Love and Serve in Marriage

 

Marriage Happy Sign Married Love

“…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him….” John 13:4-5 

All too often in marriage, we start off fine, but something happens. We get disappointed or hurt, then we stop. We stop being loving. We stop placing the other first. We stop putting in the effort. We stop the excitement and anticipation. We stop helping. We allow our disappointments to consume us and move away from what God has for us to what we can do to make it worse. What is left, is costing on what we may have had, without refueling or repairing, until it all starts to come apart and fail. What we need is a reboot!

The end of Ephesians 5 gives us a picture of walking in healthy relationships that seems like foolish, archaic and abusive to a worldly perspective.  Yet, provides a great reboot to any marriage. We have to have a chain of authority to keep structure and order, or you will have chaos and dysfunction. We have to see the importance of love and respect. How to love and how to esteem each other. This also helps us look to God and accept His authority over all and our lives.  Consider that, everyone is in submission, even the president of the United States is supposed to be held to account by the people and Congress and the Supreme Court. Within God’s plan is a structure and call to help us make it work, and work well. Below is an application of this structure that will improve your marriage, no matter how good or bad you may be doing.

Here is a great way to vastly improve any home or marriage situation. First, read Ephesians chapter four and five. Then be in prayer, Lord, how can I push my pride and hurt away and place you more in my life? Lord, how can I be more like you in my marriage and family?

Now consider these time-honored relationship treasures:

  • As Christ served us, see how you can be the biggest servant in your home? Remember, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe did, how about you (John 13:1-17)?
  • As Christ loved us, see how you can be the biggest “lover” in your home? (Mark 10:45; John 15:12; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 5:25)?

In marriage, it is not about what can I get out of it, it is about what can I put into it! This is the true Christian model, by Christ’s example. It is not about focusing on my hurts or past experiences, or what they have done or do not do; rather, it is about surrendering my pride and forgive and move forward. Then we can step up and be the person who loves and serves, even when we do not feel like it or think they deserve it. As, none of us deserve Christ’s grace; Yet, we received it anyway. That is why it is grace undeserved. Have grace for your spouse! The more we love and serve the better chance they will catch it too.

Questions to help you realign yourself up to God’s call in marriage:

  1. What does unconditional love mean to you? Can you give an example? Have you ever felt or experienced it? Have you ever given it?
  2. How is my attitude about serving? Does it line up to Christ?
  3. Is Christ leading my family, or am I seeking to lead Him?
  4. God created something special in your family, what can you do to rekindle into a great relationship that glorifies our Lord?

Remember, real love is Sacrificial!

© 2017, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. www.thisismarriage.org

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Be Careful with Blame

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“The man said, the woman you put here with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the LORD God said to the woman, what is this you have done? The woman said, the serpent deceived me, and I ate…” Gen 3:12-13

As soon as humanity sinned, we quickly refused to take responsibility and then commenced to blame others. This is one of the effects of our sin nature, the rejection of accountability for our actions. This is the attitude, which is so popular today from young people to Presidents. This is also the favorite ammunition for fights in marriage and the way in which most people handle difficult situations and guilt, which is to deflect and blame others.

“My spouse always blames me for the problems in our marriage!” “My spouse just keeps pushing my buttons.” My spouse will not own up to what they did and blames me.”

We do this “deflection” for three primary reasons:

First, we do not want to live with guilt.

Second, we do not want to suffer the consequences of our actions.

Third, we do not want to conflict.

Blaming others is classically called “blame shifting,” which acts like a shield to deflect. It is also like an escape mechanism, similar to an ejection seat, which avoids the consequences by bailing out. However, this is not as effective as most people think, unless you are actually in a fighter jet going down. Freeing the burden of guilt by escaping only puts it off until later. While in the meantime, it grows and spreads out of control, and continues to gnaw away at our conscience and works to destabilize your marriage. So, we accumulate this as ammo in our disagreements that escalates in confrontation and turns into battle, husband against wife.

So, this defense mechanism is actually self-destructive and only makes matters worse. 

While seeking to avoid hurt or fighting, we bring it more. Look at it like an old fashioned scale. As one side of the scale becomes increasingly loaded with the weight of guilt from inaction or misaction. The guilt ridden person just shifts the responsibility to the other side of the scale. And we all do this by blaming, and in marriage, we use this to argue and fight.

There is just one problem with this (okay a lot more problems), the act of blaming instead of taking the responsibility for one’s own actions flies in the face of the Gospel.

It is unjust and serves only to increase the problems we incur in our relationships. And the irony is, this mostly occurs in families that dislike conflict. Then the blaming becomes a habit and then a pattern of dysfunctional behavior that is an endless loop of a hopeless cycle.

In spite of Adam and Eve’s blame shifting, God held them accountable and they suffered the consequences of their disobedience. “To Adam he said, because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, you must not eat of it, Cursed is the ground because of you.” Gen 3:17

God not only held Adam responsible for his action, He also held him responsible for listening to the voice of his wife (the influence of others!) instead of listening to the voice of God. His excuse only served to increase his personal responsibility and guilt. We must learn that God does not allow us to avoid the consequences of our actions by blaming others or not taking responsibility in our marriage. In fact, we are held responsible for blaming. We may think we can get away with it, but make no mistake, if we fail to hold each other accountable for our actions, you can be sure that God will hold us responsible.

        “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:12-13

       The precepts of God, will enable you to have a magnificent marriage. So, what can I do to stop the blame cycle?

Read these passages: http://www.openbible.info/topics/blaming_others

Calm down and drop it, pray, and walk away if you can’t be kind. Instead of blaming and pointing out faults, focus on what to fix in yourself. As a Christian, you do not need to be in control when God already is!

  1. Calm down and drop it, pray, and walk away if you can’t be kind. Instead of blaming and pointing out faults, focus on what to fix in yourself. As a Christian, you do not need to be in control when God already is!
  2. Try to be mindful of how and why you blame. Then realize when you do, all you are doing is escalating, when you could be resolving conflict.
  3. Do not keep score! In marriage you are not two lawyers battling it out in a courtroom, so you need to keep track of what is said, build your case and use what is said against the other. In marriage, we let it go.
  4. We stop blaming when we replace the bad habit with a good one. Learn to be a better communicator by listening. We best do this by closing our mouth and opening our ears.
  5. Seek to be apologetic to rebuild respect, practice real heartfelt love.
  6. Take the responsibility and make it better, even if your spouse will not.
  7. In a fight? Remember to walk it off. Let it go, pray and make a point to redress when emotions are not escalated.

If you are having trouble with this, see a qualified pastor or counselor to guide you through it.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” Ephesians 4:26

Forgiveness in Marriage PI

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“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

We can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus is working while we are waiting, and even in anguish. We can best practice forgiveness to our spouse by realizing how much we have been forgiven. We can then be imitators of that forgiveness when we feel wronged willfully or unknowingly that cause us setbacks or harm.

How and why? The magnitude of forgiveness from our Lord for what we have done can never measure up to anything others could do to us. When we put forgiveness into practice, we will be free from the bondage of bitterness and pain that imprisons us, disconnecting us from life and its wonders, which God has provided for us.

            I was watching one of those reality shows recently where a bunch of young people were put into a nice beach house to live and work together. The show is about the drama and strife each one causes the other, and how they “do not” work it out. After all, if they were a big happy family, it would not make good TV, so I am told by a friend in that business. One young woman, in her early twenties, kept making the statement, “I refuse to forgive anyone for anything.” So, in the episode I watched, the attention was centered on how she was alienating everyone in the house. The result was that she ended up alone, hated by the others. She would make a big deal if someone took her cookie, or gave her an objectionable look. She was a very sad and pathetic person, whose self-imposed code of conduct, created out of pride, made it impossible for her to make friends or cooperate with anyone in her life. She could not see that she was the problem; she refused to take any responsibility. In her interviews, she blamed everyone else for her problems. The sad fact is that this is typical behavior amongst many marriages today, even Christians in the church!

As human beings, we are prone to make mistakes, either intentionally or unintentionally. We all have hurt people, and we have all been hurt; we are all in the same boat. So, when we refuse to forgive one another, especially our spouse and loved ones, it is like escaping the disaster of the sinking of the Titanic in a lifeboat, only to poke holes in the very lifeboat that saved us. Our escape from the sinking ship is our redemption, which we did not deserve. Since everyone else in the lifeboat needs the cross too, why try to sink one another? All you will accomplish is to sink yourself and your marriage.

Out of mistakes we make, or our spouse may cause us, comes our pain, hurt, and resentment. This resentment escalates into animosity, then cause fighting and augmentations and then builds into bitterness, until it destroys your relationship and causes a divorce.

This young woman is like many in marriage, she refused to forgive, and built an impenetrable wall that caused bitterness and isolation as she wallowed in her troubles, blaming everyone else for them. She would not allow forgiveness to break down the wall, allowing for the building of life and relationships.

Forgiveness is the only human force that can stop the disintegration of relationship breakdowns.

This is why it is so essential. This is why our Lord calls us to forgive. If you have been hurt, or you have hurt-and we all have-open your eyes and realize that it is the call of the Christian to dispel these conflicts. Without forgiveness, our growth and maturity with Christ, and our harmony and being “at home” at home, cannot be built.

Ten Ways to Improve your Relational Skills with your Spouse

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Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

  1. BE Kind.There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting!
  2. SMILE Often. It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, only fourteen to smile.
  3. NAME Use. The sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of one’s own name! So, be thoughtful with how you call your spouse.
  4. BE Helpful. Share the load, do not rely just on your spouse to do it all, help out more than you are helped!
  5. BE Cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do were a genuine pleasure! If it is right and good, it really should be.
  6. BE Interested. Empathy means involvement! Ask, how your day is and then listen with interest.
  7. BE Generous with praiseand cautious with criticism! Do not nag, do not prey upon your loved ones.
  8. BE Considerate with feelings. Feel your spouse’s plight. It will be appreciated.
  9. BE Thoughtful of their opinions. There are three sides to a controversy, yours,’ your spouse and the truth! Do not assume, listen and be open to the real truth.
  10. GIVE Service. What counts most in life is who we are in Christ and then what we do for others! So, be there for one another.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:43-45