When Percy Sledge or Michael Bolton begin to sing “When a Man Loves a Woman” the ladies swoon and scream. And if you as a husband love your wife that way, she’s likely to respond in a similar fashion.
That song, still heard 50 years after it first came out, speaks to something deep in the hearts of human beings, something God put there, something that differentiates a successful marriage from a non-successful one. Regardless of how hard the enemy tries to distort and complicate it, loving your woman well will keep her heart close to yours and make your relationship intimate and strong. That’s something of what it means to love your wife like Christ.
Let’s get the objections out of the way right now. Life is complicated, and human beings are broken. God has given your wife free will also, and she has the option to refuse your love. Women can cause men enormous pain (the song implies that too), and your needs are important. I have some very strong things to say to women who behave badly toward their husbands.
But as a man God has gifted you with the responsibility and the power to be as Christ to your wife. Nothing happens – spiritually, emotionally, or sexually – until you step up. It’s vulnerable, scary, and perhaps overwhelming, but that’s what God has called you to do.
And you can do it!
Continue Reading »
One of the most common sentiments I hear from married people is, “I feel stuck in this marriage.” Yes, you’re miserable. You’re needs aren’t getting met. There’s little or no intimacy or sex. Your spouse doesn’t get you.
But I’m here to tell you, you’re NOT stuck in this marriage!
Perhaps if you’re reading this from some middle-eastern country that might be true – sort of. But even there we regularly hear stories of women who refuse to be stuck. Some may be whipped, imprisoned, or killed for trying to leave – and that’s NEVER NEVER ACCEPTABLE! But the point is you always have options regardless of your gender.
That also illustrates that your choices have consequences. In most of the world you have the choice to get a divorce, to leave the marriage. That choice may involve financial difficulties, trauma to your children, emotional and spiritual baggage, and a change in the way others see and treat you socially. But that is a choice you can make.
So get it out of your head and your vocabulary that you’re stuck. Remember the maxim that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? It’s time to do something different if you want a different outcome. Now that we’ve illustrated what may be the extremes, let’s consider some of the various choices you have if your marriage is not the way you’d like it.
Continue Reading »
Is it magic? Is it “mind over matter?” Does faith mean white-knuckling it with positive thoughts and affirmations? What do you do with negative realities such as ISIS, your spouse’s infidelity, or your doctor speaking the dreaded word “cancer”? Is positive thinking compatible with both reality and Christian faith?
That may seem a difficult question for some. There are preachers who teach that speaking (or even thinking) something negative will bring it to pass, and that the only Christian response is to exclusively think and speak positive things. And then there’s the positive thinking “movement,” where the message seems to be that if you visualize something good long enough and often enough it will come to pass.
Research is abundant that our thoughts and words do have enormous power.
The risk with these ideas is that they imply your mind can control anything. And that’s a distortion of the truth. There is truth here, but it’s not the whole truth.
The Stockdale Paradox may help put this into perspective. When faced with extraordinary challenges, it’s important to “Retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”
Our minds are powerful, but they are not all-powerful. But here’s the truth:
Continue Reading »
He seems to pay more attention to his dog and his TV than he does to you. She is always on the phone to her friends but can’t seem to engage in fifteen minutes of focused conversation with you. You’ve told your spouse how much they are hurting you, but nothing seems to change. Your spouse is emotionally distant, and you’re feeling lonely, disappointed, and perhaps angry and desperate.
Relationships have a way of deteriorating over time unless both of you invest focused effort on a regular basis. If that has happened to you, doing something about it now may save your marriage – and your sanity. Most human beings respond best to clarity, honesty, and respect. By doing something positive now, you can bridge the emotional distance between you and your spouse.
I’m assuming you and your spouse are people of good will and that you’re basically physically safe. If you’re in true danger, get some help right away!
Here are four keys that will help you emotionally connect with your spouse again.
Learn to Feed Yourself.
No human being can be responsible to fill up another all the time. In the best marriages each spouse meets many of their partner’s needs, but that’s only because they have something in their own hearts to offer. In marriage, two halves do not make a whole. If you’re looking to your spouse to fill you up and meet all your needs, you will most certainly be disappointed, angry – and still empty.
Take responsibility for learning when your soul needs nourishment, and for finding and choosing healthy godly food for your inner being. God makes food – both physical and emotional – available, but you and I are responsible for deciding what we need and taking it into our being. That may be time in nature, making some form of art, reading, inspirational media, time with friends, and time alone with God. When you’re filled up, you will be more appealing to your spouse and have more to offer the relationship.
Continue Reading »
The Christmas holiday season is promoted as a time of togetherness. Families sometimes travel long distances to be with loved ones for Christmas. Holiday parties, family gatherings, giving of gifts, and even church events are usually focused on joy and celebration of being together.
But what if that’s not you this year? What if you’re lonely at Christmas?
What if your family is messed up and being together only stirs up more trauma? What if you have no family or friends nearby inviting you to be with them? What if your marriage is in trouble, your kids are estranged, or outside circumstances are keeping you apart? What if you are spending your first Christmas after the loss of a loved one?
Feeling Lonely and Being Alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowd; I’ve been there. You can feel at peace when you’re alone; I’ve been there too.
The important thing is to take positive action, to plan in advance. You may, and probably won’t, experience the ideal Christmas you think you want. But you’re not a victim!
Don’t let the loneliness of Christmas happen to you; you happen to your Christmas!
Taking Charge of your Christmas Experience
Wearing yourself out trying to please others or wallowing in self-pity are easy traps to fall into during the holidays. You have other choices! Here are some positive actions to consider as you choose to happen to your Christmas.
Continue Reading »