7 Tips For Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Marriage

by David Peach | That word communicate is a fancy word for talk. Remember when you used to do that without having to raise your voice? Pay attention to your spouse. Intentionally put your book down when they are speaking. Listen to what they have to say.

Thinking about when you were dating should bring a smile to your face. You were young (at least younger than you are now). You had fewer pressures in your life and you could focus more time on the one you loved. If there were other important things going on, they only seemed to get in the way of your dating relationship.

Now, a few (or several) years later, it seems that everything is turned around. You have more pressures with work, hobbies, social activities and less time to spend with your spouse. Your marriage seems like it gets in the way of everything else you have to, or want to do.

Ignite a flame in your relationship again. If a flame seems a little too ambitious to you, start with just a spark. After implementing these tips I hope you remember what attracted you to one another back those many years ago.

Respect

When you first got married did you ever think that you would treat your spouse as poorly as you treat your own brothers or sisters—those people you were forced to live with and knew every fault they had? Yet here you are a few years down the road and find that you treat your own siblings with more respect than you have for your spouse.

Your siblings come to visit and you offer to get them something to drink. You hold in your bodily noises when they are around. You call just to chat. What about your relationship with your spouse? Do you still show them the respect you did when you were dating? If not, get back to those days when you valued your spouse more than your own family.

Dress nicely when you go out. Let other people know it is an honor for you to be with the one you love. Speak kindly. Listen to one another again.

Spontaneity

Do things just for fun. Be random. Play. You don’t always have to act your age. When was the last time you invited your spouse to the back seat of your car to kiss in the mall parking lot? As a complete surprise you can arrange with your friends to take the kids for a night and you sweep your spouse off to a hotel across town.

Communication

That word communicate is a fancy word for talk. Remember when you used to do that without having to raise your voice? Pay attention to your spouse. Intentionally put your book down when they are speaking. Listen to what they have to say.

Compliment one another. Find something nice to say to your spouse. Then find nice things to say about them to other people. This honors them and communicates to others your affection for the one you love.

Public Display of Affection

It is perfectly acceptable to hold hands in most cultures. But have you held hands lately? When my wife and I were dating we were in an environment that did not allow dating couples to hold hands. How thrilling it was each time we did get a chance to sneak in a little squeeze. Sometimes we recreate that feeling by acting like it is taboo as we hold hands underneath our Bible during church.

Why do we think it is cute for teenagers to act like a married couple out in public, but somehow think it is disgusting for a married couple to act like teenagers? There should certainly be limits to what is done in public as a sign of respect to other people, but maybe a little bit of public affection would do your marriage good.

Dating Again

Plan some time alone with your spouse. A date doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be intentional. If you just go out to eat at the same place you go every Thursday evening, that wouldn’t necessarily be a date. But if you would ramp up your wardrobe, show obvious respect to your spouse and throw in a little PDA (public display of affection) you could be surprised as to how exciting the local fast food joint can be once again.

Gift Giving

Gifts don’t have to be elaborate. It could even be as simple as a random card with a nice note about how you are thinking about them. My wife was cleaning out some files yesterday when she found some cards that we had given each other years ago. Though these gifts didn’t have monetary value, they still brought a smile to our faces as she told about some of the things we wrote to one another.

A gift can be something simple, but it should be well thought out and given with purpose.

Studying One Another

I was around an older couple recently and witnessed a hilarious conversation. The wife said something about her husband liking a certain food. He said to me that he really didn’t like it, but he tolerated it for her sake because he thought she liked it so much. She was shocked and was genuinely surprised by this revelation. She hated the food but only made it because she thought he liked it.

What things are you doing because you think your spouse likes it, but you never took the time to find out the truth? Of course you can’t know until you ask them and start studying them like you did when you first met. In fact, it can be a fun game to go to an event and pretend you don’t know one another. Ask each other questions like you are meeting for the first time. You might be surprised that what you thought was true, or what may have been true 20 years ago, isn’t the case any more.

I hope these 7 tips for keeping the spark alive in your marriage will inspire you to spend some quality time with the one you love this week and for many years to come.

David PeachDavid Peach has been in full time missions work with the Deaf since 1994. He has started several deaf ministries in various countries and established a deaf church in Mexico. David now works as Director of Deaf Ministries for his mission board. David has written numerous articles on What Christians Want To Know! Read some of them in RSS feed here.



Husband, God Is Calling You to a Divine Kind of Maintenance

by Dr. Doug Weiss | The fact that all of life is maintenance can be felt as painful or delightful to you.

Let's go back to the Garden of Eden to show you an amazing fact as it relates to the creation of man. Genesis 2:5 says that God has not sent rain on the earth and, "there was no man to work the ground."  It appears that God was making all of creation and was looking for man to work it, maintain it, and care for this amazing creation.

Genesis 2:15 confirms this idea of man's commission to maintain and care for this creation. "The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

Often when I am sharing this in a marriage conference, I'll say to the men that all of us are simply maintenance men. God has called each one of us, men and women, to care for the garden He has chosen to give us.

Men, everything in your garden is yours to maintain. Everything and everyone in your garden requires maintenance. This maintenance must come only from you. Only you can maintain the people and things God gives to you in your garden. When I accept this, that it's my responsibility before God to maintain or care for my garden, it helps me to not be resistant towards doing the dishes, laundry, or big projects around the house. Maintaining the garden is the first calling of all of ours.

Remember that this calling to maintain the garden preceded the law or sin. Adam and Eve's calling to maintain comes out of God's design for them, even in a sinless world. The calling to maintain is not a result of the fall. The fall made maintaining more difficult and challenging. The fall added pain to a process that was probably a lot easier before the fall.

To maintain is to be in alignment with you being created in the image of God. To maintain a woman or maintain a man is a calling of God in which he has uniquely equipped you to do. Now in our sin nature we can resist this calling and the blessing of walking in this calling, but it is a calling and responsibility given by God to both of you.

Also I have to remind men that Eve was in the garden too. She also is part of that responsibility to maintain and care for the garden. Eve needs to be maintained by Adam. Eve, Adam is in your garden and yes; he has some needs only you can maintain and that is the blessing of God in marriage to maintain each other.

Maintaining isn't a popular idea here in the United States. We like to hire someone to do this or that for us. We don't even wash our cars anymore; we let a machine do this for us called a car wash. In a culture that is moving further and further from the reality of maintenance, we can lose the very fabric that life is maintenance.

The fact that all of life is maintenance can be felt as painful or delightful to you. I enjoy having a house and that house requires maintenance every change of season. I also have a car and it requires maintenance. If I maintain it well, it is more likely to serve me better and longer over the years. However, if maintenance is a burden or painful, you can employ a technique I have seen many addicts employ in their life called denial. You can simply deny life or that your spouse needs maintenance and then have those things break down more often and require even more maintenance later on.

Attitude is a very important aspect of maintenance. How many of you before you eat a great meal, curse God?  "God, why do I have to work to eat, cook and clean up?  Why have you cursed me with this maintenance?"  How about in the shower as you get cleansed and smell great from all the products you have in that shower, do you curse God?  "God, why do I have to spend all this time in the shower, and the cost of soap…?"

Christ doesn't show up and feed His church irregularly, but daily. If you, as an individual, accept fully that marriage is a daily discipline, marriage can be so much easier. Until you fully accept the daily maintenance of your spouse, you may be angry about it, bargain about it, be sad about it, or even just deny their need for daily maintenance by you, and you alone.

This principle can really set you free, depending upon your response to the very real reality that your spouse requires daily maintenance. If you accept this maintenance principle you have a grateful attitude. Just like you thank God for the food, shower or sleep, you thank God for the spouse and your calling to maintain them.

If, however, you have hardened your heart, the daily maintenance of this child of God will be a burden. You will be burdened by praying with them, sharing your heart, dating, sex, as well as the emotional, and financial cost of a spouse. Maintenance exposes our hearts. If we do this cheerfully, then I think we understand what Jesus feels when He serves His church every day.

If we accept our full responsibility to maintain our spouse this process leads us into the glorious creation of a Godly marriage on earth. When you have a heart of grateful maintenance, you will just try to meet the needs of your spouse's heart, body, sexuality, financially, and parenting, without judging their validity against your own preconceived grid. In the beginning of this article we laid down the idea that we are all called to maintain our garden. God has placed your spouse in your garden. You fully accept your daily maintenance without a negative attitude. To be Christ like is to accept the maintenance of your spouse with a good attitude.

You have today and the rest of your life to be the most awesome maintenance of your spouse. I say go for the gold when it comes to maintaining your spouse.

Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Miracle of Marriage. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on his Facebook or by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at heart2heart@xc.org.



When God’s Plan Seems Crazy

by Shae Bynes, I want to remind you today that you are not alone. You never were and you never will be. (Image: journeyofanb.com)

I was standing on the rooftop of a tall building. It was dark outside, but there was plenty of light to be able to see a wooden plank lying flat over the edge of the building, almost like a diving board.

I felt an internal nudge as if I was supposed to stand on that wooden board, so I slowly walked towards it. I quickly realized that something was different about this board. There was nothing that was attaching the board to the rooftop! It was sitting there with no support of any kind. I knew in my heart that I was supposed to stand on it, but I was thinking "This is stupid. If I stand with both feet on this board I'm just going to fall to my death."

I stood there staring at the board for what seemed to be an eternity. I placed one foot on it (and kept the other one firmly planted on the rooftop) to test it and see if there truly was no support there. I was right. No support. I knew I was supposed to get on it, but it just wasn't making any sense.

After a few moments I placed my foot on the board again, and then I felt a gentle but firm push. The board gave way and I started to free fall off of the building. I was terrified for maybe 2 seconds before I heard a voice say, "Check your pocket." I reached into my pocket and there was a button. I heard the voice again. …"Push it." I pushed the button and a parachute shot out from the button and I started to drift safely. As I was breathing a sigh of relief, I heard in the most loving and comforting voice, "See … I got you."

That's when I woke up from my dream.

Have you ever felt like the God-given vision and assignment placed before you is completely crazy or impossible or downright terrifying, but you know it's what you're destined to do and it is the will of God concerning you?

It could be related to your business, ministry, professional career, or even your marriage or family.

I want to remind you today that you are not alone. You never were and you never will be.

I want to remind you today that you are equipped for the task ahead of you. You were equipped before you even entered the Earth.

Ephesians 2:10 says: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained that we should walk in them."

You are God's masterpiece. You are not a product of your past or present environment. You are not a product of your experiences. You are a product of God. You were created for a work that is beneficial, distinguished, and honorable. As far as that assignment or task is concerned? Well, according to the original Greek text the word ordained is proetoimazō which means to fit up in advance (literally or figuratively).

You have been pre-fit and prepared for what's ahead of you.

With that good news in mind, go ahead and take the risk. Step boldly on that wooden plank. Your loving Father's got you.

Shae Bynes is a passionate storyteller, best-selling author, and engaging teacher whose life was completely changed by encountering God. She enjoys the response she receives when she tells people that she is a Firestarter, igniting fires in the marketplace and in the bedrooms around the world. Shae has authored several books on the topics of God-centered and Spirit-led business and marriage and is the Host of The Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur Podcast. Visit ShaeBynes.com to learn more.

 



Differences Between Modern Dating and Biblical Dating

Scott Croft | Looking for a completely countercultural path to marriage? Here's how to apply God's Word to dating, finding a spouse and getting married. (soul mate for Christians)

The system today's young men and women have inherited for finding and marrying a future spouse leaves a lot to be desired. We often hear complaints from readers about the confusion, hurt and sexual sin they've encountered despite their best intentions. Many want to know how they can go about getting to know someone and eventually getting married without getting hurt or compromising their faith.

At Focus on the Family, we've offered a range of resources and expert advice bringing biblical principles to bear in this area. Some of the messages we've presented have taken the position that Christians can apply their faith in such a way that they can still work within the system they've inherited. Other messages have stressed that Christians need to be much more counter-cultural. Joshua Harris, for instance, has promoted a model of courtship that harkens back to a model used broadly before modern dating evolved.

People attempting to follow a courtship model within today's culture, however, often run into a lot of practical questions, such as, "What if her dad is unavailable or uninterested in being involved?" or "What do you do when you live hundreds of miles from your family?"

The goal of this series of articles, beginning with this introduction, is to provide our readers with a place to bring those questions. Scott Croft is an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where he teaches a seminar on friendship, courtship and marriage. He is also an attorney who is used to tackling tough questions.

The answers he brings may be different from anything you've heard before. The topics he's going to be dealing with are ones in which equally committed Christians have found different biblical interpretations. Not all will agree with Scott's approach, and we invite feedback from anyone who believes there are better interpretations for the biblical passages Scott draws from.

It's our hope that this Q&A series will be valuable both for those who think the Bible gives sufficient guidance for operating within our current system as well as for those who are looking for a completely countercultural path to marriage.


If you're reading this, you're interested in dating. You've done it, you're doing it, you'd like to do it, or you need to teach somebody else how to do it. Don't worry. You're not alone. In our society, dating has become something of an obsession. It is expected to be a universal phenomenon. It's just something you do if you're single and of age (and that age is quickly dropping) in America. It is considered the natural precursor to marriage, and is generally considered something to be desired, whatever form it might take.

It's also big business. If you were to Google the word "matchmaker," you would receive something in the neighborhood of 11,500,000 responses — with a few of these outfits claiming to be Christian, but most making no such claim. "Dating" will get you 640,000,000 hits.

As evangelical Christians, we're called to be distinct in the ways we think and act about all issues that confront us and those around us. This topic is no exception. So is there such a thing as biblical dating? If so, what is it? How can Christians think differently about this pervasive issue in media and culture? How are we doing so far?

The answer to that last question is "not well." Surveys consistently indicate that professing Christians behave almost exactly like non-Christians in terms of sexual involvement outside of marriage (in both percentage of people involved and how deeply involved they are — how far they're going), living together before marriage, and infidelity and divorce after marriage. In fact, depending on which statistics one believes, the divorce rate for professing Christians may actually be higher than for Americans as a whole. Granted, not all of these people are evangelicals, but we're not doing so well either. Indeed, the central issue we need to confront — and the reason I write and speak on this topic — is that when it comes to dating and relationships, perhaps more than in any other area of the everyday Christian life, the church is largely indistinguishable from the world. That truth has brought immeasurable emotional pain and other consequences to many Christians. Worse, it has brought great dishonor to the name of Christ and to the witness of individuals and the church.

It doesn't have to be this way. For Christians, the Lord has given us His Word, and the Holy Spirit helps us to understand it. We have brothers and sisters in Christ to hold us accountable and to help us apply the Word to our lives. If you're a Christian, that's the biblical life you're called to.

That's what I hope this column will be about — applying God's Word to dating, finding a spouse and getting married.

Scripture Rules

I have to start by explaining the theological doctrine that drives the approach I want to outline (and advocate). That doctrine is called the sufficiency of Scripture. Almost all professing evangelical Christians are familiar with and vigorously defend the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture (which states that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, it's true, and it contains no falsity or error). I certainly agree with the inerrancy of Scripture, but that's not what I'm talking about here. The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture assumes inerrancy but then goes a step further. This doctrine simply holds that the Bible is sufficient to guide and instruct us authoritatively in all areas of our faith and life, and that there is no area of life about which the Bible has no guidance for us. The sufficiency of Scripture is taught explicitly and implicitly in many passages, but perhaps the most obvious is 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So how does the sufficiency of Scripture apply to our coming discussions? Well, many evangelicals who otherwise believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and who might generally agree with the sufficiency of Scripture have nonetheless embraced the world's ideas about dating. In doing so, some make the argument that Scripture doesn't speak to this topic. I believe it does. The Bible speaks to every area of our faith and life at some level. Some things it talks about explicitly, like salvation or sanctification or marriage or elders. The Bible guides us in some areas by broader, more general principles and ideas we can build on as we strive to live the Christian life in practical ways. In either case, no area of life falls totally outside of the guidance and authority of God's Word.

My point is that we cannot simply state that the Bible "doesn't mention dating or courtship," and then think we're off the hook to pursue this area of our lives either on the world's terms or however seems best to us without diligent, submissive reference to God's Word. If the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is true, then God's Word does have authoritative guidance for us about how we might best glorify God in this area of our lives. That means our conversation has to be a biblical conversation. I mention the sufficiency of Scripture as part of the groundwork for this column because it's one of those doctrines that touches every area of our lives, and it is at the heart of the approach to dating (and life) that we'll talk about here.

Biblical Dating

OK. Let's take care of some basic definitions. We may define biblical dating as a method of introduction and carrying out of a pre-marital relationship between a single man and a single woman:

  1. That begins (maybe) with the man approaching and going through the woman's father or family;
  2. that is conducted under the authority of the woman's father or family or church; and
  3. that always has marriage (or at least a determination regarding marriage to a specific person) as its direct goal.

The Scriptural support for the idea of biblical dating is largely by example and implication. We will look at a number of passages over the course of our discussions that support various aspects of biblical dating, but for the moment, let me just give you some references to study:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-7:19 (command to be pure, seriousness of sexual sin and instructions regarding marriage)
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (do not wrong or defraud one another in relationships — by implying a relationship or commitment by your words or conduct that does not actually exist)
  • Song of Solomon 2:7 ("do not awaken love before it pleases" — i.e. before the proper time, meaning marriage)
  • Proverbs 6:20-7:27 (warning to avoid sexual sin and foolish relationships)
  • James 1:13-15 (temptation is to be taken very seriously)
  • Romans 13:8-14 (love others, work for their soul's good; don't look to please self)
  • Romans 14:1-15:7 (favor others, not self … value what's good to their souls)
  • 1 Timothy 5:1-2 (treat single women as sisters in Christ, with absolute purity)
  • Titus 2:1-8 (young men and women should focus on self-control/godliness)
  • John 14:15 (if you love Christ, you will obey His commands — read: above your own desires — and live biblically)

We'll talk more about these and other passages as we deal with other topics in this series.

Modern Dating

We may basically define modern dating as a method of introduction and carrying out of a pre-marital relationship between a single man and a single woman:

  1. that begins with either the man or the woman initiating with the other;
  2. that is conducted outside the formal oversight or authority of either person's family or church; and
  3. that may or may not have marriage as its goal and is often purely "recreational" or "educational."

Now, the biblical support for the modern approach to dating … (insert crickets, tumbleweeds, person whistling here)…. That was it. There isn't any. The very idea of extended romantic or sexual involvement outside of marriage doesn't even appear in Scripture unless it is described as illicit (sinful). Furthermore, it doesn't even appear in any society, western or otherwise, in any systematic way until the 20th century. While the principles supporting biblical dating have their beginnings with the very structure of the family, modern dating has its origins with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It is brand new, and yet, seemingly, it is all we know.

Differences Between Modern Dating and Biblical Dating

So what's the real difference? Here are some fundamentals:

Modern dating philosophy assumes that there will be several intimate romantic relationships in a person's life before marriage. In fact, it advocates "playing the field" in order to determine "what one wants" in a mate. Biblical dating has as its goal to be emotionally and physically intimate with only one member of the opposite sex … your spouse.

Modern dating tends to be egalitarian (no differences between men and women in spiritual or emotional "wiring" or God-given roles). Biblical dating tends to be complementarian (God has created men and women differently and has ordained each of these spiritual equals to play different and valuable roles in the church and in the family).

Modern dating tends to assume that you will spend a great deal of time together (most of it alone). Biblical dating tends to encourage time spent in group activities or with other people the couple knows well.

Modern dating tends to assume that you need to get to know a person more deeply than anyone else in the world to figure out whether you should be with him or her. The biblical approach suggests that real commitment to the other person should precede such a high level of intimacy.

Modern dating tends to assume that a good relationship will "meet all my needs and desires," and a bad one won't — it's essentially a self-centered approach. Biblical dating approaches relationships from a completely different perspective — one of ministry and service and bringing glory to God.

Modern dating tends to assume that there will be a high level of emotional involvement in a dating relationship, and some level of physical involvement as well. Biblical dating assumes no physical intimacy and more limited emotional intimacy outside of marriage.

Modern dating assumes that what I do and who I date as an adult is entirely up to me and is private (my family or the church has no formal or practical authority). Biblical dating assumes a context of spiritual accountability, as is true in every other area of the Christian life.

Basically, we can make three general statements about modern dating vs. biblical dating in terms of their respective philosophies:

  1. Modern dating seems to be about "finding" the right person for me (as my friend Michael Lawrence has written on this site, "Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend"); biblical dating is more about "being" the right person to serve my future spouse's needs and be a God-glorifying husband or wife.
  2. In modern dating, intimacy precedes commitment. In biblical dating, commitment precedes intimacy.
  3. The modern dating approach tells us that the way to figure out whether I want to marry someone is to act like we are married. If we like it, we make it official. If we don't, then we go through something emotionally — and probably physically — like a divorce. In biblical dating, Scripture guides us as to how to find a mate and marry, and the Bible teaches, among other things, that we should act in such a way so as not to imply a marriage-level commitment until that commitment exists before the Lord.

I'm supremely confident that as we go back and forth in the coming months, some — perhaps many — of you will disagree (if you don't already) or be initially annoyed at some of my statements. Ask yourself why. What are you trying to hold onto that you think this approach will take from you (privacy, autonomy, a secular idea of freedom or of your own rights)?

I have a particular challenge for those of you whose main objection is that the practical details we'll talk about here "are not explicitly biblical": think about the details of how you conduct (or would like to conduct) your dating life. Can you find explicit support for the modern approach in Scripture? Are there even broad principles in Scripture that justify the modern vision of dating (or yours, whatever it may be)? The Bible simply doesn't give us explicit instructions on some of what we'll discuss. Fair enough. In such a situation, we should ask what gets us closest to clear biblical teaching. In other words, within the many gray areas here, what conduct in our dating lives will help us to best care for our brothers and sisters in Christ and bring honor to His name?

That's it. That's a basic framework for biblical dating as best I can discern it from the principles of God's Word. Now, you're on. No question is too broad or too specific, too theoretical, too theological, or too practical. Agree with what I've said, or challenge it. This is how iron sharpens iron.

Scott Croft served for several years as chairman of the elders at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where he wrote and taught the Friendship, Courtship & Marriage and Biblical Manhood & Womanhood CORE Seminars. Scott now lives in the Louisville, Ky., area with his wife, Rachel, and son, William, where he works as an attorney and serves as an elder of Third Avenue Baptist Church.

Just remember one thing: we're in this together — for His Glory.



7 Damaging Sins Which Can Cripple Every Marriage

Damaging sins you need to watch out for in your marriage (iStock photo)

Did you know there are sins that can cripple every marriage? Yes, there are.

You realize there are no perfect marriages because there are no perfect people. Right?

Let me repeat that. There are no perfect marriages because there are no perfect people. 

Every marriage will have seasons that are more difficult than others. I often encounter couples in our church that think they are unique. Because we tend to put on our happy faces at church, they believe theirs is the only marriage in a bad season.

In fact, I'm convinced not understanding how many couples have weathered through these rocky places in marriage may be a reason many couples give up on their marriage. If they understood how normal they are, they might be more willing to raise the white flag—ask for help—and work to restore the marriage. 

I have observed over the years there are some issues in marriages that, if not addressed, can be crippling to the marriage. These are the "biggies." They may manifest themselves in other ways, but if you could trace back to the origin, you would find these to be at fault.

And let's not sugarcoat. They are sins. We have all sinned. We all sin. Every marriage is comprised of two sinners. 

This is the real reason there are no perfect marriages. 

Left to fester on their own, these sins will eventually be the destroyer of the marriage or certainly keep it from achieving the oneness God commanded. 

So, what are these damaging sins? I'm glad you asked.

Here are seven damaging sins that can cripple every marriage:

1. Selfishness – Marriage won't work without mutual submission. Read Ephesians 5:21. Marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement. Ideally it's to be a 100/100 bond—where both spouses willingly yield their all. (I used the word ideal, because your marriage is not there and neither is mine.) When one spouse demands their way or will never work toward a compromise the relationship can never be all it should be. One person is happy—the one who got their way—the other is miserable.  

2. Discontent – I've said before—boredom is perhaps the No. 1 destroyer of marriage. There will be seasons in every relationship that aren't as "exciting" as others. Some days you will "feel" more in love than other days. But the key to a long-term relationship is a commitment beyond emotion. 

3. Pride – When one spouse can never admit they are wrong or see their own flaws, it opens the door for a wedge of bitterness in the other spouse. Pride is also destructive when the couple is too proud to admit their struggles or get the help they need. 

4. Unforgiveness – Holding on to past hurts not only damages the marriage bond, it destroys the person who refuses to forgive. Trust can't be developed until forgiveness is granted. Isn't grace received expected to be extended? 

5. Anger – The Scripture is clear: We should not go to bed in anger. There is a reason for that command. Anger is a wedge, one that only grows wider over time when not dealt with. 

6. Complacency – As soon as you think you're marriage is above the problems of other relationships, you're in trouble. The enemy loves to attack the unaware. 

7. Coveting – Couples who compare themselves to other couples will almost always be disappointed. There will always be people with more—and it likely isn't making them as happy as you think it does. Keep in mind, many times people disguise their struggles well. The couple you think has it all may wish they had what you have. Every couple is unique. Comparison only leads to frustration. 

Ask yourself this question: Which of these sins is most prevalent in my marriage today? Which is causing the greatest harm? Which of these, while it may not be an issue today, could become an issue if we don't get serious about it soon?

Be honest with yourself—and ultimately—with your spouse.

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

 



5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Cohabitate Before Marriage

Studies shows after living together before marriage, the odds of staying together decreases significantly (image © Andy Ward)

Are you single or dating someone you think may be the one? Or do you have kids who are dating and may be thinking wedding bells at some point?

If so, you may want to consider the importance of marrying before moving in together or of teaching your kids about the pitfalls of shacking up.

More and more couples are choosing to move in together before marriage. One reason is to save on rent. Yes, saving on rent. Saving on rent is not, and should not be, a reason to live with someone who may or may not become your spouse. In fact, it is a really bad reason. Below are five reasons shacking up is a bad idea:

1. No blessings from God. The Bible considers shacking up the opposite of a legitimate marriage. A legitimate marriage consists of a union between a man and woman who have made a covenant and commitment. Shacking up involves neither. Marriage was a union created by God and is a union God blesses.

2. Your relationship will probably end. An article on examiner.com states that 80 percent of shacking-up relationships end before marriage or in divorce after marriage. So, it is 80/20 against you getting married or staying married to that person. One reason is because there is not a commitment when you move in before marriage. A relationship without commitment will not last, and marriage is the biggest commitment you can make in life.

3. Your children will be negatively affected. To the parents who have children, your kids are three times as likely to be expelled from school or get pregnant, five times more likely to live in poverty, and 22 times more likely to be incarcerated—all because you choose to live with someone you're not married to.

4. It makes you lazy. As a married man, I know that once dating ends, the relationship changes. Living together removes the "being your best" part of your relationship. Kind of like most job interviews—you wore the suit to the interview, but once hired, you show up in khakis and a polo. And if you're living with a woman and getting some of the "benefits" of marriage—sex, having someone to help around the house, sharing the bills—you can also get lazy about taking the next step in your relationship.

5. Saving on rent. Mentioned above.

 Related Resources: 

How will you educate your adult children about the dangers of shacking up?

All Pro Dad is Family First's innovative and unique program for every father. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and, as a byproduct, the hearts of the children with their dads. At allprodad.com, dads in any stage of fatherhood can find helpful resources to aid in their parenting. Resources include daily emails, blogs, Top 10 lists, articles, printable tools, videos and eBooks. From allprodad.com, fathers can join the highly engaged All Pro Dad social media communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

 



Making your Marriage Last

This is one of the main reasons that couples divorce. (Alan Lambert – Getty Images)

I have been married 20 years but I still find that successful communication is the No. 1 challenge in my relationship. And I know I am not alone. Communication issues are the top reason most marriages fail. Thankfully, I have learned one thing over the years that has helped me overcome this: respect.

When I approach my husband Chad respectfully, my chances of him listening and responding are far greater than if I approach him harshly or aggressively.

For most of our marriage, my husband Chad has had no desire to take out the trash. It could be packed tight, overflowing, and causing a seriously foul smell throughout our home, and he still wouldn't think about taking it out. That drives me crazy! I know he isn't lazy; in fact, he is one of the hardest workers I know. What makes me crazy is that I feel he takes me for granted because he knows that I have all the home chores covered.

Here are two ways that I could deal with this:

A. I could communicate what I desire to have done by asking him respectfully "Honey, can you please take out the trash?"

OR

B. I could express my frustration to him with my finger pointed by disrespectfully saying, "You never do anything, the trash smells like a dead pig! When do you plan on taking that out?"

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1).

"He who guards his mouth preserves his life" (Prov. 13:3).

As a woman of God, I know that I am called to respect my husband. Unique to each spouse is a set of things they need. One of Chad's top three needs is "respect." If I want him to meet my needs, I must first try to meet his needs, even if he is not doing something the way I think he should.

It is pretty obvious that Option A would be the best way to handle this situation, but showing Chad respect is not always easy for me. I really struggle with showing him respect when I am frustrated. Truthfully there are many times that I want to go "cuckoo" on him and use Option B (and sadly, I have). However, it never works out well! By using Option B, maybe the trash will get taken out, but the whole day would be ruined because of our anger and fighting. Division would come between us, and what could have been a good day would become filled with chaos.

Unfortunately, I have caused one too many "bad days" by not choosing to honor the Lord by respecting my husband. Taking the approach of choosing to honor the Lord is exactly how I started to make the appropriate changes in my attitude. Ephesians 5 teaches us to respect our husbands. That verse doesn't say to respect him only when he deserves it. Instead, God's Word teaches us to respect our husbands all of the time. It was with this new revelation in mind that I was able to begin making the choice to respect Chad in all areas of our marriage, but especially with my words.

I was convicted by these verses in the Bible:

"It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman" (Prov. 21:19).

"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house" (Prov. 21:9).

I never want to be that kind of wife again. How shameful it would be if I were still that type of wife?

"But let it be the hidden nature of the heart, that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:4).

I made the decision that this is the wife I wanted to be!

This is an example of true beauty. This is the depiction of the virtuous woman that God created me to be. This is the woman who will lay pride aside to willfully meet her husband's needs. Ultimately, this healthy attitude will lead to joy in a marriage that revolves around peace and unity.


After reading the above statement, I'm sure you're asking, "That all sounds wonderful, but if we are so focused on our spouse's needs, then what about our own needs?" Notice what I said above: "the woman who will lay pride aside to willfully meet her husband's needs finds joy in a marriage of peace and unity."

There is no question that I still desire to have my needs met, but constantly challenging my husband to meet those needs is selfish on my part, and my efforts always fail. Through true servanthood to one another, when I strive to meet his needs and he strives to meet mine, we find ourselves in the marriage we both desire. I have heard it said that you have to meet halfway … I no longer believe this to be true. I'm willing to go all the way!

Even if Chad only goes 30 percent, then we will be fine, because there will be other days when he will give 100 percent and I will fall short. You don't have to be a statistician, just understand that when you are both "all in" and can take your eyes off your own needs and focus on your spouse's needs, you will be most fulfilled.

From Marriage Advance by Chad and Kathy Robichaux, a book helping couples strengthen their marriages in times great adversity and advancing toward the ultimate success God had in mind when you said, "I do."

Kathy Robichaux is the director of women's programs for the Mighty Oaks Foundation. She has a strong connection with women and wives struggling with the pain and heartache in the wake of PTSD. With vast amount of personal experiences, she speaks publicly as a wife and mother who fought the war with the symptoms in her husband and came out the other side with a restored marriage and an even stronger faith. Kathy and Chad have been married for 20 years and have three teenage children: Hunter, Haili and Hayden.

 



5 Obstacles to a Great Christian Marriage

There are many obstacles to a great Christian marriage. (iStock photo)

I love marriage. I love the idea of marriage and the process of marriage.
But, marriage isn't easy. It's actually hard to have a good marriage.
One of the toughest verses in the Bible to obey is Ephesians 5:31 which says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh."

One flesh.

The process of blending two very different people is what causes stress to many marriages.

In my work with marriages, I've identified five of the major obstacles to making a great ONE out of two very different people. Sometimes simply understanding what obstacles exist and knowing they are common to most marriages—you are not alone—can help us learn to see them not as obstacles, but as God-given opportunities to grow a stronger "one flesh."

5 major obstacles I have seen are:

1. Lack of biblical knowledge about marriage. There is very little premarital training in churches today or even in most homes that are raising children who will one day marry. When my boys got their driver's license we sent them to four Saturdays of classes. How much training do most of us get for marriage? The fact is that most of us are somewhat surprised by marriage and we don't really know how to make it work. We need to do a better job training people for marriage.

2. Differences in men and women. Men and women are designed differently by God—not just physically, but emotionally. We look at the world differently. We process information differently. We expect different things from relationships. We have wrongly tried to equalize everything when it comes to men and women. I strongly agree we need equality when it comes to things like workplace treatment or educational opportunities, but when it comes to matters of the heart, and especially marriage, we better know that God designed a difference in men and women.

3. Communication styles. Because of our differences, men and women communicate differently. Men tend to communicate thinking to thinking; while women tend to communicate heart to heart. One of the reasons Cheryl and I might have conflict is because I say things I intend for her mind to hear and it's received with her heart. We need to remember that we communicate differently.

4. Outside influences. Every marriage has influences beyond their immediate control, but that have profound and direct impact on the marriage. Some of those influences include:
  • Children
  • In-laws/other relatives
  • Friends
  • Pressures of life/stress
  • Satan

All of these are normal influences in any marriage. Some of them are even welcome influencers in the marriage. The key is not to let ANY of them distract from the plan God has for the marriage to become one flesh.

5. Differing goals/objectives. Remember every couple is made up of two unique, differently designed individuals. That means each one brings unique qualities, personalities and opinions to the relationship. Again, that's part of God's overall design to make two people one.

Some of the major differences include:
  • Outlook on life; usually one is more positive and one is more negative.
  • Differences in family backgrounds
  • Personality differences Introvert/Extrovert; Thinker/Feeler;
  • Organized/Disorganized
  • Parenting Objectives

The overall goal of marriage is not to make both parties in the marriage like one of the parties.  It's to make ONE new unit out of the two. Discovering how to blend one flesh out of two different people takes years and requires practice, patience and lots of hard work. Remembering that differences are a part of God's plan and can actually help us build stronger marriages.

Remember also God didn't promise this would be easy. In fact, the very next line after the difficult verse I shared in the opening of this post says, "This is a great mystery" (Ephesians 5:32).

If you are married, praise God for the mystery He gave you today.

What other obstacles have you seen to having a great marriage?

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.