Archive for August, 2008

An eccentric approach to marriage encouragment and improvement

Take a break from our study and take a look at this article on improving your marriage or not. This author gives a completely different angle from the standard marriage counseling speak. He takes what I would consider an eccentric approach to marriage encouragement and improvement. At first I was a little skeptical but by the end of the article its hard to dismiss his premise. He just went about it in a nonconforming approach. Definitely gets your attention.

As I have come to believe (regarding the different methods of marriage improvement and the Christian walk) balance in everything is the key. But hey, if you do not like or agree with this article then say so. No one has a monopoly on opinions.

Here is the article and link:

Ten Things I Think I Think About Marriage and Marriage Counseling – Pastor David Wayne (the Jollyblogger)

“1. I think I think that most of us are missing the boat on marriage, but then again, I have to say that – otherwise why would you want to read my thoughts on marriage if I didn’t try to set myself apart as the all-wise, all-knowing, all-superior guru on matters of the heart.  If you want to call me “Dr. Love,” feel free.”

2. But I think I think I really do mean what I said in point #1, I think.  I don’t know exactly when it started, but I am guessing it was around the 60’s and 70’s that the church woke up to the divorce epidemic and since then we have had enough books, tapes (did they have any marriage 8-tracks way back when?), cd’s, DVD’s, seminars, retreats and whatnot to cover Greenland in material and consume years from the life of millions of people.  But I’m not sure how much of a dent all this is making.

To be fair, in many cases all of the marriage stuff does help.  But I think that usually has more to do with something in the individual than the marriage stuff per se.”

Entire article here:

Ten Things I Think I Think…

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The Number One Request: Better Communication

This is an online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

The author talks about the need for “Better Communication”, as the overwhelmingly number one desire for couples in his seminars. Pg. 141

He then quotes 5 levels of intimacy in communication”

1st level – Cliches, How did your day go?

2nd level –  Share some facts – Watch out for the road construction this morning

3rd level –  Opinions – I’m not into surfing, seems like a waste of time

4th level – Talk about current feelings – That person really frustrates me

5th level – Where needs are revealed – I need to know what you think about this situation Pg. 142 (Gary)

Communication can be tricky. Even God determined a different form of communication would help. He made the choice that Jesus would be the best way to communicate with His people:

Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries.

Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. Hebrews 1:1.2 (The Message)

This car is like buried feelings

This car is like buried feelings

If you have poor communication in the marriage, it can create an environment which allows all kinds of negative feelings to be buried alive. Good fluent communication can help to expose unnessary feelings.

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Listening = connecting with your spouse

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–Ecclesiastes 3:1

Do most people tend to drift towards other folks that listen to them. There’s plenty of people that like to talk and listen very little.

I do think strong opinions are helpful and talking is a good thing. I remember growing up in Texas and almost every weekend three families would gather at my Grand parents house. All of my cousins, Uncles and Aunts. It was a good time with lots of laughs and a great memories. But if you wanted to participate in the main conversation you had to be able to assert yourself. I valued that time with my family. It taught me many lessons, one of which is to let your opinion be known, otherwise no one will notice.

But as Ecclesiastes points out, there is a time for everything. Listening to your spouse is not only critical to your marriage but necessary for you. When you listen to someone you are giving them your time. At the end of your life (looking back) will your spouse remember the wonderful necklace, power tool, etc. or will they value the “time” you invested in them. An essential part of the time invested in your spouse is “listening”.

Here is an example of the importance of listening:

When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27

And they spent a long time with the disciples. Acts 14:28

Paul and Barnabas had been working all week (Acts 14:1-28) and even had their lives threatened. It was really a roller coaster of a day. At one point the people seemed to love them especially after that man in Lystra was completely healed. Then some of the community leaders turned on them and began to persuade the people to turn on them. They ended up beating Paul unconscious and dragging him outside of town, thinking he was dead. It was a rough day. They continued to pray and fast and help others hear the message. But then, they settled down for a long, leisurely visit with the disciples. Acts 14:28 (The Message) I believe as they talked about their day with their church (friends), it helped to bring solace to them.

They were given the time to talk about how things were going. Paul and Barnabas were given the gift of someone’s attentive ear. This also gave them strength and encouragement to continue their task.

Its no different today with our spouse. We can give them the gift of listening.

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Spouses, Jobs, Friends Make Lousy gods

This is an online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

I love this author’s simplicity he is brutally honest and more translucent than an “I Love Lucy” rerun. He lays it all out there for the world to see. He tells a story about his place of employment. After he graduated he went to work as a councilor. Something he worked hard to attain. And believed this was where he was suppose to be. But then, “Not long after I joined the staff, however, i grew uncomfortable with what i saw…And I developed a special animosity–a hatred, really–toward one individual in particular.” Pg. 110 (Gary)

He talks about calling in sick because he was so unhappy with his coworkers. Sometimes he was so depressed he would not go into the office at all. Then he began to separate himself from his wife and kids (I think he had three at the time). Think about a grown man hiding in the bedroom and not coming out for dinner. You talk about draining your energy. He was so focused on the negative that it became paralyzing to his spirit. His children and wife must have been suffering too as a result of his depression.

“Some friends and coworkers simply weren’t interested in meeting my needs. And even my closest family member, who has a heart of gold and wanted to help me, couldn’t supply my need.” Pg. 111 (Gary)

When we “expect” others to meet our needs they will always fall short and we will always be disappointed. I cannot say it any better than he did on Pg. 112. He summarizes here, “I believe the key to maintaining love and satisfaction in life is not expecting lasting satisfaction and love to come from God’s creation. Keep those expectations for God alone.”

15″He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16″With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.” Psalms 91

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Expecting Too Much From People Kept Me from God

This is an online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

“If we are trying to stuff people into our battery packs, the result is usually anger when they disappoint us. People are not good at not allowing us to use them.” Pg. 109 (Gary)

What he is talking about is the concept of a toy doll with a battery pack likened to us, and the need to keep the battery charged for everything to function well. If the instructions say you need AAA batteries then AA will not work. No matter how many times you attempt to stuff a AA into the AAA slot, it will not work. Same thing for what satisfies human beings. A relationship alone cannot supply you with the satisfaction you need. No matter how many times we attempt to fill the void in our life with relationships, work, entertainment, busyness, etc. it will not satisfy. That void is reserved for the creator.

In order to avoid massive amounts of energy loss, its important to stay connected to a personal God. He (Gary) gives a list of 4 reasons that kept him from God. We are discussing number 3.

“1. My Doubts Kept Me from God

2. Hypocrites Kept Me from God

3. Expecting Too Much from People Kept Me from God

4. Expecting Too Much from Job Kept Me from God” Pg. 106-112

I want to go back to that first statement, “If we are trying to stuff people into our battery packs, the result is usually anger when they disappoint us. People are not good at not allowing us to use them.” Pg. 109 (Gary)

This is worth repeating, I believe it represents a large amount of unhappiness in the world today. Do you know someone who is obviously attempting to find happiness in another person? Could we be doing this sometimes and not realize it? There are probably extreme examples of this as well as subtle all around us.

Reality seems to be that people will always fail at bringing wholeness to your life. Is it a true statement that our friendships and marriage are conditional? So far in my lifetime, God is the only one who has accepted me unconditionally. I’m just saying, if you kick your friend in the teeth will they respond by asking you what time you wanted to meet for lunch? I don’t think so.

Here is my disclaimer: I am not suggesting we lessen the importance of our marriage or friendships, just attempting to balance them with the creator of the universe.

25″For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.” Jer. 31

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Finding the Power to Keep Loving

Diesel GeneratorDiesel Generator

“Where do we find added strength to keep loving and enjoying life when difficulties hit or when we just get tired of trying or when life turns into a boring routine?” Pg. 103 (Gary)

Pray to me when you are in trouble! I will deliver you, and you will honor me! Ps. 50:15

Lexicon – And call
qara’ (kaw-raw’)
to call out to (i.e. properly, address by name, but used in a wide variety of applications)

Hydro electric power plant

Hydro electric power plant

I think there comes a time when we must experience God’s touch. Everything else will fall short.

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Claiming One’s Own Ground

“That morning in Hawaii, Norma could have claimed her ground and said, “Not now.” She didn’t have to give in to my intimidation.” Pg. 99 (Gary)

He is discussing how some spouses may allow intimidation in the marriage.  Why some allow others to cross their boundary line.

An interesting angle on this can be found in Matt 25:18, 24-29, the story of the talents. This guy hid his talent because he was afraid of failure. Many times people don’t guard their boundaries for fear of failing in a relationship. Allowing themselves to be paralyzed with fear. “If you’re living with negative emotions, your boundary may need to be better marked”. He is saying communicate (don’t hide) the fact they are either bullying or forcing themselves over your boundaries.

David Crockett, Republic Claim, February 1836

David Crockett, Republic Claim, February 1836

We shouldn’t be afraid to fail, but step out in love doing the best we can.

After all, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

In that same spirit, we can communicate our feelings with those who make it difficult to hold our grounds.

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I will be back tommorrow

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Avoiding Hurt is My Responsibility

This is an online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

He (Gary) tells the story about working a seminar in Hawaii with his wife and staff. I guess when your in Hawaii, work or not it sounds like fun. But things turned ugly temporarily when he fell back into one of his contrary life patterns, as he describes it. Oh yea did I mention, this was a marriage seminar he was teaching. One morning he decided he wanted to work on marriage goals with his wife Norma. I believe the seminar had been completed the night before. They had some time available in the morning. So he asked his wife to sit down with him and review some of their goals. However, she really did not want to and expressed this to him. Though he was surprised, he was not deterred, so he plowed ahead trying to persuade her to take time for this worthy cause. She again let him know her feelings that she did not want to. So again he came back at her with reasons why it was a good thing to review their marriage goals for the coming year. She responded, “No I really don’t want to do that this morning” (Pg. 88). At this point, I think he became peeved and determined in his heart to help her understand why they will go over their marriage goals, thus becoming a better example for others and helping their marriage in the meantime. All the while justifying this in his mind with the idea that he is in the business of marriage Counseling and seminars. So he went at her again, trying to persuade her to his way of thinking. She still did not want to get into this situation. So finally Gary shows his anger by using harsh language and “bulldozing” ahead with his will, which finally causes her to give in. As they proceeded with their talk it was obvious the damage had been done and the original purpose of the talk was entirely beyond their reach.

He finally realizes how his behavior has effected his spouse. However, it took awhile for the encounter to get to this level, now it will take some time to mend the fence. We all have patterns of behavior right? Someone may get angered easily, clam up, become resentful, become argumentative, etc.

13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:4 – 7

Bulldozer reform

“As I said earlier, the way I treated Norma that day in Hawaii illustrates a tendency I’ve had throughout my life. With my wife, my children, and my friends, I’ve often rammed my way into their lives, many times without regard for their feelings, and usually without even realizing what I was doing. I now see that my behavior was a classic example of a major way in which people are robbed of their contentment. True love never demands its own way but searches for a way of enriching the other”. Pg. 93 (Gary)

Another verse reference this time from The message:


Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

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Align Your Expectations with Reality

This is an online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

“One of the biggest energy-draining experiences most adults stumble through is a strained marriage…” (Gary) Pg. 82

He tells a story of disappointing expectations during a family vacation. It all started on their way out of Arizona. They had agreed to eat at certain restaurant and he was looking forward to it. Then his wife remembered another place that sounded good so she suggested they stop their instead. One comment led to another and they found themselves in a 3 hour argument in which they ended up going to a completely different restaurant that neither liked. Looking at it from my vantage point it almost seems comical. However, I know it was not fun for them and seemly insignificant disagreements such as this can damage a marriage depending on how they discussed/yelled through it.

Does this story sound familiar to anyone? Maybe not 3 hours of argument, but at least the experience of such a trivial subject causing an argument. Seriously, because your spouse changed their mind the marriage is over. But if I’m honest, I’ve let things sillier than that bother me and cause conflict.

He goes on to explain how hopeless and discouraged he felt after the argument, “We were never going to make it”. Then admitted, “In the middle of this type of crisis, my personality tends to see only the negatives.”

His wife was the one to remind him of the good things between them. Her “knack” of pulling expectations and reality together helped to direct the conversation into a productive zone. Her willingness to see the good in the marriage helped them advance in their discussions. They were able to identify areas where expectations were not realistic. For example, believing there will not be disagreements is a false expectation. They made a list of things each expected from the other so they were on the same page. Just the exercise of getting wrong ideas out in the open and helping your spouse realize what you expect helps to improve the atmosphere.

Sometimes marriage requires faith to go forward and resolve disagreements.

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? Romans 8:24

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