Are You My Mother?

“If I don’t get a pony I’ll die! I want one, and I want it now!” The little girl stood stamping her feet, her fists clenched by her side and her eyes squeezed shut as her face turned a deep shade of crimson.
Rhett Buttler & Scarlet O'Harrah“There, there honey, Daddy will get you a pony. Don’t cry.”
“Oh, thank you daddy. I love you. But now I don’t have anything to wear!”
Do you recognize this scenario?
In the old days we used to call this child a spoiled brat.
But what happens if this young lady grows up and gets married and she’s never heard the word “no”?

“Honey, Macy’s had a big sale, and guess how much money I saved today? You do want me to have nice things, don’t you?” she said batting her eyes as she set down a pile of shopping bags.
Bass Boat
“I work hard and bring home the biggest pay check. You figure out how to pay the bills,” he said as he got the boat ready for a weekend on the lake.
Growing up, we all had different ideas of what a quality marriage looks like. But one of the biggest keys to a marriage that works is simply that. We need to grow up!
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
beaver momHusbands and wives need to be mature, and fulfill their God-given roles in their relationship. A husband who waits until his wife nags him to take out the garbage is doing himself a disservice as well as her. He frustrates his wife to the point where she feels like she is the only grown up in the home and begins to treat him like one of the kids. Not only does he feel disrespected but he begins to view her like his mother instead of his lover. The same goes for the wife who acts like a spoiled brat until her husband puts his foot down like her father.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 says Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
A marriage will suffer if only one partner is being a grown-up. It becomes a labor of love when both lovers work toward the same dreams and the same goals. Done well, each will discipline themselves to fulfill their role so their relationship will stay healthy and they will reach their goals together.Happy-Couple 2
Does that mean we can never have any fun? Of course not. In fact you’ll probably have more fun. Frankly, men don’t feel romantic about their mothers nor do women toward their fathers. By growing in your role as husband and wife, you’ll begin to relate to one another like lovers again. You’ll feel well connected with one another, just as if you’re in it together…. because you are.

Chivalry

The other day I found myself sitting at a table with seven co-workers. They were all women ranging in age from twenty-five to fifty-five and I was the token male. The subject of tattoos and piercings came up, and I listened as they related their stories. One young lady who is about twenty-five years old said, “When my father found out I had pierced my navel, he didn’t speak to me for a month.”

KnightThe conversation made me wonder. When is it appropriate to change with the culture, and when is it appropriate to preserve the values of the past? So I threw the question out to the group, and I was amazed at the response. What about chivalry? I asked. Is chivalry dead? Should we teach our young men to treat a woman like a lady, or do women feel patronized when we do that, and don’t want to be treated that way anymore. The response was unanimous. PLEASE teach the young men to treat us like ladies, we love it!

Fred AstaireFirst of all you don’t have to look like Fred Astaire to be a gentleman. William Wallace in Braveheart treated women with respect. The apostle Paul told Timothy to treat older women as mothers, younger women as sisters. (1 Tim 5:2) In other words, treat women the way you want men to treat your mom and your sister. When I think of my mom, my sister, or my wife stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, I would want a respectful, helpful man to change her tire; and protect her from unscrupulous men who would take advantage of the situation. But most of life is not that extreme. Everyday life provides opportunities to offer to carry a heavy box or open a door for her.

I Peter 3:7 exhorts us to…give honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel… This much misunderstood passage does not undermine the fact that men and women are equal. But we are different. God wants men to treat women with honor and respect. He does not want us to treat them like we treat another man: “Carry your own luggage!” God wants men to treat their wives like fine crystal, and not like a 99 cent tumbler.

One of the young ladies at our table told of how she had traveled to a South America as a single gal. She was so impressed with the polite way she was treated by the men, that she came home, broke up with her American boyfriend, and began dating a Peruvian, whom she would soon marry. Then she related how she had to train herself to wait for him, and allow him to open her car door for her. It seems to me that there is a delicate balance couples must learn, in order to give their spouse the opportunity to serve without projecting an attitude of entitlement.braveheart

Another lady expressed how much she appreciates it when her husband walks on the “traffic side” of the sidewalk. “But he doesn’t always remember to do it,” she added. A word to women; you can communicate to the men in your life that you are receptive to us being chivalrous, by pausing at doors or making it your practice to walk on the inside of the sidewalk. Also by graciously accepting these courtesies from men, you are reinforcing others-centered behaviors that strengthen the fabric of our society and make us better men. Thank you!

Takers and Givers

Unhappy Couple 2I don’t like one-sided relationships. But I’m in one, where I feel like I do all the giving. I don’t mind doing my fair share, but a little appreciation would go a long way. In a perfect world we would share the same goals and work together towards them, but that’s not happening anytime soon. So I grit my teeth and write the check to the IRS, and pay my taxes once again.
Are you a taker or a giver? Everybody loves a giver. Givers are considered generous, compassionate and loving. Takers, on the other hand, are viewed as greedy, selfish and uncaring. As a single person, many of us had been looking out for #1 for so long that we didn’t automatically shift gears when we got married. But we do need to shift gears. Selfishness steals from our marriage, whereas generosity  enhances it. To emphasize the point, the Apostle Paul substitutes the verb take with the word steal in Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.burglar 2
Paul wants our relationship with Jesus to change us from being takers into givers. Walking with Jesus is supposed to change us from being self-centered to being others centered.
Most people agree that every relationship should have a little give and take but I’d like to modify that just a little. Because I’ve noticed that instead of give and take, marriage works better when characterized by give and receive. It may be semantics but I think there is an important distinction. Many people say marriage is a 50/50 proposition. I give 50%, my spouse gives 50% and that makes a good marriage. The problem with this equation is that it leaves both spouses with their cup half full. The bible instructs us to give ourselves completely to our spouse. If I’ve done the math right, that means that biblical marriage is a 100/100 proposition. If I give 100% to my spouse and my spouse give 100% to me, both of our needs are met 100%. Even better, they are not met by us taking what we need, but rather, by receiving what is gladly given by our spouse.
Jesus said, It is more blessed to give than to receive… and it is. But receiving is pretty fun too!Happy Couple on Beach

Investor or Consumer?

Stock Market GraphHave you been watching the stock market lately? It has been hitting some all-time highs. I hope you’re experiencing some great rewards.
Are you an investor or a consumer? And what does that have to do with Marriage? Let’s think about it for a minute. What is the difference? A consumer is a person who is focused on today. He works all week, and then spends every penny of his paycheck on things to consume, food, drink, entertainment, etc… At the end of the day, he has nothing of value to show for his money except that he had a good time. He consumes all of his resources. An Investor takes a different approach. He is focused on the future. He also works all week, but instead of spending all of his pay on consumables, he spends a portion on things that retain value, and hopefully go up in value.Big Bite

A consumer will approach his marriage with the attitude: “I want my needs met!” An investor will ask: “What can I do to make this relationship thrive?” He will invest his energy into developing a marriage that is healthy today, and it will get better and better over time.

Jesus is an investor; and He encourages us to be investors as well.

Ephesians 5:25-27 says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious bride…

Wall StreetSo, when is the best time to invest? Should I wait until my “marital stock” is up, or is it best to invest when it is down? People who try to time the market either never jump in, or they jump in or out at exactly the wrong time. There is a practice called dollar cost averaging which means you invest a consistent amount regularly, regardless if the market is up or down. Investing regularly is a good practice in marriage.

How can we be investors in our marriages and not merely consumers? By loving and serving our spouse today; and by pouring our life into them. Investing is so much more satisfying than consuming. Sweat equity becomes sweet equity.
If we invest ourselves in our spouse, we will reap major dividends that will last a lifetime.

Yes & No

“Yes” is a very good word. It is a happy word; one we love to hear from just about everyone. “Yes, you passed the class.” “Yes, you can have a pay raise.” “Will you marry me?” “YES!!”
It brings a smile to our face and causes our eyes to light up.
“No”, on the other hand, is not so nice. “No, you may not have another piece of pie.” “No, we gave the job to another applicant.” “No honey, not tonight.” Me Me Me“No” is a word we never want to hear. Sometimes people say “no” to good things. But what about God?
God says “Yes” to character qualities that produce good relationships, and “No” to those that are bad . His judgment is not based on our momentary pleasure, but on the eternal perspective.

God says:
Yes to Servanthood & No to Selfishness
Yes to Tenderheartedness & No to Hardheartedness
Yes to Forgiveness & No to Bitterness
Yes to Giving & No to Taking
Yes to Openness & No to Hiding
Yes to Diligence & No to Laziness
Yes to Thankfulness & No to Complaining
Yes to Contentment & No to Grasping
Yes to Holiness & No to Sinfulness
Yes to Honesty & No to Lies
Yes to Love & No to Hate

Thumbs upWhat qualities do you find attractive in your spouse? The “Yes”, or the “No” column?
What kind of spouse are you? God wants us to say “Yes” to the things He says “Yes” to. But more than saying it, He wants these qualities to be the substance of our life.

Report Card

Report-CardGrowing up, report card time was never my favorite. I figured playing was a lot more fun than homework. Consequently I was only an average student, and I adopted an attitude that C’s were OK and A’s were for other people. Most people grow up and get married. I got married and then I had to grow up. The bible says: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Cor 13:11)

Report Card 5I decided I didn’t want to settle for a C in marriage: Comparing, Competing, Complaining, Criticizing, Compromising, which result in Carnality, Contention, Controlling, and Contempt which leads to Condemnation. Many couples resign themselves to having a C marriage with a D in Bible: Drifting (Heb 2:1), Doubting (Heb 3:7-8), Ducking (Heb 3:13) Dullness (Heb 5:11), Despising (Heb 10:26-29), and Defying God’s word. (Heb 12:14-29).

But I want to encourage us to be diligent to get an A in bible. Because the same way we need to be good at math to do well in physics; we need to know and apply the scriptures in order to get an A in marriage. Report card 1We‘ll learn to Accept our spouse (Eph 1:6) as they are and help them to be the person they want to be in the Lord. We will Acknowledge (Isa 61:8-10) their Attributes (1 Cor 12:4-11) and the unique way God made them. Adore them. Express our Approval and Affirm them (Phil 1:10). Admire our spouse and tell them why. Express Affection regularly and meaningfully to them (1 Cor 7:3). And Appreciate them for who they are, as well as what they do.

Report Card 4Do you remember your favorite teacher in school? They had a special way of teaching. They didn’t “talk down” to you, but they whet your appetite so you wanted to learn. Maybe you’re a little farther along in your walk with the Lord than your spouse. You can help them raise that C to and A, but you must be an A student first. Be prayerful and careful. Remember, Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1 Cor 8:1). There is a saying: “Don’t tell me, show me”. Paul told Timothy: Be an example of the believer (1 Tim 4:12). That’s good advice for a marriage that makes the grade.