Archive for September, 2008

Brief Book Review on “Making Love Last Forever”

Gary Smalley’s book, Making Love Last Forever

When you consider the divorce rate for first time marriages to be anywhere from 40 – 50 %, you can begin to see the need for some type of answer or way out of this dilemma.

If you are looking for an operational, first-hand method of how to avoid divorce, then you will want to study this book. In our online study we barely scratched the surface regarding what the author provides as practical, proven methods on how to have a successful marriage.

He never tells you anything other than marriage is work, just like anything else considered worthwhile. The author’s transparency is one of the biggest advantages of this book. At times, he takes you into his personal marriage and reveals his humanness. Then demonstrates how he and his wife changed and what it took to bring about that change.

One of the most organized authors I have ever read. His style of methodically explaining marriage concepts and how-to’s makes it simple for almost anyone to easily understand what he is teaching.

Utilizing this book would improve almost anyone’s marriage, because it is filled with practical techniques that anyone could employ. I highly recommend this book, it should be required reading for anyone who plans to get married.

Proverbs 24:3
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;

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Good times and bad

“Every marriage will have its better and worse times, springs and summers and falls and winters. Forever love-love allows that full range of seasons.” Pg. 267

The seasons represent the ups and downs of your feelings.

“Unfortunately, many couples don’t wait for that exciting season that wipes out the memory of the difficult times.” Pg. 267

In other words, with God and time, painful history can lose its sting. Of course, there are both devastating situations and there are what may be considered minor transgressions. But some folks have made it through some incredibly difficult circumstances.

“Its perfectly normal for a marriage to go through different seasons — of drought, worry, sadness, anger and also times of plenty, happiness, and overwhelming joy and laughter.” Pg. 267

So we know ahead of time, we will experience each of these emotions and more. A marriage cannot be based on how you feel at any given time. I think its important to have a short memory for the negative things in a marriage and a deep memory for the positive things.

Lamentations 3:20
I continually think about this, and I am depressed.

Continue to hope, ask God for help, He cares for us.

Job 14:7
“For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail.

This is the final post (except for the book review) from our Online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

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A Love That Lasts Forever part 2

Pg. 266 (Gary) The author tells a heart-wrenching story about a couple named Charlie and Lucy Wedemeyet. Charlie was a California high school football coach who was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease. A simple explanation of the disease is that your muscles stop getting the necessary messages to function. He was given 7 years to live, but he continued to coach.

“When Charlie could no longer walk, Lucy drove him up and down the sidelines in a golf cart. When he could no longer talk, she read his lips and relayed his instructions to the players. And in his dramatic last season as a coach, after he had gone on twenty-four-hour-a-day life support, his team won a state championship!”. Pg. 266 (Gary)

What goes through a spouses mind watching their partner go through such turmoil. How difficult must it be realizing the overwhelming physical weakness of your marriage partner.

1 Cor. 2:3
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling.

(more to come later)

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A Love That Lasts Forever

Pg. 265 (Gary) “But don’t get the impression that heroic love is all self-sacrifice.  From looking at my own marriage and hundreds of others, I’ve come to understand that enriching the life of another is often more satisfying than doing something for ourselves. As we reach out to another, our own needs for fulfullment and love are met”.

This is one of the most incredible stories of self-sacrifice. Words can hardly describe the commitment of this father. If you have already seen it, then it may be worth seeing again. None of this would be possible without this father’s love and commitment.

How much is enough? Sorry to point out the blatantly obvious but can you imagine the time this father has invested into his child’s life beyond sports.
I’m just sitting here mulling over what he must have sacrificed, things he gave up, appointments he missed, and sleepless nights he must have experienced.I suppose there have been heaps of opportunites for him to be resentful. But his actions demonstrate his heart.

John 15:9
Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love.

Its like we discussed in earlier posts, sometimes it would be better for our spouse, if we treat them the way we treat a neighbor.

Romans 13:10
Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

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I guess its painless to see where others need improvement

Just a little note to let you know we are closing in on the fnal chapter of our online book study – Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley. We will finish up the last chapter in one or two more posts, then I will write a brief book review. I received some very practical ideas regarding marriage, from this book. I also acquired a glimpse of a very talented author who was willing to be transparent with the inside workings of his marriage.

I was recently reading this scripture and thinking about my children and how important it is for them to understand and value these concepts. You know, taking care of the Fam. Whats best for my kids. But a funny thing happened after reading this…

A Father’s Wise Instruction

4:1 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain [1] insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.

…then I began to think about this same scritpure in light of how “I” could hold fast to these concepts. Where am I with this text, how do I measure up? I guess its painless to see where others need improvement. I’m pretty sure I was convicted. Hey wait a minute that wasn’t on the agenda for today!

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So — you’re flawed? God loves you anyway

Take a break from our study and read this encouraging observation. This is a feel good article, I believe we need that sometimes don’t you. But it also demonstrates the “creative” ways of our creator.

Voices: Supposed flaws don’t hinder love

By Rev. Daryl E. Witmer

One day a few years ago, I spotted one of the ugliest cats I’ve ever seen in my life. It was prowling near our property with an evil eye trained on our bird feeder. I said to my wife, “Look at that thing. It’s disgusting. It appears that it might even be sick.”

Now you need to know that I do not naturally dislike cats. One cat lived happily in our home for more than 15 years. Hector rang the doorbell when he wanted to go out and, when he was in, he’d lie quietly by the wood stove, listening to Tchaikovsky. What was there not to love?

Read the rest of the article here…

Abraham lived in tents most of his life and it seemed like he would not have any children. He made a great mistake with Hagar which brought much heartache to his family. But his biggest challenge was still ahead of him.

Genesis 22:2 2 God said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.”

The bible talks about Abraham living in his appointed place in life. Using faith and hope, to stay in God’s will.

The Message

Hebrews 11:19
Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that’s what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar.

Abraham’s life had many instances where things seemed hopless, but in the end Gods plan for his life was always realized.

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Marital Banking

Pg. 251 The author tells a great story about how they handled their finances in the first part of their marriage. He (Gary) had never bothered with balancing his check book. His finance method was to write checks until he thought it may be getting to the limit. His wife, well, she worked in a bank. Needless to say, they had two completely different ideas on how to handle finances. With each of them carrying a checkbook and Norma in charge of the finances, you knew this formula was not going to work. I love the fact this very accomplished and successful author is admitting that he did not learn how to deal with his finances until the early years of his marriage. And had he allowed it to continue its course, they possibly could have been a divorce statistic.

At times she would say, “I can’t keep track of this. It’s driving me crazy.” Pg. 252. She had finally had enough, she brought the checkbook and the bills to Gary, “I’ve had it!” she said. “I can’t take it anymore. From now on, this area is all yours. It’s up to you whether we sink or swim.” Pg. 252. So Gary had a choice to make and some concepts to learn. Thankfully he chose to get it together and learn to be responsible with money. He goes on to describe a simple principle he learned during the process. “You’ve got to have more money in the bank than you spend every month. Income has to exceed outgo.” Deposits must increase more than withdrawals. Pg. 252

He uses the same case in point when examining the marriage. Increased deposits in the marriage are worth the effort. Too many withdrawals can be a detriment. Here’s how he defines the two set of laws:

Deposit (can be)

  • a gentle touch
  • “I love you”
  • “you look great”
  • Helping clean up the kitchen

Withdrawals (can be)

  • anything sad or negative
  • anything that drains energy
  • harsh words
  • being ignored

Of course, each spouse may have different variations of what they consider deposits and withdrawals. But the idea is to keep positive deposits flowing into your partners account. And as the author points out this can work with other relationships as well (children, coworkers, friends, etc.).

Ecclesiastes 11:1

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.



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The facts won or lost

Pg. 229 He talks about how to resolve an argument/conflict with his wife when standard communication has failed. They pull out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side of the paper list the “Reasons we should do this” on the other side of the paper, “The reasons we should not do this”.

Usually, “the facts won or lost”, the argument according to Gary. I like this idea because they have come to a point where they are struggling to make a decision and by taking the time to make a list, in the process, they are gathering the “facts” of the situation. Its the same thing we do in the work place. If you are a doctor and you are seeing one of many patients, the doctor pulls out your file. After he reviews it, he then asks you further questions to gather as many facts as necessary to know how to proceed. If your kids have an issue at school you ask them questions and gather the facts so you can have a better understanding to help them make a decision. A councilor will spend a significant amount of time gathering facts and then investigating each one.

He also said if this method fails to resolve the issue, then you assign each fact to a longterm (more than 10 years) or temporary status. If this fact (the one you gathered during this process) effects you longterm then he writes an “L” beside it. Temporary gets a “T. Then add up the L’s and T’s to see which side won. “This analysis seemed to resolve the issue every time, even with the kids involved”. Pg. 229 (Gary)

This method peels back the emotions and self-interest caused by the conflict you are having. Its a simple method and one that people use everyday in life just by discussing the pros and cons. But I can say from experience there is something to pulling out the paper and documenting your reasons for and against.

Make a point not to suppress the facts.

2 Peter 3:5
For they deliberately suppress this fact, 1 that by the word of God 2 heavens existed long ago and an earth 3 was formed out of water and by means of water.

John 8:32
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

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Why Most Conflicts Occur

Online book study — Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley.

“Conflicts happen because there are power and control problems in the home”. Pg. 215 (Gary)

For example, a decision needs to be made whether or not your child can go to the football game tonight. You have one opinion your spouse has another. Each of you wants your decision to be final, as result of this difference you now have conflict.

Gary lists other reasons for conflict in the home:

  • Power and Control
  • Insecurity
  • Differences in Values
  • Competition
  • Personal Differences
  • Misunderstood Feelings and Unmet Needs

When you argue, do you ever get the distinctive feeling you are chasing your tail (if you had one)? They say one thing about the issue at hand, you say another, they counter, you counteract, they answer, you oppose and on and on it goes.

Before I was married, my only training in conflict resolution, was to win (this term defined loosely). Now I try for a completely different goal, “to act in love”. Remember, the biblical def. of  “love” is the most powerful force on earth. Oh don’t get me wrong, I still lose sight of what is important during an argument. But at least now, I realize there is something better than the proverbial Touché.

It can be very difficult when we are in the heat of the argument. Who is going to be the one to reach for the life jacket, because it seems like we are both in the water and sinking fast.

The author suggests if you are going to bring resolution to conflict and be drawn closer together, there should be rules or boundaries by which you fight. I’ll give you a few examples because his list is long Pg.222:

  1. Clarify what you are fighting about
  2. Do not seek out past problems or hurts.
  3. No sarcasm
  4. Try not to use the word “you”.
  5. No exaggerations
  6. No name-calling
  7. No manipulation statements: “I’m sleeping on the couch”
  8. You cannot use the silent treatment

So we do not seek arguments, but realize they will happen. According to Gary, an argument can bring more intimacy in a relationship if it is handled the right way.

Proverbs 17:19
The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; 1 whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction

1 Peter 4:8
Above all keep 1 your love for one another fervent, 2 because love covers a multitude of sins

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Conflicts: The Doorway to Intimacy

“The bad news is that we’re always going to have conflicts. Our valued individuality including our personality and gender differences make them inevitable. But the good news is that we can not only reduce our conficts, we can also use them to move into deeper intimacy in any relationship”. Pg. 213 (Gary)

He gives an example of how his son-n-law’s mother was coming for a visit. Roger expressed how happy he was to finally get a big breafast in the morning, when his mother arrives (In the past his mother always made him a big breakfast). This did not go over well with Kari his wife. She took it personally. They were now officially in conflict. He asked her, how did that make you feel. They use a system to describe how they felt at the time, I assume since everyone does not necessicarlly want to describe their feelings, at the time they have been wounded. She said I feel like I have been hit by a twenty-five-pound water-melon and it drove me into the ground. If it would have been a smaller conflict she would have said, I feel like I have been hit with a orange, etc. But the idea was to open the conversation and get past the opinions of whose right and wrong to understand where she was coming from. She was thinking, “What about all the great dinners I make? How come he isn’t saying, Wow your dinners are just wonderful! Your dinners blow my mom’s dinners away”? His hidden message was, ” I’m not getting breakfast”. So they discussed further the fact she had to get up at six in the morning to get ready for work on time. But it was one of those things couples do and say that can cause hurt feelings and even long-time anger if not dealt with.

But the point is they dealt with it. They had a method to get past the, “whose right and whose wrong” so they could understand where the other was coming from. No room for hidden messages in a marriage. According to the author this is a good thing which helps move the marriage forward. By getting past the opinions and feelings you resolve the conflict and move into more intimacy with your spouse.

Then its important that you do not hang onto what was said. Let it go! It will serve no purpose to dwell on mistakes your spouse has made. Below is an example of what happens when we continue to live in the past.

Lamentations 3:20

I continually think about this, and I am depressed.

Rather keep in mind…

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

and…

Proverbs 15:30

A bright look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the body

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