Sunday, August 6, 2017

Collaboration: Working as a team to resolve problems or accomplish goals

     The marriage relationship, according to God’s plan, is a relationship of unity and common purpose. It is a relationship where husband and wife work together as a team to resolve problems they encounter and accomplish their goals. They use their differences to better meet the challenges and fulfill God’s purpose for them. In short, they collaborate. That collaboration, that working together doesn’t happen without being purposeful and deliberate as recorded in Amos 3:3; “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
     Collaboration is a great concept for marriage - when two or more people collaborate, they are working together toward a common goal. We know there are going to be many challenges and some definite problems in life and when we collaborate, we are utilizing our differences, our individual strengths and abilities to meet those challenges and problems. Whether we face financial difficulties, problems with children, job or relationship problems, or anything else, we will better meet those difficulties when we face them together as a team. It doesn’t mean that we will necessarily agree on the best way to resolve problems, but it does mean that we will focus on the problem, not each other. We won’t allow our differences to become the problem.
     To effectively collaborate we must drop the ‘my way is the way to handle the problem.’ It requires a humility and acceptance of the fact the our spouse has valuable input into the resolution of any problem or the accomplishment of any goal. One person may be a “financial expert” while their spouse has no training in the area, but if the “expert” doesn’t at least objectively consider what his or her spouse has to say, they are perhaps missing a point of view that may save loss and pain down the road.
     Will you collaborate with your spouse? Will you work with him or her to discover the best solution to problems you encounter? To achieve your purpose and goals a couple? The challenge is to put aside your pride and preconceptions to seek healthy resolution to the problems you encounter. Be purposeful and deliberate about walking together with your spouse.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Conflict: A state of divergent views, wants, or desires between two or more people.

     Conflict in marriage is inevitable; husbands and wives are just too different. Too often, conflict between husband and wife is hurtful and breaks down the relationship rather than build it up. Friends, this should not be! Healthy conflict resolution is possible, but successfully working through conflict involves 4 levels:
     1. Biblical Ideals: Dying to self, living for others, having an attitude of humility.
     2. An Attitude of Collaboration: Working together to achieve a common goal; as Dr. Tim Kimmel wrote,“The goal of discussion should always be unity, never victory.”
     3. Principles of Healthy Communication: There are principles by which we can keep every conversation or conflict healthy such as; no “I” statements, no attacking, listen before responding, etc…
     4. Using Communication Tools: There are many great communication tools to help couples work through any conflict. Discover, learn, and use one or more of the tools. 
     Paul wrote: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) When those divergent or different views, wants, or desires come up, we must remain calm and seek to resolve that conflict in ways that will build up the relationship, rather than tear it down. Conflict may be inevitable, but hurt does not have to come from the disagreement. Use the resources below to help improve your communication.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Humility: Free from arrogance and pride - putting others first.

     The biggest problem in marriage is not finances, communication, or sex; it is pride - the absence of humility. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (Phil 2:4). Yet, too many Christians do not act with humility. They may speak words of humility, but their behavior does not demonstrate it. The me first culture, taking care of self before others is alive and well in the church. Few couples think of humility as an important aspect of a strong, healthy marriage, but it is.
     Humility in marriage means that we are to put our spouse first, not in a co-dependent, subservient way, but in a loving and kind way. We are to treat him or her with respect and honor, even if we must address issues. Humility means that we don’t demand our own way, get defensive when our spouse brings up an issue with us, or treat our spouse disrespectfully when they don’t do something the way we think it should be done. It means that we desire the best for our spouse no matter what.
     Folks, we have to start looking more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and less like the world. We must get rid of our attitudes of entitlement - our attitudes of self-importance. We must listen to understand our spouse, rather than reacting negatively to every perceived wrong. Do your words and actions demonstrate humility or pride. Honestly examine yourself and how you react or respond to your spouse.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Community: Living Together as the Body of Christ

     The Body of Christ, the church, is meant to work together to accomplish the purposes of God. Likewise, the family and specifically, the marriage relationship, is a microcosm of this function - in fact, marriage and family came before the church and is supposed to reflect the very nature of God - community - working together in unity and singleness of purpose. Yet, so often we see division and diversity of purpose in marriage, family, and the church.
     The problem is that many people have bought into the cultural ideal that the individual comes first. It is all about me; make me happy or I am moving on - to another relationship, church, or community. God’s plan is for oneness in marriage; unity without separation. His plan is that the Body of Christ would work together for His glory, not work as individuals for our own glory.
     Friends, we have got to stop thinking as individuals, as lone islands in the sea of humanity. We were created for a purpose; God’s purpose of being light to a dark world; of being a testimony to His love and goodness. We are that light and testimony when we live in community - living in unity, harmony, and working together. We must reject the ideals of the culture and embrace God’s view of marriage and the church; giving up our rights to do whatever we please, living in community and sharing our lives with the person we committed our life to.

More on this subject in my article:  The Marriage Relationship and the Individual

Monday, July 4, 2016

Grace: Offering love, kindness, and goodwill to your spouse

     The Chinese Christian leader, Watchman Nee wrote, "It is exceedingly ugly in the sight of God for the forgiven person to be unforgiving, for the one who has received mercy to be merciless, and for the one to whom He has given grace to not be gracious to others." Yet, too often, we, who have received much grace, do not offer grace to our spouse - the person we profess to love more than anyone else in the world.
     Your spouse will fall short; he or she will sin in some way on a pretty regular basis. You will have arguments and will probably say hurtful things to one another. Extending the frace you have received from God to your spouse is essential to a Christian marriage, a marriage according to God's design. This doesn't mean that you don't address sin, but criticizing every mistake and lapse of your spouse will only drive you apart. Judging your spouse and getting them to do things right is not your job, leave that to God.
     Grace requires humility; you will not give grace when you judge your spouse or think yourself better than him or her. You must examine your own motives; are you focused on the wrong your spouse does? Or are you focused on helping him or her become a better person? Grace seeks the best for your spouse and the Bible teachs that your are to give your spouse grace - to offer love, kindness, and goodwill even if they don't do things right.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Technology: Relationship Enhancement or Hindrance?

     Technology has made communication with the people in our lives easier in many ways, allowing us to connect more frequently and at greater distances. But research has found that this connection comes at a cost. While people are communicating and staying “in touch” more through the variety of technological advancements, they are communicating more superficially and less intimately. Face to face conversation is much of what makes us human and as we rely more on snippets of information and photos through Instagram, Facebook, and texting, there tends to be a loss of empathic connection - a loss of intimacy.

      Researcher Sherry Turkle wrote, “We don’t have to give up our phones, but we have to use them more deliberately.” Her studies have found that, “without conversation, we are less empathic, less connected, less creative, and less fulfilled.” Technology can be a relationship enhancement, allowing us to remain connected with our spouse throughout the day. It also can be a hindrance when couples give up open, transparent conversation for superficial technology based connection. Many people believe that if they are always connected, they will be less lonely, but the research shows that without face to face conversation, people are actually more lonely. Intimacy requires time together, communicating.
     What do you think? Is technology an enhancement or a hindrance to healthy relationships? Post your thoughts...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What Effect Has the Resurrection Had on Your Marriage?

Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind and on the third day, rose again; the resurrection of Christ from the dead is central to Christianity. If Jesus died and did not rise, Paul wrote that our faith would be useless. (1Cor. 15:14) We believe in Jesus and are saved, we believe He died on the cross and believe that He rose from the dead; what does that mean to our marriage? We are promised life eternal with Christ; the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to us. (Rom. 8:4) It is by God’s grace we have this promise. There is nothing we can do to earn salvation. We deserve damnation and the fires of hell, but because of Christ has done for us, we have the promise of eternal life.
The resurrection – the grace we have received should affect our marriage! Jesus gave His life for us, how much are we willing to give for our spouse? We are secure in our relationship with God, again, not by what we have done, but what He has done. Is our spouse secure in his or her relationship with us? Are we committed to the marriage as long as our spouse meets our needs, takes care of us, and makes us happy? Or do we have a true commitment to our spouse; for life, no matter what? We don’t earn God’s grace, but do we expect our spouse to earn our grace? Do we withhold love because they don’t love us as we think they should? Do we withhold respect because they haven’t earned it? Folks, we have freely received, we are to freely give!

Life is difficult, I understand that. Jesus told us life wouldn’t be easy; John 16:33 records Jesus saying, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We live in a broken world, but that doesn’t give us license to withhold grace or be critical and judgmental. Jesus overcame death, He overcame the world; we have everything we need for life and godliness. (2Pet. 1:3) His divine power allows us to extend grace to our spouse; to love our spouse even when he or she does not deserve it. Let you conversation always be full of grace, give of yourself for your spouse, demonstrate the power of the resurrection by dying to self and loving for your spouse in such a way the world will have to notice. Treating him or her with love, respect, honor – cherishing your spouse and extending grace each and every day.