Friday, 3 February 2012

One on One

Mort Fertel (marriagecounselingblog.com) had an interesting post dealing with couple’s inability to spend time alone. Needless to say if this describes your relationship it is a red flag of humongous proportions. He writes:

Are you able to sit with your partner without doing anything at all? Can you shut off the television, computer and phone and just sit and be together? Many couples find it difficult to just be together with each other.

Do you and your spouse often invite friends or other family members to join you in activities? Some couples find it boring to just be by themselves.

Other couples busy themselves to avoid just being alone with their partner. They run from one activity to the next. Their activities may center on their children, their work, or other activities to ensure that they aren’t bored together.


If the purpose of marriage is to glorify God, and it is, then there is something terribly wrong with this picture. Mort explores some of the possible reasons for avoiding time together:

If you and your partner have difficulty enjoying one another’s company without outside entertainment, consider the underlying reason. Do you not have anything to talk about? Do you find your partner to be boring? Would you most likely start arguing? Do you not have fun with your partner? Do you lack anything in common? Do you feel guilty having down time?
If this describes your relationship it is time to take an inventory of what is going on and why? Most likely romance and intimacy have left your marriage some time ago. I could be reasonably certain that God is barely on your radar screen and certainly not at the center of your marriage.

So what’s the big deal? With some exceptions marriages that do not have God at the center do not do well. One reason is that marriage is to be a reflection of the relationship between the God and His Son. The Bible talks about “two becoming one flesh”, another way of describing how close a husband and wife are expected to be.

Figure out what is causing your discomfort at being alone and deal with it. Start by setting aside 30 minutes a week just to talk about your relationship, your goals and dreams, your worries and concerns. This should be a place where there will be no distractions. Do not engage in small talk or about various aspects of managing the household chores.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Speaking the Truth

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Eph. 4:15
We all stumble in many ways. James 3:2
These two verses reflect two sides of the same coin.

The verse in James points to the inherent difficulty that couples will have in marriage. But God can shape us into the people he wants us to be using the flaws of our partner. When we find that we are irritated or frustrated by our spouse’s behavior we would do well to ask ourselves, “what is it that the Lord might be trying to teach me?” We might get frustrated over a spouse’s propensity to be tardy. Perhaps God is trying to teach us patience. We might be upset about how our spouse handles money. God may be trying to teach us that we have made money an idol, particularly if our obsession with our finances and/or possessions negatively impacts our relationship with those we claim to love.

The point is that God will and can use our spouse to smooth off some of our rough edges, to make us more like His Son.

The other side of this coin reflects a flaw in our spouse that may in some way be affecting their spiritual growth. Perhaps your spouse is a gossip. Romans 1:29 says, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers…”

Throwing a Bible dart is rarely effective, i.e. quoting a Scripture verse at someone expecting that it will change their behavior. Ideally you have established a relationship with your spouse built on trust, honesty and love. They know that you only want what is best for them. If that is the case you are able to speak the truth in such a loving way that your spouse will hear what you are saying and realize that a change in behavior will glorify God.

Ephesians 5:25-28 tells the husband that he is to cleanse his wife by washing her through the Word.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Four Ways to Improve Your Marriage

Focus on the Family has long been an advocate for strong marriages and families. In the following blog post they share thoughts on how to integrate your spiritual lives into your marriage. It is not unusual for couples to be uneasy in this area of their relationship. Often it is because one of the partners, usually the wife, “appears to be” more spiritual, i.e. more conversant with the Bible and prayer. This makes it even more challenging since (a) men are to be the spiritual leaders in the home and (b) most men do not like to do something they are not good at, even if they have a desire to take such a lead.

Starting slow and seeking out an older couple who is more mature in their combined walk with the Lord is excellent advice. Here is the posting in its entirety.

If you and your spouse find yourselves struggling to give your faith a more central role in your marriage, consider the following suggestions:
1. Start with yourself. A joint prayer and devotional life for a married couple works best when it's a natural outgrowth of each partner's personal time with God. If you haven't been praying and reading the Bible much yourself, begin doing so before moving any further.

2. Don't rush it. If you're the more interested spouse, be patient. Praying together, like any family tradition you establish, must emerge from what both partners agree to and feel at ease with.

3. Start small. Give yourselves time, and don't push it. You might begin by praying at mealtimes. Eventually, you'll feel comfortable going beyond the blessing of your food to remembering the needs of friends and family members.

4. Use the resources available. Do you know an older couple who might be able to serve as mentors or role models in this area? If so, ask them if they'd be willing to help you out. Devotional books, pamphlets and magazines can also provide structure for your prayer and study times.