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marriage dance

Everyone wants a good, strong, happy marriage.  Our marriages often start out well.  They are full of enthusiasm, joy, love, compassion, and devotion.  But as time goes by, couples often find it difficult to carve out time, space, and energy for their one true love.

It seems so odd and sad, but it is a common story line with a majority of married couples. The things of life get in their way and dampen the romance that once burned bright.  A few years prior, nothing could separate this pair of love birds. Now priorities have changed. Distractions are everywhere.  Demands must be met. Children must be fed. Bills must be paid.  Somehow couples seem to lose the fire and energy that brought them to the altar.

We all need a wake up call when it come to marriage.  Everyone!  We husbands need a reminder to date our wives and make her a priority.  Wives need a reminder to love and cherish husbands.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week.  It serves as the national alarm clock for couples to remember why they got married in the first place.  It also allows groups, organizations, and churches to join the fight in saving marriages across America.

If you are planning a marriage enrichment event, a workshop, or presentation, join the campaign by sharing it on the national website.  Let your community know what resources are available in their own backyard.  This simple act can go a long way to encourage or even salvage a couple on the brink of divorce.

National Marriage Week USA, offers several marriage resources, date night suggestions, event guides, reading lists, and videos on how to build a satisfying marriage.  Check out the website to find a tip, idea, or suggestion that can improve your marriage in 2016.

This can be the year that you turn things around.  Stop allowing distractions and insignificant events to suck the life out of your relationship.  Take time to strengthen your marriage.  Reconnect with your spouse.  Focus on the romance that brought you together. Use National Marriage Week as a way to strengthen your marriage and focus on the one you love.

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Wedding

June is a busy month for weddings.  As we enter the season known for wedding ceremonies, share your knowledge and experience with couples who want to tie the knot.  We all want them to have a strong and beneficial marriage that will last.

Some couples fall into the trap of spending more time planning the ceremony than discussing their married life together.  A wedding ceremony can last 20-45 minutes, but the marriage is intended to last for the rest of their lives.  In an age when 47% of marriages end in divorce, couples need to build a solid foundation for their marriage to succeed.

Here are some observations from my foxhole.

Get pre-marital counseling.  This is extremely valuable to couples before the wedding bells chime.  Counseling get help you to identify problems before they turn into issues down the road.  Counseling will also help in finding strong solutions that will not jeopardize your union.

Strengthen your communication skills.  You can learn how to listen to your spouse and speak effectively with each other.  This does not happen by accident.  It will take time, effort, and practice.  While better communication skills may seem like a catch phrase, couples who learn the skills can resolve issues more quickly and avoid serious fights.

Discuss roles and expectations.  What will married life look like after the ceremony?  Don’t expect this to take care of itself down the road.  Now is the best time to discuss expectations.  Topics should cover a wide range of issues to give transparency and depth.  Who will make the morning coffee?  Will you have a joint checking account?  Will you be a one or two income household?  Does your spouse plan to go back to school?  Where will you worship?  Marriage counseling is a great place to start or continue the conversation.

Learn how to fight fair.  Couples get into arguments.  That is a given fact of life. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  Verbal fights, arguments, and conflict will happen.  I can’t prevent you from fighting, but you can learn to fight fair with each other.  Take the time to educate yourself on these skills. Learn what to avoid, how to cool down, and move toward solving the problem as a team. 

Strengthen your faith.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 shares, “a rope of three strands is not quickly broken.” There is incredible wisdom in having God as the third strand in your marriage.  Allow His love to surround you, teach you, and draw you closer to your mate.  Learn to follow God’s plan for yourself and your marriage.  Live within the covenant of marriage.  Make faith a priority in your marriage. Worship together and reach new highs through Christ.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment.  So it is important to discuss where you are going and where you want to be as husband and wife.  Make time to discuss your goals and plans.  This is an exciting time to chart out a direction for your future together.  Keep God at the center of your plans, and your marriage will continue to grow.

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Marriage Heart Health

Do you have a five star marriage?

People want to stay at the best hotels and resorts when they travel. These hotels earn a five star rating because they consistently deliver excellent service, provide great amenities, and offer that special touch of class like little chocolates on your pillow. They go the extra mile. People instead settle for a two or three star establishment because of proximity, cost, and time. We often settle for less instead of striving for the very best.

This is also true in marriage. We can have a great relationship with quality time together, kind words toward each other, and sacrificial acts of service. But too often we settle for a mediocre marriage with little strength, support, or commitment.

How can we flip the switch?

Couples need to honestly evaluate the relationship with their spouse. Are your expectations being met? When expectations are not met, we are disappointed. Disappointment often carries with it frustration, anger, and isolation. If our reality is less than what we expected, then the reality equals a disappointed spouse. Share expectations with each other so that you are both on the same page and can work toward mutual goals.

Couples need to focus on each other. I can tell when my wife is upset, stressed out, or angry. Most of us know that look or phrase from a spouse. There is a cue that reveals his or her inner thoughts. That is a signal to ask questions, share an encouraging word, help around the house, fix a problem, take the kids for a walk, or just listen. Don’t ignore the cues and signals that your spouse sends you. Take notice. Respond and act to support each other.

Couples need time together. Husbands and wives are great at making time to discuss problems, schedule school events, and play taxi service for the kids. While this is important, couples also need to spend quality time together. They need to get away, go on a date, and make time for their one true love. Don’t lose the fire and energy that brought you to the altar in the first place.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week. Use that time to evaluate your marriage and strengthen your relationship. Check out their resource page at http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org and discover how a few simple steps can improve any marriage.

No matter where your marriage is today, you can build a stronger relationship that will last for the rest of your life. Make a five star marriage part of your life today.

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gay2

Gay is the new black.  It appears to be popular, fashionable, trendy, modern, and progressive.  It is also the current direction of our society.  Everyone wants to support these new and modern ideas surrounding sexual behavior.  Hollywood, schools, and multiple media outlets are advancing the idea across America.

A recent news story was pushed to the forefront of many news cycles.  The Topeka City Council voted to create a domestic partner registry for same-sex couples.

While the headlines proclaim equality and advancing rights, the story is very alarming.   The Topeka City Council has now created the legislative authority to define a “couple” or allow citizens to self identify as partners.

Competing definitions of marriage and relationships erode God’s plan for humanity.  Once you abandon the Biblical definition of marriage, any other definition is now fair game for acceptance.  Multiple definitions seem legitimate because relationships are now based on any behavior people may want.  In short, anything goes.

This won’t be comfortable for everyone reading, but try this on for size.  Five council members, a simple majority, can now amend a standing city ordinance to define a “couple” as three people in the city of Topeka.  Let that one soak in for a moment.  Maybe they would call it a “trouple.”  Five council members can now amend an ordinance to allow minors, those under the age of 18, to register their relationship.  This is not an old-fashioned marriage where you have to wait until adulthood.  It is a new, progressive, and cosmopolitan way to record relationships.  Right?

These two scenarios may seem far-fetched.  Your immediate default is to say “this will never happen” or “there is no way someone could do that.”  Why not?  If the traditional standard of marriage is no longer valid any definition can now be used.  The proverbial barn door is already open and continues to swing wide.

How can Christians compete with this contemporary message and share the truth of God’s Word?  The trend continues to grow, so it is time that Christians take a stand in the marketplace of ideas and share our values.  There needs to be a Christian response to the popular arguments out there regarding sexual behavior.  People also need to know God’s message for our lives and the message of salvation through Christ.  Here are some points that deserve discussion.

1.)  People are not born gay.

This is a behavior.  There is no gay gene.  While several studies try to identify chromosomes for this behavior, nothing can prove genetics solely determine homosexual behavior.  The “born-that-way” claim is one from design where people claim that “God made me with these desires, I am only acting on them.”  This overlooks the fact that we are all born with a specific gender.  Why are you following your desires instead of your gender?   Ignoring your desires may be uncomfortable, but ignoring the natural design of your body is unwise and often fatal.  Even if desires are not a choice, sexual behavior always is.  So even if a person honestly believes that he’s been born with homosexual desires, he is certainly capable of controlling his sexual behavior.  If you claim that he is not—that sexual behavior is somehow uncontrollable—then you have made the absurd contention that no one can be morally responsible for any sexual crime, including rape and incest.

2.)  Sexual behavior is not a civil right.

The comparison of homosexuality to race is totally off base and absolutely wrong.  How can you honestly compare slavery to sodomy?  Slavery was human trafficking.  Slavery was dividing a family and selling people on an auction block for profit.  Slavery was counting a human being as three-fifths of a person.  Slavery was forced labor and poor living conditions.  Slavery was banning an education.  Slavery was banning the right to vote.  Slavery was banning the right to own property.  There is no comparison!  Skin color is benign.  Sexual behavior is not benign.  There are serious health consequences for this behavior.  Furthermore, sexual behavior is always a choice; race never is.  You will find former homosexuals, but you will never find a former African, Asian, Caucasian, or Native American.  Slavery, segregation, imprisonment, and Jim Crow laws cannot and should not be compared to a ban on blood donations.  Trying to equate sexual preferences with skin color is demeaning and insulting to every American.

3.)  Agreeing with Scripture does not make you a homophobe.

You have a Constitutional right to religion.  Everyone in America is allowed to follow their faith.  Don’t allow this slanderous term to silence you in the cause for Christ.  This is trumped-up name calling at best.  Following Biblical values does not mean you fear or hate gays.  The Bible shares that:  God is our Creator, we are made in the image of God, we are made male and female, and God wants us to abstain from worldly desires and behaviors.  If one believes that immoral behavior is not God’s plan it does not make one phobic, irrational, or hateful.  This is God’s standard for holy and chaste living.  Strait people can also be immoral.  If I preach on immoral behavior does that now mean that I hate traditional families?  No, it just means that I support God’s standard established in the Bible.  Remember to speak the truth in love and follow the example of Jesus.  Do not succumb to their tactics with shouting and hate speech.  Demonstrate a loving faith and witness that glorifies the Father.  God loves us and wants all of us to turn from our past.

4.)  Our God of love is also a God of justice.

If you love someone and see him ruining his life with poor choices (stealing, lying, adultery, homosexuality, promiscuity) you get concerned, worried, and maybe even angry.  If a family member is an alcoholic wouldn’t you address the issue somehow?  You speak out because of your love for him, not out of hatred.  Anger isn’t the opposite of love, hate is and the final form of hate is indifference.  So the most loving thing Christians can do is warn people that they are living a life contrary to God and that jeopardizes where they will spend eternity.  God does not hate people.  Our worldly behaviors and actions displease God.  We are all sinners and are in need of a Savior.  The challenge is for us to repent and live.  Accepting Jesus as Lord reconciles us with God, for all past wrongs.  That means any sin, conducted for any length of time can be forgiven.  Love and justice can coexist through faith in Christ.  Scripture shares in Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

These points can help to form a Christian response to sexual behavior in our world.  It may not be popular, trendy, or fashionable, but it is faithful to our Heavenly Father.  While the world wants Christians to look like fools, remember to take a stand for Christ, speak the truth in love, and share how God’s Word can transform everyone into a new person.

 

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couple

Everyone wants a good, strong, happy marriage.  Our marriages often start out well.  They are full of enthusiasm, joy, love, compassion, and devotion.  But as time goes by, couples often find it difficult to carve out time, space, and energy for their one true love.

It seems so odd and sad, but it is a common story line with a majority of married couples.  The things of life get in their way and dampen the romance that once burned bright.  A few years prior, nothing could separate this pair of love birds. Now priorities have changed.  Distractions are everywhere.  Demands must be met. Children must be fed. Bills must be paid.  Somehow couples seem to lose the fire and energy that brought them to the altar.

We all need a wake up call when it come to marriage.  Everyone!  We husbands need a reminder to date our wives and make her a priority.  Wives need a reminder to love and cherish husbands.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week.  It serves as the national alarm clock for couples to remember why they got married in the first place.  It also allows groups, organizations, and churches to join the fight in saving marriages across America.

If you are planning a marriage enrichment event, a workshop, or presentation, join the campaign by sharing it on the national website.  Let your community know what resources are available in their own backyard.  This simple act can go a long way to encourage or even salvage a couple on the brink of divorce.

National Marriage Week USA, offers several marriage resources, date night suggestions, event guides, reading lists, and videos on how to build a satisfying marriage.  Check out the website to find a tip, idea, or suggestion that can improve your marriage in 2014.

This can be the year that you turn things around.  Stop allowing distractions and insignificant events to suck the life out of your relationship.  Take time to strengthen your marriage.  Reconnect with your spouse.  Focus on the romance that brought you together.  Use National Marriage Week as a way to strengthen your marriage and focus on the one you love.

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weddingRingsBible

There is an ever growing list of people who want nothing to do with marriage.  You can now add Lindsey Vonn to the list.  Vonn recently announced she has no plans to walk down the aisle again.

Vonn, the 2010 gold medal Olympian and girl friend to Tiger Woods, shared, “I’m done with that.  The box is checked.  I don’t really believe that you need to be married to someone to be their life partner.”

Her attitude on marriage is increasingly common.  Many couples prefer to live together or in a word cohabit, instead of getting married.  I’ve heard the arguments for the practice.  Folks want to save money, spend more time with the person they love, or test the compatibility of their relationship without all the messy legal problems if it should fail.

Some view the practice as a strong commitment while dating.  Others see it as a prelude to marriage.  But contemporary opinions now view cohabitation as a substitute for conventional marriage.

While attitudes and opinions support cohabitation, the facts do not.  In a piece entitled “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage,” psychologist Meg Jay of the University of Virginia describes what is known as the “cohabitation effect”: “Couples who cohabit before marriage . . . tend to be less satisfied with their marriages-and more likely to divorce-than couples who do not.”  67% of cohabiting couples divorce compared to 45% of all first marriages.  Additional studies show that women who cohabit are more likely to be abused and to be depressed than women in a marriage.  And if that wasn’t enough bad news, researchers also found that couples who cohabit are more likely to cheat on one another.

This entire notion that you can test drive marriage hurts people and creates unnecessary heartache.  The biblical warnings against cohabitation are affirmed by statistics and the burgeoning trail of wounded people.  Couples often try cohabitation because they have not seen a successful marriage up close.

Pastors can help to reverse the trend by requiring premarital counseling before couples tie the knot.  Churches can also make a difference by mentoring engaged couples.  This is a great way to teach the biblical examples of marriage and build strong relationships.  When couples receive mentoring by their church, 76% stay together, 19% break up before marrying, and only 5% divorce or separate.

We can no longer accept a laissez faire approach to marriage in our community. God has designed the covenant of marriage and we need to continue teaching a biblical approach for couples.  They also deserve quality mentoring from pastors and church leaders who are willing to help the next generation.  May God raise up quality couples who are willing to mentor others and increase successful marriages throughout our community.

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marriage dance

You can ask anyone about marriage and the answer will almost always be the same.  I want a good, strong, happy marriage.  No one stands at the altar and says, “I’ll give you the best five years of my life.”

Polls and surveys share the same information on marriage.  The vast majority of people desire happy, lasting marriages, whether rich or poor, male or female, and regardless of cultural background.

The big secret about marriage is that it works.  Yes, I said it, marriage works.  While out-of-wedlock birth rates are high and divorce rates are higher, marriage works.  Look at the last thirty years of research; married couples are happier, live longer, and build greater financial security.  Children with married parents perform better in school, have better physical health, have lower rates of suicide, and experience fewer cases of child abuse.  Click here for new research on “Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from Social Science.”

Deep down, everyone wishes they could have a rewarding lifelong commitment with their spouse.  But in the midst of challenges, we forget how marriage can benefit our personal lives.  We are losing our determination and the skills to keep marriages healthy and strong.

February 7-14, 2013 is National Marriage Week.  This time is set aside to focus on the institution of marriage and strengthen it at a national level.  This is a collaborative effort that encourages groups to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture.  The website offers several marriage resources, event guides, reading lists, and videos on how to build a satisfying marriage.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, let us focus on the skills that can strengthen our relationships and keep our marriages intact.  Here are a couple of goals or reminders for a healthy marriage:

  • make time for each other (fun, friendship, romance)
  • work as a team (instead of me vs. you)
  • talk without fighting

Remember why you fell in love and think how hard you worked to maintain your romance.  After marriage, we normally encounter a period of time when couples spend less time on their relationship due to kids, careers, and other factors.  Take time to reconnect, go on a date, and rekindle the romance in your marriage.  Use National Marriage Week as a way to strengthen your marriage and focus on the one you love.

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