Confirming or Conforming?
Many of us try to conform our spouses into our image because we forget that they are made in God’s image and are destined to be conformed to the image of Christ. We forget that we are made and intended to complement rather than duplicate one another. If we were identical, we wouldn’t grow much. God brings opposites together, or two unique individuals together, so we can both grow into a more complete person than we’d be on our own.
What area of life do you need to give over to God’s care? What do you need to entrust to His capable hands and His perfect wisdom?
Ridding Your Life of Pornography
Pornography can be found anywhere you choose to seek it: on the Internet, on cable channels, in a stash of magazines, or in the wilds of your imagination. If pornography has become a part of your life to any degree and in any form, it must be eradicated. If you have to disconnect your Internet and cable service because of a lack of self-control, then do it! If you have to avoid stopping at places that sell pornographic or sexually charged materials, then do it!
When I talk about esteeming your marriage, I’m really guiding you to esteem your wife. You can’t, with any integrity, say that you greatly value your marriage and simultaneously disrespect or mistreat your wife. And to just say, “I esteem my wife” is not good enough — you need to show it.
Let me give a few examples of things we should never do if we are to put our actions behind our words.
1. We should never, under any circumstances, be physically abusive to our wives.
2. We should never emotionally abuse our wives.
3. Never verbally abuse your wife.
First he tells us that we are to cherish our wives. While this word is not common in our everyday conversations, we can put it into action by holding our wives dear and lovingly caring for them. In cherishing our wives we will see them as precious, and in turn we will act compassionately and sensitively toward them.
Faith and Love in Action
Marriage exemplifies so many unique and wonderful attributes. A godly marriage can exhibit unity, endurance, fulfillment, joy, and happiness. It can provide security, promise, and a sense of belonging. And most importantly, it exemplifies the blessing of God. He desires to bless His institution — marriage. He wants to use your marriage to showcase His perfection and wisdom in creating men and women as distinct beings with ordained purposes.
The Meaning of Empathy
Empathy requires that thought and consideration take place before action. Before we act on impulse, the feelings of our spouse need to be considered. It is important to ask yourself the following questions:
How would my spouse feel if they found out I did this? Would this action be healthy or beneficial to my spouse and my marriage?
Think how many flirtations, bad decisions, and bad investments would be avoided if we took the time to think about what our wives or husbands would think.
Enlighten Your Marriage
There are times when the attack that we feel is a supernatural one. But how do we recognize when it is Satan or a mere squabble with our spouse? This is where enlightenment is essential.
Often false beliefs will cast a shadow over our thoughts. They might come as strong suggestions like, “You’re really not being fulfilled in this relationship.” “Your spouse is just not there for you.”
How many men and women start their path of sin with the slow burn of discontentment? From there, we are more than happy to fuel the flame as we embrace the devil’s whispers of “something better” or his equally seductive lies about not being “good enough” for a healthy, whole, godly life. So whether our ego is inflated or our self-worth is trampled upon, we are primed for Satan’s power to influence us.
A word to men
While women like intimacy to be nurtured throughout the day with small signs of affection and close connections in conversation and partnership, we men don’t depend so much on the accumulation of affection. We just see our wives looking good, and we are ready to go! We sometimes seem little different than beasts! “I see, I like, I want, and that’s that!” However, actually stating this or acting like this is the surest way I know of to turn off my wife to the thought of being intimate with me. For that reason, sexual boundaries or courtesies are indispensable. You may know these, but let’s explore why they are important.
– Never demand or try to force your wife to do something sexually she’s uncomfortable with.
– Don’t allow anything unnatural into the intimate area of your lives.
– Show your wife considerate, loving actions along with tender expressions of your love for her intimacy. You’ll discover that you will enjoy this fostering of intimacy as well.
– If you want romance be romantic, don’t be beastly.
– Keep your sex life private.
A strong marriage, an enduring marriage, is a great legacy for your children. When they see the quality of perseverance in their parents’ relationship, they understand that they also can persevere through the trials and tests of life. They quickly perceive how kindness, compassion, and grace are healthy responses that allow husbands, wives, and families to move past misunderstandings, disagreements, and character flaws.
The Reward of Examining Ourselves
What happens when we examine ourselves? Well, the first thing that happens is that we begin to take responsibility for our own actions. The process of taking responsibility opens us up for repentance, change, and spiritual growth.
As repentance takes place we are set free from bad attitudes, bad habits, and fears. This causes spiritual growth, which brings God’s blessing into our lives and subsequently into our marriages.
The essential of self-examination cannot be ignored. So hold back on extending helpful suggestions to your spouse — instead, pray and ask God to work in you the things that are well-pleasing in His sight. Then stand back and get ready to be blessed in extraordinary ways!
Taken from Growing Together as a Couple by Brian & Cheryl Brodersen Copyright © 2012. Used by permission of Harvest House Publishers harvesthousepublishers.com