“I Was Just Kidding”

(Refuse to let a critical spirit spoil your marriage)

A regular stream of critical words has a way of taking the joy out of a marriage.  A marriage in which a husband and wife regularly criticizes one another can feel like you are being nibbled to death by a duck.

Sometimes we will level a criticism toward our spouse followed by the words, “I was just kidding.”  Often this is a passive aggressive way of not taking responsibility for what was just said.  Slowly but surely, such criticisms have a way of poisoning the atmosphere of a marriage.

Consider:

A husband has been working very hard in the yard during much of a hot summer day.  Finally, he comes inside, pleased with the improvement in the yard.  Meanwhile, his spouse goes outside to look at the front yard.  The very first thing she says in response to his work is, “Well aren’t you going to clean up the flower bed on the side of the house?  It looks awful!  It’s embarrassing!”  Wow.  No affirmation or appreciation for what has been done.  Instead, the first word is a critical remark that basically says, “I see what you’ve done but it doesn’t measure up.”

Now of course there is a time in which this spouse could express her desire that he address the flower bed on the side of the house.  Yet, when we immediately choose criticism over appreciation and gratitude, this probably isn’t going to be received well.

That Saturday evening, this couple eats a nice meal at home. She has prepared a roast that has cooked much of the day.  She has also prepared several vegetable dishes and a nice salad.  At the conclusion of the dinner, he asks about desert.  After learning there is no desert, he makes a big deal about never having desert.  Instead of expressing appreciation and affirmation for what she has done, he immediately begins complaining.  No thank you.  No words of appreciation.  Just complaining.  This kind of response gets old, very quickly.

How to Avoid Destroying Your Marriage

MarriageMany men and women sabotage their own marriages.

At its best, marriage can be challenging.  Yet some people harm their marriages through their own behavior.   The following are some ways in which you can do damage to your own marriage:

1.  Whisper words of criticism and put downs in your spouse’s ear.  Doing this will eventually destroy his or her confidence.  You might think that if you whisper these words, you can save face with your friends.  After all, you know if they were to hear what you whispered they might think you were rude, immature, and perhaps even a jerk.  This way, you can quietly tear down your spouse while pretending to be supportive and loving before friends and family.  If she objects, then you can say, “I was just joking.”  The idea seems to be that if one claims to be joking, responsibility for any hurt can be denied.

2.  Focus your attention on other women/men instead of your spouse.  If you are caught flirting with another, be sure to blame your spouse.  “Well, what am I supposed to do?  It’s nice to get some attention!   Maybe if you would be a better husband (or wife), I wouldn’t find this person so attractive.”

Some focus on others by using pornography.  This will allow you to live in a fantasy world where you can stare at a computer screen or lose yourself in an erotic novel instead of having to grow up and commit to tender loving marital intimacy with your spouse.

3.  Ignore your spouse.  You can destroy your marriage over time by just doing nothing.  Basically, you can live in the same house and totally ignore one another.  You can ignore his/her desires, needs, and longings.  There are homes where night after night married people do nothing but stare at their phones or the television.  A marriage can be destroyed over time by doing absolutely nothing.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 4)

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The following is part 4 of a series that I have entitled, “41 Things Married People Ought to Know.” Most of these 41 statements I have learned from being married and observing others.  (Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.  Part 3 is here.)

31.  If a couple is at war with one another, almost any issue can be a point of contention. If a couple is pursuing peace and togetherness, they can work through almost any issue

32.  A couple can bless one another by creating an atmosphere in the home that is pleasant, inviting and warm. As a result, they will likely look forward to coming home after a long day at work.

33.  A husband or wife with a demanding spirit often pushes their spouse farther away. Regardless of the legitimacy of the issue, a demanding person feels threatening

34.  Married people, who are wise learn to look for the good in another. Too many of us become overly focused on the negative and the shortcomings we see in each another.

35.  One can add something positive to the home environment by being pleasant and enjoyable to be around. However, when a person is negative, pessimistic, and constantly griping, that person has a way of draining the energy out of the room.

36.  Being hard on one another may produce the desired external behavior— for a time. But, badgering and nagging someone can create deep resentment and anger. Such attitudes do not foster internal change.

37.  Most of us would do well to think before we speak. There is no real merit in allowing every fleeting thought to come out of our mouths unfiltered. (Please don’t say, “I was just being honest.” Honest words still need discernment.) We need to pray for wisdom regarding our speech.

38.  Every married person is married to a sinner. This person can never meet the deepest needs of his or her spouse. Only God is capable of bringing completeness to any person.

39.  Individual daily repentance will ultimately bless marriage. There is something good about getting honest before the Lord every day. A husband or wife would do well to examine how he behaved with his wife the previous day. Ask God’s forgiveness for an attitude, behavior, or words which were not Christ-like.

40.  Remember that you are married to God’s daughter or God’s son. You know how you feel when someone mistreats one of your children. You also know how you feel when someone has been a blessing to son or daughter. Think about how God might feel as he sees how you treat his daughter or son. God knows the intent of our hearts. What does he see? (Thanks to Gary Thomas for some of these thoughts.)

41.  Every good moment you experience in your married life needs to be received as a gift from God. Don’t act like you deserve these moments! Don’t think you are entitled. Christ-followers understand that we are totally dependent on God’s grace. It is out of that grace that we have air, food, and, yes, the good moments of marriage.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 3)

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The following is part 3 of a series that I have entitled, “41 Things Married People Ought to Know.” (You can find part one here and part two here)

21.  Marriage can be very satisfying and joyful.  Many couples experience great pleasure in their marriages. There is great pleasure to be found in marriage through friendship, emotional connection, emotional intimacy and sexual expression.

22.  Marriage is hard work.  A good marriage takes effort and often requires us to be intentional. As married people, we depend upon the Lord for strength to navigate our marriages well.  A very frustrated married person once asked me, “If marriage is right, why is it so hard?” Yet, simply because something was created by God does not mean it will be easy.

23.  Marriage requires that we be steady and consistent.  After all, the journey is long and requires constancy and faithfulness.  But shouldn’t there be sizzle?  Yes, of course.  However, one would think from watching the way relationships are portrayed on television and in the media that real life is to be found in encounters where there is no commitment to the future, but only an awareness of the moment.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 2)

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Are you married? Would you like to be married one day? The following is Part 2 of this series. (You can find Part 1 here.)

11.  Many women have a low perception of their body image. Television, movies, magazines all portray a certain type of female body to be desired. These women are tan, well endowed, and young. Meanwhile, many women often see such portrayals and perceive themselves as not measuring up. They see these images and conclude that their own body is inadequate.

12.  Wonderful, satisfying sex in marriage is not based on performance.Rather, such a sexual relationship is an outgrowth of an intimate relationship with one another. Far too many married couples put tremendous pressure on one another because of the performance view of sex. Pornography feeds such a view. Beware! When a person is using pornography, he will often see sex as something he “takes” in marriage instead of self-sacrificial intimacy.

13.  Many married couples have no idea how to handle their discretionary spending. Consequently, if the kids want something at the store and the parents know the money is in the bank, the kids get it. Meanwhile, the amount of credit card debt being accumulated by some couples is astounding. Many couples really have no idea how much they are actually spending each month.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 1)

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Several years ago, I posted a list of things I have learned about marriage from my own experience and observation. The following is an updated and edited list. Perhaps one or more of these will be helpful.

The following is Part 1 of a list of 41 things married people ought to know:

1.  Married people are called to move away from self-centeredness and toward selflessness. Self–centeredness creates a person in the marriage who “takes”. Such a person focuses on what he or she is getting out of the marriage instead of loving one another sacrificially.

2.  A couple can’t follow Jesus and at the same time settle for a status quo marriage. Jesus challenges both husband and wife to pursue something larger than oneself. They are called to something greater than their individual happiness. Sometimes, a wife or husband will desire to pursue a larger kingdom vision for marriage while the other person chooses to dig in his heels and remain stagnant.

3.  Married people can become very lazy in their relationship with one another. As a result, the husband and wife may no longer cherish one another. Tenderness slips away. Sarcasm and cynicism may overtake their relationship.

Focus on the Heart – (Part 1 of 2)

Choosing Spouses, Ministers, etc.

He sat in my office and looked troubled.  He said, “We are engaged, yet I’m not sure I want to go through with this wedding.  There is physical attraction, but I am troubled about some other matters.”

Far too many people, as they consider a potential spousethink-md, put their priority on physical attraction.  How attractive is she?  How attractive is he? While physical attraction may be a factor, Christ-followers have other concerns which stand first in the priority line.

Remember King Saul of Israel?  Tall.  A military leader. A warrior.  He looked the part.  Today, people today might say regarding a particular person, “He looks presidential.”  King Saul looked like a king.

Yet, even though he looked the part, he didn’t have the heart that God desired. Outwardly he may have appeared to be just right.  Yet, because of his heart, his life did not reflect what God wanted.  As Israel chose the next King of Israel, God desired to see a change.  God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Are You Destroying Your Own Marriage?

Learn-How-to-Heal-Your-Broken-Marriage1Many men and women have sabotaged their own marriages.

Of course you may say, like many, “This will never happen to me.”

Perhaps.

Yet, there are ways that destructive seeds can be planted in one’s marriage.

1.  Whisper words of criticism and insults in your spouse’s ear.  Doing this will eventually destroy his or her confidence.  If you whisper these words, then you can save face with your friends.  After all, you know that if they were to hear what you just whispered in your partner’s ear they would think you were rude and childish.  Consequently, you can quietly tear down your spouse while pretending you are supportive before friends and family.

2.  Let your eyes wander toward another person of the opposite sex.  If you are caught gazing at another, be sure to blame your spouse.  “Well, what am I supposed to do?  It’s nice to get some attention!   Maybe if you would be a better husband (or wife), I wouldn’t find this person so attractive.”

3.  Look for every opportunity to speak a rude, barbed word toward your spouse.  You can always claim that you were just joking.  Do you know someone like this?  Perhaps this person uses every occasion to put down his wife.  If she objects, then her husband says, “I was just joking.”  The idea seems to be that if one claims to be joking, responsibility for any hurt can be denied.

Such behavior is beneath a Christ follower   After all, marriage is for grown-ups.  Furthermore, when married people are Christ followers, we follow an even higher standard.

Unfortunately, some people have spouses who refuse to grow up.  The behavior of the immature spouse is not just a nuisance.  This behavior can chip away at the marriage.

Does it make any sense to get married and then participate in the very destruction of your marriage?  I don’t think so.

I think this is worth some thought – and prayer.

 

 

Are These Enemies of Marriage in Your House?

apathyThe following are enemies of marriage.  They have a way of chipping away and even poisoning a marriage.  Run from these enemies.

Bitterness

Bitterness has a way of souring most any situation and most any day.  A bitter person can take seemingly innocent remarks and find something devious and sinister.  Bitterness is a poison that can be fatal to a marriage.

Deception.

Withholding information can become a pattern that ultimately destroys a marriage.  Some people put great energy into withholding information about those they are texting, what they are saying in private messages on Facebook, and whom they are calling on the phone.

Passivity.

Some husbands and wives will not take the initiative in their marriage.  Children cry while he sits in his recliner wondering why she doesn’t deal with them.  Meanwhile, she puts more energy into Facebook and commenting on blogs than she does her marriage.  Passivity breeds neglect.  Consequently, this marriage may suffer from a lack of intention, time, and energy.

Absence of Adoration.

A husband or wife may go to great lengths to do what they want while ignoring their spouse.  For example, a husband makes a lot of effort getting tickets to the big game; however, when his wife says that she would like to see a play or musical, he makes little or no effort to respond to her desire.  These spouses communicate that they do not value one another enough to make the effort to give what the other might enjoy.

Constant Criticism.

There are people who constantly complain, whine, and gripe about their spouse.  They are silent about what their spouse does that is right while they harp on his/her shortcomings.  A critical spirit has a way of emerging no matter what the occasion might be.

Repeating Destructive Patterns.

A husband declares that he doesn’t want to be like his own dad, either in his marriage or as a dad to his own children.  Perhaps a young mother says that she doesn’t want to be like her faultfinding, complaining mother.  Yet, if a person is not intentional about becoming a different kind of spouse or parent, they will often resort to their default in their family of origin.  This person repeats the same immature and obnoxious behaviors disliked in his/her father or mother.

These are six deadly enemies of marriage.  Anyone who is married and follows Jesus has been called to something higher.  Genuine self-giving love will cause us to avoid these enemies and not go near them.

Question:

Is there a particular enemy that you have had to be especially attentive to?

 

Your Marriage Can Be Better Than This

unhappy-couple-computer-325I once read the story of a man who spent his childhood living through the Great Depression.  He told that one of his chores as a young boy was to ride his bike to the local fire station where he would receive government-issue milk in the bucket he carried with him.  He spoke of the humiliation of riding home carrying the bucket of milk because all the other kids from school could see that his family was poor and had to receive government assistance.

He decided that he would one day have money and that no one would ever look down on him again.

He spent much of his adult life protecting his image and surrounding himself with symbols of success to ensure that others would see him as successful.

Yet, is this really living?

Sometimes, married people become lazy.

They focus more on how they appear than what they are.  They become more concerned about their image than their character.

Sometimes, married people become obsessed.

She is determined that he is going to be a spiritual leader in their home.  He is determined that she is going to become more outgoing and sociable with people from his work.

Sometimes, married people settle.

She sits in her recliner.  He sits in his recliner.  Night after night the television blares.  These people have settled for a passive existence instead of a life.

Sometimes, married people disconnect.

He goes his way.  She goes her way.  Perhaps their lives are centered on their children or grandchildren.  Sex, intimacy, and tenderness are all but gone.  There is little or no conflict.  They are actually at a point at which they don’t care enough about one another to have conflict.

Is this really living?

Is this really marriage?

Maybe the first step is to decide that you want something very different and that you are willing to do what it takes to stop this dead-end street.

Question:

Why do some married people seem to get into destructive ruts?