Chatting With Mama Lori About Today’s Awkward Dating Scene

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I have been in a love relationship with the same man for 26 years and I love him more today than I ever realized was even possible.  But due to lack of communication, we almost missed each other.  We had been involved in the same singles group at church and had been introduced and made small talk.  I was certainly attracted to him and found what he had shared about himself and his call to ministry very intriguing.  I also felt like I was getting a vibe from him that he was interested in me.  Yet, the “ask” never came.  I found out later that he was praying about asking me out, but eventually decided not to because I was giving off a “snooty” vibe that made him think I was uninterested. Yikes!

I am a little embarrassed to admit, I eventually schemed a way to ask him out first!  I rigged up a plan with my mom.  We went up to him after church one morning in the lobby and invited him over that evening for a “Home-cooked” meal.  What starving seminary student can say no to that? Right?  The evening ended in total disaster, though.  When we arrived at our family home in Ft. Worth after a singles event at church, the smell of napalm hit us in the face.  My mom was on the hearth with her 80’s embroidered “mexican wedding dress” hiked up, emptying a can of RAID on a tiny twitching sparrow that had flown into our chimney.  She looked crazed. ( she has always had a deathly irrational fear of birds, even the little ones).  Dinner was burned.  We ended up serving him a ham sandwich on the porch (fumes) and having a forced, awkward conversation.  He left after less than an hour.  I told my folks that night, “Well, we’ll never see that guy again.”

The very next day, my dad came home from work and told me he had gotten a phone call from Bruce.  He just called to thank him for dinner (best ham sandwich he had ever had) and to let him know, man to man, that he was going to ask me out and that he looked forward to getting to know us all better.  Dad told him that seemed pretty formal, but Bruce let him know that he just thought it would be polite to call him since I was still living at home while attending the local college.  Needless to say, dad was a big fan of his from that day to this.  I got a phone call at work the next day.  It was Bruce inviting me out to dinner and to see a movie.  There was talk of possible ice-cream and a walk afterward… *sigh*.  I was hooked.  He told me he had asked God to give him a sign if he was wrong about deciding not to ask me out.  He took our crazy family dinner disaster as confirmation that he needed to get to know me better.  He pursued me very intently after that for two months.  Then, we had the old “where do you see this going?” talk.

He initiated the conversation by telling me how much he enjoyed our time together, how much fun he was having with me, that although he was taking things very slow (not even kissed me yet) he was physically attracted to me and what a trusted friend I had become.  He said he wanted to take things to the next level and very gallantly requested that we begin to date each other exclusively.  Three months after that, on a late night cuddle on the porch at his mom’s house, on Thanksgiving night, he told me he was thankful for me and told me he was in love with me.  I cried my eyes out on his shoulder, and told him I love him too.  He got his first kiss that night.  We began having talks about the future and our calling and what kind of views we had about marriage and family.  He was always clear, always taking the lead making me feel appreciated and secure, always making me feel pursued.  All while working on his master’s degree full-time, serving on staff at a local church and working 8 hours a day in the hot Texas sun as a tennis pro at a local golf club.  Four months later, on april fool’s day (yes, I was terrified it was a sick joke) he proposed.  We married four months later, August 1989.  This entire time, I never called him, never went by his house, never showed up at his work, never had to fight off roaming hands or feel like I had to compete with other women for his attention.  He had declared his intentions and followed through consistently.  He was the essence of manly leadership and chivalry.

With this as my background, I am totally confused by the singles scene today.  I hear about guys who exclusively pursue a woman through text messages, who refer to their dating life as just “hanging out” or “talking”.  How on earth would a woman know where she stands with you unless you declare your interest and intent to explore what God has for the two of you through dating?  How can guys say they are too busy to seek out and get to know a woman? Or why be too busy playing video games or watching porn to walk up to a real woman and tell her you’d like to get to know her?  How about planning and working hard with the honorable intention of being able to afford to provide for a woman to share a home and a life with?

I wanted to just give some “older woman” old-fashioned advice to my single Christian friends.  (Not high-schoolers, this is for men and women) :

   Guys, there are some very positive lessons in the love story above about how women feel and what they are looking to you for in a friend and dating partner.  They want you to talk to God about it.  They want you to keep them pure but they also want to hear when you think they are pretty or they make your heart flutter.  They want you to be planning on a love-life by preparing vocationally, financially, and socially.   They want you to initiate things and take the lead.  They want you to periodically define the status of the relationship, even if that means you tell them it’s not gonna work out.  They are totally confused by the phrases, “We’re talking” or “We hang out” or “It’s complicated”.  They want personal contact, not just texts, group hang-outs and Facebook flirts.  They want you to demonstrate your ability to lead, provide, and protect.  They want you to go public with your intentions, no secret girlfriend who never knows where she stands.  If she’s not a growing christian, not kind and giving, a drama queen or a man-basher run away.  Stop looking for arm-candy and start looking for love.

     Ladies, Nothing wrong with some innocent flirting!  I nearly lost my shot with Bruce by playing it too cool. If you find a guy who is walking with God and he gets your attention, there are ways to tell him, without actually telling him.  Give a guy some confidence by presenting an open low-pressure opportunity to get to know you.  Don’t pursue him though, or you will be in a relationship where you always have to be the leader.  Set the right tone about the physical stuff.  You can keep him just as interested with eye-contact, hand holding, etc. if his intentions are honorable.  Protect him by keeping things out in the open, not alone in his apartment.  Lose the drama.  Let things play out at his pace.  Give him time to work, have guy friends, and enjoy hobbies too.  Having a low maintenance lady who is always grateful and happy to see him, fun to be around and respectful, will always keep a guy coming back for more.  Keep some mystery there too.  Don’t let him take for granted that you will be sitting around waiting for his call.  If he can’t afford to take you out, he can’t afford YOU.  It does not cost that much to make himself clear.  Some of our best dates were (are) just a walk and some ice-cream!  If he hasn’t made a date with you by Wednesday, make your own weekend plans with friends.  If he hasn’t defined the relationship after two or three months of casual dating, move on.  This won’t be awkward or weird if you have kept the physical stuff innocent.  If he hasn’t at least talked to you about a long-term future after a year, he’s not going to.  Guard your heart.

As someone who did all their dating before cell phones, Facebook and e-harmony, I tend to look at things from a lot simpler viewpoint.  I know it’s hard out there.  I know many of us have baggage.  But you can find love.  And, you can keep from getting burned (or stalked by weirdos) if you keep boundaries well-defined and saturated in prayer.  I seriously doubt you are gonna meet this kind of person in a night club though.  Ha!  Good luck out there!  Guys, cowboy up!  Girls, don’t be a crazy!  Go!

Angels: What do you know about them?

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   “His appearance was like lightening, and his clothes were as white as snow.”  Matt. 28:3 

      Do you believe in angels?  I do.  The Bible doesn’t give us all the information we want about angels and what they do, but it does give us quite a bit.  We tend to get fixated on and entranced by the concrete world around us, with all it’s demands and sensory signals which we live immersed in.  So, we can forget to consider that there is a very real, unseen spirit realm superimposed over our world in a dimension unchecked by time, space, and the laws of science.  It is literal, but most of the time, un-perceptible.   I sometimes wish I could view a split-screen version of my life in which I could see that unseen dimension, the battle of the good and evil spirit beings running concurrent to the events in my daily life.  But then, maybe not.  In scripture, every time an angel is viewed with human eyes, the first thing they have to say is “fear not”.  They are fierce, powerful, and awesome creatures. Evidently they bear little resemblance to the white gowned, blond haired, glittery winged female statuettes we think of and compose in art.  And that, my friends is just the good guys.  I don’t even want to think about the evil, fallen angels who are now aligned with satan as demons opposing the saints and their gospel.  

     Today, I want to explore the scripture with you and give you some basic facts about this other dimension and the beings that inhabit it.  I hope the information in this post can give you a perspective on your day and the people in it based on the truth that all around us is a band of brothers and warriors and allies doing the will of God on earth.  I’m including some scripture references so you can check my facts.  Think about these truths about angels:  

1.  Angels are creatures:  God made the angels.  About 1/3 of them followed Lucifer in his rebellion and were cast out of heaven.  The ones who chose evil are defeated but allowed to rule over the earth for a time.  They will eventually be cast into utter darkness with the souls of those who reject Christ.  Neither the angels or the demons are subject to the laws of physics, but neither are they omniscient or omnipresent.  There’s a bunch of them, myriads!  Revelation 5:11, Matthew 12:22, Matthew 26:53, Jude 1:6

2.  Angels have jobs:  They are very powerful.  They have different designs, ranks and abilities.  Some are cherubim, some are seraphim, others archangels.  They provide a continuous flow of worship before and around the throne in Heaven.  They also are messengers from God, guardians of the saints, ministers to the saints, and warriors on behalf of God against the forces of darkness on Earth.  We frequently see them in scripture delivering news or instructions to people.  They protect us and battle demons.  They come to people who are depleted and restore them.  Psalm 91:11, Matthew 18:10, Hebrews 1:14, Zechariah 1:10, Luke 1:11-20, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Revelation 12:7-9, Luke 22:43, Genesis 3:24, Daniel 21:1, Daniel 7:10, Ezekiel 14 &28

3.  Angels are curious about grace:  They desired to look into the effects of the sacrificial atonement of Christ and His relationship with redeemed humans.  1 Peter 1:12, Hebrews 1:5-7, 14.  

4.  Angels do not want to be worshipped:  They do not hear our prayers.  They do not do anything other than what God tells them to do.  When we need protection we are to address our concerns to the Lord.  He will command them according to His will.  Pslam 99:1,Hebrews 2: 5-18

5.  Angels have a fearsome appearance:  Angels must manifest themselves in the physical realm in order to be seen by human eyes.  Not only are they pretty scary to look at, they can be pretty “Other-Worldly” to imagine.  Check out this description of one of them from the Bible in:  Daniel 10:5-6, Ezekiel 1:6  and Isaiah 6:2-3  They also can take on the appearance of a human as evidenced in Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”     

     So, whether you are asking God to send one to protect someone you love, joining them in a worshipful chorus of “Holy, Holy, Holy” or depending one them to battle alongside you in spiritual wars remember they are loyal and dependable servants of God and would never want us to transfer our affections to them instead of our Heavenly Father.  But they are fun to think about because they are an expression of the heart of our perfectly loving, genius and infinite Creator.  

The Gathering 2014: Featuring Michelle Myers and Meredith Andrews

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I am so excited to share with you about an event coming up at Biltmore Baptist Church on September 18, 2014!  The Woman to Woman ministry is hosting a one night conference entitled “Lady In Red: Pretty. Powerful!”  The evening will include fun things like a red carpet photo experience, snacks, a big dance number, an all red fashion show, inspiring videos and of course dynamic worship led by our Biltmore Worship Team and band.  Our speakers this year are known nation wide for their gift to motivate and challenge women through their ministries.  Take a moment to look them up via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/meredithandrews and http://www.facebook.com/michellemcnattmyers.  Meredith with be speaking and singing, both.

This is a ticketed event but, amazingly, tickets are only $5.00 and can be purchased online at http://biltmorebaptist.org/thegathering.  Please join us and bring all your friends for a wonderful Ladies Night Out.  Don’t forget to wear something red and bring an item to donate to our Kenyan Sewing Ministry.  You can get all the details on the website!  I look forward to seeing you all there!  Enjoy this video below from Meredith Andrews:

Our Church Celebrates 125th Anniversary

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      I wanted to share this news with my readers who may not know me personally or don’t live in my community here in Asheville, North Carolina.  I am wife to an amazing man who is called to be the lead Pastor at the amazing Biltmore Baptist Church.  Words cannot describe how much I love this group of God’s people.  I respect the heritage here and the legacy they enjoy in our area of the world.  We celebrated the church’s 125th anniversary this Sunday!  It is so rare to see a congregation that continues to grow and reach new people with the gospel after such a long time in existence.  It’s unusual, I’m sorry to say, for such and old church to still be developing and changing to meet the culture around it head on with God’s love.  We also had an exciting announcement of our latest campus to open in 2015.  Please take a moment to watch this video that tells our church’s story, but more importantly it tells the story of God’s people taking their calling seriously to REACH UP, REACH IN, and REACH OUT!

My Monday Routine

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How do you start the week with intentionality, organization, and productivity?  For me, it involves restoring my spirit, re-setting my priorities, and getting a plan together.  It takes a little bit of focus but it really gets me ready to go as I start my week.  Here are the usual steps I go through routinely on a monday:

1.  Get up early with my husband and chat over coffee:  He always eats a big breakfast but I don’t get hungry until later, so we just sit together and go over our mutual schedules for the week while he eats.  Then he usually reads us a passage of scripture off his phone and we have prayer together, specifically for our kids and to set our intentions to loving God with all our hearts.

2.  After Hubby leaves for work, I light a fragrant candle and do my personal devotional and linger a while praying for areas I need to grow in, my husband, my needs and concerns and for the wives of all the pastors in our church.  I do this because I know how rough monday mornings can be for ministry families.

3.  I walk or do my body weight workout at home.

4.  I get ready for the day.  I just feel more productive if I’m clean and dressed all the way down to makeup and accessories.  I don’t mean I dress up though.  Even if It’s just a sweatpants day and a ponytail, I still try to fix my face and put on earrings.

5.  I fix some breakfast:  I’ve been on a trail mix and yogurt kick, or I make a smoothie with shakeology mix.

6.  I open my calendar for the week on my iPad and print it out:  That way I can leave it sitting out on my desk and can write in extra things that come up and see what I have scheduled that week at a glance.

7.  I plan our evening meals for the week and fill out a grocery list:  I hate going grocery shopping on the weekends because the stores are so crowded.  Doing this on monday I never have to worry about what I’m gonna fix for dinner and I know I have all the ingredients on hand.  I also know what to pull out of the freezer the night before to thaw for the next day.  This helps if I need to throw something in the crockpot early in the morning on a busy day.

8.  I spend time on correspondence:  I go through my email and spend some time engaging in social media.  I return phone calls and write cards to whoever I need to.  I try to touch base with my sons and daughter-in-law just to encourage them and let them know I am praying for them.

9.  I give my house a once over:  I do my heavy cleaning on Thursdays and laundry on Tuesdays, so today I just wipe down the bathrooms and kitchen, clean out the fridge and put things away that got messy over the weekend.  I make the bed and spruce up the cushions, throws and pillows in the living room.  (I may also have to sweep the downstairs if the dog is in shedding mode)

10.  I water the potted plants in the house and on the porch.

11.  I run my errands:  at minimum this entails going to the grocery store and gassing up the car.  I use my Ingle’s points to get 30 cents off per gallon while I’m there.  I also go by CVS and get whatever staples, toiletries and supplies I need there using my Extracare bucks from the week before.

12.  I do my prep for classes:  I teach two women’s Bible studies per week so I spend time after I put all the shopping away preparing for these.  I also have been doing my homework and reading for the foster care certification classes I take with my husband.

13.  I take a break and do something physical:  I usually walk to the mailbox (we have a long driveway and it’s a steep-ish hill) and go through the mail. On the way back I play outside with my dogs.

14.  If it’s the first or third monday, I pay bills online

15.  I have lunch:  Gluten free crackers with ham and cheese or peanut butter and a sliced orange has been my favorite lately.

16.  I blog or plan out blogs for later.

17.  I try to take another break and go down and sew or scrapbook for 30 minutes or so.

18.  By now it’s time to start dinner.  I pour myself a glass of sparkling water and squeeze in some lemon.  It gives me a burst of energy and brightens my mood.

19.  Hubby gets home around 6:30:  So we enjoy eating together but since we are empty-nesters we enjoy eating in the living room and watching something we have recorded such as a movie, a series, or a sports game.

20.  The rest of the evening we spend together, either talking or reading.  We also like to go for a drive in the country or go get a dipped-cone at DQ.  Either way, we try not to plan anything on monday nights.  It helps to start the week with a relaxing evening together.  Then it’s early to bed so we don’t start the rest of the week behind on sleep.

This is a very general idea of how a monday goes at my house.  I know I live a very blessed life.  I never close my eyes at night without exhaling a deep word of sheer gratitude for the love, stability, and comfort of my life and home.  It is such a privilege to walk each day with Jesus and His grace in my life.  What does monday look like for you?  I’m sure with jobs and kids and all that goes with that, your Mondays can be pretty hectic.  I’d love to hear how you stay filled, organized and on task for the week!  I hope you have a good one:)))

Mood Rescue 911

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Well, in spite of my own personal foot-dragging, it appears summer is beginning to wind down.  Which brings on a big push toward productivity for the Fall, and the hectic schedule that it involves.  Today I just wanted to share my top five, tried and true pick-me-ups that never fail to steady and revive me.  I’m including an encouraging scripture with each one.  Memorize these and just let your worries, cares and frayed nerves melt away.

1.  When I’m Overwhelmed: Lamentations 3:21-23, ”  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.”

Usually when I’m overwhelmed, what I really need is to be able to actually prioritize what needs to be done first and focus on chipping away at the most pressing issues with great discipline.  I need to realize tomorrow I will be able to start fresh if I capitalize on the grace given for just THIS day.  For this I love:

***My ical app on my iPad.  I’m able to organize my days to a tee!

***I remember I can so NO.

***I ask for help and learn to recruit and delegate.  Everything is easier with many hands to lighten the load.

***I realize things are seasonal and plan for the busy times in advance.

 

2.  When I’m Grumpy: Romans 15:13, ” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  

***Lindt dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt, wow, now I’m happy!  

***Duck Dynasty, I record them and they always make me laugh and be grateful.

***Dogs-  Playing with or holding my pups is a sure fire way to get those frowns turned upside down.

 

3.  When I’m Tired:  Psalm 4:8, ” In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

***Go to bed.  Make it cool, dark and clean in your room so you can fall asleep meditating on the verse above

***If you can’t sleep, I recommend a magnesium supplement to relax your muscles or a hot epson salt bath and smooth music.

***For the afternoon blahs, an ice cold glass of sparkling water with a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice will hydrate, wake and refresh you, and It won’t let you crash or keep you up like caffeine will.

***Read for a few minutes in bed.  This always takes me away from my list of things to do.  I whisks me into another world and helps me close all the tabs that are open on the desktop of my mind.

 

 4.  When I’m Isolated:  Proverbs 18:1, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire and rages against all wise judgements.”

Isolation is such a curse for busy folks.  Don’t neglect your relationships because of all you have to do.

***Go for an hour’s walk in the outdoors with an encouraging friend

***You have to eat, so meet some fun buddies for lunch

***Facetime someone you love

***Join the church choir, a prayer group or a Bible study.  You need to share your life in community with other believers.

***Snuggle, you need touch.  Rock your baby, spoon your husband, or hug your mom or best friend.

 

5:  When I’m Blue:  Psalm 42:5, “Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  I will put my hope in God!  I will praise Him again, My Savior and my God.”

***Music will perk you right up

***Dance around, get the blood pumping and a toe tapping

***Work out.  Lifting heavy weights will release endorphins

***Light a fragrant candle or warm some essential oils by rubbing a few drops in your palms and inhaling, citrus or lavender are great!

***Eat some carbs.  Don’t go crazy, but some warm mac and cheese or a biscuit with butter and honey is sure to make you see it’s not so bad;)  Nurture yourself.

Are You Wearing The Right Bra?

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images-2Today’s post is for Women only so Guys, no need to click on this video!  Do you feel like you can’t wait to remove your bra at night?  Does it dig in to your sides or leave dents in your shoulders?  Do you have over-spill or too much cleavage?  Do you have back boobs?  Or do you feel like it’s just not doing its job?  Well today’s post will show you how to make sure you are wearing the right size.  I encourage you to get a pro fitting too.  The experts in the lingerie department can show you the right bra for your body and help fit you in it.  When I went I found I was not using the straps right.  Once she tightened them up (in the right sized bra) I found my bosom was back where It was supposed to be.  I mistakenly told you the bra I love was 2 for $36 but it is actually 2 for $61 still a great price though :)))

Our inner beauty quality for today is about being WISE.  We are looking at a verse that says if we want to be wise we need to be around wise people.  I’m praying we all can find some wise friends to support us in wisdom which is simply BIBLICAL COMMON SENSE.  Thanks for your time today!

The link for the fit calculator I used is http://www.lindasonline.com/bra-fitting-calculator

The link for the barely breezes bra I love is http://www.qvc.com  Item number A217978

It! Cosmetics Event and Haul

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Got a quick little video for you today!  Our inner beauty thought for the day is “Hard Working”.  Can anybody give me an Amen on that, especially on a Monday:) I have included some pictures I took at the It! event at the mall this weekend.  It was so much fun!  Thanks for sharing a little respite with me on this lovely day:)

Beauty In The Workplace

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Hello!  Today’s post is by request!  A few of you have asked for some tips or do’s and don’ts for women at the office.  I am excited to chat with you today about how you can put a fresh professional look together no matter where you work.  This is very basic information but just remember, when it comes to makeup, you want to go with neutral and non-glittery colors with not too much drama.  And even if your workplace is very casual, you can still polish up your look.  Thank you for watching!

The Real Reason Your Marriage Is Still Stuck

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Do you feel like giving up on your marriage ever being the way you dreamed it would be when you made that promise?  Do you feel a draining loneliness hanging over your home?  Does the tension you both clench through with every interaction, make you feel like you’re being snapped in two?  Do you feel like you and your spouse are straining to drag a dead body strapped to your backs up the hill of life?  Do you feel like you are having to share the intimacy of daily life in the same home with a total stranger?  Are you living with someone you can’t even stand?

If the answer was yes to any of the above questions, you know I don’t need to tell you that your marriage is in serious danger.  But you might not be able to pinpoint the root issue of the impasse.  Friend, what I know from my own marriage and trying to help many who struggle, is that what you are experiencing is agony of a breach of ONENESS in your marriage.

The theological concept behind the mystery of God joining two into one at the point of a marriage is just that, a mystery.  But the fact that we don’t really understand it doesn’t mean that it is not an inescapable positional fact.  The bond is permanent and is irrevocable except in the instance of adultery or abandonment by an unbeliever and then only if the hearts involved are so hard that they cannot find the grace to keep trying.  (See Matthew 19:1-10)  So the pain we feel when the oneness is decayed experientially in a marriage is caused by two people pulling against the bonds God created when he joined you.  It’s like you are gnawing your own arm off but can’t understand why you can’t get rid of the pain.

In every marriage, because we are fallen humans, there are hundreds of tiny offenses committed against the practical oneness within it.  Healthy ones recognize the threats and seek to eliminate them and build intimacy.  But a stalemate among the couple, when those little threats pile up and are tolerated because it is preferable at the time to repentance and repair, can cause even larger ones to be committed.  And sometimes, a huge breach is inflicted and it is just allowed to fester.  So what are some major oneness  breaches?  I’ll list a few of the worst.  These are major marriage killers:

Secrecy:  How can there be active intimacy when there are secrets?  Sneaking porn and masturbation, allowing emotional attachments to form with the opposite sex, not being honest about personal emotional baggage, spending money without consulting and coming to an agreement with the other, addiction, Lying about how you are spending your time or whom you are spending it…these are all examples of the kinds of betrayals that kill oneness.

Being an Island:  When one or both of the couple is living like a signal person, the marriage is doomed to fall short of God’s design.  Sometimes, men especially don’t have the skill to be able to express what they are feeling or they feel threatened by the vulnerability of it, so they just drift away.  They drift into work-a-holicism, or neglect the relationship to pursue intense hobbies, or they just build walls that cut off communication by tuning out as soon as they get home.  They are withdrawn and uninvolved.  They forget that communicating is the bridge that connects two hearts and that it takes time, and tenderness and focus to open those doors.  They may get frustrated at their wives lack of desire for physical intimacy, not understanding that she will not want to give herself to a man who does not pursue her heart first.  Sometimes an injured wife just cuts the husband off and plows around him through life as the resentment builds.

Resentment:  This is a big one for wives.  I’ve seen wives who were so hurt and so angry that they could not even show a minimum of basic kindness and respect to their husband.  Their speech and their behavior either became so abrasive and sharp that is was like a knife in the husband’s back, or they just start ignoring him.  Some, even start trying to blame and control the other.  They treat the husband like he is a child or an imbecile.  They nag, they second guess decisions, they mock.  Every little slight sets off a yelling match or causes the cold shoulder.  I’ve seen this cycle degenerate relationships so much that both become convinced they don’t even love each other anymore.  When sharp words, eye-rolling and dismissing attitudes are noticeable even in public, you know that the private interactions are probably becoming intolerable for both.  A spouse who feels trapped and cornered in a combative relationship will either fight or flee.  If you find yourself threatening divorce or separation, I guarantee you are struggling with this one.  These threats will only make it worse and will absolutely keep you stuck or hasten the demise of the marriage.

Parenting wars:  Using Children as a weapon is not just devastating to the child, it puts both parents in combat mode immediately.  It is big time unhealthy to lean on a child or teen for the love and affection you need while rejecting and battling your spouse.  Using the children as a way to hurt, control or isolate the other spouse is also to guaranteed way to mess up your child’s development as well as cause your spouse to want to hurt you back and become defensive.  This is incredibly dysfunctional and oddly the ones who do it the most are the ones having been most damaged by it in their own childhood.  It becomes their go-to fallback plan, making the home a war-zone even if it is as subtle as just not telling the other parent what is going on or meeting all the needs of the child yourself, creating a false or unhealthy dependence on only one parent.  It feels like kids are being asked to choose a side or are being poisoned against another parent who may be struggling with being a good spouse but is actually a good parent only to be shut out or sabotaged by the other spouse.

If you have recognized your own home-life in these examples either in bits or on a large-scale, you can turn the tide.  But if you continue to contaminate the atmosphere in the home with these behaviors, you are setting your home aflame and watching it burn to the ground.  You can’t change your spouse but you can work on YOU.  You can’t always change your feelings right away, but you can change your behavior which will de-escalate the stress and give you time to work through the feelings.  You can’t make past offenses cease to exist, but you can tackle the issues together as opposed to separately and in a vacuum. I will close this article with a list of the top 4 ways you can build oneness TODAY.  Choosing to implement these steps will only help. It can’t hurt.  Choosing to work a plan like this will require you to recruit some accountability.  So enlist a godly friend to ask you the hard questions and get in your face if you waiver.  You might even want to ask a godly couple whose marriage is healthy and longstanding to mentor you in these areas.  God will bless the effort and bring the healing only He can produce.  Do you have enough fear of the Lord and faith in His power to change the situation to try?

1.  Stop sneaking around.  Put some staunch boundaries around your heart, your eyes, your ears and your appetites.  Be open with your passwords, your spending, your schedule, your phone.  End any tempting or compromising relationships immediately whether in person or online.  Confess any lapses in sobriety and get treatment.  Be patient as you earn back trust.  If there is something in your past that you are hiding, work toward getting the marriage healthy enough to give you the safety you need to get honest about it.  If you have perpetuated lies, confess it and make reparation.  Strive for honesty and transparency.  Without these in a marriage, true biblical intimacy is impossible.

2.  Tear down the walls:  Fight hard against parallel living.  Build in times to be alone and communicate.  Be willing to sacrifice your hobbies and long hours away from home for a season, in order to reconnect and bond.  Plan some dates.  Plan some family outings.  Turn off your phone and your TV.  Remind yourself to share your feelings and your experiences throughout the day.  But don’t just text about schedules and plans, share the deeper stuff.  Stop being lazy about romance and nurturing the love.  Stop making plans without consulting the family.  Don’t come home and check out, save energy for relating to your family, especially your wife.  Draw her out in conversation, actively listen.  Make her feel safe.   Wives, if your husband reaches out for you, respond.

3.  Augment your ugly behavior:  Choose to show respect, kindness, gentle speech, and affirmation.  Eliminate callousness, nagging, mocking and criticism.  Publicly praise and build up your spouse.  When he pursues you, or leads you, receive it with openness, good will and unguarded vulnerability.  I know, if you’ve been hurt or are angry still, this seems too scary.  But remind yourself you are safe because Jesus protects those who are needy but teachable.  Force yourself to treasure, meditate on and express gratitude for the good things your husband does.  Determine in your will to forgive because God says to.  Refuse to bring up the past to him, to yourself or to others.  Trust God to carry you through the daily process of crucifying your bitterness with acts of affection, service and affirmation such as preparing a favorite meal, tweeting a “way to go” statement about your spouse, or taking his hand and sincerely smiling up in his face.  You won’t regret taking this risk.  As you do it, it gets easier and feels more natural.  Above all, set a guard over your mouth and fill it with kindness.  I’ve said it a million times, I’ve seen it work:  Do the right thing and right feelings will follow.

4.  Solidarity:  Make a firm declaration to your kids that your spouse is number one.  Don’t just say it, live it.  Affirm them in front of the kids.  Be indivisible as parents with your values and discipline. Don’t make unilateral decisions about the kids.  Don’t foster lopsided dependence or loyalty toward yourself with the kids.  Never criticize the other spouse to the kids.  Never ask a child to bear the responsibility of meeting emotional needs that God intended your spouse to meet.  Never allow tension to build up and poison the atmosphere in your home.  Pray for your children out loud with your spouse.  Put them to bed together.  Eat meals and go on dessert runs together.  Share fun times and play together.  Tell your kids you are grateful for your spouse.  Show affection to each other in front of your kids.  Laugh at your spouses humor.  Take pictures of your spouse loving on your kids and being a good parent.  Let your kids see you sacrificially serving your spouse and hear your praying good things for them.

If you were to make a list of these behaviors, and implement them consistently for one month…If you were to get some godly people around you to confront you if you quit…If you were to enlist another mentor couple to help you sort out the mistakes of the past and to model lifetime love for you and pray for you…if you were to surrender your fears and your anger and your pain to a loving God with a purpose in mind to obey…if you took divorce or separation off the table…if you could work on your part and stop trying to control your spouse…if you could just take one step their direction… Your miracle would emerge-your needs would be met-your love would return-your testimony would be powerful and your Lord would be close and His discipline would subside.  All this is yours for the taking…or you could rip apart what God has joined and your kids will perpetuate these failed behaviors.  Choose well.  The real reason your marriage is still stuck could be that you are not doing what you know you should do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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