Great Marriages…What do they look like?

If you were to sum up what it took to have a great marriage or what did it look like to have a marriage that strives to be great, what would you say? What would be some of the driving principles?

There are many marriages out there. We encounter all different types. There are those who seem to be Newlyweds; they are staring longingly into each other’s eyes. They are holding hands and walking almost in stride with one another. Then you may encounter those who seem to have been married for a long time; they are somewhat synced with one another, yet they seem to lack that “passion” they expressed when they were first married. Then you may encounter those that are just getting by; they are more like “room mates” then they are a married couple. They get along, they co-exist, they share all the bills and revenue; however, once again, the “romance” is not dwindling, it is non existent. 

Wouldn’t it be such a change in all our marriages if we put forth the effort each and everyday to treat our marriages as the ordained gift from God…that they are!!

So, here are some avenues that we feel reflect a Great Marriage: 

1. Great Marriages always have contentment but never have complacency. 
Contentment means choosing to always be thankful for what you already have whether it’s a little or a lot. Great couples have an “attitude of gratitude” for all they’ve already got, but they refuse to get on autopilot and stop dreaming new dreams together. They’re content, but never complacent. They’re thankful, but always moving forward together to reach new heights.

2. Great Marriages don’t have any secrets.
Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage, and strong couples have learned that secrets in marriage can be as dangerous as lies. When a husband and wife choose to communicate about everything (the good, the bad and the ugly), it brings a level of trust and intimacy that can’t be achieved any other way.

3. Great Marriages don’t have an “Exit Strategy.”
Commitment leads to trust which leads to intimacy which leads to great marriages. The word “divorce” needs to be completely removed from your mind and your vocabulary if you want to create the stability necessary for a great marriage.

4. Great Marriages prioritize Fun.
Laughter is the soundtrack of a great marriage. They plan and prioritize activities that will create fun and happy memories. Those activities don’t need to be expensive or elaborate, but they need to be deliberate. An easy way to get started is to ask each other some date night questions. 

5. Great Marriages keep an optimistic outlook.
Happy couples face the same struggles as unhappy couples, but they choose to face those struggles with a hopeful perspective and an optimistic outlook. Always choose to see the best in each other and in the world around you.

6. Great Marriages don’t live on leftovers.
We’re all sometimes guilty of giving our spouse our “leftovers” after we’ve given our best energies to our job and other demands. Vibrant couples always strive to give each other the very best of themselves.

7. Great Marriages have a foundation of faith.
Couples who pray together are much more likely to stay together. I believe that God is the only “perfect” part of a marriage, so the more of Him you have in your relationship, the more perfect it will become! Keep your marriage centered on Christ!

The Lies That Lead to Divorce

In the past years that Kerry and I have done marriage counseling, there is usually one common thread that we have encountered; it’s the lies that the individuals try to tell themselves so as to justify their dissatisfaction in their marriage. Thus building new lies to justify a divorce. The sad part is, they begin to completely believe these lies.

Currently in America, nearly 55% of all couples who make a vow to love each other “til death do us part” end up calling it quits, so some people believe that the success or failure of their marriage is just a “coin toss” left to chance and completely out of their hands. Kerry and I firmly believe that the basic steps to success in marriage are within your grasp; it’s based on your choice and action…not random chance. It begins by understanding and avoiding some of the strongest reasons why marriages fail. Or better yet, why we allow marriages to fail.

As I stated before, most divorces begin by believing a lie. Here are some of the most common lies that lead to divorce:

1. My spouse doesn’t make me happy anymore.

It may be true that you’re unhappy, but it’s a lie to think that your spouse has the power or the responsibility to make you happy. Putting the pressure on your spouse to create your happiness puts an unrealistic burden on both of you and puts more value on your unstable feelings than on your foundational commitment. You need to first and foremost seek Holiness in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Then and only then can the overflow of His love produce happiness.

2. It would be easier to start over with someone new than to try and fix our relationship.

When you’ve been through lots of difficulties and frustrations in your marriage, it may seem easier to find the Exit Door and imagine starting over with somebody new, but the truth is that you’ll be taking all the unresolved pain and selfishness you hold with you into a new relationship, so you’re going to have to deal with it either way. You’re better off fixing what you’ve got than throwing it away. Seek Godly counsel and focus on what God expects from you as a spouse. As Christians, we have the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to renew and recharge any marriage, we just must choose to submit to that power.

3. The kids will be fine.

If you have children of any age, they’ll be negatively impacted in greater ways than you can imagine. You are displaying to each of them that a commitment made first before God and second to your family, is disposable. The divorce of a child’s parents (even if those children are nearly grown or adults themselves) almost always has emotionally devastating consequences. To believe otherwise is to believe one of the most dangerous lies about divorce.

4. We’ll never be able to make it work.


I’m not saying it will be easy, but Kerry and I have seen many couples come back from terrible places of loneliness and betrayal to create amazing marriages that are centered on God. Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never have a reason to get divorced, they’re the ones who decide that their commitment to one another is always more important than their differences and flaws. Keep fighting for each other and don’t give up! Your marriage is always worth the effort. When you choose to fight for your marriage, God will bless that decision, maybe not right away, but in the generations to come.

We don’t have all the answers; however, we rely on God’s word and His Spirit to daily guide us in our marriage. We decided a long time ago that we would never have an EXIT DOOR and we choose to love each other every day and grow closer by His hand.

It’s a choice…either believe the lies and focus on yourself or believe the One who originally ordained your marriage.

Again, it’s your choice.

A Lesson about Love after 66 Years of Marriage

I want to share this article I came across in my notes this past week. I do not know the author of this article, it might be from Gary Thomas or even from Matt Chandler, just don’t know the facts of who wrote it…However, I do know that it is a great article and a great lesson for all of us, married or not, to glean from.

My buddy Jamey is a police officer, and yesterday he had to report to a home where a woman had just died of natural causes. As he made his way into the house, he saw a frail, elderly man weeping by the bed where his beloved wife was laying. My friend was moved by the tenderness, devotion and love that had obviously held this marriage together for so many years.

After the Coroner had come, Jamey had the opportunity to sit down with the grieving husband to hear some wonderful stories. The old man seemed to have a surge of youthful energy in his voice and he described their marriage as teenagers and how they’d run off to the West Coast with only pennies in their pockets to start their new life together. There was an undeniable sparkle in his eye as he relived their lifetime of love and adventures.

He shared some of the good times and bad times and how their commitment to each other, their faith and family had kept them grounded through all the storms of life. He shared about the friendship that grew throughout their life as they became companions, confidants, and collaborators together through every season of their epic journey. Even as their health faded, their love grew.

They shared so much laughter and love, and even through the trials, they made sure there was always joy and fun!

When it came time for Jamey to leave, the old many shared one last thought that will forever stick in my mind. He said, “Sixty-six years together…it wasn’t nearly enough time! There was so much time I wasted that I wish I could go back and give to her and spend with her. It just wasn’t nearly enough time together.”

The lesson for all of us is to cherish your time together. Even in the little, everyday routines of life, be fully present in the moments together. Be willing to turn off the phones and screens and distractions and make time for each other. At the end of your life looking back, your faith in Christ and your family will be all that matters to you, so please don’t wait until then to make them your top priority!

Make a deliberate decision right now to stop wasting time and start putting first things first. You never made vows to love and cherish your career or hobbies so never put those things ahead of your marriage. Give the very best of yourself to your spouse; not the leftovers after you’ve given your best to everyone and everything else.

It’s my hope and prayer that your best days together are ahead of you and not behind you! In the good times, celebrate together, in the hard times, pray together, and in all times, be there together! Remember that a “perfect marriage” is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other!

U Pick ‘Em Date Night…

If you do not already know, we are big on “Date Nights.” Both Kerry and I enjoy heading out and spending time with each other. We have had very inexpensive date nights, just heading to the book store and browsing books and titles with each other, to weekend getaways. No matter what we did, we made a choice to be together, just the two of us. You can go to the Focus on the Family website for a very long list of date night ideas to help get you started or maybe even spark a new fire as you begin to date your spouse all over again!

I want to share one idea that we put into practice the past weekend. I called it the “U Pick ‘Em” date night. I took some blank note-cards, each colored differently, and choose 3 sets that matched up. On the first set of three, I wrote the name of one of Kerry’s favorite restaurants individually on each card. So there was now three restaurants, each individually written on a note-card.  I then took another matching set of 3 note-cards and repeated the process, except this time it was the name of a dessert location. Finally, I took the last set and wrote down three different evening activities we could do as a couple.  I placed all note-cards in their individual envelopes and sealed them.

Now the fun begins! I told her to be ready by 5pm. This was since I could not make reservations and because the date night will be much longer than usual. So at 5, I gave her the option of picking one of the three “Dinner” cards. She picked number 2 and off we went to P.F.Changs for dinner. After dinner, I then gave her the option of picking one of the three from the “Dessert” cards. She picked number 3 and off we went to Frost in Uptown for some gelato. By this time is was already 8:40 and we decided that since this was the end of the first week of school, we called it a night and we will save the last set for another date night.

This is a fun and different way to surprise your spouse on a date night. I will replace the dinner and desert ones with new ones and we will do this again soon.

So I’m curious…do you have any great date night ideas? Can you share what worked and possibly what failed miserably?  It would be great to hear from you.

10 Must-Haves for Your Marriage

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This list is from Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website; there was not a button to share it, so I’m just copying it for a post (it’s from his book, Love for a Lifetime).

So often when Kerry and I read lists we will try to add or subtract to the list. For the most part, this list is spot on…in my humble opinion.

So take time to go through this list and see if you would add to it. If you are a stickler about rules as I am, then for everyone you add, you should subtract one off.  Just sayin’

Dr. Dobson’s List

1. Reserve time for one another at all costs.

2. Spend only what you have — financial stress kills romance.

3. Leave no room for selfishness — be relationship givers and not takers.

4. Make sure the “leave and cleave” principle takes place (Genesis 2:24).

5. Bring your expectations in line with reality — the perfect spouse does not exist.

6. Trust one another and build reasonable boundaries — jealousy and trust rarely co-exist.

7. Avoid alcohol or substance abuse, pornography, gambling, and other potential addictions that will quickly kill your marriage and your life.

8. Be content with having enough — “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8).

9. Think of your marriage as a marathon — you will need determination and faith to go the distance of a lifetime.

10. Keep Christ at the center and remember His words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

 

The 10 Essentials for Your Marriage are based on 

Dr. James Dobson’s Love For A Lifetime

Viewing Others thru God’s Lens

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Looks can be deceiving. Judgments are made without regard to the individual; ideas and perceptions are placed into motion with little regard for the consequences of those initial thoughts. 

            I  pre-judged some individuals and immediately categorized them into a Class and Group.  Boy, was I ever wrong.  The Lord used that moment not only to humble my heart but also to teach me unconditional love and to remind me of my daughter’s actions when she was 5 years old; she is now almost 20.

            We were shopping in Target one afternoon when she asked if she could go pick out her cereal in the next aisle.  Before I could answer, she had scampered off around the corner.  As I was rounding the corner, I witnessed the love of God. 

            Samantha was assisting a young man, probably 14 years old, who has Down’s Syndrome.  She was reading the names of the cereals to him and informing him on which was her favorite as she asked him which was his.  Their conversation continued for another minute or so, with laughter and thanks being expressed.  The young man walked off with his cereal box while Samantha was still examining her choices.   

            I approached her with a smile that could melt the Poles.  I told her how proud I was of her and her showing of love to another individual.  She looked at me and gave a response that will forever be sealed in my memory.  She said, “What’s the big deal, Dad?  He is no different than me; he was also created in the image of God.”  With that, I realized, she gets it when many of us don’t.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….”

Genesis 1:26a

            The application here is we should all take time to reflect on His beauty and love.  For before we pre-judge or make decisions on individuals, young or old, rich or poor, we need to stop and look at them as if we were looking at the face of God.  That is showing Christ’s Love to all. That God-centered view will bring us closer to Him.

The Lies That Lead to Divorce

In the past years that Kerry and I have done marriage counseling,there is usually one common thread that

we have encountered; it’s the lies that the individuals try to tell themselves so as to justify their dissatisfaction in their marriage. Thus building new lies to justify a divorce. The sad part is, they begin to completely believe these lies.

Currently in America, nearly 55% of all couples who make a vow to love each other “til death do us part” end up calling it quits, so some people believe that the success or failure of their marriage is just a “coin toss” left to chance and completely out of their hands. Kerry and I firmly believe that the basic steps to success in marriage are within your grasp; it’s based on your choice and action…not random chance. It begins by understanding and avoiding some of the strongest reasons why marriages fail. Or better yet, why we allow marriages to fail.

As I stated before, most divorces begin by believing a lie. Here are some of the most common lies that lead to divorce:

1. My spouse doesn’t make me happy anymore.

It may be true that you’re unhappy, but it’s a lie to think that your spouse has the power or the responsibility to make you happy. Putting the pressure on your spouse to create your happiness puts an unrealistic burden on both of you and puts more value on your unstable feelings than on your foundational commitment. You need to first and foremost seek Holiness in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Then and only then can the overflow of His love produce happiness.

2. It would be easier to start over with someone new than to try and fix our relationship.

When you’ve been through lots of difficulties and frustrations in your marriage, it may seem easier to find the Exit Door and imagine starting over with somebody new, but the truth is that you’ll be taking all the unresolved pain and selfishness you hold with you into a new relationship, so you’re going to have to deal with it either way. You’re better off fixing what you’ve got than throwing it away. Seek Godly counsel and focus on what God expects from you as a spouse. As Christians, we have the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to renew and recharge any marriage, we just must choose to submit to that power.

3. The kids will be fine.

If you have children of any age, they’ll be negatively impacted in greater ways than you can imagine. You are displaying to each of them that a commitment made first before God and second to your family, is disposable. The divorce of a child’s parents (even if those children are nearly grown or adults themselves) almost always has emotionally devastating consequences. To believe otherwise is to believe one of the most dangerous lies about divorce.

4. We’ll never be able to make it work.

I’m not saying it will be easy, but Kerry and I have seen many couples come back from terrible places of loneliness and betrayal to create amazing marriages that are centered on God. Couples who make it aren’t the ones who never have a reason to get divorced, they’re the ones who decide that their commitment to one another is always more important than their differences and flaws. Keep fighting for each other and don’t give up! Your marriage is always worth the effort. When you choose to fight for your marriage, God will bless that decision, maybe not right away, but in the generations to come.

We don’t have all the answers; however, we rely on God’s word and His Spirit to daily guide us in our marriage. We decided a long time ago that we would never have an EXIT DOOR and we choose to love each other every day and grow closer by His hand.

It’s a choice…either believe the lies and focus on yourself or believe the One who originally ordained your marriage.

Again, it’s your choice.