If we were to ask you, "What's more important in marriage, feelings or actions?" you would likely reply, "Actions, of course." That's because mature adults who think rationally, know we can't always trust our feelings. In fact I (Steve) have learned that it's a rare occurrence when I can trust my feelings. I believe that's because my feelings are often "ME-focused" and not "others," or "CINDY-focused." If left to my own tendencies it would be all about me "feeling good." It's also true that our actions can sometimes be motivated by our feelings. This is where we need to "test" the motives behind our actions.
Zig Ziglar, in his book, "Courtship After Marriage" discusses this very point. And while the story he tells deals with a couple on the verge of divorce, I believe we can ALL learn a lesson from it:
"Don Hawkins, who spent almost 20 years in the pastorate, tells a story of the time a couple from his church came to see him --as a last stop before seeing their respective lawyers about a divorce. It seems the husband had become involved in an affair. His wife became angry and decided to retaliate in kind. According to Don, tension was electric. The husband sat on one side of
the room hurling accusations. The wife sat on the other side, cold as ice, but occasionally blasting away with fireball-type epithets at him. Don suggested to this couple that they go back to the point in time when they were in love. To which the man replied, 'But I don't love her anymore.' Don said to the man, 'You do respect the Bible, don't you?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'Well, Scripture says, 'Love Your Wife.' "Yes, but we're not living together as husband and wife. We have separate
bedrooms." "Oh, you're living in rooms next to each other?" "That's right," said the husband. "Well, Scripture has a word for you, Love Your Neighbor." The man retorted, "I don't feel like she's a neighbor. We relate to each other more like enemies."
To which Don replied enthusiastically, "that's great. I have good news for you. Scripture covers that base as well. It says, "Love Your Enemies." Both husband and wife told Don, "but we just don't feel like loving each other, and we certainly wouldn't want to be hypocritical, would we?" "Don said, 'Why don't we suspend the discussion of hypocrisy for a week?
Let me encourage you to go back to treating each other like you loved each other.' "To the husband he said, 'You call her from work." To the wife he said,"You have a nice meal prepared." And to both he said, "Speak kind words to each other, even try to show some physical affection with an occasional hug or touch of the hands. Let's see what happens in a week's time."
The following week, the couple returned to Don's office. He was surprised to note that instead of taking seats on the opposite side of the office, both sat down on the same couch. Turning to the husband, Don asked, "What's the deal?" To which the wife replied, "He's been nicer to me than he has since we were married 10 years ago." Smiling, the husband said, "I guess you CAN love your enemy." Now, I don't want to mislead you. As Don shared this with me, he was careful to point out that this couple's problems didn't just disappear overnight or vanish like a fog in the morning sun. There was a lot of hard work to do to resolve the conflicts, anger, bitterness, and hurt that had built up over years of marital neglect. Yet by turning to the kind of
actions they practiced for each other in the beginning, by starting the courtship process over - they became motivated to work on their marriage relationship."
As I read this message and reflected on some of my past behavior, the phrase, "marital neglect" is the term that jumped out at me because I (Steve) have been guilty of that so many times in our almost 40 years of marriage. It's not that I "intended" to neglect Cindy, but at the same time my "intentionality" in showing her loving actions had at times waned. In other words, I became lazy. It's easy for all of us to fall into that trap. That's why we believe that if we decide NOW to implement (or re-implement) loving actions into our marriages it is not only going to improve our relationships now, but it will also help us regain the proper focus and help to heal past hurts. If you don't have a spouse who will work with you on showing love to you
through actions, keep in mind that you are not responsible for your spouse's actions, but you are for your own.
“To stand firm in the battle for our marriages, we must be prepared. We can never assume that having a good marriage shelters us from temptation. In this age of “anything goes,” the wise woman will purposefully build walls around her marriage ahead of time to help close the door on opportunities for temptation” (Judy Starr).
That also goes for the wise man. Last week we talked about our marriages being more vulnerable to infidelity than we realize. For various reasons we think it could happen to everyone else but us. But as we also discussed last week that’s also what Judy Starr thought.
Judy is the author of a book titled, The Enticement of the Forbidden. She and her husband had a great ministry to over 40 countries showing the Jesus film and never thought either of them could be attracted to anyone else because they loved each other and were happily involved in ministry work together. But they let their guard down and Judy found herself tempted. This can be a lesson for all of us because if it could happen to Judy, it could happen to any one of us.
Building upon last week’s message, which was prompted by a 2-part interview with Judy we heard on the radio program Family Life Today www.familylife.org with Dennis Rainey, we’d like to share a few more things from this interview that we think everyone could find beneficial.
As the Bible says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” We’re hoping this message will help us to be more careful so none of us fall as Judy did. We’re all vulnerable to temptation if we don’t stay on the alert as the scriptures tell us in 1 Peter 5. First off, we want to say that Judy was fortunate because her husband wanted to work with her to rebuild their broken relationship. That doesn’t always happen. She and her husband Stotler began the process of putting their marriage back together the way God showed them.
She said: “I began making our marriage the priority that God intended it to be in the first place. I had allowed work to overshadow that, so I really focused on our marriage.”
“I also really worked on rebuilding trust. Anytime I felt there was something Stotler needed to know or wanted to ask, I’d give him that opportunity; or I’d share with him things that I felt were important for him to know, so that he really sensed I wasn’t trying to hide anything. I really wanted to rebuild trust in our relationship.”
What else did Judy and her husband do to rebuild a healthier marriage? She said: “There are basic things any marriage needs to do to build walls of protection around them, not only to reestablish trust but for the future of that marriage.”
The following are important practices Judy shares in this interview and her book that will strengthen and fortify the walls around your marriage: • “The first thing is, having our times with the Lord individually. I don’t believe there is anything more important that protects our marriage than our individual time with the Lord, making sure that we’re yielded to Him and willing to do anything that He tells us to every day.
That’s absolutely the most important thing that we can do daily.”
• “And then there’s the issue of learning to protect our relationship with other men, how we respond to them, because in this society, it’s such a lax situation between men and women and the friendships that grow. It’s very easy for a friendship to grow quickly beyond the bounds that God intends for a friendship with another man.”
(Please note that the same goes for a man with a woman. Judy’s testimony is aimed at women but that doesn’t make it any less significant for men to apply these principles.)
Judy was then asked: “As you look at friendships with men from church and in ministry with you, what keeps it an appropriate versus an inappropriate friendship?”
She replied: “I call it building an ‘invisible wall,’ and certainly one of the first things is not sharing personal, private information —anything that should be kept exclusively for my husband and for that relationship.
“If I find myself looking forward to sharing something with another man rather than my husband, that’s definitely a red flag. I need to focus on sharing all the things that are important in my life with my husband, first and foremost, so those needs for intimacy are met in that relationship.”
(Again, this applies to men and their dealings with other women.)
• “Build protective walls in the workplace. The workplace is one of the first places women are being drawn to men, because there are so many women in the workforce these days, and it’s so easy. As women —we go to lunch with the men we work with, we’re dressed our best, we’re working with other men on the same important projects. It’s the same kind of driving thing all day.
By the time you go home, you’ve already shared your heart with everybody else. You have nothing that you need to share with your husband anymore. We need to be so careful of saving those kinds of intimacies and those things that are exciting in our lives to be able to share with our husband.”
Please men — this applies to you also.
• “Protect your marriage through discretion in clothing. Men become easily aroused sexually by the stimulation of sight. Therefore, what we wear is very important. To attract men to you sexually by the clothing you choose is to defraud them because you cannot (or should not!) fulfill the desire you arouse. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 tells us, ‘For this is the will of God—that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, and that no man transgress and defraud his
brother in this matter.’”
• Protect your marriage by spending time together. One of the best guards against infidelity comes from having your emotional needs met within your marriage. That means sticking to the plan of spending time alone together each week! Unless we purposefully protect that time, all of life’s “urgent” needs will undermine our marital intimacy like termites that slowly eat away the foundation of a house. What can be more urgent than protecting your marriage?
• Protect your marriage through accountability. Accountability to a mature godly woman [is] invaluable. Accountability may be the key issue that makes or breaks our faithfulness to God and to our spouse. There are other important things Judy Starr shares in her book, The Enticement of the Forbidden. And there are other things included in this compelling interview that you may want to learn about.
"Persistence means continuing to pursue a goal until it is achieved" - Gary Smalley.
If there's anything we've learned about marriage it's that it takes an incredible amount of persistence to live with each other in an "understanding way," as it's talked about in the Bible. Read below a few thoughts on persistence in marriage (from two different authors). We hope it will inspire you (as it has us) on this subject:
"Mountains are big. But you have no idea just how big they are until you
climb one. I discovered this first-hand last summer when I took on a
Colorado Rocky. By the time I made it halfway up the slope, my whole body
hurt for want of oxygen. I breathed as heavily as I could but couldn't get
enough air. My muscles didn't want to move. I pushed on despite the
difficulty, but my excitement about reaching the peak faded. I no longer
saw the beauty that surrounded me. All I could think about was the pain
and exhaustion claiming every cell of my body. I saw only the steep, rocky
"Then something wonderful happened. My eyes focused not on craggy rock,
but on the grass, ruffled by a sudden rush if wind. Overwhelmed, I
realized I reached the summit. I could sit to rest; too captivated by the
mountains, valleys, lakes, and streams, I looked down from this lofty
"For some couples, marriage and mountains share a lot in common. Marriage
seemed a daunting enough commitment before the vows were spoken, but being
married turned out to be even harder than it looked. During the difficult
climbs of a rocky marriage, it can become hard for couples to remember why
they even married. Their thoughts begin to focus only on the present
problems. But God is strong in our weaknesses and he can turn human
frailty into the most spectacular of experiences if we let Him." (Wesley
English, Editor for the newsletter, "Marriage Connection")
Continuing on with that thought, read what Dr. Gary Smalley has to say
about being persistent in marriage even though the "mountains ahead" may
seem too tough to climb over in the beginning:
"Persistence means continuing to pursue a goal until it is achieved. For
years, Ken's way of dealing with Carla's hurt feelings was to give her a
lecture or a rational explanation for why she was hurting and how she
could stop. These ranged in length from the brief, 'you're too sensitive'
all the way to the twenty-minute complex analysis of her entire situation.
"Carla always assumed it was just his way of trying to tell her he was
superior by making her feel at fault. If someone didn't talk to her at a
party and she deduced they didn't like her anymore, Ken would simply tell
her, 'Oh, they were just too busy. You're taking it too seriously.' If she
had an argument with his mother, his mother got his understanding while
Carla got comments like, 'You overreacted,' or 'I can't believe how you
hurt mom's feelings.'
"After Carla realized that men have to learn how to respond to women's
feelings, she began to tell Ken each time she needed comfort, 'don't
lecture me… just hold me and understand.' This didn't do a bit of good for
the first 6 - 7 times she tried it. She still got lectures (although they
kept getting shorter). Finally Ken (genius that he is) realized that Carla
was simply asking him to not preach at her but to comfort her with silent
gentleness. He tried it once and noticed a completely different response
in Carla. She recovered from her hurt feelings much faster than when he
tried to explain away her feelings.
"Ken told me that although it was hard not to lecture the first few times,
his quiet response was so much more effective that it has now become
natural. If Carla had tried to help him change by sharing her feelings
only once, nothing would have happened. But she persisted, and now both
she and Ken are enjoying the benefits of her persistence.
"Several years ago I met a man who had been successful in his work with
teenagers. He had influenced thousands of young people in a positive way.
When I asked the secret of his success, I was surprised by his answer. He
said, 'It's simple. For every 200 ideas I try, one works!' One of the
teenagers from his youth group, Jill, followed his example after she
"Since the first week of their marriage, Jill noticed how Dave always
showed preference for his family over hers. When they moved across the
country for Dave to attend graduate school, she thought she would be free
from rating second to his family. Unfortunately, 2,000 miles wasn't far
enough. Phone calls, letters, or visits with the family continued to add
fuel to the fire. Whenever Jill found fault with any of Dave's family,
Dave would always rise to their defense. Time after time she would try to
tell Dave how deeply it bothered her that he preferred his family to hers,
but Dave always defended himself.
"A few years after graduate school Dave finally had the chance to relocate
to their hometown. He thought Jill would be thrilled because it meant
living near to her family too. He couldn't understand why she cried when
he told her about the opportunity. Once again she explained that she was
afraid to live near his family because of his preference for them. As
usual, he defended himself and couldn't see it from her viewpoint.
"On vacation they visited their hometown. As they were leaving his family,
he asked her, 'Tell me one more time why you don't want to move back?' She
explained once more and it finally got through. Since then, he has had
many opportunities to demonstrate his preference for Jill. She now feels
so secure that she is looking forward to the possibility of returning
home. Once again, the wife's gentle persistence brought lasting benefit to
her and her husband." Persistence, which is perseverance, can pay off as we apply it to
marriage. As the Bible says, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face
trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may
be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-
control, perseverance & perseverance, godliness; & to godliness, brotherly
kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these
qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective
and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone
does not have them he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he
has been cleansed from his past sins" (2 Peter 1:5-9).
We hope that together we will persevere in finding ways to live with each
other in understanding ways --those than reflect the love and character of
"My 6-year old was dazzled the first time he heard the Welsh language being spoken. 'Mom,' he said, 'it sounds like they're scribbling with their tongues.'" (Micky Miller Regal)
Have you ever felt like your spouse was "scribbling with their tongue' as you're trying to understand what he or she is talking about because it doesn't make any sense to you?
In our almost 42 years of marriage we can personally testify that we've been there many, many times when one of us will say something and the other will completely miss the point in what the other person is saying. And when this occurs it can be confusing and painful --for both of us!
So, to help all of us "unscramble" some of the mystery involved in this type of communication gap, we'd like to share with you a portion of what Dr. Judson Swihart (the Director of Counseling Services for Focus on the Family) wrote in the excellent book titled, "The First Five Years of Marriage." Whether you've been married 1 year, 5, or many more, we believe you'll benefit from the following, because as Swihart says (which we've found to be true):
"Any marriage counselor can provide tons of examples of husbands and wives who, having lived together for 20 or 30 years, are in some ways a mystery to each other. The obvious answer is that God chose to wire males and females very differently. Some would even suggest that this illustrates His sense of humor."
He then goes on to give the following insights: "It's possible that the communication gender gap lies in how messages are PERCEIVED. But the style and content of the messages themselves differ, too. Men tend to use language to transmit information, report facts, fix problems, clarify status, and establish control. Women are more likely to view language as a means to greater intimacy, stronger relationships, and fostering cooperation rather than competition.
"In other words, it's 'debate vs. relate.' That means you & your spouse may be tuned in to very different 'meanings' in what each of you is saying. This provides fertile ground for hurt feelings & misunderstandings. What one of you thinks is the other's 'hidden meaning' can be 180 degrees out of line with what the speaker really intends to communicate.
"This can lead to distorted conclusions about the other person's motivations. 'She's an unreasonable, demanding nag who won't leave me alone,' he thinks. 'He's an insensitive, domineering bore who doesn't have a clue about my feelings,' she tells herself.
"...Of course, one size never fits all. Females don't fit neatly into one communication-style box and males into another. Some men can be quite nurturing and emotionally empathetic in their language; some women are aggressive and task-oriented in theirs.
"Still, you needn't be surprised if you and your spouse seem to need a translator. In his book, 'How Do You Say I Love You?' Dr. Judson Swihart notes, 'Often the wife comes in [to the marriage] speaking French and the husband speaking German --in an emotional sense. Unless you hear love expressed in a language you can understand emotionally, it will have little value.' The author goes on to say, 'If you're going to communicate an attitude of love toward your spouse, you must learn to speak his or her language.
"It's hard to do that, if like too many couples, you enter marriage focused on BEING loved rather than GIVING love. Try making it your goal not to change your spouse but to adapt to his or her style of communication. Turn your attention to hearing the heart of your partner rather than to the frustration you may feel about not being heard or understood.
"If you feel stuck --that your marriage is in a hole that just gets deeper, do something about it. Schedule a time with each other once a week [or more often if you'd like] to try a communication exercise. For example, the wife talks 5-10 minutes about feelings or issues she has; the husband does nothing but listen. He may respond only with, 'I don't understand; could you restate that?' or 'What I hear you saying is…' Then he talks for 5-10 minutes and she listens. She can ask only for clarification or affirmation that she's hearing him accurately.
"At the end of the exercise, neither of you is allowed to try to 'straighten the other one out,' by reacting angrily to something you didn't want to hear, or debate the issue. During the next such 'date' [or time] the husband will talk first and the wife second.
"Other approaches to getting 'unstuck' include attending a well-recommended weekend Christian marriage retreat, participating in a couple's support group through your church, or enlisting the help of a licensed Christian marriage counselor.
"This is not a hopeless situation. In fact, compared to many marital conflicts, it's a state than can more quickly and remarkably improve --when two children of God who are committed to their marriage decide to work on it and seek appropriate help."
It's important that we reveal and reflect the heart of Christ within our marriages. If we aren't resolving conflict in healthy ways, what does that say to others, who may be considering making Christ their Savior and Lord (as we claim that we have done)? The testimony of our love for Christ and for each other should speak loudly through the ways we speak to an treat one another.
We need to understand that conflict is GOING TO HAPPEN in our marriages --that's a given, because of the closeness of the relationship and because the enemy of our faith works overtime to try to get us to fight against each other. After all, if we're fighting against each other, our attention is taken away from fighting against the adversary --the enemy of God.
For this reason (and many more) it's even more important to LEARN how to deal with and resolve conflicts in God-honoring ways. We pray that Marriage Missions International will continue to be a resource for you in this endeavor, through what God leads us to make available on the web site Marriagemissions.com for your use in the "Communication and Conflict" and the "Communication Tools" and the "Gender Differences" Topic (along with other topics, as well). We hope this will help.
May God Bless your relationship,
Cindy and Steve Wright
"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else" - Yogi Berra.
Do you have a "purpose-driven marriage?" Read on for some interesting thoughts on the subject, written by Dr Fred Lowery, from his book, "Covenant Marriage": "Here's an important principle every married person and every person thinking about marriage--should know: A good marriage doesn't happen by accident. In fact, to survive amidst all the pressures, pains and pitfalls of life in the twenty-first century, a marriage today must be more proactive and more intentional than ever before. It must be PURPOSE DRIVEN.
"What does it mean to have a purpose-driven marriage? It means that you and your spouse have a basic understanding of the kind of marriage you are trying to build and what it will take to make it happen. It means that you are willing to work together toward that common goal. But most couples I talk to in premarital counseling haven't got a clue what the purpose of their marriage is.
"When I say to the typical prospective groom, 'What is the purpose and goal of your marriage?' he shifts his feet around and finally says, 'I don't know. I just love her' (which is a hormonally driven expression for, 'I want s-x without guilt').
"When I ask the typical bride-to-be the same question, she rolls her eyes, giggles, and utters a few words in fairy-tale language about finally finding her 'Knight in shining armor.' (That's female speak for, 'I'm being rescued from my home by one who will wow me for the rest of my life.') "In a magazine article titled, 'Marriage: What's the Point?' author Susan Dixon admits that she stood at an altar in a beautiful white gown and said, 'I do' without having the slightest idea of what she was getting herself into. 'It took nearly twenty-five years and a divorce before I began to understand something I should have known before that ceremony ever took place,' she writes. 'In the quarter century that has passed since I naively repeated my wedding vows, I've become more and more aware that relationships die for lack of purpose. If there is no valid, defined, and acknowledged purpose for our relationship, chances are we'll have trouble keeping it alive.'
"Do you know what is the purpose of marriage? What is the purpose of YOUR marriage? Do you have a well-defined purpose? Do you know where your relationship is headed? Do you know where you want your marriage is headed? Do you know where you want your marriage to be 5, 10, or 30 years from now? "Do you have common hopes and dreams for the future? This is an important question because, as Neil Clark Warren writes in "The Triumphant Marriage," without a shared dream a marriage relationship 'will eventually die.' According to Warren, dreams inspire hope & thereby 'stimulates the brain and mobilize the action center. Hope stimulates planning. Planning produces behavior designed to move you forward.' The end result is positive progress in a marriage relationship. "If you can answer 'yes' to these three essential questions, Warren asserts, you have a healthy dream and will serve your marriage well: - "Is a dream equally inclusive of both you and your [future] spouse and your life together? - "Is the dream broad enough? - "Are both of you strongly committed to the dream you have for your life together?
WHAT ABOUT YOUR VALUES AND BELIEFS?
- "Do you and your [future] spouse share the same values?
- "Do you have similar religious beliefs?
- "What is really important to each of you?
"These are critical questions. Even secular counselors acknowledge the importance of shared beliefs & values in building a successful marriage. If you're not sure what you value, ask yourself:
- "What do I really want to be?
- "What do I really want to do?
- "What do I really want to have?
"Get your [future] spouse to answer the same questions, & then discuss your responses together. What values and beliefs do your answers reflect? What are you expecting out of marriage? What are the expectations of your mate? Ecstatic bliss? A romantic paradise? Do you both want children, & if
so, how many? Do you expect to make enough money to build a dream house? "How realistic are your expectations & what happens when they're not met? What happens when your relationship gets boring? When it gets bumpy or bitter? What price are you willing to pay to have a great marriage that goes the distance? Are you both willing to make the relationship an absolute priority? Are you willing to be there for your spouse even through the bad times?
"Is your marriage self-centered or God-centered? Is your 1st thought, 'What will make me happy?' Or is it, 'What will make my Lord happy & ultimately strengthen my relationship with my spouse? Do you approach your marriage as a contract or a covenant? The Bible clearly reveals that covenant oneness with your mate --oneness that is spiritual, emotional and physical --is God's ultimate goal and purpose for marriage. Two become one. If you approach marriage as a covenant, you already have this built- in purpose. Your relationship with your spouse (next to our relationship with God) is the most important thing in your life. "If you approach marriage as a contract, however, you're likely to emphasize rules and regulations over relationship. Many self-help books on the market offer practical rules for living with a spouse and promise that if you'll just follow those rules, you'll have a happy marriage. The problem is, when you emphasize following rules over building relationship, you only breed resentment and rebellion in your mate. Rules without relationship equal disaster in a marriage."
Is your marriage purpose-driven --one that honors God and doesn't pattern itself by the world's standards? As Dr. Lowrey also said: "Clearly we can no longer pattern our marriages after the people around us--if we ever could. Not only does the world not know how to divorce-proof its marriages, it is well on the way to making broken relationships the norm!" If you consider yourselves "Christians" it's important to study the Scriptures, & live your marriage as God created it to be: A sacred, permanent, covenant commitment. Line your marriage up with God's original plan and work His plan. That will involve being willing to die to our own agendas, putting our marriages and our spouse' interests above our own self-interest. Nothing less will do. Cindy and Steve Wright
Men, have you ever asked yourself, “‘Have I been the kind of person my
wife has been able to love?’ If you have, you certainly are in the minority. And if you’ve asked your wife, ‘Have I been the kind of person
you love to love?’ you are in an even greater minority. Most wives are
desperately trying to honor their husbands. But the typical husband
doesn’t know what it means to open his heart and let his wife in. When a
wife sees that her husband has discovered her need to know what is in his heart, and that he is genuinely concerned about becoming the kind of man
that she can truly love, she will be ecstatic.” (Ken Nair from Discovering
the Mind of a Woman)
After Cindy addressed “What Men Want in Marriage” last week I thought it
was only fair that I (Steve) turned the tables and addressed the other
side. At the outset I need to say that I don’t consider myself an expert
on what wives “need” in marriage, though I’ve read a lot in an effort to
learn how to be the kind of husband Cindy needs.
By no means is this going to be an exhaustive list. If anything this will
only scratch the surface. But one thing I know about men is that we can
become easily overwhelmed (flooded) by too much information and we’ll
withdraw if we start to feel that way.
So, my goal is to give husbands a few of the key areas to begin to work on so that our wives will sense we’re willing to open our hearts to them and
genuinely want to meet their deepest needs. So the following is a partial
list (that I’ll expand on) derived from what women wrote to Promise
Keepers a few years ago as compiled in a book by Holly Phillips called,
What Does She Want From Me Anyway?
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband willing to assume spiritual leadership of the
family. This doesn’t mean a husband who quotes or twists scripture to get
his wife to do what he wants.
Sadly, we men have abused the scriptures for centuries and as a result
have left a wake of badly injured wives as a result. Spiritual leadership
is not memorizing the Bible or preaching a sermon. It’s understanding what the scriptures say and using them as a guide for loving (not manipulating) your wife. “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) If we spent the next year focusing just on developing those spiritual qualities it would make a radical change in how we love our wives.
Spiritual leadership also means being willing to pray with our wives and
not just for them. Cindy and I know how awkward it is to start this
practice and how uncomfortable it can make you feel. But we also know that this is the one spiritual leadership practice that can have the most
positive and dramatic affect on your marriage.
Start simple. Maybe just by taking your wife’s hands in yours before you
leave the house in the morning and praying, “Lord, thank you for this
precious gift you’ve given me in _____. Bless her richly today and protect
her while I’m away; in Jesus name, Amen.”
One woman said of her husband’s prayers for her, “When Ron prays for me, I feel as if I’m covered by a velvety blanket of protection. Even though I still face problems and setbacks, his prayers shelter me from the
sharpness of the pain.” [Cindy says she feels the same way when I pray over her.]
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who will listen to his wife.
I admit this doesn’t come naturally for me or most men. But that doesn’t
mean we’re to be given a “pass” on it. It means we have to be willing to
learn how to listen (Webster’s Dictionary says it is “to make a conscious
effort to hear; attend closely”) I’ve found that if I am to truly listen
(make a conscious effort) to hear Cindy I’ll have to put down what I’m
reading, or turn the television off and look her in the eyes.
I like the way Ken Nair puts it. “Listening to her means to stop placing
little or no value on her words. Concentrate on what she’s saying. Learn
to hear what her feelings are saying —not only what her mouth is saying.”
This is another skill that takes time to develop but the payoff is
tremendous in building intimacy with our wives. After 33 years of marriage I’ve found that when I take the time to connect with Cindy at this level it’s like I’ve just given her the most expensive diamond in the world. That’s how much she longs to be heard and understood.
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who’ll protect his wife and make her feel secure. This means more than protecting her from physical harm. It also means protecting her from emotional harm.
I don’t believe there’s anything (short of adultery or physical violence)
that’s more destructive in a marriage than a husband who puts his wife
down in public. What many men consider a “harmful little joke” about their wife’s cooking, her appearance, the way she keeps house, etc. can in
effect be tantamount to verbally raping her. That’s how hurtful our words
can be. Proverbs 12:18 sums it up. “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” And the second part of the verse sums up how we can protect our wives: “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Protecting our wives also means we’re to defend their honor and integrity
to our family members. If we have parents or siblings who try to tear our
wives down it is our God given responsibility to defend them and make it
absolutely clear that you will not tolerate any slander or verbal abuse
against your wife. As for security, that comes when our wives know there
is no one or no thing that comes before her-not our jobs, our friends, our
hobbies, our sports, etc.
We also build security in our wives when we as men take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, especially when it comes to sexual temptation.
I’m not talking about just pornography, I also mean the way we look at
other women or talk about how other women look. If you want to find out
how well you’re doing in this area, just ask your wife to read this part
of the message and then ask if she feels secure.
A WOMAN NEEDS a husband who is a full partner in the marriage.
I like expressing this is by using the term, “Oneness” in marriage. This
means in areas like disciplining and caring for the children, making
financial or other major decisions, sharing responsibilities in keeping
the house up. The opposite of oneness is alienation and if we as the
husband don’t become full partners with our wives they will have the
tendency to feel alienated from us, and that is not good.
I realize that I could have addressed dozens of other needs our wives have but I believe I’ve given you enough to begin to make a huge difference in your relationship if you will but ask God to help you to implement the areas where you have identified that you are weak. God promises us husbands in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness. ”A WORD OF CAUTION TO WIVES: Don’t e-mail or hand this message to your husband and tell him he “has to read this” if he’d be offended by that. Believe me, it will have the opposite effect from what you desire.
If he normally doesn’t read the Marriage Message, maybe you could ask him if he’d be willing to give you a gift. When he asks what you mean tell him that the greatest gift he could give you would be to read this article and then answer just one question when he’s done: “Did you learn anything new about me just now?” He may or may not do it. Then leave the printed message in a conspicuous place where he might see and read it later — like in the bathroom.
As always, Cindy and I pray that we will make our marriages a priority and learn what each other needs so that God will get all of the glory. We pray this has been helpful! God Bless you!
"Virtually all couples, happy and unhappy, are going to argue,
particularly in the early stages of marriage. What tends to predict the
future of a relationship is not what you argue about, but when you do
argue, how you handle your negative emotions." (Howard Markman)
Does the above statement make sense to you? It makes more sense to us as
we continually research marriage compatibility. We used to think happily
married couples learned the secret of not arguing with each other --that
conflict was what destroyed good marriages. We now know that the problem
isn't that we disagree with each other but how constructively we're able
to work through it so the relationship stays in tact and loving. That
comes about because the couple acts in respectful ways even when
disagreeing--honoring the other persons feelings.
We came across an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, "The Key to
a Lasting Marriage." It says that "even happy couples aren't totally
compatible" --which seems like a surprising statement. But as we share
portions of this article, prayerfully consider what God says to you and
how you can apply it to your own marriage. The author, Hilary Stout writes:
"A growing body of research suggests there's no such thing as a compatible
couple. This may come as no surprise to all those who have endured years
of thermostat wars, objectionable spending habits and maddening tendencies
at the wheel. But it flies in the face of Hollywood, most people's fantasies, and dating web sites selling scientific screening to find a perfect match. Years of relationship studies make it clear that most couples, whether they're happy or not, have a similar number of irreconcilable differences. What's more, all couples --happy or not --tend to argue about the same things. Top of the list, whether rich or poor, is money. Other topics include household chores, work obligations, kids & differing priorities.
"'Compatibility is misunderstood and overrated,' says Ted Huston, a
professor of psychology and human ecology. Mr. Huston and his colleagues
have been following 168 couples since they married during the 1980s. This
study and others like it make it clear that most dangerous disagreements
that arise in marriage --69% of them, are never resolved. The result has
been a gradual shift in marriage therapy, toward helping spouses manage,
accept, and even honor their discord, rather than trying to resolve the
un-resolvable. One national couples-counseling program suggests spouses
schedule a regular weekly date to argue. Others now offer instruction in
arguing. Some encourage couples to single out problems that can be dealt
with and accept that most (like how tidy the house should be) will never
"Of course some conflicts do matter deeply --he wants children and she
doesn't, to name a big one; alcoholism and infidelity, to name a couple
more. Differing religions and cultural attitudes also are problematic,
especially after the couple has children, says Scott Stanley, co-director
of the Center for Martial and Family Studies at the University of Denver.
He and co-director Howard Markman have done extensive studies tracking
couples from courtship through years of marriage. But the bottom line,
Markman says, is that 'virtually all couples, happy and unhappy, are going
to argue. What tends to predict the future of a relationship is not what
you argue about, but when you do argue, how you handle your negative
emotions.' This has led some in the profession to develop rules that can
make arguing less destructive:
- "Don't escalate an argument by blurting out generalizations" 'You
always...' Stay on a specific subject. Don't drag past events, behavior
and lingering grudges into the discussion.
- "Try not to interrupt --let your spouse finishing making a point before
you jump in.
- "Take a little time to cool down after a heated argument. But within an
hour, having a 'reconcillatory conversation,' which will result in a
more level-headed, productive discussion.
The article then tells of an experiment conducted by Dr. John Gottman's
Relationship Lab. They videoed couples arguing and monitored their heart
rates. Research has shown if your heart exceeds 100 beats per minute you
usually won't be able to rationally listen to what your spouse is trying
to tell you no matter how hard they try. Taking a 20-30 minute break
before continuing is suggested. When their heart rate rose above 100 the
researchers interrupted and said (falsely) that their equipment was
malfunctioning. [In the experiment]… "They asked couples to stop and read
a magazine until it was fixed. Once both people's heart rate had dropped
down to normal range, after about a half-hour, the researchers announced
the equipment was fixed and the couples started up their disagreement
again. The change after the interlude was marked. 'It was like it was a
different relationship,' Gottman says. Everyone was 'much more rational
"While airing differences is important, make sure to set aside some time
where discussing areas of discord is off-limits, Mr. Stanley and Mr.
Markman say. A walk by the river on a beautiful autumn day isn't the time
to bring up problems; it's a time to enjoy each other and remember what
attracted you to each other in the first place. Instead set aside a time
to talk about the things that are bothering you. Like many married
couples, Jim and Kathryn have a Saturday 'date' built into their weekly
schedules. The purpose isn't to catch a movie or dinner. Essentially, it
is to argue. On the recommendation of Mr. Stanley, the couple started
going out every Saturday morning to discuss problems and issues. At first
it felt a little awkward. Once they settled into the routine, it proved helpful.
"Before, discord could erupt at any moment and tempers would flare. Now,
knowing they have a set time to discuss difficult issues is comforting and
leaves them the rest of the week to relax. In fact, they rarely argue
during sessions anymore. They simply work through issues.
"RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: The following are some tips for fighting effectively
with your spouse:
- "Stay focused on the subject of disagreement ...Don't generalize (as in 'You always do___')
- "Don't bring up past events and old grudges ...Don't interrupt ...Don't use insults
- "Don't use inflammatory language, like 'This marriage is doomed.'
- "Don't stonewall [blocking the argument from allowing both sides to be
- "Try to say 'I' (as in 'I think) rather than the more inflammatory 'You'
(as in 'You don't')"
All of this comes down to being respectful of one another --even in your
anger. In Ephesians 4:26-27, the Bible says, "In your anger do not sin. Do
not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil a foot-
hold." The Life Application Bible explanation for these verses reads “The
Bible doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t feel angry. It is important to
handle our anger properly. If vented thoughtlessly, anger can hurt others
and destroy relationships. If bottled up inside, it can cause us to become
bitter and destroy us from within. Paul tells us to deal with our anger in
a way that builds relationships rather than destroys them. If we nurse our
anger, we give Satan an opportunity to divide us.”
So the challenge isn’t to eliminate conflict but to find ways to deal with
it so we resolve it in ways that honors each other and honors God.
Some spouses set themselves up to leave their marriages because they never properly "cleaved" to their spouse in the first place. The Bible says in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." As author Dennis Rainey comments on this verse: "The word, 'cleave," in the Hebrew language means to literally 'stick like glue.' It means to cling. Perhaps a modern-day illustration would be to take objects and super-glue or weld them together to become inseparable - bonded together. That's what God wants us to do in the marriage relationship. He wants us to leave our father and mother. He wants us to forsake dependence on them, and He wants us to turn to our spouse, & be committed to one another for a lifetime." In this message, we're going to look at the subject of leaving & cleaving from several sources, to gain a better understanding of what we promise when we marry. Even if you've been married 50 years, you can still begin to do things right, if you haven't so far. Each day can bring a new beginning.
- On the subject of leaving and cleaving, from the web site, 5Lovelanguages.com: "What does this leaving and cleaving look like in daily life? It means that we no longer 'lean' on our parents, but on each other. It means that we do not allow parents to dominate our lives. We show them respect by listening to their ideas or suggestions, but we make our own decisions.
"We do not run to them with a list of our spouse's failures. Parents are not in the best position to be our counselor. Leaving means that we seek to be financially independent from our parents as soon as possible. We are grateful for their contribution to our lives, but now we want to make our own way. Leaving means that we build upon the foundation which they have given us."
- From the c-c.org web site article, "Leaving & Cleaving is Not Easy": After we get married, if we still cling on to our family of origin and are not willing to let go, it will not be easy for us to cling on to our spouse as strongly as we should! If our parents cling on to us & will not 'release' us to our spouse, then there will also be problems.
Finally, when our children form families & we won't allow them to 'leave' us & cling on to their spouses, then we'll be the ones creating the problems!
"What does leaving' mean? It doesn't mean we make sharp cuts in our relationships such that we have nothing more to do with the other family. We don't want to cut off relationship. For example, when we 'leave' our family of origin we move the priority of relationship from our parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., to our spouse and to our children. Then we can cling to our spouse with full commitment and loyalty. If ever there comes a clash of interests, we stand with our spouse and children rather than with our family of origin. When our children get married we'll encourage them to move their priorities to their spouses rather than cling to us.
- And here's a different take on this issue from the nbbconline.com article, "Leaving and Cleaving," which centers on the Bible verse, Deuteronomy 24:5. They tell us, "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business; but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he has taken."
"The Bible doesn't say that a man is obligated to cheer up his parents, does it? Nor is the bride to be distracted by parental feelings… Scripture says that, as a newlywed, the groom shouldn't be charged with ANY business --including yours, dear mother (or father)! Including yours, dear mother-in-law (or father-in law)! Mind your own business so your son or son-in-law can mind his! His business is to cheer up his new wife --don't interfere with his God given assignment.
"Don't interfere with God's business of building unity in their marriage! Do you realize that if a man does not come to understand his wife and honor her as God says he is to do, his prayer life is hindered?
Do you want to be responsible for slowing down your son or son-in-law's understanding of his wife and mess up his prayer life? I hope not..."
- From the article, "God's Design for Building Your Marriage," this Bible.org quote on this subject gives the following insight: "The word 'cleave' (KJV) or 'unites with' (NET) involves bonding together, much like gluing two things. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament gives synonyms for the Hebrew word: 'cling to, stick to, stick with, join to.'
"When something breaks at our house, my husband often uses super glue to bond the pieces together. In fact, the bond is so strong that he has to be careful not to get the glue on his hand or he will become permanently attached to it as well! What insights does this give you about oneness? Cleave 'carries the sense of clinging to someone in affection and loyalty.' "We need to consider what it means to 'cleave' so that we can better understand what it means to 'leave.' Leave involves more than distance. It is an attitude of the heart. God's plan for marriage involves oneness. In order for two to become one, they cannot still be attached to anyone else --parents, siblings, or friends. They cannot cleave unless they leave their family of origin. There are women (and men) who live next door to their parents and yet have 'left' them. "Please understand that this does not mean that you cannot love your family and talk to them, etc.; however, there is a point at which you are can be attached to them so strongly that you fail to leave as you should. Sometimes it is the parents who cannot let the child leave. However, notice that the verse clearly calls the child to leave, not the parents to force them out. The responsibility is upon you to make the break from your home. You may need to help them let go."
- From "Strengthening Your Marriage" by Wayne Mack, as posted on Longresourcepages.org, we're told what leaving "DOES NOT MEAN": "It does not mean that you must make a move away from the vicinity in which your parents live. Living too close to parents at the beginning of a marriage may make it more difficult to leave, but it is possible to leave your father and mother and still live next door. Conversely, it is possible to live a thousand miles away from your parents and not leave them. In
fact, you may not have left your parents even though they are dead."
However, what it DOES MEAN is: "Once you are married there is to be a fundamental change in your relationship with your parents. Leaving your parents means: The husband-wife relationship is now the priority relationship. Your relationship with your parents must now take a back seat to your relationship with your spouse. In fact, all other relationships must now be secondary. "It means that you're more concerned about your spouse's ideas, opinions, & directives than you are of your parents (or anyone else). Sometimes there is a power struggle between the two sets of parents. A husband & wife must be careful that they don't allow parents to manipulate them."
One of the original purposes of marriage as God intended it in Eden was to reflect His image. That means marriage is about something bigger than the two of us. Marriage is one of God's primary means of speaking to the world. An athlete doesn’t enjoy the pain of serious training. But he trains for the future reward of winning. This is the challenge for marriage—to sacrifice my momentary definition of happiness for the long-term good of my spouse, thus reflecting God's heart and earning His praise, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Al Janssen, from his excellent book, "The Marriage Masterpiece").
As the celebration of Easter and Good Friday draws near and there are so many that are experiencing revival in their spirit as the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" has been showing throughout our communities making us all the more aware of the sacrifices Christ made for us, we feel moved to focus this marriage message on the bigger picture of what it takes to truly love each other. It's one thing to vow we will love each other until we're parted by death in our wedding ceremonies. It's another thing entirely to live it out each day as God would have us.
For this message we'd like to share a portion of the book titled, "The Healthy Marriage Handbook... Solid Answers to More than 200 Questions That Will Strengthen & Enhance Your Marriage" (from the editors of Marriage Partnership Magazine, Broadman & Holman Publishers ISBN 080549054-X). These particular thoughts can be found in the chapter: When Loving Feelings Take Effort by Jerry Bridges, with Annette La Placa. We pray you'll find it as inspiring as we have:
Question: There are times I find it nearly impossible to love my spouse. And yet I know I'm commanded, as a Christian, to do so. Should I put up a false front & act as if I have tender feelings toward my spouse, even when my feelings would dictate that I behave otherwise?
No one before or since has loved more—or sacrificed more for those He loved—than Jesus did. And following His example begins with the "good news" –the gospel.
I want to love my wife the way Jesus would, so I preach the gospel to myself every day. If I didn't, it would be easy to forget the impact of God's mercy on my own life. Knowing, really knowing, God's love and forgiveness toward me makes it possible for me to love my wife—especially during the times when it doesn't come naturally.
But I couldn't choose that loving alternative without God's power to fuel my actions. Paul said, "I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). That's the secret weapon we obtain when we understand the gospel—the power of God to live His love through us.
Paul encouraged us to "be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us & gave Himself for us" (Ephesians 5:1-2). A second clue to loving the way Jesus did is to see ourselves as God's "dearly loved children". The extent to which you believe you're dearly loved by God, that's the extent to which you can love others.
I recently received a letter from a woman who for years had felt trapped in a continuous cycle of guilt & confession. When she finally realized her guilt had already been taken care of by Christ's sacrifice, her life changed dramatically. She had discovered the freedom and power that comes with being God's dearly loved child, and it enabled her to start showing patience and kindness toward her husband.
I can't ignore the instruction in Ephesians 5 to love my wife with the love of Christ, who "loved the church and gave Himself for her." Sacrificial love sounds great—on paper. But every married person knows how tough it is to put into practice. Too bad the Bible doesn't say: "Love your wife as Christ loved the church, and here are 10 easy steps for accomplishing that."
Christ set the example for sacrificial love when He left heaven's glory to live 33 years of grime, dust, humanness, and rejection, all without sinning, just so He could give Himself up for the people He loved. For Christ, love was a motive, not a duty.
I admit that too many times I've served my wife out of a sense of duty or to keep peace, without the motive of love. Reality is messy, and I'm still learning what it means to love as Christ loved when my desires conflict.
Jesus' sermon to husbands and wives delivers a tall order: "Remember my love and sacrifice for you, and do the same for your spouse. Love each other the way I did." It would be an impossible task if we didn't have our secret weapon: God's power to love, which He has freely given to His dearly loved children.
“We live by encouragement and die without it—slowly, sadly, angrily.”
(Celeste Holm) “The lack of encouragement is almost epidemic today. It’s
the reason people dread going to work in the morning. It’s why kids can’t
wait to get out of school — and why some people can’t wait to get out of
a marriage. What is it that enables us to give our mates this crucial
encouragement? Grace—it’s the lubricant that lessens the friction in
marriage and keeps the gears of the relationship running smoothly.”
(Dr Charles Swindoll) Cindy and I (Steve) firmly believe that what Chuck
Swindoll says about encouragement being “the oil that lubricates our soul”
is so true and necessary to apply in marriage. One of my (Steve’s)
prominent spiritual gifts is being an encourager. Because encouraging
others comes easy for me, it’s hard to imagine that there are so many
spouses (maybe even you) who never hear an encouraging word from their
mate. But where does the ability to encourage come from? Pastor, author,
and speaker, Chuck Swindoll, believes it is linked to grace (showing
favor to someone even if they don’t deserve it). And Chuck’s premise
is that if we understand our Biblical roles as husbands and wives, we
will begin to see that through the grace of God we all have the power
to be an encourager in our marriages. The problem we have, is that the
“roles” that husband and wives play in marriage have been blurred in
recent times. Although that can be a bad thing — when the new “role”
that is being lived out is in conflict with what God’s Word says. But
it can be a good thing when one partner has dominated over the other
in an un-Biblical way but now is backing away from that approach.
This Marriage Message is not going to give you a list of roles for
Godly husbands and Godly wives. Rather we’re going to touch upon a
few points where you might give grace (unmerited favor) and encouragement
to your spouse. One point we’d like to touch upon is where the Bible
tells the man he is responsible for is the spiritual leadership of the
home. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and
gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing
with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant
church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and
blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) When you wash your wife with the water
of the Word, just make sure you don’t drown her with it by pushing
her face into it to such an extent that instead of being drawn to it
she runs away from it because you overwhelm her with your power. Give
her grace and encourage her by letting her see you living the water of
the Word out in your life to such an extent that she wants to drink of
it also — much as what the woman at the well experienced by the way
Jesus approached her. And wives: give your husband grace in learning
how to be the spiritual leader. “I think a wife needs to understand
that it may take years for a man to grow spiritually so that he can
lead his wife in this area. I would guess that most men did not have
a good model of spiritual leadership in their homes as they grew up.
Barbara and I have prayed regularly as a couple for our entire marriage.
But it has only been in the last few years that we have had morning
devotions with the kids before they headed off to school. In the past,
we would have devotions, but with a young family and an incredible
diversity of age span and needs, it was sporadic. And it was a challenge!”
(Dennis Rainey, from the article posted on the Family Life Web site
Familylife.com, titled, “A Husband’s Spiritual Leadership”)
One thing that could help with this could be the list of “25 Ways
to Spiritually Lead Your Wife” which is posted on the Family Life
Today web site at Familylife.com. Three of the 25 — which we will
add comments to with [brackets] around them are:
1. Pray daily with her. [A good thing would be to pray WITH her and FOR her.]
2. Discover her top 3 needs and over the next 12 months go all out to meet them.
3. Protect your family from evil [and that includes any evil that you
might say to them if you abuse them with unkind and unwholesome words].
And then there is the part of the Bible that tells women: “A wife of noble
character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband
has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him
good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)
Wives: are you acting as a wife of noble character bringing your husband
good and not nagging him so much that he can’t hear the Lord speaking to
The Bible tells the wife to “submit to the husband as unto the Lord.” This
doesn’t mean she is to be a weak, un-opinionated woman. But read what
Cynthia Heald says about it. She said, “Submission is ducking low enough
to let God fix your husband.” Can you do that? If so, you’re fulfilling
a distinct role as a Godly wife. God is your husband’s Holy Spirit—not
you. “Ephesians 5:33 commands, “The wife must respect her husband.” There
are times when that is a hard job; you may not feel that your husband is
worthy of respect. However, you are still commanded to respect him.
Even if there are many things that he has done wrong, you can find
something to respect. Try to remember what you respected about him when
you were dating. Does he work hard to financially support the family?
Does he play ball with your child? He may not be doing all that you
wish he were doing, but you have to focus positively on the things
that he is doing. Verbalize to him your appreciation. When you affirm
him and let him know that you value his work, it will be easier for
him to continue to lead lovingly.” (Barbara Rainey, from the article,
“A Wife’s Job Description” posted on the Familylife.com web site)
And husbands: are you listening to your wife as the help-mate God
assigned her to be for you in marriage? When you do that, she doesn’t
feel as desperate to “nag.”
Read what author Gary Thomas said about his wife (which hopefully may
inspire you to do the same. He wrote: “I refer to my wife as my “God
thermometer.” If I wake up and discover that I am not moved by the
miracle of her life and love for me; if I am not cherishing her and
honoring her, I look up and do a heart check with God. The fact is,
God knows my wife far better than I do, and He cherishes her. The
closer I grow to Him and the more time I spend communing with Him,
the more He will share with me His heart for my wife. I’ve come to
learn that the state of my marriage has as much to say about my
relationship with God as it does about my relationship with my wife.
(From the article, The Transforming Miracle of Marriage, as posted
on ncfliving.org) This week we exhort you to begin to encourage
your spouse. Don’t wait for him or her to do it first. You start…
even if he or she doesn’t “deserve” to be encouraged! By doing so
you are exercising what God’s word tells us to do.
Steve and Cindy Wright