Posts in category Prayer

One action that touches a wife’s core needs



CouplePrayingThroughout our 30 years of marriage, I haven’t prayed regularly or consistently with my wife Ellie. But some recent difficult situations have caused us to diligently seek God together through prayer.

I believe in the power of prayer, but I’ve never really been passionate about it.  Of course I know that God invites us to come to Him with our burdens, and to ask Him to supply our needs and even to fulfill our deep desires.

But the way Ellie looks at prayer — especially praying together as a couple — has always seemed different. It’s more urgent. More important. More deep-seated. It had never really clicked why praying with me was so important to her until I came across an article recently about four things a woman needs from her husband. Essentially it’s:

  • Having ongoing, meaningful engagement
  • Experiencing physical, emotional, and spiritual protection
  • Enjoying quality and quantity time together, and
  • Knowing he values her for who she is and can be

As I read through the list, it struck me that all four of my wife’s core needs are met when I pray with her.

When you pray together, you’re meaningfully engaged in conversation with God. You are submitting to God’s authority, trusting him for mutual protection. Together, you’re engaging at a deeper level than just everyday conversation, sharing the personal and deep things in your lives. And as you pray to God for your wife, you show her that you value who she is and that you believe God has even better things in store for her life.

There’s a whole lot more I could say about what prayer can do for a marriage relationship. But I think the hard sell for most men is just getting started. While we husbands may find it natural to take the lead with our wives in many areas, prayer is not likely one of them. There are reasons for this. First, we know that we are less comfortable than our wives when it comes to vocalizing things that are more personal in nature. Second, most men are often less spiritually minded than their wives. Third, prayer is an act of submission, and that’s often foreign ground for a man, who knows he’s being depended on to lead, provide, and protect.

If you don’t pray regularly as a couple, you’re not alone. In fact, when we surveyed couples at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, only eight percent prayed together regularly. And these are people who are at the conference because they’re serious about their marriage.

FamilyLife wants to help you take your marriage to the next level by helping you make prayer a natural part of your relationship. That’s why we created the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. It’s a simple tool to help you start a habit of taking five minutes a day joining hands, bowing heads, and praying together as husband and wife. Watch the video to learn more.

Each day, we’ll send you by email or text message some guidance on how to pray for a specific area of your marriage and life, including suggested prompts for husband and wife.

Daily topics will include setting priorities, overcoming obstacles, building greater trust and teamwork, growing in thankfulness, increasing your intimacy, and many more. We’ll also include suggested articles, broadcasts and resources to help you grow in many of these areas.

All you have to do is sign up. Then each day throughout the month of September, you’ll receive a daily prayer prompt from FamilyLife. By the time October rolls around, if you’ve been faithful, we’re betting that you see how natural it’s become to pray together, and how much closer you’ve become as a couple.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “One action that touches a wife’s core needs” by Scott Williams on the Stepping Up blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistDennis Rainey calls prayer “One Simple Habit That Will Transform Your Marriage.” Read his and Barbara’s story.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistSign up today for the Oneness Prayer Challenge that starts in September, and ask your wife to sign up too.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistShare this blog post or link to the Oneness Prayer Challenge with at least one other husband you know

50 ways to increase your wife’s worth



EDITOR’S NOTE: What’s more out of place: a post to men on a blog for women, or a post by a woman on a blog for men? This blog post from a friend of mine originally appeared on Stepping Up’s sister blog, Mom Life Today. But the advice she gives is clearly aimed at men. As I read over it recently, I couldn’t resist sharing it with the readers of this blog. One of the best ways to increase your wife’s worth (in her eyes and yours) is to treat her as worthy.

An old story told from the island of Kiniwata relates the account of a man known as Johnny Lingo. The youngest and strongest man from the island, Johnny shocked the islanders by paying the father of his bride not the traditional two to three cows for his wife, or even the four to five cows for an exceptional wife. For Sarita, he paid eight. No one could understand:

“It would be kindness to call her plain. She was skinny. She walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.”

Eight cows!? The entire island laughed at the audacity.

Curious about the story, writer Patricia McGerr visited Johnny’s home. She was fascinated by what she describes as the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen. She wrote about this in a Woman’s Day article,   “Johnny Lingo and the Eight Cow Wife”: “The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, the sparkle of her eyes all spelled a pride to which no one could deny her the right.”

When McGerr later pressed Johnny Lingo for his reasoning, he explains, “Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands … I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

Now, for obvious reasons, please do not immediately tell your beloved, “Hon, you’re an eight-cow wife.” But remember that, at least in part, a man’s impact may be measured in the joy and character of the people closest to him.

The way that a man sees his wife, the way he cherishes her, has a lasting effect on her beauty within and without. How does your wife feel about you and your relationship to her? How do you want your children to remember your acts of love for their mother?

Here are 50 ideas to get you started toward inspiring an eight-cow wife.

  1. HeartCarvedTreeBe a student of her. Where do her passions, gifting, and abilities lie? What energizes her? When does she lose track of time because she’s enjoying herself so much? What weights does she bear? (Can you learn incredible things about this woman that even she doesn’t know?)
  2. Ask God for special wisdom in understanding your wife and in loving her well (James 1:5-6).
  3. Make a list of 30 things that you love and/or appreciate about her. Write them on separate sticky notes, and leave one somewhere in the house every day for an entire month.
  4. For what ministry has God created your wife in order to build up His people? Give her time and energy to pursue it.
  5. Take care of the kids for a day so that she can have a personal spiritual retreat to recharge.
  6. Listen to her sincerely: Observe her words, body language, and circumstances in order to compassionately understand her. Make eye contact with her, and ask thoughtful questions, like “How did that affect you?” or basic who/what/where/when/why/how questions.
  7. If she’s got a budding hobby or one that’s been neglected, purchase something small but high-quality that she would enjoy: quality paintbrushes, a beautiful journal, photo software, a top-notch cooking knife, new gloves, athletic equipment (ahem … only if she loves athletics), a well-recommended book on her hobby. Include a note: Just because I love the way you’re made.
  8. Pray with her, and for her, on a regular basis. Consider making it a regular item in your schedule, such as before you leave for work or go to bed.
  9. Compile a CD with songs that specifically encourage things you love about her. Let her know that you intentionally chose these for her and about her.
  10. When circumstances, conversation, or even movies or songs bring up an area in which she excels, lean over and whisper, “You know, you do that so well. I love how you use ___ to bless the people around you.”
  11. Identify the “life-suckers” in her life. What saps her energy? Consider the points of friction that she often faces in her daily routines. Prayerfully ask God to help you see not only what weighs on her, but also how you could help her.   Initiate conversation to compassionately find solutions with her. Ask, “What could be done to make that less painful (or less difficult)?”
  12. Gently encourage your children to thank her for different ways she serves them: When they have clean laundry, when she serves dinner, when she drops them off at school. (Make sure you’re modeling consistent gratitude for little things, too.)
  13. Identify your wife’s “love language” — what makes her feel loved and valued. Is it words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, quality time, or acts of service? She may have more than one. Become fluent in each of her “languages.”
  14. What pleasures in your life do you enjoy that your wife isn’t able to enjoy? She might not be into fishing like you are, for example, but maybe she’d like her own version of alone time. Like you, she might be honored by accolades for her projects well-done, a chance to finish a conversation, or sleeping in on a Saturday.
  15. Allow your wife to set your standard of beauty, and make it clear to her that she is secure: Your eyes are only for her. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or pastor and accountability websites like x3watch.com to develop monogamous eyes that come from a monogamous heart … and a husband she can trust. Security gives way to confidence.
  16. Talk through your budget together with her. Make sure you both have the resources you need to care for your family well. If you primarily manage the budget, ask her to make at least one change before finalizing it. Esteem wise financial decisions she’s made.
  17. Be a student of her body. Ask her, both while you’re in bed and at a completely separate private time, how you can please her sexually and make her feel secure and beautiful. Seek tenderly to understand her past and how it affects her in the bedroom. Be prepared to humbly accept what she says, embracing her without defensiveness.
  18. Gently protect her. Lovingly help her set boundaries with her time, energy, resources, and relationships (kids and mothers-in-law included).
  19. Give her a massage — one that doesn’t lead to sex, unless she’s clear that making love is what she would enjoy most.
  20. Send her an e-mail. Example: “Praying for you today. Thanks for being so courageous in ___.”
  21. Give her one night on a regular basis to do something she loves. Occasionally surprise her with an afternoon “off” so she can do something fun or just be alone.
  22. Consistently mention ways you see her growing to be more like Christ.
  23. Ask her about her “bucket list” — the top things she’d like to do in her lifetime.
  24. Give her a book or audio CD to learn about something she loves doing.
  25. Text her on a stressful day. Example: “REMINDER: I BELIEVE IN U.”
  26. Leave a message on her voicemail: “Thanks for serving our family every day. You are so good at ___.”
  27. Be proactive about doing something together that she really enjoys. Make a date, get her excited, and share her enthusiasm!
  28. Ask her, “If there were one thing I could do to love you better, to really cherish you — and you knew I would listen — what would it be?” Be prepared to follow through.
  29. Tell her areas she’s gifted in. Don’t stretch the truth: Be honest so she can trust you.
  30. Talk with her about setting aside a small part of the budget to pursue the unique ways God has designed her (including her gifts, abilities, and passions) — through education or through sheer enjoyment.
  31. Post on her Facebook wall: “I love being your husband. You still take my breath away.”
  32. Have your children write her notes or letters about what they love about her as a mom.
  33. Ask, “If I could do one thing that would really empower you and inspire you, what would it be?” Listen and follow through.
  34. As you think of them, remind her of specific times when she has made an impact in the lives of others. “Hey, I was thinking the other day about all the times you’ve invested in all those kids who come over here. You do such a good job making people feel welcomed and loved on.” “I don’t think I could count all the meals you’ve brought to people who are sick. You are wonderful at seeing people’s needs and giving of yourself to them.”
  35. Do something fun and unexpected together. Here are a few ideas: play paintball, laser tag, or sand volleyball; organize a picnic and bring the books you’re reading; take photos of each other; play a pickup game of a sport together; go to a drive-in movie, bringing popcorn and her favorite candy (let her initiate any physical advances for this one).
  36. Think about a way you’ve been hurting her or annoying her. Maybe there are ways you’re not “seeing” her — not stepping into her world to understand what it’s like to be her, with all of the things she cares about (see 1 Peter 3:7). Apologize, and work hard at showing true change.
  37. Find a mutually enjoyable activity you like doing together on a regular basis, even if it’s working outside together or playing the Wii together after the kids are in bed.
  38. Create a fun, life-giving atmosphere when you come home.
  39. Design a date night that will help her to de-stress and have fun. (Dare I suggest ballroom dancing lessons?)
  40. What’s difficult about her life right now? Pray for her endurance, and encourage her specifically. Galatians 6:9 is a great start for both. Think, What can I do to ease the load she’s carrying today?
  41. Organize or clean something of yours that you know she finds messy.
  42. Talk with her about her fears — both deep and insignificant. Over time, lead her as you work together to replace those fears with faith in God as expressed in His Word.
  43. Send a snail-mail love note to her at home, affirming all she does for your family.
  44. Think of something on her to-do list that she finds overwhelming or for which she doesn’t have much time. Talk with her (respectfully and gently) about the possibility of having it hired out (maybe you could pay a responsible high school student to log a few hours on housework). Communicate clearly that it’s not because you find her incompetent, but that you want to free her up from a burden.
  45. If your wife likes to dress nicely, go with her to shop for clothes in which she feels confident and looks fantastic.
  46. Be an advocate for her rest. Gently help her to evaluate and set limits on her to-do list, reminding her that she loves others best when she takes time to replenish.
  47. Let her overhear you speaking well of her on the phone — among friends, to your kids, in public places, and to your mother. Tenderly but firmly keep family members from speaking disrespectfully to her or about her.
  48. In her area of weakness, pray about how to subtly, gently step in and help her.
  49. Request, “I’d like you to think about something for me. I’d like you to tell me one area in which you want to challenge me, but you wonder if I will listen and if I’ll receive it well. If you’ll do that, I commit to listen to you without getting defensive or somehow punishing you for telling me.”
  50. If and when she messes up, respond with the kind of grace, compassion, and mercy that God gives us. Respond in a way that communicates, You’re safe with me — and I’m not going to rehash your failures. This is a secure place for you to grow … and I love the journey with you.

One final note: Maybe you are a man who initiates many kindnesses to your wife and you don’t receive much respect or kindness in return. May you be gently, compassionately encouraged: Giving without mutual gain puts you in good company — the company of Jesus. May God give you significant grace as you pray for your wife and encounter the nitty-gritty, everyday battles against resentment and, in many cases, injustice. Our God is the God who sees (Genesis 21:15-21).

Copyright ©2012 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in MomLife Today.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “50 ways to increase your wife’s worth” on the Stepping Up blog for men.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistMuch of what your wife thinks of herself is tied to how she thinks you feel about her. Do you regularly make her feel valued?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistFor more encouragement and inspiration, read Bob Lepine’s article “Nourishing and Cherishing Your Wife.”

STEPPass - 10-point checklistChoose just one thing from the list to do today. Then choose another for tomorrow or another day this week, and so on.

Serving and caring until the end



From the doorway, Roy quietly watched his darling wife standing in front of the cook stove. She wasn’t one for fancy recipes, but to Roy, everything she cooked was “good eatin’.”

Sophie breaded a pork chop and gently placed it in the frying pan as she had done so many times before. Roy could remember well the first meals she cooked as a newlywed almost 60 years before. The tears welled up in his weathered, hardened eyes, not only from the fond memories of the past, but also from his present grief.

OldCoupleHandsHoldYou see, every 10-15 minutes Sophie would start another meal, forgetting she had already begun one. In addition to the pork chops, there was a chicken stewing on the back burner, and a pot roast in the oven. She was growing more and more forgetful.

Months earlier Roy noticed that Sophie would wander into a room to dust, forgetting she had just finished dusting moments before. More than once he caught her doing laundry and making their bed with fresh laundered sheets for the second time in one day. She was making several entrees for lunch and dinner—and now she had three going at once.

Sophie turned from the stove with all burners going, walked into the living room, and picked up her needlepoint to work. Roy knew that she would forget the dinner and burn the food, so without mention he adjusted the heat and finished each part of the dinner in time. Sophie continued to work on the needlepoint, pausing for long moments to vacantly stare.

No One Knew

Roy realized it was time to act. He fixed things around the house to protect his wife, putting in hidden switches on the stove, turning down the temperature on the water heater to prevent burns in the bathtub, and removing plug-in appliances to keep Sophie from hurting herself.

To the people around them, life looked pretty normal as they attended worship, went shopping, and even visited others for special occasions. Everyone knew Sophie was a bit forgetful, but no one knew to what extent. They said it was “cute” how Roy and Sophie were never separate, always together … “such sweet love.” But little did they know the depths of the love they observed.

It wasn’t easy for Roy to watch over Sophie, help her dress, oversee her cooking, and be with her at all times. But he willingly served, thinking often of the hymn, “I need Thee, O, I need thee. Every hour I need Thee …”

It wasn’t until one Saturday morning in early April that the family and the neighbors finally learned of the depths of Roy’s committed love.

In a mid-morning phone call, Sophie told her friend Lena, “Roy won’t wake up. I’ve been waiting for him for breakfast. He is still sleeping, and I can’t wake him.”

Lena responded quickly and kindly, “Sophie, I want you to sit in your chair by the phone, and then I want you to hang up so I can call your sister. Can you do that and promise not to move until I get there?” Sophie, obedient in her confusion, waited for Lena and her sister to arrive.

When they entered the house, they found my grandfather, Rudolph “Roy” Walter, in bed under the covers wearing a peaceful expression in sound eternal sleep. The doctor said, “His heart just wore out.”

My grandmother had no idea what had happened; Sophie had no concept of death or life. At the viewing, she observed her husband lying in the wheat-colored coffin. Touching his hand she said, “Roy’s cold; maybe we should cover him.”

It wasn’t until the family had to care for Sophie, that they truly understood for the first time how much Roy cared for her. Sophie needed help at every moment, and Roy had been willing to give it.

Roy died happy, knowing he loved his wife the only way he knew how— serving and caring for her, “until death do you part.” He knew that love is more than romance; it is constant, determined, serving, and uncomplaining.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

 

That thing you do (when conflict occurs)



This blog post appeared on The Crucible Project blog and is used with permission.

She’s upset … again. And I don’t have a clue about why.

Six years of dating followed by 26 years of marriage and I still don’t have her figured out.

After working with struggling couples for years, I know that I am not alone. Sometimes, the “relationship problem” is a surprise to us men. Other times, we know exactly what we did to cause it.

In my experience restoring relationships — and in my personal marriage experience — I have observed four patterns of reacting to relationship problems we engage in that actually hurt more than they help. They seem “good” because they keep us from feeling or dealing with the issue. But that temporary relief fades quickly when the issue recurs. And these always end up getting in the way of having the relationship our hearts’ desire:

  • Talking about it to others rather than talking to her to about it. When we talk about it to others and they take our side (such as friends) then it further galvanizes our position and vilifies her, widening the gap of misunderstanding.
  • Hiding what you truly think and feel about it from her. Emotions do not just go away. We damage the relationship when we “power up” and tell her off. When we hide, repress and deny, our emotions end up coming out sideways.
  • Withdrawing to your man cave, work commitments or other stress-relieving hobbies. We assume incorrectly that if we avoid her, the issue will go away. In reality, the issue remains unresolved, only to pop up unexpectedly another day.
  • Refusing to see your contribution to the problems in the relationship. We deny responsibility by blaming and making excuses.

The difference between couples who make long-term relationships work and those who do not is what they do when conflict occurs. I believe men are especially empowered to make the first move to resolve conflict (1 Peter 3:7). Men of integrity step into that power by taking responsibility to engage the problem head on with the following action steps.

  • Invite God in through prayer.
  • Focus on your long-term desire to have a trusting, deeply-connected loving relationship.
  • Make room in your schedules for an uninterrupted period of time to have the conversation.
  • Help her share the “movie playing” in her head about the situation until she is fully heard. Give her “full body” attention focused on understanding what it is that she is saying regardless of whether you are in agreement.
  • Check to see if you heard correctly by mirroring what she shared back to her. “What I hear you saying is…”
  • Share the “movie playing” in your head about the situation in a way that she can hear you. Own and speak your truth, including your feelings and judgments about the situation by using “I” statements.
  • Take full and complete responsibility for all the ways you contributed to the problem … even if it was unintentional. Offering an apology for your part is powerful.
  • Commit to action. Ask what she wants or needs in the future. Ask for what you want from her in the future. Make temporary commitments in an attempt to build the long-term relationship you desire.

In my quest for being a man of integrity in my marriage — and in strengthening relationships — I am always searching for what works.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklist

You just finished reading “That thing you do (when conflict occurs)” on the FamilyLife Stepping Up men’s blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhat helps you resolve these relationship conflicts when they occur? What from this post could help the next time?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistHear Tim and Joy Downs talk about the source of marital conflict in the “Seven Conflicts of Marriage” broadcast series.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistShare this blog post with another husband. Better yet, practice the principles with your wife the next time you fight.

RoyWootenMug

Roy Wooten is the Executive Director of Shield Bearer Counseling Centers in Houston. Roy and his wife Devra wrote The Secrets to Lifetime Love: Speaking and Hearing Truth. Roy also has been a longtime Houston-area leader of The Crucible Project, a not-for-profit Christian organization committed to create a world of men who live with integrity, grace and courage, fulfilling their God-given purpose. Follow Roy at LifeTogetherForever.com.

 

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!

21 things a man needs to know about marriage (part 2)



This is the second in a three-part series. The full first part of  21 things a man needs to know about marriage is here, but we’ve listed the first seven things from that post 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.

things a man needs to know about marriage

8. A man needs to know that the key to great sex is exclusivity.  The modern consumer mindset tricks a man into thinking that more sources of sexual stimulation will satisfy him.  But like a drug, they thrill but do not satisfy.  Sexual entertainment, images, and illicit sex erode rather than enhance sexual joy in a marriage.

To be a great lover is to practice with only one woman for life.   It is to be generous, exclusive, and serving; not greedy, distracted, and taking.  A great relationship and sexual relationship are connected in marriage, and that only happens when a man’s sole target of sexual affections, imaginations, and enjoyment is his wife.

9. A man needs to know that marriages typically have a one- or two-year “honeymoon era.”  This is a period of semi-blind euphoria that makes the relationship magnetic and easier. It’s as if our Creator gives that to us humans to get us jump-started in marriage.  Couples should know that when the euphoria wears off and they eventually settle into normality, the different feelings they experience do not indicate that they married the wrong person or are not “in love” anymore.

10. A man needs to know that living together and having sex before marriage uses up a good portion of the “honeymoon era” euphoria. It often causes the onset of reality after marriage to begin almost immediately after the wedding, depending on how long the couple had been living and sleeping together.  Research shows that divorce and issues of mistrust are more common for those who cohabit before marriage than for those who do not.  Cohabiting is not a “smart start” or “good practice” for marriage.

11. A man needs to know that commitment is a key to success in all of life, and especially in relationships with a woman.  One way of defining commitment in marriage is that it means never considering divorce. If you know that you won’t be leaving or divorcing, it forces you to face differences and problems and work through them.

In marriage it is the security of commitment that allows a woman to feel peace in the relationship.  The assurance of a husband’s commitment helps a woman entrust herself to him emotionally and sexually.

12. A man needs to know that marriage is not easy.  Marriage is not automatic, and it’s often difficult.  The euphoria of romantic infatuation in the first years of marriage fades, requiring the mature resolve to behave lovingly and invest relationally to build a deeper bond than infatuation.  Marriage will take intentional and continual effort.

13. A man needs to know that the purpose of marriage is less to make you happy, than to make you holy.   Now it’s true that a good marriage to a good woman can make you happier than most anything else on earth.  But if your goal is to be happy, then you will be focused on yourself, and you will damage your character and your relationships.

If you aim to be holy — like Jesus, not like a monk — you will invite God to change you.  You will allow your marriage relationship to change you and crush your selfish will and defensive pride. You will experience true oneness in your marriage — you’ll be deepest friends, intimate allies, generous lovers, caring providers, complementary partners, spiritual enhancers. (Thanks to Gary Thomas for the idea)

14. A man needs to know that God gives authority and responsibility to a husband to make the marriage thrive and last.  He is to steward and shepherd himself and his wife’s union.  He is to be proactive at assisting God in healing her past wounds, creating oneness in their bond and assuring her (and their children) of his love for her.

Women are natural responders when men initiate in love, prayer  and humility.  Men must not be passive, arrogant, distracted, or controlling.  A man will not point the finger at his wife’s behavior or shortcomings, but will examine his history as a husband and ask God to change Him.  His heart, his care and his initiative is the key to his wife’s responses and the marriage’s health.

Be watching for part 3.

Praying for your wife



In May 1969, I sat beside my dad in the intensive care wing of our hometown hospital. I was single at the time and had come home from graduate school to see my dad because he had undergone serious surgery. Susan, who was working in Georgia, had come up to visit me and the family at the same time. In our conversation, Dad asked how she was doing and then he squeezed my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, “Son, marry that girl.”

That turned out to be our last conversation, and he had given me what would be his final bit of advice. He died unexpectedly two days later. I asked Susan that very day if she would become my wife.

Later that week, in the sad, shocking aftermath of Dad’s sudden death, my young fiancé and I sat down to talk about our future. We decided to make a list of needs, questions, and decisions that we were concerned about. This became the beginning of our prayer list, which we used for several years to come.

I pulled out that little vinyl notebook the other day and reviewed the many notations in Susan’s handwriting and mine. A date, the request, and often another date, off to the side, with a brief description of how we had seen the prayer answered. One prayer was that Susan would find a job that was compatible with her gifts and experience. Less than a month later, she accepted an offer to be Dean of Women at a small private college — just the sort of thing we were hoping for. That first little notebook contains 88 entries of needs about which we prayed.

Now, almost 30 years later, I continue to pray for Susan. I’m still praying for our relationship — that it will continue to deepen and mature, that I will understand her better, that I will hear her more effectively, and serve her. I pray for her physical health to continue to be strong, and for her to grow in peacefulness. I pray for her writing and teaching, and that we will always be able to talk together, have fun together. …

In other words, praying for your wife can become a way of life. As her husband, you are her chief prayer warrior. This requires you to know her well and to stay tuned to her needs so that you can pray wisely. Let’s consider some ways in which we can equip ourselves to pray significant, powerful prayers for our wives.

Spend time with her. A man who wants to support his wife effectively through prayer must make time to know her and understand her. You’ve got to know what’s going on in her life, what she’s doing, what she’s thinking, what she’s feeling. This can take a good deal of thoughtfulness and attention on our part.

Your wife may not tell you everything that’s on her mind. She may be burdened about a child, or fearful for a parent, but not be able to talk about it. A wise husband will make it a top priority to be with his wife and to talk to her. As the years go by, he will learn to read her and to see beneath the surface. He will learn the right questions to help her open up.

Look for purposes, patterns, and priorities in her life. It’s helpful for me to distinguish between the day-to-day concerns and the more long-term, overarching prayers. Once or twice a year I prepare a formal list of items that I pray about all year long on behalf of my wife. Traditionally, I go to a place where I can be alone for a significant amount of time and I think about her needs as I know them. I look at Susan’s life from several different angles — physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual — and then I begin to list her needs.

For example, there may be two or three small physical problems that she’s encountered — but which may actually indicate a change in her health. In her late 30s, as our children got a little older, I began to notice a growing concern in Susan’s mind about her purpose in life. Things like this filled out my daily prayer list for her.

When I am considering my annual list of prayers for Susan, I ask myself questions like these:

  • What are the concerns that she’s most aware of in her life right now?
  • What are issues of character that she’s struggling with?
  • What other relationships does she have in which she needs God’s help right now?
  • What particular responsibilities is she dealing with now in which she needs God’s help?

I find it’s helpful to think about Susan’s life from her point of view. For instance, how is she feeling about herself? How is she feeling about our relationship, or about her future? What are the particular gifts, interests, and opportunities before her right now? Where does she need help as she plans for the future? What are her deep longings?

Sometimes when I’m praying for my wife, I try to see a mental image of her sitting with or standing before the Lord Jesus Christ. I imagine Him looking at her and I ask myself: “What is He seeing?” “What is He saying” “What is He seeking to do in her life?” All of these questions help me formulate simple answers to guide me as I pray for her in the most important and ongoing areas of her life.

Adapted by permission from How a Man Prays for His Family, FamilyLife Publishing, ©2004 by John Yates.

12 Ways to encourage Your wife



husband-wife-talking

One of the best ways to encourage your wife is by spending time with her, and really listening to her

We all want to encourage our wives, right?  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of coming up with an idea of what to do, and we want to help!  So here are 12 ideas to encourage your wife:

1. Get up first in the mornings and get the coffee started.

2. Call your wife at lunch time and ask her how her day is going.

3. Always remember birthdays and anniversaries.

4. If you ever compare your wife’s cooking to your mother’s cooking, make sure your wife’s cooking comes out on top!

5. Take your wife’s face in your hands, look into her eyes, and tell her you would marry her all over again, and again, and again, and again.

6. If your wife’s parents are ever harsh or judgmental with her, respectfully intervene and be protective of your wife.

7. When your wife wants to watch football, take time to sit down, and enjoy that time with her.

8. Schedule a regular date night, even if it’s just to get out for a cup of coffee and dessert.

9. Tell your wife you love her, and tell her why.

10. Pray with your wife every day.

11. Put the seat down and teach your sons to do the same.

12. Never stop opening doors for your wife, including the car door.

What makes a distinctively Christian marriage?



(as first submitted via an article found at FamilyLife.com)

Years ago, when I was a single college student and a young follower of Christ, I traveled with some buddies to Southern California.  One of my friends knew a family in Pasadena who offered us a place to stay.

I will never forget walking into this home in Pasadena.  Almost immediately I noticed that there was just something different in the atmosphere.

I had never met these people before, but within 20 minutes I felt like I‘d known them all my life. They displayed genuine hospitality, care, love, and graciousness that I had never seen in a home before.

Steppin Up FamilyLife - Bob Lepine Christian Marriages

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 we read, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  That’s what I could smell in that house — the fragrance of Christ in the lives of these people who had been transformed by Him.  I’ve never forgotten what it was like to walk into that kind of environment.

Now the question for us is: What does it smell like in our homes?  If folks walked into our houses, would the fragrance of Christ be present?  Do people look at our marriages and see and smell the aroma of Christ?

I believe there are two factors that give a marriage the fragrance of Christ — that make it distinctively Christian.  And both are impossible without the transforming grace of God.

1.  A uniquely Christian marriage has a different kind of purpose.

When asked why they get married, most people will say something like, “Well, we’re just in love.”  But behind that statement are a number of other reasons for marriage:

  • They’ve dated long enough, and marriage is the next step.
  • There are economic benefits from combining incomes into one household.
  • They want sex without guilt.
  • They are adults, and marriage is what’s expected.  (They want to get their parents off their backs.)
  • They want someone to take care of them.
  • They are lonely and need the companionship.
  • They want to escape a bad situation — abusive parents, pregnancy, etc.
  • Their biological clock is ticking, and they figure it’s time to start a family.

At the heart of most of these reasons for marriage is the big me.  People are getting married for self-centered reasons, not God-centered purposes.  That describes me as well.

In fact, that‘s the universal human condition. We are self-centered; and so our self-centered tendency, carried into marriage, creates two self-centered people trying to negotiate enough good out of this deal so that they can co-exist.

But there’s another, higher purpose for marriage that is stated well in Psalm 34:3:  “Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together!”  A friend of mine actually used that verse when he proposed.  I think he saw beyond his own natural selfishness to a greater goal for his life.

When you focus your marriage on exalting and glorifying God together, your relationship will become a vehicle through which people can smell the aroma of Christ.  It will be a demonstration of the gospel to the world — you will show God’s grace, His compassion, His forgiveness.

Now, is there companionship that comes along with it? Yes. Is there love and intimacy that comes into the deal? Yes, and I‘m glad for these things. But when you magnify the Lord together you will both say, “This isn‘t about us. This is about putting the gospel on display to a watching world.”

When you truly understand that purpose, it changes everything. I like how Paul Tripp puts it: 

“We were made to live upward and outward, but most of us live inward. When we can quit living inward and start living upward and outward, life changes.” When our marriage can be about upward and outward, things change.

2.  A uniquely Christian marriage has a different kind of love.

What does this distinctively different kind of love look like? Well, again, it starts with being God-centered instead of self-centered. It’s upward and outward instead of being inward.

To be more specific, Christian love is self-sacrificing, not self-serving love.  In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul writes:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

That kind of love is different than what the world knows.  It is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, not rejoicing in wrongdoing, but instead rejoicing in the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Another way that our love should be distinct is that it should be a forgiving love, not a hard-hearted love. Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

How many of you would say, “What I really want for my life is to be in a concerted partnership with the devil”? But that’s what you’re doing when you hang on to anger, resentment, and bitterness.

And then read verse 32 in Ephesians 4: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

A third way our love should be different is that it should be controlled by the Spirit and not by the flesh.  You can’t do this in your own power.  Regard your spouse as more important than yourself?  Forgive your spouse just as God has forgiven you?  Love your spouse by showing patience, kindness, and not insisting on your own way?  Try doing this consistently in the flesh for more than a day or so.

The only way we can have a different kind of love — and purpose — in marriage is to experience a true transformation in our lives. Here are the words that always come back to me as I think about the gospel and what God has done for us in Christ: He took those of us who were weighed down by sin and took the weight off.  He forgave us and freed us.  As we walk in that forgiveness and freedom day by day, He is transforming us more and more into the image of His Son. And in the process He gives us a hope that we never knew before we were saved by Christ.

These two unique aspects of a Christian marriage — a different purpose and a different love — are something we cannot manufacture by ourselves.  They are impossible apart from the transforming grace of God in our lives.  And when we experience this transformation, the world will notice something very different in our relationships.

 

Copyright ©2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

 

 

5 romantic needs of a woman



Well, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. If you haven’t made your plans yet, it’s likely not going to be a good night for you, Mr. Casanova. So, just to help you a little, here are 5 things that every woman needs when it comes to being romanced by her husband. But, before you read the rest of this post, take out a sheet of paper and take a pre-read quiz. No cheating. What do YOU think the 5 romantic needs of a woman are? … Got ’em? OK, now check your answers with what I’ve come up with below.

Men and Women are different. Duh

I’m sure it comes as no shock, but men and women think of romance differently.

When asked to describe the purpose of romance, a woman will use words such as friendship, relationship, endearment, and tenderness. Given the same question, a man will answer with one of the shortest words in the English language — sex. For him, physical oneness and affirmation of his manhood equal romance.

Can two people with such different perspectives have their expectations met? Absolutely! But creating adventurous romance requires planning and enthusiastic effort. The relationship has to be a top priority. One reason so many marriage beds are frozen over or boring is that couples just don’t have time for romance and sex. Too many husbands and wives try to work sex inbetween the evening news and the Top 10 list on the Late Show With David Letterman.  To them, love in marriage is spelled S  E  X.

Let’s face it. Many of our activities and other important things get the best of our resources and energy. Jobs get our best. Children get our best. Church work gets our best. But are we saving any of our best for romance in marriage?

When we had children at home, Barbara and I worked hard to save some of our best for each other. Our children learned over the years that Mom and Dad often like to have quiet evenings alone. When the children were younger, we occasionally turned the kitchen into a famous big-time restaurant called the Rainey Rainbow Room and let each child order a special meal from a special menu. Barbara and I served as chef and waiter, and the kids had a great time learning a little bit about how to eat out.

Later in the evening, they knew they were to go to their rooms and stay there, not coming out for anything except bathroom runs. At 8 p.m., Barbara and I turned our bedroom into our own romantic cafe, complete with a small table, candles, and flowers (when I remembered to pick them up). There we would eat, talk, and relax. As we communicated, we were reminded of what attracted us to each other, and romance had an opportunity to ignite. We didn’t have to worry about a babysitter and didn’t have to leave the house to get away alone.

To make anything like this work, you must schedule it and then take the time to follow through. If I have learned anything in marriage, it is that romance, our relationship, and sex take time. And they deserve our best.

I have spent the better part of my marriage learning and adjusting the following summary of a woman’s romantic needs. The list was developed through much observation and conversation with Barbara and other women. I also have learned a great amount from the best book ever written on romance, passion, and sex — the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. Obviously, a woman has more than five romantic needs, but I consider these to be the top five:

Romantic Need #1: To be spiritually ministered to by her man

Are you surprised that something to do with candy and flowers isn’t number one? A woman wants a man eager to be her protector, someone who cares not just about her security and physical needs but also (and even more importantly) about her spirituality, the well-being of her very soul.

A husband can be a spiritual protector and advocate for his wife by praying with and for her daily, putting his arms around her, and saying, “I want to ask God to bless you. I want to take any needs you have in your life right now to the Lord. And I’m going to pray for you throughout this day.” A wise husband takes the lead in sharing Scripture and eagerly initiating conversation on spiritual issues.

A husband can contribute to his wife’s spiritual well-being by giving her some time to pursue her spiritual growth. For example, he might watch their child while she attends an evening Bible study.  Marriage romance begins in the soul.

I suggest that every young husband who wants to better understand his wife and his job description should read The Christian Husband, a book by my friend and colleague Bob Lepine.

Romantic Need #2: To feel safe and secure with her husband

A woman needs to feel her husband’s covenantal commitment to stay married and to love her and accept her. Then she feels safe to give him the gift of who she is in the marriage relationship. The Shulammite woman, who was the object of Solomon’s passion, said, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3). She obviously had a strong sense of contentment and security.

A wife needs to know that romantic intimacy is just between her and her husband, that he will not share any personal details with his friends. She should not feel pressured or fearful, experiencing the love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Romantic Need #3: To share intimate conversation

According to something I read recently, the typical couple spends only four minutes a day in meaningful conversation with each other. A lot of us husbands don’t realize that for our wives to consider us romantic, we first of all have to be a great friend and a conversationalist.  Conversation is a large part of love in marriage.

Grunts and one-word answers to questions just don’t cut it! Too many women don’t feel that their husbands really need them, and bare-bones conversation confirms their sense of low personal value. Many men who were accomplished at romantic, deep conversation during courtship seem to lose this talent later. You can rediscover the groove! Make a commitment to learn to make intimate conversation a priority with your wife. You need to talk and fill her in on the details of your life — not just facts, but feelings.

When a husband sincerely shows his desire for conversation and a deepening relationship — emotional intimacy — he will find that his wife is much more interested in sexual intimacy. Her dreams, hopes, desires, and disappointments then are not divorced from the marriage bed but are a part of it.

Romantic Need #4: To receive a tender touch and hear gentle words

Before marriage, two people in love can hardly keep their hands off each other because they find the touch of their beloved thrilling. What happens after the wedding? Some couples married for a while would find a firm handshake a wildly intimate encounter. This should not be the case in a marriage. There is great power in tender touch, even if it’s just a long, full-body hug or a lingering kiss. Or the touch may be a gentle caress of her face that has no motive to make sexual demands but communicates, “I love you, Sweetheart, and I care for you tenderly.”

Gentle words have similar power. I have made a partial list of some things that I think any husband could use in complimenting and praising his wife: charm; femininity; faithfulness to God, you, your children; hard work; beauty; personality; her love, including her receptivity and responsiveness to you as a man; her advice and counsel; character; desirability; friendship — and that’s just a start. What wife won’t respond to a husband who praises her regularly with gentle words for all these qualities?

Romantic Need #5: To be pursued and set apart by her man

A wife wants a husband who will sweep her off her feet, carry her away to the castle, and say, “Let’s spend time together.” Focused attention is like precious gold in a relationship.

One time Barbara and I had a little unresolved argument over a weekend. A couple of days later we went on our customary weekly date. We finally had the time and environment to fully discuss and resolve our differences. What it took was several hours away from phones, papers and bills, and the needs of our children. Your wife craves this focused attention from you.

A great lover

One of my favorite stories is of an interview with one of Hollywood’s biggest male stars, a man known for his prowess with the opposite sex. At one point he was asked, “What makes a great lover?”

“Two things,” he replied. “First of all, it is a man who can satisfy one woman over a lifetime. And it is a man who can be satisfied with one woman for a lifetime.”

That was a great answer! To build a strong marriage where you and your wife are experiencing oneness, you must be committed to satisfying her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. I hope you both enjoy a lifetime of satisfaction!  Here’s to keeping your marriage romance alive, and a lifetime of love in your marriage.



Taken from Starting Your Marriage Right © 2000 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

 

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