Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’


Humor is therapy.  If you are ever in one of those down days, you can continue on that path or you can refocus on something positive and uplifting.  I thank God for Christian comedy.  I use it often to lighten my day and help me not take myself too seriously.  I would like to share this gift with you today through Comedian Jeff Allen.  Enjoy!

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I have already been made aware that the title of yesterday’s post was becoming a model man and just to the left of that title was a picture of me.  In the interest of full disclosure, I know that I have not achieved the status of model man or any other model for that matter.  The picture is in reference to the fishing trip with my son that I mention later in the post.  So save your stamp and emails (you know who you are).  Now on with today’s edition of the model man series:

Another character trait of a model man is COMMITMENT.  That’s the value that makes you great.  Men who do what my football coach used to exhort my high school team to do, “man up.”   What I think he was saying is that losers give up but if you want to win in life you have to be willing to man up!

Guys, to say that we have a problem with this “C” word is an understatement.  I Googled “Men of Commitment” and got things like: Why Men Are Commitment Phobic, Men Afraid of Commitment, 5 Reasons Why Men Fear Commitment, and Why Men Don’t Commit.  That is not a very good sign.  We don’t have a very good track record here.

What do we do to turn this trend around?  STOP BEING WIMPY WILLIES!  The number one complaint I get from wives in marriage counseling deals with passive husbands.  She says, “My husband is a go-getter from the word, Go, when it comes to his business.  He is highly motivated, energetic.  He takes on the world with a vengeance.  He even takes on his sports with a vengeance.  He’s incredibly active in taking the initiative.  But when he comes home, when it comes to helping me, parenting the kids, and spiritual matters, he abdicates all leadership and becomes passive.  Then the catch 22 is that he resents me for taking the lead.  He resents it and he’s jealous of it and he even puts me down for it.”  That is sad!  Really sad!

Where are all the Joshua men from Joshua 24 in the Bible?  Men who will say “I don’t know about Media Max’s family but as for me and my house we are going to do it God’s way.”  Where are all of the men who hang on to their promises with the tenacity of a bulldog?  Another saying that my coach would preach to us is, “Winners never, never, never quit and quitters never win.”  The problem is, when we men quit, the losers are our families which has a ripple effect to our churches and communities.  Let’s “man up” men.

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One of the missing elements in our society, in my humble opinion, is the presence of strong male role models.  I feel I can speak freely here because I am a male.  I am afraid that we men have for the most part just surrendered our role as leaders in the home to “Media Man.”  Media Man has several personas:

He sometimes presents himself as Macho Max.  He has been played by a number actors such as Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Deny all your feelings, ignore the law, never complain, never apologize.  Just sweat a lot.  Accomplish the impossible every eight minutes, take anything you want, use foul language, and bully people.  The Macho Max model.

Another way Media Man is played is Ranting Ray.  This is the  type of person who builds up his self-worth by constantly putting someone else down, especially his wife and his family.  He rules over his family while everyone actually makes fun of him behind his back.  He’s frightened by the world so he keeps everyone at arm’s length with his dry humor and cutting remarks.

The third model that M.M. personifies Wimpy Willie.  This  is the man who is so inept he’s constantly outwitted by his children, his wife and even his dog.  Nobody takes him serious.  He’s a bumbling idiot.  His motto is “Blessed are the passive for they shall avoid conflict at all costs.”  You might find this man in most of the prime time cartoons (Homer Simpson) and in my day it was the Dagwood Bumstead comic strips.

I would like to suggest a blueprint for us men to follow that is based on the best book in the world, the Bible.  I believe the world is in dire need of men with these qualities:

1.  We need men who are COMPASSIONATE– men who put relationships above results;  people above profits. 

This is not natural for most men.  It is my nature to focus on results, not relationships.  We are very result oriented.  Often women tend to be more relationship oriented than men.  Guys, we’ve got work to do here.   The Bible says if I have not love, I’m nothing.  I’ve heard it said that the greatest things in life aren’t things.  Jesus said “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet  loses his soul.”  We’ve got to look at relationships to God and to each other.  People last, profits margins don’t.  People are going to last for eternity your profession won’t.

“They are all wrapped up in their own affairs” is what the Phillips translation says.  The man who’s all wrapped up in himself is not a Daddy.  He’s a mummy.  The average father spends less that two minutes a day with his children in serious conversation.  How do you develop relationships like that?  You can’t.  “I’d love to play ball but I don’t have time … I’d love to help out but I don’t have time … I’d love to do this but I don’t have time …  I’ve got to go make a sale, close a deal, run a race, whatever.” 

I just finished a great day with my youngest son surf fishing in the Atlantic.  How many fish did we catch, you ask?  None, zero, nadda.  But for me it was a great day because I did something that I know I have not done enough of, give my son the gift of TIME.  Last week I played golf with my oldest son.  I got a few more strokes than I did fish.  That’s ok.

Come on, you know it’s true.  We need more men (and women) with compassion, who put relationship before results.  We’ve got to balance these things.  

2. We need men who are CONSISTENT.  Men who put character before conformity.  They’re not afraid to be swim against the current.  They’re not afraid to stand alone for what’s right.  A man who will stand up and say, “I don’t care what everybody else thinks.  I don’t care what they’re doing.  I’m going to do the right thing.”

There are a lot of guys out there like that.  We have some men like that in the wonderful world of Wahoo Church.  There is a guy name Timothy like that in the Bible.  His friend Paul said this about him, “Timothy has proved himself  he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”  The word “proved” literally means “tested character”.  He didn’t  bend to pressure.  He was a man of conviction.  An opinion is something you’ll argue about but a conviction is something you’ll die for.  The young generation of today needs to see more men of conviction.  There’s the old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  What do people in your life know you stand for?  Football?  Whatever team you like?  Is that all the people in your life know about your life?  The kind of people who make an impact with their lives are people of conviction.  The people who changed the world, for either good or for bad, were those with the deepest convictions.  They believed it from the depths of their hearts.  And they lived it out.  

Proverbs 10:9 “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”  The bottom line is integrity.  The world is interested in image but image doesn’t last.  But character lasts a lifetime.  It’s not image that counts.  It’s character.  It’s integrity.  That’s the bottom line.   We must constantly be checking:  Is my private life consistent with my public image?  If it’s not I’d better change it.  I’d better not be living Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I need to be constantly evaluating, Am I being consistent in my lifestyle publicly and privately.  Inconsistent fathers produce insecure children.  Unreliable husbands produce unstable marriages.

I will have to pick up here tomorrow.  That surf just about beat me to death and this red tan is needing some aloe attention.

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 If I were to give you a test and ask you to fill in the blank: “What one word would best summarize the whole marriage relationship? ______________.”  What word would you write?

Key #5:  Commitment

For most of us that word would be the word “love.”  I think a better word would be “commitment.”  Any two people given the right circumstances, the right environment could develop romantic, loving feelings toward each other.  But that’s not really at the heart of marriage.  In fact, the difference between marriage and just living together is commitment.  God expects us to keep that commitment.  In Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, we find these very strong words, “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, ‘So make sure you don’t break your promise to be faithful to your mate.’”  

Divorce is a reality in our world and there are many, many people in our inside and outside of the church who have been through the painful experience of divorce.  Thank God for His grace and His forgiveness.  But let’s be honest.  It’s not God’s ideal.  You will never build strong, intimate marriage relationship when divorce is an option.  There are many people who secretly carry around this little escape hatch.  In their minds they think, “If it gets really hard or things don’t go like I thought or if I get really unhappy I’ve got this little key to the escape hatch that will always allow me a way out.”  I actually had a person who was a leader in his church tell me that God told him to divorce his first wife and marry another.  He said that he was unhappy in his marriage and God wanted him to be happy and enjoy life. 

So let me encourage you.  If you’re married, if you’re reading this, throw away that key.  Don’t leave yourself that escape hatch.  Don’t leave yourself that option.  When you said, “Till death do us part,” that was a lifelong commitment.  Don’t leave it as an option. 

There are some people who have the attitude, “If I could just get out…  If I could just be with that person…  If I could just get this kind of relationship…” the whole idea of the grass is always greener over there.  The grass is greener where you water it.  And it starts with your commitment.  No matter where you are right now stay committed.   Seek godly counseling.  God’s main goal for you is not your happiness it is your holiness.  He wants you to have joy and to be complete in him. 

Larke and I went to a marriage conference in Atlanta some years ago.  I don’t remember who was leading it but I do remember a very helpful instruction he gave to the men.  He said, “Men, divorce every other woman on earth but your wife.”  Now that is one divorce I think God would approve of!  This is good advice for both spouses.

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Key # 4:  Contact

This key is just what it sounds like: physical touch, physical contact, affection.  You can call it cuddling, caressing, I like to call it “lovey-dovey” but that’s just me.  You have to touch to keep in touch.  God put skin on you for a reason.  You’re not just a spirit.  You have a body and skin is meant to be touched.  And all of us – everybody – married or unmarried – need human contact, physical contact.  Hugs, pats on the back, handshakes. 

Everybody needs physical affection.  Everybody does.  That’s why at Wahoo Church each week we touch each other at least twice.  At the beginning and at the end of every service we say, “Turn around and hug somebody…  Turn around and shake hands with somebody.” 

I remember a quote from Rick Warren on this topic: “I’ve had people tell me, ‘Pastor Rick, the only physical affection I get all week is at church.’  When I’m out on the patio after the services greeting people and hugging people, when people walk away I often wonder how long that hug’s got to last that person.  I’ve thought about going into full time Christian hugging.  I think it would be a legitimate ministry because everybody needs to be touched.”

If they’re not stroked and touched enough infants can die.  And so can marriages.  If you’re too busy to date your mate, you’re too busy.  If there were more courting in marriage there would be fewer marriages in court.  The problem is what you did to win your mate’s love you haven’t continued to keep your mate’s love.  Before you got married you couldn’t keep your hands off each other.  You’re hugging and kissing and walking arm in arm and holding hands.  Now that you’re married you never hold hands any more.  And the touching and the tenderness slowly fades away.  And when that happens the devil has won a victory in your marriage.  He’s setting you up for failure.  

I know the old excuse.  I’ve heard it many, many times:  “I just don’t feel affectionate”  Or “I’m just not a touchy-feely kind of person.”  I don’t know what your excuse is but I will tell you this: It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than it is to feel your way into an action.  When you say, “I’m going to wait until I feel like it to act romantic,” it isn’t going to happen.  The devil will make sure you never feel like it.  You have to act romantic even when you don’t feel like it.  And when you do the feelings will come.  In fact, I guarantee it.  Because feelings always follow behavior.  If you act in a loving way, you act in a romantic way, you act in an affectionate way, the feelings will come back.  Don’t wait for the feelings.  Just do the right thing.  And never let a day go by without some kind of physical contact.

Physical affection is as vital to your marriage as communication and consideration and compromise and all these other keys.  They’re all important.

Of course, in marriage that includes sex.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:3 “The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy which is her right as a married woman.  Nor should the wife deprive her husband.”  God doesn’t intend for your marriage to be boring and lifeless and passionless and pleasureless and dull.  But sex has profound implications for your marriage.  In fact, God gave sex to cement marriages together.  The primary purpose of sex is not to have children.  That’s not what the Bible says.  The primary purpose of sex is to cement a husband and wife together in a spiritual union and a bonding that is exclusive to them that involves nobody else in the world.  That’s why God says, Don’t have sex outside of marriage.  It has profound spiritual implications.  It is meant primarily for bonding a husband and a wife together.

If you are having problems with your sexual relationship in your marriage, please, please, please get help.  It is available.  Find a counselor.  You can get help for all the possible causes if you will be honest.

How are you doing in the area of daily physical affection?  Are you too busy?  Do you have at least a weekly date?  A date night.  Do you need to touch more in order to stay in touch?

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When you see a deer you see Bambi and I see antlers up on the wall.
When you see a lake you think picnics and I see a large mouth up under that log.
You’re probably thinkin’ that you’re gonna change me.
In some ways well maybe you might.
Scrub me down, dress me up, oh but no matter what remember I’m still a guy.

I think Brad Paisley’s song, “I’m Still A Guy” is a very funny reminder of the serious truth that men and women are different.  We see the world through different eyes.  This will inevitably cause us to need to use this next key over and over.

 Key #3:  Compromise

 If you’ve been married longer than a day you know that every marriage has conflict.  There are just some things you’re never going to see eye to eye about.  You’re never going to agree on everything.  As you begin marriage you know there are thousands of things that over the years you learn to compromise on – to meet in the middle, to be flexible, to be willing to give up and yield your own rights.

 But on big things and small things if you don’t learn to compromise it will lead to destruction.  Look at Mark 3 “A home divided against itself is doomed.”  If your marriage is going to be successful you have to learn conflict resolution.  How to negotiate.  Most of us didn’t learn that in the models we watched in our own families or people around us.  We certainly didn’t learn it in our schooling.  So we often learn it the hard way. 

Virtually all those conflicts can be traced back to one issue.  It’s the issue of selfishness.  In fact the Bible says this in Proverbs 18:1 “People who do not get along with others are only interested in themselves.”  When you go to the New Testament we discover in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, Paul basically says that the mark of real love is compromise.  Verse 5 “Love does not demand its own way.”  Time and time again in every relationship you have to yield your rights to having your own way.  In fact, there is not a marriage that could not be improved by deferring to your spouse and meeting their needs and being willing to meet in the middle, being flexible and compromise.  That comes in a thousand different forms in every relationship. 

 And really, at the end of the day, it’s about learning to be unselfish and maturing.  Romans 15:5 “May God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us.” 

 How are you doing?  Are you flexible?  Do you compromise pretty well?

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Here we go with day two of the vacation edition of Ready 4 Life Counseling Blog.  I’m just going to be blunt about this and I hope everyone understands my point. Marriage can be one of two extremes: heaven on earth or he…well I think you get my point.  On any given day it can fall anywhere between those two extremes.  I believe that the more you journey onward and the more you unlock these six doors, the more you will find your marriage in the heaven on earth side of the graph.

So, let me begin today with these questions: Is it possible any more for two people to love each other so much that they would spend their entire lives together?  Is it possible that two people could be so bound together, so bonded together in a marriage that nothing can separate them except death?  Is that possible?   

Key #2: Consideration

You must be considerate of your husband or your wife.  1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “You must learn to be considerate of one another cultivating a life in common.”  When I am being considerate I stop plowing through life only thinking about me. 

You start thinking of “we” instead of “me” it means paying attention to what your spouse says.  It means showing common courtesy.  It means respecting and treating them with respect and with care.  Some of you have been married for decades and you would stutter and stammer if I were to ask you what your spouse’s favorite color is. 

Husbands, we especially need to work on this consideration.  But all of us need to work on it together.  One of the primary purposes of marriage is to teach you how to be considerate.  Notice it says, “You must learn to be considerate.”  Circle “learn”.  You know why you must learn to be considerate?  Because being considerate is not our default mode.  We are by default selfish.  I think about my needs, my hurts, and my wants.  I’m not thinking about you.  I’m thinking about me.  It just may be that one of the primary purposes of marriage is to teach us to think “we” and not just “me;” To teach us to be considerate.

God’s purpose in your marriage is not just to make you happy.  That’s a benefit of it but it’s not the purpose of marriage.  The purpose of marriage is not to make you happy but holy.  Because when you get in a marriage you don’t get your way all the time any more.  You have to learn to be considerate.  So marriage is a school of consideration; learning to be unselfish.  You learn it in marriage more than any other place.

Husbands, as I said, we especially have to work on this.  1 Peter 3:7 says, “Husbands, show consideration for your wives in your life together so that nothing may hinder our prayers.”  Did you know, men, when you are inconsiderate to your wife it hinders your prayer life? 

If you’re out bossing the family around and being selfish and being controlling and being manipulative or harsh and inconsiderate God says, I’m not going to listen to the prayers of a selfish man.  You say, God, I need Your help on this business deal.  He says, You’re too selfish.  One of the primary goals of life is to teach us to be unselfish.  The primary school is marriage.  God says I want you to learn to be considerate.

The Bible tells us in James 3 that being considerate is a mark of wisdom which means when I’m inconsiderate I’m a fool.  I’m stupid.  I’m dumb.  I’m foolish.  Anytime I’m inconsiderate, not just to my wife but to anybody – to the check out lady at Wal Mart – I am being unwise.  Wisdom is shown by being considerate of the needs of other people that include offering forgiveness.

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