One of the Few Things We Have In Common…and 5 Threats to Losing It.

In a few days, Anne and I will celebrate our 18 year anniversary. I still don’t understand what she saw (or sees) in me, but I’m very thankful she said “yes.” Every year, marriage presents new challenges and every year I fall in a deeper love with her. There’s no one else I would do life with.  

Now that the sappiness is out of the way…

Looking at our overall relationship these past 18 years, we have to admit how completely different we are. Someone just asked me about how compatible Anne and I are. I had to be honest…we don’t have a ton of areas of “compatibility.” I’m willing to bet that if we did the online dating 20 years ago, the online dating service would probably never match us up.

We have different interests
The interests we share, we do them differently (running, shows vs. movies, etc)
We grew up in completely different style homes.
We have different personality types.
We have completely different strengths.
We don’t share the same love languages.
We don’t grow spiritually the same way (the elements are similar but done differently).
We don’t fully grasp what each other struggles with.
I have better taste in music than she does. (Really babe? Justin Bieber?) 

So the question rises: Where are we alike (if at all)?

  1. We both passionately love Jesus.
  2. We both love to laugh.
  3. We both have a strong resolve.

I like the word “resolve.” You can call it “stubborn.” You can use the word “determined.” But whatever the synonym, Anne and I learned that having resolute mindset is a game-changer.

We refuse to paint an idealistic picture of a marriage without struggles (did you not read our list?).  Like the seasons of a Michigan calendar year, good moments and challenging moments are what life brings you. It’s the result of being a human that married a human. But it’s the resolve that will push you through.  It’s your resolve that has made your mind up that regardless of what you face, you’ll face it together and come out together on the other side.

But I promise (speaking from 18 years of experience) that there are things that want to weaken your resolve. Here are a few threats to look out for that want to weaken your resolve:

1 – Discouraging people.  I think of John 14, when Jesus warns against having your resolve weakened by what you’re facing rather than focusing upon Him. It happens to the best of us. And many times, it happens through people.  I don’t care if it’s family, close friends, or your connections on social media, avoid people who will weaken your resolve to be a good spouse and/or see good in your spouse.  Some people thrive on being critical without even desiring to be constructive. Find people who will encourage you. You need hope and not despair.

2 – Living on empty.  Anytime I’ve known people who have lost their resolve has been from a place of fatigue. Esau, in Genesis 25, sells out the future of his family out of being tired and hungry.  If you don’t care for yourself spiritually, emotionally, and even physically, you are going to drain the strength of the resolve that helps you push through. Getting proper rest, spending quality time with the Lord, and living at a healthy pace will properly fuel the resolute mindset that helps a marriage push through.

3 – Neglecting the simple essentials. Marriage isn’t about “set it and forget it.” It’s a constant upkeep of what I consider the simple essentials. It’s daily choices to build your resolve by facilitating:

  • Purposefully building healthy communication.
  • Serving your spouse’s love language.
  • Constantly building your relationship with Christ
  • Engaging in a consistent sex life.  
  • Learning how facilitate fun.

4 – Pornography. The goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy.  Whether it’s visual porn (hyperbolized sexual imagery) or emotional porn (hyperbolized relational fantasy) the more open you are to it, the weaker your resolve will get as it will seed a false sense of dissatisfaction. Two of my biggest reasons is it causes an unhealthy view of the female body as well as an unhealthy sexual expectations.  Top it off with the addictive nature of porn devised to make you dependent upon it, you then have a monster that isn’t worth the amount of space it will take up in your thoughts and the way it weakens your resolve.

5 – Toxic mindsets. Hopelessness wants to break the back of your resolve. Like mixing too much sand into your concrete, it wants to make your resolute stance a bit more brittle than you expected. It’s why scripture challenges us to stay clear of toxic mindsets like bitterness, rage, , comparison, criticism, and unforgiveness. They say “you are what you eat.” But a more biblical stance would be, “you are what you think.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Your marriage doesn’t need the compatibility that the world will say you need. But you do need to have a resolve.  

I leave you with these final four challenges about your resolve:

  1. Let your resolve will be driven from the heart of Jesus.
  2. Let your resolve will be shown through the character of Jesus.
  3. Resolve to seek AND be open to how the Holy Spirit wants to change you.
  4. Resolve to not try to change your spouse but allow the Holy Spirit to change your spouse with the same amount of freedom you’ve given Him.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Who Needs Sex? 7 ways to sabotage your marital sex life

It’s always been one of my favorite stories and it was just about the only form of premarital prep that my dad had before marrying my mom.  Right before the ceremony, they began to throw a football together.  My Uncle David looks at my father and says,

“Harold, how do you think God thinks about sex?”

I’m not sure how dad replied.  But Uncle David’s reply was priceless,

“God thinks it’s great.”

Not sure where we get the idea that anyone, especially Christians, should be silent on the issue of sex.  For some reason, we’ll shout from the rooftops all of the blessings that God has given us but we stay strangely silent on the issue.  But with our (the church) silence, I believe, we’ve seen a toll taken upon our world.  We can blame Hollywood or any type of media outlet.  I’m of the opinion that we (the church) stayed silent over something God wasn’t silent about.  Since no one stepped up to the mic, someone else did. And now we are playing catch-up with a deranged understanding of this awesome and amazing gift given to our marriage by God himself.

My heart behind todays blog is to help bring liberty and freedom to married couples.  Again, sex is a gift from God. Like any gift from God, Satan would love to pervert the truth as to change it into the image that he desires.  In fact the definition of the word “pervert” is, “alter (something) from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended.” And that’s exactly what he’s accomplishing.

God desires you to have a prosperous sex life in your marriage, yet there are some things we do to sabotage the enjoyment.  Like everything from God, we are called to be stewards.  And yes, you are to be a steward of your sex life as to not damage this blessing.

Here we go, 7 ways to sabotage your sex life

1. Use guilt. Manipulating the emotions of your spouse might win you a battle or two but you’ll lose the war.  Using guilt is wrong and abusive and it’ll make your spouse despise the every act that is supposed to bring your marriage joy.  I’ve always taught: God uses conviction; Satan uses guilt.  Conviction is a job of the Holy Spirit to prod us to move forward.  Guilt, by design, wants to keep us in a place of blame.  You’re not the Holy Spirit so stop trying to convict your spouse and/or stop acting like Satan and guilting your spouse.  Guilt is not your role.

2. Wait till you are in the mood. Sex not a gift just for the spouse with the higher libido.  It is a gift from God for you both. Imagine with me, your love language is “Quality Time” and your spouse responds to that need with “I’m not in the mood.” Or maybe you’re a “Words of Affirmation” person and desire conversational intimacy but what you get is “No thanks, I don’t feel like that today.”  In the words of my amazingly wise wife, you are the only one in this world that can sexually satisfy your spouse.  Regardless of what your love language is, we are called to serve our spouse (not just sexually).  Be open and be creative.  Take some steps forward, not out of guilt or condemnation, but out of a genuine heart to fill your spouse’s “love tank” to FULL. If your marriage is made up of two people desiring to serve each other (pouring into your spouse’s needs), the two of you will never run on EMPTY.

3. Invite pornography into your marriage. As I stated in my blog “Eviction Notices,” This is not just a male issue.   Both men and women can be stimulated by pornography and seduced into thinking it’s a help for their marriage.  The goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy.  Whether its “Visual” or “Emotional” porn, it is a huge stumbling block for couples and causes tremendous sexual issues. Two of my biggest reasons is it causes an unhealthy view of the female body as well as an unhealthy sexual expectations.  Top it off with the addictive nature of porn devised to make you dependent upon it, you then have a monster that isn’t worth the amount of space it will take up in your thoughts. Like a thirsty man crawling through the desert after a mirage, pornography has you crawling toward an illusion that will leave you constantly in want.

4. Comparison with other couples. We all get caught doing it.  We listen to another couples and/or see their marriage lived out on social media.  Comparison can be dangerous because it either puts us in a place of condemnation or competition with/by other couples…both of which are extremely unhealthy in marriage.  Just as you are uniquely made by God, the two of you as a couple are unique in your oneness.  Simply said, you two are not called to do and act like other couples when it comes to their marriage practices.  Yes, there will be characteristics we all possess as we strive to have our marriages reflect Christ.  But the manner and frequency will differ based upon the two people who make up the marriage. When it comes to the frequency of sex, there is no magic number.  Assuming someone else has a BETTER quality sex life because they have more quantity isn’t a healthy mindset (not that I’m against quantity).  But comparison will break you down and take your satisfaction from your spouse and place it upon the opinions of others.

5. Make intimacy all about intercourse.  Intimacy is the culmination of a day and not just a few moments in a bedroom. Sex is bigger than intercourse.  It’s bigger than foreplay.  It encapsulates the way you text, call, serve, respond, and look at each other throughout the day.  A great way to sabotage your sex life is to think that what takes place between the sheets is completely disconnected from the rest of life.  Open your eyes.  Perhaps he/she is struggling to respond to you because you haven’t responded to him/her all day.

6. Stop having fun together. You can’t discount fun in a marriage.  Dates cannot be rare occasions.  Anne and I, early in our marriage, didn’t have much money or ability to just leave the house because of two little ones.  It didn’t stop us from enjoying time with each other.  From projects and walks together to watching shows on our laptop, we found ways to engage in “fun” things that we both enjoy doing together.  Laughing together is good for the heart, good for the soul, and can stir the libido.  Fun is mandatory inside and outside of the bedroom.  Learn to enjoy each other.

7. Ignore past hurts. It’s painful to remove a splinter in your hand.  What’s even more painful is to wait thinking it’ll go away.  The longer you wait, the deeper the actual wound will get.  First, if you have past sexual hurts that you have carried into your marriage, tell your spouse and let him/her help you.  Remember, the two became one.  What is your issues is his/her issue and you move forward together.  Second, please get some help ASAP.  You’ve held onto it long enough and that hurt has no right in your life.  Find a local Christian counselor that specializes in this and begin the road to healing.  The healing that comes from the atonement of the cross includes our deepest hurts.

I end with this…

Proverbs 5:18-19 Let your manhood be a blessing; rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her charms and tender embrace satisfy you. Let her love alone FILL you with delight.

A key word (amongst many key words) in this passage is “FILL.” Just as much as sex is a gift from God, you are a gift to your spouse. You are the ONLY ONE that is equipped to “FILL” your spouse with “delight.”  If you are in a place of hurt or confusion, please seek Godly help. Don’t wait on it.  I’ve never met a couple that had a healthy sex life that got divorced.  I think the biggest reason behind that is they’ve learned to serve each other by “delighting” their spouse. And if your spouse is full, there is no room for Satan to work with.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Eviction Notices: 8 Things to evict from your mind to help your marriage.

For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7

I can’t say that I’ve ever been given an eviction notice.  But I assume it’s not a good thing to get one.  In my lifetime, I’ve had my power shut off before.  I’ve even had collections call.  But to get an eviction notice, that’s something I do not desire to experience.  It was about a year ago that our staff helped an individual who was being evicted.  The experience of seeing everything the person owned thrown on the lawn was surreal to say the least.  But to deal with the people whose family member was being evicted was quite the learning experience. This man went to bed in his “home” and woke up to not having a home.

Eviction notices.  The notification telling someone who they are being expelled or kicked out from the place they called home.  This is where Proverbs 23:7 comes in.
For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
The mind is a powerful thing.  And carrying unhealthy mindsets in your marriage can cause your marriage to struggle far more than it needs to. There enough challenges in this world for your marriage and your mind shouldn’t be the place where they start or are fed.  When we conceive an unhealthy mindset about our marriage and/or about our spouse, we will ultimately live it out.  It won’t stay in the mind.  Whatever it is you are entertaining in your thought life, you are inviting into the rest of your life.  So today I’m challenging you to serve eviction notices to things that have been living in your mind.
 
Evict 2

7 Mindsets you need to evict: 

1 – Assumption.  The old adage says, “When you assume you make a _______ out of U & ME” and it’s just as true in our marriage.  Fear drives assumption.  It’s the result of darkness in your relationship.  When you don’t know what has happened and/or what is going on (even in the little things), your mind is going to wander and indulge in wrong thinking. When you have communication breakdowns, assumption is the natural result and it will toy with your mind.  How many times have you had a shift in your mood because assumption has filled your thoughts and changed your emotions? How many times do you find yourself mad, hurt, frustrated with your spouse AND you don’t even know why? It’s assumption.

Side note:  If you are keeping ANYTHING from your spouse, don’t complain about your spouse assuming things.  Again, assumption is the natural result of invited darkness/mystery.

2 – Jealousy. This is a negative mindset rooted in low self-esteem and fear. Spouses are more likely to be jealous when he/she doesn’t believe he/she is lovable or that they are not worthy of being loved. People like this live in constant fear that their spouse will, first, see others more attractive and, second, take actions based upon those feelings.  Jealousy rapes your mind.  I know that’s a strong word but it’s the only way to project that damage it does.  It will rob the individual experiencing it of value while ripping the trust from the marriage.

3 – Suspicion. (Anne encouraged me to separate this from jealousy.) Many times, this isn’t based on anything a spouse may or may not have done. It might not be about what he/she actually did or is presently doing.  It may not be about what a spouse will ever do, Suspicion lives off of the “what could be” mindsets.  Suspicion is demanding and unreasonable because the spouse doesn’t have to do anything wrong. The fear is that they are losing that person and they have to do something to hold onto them, to test them and to make them understand that they are needed. If not dealt with, suspicion knows no reason and can be very detrimental to a relationship.

4 – Visual Pornography.  NOTE: This is not just a male issue.   Both men and women can be visually stimulated.  The goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy.  Visual pornography is a huge stumbling block for couples and causes tremendous sexual issues. Two of my biggest reasons is it causes an unhealthy view of the female body as well as an unhealthy sexual expectations.  Top it off with the addictive nature of porn devised to make you dependent upon it, you then have a monster that isn’t worth the amount of space it will take up in your thoughts.

5 – Emotional Pornography.  I guess I could have lumped both kinds together, but like jealousy and suspicion, this second type of porn needed to be separate.  Again, the goal of pornography is to skew the authentic with fantasy.  Emotional porn may not fill you mind with naked people, but it will fill your imaginations with the skewed reality of where your marriage is at.  Like it’s counterpart, unhealthy scenarios of what your partner is/isn’t doing, what you do/don’t deserve, what you are/aren’t experiencing fill your thoughts and develops unrealistic expectations that probably can never be met.  Like a thirsty man crawling through the desert after a mirage, emotional porn has you crawling toward an illusion that will leave you constantly in want.

6 – Unforgiveness.  I can’t bring this up enough.  Unforgiveness is the best way to define what having “skeletons in the closet” means.  Some of you are holding onto the bones of previous fights and issues that have long since died.  But you still keep the remnants around.  Maybe it’s because of the hurt.  Most the time it’s for ammo to use just in case a fight starts.  Nevertheless, the bones/remains of past issues will haunt your mind unless they are released to be buried in time.

7 – Negativity.  Living life in a pessimistic state is miserable.  Some people place themselves there because he/she feels they don’t deserve anything good. It’s like some sort of way of living out punishment.  Others refuse to be positive because they’ve never known that growing up. They’ll call it being the “realist” in the marriage.  I’m, by nature, a dreamer so I recognize the need for a realist (Anne) in my life.  She dreams with me but knows, at some point, the rubber must hit the road.   Spouses who rent out space in their heads to the negative are miserable people.  Stop giving yourself permission to be negative by saying you’re a realist.  That negativity in your mind is sucking the fun out of your life.

8 – Envy. Why do we look at others and fixate on what they have and what we do not.  We see others, compare our marriages, material possessions, and lifestyles and use them as ideals to chase.  In our minds, we conjure up so much frustration with ourselves AND our spouse because what we don’t have what others do.  We then project that mindset onto our spouse and make them feel miserable because what they offer and who they are is never going to be enough.

I don’t know what your mind is consumed with, but it’s time to hand out eviction notices.  It’s time to identify the infectious crap that wants to cloud your minds and destroy your judgement.   Remember, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”  Whatever it is you are entertaining in your thought life, you are inviting into the rest of your life. If you’re struggling with your thought life, would you take a moment to confess it? It may sound crazy, but scripture says,

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  James 5:16

We confess vertically to Jesus that we may be forgiven.  We confess horizontally to someone (namely our spouse) that we can find healing.  Sit with your spouse, and pray.  Take time to confess to the Lord what you’re struggling with. He already knows what you’re dealing with.  He’s faithful and just to forgive.  Then talk with your spouse.  Let him/her help you as you both move forward with minds that give no room for ANYTHING that has no right to take up space in your mind.

Guard your marriage by guarding your minds.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Undermining Your Marriage

Dave and Anne diagonal

For this week’s marriage blog, I began to ponder this thing of undermining marriage.  There are moments when you and I unknowingly act out situations that, if not corrected, will end up undermining the growth, strength, and future of your marriage.  Where I struggle, is when I talk with couples who are acting out in a specific manner and KNOW what they are doing.  Sometimes it’s out of retribution or frustration. Some actions can be explained out of the nurturing they received as they grew up observing their own families who raised them. But their actions are only keeping the deadly carousel of death spinning faster and faster to the point where someone wants off and out of the relationship.

Habakkuk 2:9-11 says in The Message “Who do you think you are— recklessly grabbing and looting, Living it up, acting like king of the mountain, acting above it all, above trials and troubles? You’ve engineered the ruin of your own house. In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself. You’ve undermined your foundations, rotted out your own soul. The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you.

The context, obviously, isn’t marriage. But the principle is very powerful. By the actions of the people, they are undermining their foundations (what their lives are built upon). Their lives are “rotting out” what they are assuming is so secure.

I reading this scripture, I began to brainstorm some random thoughts that will undermine (rot out) your marriage.  Maybe you can help me and add a few to this list.

Criticism. 
There’s a difference in being constructive with your spouse and being a source of constant agony and criticism.  Your home should be safe.  You spouse should feel safe with you.  Part of the safety is to have deep enough relationship where things of correction can and should be shared. BUT…if that is all your spouse hears…if he/she NEVER matches up to what you think they should be….marital weariness will set in. Lethargy will consume your spouse and undermine your marital joy.

Purposely cause stress.
Every single person has to deal with one form of stress or another on a daily basis. It is just a fact of life. Scientists have yet to discover a miracle cure that will just make our stress evaporate and therefore we have to find other ways to deal with it. Stress affects everyone and there are good and bad ways to deal with it. When you know your spouse stresses over certain issues, your attempt to be playful by irritating those issues will not come off in a healthy way.  To attack sensitive areas of stress will speak a lack of care and creative a rift between you and your spouse. It will undermine rest and peace in your marriage.

Tolerate Pornography.
Guilt, mistrust, and anger about pornography can tear your marriage apart. Turning to pornography may cause your spouse to withdraw from your relationship because he receives instant gratification from his/her fantasies. When your spouse views porn you may feel disrespected, take it personally, and believe that you aren’t enough for him. This can create a wedge in your marriage. Pornography could make it difficult for your husband to see sex as a loving form of communication. As a result, pornography can decrease sexual satisfaction within your marriage.

Entertain a “single” lifestyle.
I read a great article by Focus on the Family which stated, “Over the past century, the path to marriage has grown increasingly dominated by an entertainment-based dating system that makes the time couples spend together full of ticketed events: movies, concerts, sporting events and so on. It’s a season characterized primarily by fun. After moving from that season into the routine life of marriage, couples often find it challenging to stop focusing on fun and begin the work of building a marriage.” We could turn this into it’s own blog, but when we entertain a single lifestyle, we get duped into a false sense of what we are missing.  It get’s our focus off of what we need to work on and into what we think we are missing. It will undermine our sense of fulfillment in our marriage.

Be too busy for your marriage.
Being too busy…such as not properly communicating or spending quality time. It’s not allowing intimacy. Workaholism is being unavailable on every level (spiritual, emotional, physical, etc). I understand busyness and I understand providing for your families. I understand sacrifices that are a part of life.  What I don’t understand is doing it all while sacrificing family. This is where openness needs to be fostered in the marriage to help warn against signs of workaholism and the dangers that come from absent spouses.  Busyness easily undermine the cohesiveness of your time together.

Threatening to leave.
This is an unnecessary risk and manipulation that may attract disaster to the relationship. If you make threats, you put in motion a destructive mentality. Why create what you don’t want? Why implant programming that undermines what you really want?
Why not foster an atmosphere of healthy conflict resolution so that you and your mate can make a mutual  commitment to heal upset feelings and work toward what you really want. Threats undermine trust in your marriage.

Fostering unforgiveness.
How can anyone behave differently towards you if you keep your hurts in the dark and do not give your spouse the opportunity to know what is true for you? How can you fully love someone else when you are holding on to the toxins of bitterness, sadness or regret? Unforgiveness is the cancer of marriage and I can’t preach, teach, blog, and counsel on it enough.  I deal with this more than most. Forgiveness is a decision.  Healing comes in time.  Trust comes in time.  Make a decision to walk in forgiveness and grace the way Christ has done with you.  Unforgiveness will break apart and undermine your marriage.

Refuse to admit you’re wrong.
It’s nothing more than prideful crap. I’m sorry to be so blunt. It’s a dumb facade that people put up to protect some false sense of security. Your refusal to admit wrong puts a barrier around you.  It’s not that you are not “touchable.” It’s that your spouse doesn’t want to come near you. Pride repels love.  Pride disfigures you and creates an unattractive image about you. Pride will undermine intimacy in every way.

Making decisions without your spouse.
Not letting the partner influence your decisions is a sure way to undermine oneness and invite insensitivity and defensiveness. By not listening you are not respecting your mate. I bring up Psalm 133 a lot in marriage counseling. “Where there’s unity, God commands his blessing.” I’m not saying you don’t have the faculties to make decisions without your spouse, but when your spouse doesn’t feel like a part of the marriage because he/she has no say in the marriage does nothing but undermine communication and vision for your marriage.

Refusing to care for yourself.
What does the way you care for yourself speak to your spouse? By not staying healthy (not taking care of yourself, your appearance, abusing substances, addictive patterns, etc) makes a huge statement to your spouse that you don’t care.  Why did you care before you were married?  Why not care about it now? I’m not saying that you need to be back to a form you were on the high school team or pre-kids, but effort toward taking care of yourself in a healthy way speaks volumes of concern, stewardship, and love to your mate.  To ignore it is to undermine your marriage.

 

Did I forget some?  Are there others that need to be on here?

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

The Comparison Conundrum

BARRINGER0002

My kids have been into riddles lately.  The bonus for me: I’ve heard all of the ones they’ve been telling me and it’s sent them on a journey to find a riddle that, one I haven’t heard, and two a riddle that would stump me. Cammi and Ethan are trying to find the right “conundrum.” The first time I heard that word used was on the Batman television show.  It was The Riddler who referred to himself as “The Count Of Conundrums.” Since then, it has been one of those words that one of those words that has stuck with me.

co·nun·drum/kəˈnəndrəm/ A confusing and difficult problem or question.

The_Riddler_3

One of the struggles in marriage that Anne and I have dealt with so many couples is the issue of comparison. Comparison happens when someone gets an ideal in their head, places it upon the spouse, and then enforces rules and expectations to become that ideal.  It can come from seeing how someone else runs their marriage.  It can come from watching a movie and expecting a spouse to respond the say way that you just witnessed.  Believe me, I’m not against personal and marital goal setting.  But comparison can be dangerous.

Comparison is one of the reasons (apart from many reasons) why pornography is so dangerous.  We see something and we compare our real experiences or expectations with it. Now when I use the word “pornography”, I mean more than just naked people  on a screen or a magazine.  There is emotional pornography. Emotional pornography is unhealthy emotional and relational expectations portrayed in so much of our media.  It’s effects are very similar to the traditional definition of pornography. Just as there is sexual excitement surrounding the mystery and allure of what flesh might be seen in a movie known for its racy reputation, so too are we drawn in with an anticipation for the emotional and physical high of a romance film. From either aspect of porn, we see it develop comparisons…an unhealthy expectation to what intimacy is.  We end up confusing ourselves, our spouse with comparisons.

We cause a conundrum.

Listen to these quotes:

“Did you know ____________ does this with their spouse?”
“Why don’t you act like ____________?”
“When are you going to do ____________ like ____________ does in their marriage?”
“You would NEVER do that.  You’re not as observant as ____________.”
“I wish you were more like ____________.”
“But it works for ____________ and ____________.”
“Why don’t you respond to me like ____________?”

As abusive as some of these sound, some of you reading this can accurately proclaim that you’ve never verbally have said anything close to this.  My question is: Have you thought it? Has your heart meditated on it?  Are you obsessed with it so much that you’re finding yourself bitter and upset with your spouse when they’ve done nothing wrong?

Your comparisons and comments are causing a conundrum (A confusing and difficult problem).

What type of problems do comparisons make?

To name a few…

1 – You build resentment with your spouse. Bitterness seeds in and frustration grows.
2 – Trust is fragmented! Paranoia sets in.  Fear feeds ill thoughts and disconnection.
3 – You set yourself up for Failure. You develop impossible goals for you and your spouse that cannot be attained.  You feel already defeated before anything has begun.
4 – The attitude of “why try?” develops.   It’s easy to give up when you feel you don’t have a change to meet the expectations to begin with. You think: why even start?
5 – Comparison show you haven’t released/forgiven.  Sometimes comparisons result from past issues and you haven’t let go of. You start comparing with high expectations.  And when your spouse hasn’t gotten there at the pace you are expecting, harsh words and thoughts develop.

Here’s some helps…the first 3 from me and the last 2 from Anne:

Guard your “inputs.”  

Psalms 1:1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…” The word “counsel” means advice.  Be aware of who and WHAT is advising and/or influencing you.  Know what is influencing your marriage. Keep in check television, magazines, websites, movies, friends, and even family. Guard yourself.  Guard your spouse.

Have reasonable and biblical expectations

– Do yo have higher standards than God? This is what Jesus dealt with the a group of religious men on in Luke 5:33-6:11 Make sure what you are expecting lines up with what God is expecting.

Walk in forgiveness

– Choose to walk in forgiveness the way the Lord deals with your sins. Isaiah 43:25 says “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” When you walk with that perspective, it becomes incredibly difficult to hold on to your spouses faults.

Appreciate your spouse (from Anne)

– Value your spouse and their needs.  Value who God has made them.  Remember your spouse has been, according to Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” 

Find contentment (from Anne)

– Contentment isn’t settling and resting.  Contentment is satisfaction in how you are growing and progression. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Paul didn’t sit back “content.” He was content with who God made him and content pressing on to grow in his passion for Christ.

 

Flee from comparisons.  Don’t put your marriage in a conundrum!

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…