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Archive for Marriage Articles

Aug
10

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Jun
19

Some Thoughts on Power, Prayer, and Pleasing

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerSome Thoughts on Power, Prayer, and Pleasing by Pam BassI’ve been reading in 2 Chronicles lately, through my daily bible reading plan. It always amazes me amidst all the wars and violence of the Old Testament there are verses tucked away that speak to me. One verse in ch. 25 is, v. 2: “Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.”  It appears he started off well, but it didn’t stick. [he didn’t finish well?] He did seek God via a prophet and in verse 9b it states: “The man of God replied, “the Lord is able to give you much more than this!” But it seems that God’s abundance wasn’t enough for him. His son Uzziah then becomes king at age 16 and “He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done.” He rebuilt towns, he sought God, and listened to Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of the Lord. And as long as the king sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (v26:4-5).

What’s amazing is I think we’re a lot like him: we start off well in our marriages, saying to ourselves, ‘I’m gonna be respectful, wise, kind, and loving; I’m gonna be the modern version of the Proverbs 31 lady”. And bless our hearts, we try and try. But then he does something stupid or unkind, or totally thoughtless, etc. and we stop trying. We stop seeking God on our marriage, on ourselves. We think, ‘well, he’s not doing his part, I’ll just quit doing my part and wait for him. After all, he’s supposed to be the leader (head) of our family. This is not good, ladies.

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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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Apr
20

The High Cost Of Speaking Your Mind

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What is your marriage modelingOne thing I have learned throughout my life is sometimes speaking your mind only gets a piece of somebody else’s mind – and not the good piece.

The old saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I’m surprised the old dog doesn’t know the old tricks. What good is a new trick if you have not really mastered and learned from the old tricks?

My experience in this area stood me in good stead for many years. An incident happened recently bringing to light how valuable this “old trick” really is. I may not be good in the new tricks, but I think I have mastered a few of the old tricks.

I really do not know when this incident started, but somewhere along the line I said something resembling a guttural “uh huh,” and forgot about it. What you say in these odd moments may determine your quality of life for many years to come. This points out the difference between husbands and wives.

The only way a husband can remember what he had for lunch is to look at his shirt. A wife’s memory, on the other hand, is so keen she can remember things that never happened.

In the midst of a mild domestic discussion, any wife worth her salt can bring her husband to his knees by simply stating, “But, Honey, you promised me.”

At that point, no husband has the equipment to counter that argument. He may well have promised, but there is no way to prove one way or the other.

About a month ago, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage got it into her mind to remodel the kitchen. During this time, I did a pretty good job of staying out of her way. When the rare opportunity came soliciting my personal advice on a matter associated with this remodeling project, I quickly and enthusiastically supported her decisions.

The man who carefully measures his words will add happy years to his life. I sure don’t know how long I’m going to live, but I want that time to be happy.

Following the kitchen remodeling my wife proceeded to remodel her bathroom. At this point I should have had some suspicions, but I didn’t. As a husband, I am not equipped with a “suspicion detector.” Experience should have taught me that if one project is done successfully it only inspires another project.

When a wife gets it in her mind to remodel part of the house that thought gets stuck and there is no stopping her. After each remodeling project is completed, my wife always asks my opinion of the job she has just done. Read More→

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Apr
18

Busyness is not Next to Godliness

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerBusyness is Not Next to Godliness by Pam BassI’ve been hearing people say over and over, “I’m too busy” “We wish we could, but we’ve got something going on”.  I wonder, why are we Americans SO busy?  What’s the point, really?  Going at breakneck speed drains us, stresses us out, makes us grumpy—or at least it does me!

How can I reasonably expect to hear God’s voice if my head is overloaded with stuff? My to do list, my fears, worries, prayers? My head is overflowing with noisy thoughts! I believe I need to go on a walk, dump out all my feelings, thoughts, concerns, you-name-it. And then wait.  And wait some more.  God is not going to jump in my head when a few seconds opens a space.  I believe He’ll wait ‘til I have a receptive heart. And I think to have that, I need to clear my head first.  Sometimes, I think God speaks to our hearts through our heads.  So, ergo, if my head is overflowing, how can I possibly hear God’s voice?  I need to make room for Him. So, I need to get rid of stuff in my head first.   I need to invite Him in so that I can listen to Him, not for me to dump all my stuff on His lap. (Although at times, that’s a good idea too!)

Sometimes I wonder:  “What if, every God-fearing person really slowed down and listened to God’s voice and actually did that crazy thing they heard in their head?” Like, give $20 to that homeless man? Or join that mentoring teen program? Start a non-profit to bring shoes to shoe-less kids in Haiti? Or  to collect all their neighborhoods’ unused items and reuse, or give them to Goodwill, or to orphans in another country? Foster a child. Adopt an orphan. Go use your talents/skills and help provide clean water to the millions who don’t enjoy fresh, clean, uncontaminated water like we Americans do. Or whatever the crazy idea. It’s probably not that crazy and maybe God is calling YOU to do that idea. Everyone can have their own corner of “Crazy for God.”

This ties in with another thought about why we don’t do those ideas listed above.

“I’m too busy”  “I wouldn’t know where to start” “I can’t do that!.”  “What would so n-so think?”  Most of our excuses our fear-based, not love-based.  2 Timothy 1:7 states, that “For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind” (KJV) Shouldn’t I be motivated by the love of God? He is the One who first loved me (1 John 4:19) 1 John 3:18 states, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth”.  My love for others must be put into action.  I know some are saying, “But I’m  (we’re) just too busy!” Was Jesus “just too busy” to stop and help, heal, pray, or give? I don’t think so. Maybe we should stop and adjust our priorities. I know I have to at times! I don’t presume to say I’ve got my act together!

Our culture doesn’t help-it keeps pushing us to go, go, go and never slow down! I for one remember a time when Sundays were really a day of rest. NO, I’m not 100 years old, but old enough to remember stores being closed on Sundays. I for one, would support any team or league that purposefully CHOSE to NOT have games on Sundays. I’m just saying you might want to consider that. Jesus was never hurried or rushed.  He didn’t say, “Aw, come on Peter, James, & John! I have to finish this, and get moving. So hurry up!”

Here’s one take away point: quit one activity this week. If  you’re in your car driving your kids around, try and carpool with one of the other parents. Trade off babysitting  It worked great for ours and another couples’ marriage. No money involved and our kids loved it! And it help keep our marriage healthy and happy. Win win!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Pam Bass is a wife, mom, and licensed Christian counselor, who has helped hundreds of people over the last 23 years.  She desires wives especially to be cognizant of the way the American culture can influence our stated Christian values.  Through her blog, she hopes to encourage women (in particular) to know and trust what God tells us in His word.  Find out more at www.pambass.com   

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