Category: Marriage

The Reason You’re Not Married

weddingbouqetfinalSummer is the season for weddings. And it appears I have now officially reached the age where I get to watch all my friends get engaged and stroll down the aisle into marital bliss. There is are mixed feelings between my other single friends and myself;  happy for our friends who are starting a new chapter of their lives, and yet wondering when we’ll reach that part of the book ourselves. Some of us even suffer from periodical anxiety, questioning why the years go by yet we haven’t met someone to share our lives with. That kind of anxiety brings up horrible questions. Questions like, “Why doesn’t anyone want me?”, “What’s wrong with me?”, and “What do I need to change in order to be loved?”

These questions unnecessarily burden our hearts. Our imaginations attempt to come up with the answers, creating paranoid chaos. We conclude with, “I’m not attractive”, “I’m too messed up to get married”, or “There’s nothing loveable about me.” Some of us even decide that God doesn’t really care about our love lives, and that He probably deems our dreams of marriage as silly.

But these conclusions are wrong. Here’s why.

The Reason You’re Not Married Isn’t Because You’re Not Lovable
Psalm 139:13 says, “For you [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I want you to remember this truth for the rest of your life: God created you. And when I say “create” I don’t mean “mass-produced.” The Creator of the universe took the time to design you, inside and out. He passionately loves you despite the brokenness within you. And if God Himself loves you, there is not one person who can stand before you and tell you that you’re not lovable. That argument won’t stand in the Holy courts. If you want to read about God’s love for His people, just check out Isaiah 43:1-7. If you’re looking for someone who is willing to do anything out of their love for you, this passage will tell you Who that Person is.

The Reason You’re Not Married Isn’t Because You’re Messed Up
Here’s another truth for you: everyone is messed up. It doesn’t matter how perfect they seem on the outside, everyone is sinful and falls short of perfection. (Romans 3:23) Married couples will attest to the fact that messiness exists before and after marriage. There isn’t a hidden spiritual clause saying that once you get yourself together as a single person God will bring you a spouse. That’s not the way marriage was designed. Marriage was designed to be a picture of God’s love for His church. We don’t become the bride of Christ after we stop sinning or stop screwing up. Our salvation was not based on a reward system, and neither is marriage. Marriage would be a poor example of God’s love if we had to be perfect before we walked down the aisle. God loved us while we were sinners – your future spouse will too.

The Reason You’re Not Married Isn’t Because God Doesn’t Care
I’ve suffered from the delusion that God isn’t incredibly interested in my romantic life. I’ve pushed my desires aside, labeling them as silly, and telling myself that God cares more about my relationship with Him than my marital status. And there is some truth to the last part of my logic – God wants my greatest love to be Him, not my spouse. But God takes marriage seriously. It is the witness of His love for His church. If anyone thinks marriage is important, it’s God. He invented it, He has a purpose for it, and most of all, God is a crazy romantic. I can only imagine Him carefully piecing together every love story, excited at His glory revealed through every relationship. Sooner or later, His glory will shine through your marriage. Right now, however, He is showing His glory through your single life. God is just as excited about this part of your story as He is about the later chapters.

So what is the reason you’re not married? I can honestly say that I don’t know. Only God knows, and He may not tell you the reason until later in life. But I do know that God hears every heart, and can see your desire to be married. He won’t forget you. As your friends change their Facebook relationship statuses, rest in the hope of God’s romantic and passionate nature. And remember, you all ready have the greatest love there is: His.

Love Suffers Long

grief2“Love suffers long…” -1 Corinthians 13:4

Many translations change this verse to say “love is patient,” but I prefer leave in the bit about suffering. When we think about the word patience, we often think of not exploding at someone who annoys us, or keeping a cool temper when someone speaks harshly towards us. It is true that those things are important in loving others, but there is much more to patience than that.

Suffering happens in marriage. Although I am not married, I cannot think of one marriage I have encountered that has not gone through a trial; whether it is recovering from adultery, facing a crippling disease, or living with an unbelieving spouse. It is much easier to throw in the towel and walk away than it is to put up with long-term suffering. Our limited logic tells us that love should be easy, and if it isn’t – if any form of suffering is involved – we should bail.

Praise God that His love is not like that! How our Lord suffers in the name the love! How much does He suffer when you fail to acknowledge who He is? How much does He suffer while you forget Him and chase your idols? How much does He suffer when you bitterly accuse and reject Him? The cross was not the only place Jesus endured suffering. He suffered at the hands of Pharisees, He suffered at the hand of mockers, and He suffers when we reject the love He offers to us. Our Lord knows what it’s like to suffer long more than anyone who has ever lived.  And being that He existed before time began, He also has suffered the longest of any of us.

Love is not failing to establish boundaries to protect ourselves, nor is it enabling someone so that they never face the consequences of their actions. But this world is utterly broken, and therefore, earthly love involves suffering. The test is loving in spite of suffering. Although we are not called to torture ourselves, we are called to love those who treat us badly (Luke 6:27-36). Sometimes that’s from a distance, sometimes that’s right where we’re standing. We must pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), forgive those who have hurt us (Colossians 3:13), and serving our spouses despite their selfishness because it pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:21). Love suffers long, but the Lord gives us strength. All we have to do is ask for it – He knows exactly how much strength we need and will provide it to us to love others just as He has loved us.

Things You Give Up After “I Do”

rings2The transition from single to married is not an easy one.  There are adjustments to make – including giving a few things up.

#1– Spending Time Alone With the Opposite Sex
It’s not about your level of self-control or whether or not you find the person attractive. Spending time alone with anyone of the opposite sex is dangerous. Any step towards adultery has to be recognized and avoided, such as dinner alone with a coworker, inviting someone over when your spouse isn’t home, or even carpooling alone together. It’s not about whether or not you’re actually having an affair, it’s about preventing an affair from ever occurring.

#2– Putting Yourself First
Marriage isn’t built to simply fulfill one person’s needs. It is designed to be a team of two people supporting each other, being each other’s strength in weak times, and working together to create a home and strong bond. As a single person, life tends to revolve around yourself, but when you get married you are willingly putting someone else first. Your life is no longer about your needs and wants, but making sure your spouse is getting their needs met first. This doesn’t mean to enable your spouse or to become a slave of their needs, but to be a loving helper.

#3– Flirting With the Opposite Sex
Don’t be tempted to see if you “still got it.” There are three parties that are hurt by mindless flirting: your spouse, the person you’re flirting with, and your marriage. Flirting outside of marriage is driven by selfish desires. As gratifying as the short term results may be, it’s the long term results that need to be taken into account. If you want to be flirtatious, turn to your spouse. Chances are they’ve been waiting for you to flirt with them all along!

#4– The Phrase “My Money”
How each married couple handles money successfully is different, but it is important that you discuss money as a couple. A lot of marriages are damaged because of financial conflict. Make sure to be considerate of your spouse’s opinion when it comes to your spending habits, despite who makes more or who’s better with money. Your life is now a combined account, and your bank account should be as well.

Affairs Don’t Just Happen

affair2The news loves stories about affairs. There is always something about the politician, the superstar, or the infamous athlete who cheated on their spouse. While I watching the news one day, someone next to me responded to one of these types of stories with a nonchalant, “Affairs just happen.”

Do they?

I don’t agree with the idea that affairs are accidental. While there are few that purposely make the decision to be unfaithful, the majority that commit an affair are guilty of failing to protect their marriage. Affairs don’t just happen. They are cultivated; they are given opportunities to solidify.

There are some ways that people encourage affairs:

#1- Daydreaming about someone who isn’t your spouse
2 Corinthians 10:5 says to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” How often do you capture your thoughts? It’s easy to let your mind wander on the possibilities of other romantic and sexual partners, but those thoughts are dangerous. Every action begins with a thought. The more you think about someone other than your spouse, the more likely you are to invite sinful behavior. Fantasies may be thrilling, but they’re damaging. Even though you aren’t acting on your thoughts, you’re still weakening your marriage, and you’re giving Satan a foothold to play with.

#2- Creating intimacy with the opposite sex
Sometimes it’s easier to talk with someone else about how you feel, what you’re going through, and what’s on your heart. But just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean it’s better. Emotional and spiritual intimacy should be present in community groups and with friends, but even more so, it should be present in your marriage. Creating a strong emotional bond with someone who isn’t your spouse can open up the pathway to an affair. Don’t let any friendship be more intimate than your friendship with your spouse.  Talk about intimate things with others who are of the same gender you are.

#3- Failure to pursue your spouse
Marriage is hard, no matter who you’re married to. The idea that you married the wrong person and it would be easier if you had married someone else is ridiculous. But we want that infatuation high; the feeling that this is the person you care about more than anyone, and they feel the same about you. That passionate, romantic feeling is still hiding in your marriage somewhere. Bring it out. Pursue your spouse with romance, affection, consideration, and friendship. It won’t be easy all the time, and you may get rejected quite a few times before making any progress, but it’s worth it.

I have no intentions of pointing my finger at those who have had affairs and declare them guilty; the Lord is the final Judge, not myself. (And the process of forgiving those who have sinned against you with affairs is a topic for another time.) I write this not to make anyone feel guilty, but to make people think about how their actions with the opposite sex affects their marriage. Affairs don’t accidentally appear, they slip in through the unguarded back door. Take extra precautions to safe guard your marriage. It’s worth it.

The Creative Language

creativelanguageEvery person has a creative side. Creativity is the way we choose to express ourselves – our desires, our personality, our joys. So the question is this: are you paying attention to your spouse’s creative side?

I hear a lot of talk about Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. It’s mentioned at marriage conferences, it’s recommended by other relationship writers, and pastors reference it in their sermons. I’ve read it, and I agree that it is a good book. (I don’t like that it makes me look high-maintenance – I have a two-way tie between two languages and a third runner up that doesn’t lag far behind.) But as a creative person, I think there is another language that speaks to me more than quality time and words of affirmation: I want a fan.

When you are creating something, you are pouring your dreams, experiences, and personality into that creation. The same goes for anyone else around you. When your spouse creates, they are saying something about who they are. So pay attention! Does your wife make jewelry? Ask her where she gets the inspiration for her pieces. Does your husband like photography? Give him positive feedback on his shots.

Take the time to get to know your spouse through their creative outlets. Your spouse will feel incredibly loved when you take time to pay attention to their craft – but they will feel incredibly unimportant when you don’t bother to care about it. When you are a fan of your spouse’s creative side, you make them feel loved and accepted for who they are.

God is a Creator. Everything He makes says something about who He is. Although our creations are not even half as impressive, we are still made in the image of God, and our creations speak both of who we are and how God has gifted us. Your spouse’s creativity is something that God put in them. Take the time to acknowledge it, support it, and encourage it.

The Marriage Bedroom

bedroom4When you hear the phrase “your bedroom” what do you think of? Do you think of serenity and warmth? Or do you think of a laundry pile shoved in the corner and a desk of unidentified papers?

Swamped by work, kids, and chores, too often the bedroom you share with your spouse becomes a storage room or a glorified office. Your bedroom, however, has three major purposes:

#1– It is a place to connect intimately
Strong marriages are those that connect intimately on a daily basis. The first thing you will see in the morning and the last thing you will see at night is your spouse right next to you. These are two wonderful opportunities to spend time together connecting, whether it be emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Schedule a little time each day to meet and connect. Take electronic distractions out of the bedroom so you can focus on deepening your relationship with your spouse.

#2– It is a place for escape and restoration
It’s really difficult to connect with your spouse when all you can think about is that pile of work on the desk that you need to sort through. Your bedroom should not be your office, your entertainment center, or your garage. Have you ever noticed that when your room is trashed, it’s harder to relax and restore yourself? Keep your room simple and clean, making it an oasis from every day life. Don’t use your room as a place to escape from your spouse, but use it when you want to escape with your spouse. This will not only restore you, but your relationship as well.

#3 – It is a place to resolve conflicts and communicate
Have you ever been to a therapist or a counselor? Once you walk into their office you know that you are in a safe place where you can talk openly and seriously about hard issues. If your bedroom meets the first two purposes stated above, then the room itself should have a feeling of strength and safety. These two things are important when hard times and rough situations arise. Use your bedroom as a safe place to come together as a couple to pray and discuss tough issues the two of you are facing.

Every married person’s bedroom should include:
A lock – for your privacy away from your kids or anyone else that lives with you.
A hamper – you know that dirty laundry exists, but don’t force yourself to look at it!
Well chosen linens – Choose soft or luxurious bedsheets and draperies that inspires romance and relaxation. (Egyptian cotton, silk, or satin are some great fabric choices.)
Low lighting – great for setting a serene and amorous mood.

How to Pursue a Woman – Whether Married or Single

pursuitMale pursuit is incredibly important, whether you’re a single man or a married one. The more the man pursues, the more the woman feels secure and desired, which means she will feel more comfortable in opening up and responding to the pursuit. This results in a fuller, deeper relationship.

Gentlemen, here are the ways to pursue the woman you currently have your sights on:

Find Time for Conversation
Always have an open-ended question ready when you see her. A woman connects most with conversation. In fact, when she’s daydreaming about you, she’s thinking about things that you’ve talked about, jokes you’ve told, and questions you’ve asked her. Conversation cultivates emotional intimacy. Go out of your way to start a conversation with her, whether it’s for two minutes or half hour. As her about her interests, her life, and her opinions.

If you’re married, the same advice applies. Take out time during your day to spend in conversation with your wife. Write it down in your to-do list for the day, and resolve not to go to bed until you have at least asked her how her day was.

Talk to Her Parents
Although the idea may seem out of date, you should always talk to a woman’s father about pursuing her. This gesture shows great respect to both the family and to the woman. When you talk to a woman’s father, the woman says to herself, “This man is so serious about me that he’s willing to be held accountable by my father (or another male role model). He must truly care for me more than any woman.” This shows that you are a mature man in want of commitment. And a woman is more likely to respond to commitment than flirtatious banter.

As for the man who is all ready part of the family, this may not apply; however, a good relationship with a woman’s family is important. Spend time with her father or other male role model to keep yourself accountable and respectable.

Compliment Her
Married or single, in private or in public, compliments are a huge relationship boost. Women love compliments and public adoration as much as men do. Compliments also show a woman that you pay attention to who she is as a person. Don’t only compliment her looks, but compliment her personality, her skills, and her tastes as well. Show her that you admire her completely in every aspect.

Be Chivalrous
Open doors, pull out chairs, pay for her dinner. Don’t think of these things as “old-fashioned,” but instead as things that have been tested and proved successful. Special chivalrous attention to a woman shows your interest. Chivalry is not dead – it is, in fact, a great way to pursue.

Chivalry is important in a marriage as well. Even though your wife may not expect chivalry from you, you should still be willing to give it for the sake of your relationship. A little bit of chivalry goes a long way, even if it you don’t feel appreciated. The motivation should not be how she responds to your acts – the motivation should be showing love to your spouse.

Don’t Give Up
There are many stories out there of men who pursued women who turned them down a number of times. Some of these stories end with a walk down the aisle. Rejection from a woman can happen for many reasons: she may have been recently hurt, she may be unsure of your intentions, or she may just be overwhelmed with life at the moment. If you are rejected, take a step back, give her space, but continue to pursue her if you truly are interested in a life-long commitment.

And married men should never stop pursuit. Constant pursuit is necessary for constant intimacy. If a man stops pursuing, the woman starts doubting. She will ask herself if your interest in her has ebbed, and she will clam up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. One of the best ways to keep your relationship healthy, romantic, and intimate is persistent pursuit of your wife.

What Not to Do:
DO NOT pursue more than one woman at a time. If you really care for a woman, you pursue her and only her. Any other formula will backfire on you and breaks hearts.

DO NOT stalk or harass her. Avoid looking at her Facebook page every 20 minutes, calling her twice a day, or trying to trick her into going out with you. This isn’t pursuing, this is being overbearing, possessive, and – frankly – really creepy.

DO NOT demand something in return for your pursuits. You are pursuing her in order to build a more intimate relationship, and that can take time. Pursuing isn’t always easy, but it will not go unnoticed. Just be patient.

Rules of Date Night

Rules of Date Night

Date night often seems more idealistic than realistic, but it is quite important to all marriages.  With hectic schedules and demanding distractions, date night can very well be the glue that holds together intimacy between a couple.  Here are a few ways to make date night fulfilling and beneficial to your marriage.

Rule #1– Schedule Date Night Once a Week
Date night is essential to your relationship. It gives you a mini-vacation from the hardships of life and it helps you to refocus your attention on your spouse or the person you are courting. For single individuals, it is important to spend a few hours each week getting to know the person they are pursuing a committed relationship to, and for married persons it is important to fall in love with your spouse frequently.

Find a couple of hours in the morning, afternoon, or evening to spend with each other each week. (Married individuals should make this as high a priority as going to work!) Do not be tempted to skip over a romantic interlude due to a busy schedule. Let your partner know how important they are to you by setting time apart especially for them. It will make them feel loved and it will refresh your relationship.

Rule #2– Plan Ahead
Waiting until the last minute to decide what you’re doing on date night will more than likely end with disappointing results. Every date night will end up being dinner and a movie, and sooner or later one of you is going to resent it.

After you’ve both decided when to get together for a date, plan ahead on what you will do. Make a list of activities you’d like to do as a couple, places you’d like to go, or shows you’d like to see. You can either number the list and go in order (his ideas being odd numbers, her ideas being even numbers) or keep a jar that have the date ideas written down on scraps of paper and pull them out at random.

Rule #3 – Do Not Discuss the Negatives
Yes, the faucet is still leaking in the bathroom, the phone bill needs to be paid, and your brother is a jerk, but those things don’t need to be discussed on date night. Date night should be an escape from the problems you face, not a time to discuss what needs to be done as a household or your personal problems with the actions of your family members, friends, or the person you’re spending the evening with.

Avoid talking about the daily grind, including work, finances, kids, housework, or people you’re having a conflict with. These are all important subjects to discuss, but they can be discussed at another time. In the time you spend together, gear your discussions towards mutual hobbies or interests, aspirations and goals, activities and adventures. Encourage and compliment one another. Is she wearing a new dress? Compliment it. Has he been working hard this week? Appreciate him. Don’t end date night without affirming your attraction and admiration for your date.

Rule #4 – Make It About Quality Time
It would be great if every date night could be full of glittery romance, but chances are it won’t. Things will go awry, plans will go south, and romance might be overlooked. Don’t expect to swept off your feet every time you two go out for the evening. Date night isn’t about chick-flick style romance, it’s about quality time together.

When you’re planning a date, make sure quality time together is the focus. Going to his parents’ for dinner or going with her group of friends bowling isn’t quality time together. On the flip side, running errands together or sitting watching television isn’t quality time together either. Your dates should include opportunities for discussion, fun, and relaxation. Make them something out of the ordinary. Make them adventurous. Make them intimate.

Rule #5 – Let Go of the Electronics
How often do those “emergency” phone calls really happen? It’s easy to pay more attention to our cell phones than to our dates. Turn off your cell phone! (Or put it on vibrate if you have kids.) Unless it’s a family member, don’t answer calls or text people back during your time with someone else. It’s a great way of telling your date, “I find this person on my phone more interesting than I find you.” (Check the message when your date leaves for the restroom, if you must.)

Let go of any other shiny devices you’re tempted to play with as well. You have plenty of time to distract yourself with electronics later. Your date should be your sole interest, not gossip among your friends or game scores.

Rule #6 – Put Forth Your Best Foot
Gentlemen, open doors and pull out chairs. Ladies, don’t nag or humiliate him in public. Treat your waitresses well. Bathe before you go out. Apologize if you’ve made a mistake, and accept an apology when one is given to you.

It’s tempting to let go of your manners after you’ve been dating awhile or after you’re married. After all, you don’t have to impress this person anymore, right? You may not have to impress them anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should be inconsiderate to your date or others. When you’re out together, put your best foot forward. Your date may be quite aware of your other foot (the one that isn’t the best)which will make them appreciate your effort even more.