faith, Family

How To Feel Differently About Your Spouse

Feelings have no engine of their own.  In most cases, they are pulled around by thoughts and actions. Therefore, if you are going to see a change in the way you feel about your spouse, then, first of all, you will have to change the way you are treating them.  This is why I often say, “Never expect to feel any different about your marriage unless you are willing to do something different.”

I have come across many a spouse that seems to be waiting for their feelings to mysteriously change before they start treating their mate in a different manner. The only problem is that they are waiting for something that does not exist.

The Proverbs 16:3 Principle

Proverbs 16:3 gives us some insight on this subject. It says:

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

If you will notice, God’s Words tells us that the external can positively affect the internal. In other words, Proverbs is teaching us that in that in order to move the inside, sometimes, the outside must be the first to change.

Imagine if I obtained a train car, painted the word feelings on it, and set it all by itself on the tracks. Let us also go a little further and assume that it is hundreds of miles away from where I would want it to travel.

First off, this train car may describe some of you in that your feelings for your spouse may be far away from where they once were at another time in your marriage.

Secondly, the train car may also portray how you feel in that you sense that you are all alone and emotionally stuck.

Getting the Train Car Called Feelings to Move

The question is how are we going to get that train car to move in a positive direction? We could sit back and wait for it to move on its own accord, yet I am sure that would accomplish little. We could have long conversations about possible solutions, but that would also be to no avail.

Ultimately, the only plausible way for forward progress to begin is to hook an engine to that train car and proceed down the tracks.

In like manner, husbands and wives that are seeing very little movement in their feelings toward one another must find a similar engine. I call it an engine called action. Once this occurs, it is almost always just a matter of time before they start to feel differently toward their spouse. 

There’s always Something You Can Do

I certainly understand that there are people with chemical imbalances, hormonal problems, or physiological issues that may throw their feelings off. I am fully aware of such cases. I also understand that there are heart issues such as hurt, unforgiveness, and bitterness that take time to heal. Nevertheless, I have found that even in the most difficult of cases, there is always some way to start showing kindness in a tangible way so that a spouse can eventually start to feel differently about their marriage. It is not only a Biblical step, but I have also found it to be extremely effective.

Credit to Dr. Raymond Force of Hitting Home Ministries for the content of this article.

faith, Family

4 Things Married Men Should Never Do

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So, you’re a married man. Congratulations! Being married can be awesome and liberating. You get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend and someone who complements you completely – it’s tremendous.

The thing about marriage is that it actually provides a framework for you to thrive and flourish, to become your true self rather than someone who is just angling for another score.

But even though marriage is a time for you to feel free, there are a few things that married men should never do. Here are four of them.

1) Get emotionally vulnerable with a member of the opposite sex

Whether you’re unburdening yourself or whether they’re pouring out their heart to you, this is just a bad idea. Look, we all want to be the person who is kind and loving and who is “there” for those in need. And that’s a great person to be!

Just don’t be that person for a member of the opposite sex. Especially if it’s just the two of you.

Look, we’re not afraid of a man being friends or even being close with a woman that he’s not married to. But we also understand the realities of the way the human heart works, and we know that emotional vulnerability can wind up leading either – or both – of you to places you shouldn’t be going.

Someone else can be there for them. Or there for you. It’s not worth it.

2) Keep score

Hey, you want to know a great way to kill intimacy with your wife? Try keeping score!

When you get into a heated conversation (i.e. argument), don’t try to find resolution – just try to win. When your wife asks you to do something for her, remember it so you can use it later to force her to do something for you.

Oh, and when it comes to sex, definitely keep track of who initiates and when and then take it personally.

Of course we’re being sarcastic here. Keeping score is great when you’re playing actual games, but a terrible thing to do in marriage. You and your spouse are in this together, meaning you either both win or you both lose. Grow up.

3) Try to fix your wife

The great thing about your wife is that she is a wonderful puzzle of occasional contradictions who sometimes just needs to think out loud.

And at the risk of generalizing, we’re going to say that when she does think out loud, she’s not really looking for answers so much as a confidant and someone to back up the way she feels about something.

She probably doesn’t really want you to fix her situation, and she definitely doesn’t want you to fix her.

She wants an advocate.

You aren’t responsible for your wife’s emotions or actions. You know who is? She is. Let her be. Listen, be kind, back her up, and let her vent.

4) Stop doing the little things

You know how when you were dating you did all kinds of cool, fun, romantic little things? And you know how that made her feel?

Yeah, you should keep doing that stuff.

You probably already know this, because it’s in, like, every marriage book, blog, video course, conference, and getaway weekend. But there’s a reason for that: because it’s true.

You have to keep doing that stuff to let your wife know you still cherish her and respect her and have a desperate desire to continue surprising her, even after all these years.

And now it’s your turn, married guys. We’ve given you some ideas – take them as a springboard and start thinking of what you shouldn’t do as a married man, as well as all the many, many things that you can do. Get started. Live free.**

**This entire article was written by Craig Gross who started http://www.xxxchurch.com. He provides excellent resources for marriage and common struggles men in particular face. I enjoy sharing helpful and encouraging content from other subject matter experts. I hope this is helpful to you as it is to me.

faith, Family

Why Fear Is Worse Than Greed

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To be honest, I didn’t want to share this article. It sat in my inbox for months while I read and re-read it several times with an ever increasing conviction that it was written directly to me. Has that ever happened to you?

This hits me right between the eyes. Not every detail of course, but Dr. Raymond Force pretty much nails the subject. I’ve never thought about fear this way, even once I admitted that I had some fears (fear of rejection/ failure primarily) that keep me from being an awesome husband.

It is because of my fear that I don’t want to share this with you. So here I am facing my fear head on making myself vulnerable to you. Dr. Force’s complete article is below (in red). My personal comments follow that. Read on.

Dr. Force’s Article

There are two emotions in life that cause hardships in our relationship with God, our spouses, and our children. Though one seems to get a pass on many an occasion, both are extremely destructive. These menaces are fear and greed.

If fear and greed were villains, greed would probably have a higher price on its head. However, I believe fear to be a little worse for the following reasons:

Fear is not as easily identified as a problem in the mind of the fearful

Everyone that is fearful feels justified in their fear-based approach to life and relationships. In their mind, they are protecting their marriage and the ones they love. However, it should be noted that though we should be cautious in some areas, there is a fear based in our unbelief, our idiosyncrasies, and our insecurities that can destroy healthy relationships. 

A fear-based spouse will often see darkness where there is simply light, feel hostility when there is peace, or read something into a situation while others are just doing life. Nonetheless, the results can lead to as many fights as a marriage that is plagued with a greedy, self-centered spouse.

Fear-based people do not take the blame 

People that are prone to fear-based actions are more likely to blame others around them for not being equally afraid. Thus, it is harder to identify the true culprit in the relationship because the focus of the blame is often misguided at best.

Fear-based people often have logic and scriptures to back up their actions 

Though their logic and scriptures will often be faulty or out of context, they seem all the more believable and sincere because of their arguments.

Dr. Raymond Force’s Story

I like to tell people that I have better me-sight than insight on subjects like this. In other words, I was a horrible fear-monger in our marriage during the early days, and I still have to watch my thoughts and actions. There was a time when my wife was afraid to be herself. She hid behind a shell of stoicism as she never knew when the next fear-based bomb was about to drop. To make matters worse, my fear was cloaked with religion (which is the worst kind), and I failed to see how debilitating it was to our marriage until about 5 years into the marriage.

Here is what I found that helped me to move into a more loving approach to my marriage and life in general:

  1. I had to enter into a John 14:21-23 relationship with the Lord.

In other words, sensing the presence of my Heavenly Father helped me to relax and see goodness where previously I saw the opposite.

  1. I had to stop blaming others in the marriage and home.

The Greek word for devil in the scriptures is diabolos. The word is actually translated slanderer or accuser in a few places. I had to realize that though I was religious, I had many of the characteristics of the evil one in that I was proud and a slanderer of those around me.

  1. I had to become a man.

Manhood means taking sole responsibility for your actions instead of blaming others. It also involves taking the consequences of your actions on the chin and doing whatever it takes to ensure that the original actions that caused negative reactions from others are no longer in play.

  1. I had to detox my mind.

I often encourage spouses and families to do what I call a Philippians 4:8 detox. In this passage, Paul tells us to think on things that are praiseworthy. Mark it down. When you stop beating dead horses of negativity in your mind, you will see a release of tension in your spirit, marriage, and the rest of your home.

  1. I had to realize that fear was greed.

When people are fearful, their focus is hardly ever on God’s glory. In fact, the energy swirls within them and around them, but it hardly ever is an energy that causes the focus to be on God and the true betterment of others. Truly, love, agape love, never fails and it certainly “casts out fear”.

Chad’s Story

I believe most people are quite unaware, clueless really, of their negative behaviors and how they impact their relationships. I am no different, having spent the majority of my adult life believing that most of the relationship problems I faced were the fault of my circumstances or someone else. In just the last few years though I finally discovered something radical. A key part of my healthy living journey is to become more self-aware through a frequent process of “sober self-assessment” (Romans 12:3) that I learned in a really good Bible study resource.

It is by this prayerful self-assessment, the therapeutic exercise of journaling, and a study on the topic of hidden idols in my heart that the Lord revealed to me my issue with fear of rejection. I realized that I had made an idol out of approval/ acceptance from others- particularly from my wife Angie. I won’t get into the details about fear as an idol here, but if you are intrigued how they are connected, I recommend you take a close look at the last link about hidden idols. Read the book.

My point is that it’s humbling to learn that the source of my problems in life and relationships is my own fault and I’m responsible to make it better. What hits me hard about this article is that fear is actually very selfish. Greed is selfish obviously. But fear is even more selfish than greed. Ouch. Here’s what my fear of rejection looks like: (Gulp)

  1. I work really hard to earn approval or acceptance from Angie. I work my butt off because I NEED her approval like a fish needs water. I feel like I can’t live without her acceptance & approval. I fear failing her and I fear her rejection of me, so I knock myself out by doing things that I think will win her. My self-esteem is based upon how I perceive Angie feels about me & my performance.
  2. My fear of rejection and my NEED of her acceptance/ approval are tied together. What happens is inevitably I do not receive the acceptance/approval I EXPECTED for all my “sacrificial efforts” so I feel rejected. My expectation is entirely selfish. I am not working my butt off for her sake; I’m doing it for me. I’m trying to feed my idol of “acceptance/ approval of others.”
  3. Once rejected, I reason that I must protect myself from this horrible feeling so I quit doing anything for Angie. I blame her for rejecting me. “How dare she?!” I foolishly believe I will feel better if I don’t do anything for Angie because I will save myself all the hard work and I won’t be rejected. How ridiculous is that?
  4. The results are obvious. Angie does not feel loved in the least. She loses. She does not accept or approve of my behavior at all. Her rejection of me continues. She is conditioned to wonder if anything I do is really for her, or just for my own selfish motives. I am a mess, because from my point of view I can’t avoid rejection no matter what I do. I lose too.
  5. We both lose and our relationship is stuck in a rut because I am afraid of rejection.

To remedy this, I have to keep reminding myself of the list of items above. Particularly the ideas of ownership of my behavior, detoxing my mind from all the lies Satan tell me about my value, claiming key Scriptures like Phil 4:8, Psalm 23, 27 & 139, Romans 8:28-39, Joshua 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:7, etc., and realizing how selfish my fear really is. Fighting my fears is a battle that I expect to fight to my grave, but I know I will get better with practice. And the truth is that I have an awesome advocate on my side. His name is Jesus. His great love for me wipes out all my fear – if I let him. I wonder, do you know him?

I’m embarrassed to share all this with you. I feel like I should have it all figured out by now.  The truth is, the older I get, the more I find that I don’t have figured out. But here is what I know for sure:

-Fear is real and it can be debilitating.

-Fear is a selfish choice.

-The perfect love of Jesus casts out fear, so I will forever cling to him.

-Focusing on Jesus, his love for me, his attributes like mercy, grace, & forgiveness, instead of my fears is a key way to experience victory over it.

I’m so thankful to have Jesus on my side to help me through my life journey. I can’t imagine how I would handle this struggle without him. If what I’m saying here sounds completely foreign to you, or you think I’m crazy, I welcome your feedback. I would love to chat with you personally to discuss your thoughts on fear, faith, marriage, etc.

Family

A Husband Has 1 of 3 Choices

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Here’s a little food for thought from Dr. Raymond Force, Christian marriage speaker and coach. I hope it encourages and convicts you as it does me.

A Husband is a Gardener

A husband is a gardener and his wife is a garden. If he fails to take care of his garden, weeds of sarcasm, anger, bitterness, boredom, and resentment will start to grow. It is at that point that every man has one of three choices:

The husband can choose to change gardens by way of leaving his spouse.

Although it is an unscriptural choice, if a man wants to, he can choose to leave his wife. It is not what he signed up for, nor would this choice correlate with the covenant of marriage. But, if providence chooses to leave him to his own devices, he can walk away from his marriage.

The husband can keep his garden, yet grow bitter about the weeds.

I feel that most men in a less than perfect marriage, fall underneath this present category. Instead of making the appropriate changes in their lives, they will stay in the marriage, yet get bitter about the negativite aspects of their wife and the relationship in general. Once this occurs, the man has started down the path of becoming a grumpy, negative husband.

Colossians 3:19 says: “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”

The Lord gives this command because he is more than aware that a man’s temptation is to live selfishly, yet complain about the bi-product of living in such a manner. His primary weakness is to become disgusted with the very weeds that his lack of love has helped to grow. In my view, this is why many a husband grows into a negative husband.

The husband can start doing what it takes to prevent the weeds from growing in his garden.

Option number three is not only best, but scriptural, and it involves the husband serving his wife as he would his own interests and desires (Ephesians 5:28). Of course, as mentioned in the last point, he can choose to complain about the weeds, but that will do little to further the cause of happiness in his marriage. He will do more to endear success by taking sole responsibility for the state of his garden and serve his wife as he agreed to do when he made a covenant before God and others.

 

I find that many men are short sighted in that they fail to see that their actions have exposed their wives to their emotional vulnerabilities.  When they should have been focusing on the cause, they seem to become embittered about the effect. A failure to reverse this order will be the source of little or no progress in a man’s marriage. It will only serve as an impetus for a lukewarm relationship at best, and it will lead to the man coming across as simply a negative husband.

I have also seen that men will do more to fast-forward the problem solving process if they will ask themselves questions as such: If I had been sacrificially loving my wife from day one of our marriage, would she have ever felt so tempted to act in a negative manner to my behavior? Or, if I had been properly taking care of my garden in the first place, would these weeds of anger, sarcasm, unforgiveness, and resentment even be growing?

Family

You’re Different and That’s Good!

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Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. —Ephesians 5:33

In Men are Like Waffles–Women are Like Spaghetti, Bill and Pam Farrell describe the mind of men and women.

Men Are Like Waffles

We do not mean that men “waffle” on all decisions and are generally unstable. What we mean is that men process life in boxes. If you look down at a waffle, you see a collection of boxes sepa-rated by walls. The boxes are all separate from each other and make convenient holding places. That is typically how a man processes life. [Men’s] thinking is divided up into boxes that have room for one issue and one issue only. The first issue of life goes in the first box, the second goes in the second box, and so on. The typical man lives in one box at a time and one box only. When a man is at work, he is at work. When he is in the garage tinkering around, he is in the garage tinkering. When he is watching TV, he is simply watching TV. That is why he looks as though he is in a trance and can ignore everything else going on around him. Social scientists call this “compartmentalizing”–that is, putting life and responsibilities into different compartments…

Women Are like Spaghetti

In contrast to men’s waffle-like approach, women process life more like a plate of pasta. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are lots of individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempted to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even switch to another noodle seamlessly. That is how women face life. Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way. Life is much more of a process for women than it is for men.1

This is why women are typically better at multitasking than men. She can talk on the phone, prepare a meal, make a shopping list, work on the agenda for tomorrow’s business meeting, give instructions to her children as they are going out to play, and close the door with her foot without skipping a beat. Because all her thoughts, emotions, and convictions are connected, she is able to process more information and keep track of more activities.

Spaghetti and waffles. It’s a wild example of describing a very important truth—men and women are just plain different. It’s like the old “Me Tarzan, You Jane” thing we learned as kids. Despite their differences, Tarzan and Jane found a way to swing gracefully through the trees together. The sooner we can learn how to make this magic happen for us, the more peaceful things will be around our homes.

For Chase and Callie, the first six months of their marriage went unusually smooth and problem free. Then, demands from his boss to meet an important fiscal deadline had Chase working late into the evenings, leaving Callie home alone. She began feeling less and less important as Chase’s job began consuming him. But Chase knew the deadline would soon pass and things would be back to normal. When he was at home, he tried hard to connect with Callie. But she had already grown frustrated and felt as though he wasn’t trying hard enough to meet her needs. They would often fall asleep nitpicking or in a deadening silence.

On the day of the deadline, he got off work early and brought home a box of chocolates, new lingerie, and a bouquet of flowers. For him, this would be the end of the fighting. As he walked through the door with gifts in hand, she met him with a nasty glare. The message she received was that all he wanted was sex. She, on the other hand, felt alone. Feeling rejected and as if there was nothing he could do to please her, he retreated to the garage to work on his car.

Most of us can relate to this story. Two people who genuinely love one another and want to connect but can’t. Callie wanted more time together with her husband and felt misunderstood by the gifts. He felt rejected.

Why can’t we seem to get it right with the men we love?

I believe it’s because we’re literally “opposites.” Women were created to support the men in their lives and men to protect the women in theirs (Genesis 2:18). We were created to complement and sustain one another. Because we were created for different purposes, we have different needs.

Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. in his book His Needs, Her Needs, outlines some of these most important differences:

• She can’t do without affection.

• He can’t do without sexual fulfillment.

• She needs him to talk to her and hold conversation.

• He needs her to be his playmate and do things with him. (Harley refers to this as recreational companionship.)

• She needs to trust him totally. Honesty and openness are critical to the relationship.

• He needs an attractive wife. (That means you should take pride in your appearance and look good for him.)

• She needs financial stability and support.

• He needs peace and quiet at home.

• She needs him to be a good father and remain committed to the family.

• He needs her to be proud of him.2

Think about this list for a moment. Look at the number of diametrically opposed needs between men and women. He needs peace and quiet at home; she needs conversation. No wonder you get ticked off at your husband when he doesn’t want to talk. He’s not giving you what you need. And he in turn gets aggravated that you won’t leave him alone.

He needs sexual fulfillment to connect emotionally. You need affection in order to desire sex. But if you don’t feel close to him to begin with, he ain’t gettin’ any.

But look at the list again. His way of building intimacy and feeling close is to play with you. To take you fishing, hiking, or to a sporting event. When you decline his invitation to play, the feeling he has is similar to yours when he refuses your invitation to a romantic dinner and sappy love movie.

He needs you to respect him. Paul told the Church at Ephesus, “Husbands love your wives…wives respect your husbands” (Ephesians 5:25,33). According to Emerson Eggerich in his book Love and Respect, nowhere in the Bible does it tell wives to love their husbands, instead it says to respect them. He needs to know you are proud of him. The degree to which you feel loved is the degree to which he feels respected. Respect your man, and he is sure to give you the love you need.

Shaunti Feldhahn, author of For Women Only, shared with me that “We women usually do respect the man in our lives, and have no idea that all day long we are doing things that send him the opposite message. We don’t realize that when we do something as simple as saying, ‘Honey, please stop and ask for directions,’ or ‘Don’t try to fix that. Let’s just call a plumber,’ that what he hears is ‘I don’t trust you’ or ‘I don’t believe in you.’”3 In other words, we don’t always realize that our words and actions are making our man feel unloved because they make him feel disrespected.

In your attempts to love and respect him, keep in mind that he is different from you. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7). It isn’t always easy, but ultimately, it’s the key to being successful—in marriage and in life.

You can’t fix a problem you don’t see. Sharing your needs openly and honestly with each other will open your eyes to the differences between the two of you. When you understand those differences, you are able to experience and appreciate that other person at a whole new level. As women, when we do this, our attempts to love our men are no longer aimless. And as they understand us better, their pursuits will make us feel loved. – Julie Clinton

1. Bill and Pam Farrel, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 11, 13.
2. Willard F. Harley, His Needs, Her Needs (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2001), 7.
3. Shaunti Feldhahn, personal e-mail, February 15, 2007.

Julie Clinton M.Ad., M.B.A. Is president of Extraordinary Women and host of Ewomen conferences all across America. A woman of deep faith, she cares passionately about seeing women live out their dreams by finding their freedom in Christ. Julie and her husband, Dr. Tim Clinton, live in Virginia and are the parents of Zach and Megan, who is married to Ben Allison.

For more from Julie Clinton, visit her website HERE.