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.

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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

Honey, We Need to Text

Couple lying on the bed and smiling

Her – what you said last night really hurt my feelings

Him – ORLY

Her – RLY

Him – SRY

Her – THX

Him – UOK

Her – AIGHT

Him – GR8, ZUP4DNR

Her – DUNNO, PZA?

Him – AWESO

Her – CUL8R

Him – GR8, D46?

Her – UNBLEFBLE

If you understand that “conversation”, I will assume you are under 35. If you think that texting those symbols is actually communication, I will guess you are under 25-28.

I was in a car this week with a close friend age 30, who was telling me a story of a conversation (verbal) with a younger man that kept using words like “texting”, “talked with my wife”, and “discussed” in the same context. He finally asked the young man if he was equating “talking” and “discussing” with texting – and without hesitating he answered “yes”.

OMG. There is an entire generation growing up actually thinking that by texting, messaging, tweeting and emailing that are entering into a conversation with each other. There is so very much to write about this, I can hardly control myself – but, for the sake of brevity I will refrain.

We (older folks) need to make sure our kids and grandkids learn the dying art of sitting face to face with another human being, looking them in the eyes, and verbally engaging them in what has been known heretofore as conversation. They need to learn to listen for emotion (hurt, anger, anxiety, fear, etc.), to pick up on body language, tone and inflection. Adding silly faces and capital letters to a text message will never replace actually seeing another’s face and hearing their tone when they speak to you.

Maybe we should be more deliberate about taking time to engage more young people in actual conversation so they will learn what it is, and why it is important.

Yes, my wife and I text each other to convey thoughts and give information on a regular basis. But, our marriage would not have lasting this long, or been this fulfilling if that was our major avenue of communication. Our simple rule of thumb?

Spend more time talking together, face to face every day than any other form of communication.

Don’t let verbal dialogue die. Join the movement.

TLK2UL8R,

Rob

Like I Expect Them To

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Don’t you just love it when something works the way it is supposed to, or the way you expect it to ? Boy, I sure do.

Every time I empty our Simply Human trash can in the kitchen (most times w/o being prompted to by my wife….yea me) – I replace the custom-fit bag with another Simply Human “J” bag, and it all just fits together so nicely. I am glad we spent the extra money to buy that trash can. Every time I smoke chicken or pork on my Orion Cooker, I am thankful that it works very simply and very well – just as advertised. My 50″ Panasonic LED TV, my Nikon D5200 digital SLR, my Apple TV – you get the point. I love using things that work, and work well…..like I expect them to.

You and I (and our spouses) had expectations of how things would work when we got married. Most were never voiced and may even remain unearthed. Even though we have never talked at length about them, we still expect our spouse to know them and to meet them – happily and completely.

University research has identified 10 basic human needs we all have that need to be met in order for us to be able to  enjoy lifelong, fulfilling relationships:

respect,encouragement,

comfort,security,

support,acceptance,

approval,appreciation,

attention and affection.

Each of us enters marriage anticipating, and expecting our mate to meet these needs, and when they don’t, we get disappointed. We can even become disenchanted, bitter and resentful. We grow up believing that if we find the “right” person, that he/she will meet these needs and we will live happily ever after together. Trouble is – he/she will never meet all those needs and are not designed by God to do so. We will always fail to live up to all of our spouse’s expectations. We will never be able to make him/her completely happy and fulfilled. The good news is – God didn’t create marriage with that in mind.

Truth is – He is the One, the only One who will ever be able to meet all of our needs (through His riches in Christ Jesus – Phil. 4:19). The more we look to our spouse to meet those needs, the more disappointed and frustrated we will become. The more we allow Jesus to be #1 in our life, and look to Him to meet our needs, the more joyful and fulfilled we will be.

God created my wife and brought her to me – not to meet all my needs and make me completely happy – but to help me/partner with me, in this great adventure He calls marriage to bring Him glory and to demonstrate to others the unselfish, unconditional love He has for His bride. It is hard work, and was never intended to be entered into without God – walking with us, equipping and empowering us each and every step of the way.

If your spouse isn’t “working” the way you imagined, or meeting the needs you thought he/she would meet- don’t lash out at them, and don’t start looking for a replacement. Simply take your eyes off your spouse, and put them squarely on the only One who is capable of meeting your needs and fulfilling your life – Jesus.

Don’t hold your husband/wife responsible for something he/she was never intended to be or to do. Give your needs over to God and begin focusing on what He commands you to do as a spouse – meet the needs of your spouse – consider his/her needs ahead of your own (Phil.2:3), and make him/her your #1 earthly priority every day (1 Cor. 7:33). If you think the grass looks greener in someone else’s yard – stop and water your own. Leave your needs at His feet and He will work on your spouse in much more profound ways than you ever could.

Focus solely on your relationship with God and on how you can be the spouse He has called you to be. He will take care of the rest.

Deliberately,

Rob

10 Things Your Spouse Needs To Hear You Say

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Words have creative power.

The universe was created with words.

In marriage and when life gets busier – kids, career commitments e.t.c – the small things tend to suffer first.

Affirming, building, creative words are usually forgotten, replaced by practical, ‘real’, unexciting often uncreative vocabulary.

Once exuberantly expressed and deeply felt, our creative powerful words lie unused.

I am a working progress in every area I’ve listed below and I think most of us are. (Please feel free to add to the list in the Comments section).

1. I need you

We first see vulnerability in our relationship with God. He says we must become as little children in order to inherit His kingdom.

Sweetness and intimacy in marriage is often found in brokenness. We must never stop needing each other. And showing each other that we need each other.

2. I am praying for you

Prayer is powerful. And most people appreciate being lifted up in prayer. When going through a rough patch, your spouse will feel affirmed and cared for. Letting your spouse know that you are praying for them deepens intimacy.

3. Please, Thank you

Joyce Meyer shares the story of this couple friend of theirs who were incredibly courteous with each other. The words ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ filled their every day vocabulary. It drove Joyce crazy.

“Who in that world does that any more, you are married for goodness sakes!” she thought.

Later on, she began to see and appreciate the value and beauty of a life filled with courtesy, gratitude and humility. Such words reflect our attitude of love, respect, appreciation, honor and awe.

4. I love you because…

I think most of us want to know why we are loved.

When my husband tells me that he loves the way I handled a particular situation or appreciates the way I made a certain meal, I am over the moon.

Being specific, (“I love you because…”) instead of being general, (“I love you”) often builds up our spouses in a deeper way.

5. You are beautiful/handsome

Your husband/wife needs to know that you still find them attractive.Life has a way of altering our physical landscape. We need to hear that we are beautiful in each others eyes.

6. I believe in you

I love hearing these words from Tommy. I feel affirmed and strengthened. I think most men agree that a wife who stands by them (through thick, thin and loony) is a treasure and a gift. We are made to be affirmed.

7. No

Marriages need boundaries. And it’s not just a matter of creating boundaries – the harder work is in observing them. I love it when Tommy puts his foot down. I am pushy  persuasive and sometimes the most loving thing Tommy can tell me is “No babe”

Most couples are opposites in terms of personality. We bring different strengths into the relationship and balance each other out.

8. I am sorry, forgive me

So often we say “am sorry” because we want a battle to end. Real repentance means acknowledging your faults and making a turn to become better. It means dealing with yourself first.

When you are open and honest and mean what you say, your spouse will often sense that. And your true repentance maybe the only thing needed to resolve whatever issue is on the table.

9. What do you think?

We need to involve each other in our decision making processes. Involving your spouse communicate that you value them, their thoughts and insights.

For women, it’s one of the ways they feel loved. It affirms your partnership and often helps manage expectations.

10. You are my hero

“Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots.” Hoosier farmer

Your spouse may not act “heroic” all the time. But being a hero has nothing to do with perfection. It’s about the things that they do well (there must be something they do well since you married them).

The world already tells your spouse what they can’t do or can’t be. There’s so much pressure to perform and shine. Your spouse needs to refuel from your faucet of love. If you don’t refuel them, who will?

Ngina Otiende

Suitable

Genesis 2:18 – The Lord  God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Read that again and this time put your name in the place of “man” and “him”. Our all-knowing, all-gracious Father declared that it was “not good” for us to be alone. If you are reading this and are married – then that means you. God decided it was not a good thing for you to be alone – so He did something to help you. Something He determined would be great for you – just what you need – because He loves you and has a fabulous plan for your life.

So, he made her. That woman you live with. Yes, her.

Out of all the women on the planet, He decided that she was the most ‘suitable’ for you. Perfect? No. Just the most suitable according to God’s definition.

One thing that serves to help us through rough spots in our relationship is thankfulness. God tells us “in” everything give thanks. He doesn’t say “for” everything. No matter what we are feeling or not feeling in our marriage right now, we can be thankful. Thank Him for His unconditional love, His total and complete forgiveness, His personal provision in our wife, and His “good plans” that He has for us.

He is a good God, a wonderful and loving Father Who will never do anything in your life that is not in your best interest.

Our wife is a deliberate and personal gift from Father to us. How often do we show our appreciation to Him for loving us that much? How often do we treat His hand-crafted and precious daughter as His most prized possession?

God gave us the wife we have, because He loves us and He knows she is the perfect “helper/completer” for us. Let’s spend some time thanking Him for His wonderful gift, and see if our view of her changes in the process.

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above

Rob

7 Things a Woman Wants

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According to author Kimberley Brooks, here are the top seven things a woman wants in a relationship.

A woman wants open and honest communication. Women have no problem openly communicating their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Men, on the other hand, communicate differently. Most men speak directly with more facts and less emotion. Women like to go into detail.

For instance, when a husband comes home from work and his wife asks him, “how was your day?” The husband may respond, “Fine.” His day may have been fine, but his wife then asks, “So, what did you do?” She wants him to go into more detail about his day. She wants to experience what he experienced, and share his day with her. She wants him to know that she cares about what went on this day in his life.

Women also want honest communication. Withholding pertinent information is not being totally honest. If a man is unhappy about something his woman says or does, he should tell her. If a man feels the relationship is moving in a different direction, he should let her know.

A woman wants to be able to trust her man. Proverbs 20:6 states, “…a faithful man who can find?” Even the Bible recognizes that a faithful and trustworthy man is hard to find. A woman wants to be rest assured that just because her man is going away on a business trip for the weekend doesn’t mean he’ll be asking another woman to join him for dinner and dancing after work.

A woman wants to be shown love. If a man loves a woman, not only should he tell her, he should show her. He can buy her flowers “just because,” take her to a nice restaurant, or take her out to do her favorite thing, whether it’s ballroom dancing, jogging, or visiting a museum.

He should show interest in her interests. If she’s an actress, he can support her by attending her performances. If she’s a writer, he can read her work. He can write her a poem, make dinner one night, or show affection for her in public. Many times it’s the little things that count.

A woman wants to be noticed and complimented. Man of God, don’t allow weeks to go by without noticing that your woman has drastically cut and colored her hair. Along with pleasing herself, sometimes a woman improves her appearance in order to please her man.

A woman wants someone to listen. Some men, being the problem solvers that they are, think a woman is telling him something because she wants him to figure out what she should do. That may not always be the case. Sometimes the answer can be found in just talking out a matter, and sometimes a woman just wants her man to listen.

A woman wants a man to remember important dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Write them all down if necessary. Even if it’s just a six-month anniversary, a man can surprise his woman by taking her out on special date. She will be pleased in knowing he remembered, because it lets her know that this day is important to him as well.

A woman wants to be her man’s best friend. A woman’s dream is to meet and marry her best friend. This can be accomplished by openly communicating and spending quality time together in order to get to know each other better on a spiritual, personal, social, and emotional level. Learn one another’s goals and dreams, and encourage each another to stay on the path that God has already predestined for your lives.

Well…there you have it guys.

Remember – the goal is progress, not perfection. Keep up the good work. God’s glory, and your wife’s heart, are worth it!!!

Rob

Marriage Mentors – (The Best of the Best)

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There are so many great marriage-related website and blogs on the internet. Many focus on the needs of wives, some on husbands, some on sex & intimacy, and some have all these and more. Resources galore, great posts and advice – I just wish we all had time to immerse ourselves in all of them. Our marriages would be greatly blessed by them.

Our ministry decided to ask Twitter devotees who they thought were the Best Marriage Sites for 2012, and sent out a call for votes…..and wow, did they come in. Not quite American Idol-esque – but Twitter folks know how to get involved when they want to.

What follows are the top 12 vote getters, and thereby – the Winners, the Champions, the Best of the Best – Marriage-Related Websites/Blogs as voted on Twitter. Our hope is that you will visit these great friends, and that you will get involved in what they are saying/doing – so that your marriage, and those you touch, will be ministered to, grow and flourish – all for God’s glory.

Speaking of God – Our judging included only those sites that we felt presented a Bible-based, Christian view of marriage/relationships. There are many other sites that do not, but that was the key factor in determining our winners. So – let’s dive in and explore these great sites:

In No Particular Order….

Happy Wives Clubhttp://www.happywivesclub.com

Wives are miserable.  Marriages usually fail.  Husbands eventually cheat.  This is what so many have come to believe.  But this is not everyone’s reality.  It is certainly not mine.  I am a happy wife.  I love being married.  I adore my husband.  And I am not an anomaly. We’re searching for at least 1 million happy wives all over the world. Those like us who enjoy being a wife, absolutely adore their husband and are still head-over-heels in love.

Foundation Restorationhttp:www.foundationrestoration.org

Foundation Restoration believes that marriage is the foundation of society and, therefore, aspires to have a global impact by promoting a positive message of the true benefits, blessing, and importance of healthy marriages and relationships. Through Christ-centered education, preparation, equipping, and encouraging of people at every stage of life, Foundation Restoration hopes to unlock the full potential of marriages, relationships, families, and ultimately, society as a whole.

Stupendous Marriage – http://www.stupendousmarriage.com

Stupendous Marriage was launched in April of 2011. This website – Stupendous Marriage –  has a weekly podcast and a section of our writing about strengthening marriages. Many great and practical tips, and some honest, engaging conversations with two great marriage champions.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum – http://www.tolovehonorandvacuum.com

Sheila’s passion in this life is to help strengthen families–to equip women to be the best wives and mothers they can be, and especially to cultivate marriages that are rock solid. She has written four books for women, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum. You will love this multi-faceted resource.

Marriage Today – http://www.marriagetoday.com

Since founding MarriageToday in 1994, Jimmy and Karen Evans have encouraged and coached countless couples in building rewarding marriages and healthy homes. With more than 50% of unions in America ending in divorce, the Evans are committed to sharing proven truths that can make the most troubled marriage good, and any good marriage great. They bring more than 25 years experience equipping and teaching couples to MarriageToday’s mission to restore the dream of marriage in America.

The Generous Wife – http://www.the-generous-wife.com

Lori started The Generous Wife as a way of encouraging women to build their marriages. Along the way, people began to look to her to talk about theological concepts of womanhood.Reluctant to enter the fray, we are all thankful that her ongoing joy is to infect others with the desire to bless their spouses. A great resource.

Marriage Works – http://www.mymarriageworks.org

Because of the circumstances of their past, the Bullard’s are sold-out to changing the circumstances of their future. Because of their experiences, and their hearts for Christ, they are passionate about the cause of healthy, functional marriages. Another great resource for us all.

The Romantic Vineyard – http://theromanticvineyard.com

Tom and Debi started The Romantic Vineyard in November of 2008. Married for 32 years, it is their desire to help marriages grow strong in order to produce a rich harvest of fruit for those following behind them. The blog has date night ideas, great conversation starters and rich resources to help their readers grow their own Romantic Vineyard for God’s glory.

Eye to Eye Marriage – http://eyetoeyecommunity.com

Located In Oklahomas City, Eye to Eye’s passion is to promote God’s ordained purpose for marriage by strengthening and equipping families to leave a Godly legacy for the next generation. More great ideas and resources.

The Marriage Bed – http://site.themarriagebed.com

Another venue by Paul and Lori that primarily focuses on intimacy and sex-related issues in marriage. Someone needs to talk about it, and thankfully TMB does. A wealth of great material and resources on issues that greatly affect all marriages – even Christian ones. Don’t miss it.

One Flesh Marriage – http://www.onefleshmarriage.com

God placed a burden on Brad & Kate’s hearts for couples seeking to have a Christ-centered, one flesh marriage! It is out of that burden and much prayer that, One Flesh Marriage Ministries was born. Join them as they share how He has led them, and how he transformed their marriage. We all still have more to learn on the journey toward a one flesh marriage!

The Marriage Dance – http://marriagedance.org

The vision of MarriageDance is to enhance unity and partnership in Christian marriages so couples experience more of God’s good intentions for marriage, reflect the Biblical principles of marriage to the world around them, glorify God and advance His Kingdom on earth.

 

There you have it. 12 Wonderful resources to further equip, encourage and bless your marriage. Visit all of them, and often!

Keep living deliberately. Your marriage was never intended to be lived apart from God. Put Him first, and He will work out the rest.

Blessings,
Rob

Rev Up Your Date Night

When we fall in love, one part of the brain that becomes activated is the area that produces dopamine, a natural stimulant that produces feelings of excitement, craving, motivation and elation,” says Dr. Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love and Chief Scientific Advisor for Chemistry.com. Brain scans of couples that have recently fallen in love show that the reward systems where dopamine is produced are activated. And for new couples, time together is often characterized by intense feelings of joy and excitement. But can these feelings be maintained over the years? Fisher and her colleagues also scanned the brains of happy couples who have been together for over 25 years and discovered that the reward systems of their brains were similarly activated when they were together. So what can couples do to make sure their feelings of love and excitement for each other stay fresh over time?

1. Variety, variety, variety
One secret to keeping your love alive may well be adding some variety to your date nights. “Novelty drives up dopamine production in the brain,” says Fisher, “and gives you the same feelings associated with romantic love. In fact, doing any activity that is new, dangerous or exciting will raise the brain’s dopamine levels.” Mixing things up is one of the easiest ways to keep a relationship exciting. So if you’ve got a favorite sushi place, it’s still OK to eat dinner there… just not every Friday night. “It is important to share your favorite places with your partner, but don’t go to the same spots over and over. Choose new things to do — a museum, a picnic, a bike ride to a new part of town,” suggests Fisher. Couples can brainstorm a master list of date night activities together that are new to both people, like tango classes, ice skating, visiting an art gallery or attending a lecture at a local college or library. Even mixing things up in small ways — like taking a new route or making plans with new friends — creates an air of date-night novelty.

2. Take turns planning your date nights
Another way to keep monotony at bay, suggests Fisher, is to take turns planning dates. If one of you always plans the dates, it’s easier to be lulled into a routine. When it’s your turn to plan date night, think of small and big ways to weave the unexpected into your evening. If you normally drive to a restaurant, try walking somewhere closer instead. If you have a standard movie night out, check your local listings for plays and concerts. If staying in and watching rented films is your go-to date, invite friends over to play board games or take turns finding new recipes to cook and enjoy together.

3. Go out without a plan
In the head-spinning start of a relationship, everything feels like an adventure as you discover your new partner’s world — their friends, favorite haunts, most beloved books and movies. Unplanned date nights can help couples foster this attitude of adventure throughout the course of their relationship. “Head out the door without a plan,” says Fisher, “and just see where the evening takes you.” Start by heading to a new neighborhood and taking a stroll, which might lead to dinner in a restaurant neither of you knew existed. Often, our most fun and memorable evenings are born from spontaneous and unexpected choices.

4. Go where no man has been before…or at least, neither of you
It’s only natural to take your new love to all of your favorite places and vice versa. But for at least one of you, these places will be lacking in the novelty associated with dopamine production. After you’ve visited your mutual hangouts, head off to discover fresh locations together. Check out restaurant reviews and try that new Thai place. Hike along on a trail that’s new to both of you. Find a guidebook for your city and read it together, scanning for adventures for you two to embark upon. Remember: keep it new, fresh — and keep the excitement of being in love alive!

Guys – it’s easy to get in a rut when it comes to dating/courting your wife. Many husbands don’t even bother. They have already “won the prize” and somehow feel that they don’t need to pursue, date or court her ever again. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your wife deeply desires to be wanted, to be needed, to be pursued and desired.

One of the best ways to stay emotionally connected/engaged with her is to deliberately plan time (date night, weekend getaway, etc.) together with just her. That means no double-dates, no group dates, etc. – just you and her. Please take a break from the movie theater. Go somewhere where you have to walk, talk, interact together. Difficult for most of us – but a huge gust of fresh wind on your wife’s emotional (connected with you) sails.

Be deliberate. Plan it ahead of time. Book a babysitter. Do whatever it takes. You’re marriage is worth it!

It starts with you,

Rob