Marital Traffic: 3 Ways to Face Marital Challenges

Periodically, when I’m performing weddings, I’ll read an excerpt from a piece written by Robert Fulghum called, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. ” It’s a fun take of how we can approach life, especially in marriage. It says”

Most of what I really need to know about how to live
And what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.

I love to linger on that last line.

“When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.”

The statement is more powerful than most couples realize. First, traffic is present. There’s nothing inherently bad about “traffic.” Cars are not evil. But the metaphor is deep enough to warn us that every marriage faces things beyond themselves that are challenging. And challenges that are not properly navigated through can/will cause pain. That leads us to my second thought: though you can do nothing about the presence of traffic, you can maneuver through it safely if you walk together, work together, and stay together.

(If you’re a wedding officiate, congrats, you now have a great ending to your wedding ceremony.)

It’s not facing the “traffic” (struggles) that makes you feel hopeless, it’s feeling like you’re going through it alone. And THAT, my friends, should not be.

Tattooed on the outside of my right wrist is a meaningful scripture I want to give you. It’s out of Isaiah 43:2 and says,

When you go through deep waters, I will be with youWhen you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

This powerful word is not the denial of tough times but the promise of the Lord’s presence within them. Our marriages will face “rivers of difficulty” and “the fire of oppression.” But His presence is what helps us “go through” them and not get destroyed by them. Together with the Lord, our marriages can make it through “traffic.”

So if we’re going to face “traffic,” perhaps we can have a simple yet strategic approach to marital challenges that produce something out of our pain.

1. Go through it together.
I grew up in metro Detroit and I know traffic. I’ve also driven though Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York. And the reason why the traffic was worth enduring was the destination that was in my vision. Why “go through it”? Because your marriage is worth it. When you see something challenging in front of your marriage, talk about it; strategize about it. Grab each other’s hands, pray Isaiah 43 over your marriage, and go through it together. I love Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”

2. Grow through it together.
Going through challenges is inevitable; learning from them is optional. Don’t waste the struggle. Look at what you face (or are presently facing) and find purpose in the pain by growing from what you have endured. What could you (or both of you) have done different? What should you do the next time you face a challenge? How can you do a better job encouraging each other through things? What tools/help can you access to guide you both? Find a growth point personally and maritally and share those with one another.

3. Share the wisdom. 
Don’t be selfish with your lessons; share them with someone who needs hope. Sometimes “hope” is in the form of “We understand. We’ve been there. We know what you’re going through.” When you share your progress and your victories, you share hope. And a sliver of hope can be the catalyst for another couple to see a mountain they’re facing moved.

Love you all. Praying over you all as you face the traffic in life together, learn from the journey, and pour that into others.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

2 Minute Devo: Ecclesiastes Day 5

September is all about diving into the book of Ecclesiastes.  Watch the devo and read the scripture for today:

 

Ecclesiastes 8:1

Who is like the wise? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

Punch Temptation in the Face: Dealing with temptation in marriage

Dave and Anne diagonal

One of my all-time favorite athletes to watch: Mike Tyson (pre-ear biting).  To me, there was nothing so sensational to watch him dismantle opponents in the ring in the matter of seconds.  People would spend hundreds of dollars to watch him knock out opposing boxers in 30 seconds.  

Just in case you want to see him in action…

Iron Mike Tyson was the quintessential fighter of my generation. Mike is known for a number of things. But there’s one quote of his that makes me smile every time I hear it. 

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

face_punch2

How true is that?  Life can seem so good…then BAM…something comes along and hits us.  We stand dazed and confused over what just hit us and where the punch came from.  Unfortunately we find so many marriages “down for the count” because of the “knockout punch” that came when they least expected it.  This blog is the warning flag to every marriage to help them see that temptation is going to try to wear you down in order to deliver the “knockout punch” in order to destroy what the Lord wants to build up. 

How does a marriage get to the place where you become vulnerable to the “knockout punch”? With the help of everythingfight.blogspot.com, I’ll explain how that happens.  (bear with me…this will get us to our marriage discussion)

The knockout punch requires three elements:
1 – Power: This element is vital and when you can deliver lots of it, you are a fearsome creature inside and outside of the ring. Fighters with innate power to deliver knockout punches have what they call the “puncher’s chance”. They are capable of winning fights even when dominated because once they catch you with a clean shot at any point, you’ll get knocked out cold.
2 – Accuracy:  The “button”, “off-switch”, and “sweet spot” are terms given to the areas of the head that are very vulnerable for the knockout. If you are accurate in your punches and able to cleanly hit these spots, you can make your opponent take a premature nap. These so-called sweet spots are the chin, jaw, and the temple. A punch to the chin and jaw has more leverage therefore the head repositions more forcefully. A hit on the temple, on the other hand, disturbs your equilibrium.
3 – Surprise: The element of surprise is usually the main cause of sensational knockouts. A deceptive fighter capable of throwing punches at angles that cannot be seen is more likely to dish out potential knockout punches mainly because the opponent is not prepared to tense his neck and jaw muscles fast enough to receive the punch. The result is more violent snapping on the head, more brain trauma, and an express trip dreamland.
WHY GO THROUGH THIS BOXING STUFF???? 
It’s simple.  This is how temptation works.  
TRUTH: If you are not ruthless with temptation….it will be ruthless with you!
We cannot be soft when it comes to dealing with temptation. In the bible, it is the apostle Paul who used athletic imagery when he taught about the strenuous effort of resisting sin. He wrote in 1 Cor. 9:27, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified”.  Paul was intense about his “training” when it came to dealing with anything that was going to disqualify him from what God had planned for him.  That same intensity needs to be present in our marriage as well.
Like a perfect knockout punch, temptation wants to…
1 – Overpower you. Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you felt. The more you focus on “I don’t want to do this,” the stronger it draws you into its web.  Temptation will seem larger than life.  It will offer the world and more.  In the end, it will ask you to sacrifice more than you have.
2 – Be accurate in its attack. The devil knows you. He’s a student of humanity.  Like a surgeon with precise incisions, temptations know your sweet spots/weak areas and attack.  Temptation doesn’t waste moments.  Every attack is designed with purpose: to destroy you and your marriage. 
3 – Lure you in to surprise you. Fighters become vulnerable when they get weary.  Temptation will be relentless and does not sleep.  It wants to wear you down. When you get tired, you let your guard down.  And when that happens, you get lured and…
…you wake up in a reality you didn’t think was possible.  
…you wake up wondering how your marriage got this way.
…you wake up stumbling….trying to find something to grasp onto to help you stand up.
If you’re reading this…THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
This is the moment we turn the corner and the strategy against temptation.  The key to dealing with temptation is found in scripture.  Two scriptures I want to read to you:  
James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
3 Things to note:
1. Be humble before God.  Let your mate see your humility.  Be teachable and willing to change. Be open to accountability with your spouse and with others. 
2. Resist the devil.  It may surprise you that nowhere in the Bible are we told to “resist temptation.” We are told to “resist the devil’. How do you punch temptation in the face? By resisting the one who is throwing the punch.
3.  God is faithful.  The problem: we are not. As you keep Christ as the center of your marriage, he promises to be there through thick and thin.  He is there for when temptation shows its ugly face, he will ALWAYS show you a way out.
Are you going through a season of temptation in your marriage? Is your spouse struggling with it? Punch it in the face by not dealing with it by yourself but humbly coming to Jesus.  Remember, he will be faithful (our Connection Pastor just preached about the faithfulness of God).  Hiding your temptation only intensifies it. Problems grow in the dark and become bigger and bigger, but when exposed to the light of Christ, they shrink. I like what Rick Warren says, “You are only as sick as your secrets.”
So take off your mask, stop pretending you’re perfect, and walk into freedom that Jesus has for you. And through this, you’ll stand and see the power of God work in your marriage like never before.
Thanks for letting me ramble…