Uncovering 5 Practices Detrimental To Marriage: The Question Behind The Question

Image Credit: Creative Safety Supply

Image Credit: Creative Safety Supply

Stop signs are there for our protection and the safety of those around us. They help us know when to stop, think, observe, then proceed with caution.

Can you imagine a world without STOP signs? Where everyone can proceed full-speed-ahead with no regard for those approaching the same intersection? It would be disastrous, not to mention dangerous. Yet many of us live this way. We don’t know when to stop, so we keep doing the same things over and over even if they’re not safe for our marriage.

We want to begin a series on uncovering the practices or habits that are detrimental to marriage. Today we’ll expose…

The Question Behind The Question

There is a popular book out by the same name, but what I’m talking about doesn’t relate to his focus at all. Following is a hypothetical marriage modeling this practice.

Malcolm and Jenny have been married for ten years. They have three children who keep them busy and exhausted most of the time. Their communication used to be regular, positive even, but the demands of careers, parenting and church life have left them without time to think, much less talk.

Jenny has noticed her husband isn’t taking the time with the children like he used to at bedtime. He is always on his phone leaving her to tuck the kids in alone. She wonders who/what it is that is getting his attention. She hasn’t mentioned this to him, but she’s been taking mental notes of the times he hasn’t been present. She hopes it’s work, fears it’s someone else, and suspects he has lost interest in her.

It’s 10p.m. The children are finally asleep. Jenny decides it’s time to find out what’s going on. Instead of asking him the question on her mind she begins…

“Honey, how is work going? Has it been busy?”

When he answers that everything is fine at work, she becomes even more fearful. Which leads to the next question:

“You must have lots of e-mails needing your attention then?”

When he responds that he hasn’t been looking at his emails, her fear turns toward anger.

If only Jenny had asked Malcolm the question behind her question.

“Malcolm, can I ask why you’re spending time on your phone rather than helping me put the kids to bed?”

Do you do this? It may not be the same situation, but it may occur more than you realize.

More examples of questions (Q) and the question behind the question (QBQ)

  • Q – Not feeling well?
  • QBQ – Why did you go to bed without telling me?
  • Q – Was traffic bad coming home?
  • QBQ – Why didn’t you call saying you were running late?
  • Q – Are you not hungry?
  • QBQ – Don’t you like this new recipe?
  • Q – Are you mad at me?
  • QBQ – Why did you ignore me when I got home?

You see with these examples we often use a question to discover the answer to our real question. Why do we do this? It could be…

  • Fear of the answer
  • Fear of being so direct in our communication.
  • Playing the game of suspicion, which is always detrimental to marriage.
  • We’ve already determined their guilt and want them to admit it.

Let’s purpose to STOP this practice. We can do so by asking the Lord to help us see the ways this happens in our relationship.

Change requires that we slow down when we see an approaching conflict  to ask the right question. Ask yourself, what is it I’m wanting to know? And then ask that question.

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dissecting The Romantic Umbrella

We are members of The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, and this month we have been challenged to write a post based on this beautiful photo by Kate Aldrich Photography of the One Flesh Marriage blog.

When I saw this photo the first thing I thought of was the purpose of an umbrella–it provides shelter from the rain and shade from the sun. But the word “umbrella” also has another meaning that is quite fitting in regards to romance in marriage.

Umbrella:  a protecting force or influence.

We are currently in Tennessee watching four of our grandchildren while our son and his wife are away celebrating their 10th anniversary in sunny CA. We have modeled to our children for all of their 30+ years of life, the priority of romancing your spouse through all seasons, and to see our kids making it a priority in their own marriages is rewarding to say the least!

Photo Credit: Ashley Walter

Photo Credit: Ashley Walter

Couples who regularly use the umbrella of romance discover it becomes quite the protection from all kinds of trouble when it’s needed most.

Let’s take a close look as to why this is so…

An umbrella is made up of three distinct parts: the canopy, a folding metal frame, and the rod. Some open with the push of a button and others are opened manually. Regardless, a properly cared for umbrella can provide years of protection from all kinds of inclement weather.

First, The Canopy – the canopy is what makes each umbrella unique. It’s like the personality of your marriage and how it expresses itself romantically. Every couple defines romance differently, and that’s how it should be. There are no cookie cutter marriages–all are unique and it’s the same with romance. Some romance is vibrant and noticed from a distance, while others blend in with the surroundings hardly being noticed. But if the canopy is up it will do it’s job well, no matter the romantic act of choice.

Second, The Folding Metal Frame – this is what makes the umbrella work. The frame is our intentionality in making romance a priority. If we don’t plan it, it just won’t happen. Life takes over and romance is usually the first thing to go. Let me be quick to say though, that romance is not only date nights. It’s so much more…

Romance is the skill of communicating your commitment to, love for and enjoyment of your spouse in ways that convince him or her of the priority of your relationship.

“Romance is the learned response to the way your partner looks and feels, to the things your spouse says and does and to the emotional experiences you share. It is a keen desire to work towards the beloved’s happiness, no matter what effort is required.” – Wheat

That being said, be intentional in making the most of opportunities to express such romance. When you do, your romantic umbrella will be in good shape for years to come.

Finally, The Rod represents our marriage vows. This is what our marriages our built upon that gives our marriage strength and support. Without this part of the umbrella, there would be no umbrella. It helps to remember that when we go through times of subjective difficulty, the objective truth of our marriage vows are there to support us through the trouble.

So what is the condition of your romantic umbrella? We pray that this post and this photo will help you have a solid answer to this question. Guaranteed there will be stormy weather ahead, and those who have an umbrella will be best prepared to walk through the storm to a brighter tomorrow.

For ideas on practical romantic ideas check out our website’s sidebar for categories of all topics concerning romance in marriage.  It is our desire to help marriages grow for a lifetime, not only for our enjoyment, but most importantly for God’s glory.


Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Secret To Deepening Your Relationship

Photo Credit: ellapinkette.wordpress.com

Photo Credit: ellapinkette.wordpress.com

It’s something with which most couples start off, but slowly over time neglect to the hurt of their relationship. Reclaiming this one practice is a secret to deepening your relationship and reclaiming what you’ve lost.

What is this secret? Expressing gratefulness to your spouse in all things. 

Think about it. When was the last time your thanked your spouse for the regular things they do to make your life easier?

Things like:

  • doing the laundry
  • making dinner
  • grocery shopping
  • working hard at their job
  • providing encouragement when needed
  • helping with the kids homework and extra-curricular activities
  • paying the bills

The list can go on and on of regular responsibilities your spouse takes care of that you may take for granted.

For as long as I can remember, Tom has thanked me for doing his laundry each week. In fact, I’ve grown used to his gratefulness. That’s the flip side of neglect. We can grow used to hearing I love you’s and thank you’s to where we hardly notice when our spouse says it.

My hope is that this Fall we will purpose to express gratitude for the everyday ways our spouse works hard to make our family-life better, by what they do and say.

Gratefulness is the secret to deepening your relationship, and appreciation for a grateful spouse is a double blessing.

Happy Fall Y’all!


Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Thankfulness | Tagged , ,

Make The Most Of Ordinary Days

Did you know that today is a holiday? It’s the day we celebrate the birth of Johnny Appleseed. Now, you may not celebrate it, but you could start. One of the best things about marriage is you always have someone to do things with, like share an ordinary day in a special way.

I often refer to this website to find unusual, even silly, holidays to celebrate as a surprise to Tom. It’s a great way to plan unexpected fun into your marriage.

Check out a few holidays that are coming up in October:

  • National Homemade Cookie Day (1st)
  • Oktoberfest (2nd)
  • National Golf Day (4th)
  • Do Something Nice Day (5th)
  • National Gumbo Day (12th)
  • Dictionary Day (16th)

How fun to bake cookies for your spouse on the first and eat German cuisine on the 2nd. On the 16th you could plan to play Scrabble or another word game you enjoy. The idea of celebrating these unusual holidays is to help us all make ordinary days something that stands out in our memory.

We don’t know how long God will grant us time together. Make the most of the time by being intentional each and every day.

On a sad note: Our hearts and prayers go out to the Arnold Palmer family as he passed away yesterday at the age of 87. He and his wife, Winnie, were married for 45 years before she passed away from ovarian cancer in 1999.

“They were very close,” Cori Britt, vice president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, told the Golf Channel in 2014. “He always called her ‘lover.’ ‘Hey lover, how you doing?’ They were hand-holders, they were huggers, they were very close. It was sweet.

What a takeaway for someone to have after observing them for this interview. It makes me wonder what others would takeaway from spending an afternoon with Tom and me. How about you?

Posted in Celebrations, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Fall Date Ideas, Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Healing Balm of Humility in Marriage


My last post dealt with an enemy we all face in life and marriage–the poisonous venom of pride. Now I want to shift gears and look at the healing balm of humility.

“Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”
― Andrew MurrayHumility

Humility is often looked upon as a weakness, a humiliation. But to choose humility is to choose to live like Christ to those around us; Choosing to put their needs above our own; Choosing to put their desires above our own; Choosing to be last, not first; Choosing to die to self so Christ can live and love through me for His glory.

Only those who don’t choose to be humble will find humility to be a humiliation. The very definition of humiliation is this…

to make (someone) feel very ashamed or foolish

Humiliation then is a consequence of pride. A proud person feels foolish when he/she is forced to take a lower position than they think they deserve. All one needs to do is look to Christ and His Word…

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…” 

Philippians 2:4-9 ESV

Consider marriages you know of that have ended through divorce. Many times it’s due to the fact that the insidiousness of pride has crept in and sucked the life and love out of the relationship. Like a viper undetected, pride poisons relationships. Humility brings healing, restoration and peace.


So how can we practically apply this healing balm to our own relationship? By choosing HUMILITY every day.

H – Choose Honesty. Be honest in all communication with your spouse, even when being honest will hurt or make you look bad.

U – Choose Understanding. Pride assumes motives which makes understanding impossible. It’s hard to explain your view to someone when they are convinced that what they see is accurate.

M – Choose Maturity. The best way to know if you’re pursuing humility in your marriage if you’re finding yourself having to work at it. If things are going too smoothly, there’s a good chance you’re missing opportunities to grow and mature. Pride may be soaking in the inattention. Be alert and mature.

I – Choose Identity in Christ alone. Remember who we are in Christ and what He left behind for our benefit. This will help us remember that apart from Christ we are nothing. This will allow you to be more vulnerable in your relationship with your spouse.

L – Choose Love. Love covers a multitude of sins and is willing to overlook minor offenses. If you tend to nitpick  your spouse about every error, there’s a really good chance pride is having it’s intended way in your heart.

I – Choose Improvement. Our marriage won’t grow on its own. Left to ourselves, we all drift. We must choose everyday to make our marriages better, and doing this requires a willingness to admit you need improvement in the first place. Pride never does that.

T – Choose Team Mentality. When you said I Do, you left behind your individualism. The two have become one flesh. Working as a team facing a common enemy will do more to help your marriage than any other practice. Let your spouse know they can trust you to have their back, even when you may not be on your best behavior.

Y – Choose Yearly Review. We all have a tendency to forget. What started as a conviction can often become and empty practice. Pursuing humility requires constant awareness. Think of humility as a tiny plant in a field of weeds called pride. If not given care and attention, pride is sure to take over. Don’t let this happen in your marriage.

Choose H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y and watch your marriage grow stronger year by year.

For more on this topic I recommend this excellent article: Humility Foundation for Marital Happiness.

Posted in Besetting Sins, Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , ,

Detecting Poisonous Pride In Marriage


Meme Credit: focusedshooter.com

Meme Credit: focusedshooter.com

It’s present in every marriage because it lurks in every heart. Some have even erected thrones giving sacrifices to its preferences and desires. It is a wicked taskmaster that is never satisfied, and many Christians don’t acknowledge its presence much less its influence. This is when it has the most impact on marriages for their harm. What am I talking about?

PRIDE–Poisonous Pride.

In case you’re tempted to click the little X in the top right part of your screen, please resist. Pride doesn’t like to be visible, much less the topic of a blog post. It prefers to stay hidden where it is free to reign unchecked. How do I know? Because I gave it authority in my own heart for years–permission to infuse every thought, word and deed. Of course, I didn’t know I was doing it. I justified my prideful thoughts saying,  “that’s just who I am!”

The enemy loves us to identify with our sin because when we do, there is no hope.

If that’s “just the way I am” then there is no hope to ever change. However, if I put my identity in Christ where it should be, suddenly there is no room for pride. Christ is on the throne and pride must bow. Christ died to set us free from all sin, including the insidious pride we all received at birth.

In his excellent essay on Undetected Spiritual Pride, Jonathan Edwards offers 8 ways to help us identify its poisonous presence in our hearts:  (I’ve inserted “spouse” to help us examine our  marriage in light of spiritual pride.)

  1. It’s A Secret Enemy – Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature.  That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself.  Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it?  His thinking is that he thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high.  If the grounds of the opinion of himself crumbled, he would cease to have such an opinion. But, because of the nature of spiritual pride, it is the most secret of all sins.  There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable and there is no other sin in the world that men are so confident in. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence and drive away any suspicion of any evil of that kind.  There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in great many shapes that are undetected and unsuspected. 

    Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath.  Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help.  He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

  2. It Finds Fault – Spiritual pride causes one to speak of other persons [spouse] sins, their enmity against God and His people, or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt…The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints, that they are low in grace and how cold and dead they are, and are quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies. 
  3. It Has A Harsh Spirit – It has been the manner of spiritually proud persons to speak of almost everything they see in others  [spouse]  in the most harsh, severe language.  It is frequent with them to say of other’s opinion, conduct, advice, coldness, silence, caution, moderation, prudence, etc. that they are from the devil
  4. It Puts On Pretenses – Spiritual pride often causes persons to act different in external appearance, to effect a different way of speaking, to use a different sort of dialect from others, or to be different in voice, countenance or behavior.  
  5. It Is Easily Offended – Spiritual pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries that are received [from a spouse]  and is prone to be often speaking of them and to be much in taking notice of their aggravation, either with an air of bitterness or contempt.
  6. It Is Presumptuous Before God And Man – Another effect of spiritual pride is a certain self-confident boldness before God and men.  Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm 2:11 — Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling. 
  7. It Is Hungry For Attention – Another effect of spiritual pride is to make the subject of it want attention.  People often tend to act in a special manner as though others ought to take great notice and regard of them.  It is very natural to a person that is very much under the influence of spiritual pride to take all the respect that is paid to him. If others show a disposition to submit to him and yield in deference to him, he is open to it and freely receives it.  It becomes natural for him to expect such treatment and to take much notice if a person  [spouse]  fails to do so, and to have an ill opinion of those who do not give him that which he feels he deserves. 
  8. It Neglects Others – As spiritual pride causes persons to assume much to themselves, so it treats others  [spouse] with neglect.   

If you’ve made it this far through the list, I pray God will use it to help you search your own heart for one or more of these evidences of pride in your heart. A good way to know is to ask your spouse if they see any of these evidences in you. If they answer “yes” and you react in your heart either with anger or offense, proceed with caution. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to this deadly poison. No one can do this for you, it is a personal work between the Spirit of God and you.

Are you willing to ask the question? 

Pride will kill you. Forever. Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from crying out for a Savior. Those who think they are well will not look for a doctor. – Fabienne Harford

For further study on these evidences of pride I recommend Fabienne Harford’s excellent post on the Desiring God’s website titled, Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride.



Posted in Besetting Sins, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Temptation, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Where Have I Been?


The answer to this question lies in today’s post on my author blog titled, God’s Timing Is Perfect! I hope you’ll take a moment to click over and read it.

God has been at work in our lives in amazing ways! Do you see His hand at work in your life? Your marriage? I pray you do because He is always busy accomplishing His perfect will.

Posted in Blog Love, Testimonies | Tagged , ,

Happy Hour


Labor Day weekend is upon us yet again. We hope you have plans to enjoy your time with family and friends or with just the two of you. There are some great blog posts out there that we thought you would enjoy reading at some point over the three day weekend.  And be sure to check out our Romantic Labor Day ideas under the Only Wives and Only Husbands tab.

Gary Thomas

  • Celebrating Okay Sex<<We absolutely love this post. Read it and see if it resonates with you as well.

Generous Husband

Generous Wife

  • Take A Week<<Lori shares how inundated we all get with great ideas to help our marriages grow, yet getting from the page and into our practice rarely happens. This tip is simple and wise.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Posted in Blog Love, Happy Hour

Dare I Say It?

Dare I Say It

There is a word that has become distasteful to many people. It is a word that represents a lot of pain and misuse which may cause the heart to sink when someone mentions it. This is understandable, yet sad because it is a word that can help us and provide a means of grace for growth in our personal lives as well as our marriage.

What word am I talking about?

Accountability. Merriam Webster defines it this way: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

This is actually a good practice–to be willing to accept responsibility for our own actions. This is how Tom and I have experienced the most growth in our marriage–either through being accountable to each other or to others.

When accountability goes awry is when others try to hold you accountable for things you haven’t submitted to them for help. Or when they bring up an area where you aren’t willing to change.

We have an enemy who wants nothing more than to disrupt God’s plan for our growth and maturity. He is lying in wait hoping to ambush us in whatever way he can. And the sad thing is? His methods often work. That’s why he keeps on doing it.

I’m here to remind you that accountability is a good thing. Find someone whom you respect and trust. Open your lives and marriage struggles up to them. And don’t wait for them to discover your weaknesses and temptations–tell them. Confess the games you like to play. Be serious about changing. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict and with that conviction–repent. Repentance is changed behavior and is only possible by a willingness to submit your ways to God’s ways.

If we really believe that God is who He says He is, then we have to be willing to trust Him with the areas we think we must keep hidden. Hiding hurts no one but us and those we say we love the most.

If I were to ask you, who are you accountable to? Would you have an answer? If you don’t, then I pray you’ll find the courage to seek it out. This is a tool that God can use to help you grow and change the fastest.

“…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:21


Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged ,

Feeling Trapped?

The other night I was slightly awakened when I heard what I thought was something bump against our screen door in the backyard. It wasn’t enough to stir me wide awake, so I continued sleeping.

The next morning I went out back just to see if there was anything unusual, or if the noises I heard was just another dream, of which I have many.

To my surprise I found a ferrel cat running frantically around the deck trying to find a way of out. He was obviously scared out of his wits–a fraidy cat (sorry, I had to do that). I attempted to open the door for him, but before I could do so he darted full speed through the screen leaving a rip in his wake.

screen rip

I was bewildered as to how this all happened in the first place. How did he get into our pool enclosure? After examining all the screens, I discovered the truth. He had apparently wandered onto our screen from the roof and fell through the top. 

Screen roof

I can only imagine the helplessness he felt as he descended onto our pool deck in the middle of the night, only to find himself trapped with no way of escape.

This demonstrated a similar predicament many couples face in marriage. We all encounter  from time to time temptations to do something we know we probably shouldn’t. A walk on the roof in the night was all this cat was hoping for. Innocent enough until he faced the unexpected. How like temptation. When we give into it we are opening ourselves up to endless possibilities that could leave us trapped and afraid.

The good news is this cat finally found his way of escape, and he took it with all the strength he could muster.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

What areas are temptations to you? Does your spouse know of your struggle? If you’ve already given into it, look for a way of escape–here’s a hint…it starts with confession and repentance. Then run full speed into the arms of your Savior. He died to set you free from the bondage to sin, and those whom He sets free are free indeed. Even if you have to run full speed through a screen wall.

(NOTE: the shape of the cross in the hole where the cat escaped.)

Posted in Christian Marriage

“Yeah, Our Love Is A Goldmine”

Colbie Caillat has a new single out that celebrates lasting love, and we really love it. Take a listen with your sweetie and see if it doesn’t make you smile. Have a blessed weekend.

If all I had was a dollar and your bright smile
I’d have a dollar more than I would need to get by
Cause I’m a billionaire if you count every sunrise
Wakin’ by your side, and every good night
If all you had was the way that I love you
You’d have more honey than the honey bees in June
I’ll keep you laughin’, keep you smilin’, keep your dreams true
Long as I have you, nothin’ we can’t do

Fly me back to the moon where you took me
The very first time that you kissed me
In the sweet starlight of your endless eyes when you lit this fire
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine
Yeah, our love is a goldmine

If everything we ever owned disappeared today
We’d build a castle in the sand somewhere far away
Don’t need no money, no TV, don’t need no microwave
Just the ocean waves, and the love we make

Fly me back to the moon where you took me
The very first time that you kissed me
In the sweet starlight of your endless eyes when you lit this fire
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine

We’ll be rich in wrinkles, old and gray
When the risin’ tide sweeps us away
Until then…

Fly me back to the moon where you took me
The very first time that you kissed me
In the sweet starlight of your endless eyes when you lit this fire
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine
Yeah our love is a goldmine

Posted in Christian Marriage, Love Songs, Music | Tagged , ,

A Very Special Day Indeed

Today is my husband’s birthday. It’s a date I look forward to all year so that I can thank him for the gift he is to me. I can’t imagine who I’d be if it weren’t for the influence, love and care that he has given me my entire adult life.

It’s good from time to time to imagine the hole there would be in my life if Tom were no longer here to share this adventure with me. It causes me to appreciate the little things in a more significant way.

Gifts and cards are good, but heart-felt gratitude is the best gift we can give to our spouse. Don’t let their birthday just be another day on the calendar. It’s special because it was the day God chose to breathe life into their soul, and He declared that it was good, very good!

Happy birthday, Tom Walter! I’m grateful for the past, enjoying the present and can’t wait to unwrap the future with you!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday – Caption It

Share your best caption for this photo in the comments.

Share your best caption for this photo in the comments.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Wordless Wednesday | 5 Comments

What Diving In A Green Pool Reveals About Marriage

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

As most of you have probably witnessed the Olympic Divers have had quite an unusual distraction, at least for athletes of their ability.

  • They have had to dive into a murky, green pool.
  • They have had to trust that the water wouldn’t harm them.
  • They have had to believe that the pool was safe, even when it looked otherwise.

And the amazing thing about it was they were required to give it their best even in those sub-par conditions.

It’s disgusting. It’s not supposed to be that way. But it is the Olympics and they are used to adversity and disadvantage. They are used to making the best of difficulty and overcoming any and all obstacles that would deter them from reaching their goal. This is what makes them Olympians, and this is why we take notice of them.

How like marriage.

We can insist on a spouse who responds the way we want them to respond. One who listens when we unload and who offers words of encouragement when we’re down. But many times this just isn’t the case. You may give your best to a spouse who has no ability to see clearly for themselves, much less for you. You may wish for the crystal clear waters of a refreshing dive, but instead you find yourself often wondering if the conditions are safe for you to even continue. You may even be avoiding your spouse altogether.

This is when we must remind ourselves of what we vowed when we married.

We said we would be there for them when things were bad or good, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. When it gets hard is when the difficulty goes on longer than you thought it would.

The Olympians were able to get the help they needed from the experts. They worked all night to shock the pool and clear the water. It took many hands to get it done in time for the next competition. The water looked much better, but when they scanned the camera to include the pool next to it, you could still see how cloudy the water was.

In marriage, we need the help of others. There is nothing wrong with seeking the help and advice of caring friends or a compassionate pastor. Be open. Be vulnerable. Allow others to bring their observations to your situation. Most likely it isn’t all your spouse’s fault. It takes two to make a marriage work, and it takes two to tear it a part. Be willing to do your part to clear the water of conflict.

It was amazing to watch the divers focus on what mattered. It wasn’t the condition of the water, it was doing their absolute best anyway. And some actually reached their goal–a medal signifying their ability to overcome adversity.

In what ways are you having to overcome unexpected difficulty in your marriage? Are you tempted to walk away? Who could you go to for help and hope to keep you focused on making your marriage work? Remember our goal is to make it until death parts us–to our Golden Anniversary and beyond. Now that’s a gold medal to reach for and it is possible to those who stay focused on the prize by seeking the help of God and others when our communication breaks down into troubled waters.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” – Philippians 3:12-16 ESV


Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Vintage Post – Meekness: Think Before You React Part 2

Originally posted 12.2.2010

Originally posted 12.2.2010

Nancy continues to encourage us…

Now, there’s balance in all of this because there are things we stuff that we need to say, and there are things we say that we ought to stuff. Discernment and the control of the Spirit helps us to know the difference. There are some things we should be saying that we’re not, and there are some things we shouldn’t be saying that we are. That’s where we need meekness that causes us to stop and think.

Stop and Think!  If we would simply take the time to do this each time we’re tempted to be angry, think of the conflicts which could be diverted.  It isn’t easy to stop a runaway train in it’s tracks, but God’s Spirit in us makes it possible.

Matthew Henry goes on to say that:

The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.

Outward provocation.  Anyone can be at peace when they are not confronted with difficulty.  But this is not the life most of us live.  Our days are fraught with trouble.  Thus, requiring the help of one altogether not like us.  We need God!  Surprise, surprise!  We need a Savior and Christ has made a way for us to escape this bondage to anger, bondage to sin.

When we are provoked, meekness helps us to remember that we, too, are sinners and in need of God’s mercy. That’s why meekness and humility go hand-in-hand with each other. The humble heart is a meek heart; the meek heart is a humble heart. When we’re being provoked, we’re much more inclined to be conscious of other people’s sins than we are of our own. In fact, that’s just human nature.

We just tend to see each other’s failures through a microscope and our own through a telescope. Right? Meekness causes us to realize that we, too, are sinners, and that we are desperately in need of God’s mercy.

Nancy ends her message with several questions which are very helpful in evaluating our own hearts:

  • How do you respond when provoked by others?
  • How do you respond when they misunderstand you? When someone criticizes you unfairly?
  • How do you respond when someone insults or misunderstands your child or your mate?
  • How do you respond when your plans are blown by someone else’s insensitivity? They didn’t plan, and their lack of planning or their changing plans threw your plans into total disarray. How do you respond?
  • How do you respond when your authority is challenged?
  • How do you respond when your boss corrects you for a mistake that someone else made? Do you feel like you’ve got to point it out, that you’ve got to defend yourself?
  • How do you respond when someone else gets credit for a great idea that you had?
  • How do you respond when someone makes a mistake that costs you.
  • How do you respond when somebody cuts you off in traffic? Road rage.
  • How do you respond when somebody takes advantage of you, rips you off financially.

I want you to be asking the Lord to show you, “What kind of response do I have? Is my response meek? Or is my response angry? Am I receiving these provocations that others bring into my life as being from the hand of the Lord for my good and for His glory? Or am I reacting in a way that is resentful or retaliatory? Is there meekness in my spirit?”

This week’s look at meekness is hitting me hard – right where I live.  What about you?  How is God helping you develop a meek spirit?  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Keeping It Real, Vintage Posts | Tagged , , ,

Vintage Post – Meekness: Think Before You React Part 1

Originally posted 12.2.2010

Originally posted 12.2.2010

The following post is by Tom where he shares a struggle we all encounter from time to time–some more than others…

We are continuing our study of meekness, and God is helping us get the point! Nancy Leigh DeMoss provides our next point to consider!

I faced some recent circumstances which provoked me to anger.  As Debi will testify, I am not an angry person, but on this day with these circumstances I couldn’t help it.  I felt as if a wave hit me that sent my heart reeling with unexpected reactions. Debi was with me and was able to pull away to pray for me.  It’s in moments like these where God gets my attention, and I see what I would be apart from His grace at work in my heart.

We were driving to another state when all of this transpired allowing me time to dissect all that had happened and why.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the way God uses such circumstances to prove a point – to prove a Biblical Truth.  And Debi helped remind me and make the connections.

On our way home, Debi read to me from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ next part of her series on Meekness, and we couldn’t believe the timing of God.

Meekness is shown towards our fellow man who mistreats us, insults us, treats us with injustice, in that the one who is being injured endures patiently and without any spirit of retaliation the provocations that are imposed upon him.

Meekness, according to Matthew Henry, deals with and relates to our feelings of anger. Meekness has to do with how we handle those feelings of anger. He says it doesn’t totally eradicate anger because sometimes there is justified biblical occasion for anger, but the function of meekness is to direct and control our anger so that we may be angry and sin not, as we’re told in Ephesians chapter 4. Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and sin not.”

We were able to pause and reflect together on why I reacted the way I did.  I realize I am not at all in control of how things play out day after day.  I work hard.  I expect a certain amount of return for my investment, but this time it all went wrong.  Even though I did my best.  In moments like these I have no choice but to surrender to God who sees and knows all.  Much easier to say than do.

We have been married for almost 32 years, and this type of reaction is not normal.  I am grateful to have a wife who helps me in my weakness, not by judging me, but helping to lead me to the God who controls all the circumstances with which I am struggling.

Nancy refers to godly meekness as a bridle to our anger.  It doesn’t keep us from getting angry, but it helps us channel it appropriately.

She continues,  “Now the problem with many of us, and I’m certainly wired this way, is I tend to react before I stop and think. That’s where we get in trouble. That’s where we hurt and wound so many people and so many relationships, but meekness causes us to stop and think before we react. It slows us down.”

We have counseled many couples who struggle with anger.  It is like a uncontrollable force that overtakes them and makes them say and do things they will later regret.  But Biblical meekness protects us like a sentinel guarding us from danger.

Matthew Henry says,

Let meekness stand sentinel [let it be a guard over your heart and your tongue in your responses], and upon the advance of a provocation [when we are provoked] let us examine who it is that we are about to be angry with, and for what. What are the merits of the cause . . . what are likely to be the consequences of our resentments, and what harm will it be if we stifle them, and let them go no further?

So he’s saying meekness stands like a guard. Before you let out all this stuff, before you spew, before you say the words to your husband or your kids: “Why did you . . . Why can’t you . . . I can’t believe you . . .” Before any of that comes out, you stop and you think: “Who am I talking to? This is my husband. He is not my enemy. This is my child that God gave to me. I love this child.” Or, “This is a person who was created in the image of God.” You just stop and think, “Who am I going to talk to?” And you think, “What did that person do?”

I wish I had had the time to think through all of this before my confrontation last week.  But God has used it to get my attention on an area of my heart I probably don’t think about enough.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Keeping It Real, Vintage Posts | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday – Caption It


Add your best caption in the comments…

Posted in Christian Marriage, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Marriage Playing Words With Friends

Words With Friends

I have an obsession. I love to play Words With Friends, and I usually have dozens of games going at once. I’m slowly getting better too. My average score has been steadily climbing because I’ve learned lots of new words by playing with others who are better at the game than I am. I realized there are lessons we can glean about marriage through this phone app.

What Words With Friends taught me about marriage:

  1. It’s to your advantage to choose your words carefully.
  2. It’s best to wait and see what your spouse says first before responding with words of your own.
  3. It’s not about winning, but about learning new ways to communicate.
  4. There’s a right and wrong word for every situation. Those who look at all options and are slow to speak will most likely speak wise words.
  5. You are never too old to grow in your communication skills.
  6. Focus. Focus. Focus.
  7. The words you say are connected to the words you hear. Make sure they are of value and worth speaking.
  8. Once you choose your words you can’t take them back.
  9. Even when you lose, you win because God uses the set back to teach you how to be a better spouse.
  10. Enjoy the interaction with your best friend. It’s a privilege to be in this “game” together.


Posted in communication, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , | 1 Comment

7 Tips in Navigating the Waters of Change

Photo Credit: OpenWalls.com

Photo Credit: OpenWalls.com

When a couple says their wedding vows they are promising to be committed to each other through all the changes life will throw at them. Some will be expected, others will hit them out of no where making it difficult to find their course. But in order to make a marriage work, you must discover for yourselves the best way to navigate these waters.

In our 37 years of marriage we’ve faced all kinds of changes:

  • career
  • growing family
  • schooling options
  • church involvement
  • caring for aging parents
  • loss of dear friends–either by death or by them moving away
  • changing hormones
  • extended illnesses

Through all of these God has taught us what works and what doesn’t, and we want to share with you what we’ve learned. Maybe it will help you at least to ask the right questions.

When considering a ship at sea the captain must be alert for needed alterations in the course ahead. The goal is to reach the destination safely with its cargo safely in tack.

  1. First, make sure you understand what all the options are. It’s easy to assume you’re both going the same direction, but you must take the time to talk about it. You may be shooting for different points on the compass, which may not make much difference at first, but as you continue further you end up way off course.
  2. Be willing to listen to what your spouse is saying, not what you are hoping to hear. Manipulation will not serve you, your spouse or your marriage when facing major changes. All it does is make the changes harder to accept.
  3. Seek God’s will in the matter. As you both pray and make your requests known to God, He has promised to lead you in the way in which you should go. You can trust Him.
  4. Seek the counsel of others with whom you trust. It’s amazing how much this one practice has helped us face unexpected changes the most. Our friends often have more faith for us than we do ourselves. The encouragement from others carries more weight than you realize.
  5. Look at the changes with eyes of faith not fear. For some this comes natural. For others it’s very difficult to take that first step. God has promised He will help those who cry out to Him. Try it and see if it doesn’t help you as well.
  6. Remember that when you’re facing changes, it’s not the end of the story, just the beginning of a new chapter.
  7. Embrace the adventure together. Many times change brings a fresh gust of intimacy as you hoist the sails of faith not knowing for sure what lies ahead. It doesn’t have to be a frightening experience, it can be quite invigorating. Enjoy it!

Our pastor said over and over through the years that constant change is here to stay. We used to laugh at him. Now we nod our heads in agreement. We haven’t always jumped with both feet into the changes we’ve faced, but the older we get the easier it has become to let go and see where God take us.

How about you? What changes in navigation has the Lord brought your way? What did He show you in the process?


Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged ,

Wordless Wednesday – Caption It.

Add your best caption in the comments...

Add your best caption in the comments…

Posted in Christian Marriage, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments