Search Results for: service marriage

Are You a Marriage Consumer?

We live in a world that encourages consumerism. From commercials to billboards, we are encouraged to consume products and services to gain rest, pain-free living, joy, and satisfying relationships. Movies even encourage the idea that intimate relationships “complete me,” satisfy our need for joy, and offer escape from bad situations. In such a world, marriage can become just another product to consume our never-ending search for self-satisfaction. If we fall into this trap, we become marriage consumers.

  • phubbingA marriage consumer uses marriage to satisfy his own needs and desires.
  • A marriage consumer demands his spouse to fill him with joy.
  • A marriage consumer expects his spouse to satisfy his hunger for approval and affection.
  • A marriage consumer consumes sexual intimacy, expecting to receive all he “deserves.”
  • A marriage consumer attaches himself to his spouse to get out of his parents’ house or away from the wrong crowd or into the most convenient lifestyle.
  • Overall, the marriage consumer finds who can provide what he hungers for and consumes it. Unfortunately, he consumes while giving nothing in return. Eventually, he is left with an empty shell of a spouse, a spouse sucked dry with nothing left to give.

There is an alternative to being a marriage consumer. In our consumer-oriented world, this alternative will strike many as risky. It will arouse our fear of becoming a doormat to our spouse. But, I can assure you nothing is further than the truth. This alternative can fill your marriage to overflowing and…The more you give the more you have to give. What is the alternative? To become a marriage investor.

  • A marriage investor considers his spouse as “more important than himself. He does not merely look out for his own personal interests, but also for the interests of” his spouse (Philippians 2:3-4).
  • A marriage investor listens to understand the needs and desires of his spouse (James 1:19).
  • A marriage investor anticipates his spouse’s need for comfort, assurance, or love and strives to meet that need.
  • A marriage investor constantly seeks ways to express his love to his spouse.
  • A marriage investor engages in acts of kindness and support…smiling all the while.
  • A marriage investor energetically builds his spouse up.

You get the idea. A marriage consumer seeks to satisfy his own needs and, in the process, sucks his spouse dry. A marriage investor seeks to satisfy his spouse’s needs and, in the process, fills both his spouse and himself to overflowing with love, joy, and peace. Which do you want to become?

Marriage web resources

Smart marriages offers a tremendous amount of information (including articles, conferences, news items, and more) related to marriage.

Click here to find marriage information, articles and resources offered on the Focus on the Family website.

Kyria offers Christian resources for marriage as well as parenting and family.

The Relationship Resource Group offers links to several other good marriage resources.

The California Healthy Marriages Coalition has published several excellent brochures that give a concise and readable review of research on the positive effects of marriage on woman, children, health, fathers, and society. Click on the links for individual brochures in PDF format.

Family Life offers weekend marriage enrichment programs, marriage getaways, articles, blogs, and practical tips to strengthen your marriage.

Marriage Intensives offer emergency services for marriages on the brink of separation and divorce. Here are four intensive programs that may help you move your marriage away from the brink and back on the road to health.

  1. Marriage Restoration! The Official Smalley Marriage Intensive Program
  2. The Hope Weekend
  3. Love and Respect Intensives
  4. Marriage Rescue Associates

Marriage Bibliography includes several additonal resources (alphabatized by author) that I have found helpful in promoting healthy marriages.

Boteach, Schmuley. (1999). Kosher sex. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

Chapman, G. (2007). The heart of the five love languages. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.

Chapman, G. (2010). Things I wish I’d known before we got married. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.

Clarke, D. (2009). I don’t want a divorce. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

Clinton, T., Clinton, J. (2000). The marriage you’ve always wanted. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.

Cloud, H., Townsend, J. (1999). Boundaries in marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Doherty, W. (1997). The intentional family: How to build family ties in our modern world. Perseus Books.

Eggerichs, E. (2004). Love and respect. Brentwood, TN: Integrity Publishers.

Feldhahn, S. (2004). For women only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Publishers.

Feldhahn, S., Feldhahn, J. (2006). For men only: A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Publishers.

Gardner, TA (2002). Sacred sex: A spiritual celebration of oneness in marriage. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.

Gottman, J. (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail. New York, NY: Fireside.

Gottman, J.M., DeClaire, J. (2001). The relationship cure: A 5 step guide to strengthening your marriage, family, and friendships.  New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Gottman, J.M., Silver, N (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the countries foremost relationship expert. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Kendrick, S., Kendrick, A. (2008). The love dare. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group.

Laaser, D. (2008). Shattered vows: hope and healing for women who have been sexually betrayed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Larimore, W., Larimore, B. (2008). His brain, her brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Leman, K. (1999). Sex begins in the kitchen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company.

Leman, K. (1998). The birth order book: Why you are the way you are. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

Markman, H., Stanley, S. Blumberg, S.L. (1994). Fighting for your marriage: Positive steps for preventing divorce and preserving a lasting love. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Parrott, L., Parrott, L. (1995). Saving your marriage before it starts. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Smalley, G. (1996). Making love last forever. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing.

Spring, J.A. (1996). After the affair: healing the pain and rebuilding trust when a partner has been unfaithful. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Thomas, G. L. (2000). Sacred Marriage: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

What We Do For Marriage & Family

Last week I read a post by The Romantic Vineyard about “What we do” to keep our marriage strong. I wanted to add some “we do’s” to the list as well. What do we do on a regular basis to keep our marriage strong? Interestingly, most of the things I thought of not only build a stronger marriage but a stronger family as well!

 

We do humor. I love to laugh with my wife…and I love to laugh with my children. Humor keeps even the most difficult situations running more smoothly. Humor lessens the friction during conflict. Humor draws us into relationship and deepens our intimacy. Some of our best memories involve times of uncontrolled laughter on the part of at least one family member. To laugh with family is a beautiful thing.

 

We do music. We listen to music and play music. We share our favorite songs. We sing together…sometimes we sound beautiful and sometimes not so much. Still, we do music. Just as music is filled with harmonies and the sharing of melodies, a family that does music together learns to live their life in harmony with one another while taking turns performing the melody.

 

We do awe and wonder. I love to experience something majestic or awe-inspiring with my wife. As we stand in awe looking over the wonder of creation or enjoy the awe-inspiring music of a concert, time stands still and we spend an eternal moment enjoying the same wonder. Our favorite time of shared awe and wonder comes in the moments of worship…and that worship can be at church singing a worship song or standing silently hand-in-hand on the beach watching the whales play in the ocean. (Check out this blog on the benefit of awe and wonder to a family.) 

 

We do holding and hugging. What more can I say? We hold hands, share hugs, and walk arm in arm. When we say good-bye, we give a hug or a kiss. When we come home, we give a hug. When we go to bed, we give a hug. An accomplishment gets a hug or a high-five. For no special reason, we share an oxytocin hug . Hugs put flesh and blood on our expression of love.

 

We do lunch. The work schedules of my wife and I often make supper a difficult time to share a meal together. So, we enjoy lunch together. Lunch has become one of my favorite parts of the day. After all, I get to combine eating with the enjoyment of my wife’s company…what more could I ask for?

 

We do Church. Going to worship services at church is a time of growing intimacy between us and between God and us. As a couple and as a family we serve together by helping with various projects at church. We have enjoyed mission trips and service activities as a family. We support one another in our individual efforts to serve through the Church. Whether one of us goes on a mission trip without family or plays in a worship band, we support one another and share in one another’s excitement for that service.

 

What do you do to strengthen your marriage and family?

What A “Pittsburgher” Learned About Family in Cleveland

My wife and I enjoyed a trip to Cleveland. We had a great time and met some wonderful people. (Yes, I am from Pittsburgh AND I found Cleveland fun & enjoyable…go figure.) After breakfast one morning we strolled through the Arcade 5 and saw this sign outside the Johnnysville Woods store. It lists “The 5 Commandments for Being Happy.” I thought I’d share it with you and how the same “commandments” can help our families.

  1. Free your heart from hatred. Hatred destroys. It takes root in the heart and fills a person with resentment, bitterness, and mistrust. Hatred destroys relationships, even within the family. The antidote to hatred is apology and forgiveness. Both apology and forgiveness are crucial to a healthy, happy family life because families are made up of people who make mistakes—who say the wrong thing, forget the important thing, offend unknowingly, and blame wrongly. Each will demand apology and forgiveness to restore the relationship. Humble yourself to apology. Become vulnerable enough to forgive. Often.
  2. Free your mind from worry. Worry can kill a family too. Worry flows out of fear, usually irrational fears and fears about things over which we have no control. Excessive worry creates unnecessary limits. It hinders our exploration and our growth. It hinders our risk taking, our willingness to “put ourselves out there,” and our ability to nurture our relationships. Don’t let worry and fear drive your family life. We can begin to let go of worry by nurturing gratitude and trust toward our spouse, our children, and our parents.
  3. Give more. Give more love. Give more gratitude. Give more service. Give more consideration. Give more encouragement. Give more benefit of the doubt. Give more…and give more generously. Give so much that your family will remember you as a generous person who enjoyed giving to others. When you do, your family will grow healthier and happier.
  4. Expect less. While you give more, expect less. In fact, “consider one another as more important than yourself. Don’t look out only for your own interests but for the interests of others.” Rather than expect your spouse and children to serve you, serve them…generously. Look more to what you can give than to what you want to receive. After all, “it’s better to give than to receive.” (For more on expectations in marriage, read Do Expectations Help or Hinder Your Marriage.)
  5. Love simply. Yes. Love simply…but realize that loving is not always easy. Even when it is hard to do, love simply. When a family member says something that hurts your feelings, love anyway. When your spouse forgets to finish the “honey-do-list,” love anyway. When your child does not listen, love anyway. When your parent doesn’t understand, love anyway. Simply love.

These “5 Commandments for Being Happy” will not only bring greater happiness to you as an individual, they will also fill your family with happiness. Practice them for a month and see if you don’t agree.

The Highest Form of Kindness

We live in a society starved for time. We are swamped and over-scheduled, running from activity to activity. We don’t have the time or the patience to wait for anything. Instead, we want immediate gratification. Running behind for practice, grab some take out. Feeling a headache coming on, take some fast-acting aspirin. Too worked up to fall asleep, take a sleeping aid. One study even found that 96% of its participants were so impatient they knowingly consumed hot food or beverages that burned their mouths.

Driven by time, we have become impatient with ourselves and others. We have no time to offer a simple act of kindness. Rather than show kindness, we become irritated with one another for “wasting our time,” not responding “quickly enough,” or not “catching on” to this “obvious fact.” In other words, we become impatient. Because of our harried schedule, we have lost the patience to show kindness to others by allowing them the time they need to grow and mature. Instead, we force them to hurry their growth. We become impatient at the “fast food” because the service is so slow and “I’m in a hurry.” As a result, we respond with irritated curtness.

This happens in our families as well. We rush through the day without showing kindness to our family. “I’d like to help with the laundry, but I’m too busy.” “I’d love to listen to your long story but I’m on a schedule.” “Another game tonight. When will I get my work done?” “Hurry up, we’re going to be late!” Any of that sound familiar?

What does all this have to do with the highest form of kindness? The highest form of kindness is the gift of patience. Yet we struggle to give this lovely gift of patience because “time is of the essence,” driving us at a pace that squeezes out any possibility of kindness.

Giving the gift of patience is a kindness that takes time. In fact, patience is the highest form of kindness. Think of it. Giving the gift of patience requires that we invest our time in sharing a simple act of kindness to another. We patiently sacrifice our time (never to get it back) so we can do something kind for another person. After all, kindness takes time and giving away time takes patience. Whether it be helping our spouse fold laundry or sitting down to patiently help our children with their homework, the gift of patience is the highest form of kindness. Giving this gift of patience will increase your willingness to forgive, which will improve your marriage and family.

Show little kindness by giving the highest form of kindness to your family—patience.

Climbing the Social Ladder of Adolescence

A recent study from the University of California—Davis explored teens who bully and who they bully. The study followed 3,000 eighth, ninth, and tenth grade students over the course of a school year. They discovered that teens who bullied often bullied their friends not strangers or those of lower social status. In fact, they uncovered five interesting patterns.

  1. Teens who were friends in the fall but not in the spring were three times more likely to bully or victimize each other in the spring. 
  2. Teens who remained friends for the entire year, however, were four times more likely to bully one another in the spring. Interestingly, teens bullied those who remained their friend more often than those who did not remain friends with them.
  3. Teens who had overlapping friendships were roughly three times” more likely to bully one another than those who did not have overlapping friendships.
  4. Teens who share the same bullies or the same victims are more than twice as likely to bully each other.
  5. Finally, being bullied by a friend is painful. It is associated with a significant increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The researchers believe that this information suggests that bullying behavior comes with social rewards. It leads to an increase in social status. In other words, teens were climbing the social ladder of adolescence by bullying their friends. Teens get caught up in popularity. They base their self-concept on the popularity of their social media posts and their popularity at school. They seem to equate popular with acceptance and will do almost anything to get accepted…even if it means bullying a friend to move up the ladder of acceptance in the popular crowd.

With this in mind, what can a parent do to help decrease bullying? 

  • Develop a secure relationship with your child. Spend time with your child. Let them know that you love and accept them. Learn about their interests. Support and encourage their dreams. As you develop a strong relationship with your teen, they will feel less pull to “need” the status of popularity among their peers.
  • Involve your children and teens in groups that encourage teamwork. Rather than competing for popularity, teamwork encourages teens to cooperate and work together for a common goal, to encourage one another and support one another’s growth for the good of the team.
  • Involve your children and teens in groups that encourage community and service. This might include church groups, scouting groups, or service groups. These groups can teach your teen to work with others in serving and accomplishing goals rather than competing to be more popular than the other guy. Teens can also learn to accept and appreciate one another’s gifts in working toward a common goal while volunteering in the community.
  • On a slightly different note, keep your marriage strong. At least one study reveal that teens who see their parents as loving toward one another are less likely to engage in cyberbullying. Invest in your marriage.

By implementing these three tips, you lessen the chance of your child becoming a bully to “climb the social ladder” of peer relationships. They’ll be kinder. They’ll be happier. And so will you.

A New Year…A New Opportunity

It is a new year and a new opportunity to fill your family with honor, grace, and celebration.

We honor what we value so honor your family. Fill your home with honor by sharing words and actions that express value and love to each family member. Honor fills our homes when our actions reveal how much we value and appreciation each family member. Acts of kindness and service honor by communicating the “full extent of our love.”  Words that acknowledge strengths and effort, words that express gratitude, and words that communicate admiration express honor to all who hear them. These words of honor pour a sense of value and worth into our family members.

A home filled with grace becomes a safe haven, a place where each person knows they will find acceptance with no strings attached. Grace apologizes for wrongs committed and forgives generously. Grace disciplines in love, teaching us to live a healthy life emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Grace reveals love in the sacrifice of “my” desires to meet the needs of my family. Grace keeps us available, attentive, and emotionally connected to one another.

A home filled with celebration flows out of a home filled with honor and grace. When honor and grace undergird our interactions, we can “let our hair down,” reveal ourselves fully, and know one another intimately. We can laugh freely and play with abandon. Overall, celebration fosters an abundant life, refreshes our perspective of others, and restores intimacy. Filling our family with celebration intimacy and culminates in a renewed vitality for life.

Take the opportunity provided by a new year to fill your home with honor, grace, and celebration. You can find many ideas for sharing honor, grace, & celebration under the Family Bank of Honor. You will love it and your family will love it…for years to come.

Do Your Kids This Favor

I know. It sounds obvious. But children thrive when their parents have a loving relationship. It makes sense. For the couple, research shows sharing life with a long-term loving partner has many benefits, like a longer lifespan, less incidences of heart disease, greater financial well-being, and greater life satisfaction. All of this benefits the children living with happily married parents as well. Even more, children living with happily married parents experience benefits beyond parents that live longer, healthier, and wealthier!

In fact, kids thrive when their parents are in love. A study completed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2009 suggests that the quality of the parents’ marriage contributed as much to their children’s future mental and physical health as the children’s relationship with the either individual parent. Other studies have shown that children who live with parents who love each other stay in school longer and exhibit fewer challenging behaviors. Living with happily married parents simply creates an environment more conducive to happiness than parents who argue, fight, and threaten. Happily married parents provide children with a sense of security. In other words, your healthy marriage is important to your children’s physical and mental health.

So, how do you keep your marriage strong and loving? One way to keep your marriage strong is to spend time together. Time spent together and attention are the currencies of strong relationships, even in marriage. Here are some hints to spend time together.

  • Go for a walk together.
  • Schedule a time to talk everyday over coffee.
  • Try a new activity together.
  • Put a movie on, snuggle up on the couch, and watch it together. You can even use the movie as a starting point to talk about your Love Story.
  • Eat one meal a day together.
  • Practice Gottman’s “Magic Five Hours.”
  • Find a babysitter and have a date night. If you can’t afford a babysitter maybe you can make a deal with a family friend. You can watch their children one night and they can watch your children another day.
  • Have a picnic in the back yard. Stay out late enough to enjoy the stars.
  • Go to the park. 

Spending time with your spouse is a gift you give to your spouse, your children, and yourself. It strengthens your marriage and creates a happier home in which your children can thrive. What are your favorite ways to spend time with your spouse?

“Cheat Codes” for Dads: Household Chores

If you play video games, you know the value of a good “cheat code.” They help the player advance to a new level or gain a special power. Other “cheat codes” help the gamer obtain a special tool or weapon you’ll need in the game.

If you’re a Dad of daughters, you may feel as though you need a “cheat code,” inside information to help you move toward an advanced level of understanding in relation to your daughter. You likely desire a “cheat code” that will provide a gateway to a special power to influence your daughter toward maturity.  If so, I have just what you’re looking for: “cheat codes” for dads raising daughters.

Previous “cheat codes” discussed included:

The Cheat Code: Household Chores.

Value: Household Chores involves helping around the house. When you help around the house you will discover many positive results.

  • When men get involved in household chores, they set an example for everyone else in the family. They also portray the kind of man they hope their daughter will marry, a man who models leadership through service.
  • Studies have shown that daughters who see their fathers engaged in household chores broaden their perceived career options. Daughters who see their fathers engaged in household chores are more likely to become in involved in careers involving leadership, management, or professional positions.
  • One last benefit which has nothing to do with your daughter. Your wife will love you for doing the chores and you’ll discover what it means that “sex begins in the kitchen.” Of course, a stronger marriage will also benefit your daughter.
  • Learn 3 other ways that doing household chores will help your daughter in The Top 6 Reasons for Men to Help Around the House.

Instructions: The instructions for Helping Around the House are simple.

  1. After dinner, help clear the table and wash the dishes (or load the dishwasher).
  2. Help complete the laundry. Put clothes in the washer. Switch clothes from the washer to the dryer. Fold clothes. Put the clothes away.
  3. Take out the garbage.
  4. In the morning, help make your bed.
  5. Run the vacuum, clean the bathtub, or mop a floor.
  6. You get the idea. You don’t have to do all of these. You don’t even have to do the same one all the time. However, doing household chores on a regular basis will have a tremendous and positive effect on your daughter. It’s a powerful “cheat code” for dads of daughters.

A Marital Battle: Radical Generosity or Self Seeking

Two ancient sayings have been on my mind lately. Both sayings are recorded by Paul, a Jewish follower of Christ. And, although neither one is written in the context of marriage, they both have a profound impact on our marriages. The first saying is short and sweet: “Love is not self-seeking.” The second one reminds us that “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap bountifully.”

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I get tired and irritable. When I’m tired and irritable, I don’t want to be generous. I don’t want to sow a smile or a kind word or an act of service. Instead, I want to sulk, give short and even sarcastic responses, or isolate. In other words, I become self-seeking. I watch out for “my own personal interests” and desires. In the process, I neglect my spouse. I don’t pay attention to her needs or struggles she may have encountered during the day. You’ve had those days, haven’t you? We all have. If I am going to be totally honest, sometimes I become self-seeking even when I’m not tired and irritable. I just look out for myself sometimes because…well, because I just want things to go my way. How about you? Ever had that experience?

Unfortunately, we also reap what we sow. When we selfishness, we reap disconnection in response. When we sow a sarcastic response or an isolating action in our irritability, we reap sorrow, distance, and maybe even some criticism from our spouse. Our relationship grows more disconnected in response to the seeds of self-seeking behaviors we sow. Intimacy suffers as weeds of loneliness grow deeper roots and we reap sharper thorns. If we allow this self-seeking behavior to continue to grow, we may find ourselves simply engaging in physical intimacy to satisfy our own needs more often than we express love in our intimacy. In general, sowing seeds of self-seeking behaviors reaps disconnection, emotional distance, frustration, and anger.

So, what can end the sowing of self-seeking behaviors? Sow seeds of radical generosity instead. Yes, radical generosity is generosity sown in the hard times, the times we feel tired, irritable, and selfish. Showing generosity to our spouse in the good times is relatively easy. But sharing generosity with our spouse when we are tired, irritable, feeling disconnected, or simply feeling selfish is radical! And when we sow radical generosity, we reap radical intimacy and connection. Radical generosity means giving your spouse a hug and kiss upon returning home, especially when we’re tired. Radical generosity gives a kind answer rather than a short, sarcastic response even when we’re irritable. Radical generosity seeks to give pleasure to our spouse rather than simply seeking our own release and pleasure. Radical generosity serves even when tired. Radical generosity sows all these seeds of kindness, affection, and service while wearing a smile. Radical generosity is the opposite of self-seeking; it is loving. Radical generosity will sow seeds of kindness, service, and love into their marriage in great abundance and reap the same in a bountiful return. Sow some radical generosity into your marriage today and watch the bountiful harvest of love and intimacy grow! I going to go share some radical generosity now…by helping prepare lunch. What about you?  

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