- What practical things are you doing to make your spouse your most important earthly relationship? What is your spouse doing to show that you are most important?
- How have you seen your primary loyalty and dependency switch from your parents to each other?
- What are some areas where you fear displeasing your parents? How does your spouse fear displeasing his/her parents?
- In what areas do you tend to be hypersensitive to what your in-laws do or say?
- How do you and your spouse strive to show honor to both sets of parents (Exodus 20:12)?
- How does your spouse feel you extend honor to his/her parents? How would our spouse say that you dishonor his/her parents?
- How do you and/or your spouse feel suffocated or controlled with the demands and expectations of your parents?
- What do you and your spouse agree on when it comes to building a healthier relationship with your in-laws? What are some of the ways that you differ on how to improve those relationships?
- What do you think about the idea of getting a good book or workbook on marriage oneness and beginning to read that with your spouse? What other ways could help you protect your marriage from outside threats?
- What is one step you can take in the right direction and who can help you do that?
By Branden DesCarpentrie
Tonight I am taking the woman I love out for Valentine’s Day. What did you do to romance your spouse? Maybe you purchased a dozen red roses, went to an extravagant restaurant or perhaps you got her some lingerie. Let me encourage you now…find out what really makes your wife tick. Simply ask her what makes her feel romanced and start to practice it. Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do with romance. Let me explain.
Several years ago, I found myself sleeping in my wife Julia’s old bedroom at my in-laws. We were not there to visit. In fact, we lived only a few minutes away. We were there to say goodbye to a woman whose memory still makes me smile – her mom. I was awakened to join my wife, my father-in-law, her sister, three brothers and my two sisters-in-law. As a family, we tearfully shared her last breath that night, knowing she was drawing in her next one on the other side – cancer free.
In the weeks and months following the loss of her mother, my wife coped with a huge pain-filled void in her life. The loss also exposed another large void, one I had never before realized but that was now painfully evident. Julia had lost her biggest cheerleader, the person who gave her encouragement – something she craved in order to feel loved. I had never been that to her…in fact my gift seems to be finding what’s wrong, not right. This trait came in very handy at my job, but not so much at home. Now, instead of getting fed a daily dose of encouragement and attentive conversation, she was left with me, and because of this, our romantic relationship suffered.
Julia needed that cheerleader. Her mom wore that “uniform” before, but now I had to put it on… and it was an uncomfortable fit. It was time for me to tell her she was doing a good job, ask her how her day went and care enough to listen well. I needed to give credence to her dreams, laugh with her and honor her efforts as important.
So here I am today, three years later, writing these words and still struggling to be what came so naturally to my mother-in-law. However, here is what I’ve found: In the times when I’m walking in the Spirit and am able to encourage her like she needs to be encouraged, I find a woman who is more prepared to engage with me romantically.
Well, I am off on a date with Julia, ready to cheer her on like she deserves. For my wife, true romance begins with encouragement.
By Glenda Lesher
In some cultures, sons are encouraged to keep living at home until they marry. I’ve seen television programs of grown, healthy men who are pampered so much by their doting mothers that they wouldn’t know how to fry an egg or sort their laundry if their life depended on it.
I am a doting mother in some ways. I have two terrific sons that I adore and who I would do anything for, except for spoiling. As boys, they learned about God and responsibility side by side. They were taught manners and they had chores. Both were encouraged, but not forced, to move out when they were around 21. I wanted to give my future daughters-in-law real men, not 30-year-old adolescents.
I prayed for their future wives before I ever knew them and looked forward to having girls in the family. I was determined to be a loving, encouraging mother-in-law and not a controlling, manipulative one. I can’t imagine why any mother would want to be a source of conflict in her son’s marriage rather than a source of support.
When that time came, I found it easy to love the godly young women my sons chose, but I also knew that my role as a mother had to transition. The Lord gave me the words that John the Baptist uttered about his joy being made full when he decreased so that the Lord Jesus might increase (John 3:30). I knew my influence over my sons had to decrease so that they would cling to their wives as their covenant mate. Was it easy to take a step backward and no longer be the number one woman in my sons’ life? I would be lying if I said I never shed a tear, but it was the honorable thing to do and I have reaped the rewards of a consistently good and solid relationship with all of them. Grandparenting is a bonus that I wouldn’t want to miss. By the way, all three of them are boys too!