Thursday, September 29, 2011


I hate when people don’t respond. Whether it be to a voice mail or an email, whether they don’t RSVP to a party invitation or a Facebook message, I feel that if they cared at all, they’d at least acknowledge that they received the message. I’d even be OK with them lying and telling me they’d say more later even if they never did, or didn't even plan to. At least I’d know the message I sent was received. No one likes to feel they are being ignored.

In marriage, do you feel that your messages to your spouse are not being received? Do you feel you’ve made the same requests or comments multiple times and have gotten no response; not even an acknowledgement? Sometimes all we want is for our spouse to acknowledge our feelings, validate our needs and desires. Of course there are two sides to this coin, two sets of feelings, needs and desires. Is your spouse sending messages that you are not receiving? Is he or she expressing feelings that you are not acknowledging? I am not saying you need to drop everything and immediately meet their every need. They need to know that they are heard though, just as God hears all of our prayers - even if the answers to them aren’t always to our liking. Open your heart and mind and talk to your spouse; knowing each other’s desires is the first stop towards fulfilling them.

There is another aspect to this as well: how are you delivering your messages? With what attitude are you voicing your wants and needs? There are many Proverbs that deal with the tongue, and the consequences of how it used. Proverbs 12:18 says The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing and in Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death. In Ephesians 4:29 we are implored Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

So consider your words carefully. Is what you are saying “ministering grace” to who you’re speaking to? Are your words coming across as a demand instead of a request? Instead of “I would feel loved if...” is your spouse hearing “You never...” ? Be sure that you are speaking from a place of love and mutual respect, and that you are giving equal weight to your spouse’s wants and needs when making requests. Lastly, 1 Corinthians 13:5 - Love does not demand its own way. No ultimatums; always give your partner an ‘out,’ because no one likes to feel forced, pressured or trapped.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

it always FEELS like, somebody's WATCHIN MEEEeee

A successful marriage needs a healthy measure of privacy. Problems need to be discussed between spouses to achieve resolution, not shared with co-workers or even best friends. A couple’s sex life should of course be completely private. It’s probably not a coincidence that almost every couple that stars on a reality TV show winds up split, usually nastily so: Jessica and Nick, John and Kate, all the so-called unions resulting from the endless iterations of bachelor and bachelorette, and VH1’s various “Fill-in-the-blank of Love” shows... Maybe this is also one of the reasons why Hollywood marriages rarely work - too much time spent in the public eye.


It is naivĂ© however to think that marriage is a completely private affair. People are watching when you leave your house. If you publicly call yourself “Christian” then they are watching more intently. Critics of the church love to point to religious folks who stumble and say “See? They’re no better than the rest of us,” in essence declaring “God makes no difference.” In a society that is saying that marriage is an outdated institution, quaint at best and pointless at worst, it is our job as Christians to be an advertisement for God’s ideas of what it is supposed to be.


Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding. There are constant metaphorical references to Christ as the bridegroom with the church as his bride. Wedding imagery is used extensively in Revelations to describe the reconciling of God to his creation. Marriage is meant to be a glimpse of God’s plan for the salvation of us all. Done right, it can be a ray of hope in a fallen world that God loves us, and wants us to be in relationship with him forever. I make this point not to put pressure on those of us who struggle - none of us is perfect, and we all have our problems. I make this point to remind us that we are part of something much bigger than us, and our marriages are not just for our benefit. They can be an inspiration to others, whom we may not even realize are watching.


Listen to comedians, watch a sit com... the media says that marriage is a chore, a dead end, spiritually numbing and usually doomed to failure. Does your marriage reinforce that worldview - or refute it? The Bible is the template of what God wants for all marriages. Deuteronomy 24:5 says that men should “be at home to bring happiness to the wife he married.” Guys, are you doing that? Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Ladies, are your efforts constructive or destructive?


A friend of mine said this: “Your walk must be so loud that people can’t hear what you are saying.” Louder then words, your actions are what other people notice - so what message is your marriage sending? The Bishop of London gave a homily on marriage recently. In it he said “The more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves... In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.” To truly become one flesh (Matthew 19:6) each spouse must die to themselves and put the other first in their hearts in order for the union to flourish and be what God desires. The joy this type of marriage exudes is noticeable, inspirational and hopefully contagious. Is your marriage sending God’s message to those around you? If not, then what do you need to change, to do differently? As Christians, how we live our lives can - and should - be our loudest testimony to the value of having God at the center of all we do.