Choose to be more Loving

 Why not resolve to be more loving to everyone, but especially to your mate.That’s right, just make up your mind right now to Just Do It! After all, love is a series of choices, not an overflow of emotion. In fact, the greatest and most meaningful acts of love come from sacrifice and self denial for the benefit of another. In the 1800’s a wealthy man, Count Zinzendorf, actually dispersed his belongings and sold himself into slavery so he could share Christ with the slave community. This extravagant act of love was not built on emotion or convenience. It was a calculated series of choices made at great personal cost for the benefit of others. These are the kinds of things that amaze and inspire us.
Resolve to inspire and overwhelm your mate with this kind of deep love.
Here are some ideas to start putting together a plan:

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Choose Joy

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. I have found that it is easy to ride the waves of circumstances in life, being joyful when things are going well and being cranky and moody when things are not going so well. This would not be such a big deal if we lived in a vacuum, but we we all live in contact with others and our attitude affects those around us.
In our homes, when we are cranky, moody, and irritable it causes friction and tension with our mate and children. This often leads to arguments, hurt feelings, and emotional isolation. So, it seems that being a person who is joyful and pleasant most of the time, no one is perfect, is a powerful gift to everyone that we interact with regularly. Have you noticed how some people warm up the room when they enter it? They lift up everyone around them, while others spread a “vibe” of sourness.
I have been working for years to become a carrier of joy, especially in my home. I have found that the biggest obstacle is the myth that I can only be pleasant and joyful when all is well. Most of us have bought into this myth, but it is simply not true. Being a pleasant, joyful person emanates from our belief system and our chosen outlook not from our circumstances. For example, if all of our circumstances had to be in order for us to qualify to be joyful and pleasant then some whole cities and even nations, like the impoverished nations of Africa, Cuba, Haiti, and even Mexico, would be completely void of joy and the “sourness saturation” would probably escalate to mass homicide and suicide. On the other hand, the super rich and privileged of Hollywood would be the epicenter of joy and pleasantries.

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Peace in your Home

Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called the sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Not only are there wonderful eternal rewards and blessings associated with encouraging and promoting peace, but there are great rewards and blessings here on Earth as well. Marriages are more enjoyable when peace is present.Children are emotionally healthier and more secure when the home is filled with peace. Friendships are are sweeter when peace is present. Churches are more appealing when peace is the greeter at the door. Workplaces are more productive when peace replaces turmoil.It seems that we all want to live in the presence of peace. The problem is that the only person we can control is ourselves, so this year, resolve to be a person of peace!
It seems that a peaceful demeanor has become downplayed in our culture over the past few years. “Reality” television shows that portray women who are self absorbed, childish, materialistic, moody, mean spirited, vulgar, unpredictable,short tempered, and violent have received enormous ratings. Apparently, we have become a society that is greatly entertained by this sort of behavior. Some will argue that there is no harm in watching for entertainment sake, but lately reports have been surfacing that women and especially young women are beginning to see these women and their bad behavior as role models. This is influencing people to adopt these attitudes and actions as a part of their real life. The consequences of this are very painful and harmful.
If we want the benefits of being peacemakers, we must value and pursue a peaceful demeanor that brings calm into the room. The thing that makes this difficult is that as humans our natural tendency is toward self interest and self promotion. These are the two culprits that most often chase peace away and invite in quarreling. I have certainly been involved in my share of fruitless, even ridiculous arguments, but I have resolved to become a person with a peaceful demeanor.
Being a peacemaker does not mean being an emotionless person who is never engaged in any type of conflict. Peacemakers must stand for love, unity, and the principles of Heaven. Sometimes, this will lead to conflict and disagreement with others. The key is to speak the truth in love and not resort to disrespectful, insulting tactics.
Here are a few tips to help in your pursuit of peace:

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Become a Fountain of Goodness

When considering ways to grow as a Christian and marriage partner,the best place to start is focusing on pursuing the development of the qualities known as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) in our lives.
Let’s consider three qualities that are very connected, …goodness, kindness, and gentleness…. Galatians 5:23.
First of all, goodness is that quality of being good like fertile ground that grows good crops. This idea of good encompasses a lot of ideas such as being honorable, being morally upright, and one who generously benefits others. Everyone wants to be married to a person who is good and I doubt if anyone wants to be married to someone who is bad. While we might all consider ourselves to be “good,” we all certainly have room to grow in this area. In Proverbs 31, the famous Godly wife is praised because she brings her husband good and never any harm. What a reputation for all of us, men and women alike to aspire to! What good thing can we add to our mate’s life today?

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Thinking of getting a Divorce?

In this day and age of celebrity fixation, divorce has been glamorized and mistakenly presented as an inevitable part of life as one seeks happiness and fulfillment. In the Bible, God makes it clear that “I hate divorce,” says the Lord Almighty. Many believe that this is evidence that God is a cold hearted Father who is more interested in His rules than in the happiness of His children. This incorrect opinion has led many to cast off any interest in Him and His ways in order to seek happiness any way they can think of. The truth is that, as the creator of humans, marriage, and family, God hates divorce because of its devastating effects on individuals, children, and society as a whole. Before we go any further, let me say that God is not angry at anyone who has been divorced in the past. His desire toward those who have experienced divorce is to bring forgiveness, healing, and restoration for the future. My purpose for this article is not to heap condemnation of those who have been divorced, but rather to help encourage those who are entertaining the idea to think again and work at all costs to repair their current marriage rather than divorce. Now, I realize that in some instances divorce is the only option due to the unwillingness of their partner to make changes. The Bible makes it plain that in the case of adultery, physical abuse, and abandonment divorce is appropriate if the offending spouse refuses to repent and make real changes.
So, what are the realities of divorce? Studies show that divorce carries terrible consequences including psychological pain that is more intense than that caused by the death of a spouse, increased risk of bankruptcy, increased vulnerability to poverty and homelessness, pain in children that leads to increased risk of juvenile crime and teen pregnancy. Divorce is not something to be taken lightly as our celebrity icons want us to think.
Here are some questions to ponder seriously before pursuing a divorce:

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Be a “No Nag” Marriage Partner

The Wall Street Journal ran a story stating that the number one issue causing divorce in America is nagging. In this article, the author went so far as to say that nagging is more caustic to a marriage than infidelity. I wouldn’t agree with that assertion, but we all know that nagging is a terrible habit that gets introduced into many marriages. I am surprised that this “new revelation” has gotten so much publicity, after all this is not a new revelation at all. King Solomon in ancient Israel wrote about this in several places in the Book of Proverbs,
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”(21:9 & 25:24).
The idea presented here is that a wife, or husband, who is constantly upset, demanding, and argumentative zaps all of the enjoyment out of life. This is closely related to the idea of nagging as we understand it. Nagging is the habit of asking one’s mate to do certain things over and over again growing increasingly more agitated, impatient, demanding, and critical with each request. Nagging is often associated with a growing communication of disrespect and vengeful ploys to manipulate one’s mate into compliance as soon as possible. No one wants to be married to a person who nags.

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The Power of a Kiss!

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine.” Song of Songs 1:2
Yes, this is a quote from the Bible. The Song of Songs is a book of the Bible that is devoted to celebrating the wonder of romance and love between a husband and his wife. It has been a guide as well as a source of inspiration to married couples for centuries.
In Genesis 2, we read the account of God’s creation of Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve as the crowning glory of all His creation. Man and woman were unique from all other created beings in many ways including our ability to communicate clearly and precisely with each other, our ability to communicate with God, our ability to create, reason, and build, and the way we enjoy our senses. While many of God’s creations have the sense of taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing, man is unique in our experience of these things. We not only taste, but we create gourmet experiences for our enjoyment. We not only smell, but we create a wide variety of smell sensations to enjoy. We not only touch, but we have developed schools to help further the healing benefits of touch. Not only do we see, we create beautiful art. Not only do we hear, but we create beautiful music of all sorts to fill the ears with the beauty of music. Man is unique among all of God’s creation.
This is true also in our romantic relationships. As far as anyone can tell, animals engage in a form of courtship and mating simply because of an instinctual drive to create offspring. Courtship among humans is different. We are different by design just as we are different in our enjoyment our our five senses. The bond between a married couple is a deep bond that is intended to bring a lifetime of comfort and enjoyment as they help each other through the ups and downs of life. However, just like it takes effort, planning, and creativity to create a wonderful perfume, a delicious meal, a masterpiece, or beautiful music, it takes effort, planning, and creativity to keep the enjoyment part of the relationship alive and well. One of the keys to keeping the excitement alive in a marriage is to make kissing a regular part of your interaction.
In a recent study, it was revealed that 1/5 of married couples regularly go as long as one week without kissing at all. Then, when they did kiss, 40% of them shared a kiss that lasted only five seconds. It is no wonder that so many people are bored and miserable in their marriages.
According to www.webmd.com, there are quite a few benefits associated with kissing including:

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Chase away Insecurity

Recent articles in USA Today.com and psychcentral.com tell of a study that indicates that people who are insecure in relationships are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, chronic headaches, neck and back pain, and other serious conditions. The study concedes that there are many other contributing factors and much more research needs to be done to reach conclusive results, however I think we all agree from experience that relational insecurity is a terrible state of being that creates a lot of stress and heartache. Marriage is supposed to be a cure for loneliness and insecurity, but many couples journey through difficult times that are filled with insecurity. It is important to learn to chase insecurity from your marriage.
In the Bible is a book called the Song of Songs. It is a beautiful love song between two lovers that gives us a beautiful picture of the beauty of married love. In SOS, 1:5-11, we find a great exchange between this couple that is a beautiful pattern to help us chase insecurity away. The young king, Solomon, has been out in the countryside looking over his flocks and livestock and has met a young woman whose family rents a vineyard from him. She is beautiful and he is drawn to her. They quickly fall deeply in love and he asks her to marry him. He sends her to Jerusalem, the capital city, to the palace to prepare for the upcoming wedding(things worked very differently in that culture). Upon arrival, she sees the wealthy, pampered daughters of the Jerusalem elite who are all vieing to become the king’s bride. She stands out in stark contrast. She has been forced to work in the vineyard with the men while these beauties have been shielded from the harsh sun and have pampered their skin with oils and expensive lotions. Her hands are calloused and show the wear of hard labor. She has not been trained in all the social graces of the royal court. She is truly the odd girl out and her insecurities are raging as she awaits the return of Solomon. Not only that, but it seems that her Father had died and her brothers were leading the family and had chosen to mistreat her. She was insecure because of her family background. To make matters worse, her beloved was away and her insecurities were amplified by his absence. Eventually, the insecurities overwhelm her and she goes out into the countryside to look for him to calm her heart. As she is going from shepherd camp to shepherd camp looking for him she becomes afraid that this will cause her to become associated with the women of the day who belonged to no man and went about from encampment to encampment and were considered to be prostitutes (veiled women). She was concerned about her reputation, but her desperate need for reassurance in the relationship drove her on. Eventually, she found him and he chased away her insecurities. In doing so, he creates a wonderful pattern for husbands to follow in order to chase away the insecurities of their wives:

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The Comfort of Companionship

There are some things that are just plain comforting, often for no apparent real reason, like a sunrise after a long, stressful night at the hospital with an ailing loved one. The sight of a flickering fire in the fireplace is another. The roar of the surf is another mysterious comforter. As humans, we instinctively know that this world is filled with stressful, disappointing seasons and we crave things that bring us comfort to see us through these times.
One of the most powerful sources of comfort comes to us through companionship. Companionship is found by sharing life with someone with whom we have a deep bond. While this can be experienced with parents or friends, the most powerful companionship experience is found in marriage.
Sadly, many married couples have workable arrangements, but lack real companionship. According to everydayhealth.com, studies conducted at Brown University by Dr. Scott Haltzman showed that companionship in marriage has many health benefits. The study revealed that being in a healthy marriage reduced the mortality rate of average 45 year old women by 50% and greatly increased the odds of average 48 year old men living to age 65 from 65% to 90%. The study also found that a man in a healthy marriage who has heart disease is expected to live 4 years longer than an unmarried man with heart disease. According to this study, cancer treatment is up to 17% more effective on people who are in a healthy marriage. The study revealed that unmarried people were 9 times more likely to experience bouts of major depression. The study also found that divorce/separation more than doubles the risk of suicide among men. Like our craving for water to sustain life, we crave companionship to find overall well being.
In the Bible, in the book of Song of Songs, we find a poem about two lovers who were enjoying the thrill of a growing romantic relationship. Most couples can remember the excitement of finding a romantic interest who returned this interest. The escalation of the relationship from acquaintance to boyfriend/girlfriend is euphoric just like the escalation described in the Song of Songs. Sometimes, couples get so caught up in the euphoria and the plans for a wedding and beyond that they neglect to foster and care for the most important element of a healthy marriage…companionship. I have been shocked to realize that many married couples know so little about the history and thought process of their mate. Many times, a person will share details of their life in a coaching session with us and their mate of many years is blown away to realize that they never shared this with each other.

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Avoid the Straw that broke the Camel’s Back!

“The straw that broke the camel’s back.” This is a saying that has its roots in an ancient Arab proverb and many believe entered our world of idioms when Charles Dickens popularized the proverb in his book, Dombey and Son. This idiom simply means that even as a camel, though able to carry burdens up to one thousand pounds, has a limit on how much it can bear, we have limits also. We can endure a lot of stress and difficulty, but when loaded fully, it seems that one more small thing can make our load too much and break us.
This idea is also portrayed in the Bible in Song of Songs 2:15. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” NIV.
In this ancient love song, the man is urging his beloved to guard the vineyard of their love for each other which is in full bloom from the little foxes that try to undermine and destroy the relationship like small foxes destroy grape vineyards. Small foxes destroy the grape harvest by eating the fruit and destroying the roots of the vines thus destroying the current harvest and future harvests.
I have found this to be true in marriages too. Many times couples will allow hurts, unresolved conflicts, and resentments to build up in their relationship. This accumulation begins to create a negative cycle of hurt, isolation, and pulling away in the relationship. Unfortunately, there comes a time when one partner will reach his/her capacity and when one more little hurt is placed on him/her it will cause a major blow up in the relationship that is often the death blow to the relationship.
The solution is quite simple, don’t allow yourself to get loaded up with offenses in the first place. Everyone has opportunities to be upset with the person to whom they are married. Every marriage is made up of two people who are very different. There are the basic male/female differences. There are family background differences that effect our traditions of engaging life and our child rearing philosophy. There are differences that come from varying educational backgrounds. There are personality differences. There are temperament differences. The list of possibilities is great

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