Submission is Not a Four Letter Word

No word in marriage ministry draws more angst than the word submission. Women despise it, men use it as a theological hammer. What Paul intended when he discussed this was far different than what is often perceived today. In this podcast you will hear how submission fits in to God’s overall plan for marriage, and how it can take things to another level.

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Appreciate Your Unique Spouse

How many times do we get frustrated when we ask our spouse for help only to find they don’t do things our way? In this episode, learn why it is important to take a step back and allow them to contribute their own perspective and ideas. It may not be the way you’d do things… but it will probably be better!

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A Lesson in Humility

Photo by Matej on Pexels.com

We had a nasty storm come through our area last week. Not a tornado per se, but crazy strong winds. One of the casualties of this storm was a tree in our yard. I went out with my chainsaw to begin cutting up the branches so they could be hauled to the burn pile. As I was cutting in to one of the larger sections, my chain saw got bound up when the wood shifted. I looked at the situation for a while before determining what I would have to do to get the chainsaw free. Since there was so much weight on the end of the branch, it was creating an upward force causing the bind. So, in my mind, all I had to do was to apply a new force directly under the section that I was cutting and that would free the chainsaw so I could continue to work. If I’d had an auto jack, it would have been perfect, but I don’t. So, I started looking around and figured out that if I could just find a long, thick straight branch, I could use it as a lever and serve the same purpose. By the time I had the lever in place and began pushing it down, I had no hands to grab and pull on the chainsaw. After fussing with this for about fifteen minutes, I came to the realization, that what I now needed was another set of hands.

I went in to the house to get Tara. It took her a while to change out of her pandemic, pajama attire, which increased my frustration. As she walked up to the scene, I explained to her – “All I need you to do is to grab the handle on the chainsaw. When I get this lever in place and push down, just pull it out, okay?” She began to ask me what the problem was and what else I had considered. My impatience and frustration came out as I snapped at her “Please just do as I’ve asked!”

She silently nodded her head and grabbed the handle. I worked feverishly to force the lever into place and put all my weight on it to free up the bind. “Pull”, I shouted. She pulled and pulled, but could not get the saw free. I tried to reposition the lever and tried again, but ended up with the same result. Knowing how much more work there was to be done, my frustration with being paralyzed was driving me crazy. I finally took a step back and determined my best bet was to walk to the garage and get a hand saw. I knew that if I just cut the branch close to the chain saw incision that I could free it that way.

It took me five minutes to go to the garage, find my (seldom used) hand saw and walk back to the fallen tree. As I walked up to her, Tara was standing there with the chainsaw in her hands! There I stood, saw in hand, mouth agape. “How did you do that?” I asked meekly. “I just walked down the end of the branch and took some of the weight off of it. As soon as I did, the saw came right out.” I stood in silence not knowing what to say… “I was going to suggest that when I walked out here, but you insisted that I merely do as you asked – so I did.”What a slap in the face. Did I ever feel stupid. We both began to laugh out loud, then I apologized, thanked her and gave her a hug.

Nearly forty years of marriage and I still do stupid things like that. In my mind, the solution was clear. I’m a degreed engineer, I recognize things like force vectors and understand the importance of levers and fulcrums. All I needed (or so I told myself) was one more set of hands to get this problem fixed. I neither wanted nor appreciated another opinion at that point. Discussion was only going to slow me down…

How often are we guilty of this attitude in our marriages. We don’t view our spouse as having a unique perspective that could benefit us. We form our opinions and make decisions on our own, then just ask that they support us. I believe in this instance God used this to teach (or at least remind me of) a lesson. I did not marry myself, I married someone with a unique perspective and a mind of her own. How egocentric to think that I had the ultimate solution by myself. She had her idea as soon as she walked up, but I wasn’t willing to hear it. She kept quiet in order to keep peace. She didn’t doubt that my solution would work, she just had additional thoughts as well.

When you find yourselves facing a challenge that involves both you and your spouse, remember that your two minds together can come up with a solution better than what either one of you could do on your own. Take the time to hear each other out, don’t dominate the situation and demand your direction be followed.

I am very blessed to have a wife that is sometimes willing to step back and let God teach me a lesson. And yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I love the smirk on her face when it happens!

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Communication in a Pandemic

Being stuck in the same house for an extended period of time will try anyone’s nerves. It is critical for couples to maintain effective communication – especially during these times.

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Marriage during a Pandemic

We are in the throes of a global pandemic. Families are forced to self-quarantine, stay at home and practice social distancing. This is quite a disruption to most of our routines. Even the strongest of marriages will find themselves struggling with the tensions the situation forces upon us. Hear in this episode some ways you can stay sane, and keep your marriage strong – even while dealing with this unnatural time.

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Helping Your Marriage Survive the Corona Virus

Fear not, this is not a post filled with medical / social warnings. Nor is it post down-playing the significance of the current virus…

There was a time in your relationship when you couldn’t wait to be alone with your partner. Hours could fly by just sitting together, or staring at a sunset. Conversation came easily as you came to know each other and to discover the incredible life that your partner had. Remember those days?

But things are different now. You’ve been married for a while (maybe even a long while). You probably have kids, a career, outside hobbies and interests and a group of friends that you meet with regularly. The recent call for social distancing has driven many of us to stay in our homes, with only the occasional outing to buy groceries or essential supplies. We’re working from home. School is cancelled. Restaurants, movie theaters, bars and stores are all closed. Our normal life-distractions have been removed against our will. That leaves us in our homes, with our families for days and weeks on end.

For years I’ve laughed at older couples that complain when the always working spouse is suddenly home “all of the time” and becomes a problem. It seemed like an insignificant issue that should be easily overcome. Yet suddenly, most of us find ourselves in this situation with no advance warning.

I pray that you endure / survive the physical effects of the virus. They say for most, it will be symptomatic of a bad cold. The reality is, if it’s in your home, you’ll likely all get it. And in a week or so, you’ll all recover. But beyond the physical toll, there’s the emotional toll that will surely take place.

Experts are predicting that couples being forced to stay home together will lead to a new, significant baby boom in the coming year. That’s certainly not a bad thing. My concern is that this time will also lead to significant marital stress and separation for others.

It’s easy to hide dysfunction in a relationship when both partners are busy, apart from one another due to individual commitments. They may both know its there, but it is easy to ignore and keep on the back burner. But put both spouses in the home for an extended period and these issues become much harder to avoid. Little annoyances can become major points of contention. Boredom can lead to frustration. Inability to resolve conflict can lead to a house of silence which can lead to further aggravation.

The following are some things that you might consider during this “down-time” with your spouse.

Cast a Vision

  • Take some time to sit and talk face to face. Put the phones down, turn the television off and make eye contact.
  • Take turns assessing where you see your marriage today. What’s going well? Where might you be struggling?
  • Discuss where you would like for your marriage to be in some future period (3 months, 5 years, 10 years).
  • What obstacles must be overcome to reach this vision? What are steps you could take to overcome them?

It’s amazing how focusing on and committing to a future, shared goal can bring a couple together. This is a critical activity that couple’s don’t allow time for under normal circumstances. Take advantage of this time to dream together. Put together a plan that you can refer back to over time to check your progress.

Reminisce

  • Play a game of “remember when…?” Ask each other fun questions like, remember when we first kissed? or “What was the best vacation we’ve ever taken in your mind?” or “What was the most embarrassing moment we’ve had as a couple?”

Sometimes we forget why we first fell in love. We get so bogged down in day to day issues that we lose sight of the blessing that our spouse is. Thinking back and remembering positive times can rekindle feelings that may have grown dormant.

Family Time

  • Play board games, do some family projects around the house, watch movies, get everyone involved.

Believe it or not, this now trying time will become a memory, not just for you but for the whole family. I remember being snowed into my home for a couple of weeks during the Blizzard of 1978. It was tough at the time, but everyone I know that endured it looks back on it as a positive memory now.

Bottom Line

You will be spending more time with your spouse in the near term than you probably have in quite a while. You can let this annoy you and create a wedge in your relationship, or you can be intentional about investing effort in this time to making things better. Who knows when you’ll have an opportunity like this again (if ever)? Make the most of it. Repair your relationship, but don’t stop there. Reinforce it to make it stronger than ever. It’s all in your hands. Make a positive choice.

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How Hot is Your Marriage?

Everybody thinks they desire a “hot” relationship. Steamy, passionate, physical… These aren’t bad things, but are they sustainable? In this episode, learn how to create a bed of coals in your marriage that will keep your fire burning even amidst storms or seasons of neglect.

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2020 Vision for Your Marriage

It’s a new year and a new decade. Time to create a vision for your marriage and focus on continuous improvement in your relationship. We’re planning a conference to help you do that.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Mehh…

Valentine’s Day is a funny day for me. Lot’s of people come up to me or to Tara and want to know what we did to celebrate. After all – we are the quintessential, happily married couple, right?

It’s funny, most years we don’t do anything to recognize this particular “holiday”. Okay, yesterday I was at Costco and saw lots of guys carrying out flowers, so I felt a little guilty – I bought Tara a dozen roses. I gave them to her when I got home – she looked a little surprised, but was appreciative.

My act initiated an interesting conversation between the two of us. It’s almost as if this “Hallmark created holiday” is used to guilt people into showing love for their spouse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer in buying flowers for Tara or showing her my love in a variety of other ways. But somehow buying (over priced) flowers on this day seems to almost diminish that.

As I think about all of those guys buying flowers at Costco yesterday, I wonder – how many of them are in good marriages? How many of them think they would be in trouble with their wives if they didn’t buy them flowers? I personally know of several dysfunctional couples (e.g. the classic living as roommates) that still exchange gifts on this day. Today they’re all lovey-dovey, but tomorrow they will slip back into their routine of taking each other for granted.

Eons ago when I was dating Tara, Valentine’s Day was a big deal to me. I was in the selling mode. I wanted to win her over by wooing her every opportunity that I had. Fast forward nearly forty years… I still try to woo her, but I have learned from experience that an unexpected bouquet on a random Tuesday evening makes a much larger impression on her than the obligatory flowers in mid-February. Showing her that I love her by speaking her love language on an ongoing basis has a much bigger (and more lasting) effect than fighting the crowds on this day to a restaurant.

Please don’t misinterpret me. I am still a hopeless romantic, but I want Tara to know that the love I express to her comes from my heart, and not just from the calendar. The key is to meet your spouse’s needs where they are. If they would be hurt if you didn’t recognize Valentine’s Day, then by all means celebrate it! But don’t limit yourself on expressing your love. Keep the fires burning year round by being spontaneous and unexpected.

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2020 Vision for Your Marriage

It’s a new year and a new decade. Time to create a vision for your marriage and focus on continuous improvement in your relationship. We’re planning a conference to help you do that.

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