Study The Bible With Your Spouse

Study The Bible With Your Wife

[I often find many relationship books and articles stereotyping the roles of husbands and wives.  You know, men are all cavemen who don’t enjoy deep conversation and women are all sensitive and emotional beings who need to be told what to do while they go about barefoot and pregnant.  As someone who built an entire career in personalizing people solutions, I can attest that many people fall outside of those stereotypical “roles”.  This article is not just for men.  It is for both men and women.  It is simply a perspective on the joint nature of marriage.  Some marriages defy the traditional roles of marriage so feel free to view this article through the lens of how the two of you can grow together and still respect each other’s individual strengths.]

The biblical book of Genesis begins with the creation story and without skipping a beat begins to extol the virtues of man having a companion called woman, a similar-yet different-partner who would somehow complete man’s incompleteness. God could have foreseen man being content with his supernatural creator as his only companion but instead deemed it as beneficial to provide us men with someone to abate our loneliness.

As ballyhooed as friendship and love has been through the ages, the agency of marriage has often gotten a bad rap. Pop songs have no problem describing immature, physically driven attraction.  That kind of “love” requires very little work at all. As a matter of fact, people seem to fall into it all the time without even trying.

Unfortunately, the younger generations are often ill equipped to handle committed, battle-ready relationships because the older, sometimes wiser, generations haven’t understood how to adequately train and prepare them for relationship success.  Plus, the older generations will often say they had to do a lot of the wrong things first in order to learn how to do the right things later on.  I get that.  But I don’t prefer that since I already waited later in life to get married.  I’m a big fan of being as pre-equipped for the journey as possible.

The sages have long spoken of the truth behind biblical, covenant-driven and ultimately successful marriages: It takes work! And we all know how the young generations love the idea of hard work.

 

prisonersWorking

 

Now, the word, “work”, probably means many different things to different people but let me unpack some personal beliefs about what I think that word conveys within the context of marriage. For many, work carries a negative connotation. I want to steer away from that application and focus on the relational “effort” required to build, strengthen and sustain an enduring relationship.

 

labor of love

 

Relational “work” implies continual sacrifice, unmerited good will, unconditional love, unceasing physical affection and outright full-service gas (love) stations being offered toward your relational partner. (I often preach this to my pre-marital coaching clients so that practice of these principles can begin BEFORE marriage so I won’t limit this just to spousal arrangements.) It’s fairly evident to see that these above descriptions imply a sort of “steady stream” or continual outsourcing of your efforts.

Some of you that might be struggling with anger, frustration or mistrust in your marriage might construe the idea of marital harmony and cooperation as far-fetched and maybe impossible–and trust me when i say this is something that many couples face so don’t allow guilt or shame to push you away from God.

Regardless, I’ve got one thing to say to you…Kool Moe Dee!

Back in the early 90’s, he wrote a song called, “I go to work!”  The gist of the corny video is that he not only loves being a cool, unbeatable spy agent but he’s dang good at it.

My hope is that through focused time in the scriptures with our spouse AND the Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13), our marriages will become full of iron clad love for each other and truly able to stand the test of time and hardship.  (In other words, we love being married and we’re dang good at it!)

As new creations in Christ who have not only been made in the image of God but who have been made more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), it would be prudent for us to truly look in the mirror with a different set of eyes.  The more we look upon Jesus the more we are able to resemble and bear his image (Further below I will mention a few words about the way we interact with God and how it impacts our relationship with each other.)  We become transformed as believers the more often we behold and fixate on the One who transforms–Hebrews 12:1-2, Colossians 3:1-2.

I want you to consider that because you have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), you also have the Spirit of God empowering you to achieve anything…especially things that scripture reinforces!

Speaking of scriptures, we have a ton at the end of this post to help you refocus and meditate on.  Really put your hearts and soul into the reading of these scriptures and I promise that over the next few weeks of applying yourself to them, your heart, mind and soul will begin to receive an injection of spiritual strength that can really transform the strength of your relationship.

If you’re somewhat familiar with the marriage scriptures, then you’re probably thinking it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. However, there’s a necessary undercurrent that often gets overlooked in the process and it directly involves God.

Transparency makes change SOOO much easier

Transparency makes change SOOO much easier

Transparency and Intimacy With God

First of all, our ability to nurture our relational awareness to God usually plays a huge role in how we think, act and speak toward others. In other words, our transparency and honesty towards God in terms of how we are living as Christ-centered individuals enables us to produce good fruit.

Like David in Psalm 139, we should (continually) ask God to search us and reveal in us anything that does not produce the fruit of righteousness. When this occurs, we are actively seeking first the Kingdom and allowing light (Jesus is the Light of the World) to penetrate our world where darkness (hidden or unrecognized sin) might otherwise lead us to mistreat others.

Second of all, the extent to which we engage (not just observe or recognize) or actively participate in our relationship with God through some of the following spiritual disciplines: (not an exhaustive list by any stretch)

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship
  3. Quiet time
  4. Bible Verse meditation

is the extent through which those actions will overflow into our human ability to “love others as we love ourself”.  So, the “other” person here is our best friend and co-heir with Christ–>our spouse!

Remember, our job is to go to work and these disciplines require our attention and efforts…we just have to remind ourselves that this is a labor of LOVE not duty. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Marital footholds

So what happens if there’s some undesirable stuff like resentment, unforgiveness or selfishness affecting my relationship?

Sometimes restricting the flow isn't a good thing.

Sometimes restricting the flow isn’t a good thing.

The key is understanding and detecting what kind of metaphorical “love dam”, obstacle or impediment might be hindering the relationship.  Psychologists and counselors often help marriages identify which “tools” (like using absolutes or deflecting blame) are sabotaging the health and longevity of our relationship and which tools will fortify our relationship.  For instance, Dr. John Gottman often illustrates typical dialogue between a couple in his marriage strengthening books.  He delineates which comments are critical, defensive, condescending, etc.

The fact that our spouse thinks and acts differently than we do should come as no surprise. However, what often comes as a shock to married people is our own (negative) reaction to these differences.  Remember, God said that it was “good” for a man not to be alone.  There’s something powerful hidden in our differences but that power can yield negative consequences if we don’t allow transparent reflection of our words and actions.

If you’ve experienced some of those negative consequences than you know how deep of an impact it can have if left unchecked, ignored or avoided.  Our tolerance level can wane over the course of time if we perceive certain offenses have been intentionally directed our way by our spouse. We may faintly remember our wedding day vows but our continual focus on emotional offenses causes us to develop relational defense mechanisms that ultimately create division in our bond rather than reinforcing that bond.  Check out what Paul says in Ephesians 4 (NLT):

21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Once again we see the importance not only of BEING TRANSPARENT with others (giving or expressing honest feelings) through complete honesty but also letting others be transparent with us in return (receiving honesty) by not handicapping or restricting someone else’s “speaking the truth in love”.  Ouch!  I don’t know many people who enjoy receiving criticism because we tend to see it through insecure eyes and the last thing we want anyone to know is that we’re not perfect.  However, it is ESSENTIAL for marriages to encourage honest dialogue.  Remember, the more we practice honesty with God, the easier it should become to be honest with our spouse WITHOUT taking offense.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ followers reply to Him, “THIS IS A HARD TEACHING, WHO CAN ACCEPT IT.”  (john 6:60…nonetheless, it’s a crucial foundation to a love that withstands the test of time.)

The emphasis on our identity in Christ will eventually reduce our insecurities, increase our self esteem and additionally lead towards maturity in our spiritual walk.

Let’s Get In The Word

After a recent prayer retreat weekend with a bro, I decided it was time to put more emphasis on how I could serve my wife better.  Some of the following verses address the very areas I needed to consider.  So, while I’m sharing my H.I.P. (husband improvement program) for the next few months I thought I would write a few thoughts down in hopes they might spark a few ideas for your relationship.

Below, you’ll see some bible verses about marriage along with a little of my commentary.  Allow these powerful spirit-inspired words (Bible’s words, not mine) to do the heavy lifting while I sit back and enjoy my hot tea with heavy cream.

Finally, “A couple who prays together, stays together” is a quote I have heard all my life. I believe a couple who studies the word together readily positions themselves to humbly receive God’s correction, minimizes the devastation of life’s trials and hardships and fortifies a love that blesses that family for generations to come!

Genesis 2:22-25

22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Here is the introduction of God’s version of math:  1+1=1 (not two).  It’s important to maintain our identities within marriage and resist the urge to control our mate into becoming like us.  But in terms of becoming one we have to truly learn to mutually submit to one another.  That is some challenging stuff.  I looked in the attic and I couldn’t seem to find the roadmap to marital unification protocols.  If anyone else locates a copy, I’d like to see it.  I can see why Einstein chose to focus on the theory of Relativity instead.

Esther 2:16-18

16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

 Esther spent many months “preparing” for her eventual betrothal to the King.  When we enter in to a spiritual covenant with God through Jesus, the Holy Spirit is given to us to aid in our “preparation” as the bride of Christ.  However, we as Christians can sometimes forget that we’re “re-presenting” ourselves as a bride to the groom (Jesus).  This is why it’s important for us to learn how to engage with the Holy Spirit.  In some ways, He is like our makeover artist or personal trainer.  He’s got all the expertise in leading us towards total transformation into holy and righteous saints.

Take a little journey into the first few chapters of Esther to focus on how the women were entering into a time of preparation for the marriage covenant.  In what ways can you see the Lord preparing you?  Do you see yourself in the king’s previous wife who exhibited 

Proverbs 5:18-19

18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,   19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.   Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;   be intoxicated always in her love.  

 I mentioned before that continuous physical affection was a blessing and a gift.  When we can learn to serve, protect and sacrifice for our lover, the desire for our mate multiplies!  It takes work!

Proverbs 12:1-4

1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.   2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns.   3 No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.  4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.  

We are not SAVED by our works.  End of story.  However, our response to Jesus to die daily (1 Cor 15:31) sounds pretty painful both physically and emotionally.  This displays humility as well as a thankful and “willing to follow” mindset.  We shouldn’t resist or shy away from the Holy Spirit’s prodding that we might be acting in a way that grieves Him.  Likewise, in marriage we should acknowledge difficult conversations with our spouse rather than avoidance or stonewalling.  Stupid is very strong language here and it’s probably not something that should describe what people see in us in terms of our stubbornness or pride.  Husbands can be very thick-headed at times.  (i’m holding my hand up as we speak.)

God often uses our wives to help us gain perspective when we let stress and insecurity lead us into a bad decision.  My wife is definitely a crown! 

Proverbs 20:6-7

6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?   7 The righteous who walks in his integrity–blessed are his children after him!  

Husbands! It is our duty and destiny to lead our families into the place of favor with God (eph 5) but not with a ruling fist.  Paradoxically, by serving (washing our spouse’s feet) we can lead our families.  Very difficult to accomplish if we are perceiving disrespect from family, coworkers, or your spouse.  So strengthen yourself in your prayer closet and strengthen your “inner man”(ephesians 3:16) by digesting the Word. 

Proverbs 31:10-12

10   An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.   11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.   12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

 Pretty self explanatory.  Husbands admire very different things when we choose a soulmate.  I’ve always been enamored of strong, leadership-driven women.  Together we hope to pass our love for leadership down to our children.

It is important for us husbands to communicate our trust.  Sometimes our actions can indicate otherwise and cause a seed of insecurity.  Try telling your wife, “I trust you”, as often as you say, “I love you”. 

Hosea 2:9-10

19 And I will betroth you to me forever.   I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord .

 This verse displays God’s view of covenant.  Not only does He pledge to be upright and trustworthy (righteousness) but He pledges to be fair and dedicated to what is right (justice).  In addition He endeavors to offer a love that never changes in intensity as well as being quick to forgive.  God really knows how to “go to work” in love.

God then promises to remain faithful throughout the full term of the relationship.  To know that someone would “Define The Relationship” with those kinds of rules makes a person feel pretty secure, doesn’t it?!  Amazingly, He chooses to act that way with or without our willingness to return the favor.  (the book of Hosea is a testament to the pain God feels because He’s committed to us while we in return have rejected Him.)

Matthew 19:4-8

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him,   “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them,   “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

 Straight from the man himself.  Jesus demonstrated in John 17 how much He has enjoyed the deepest of intimacies with God and the Holy Spirit.  Their united devotion to one another even in their separate distinctions was something Jesus prayed we would get to experience.  Jesus seems to be on this H.M.M. (heavenly math method) wavelength also.  Note:  Jesus, in john 17, is praying for the church and not for the institution of marriage.  Yet I think we can gather that these verses are pointing to the same strength of devotion towards one another.

Jesus is hinting at something under the exterior of his statement.  The intensity of the vows we try to make in our wedding ceremony  should never waver…but unfortunately they do.  Jesus understands this concept and died demonstrating this.  Can you picture Him saying, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what the heck they’re doing in ending the life of the One who brings Eternal life.”

How can we build a fortress around our marriage that leads to a greater awareness of that heavenly unity?  Pray…Read scripture…Serve…Raise children…GROW…T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R.

1 Corinthians 7:2-6, 10-16 (MSG version)

2-6 …It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.

Every married person has experienced a desire to initiate physical intimacy with their mate only to find out their mate is not “in the mood”.  It can be disappointing but usually we understand that it’s just a temporary state…except when it’s NOT temporary but a common response.  God created sex not only for the purpose of procreation but also as a powerful amnesiac.  In other words, when we are experiencing a disconnect verbally or emotionally, “mutually beneficial sex”–when both partners serve each other rather than a one-sided encounter–overcomes that barrier and reminds us that we are still connected physically.   (some types of connections include social, emotional, physical, mental, psychological, conversational, etc)

There’s always a way for us to lean on one another in our various connections but not coincidentally when one connection suffers it often impacts the other connections significantly.  That’s why so many preachers like Ed Young Jr. suggest that sometimes our physical connection through sex can help re-engage couples who have become disengaged from each other.  This is where the enemy works tirelessly for the destruction of YOUR marriage.  Spouses, ask the Lord together to re-ignite the passion of your sex life.

10-11 And if you are married, stay married. This is the Master’s command, not mine. If a wife should leave her husband, she must either remain single or else come back and make things right with him. And a husband has no right to get rid of his wife.

You might have been a quitter previous to your life as a married husband or wife but the transformed believer should WORK HARD to avoid quitting or developing a horribly negative attitude en route to quitting.  I’ve worked with an unfortunately large group of individuals who have experienced spousal abuse and affairs.  Most of those things don’t just show up and knock randomly on your door one day.  If we don’t find ways to pre-emptively prepare our marriage for attack from invaders, we will all become susceptible to marital dysfunction.  Just as Proverbs 4:23 counsels us to guard our hearts, I say we should attempt to guard the integrity and healthy of our marriage.

12-14 For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages—Christian married to non-Christian—we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God.

I’m gonna tell  you that’s a sticky exhortation there.  As much as well meaning friends would tell us to avoid “missionary dating” so you don’t get stuck in a bad marriage, Paul would agree because of being “yoked with unbelievers.”  But if you’ve already made the pledge in marriage to someone who doesn’t believe then SHOW them what REAL (God-ordained, Spirit-led, Christ-centered) LOVE looks like and pray like crazy that the Holy Spirit will soften their hearts toward Christ.  

15-16 On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go. You don’t have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God.

Not much to add to that.  

Ephesians 5:21-33

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

These verses have been used and abused by so many well meaning Christians.  Controlling your spouse wasn’t the spirit behind Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.  Free will is a valued commodity that God has extended to us, His creation.  I think we should afford that same opportunity to others when we approach scripture.  

So the model for the husband taking the spiritual lead is an easy one.  It may happen differently if the wife is a believer and her husband isn’t.  I shared these statistics at a large men’s retreat I spoke to a few years ago:  

  • 7% of saved children will help lead both of their parents to faith in Jesus Christ.
  • 23% of saved wives and mothers will help lead their husbands and children to faith in Jesus Christ.
  • 94% of saved husbands and fathers will help lead their entire family to faith in Jesus Christ.

You should have seen the looks on their faces.  If that doesn’t grab a father’s heart and scream, “Hey buddy, your family is depending on you to step up and lead!”, I don’t know what does.  So, when it comes to the way we lead our families, we have to take the lead in spending quality time in prayer, bible reading and even confession as James 5:16 states:  Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.  

My wife and I have been reading through James together and that verse was something I told her we should practice a bit more.  I truly believe the key that opens the door to revival is REPENTANCE!  When a people hunger for God and realize that the only thing standing in the way is their self-reliant nature, they drop everything and invite Him to take over the leadership role.  And since James also says that God draws near to those who draw near to Him then the secret is out.  GET NEAR TO GOD…AND RIGHT NOW!

Now, if you’re wondering when I’m gonna tell those women to start slaving in the kitchen then you’re gonna be disappointed.  In my opinion, the way we lead as husbands is just like Christ would lead the church–Die for it!  That is the penultimate form of service and honor for your wife.  Don’t walk around waiting for her to serve you.  Look for ways to serve her over and over.

Let’s peek at the next set of verses, though.  There’s a juicy nugget in there that my buddies in Kansas City, Doug & Kimberly Conder, shared with me.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Two things here:  1) Most of you have heard of the 5 Love Languages that describes 5 ways that people generally prefer to experience “love”.  Well, even if gifts of service is not your wife’s favorite love language, I suggest you resolve to OUTSERVE her to the best of your ability.  See if that doesn’t draw her spirit up to a new level of fire and passion for both Jesus and her crazy new husband.

2) My friend Doug takes washing her with the Word literally and reads the Word over his wife every night.  Not only does this create a peaceful entry into sleepland for Kimberly but it comforts both her soul and spirit in her inner woman.  I had never heard that before but it’s one of my goals to put it into practice.

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Today in my personal training school my students were sharing their adventures in a book called, Leadership and Self Deception.  We started talking about how some students just live by the Golden Rule.  The issue with the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is that not everyone “loves him or herself”.  In other words, people who begin traversing the path towards self betrayal (knowing the right thing to do and instead choosing something wrong) will eventually begin to loathe their inability to act accordingly.  When this happens, they’ll eventually start treating the loved ones around them like dirt because they’ve lost self respect.

Likewise, if a husband or wife doesn’t have a strong, healthy view of self (poor self esteem or broken identity) then they will tend to have less difficulty in treating others poorly.  Check out a previous article I wrote about identity.  When we have a healthy self image as a believer we tend to find it more difficult to treat others poorly.  Now, arrogance and pride are a different kind of “strong self image” because they’re both rooted in insecurity.  Pride and arrogance are excessive attempts to demonstrate to the world how capable and worthy we are as individuals.

Christ, on the other hand did not lack for a healthy self image.  Everything He did was for love…first for His Father, second for (all of) us.  Therefore, we look to emulate that completely focused intestinal fortitude and love our spouse with the same ferocious unconditional love that would cause Jesus to stare through pain and punishment at the joy of our return to God (Hebrews 12:2) as well as the destruction of the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).  What wouldn’t jesus have done for us?

Colossians 3:14-21

Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing.

Relationships have a way of bringing our selfishness to the surface.  Two of selfishness’ best friends are anger and frustration.  Left unchecked that little group of emotions can wreak havoc in your heart and mind and even body.  That’s where the emotional swings toss you around like a rag doll.  You recognize what’s happening but for some reason struggle to restrain it.  This is why these scriptures are right on point.  The book of Joshua starts off by telling God’s people to meditate on scripture day and night so that you will experience success and a prosperous way.

Practically speaking, these scriptures make it easy to form a plan.  Love relentlessly.  Imbibe and drink deeply of the peace of Christ…something that comes natural for the Holy Spirit to produce in us if we’ll only allow Him.  

Our family is a worship-lovin’ family.  My wife and I sing on the praise teams as well as in the shower.  Ok, maybe she’s too sleepy in the morning to sing in the shower but you get the idea.  The idea of being in tune resonates deeply with us.  She reads music.  I hear harmonies.  Any dissonance can turn a beautiful song into a chalkboard scratching moment.  

Musicians work hard to assemble music into a collaboration of instruments and notes that produce unity.  Relational harmony can be achieved by, again, out-serving one another in marriage.  Make a competition out of doing things for each other.   Just make sure to sit back and enjoy your efforts with a bit of thankfulness toward each other.  We don’t want to make an idol out of doing things for someone just to get their approval or recognition.

And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Be vigilant in acknowledging the kind and thoughtful ways your spouse supports you.  Together find ways to brag on how the Lord has done mighty things in your life on a daily basis.  Tell your kids how appreciative you are of God’s constant provision and favor.

18 Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master. 19 Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.

I’ve talked with many female friends and clients who didn’t grow up with a strong understanding of how much respect means to a man.  So, unintentionally, they would end up in avoidable conflicts because they were challenging a particular guy.  Women don’t crave respect and admiration to the same degree that men do so they don’t tend to be as keenly aware when they have injured a man’s pride in, let’s say for instance, solving a problem.  Proverbs even speaks to the ills of living with a contentious woman.  For instance:  

Proverbs 19:13b “a wife’s quarreling is like the continual dripping of rain.”

Proverbs 25:24 “it is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house with a quarrelsome wife.”

Proverbs 21:19 “it is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman”

When a man struggles with his identity amongst his peers, it can throw his whole world into a frenzy (can you say mid-life crisis?).  A wife who continually argues or frets (a continual inability to feel safe or at peace in chaotic moments which causes excessive worry) can imply to her husband that his strength is inadequate.  Nothing he says or does can change how she feels.  This can lead to withdrawal of responsiveness to the wife’s needs or avoidance to issues that need to be dealt with.  Men don’t know how to respond to unfixable situations and this cripples the very strength that God intended him to use for family leadership and service.

Likewise, many a man has never fully understood the impact that cherishing and loving a woman makes her feel.  Providing security in various ways is an important male virtue that helps a woman to feel safe.  Reinforcing your wife with verses that fortify her identity as a daughter of the Most High is a powerful relationship strengthener.  This is why I believe a majority of the commands of scripture call a husband to love his wife rather than other verbs that convey different outcomes.  (can you imagine a verse that says, “Husbands chat with your wives more” or “Husbands attend numerous sporting events with your wives to make them feel cherished”?)

20 Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master to no end. 21 Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.

 or The repercussions of building each other up in love is that your kids will experience the fruit of love rather than the fruit of frustration, anger and resentment.  I think that is a major reason why parents lose their cool with the kids.  We as parents HAVE to find a way to produce parenting guidance from our OVERFLOW.  Ministers know that if they don’t pastor or preach out of their overflow, they will soon encounter burnout.  Just like the body needs a break from hard workouts as well as tons of nutrients and rest, our responsibility to raise children needs ample patience and love coming from a burgeoning lovefest between spouses. 

Hebrews 13:4

Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.

 Here’s what C.S. Lewis said:

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

 

 

 

Chad Hackler

About Chad Hackler

Chad has been ascertaining, evaluating, refining and creating leadership solutions for over 21 years. Trained as a professional strength and conditioning coach specializing in NFL, NHL and collegiate football players, Chad has also been a psychology nut which has aided his ability to create personalized solutions as a leadership specialist. Chad is also a passionate Christian speaker who challenges leaders and groups to perform at high levels of achievement.

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