Posts tagged forgiveness

The ONE thing to improve your marriage



This post originally appeared on the All In blog, by Square 1 Ministries.

FranklViktorOn September 25,  1942, Jewish physician Victor Frankl, his wife and parents were deported to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto. Two years later Frankl and his wife Tilly were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was processed. He was moved to Kaufering, a Nazi concentration camp affiliated with Dachau concentration camp, where he arrived on October 25, 1944. There he was to spend five months working as a slave laborer. In March 1945, he was offered a move to the so-called rest-camp, Türkheim, also affiliated with Dachau. He decided to go to Türkheim, where he worked as a physician until April 27, 1945, when Frankl was liberated by the Americans.

Meanwhile, his wife Tilly was transferred from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died. Frankl’s mother Elsa was killed by the Nazis in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, and his brother Walter died working in a mining operation that was part of Auschwitz.

How does anyone survive such an ordeal? When asked this same question years after his imprisonment, Frankl replied –

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”

How do any of us survive hard times? What about hard times in our marriage? For many of us, including myself, we just stuff our feelings deep inside our soul and hope for the best. For others, they can’t/won’t tolerate hard times, so they leave. They try to avoid them by running away.

What if we practiced the secret that Frankl and countless others have relied upon to get them through – adjusting our attitude. Do you want to know what God says is the secret to not only surviving hard times, but enjoying a marriage relationship like it was intended to be enjoyed? Sure you do …

“Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal.” Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus chose to humble himself and become a servant. Even when we didn’t deserve it (and still don’t) or appreciate it. He volunteered; he initiated; he sacrificed himself on behalf of his bride.

What about you? What about me? Is that our attitude when it comes to loving (verb) our bride? Are we ready to lay our lives down, to humble ourselves, to sacrifice anything, all for our bride … for our marriage? And all without ever demanding anything in return or any performance from our wife?

Well, that is what the Bible clearly says is the key … having the same attitude as Jesus. Remember Victor Frankl – no one else is responsible for your attitude; no one else can take it away. We (you and me) are responsible for ours. Is it like Christ’s?

Willing to die …

Rob

© 2015 by Rob Thorpe. Used with permission.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “The ONE thing to improve your marriage” by guest blogger Rob Thorpe of Square 1 Ministries.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhat do you do when you get resistance or unfair treatment from your wife: act in kind, or respond with kindness?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistRead Dave Harvey’s confession, “Why Do I Act Like I Don’t Love My Wife?”  on FamilyLife.com.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistListen to Gary Thomas talk about turn the tables on the purpose for marriage on the FamilyLife Today broadcast.

7 keys to redeem your marriage



Michele Weiner-Davis, nicknamed “The Divorce Buster,” is a marriage enthusiast, a passionate optimist, and an author who understands hope for marriage.  At sixteen, she was shocked and shattered to see her parents’ divorce.  She decided that no matter what, she would work to make her own marriage work, avoid divorce at all costs, and give her children the gift of growing up with both their parents. A while back, I spoke with Michele for an hour on the phone.  Afterward, I read her book, The Divorce Remedy, in one sitting. I was excited about what I learned for my marriage, and am passionate about bringing her brand of solution-oriented wisdom and action-based advice to hungry, hurting, and desperately broken couples. The following are some nuggets of truth I gleaned from our conversation as well as The Divorce Remedy on how to redeem your marriage.

1. Realize that divorce is a trap

Fifty percent of divorces happen in the first seven years of marriage because people don’t know what to expect. Young couples must be taught that conflict, angry emotions, and frustrating differences exist in all relationships. This doesn’t mean their marriage is broken, their spouse is flawed, or they made a mistake. Entertaining the option of divorce steals your ability to best relate and improve in your marriage.

2. Look out for the walk-away wife syndrome

Two-thirds of divorces are filed by women.  Early in marriage, women are the usual caretakers of the relationship, frequently checking to see if the relationship is close, connected, and warm.  When it is lacking, they press for more closeness. Instead, men hear it as nagging, which causes them to withdraw.

Next, women try to get their husband’s attention by complaining about all areas of life, which are impacted by loneliness, lack of understanding, or connection. Instead of having a positive effect, men feel disrespected and recoil. Negative patterns continue until a woman gives up and thinks she’ll be happier without him or with another person. The husband notes less friction and assumes things are better, or just fine. Eventually, she drops the bomb.  “I want out.” He is devastated and shocked and says, “I had no idea you were this unhappy.” This seals the coffin as she concludes he has always been clueless and uncaring. The tragic thing is that this is the point when the husband is now desperate and motivated to work on and rebuild their marriage. But the walkaway wife has closed the door on the way out.

3. Seek solutions before explanations

Most therapy is premised on a long process of introspective journey into the “causes” of your problems stemming from your background.  Wiener-Davis practices Solution-Oriented Brief Therapy.  This immediately sets goals and helps couples determine concrete steps to heal and grow and redeem their marriages.  The emphasis is on changed behavior that each spouse can implement immediately. (The intense exceptions are physical abuse, dangerous addictions, and constant infidelity. However, these represent less than 10-15 percent of marital problems.)

4. Don’t assume the worst of your spouse

Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. In assuming the negative, we behave in self-defeating, relationship-damaging ways. We turn inward, get selfish, react, accuse, refuse, and withhold respect or love.  Does this work for us? Give your spouse permission to be flawed. After all, we are flawed as well.  Isn’t that how God works with us?

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? –Romans 2:3-4

Grace works. We need to receive it and to give it. It softens consciences—theirs and ours.

5. Change your marriage by changing yourself

Even if the other spouse has a foot out the door, there is opportunity to turn it around. Don’t insist that two must be working on the relationship at the same time. One person can make big changes in behavior to change the relationship and redeem the marriage.

6. Stop doing things that don’t work or that make the situation worse

You’ve heard the definition of insanity: “doing the same thing, but expecting different results.” Stop doing what is not working. A committed spouse may actually be driving the other person away. If you know how to push your spouse’s buttons to get a negative response, you have proof that you can learn to push their positive-response buttons and impact the relationship. Ending the unfruitful cycle of “more-of-the-same behavior” is the next key to success in healing and improving your marriage.

7. Recognize that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself

Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling.  Letting go of resentment helps your spouse, but it also frees you to be your best self, not a depressed, bitter victim. It does not depend on forgetting, just refusing to keep reminding. Decide right now. Stop blaming. Forgive. Make peace. You will be a better person and good effects will ripple toward others. No matter the condition of your marriage, desperate or strong, you will gain from her wisdom on divorce busting and marriage strengthening. Weiner-Davis’ message and resources will be a practical injection of hope into situations that seem hopeless. Finally, the wisdom of counseling is only part of the equation when you want to improve your life and redeem your marriage. Getting the focus off your spouse is a start. More central to the matter is seeking depth in our relationship with God and His power to enable us to behave in the best manner.  And that starts by humbly learning from the Creator of our marriage and recognizing the true enemy of it.

…“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. –James 4:6-8

When two people—or even one—humbly recognize their need for God’s strength to successfully navigate the tricky world of personal intimacy, that relationship becomes different. We are made to depend upon and draw from the infinite power of the One who created us for intimacy with Himself and continues to redeem us from ourselves and for relationships.

NextStepsRedeemingYourMarriage

 

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!

6 gifts you can give your spouse to help overcome fear



At our house, we have experienced plenty of failures, both great and small. For years, a meal without a spill was nothing short of miraculous. The milk may have gone shooting across the supper table or formed a lazy river that cascaded over the edge, splattering onto the floor. We’ve seen some classic spills: two simultaneously, four at one sitting, and one glass of chilled apple juice that spilled perfectly into Dennis’s shoe (while he was wearing it). Our favorite phrase for the children became, “It’s okay. Everybody makes mistakes.”

One evening, I (Dennis) spilled my drink during dinner. A little hand patted my arm, and Rebecca (then a five-year-old) reassuringly said, “It’s okay, Dad. Everybody makes mistakes.”

It’s comforting to know that we are not alone in our failures. Others, too, have needed and claimed God’s forgiveness when they failed. King David failed through his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Peter failed by denying Christ. Thomas doubted. Saul (Paul) assisted in the murder of Stephen.

Yet none of these lives represented total failure. Each of these men sought forgiveness. They didn’t give up. They kept on. They left a track record of faithfulness in spite of personal foul-ups.

Giving your spouse the freedom from fear of failure

Men Stepping Up blog -http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefgrunig/ Freedom

What is the solution for the fear of failure? How do you encourage a partner whose feelings of failure are triggered by the most insignificant of circumstances? We have found that one of the most powerful principles in building one another’s self-esteem is: Give your mate the freedom to fail.

When you give your mate the freedom to fail, you begin to remove the pressure to perform for acceptance. You free your mate to overcome fear and to take risks and try again. You free her to excel. Failure then becomes a tutor, not a judge. In the presence of freedom, we learn from failures instead of being intimidated by them. In the absence of condemnation, confidence in how God can use you mounts.

If you would like to give your mate the freedom to fail, we recommend six gifts you can give that will begin to release her and help her in overcoming fear. Keep in mind that you, too, will possibly fail by taking back some of these gifts. That’s okay. Failure is a part of learning for both of you.

1. The Gift of Compassion

Every person’s life has a context. During her childhood, your mate may not have experienced a relationship in which she had freedom to fail. Perhaps her “failures” taught her to expect rejection, disapproval, and anger from those in authority. She may have learned to feel that rejection is the natural consequence of failure.

Parents, coaches, teachers, peers, boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, and other significant people gave her a personal heritage of either success or failure. The more you fully grasp the context of your mate’s journey to adulthood and express compassion for where your mate has been, the more freedom your mate will feel to admit failures to you.

Whatever her background, your mate needs your compassionate, consistent, and tireless belief in her. Talk about the context of her life and together gain understanding of past mistakes as well as present ones. Don’t leave your mate alone to deal with her failures. Tell her that you are unlike those who have rejected her; your commitment is unwavering and your love is consistent, despite her imperfections. In this climate of compassion and patience, she will begin to feel free to take risks and to fail without fear of rejection.

2. The Gift of Continual Affirmation

Years ago, I (Barbara) drove to the grocery store and accidentally backed our van into a couple’s newly painted Camaro, denting it slightly. I felt so foolish, and my apologies didn’t make the dent go away. Understandably, the car’s owners were not happy and insisted on calling the county sheriff’s office.

I called Dennis, and as I waited for him to arrive, I wondered what he would think and say. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be upset with me, but I speculated for a while.

When he joined me at the store, he assured me that everything would be fine — that in the end it didn’t really matter. We both knew I had made a mistake, and it would have accomplished nothing for him to drive home a moral lesson or give me some driving tips. I needed to experience his approval, and I needed to know he wasn’t angry with me. He affirmed me, and I felt like pieces of a puzzle coming together.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” One of our favorite verses, 1 Peter 4:8, says it best: “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Continuous, ongoing, unbroken approval in the face of many mistakes and failures of life will build your mate’s self-esteem to overcome fear and failure.

3. The Gift of Perspective

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” As partners in the pilgrimage of life, we are responsible to speak the truth to one another in order to help balance our perspective of failure.

Understanding the truth of God’s sovereign rule — that He is in control — brings an eternal view to your mate’s mistakes. The promise of Romans 8:28 — “God causes all things to work together for good” — beautifully illustrates His absolute supremacy. These words offer comfort, reminding us that nothing is wasted in His economy. God can use even our mistakes and failures. Encourage your mate to believe God and, as a couple, ask Him to use your failures for good.

4. The Gift of Disassociation

Most people don’t realize they can fail and not be a failure. They have not learned to separate their worth as persons from their performance. Many find it difficult to have their ideas, work, or accomplishments criticized. They feel that others are criticizing and rejecting who they are, not just what they have done.

A teacher told one mother that her son was not a good student. “He can’t learn,” said the teacher. “He’ll never amount to much.” But the mother chose to believe in her son rather than listening to the voice of this “authority.” As a result, that young man grew up in a home of loving acceptance, secure in the knowledge that he was a person of value.

In spite of all this, he continued to fail. In fact, he failed ten thousand times on one project before he, Thomas Alva Edison, perfected the electric light bulb. His close association with failure caused Edison to comment, “I failed my way to success.” His mother’s belief in him was the human fuel for his inventive spirit.

How can you help your mate learn to fail without feeling like a failure? Try not to discuss a problem in your marriage or family with accusing words such as, “You never …” or, “Your ideas are always …” Those kinds of extreme statements verbally link your mate with her performance, insinuating that she is a failure. Instead, use your words with discernment to help her see the distinction between her person-hood and her performance.

When you discuss issues with your mate, begin by expressing your commitment and loyalty to her as a person. Then give your mate the benefit of the doubt. Remove the accusing edge by saying, “I may be wrong, but did you …” or “I feel that …” or “It would help me a lot if you would … (fill the car with gas, balance the checkbook, pick up your socks, etc.).”

Tell her the truth: She is loved by you, esteemed and valued by God, gifted, and yet limited. Call to mind her past accomplishments. Most importantly, help your mate separate herself from her failures. Focus on her as a person, too, not just on her performance. When your mate knows how to handle failure without being a failure, she truly has the freedom to fail.

5. The Gift of Encouraging Decisive Living

Many times in life, we fail not because we make the wrong decision but because we make no decision at all. Seeking safety and security, we escape to the seemingly trouble-free world of procrastination and indecision. Never venturing out of our protective covering of indecision, we avoid risking a wrong decision that might end in failure. We decide not to decide.

You can strengthen your mate by helping her understand that a risk-free life is also a potentially boring and selfish life. By eliminating risk, we eliminate many pleasures, too. Security and safety are not found in hiding from reality and responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true. Failure ultimately looms on the horizon for the person who avoids the decision-making process. She is riding a fence with both feet firmly planted in midair — there is little stability.

6. The Gift of Forgiveness

The effects of failure can be disarmed through the miracle of forgiveness. Pure and free, forgiveness gives us something we often don’t deserve. This is how God relates to us as His children. He gives us love when we deserve punishment. Forgiveness says, “I choose to accept you fully, just as you are, and I will neither reject you nor remind you of your failures.”

Forgive your mate when her error has affected you. Urge her to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive herself, if necessary. The act of forgiveness opens the door to healing.

Paul has some good advice: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” He also writes, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Whatever the situation, mistakes carry a price tag. The price can be extra work, suffering, financial expense — or all three. Perhaps your mate’s failure caused you to be late, which you hate. Maybe her failure cost her a bonus, which you were counting on to buy a new loveseat. Because of your partnership in marriage, your mate’s mistakes and failures will affect you to some degree. When you forgive your mate’s failures, you give up your right to punish. Forgiveness is an act of the will — a deliberate choice that means you will not retaliate when you feel the other person has wronged you. True forgiveness doesn’t throw your mate’s failures up to her or use them to hurt her.

The gift of forgiveness is not just in giving forgiveness, but in asking for it when you’re wrong. Whether you’re 90 percent in the wrong or only 10 percent, asking for forgiveness takes the logs out of the fire. Verbalize it. Be specific. And don’t fudge. Some people try to weasel out of their responsibility so they won’t have to admit they were wrong. But in doing so, they miss the benefits of forgiveness.

Forgiveness stands with the open arms of a loving relationship ready to embrace. It is illogical for your mate to resist such an aggressive love. By removing the fear of rejection, you give your mate renewed hope to keep trying without fear of failure.

Excerpted from Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. ©1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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