What Plan Are You following?

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 7.20.58 AMRecently, I have had the opportunity to speak with several couples who are either struggling in their marriage to the point they are near divorce or they are already separated and divorce papers have been filed.   The thing I have heard the most and actually is true of my first marriage is that none of them were given any teaching on how to do marriage.  However, we have worked with several couples that have been to several marriage counselors but hadn’t been successful.  They say frequently, “Why didn’t anyone tell us this?”  It’s seems funny to me (I’m not saying we have all the answers nor am I criticizing any other counselor) that we have the answers laid out for us in the Bible and when we follow the plan it gives, we have a high level of success.  Many people disregard the Bible as old fashioned or irrelevant but the truth is when you do the simple things that God lays out in his word, you chances for a happily ever after increase tremendously.

I remember early on in our ministry, I asked a pastor what books he liked on the subject of marriage.  His response surprised me!  He said “Well there are a lot of books out there but I find everything I need in the Bible.” At the time I thought he was just being arrogant, the more I study about marriage the more I find out just how right he was.  The truth is the Bible is all about marriage, it starts with a wedding, ends with a wedding and everything in between is a groom looking for his bride.  I love the mental picture that thought produces.

So here’s the simple way to have a happy marriage.  First, husbands everywhere in the Bible where you see anything that Jesus did, that’s your role.  Wives anywhere in the Bible you see what the church did or was told what to do, do that.  You see, God invented marriage and marriage is really just a type and shadow of Christ and the Church.  Secondly put the words of Ephesians 5:22 to work, do everything you do in marriage as unto the Lord.  I always recommend that when you lay your head on the pillow at night you ask this one simple question, “God did I make you happy as a husband/wife today?”  When you see your role as a husband or wife as doing it for God, your entire perspective changes.

Guaranteed success comes when we take the plan provided by the designer of the plan and put it into action.  God designed marriage, He gave us the plan in His Word, all we have to do is work the plan.

Do you need help with your marriage?  Let Bridge Builder Marriage Ministry help. Contact us at melisa@bridgebuildermm.org

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Respect Your Husband’s #1 Need

Image-1For years now my husband and I have been working with couples to help them find the amazing marriage that God has designed for them to live.  Many of the lessons I have learned came from a 20-year failed marriage.  After spending 20 years learning what not to do, I have spent the next decade learning what to do from the best teacher of all, the Bible.  Yes, I have done research in other books and from other great teachers but the ultimate lessons about marriage still come from the God that created marriage in the first place.

Wives, your husband’s number one need is for respect.  Believe me when I tell you I was the queen of disrespect for 20 years and didn’t even know it.  I have many times had to apologize to my ex-husband for being so disrespectful.  I have spent countless hours learning how to be respectful.  Yes, I’m still in the respect school, but God has used my amazing husband and partner in everything, Steven to help me learn.  He has also given me a great group of male pastors to work everyday with who are great at helping me identify disrespect in my life (they do it because I ask them to).  The reason I need this help is because disrespect can  be so sneaky and subtle.  I often times find myself being disrespectful without even realizing it.  You see girls, disrespect to a guy is much different than to us.  I’m getting so much better, but I’m confident it will be something I have to continue to work on for the rest of my life.

In my Bible study today I read Ephesians 4:29

29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good andbeneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. (AMP)

One thing I have learned is that most disrespect comes straight out of your mouth.  If we can get better at living out Ephesians 4:29, we can decrease our disrespectfulness by so much.  In James 3:2 tells us that if we don’t offend with our tongues we are a perfect manor in this case a perfect woman.  We can learn to be respectful in our speech.  We can meet the number one need of our spouses.  Watch what comes out of your mouth.  Live out Ephesians 4:29.  As you do you will begin to see your marriage become a living example of God’s design.

Ulterior Motives

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 6.48.56 AMMany times in our marriage we can find ourselves attributing our spouse’s behavior to a specific ulterior motive.  If the ulterior motive is “they love me and really want to be a great spouse,” then you are probably enjoying a great marriage.  Honestly, more times than not this is not our default concept of our spouse’s motives.

For many years now Steven and I have utilized a concept that for the most part, helps us maintain right thoughts, attitudes, and interpretations about each other’s words and behavior.  We do this by applying this very simple principle, “What is the intent of my spouse’s heart?”    When you encounter any situation where you find yourself angry, disappointed, hurt, or feeling condemned, applying this simple technique can prevent you from charging head-long into a full on assault or sliding completely into a pit of hurt feelings and despair.

Many times, the behavior of our spouse is influenced by many things and these can manifest in behaviors that are confrontational or hurtful when this is truly not what they are intending to communicate.  Consider this idea.  If you have had a bad day at work, you were caught in traffic, late for a meeting, or perhaps were treated unfairly by your boss, you may have trouble letting it go when you come home.  Because you’re already in a stressed state, you are more likely to find fault or have your feelings hurt by something simple that your spouse says, does or doesn’t do.  While your spouse may intend no ill will or have no negative ulterior motive, you still perceive it as an assault or attack.  It is during these times that it is important to take a step back, breath, and ask yourself a simple question “What is the intent of my spouse’s heart?”  This one simple technique when applied can prevent many unnecessary problems in your marriage.

So I ask you today, What is the intent of your spouse’s heart?

Marriage Made Simple

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 7.01.30 AMHere is a wonderful blog by one of my co-workers at Victory Church in Oklahoma City.  Really sometimes we like to make sure that we sound super important by sharing wisdom and making it difficult to understand.  Bo is truly a funny man and he has a great way of communicating.  I love reading his blog and know you will too.  In his current post he does a great job of being honest, wise and simple.  After reading Confessions of a Married Man – My Top 5 Ways to a Happy Marriage I guarantee if you simply apply his advice you will have a better marriage.

Sex is a BIG Deal in ALL Marriages

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 8.57.56 AMMost women when asked, would respond that the most important need of a man is sex.  While respect/honor is actually the primary need of man, sex is a very close second.  Yet sex is one of the biggest areas in many marriages that cause a lot of conflict.  For many women I work with, this very conflict causes a great deal of pain.  Finding ways to navigate the balance of desire for sex between husbands and wives can be very complex.  However, by have some very open conversations with your spouse about where they are both coming from can help this area of your life come into balance.  Beginning that conversation often means wading through unmet expectations, hurts, feelings of failure on both sides, and even the releasing of using sex as a punishment or reward.  While this is can be a path least taken, it is a path that can lead to a more satisfying marriage then you have ever dreamed of.  I encourage all couples to have open, honest, and loving conversations about where there marriage stands in relationship to their sexual intimacy.

I recently read a blog Holy Hot and Humorous which addresses one of the big issues in marital sex.  Just Because He Stopped Asking Doesn’t Mean He’s Stopped Wanting.  This blog poses some great ideas.  These ideas could be used to initiate a conversation that would help wives begin to discover exactly where their husband is in relationship to sex in their marriage.  I encourage you to do a check up on your intimate relationship with your husband.  It will be one of the most life giving things you will ever do.

How to Love Your Husband Well

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 8.17.49 AMAs a wife you have many options on how to act, how to treat your husband and whether to honor God in your marriage.  These choices have great impact on the kind of marriage you will have.  While every girl dreams of the fairy tale romance where the bride and groom live happily ever after, many girls struggle to see this come to pass.  With over half of all marriages ending in divorce and many other reporting they do not have the marriage they dreamed of, marriage is losing some of its shine in the world today.  Why is that?  Can this be changed? My response to this is a resounding yes.  You can have the fulfilling, life-giving, loving marriage you have always wanted.  If you are willing to do some pretty basic things.

Getting married is often like having children, everyone does it but few get any good teaching on how to do it.  Society teaches us that we should just be born with this knowledge.  We should automatically know everything there is to know about how to raise children and everything there is to know about how to be married.  Few seek out instruction and for those who do the instruction options are incredibly vast and varied.  So how do you know which instruction plan to follow?  Why not choose a plan that has been tried and tested for thousands of years had when applied has really high success rates?

The Bible is very clear about how to be married.  It is very clear also about how to be a parent but that is for another blog.  Today I would like to share a few ideas that if you truly embrace them and follow them daily, will set you on the path to a happily ever after.  Ephesians is a great book that give wonderful direction about how to live life, how to raise children, and how to be married.  Paul in his letter to Ephesus gives some pretty specific direction about some activities that wives can do that will help ensure a great marriage.  While there are many other instructions throughout the Bible, and it can be overwhelming to begin to do them all, let’s start with a few from Ephesians 5:33.

“let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband (that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly) AMP

This is a pretty long list of some of the ways we should treat our husbands.  So for the next few days we will look at these activities individually and begin to discuss examples of ways to implement each of them into our lives as wives so that we can begin to have the marriage we have always wanted.

Questions For My Readers

I am doing some research and I have some questions for the married couples that read this blog.

  1. How long have you been married?
  2. Do you always greet your spouse with a hug, kiss, and an I love you?
  3. Do you find that you are more focused on the right or wrong that see in your spouse?
  4. Would you say you are married to your best friend?
  5. What would you say is the best thing you do to keep romance alive in your marriage?
  6. How would you rate your marriage on a scale of 0-10 with 0 being terrible and 10 being the best marriage you can imagine?
  7. Do you feel respected by your spouse?
  8. Do you feel loved by your spouse?
  9. Do you have regular date nights?
  10. Do you and your spouse engage in hobbies together?

Please email your responses to melisa@bridgebuildermm.org.  All responses will be completely confidential.  I thank you in advance for your honesty and willingness to share your thoughts with me.