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Archive for Marriage Articles

Jul
27

Loving Your Unlovable Spouse

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meT2gaeNow there’s a catchy title, huh? I’m sure no one has an unlovable spouse now, do they? Well, hopefully not, right? Because this is where the rubber meets the road in marriage: learning to give love, respect and grace to another human being when they are NOT particularly giving those things to me in return.

Let me ask you this question: Do you REACT or RESPOND when your husband acts unkind, or says something that really hurts you? I know I reacted (and usually quite strongly) in the first 10 years of my marriage. I was usually thinking about getting my “rights” or making sure he knew what I was thinking or feeling about whatever topic we were discussing. I’ve learned the hard way that my reactions are not good for anyone really! Not for my husband or sons. I’ve also learned that my responses can come from God: I can hit the PAUSE button and THINK first before saying something unkind in return. I think a lot of marital disagreements and fights would not even start if I learn to practice a godly response.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the passage in Scripture (Matthew 5) where it states, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ….”. Jesus goes on to say, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” It is so easy to love when “I’m feeling it” or when you’re doing something I want you to do. But what do I do when that isn’t happening? Do I pout, get demanding, or sulk? Or do I talk it over with our God, who has both of our best interests in His Mind?

1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” This can be so hard! This verse one ups it even more: I’m to bless the person who is hurting me! Ouch!

Talk about hard! Especially when my emotions are going full force (is there any other way ladies?) this will taken herculean effort on my part to go to Jesus, calm myself and respond in a way that honors God and the person.

Read More→

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Jul
25

New Beginnings

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerNew Beginnings, by Pam BassAnother season of school has started and I don’t know about you, but I have parent-teacher conferences this week. This event may bring joy or dread to each of us. The first quarter is over and it’s time to check and see if our son has really done his homework. His report card and teachers will tell us.

I think the new school year is a good time to look at our goals for the year. But not for our kids. Husbands and wives should sit down and think about the school year and goals they have for their own marriage. Sometimes we put our mom and dad hats on more often than we do our Husband and Wife hats. Most likely you were husband-and-wife first before you were mom and dad (although I know that’s not always the case). So as you help your child to pass math this year, or to make the basketball team, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much time do I devote my spouse?
  2. What resources will I use? Books, online ministries, or weekend getaway marriage retreat?
  3. How much money will I spend on my spouse?
  4. How long will I practice doing what I need to do to improve my marriage?
  5. How will I track my progress or keep myself accountable?
  6. After God, is my husband my priority?

I encourage husbands and wives to apply some of the same principles they do to their kids to their own marriage. Think about it. We encourage Johnny to practice the piano, shoot free throws, or to do more math problems in order to improve. So why not apply that to ourselves? I encourage you to give yourselves a report card for the first quarter.

How am I communicating? Am I being a good listener? Do I talk too much? Or not enough? How am I doing with resolving our disagreements? We all know it takes two to tango and also two to fight. It also takes two to make up. You are not responsible for your spouse’s actions or words, so just concentrate on your own attitude and behavior. That alone will save you a lot of heartache and frustration. Read More→

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May
23

Upgrade Mentality

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phoneI have been thinking a lot lately about my phone. You see, I have made it last another 2 years and my current contract is up.  So, I can upgrade to a new phone.  Undoubtedly, a sleeker, cooler, faster, better, prettier, smarter phone.  So, a month ago, I started researching phones (again).

Then a funny thought entered my head while I was driving home from lunch:  Why do I even have to or want to upgrade my current phone?

Seriously, what’s wrong with it?

After a few feeble protests from my big SELF, I concluded that I do not HAVE to upgrade at all.  I won’t go through all my reasonings here, because that would take too long and would be very boring for you.  However, I will say that it made me think about my mentality:  it’s all about upgrading.  It reminds me of what some people were saying way back when that “we’ve become a throw away society”: just throw it away if it doesn’t work for you anymore, doesn’t fit you, etc.  Go buy or get another _______.”

I wonder, well, actually I don’t wonder anymore about this because I do believe we have so become accustomed to upgrading, throwing out the old & replacing things, that it has crept into our beliefs about marriages and our spouses: “Just divorce him; you can do better than him.”  We see it all around us, on TV, the internet, our family and friends’ marriages.

It seems also that people are not too fond of rules anymore.  Rules of any kind.  We want our freedom so much, but no constraints.  No limitations.  No consequences.  But there are consequences!  And some will learn the hard way.  I remember stealing candy bars as a 16 year old from the gas station. We met there so often that we knew the attendant by name!  I forget if my friend dared me or how it all started.  I recall feeling so terrified at first, afraid of getting caught. What would my mother do? {She was not the type to say, but rather DO if you get my meaning.}  But nothing happened the first time. Nor the second, third, and so on.  I started feeling less afraid.  I became bolder.  If I can steal one candy bar, why not two this time? Again, I succeeded.  (With hindsight, of course, this is one area you do not want your kid to succeed in!) Read More→

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Oct
18

Fallout From Divorce: The 4 Fs

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No, heart-brokenthis isn’t about final grades, although I know we’re close to the end of the school year.

This blog is about the Fallout From Divorce. So, I’m going to talk about divorce in a marriage blog. Weird, huh? But as I’ve talked to so many people over the years, I’ve learned that is is actually quite good to talk about divorce in order to strengthen one’s marriage. Let me explain.

Most unhappy people think something like this: “I’m unhappy in my marriage; I’m tired of my husband. No one else has it as bad as I do.” So, they entertain the thoughts of leaving, of divorcing their spouse. They may or may not try counseling. And that counseling may or not be ‘successful.’ They start the divorce proceedings. They break the news to their family: The first F.

People do not have any idea how their family or their in-laws will respond to their announcement. Sometimes they think “It’ll be fine; they know how much we fight. They’ will understand where I’m coming from. It’s no big deal.” What they don’t realize is is that it will change their Family’s structure, how they relate to one another. People usually shy away thinking they don’t want to take sides and all. So they inadvertently ignore you. You stand to lose 2 families! Your great sister-in-law may now feel obligated to withdraw from you, especially if you’re the one initiating the divorce. Blood is thicker than water they say, and weddings, funerals and divorces will attest to that in some cases. If there’s kids from a previous marriage involved, what happens to them? Am I now called “my ex-stepmother”?

Holidays will be difficult.

The 2nd F: Your friends, or at least, couple friends will also change. You’re the odd woman out now. You’re divorced so it’s awkward to go to a party where’s there’s only couples.You may even NOT get invited, so as to spare you the pain of rejection. But it’ll still be painful and lonely sitting at home alone. Work parties where spouses are usually invited are now difficult. Our culture is still built on traditional family: husband, wife, and children. Read More→

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Oct
11

What Kind of Farmer are You?

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I farmerhave been seeing too many couples lately, who have been married 25+ years, and who are ready to divorce.  The problems have been there for a long, long time.  They are reaping what they have knowing or unknowingly  sowed. It is a bit hard to think that they did not know what they were doing, but in my office, the sad but truthful facts are right there. Painful and in plain view, for us to see.  I am no farmer, but I do know that if I plant lettuce, I will not reap tomatoes!  If I sow beans, I will not grow corn!

How do they not know? you might ask me.  My guess is that

1. they (or one spouse) saw and ignored it;

2. they tried once or twice to uproot it;

3. they thought it was NBD (No Big Deal) at the time;

4. they lied to themselves about #1-3.

Denial is part of the problem usually.  Deception is right up there, beginning with myself:  I deceive myself, I think its NBD.  I tell my clients that that is a Red Flag Waving!  Jeremiah 17:9 states: “The heart is deceptive above all else; who can know it?”  Another Red Flag is when you start a sentence with, “It’s just a little problem” or “He’s just like that/he’s always been like that”. Or some version of that.  You can’t say, “she’s just a little pregnant”.  You look the other way.  You don’t want to deal with it now.  Later, you tell yourself.  You work around the problems, hoping they’ll “just go away”.  Resentment begins to build.  You begin to pull away or turn away from your husband.  You tell yourself lies and make adjustments and concessions.  “I’m taking care of the kids! They need me more!”  “It’s only for a little while, just til I get my business up and running, then we’ll take that weekend getaway”.  “It’ll get better after the kids ___________”.

Galatians 6:7 warns us that we “reap what we sow”.  Are we sowing words of affirmation into our husbands’ soul?  Are we sowing kind deeds?  Are we answering harsh words with a gentle response as Proverbs 15:1 tells us?  Am I going regularly to the Lord asking Him to cleanse my soul, so I don’t deceive myself?  What seeds am I watering today that will bring forth good fruit and not bad fruit?

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Oct
05

Everybody is a Rock Star

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Do HiRes-superwomanyou remember the movie, “The Incredibles?”  It’s one of my favorites.  A few things stand out about that movie:

#1  When the bad guy, Syndrome (Buddy Pine), says to Mr. Incredible, “If everyone is Super, then no one is”.  I think he was really hurt when Mr. Incredible told him (when he was young) that he works alone (“Sorry kid, I work alone”). So, he grows up and becomes a genius inventing super powers that he can control.  It seems that nowadays, everyone can do that too:  We can ALL become a Rock Star with a little help, of course,  from Garage Band, iTunes, You Tube, etc.  We can all self promote, self publish, and get a million hits on our website.  We can all be bloggers too! We all are in effect Rock Stars now.  I wonder, then, are we realy?  My answer to that is, yes and no.  On the one hand, I believe that for those of us who follow Jesus, yes, we are His beloved little Rock Stars.  Just like when my sons put on a Superman  Cape, they ‘were’ Superman.  They were my little Supermen, running around, jumping off couches & trying to fly, saving the world from the bad guys.  They were cute to watch and I smiled a lot.

I also knew, as their loving mom, their limitations: I knew they weren’t really going to fly, or always catch the bad guy in real life.  Jesus loves me just as I am, warts and all.  My crazy schemes to help marriage improve, to  save the world or whatever.  I know He loves me as the child I am: cute, funny, immature at times, distrusting at other times, and usually wanting to please Him, my loving Parent.  Just like my sons were when they were little rock stars in my eyes.  {They are now just bigger, older, but they’re still my little big rock stars!}

On the other hand, we are all NOT Rock Stars.  We all put our underwear on the same every morning.  At the end of the day, we all go to bed, hopefully surrounded by loved ones.  As a wonderful friend pointed out to me, “at the end of the day, what does it matter if I am a Rock Star?  My husband, children are what REALLY matters, not being a famous Rock Star.” Read More→

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Sep
28

The Flintstones teach BOUNDARIES IN MARRIAGE

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I’ve couplebeen thinking a lot about the sanctity of marriage. I’ve thought about friendships with the opposite sex and how that has changed over the past decade or so.

Having friends while married is a good thing I believe, for both men and women. I think of the cartoon, The Flintstones, and watched it while growing up.

Fred’s best friend was Barney, who he could to talk to, go to the lodge with, and go bowling. Wilma had Betty to chat with, cook with, and to watch Pebbles if she had to go to the quarry.

It was healthy.

They lived life together, played together and were around one another a lot. They were also separate: two different marriages with four unique but different individuals.

But I don’t recall Fred ever going somewhere alone with Betty, nor Barney with Wilma. Why not? Well, for one thing, I believe they, cartoon characters notwithstanding, respected each others’ spouses and the boundaries inherent in a healthy happy marriage.

Trouble will come when one spends too much alone time with the opposite sex. Even if you are their best friends.

Lest you think I am from the dinosaur age, I am not! However, when I hear of a spouse spending more time away from home, away from their spouse, I start to hear “Danger, Danger!” (from Lost in Space series-another old favorite of mine). Danger can and often does come.

So, consider these warning signs and ask yourself these questions:

* Would you want your spouse to __________ {whatever you’re doing with a member of the opposite sex, texting, talking, having weekly or often coffee/lunch/meetings, etc.} ?
* Would you advise your best friend to do what you’re doing?
* Are you spending more time with your spouse than __________ ?
* Would your grandmother approve of your behavior/speech/thoughts?
* Would your pastor/bible study leader counsel you to keep doing ___?

If you’ve answered no to those questions, be forewarned! Trouble has arrived at your doorstep. Reconsider now!

If you answer yes to these 2 questions, you are seriously in deep doo-doo:
* Do you find yourself thinking of him often during the day, wondering what he’s up to?
* Do you go out of your way to call or text him or go to the gym, when you know he’ll be there?

Now is the time to flee this temptation!

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Sep
21

LEAN ON ME

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pam-leanonI was listening to my favorite oldies station today and “Lean on Me” was playing. Here are some of the lyrics for those who don’t know the song (by Bill Withers, 1972):

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on…

It has a nice beat to it and I think a good message too. We all have pain, we do all have sorrow at some in our lives. Sometimes it’s in our childhood, sometimes later in life. Marriage is the ideal place and our spouses are the ideal people we could lean on during those tough times. But sadly, it may not be the case for many. Perhaps we’re very independent so we go through life with the attitude of “I’ll do it my way, I don’t need anyone”. By most people’s definition of marriage, marriage is not the place to live out and practice that idea. Singlehood is. Read More→

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Sep
14

Love Never Gives Up

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerI ampam-never sitting here enjoying my fresh cup of coffee and wondering about a recent conversation I had with a man who is deeply in love with his girlfriend.  His depth of love is quite impressive, as is his perseverance and genuineness.  He so wants his beloved to be healthy enough to accept his love; but alas, she does not appear able to.  

She seems to have too many demons and ghosts from her past that she cannot get rid of.  

He reminds me of how God is always faithful to us, even when we can’t or won’t accept His love. God never gives up on us, on me, or on my husband.

It also reminds me of Jacob’s love for Rachel back in Genesis 28-31 and how he worked for her  for 14 years!  Talk about perseverance!  I don’t know about you, but that speaks love to me!  The patience, determination, and drive of Jacob’s  love drives him to work, sweat, and never give up.  Even though he was cheated by her father several times.  All for her, his beloved.  “…But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.”

While I am writing this, I am listening to Wendy Swanson’s song, My Love Goes On, {album Sole Desire} playing in my head.  It’s a song about, I think, how God searches for us, finds us, then loves us, even though we chase other gods, other idols.

One line in particular  jumps out: “I have loved you thru the good, the bad; I will love you thru winter til spring”.  She lists Hosea 3, 11, and 14 after the title, which is is worth reading.

All my thoughts also remind me of that great love that Paul speaks about in 1 Cor 13:4-7:  “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.

It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Tell me what your thoughts are on perseverance in marriage.

I know that it is easy to say and very hard to practice!  I don’t think many of us can hang in there relying only on our own strength.  Especially when the bad winter times hit us; it’s quite easy to love when things are going great.  My hope and prayer is that you feel God’s strength and presence during your winter spells of marriage.

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Sep
07

Too Little Too Late?

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pam-toolittleI was thinking about my previous post about perseverance in marriage. I was pondering a situation where a husband has neglected his wife, and now she is done with him. She’s endured him telling her how she feels, what to think, what to do, etc. for too long now. She’s wants a divorce. He’s surprised to say the least, but wants to save his marriage.

So, now he’s trying and he’s going over the top. With everything: More compliments in one week, than in the last 10 years. More gifts, cards, and flowers than ever before. You can see he is desperate.

But I can’t help but think he is trying too much.

It’s like not watering your garden for 10 years, and then figuring out it’s bone dry, and pouring Niagara Falls on it, trying to save it. But what you ended up doing is flooding it. Killing it. Nothing can grow (I think) in 3 feet of water. {Perhaps, rice? A farmer I am not!}

So, is he loving her too much? Or is it a case of negligence? Lack of attention to the state of affairs in his own marriage? Is he going to be another number in the category of “Too Little Too Late?” Perhaps, it will be “too much” in his case, I dunno. What I do know, is that it is a good idea to pay attention to your marriage, your health, and your children. Please don’t say, “I know I should, but I’ve been busy” or “I’m too busy”. If you say that often enough, you too, may end up in that sad category. Read More→

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