Keeping Your Marriage Like New

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My wife and I bought new car last at the end of last year. We would normally choose a late-model used car, but the deal we got was truly a good one, so I went for it. There’s just something about a brand new vehicle with 10 miles on the odometer.

It smells so good, and rides so well. We don’t have to worry about the transmission going out, the tires going flat or the pumps/belts failing. If we could only keep it this way…..

In many ways, it reminds me of a new marriage. Everything about it is wonderful. The sights and sounds; the feeling of adventure; the feeling of confidence that all is well. In the beginning, everything is pretty much on auto-pilot. Like the new car, there’s not much to fix or maintain for a while.

The manufacturer of every car includes a maintenance guide in the vehicle. In it, there is a recommended schedule of actions that the owner(s) should take in order to keep the car running at peak levels and be able to enjoy the vehicle for many years to come. These actions typically include: regular oil changes, regular tire rotation and an annual checkup by a professional to see that all systems are working as designed.

You see, cars can’t take care of themselves. As we add mileage the oil gets thicker, the tires get thinner and the parts begin to simply wear down. The key to enjoying a great vehicle for many  years is to do what the maintenance guide says to do. Change to oil, rotate and replace the tires, and monitor all the vital engine parts to make sure they function well for the life of the car.

Marriages too can’t take care of themselves. As months and years go by, our heads get thicker, our skin gets thinner and the our hearts begin to wear down. All of these happen sooner as we tow addition along with us – multiple children, illness, stressful jobs and simply a hectic lifestyle. All of these add additional pressure to the vital components of our marriage while taking away time for critical maintenance.

A lack of regular care and maintenance will make our new car age faster and make us lose our sense of confidence and joy. The same will happen to a marriage. In the same way you can’t expect your vehicle to hold your excitement and confidence if you neglect to care for it – your marriage will begin to run poorly and even break down without regular care as well.

Do we take better care of our things than we do our most valuable relationship? Do we regularly and deliberately maintain our marriage? Do we read the maintenance Manual regularly and do what the Manufacturer says?

This year, let’s pay closer attention to how our marriage is running, and ask God to show us regularly how we can keep it running in tip-top condition. If we don’t, we don’t have anyone else to blame but ourselves when something goes wrong.

Stay deliberate,

Rob

 

The Best Gift to Give Your Wife This Year

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Boots are in. Clothes are always a hit, if they fit.

Jewelry is awesome, but most of us can’t afford what we really want to give him/her.

Technology? Something useful? (hint: never). What size? What color? What store? Geeeezz…….

What would be the perfect gift – meaningful, affordable, useful, appreciated and doable?

As I scoured websites and walked through retail stores aimlessly this year, I felt a strong impression that maybe God might have something to tell me on the matter. Maybe a hint, a tip or some specific direction from on high…

So, as I so often do, I went to Him last, after exhausting nearly every other option I could come up with on my own.

You know what He said?

“What she really needs this year is: tangible and unconditional love; deep and satisfying joy flowing out of a heart that is full of gladness; soul-satisfying peace in her heart, in her home and with her husband; 12 months of really trying to understand her heart, her feelings and her needs and a boatload of patience in the process; abundant grace and kindness from the one closest to her; a true sense of goodness in her life – the kind that keeps her smiling and provides her a constant feeling of “life is good”, “my marriage is in a good place”, and my God is so good to me”; the faithfulness of a man she can trust explicitly with her life and her heart; the gentleness and humility of a man who knows God and walks in step with Him; all of which culminate in a deep-seated sense that life is not out of control. In spite of the whirlwind pace of life all around her – she is content, she is at peace, she is loved and secure”.

I then asked the obvious question? Where can all of that be found? He responded with a smile on His face –

It’s not on Amazon or on sale at the mall. The gift is inside you and can be given every day – you just have to open it. The gift is “me”, He said. I am what she truly needs. Everything that she secretly, deeply yearns for – I am. And I live in you. You are my body, my means, my vessel. Through you I can meet her deepest needs, fill her soul with peace and her heart with abundant joy. You were never meant to meet these needs, but if you will allow me the opportunities, I will meet them through you. With your cooperation, your wife, my daughter, will have the best year ever this coming year.

That’s what He said to me. That’s what He is saying to you. Will we cooperate, or will we choose to turn away, reject His offer and settle for the “okay” marriage we live in today?

I told Him I am ALL IN. I want a wife who experiences Him and all He is – every day. If I can help facilitate that – then let’s get started. Christmas isn’t just a day – it’s a lifestyle. We can give His life away – every day.

Are you in?

Rob

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

 

3 Communication Secrets You Have to Know

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First, watch your tone. Between a husband and wife, tone is everything. We have to be extremely careful about the tone we use with our spouse.

For one thing, tone communicates care. A lack of caring in a marriage is deadly. It is impossible to reach higher levels of communication with a person who does not care.

Your tone also communicates to your spouse how you feel about his or her needs. Early in our marriage—during the days when we were struggling—Karen used to tell me “I wish I could record the way you talk to me. I wish you could hear what you sound like.”

When God finally made me aware how I spoke to her, I heard the tone of a husband who was frustrated, angry, and who had checked out of our marriage. My tone spoke loudly to Karen of my dissatisfaction. It caused tremendous insecurity in her.

Second, give your spouse the right to complain. I was dominant in our marriage and became verbally abusive. If Karen shared with me how she felt and I didn’t like it, I would make her pay for it. That attitude destroyed any trust she ever had in me.

A husband or wife absolutely must have freedom to complain about something in your marriage—your behavior, how you treat them, how you make them feel—without having to pay a price for it.

Giving a spouse the freedom to complain says to them “I want to know how you feel. I may not understand it or agree with it, but I will respect it. You will never have to worry about how I’ll respond.” This builds security and trust.

An inability to complain causes spouses to bottle up those concerns. This creates bitterness and all kinds of problems. Be approachable to your spouse. Be humble enough that you can accept gentle instruction from him or her. Be prepared to say you are sorry.

Third, speak the truth in love. The Bible says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to follow Him by speaking the truth in love.

This is a balancing act. Truth without grace is mean. It is truth-telling without any compassion—like looking at someone, saying, “You’re ugly,” and walking away. But grace without truth is meaningless. It’s a cheerleader in the 4th quarter of a football game cheering on her quarterback when the team is down by 60 points.

Marriages need truth and love. The truth can be unpleasant, but truth spoken without grace and love destroys trust. Many couples never talk about the things that matter because the truth makes them uncomfortable.

But research shows conflict can be important to the strength of a marriage. Relationships that avoid conflict are not as satisfying as those that experience conflict…then know how to resolve it.

Your tone, giving your spouse the freedom to complain, and a commitment to truth spoken in love: These are the things that must be present in a marriage marked by good communication.

Thanks to Jimmy Evans for a great review of some great insight into marriage communication.

 

Rob

3 Things Your Wife Needs You to Know – About Intimacy

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Anyone who has been married for more than a day knows that men and women define hundreds of words differently, and in most cases, very differently.

Intimacy is such a word. In our marriage class/small group we always ask the husbands and wives to define it for us. Want to know what they say?

Wives – “closeness”, “connected”, “oneness”, “emotionally close”

Husbands – “sex”

Upon further investigation, the word “sex” is typically expanded to mean physical oneness or closeness.

Our culture almost always associates intimacy with sex, or in a sexual connotation (intimate apparel, intimate setting), so it is little wonder that men do too. Truth is – all the answers given above from our class are correct. Where couples fall woefully short is by not understanding or appreciating the other spouse’s definition.

So – for the men reading this blog, here is a brief overview of what you need to know about your wife’s definition (and expectation) of intimacy. I would also encourage you to ask her for her definition of intimacy.

1. Intimacy does not equal sex. Granted intimacy may end up as sex, but to most women (your wife may be the exception) intimacy is not defined by having sex together. To her, intimacy means closeness. “I feel close to my husband, emotionally” is the definition we most often get from wives. What this means in practical/man terms is: we have spent time together, we have talked through the many issues on my heart, I feel caught up with what is going on with him, I feel that he loves me and values me, I feel safe in our relationship, I feel cherish, I feel connected. These things cannot happen without having been physically together in a non-sexual way, talking, processing life and issues and connecting as friends more than roommates or business partners.

2. Wives don’t have pop-up blockers. A typical husband can come home from a horrible day at work, having run over a dog along the way, have a headache and a deep desire to plop into his favorite chair – but if greeted by his wife dressed in her little black dress who informs him the kids are eating dinner at the grandparents house – can instantly be all-in for sex. Wives, on the other hand, would need to talk with you about her horrible day and process her feelings about it. Cry a bit over the poor dog who ran out in front of her car, take some headache medicine and want to get off her feet as well. If you greet her in your newly purchased red, satin speedo – there will be absolutely no arousal or burning desire that magically wells up in her that makes her want to have amazing sex on the kitchen table. She cannot block out all the events and relational issues of her day like a man can. Once again – it takes time, understanding and conversation (processing).

3. Wives are not porn stars. Statistics tell us that nearly 90% of all men (husbands included) have viewed porn at some point in their lives  and as many as 70% view it on a regular basis. The women (paid performers) they watch always greatly desire sex, greatly enjoy sex and are greatly satisfied by their partner. This leads to many problems for men, but particularly when it comes to expectations. They cannot help but want to experience some of that “greatly” from their own wives. When they don’t, they subconsciously feel slighted and become more emotionally distant from their wives. This leads to more pornography, which leads to more disappointment and emotional distance – a very vicious and intimacy-killing cycle.

Moral?

Spend mass quantities of time with your wife. Sit and talk, go for a walk, hold hands, court her, pursue her – make her feel special, loved and cherish. Talk with her about her day, her anxieties, her fears, her dreams. Help her out around the house and with the kids. Ease her burdens. Lighten her loads.

Don’t expect her to desire to meet your need for physical intimacy until you take the time/effort to meet her need for emotional intimacy first. That’s what a leader does. That’s what laying your life down for another means.

That’s what Jesus did for us….regardless of our performance or response and expecting nothing in return. Don’t be so selfish that you only serve, love, help when you want sex.

Flee from porn if you are dabbling or using regularly. Get a mentor, an accountability partner, or even a formal treatment program if necessary. It is worth it. Your marriage, your children, your legacy – are worth it. Don’t let the enemy destroy your life and your home.

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” Eph. 5:25

If we will learn to do this – we will have the amazing marriage we’ve always wanted.

Rob

3 Things I Know About My Wife

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When you’ve known someone for most of your life, you get to know them quite well. My wife and I have known each other since we were about 14 years old. We dated off and on from middle school through college and got married the summer after college.

Spending that much time with another person is a mixed blessing for sure. You know them better than anyone. The good stuff and the not-so-good stuff. What I want you to know are three (3) things I have to sadly admit, took me far too long to recognize and appreciate about her.

1. She is God’s daughter – as a fellow Christian, my wife has also been adopted into God’s family and is a precious daughter of His. He personally hand-crafted her in her mother’s womb (Ps. 139), knows every hair on her head (Matt.10), and loves her enough to send His son to die on her behalf. He created her on purpose and has a wonderful plan for her life.

2. She was created specifically for me – since the very first marriage (Gen.2), God declared that it is “not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”. God handcrafted Eve for Adam. Out of all the women on the planet, He handcrafted a wife specifically for me also. He knew I would need help and so He created a “helper” with the exact specifications needed to partner with me in this lifetime. How awesome is that?

3. She is a sinner – like her husband. We are both addicts. We are addicted (by birth) to ourselves. Neither of us has it all together and neither of us will ever be able to be a selfless spouse who loves with unconditional love. Our sin nature automatically defaults to “me” each morning of our lives, and we must remain desperate for God’s direct intervention and help if we are ever to make our marriage work. Each of us, with God’s grace, must extend truckloads of grace and forgiveness to the other and constantly remember that our spouse was never intended to make us happy or meet all of our needs….. that is God’s job.

I wish I had realized and appreciated these things about my wife much earlier in our marriage, but I am thankful to be able to share them with other couples these days as we mentor and teach on marriage. I want to believe that our marriage would have been even richer/fuller than it has been and that I would have been a much better husband along the way.

Surely I would have treated her with much more honor and respect if I had truly comprehended that I was marrying one of God’s daughters and He was watching to see how I was treating her.

Surely I would have never been tempted by other women (real or imaginary) had I fully appreciated that God made her specifically for me, to help me, to partner with me and to impact the world around us – for His glory.

Surely I would have been much quicker to apologize, to forgive and to give grace to my fellow sinner instead of somehow thinking she was the problem. Surely we would have prayed together more, said I’m sorry quicker, and battled our real enemy together, instead of pointing fingers.

Wouldn’t I have?

Will you – now that you know?

Thankful,
Rob

A Life That Matters

 

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As I have gotten older, it has become increasingly obvious to me why I am here…on earth…for the years I am granted. Don’t we all wonder that from time to time? What is the meaning of life? Why I am here?

Here is the conclusion I have reached:

I am here to have an impact, to leave a footprint, to influence others for the glory of God. What I didn’t really realize, was the path to making this kind of imprint is a calling to die. Yes, you and I will all eventually cease breathing and physically die. What I mean is – I am here to learn to die…. to myself….to my inborn self-focus. And until I do, I will remain a selfish, unfulfilled, mostly unhappy man who will make no lasting, positive footprint or produce lasting fruit for God’s glory.

As I reflect back on my life I have seen nearly every endeavor, activity and relationship has been purposefully placed in my life path in order to teach me this lesson.

Parents were given to me to help teach, lead, mentor, discipline and love me so I would hopefully learn not be a selfish, the-world-revolves-around-me brat. Then came school (I’m talking about school in the good ole days of the 60s and 70s) with teachers. principals and coaches – all of whom had permission and authority to raise their eyebrows, raise their voices, paddle your backside, suspend you from classes, flunk an exam or even repeat a grade – if you didn’t behave or learn what you were “required” to learn back then.

Did I like all of that? No. Did I learn amazing life lessons about manners, respect, learning, hard work, getting along with others, respect for my elders/authorities, behaving, following rules, etc.? Absolutely!

I learned how to die. I learned how to obey when I didn’t feel like it or want to; to work hard when I would have preferred an easier path; to be a team player; to take responsibility (sometimes painfully) for my actions/conduct.

All of those people were strategically placed in my life to prepare me for “real” life, and more importantly – to teach me how to lay my life (desires, preferences, deserve-its) aside for someone else. I could not have imagined at the time how valuable those lessons would be in my life when they really mattered…….

Childhood, education and sports were all practice for what matters most in life. At age 22 I married the love of my life. Soon thereafter, three wonderful sons were entrusted to my care, protection and training. If I had thought life was hard beforehand, it was a cake walk compared to the next 20+ years. Anyone who is or has been married, or has raised children knows that this venue is the ultimate workshop for God to teach us what it means to die – to voluntarily give your life up for another person.

Now the kids are gone and having kids of their own. My wife and I are about to celebrate forty years together. And – the dying continues. Every day, in multiple ways, I continue to learn that my highest calling in this short life is to learn what Jesus taught and learned Himself….

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”Matthew 20:26-29

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24

If you and I want our lives to really count. If we want to make an impact during the few years we have here – an impact that affects generations behind us – we have to learn to give our lives away; to become servants; to fall to the earth and die. It is only when we do this that our lives will “bear much fruit”, and have an eternal impact.

Let it be, Lord.

Rob

Marriage is for Losers

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Re-Post from Dr. Kelly Flanagan (2013)…

“You can be right, or you can be married; take your pick.” I can’t remember who told me that, but I do remember they were only half-joking. The other half, the serious half, is exceedingly important. Because if marriage is going to work, it needs to become a contest to see which spouse is going to lose the most, and it needs to be a race that goes down to the wire.

When it comes to winning and losing, I think there are three kinds of marriages. In the first kind of marriage, both spouses are competing to win, and it’s a duel to the death. Husbands and wives are armed with a vast arsenal, ranging from fists, to words, to silence. Spouses destroy each other, and, in the process, they destroy the peace of their children. These marriages account for most of the 50 percent of marriages that fail, and then some.

The second kind of marriage is rife with winning and losing, but the roles are set, and the loser is always the same spouse. These are the truly abusive marriages, the ones in which one spouse dominates, the other submits, and in the process, both husband and wife are stripped of their dignity. These are the marriages of addicts and enablers, tyrants and slaves, and they may be the saddest marriages of all.

But there is a third kind of marriage.

The third kind of marriage is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all — themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other. These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful.

And they are revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word.

We live in a culture in which losing is the enemy. We wake up to news stories about domestic disputes gone wrong. Really wrong. We go to workplaces where everyone is battling for the boss’s favor and the next promotion, or we stay at home where the battle for the Legos is just as fierce. Nightly, we watch the talking heads on the cable news networks, trying to win the battle of ideas, although sometimes they seem quite willing to settle for winning the battle of decibels. We fight to have the best stuff, in the best name brands. We fight for attention and approval and a sense of worth, and when we finally look at each other at the end of the day, we fight, because we are trained to do nothing else. And, so, cultivating a marriage in which losing is the mutual norm becomes a radically counter-cultural act.

A rebellion.

What do the rebellious marriages look like? When my blood is bubbling, I try to remember a phone call we received from my son’s second grade teacher. She called to tell us there had been an incident in gym class. After a fierce athletic competition, in which the prize was the privilege to leave the gym first, my son’s team had lost. The losers were standing by, grumbling and complaining about second-grade-versions of injustice, as the victors filed past. And that’s when my son started to clap. He clapped for the winners as they passed, with a big dopey grin on his face and a smile stretched from one ear of his heart to the other. His startled gym teacher quickly exhorted the rest of his team to follow suit. So, a bunch of second grade losers staged a rebellion, giving a rousing ovation for their victorious peers, and in doing so, embraced the fullness of what it can mean to be a loser. When I’m seething, I try to remember the heart of a boy, a heart that can lose graciously and reach out in affection to the victors.

In marriage, losing is letting go of the need to fix everything for your partner, listening to their darkest parts with a heartache rather than a solution. It’s being even more present in the painful moments than in the good times. It’s finding ways to be humble and open, even when everything in you says you’re right and they are wrong. It’s doing what is good for your spouse, even when big things need to be sacrificed, like a job, or a relationship, or an ego. It is forgiveness, quickly and voluntarily. It is eliminating anything from your life, even the things you love, if they are keeping you from attending, caring, and serving. It is seeking peace by accepting the healthy but crazy-making things about your partner because, you remember, those were the things you fell in love with in the first place. It is knowing that your spouse will never fully understand you, will never truly love you unconditionally — because they are a broken creature, too — and loving them to the end anyway.

Maybe marriage, when it’s lived by two losers in a household culture of mutual surrender, is just the training we need to walk through this world — a world that wants to chew you up and spit you out — without the constant fear of getting the short end of the stick. Maybe we need to be formed in such a way that winning loses its glamour, that we can sacrifice the competition in favor of people. Maybe what we need, really, is to become a bunch of losers in a world that is being a torn apart by the competition to win. If we did that, maybe we’d be able to sleep a little easier at night, look our loved ones in the eyes, forgive and forget, and clap for the people around us.

I think in a marriage of losers, a synergy happens and all of life can explode into a kind of rebellion that is brighter than the sun. The really good rebellions, the ones that last and make the world a better place, they are like that, aren’t they? They heal, they restore. They are big, and they shine like the sun. And, like the sun, their gravitational pull is almost irresistible.

Follow Kelly M. Flanagan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrKellyFlanagan

How is Your Serve?

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What a better marriage? Learn to serve.

The Kingdom of God is full of paradoxes. The first will be last.  The humble will be exalted. The wise will become fools. To save your life, you must lose it. To receive, you must give. Then it should come as no surprise that this holds true for your marriage as well. Do you want a better marriage? Do you want your needs met and your relationship to be fulfilling? Learn to serve your mate.

God Loves a Servant

During Jesus’ ministry he constantly modeled a servant’s heart. From the sermon on the mount, to the parables he told, to washing the disciples feet, to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45)

We are called to be imitators of Christ. So, how did he live? His entire life and ministry were a testament to service. Repeatedly Jesus tells us that the way to succeed in the Kingdom is to serve others (Matthew 20:26, Mark 9:35, Luke22:27). God loves a servant and His desire for your marriage is to be one of mutual service to one another (Ephesians5:21).

Mutual Service – God’s Recipe for Harmony

All too often, relationships end up being a bit one-sided in the area of service. One spouse might be especially natural at serving while the other may have some elements of their past that have led them to feel entitled to being on the receiving end of the relationship. No matter the reason, when one spouse is primarily leading in the area of service and the other has a tendency to only receive, it leaves the door wide open for resentment to creep in.
God’s vision for relationships is more balanced:”As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (I Peter 4:10)”Let love make you serve one another” (Galatians 5:13)
Your gifts and talents that have been graciously bestowed upon you are to be used in service to others, foremost to your spouse. The love you have for your mate should drive you to serve selflessly. If that’s true, then what prevents us from serving in marriage as we should? In James chapter 4:1-10, the Bible clarifies that the source of conflict in a relationship is selfishness. When we don’t get what we want, then we become desperate to meet our needs by any means necessary (guilt trips, manipulation, angry outbursts, withholding affection, etc.). The passage goes on to point out that if we would simply turn toward God for the fulfillment of our needs and humble ourselves (displaying a servant heart), then the Lord will lift us up.
God made us to serve Him and to serve one another (Matthew 22:36-40, Ephesians 2:10).  If we invest our energy in serving one another rather than being self-seeking, we’ll find harmony.

Serving Provides a Safety Net

God’s designs are always perfect, but we sometimes fail to recognize the beauty of what He has crafted. One of the beautiful things about you and your spouse serving one another, is that it provides a safety net. There will be days that you are down, feeling beaten up by life, and the selfless sacrifice of your mate can life you out of that funk. There will be times when your husband or wife is stressed and your servant heart will lead you to take something off their plate, allowing them to relax and catch their breath.

This marital safety net is described in Ecclesiastes 4:10-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Any guess what that “third strand” is in your marriage? It’s the presence of God guiding you both to sacrifice your selfish desires on the altar of love and mutual submission.  So put God in the center of your relationship, commit to demonstrate your love through serving each other, and watch how God shows up and knits the two of you together in a powerful way.

Kyle Gabhart

Equip Your Marriage

http://www.equipyourmarriage.com

The “Typical” American Family is Becoming Extinct

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Redefining Households in the United States

by David Bancroft Avrick  (Avrick Direct)

It wasn’t many years ago when the Dick and Jane household was typical: Mom and dad and two children with four grandparents living nearby. Just a quarter century ago 45% of all households consisted of a married couple with children. That percentage has fallen to 26%.

Many people still maintain this image when they think about households. In today’s America this image is a fantasy. The phrase head-of-household creates an image of ‘dad-the-provider’. The reality is that the number of households that fit this traditional image is the minority. It’s impossible today to point to a ‘typical’ American household.

Over half of families are remarried, or re-coupled. The average marriage lasts only seven years. One out of two marriages ends in divorce, if the couple is under 30 years of age that percentage jumps to 66%, and 75% of those people will remarry. Two-thirds of those living together or remarried break up when children are involved. In 80% of remarried, or re-coupled families with children, both partners have careers. 80% of married women have careers and women are less dependent on the support of the male partner.

Four of the five states that lead the nation in divorces are in the Bible Belt. People who selfidentify as evangelical Christians are now more likely to get divorced than non-Christians.

Half of the 60 million children in America under the age of 13 are currently living with one biological parent, and that parent’s current partner. There are more stepfamilies than original families. Each year more than one million children have parents who separate or divorce. The United States is now the world’s leader in fatherless families. Nearly 40% of children in our country will go to bed each night without their biological father in the home, and 35% of those children never see their fathers.

Single parents account for 27% of family households with children under 18. One in two children will live in a single-family household at some point in childhood. One in three children is born to an unmarried parent. The number of single mothers increased from 3 million to 10 million between 1970 and 2000. One child out of 25 lives with neither parent.

Cohabiting couples, people who live with unmarried partners, represent almost 4% of allhouseholds in 2000. However, amongst people ages 20-24 it’s 11.2% and for people ages 25-29 it’s 9.8%. Those not completing high school are nearly twice as likely to cohabit as those completing college. Some 30%-40% of college students are cohabiting at any given time.

Between 6 and 10 million children of lesbian, gay and bisexual partners currently live in the United States. One third of lesbian households and one fifth of gay male households have children. There are about 3 million gay and lesbian people living in committed relationships, although there are only 600,000 gay and lesbian families.

Households have decreased in size. The share of households with 5 or more people fell from 21% to 10%, while those with only one or two members grew from 46% to 59%. The average number of people per household is 2.62%, compared to 3.14% in 1970.  Families represented 81% of households in 1970, but only 69% of America’s 105 million households in 2000.

1974 vs, 2000 comparison

1970 2000
Families: Married couple with own children under the age of 18 40.3% 24.1%
Families: Married couple without own children under the age of 18 30.3% 28.7%
Other types of families 10.6% 16.0%
Non-Family: Men living alone 5.6% 10.7%
Non-Family: Women living alone 11.5% 14.8%
Other types of non-families 1.7% 5.7%

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Friends – the results of the demise of the family unit are catastrophic. We are in desperate need of married couples who will stand up and declare to the world around us – “We’re All In!”. We are one man and one woman, married for life, and seeking to glorify the Creator of marriage. Our children need to see what a Biblical marriage looks like, and be inspired to seek one for themselves and not settle for anything less.

Join us by spreading the Word, and God’s truth through blogs, Tweets, and FB posts that stand for Biblical marriage and family. Get involved.

Thanks,

Rob

 

Prayers Not Answered? Check your Marriage.

unanswered-prayer2

Read: 1 Peter 3:1-7 & 1 John 3:18-22

We all want our prayers to be answered, to get results. But many times we feel like they are falling on deaf ears.

One of the keys to insuring that  our prayers are powerful and effective lies in examining our marriage relationship. – in particular, our response to what God says about how we are to treat each other.

God tells husbands in I Peter 3:7 to “be considerate/understanding as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect/tenderness…so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” He expects husbands to express love to their wives by considering their needs above our own, laying our lives down for them (Eph. 5) and showing them grace, respect and love. Otherwise, our prayers will be hindered.

Hindered means to “obstruct”, “get in the way of”, “thwart”, “delay the result of”.

I don’t think any husband reading this actually wants God to take this stance when he reaches out to Him in prayer.

Wives are also responsible. In 1 Peter 3, God tells wives to “be submissive, and if their husbands are not believers, (or not deliberately walking with Christ) “they may be won over” by their wives’ pure and reverent behavior” . Simply obeying this Scripture will prove much more powerful and effective in drawing your husband to the Lord than nagging, coercing or preaching. Don’t bother to ask God to do it for you if you aren’t willing to obey what He says.

How we treat our spouse holds the key to experiencing powerful results in our prayer life. When our heart is humble and forgiving toward our mate, God is pleased. And “if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we … do what pleases Him.” (I John 3:21-22). What pleases Him is for us to “do” what He commands us to do in our relationship with our spouse.

Since God created marriage, He knows that we have a 100% chance of enjoying a successful, fulfilling marriage if we just follow His playbook.

Are your prayers powerfully effective, or do you feel like they simply hit the ceiling? Maybe you need to look to your marriage for the answer.

Ask Him to help you obey what He says, and to do what He asks you to do as a spouse. (see Phil. 2:13)

God will always answer a prayer like that.

Rob