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Archive for Marriage Articles

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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Aug
31

Mammograms and Marriage

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pam-mammogramNow there’s a snappy title!  Seriously, I thought of this while at the doctor’s office this morning.  I was getting my annual mammogram.  Now, say “Ouch” all together with me ladies! Yes, it hurt as usual, but with practically 80% of all the females on my mother’s side of the family tree having had breast cancer, I have to.

Because I am still here, I get to go, so it really is a blessing to  get the mammogram done.  I’m not complaining.  I heard of a co-worker (from 20 years ago) that breast cancer recently claimed. I’d like to stick around a bit longer, all selfish reasons of course if at all possible.

So, during the exam, the nice young Asian attendant (forgive me, I don’t know what her title was-tech? nurse?) and I chatted about stuff.  It turns out, she is going to be married this summer.  She asked me a few questions about marriage and I was happy to oblige her.  She was surprised when I told her I’ve seen lots of older couples (married 25+ years or more) who want a divorce.

I said, “we take care of our cars, get job reviews, and get yearly mammograms, but we don’t take the time to check the state of our marriages”.  She agreed with me, I’m guessing because it’s a true statement.  But we can check on it.

We can go for a “yearly marital checkup”.  There’s even a website: www.coupleheckup.com that we can access.  For the price of a modest dinner we and our husbands can take an electronic check up on our marriage.   It’s quite easy, somewhat painless, and the results can point out any possible budding problems.  Just like my mammogram will do. I will be getting a letter in 1-2 weeks saying that all is well.  Or all is not well, and an ultrasound will be the next step.

Read More→

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Aug
24

The Family Dinner

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pam-dinnerI’ve spoken to a number of people and I am surprised to hear, all too often, that they “don’t sit down for dinner as a family”.  Why, I ask. “we’re too busy, ya know, Joey has basketball and Susie has volleyball”.  They also state they “eat out a  lot too” because of all the running around and busyness.  This is a sad state of affairs.

Is the family dinner becoming a relic of the past?

Not to bore you with some stats, but I did google this and here’s a little sample what I found online:

http://www.thescramble.com/family-dinner-challenge-statistics/

A poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that:

  • Busy family schedules are cutting into family dinners together—46 percent of those surveyed said eating together is difficult to do on a regular basis.

  • Fewer than half the parents surveyed admitted that they had eaten together six or seven nights out of the previous week.

…But research shows that dining together is more important than you might think!

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, kids and teens who share family dinners three or more times per week:

  • Are less likely to be overweight

  • Are more likely to eat healthy food

  • Perform better academically

  • Are less likely to engage in risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sexual activity)

  • Have better relationships with their parents

More frequent family dinners are related to fewer emotional and behavioral problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviors towards others and higher life satisfaction.” –Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2012.

Children and adolescents who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those don’t, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

24 percent of teens want more frequent family dinners.

Families who eat dinner together with the television off eat more fruits and vegetables than those who eat separately or with the television on, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Read More→

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Aug
17

When to Say “I’m Sorry”

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sorryI was listening to my favorite oldie station again and the song, “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?” by Anne Murray came on.  I sang along.  Right after that song came, “I’m sorry” by Brenda Lee.

At first, I thought how ironic. But then I realized it was perfect together:  I want to dance with my spouse for the rest of my life and that will include saying “I’m sorry” several times!

I will step on his toes.  He will step on my toes, too.

We will hurt each other, disappoint one another, and through it all love (and dance with) each other for the rest of our lives.  Well, at least that’s my plan! Wait, let me check with him….yep, he says it’s his plan too! So we’re good.

But seriously, we have said “I’m sorry” to the other many, many times over the years.  {I was the one who usually would say it because I’m the one whose tongue would get her into trouble!}.  We agreed early on to keep short accounts.  That means we don’t wait and hold onto things.  We check with each other often.  We clear up any wrongs, slights, sins, etc that do occur.  We practice forgiveness.

We have created a safe, healthy, good environment in which to do so.  It didn’t happened overnight.  I certainly brought a few extra suitcases of “leftover childhood baggage” along for the first 10 years! That didn’t help, but it is very common.  He brought a little overnight bag with him.:-)  It takes effort and hard work, as well as lots and lots of patience.  Do you have the patience  to work with, and not against, your spouse in unpacking your suitcases? Helping him unpack his?

I worry about our ability to persevere these days.  I can’t tell you how often simple concepts seem foreign to my sons.  Take for example, “studying”.  To most of us over 35 years old, that equals “reading the chapter, taking notes, re-reading them again, going through flashcards”.  Actually doing something.  My sons don’t always get that.  My opinion is that since they can (and the teachers encourage them) and do retake tests, redo papers, there’s really no logical reason to study in the first place.  Just redo it. No big deal.  They don’t receive a big fat “0” like I did when I didn’t study!  Nothing bad really happens. So, why study in the first place? Where’s their motivation? Read More→

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Aug
02

Going For The Gold

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerGoing for Gold by Pam BassI have been re-watching a little of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Last night the figure skating couples were on and I thought, “Isn’t marriage a bit like this?” Think about it. You are both skaters, you both work on your own, but then come together to create something very beautiful! At the very least, all your efforts go towards that one goal: To win a medal, preferably the Gold.

What is true about Olympic athletes?

* They practice, practice and practice some more
* They pick a great partner-one they can work with
* They have a great and awesome coach
* They have their encouragers, families, & friends cheering them on to their fullness potential
* They put a lot of time, money and energy into being the best they can be
* They don’t quit easily; they get up when they fall down
* They have a set of reachable expectations, which they both know & strive for
* They share in the victories as well as the defeats
* They talk and listen very well to each other
* They are firm but also gentle with each other
* They (especially the women) trust each other
* They are there for one another

Is this not the way we married folks should be also in our marriages? I’m amazed at the trust the women skaters have: the men skaters throw them up and then catch them! While my husband

 

and I don’t skate, I do trust him to ‘catch me’ at times. He does this by listening, by being there for me. And I do the same for him. It’s a win-win situation. By no means perfect, but we keep at it. Just like those world class skaters: practice, practice, practice.

Read More→

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Jul
25

10 Seconds to Say Yes to God

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerI recently read a book entitled, “The 10-Second Rule:  Following Jesus Made Simple” by Clare De Graaf.  A great book which I highly recommend.  It’s basic premise is just like the title:  just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.  That simple.  So, I thought, how can I apply this to my marriage? Well, simply to ask myself this question: “What’s the next reasonable thing Jesus would want me to do in this situation or conversation or for my husband?”

Say yes by Pam Bass

Now, please don’t check out this next part, though you might be tempted to. When it comes to marriage, God has not left us wondering; He has told us several things to do:

Genesis 2:24: “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  This is the Leave & Cleave Rule of marriage: be united to your husband; change your loyalty to him.  A godly wife can still honor and love her parents, but her allegiance has changed from her family tree origins to her new family tree.  (Our husband, likewise, should be joined to us in the same way, and leave his  original family).  Her emotional support and ties are to be directed towards her husband, not her mom or sister or best friend anymore.

We wives must respect our husband.  This is easier than it sounds! This biblical truth needs much prayer, as most of us women will have a hard time with it.  I don’t think we value respect as much as men do.  They have a “Respect Radar” that is always on; we have a “Love Radar” that is always on.   I think that’s why Paul told husbands 3 times to love their wives in Eph. 5.  We’re always on the look out for love while our husband is on the lookout for respect, so Paul tells us to respect our husband in Eph. 5: 33: “So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”   A good book on this is by Emerson Eggerichs: Love and Respect.

Read More→

Jul
24

Gideon: Lessons in Trust from an Unlikely Hero

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Woman in worship positionGod calls us for the person we will become, not necessarily the person we are right now.”

— Lisa Bevere, Women of Faith speaker

The Israelites had “done evil in the sight of the Lord,” and had turned away from God, according to Judges Chapter six. So God had given them over into the hands of the oppressive Midianites for seven long years. During that time, the Midianites ravaged the land, forcing the children of Israel to live in cave dwellings, and they ransacked the crops and killed all the livestock. In fact the Bible says the Midianites “did not spare a living thing for Israel.”  Impoverished and desperate beyond belief, the Israelites had no choice but to call to God for help.

Soon thereafter, an angel appeared to Gideon, who by the way, was hiding in a wine press at the time. The angel said “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

God had chosen Gideon to defeat the Midianites.

Now let’s just say Gideon didn’t come from a family of highly decorated war heroes. And none of them would be drafted into the NFL, for sure. In fact, Gideon was admittedly small and meek. So to be called “mighty warrior?” He was in disbelief.  You can even hear him shaking in his sandals with his response:

 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (v. 14)

And you can almost see God slapping His forehead. HELLOOOO!? This is the Lord you’re talking to!

But God responded patiently:

 “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

God promised to go ahead of Gideon, to protect Him and to defeat the Midianites.

But that promise clearly wasn’t enough. In the following verses, Gideon asked several times for the Lord to give him signs, to prove this was really God calling him.

Isn’t that so much like us?  There are times in our lives that God has clearly spoken to us: to serve in a new ministry (or to start one), to change jobs, to move to another state, to start tithing, or even to foster a child.

But, like Gideon, we wallow in disbelief that God would choose us. And count all the reasons why we can’t do it.

I’m too weak.

I’m not good enough.

I’m not smart enough.

My budget is too tight.

There’s not enough time.

When we feel God’s calling in our lives, doubt creeps in. But all along, God is there, reminding us “Am I not sending you?”

Here are three lessons in trust you can take from the story of Gideon:

1.  God sees the big picture Our vision is limited, sometimes only seeing the potential roadblocks in the way. But as with Gideon, God is sending you into a new adventure.  He has gone before you and already knows what will happen.

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Jun
30

What Kind of Farmer Are You?

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerWhat Kind of Farmer Are You by Pam BassI have 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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May
25

My Advice: Twice Is Just As Nice

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NWhat is your marriage modelingothing is more important to a blissful marriage than finding a point of agreement. Every veteran husband knows if he wants to change his wife’s mind about anything, just agree with her. It is amazing how this works. The technical name for this is “re-wife psychology.”

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have been married since 1971 and have not had a serious argument or disagreement. (She does not allow me to talk back.) We have had rough times, but not with each other.

We have survived nine congregations, 19 homes, three children with nine grandchildren and all without compromising our relationship. My sanity is another issue.

Throughout our marriage, we have always held to the advice not to go to bed angry. Of course, there have been a few sleepless nights. I have a simple rule: do not close your eyes if there is an angry woman in the vicinity.

I honestly can say our marital relationship through the years has been most amicable. Since our marriage, my wife and I spend a lot of time working together and we never seem to get bored with one another.

We are a great team. She puts up with me and I let her. It works wonderfully and we have been able to accomplish a good deal together.

Only one area where we disagree and there may not be much of a remedy for this departure in company.

Never fear. Our marital dissolution is not near.

We have just learned to live with this dissent and, I might add, have survived quite happily.

I suppose no relationship is absolutely perfect this side of the Pearly Gates. Not to boast, but I have my wife beat in this one area. I do not often get the upper hand with her; in fact, I cannot remember any other occasion where this has occurred.

Nevertheless, we have come to a meeting of the minds on this subject. Really, if you don’t mind, the meeting doesn’t matter. Read More→

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May
17

Running the Race

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerRunning the Race by Pam BassI was out riding my bike this morning.  The trail was particularly busy for a Saturday.  After going a little ways I saw a water station.  That’s when I noticed a bunch of runners with numbers on them.  Ah, a race is going on.  Then I saw the yellow mile markers (whoa, I was already on mile 6, not really!).  Then the seven mile marker came up.  And I remembered my running days: 2 blocks, 3 blocks, ½ mile, 1 mile, 5k, 6k, 10k, and finally made it to my goal of 10 miles before I turned 40 years old.  As I looked at their sweaty, wet, tired-looking faces, I had a number of thoughts run through my mind: What race are they in? Are they running for a special cause? What could I say, if anything, to encourage them?  So, I was at my turning-around spot (of 5 miles, in case you’re wondering) and I stopped and asked one of the monitors some questions.

She informed me that it was the 10-mile Peak to Peak race. She was there to make sure “the kids didn’t change the direction of the signs.”  So, as I rode on I decided that it would probably be nice and kind to give a thumbs up signal to the runners. So I did. Then I added a few words like: “good job!” “keep going!” “almost there!” “way to go!” I tried to smile too, though sometimes I don’t think I did. Some ignored me. Someone said thanks. Most seemed to be listening to their iPods. I thought, “they probably wonder who this crazy lady in a green shirt is and why is she doing this?” I did it for a couple of reasons: Read More→

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