- How would your marriage be different if both of you chose to focus on what is good and right rather than what is bad and wrong? (Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 4:29-32)
- How can you help your spouse realize who he or she is in Christ?
- Do you love your spouse in a way that casts out fear of rejection? (1 John 4:18)
- Do you understand what a healthy, biblical self-image looks like?
- Do you have an understanding of how your spouse’s background is affecting his or her self-image?
- Are there things in the past that you are holding over your spouse’s head now? Is it safe for your spouse to admit a mistake?
- What can you do to help make your marriage a safe place to admit failure? Would you say that your home is a place of high emotional control? Are you aware of how destructive that is to a marriage?
- Is there any area where you need to seek forgiveness in the way you have treated your spouse?
- How would you describe the tone of your relationship? Negative and critical? Apathetic?
- What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
- Have you taken time lately to share your true feelings with your spouse?
- Is there an area of bitterness from the past you’ve been harboring which is causing the isolation? Would you consider voicing that and giving your spouse another opportunity to seek forgiveness?
- Are you waiting for your spouse to move toward you or are you willing to move toward him/her?
- Would you say your marriage is one of openness and honesty, or are there things that are hidden and kept secret? Can you elaborate?
- Can you surrender to God’s plan even if it means you will need to take responsibility and confess first?
- Is your marriage full of speech that is honoring, or is there much criticism? Could you describe what that looks/feels like?
- Are you connected to any other couples who can hold you accountable for marital growth?
- What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
by Glenda Lesher
Did you ever want to run away as a kid? From mean parents, homework, household rules, or other acts of “unfairness” that you couldn’t comprehend as an adolescent? Most of us didn’t actually follow through with it, or if we did we came back as soon as we got hungry.
Now that we are adults, there are more grown-up issues we would like to run away from: family problems, job stress, over-commitment, broken-down appliances, etc. You try to find some quality time with your spouse at home, but the kids have to be taken somewhere, the phone’s ringing off the wall, or the laundry keeps piling up. So what do you do to maintain your marriage and your sanity? Here’s how my husband and I run away in a healthy manner.
When our sons were still at home, we tried to take two short vacations per year—one with them and one without them. Thankfully, we lived in the same city as my mother who was overjoyed to keep her grandsons! Those times of refreshment helped us connect as husband and wife, not just as parents. We are not wealthy, but we were able to set aside some money in a vacation account and, at the time, my husband was receiving travel discounts. Of course, the vacation spot depended on the funds available.
During the last three years, we have needed our get-a-ways more than ever! Anyone who has aging or ill parents understands the commitment, time, and emotional strain of care-giving. I wanted to give as much as possible, but my husband and I just needed a break now and then. Having alternate care-givers in our extended family made it possible.
Once in a while, when everyone was stable and not in the hospital, we treated ourselves to a night or two away from home. In order to be able to get back quickly if we were needed, we didn’t venture any further than a two hour drive. A nearby resort city and a bed and breakfast in the Ozarks were usually our destinations.
It is amazing how rejuvenating a change of scenery is! Sleeping late, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, taking walks, combing through antique shops, or having dinner at a lakeside restaurant is relaxing and romantic. I remember one rainy afternoon that we just cuddled in the room and watched a movie. We also set aside time for prayer and to encourage each other with Scripture. Once, we were in the midst of a major conflict and being alone motivated us to forgive and seek peace. Those memories are precious to me.
So, if you feel like you are stressed to the limit, why not just run away? But take your spouse with you for an adventure! “Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country…there I will give you my love” (Song of Solomon 7:11, 12).
Excuse me, I have to pack.
By Glenda Lesher
Waking up before dawn is difficult for me, but thankfully I have a reliable alarm clock–my husband. He’s an early riser and makes sure the coffee is brewed and that I know what time it is.
About ten minutes after his initial wake-up call, my foggy brain hears, “Are your eyes open?”—“Is your head off the pillow?”—“Do you have both feet on the floor yet?” I must admit that sometimes his bright-eyed enthusiasm irritates me. “It’s easy for you to be cheerful,” I moan to no one, “you are retired.” Once I down some hot coffee and take a shower, I’m coherent enough to mutter “good morning.” That’s his cue, it seems, to become a motor mouth, but I don’t comprehend half of what he is saying. If you’ve ever watched a Peanuts television special, you may remember how the parents and teachers sounded. You don’t hear words, just “wah, wah, wah,” like a horn blowing. I try to pay attention, but I’m afraid I’m not too convincing at times.
The evenings are a different story. I’ve had an interesting day and I want to tell my beloved about it as well as hear about his. Though retired, he stays busy in various ministry projects. We talk a little at the dinner table and then go to the living room to relax. He gets in his favorite recliner and before I realize it, I have lost him. His eyelids are closing and his mouth is drooping. I can’t imagine why he would want to miss this exciting conversation with me… what is wrong with him?
Communication is hard enough between men and women, but what do you do if your internal clocks are different? Here are some tips we’ve learned over the years that have served us well in our morning person/evening person conflicts.
First, minimize the negatives. If you can’t change anything—adjust. My husband and I have our morning devotions immediately after breakfast and our evening devotions at the dinner table. Any earlier than breakfast eliminates my attention and any later than dinner eliminates his. Remember that love covers a multitude of “sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
Second, maximize the positives. “I thank my God always concerning you” (1 Corinthians 1:4 NASB). I really am thankful that my husband is strong where I am weak. Not only does he make sure I get up on time, he even cooks breakfast. He also faithfully prays for me before I leave for work. We stay connected through a phone call during the day and we also have the freedom (as empty-nesters) for spontaneous adventures on the weekends to keep us close.
It’s highly unlikely that husbands and wives will be perfectly matched in personality, communication styles, or even mundane things like the time of the day we are most alert. Come to think of it, wouldn’t that be boring? Marriage completes and complements.
Oneness isn’t sameness. Thank God!
By Glenda Lesher
Have you ever had doubts about a decision or been confused about God’s will? We pour through Scripture and see obvious commands and warnings, but what about the gray areas? What about everyday decisions like how and where to use our gifts and abilities-like where to work, where to move, who to marry, and the other choices we have to make on a regular basis? We’ve all had those moments…moments when we wish God would just audibly tell us what to do. It would make life much simpler, wouldn’t it? But it would also be a life without faith; a life without trust; a life without risk.
Maybe we could take some lessons from the apostle Paul. He had the daunting task of taking the Good News of Jesus Christ to a vast pagan world. With slow and ancient means of travel, he had a small margin for error. He had to trust the Holy Spirit to direct his missionary journeys-to open doors of opportunity for evangelism and shut doors when it was not profitable. (Acts 16:6-7; 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12)
I believe we should trust God to direct our paths, but that belief was challenged by a close relationship we once had with a pastor and his wife. We were devastated with their decision to leave our church to pastor a large church in Canada, but we said our tearful goodbyes and wished them the best. Imagine our surprise when they called one day and asked us to join them there! The offer was for my husband, a travel agent, to work within their church and coordinate all the travel for the pastor and their staff. Our friend was a gifted speaker and was in demand all over the world, so the offer was tempting. At first, my husband was flattered, but I felt a check in my spirit. Scripture tells us that “the sensible man considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)
We prayerfully considered the pros and cons of uprooting our family, selling our house and moving from our southern state to such a cold country. Frankly, I didn’t want to do it. I had my fill of a vagabond life when I was growing up and desired more stability for my family. But we wrestled with one of those fundamental questions Christians always face – “Is this God’s plan for us or not?”
Not being able to reach the decision for us at the time, we surrendered it to God and waited to see what He would do.
It wasn’t long before God closed that door. Our friend rescinded the offer, saying they were unsure about their own future at that church, and within six months had moved on to another church. How thankful I was that we’d waited! This experience taught us that, even in the community of believers, not all opportunities are from God. Other doors have opened since then that we have walked though trusting Him, without fear. Living by faith is not the absence of logic or discernment; it’s all part of walking in faith.