Staying Together when Life is Pulling you Apart

I have found that most people,especially couples, are unprepared to deal with the changes and difficulties that come throughout life. Because they don’t have a plan to help them stay together in rough waters, they often drift apart when the waters of life begin to crash over them. Some of the most common trials that face couples are pregnancy, the responsibilities of small children, the challenges of teenagers, financial stress, job loss, sickness, sickness of a child, aging, the empty nest, and the difficulties of caring for aging parents. These are events that are beyond our control. They require us to step up and face difficult realities and make significant adjustments in our plans and daily routines. Many times these circumstances bring long periods of stress, emotional ups and downs, and exhaustion. They also carry with them increased financial demands that frequently take away from time available to be together as one or both seek to earn more money to pay for this new challenge. It is in this environment that couples often begin to turn on each other, neglect each other, and begin to associate the stress with their mate rather than the circumstances. These are seasons in life that drive many couples to the divorce courts.
The reality is that divorce is not the best answer. Unless you are married to a habitual cheater or an abuser, divorce does not solve anything, it simply increases the pain.and adds new challenges. In our book, I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage Journey, we devote a chapter to helping couples count the real cost of divorce. When couples get divorced, it has a negative effect on everyone in your circle of friends and family. The children will spend the rest of their lives trying to get over it. Every special day will be saddened by the reality that the family is broken and now everyone must try to determine how to include and relate to step parents and step children. Someone or both will have to move which will involve new schools, new neighbors, new friends, less contact with former close friends and family, new church, and maybe a new job. If financial stress was the driving force behind the decision to divorce, the result will be even less money and even more bills since the divorce costs are high. Loneliness will now take a significant place in everyone’s heart.
The best plan is to work to stay together. After all, marriage is about two people promising to help each other through life.

Read more...

Ideas to help resolve Conflict

Conflicts are a natural part of relationships because everyone approaches life a little differently. In a lifelong relationship like marriage, it is crucial for both partners to learn to understand each other and learn to work together to help each other make it through the ups and downs of life. Effective conflict resolution is a vital part of a successful marriage, yet this is an area that is seldom discussed with couples until there is a crisis in the marriage.

Most conflicts are started when one marriage partner expresses dissatisfaction with some aspect of the relationship to the other partner. It seems that this is usually filed as an accusation and often accompanied with a question about the love and commitment in the relationship. Normally, the exchange is filled with hurt that is expressed in anger. Too often, this initial expression is returned with more anger, accusations, and hurtful retaliations. Many times this exchange escalates to a place of frustration on the part of both and eventually one or both will simply stop talking and the issue is left to simmer in silence. This creates distance and coldness in the relationship where neither is giving or receiving the things needed in a healthy relationship. A downward cycle of withholding good and dishing out little “jabs” is now set in motion. A terrible undercurrent now overshadows a once happy marriage. Misery is eclipsing joy.

Here are some ideas to help resolve conflicts in a healthy manner:
1-Have a clear goal. Before expressing dissatisfaction in the relationship, think through the issues until you are clear on the main problem. Often, these conflicts are started without a clear goal to be addressed and the end result is a frustrating exchange of anger about a variety of subjects with no real solution being discussed. Know what you want before start!
2-Talk only to your mate (or the person involved if this is a non-marriage conflict) never talk to others about your disappointments in the relationship. Go to the person with whom you have the conflict.The Bible, Matthew 18:15-16
3– Choose your words carefully. Remember that this is the most important person in your life and words have power to heal and reconcile as well as the power to hurt and divide.


Read more...

Danger: For Marriage Only!

It seems that since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, God’s enemy, Satan, has been exploiting human sexuality to bring pain and devastation to multitudes all the while extolling this effort as “real freedom” and “real fun”. This has been so successful partly because the church has either been silent or has misrepresented God’s view on this subject as detailed in the Bible. One of my goals with this space is to offer thought provoking, biblical principles in a concise, easy to read format so I will only be able to hit the highlights. For a more in depth study, order a copy of I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage Journey ISBN 978 1 60957 156 6.
Let’s look briefly at God’s plan for sex in the beginning to try to gain insights into this controversy. In the first three chapters of Genesis, we see that God created the Heavens and Earth. In His creation of the vast animal kingdom, God included a means of procreation. Most of these species procreate by sexual union. He surveyed His creation, including the procreation process, and declared it to be good. Adam was the only created being that had no mate and no way to reproduce.
In a later event, God created Eve to be Adam’s companion.It seems that one reason God made this a separate event was to emphasize the fact that human sexuality is different, more special, from that of the rest of creation. The creatures of the animal kingdom were driven by instinct to mate for reproductive purposes, however human sexuality is sacred and is to be practiced carefully.

Read more...

Train up a Child

Being a parent is one of the most incredible aspects of the human experience. Sadly, many fail to see its importance, assuming that their children will be ok with a minimal investment of parenting. In Proverbs 22:6, we are told that we are to train our children in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. First of all, let me affirm that some who are great parents have wayward children who make bad choices. The prophet Samuel is one Biblical example. Despite Samuel’s example and instruction, his sons chose to be corrupt in their service to God and Israel. So my point is not to make parents of wayward children feel condemned. My purpose is to remind and encourage those of us who are rearing children to be vigilant and to seek effectiveness in our methods.
Children are a sacred trust from God.
In Malachi 2:15, we find that God’s plan is to perpetuate the knowledge of Him from parents to children to spread the knowledge of God from generation to generation. God’s desire is that we as parents would grow in our knowledge of Him and spread that to our children and grandchildren. The question becomes, “How do I do that?”

Read more...

Confront the Monster for a Healthy Family

I remember shortly after I surrendered my life to Christ as an 11 year old my Mom pulled me aside and explained to me that part of that commitment meant that my behavior and my attitude toward others, especially my siblings, would have to be changed. This explanation opened the door for the Holy Spirit to begin dealing with me on a regular basis about the lifelong struggle to train “self” to live for Christ. It was right then that I came to understand that I would have to tame a monster living in me. The monster of self!

Read more...

It’s Nice to be Important, but it’s Important to be Nice!

I saw this quote on the back of a cab recently and it made me start thinking. Why would a cab company put this quote on their cabs? Then it hit me. Can you imagine the treatment cab drivers get from most clients? I suppose they all think that they are the most important people in the city and that their agenda is the most important thing that driver will encounter that day. I am sure many of them treat the driver as their personal servant for the duration of their drive. I guess the slogan is an attempt to remind them that being nice is truly important to creating a positive experience.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are expected by God to exemplify in growing measure certain characteristics of His. This family resemblance is in stark contrast to what people are accustomed to seeing.

Read more...

Consider the Culture in your Home

What is the culture in your home? Have you ever thought about it? Every place where the same people interact regularly has its own unique culture. Some workplaces have a culture of competition and rivalry that keeps everyone on edge. Some have a culture of fear of the boss that keeps everyone on the lookout. Some have a culture of neglect and carelessness where everyone is simply there to get a paycheck and get by doing as little as possible because that is acceptable. A very few have a culture of teamwork and camaraderie.
Churches have a unique culture. Some are warm and friendly. Some are formal and stiff. Some are very casual and free spirited, while others are very much driven by a code of regulations and traditions. Whether it is the culture of a workplace, church, or volunteer organization, it is primarily set by those in leadership and flows throughout the organization. The interesting thing is that people coming into the organization will naturally feel the presence of this unseen force and over time will acclimate to it…or be forced out. Most of us have experienced this in one way or another.
Families have a unique culture also.

Read more...

Prepare Children for Life

Some things in life seem so normal that we often don’t take time to acknowledge and appreciate them. For me, it was basic life skills training imparted to me by my parents and grandparents. I was raised in a family business so my family made it a normal part of life to impart as many skills as possible as well as qualities like a strong work ethic, responsibility, and dependability. Every day was filled with the instruction about how to do things as well as how a small business operates and functions. I worked alongside my parents every day observing how things were done and helping. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was well prepared to move into the work force or start a business. This preparation has served me well through my life thus far.

Read more...

Children: A Sacred Trust

I have recently made several observations that have sparked this article. I was visiting a church Sunday and the young pastor made a joke that we have all heard versions of many times. In his message, he stated that sometimes when his small children are acting up he wondered if he was happy God gave them to him. I know he did not mean it and it was simply an attempt at humor, and most everyone found it really funny, but it hit my wife and I differently. You see, we always dreamed of and longed for children. We had complications with our first son’s birth and the doctors said we would never have any more. We truly began to understand Psalm 127:3-5, which states that children are a reward from God.

Read more...

Harmony in the Home

Harmony is that quality best understood in musical terms. We have all experienced the uneasy feeling that comes when a group of singers get together and their voices simply don’t blend well together or a band starts playing and some are out of tune or off on their timing. A lack of harmony transforms one of the most wonderful experiences of humanity, music, into an unpleasant experience that generates an intense inner cry of…. “ just make it stop! Harmony can make good musicians great. A lack of harmony can make great musicians sound terrible!
 The same is true in family relationships. Harmony can make life wonderful. A lack of harmony can make life unbearable. A lack of harmony makes children fantasize about leaving. A lack of harmony makes husbands and wives prone to thoughts of escaping the marriage to find peace.

Read more...