N.T. Wright on Gay Marriage

This is so good:

You can read the transcript of the interview here.

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

I Know What Will Fix my Marriage, But…

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If you’re married and have encountered a challenge in marriage, welcome to marriage.

The funny thing about the challenges we run into in relationship is that we often know the way out of them. We know the things that could fix it. We know the things we do to try our spouse nuts or hurt them. In fact, if someone were to ask you how to fix your marriage or make it more healthy, chances are good you could come up with a plan.

Yet.

Chances are very low that you would put that plan into action.

So you stay stuck.

Stuck in a marriage that isn’t happy. A marriage that isn’t affectionate. A marriage that doesn’t have an enjoyable sex life, if it has a sex life at all. A marriage that has little laughter or conversation.

It’s just there. Kind of like roommates sharing stuff. With some kids thrown in.

What do you do if you are in that place? Here are 5 ways to move forward and fix your marriage:

  1. Stop blaming your spouse. I know, your marriage would be better if your spouse changed. Where you are in your marriage is not all on your spouse. Both of you are to blame for where you are, no one bears 100% of the blame. What is your part of it? What did you to so that you would get to this place? Admit that to yourself, confess that to your spouse and ask for forgiveness.
  2. Admit you are here. Many couples don’t want to admit the season they are in. They want to pretend like everything is okay, they want to boast on Facebook about how much they love their spouse when they really want to kick them through a wall. Stop pretending, especially with your spouse. If you are unhappy, you both know it. Talk about it, give words to it.
  3. Decide you’ll last. Too many couples go into marriage with divorce as an option. Don’t. Decide you will last whatever comes your way. It will be hard, you will face things you didn’t think were possible when you took your vows, but you can get through it. It is amazing what happens when you take the exit door away from a situation.
  4. Create a plan and put some accountability to it. As you look at your marriage, get some advice. What is the thing that is harming your marriage? Is it accountability, schedule and pace, communication, intimacy? What is that one thing if you could change would take your marriage to a new level? Now, find a book or a couple that is doing that well and spend time with them, ask them what they know. Ask for their help. Create a plan out of the place you are in and share it with someone, create some accountability. When I committed to have a weekly date night with Katie and that I would plan it, I said it in a sermon. That put some teeth to the commitment.
  5. Believe the best in your spouse. This will probably be the hardest thing to do if you are hurt or angry at your spouse. You will believe any change they make is simply show, window dressing, trying to butter you up for something. It might be. Do your best to believe the best in your spouse and ask them to believe the best in you. I’m not promising you won’t get hurt in this relationship, you will at some point as it happens in every marriage. But believe the best in them. People have a way of becoming the people we believe them to be.

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

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A Simple Way to Build Love into Your Marriage

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Every marriage is different and every person is different, but every marriage has one thing in common. A desire to be closer and to be more in love. While some couples may feel distant and feel like the fun and love has worn off from their marriage, but it is never too late.

I’m always sad whenever I hear couples talk as if their marriage is as good as it can get.

So, how do you build love back into a loveless marriage? How do you rekindle love that feels like has worn out? How do you feel more fulfilled and happier on your marriage?

Honestly, it isn’t as hard as you might think.

The next time you are with your spouse ask them: What is one thing I can do to make your life more enjoyable? To make you feel more loved? To lessen the stress in your life?

The answers might be: to have coffee ready in the morning, to pick up your clothes, to pick up the kids at school, to have dinner ready by a certain time, to have a meal plan for the week, cleaning the kitchen up before going to bed, no smartphones after 8pm. It might more affection, more date nights, more time alone for mom, more sex, more talking, more face to face activities (what women enjoy) or more shoulder to shoulder activities (which men enjoy). It might be a huge request or a small one.

About 2 years ago, Katie and I were beginning to feel like we had settled into a routine in our marriage that wasn’t good, we asked each other this conversation. We began to see how we had taken the other for granted and what would begin building back into our relationship. Revisiting this conversation can be incredibly helpful for couples.

Now a word of warning. There is a chance that what your spouse will say is something you don’t want to do or think you are already doing and they should be grateful for what you do. It can be easy to blow off what your spouse wants because you don’t want it. This response can be destructive to your marriage because your spouse will probably not mention it again and a divide will begin in your relationship.

As you move forward from this conversation, try it out for a week. See how it goes. Try it out for a month and then evaluate it. You may find it isn’t so bad. Your spouse may decide they really don’t want what they requested as much as they thought.

In the end, you are moving towards bringing love back into your marriage, and that is never a bad thing.

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Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Dave Kraft on 3 ways to have longevity as a leader.

Bobby Clinton has come to the conclusion that only 30% of leaders finish well. That is very disconcerting, to say the least!

Joe Carter on Is sexual orientation analogous to race?

The argument to make this comparison takes the following form:

Major Premise: A sexual orientation is analogous to the category of race.

Minor Premise: Race is a category protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Conclusion: Therefore, sexual orientation should have the same civil-rights protections as those afforded to race.

The question we will examine is whether the major premise is true. Is sexual orientation analogous to race?

Eddie Becker on 5 things you should never say to your spouse.

Christine Hoover on What to not say (and what to say) to a pastor’s wife.

Don’t say: Oh, I didn’t ask/invite you/initiate with you because I know you’re so busy/have tons of friends/know everyone. One of the most frustrating things about being pastor’s wives is that very few people initiate friendship or include us in social activities, because they make assumptions about our schedule or our relationships. This is why many pastor’s wives are extremely lonely; they initiate constantly and receive little in return.

Jon Negroni on How all the Pixar movies exist in the same universe.

Tim Elmore on 5 signs your kids are entitled.

Why work when it can be given to you? It fosters a cycle of laziness and poor work ethic when we constantly give to our children without requiring any work. We need to create entry points starting at a young age for our children to contribute to household chores and jobs.

Owl City – “In Christ Alone”

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11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage

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It is so sad when I meet a couple that is unhappy. Whether it is stress, finances, kids, in-laws or sin, too many couples simply settle for a mediocre marriage. They carry around this look that says, “I’m not happy, but this is as good as it will get.”

I’m sorry, but if I’m going to be in a relationship for the rest of my life, I want it to be better than a sigh followed by, “this is as good as it will get.”

So, how do you know if you are in a mediocre marriage?

Here are 11 ways to know if you have a mediocre marriage or are on your way to one:

  1. Your marriage and life revolve around your kids. I’ve written before about how to know if your kids are more important than your marriage, but if you can answer any of these, you are in trouble.
  2. It’s been over a year since you read a book on marriage. The best way to grow in your marriage is to get around a couple who has a better marriage or read a book on it. You should read at least one book on marriage a year. It’s a great way to create conversation and push issues to the surface in your marriage.
  3. Roles in marriage feel like a trap instead of freedom. Headship and submission are tricky things and controversial. They are meant to bring us freedom, not to be a trap. When they feel like a trap, there is sin under it. Whether in how it is playing out or how our heart feels about it.
  4. You can’t remember the last date night you had. I can’t tell you how important date night is. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive, but as a couple, you need to have at least one time a week where it is just the two of you (no phone, no tv, no computer, no kids) to talk about build into your relationship.
  5. You have sex less than 2 times a week. I realize this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Pregnancy, health, age, travel, deployment, etc. all can get in the way of this. That being said, sex is a great barometer of your marriage. In every situation when I talk to a couple struggling in their marriage, sex is the first thing to go. It reveals past hurts, addictions, abuses, etc. Every study also says the same thing, a healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.
  6. You nit pick at your spouse. I talked in more detail about this here, but disrespecting your spouse, making fun of them, being sarcastic is one of the fastest ways to move from a good marriage to mediocre to miserable or divorced.
  7. You consistently talk about how much you love your spouse on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but every time I read something incredibly awesome on Facebook, my first thought is, “That’s probably the exact opposite of the truth.” I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled a couple who seemed on the verge of divorce and the next day posted on Facebook, “I love my wife.” Or, “My husband is incredible.” The charade of Facebook reveals a lot.
  8. When you are alone with your spouse, you have nothing to talk about. Whenever Katie and I go out to eat and see a couple just sitting there, our hearts break. That’s so sad. It means a couple has stopped growing. Yes silence is great sometimes and needed, but when it is a consistent pattern, that’s a mediocre marriage. You know if this is you.
  9. There are things in your past your spouse does not know. Your spouse should know everything about you. That doesn’t mean you need to tell your spouse how many sexual partners you’ve had or how much porn you saw as a teenager. That isn’t helpful. They should know about addictions, hurts, abuse against you. No one on the planet should know more about you than your spouse.
  10. You fantasize about being married to someone else. Our imaginations are powerful, our memories are powerful. Often, we will think back to high school or college and wonder where someone is or what life would have been like if we married someone else. When that happens, we disengage from our marriage.
  11. A friend knows more about your marriage than your spouse does. Are you honest with your spouse? Do you talk about what bothers you or do you sweep it under the rug? Do you know how to fight well in your marriage? Do you talk more to a friend more than you do to your spouse about your marriage or kids? If so, well you get it by now.

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The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize

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On a regular basis I will hear from a parent, “My child is disrespectful to me or to my spouse and I don’t know what to do about it.” Or I’ll hear this from someone, “I can’t seem to connect with my spouse. We don’t connect sexually. We don’t connect emotionally or relationally.”

What is going on? I’m about to pull my hair out. I don’t know what to do.

Your kids reaction to you is a mirror of how they see you react to your spouse.

Here’s an example.

I knew a couple who made fun of each other. It was how, they would say, “joked with each other.” The problem was, everything they said to the other person had a little bit of truth in it. “We’re always late because of this one” (laughter). “Wow, your husband does that, wish my husband wasn’t so lazy” (laughter). “Sweetie, look at what Joe got for Sue. Remember when you got me a necklace 5 years ago” (laughter). “So, you’re the couple that has sex 5 times a week. I’ve heard about couples like that. What’s that like?” (laughter).

Those are real lines that I’ve sat and heard a person say in front of their spouse and a group. Consequently, those aren’t even the worse ones.

Now, each time the whole group laughed (some nervously).

Each time and don’t miss this: There was truth in each statement. 

Couples use joking and making fun of their spouse as a way of communicating truth. Now, this is a destructive and unhealthy way to communicate truth, but nevertheless a powerful way.

The problem is that over time, it is disrespectful, it tears the other down and it does not build oneness in your marriage. Eventually, the only communication that happens in your marriage is nagging, nitpicking and making fun.

Why?

Because your spouse will reciprocate.

If you have kids, this gets magnified.

Your child will see how you tear down your husband, how you make fun of your wife and do you know what they will think? That’s how I communicate to mom or dad.

The respect a child shows a parent will always be less than the respect a husband gives his wife, or a wife gives to her husband. Always. 

So, back to the statement at the beginning.

Every time I hear those statements, my heart breaks. It means people are miserable. It means that the picture of the gospel that marriage is supposed to be is broken to the world around it. It means couples aren’t communicating well. That couples aren’t fighting well.

It also means that as children watch, the cycle will most likely continue. They will see how to relate to their parents (in an unhealthy and disrespectful way). Boys will see how his mom treats her husband with disrespect and condescension and think, “If I want a woman to respect me, I need to dominate her, I need to be rough with her” instead of loving and serving her. Daughters will watch her father disrespect her mom and think, “that is how men treat women, they make fun, they put down, they do not show love and respect to women.”

When moving from this, when a child disrespects a parent, it is best if the other parent correct the child. Simply saying, “That’s not how we talk to daddy, we talk to him with respect.” If the child is older and responds with how disrespectful you are. Take the opportunity to admit your sin to your child and apologize. Yes, be angry at their sin, but realize their sin is simply from watching you. 

If you are not proactive, this cycle will just continue and that is disastrous to your marriage and family (and one day to the marriage of your child).

If you aren’t careful, this is the one thing that will destroy your marriage (and your family) and there is a good chance you don’t realize it. 

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7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage

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Katie and I spoke at Pantano MOPS yesterday on the topic of how to fight well. Yesterday, I shared 7 reasons why we don’t communicate with our spouse well. Today, I want to share 7 ways to fight well.

Before diving in, let me address something I hear from couples from time to time. They’ll look at me with pride and say, “We never fight.” My response to that, “You are either lying to me or you are lying to each other.” Every couple fights. Put any 2 people in a relationship and friction will happen at some point. Couples who “don’t fight” are ones who never say anything that would cause a fight and they slowly move apart. If a couple says this, that is a red flag and in my opinion, has begun the ticking clock on their divorce.

That being said, if you do argue (and you should argue or have “passionate debates”) here are 7 ways to do it well.

  1. Listen. This may seem obvious, but most people are terrible listeners with their spouse. Most of the time, people stand there getting their response ready instead of listening to what is being said. This comes from our desire to win and be right, instead of to understand.
  2. Fight for oneness. In your vows, you talk about oneness. The pastor probably read a passage about oneness in your wedding. Yet, when we talk about two becoming one, we mostly think in terms of physical intimacy and sex. This comes from the desire to win. Oneness doesn’t mean losing, but it does mean making a decision that is the best for your marriage and your family. Sometimes that is going with your idea, your spouse’s or a totally different one. When you finish a fight, ask, “Are we more connected and one because of that or less?”
  3. Give grace. We give grace to everyone, children, friends, parents, neighbors, but often struggle to give it to our spouse. We expect heaps of grace from them, but are very hard on them. Give them the grace you want from them. Celebrate small wins. Celebrate when they move in the right direction.
  4. Understand how your spouse communicates best. Most marriages are a pairing of opposites. Extrovert marries an introvert. Verbal processor marries a mental processor. Both are important, both are needed. While this can create frustration, it is also healthy. Be a student of your spouse. Know how they best communicate. If they need space, give it. If they want to talk everything out, do it. If you do put off a conversation, schedule when it will happen, don’t just let it hang out there.
  5. No secrets. Secrets destroy relationships. This doesn’t mean you tell everything about your past, how many sexual partners you had and everything you did. But it does mean you are open and willing to talk about everything your spouse wants to talk about. You need to be wise in this, but no secrets. Your spouse should know you better than anyone else.
  6. Understand what you are fighting about. Katie and I made the point in a sermon that often you are angry at something from your past that something in your present reminded you of. When you are fighting, do you know what you are really fighting about? Is your reaction on part with the situation or is it overblown?
  7. Connect physically, even when you don’t feel like it. Katie made this point yesterday and it is spot on. Often, after a fight (especially if it isn’t resolved) the last thing you want to do is connect physically. Having sex has a way of healing your hurts and emotions and bringing oneness. This doesn’t mean to use sex as a weapon or be abusive, but sometimes this can be helpful. Also, try arguing naked and see what happens.

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7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse

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Katie and I are speaking at Pantano MOPS this morning on the topic of how to communicate and fight well. I thought I share some reasons why couples struggle to communicate with each other. Notice, they are about you (read #1 and that will make sense).

  1. You think it’s them. Most times when a person seeks out counseling or advice concerning their marriage it is to fix their spouse. If only they did this or that. The reality is, the first reason you aren’t communicating well with your spouse has nothing to do with them, but you. Stop trying to fix them. Stop trying to change them. You can’t be the Holy Spirit to your spouse, so stop trying.
  2. You have to be right. Stop trying to be right and try to see from their perspective. Things change in a relationship when you try to see what the other person is seeing. Often though, we want to be right. Because, well, we’re right.
  3. You don’t listen. Many times in a discussion, instead of listening, you simply start thinking of your response to what the other person is saying. You aren’t able to engage them. The thinking is, if you don’t have a response ready the moment they stop talking, you won’t be heard. While it makes sense in our heads, it is ludicrous in a relationship. This goes back to wanting to be right instead of to understand.
  4. You fail to see it from their perspective. If you don’t listen well, you will never be able to see anything from a different perspective. I am amazed at how often Katie and I see the same situation totally differently. And how often Katie is correct in her perception of something or someone. If you fail to see your spouses perspective, you might end up making a mistake.
  5. You don’t know how they listen best. Couples who fight often, don’t know how their spouse likes to discuss things. This was a game changer for us. Katie likes to discuss things immediately, she is a verbal processor. I on the other hand like to process things in my head. By the time I share any idea with someone (at home or at work), I have been thinking about it for months. If Katie gives me space, we often have a better discussion. Now, sometimes I need to bite the bullet on my preference and discuss it with her. Understand how your spouse processes information and work from there.
  6. You don’t know what the real issue is. This is something we’ve talked about it part 1 and part 2 of our Beautiful series. Often, when a couple has a fight, the topic they think they are fighting about is not what they are fighting about. They are fighting about what the situation reminds them of. Their spouse said something that reminds them of what their parent used to say, so they react to that. We end up punishing our spouse for what someone else did.
  7. You belittle them. Want to end a conversation with your spouse, belittle them, insult them or disrespect them. Act like they don’t do enough.

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Top Blog Posts for November 2012

In case you missed them, here are the top blog posts for the last month:

  1. Accountability
  2. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  3. My Journey of Losing Weight
  4. The Role of Men in the Family
  5. Why We Sin so Easily
  6. 10 Ways to Know if You’re Putting Your Kids Before Your Spouse
  7. Is Love a Choice or a Feeling (And Why it Matters)
  8. Losing Weight Part 2: The Idol of Food
  9. 10 Gospel Truths about Homosexuality
  10. Why a Pastor Should be in a Missional Community or Small Group