How You Can Take Pressure Off Your Marriage

imsotiredYou are not responsible another’s behavior.

Yet, far too many Christian men and women believe they are responsible for the behavior of their spouse.

  • A young wife and mother regularly makes hurtful, cutting remarks to her in-laws.  Her husband defends her vigorously by talking on and on about what an amazing person she really is.
  • A man continues to have have problems with his employer.  He has had a variety of jobs in the last fifteen years.  Each one of these have ended in a clash with management. Meanwhile, his spouse tells their friends that he is so talented and smart but just can’t find an employer who will appreciate him.
  • A father repeatedly breaks promises to his children while he pursues his own pleasures and interests.  Meanwhile, his wife defends him to these children, telling them what an awesome father he really is.  Yes, these kids are confused.

Marriage can be difficult.  Yet, what heightens the difficulty for some is the belief that you must constantly defend, excuse, or justify your spouse’s behavior.

Here is the good news.  You are responsible for your own behavior.  Your are not, however, responsible for the behavior of your spouse.  Nor, are you responsible for explaining or justifying his or her behavior to others.

When Daddy is Silent

men in silence - silent - Why Are Men Less TalkativeA daddy’s silence can be deadly.

Far too many men are silent at all the wrong times.  A father’s silence can communicate volumes. The absence of his voice can leave a boy or girl feeling emotionally alone.

We were in the middle school gym.  Our oldest daughter, in the seventh grade, was playing basketball.  The game was coming to a close.  One girl on our team was having great difficulty guarding a particular player on the opposing team. Again and again this girl would score.  Finally at one point, the father of our player stood and began yelling. He called out his daughter’s name and in front of the entire gym said, “Your defense stinks!”

The gym became very silent as the humiliated girl stood on the the court looking at her father.

Most fathers I know would never think of doing anything like this.  They would never want to humiliate or shame their child the way this father did.

However, fathers can do damage  by remaining silent.  They don’t inflict pain on their children with their words.  However, they do not take advantage of the opportunities they have to build and encourage their children with their words.  Instead, they remain silent.

When our children were small, I had to learn how to speak in a way that would encourage our girls. I did not come from a demonstrative family and it would have been far easier for me to simply be silent.  Yet, I learned by observing other fathers how to speak life giving words into my daughters. You can learn this too.

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids

MessMost parents I know love their children and want to do a good job with them.  Many of these people will do most anything to give their children a head start in life.  Some will go to extraordinary lengths to give their children an advantage.

Yet, it is possible to parent in such a way as to make it difficult for them to grow up, mature, and live as Christ-followers.

The following are some ways to mess up your kids:

1.  Model before them a self-centered life.  Focus on yourself, your pleasures, your desires, and your preferences.  Teach them by way of your example that life is all about “me.”

I was in a conversation with a woman who was abandoning her husband and children in order live her own life.  She wanted to believe that her leaving would have no long term impact on her children.

The reality is that our self-centered behaviors really do impact others.  They certainly impact our children.

10 Traits of a Great Dad

DadFor a number of years, I’ve had a front row seat to witness first hand some great fathers as they’ve interacted with their children.  Most of these dads also modeled what it means to love their wives with an unconditional love.

The guys who I have in mind are in their 30s and 40s.  They are normal men who have a mortgage and go to work each day.  Yet, they have allowed Christ to deeply impact their lives as fathers.

Here are ten traits of a great dad:

1.  The best kind of dad first models faithfulness and loyalty to his wife.  His children witness this. While many men behave in ways that are small and childish, this man is real grownup.  This mans wife married a real man who refuses let his immaturity dominate the relationship.  This kind of man also blesses his children as he relates to them as a real father.

2.  The best kind of dad is more concerned about being what his kids need instead of being focused on his own ego.  Some boy-men are so insecure they must have their fragile ego massaged each evening when they are home.  Such ego needs doesn’t leave much time or energy for being attentive to their children.

Are You Destroying Your Own Marriage?

Learn-How-to-Heal-Your-Broken-Marriage1Many men and women have sabotaged their own marriages.

Of course you may say, like many, “This will never happen to me.”

Perhaps.

Yet, there are ways that destructive seeds can be planted in one’s marriage.

1.  Whisper words of criticism and insults in your spouse’s ear.  Doing this will eventually destroy his or her confidence.  If you whisper these words, then you can save face with your friends.  After all, you know that if they were to hear what you just whispered in your partner’s ear they would think you were rude and childish.  Consequently, you can quietly tear down your spouse while pretending you are supportive before friends and family.

2.  Let your eyes wander toward another person of the opposite sex.  If you are caught gazing at another, be sure to blame your spouse.  “Well, what am I supposed to do?  It’s nice to get some attention!   Maybe if you would be a better husband (or wife), I wouldn’t find this person so attractive.”

3.  Look for every opportunity to speak a rude, barbed word toward your spouse.  You can always claim that you were just joking.  Do you know someone like this?  Perhaps this person uses every occasion to put down his wife.  If she objects, then her husband says, “I was just joking.”  The idea seems to be that if one claims to be joking, responsibility for any hurt can be denied.

Such behavior is beneath a Christ follower   After all, marriage is for grown-ups.  Furthermore, when married people are Christ followers, we follow an even higher standard.

Unfortunately, some people have spouses who refuse to grow up.  The behavior of the immature spouse is not just a nuisance.  This behavior can chip away at the marriage.

Does it make any sense to get married and then participate in the very destruction of your marriage?  I don’t think so.

I think this is worth some thought – and prayer.

 

 

Are These Enemies of Marriage in Your House?

apathyThe following are enemies of marriage.  They have a way of chipping away and even poisoning a marriage.  Run from these enemies.

Bitterness

Bitterness has a way of souring most any situation and most any day.  A bitter person can take seemingly innocent remarks and find something devious and sinister.  Bitterness is a poison that can be fatal to a marriage.

Deception.

Withholding information can become a pattern that ultimately destroys a marriage.  Some people put great energy into withholding information about those they are texting, what they are saying in private messages on Facebook, and whom they are calling on the phone.

Passivity.

Some husbands and wives will not take the initiative in their marriage.  Children cry while he sits in his recliner wondering why she doesn’t deal with them.  Meanwhile, she puts more energy into Facebook and commenting on blogs than she does her marriage.  Passivity breeds neglect.  Consequently, this marriage may suffer from a lack of intention, time, and energy.

Absence of Adoration.

A husband or wife may go to great lengths to do what they want while ignoring their spouse.  For example, a husband makes a lot of effort getting tickets to the big game; however, when his wife says that she would like to see a play or musical, he makes little or no effort to respond to her desire.  These spouses communicate that they do not value one another enough to make the effort to give what the other might enjoy.

Constant Criticism.

There are people who constantly complain, whine, and gripe about their spouse.  They are silent about what their spouse does that is right while they harp on his/her shortcomings.  A critical spirit has a way of emerging no matter what the occasion might be.

Repeating Destructive Patterns.

A husband declares that he doesn’t want to be like his own dad, either in his marriage or as a dad to his own children.  Perhaps a young mother says that she doesn’t want to be like her faultfinding, complaining mother.  Yet, if a person is not intentional about becoming a different kind of spouse or parent, they will often resort to their default in their family of origin.  This person repeats the same immature and obnoxious behaviors disliked in his/her father or mother.

These are six deadly enemies of marriage.  Anyone who is married and follows Jesus has been called to something higher.  Genuine self-giving love will cause us to avoid these enemies and not go near them.

Question:

Is there a particular enemy that you have had to be especially attentive to?

 

Ministry Inside.132

marriageministry-1024x359The following are ten possible marriage pitfalls.  Ignore these and put your marriage at risk.

1.  Beware of ignoring your wife’s spiritual development while you focus on feeding yourself and the congregation.  A ministry couple can easily drift apart spiritually.

2.  Beware of assuming that because you read and talk theology that your work with Jesus is more authentic than that of your spouse.

3.  Beware of dabbling in discipleship while you major in public events.  The first step in ministry is following Jesus.

4.  Beware of demanding that your spouse make you look good even when you behave immaturely or like a jerk at home.

5.  Beware of discouraging your spouse from seeing a counselor or therapist because you are concerned that you might look bad.

6.  Beware of thinking that your role or hard work gives you permission to slack off when you are home.

7.  Beware of expecting your spouse will deal with the kids, bills, the maintenance of the house, and your social life so that you can focus on more “important” matters.

8.  Beware of supposedly innocent flirting with a certain person in your church arrogantly thinking that you are way too smart or moral to do something stupid.

9.  Beware of using your mind as a playground where you can run wild with fantasies and various temptations.  Our thinking really does shape who we are.

10. Beware of speaking to your spouse in ways that are demeaning, childish, and disrespectful.  This does nothing for your marriage but reveals your immaturity.

Question:

What would you add to this list?

Your Marriage Can Be Better Than This

unhappy-couple-computer-325I once read the story of a man who spent his childhood living through the Great Depression.  He told that one of his chores as a young boy was to ride his bike to the local fire station where he would receive government-issue milk in the bucket he carried with him.  He spoke of the humiliation of riding home carrying the bucket of milk because all the other kids from school could see that his family was poor and had to receive government assistance.

He decided that he would one day have money and that no one would ever look down on him again.

He spent much of his adult life protecting his image and surrounding himself with symbols of success to ensure that others would see him as successful.

Yet, is this really living?

Sometimes, married people become lazy.

They focus more on how they appear than what they are.  They become more concerned about their image than their character.

Sometimes, married people become obsessed.

She is determined that he is going to be a spiritual leader in their home.  He is determined that she is going to become more outgoing and sociable with people from his work.

Sometimes, married people settle.

She sits in her recliner.  He sits in his recliner.  Night after night the television blares.  These people have settled for a passive existence instead of a life.

Sometimes, married people disconnect.

He goes his way.  She goes her way.  Perhaps their lives are centered on their children or grandchildren.  Sex, intimacy, and tenderness are all but gone.  There is little or no conflict.  They are actually at a point at which they don’t care enough about one another to have conflict.

Is this really living?

Is this really marriage?

Maybe the first step is to decide that you want something very different and that you are willing to do what it takes to stop this dead-end street.

Question:

Why do some married people seem to get into destructive ruts?

When Your Marriage is Hard

MarriageSometimes, marriage is very hard.

Yet, it can become especially difficult when we take on responsibilities that are not ours.

For example:

You are not responsible for your spouse’s moods.

Some men and women are very immature. Some are moody and emotionally manipulative. They demand that their spouse do what they want them to do or else. They may say to their husbands/wives: “I was in a great mood until you spoiled it.” Yet, you are responsible for your own mood and your own attitude, not that of your spouse.

You are not responsible for keeping your spouse from getting upset.

Some people punish their spouses when they are upset. For example, a husband and wife are selling their car. She makes a comment to a prospective buyer that they have had some trouble with the air-conditioning. She does so as a matter of integrity and a desire to be honest. Her husband is angry at her now and expresses this through passive aggressive behaviors for the rest of the day. Later she says, “I have to be so careful about what I say to my husband. He will get angry, and I will be in trouble.” Furthermore, some people may shortchange their children by tiptoeing around a spouse’s feelings and immaturity.

You are not responsible for making sure that your spouse has a good day.

In some marriages, one spouse attempts to manipulate the emotions of the other by communicating that in some way the spouse is responsible for making sure that he[/she] has a good day. Consequently, when something displeasing happens, the response may be: “I was having a good day until you ruined it.”

You are not responsible for making your spouse look good.

This happens far too frequently. A husband or wife expects their spouse to cover for them. Instead of behaving well, they focus on looking good in front of particular people. Perhaps a wife expects her husband to make her look good in front of her mother. Or, perhaps a husband expects his wife to make him look good in front of his parents. (He doesn’t want them to know about his language, his

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online gambling, or the way he behaves toward his teenage son when no one else is around.)

You are not responsible for trying to manage what other people think about your spouse or for trying to create false impressions before significant people.

You are responsible for managing yourself. You are responsible for managing how you function, how you react, and how you choose to relate to your spouse.

Question:

From your experience, what happens to a family when creating the right impression becomes more important than dealing with reality?

 

Question: What Kind of Wisdom is Needed to be a Good Parent?

c1The following question is one that I have been asked on a number of occasions.  Maybe this will be helpful to you or someone you might send it to.

My husband and I have three children. My question is, ‘How do you raise children when you didn’t have good role models growing up?’ My mother did the best she could but really didn’t have a good role model herself. My husband came from a severely dysfunctional family. What kind of wisdom do we need in order to raise our children well?

Congratulations on desiring to raise your children well and to do this with wisdom.  Parenting is difficult work but can ultimately be so rewarding.  In the meantime, know that we are all learning (or should be learning).  The following are some reflections regarding wisdom and parenting.

Wise Parents Teach Their Children to Accept Responsibility.

They don’t spend a lot of time blaming other people. It is easy to get into the habit of blaming others for the behavior of your children. It’s the coach’s fault. It’s the teacher’s fault. It’s the youth minister’s fault. The larger issue is if I am teaching my child to accept responsibility or to blame others when things go wrong.

Wise Parents Allow Their Children to Experience the Consequences of Behavior.

You’ve seen this person. This parent will not allow his child to experience pain as the natural consequence of the child’s behavior. If he throws a toy out the window of a moving car, the toy is gone! If she throws a tantrum in Toys-R-Us, we leave the store – without a toy. Far too many parents verbally fuss at their children but instill no real consequences.

Wise Parents Look Down the Road.

What is the future going to be like if things continue the way they are now? You either pay now or you pay later. Parenting is hard work. If you refuse to address misbehavior when children are young, you (and they) will ultimately pay for it. For instance, if your child fusses and whines, you may be able to stop this by going to McDonald’s for a treat. When she gets ice cream, she may stop fussing for a while, but think about what this child is learning: “If I want something or if I am disagreeable, mom and dad will buy me something to make me feel better.” I once overheard a parent requesting that others let his child win at a game so that he would feel good. What?

Wise Parents Love Their Children for Who They Are. 

You may have a child who has special needs. Your child may have physical or emotional issues that need to be addressed. Perhaps your child has great difficulty reading, doing math, or just keeping up. Sometimes parents will get caught up in wanting to create a good impression before friends or in what their friends say regarding their children. We may constantly talk about how incredibly amazing and wonderful our children are. One parent is talking about their gifted and talented son. The other parent is talking about their daughter who was chosen for this or that award. Meanwhile, many, many parents are silent as they wonder why their children struggle so much. Don’t get caught up in your child’s feeling inferior or different. Your child needs to be loved just as she is.

Wise Parents Don’t Try to Fill Their Own Emptiness by Using Their Children. 

You’ve seen him. He’s the dad who is almost living vicariously through his son. He goes ballistic with the coaches. He never stops talking about his son’s athletic performance. In fact, all he ever says about his son is what he did in the last game. As one young man said, “My dad only sees me as a football player. That is all he talks about with me. Maybe it is the mother who pushes her daughter to date the quarterback. She pushes her teenage daughter to run with a popular crowd and date popular people. She lives vicariously through her daughter. Wise parents don’t use a child to somehow satisfy their own emptiness.

 

I will post more later regarding the importance of seeking wisdom and being a parent.

Question:

What else would you add to this list regarding seeking wisdom and being a parent?