Friday, May 30, 2008

"Can My Marriage Be Saved?"

I just came across a website http://www.savedmarriage.com/. It appears to be a good collection of resources for saving marriages, some of which I haven't discovered before and alot of good ones that I am aware of. They also have a book "Can My Marriage Be Saved?" You can read the first chapter online. The testimony in the first chapter was excellent. If you need hope for your marriage, or someone's marriage you know, I would encourage you to check all of this out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Secular Interest In Marriage

I think the majority of Christians agree that God places a high value on marriage.

What has been interesting lately is how part of the world has come around to really looking for ways to make marriages work.

Smart Marriages (www.smartmarriages.org) is an organization that features both faith-based and secular resources for marriage.

In some communities across the country, welfare offices are putting some of their funds into helping strengthen marriage, or even encourage marriage, because they realize that healthy marrriages help reduce the amount of government money going to all sorts of social programs.

As I browse different magazines and websites I find that there are even secular people realizing that monogamous relationships have safer and better sex. Some of them are afraid to say the word marriage, but a step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.

There is alot of university research done about marriages.

I have seen a book called "Divorce Lawyers Guide to Saving Your Marriage". This divorce lawyer has realized that alot of marriages are unnescessarily ended.

Our challenge as Christians is to have marriages that are so full of love that the world will see Christ through our marriage, and know that there is more to life than even a great marriage.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Puzzle: Lack of Pleading Against Divorce

Lots of times we hear testimonies from people, both Christian and non-Christian, about how they used to do drugs, or steal, or engage in illicit sex. They will share how low they went and then how they recovered. They will then plead with their audience not to go down that road.

It seems like it is rare to hear divorced people pleading with those who are going through a serious crisis in their marriage, to hang on and not get divorced.

I just was wondering why this seems to be so common.

Persistence Before Marriage And In Stressed Marriages

People seem emotionally moved when they read or hear about a single man or single woman who pursues a person of the opposite sex who has little interest in them until the resisting person crumbles and falls in love. We hear stories like of that, we watch movies with story lines like that. Maybe your marriage started that way.

However, so often when a marriage gets in trouble, and one partner makes it clear that they want out, it often seems like the conventional wisdom is that the partner who wants to stay married should just give up and accept the other person's decision. This whole thing puzzles me.

It puzzles me when sometimes the partner who says they don't want a divorce, caves so quickly in face of legal threats or just rejection.

Why doesn't there seem to be as much passion and excitement to persist in saving a marriage as there is to start one?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some Ideas For Focusing On Jesus

I want to encourage people who wish they had more of a devotional life with some different ideas about how to increase their focus on Christ.

One thing I have done is to get the Bible on CD. It is amazing what new insights I have when I listen to things I have read for years. A while ago someone pointed out to me that in Biblical times the people got their information by listening to it being read in the synagogue, mostly because the majority didn't read.

I often stick a worship CD in the car, so when I am driving I hear different snippets. I love worhship that has alot of scripture in it. Singers John G. Elliot and Twila Paris are good examples of this.

Sometimes I really struggle to pray verbally, so I type my prayers on my computer. If I don't have it with me, I write them the old-fashioned way - on paper. If you want an easy prayer journal to look back through you can create a private blog.

I really like Beth Moore's Believing God study. You can do it online at lifeway.com\bg.

Right now Beth Moore is doing a serious study through Romans. You can go to www.lproof.org and click on the study at oneplace.org.

The key is to find something that works for you.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sadness

I drove by the former house of family members who are now divorced. They moved into their home when it was new about the time my wife and I were married. At the time they moved in the trees were very small, as is typical for most new subdivisions. Now the street has very pretty trees along it. I was thinking how sad that their marriage didn't continue to grow as the trees did.

I also realized that the statistics on divorce that the wife takes a reduction in living standards are probably pretty true. I had just been at the ex-wife's home and it is not nearly as nice as the old home. I also felt sad for her for all of the hard work with shrubbery and bushes that she put in the first home that she doesn't get to enjoy.

I tried the best I knew how at the time to encourage this couple to work things out, and I still feel a sadness that they didn't.

With Christ's help, I hope to become more effective over the years in helping crisis marriages turn around.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beyond Win/Win

I just found this web site called www.beyondwinwin.com. One of the things they do is to help couples communicate and resolve conflict through mediation. It often results in a marriage reconciliation.

They mention that often one spouse does not want a divorce and that mediation is normally set up to commit relationship suicide. I am glad that someone recognizes that it doesn't have to be that way.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Marriage to Emulate

One of my goals as a marriage educator and coach is to have a marriage that other people desire to emulate. Why does that goal so often seem elusive? I am beginning to realize that even the best of marriages go through their ups and downs. I am starting to grasp that life is just that way, after "the fall" and before Heaven.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Goodwill in Marriage

One of the keys to having a good marriage appears to be having goodwill towards the other. Adjusting our hearts to the idea that our partner, in spite of their shortcomings, needs us to have goodwill towards them - to think the best of them in any situation. It is so easy to treat a friend, a boss, or a stranger with whom we disagree, with more goodwill than our spouse.

Remember, you are a Team of Two, not enemies.

Monday, May 12, 2008

International House of Prayer

I am at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri (www.ihop.org). This is a place of worship and prayer 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They have worship teams that are on for two-hour blocks at a time. Most of the time they rotate between having two hours of contemplative worship and two hours of very upbeat worship along with public intercession.

If you are struggling with marriage, or any other issue, this may be a place to come for God's refreshing. You can read your Bible, journal, pray, sing, or meditate. BTW, if you have been in a traditional church all of your life, you may want to call ahead and find out what times are Worship with the Word. You would probably be more comfortable with that format.

Team of Two

My wife and I have been very inspired by a concept we heard from Dave and Dawn Lind (www.focusonpurpose.com). They reminded us that as a married couple that we are a Team of Two.

My wife and I try to think of ourselves as a Team of Two, and, in spite of strong personal opinions in a given situation, what might be the best option to make our Team of Two all that it can be.

This is not always easy. My wife and I are both capable adults with strong ideas on alot of subjects. But, when we hang in there, exercise goodwill towards each other, and truly discuss things, we can often make decisions we both feel good about.

Sadly, the concept of marriage as even being a team is lacking in society. I think the prevailing concept is of two strong individuals who come together when things feel good and they are on the same page, and when they diverge, they divorce.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Breaking Up": Preparation for Divorce

In the homeschool community and conservative Christian circles many people emphasize courtship as opposed to dating. Somewhere I have read that our American dating system of people dating and breaking up, was actually a way of preparing young people to marry and then divorce.

I was listening to a single college student the other day. He said he really didn't want to go into a certain store because his "ex" worked there. He said it in about the same tone of voice that I have heard people in Divorce Care refer to their "ex". I felt so sad.

I thought back to what I had heard about the dating and breaking up preparing people for marriage and divorce cycle, and realized there is certainly reason to ponder what they were saying.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Three Attitudes, Three Skills, Three Issues

As I have thought about our separation and reconciliation, and as I have pondered how to help others, I have realized if there are three core attitudes, combined with three core skills, major headway can be made on three core issues in most marriages.

Like Paul, I say this not as one who has obtained it all, but as one who is still pressing on to be conformed to the likeness of Christ.

The three attitudes:
1. A rock-solid committment to each other.
2. Thinking as a "team of two".
3. Having a Philippians 2 attitude of looking out not only for your own interests but the interests of the other and serving each other.

The three skills:
1.Effective communication techiniques, especially with some form of active listening.
2. Dealing with conflict and anger.
3. Negotiating to win/win solutions. (PAIRS has been a good "toolbox" for us with practical ways to negotiate, but there are many other resources available to help couples.)

Once you have at least some handle on the three attitudes and the three skills you can knock some big holes in the three big issuses:

1. Differing spriritual beliefs (even if you are both Christians). Our spiritual beliefs drive our attitudes about everything else.
2. Differing attitudes on money (Jesus pointed out that how we use our money is a good indicator of our spiritual life).
3. Sexual differences. Sex is the most private part of us as a couple. This area can be very fulfilling when the attitudes are right and a couple has good skills.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thankful For Our Marriage Restoration

I happen to be sitting next to a lake near our hometown. My wife and I used to come here as we were courting. After we were first separated, one of my first nights in the RV was spent here, and then, many a day I spent here as I wrestled with our situation.

I am in the same parking lot where she told me she was getting a divorce. That is a memory I would just as soon forget, but remembering it inspires me to help others who are hurting.

In retrospect, I have at least one "sort of" funny story from here. I was at the lake one afternoon and had a cell phone call with Sharon that went very bad. I was so furious that I threw the phone as hard as I could into the grass. Then, I could not find it. A couple of fishermen came along, dialed my number and I was able to find it by listening for the ring.

I am thankful that our marriage survived and that Jesus held us together, even when we were weak, or weren't even sure if we wanted to stay married.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

End Game in Court System

Thankfully even though my wife and I were separated for 16 months, and she said she was getting a divorce and had an attorney, she never filed any papers.

I had told her that because Scripture said, "Let no man put asunder what God has joined together", I could not in good conscience sign a voluntary dissolution. This meant that she would have to file and prosecute for divorce whatever the cost to both of us, if she absolutely wanted to end our marriage.

Is there anyone reading this blog who has personally allowed, or professionally observed, someone who has allowed their spouse to pursue them all of the way through the court system so that the judge was actually the one to end the marriage against the wishes of one party?

What was the end result and what were your observations?

Thanks for Encouragement

A couple of readers have left notes of encouragement. I can not express how much I appreciate them.

I haven't had much oomph to write lately for a couple of reasons. One is that I also farm, and so I get busy this time of year and run out of energy. Another reason is that I have been around some situations latesly where people have been unwilling, in spite of all of they know of our testimony, and all of the resources and scriptures I have shared, to drive a stake in the ground and absolutely refuse to sign any voluntary dissolution of their marriage.

Sometimes I just let myself get down and discouraged. I'm not saying that is right, but sometimes it is reality.

I do keep adding resources here and there as I see them, so continue to check the sidebar to the right.

Dr. Steve Judah's Illness

If any of your are familiar with Dr. Steve Judah (author of "Staying Together When and Affair Pulls You Apart") I thought you would want to know that he has a terminal illness.

He is writing some very encouraging notes in his blog and you can leave a message for him at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/stevejudah.

I admire the way he is using what are probably his last days on earth to leave a legacy and encourage others.