Category: Jul/Aug 2012

Romancing the Seasons

collage seasonEach season has its own unique opportunities for romantic moments. Each season also has its own personality that can be reflected in your marriage. Take the time to appreciate each season together, with these suggestions in mind:

Spring is a time of thawing, growth, and new beginnings. Celebrate the spirit of Spring by letting go of old hang-ups and beginning anew. Celebrate how you’ve grown together in the past year, and celebrate your individual growth as well. Spend this time trying new things together, investing in the further growth of your relationship, and re-igniting your romance. (Spring is the most romantic of all the seasons, you know.)

Things to do in Spring: Dance in the rain, search for the end of a rainbow, plant a garden

When you think of Summer, you think of relaxing, having fun, and getting away. Maybe you don’t have the chance to do long vacations with your spouse, but do take the time to get away together. Schedule time together to either relax, have fun, or escape. Don’t make these the usual date nights. Make them exotic, make them big, make them refreshing.

Things to do in Summer: Midnight stargazing, go water skiing, create an island oasis indoors

Autumn brings to mind images of home, community, and lively festivities. Gather with other couples during this season for double dates, couples’ parties, or festivals. Create a community to support one another in your relationships. Autumn also involves a lot of cooking and celebrating, so spend the season doing those things together.

Things to do in Autumn: Go on nature hikes, build a gingerbread house, celebrate the harvest

It may seem cold on the outside, but Winter is all about warmth on the inside. Spend the season making your home a cozier place to dwell, and dwell there often. Make good use of the short days and long evenings, with the use of lots of candlelight and snuggling. Get creative with indoor dates, or explore the warm memories of your childhood by playing in the snow. Appreciate the warmth your spouse brings you and celebrate it.

Things to do in Winter: Search for the best hot chocolate, go to a ski resort, make snow cones

Quiz: Are You Trustworthy?

Are you the type of person that people can put their trust in? Take this test to find out. Answer all questions with either “True” or “False.”

1. When I say I will do something, it gets done
2. I don’t divulge private information about someone to a third party
3. I try to be completely honest in all situations, even if it makes me look bad
4. I only date one person at a time (Or if you are married: I flirt only with my spouse.)
5. I don’t steal
6. When I have done something wrong, I step forward and take full responsibility
7. I don’t gossip
8. It takes a lot to make me angry
9. I live the lifestyle I say others should live
10. I don’t say anything I don’t mean
11. I try my best not to manipulate a situation in my favor
12. I keep the hearts and emotions of others in mind when I say and do things

How many “True’s” did you get?
1-4 Untrustworthy
You are not a person to be trusted. The reasons for this can be either selfishness or immaturity. Others have a hard time trusting you, which means you probably lack the deep relationships that you wish for.

5-8 Somewhat Trustworthy
You are basically trustworthy, but you have room for improvement. You have a few deep relationships, and many seek your company, but some may not put full trust in what you say. Examine where you can improve and find others to hold you accountable for those things.

9-12 Trustworthy
People feel safe and secure with you and your relationships are deep. Maintain this level of trustworthiness and your life will be blessed. Or maybe you cheated on this test and you aren’t trustworthy at all. Were you completely honest?

trust2Trust is one of the most important elements in founding a relationship. If there is no trust, there can never be real intimacy. It is easy for us to point our fingers at those that we can’t put our trust in, but how often do we take the time to consider whether or not we are trustworthy people ourselves? How can we expect others to be measure up to standards that we can’t pursue and measure up to?
Let’s look at some of the elements of a trustworthy person.

A trustworthy person is honest: Honesty is a huge part of trust. If someone finds out that you have lied to them, they will be hesitant to trust you again. If you have a tendency to lie or stretch the truth, check your motives. Are you trying protecting yourself? Relationships flourish best when we are upfront and honest with humility and love.

A trustworthy person does what he says he will do: A trustworthy person only says he will do something if he knows he can carry it out. And if he fails at doing what he intended to do, he doesn’t make excuses or lie about why it didn’t get done. Holding yourself responsible for your actions is part of being trustworthy. It is better to turn away a task than it is to say you will do it and then never get it done. Carefully consider what you will agree to or volunteer for.

A trustworthy person looks out for the well-being of others: If all you’re doing is looking out for #1, you’re going to end up being the only one. No one wants to hang around a selfish, self-centered person. A trustworthy person looks out for the well-being of others without expecting anything in return. When you look out for others, your life is far more enriching than if you only look out for yourself. Your relationships will be much deeper. Do you have a person who you know is looking out for your best interests? You trust them, don’t you? In the same way, look out for others and they will put their trust in you.

A trustworthy person isn’t a hypocrite: If you say one thing publicly but act another way privately, you’re being a hypocrite. People can’t trust you if you are two-faced. Do your best to be the same person in public as you are in private. Don’t speak how others should live and then fail to listen to your own advice Be an example to others, not someone who condemns or complains. Not everyone may be a great example to the community, but you can be. And if you are, the community will put their trust in you.

A trustworthy person is safe: Are you creating a safe environment for those around you? Can people really come to you without being afraid of judgment, ridicule, or suffering at the hand of your temper? If you are not creating this environment, you are not trusted and your relationships will suffer for it. Realize that everyone makes mistakes and says the wrong things, but you are not responsible for their actions and words, only your own. Show grace to these people like others have shown grace to you in your life.

Evils of the Internet

modemTechnology is a wondrous thing. We have become incredibly connected to an amount of information that we have never been connected to before. With the world literally at our fingertips, we can grow in knowledge and in wisdom.

But at the same time, we can use the internet in destructive ways; ways that affect our relationships for the worse. There are three pitfalls connected to the internet and your relationship.

Time Consumption
How much time do you really spend online? It’s easy to lose an hour (or four) when reading news articles, watching videos, or looking at various status updates and forum posts. None of these things are bad within themselves, but if you spend more time with your smartphone than you do with your spouse, there’s a problem.
Take note of how much time you spend on the internet this week. Try to match your internet time to your spouse time. Once a month, do a weekend media fast together. Find a place to get away – just the two of you – without phones, computers, or televisions. Reconnect on a human level, looking into each others eyes and reestablishing your relationship. In addition, put aside a couple of hours each week to spend together without any electronics. (A profitable time would be date night.) Even in a couple of hours you can reconnect on a deep level.

Bad Relationship Advice
There is a lot of advice on the internet: how to fix your computer, how to keep your plants alive, and how to cure a cold. But not all the advice you find is good advice, relationship advice included.

It is no surprise that people will search through whatever resources they can find in order to find the route to a deeper relationship, but not all internet advice is beneficial. For example, I have came across advice that actually told me to go out and get my heart broken. No, thank you. I’m pretty sure that’s counter-productive.

Aside from my example, there is some advice that disregards the larger picture of a deep, meaningful relationship, and is about fulfilling short-term wants instead. A lot of internet advice can end up being selfish and shallow, telling you the quickest way to meet your desires at the expense of your partner.

Also, information can be childish or useless. The one I see a lot is “Is He Into You?” This is an easy one to answer. If he asks you out, he’s into you. It’s that simple. Going through a bunch of criteria will not give you psychic abilities to help you see into the future of someone’s actions.

When you are searching for valid advice, use discernment. Ask yourself if the advice goes against the Bible in any way, shape, or form. If it does, throw it out. It will only cause you heartache and chaos. Also, make sure that the advice not only plays to your needs, but your partner’s needs. Make sure it deepens your relationship and doesn’t just feed your selfish wants. Some great websites for relationship advice are Focus on the Family, Relevant Magazine, and Boundless.

Pornography and Other Sexual Temptations
Sexual temptation is hard to avoid on the internet. No matter what site you’re on, there is always a pop-up somewhere with the purpose of leading you down a pornographic path. Avoid them. Many think that pornography will enhance their sex lives, but in reality, it harms it more than it improves it. Pornography contributes to far more cases of divorce than to cases of sexual satisfaction. (Read our article Harmless Pornography.) A good rule of thumb is to never click on a website that you wouldn’t click on if your mother was in the room.
In addition to pornography, the internet can increase other sexual temptations. The internet can be a great tool for connecting with old friends, but it can also open up some doors for connecting with men or women in a way that damages your marriage. Make sure to have clear boundary lines when it comes to internet chat. Stay away from sexual suggestions or cybersex, as well as frequent connections with intimate conversation.

The internet is not evil in itself, but it can be used for unwise purposes. The internet should be used as a tool, not a lifestyle. Disconnect from it every once in a while and reconnect with your spouse instead.