Finding freedom in marriage as you release fear and control…

You will never change your spouse. No matter how many ways you try it will be futile bringing frustration and harm to your marriage.

For only God can change a heart and only changed hearts change a marriage.

Think how much energy is wasted as you fret over something your spouse is doing. How many fights have ignited as you either quietly try to help or perhaps loudly force your will through threats and intimidation. Yet the issue remains and your approach to it is pushing you and your spouse apart.

So here’s a remedy — Release and let go.

Let go and let God handle your spouse. And then purpose to the best of your ability to forget about it. Focus on Father instead and what He wants to do in your heart. Spend more time with Him. Ask Him what you need to change. Take joy that Dad desires your company and delights when you do the right thing that over time, with practice, makes you so much more like Him.

But the letting go will not be easy until you first realize and repent of your own wrong.

As you seek to change your spouse you function as a controller. Control is based in fear. Fear is a lack of faith in a God who is in control of everything. You fear because you are not yet perfected in love and as you try to manipulate outcomes to make things work in the way you think best, you play God, a form of idolatry or elevating self over the sovereign Lord

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

But God.

He gently calls His girls and guys to his heart, loves them so much that they realize they are accepted right where they are at present in the life long process of change, healing and maturity. And in that assurance that you are loved and valued, never to be abandoned, you become free to let go. You are here to love and serve God and your neighbor. To become a true daughter disciple of Father, a sincere son of the Most High.

So open your tightly clenched fists and exhale deeply.

You are precious to God. So is your mate. Each of you is on an individual journey and each of you bear a degree of fragile-ness, some more than others, and often there is denial to deal with. And until God’s light penetrates a person’s own darkness, words cloud the situation, prolonging a person from finding their way.

You are called to freedom, but you are not free as you try to control your spouse.

And frankly, if you had the power to control your spouse and change him or her into your version of the perfect mate you would miss all God’s intended blessings and lessons that come through struggle, through taking courage and trusting God with outcomes.

So release. Let Go. Let God.

And repeat, for as long as you both shall live…

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Are unresolved issues destroying your marriage?

In the beginning it’s white lace and promises and hopes for happily ever after. Wedding photos show the happy couple taking their vows, feeding each other cake, dancing the night away. But the honeymoon comes to a hard stop when unresolved issues unpack their bags, turning your fairytale romance into a marriage nightmare.

Words and gestures of love that came easily while dating are replaced with loveless accusations, screaming pride, and maybe even fits of rage. It’s been like this for a while and now you want to call it quits. And it’s not just a thousand little things that you hate, but it’s big things like adultery, lying, addictions, anger, pride, selfishness, and pain from the past. You don’t see anyway you can go on in your marriage.

{And there are valid reasons for divorce as I well know so my words are not in judgement or condemnation of anyone. And certainly if you are being abused in your marriage, please get out now before it’s too late.}

But as Michael and I look back over our past failures, we understand the utter devastation of divorce — emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. And when there are children, the shock waves reverberate for decades to come. So before you call the attorney, please take a moment to settle your soul and sometimes in a deeply troubled marriage a separation is necessary.

Though one spouse’s negative contribution to the marriage may be bigger, both husband and wife add their share to the mutual mess. Unfortunately, like attracts like on some level and hurt people hurt people. You may think, I’m okay, he or she’s not, but if you take a peek at the person in the mirror you may see your own flaws, too. We all are sinners.

And since neither you nor I can change another human being, the place to start is yourself.  For even if your marriage ends, without personal healing, change and growth, you may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, continuing a downward dysfunctional trend.

Because when a couple marries four people show up at the altar. The lovely picture-perfect adults plus the unseen messy little boy and girl. These individuals — products of their families of origin yet never beyond breaking free of the past — bring to the marriage whatever was learned and lived during childhood in addition to their adult choices and experiences.

Maybe you had an alcoholic parent? Or maybe your parent struggled with mental illness? Perhaps both your folks drank? Were you abused in some way? Or maybe your mom and dad fought all the time until they finally got divorced? All these early traumas hurt tiny hearts that harden as a means of self-preservation, surviving the family of origin using coping mechanisms like perfectionism, control, anger, codependency. Later, using sex for love and attention, or repeating the mistakes of the previous generation and abusing or using in a vain attempt to make the pain go away.

And while these four are busy battling each other, the next generation of tiny hearts are getting hurt and learning love and life all wrong. And so it goes, generation after generation.

But God!

You’ve tried everything to eradicate your pain but despite the counseling or meds or running away, the screaming, cursing, crying tantrums remain. And in all this drama you keep running from God because maybe you don’t really believe or maybe you perceive God as a punisher. Maybe you fear working on yourself. But God is for you, your spouse, your marriage and family.

Trusting in God and purposing to live a Jesus lifestyle is the only way you can escape your pain. The ugliness won’t magically stop should you say I Do in future because you will still be there. But there’s hope! It will take time and surrendering pride, but if both you and your spouse are willing to work hard you can do it! IF you CHOOSE to CHANGE.

If you choose God.

And now I ask you what is it you really want? Do you want to end this marriage, hurt your children, keep doing life your way?

Or do you want to reach out and ask for help? Let go of the past and be free? Learn how to love and live like Jesus and reap the rewards and blessings?

It is your choice to keep or end your marriage; God will love you no matter what you decide, but please think of the potential ramifications down the road.

**Divorce hurts children making them more susceptible to future acting-out behaviors, drug abuse, promiscuity and problems in school.

**Wrecks bank accounts — attorneys fees can range in the tens of thousands.

**Forces single mothers to work long hours away from their kids just to put food on the table.

**Increases stress on multiple levels.

**Causes you to run from God in shame and guilt.

**Exposes you to sexually transmitted diseases.

**Yields abysmal loneliness.

**Renders emotional pain now and decades later when an innocent remark by an adult child makes you wonder, What if we had tried harder to heal our marriage?

Consider this true story… Years ago a thirty-something wife whose marriage was seriously bad from the start filed for divorce having grounds three times over. But the husband’s brother was a Christian who deeply believed God could change and renew their marriage. He flew in from out-of-state to share that God was the key to healing their hearts, freeing the husband of his addictions, the wife of her issues, and restoring their marriage. This brother even suffered a minor accident en route to the couple’s apartment. Undeterred he shared what God had done for him and his marriage. But neither husband nor wife would listen for they had allowed their hearts to give up and shut tight. They divorced. Their relational futures remained dismal through the ensuing years. Their little children who had witnessed awful things, grew up broken and as adults lived what they had learned from their parents — anger, fear, addictions and divorces. And I can’t help wondering what would have become of that family through the generations if that young husband and wife had decided to believe God, humble their hearts, and worked on building a new marriage and life together…

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Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Marriage is…25 tips to build a lasting and happy union

* a crucible for learning how to forgive.

* putting self last, not me first.

* giving more than taking.

* serving each other with love, patience, humility.

* outdoing the other with simple kindnesses, small and big.

* watching your words for words can encourage a daily deepening of love — or they can kill, crush and destroy your relationship.

* for life. There is NO option for failure.

* loving and honoring each other for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, poverty and wealth.

* never going to bed angry with each other or you’ll give the devil a foothold, inviting even bigger problems.

* listening with your heart and knowing when to keep quiet.

* thanking your spouse each day.

* making time for each other even when you’re crazy busy with kids, careers, mortgages, etc.

* being more constructive in your comments than critical.

* a maturing process for spouses as they choose to pull up the big girl panties and big boy boxers. So send your Pampers and baggage packing by God’s grace.

* healing to your broken childhood heart.

* an easing of burdens when they are shared with your one other.

* giving the benefit of the doubt.

* praying together and praying for each other. Often! Without ceasing!!

* reading God’s Word together and tucking it into your heart so it can be recalled during the heat of the moment, for God’s Word is life and health and strength to you.

* kissing each other a lot, every embrace bonding you and your mate as one.

* pursuing your mate.

* a covenant vow that must be chosen time and again because sometimes your feelings will lie to you. Especially during the rough patches.

* mutual submission.

* someday looking back over a lifetime and having your children thank you with all their hearts for staying together and working to create a wonderful marriage, a good role model for future generations.

* an expression of the greatest of these… 1 Corinthians 13 love. {J.B. Phillips}

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love…

And if your marriage needs help implementing any of the above, click on my image for your free 20 minute mentoring session to get you started towards building a marriage for a lifetime!

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For the husband and wife not wanting to celebrate Valentine’s Day…

Sometimes it takes some time to fully grow into the gift of married love that is a gift from God.

And sometimes it takes time to completely be grateful for the one who completes you.

Because when the dark times come they cloud your heart, raining pain. But those grueling times are growing-up times and you’ll only feel like you’ll break.

You won’t!

If you choose God and hold on tight you’ll grow good and strong and right. But it’s up to you. 

Embers grow cold and all can seem dark and lost yet your hope is in God who is Love and strength to keep loving in the light of His love during the darkest night in the soul of your marriage. So push through as God brings you through the thorns that rip and tear.

But will only tear you apart if you let them!

For time after time Love never fails. Feelings of love fluctuate, but love real and true is a steady choice to act in loving, kind and gentle ways. Giving more than taking. You and your spouse putting each other before self.

And Love saves no matter how many times or how you have failed.

So hold on!

Seasons change. Days fade into night and a honeymoon rising. Hold your breath and wish upon a star and climb a stairway made of moonbeams, transporting each other out of this world on a journey of a thousand mysterious moments.

Two as one in the dance of marriage and love for a lifetime.

And one by one years pass. Babies grow up in the twinkling of an eye. Then grand babies. To a thousand generations. It’s vital you make the right choices now, today, for this present time will affect all the times yet to be.

But in God and with God someday you’ll look back and find yourself and your marriage in a good place. Side by side and smiling. Glad you never gave in or gave up, but instead looked up, and gave up your pride and sin, hurts and fears.

Then in the secret place of a heart carefully kept all through the years, you will know that all the time all you want is each other.

Partners for life. Friends and lovers. Parents and grandparents. Victorious by God’s grace.

Morning and night. Good times and bad. Day in and day out. Time after time.

For as long as you both shall live…

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What to do when you think you don’t like your spouse anymore…First Things First series, Part 4

You’ve hit a bit of a dry, rough patch in your marriage and your reservoir of feel-good-feelings towards your mate has evaporated.

The things he or she does that you once admired or found charming now grate on your very last nerve. And maybe that young woman at work, or that single dad at your child’s school, the one who listens attentively to your every word, smiling warmly, is conjuring up some really good feel-good-feelings.

Beware!

When we choose to succumb to disenchantment with our husband or wife, satan is crouching at the door, ready to unleash a hail storm that will bring down our home and marriage quicker than any wolf can huff and puff.

But God!

Hopefully your house is already built and being maintained on a solid Rock foundation. For if God is for us, who can come against us? Unfortunately, sometimes the enemy against us is…us.

Because sometimes we carry a grudge list.

Wives may nag about what they don’t like; husbands perhaps play the Holy Spirit as they name their wife’s sins one by one. And there is nothing wrong with lovingly, calmly bringing up an issue with your spouse. But present it as a good sandwich and cover it with prayer. And dear readers, if your spouse is sincerely pursuing Christ with you, well, they already know their bad. God is amazingly good at conviction. A steady stream of in-your-face reminders of  sin will only drive a wedge or build a wall, but will never create a bridge between two hearts that deepens love and trust.

So what’s a spouse to do about all those “bad” things their spouse does that has made them feel that they no longer like them?

Since we each can only ever change ourselves, here’s something to try.
{This list idea was inspired by the writing of the late Becky Zerbe and is further elaborated on here.}

>Take a sheet of paper and fold in half.

>On the left list all of your spouse’s most annoying traits. (And I’m sure we’ll have no problem filling up the page with what they do wrong.)

>On the right side of the page list how you typically respond to your spouse’s “bad.” Yep, list the sinful things you say or do in response. The ones, perhaps, that you excuse because he or she made me do it.

>Be honest and be brave. God sees and knows it all. Your spouse’s heart and your’s, too.

>Next, take a pair of scissors and cut the list in half.

>Crumple up and throw your spouse’s list away.

>Take your list and bring each item to God in prayer. One by one, repent for each of your wrong responses and ask God for help in changing you.

Pray for agape, patience, maturity, wisdom, and acceptance of your spouse. Take them as they are, trusting that God makes each of us better as we choose to submit to His ways not to our spouse’s insisting or moaning. We all want and need to know that we are loved and valued just as we are, warts and all.

And marriage is a promise to take each other, and keep each other — forsaking all others — for better and for worse.

Not a single one of us is perfect — only One. And your spouse is not your child nor your student. Your spouse, your beloved one flesh other, is your partner for life, neither greater nor less than you.

Fellow heirs of the grace of life. 1 Peter 3:7

And your spouse is not, nor ever will be, your clone. His or her unique personality, with its various strengths and weaknesses — all those imperfections that make you unhappy and prompt you to complain — are the perfect fit for you, chisels that God uses to smooth out and soften your stony heart.

So start working on you and see what happens. 

Forget about that feeling that you don’t like your spouse. Feelings come and go. Feelings change as our hearts, thoughts and actions change. So think the most excellent thoughts about your spouse and start gifting them with your acts of love. 

And then focus on what God doesn’t like in you and concentrate on fixing that…

Please come back for future posts in the First Things First series with practical helps for deepening discipleship and by extension improving your marriage. So you don’t miss out, subscribe now by clicking on the box.

First Things First series, Part 1

Part 2 — Annual Marriage Checkup 

Part 3 — God Changes Marriages as He Changes Hearts

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