Posts in category Leading her

What breed of man are you?



A motto I once heard goes like this: Winners concentrate on winning, while losers concentrate on just getting by.

If that statement were carved into the granite at the front of a Fortune 500 company, you would nod your head in agreement. Inwardly you might say, Now that’s the way to run a business. I would imagine that company is really a company of excellence. They know how to do things right!

Yet when it comes to the family, it’s interesting that most homes today would have to be characterized as losers. Too many marriages have become marred by mediocrity. Children are seen, at best, as a status symbol — a way to achieve something through them that we, ourselves, weren’t able to achieve when we were their age.

Too many marriages today are concentrating on “just getting by.” With “squeaking by” as the goal, it is no wonder so many marriages don’t amount to much.

In his best-seller, The Seeds of Greatness, Denis Waitley tells the story of his grandmother whom he idolized. She crossed an apricot and a plum tree. Grandmother Waitley called it a plumcot. This delicious fruit was perfected by the gentle, wise old lady after careful and tedious pruning and grafting of the two fruit-bearing trees.

As a boy, Denis learned a valuable lesson from his grandmother. She harvested a plumcot because that was what she planted.

What you plant is what you get

Marriage is a lot like that — we never get out of a marriage what we do not put into it.

One man confessed, “At work I concentrate on winning, and as a result, I am a winner. At home, however, I concentrate on just getting by.”

It’s no wonder he is losing.

As Americans, we think of ourselves as winners … we are used to winning, but too many times in the wrong places. As a result, we end up losing in the important places … at home.

Vance Havner has said, “Americans know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”

If a business goes bankrupt, it is the president or the chairman of the board who is to blame. Similarly, if the home fails, the man is to blame. You and I, as husbands and fathers of our family, must master the ageless art of leadership and apply it to our families. If we ever hope to win at home, then we must focus on winning.

Spinning plates

Too many of us, as the leaders of our families, are like the man who used to come on the Ed Sullivan Show years ago and spin the plates. This man would start at one end of a long table by placing a stick perpendicular to the table and spinning a plate on the stick. In consecutive order the plates would be placed … two, three, four, five, six plates. As the first plate slowed down, it would begin to wobble. I can remember denying the urge to want to jump through the TV and run to help the man by grabbing the plate before it fell off the stick and shattered into tiny slivers of porcelain pieces.

Now with the first plate wobbling in a near-fatal orbit, the man would rush back and expertly spin that plate again as the audience breathed a sigh of relief. On he would go … seven, eight, nine. By that time, plates two, three, and four were now beginning to wobble. And just before you knew the man could not keep a dozen or so plates spinning, he would quickly scoop them up in his professional hands like he was carrying them to the cupboard and bow to the smiling applause of the audience.

Similarly, the roles we assume in life — husband, a father, a businessman, a civic leader, a church leader, a golfer, a fisherman — all represent different plates in our lives. We begin spinning them early in our married life with plate number one being our marriage. Giving focused attention to that one place, the plate spins along merrily and does well. With the addition of plates number two (business) and three (children), efforts to focus become more difficult. Carefully we keep adding our plates until we finally step back from the table to see two or three of the first plates beginning to wobble badly. We have to make choices. Decisions. Decisions based upon priorities. Our family has needs, but we mistakenly choose to meet those “material” needs by applying our efforts primarily to our business. The result: Focus is lost.

However, most businessmen are not worried about starving. Most of us are concerned about status, significance, accumulation of more, and how we can feed the materialistic monster that lives within us. A good friend recently said, “Materialism is not what you have, it is what has you.”

Too many husbands and fathers have become dizzy from the many spinning plates we have set up. We give our family an occasional spin just to keep things at status quo. We focus on just getting by. The results? More plates begin to fall off the table. Children become strangers — children who are crying out for attention. Mothers plead for help. Meanwhile, being the visionary leaders that we are, we ignore fallen plates and add additional plates. Yet the Psalmist warns, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

There is no question why so many marriages and families are functioning poorly. Nothing — a business, a school, a basketball team, or a family — can function without leadership, energy, time, and most importantly, focused attention. Without these, the plates will begin to fall.

Being somewhat of a selfish man myself, I struggled to keep my family plates spinning over the dozen ego-stroking plates I could have focused on, spending energy to keep them spinning, when our kids were growing up. However, I was constantly forced by the person of Jesus Christ to come to grips with my limits. I have been wrestled to the ground by Him on more than one occasion to be forced to answer the question, “How many plates can you keep spinning and still win?”

Another question which redirects me is, “Where do I want to win so badly that I am unequivocally unwilling to lose?”

“Which of those plates would I be willing to lose for the sake of my family, if need be?”

A new breed of man

Today some tough questions face Christian businessmen and leaders. We have become a cult of Christian celebrities. We worship successful businessmen and pro athletes who can perform in the office or on the field. We pay little regard to whether they are a success in their personal and private lives. The time has come for a new breed of Christian husbands and fathers.

We need a new breed of man who will say “no” to more bucks when it means sacrificing our families. A new breed of man who will place family between us and every decision we make. A new breed of man who will ask the question, “How will this affect my family?” A new breed of man who will determine how much is enough. We need a breed of man who will seek to establish relationships with our families before seeking fame in our culture. A new breed of man who will recognize that we need to leave something to posterity that will outlive us: proven character in our children. A new breed of leader who realizes that to succeed in the eyes of men, but fail in the eyes of God, is the ultimate waste.

Renowned Senate chaplain Peter Marshall once said, “It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”

One last question — will you take upon yourself the challenge that Albert Einstein gave a group of young scientists? While addressing this highly motivated group of young men, he pointed to them and said, “Gentlemen, try not to become men of success. But rather, try to become men of value.”

Copyright © 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklist

You just read a post by Dennis Rainey, What breed of man are you? on the Stepping Up blog for men.

STEPThink - 10-point checklist
So, what breed of man are you? Could you do a better job of defining success at home? Write a definition to guide you.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistListen to the FamilyLife Today broadcast series on how to implement strategic planning in your home life.

STEPPass - 10-point checklist

Think of one thing that you can do this week to lead your wife and children. Make that your measure for success.

Stepping Up as couples



I’ve led small groups in my home and in church for years, but the response from a group of ladies actually took me by surprise.

The Stepping Up 10-week video series is geared toward men, challenging them to be all God desires them to be as husbands and fathers. I was a little more than halfway through leading my third group of men through the study when I heard the voice of a woman in one of the sessions.

stepping up as couples

Chuck and Melissa Douglas

“It must be hard to be a man today.”

That sentence validated what I suspect so many men feel in our culture, and I wanted my wife to hear it. Melissa is very supportive, but she was not involved with the details of my leading this study. After all, this was my thing with the guys, not something for the ladies.

That is until we talked that evening.

I told her that I really wanted her to understand not only how the series was challenging me as a husband and father, but how most of the struggles that we men face are really common to all of us. That is when she suggested that we go through the study together with other couples.

Navigating the masculine landscape from a woman’s perspective

Most of the more than 100,000 who have done Stepping Up, have been men participating in either a small group or a weekend event setting for men. Still, we took the study to our couples’ small group at church with a question: “Can a wife learn anything from attending a video-based Bible study geared toward her husband?” In other words, would it work to do a study where we were stepping up as couples? After just the first session, we had our answer: a resounding “Yes!”

Rebecca Jarrard, one of those ladies, commented, “Women need to be clear on the pressures their husbands face daily so they can understand and encourage them in ways that fulfill their biblical roles as wives.” For Rebecca, attending the Stepping Up small group was a “peek inside the male mind.” The study helped her understand God’s perspective on the subject of masculinity, not the kind the world offers, but the biblical kind of masculinity for which God designed men.

Another friend and classmate, Chrissy Batson, thought that attending the study as a couple was a great idea. She did not shy away when she heard the study was originally geared toward men and contains mostly male-oriented subject matter. “That doesn’t scare me,” she said. “I’m always interested in my husband’s perspective, even if it’s not easy to hear.”

Coming into the study, she felt she was doing a pretty good job of understanding her husband, but also recognized her failures. She wanted to be more proactive in setting her husband up to be the leader in their home that they both wanted him to be.

Counter-cultural – in a good way

A surprise in presenting the study for couples was how the material applied to our daughters. Each of the women commented on their eagerness to understand real biblical masculinity—not just as a way to make them better mothers to their sons, but also to be better equipped to talk to their daughters about what “Mr. Right” really looks like.

Each couple who participated in the study agreed that they don’t want to just talk about real biblical manhood in their homes—they want to model it. They acknowledged that little exists in the current culture which resembles manhood and family leadership the way God intended. In the course of the study, a few of the ladies commented on ways that society is working against them and their children in their quest for building a family based on God’s design. Stepping Up helped them understand how important it is for husbands and wives to be proactive in teaching their children time-tested biblical principles that apply to every member of the family. They also came to understand how important it is to work together as a team to fulfill God’s purposes for their families.

The benefit of a wife … stepping up

Of course, we husbands are reaping a benefit as well. Several of the men expressed genuine eagerness for their wives to hear the same things they would have heard in a Stepping Up series for just men. One of the husbands said having his wife on the same page, as he works to achieve his goals for manhood, is invaluable.

“Knowing that she understands and empathizes with my struggles is deeply comforting. I know I’m not alone, but I have my best cheerleader at my side. Each of our wives wants the best for us as men, and their investment in this study proves their sincerity.”

Rebecca’s husband, Ken, put it this way, “We’ve always been partners, but now she understands how she completes me like never before. After 22 years of marriage my wife is beginning to understand the male mind in new ways—our struggles and challenges. What a benefit to my sons!”

The perspective of a group facilitator

Experiencing Stepping Up as a couple has given my Melissa a deeper understanding of how to come alongside me as I seek to pass along a biblical legacy to my boys. She is regularly encouraging me to live out the commitments I’ve made to my family. Rebecca and Chrissy are doing the same thing for their husbands.

As a group facilitator, I had a sense that the Stepping Up material would be valuable to the couples. But I really wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming response of our wives and the insightful discussion they contributed to the study. What is even more important is the sense of unity all the couples have gained by attending the Stepping Up series together.

One wife expressed it best when she said that going through the workbook study with her husband made them feel like they are part of a team.

A winning team.

Stepping Up as couples  - STEPSeekTruthYou have just finished reading the Stepping Up as couples post from the Stepping Up blog for men.

Stepping Up as couples  - STEPthinkHave you and your wife ever talked about what it means to be a man? What would that conversation look like?

Stepping Up as couples  - STEPembraceAsk your wife what she and your children need you to be as a man? Tell her what she does that empowers you.

Stepping Up as couples  - STEPPassItOnBe part of the Stepping Up 10-week series study with other men, or even with couples.

– – –

stepping up as couplesChuck Douglas earned a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A former police officer, Chuck authored a study in the Homebuilders Couple Series, Protecting Your First Responder Marriage. Chuck enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, hunting and fishing near their home in the North Georgia mountains. He and his wife Melissa have been married for 22 years and have been on staff with FamilyLife since 2001. They have four children.

 

His final sacrifice: Honoring Rob Tittle



final sacrifice for wife

Rob and Kerry

We lost a good man Sunday night. A godly man. Our co-worker Rob Tittle was doing what every real man does in a crisis — he was protecting his family first. His final sacrifice was simply a reflection of the way he lived his life.

Even before the tornado sirens sounded Sunday night in Central Arkansas, Rob and his wife Kerry were hustling their nine children to safety under an interior stairway of their home just west of Little Rock. Rob left to find his remaining two daughters when the massive funnel dropped from the sky onto their home. A wall collapsed, crushing Rob and killing him instantly. 20-year-old Tori and 14-year-old Rebekah were also killed, and four of the other children were taken to the hospital with injuries. Their home was wiped from its foundation.

final sacrifice for daughters

He dated his girls (here with Rebekah, Whitney, Emily).

But the foundation that Rob laid in his family will live on for generations.

final sacrifice for sons

He taught his boys how to work, and serve.

Rob’s passion for his wife and his family were a reflection of his passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Before he served with Life Action Ministries and eventually served at FamilyLife, he served His Savior. When he met Kerry  the same passion for Christ showed in the way he loved and served her and, in the years to come, the way he nurtured and guided his children.

At work, Rob was the same. He was diligent and intentional, keeping lots of projects going at one time, but always working with a gracious attitude and cheerful disposition. Among co-workers, he didn’t shy away from admitting his own weaknesses and asking for prayer for himself, his wife and his children. He wanted to walk closely with his Lord, and wanted the same for his family.

final sacrifice Fathers Day

Made for Rob by his children last Father’s Day.

Rob has gone to be forever with the Lord he loved and served. But his influence will doubtlessly continue in the lives of his co-workers, his children and his wife, who saw the life that he modeled and how he laid it down in the end. Our prayer is that the way he lived and the way he died will give many men an example of how to live intentionally, courageously, and selflessly.

Still, the fact remains that the Tittle family needs prayers, as does another FamilyLife staff family. Another FamilyLife family, Dan and Kristen Gaffney, also lost their home in the tornado but thankfully were protected by their storm shelter. If you are interested in ways you can help these families in addition to prayer, contact us and we’ll let you know how you can meet their needs.

What makes a leader?



In creating the Stepping Up men’s video series, FamilyLife interviewed men in the New Orleans French Quarter, asking the following question:

“What makes a leader?”
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Some of the guys in the video were on target with their answers, others were a bit off. Below, we’ve pulled some quotes, not from just any guy on the street, but from some men who have been intentional about their leadership.

. . .

“If you look in Ephesians, Chapter 5, and you look at the list of qualifications, really, for a husband — you look at this picture of what it means to be a Christ-like leader — basically, to lead a wife as Christ leads the church. You find that the picture is not just about a guy who pounds his chest and says, ‘Me man; you woman — me speak; you do.’ He’s to lead in love. He’s to lead in the Word. He’s to lead in righteousness. He’s to lead in selflessness, and he is to lead in intimacy.

“Most guys don’t understand servant-leadership from that perspective. So, it’s very important that when we talk about the way a husband is supposed to lead, we don’t just take the culture’s definition of leadership and superimpose that on the Scriptures. We have to get into the Word of God to determine what biblical leadership in the home looks like; and then look for an individual who understands that, as opposed to just the cultural norm.”

– Voddie Baucham, from “Discovering Biblical Leadership,”  FamilyLife Today® radio broadcast

“The statue is of William Leftwich. It is a statue of a man, with one arm pointed to his left — his rifle is in that arm — his body is clearly running in the direction of his outstretched rifle. His right arm is crooked; and it is beckoning those who, although unseen, are behind him. His head is pointed back at them. You can tell he’s yelling something. Below that statue, it says simply, ‘Follow me!’

“And that, I think, is a phenomenal picture of leadership. It is: ‘If you want to know where to go, watch me. Follow me because I will be doing what I ask you to do, and I will be leading the way toward a mission that is worthy of being accomplished.’ This man, ultimately, died in Viet Nam because he went on every rescue mission for the Reconnaissance Marines that he sent out. One day, on the rescue mission of the men he commanded, his helicopter was shot down and he died. He was doing exactly what he asked his men to do. When he said, “’Follow me!’ they listened.”

– Donovan Campbell, author of The Leader’s Code, from “Characteristics of a Leader,” FamilyLife Today radio broadcast

“Two words — serve and lead — may seem like a contradiction, but they are inseparable according to Scripture. While the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:23 that ‘the husband is the head of the wife,’ he quickly puts to rest any notions that this leadership allows any form of selfish male dominance. He completes the sentence with ‘as Christ also is the head of the church.’ Then the passage goes on to say that husbands should love their wives ‘just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her’ (verse 25).

“This paints a picture of leadership that is contrary to how the world views it. A man is called to be a servant-leader — to take responsibility for his wife and children and to put their needs ahead of his own. He is called to demonstrate selfless, sacrificial love — the type of love we see in God toward his children.”

– Dennis Rainey, “5 Ways Men Need to Step Up”

He’s been gone for years



We talk about how important marriage and family is, but where are we directing our emotional energy each day?

He was a well-respected executive in his community. He had climbed the ladder of success and was reaping the rewards.

Except in his family.

He arrived home from work one day and shocked his wife by telling her he wanted a divorce so he could marry another woman. This couple had two sons in grade school, and the mother worried how they would react to the news. But when she told them that their father was leaving them, she was surprised by her oldest boy’s reply: “Mom, he’s been gone for years.”

Gone for years.

I think that’s one of the saddest quotes I’ve ever heard. It echoes through countless homes in America today, where a husband or wife, a dad or mom, may be physically present but emotionally absent. We talk about how important marriage and family is, but where are we directing our emotional energy each day?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve entered a season in my career where I have more to do than I can ever remember — more writing, more editing, more projects, more planning, more managing, more responsibility. I love all these opportunities that God has given me, but I’m also realizing how much of my emotional energy is used up during the work hours.

When I leave my home in the morning and begin driving to work, my mind shifts into a different mode of operation — like an idle computer that is suddenly activated. Throughout the day, my mind is racing as I move from one task to another. I’m meeting with people … doing research … planning future articles for the FamilyLife website … trying to put words together for a column like this. I often need exercise at lunch time just to keep my mind clear.

And when I return home each evening, what do I want? On most days I’ve used up so much emotional energy that all I care about is shutting down that computer in my mind. I want to lie on the couch and read magazines or books. I want to watch White Collar or Person of Interest on television, or relax with one of my favorite old movies on DVD. Let’s see … should I escape to the Old West and enjoy Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne squaring off with Lee Marvin in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” or should I watch Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain”?

There’s only one tiny problem with this scenario: Life doesn’t revolve around me. Philippians 2:3-8 calls me to put my wife’s needs above my own. When I use up too much emotional energy at work, and waste too much time with entertainment, other priorities are neglected.

My wife, Merry, would probably say I’m being too hard on myself. My daughters are grown now, but I’m confident they wouldn’t use words like, “He’s been gone for years” when they describe me as a father. But in my heart, I know how easy it is for me to detach emotionally for a few hours or even a few days.

Here are a couple of things I need to do:

  • Spend more time alone with God, talking with Him and reading His Word. I find when I am consistent in spending time with God, I have more emotional energy throughout the day.
  • Be more proactive in spending quality time with Merry. I need to talk with her more, and I need to get out and have fun with her more.

I wish I was writing with wisdom gained from years of doing it right. But I’m still in the battle, and I have a feeling many of you are as well.

Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared in Marriage Memo.

Courage and fear: are they always opposites?



The qualifications for being a husband are simple but not easy. A man has to be a man, not just physically but in the full sense of the word. And a man has to be godly.

In their book The Silence of Adam, Larry Crabb, Don Hudson, and Al Andrews point to the interconnectedness between godliness and masculinity. “The only way to be manly,” they write, “is first to be godly. In our day, men are looking for their manhood more than they are seeking God. Too many men make the mistake of studying masculinity and trying to practice what they learn without paying enough attention to their relationship with God.”

Understanding the unique way in which you were created doesn’t make you fully a man. Getting married and having a family doesn’t make you a man. Success in the marketplace, great wealth and power, the honor and praise of the culture — these are not the measure of real masculinity. To be fully a man, you must commit yourself to the pursuit of godliness.

It’s almost a paradox, the idea of a godly man. Not because a man is incapable of godliness, but because of what is at the root of the idea of godliness in the Scriptures. We are called to live out our masculinity with courage and in fear. Courage and fear are not always opposites.

The Fear of God

There is a difference, however, between fearing God and being afraid. In fact, Moses, after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, appeared before the Israelites, who were filled with fear. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin’” (Exodus 20:20).

“There is a fear that is slavish,” writes John Piper, “that drives us away from God, and there is a fear that is sweet and draws us to God. … God means for His power and holiness to kindle fear in us, not to drive us from Him, but to drive us to Him. His anger is against those who forsake Him and love other things more.”

In his book One Home At a Time, Dennis Rainey says, “God is not feared today. In fact, He is mocked by our immorality, our treatment of unborn human life, our broken commitments, and the selfish, ‘me-first’ attitude that characterizes so much of what we do. Even in the Christian community, we are strangely silent about the fear of God. There is little teaching on judgment for sin, and the place of eternal torment called hell. We haven’t rejected God. But we have conveniently recreated Him in our image. We have reduced the Almighty to our level.”

Today there is such an emphasis on God’s great love for us that we have forgotten what it means to fear him. We don’t see him as a consuming fire, but as a kindly grandfather who chides us when we are mischievous, but always with a twinkle in his eye and only a faint sternness in his voice. Don McCullough writes “We prefer to imagine a deity who happily lets bygones be bygones, who winks at failures and pats us on the back to build our self-esteem. But according to Scripture, ‘God is love.’ And love devoid of judgment is only watered down kindness.”

Act like men”

Paradoxically, that fear of God ought to be the basis of great courage in us. As men who fear God, we learn that we are not to fear other men. “Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul,” Jesus taught, “but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Our fear of God should produce boldness in the face of opposition from men.

Tucked away at the end of his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul gives a solemn charge to those men who are leaders of the church. “Be on the alert,” he writes, “stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). In those five simple statements, he calls the men who lead God’s church to a foundational quality of masculine godliness. He calls them to be men of courage.

In fact, some translations of the Bible take the clause “act like men” in I Corinthians 16:33 (andrizesthe in Greek) and translate it “be courageous.” Earlier, Paul had chastised the Corinthians for acting like babies. “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food,” he wrote, “for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able” (1 Corinthians 3:2). By the end of his epistle, Paul exhorts his readers to act like men. The expression “act like men” is a call to maturity, to conviction and to courage.

In our hearts, we know we ought to fear God, but our sin nature keeps us from doing so. In the same way as men, we know instinctively that we ought to be courageous, but again, we are caught in the conflict between flesh and spirit — between what we know we ought to do and what we often choose to do. Instead of acting with courage, men today too often choose not to act at all.

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Super Saturday: A day before the big game



Experts include Bill Bennett, Tony Dungy, Crawford Loritts, Dennis Rainey and many others

If there was ever a time when men need vision for what it means to be a godly man, this is it. Imagine if we could call men from all walks of life to become courageous, godly leaders in their own lives, marriages, churches, and communities. Well, we can. And it all starts with you.

On the Saturday before the Super Bowl, we’re calling on thousands of churches across America to host a Stepping Up Super Saturday: one life-changing day that could turn the tide for men in your ministry, and across America.

Stepping Up Super Saturday proudly presents the Stepping Up Video Event, a DVD-based kit designed for an all-day event. High quality DVDs deliver dramatic stories, humorous vignettes, man-on-the-street interviews, and expert teaching from the more than two dozen ministry leaders. Watch this video from FamilyLife Vice-President and former NFL quarterback Jeff Kemp to learn more about how you and the other men in your realm can step up on Super Saturday.

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Today’s men are shrinking back when they should be stepping up. Help them tackle the challenges of modern life head on by hosting Stepping Up Super Saturday at your church February 1, 2014. Sign up today, order your Video Event Kit  and….GAME ON!

The irresistible man (part 2)



(The first post on The irresistible man covered the first of a wife’s three major needs: security. This post will handle the other two: acceptance and emotional connection.)

Acceptance
irresistible man

Photo by Tina Vanderlaan

When it comes to acceptance, every man should take a page from the Song of Solomon and apply it to his marriage. You see, Solomon knew the importance of elevating his wife’s beauty, her appearance, her dignity, her worth, and her value as a woman. As you’ll see in a moment, he carefully chose his words to communicate how beautiful she was to him. Such praise and affirmation are essential for a woman to hear. Acceptance begins with an understanding of what your wife is feeling about herself.

Does she feel good about the way she looks? Her hair? Her clothes and shoes? Her weight? Her skin tone? Her body image? Her teeth? Her overall attractiveness? Chances are good that she compares herself to the airbrushed models of perfection she sees every day. From the covers of the magazines in the checkout line to the advertisements she watches on television, your wife is constantly made to feel inferior, unworthy, and unacceptable.

Solomon recognized his bride’s need for affirmation and didn’t hesitate to go beyond mere acceptance. He lavished praise on her. He said, “I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh” (Song of Solomon 1:9). Now, before you try that line on your wife, keep in mind the context. The picture was of Solomon’s finest mare, most likely an Arabian beauty, a dark creature of unquestioned magnificence. It was the finest horse that money could buy. This exotic creature would have turned heads—maybe even caused a stampede because of her exquisite beauty. In other words, Solomon used poetic language to tell his wife that she was magnificent.

But that’s not all.

Solomon quickly added, “Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver” (Song of Solomon 1:10–11). He not only accepted her and saw her as a woman of great beauty, but he lavished jewelry on her. When was the last time you sprang for a new bracelet? A necklace? A ring? Like Solomon, let your wife know you esteem her greatly by giving her something extraordinary.

When Barbara and I were first married, I realized early on that she needed to be cherished for her beauty. When we started to have children, her body began to change. She wondered if she was still physically attractive to me. I worked at praising her beauty at that stage in our marriage. And now that we’ve moved into the empty nest years, I can’t coast. I understand how important it is for me to continue to praise her. The truth is, I think she’s spectacular!

In the same way, your wife longs for unconditional acceptance. She secretly hopes you’ll notice and commend her various qualities — her receptivity and obedience to God, her personality, her faithfulness in raising children and making a home. Because you are the most important person in her life, your affirmation and acceptance unleash an inner beauty and a confidence that radiate.

Emotional connection

Marriage is a partnership that takes teamwork. Some men fail in their partnership because they don’t make an emotional connection with their wives. Heidi, who attended one of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember getaways, writes, “My husband does nothing to help me around the house. I am just plain tired. I do all the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, everything after working all day … oh, we’ll stay married, but I just know we could be happier.”

Did you know that when you participate in family life by sharing in some of the daily duties, you connect with your wife on an emotional level? Men spell romance s-e-x, but women spell romance r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. Working together around the house or in the yard (Barbara’s other domain) is a great way to communicate your love for your wife.

Another way to connect emotionally is to compliment your wife. Proverbs offers this pointer: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (16:24 NKJV). How often do you praise your wife for what she does? Consider a few of these compliments to brighten her day:

  • “Dinner was great! Thank you for always making creative meals, even when you’re tired of cooking.”
  • “I love the way you read books to our kids. That’s so much better for them than watching TV.”
  • “I’m grateful that you carefully budget our paycheck each month.”
  • “I admire the way you handled yourself with that rude salesman — you have such a winsome approach.”
  • “The flowers you planted make our home so much more inviting. I appreciate your hard work.”

As you work to make an emotional connection with your words and actions, go below the surface to the real issues of life. How? Start to talk with her. For some, this involves a conscious choice. Share with her, for example, what goes on at work — what you’re doing well, where you’re struggling, the people you’re working with, the people you encounter. Most women love hearing all of the details. You’ll also discover that she can provide wise counsel on different issues you’re facing.

Finally ask your wife questions about what she is feeling, and then listen to her. One way I do this with Barbara is to ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.” For example, I might ask her, “How did that exchange with our teenage son make you feel?” Making the effort to know specifics about her background, her favorite things, and her dreams all communicate to her, “I want to know you. I want to be your soul mate.”

A favorite question that I asked Barbara was, “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in your life?” Try that question on a date night with your wife, and give her time to think about her answer. You might consider sharing how you would answer the question. Here are some more questions to help you make the connection:

  1. What is one of your earliest childhood memories?
  2. What is one thing from your past that you struggle with?
  3. What was one of your proudest achievements before we met?
  4. What was your relationship with your dad like? How about your mom?
  5. At what time did you place your faith in Christ as your Savior; what were the circumstances?
  6. What would you say was our best family vacation, and why?
  7. What is your favorite book in the Bible? Hymn? Why?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?
  9. What dreams do you have for our children?
  10. What do you long to experience with me in our marriage?
  11. What do you want to accomplish after the kids are grown?

As you study your wife and learn how and when to build security, acceptance, and emotional connection into your relationship, you will become an irresistible man. And let me make one last practical suggestion: When you come home from work, here are four of the most romantic words to say to your wife: How can I help? You’ll never go wrong asking this question any time of the day or night. Those words are music to her ears because they demonstrate that you desire to connect to her world. Why not try it — and mean it — tonight?

 

You just finished reading the Stepping STEPSeek - 10-point checklistUp blog post, “The irresistible man” (part 1 & part 2) by Dennis Rainey

What aspect of relationship do you need to work on: security, acceptance, or emotional connection?

STEPembrace

Plan a date with your wife and ask her one or more of the questions listed immediately above. Listen like you mean it.

STEPpassIf these personal exercises are helpful, tell a friend what you did. Share this article with him so he can connect with his wife.

Adapted by permission. Rekindling the Romance by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, ©copyright 2004. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Copying or using this material without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of the copyright law.

The irresistible man (part 1)



The next time you stop at McDonald’s, try this. At the counter, say, “I’d like to have a hamburger, fries, and a Coke, please.” Then listen carefully to the cashier. If she’s worth her salt, she’ll ask you, “Will that be large fries and a large Coke?” You see, a well-trained cashier would never ask, “Will that be small fries and a small Coke?”

What’s the difference?

Just millions of dollars. Changing one word—large instead of small—is called “suggestive selling.” That’s no accident. McDonald’s intentionally places a positive thought in your mind about buying the large size. Why? The company’s research shows that customers will, more often than not, sink their teeth into the larger order if presented with the larger option.

Understanding customer behavior isn’t small potatoes.

When multiplied by millions of orders a month, tens of millions of extra dollars a year flow into hungry cash registers — all because the company took the time to know the customers.

McDonald’s is so committed to understanding its clientele, it even knows most customers prefer to bite into a hamburger and taste the ketchup before the mustard.

irresistible man

Photo by Tina Vanderlaan

What does all this have to do with romance? Plenty. The success McDonald’s has experienced as the world leader of fast-food franchises came about because the company became a careful student of the customer. In the same way, one key to thriving in your relationship is to understand your wife. This is not to suggest that you should try to manipulate her. Rather, as you invest time and effort to understand your wife, you’ll discover how to define romance using your wife’s dictionary. I have to admit that I defined romance for years using my distinctly male dictionary. We men spell romance: S-E-X. However, I’ve learned when I want to communicate romance with Barbara, I’d better understand how she defines the word! As a husband does this, he understands the three nonnegotiables for a romantically satisfying relationship: security, acceptance, and an emotional connection. Let’s unpack these one at a time.

Security

If a man heard somebody breaking into his house in the middle of the night, what guy wouldn’t grab a baseball bat and defend his wife and his children against the intruder? That’s a given. But did you know that your wife is, in many ways, under assault every day? Look carefully, and you’ll discover there are all kinds of forces that have already broken into her life; they’ve already compromised the security of your home life.

Who are these intruders?

Often they come in the form of unresolved issues from the past — wounds from abuse, from family abandonment, from poor choices in the past, or from a divorce. These trespassers might not be obvious to you on the surface, but they can rob your wife’s sense of well-being years after the fact.

For example, when Barbara and I were first married, I had no idea that she had experienced some painful things growing up. Some of those wounds began to surface about 15 years into our marriage. I’m going to purposefully be vague because what she had experienced was not as important as how I responded. When the persistent invaders finally came out of the shadows, I did my best to comfort her and express the love of Christ to her.

Although I didn’t always know what to do, I didn’t run from her wounds. I didn’t deny she’d been hurt. I tried to let her know that she was loved and that our relationship was a safe place for her to begin to heal. And I asked God to give me wisdom to know how to encourage her. God does answer prayer.

Even as I shouldered the burden with her, I knew we could use some added help from a counselor, so we made arrangements for counseling. Barbara would say today that those days were very challenging, but going through the experience together enabled her to be liberated ultimately.

Past issues are not the only unwelcome guests that threaten a wife’s security. She desires to know her husband is committed to providing financial security in the home. Do you take the lead in establishing a family budget and pay off bills in a timely manner that creates security, or do you create fear with reckless financial decisions?

She wants a relationship built upon the bedrock security of a husband who refuses to follow his temptations. Are you a man in control of your passions, or do you lack self-control? And when she is subjected to a cruel or emotionally abusive co-worker, family member, or friend, she needs a husband who will defend her. Do you protect her emotionally from any person who is trying to take advantage of her by going to that person and verbally shielding her?

What vandals threaten her security? Does she struggle with the memory of an abortion, sexual abuse, or her parents’ divorce that robs her joy today? Are there unhealthy influences or relationships in her life? Does she fear the future: growing old, children leaving home, the loss of parents and friends?

If so, how do you plan to evict these home invaders?

Allow me to suggest that you do not try to “fix” it or “fix” her. Most importantly, I’d encourage you to pray with and for her. Do not underestimate the power of praying for your wife. Pray simply, but pray out loud. Take her by the hand and ask God for wisdom and help with the task. Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV) assures you that “the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Ask God to guide you.

Secondly, I’d encourage you to repeatedly verbalize your love and commitment to her. Your wife may be about to take on an emotional giant in her life and she needs to know that you are standing with her and for her. Remind her that you promised “for better or worse.”

Third, give her the freedom to process what she is experiencing emotionally with you. This kind of conversation means that you become a safe haven in an emotional storm. Let her talk without offering a solution. Comfort her with words of understanding that create hope.

It’s a wise husband who can look back into his wife’s life and evaluate how she has been affected by past events rather than sit back and be critical of how she was raised, or make negative comments about the parents who raised her. Instead, the prudent husband will serve as a healing ointment, a salve of love, one that fosters an environment where healing takes place.

Romance thrives in a secure relationship.

(The final post on The irresistible man will cover the other two major needs of a wife: acceptance and emotional connection.)

Adapted by permission. Rekindling the Romance by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, ©copyright 2004. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Copying or using this material without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of the copyright law. 

21 things a man needs to know about marriage (part 3)



This is the final installment in a three-part series. The full first part and second part of 21 things a man needs to know about marriage is here, but we’ve listed the first 14 things from those posts here.

  1. A man needs to know that the ultimate team is marriage.
  2. A man needs to know the difference between being a consumer and an investor in life, in relationships, and marriage.
  3. A man needs to know the Christ-like role of servant, husband, and lover.
  4. A man needs to know that marriage is meant to mature a man into Christ-like character.
  5. A man needs to know the meaning of love.
  6. A man needs to know that a marriage and family depend upon God as their maker.  
  7. A man needs to understand sexuality as God’s good creation, distinct from its counterfeits.
  8. A man needs to know that the key to great sex is exclusivity.
  9. A man needs to know that marriages typically have a one or two year “honeymoon era.”
  10. A man needs to know that living together and having sex before marriage uses up a good portion of the “honeymoon era” euphoria. 
  11. A man needs to know that commitment is a key to success in all of life, and especially in relationships with a woman.  
  12. A man needs to know that marriage is not easy.
  13. A man needs to know that the purpose of marriage is less to make you happy, than to make you holy.
  14. A man needs to know that God gives authority and responsibility to a husband to make the marriage thrive and last.

things a man needs to know about marriage15. A man needs to know that he can change his marriage by changing himself.  He can make himself a better husband by making himself a more consistent and devoted follower of Jesus.  If he wants to improve any aspect of his marriage, family or parenting, the solution lies in deepening his daily commitment to God.  The path to build a great marriage or heal a marriage is to humble one’s will, to let the Holy Spirit take control of him and to obey Christ.

16. A man needs to know that romance is created and sustained intentionally.  Thinking about what she likes, remembering what is important to her, setting things up the way she prefers … these are all critical.  In dating and various stages of life, romance can spontaneously happen, but for the long term, it must be deliberately planned and created.  If a man wants to be a leader, this is an area in which to lead.  It leads to good things.

17. A man needs to know that divorce is avoidable.  He understands that nothing is impossible for God, and he humbles himself to admit and repent from the ways he fell short in loving his wife in the past, so he can excel at loving her from this day forward.

18. A man needs to know that he can recover from a wife’s affair because he has the power to forgive.  Jesus forgave all his sin, and he is called to do the same with his wife.  Furthermore, he seeks to understand what led his wife to be unfaithful, even if it means admitting his own failure. Usually a man breaks his vow to choose, love, and protect her before a woman breaks her vow to be faithful.

Note: if you have an affair, you don’t have control over whether you can recover because you can’t force a wife’s forgiveness.

19. A man needs to know that even the worst things can be redeemed for deeper purposes.  Romans 5:3-5 reminds us to rejoice and find value in tribulation, loss, and suffering because tribulation brings perseverance, and perseverance brings proven character like that of Jesus, and proven character brings hope, and hope does not disappoint because God’s love is poured out to us by His Holy Spirit.

Face crises and trials and suffering straight on with Christ and a few close teammates. A man steps up by surrendering to Jesus Christ and persevering in making Him the center and Lord of his life.

20. A man needs to know that humbling yourself to your wife is the gutsiest and most successful way to heal her heart and your frequently-compromised relationship. A man with courage and wisdom will never overlook his wife’s hurt feelings.  And he’ll seek to overlook the disrespectful words she blurts out in reaction to how he hurt her feelings.

When you are in conflict, don’t wait for things to blow over.  Don’t try to point out her fault.  Don’t try to minimize the situation.  And don’t defend yourself.  Instead, be a leader.  Start the apology.  A great starting point is, “I was wrong.  I hurt you.  Please forgive me?”

21. A man needs to know that a wife wants you to lead her, but will tend to lead and control you if you don’t lead and initiate.  Leadership starts with your character and your devotion to Christ.  Your walk with God determines the quality of your love and leadership as a husband.

Seek God.  Read His word in the Bible.  Pray for Him to shape and lead you.  Humble yourself before Him.  Seek a mentor or group to help you grow and become a good husband.

Leadership of a wife is humility before God, initiating teamwork with your wife, praying with her every day and praying for your family.  Most guys I know well are like me in this: If you’re frustrated with your wife and your marriage, the solution lies in getting back into Jesus and His Word!

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