The 2 Things I Got Right in Marriage: A Blog for Singles (also married peeps):

Anne has been on me a while about writing a marriage blog to singles. I’ve been setting aside the idea for a long time.  But over the past two weeks, some comments have come my way, 

“I love reading about your mistakes. They help me correct my own.”

“Some of your mistakes help me to know what to NOT look for.”

So I’ve been asking myself a simple question: Of all of the things I’ve done wrong (the list keeps growing), what have I done right? 

I came up with two. 

That’s it. 

Obviously there’s more, but these were literally the first TWO that came to mind that, I believe, are the TWO FOUNDATIONAL decisions that has given me a great (not perfect) marriage. Again, I’ve gotten other things right in the past 18 years, but they’ve built off these two.

If you’re single, this is where you START.
If you’re reading this and your married, this is what you WORK ON

The FIRST thing I got right: I loved Christ before I loved Anne

There is no other foundational decision greater than this. Everything, and I mean everything, builds off this. Let me explain. In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment. He said, 

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

I cannot possibly love Anne the way she needs to be loved without first loving Jesus. I’ve had people take offense to that type of priority.  But when I love the Lord first, He teaches me how to love.

Why is that? When I encounter His love, it teaches me how to love myself AND others. It helps me live life through His perspective. I forgive completely because that’s how He forgives. I have compassion for others because He showed me compassion. I serve selflessly because He served me by laying down His life. I choose to love unconditionally because He choses to love me that way.

I’d love to say I’ve perfected all but, as you’ve read in previous blogs, you know I’m a work in progress as are all of us. But this is where I start from and CONTINUE to build on. Any season that I face, this is where I begin. And it’s given me a powerfully healthy perspective to have.

The SECOND thing I got right: I chose a woman who loved Christ before she loved me.

I didn’t ask her for an application followed with references and a dissertation. I saw her devotion to Christ.

When worship began, she entered in as a passionate worshiper.
When someone was in need, she gave without expectations.
When something needed to be done, she was the first to serve. 
When someone needed to be encouraged, Anne was the first to step up. 
But most of all, her reputation amongst people who knew her was the reputation of Jesus. She had the character of Christ (Galatians 5:22-23). 

She’s nowhere near perfect. Like me, Anne has plenty of flaws and it’s not my place to list them (that point may be for a future blog).  It’s my place to see her how Christ sees her. And that list what I saw. Her life was evidence of a Matthew 22 life. I knew if she loved Jesus completely, she could love me that way (because I’d love her that way). 

If you’re single, this is where you start. Instead of trying to find the “right one” for you, become the “right one” for others. Go after Matthew 22 passionately. As you encounter the love of Jesus, it’ll change you AND change what you look for in a spouse.

If you’re married and you didn’t start this way. Don’t scrap everything. Start a Matthew 22 marriage today by letting the love of God change you. And from you, let His love encounter and change your marriage. 

I love you all.  I believe in great things for you. Why? Because I know how great Christ is and I know, through you, great things can happen. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages: Part 2 Staying Single

UW4A7335-14

Last week we started a new series of seven MINI-blogs designed to recognize unhealthy habits. If you missed last week check out our first Highly Defective Habit: Habit #1: Spiritual Continuity

Here we go…#2 on the list of my 7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages:

Defective Marriage

Habit #2: The Single Life

sin·gle, siNGgəl
only one; not one of several
Synonym: one (only), sole, lone, solitary, by itself/oneself, unaccompanied, alone
Mark 10:9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
The synonym’s of the word single say it all.  People, who are married, living by and for oneself.  Daily life exists as if the marriage covenant didn’t even happen.  “My spouse is an inconvenience.” “I have a life outside of my spouse.” “My private life has nothing to do with my married life.”
Alone.
Single-mindedness in marriage causes corrosion to the integrity of the marriage.
As said in so many sermons, blogs, books, etc., the design from the beginning was “two becoming one.” I’m not talking about the much-needed time that men need to be with men and women need to be with women.  We all need time with friends.  I enjoy time with the guys to eat wings and watch football.  Anne likes running and shopping with her friends. I am talking about the intentional actions that individuals chase after to maintain a “single” life while being married.  To claim to have a private life outside of the “two becoming one” means, quite simple, the two are NOT one.  
To be single means to provide for one person.
To be single means there’s no one to report
To be single means I’m responsible to myself and no one else.
In prison, there may be no worse punishment for prisoners (other than capital punishment).  Solitary confinement causes an individual to breakdown on every level. One study (psychiatryonline.org) about solitary confinement says it can cause “hallucinations, and other changes in perception, as well as cognitive problems including memory loss, difficulty thinking, and impulsiveness.”  The more you isolate yourself away from your spouse, the more you abandon you spouse to “solitary confinement.” By living single, you’re inviting problems in marital perception, thinking, and impulsiveness that will break your unity down.  Don’t be surprised  when you see this lifestyle cause jealousy, frustration, hurt, distrust, and resentment.
How else is your spouse supposed to act?  You’ve put them in solitary confinement.
The relationship we have with God helps provide keys to starting, repairing, and maintaining a highly effective marriage. Why? I believe the image of God is shown in the covenant of marriage. There are so many parallels to take. One scriptures I’d like to speak into you:
James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
When we draw near to God, there is a reciprocal movement on his behalf.  He comes near to us.  The response we have to that closeness: humility and repentance so that our loyalty to our life outside of Him is severed.
It should be no different in our marriage. If you’ve been living single, draw near to your spouse.  The only way to do that is to step away from being single.  Approach your husband/wife in humility and repentance.  If you’ve put them in “solitary confinement”, there’s gonna need to be some healing needed.  But you step away and draw near so that the loyalty to your “singleness” can be severed and your marriage healed.
Stop living single.  Stop leaving your spouse in “solitary confinement.”
Draw close to your spouse.
Next week, #3…
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…