marriage Posts

The Time of Your Life

time_of_your_lifeWe often don’t understand and appreciate the time of life we’re in, or we make choices that make our time of life harder than it needs to be. It’s true that we are all individuals who can’t be pigeonholed into a set grid, but there are also some generalized times of life for people. Even though it’s different for each of us, God has designed now to be the best time of our lives. We just need to look at things through His perspective.

Your life is not a sprint; it’s not even a marathon. It’s more of a cross-country race or a steeplechase. There are ups and downs, curves and straightaways, rivers to ford and meadows to meander, times that are fast paced, and times of coasting, pacing yourself and catching your breath.

Each time of our life morphs into the next; it doesn’t usually happen abruptly, although there are times it may feel sudden and unexpected. When we stop and reflect, there are almost always little changes we’ve adapted to that are leading to the next time of our life. They were just gradual and not very noticeable. For instance, a mom may feel like her last child going to school all day was sudden, and may wonder what she should do now. She may feel like her identity as Mom is slipping away, never to return. But the reality is, those little ones have been moving toward independence, day by day, since they were born; they were made for that.

Just like there are seasons of the year that signal change and difference, there are seasons of our lives. Just as there are places where there are distinct changes in the weather and climate, so there are also changes in our behavior. For some, summer is a time of being outside, with activity and fun, whereas winter may be a time of slowing down, staying inside by the fire and reading a good book. We need to recognize and get in step with our life seasons to make the most of the varied times of our lives.

Rather than trying to get back to the last season of life, we need to recognize the values of the new season and take advantage of them. Even the Proverbs speak of the ant that gathers in the summer for the times in the winter when there is nothing to gather (Proverbs 6:6-8). There are seasons of our lives that are fast paced, crazy busy and almost maddening. We will be much better prepared for those seasons of life if we have relished in and taken advantage of the slower paced season when we could charge our batteries and recharge our emotional strength.

Lastly, a bit of advice (from someone who has not always practiced this), no matter what season of life, no matter what time of life you are in, take time to lift your head and look for two things.

One, look for what is ahead of the immediate “right now.” It’s so easy to put our head down and forget that this is just a season, or to just coast and forget that the hairy, busy time will come. Two, look at what the Lord is doing in your life, your marriage, your family and your community of friends, and get in step with Him and what He is doing. Ask Him, “God what are you doing? What do you want me to learn? How can I get in step with you in this time of my life?” By doing so, you can live life to the fullest now, the way He intended you to live it.

The Necessity of Hope

Do you ever feel like your life is a rat race where you’re getting further and further behind and out of control, and you don’t see any way of getting beyond the daily grind? Most of us live lives that are filled with activities, work and play. We can get into a rut of one full day after another, and that can affect us emotionally. We can get discouraged, frustrated, angry, despondent, and eventually feel like we are on the proverbial treadmill, with no hope of anything changing.

When we feel weighed down by life, without hope of anything changing, it eats away at our desire to keep going, and desperation can set in.

That’s why hope is such an important reality for all of our lives.

Jesus gave us hope when He died on the cross and paid the penalty of our sins. He gave us hope when He promised that He was going away, but would come again to take us to His home – forever.

But hope in other ways is important in our everyday lives as well.

When Judy and I were first married, we had three little boys in five years. Part of that time I was a full-time student, working a job and planting a church. The other part of those five years I was in a job that was taking 80-100 hours a week. Most of that time we had only one car. Poor Judy was overwhelmed with diapers, energetic little dudes and no hope. I was pretty dense and insensitive to all that for too long, but finally I realized what was going on. I rearranged some of our monthly expenses and signed Judy up for a little day spa where she could go and get some alone time, work out, sit in the sauna and hot tub, etc. It was something she could look forward to a couple of times a week, and it made such a difference in her heart, mind and countenance.

Hope can also come in the form of setting up a monthly time away to just catch your breath, gain perspective and do some planning for the next month. If you’re a parent, you can arrange to exchange childcare once a month with another parent who could use the same kind of time away.

If you’re married, with or without children, and you’re frustrated that your marriage is feeling stale, what you need is hope. Judy and I, in the midst of marriage and family and work, used to try to get away for a predetermined weekend once a quarter or at least twice yearly. We would put it on the calendar, and I would make arrangements so we always had a time together to look forward to.

On those weekends away we had sort of a routine. Friday night we would simply talk and evaluate the last few months, in our personal lives, our marriage, our family and our relationships in general. Saturday morning we would walk and talk about the next few months. What did we want to do differently in our personal lives, our marriage, with the kids and in other relationships? Then the rest of the weekend we would just unwind and have fun. When we left, we were always energized and ready to hit the challenges of the months ahead, knowing that we would have another time like this in just a few months because the date was already on the calendar.

Hope is a powerful need in each of our lives and relationships. What are things in your life that you have to look forward to? Things that give you hope? If you can’t think of anything, don’t give up. Ask a trusted friend for suggestions. You need hope.

If You’re Going to Fight…

fight

Richard C. Halverson was the Senior Pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland from 1958-1981. He served as the Chaplain of the United States Senate from February 2, 1981 until December 31, 1994.

One of my favorite quotes from this great man of God is, “If you’re going to fight…” I share this with you hoping it will challenge and encourage you as it does me.

If you’re going to fight…

Fight for the relationship – not against it!
Fight for reconciliation – not for alienation.
Fight to preserve the friendship – not to destroy it.
Fight to win your spouse – not to lose him/her.
Fight to save your marriage – not to cash it in.
Fight to solve the problem – not to salve your ego!

If you’re going to fight, fight to win…not to lose!

Lasting relationships are not negotiated…they are forged. That means heat and pressure. It is commitment to a relationship which sustains it…not pleasant feelings.

Treat a relationship as negotiable – it is easily lost.
Consider it non-negotiable – a way is found to make it work.

Authentic intimacy comes only through struggle.

How often in our marriages do we start thinking of and treating our spouse like our enemy rather than our partner for life? The way we communicate and treat each other can easily devolve into trying to win a battle. But consider, every time I win a battle with my wife, that makes her a loser. And in the end, that makes our marriage lose. We are going to fight sometimes. But what I am reminded of by Richard Halverson is that we ought to fight in a way that makes our marriage a win not a loss.

So, if you’re going to fight, fight to win…not to lose!

Biblical Families: The Helper

What does it mean for the wife to be the helper of her husband? Rick and Judy take a look at the wife’s biblical role in a marriage and how a woman can be a true asset to her husband.

 

Biblical Families: Submission

Submission from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

Many people cringe at the concept of submission. Rick and Judy explain what mutual, biblical submission in a marriage is and isn’t (Ephesians 5:21-33), and how it plays out practically and beneficially in real life.

 

 

Submission

The Many Faces of Love: A Couple’s Love

A Couple's Love

When I first saw Judy, something happened in my heart. Her humor and joy in life shone through loud and clear, and spoke to a hole that was in my life – one I didn’t even realize was that big, until I saw that beautiful young woman so many years ago.

Then I actually met her and realized that what I thought was a hole was really a canyon. Every part of me wanted to be with her more and more. Eventually, I realized I not only wanted her in my life but also needed her in my life. And she realized she needed me as well. That was good news to me.

Now we have been married more than 43 years, and we have both learned many things about our love as a couple.

Young couples can undoubtedly love each other with an authentic love. But it is the testing of that love over time that helps it grow even deeper and stronger. Judy and I have had our love tested many times. Sure there are times when the testing pushes us further apart for periods of time, but in the long run it brings us back together with a deeper love than before.

When we lost our son Kyle in a tragic drowning accident in 1979, Judy and I faced the hardest year of our marriage. She and I needed to grieve so differently. Judy needed to process her grief out loud. I needed to be quiet and mentally process the whole experience. My quietness made Judy feel that I didn’t care. Her talking about it at every turn made me want to get away and find a place in solitude to think, ponder and make some of the biggest faith decisions of my life.

After a while, I realized Judy wasn’t trying to hurt me by talking constantly about her feelings. She was just processing her grief. And Judy realized that I wasn’t trying to ignore and run from her as much as I was just trying to process grief my own way. It was during this intense time of grieving that we learned more about each other than we had ever learned. We were so different, but we filled up what was missing in each other as well.

When our daughter developed a rare blood disease a few years later, we were able to handle it together so much better, as a couple who had drastic differences but whose love helped us appreciate and value each other as well.

When Judy’s mom, June, came to live with us for a little more than two years, our love grew once again as we moved into uncharted territory. June has Alzheimer’s. We knew very little about the disease at the time, but we had learned how to process through that hard time together. I saw Judy’s tender love and compassion for her mom, even though her mom could not understand or value her love much at the time. Watching Judy with her mom made my heart grow deeper in love with her.

We spent the last month with my mom lying in the hospital and then hospice as she suffered from congestive heart failure. She was challenged in taking each breath, her Alzheimer’s had progressed severely over the last decade, and we didn’t know what the outcome would be. Judy and I kept tag teaming being at the hospital with her. We hardly even saw each other, and when we did we were talking through end of life issues and alternatives. It wasn’t a very romantic Valentine’s season.

But as I watched Judy tenderly care for a mother that was not her own, my heart grew even closer to her. She did all this because of her love for me, which makes me love her even more. That girl I saw some 45 years ago has given me so much more than I could have ever known.

It saddens me when I see couples facing hard times and giving up, somehow thinking changing partners will solve their problems. That’s not how God designed life to be lived. It is through the hard times that love grows even deeper and stronger than you could possibly imagine. And that is the kind of love He desires for couples.

4 Good Reasons to Get Married

4 Good reasons to get married

Although there are some reasons not to get married, there are many very good reasons to get married. Here are a few of them:

 

1. God designed marriage 

In Genesis 2:24, Moses makes this editorial comment about an intended major takeaway from Genesis 1-2: “Therefore a man should stop living in a dependent relationship with his parents (as well as other overly dependent relationships) and enter into an unconditional commitment with his wife, and over time they will become one together” (my expanded translation of the Hebrew text).

Obviously God designed us as men and women (Genesis 1:27) on purpose and calls us to become one in a marriage relationship. Marriage is God’s idea and it’s His design for us as men and women, generally. Even though Paul says God has given some select people the gift of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7-9), he calls it a gift for a reason, because it’s not the norm. There may be reasons not to get married yet. But far and away, marriage is God’s design for men and women.

 

2. You’re convinced that you mutually NEED each other

I’m not talking about “we get along,” or “we have fun together” or “it would be nice to get married.” I’m talking about “I NEED this person; and they NEED me.” When looking at Genesis 2:18-24, it’s interesting how God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion that finishes him out.”

Then God brings the animals before the man and he names them. And he names them in part based on skeletal structure and skin type (Genesis 2:23), the same primary factors we use today in naming and classifying animals. All this animal naming seemed random to me until I realized that Adam was carefully analyzing the animals as he named them, obviously also noticing that there were male and female pairs among all the animals.

It’s then that the text says Adam realized that it was not good for him to be alone. He realized his NEED, and when he and Eve meet, they see each other as the fulfillment of this NEED.

 

3. We are better together

God designed us to be relational beings, as He is, not as loners. I’ve read a number of studies that have shown the health and life expectancy of people is prolonged by healthy relationships and diminished by lack of healthy relationships. But being better together is not just about happiness. It also helps rub off the rough edges that we each have in our lives – rough edges like our selfishness. I never realized how selfish I was until I married Judy. Being married was like putting a spotlight on my selfishness, and it forced me to begin dealing with it in earnest.

Being married forces you to develop your communication skills and your conflict resolution skills. It forces you to face your real self, not the self you have wanted to see. There’s nothing like a spouse, who sees you day in and day out, in the good, bad and ugly times to see yourself in the mirror of reality. If you want to live in denial and remain selfish, then marriage is a dangerous proposition.

 

4. Intimacy, Closeness, Oneness

This doesn’t just mean sex. We live in a world where most people are willing to settle for cheap substitutes for the intimacy, closeness and true oneness that God designed us for, and longs for us to experience. Trying out relationships by living together and couples hooking up for sex have become Satan’s cheap substitutes for the deep, abiding intimacy we were designed for and long for down deep inside. A marriage that has continued to deal with their individual baggage in a committed I-will-be-here-for-you-no-matter-what relationship can and will grow in oneness over time – a closeness that far surpasses any live-in or hook-up relationship.

Seven Reasons NOT to Get Married

unnamed

Of course there are many good reasons to get married, which I will cover later. But there are also some very poor reasons to get married. Here are seven big ones.

Don’t get married because:

1. Everybody else is doing it.

I once met with a couple and asked them why they wanted to get married. And why to this person? The young man responded, “Well, I’m the last of all my friends to get married. And she’s the best thing to come along in quite a while, and I’m not sure anyone better will come along.” Guess how that made his fiancé feel! She chose not to marry the guy. Good for her.

2. Your parents and friends keep asking when you’re getting married.

We should never get married just because we want to get people we love off our backs. Or because we want to please them. Sometimes people we love and who love us just want what they believe is best for us, but we should never get married to someone just because we feel pressure. It will set us up to marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons.

3. You’re attracted to this person.

Don’t get me wrong. You should be attracted to the person you marry. But there has to be more to it than that. Over the course of your life, you will be attracted to many people of the opposite sex, and obviously that doesn’t mean you should marry them. If attraction is your primary reason for marrying a person, it could very well be your primary reason for leaving them someday for somebody else – someone you may be attracted to even more.

4. You get to have sex anytime you want – with God’s blessing!

For many Christians, this seems to be one of their primary reasons for getting married: legitimate sex. Sex is a beautiful creation of God for the enjoyment of a husband and wife. Nothing is wrong with wanting to have an intimate sexual relationship with a spouse. Just be careful not to make this your only or even primary reason for getting married. You can’t build a relationship on sex alone. Realize, even if you had sex an hour every single day of the year, you would still have to figure out how to relate with that person the other 23 hours each day.

5. This person will make you happy.

There is nothing wrong with happiness. However, too many people get married wanting their new spouse to be for them what only God can be. For example, a spouse can help replace aloneness, but never loneliness. Neither can a spouse fill that spiritual emptiness that is in you. They will never provide that absolute peace and comfort that can only come from God. Even though they may make it easier to be happy in some situations, sometimes they can also make it easier to be frustrated and feel like pulling your hair out.

6. You can fix the wounded puppy.

Some people learn to get by and get what they want in life by playing the wounded puppy, wanting others to come to their rescue and take care of them. It is always good to care for people who are truly wounded. Just be leery of marrying the wounded puppy so you can fix them. Only God can heal the brokenhearted, the broken minded and the emotionally broken. Let God fix them. Don’t marry to fix what only God can fix. The tenderhearted are often susceptible to this. I often told my daughter, who would bring home a wounded puppy as her new friend, “It’s okay to be friends with a wounded puppy. Just don’t marry one.”

7. You want to change them after you’re married.

Unlike the wounded puppy where you might feel pity for someone, you really like this person – except for this annoying habit or that flaw in their personality. It drives you crazy that they are a slob or a neat freak, but you think, once we’re married I can help them change that. Don’t count on it. Maybe they’re really a great person, but their spiritual life is questionable, so you think, I’ll help them grow in that area after we’re married. Don’t count on it. Nobody wants to be somebody else’s project. Can you marry the person the way they are now? Even if they never change – even once they’re married to you?

25 Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do”

25 Questions-Rick

These are some questions every couple should ask each other and discuss before getting married. Be sure to listen carefully and thoughtfully to the other person’s answers. Knowing these things about each other ahead of time could save a lot of heartache later.

1. Why do you want to get married?

2. Why not just live together?

3. Of all the people in the world, why do you want to marry me?

4. What would it take for you to throw in the towel after we are married?

5. What are the strengths you see in me?

6. What are the challenges you see that I still need to grow through?

7. What do you think our biggest wins will be as a married couple?

8. What do you think our biggest challenges will be as a couple?

9. What are the top 5 most important things in life to you?

10. If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?

11. What was your relationship with your father, and how did that impact you?

12. What was your relationship with your mother, and how did that impact you?

13. What was life like in your family between you and your siblings (if you have any)?

14. What do you assume it will be like on Christmas? Birthdays? Thanksgiving? Other holidays?

15. Where are you at spiritually? (See your spiritual growth self-assessment.)

16. What are the similarities and differences in our spiritual beliefs?

17. What place do you believe “faith” should play in our relationship/family?

18. What communicates love to you?

19. What makes you feel disrespected?

20. What about children? How many should we have? When?

21. What is your dream day and/or night like?

22. What is your dream vacation?

23. What is any unfinished business from the past that you need to take care of?

24. Are there any issues in our relationship right now that we need to deal with?

25. When was the last time you laughed uncontrollably? What was it about?