Tag Archive | Marriage

Don’t Hurt Me

One who is married is concerned about . . . how she may please her husband. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:34

What usually happens when you and your spouse get into a disagreement? If you’re like most couples—according to the research of Dr. John Gottman, professor emeritus at the University of Washington—the wife does six times the amount of fussing and scolding, and the husband is 85 percent more likely to be the one who goes into stone-wall mode.

But as Emerson Eggerich told our radio audience recently, it’s not merely the amount of the wife’s talking that pushes her husband into silence and rejection. It’s the way she talks.

To every wife reading this, I know that this just seems to confirm that every man is overly sensitive and not willing to deal with the truth. But Emerson, who has over two decades of experience helping couples, asks you to take this challenge: “After you’ve had a fight with your husband, go into the bathroom, shut the door and reenact your responses as best as you can in front of the mirror. Look at yourself and how you’re coming across. Is there any man in your husband’s world who talks to him that way? Is there anybody in his world who talks to him that way?”

Usually, all you have to do to avoid his stonewalling is to soften the tone, brighten the facial expression and control the pointing finger. You can pretty much talk to him all day long—even with deep, impassioned emotion—if you avoid berating, dismissing and emasculating him.

Men are typically able to handle negative content. We do it all day long. We just can’t easily handle it when it comes across with the volume turned up on contempt. The disrespect drowns out the message from being heard. If the goal is communication, the gateway to his heart is through respect, even when you don’t think he deserves it.

DISCUSS

Is this pattern true of your marriage? What makes you want to attack verbally? What makes you want to clam up?

PRAY

Pray that you will better understand how to communicate with one another with mutual respect.

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Giving off the Scale

Verse:  Philippians 2:1–11

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. — Philippians 2: 3–4

John Powell describes different kinds of relationships, including one he calls “pan-scale love.” A pan scale is what Lady Justice carries. She stands blindfolded atop a courthouse with pans held by chains at both ends of a balance beam.

Powell says that many of us enter courtship or marriage with a pan-scale commitment. In the exhilaration of first falling in love, we give 100 percent of ourselves to our mate, and our end of the pan scale hangs heavy with love’s offerings. For a week or a month or even a year, we don’t check to see whether the pan scale is balanced because we assume our partner is also devoting 100 percent to the relationship.

But, says Powell, there comes a time when we begin to analyze which way the pan-scale balance beam is tipping. Invariably, as much as we love our spouse, we begin to recognize that he or she isn’t investing quite as much as we are.

So we pull back a little. Maybe she doesn’t pick up the clothes that he carelessly leaves in corners of the bedroom. Perhaps he doesn’t offer a cheery “hello” and warm kiss when she walks in the door. Maybe she doesn’t stop to pick up the dry cleaning or he forgets to gas up the car. This gradual lessening of giving doesn’t usually mean coming up short on the scale of big things; rather, it’s little cuts that over time begin adding up to the message: “I’ve been giving 100 percent to this relationship, and you’re only offering 87 percent. If you won’t put your full load of love on your end of the pan scale, I’m going to pull some of mine back to even things up.”

The trouble is, such efforts at balancing the pan scale of love only backfire. Typically, when partners begin to notice that the scales aren’t even, they each begin to think they are giving more than the other. The response is a subtle but progressive retaliatory cutback on a full deposit.

It may take a while, but if left unchecked, pan-scale love will eventually bankrupt a relationship. As I view my investments as overmatching my partner’s, my mate, from another vantage point, feels similarly cheated. If we check the nuptial agreements and try to reclaim what we believe is rightfully ours, Lady Justice is left with empty scales.

How much better to be known, as the Philippians were, for their generosity. People in that church sensed Paul’s needs and, without being asked, sent him gifts time after time. Paul regarded those surprises, their over-the-top giving, as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). God asks each of us to bring him an offering according to what our heart prompts us to give, not one that matches what God gives us—that’s impossible and we know it.

Likewise, we are to give to our partner in marriage—without weighing it against what’s being offered on the other side, with humble thanks for each other, with sincere appreciation for each other, with gratitude for the opportunity to meet each other’s needs without being asked. Then our giving will be an off-the-scale fragrant offering to each other, an acceptable sacrifice that is pleasing to God.

—Wayne Brouwer

Let’s Talk

• In what ways do we treat our giving in marriage as pan-scale love? When have we felt cheated?

• How can we increase the level of generosity in our relationship? What gifts do each of us bring? How might they be used to strengthen our marriage?

• How can each of us invest more in our marriage without worrying about whether we’re getting a good deal?

This devotion is from the Couples’ Devotional Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

Islands of Clarity

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. PSALM 27:13

Barbara and I have long enjoyed the benefits of carving out time together as a couple. It was something we committed to early in our marriage. Even with six kids and all the natural activity that ensued, we pretty much stuck to our guns, and everybody reaped the benefits.

For us, these became islands of clarity—stolen moments when we chose to set aside the rush, distractions and noise of life long enough to reflect and hear from God. Here are three tips for finding uninterrupted time to help you regain perspective in the midst of the family circus:

Do it daily. The mere fact that you’re reading this book tells me you understand your need for at least a few minutes each day to square up and seek the Lord together.

Do it weekly. I’ve been telling people for years about Barbara’s and my selecting Sunday night as our sacred time to grab a booth at our favorite cozy little restaurant, The Purple Cow, and sync up our schedules. We have seen God supply answers as we talked about the children’s school needs, various discipline issues, major purchases and other elements of our marriage relationship.

Do it twice a year. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but we found that squirreling ourselves away without the kids helped us clear our heads and renew our sense of partnership and purpose. Many couples use the Weekend to Remember as an annual getaway to refresh and refuel their relationship.

Marriage often resembles a shootout between Siamese twins—two people joined together at the hip but fighting to control the direction they go. Islands of clarity are good places for the two of you, not just to sign peace treaties, but also to chart a course for the future and build romantic fires as well.

DISCUSS

What has been your favorite getaway as a couple? What made it so memorable? Schedule your next one.

PRAY

Pray that God will help you never to lose the ability to set aside some time away together as a couple to seek Him and one another.