Thursday, 30 May 2013

Your Spouse is Not the Enemy

I take great pride in being pitifully uninformed.  Not only could I not name one current program on television, I do not get a newspaper and stay as far away from the evening news as I can.  I subscribe to two magazines, one of which is Golf Magazine, little good that has done me.  The other publication gives me bi-monthly highlights of national and international events from a Christian perspective; it is enough to make my blood boil (as the old expression goes).  Man’s inhumanity and injustice to man is beyond intolerable.

What does my remaining ignorant of current affairs have to do with marriage?  I didn’t say that I don’t read books, particularly on marriage, counseling and theology.  As uninformed as I am, this much I know, we have an enemy and he/she is not the one sleeping next to me in bed.  The enemy has much to do with what is wrong in the world, of more concern is that the enemy has much to do with what is wrong with our marriages.

If God is for marriage, Satan is against it.  Since marriage is one of God’s primary avenues for passing on His values and His truths to the next generation, you can be sure Satan wants to bring down marriages as part of a larger effort to destroy families.

For it is in the family that values are passed down, faith explained and lived out, love demonstrated and God’s love modeled.  Many couples I see come from families where Christian values were not taught or modeled.  One of the best gifts parents could ever give their children is to exhibit Christlike values in the home.  TV depicts most fathers as morons; unfaithfulness as the norm; and gives new definition to dysfunctional families – at least so I’m told.

What would happen if children actually saw Christian values lived out and experienced God’s love from a mother and father who were openly affectionate with one another?  How great would it be to see a father and mother have a disagreement in front of the children where the children could witness firsthand how Godly parents pray first and then discuss their diverse perspectives calmly and arrive at a conclusion that glorifies God and takes into account the perspective of each parent.  How great it would be for the father to not be emotionally absent from his children (or his wife) and take a particular interest in their development.

The family is in a war, whether they realize it or not, and we are too busy fighting with one another to turn our hostility toward the enemy and throw him out of our houses.  I’m glad I got that off my chest.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Toothpaste Spells the End

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love   Galatians 5:13

In The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg tells of a therapist friend who asked his client how he knew when his marriage of several decades had gone bad. “It was when she stopped putting toothpaste on my toothbrush in the morning,” the man said. When they were first married, whoever got up first would put a roll of toothpaste on the other spouse’s toothbrush. Then somewhere along the line, they stopped squeezing for each other and squeezed only for themselves.

Love is mostly an action verb, not a feeling.  It is through observation and servanthood that love manifests itself the best.  As a married couple we have ample opportunities to observe our partners.  Just the fact that we take the time to be observant is an act of love in itself.  There are simple things like knowing favorite foods, favorite places, favorite colors, fears, concerns, things or people that cause them anxiety, favorite pass times, favorite places to vacation including the type of vacation they most enjoy, etc.

As the story about the toothpaste suggests the little, more mundane aspects of life also provide an opportunity to demonstrate one’s love.  There are things that your spouse prefers not to do, do you know what they are and can you do them?  Are there simple tasks or chores that if you did them for your husband/wife it would make life easier or more enjoyable for them?

There are other actions that don’t necessarily fit into the category of observation or servanthood that still convey a sense of love. Learn the “love language” of your spouse and act accordingly.  Institute or re-institute “traditions”.  From the beginning of my relationship with Kathleen I got in the habit of opening the car door. At some point in our relationship (probably while dating) that became punctuated with a kiss.  It doesn’t matter if we are in our garage or in the middle of a mall parking lot, nor does the duration or intensity.  The point is to discover your own tradition(s) with which you are both comfortable.  Another hugely important tradition is praying together.  Men are usually less comfortable with this but as the servant leader, protector, and provider of the family it is his role to take the lead.  Ask your spouse, “How can I pray for you today?”  Then take a turn praying for one another.  This takes less than three minutes, I’ve timed it.