10 Ways to Murder a Marriage (Part 2)

Learn-How-to-Heal-Your-Broken-MarriageThe following post is a continuation of an earlier post (find it here) describing behaviors that can murder a marriage.

6.  Refuse to forgive.  Some couples fight and refuse to forgive.  They stuff their anger, their resentments and their bitterness.  They refuse to forgive and move on.  The old negative behaviors of the past are allowed to accumulate in one’s heart and mind, like smelly garbage that is never taken out.

At some point, when this couple is in a heated battle, they open the garbage bag and drag out the past failures of their spouse.  Out comes nasty resentments and more anger.

Refusing to forgive can destroy the intimacy in a marriage and put one another at a distance.

7.  Be disrespectful to one another.  I once knew a couple who regularly showed disrespect toward one another.  They didn’t just disagree.  They wanted to hurt one another.  She would accuse him of not being a real man with any backbone.  He accused her of being cold and unresponsive.  Their language toward one another was demeaning and hurtful.

Disrespect can slowly destroy the tenderness that a couple may have had toward one another at one time.

8.  Act in an untrustworthy manner.  A man in his late thirties has been on a number of business trips with his company.  He never wears his wedding ring when he travels and is very flirty with female co-workers.  At one point, his co-workers were shocked to learn that he was married. Eventually, his wife found out about his reputation at work.  Now she refuses to trust him.

Behaving in an untrustworthy manner is a major breech in a marriage and destroys the trust that might have once existed.

9.  Be manipulative.  Manipulators attempt to get what they want without being honest enough to be transparent.  A woman once said regarding a family member: “I feel like he is always up to something.”  The manipulator is always trying to put himself at an advantage so that he can get what he wants.

Husbands and wives who manipulate one another destroy their opportunity to practice self-giving love while they opt instead for power and control.

10.  Put yourself first.  

Putting yourself first in your marriage destroys the opportunity to follow Jesus while you decide you choose instead to go your own way.

10 Ways to Murder a Marriage

marriage-broken-eggThe following is part 1 of a two part post in which I reflect on how to destroy a marriage. We have been married for 34 years and have had a front row seat to many, many other marriages.

1.  Create an atmosphere that no one would want to come home to in the evening. Do nothing but stare at your television night after night.  Complain.  Gripe at her or him for mistakes.  Go to bed angry and resentful.  Repeat the next day.

Constant carping, complaining and whining can destroy the atmosphere of a marriage. 

2.  Use pornography.  This is an ever increasing temptation not only for men, but women as well. You can lose yourself in a make believe world.  Pornography creates the illusion that sex is basically about the enjoyment of one person, instead of the mutual service of two people.  You don’t have to grow.  You don’t have to mature.  You don’t have to work at the give and take of relationship.

Pornography can destroy intimacy in marriage.

If You Are Not Praying for Your Children

(I am away on a vacation/study break during the month of July. The posts that appear during the month are from the archives.)

If you as a parent are not praying for your children, then who is?

This occurred to me a few years ago as I thought about my prayer life and my own children. If I am not praying for my own children, then who is? Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that I can give to my children is faithful prayer.

Our children, whether small children or adults, live in a very difficult world. How important and encouraging for mom and dad to lift them up in prayer every single day of their lives.


My two children are now adults. Both are married. They each live a great distance from Charlotte and me. In some ways, we have little influence over what they do each day.

Yet, we lift them up in prayer each day, believing God will work intimately and powerfully in their lives wherever they are. We believe that God loves them, cares for them, and calls them to live under his rule. It is important that we pray for them.

Guest Post: Walter Petticrew

Walter Petticrew recently left a comment on this blog in which he discussed some of the important practices of his family. I thought these were very good and needed to be read by our regular readers.

My wife and I have two children. Our son, and elder child had muscular dystrophy and passed away two years ago, shortly before his 20th birthday. Our daughter, now 19, is getting ready for college. So raising our children was different in many wfamily01.pngays. However there are some principles that, looking back, I would say shaped all of us and continue to do so today.

*Spend time with your children. My time was bath time with them. We would spend a minimum of an hour. It gave my wife some well-deserved rest and was the best transition time from work to home. The tradition of the bathtub was for me to make up stories while they played. It got to the point where we had a favorite character, “Oscar the Turkey,” so each night we had a new adventure of what Oscar was up to next.

*Life is not fair; yet in the hand we are dealt, God is with us. We knew this was the case for us, but it becomes even more clear each day now. There is grace and blessing everywhere; but when you are in the thick of it the grace can be hard to see. That leads to….

*Patience. (God’s and our). God knew what we were in and revealed to us all the blessings in the hardships

*Honesty. It has always been a foundation in our home. We had to be honest with our children and they demanded the same of us. It can be hard. I recall the exact moment when our son, then six, said, “I am going to die because of my disease.” We never gave him a false hope or said “Don’t worry about it.” We told him the truth.

*As a father, I took it upon myself to make sure we had a lot of smiles. My wife is a natural in this category, but I feel that dads need to show kids examples of “good crazy,” such as getting out of the car after work and jumping in the pool with your kids with your clothes on.

*Show appropriate affection to your wife in all matters. They must see you hug and kiss and love. Then invite them in for a group hug and in that hug pray over the family. Family hugs and prayer are meant for each other. Take advantage of that.

*Have night and morning prayer time with your children. My daughter, 19, still will not leave for school or the house without me praying for her before she leaves. Your children want you to pray for them.

*Be in a Bible study and let your children watch you study. I was very fortunate. I have been active in a Monday night Bible study for over 12 years. Each night when I got home and put my son to bed, he would always ask “What did you learn in Bible study?” We would spend a good hour talking about it.

*Be the kind of house and family that will cause your kid’s friends to want to spend time there. One of our regular events (still is) has been the fire pit. It got to the point where on almost every weekend my son’s friends would ask if we could have a fire pit that night. This went on from 4th grade and continues to this day. Even now, some of my son’s friends, even though they are in college, will come and spend a weekend with us. We always had a great mix of laughs and serious dialogue. We earned the trust of the kids in our neighborhood, and it was always a time to invite Christ into their lives.

One last note: If possible make sure they know their grandparents. It is very important for both of them.

The Messiness of Raising Children (Our Attempt)

Today is our oldest daughter’s birthday. It has hard to believe that 29 years ago, we had our first baby. Now Christine and her sister Jamie, are grown and have families of their own.

I recently thought about the years we were together as a family. We were all learning together. We certainly made lots of mistakes. However, as I think back to the many conversations Charlotte and I had about our children, this is what I recall:


1. We tried to establish consistent habits such as reading Bible stories at bedtime, praying together, and eating meals together.

2. We never wanted to put pressure on them because they were a minister’s children. We tried to communicate they were children of God, just like everyone else.

3. We talked about our faith and God at home. We did so as a part of our everyday lives.

4. We attempted to be consistent in what we taught our children through our words and actions.

5. We went on family vacations together. Some of the most signifiant conversations occurred late at night when one parent was driving while one of the children rode in the front seat.

6. We tried to communicate again and again, God’s care and concern for them. We did this each night when we put them to bed. Later we attempted to do this through notes, conversations and prayer.

7. We wanted our children to see that our lives did not center around them but around God. This can take enormous pressure off children. Rather, they see that we have a higher purpose outside ourselves.

8. We attempted to communicate basic godly virtues such as honesty, truth-telling, and patience.

Again, we did this imperfectly.


What has been important to you in raising your children?

5 Ways to Build a Solid Foundation for Marriage

Are you young and newly married? Or, have you been married for a few years?stk142184rke

Regardless, the attention you give to the foundation of your marriage is important. In fact, it is critical. How you build your married life together right now will impact you for many years to come.

When Charlotte and I got married, we loved each other and wanted our marriage to be good. However, I don’t think I had any idea about the kind of behaviors and habits needed to build a solid foundation. About all I knew was make an effort to be a good husband. Looking back, I think I missed some opportunities that might have helped us begin our marriage well.

Unfortunately, many couples begin their marriages by paying little attention to what makes their foundation strong. As a result, they miss opportunities to build a solid foundation.

The following five suggestions can help you begin to build a great foundation. If you have been married for a while, these might be reminders of what will help keep your foundation strong.

1. Pay attention to one another now. Yes, a husband and wife may be in the same room. However, they may actually pay little attention to one another. Instead, night after night the television blares while they each focus on their phones. Far too many couples communicate with others (texts, Facebook messages, tweets) but spend little energy connecting with each another.

2. Set up protective boundaries now. Talk with one another about appropriate boundaries with persons of the opposite sex. Talk about appropriate boundaries for conflict. (For example, a couple should not use demeaning language or dredge up old wounds.) Couples need to talk about boundaries with their families of origin and how they will relate to them.

3. Commit yourselves to an encouraging Christian community now. Far too many Christian couples are only nominally connected to a church during their first few years of marriage. Listen, the time to connect with a church is immediately. Find a Christian community that will support and encourage your marriage. Find a church where there are not only others your age who are married but older believers who have invested their lives building good marriages.

4. Take the initiative to build your friendship now. Unfortunately, the expectations for marriage are often so high and unrealistic that couples remain continually frustrated and disappointed. Far better to simply focus on building a loyal, life-giving friendship with your spouse. Focusing on your friendship can heighten the joy you experience in your marriage. (By the way, it will also bless your sexual relationship with one another.)   

5. Talk through your frustrations with one another now. Do not let the frustration build up inside you. Do not assume that it will just work itself out. Talk through your frustrations. Be the first to admit wrong. Make the first move to change your own behavior. Step up.


Which one of these five especially connected with you? What else might you include in this list of foundation building behaviors?

5 Ways to Communicate Value During Significant Moments

Last week was a busy time that included a funeral at our church on Friday and then a shower for our daughter the following day. In 24 hours, we went from grieving with our friends to a time of thankfulness and joy for our daughter and her fiance’. (They are getting married in August.)

This week reminded me once again about how much we contribute to one another during these significant moments of life. We have the opportunity to communicate to our friends how much they mean to us. During these moments, our behavior can speak volumes to other people about how important they really are to us.


The following are five ways we communicate value during significant moments.

Be emotionally engaged. In many, many ways we communicate value by showing interest and concern about another’s life. I have watched my mother-in-law for years communicate this through her interest in the details of her grandchildren’s lives. Other people communicate this by regular phone calls, e-mails, and texts with loved ones.

Show up. Go to funerals. Stop by a funeral home for a visitation. Go to a wedding or baby shower. Visit someone in the hospital. These moments really do matter. Quite often we don’t realize how much they do matter until we lose a father or mother. We may not realize the importance of a baby shower until it is our child who is having a baby.

For example, when a friend loses a family member, it means a great deal for them to see you at the funeral. Attend events that are important to a family member or friend. Going to funerals, weddings, graduations, baby showers, etc. are just a few examples of times when being present communicates value. So many people underestimate how important these moments are to the people involved.

Do something practical to communicate value. One of our daughters was in the hospital for a week during her high school years. I remember one friend who called me several times each day to check on her. The first day she was hospitalized, he knocked on her door. I stepped out into the hall and he said, “I want to pray with you.” He put his arm around my shoulders, bowed his head and prayed briefly in the hall. By what he did, he communicated value toward her and our family.

When the significant moment is difficult, acknowledge that person’s experience. Far too many people ignore or even minimize another’s significant moment. “You are having surgery? No big deal! Why I have a friend who had that same surgery and she was back at work two days later.” Far better to listen intently and ask questions to seek understanding.

Make an effort to stay in touch. If I don’t make the effort to stay in touch with someone, we will probably lose touch. Some complain because friends and family do not call. Meanwhile, they do not take the initiative to make contact either. Yes, it is frustrating to feel as if you are the one who must always take the initiative to stay in touch. Yet, I’ve learned that if we are going to stay in touch I often (sometimes usually) will need to be the one who takes the initiative.


What significant moments have you experienced, that caused you to notice and appreciate the presence of others?

Marriage 101 (Where Do You Learn How to Be Married?)

Marriage can be difficult, in particular, when you have never seen a healthy marriage up close.marriage.jpg

Yet, this is the situation in which many young married couples find themselves. The couple, through no fault of their own, never had the opportunity to witness up close a healthy, godly marriage. I am referring to a marriage where two people love each other, and this is reflected in their attitude and behavior.

Ideally, a person witnesses such a marriage from a front row seat in their own family of origin. She sees their love for one another and observes how they function as a couple. Perhaps she even sees how they deal with each other’s mistakes. They may witness both hurt and forgiveness. Yet, many people do not grow up in such a home.

So where else can a person learn to be married?

  • You can learn about marriage by observing married people who seem to be doing something well. These married people may be one’s grandparents, a brother, or a neighbor. Be a student of good marriages.
  • Be a part of a community of faith which puts great value on the quality of marriages. Look for couples who seem to invest in their marriage. What are they doing right?
  • Seek the counsel of an older couple who is experiencing a good marriage. Ask that couple for permission to ask questions about their marriage and the positive disciplines or habits that have contributed to their marriage.
  • Read books written about marriage from a Christian perspective. Consider purchasing books by Gary Thomas, Gary Roseberg, or others who write regarding marriage.
  • Spend time carefully listening to the words of Jesus in the Bible. Pay attention to what he says regarding kingdom relationships. Read the letters to various churches in the New Testament. These writers will often address some aspect of relational behavior for Christ-followers.   

I often tell couples before they marry that marriage will probably be better than they ever dreamed and more difficult than they ever imagined.

Many people never had the opportunity to witness a healthy marriage up close. Even people who grew up in churches sometimes never had the opportunity to witness a healthy, godly marriage. Yet, it is possible to become a life-long learner, a student of marriage, and by the grace of God become a part of creating a marriage that will bless generations.


Who taught you most about marriage?

What the Joy and Pain of Child Rearing Finally Taught Me

If you want some insight into the heart of God, have a child.Family.jpg

There is nothing like receiving the sweet love of a child, no matter the age. Yet, the reverse is also true. There is sometimes no pain like what you can receive at the hand of a child.

For several years, when I came home from work late in the afternoon, my children would come running to the door to greet me. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” I loved that moment! Then one day I came home and no one greeted me at the door. I stepped inside our house and could hear the loud volume of the television. Both girls sat glued to whatever was on television. I said, “I’m home!” They said, “Shhhh Daddy, we’re watching TV.” Being my mature self, I pouted, walked into the kitchen and asked Charlotte, “What’s wrong with them?”

They were growing up.

Our daughters are now grown. They love Charlotte and me. I am confident of this. Let me warn you, if you plan to rear children, get ready for incredible love. Yet, also realize that you have just opened yourself up to be hurt at times. It is very difficult to rear a child to adulthood without experiencing some pain.

  • Maybe your child rolls his eyes as you talk.
  • Maybe she raises her voice and talks back to you.
  • Maybe you are realizing that your adult son is caught up in a particular sin.

Someone might say to your child, “Just make sure your parents don’t find out what you are doing.” That seems to be the age-old answer to human failure. Hide behind the tree while the father walks through the garden (Genesis 3).

Having children can help you get a better grasp on understanding God as your father. Who is God? He is the father who is disappointed when I sin and yet he runs to greet me when I come home. Sometimes I have brought God joy as I reflected his character. Yet, at other times, I have disappointed him. In spite of it all, he runs to greet me. He has not given up on me.

Today, know that God still loves to hear his children say, “Father, I’m home.”


What has being a parent taught you about God?

Do You Have Your Friend’s Back?

In the room were ministers from our city.loyalty.jpeg

Our host, a fellow minister, was closing out our time together. We all stood as we were about to pray. The host asked a long time minister, to pray. This minister then stood behind our host, put his hands on his shoulders and spoke these words to that man: “I want you to know that we have your back. I want people to know that when they criticize you and say ugly things about you, they are talking about my friend.” The host was obviously moved at this gesture. We bowed and prayed.

This was a great moment. This was a moment of friendship and loyalty.

The model for such loyalty is God himself. He is faithful. I can count on his promises, his love, and his faithfulness to me as his child. God is not fickle. He is constant and reliable. God is absolutely loyal.

Listen to these words in Psalm 117:1-2:

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
   extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
   and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

   Praise the LORD.

Do you have anyone’s back?

Does your spouse know you have his/her back?

Does your friend know you have her back?

Does your co-worker know you have his back?

Does your preacher know you have his back?

There is nothing like having a friend who will stand up for you. Yet, before I can expect this kind of loyalty from others, I must first model this in my life. I may or may not experience this kind of loyalty from others. However, I can know that in being faithful to the people whom God has brought into my life, I am reflecting the character of God.


Can you recall a significant moment when a friend stood up for you? Can you recall a time when you stood up for a friend? What does loyalty do to a friendship?