Pro-active vs. Re-active Marriage

We tend to be proactive in how we deal with life in general and particularly our marriage. We are both that way because of our individual personalities but having previous marriages in our pasts has also contributed to that tendency to be pro-active vs. re-active.

Re-active vs. Pro-active Marriage: www.successfulchristianremarriage.comBeing pro-active requires getting to know our spouse inside and out. We don’t become mind readers, but we are able to better anticipate how they will respond to things. More importantly, we get to know what builds them up which, in turn, makes us better spouses.

Is your marriage pro-active or re-active?

Give up your friends… Just kidding… Or are we?

Give Up Your Friends...

Did that get your attention? How did you feel at the suggestion? Angry? Upset? Indifferent? Relieved? Happy?

This is sort of a test, you know.

The first part of the test is who you consider to be the friends you would have to give up. Was it your shopping gals or hunting buddies? Was it your social media entourage? Was it the friends you’ve just made or the ones that you’ve known your whole life?

Did the “friend” label include your spouse?

How you view your spouse in relation to your other friends is important. We believe that your spouse should be your very best friend. We would even venture to say that if this is not the case, your marriage is missing out on something quite wonderful. All of your other friendships are secondary. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be close to others but your spouse should be up there on the highest tier (just below God).

The second part of the test is what type of people you consider to be your friends. In order for your marriage to be successful, you must surround yourself with friends that will support that goal. Any friendship that doesn’t can erode or, in some cases, destroy your marriage. This means that you shouldn’t have friends who encourage you to bad mouth your spouse. You need friends who will come along beside you in prayer and words of encouragement without knowing all of the dirty little details about your marriage. You need friends who will hold you accountable to the vows that you made to your spouse and to God.

Take a good look at your friendships. Is your spouse the highest friend of all? Are all of your other friends part of building your marriage or part of tearing it down?

Hopefully you are surrounded by friends who are good for your marriage. If so, we were just kidding about giving them up. If not, well…

“U” Is For United Front

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. –Matthew 12:25

We have heard this statement often; even President Lincoln used it in a speech. It is a very important thing to remember in your marriage, especially in remarriage. We can get so caught up in trying to tread water during the storms that we forget that we are in this marriage together. We are not alone; we have each other and God. There are many things (or people) that can be used to tear apart that bond. It is such an important bond that God uses marriage to illustrate what His relationship is with us and with the church. Because it is so important, it is also one of those bonds that are always under attack. If you are married, you just have to accept the fact that there are forces working toward destroying that bond. It is unavoidable, no matter how good your marriage is. That is why we have to be diligent in protecting it. Having a United Front simply means that we stand together, in unity, for the common purpose of protecting something – in this case, protecting our marriages.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

Those of us in remarriages, particularly ones with stepchildren, are well versed in the attacks intent on breaking the bonds. We must have a united front as a couple, even in our own households with our own children. So how do we do that? There are a few simple ways to work on it. Number one: Always hold your spouse in a high level of respect which means that you do not put your spouse down or let others do it. Number two: Even when you disagree, particularly on parenting issues, have any heated discussions between you privately. Many times, when we are on the front lines of the battlefield, we forget that our spouse is on the same side with us. It is not you against each other; rather, it is you two against the world. If you have a united front, as the Bible says, you will be stronger and better able to withstand attacks.

Is Your Marriage a Team Sport?

One of the breakdowns that occur in a marriage is the change from the marriage being a team sport to being an individual sport. For many reasons, one or both partners begin to feel that they are carrying the full load or responsibility of the marriage. They begin to make unilateral decisions based on what they feel is best for them or the marriage. This is one breakdown that can often lead to divorce and one that many of us who are remarried have experienced, either as an active participant or a bystander. We have to remember that our marriage is a team sport where we are partners who both have a say in how successful it will be. This can be particularly difficult for those of us who are strong willed and decisive. If you are that way, you must be careful not to bulldoze your partner into allowing you to take control. By the same token, if you are more submissive by nature (and this applies to the men also), you must not allow yourself to become complacent in your marriage. God instructs us that marriage is where we leave our parents and become “one flesh” with our spouse. Are you and your spouse making decisions in your marriage based on this fact? If you are not, it is not too late to make the necessary changes to fix it. We must remember that God is the author of marriage and as such, He is the best judge of how to make it work well. And as a partnership, we must also keep in mind that God doesn’t just speak to one of us. Sometimes, He speaks to one or the other and sometimes, He speaks to both. The mistake that we make is to assume that He will only use one method to communicate with us. This is boxing God in. He is able, and often does, utilize different modes of communication. The ones that He feels work the best.

Failure Is Not An Option

One thing that we have learned from our remarriage, and stories from many others, is that we have enemies.  We have people around us that actually want us to fail.  Whether it’s our “step” children, ex-spouses, well meaning friends, other Christians, or sometimes even those closest to us, remarriages tend to have at least one person, if not many, that are rooting for our failure.  It can be extremely disheartening and discouraging to discover that people who should be rooting for your success can actually be angry and upset by it.  Those same people, whether they have good intentions or bad ones, can be very damaging to your remarriage.  Especially those people who are closest to you.  Your marriage is the most important relationship outside of the one you have with God.  It has to be protected.  Unfortunately, there may be times when you have to protect it from unexpected attacks.  There may even be times when you are taken completely off guard.  Remember that failure is not an option.  You and your spouse are a team and you need to stick together.  Do not let anything come between you.  Put God where He belongs – at the center of your marriage – and let Him handle the rest.  We make that sound simple, but we know that it is not.  It can be hard work and sometimes can seem an impossible task, but it can be done.  We are witness to that.  No matter how many people we have against us, we always have the peace of having each other to support us and the knowledge that God has everything under control.  Every small victory we have strengthens our relationship and we take heart that even Jesus experienced people close to him rooting for his failure. 

Looking for love? How to find your one and only

We met at an eight year old’s birthday party.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  We first met in seventh grade.  We were friends throughout high school.  We lost track of each other after that. Many years went by where we lived very different lives.  As the fact that we are remarried would attest, we made some poor choices along the way.  We also made some good choices.  The best choice was the one where we were tired of living life the way we wanted instead of living it the way God wanted.  It took many years and many trials to get to the point where we realized that God’s way was the only one we truly wanted.  Once we reached that point and surrendered our lives completely to God, our lives didn’t get easier, but better.   We can picture God standing up and wiping his hands off as if to say, “Finally, now let’s get to work.”  And get to work, He did.  So many years after our seventh grade meeting, He put us together for real.  The lesson to be learned here is that we must surrender ourselves to God’s will in our lives in order to reap all the blessings that he wants to place on us.  Particularly in choosing a spouse, we tend to make that choice about what we want and hope that God will bless it, but perhaps we don’t stop long enough to listen for God’s confirmation that this person is indeed the one that we are looking for.  If you are single and looking to meet your “soul mate”, then our advice is to stop looking right now.  If you are too busy looking for love, it is difficult to be open to God’s direction.  We both wanted love with a spouse, but having failed marriages in our past, made us more cautious about how we went about it and more reflective of what we were looking for.  But it wasn’t until we fully surrendered to God’s leading, stopped looking and let Him have control, that He took over and put us together.  Now, going on eleven years later, we are so very glad that we let Him handle it.  After all, isn’t the God that created us the most qualified to supply a love that fits our individual needs?

Rude Neighbors and the Golden Rule

Our home sits facing the side of the home across the street.  This means that generally we do not have people parking in front of our house unless there is a party going on in the neighborhood or we have visitors.  Last week we had a car park across the street and in such a way that made getting out of our driveway more inconvenient because we had to be careful that we didn’t hit this car.  This car sat in the same spot, unmoved, for several days and we became concerned about the car being abandoned.  We approached two of our neighbors on either side of us to see if it was their car and it wasn’t.  The neighbor across the street didn’t answer the door.  Finally we contacted the local police department and asked them to check into it.  The car belonged to the neighbor across the street.  We went to their house and kindly asked them to move the car a few feet so that it was not parked across from our driveway.  It was a simple request; a few minutes to get into the car and move it up a few feet and it was done.  They had their entire driveway open to park in, not to mention complete parking in front of their house and several parking spaces on the side that they could choose from.  If our neighbor had made this request from us, we would have apologized for the inconvenience to them and moved the car a few feet.  The upside of this was that they did move the car up a few feet.  The downside was that they couldn’t do that with any graciousness whatsoever, instead, they insulted us and had a nasty attitude.  We managed to maintain a good attitude and not respond to the insult, but now we are concerned that there may be some retaliation.

So what is the point of this story?  Well, partially to vent at the unfairness of it all, but God never promises us that life will be fair so this brings us to the point of the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31 NIV (our emphasis added).  As Christians, we often find ourselves tested on this.  There are many occasions throughout the day when people do not treat us the way we treat them.  Sometimes it is not right or fair, but people are people.   We don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives.  Perhaps they are having a bad day; perhaps they do not think before they speak and act; or perhaps they are just rude people who are really in need of our prayers.  It doesn’t matter what the reason is for the behavior, what matters is that we obey God’s rule.  As Christian’s, we are held to higher standards than unbelievers.  We hold to these standards, as difficult as it can be sometimes, because that is what is pleasing to God and because He (and He alone) knows the big picture.  You just never know if your kind words or actions (or lack of negative words and actions) can reach someone that God has wanted to reach.  So ultimately we must work daily at staying connected to God and allowing Him to help us through those difficult times when we want to ignore the golden rule and instead follow “an eye for an eye” thinking.

Obedience and God’s Blessing

Our God is a loving God.  Our God is also a God of justice and holiness.  Many unbelievers (and some believers) want to put God into this little box where He is only loving.  That is a disservice to our God and also to our faith in Him.  That is one of the many things that makes our God (Capital G) better than anyone else’s gods (little g).  Being as big as He is, there are things that are particularly important to Him.  Obedience is a big deal to God.  Can we be saved without it?  Sure, although the act of being saved has already required our obedience anyway.  But we are saved by His grace and not by our works so obedience is not necessary to being saved.  Having said that, it is quite difficult to lead a good Christian life and have a good relationship with God if we are not obedient.  God promises many blessings to those who are obedient to Him.  The Bible is filled with those promises.  If you look at it from the perspective of a parent to a child, God (like any parent) expects obedience from His children.  Why?  Usually for our own good.  Example:  When you tell your child not to touch a flame, it is because it will hurt the child.  You, as parent, expect the child to obey you when you say, “Do not touch that flame.”  You are trying to protect your child, even when your child doesn’t understand why.  God is the same way with us.  He expects our obedience so that we do not get hurt.  Now, let’s say you have two children: one is always disobeying you and getting into trouble or hurt and the other rarely disobeys and strives to be obedient.  Do you love either of them less?  No, but you do have a tendency to “bless” the obedient one more.  God does the same.  He rewards our obedience by blessing us.  So it is to our advantage to be obedient so that we can reap all the benefits of the promised blessings.

Open Mouth – Insert Foot: What to do if you said it.

We’ve spend much time in our blog talking about what not to say, but we are all human and try as we might, there will inevitably be the times when we fall short and say things that we shouldn’t; otherwise known as “sticking your foot in your mouth”.  So what should you do when it happens?  The first thing that you should do is apologize immediately and sincerely.  That will not only include saying “I’m sorry” but also asking for forgiveness.  Forgiveness is sometimes easier to get when we do that.  There will be times when that will be enough because the other person can understand that you are human and make mistakes.  Then there will be the times when words will not be enough to pull that big fat foot out of that big fat mouth.  When that is the case, your actions are going to have to come into play.  At those times it is good to take a step back, reflect on what kind of trouble you got yourself into and then develop a plan of attack for making things right.  You will have to show that you are sorry and that you didn’t mean to hurt the one person in the world who should mean the very most to you.  You will have to show your love in tangible ways by things like gentle affection (a hug or kiss), doing something nice and unasked for (i.e., doing a chore for them or giving them time for themselves), and maybe a small purchase of some type (flowers or a dinner out).  It is important not to let a runaway tongue do any more damage to your relationship than absolutely necessary.  Of course, thinking before you speak is always advisable but when you do find yourself having to pull your foot out of your mouth, do not just ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.  Make amends.

The Tax Man Cometh…

Well, it’s that time of year again.  TAX TIME.  Taxes have been the bane of human existence since biblical times.  The Bible speaks about tax collectors being hated and people being thankful that they were not tax collectors.  Most of us would agree that taxes are a necessary evil (or perhaps just evil).  So why are we talking about this today?  To bring up the importance of obedience – obedience to the authorities in place over us (in this case, the government agencies) and obedience to God in our handling of our personal finances.  As remarried couples, we have to recognize that God promises blessings when we are wise stewards of what we have been given.  Finances can cause all kinds of problems in marriage because we don’t always agree on what being wise means.  For some, being a wise steward is paying extra in taxes so that you get a large refund at the end of the tax year and for others, it’s keeping control of the money and paying the government on April 15th so that they do not get the money any sooner than necessary.  For some, being a wise steward is tithing on gross income, for some it’s tithing on net income and still for others, its tithing whatever you feel God is leading you to give.  The point is that being obedient in your finances can take different forms depending on your personality, your relationship with your spouse and your relationship with God.  The important thing to remember is that you and your spouse are a team and as a team you must decide together what God expects from you in regard to your finances.  You must discuss finances together, pray about finances together and then you must take action together.  Don’t let finances tear your relationship apart.  Be diligent in working together with each other for God’s best in your relationship.