It’s Finally Here!

I encourage you to use Ephesians 5 Romance in Daily Devotions with your bride.

I recommend each mate have his/her own copy to highlight & take notes in the margins for further study & discussion.

Men need to take the lead.

You will make your bride feel safe, loved & cherished as you demonstrate your consistent desire to care for her emotionally & spiritually. You will also build your confidence as a leader! So set aside a time to read aloud a chapter each day & engage in discussion.

View the FREE downloadable Discussion Guide here.

 

Solving the Problem

Women can be confusing.
I’m the first to admit that.

We’re also irresistible.
That is by the Creator’s design.

So when things aren’t going well, understanding the problem is key.
Otherwise, you’ll try using a hammer where a screwdriver is needed.

* * * * * * *

Before & After

  • If you notice some character issues, as narcissism, borderline tendencies, before you are married, you still have the option to move on.
  • After you have married, however, you must partner with the Holy Spirit to bring healing & growth to her.

And the first thing He will teach you is how He sees the problem.

* * * * * * *

The Bottom Line

Make sure that how you “understand” the problem
doesn’t become a whole new problem.

Because character issues require very different tools than used for PTSD or for her natural tendency to worry. So make sure you know the difference!

Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Maybe you remember the Berenstain Bears’ Inside Outside Upside Down. I know it well because I read (past tense) it to my three sons. The title describes the way many of us have been misinformed about how to have a successful marriage.

Looking over my journals for the last 20+ years, I can clearly see how much time I’ve spent whining and begging God to do something for me that He’s already done. I’ve pleaded with Him to be with me, to take care of me, and to bless what I’m trying to do.

In short, I’ve looked at my life from a place of need. Trying to talk God into making my life better, even as I tell Him what it should look like. I’ve determined what the outcome should be, rather than asking Him to show me what He has planned and to teach me how to partner with Him. But that is changing. Quickly.

TAKING through self-effort

Many pastors and counselors actively encourage couples to use a “Bottom-Up” model that is totally inside outside upside down!

  1. Tell your mate how you feel and what you want.
    Unspoken assumption: I should get what I ask for.
  2. Plead with God (whine and complain) until He listens to you.
    Unspoken assumption: I need to work hard at getting close to God.
  3. Beg God to do something about your spouse and bless your marriage.
    Unspoken assumption: God must fix your mate before you can be happy.

This approach is not only self-focused, it emphasizes what is wrong. It is past-present focused. And we all know you can’t be looking behind while you walk because you’ll surely stumble and fall.

RECEIVING through Abiding

My journals look a lot different nowadays as I’m learning to abide, to receive, and to give thanks for what God has done for me in Jesus, is now doing in my present circumstances, and has planned for me. In other words, my approach to my relationship with Him is now present-future focused. Hallelujah!

You don’t have to beg God to give you something He’s already promised. Just learn to abide in His love.

  1. Abide means “to remain in, comply with, obey, observe, follow, keep to, hold to, conform to, adhere to, stick to, stand by, act in accordance with, uphold, heed, accept, go along with, acknowledge, respect.”
    Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
  2. Receive means “to be given, presented with something.” God is the Creator and Initiator of all things. He freely gives us His Love in His Son (John 3:16) through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Plus he freely give us grace (Ephesians 1:6), peace (John 14:27), and wisdom (James 1:5).
    Paul wrote:Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:35-36)
  3. Gratefulness means “warm or deep appreciation for kindness or benefits received; thankfulness for something received from another.”
    Paul encouraged: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

BOTTOM LINE: Abiding, receiving, and being grateful takes your focus off what’s wrong and puts it on what’s right. Whatever you think about will be magnified, not only in your mind, but in your heart and your actions as well. And it’s the only way marriage can be truly enjoyed for a lifetime … in case you were wondering.

Communication: Do I Matter?

confidence hope psalm 27:13

In studying couple communication, Dr. John Gottman and his team of researchers have observed that partners continually make “bids” for one another’s attention, closeness, and reassurance.

These bids were made through comments, questions, glances, and/or gestures. The couples seemed to be asking, on a regular basis: Are you there? Do I matter to you?

Sometimes they got the responses they wanted.
If they didn’t, they tried again.

You’ve seen this type of communication happen.
It’s most obvious in children.

Imagine a few moms relaxing at the park while their toddlers are playing in the sandbox. Mom is engrossed in conversation with her friends, and her 3-year-old tries to get her attention. If he’s unsuccessful, he doesn’t give up. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again! He’ll keep calling her; and if she doesn’t respond, he’ll get closer to her…and louder! He may even resort to attacking her to get her to pay attention to his needs.

Couples do this, too.
If a sweet hello or a smile gets no response,
partners will intensify their bids.

Like the toddler, they may get louder, even attacking or criticizing. However, strategies like criticism will naturally elicit a negative response (defensiveness) and launch a negative pattern of interactions that could escalate into a full-blown argument. Not exactly what you were hoping for, right?

The Communication of Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a common method of asking for attention without seeming to really need anything. Your needs for attention (and your vulnerability) are hidden behind a screen of purported humor.

Sarcasm is also a very effective way of shooting yourself in the foot. It sends a mixed message. In reality, you’re asking for attention. But the message your partner gets is that he or she is dumb, clumsy, or lacks value — not a great way to get the positive attention you’re really looking for.

QUESTION: So what can you do with this information? Get involved in your own research by observing your own behavior. How many times and in what ways did you ask for your partner’s attention today? Did you get the response you wanted? How can you increase the effectiveness of your bids?