Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fireproof Extras

We got our DVD of Fireproof. There are lots of interesting extra features on the DVD that will help you get a better understanding of what went on behind the scenes.

My wife and I watched it again the other night, and even though it is my third time, I was still touched and inspired to continue to grow our marriage.

More Music

I have many times when I listen to worship music and it helps my mood improve. I get bored with what I have in iTunes or my CD's, so I to get on http://www.pandora.com/. On Pandora you can pick a genre of music such as contemporary Christian, and it will automatically select songs for you. I believe you can also chose a favorite artist.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Four Soils Parable

In Matthew Chapter 13 Jesus gives the parable of the four soils in reference to people coming to Christ.

It appears to me that the concept can also be applied to couples attitudes towards reconciling with their spouse.

As anyone who reads much of this blog probably realizes, I get discouraged that more couples don't grab hold of all the help that is available to turn their marriages around.

I keep trying to refine my message, and say it more effectively, but am also coming to grips with the fact of life, that many just won't hear and persist, but I need to be thankful for the ones who do.

Jesus talked about the seed sown along the path that the devil just snatches away before it takes root. These are the spouses who are already in an affair, or who have just mutually given up on their marriages.

He mentioned the seed sown along the path, that people receive it with joy, but their enthusiasm lasts only a short time until persecution comes. These are the spouses who hear our testimony of reconciliation, and say "Yeah, I want that for my marriage" but when we suggest resources they don't get around to really studying them or putting them into practice, and at the first setback with their spouse, they file for dissolution.

Jesus mentioned the seed that fell among the thorns that the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choked out. These are the spouses who say "Yeah, I want to save my marriage" but are going so fast that they can't spend a few hours a year to go to a marriage seminar, or spend an hour a week with a marriage counselor.

Then there is the seed that fell on the good soil, that sprang up and produced 60 or 100 fold. These are the spouses that really give serious consideration to my suggestions and do some of them, or come up with their own creative ideas and resources. They reconcile, and then go on to help others. There are certainly challenges along the way, but working with people like this energizes me, and gives me hope to keep trying.



Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Love Dare Resource

I just came across another journal by someone who did "The Love Dare". See it here:

http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=43992288538&h=qqdR_&u=axR5-

Testimonies

I just asked a friend, a former counselor, what he has found to be helpful in encouraging couples to hang on to their marriages. He responded "Testimonies of other restored marriages."

I remembered back to our separation that testimonies were one of the main things that gave me hope.

Here are just a few testimonies I have on the top of my head. Names have been changed, but I suspect most would be willing to testify of God's work in their lives to help another couple.

  • Sue had an affair many years ago with Joe's good friend. She eventually confessed it, he confessed his time with a prostitute on a business trip, and now they are one of the most loving older couples I know.
  • Dick had an affair. Carol eventually found out. I believe they continued to live together, worked through the issues, and now work in their community to reconcile marriages.
  • Dave had on more than one occasion engaged in domestic violence. Joy confronted him and threatened to leave. He got good counseling help; now they lead the marriage ministry in their church.
  • My own wife and I were separated 16 months. My wife promised to divorce me and hired an attorney. We went to a one day seminar where we learned PAIRS - Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills - and now we are together and trained as marriage coaches and mentors.
  • Clint and Penny Bragg (their real names) were married, divorced, moved 3000 miles apart and didn't even know where the other one was. God brought them back together after 11 years and now they have a marriage ministry. See Inverse Ministries.

For even more testimonies, see Rejoice Ministries.

If you need hope please respond to one of my posts and I will share more of what God has done for us, and what I know He has done for others.

Financial Irony

I was thinking about how ironic it is that many couples will spend enormous amounts of their money or their parents' money on a wedding ceremony. When they want to get divorced they will spend whatever it takes to get out of the marriage. But, couples will spend so little on maintaining or healing the marriage.

So often, they will grumble about spending money on counseling, or going to a marriage weekend retreat, but their own hobbies can often consume alot of money.

Why is it that it's so hard to convince couples of the benefits of spending money to build or save their marriage, before they spend even more tearing themselves apart legally?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Reconciliation Resource

I just received a copy of "Marriage on the Mend" by Clint and Penny Bragg, marriage missionaries. I have read a couple of chapters, and it looks like a great resource for those who have decided to reconcile their relationship, or for those who want to grow their marriage to new levels so they never go through a terrible time of struggle. They share their story, resources, exercises, and other testimonies of healed marriages as an encouragement for couples to stay together and work things out.

Clint and Penny were married, then divorced, but after 11 years and 3000 miles of being apart, through a miracle from God, they reconciled. I know them personally and they have a passion for seeing marriages healed.

For more on the book see Marriage on the Mend.
For more information about their ministry see Inverse Ministries.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fork In The Road

One thing I have noticed in my own reconciliation and in other struggling marriages is that people get to a fork in the road where they have to decide - am I going to proceed in life under the assumption that I am married and will continue to be married even when it doesn't look good, or am I going to proceed assuming that I probably won't be married, but hoping that maybe we will reconcile.

Actions that indicate you are on the road to staying married, in spite of appearances otherwise, are things such as:
**You continue to allow your spouse access to your accounts
**You continue to reach out to your spouse
**If you have been paying certain expenses, you continue that or increase it
**You refuse to date others
**You keep your wedding ring on
** Continuing to send small notes, cards, gifts to your spouse even if they are rejected

Actions that indicate that you are assuming you are getting divorced, maybe even as you are saying you really want to reconcile, are things such as:
**Dating others
**Restricting bank accounts
**Cutting back on what you are providing to your spouse
**Taking off your wedding ring
**Eliminating notes, cards, gifts etc. to your spouse

I remember a scripture in the Old Testament when Joshua was addressing Israel and God said "Today I set before you death and life, chose life."

Even if your marriage looks dead, remember God is in the business of resurrection - He rose Christ from the grave.

No Divorce/Key to Reconciliation

As I have listened to and read stories of marriage reconciliations one common theme has been that at some point in time, one partner or the other put their foot down even when things looked hopeless and said "No Divorce!".

In my case, when my wife wanted a dissolution, I calmly told her that Jesus had said "Let no man put asunder what God has joined together". So for me to sign a dissolution would be to participate in ending my marriage and I could not in good conscience do that.

An incident that probably cemented my commitment was when I walked outside of our home and in a booming voice said something like "Spirit of Divorce, in the name of Jesus, be gone."

I can give testimony and can point to other testimonies, but at least one person in a struggling marriage has to somehow get to that bottom line determination to fight for their marriage with all they have and that is often when things look hopeless.

It is not something I can teach anyone, they have to wrestle it out with God until they get there in their own unique way.

Rejoice Ministries is one of the best resources for inspiration and practical advice for those prepared to stand for their marriage with all they have. Another good resource is Divorce Busting with Michelle Weiner-Davis.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alot of People

I often hear people mention how it seems there are alot of divorces in their church, community, and families. When you think about it, there probably are. Depending on what group you are looking at, and how the group is being measured, a divorce rate in the ball park of 50% is not uncommon. If half the people in a church or in a family got cancer, had a heart attack, or were killed, it would seem overwhelming. Even though divorce is not quite as dramatic as people dying, it is still very devastating. My hope is to be involved one marriage at a time in turning the tide.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Resource

I just came across a new resource that looked great called www.hopeformarriages.com.

It is by a married couple named Scruggs who were married 10 years, divorced seven years because of her affair, and are now remarried. They also have a book out "I Do Again." I am always so encouraged when I find stories like this.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Acting/Feeling

I don't remember where I heard it but someone recently said "It is easier to act your way into a feeling, than to feel your way into acting."

I think this is quite profound.

On a practical level maybe there is something that you know you should do for your spouse, child, neighbor, and yet you just don't feel like it. If you make a choice to do whatever the action is, often times you will start to feel positive about them.

If you just wait for a feeling to hit you before you do anything you may wait a long time and miss out on the joy God has for you.

Reminds me of God's conversation with Cain in Genesis 4:6-7, "Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Simplicity of Love Dare

I think as married people we often believe that loving our spouse is either so hard we don't know how to do it, or something nebulous, or beyond us.

The nice thing about "The Love Dare" is that it shows us what love looks like in action, and it can be very simple things, although some can be hard to decide to do.

Some of the simple things are "Do one unexpected kindness for your spouse" or "Buy something unexpected for your spouse". A little harder is "To resolve to say nothing negative to your spouse."

Hopefully, I will make a habit of so many more of these actions.

Pondering Attorneys, Divorce Law

One reference I would love to have is of an attorney or attorneys who are using the law in a thoughtful way to give as much chance as possible for a marriage to reconcile.

I know when it looked like my wife was going to get a divorce I was thinking about such things, although I never hired a divorce attorney.

I know in Ohio there is a little used provision where one party can request the judge to order marriage counseling. It is somewhat up to the judge's discretion.

I know that in California some people have been court ordered to go through "Reconciling God's Way".

One simple thing in most states is that even if a person is sued for divorce they have time, such as 30 days, to respond to the court. Just making your response filing towards the end of the filing period can slow things down.

I am sure that there are many other legal and ethical techniques that can be used to help the partner who is in a rush to get out of the marriage to think twice.

Alot of people will probably dismiss such things as a waste of time and say, "Why try?" when eventually the person will get their divorce.

My thought is that if you really believe that God hates divorce and that Jesus said "Let no man put asunder what God has joined together" and "All things are possible with God"- then why not try?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Family Life 40 Day Love Dare Challenge

This morning I was on Facebook and found out that under groups they have "The 40 Day Love Dare" sponsored by Family Life.

From January 5th to February 13 Family Life is challenging couples to do "The Love Dare" and to "love like you mean it" culminating with a special time on Valentine's Day.

You can get your love dare each day by going to www.familylife.com/Meanit, listening M-F to Family Life Today on the radio, by signing up for a daily email reminder at www.familylife.com/Meanit.

My love for my wife grew as I did this before. I am looking forward to doing it again with her. Hoping to more and more develop loving her as a lifestyle.