuums of all things fun. By that same token, the women complain about their fat, lazy, insensitive husbands as they swoon over their trimmed, manicured and chest-waxed Hollywood counterparts.
Ever see a commercial with a wife and husband shopping together? Yeah, we always play the idiot.
I know plenty of people my age that will never get married because they genuinely believe the false cultural meme that marriage has sadly become. There’s only one problem. It’s completely untrue.
Even more of a problem, those who know it to be untrue often do nothing to correct the lie.
As someone who comes from a family of lifers (along with my wife), I just want to say, flat out…
… Marriage is a really good deal.
Let’s assume for a second that you don’t think of humans as inherently spiritual beings. So let’s remove the fact that married people claim to be happier, more fulfilled, complete and purposeful. Some of you are even thinking,
“Love? Who needs love!”
Okay. Here are a few purely statistical reasons as to why marriage (when done correctly) is conducive to an undeniably better life. Hold onto your butts.
1. You’ll be richer – Yes. Not only do married couples make more, save more, have a higher net worth and qualify for more benefits/financial incentives than lonely, single folk… but your kids will be richer too. Which brings me to my next point
2. Would somebody please think of the children!! – The single biggest indicator of child poverty is whether both original parents are still together. Not only that, but children in married households get better grades, are less disruptive in class and less likely to develop behavioral disorders than children from non-married households. So be married long and prosper. Your kids will too.
3. You’ll have more sex… A LOT MORE SEX – Okay so you may not want kids. You may despise them. I get it. Sticky hands. Let’s say you’re just another selfish, narcissistic bachelor (or bachelorette) who quite frankly, isn’t deserving of the unconditional love you may oh-so-luckily find. You just want the sex. Statistically, not only do married people have more sex, they have better, more satisfying sex. If the two of you should hold off on sex until marriage, those statistics become even more promising. Here’s a perfect example of where Hollywood gets it wrong. In the real world, while Alfie fruitlessly toiled away at picking up harlots from the bar, suffering a mean case of whiskey-wiener, Mr. Cleaver was getting busy on the regular. Them’s the real breaks.
4. You won’t be such a pathetic sloth – Married people are more productive. Married men in particular, have higher employment rates, work longer hours and receive better wages. It’s time to stop wading through puddles of your own filth as you reach for the hotpockets and have a dame whip you into shape. You’re welcome.
5. Don’t die sick, miserable and alone. This would seem to be self-explanatory. Sadly, it’s not. Young people think that being young and single is the “fun and free” time of your life, while marriage is something that can wait for the days when you’re ready to grow fat, boring and settle down. Married people not only live longer lives, they live healthier lives. There are too many factors at play here to even list. From married people statistically maintaining healthier weights, being more active and having lower mortality rates, to married women incurring less severe illnesses, enjoying better cancer survival rates and of course… lower rates of domestic abuse (as opposed to those merely cohabitating). Yes ladies, it’s true, living with an uncommitted, self-absorbed jackass can be hazardous to your health.
All of this to basically say that people need to start being more honest and vocal about the virtues of marriage. Americans need to stop feeding and buying into the lie that we’ve all been fed. Whether you’re young old, male, female, marriage (when done correctly) will make your life, and this country better off. The facts are undeniable. If the facts aren’t enough, maybe this’ll help…
Picture coming home every night to your best friend, your greatest fan, and your number one supporter. She (or he) makes each good day better, and each bad day good again. Every day, you get to live what is essentially a 24/7 sleepover party with the greatest friend you’ve ever had.
… Now add sex and sandwiches.
Get married, like, now.
This post was written by Steve Crowder. For the original post, go to: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/26/man-top-5-reasons-to-grow-up-and-get-married/
BE A MAN.
He sat across the table from me, trying to convince me that his behavior wasn't hurting anybody. "I'm not having sex, I'm just having some fun!" He proceeded to tell me his story. It's one that I have heard many times. Unfortunately.
His behavior started fairly innocently. He was happily married but there were occasions that his wife would work late. During these times, on occasion, he would call a "chat line." The conversations started out innocent enough but he didn't realize that he was being fleeced. God speaks about this. He says,"with persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk."
The young lady on the other end of the phone started flirting with him and tapped into his ego. The next time he called her, she talked about how wonderful he was and how he helped her not to feel so lonely. A few calls later, the trap was sprung. He gave her his credit card number so that she would "tell him things that she knew he wanted to hear." His calls continued with greater frequency. He would get out of bed where his wife was sleeping to call this young lady. She was always available to him and would say things that his wife would never say.
He started to feel guilty and talked to the young lady about not calling her anymore. That is when she set the hook. She told him that she was a college student and that she needed the money to pay for school. She admitted that she did this with just a few men and that they "weren't doing anything wrong."
He looked at me and said, "but, I'm not cheating!!! I'm not having sex with her. We're just having a little fun . No one's getting hurt and I'm helping her pay for her education."
I cautioned him about his behavior. I explained to him what such behavior leads to. That's when he said, "funny you should say that...." He then proceeded with this all too familiar story:
This young lady suggested that they meet. It was a town that he visited on business often. She explained that she offered private services to help men feel more masculine and perform better in bed. She explained that he would enjoy it as "most men do."
He went to the house that she and several other young women (who were working their way thru college too) used to "help men." There was never any intercourse. He was "learning how to let a woman be in charge." He found these lessons exhilarating. He paused in his story, "but, I'm not cheating!!! We aren't having sex and I really like how she makes me feel." It's as if he was trying to convince himself more than he was trying to convince me.
I would love to be able to tell you that this man conquered this illicit behavior but I cannot. His life became a disaster.
One night when he was talking to this young woman on the phone, his wife happened to be listening on the extension. The next day, when he got home from work, he found his belongings on the yard, the locks changed and a court injunction prohibiting him from ever seeing his wife again. The divorce proceedings were quick and he soon found himself on the street with no home.
I haven't had any contact with him since. I don't know where he is and I don't know if he got help. I do pray for him, hoping that he has turned to God and is living a life that represents Christ well.
Why do I tell you this story? I guess you need to know that it is easy for men to rationalize their sinful behavior. Men have a tendency to compartmentalize their behavior and think that their lives cannot be affected.
God has something to say about this. "The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be."
So, what is in your heart?
Are you pretending?
Ask God to give you a new heart.BE HOLY.
BE A MAN.
Temptation can come when you least expect it. We have talked earlier about how to resist temptation
and how to anticipate temptation.
We have also talked about a young man intentionally using something holy
to sin as well as tempt others to sin.
It is clear that temptation occurs and it is also clear that temptation itself is not sin. If you remember, Jesus was tempted
and He was sinless.
Temptation can come out of nowhere and it is important to keep one's head so that temptation does not take you down. We would like to think temptation cannot occur during a Holy event. However, those times are not devoid of opportunities to be tempted.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
The service was over, and I was sitting in a pew talking to someone in another pew, preparing to leave. Karyn had gone to get the boys because I was busy talking as usual. The next thing I knew, an attractive blond woman came over and sat next to me and started talking to me. That was OK but then, she put her hand on my leg.
My radar went up because I kinda liked it. There were very few people around. However, a thought came into my head. "Get outta there, now!"
And that's what I did.
So, what do I do now? This woman attends this church. How can I prevent this temptation from occurring again? The answer is honesty.
Later that day, I had an honest conversation with Karyn. I told her what happened and how I felt. She had a great suggestion for helping me with this temptation. She said, "If I see this woman talking to you after church, I will send one of the boys to come and get you." And that's what happened. The woman approached me the next week and one of my boys came running over to me and said, "hey, Mom needs you!" I excused myself and took off with my son.
Do you know what happened after that? The woman didn't approach me anymore. Temptation is not always avoided this easily, but this time one simple suggestion worked marvelously. There are important principles to remember here. - Don't toy with temptation.
- Don't think that you can handle temptation by yourself.
- Be honest about your temptation to someone you can trust who can help you not fall prey to sin. - Ask God to give you His wisdom so that you can recognize when temptation comes along.BE HOLY.
BE A MAN.
With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job
There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.
I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.
Far too many marriages are suffering because the husband comes home mentally, physically and emotionally zapped from his work day. He has done well as the provider for the home and now he is going to come home and collapse into a lazy-boy (aptly named) or in front of a computer or some other process of decompression and relaxation from a tough day at work. This type of thing may be ok occasionally but if practiced regularly it will lead to major problems.
Years ago after starting a new job I came home mentally and emotionally drained several days in a row. Laying on the floor “resting” became my default posture. One day my wife walked over and said, “Hey, we don’t want your left-overs. Don’t give everyone else your best only to serve us left-overs.”
This hit me like a ton of bricks. My wife and family were grateful that I was providing, but they were not content with a mere provider. They wanted a dad and a husband. In other words, there is more to the job of being a husband than just making money. He needs to be thoughtfully, intentionally, and continually engaged in the home.
This is why the illustration of having a second job in the evenings works so well. As husbands we must come home with at least, if not more engagement than we would have at work. Husbands come home to lovingly lead their families. They need to be serving their wives by listening, learning, nourishing, and shepherding them. We can’t do that when we are “recovering” from work or checking out for some much needed “me” time. The job description for a husband entails thoughtful intentionality. We have got to be in the game and doing our job.
It would not be a stretch to say that over 90% of the marital counseling I have done as a pastor involves the husband sleeping at his post in one way or another. He hangs his hat on being the provider while neglecting his role as shepherd-leader of the home. Fixing this will not solve everything but it will drastically improve a lot of things.
So husbands, let me challenge you to come home from work like you are going to work at a job you love in a place you love. Come alongside your wife to talk, listen, and learn her. Play with the kids. Do some chores. Make some jokes. Read the Bible. Pray together. Play a game. Make some dessert. Fix something that broke. Flirt with your wife. Sit and talk. Whatever you do, do it heartily and intentionally like a guy who is there, engaged with his family not escaping from his family.This post was written by Erik Raymond. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.ordinarypastor.com/?p=11212BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
After almost 30 years of marriage I think we have made some progress in our communication. Let me tell you about a disagreement that we recently experienced in our marriage.
Karyn was looking thru a sales circular and noted that there were some electric toothbrush heads that were for sale. Karyn said, "look at the good price on these Oral-B toothbrush heads!" I looked at the advertisement and said, "yes, that's a great price but we don't have Oral-B anymore. (Actually it wasn't Oral-B but Phillips/Norelco but Karyn didn't correct me.) Remember it died and we bought another one?" "Yeah, but we bought an Oral-B again." I knew she was wrong.
It was a Braun toothbrush. I knew that because I had just noted the day before that it was Braun. Braun is a German brand and I was looking to see if it was multi-volt, able to work in 111-220 volts. I was surprised when I looked at it that it was only a 110 volt. I thought that was unusual for a Braun. Every other Braun device I've had in the past was multi-volt. In fact, my electric razor is Braun and it is multi-volt. I KNEW that I was correct.
So, I said, "No, it's a Braun. Those toothbrush heads won't work on it. We have to get Braun toothbrush heads." Karyn repeated, "No, it's an Oral-B toothbrush, I know it is." I reiterated, "I know for sure it's a Braun."
What came to mind as those last words popped out of my mouth was a quote from Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier in his book, To Understand Each Other.
Dr Tournier writes, "As long as a man is preoccupied primarily with being understood by his wife, he is miserable, overcome with self-pity, the spirit of demanding, and bitter withdrawal. As soon as he becomes preoccupied with understanding her, seeking to understand that which he had not before understood, and with his own wrongdoing in not having understood her, then the direction taken by events begins to change."
If Karyn and I had this disagreement 20 years ago, there may have been some sparks flying. Have you ever noticed that often, in marriage, that disagreements are over petty, mostly insignificant things? This makes sense because often you marry someone who is fairly similar to you. You generally agree on the bigger issues like politics, spiritual views, world views, etc. However, it's the little things that build up over time and irritate marriages. Our responsibility in marriage is to seek to understand each other.
A good marriage is composed of two people who grasp this principle.
We have learned that principle of trying to understand rather than seeking to be understood. I would say, that over the last years, that this principle was harder for me to incorporate into our marriage than it was for Karyn. It probably took me at least 10 years of marriage before I truly was able to comprehend what Tournier meant in his book. Twenty years ago, I would have jumped up from the couch, run into the bathroom, grabbed the toothbrush and brought it back with an air of superiority.
After all, I know that I am right!
What was most interesting about this disagreement (look at the picture above) is that we were both correct! That evening, as we were getting ready for bed, I remembered our disagreement from earlier and I looked at the toothbrush. It said both Oral-B and Braun on it! When I pointed that out it was hilarious!
It seems now, that most of our disagreements occur when we are both right. However, now, we aren't so tied into being right but in understanding, even when we know (or think we know) each of us is correct.
I'm writing this short blog today not to hold us up as some paragon of marital virtue but rather to share a simple principle: It is better to understand than to be understood.
Just in case you're keeping track.... Yes, it was me that wanted to prove, in the end, that I was right. Yes, I was right!
and I was wrong...BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Can you imagine a husband making a funny joke and then, at the punchline landing a solid jab to his wife’s shoulder? Of course not. It’s out of place (and perhaps domestic abuse). However, in the context of a male friendship such behavior is widely practiced and acceptable. What’s the difference? (I’m about to get profound here…) Simply, women are different then men. Husbands and wives are different. And this is a good thing, something to be celebrated.
However, it is also apparently an evasive truth. One of the most common non-spiritual, basic, counseling I give to a husband is: don’t treat your wife like a guy. Believe it or not, men seem to forget this fact about as often as we leave our dirty socks on the floor. One of the chief areas this is seen is the area of romance. Many men think that they can woo their wives by treating like men. We think that we can just snap our fingers or just jump right to physical intimacy without any regard for emotions.
Guys, this doesn’t work.WE NEED TO KNOW THEM
Instead, what is right and what does work is understanding. Peter reminds husbands to live with their wives in an understanding (or knowledgeable) way (1 Pet. 3.7
). Therefore, it is helpful to know what makes them tick. While I realize this task is virtually impossible to master it is possible to improve upon.
C.J. Mahaney once said something that really stuck with me, in reference to marital romance, “Before you touch her body, touch her heart and mind.”
What is he saying? He is saying, you better not treat her like a guy! She is different. Therefore, if you know your wife, if you understand your wife, then you have got to do and say things that truly reach her heart.
Here are some suggestions.THE KITCHEN SINK IS A PRETTY ROMANTIC PLACE
One of the ways husbands can do this is through service. I truly believe that some of the best romance in a marriage can happen at the kitchen sink. Instead of sitting around like a piece of furniture when you get home from work, husbands can go to the sink and help with the dishes or cleaning in the kitchen. As you are doing this you can talk about the day and serve by cleaning. Here you are entering into your wife’s world, listening, learning, and helping.FACE TO FACE TIME IS INVALUABLE
Another way to learn your wife is to actually sit down and talk to her. And, talking while walking with your back turned or while checking the football score doesn’t count. I’m talking about eye to eye talking.
I should also stipulate that it is not always a good idea to talk all about yourself here. Remember you are trying to serve and learn your wife, therefore, listening and learning are good things to do. (Also be sensitive to your wife who loves you and wants to hear about you. Don’t be cryptic, nondescript, overly negative or prideful. Serve her by talking thoughtfully.)
One of the most treasured times in our evenings are when I get to sit and talk with Christie. When I get to hear her talk about her day and the various things the kids did. I am reminded of her love and sacrifice for them and she is reminded of my love for her and the children. This is a good and valuable time.DATING THAT ENCOURAGES COMMUNICATION
Another way to learn is to go on dates with your wife. This is pretty obvious. However, a lot of guys take short cuts here. Too many guys are not thoughtful enough here. Going to movies, games, or double dates are fun but they don’t always deliver the level of communication and emotional intimacy that you may be after. If this is the extant of the dating, over the long haul, I don’t think it is going to really help the bottom line. Again, it works great for guys to hang out with one another but marriage requires a bit more thoughtful and intentional work.BOTTOM LINE IS BEING THOUGHTFULLY INTENTIONAL
The bottom-line for guys is that we have got to be intentional in the romancing of our wives. We cannot become complacent or lazy. We cannot plateau or go backwards. It’s not an option.
One suggestion I have in addition to the above is to ask your wife how you are doing. Does she think you treat her like a guy? Does she think she is the most important person in the world to you? Does she feel like you know her? How does she rate your ability to romance her?
Listen, I don’t have this stuff all figured out. Trust me, these questions convict me too. But I know that my wife is worth it and I want her to feel and know she is loved. I trust many of you husbands can relate. Therefore, takes some time to think, chew on it, and then get to work. And if it’s helpful maybe you can punch me in the shoulder next time we bump into each other.This post was written by Erik Raymond. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.ordinarypastor.com/?p=10596BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"We haven't shared our bed for over 20 years,"
the man told me. This man came to see me for counseling as he was at the end of himself. He was running out of faith. Faith in his marriage, faith in his wife, and ultimately faith that God could fix his situation. He was on the verge of suicide.
He told me an interesting story. The problem started rather simply as many young marriages do. "We were having a fight one evening. I don't even remember what it was about. But we were really steamed at each other and I decided I was going to "punish" my wife. I told her that if she was going to act that way, I would just sleep on the couch." Over time, this couple learned to handle their conflicts in this distorted, disrespectful and damaging way. God says that this type of behavior is sinful.
Sometimes, his wife would take the initiative and "punish" him by sleeping on the couch. Over time, there was less forgiveness, less tolerance and less sleeping together. After a while, they stopped sleeping with each other altogether. His wife decided that she didn't want to share their bed with a man who was so unforgiving. So, she decided to move into the spare bedroom. God has stated that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
By all outward appearances, this couple was envied by their friends. This couple had a terrific facade. They both led very active lives. He would spend time with the boys watching sports and hanging out. Her friends became more important to her than her husband. People were so observant of their ability "to let each other enjoy themselves without tying the other down."
There were problems that were creeping in unaware to this couple. Their children noticed that at home, dad & mom would hardly speak to each other. They noticed that there parents would each go to their respective bedrooms in the evening and watch TV. They noticed that, at home, there was a lack of love and joy. However, the children also noticed that when they would go to church as a family, that all seemed good. At first the children enjoyed going to church because it felt like then they were a family that really loved and cared for each other. However, as the children became teenagers, they noticed the hypocrisy that their parents displayed. Their parents were one way at home, one way with their friends, and another way at church. When the children would talk to their friends, they came to realize that their parents really didn't love each other. It was all an act.
It was his son that awakened this man to what was really happening. His son casually said, sarcastically, "when I get married I want to have a wife that I don't love too, Dad." This man was so floored by his son's hurtful statement, that he didn't even know what to say or do. He just broke down and started crying. He asked himself, "what have I taught my children about love and marriage?" He realized that the last 20 years of his life have been a sham. That's when the feelings of despair and hopelessness set in. That's when he first started contemplating ending his life. Fortunately, this man sought help for his situation, deciding to get counseling for himself.
Now, the recovery from 20 years of denial and lovelessness is a long and arduous journey and I won't get into the issues that this man needed to face in counseling. However, I share his story to stop you and make you think...
How are you treating your wife? Have you two gone so far as to not share the marriage bed anymore? Maybe you haven't done that physically but emotionally. Do you sleep together, side-by-side, each nite and wonder why you're married, not feeling as if this person to whom you are married is even worth staying with? Have you given up on your love internally and just live a sham marriage?
Let me encourage you today. A pastor of mine used to say this frequently in his sermons, "it's never to late to do the right thing."
So, if you've gone a long time (or even a short time) and haven't been cultivating the love and romance in your marriage, be a man and take the first step. Swallow your pride. Apologize to your wife for discarding her. Work on valuing her. Let your kids see you two in love. Get help and talk to your pastor or a Christian counselor.Tomorrow, we are going to continue our discussion of marriage...BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The call to young Christians to be abstinent until marriage is not working.
Why do I say that?
The September/October 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine, in an article entitled (Almost) Everyone’s Doing It
, starts with the following revelation:
"Eighty percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the past year. Even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, 76% of Evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is morally wrong."
80% of young, unmarried Christians have had sex… Wow! 66% of them have been sexually active in the past year. And yet three-quarters of Evangelical Christians believe this is wrong.
In January of 2011 I wrote a post on my blog entitled, “Is sex before marriage really a sin?” I did this because I had increasingly
been asked by “committed Christians” whether or not this was true — and where it said so in the Bible. I figured that other campus ministers, pastors, parents, professors, etc. (the primary target of my blog) were likely experiencing something similar.
To my surprise, this post blew up and became the most viewed post on my blog for 2011. In fact, some version of “is sex before marriage a sin” or “is sex before marriage really
a sin” shows up in the “key words” search of my google analytics (it’s a blog stat tracker — sorry for the nerdy blog lingo) multiple times everyday
. Everyday! And I’m quite certain that it’s not a bunch of non-Christians out there googling these words in an attempt to find justification for their sexually-free lifestyle. No. It’s Christians who are single and either having sex, or really wanting
to have sex, who are looking for justification… OR it’s someone who cares about them and is trying to find something definitive
to read, study and point their sexually-active loved one towards.
And wish as I may, I just don’t think it’s that easy. I don’t think a good
article, or a few key
verses, or even an air-tight argument riddled with stats that point to the harmful effects — emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually — of engaging in sexual relations before marriage are going to be enough to discourage a sexually-charged young couple from continuing on in their activity.
I think it’s bigger than that.
In fact, I know it is.
A big part of the problem with abstinence is that it’s only half of the picture. Christian pastors and parents are telling their kids to abstain from having sex (making it sound bad, or even evil), or to wait on sex until they are married (not considering that some –many — won’t ever get married… or will have to wait for a long time before they say “I do”), and they’re not giving them any suggestions about how to deal with all of the natural urges and inclinations their young bodies are constantly bombarding them with.
This is why I like the idea of celibacy over abstinence. Celibacy includes the premise of abstinence — in that you need to hold off
on sexual activity until marriage (should that happen for them… someday) — but it adds to it the bigger, more inclusive notion that for now (and for always) we can delight ourselves in God. We abstain from sexual activity and redirect
those energies towards our pursuit of Jesus.
In many ways it’s similar to the differences between fasting and starving yourself. In both instances you’re not eating. And that’s where it ends with starving yourself. But what makes fasting different is that it includes a very intentional redirection of our energies and attention – towards God. All of the time and focus that we might normally spend on food — thinking about it, preparing it, consuming it, cleaning up after it… and then repeating that cycle over and over throughout the day — is instead spent focused on the Lord. We choose
to feed our bodily hunger with the Bread of Life
and Living Water
. It’s not just abstaining from
something, but it’s also involves intentionally consuming
something in its place.
And this leads us to the root of the issue of sexual promiscuity among young Christians (not to mention countless other issues they’re dealing with)… a lack of discipleship.
Our young Christians don’t know about celibacy, or how to practice it, because far too many of them are not engaged in a life of discipleship. And this is likely linked to what they’re seeing modeled for them in their home. Whether it’s an oppressive form of Christianity, or a more cultural one, many of our young people are coming from homes (and dare I say… churches) that don’t model a life of discipleship for them.
The invitation of Christ is not “’Like Me’ on Facebook and I’ll bring you to heaven some day” (and I’ll make your life as easy as possible between now and then… and if experience any hardship or pain, it’s probably my fault — so go ahead and blame me), but to come and die
(to thy self
). The spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, fasting and service are some of the pathways that God has created for us to actively pursue God while positioning ourselves for spiritual growth and maturation. And I believe our young Christians need to be introduced to the spiritual discipline of celibacy as a choice
that will help them to make sense of, and better channel, their sexual urges now
– and will help to produce a crop of healthy relations — with God and with others in the future
.This post was written by Guy Chmieleski who is the University Minister at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his wife and four small children. He blogs regularly at faithoncampus.com and you can follow him on twitter at @guychmieleski. For the original post, go to: http://seedbed.com/why-abstinence-isnt-working-in-america/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.