Tag: marriage (page 1 of 2)

I Would Date More If I Weren’t Married

date

There is a lot of attention given to the importance of dating your spouse. Within the Christian culture, this subject prompts sermons, books, and blog posts. However, this discussion is not exclusive to the religious. Many relationship professionals acknowledge the truth that a successful relationship requires time spent together.

When we fulfill our role as husband, as we were created, we will prioritize our wife’s needs above our own. Paul instructs the Philippians: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I think on this often, and routinely evaluate the amount of time my wife and I spend together, including how often we go on actual dates.

After our wedding, dating continued to be a priority for us. However, with the arrival of our youngest, and moving across country, dating became less frequent. I have been assuring myself, “We are just in a busy season. Things will slow down. We will get back to each other soon.” Then I realized, if we weren’t married, I would date her more.

Before we were married, I purposefully prioritized time to spend with her. I had to be around her. Because we did not live together, I found ways to make sure she knew I was thinking about her. I made time for her. Unfortunately, the longer we’ve been married, the easier it has become to take for granted the time we spend together. However, we all know that there is a difference between simply being in the same room together; while one kid runs around doing karate flips, and the other tugs at your knee, whining about something you’ll never figure out; and actually spending time together talking about anything but diapers. Husbands, we must do better than simply being around our wives.

Spending time together is more than taking your wife to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings while “the game” just happens to be on. I promise you, she will know what you are doing. So let me help you. Here are a few suggestions on how you can make dating your wife a priority, and ensure she feels loved, heard, appreciated, and important to you.

SAY “NO”

Part of our problem today is our inability to say “no” to people and things. We believe that busy equals successful. When we say yes to busyness, we are saying no to what should be our priorities. When we say yes to things that simply fill our time, we are saying no to the people who matter and hold the rights to our time. Saying “no” to busyness frees up your time, allowing you to prioritize on behalf of your wife, children, and others.

ASK YOUR WIFE

Asking what she wants and likes to do should be a “no brainer.” However, a lot of guys assume this will make their wife think their husbands don’t know them. Here is a secret… you won’t ever fully know her. She changes. In 5, 10 and 20 years she will be completely different from the woman on your wedding day. And you will be different too. So ask her what she would like to do. Asking will show her that she is your priority and that you actually think about her. What is her ideal date? What would make her feel you put time and thought into a date? What does a simple & fun date look like? I’m not sure who said it, but one of the best quotes I’ve ever heard about how we ought to relate to our wife is, “Our wife is not a book that we read once and know all about her. She is more like a violin that you spend your entire life learning, so the music the violin produces at the end, is far sweeter that the music when you were first learning.

TAKE THE LEAD

Do not wait for her to figure out date night. Plan for her. For ideas, Google “Date Night Ideas.” Then call a babysitter, and watch the kids while she gets ready, because we all know we finish dressing in the time it takes to put on our pants. Once away together, spend your time being all about her. Open the door for her, hold her hand, talk about her stuff, take her to someplace SHE wants to eat, and do something SHE enjoys. Do this a few times each month. Make this your habit.

Giving our time to other stuff is not wrong or bad, until it begins to take priority over our spouse. Make your wife your priority. Because she is. And if she isn’t, or never has been, you can fix this. Be prepared for her to be surprised, or a little confused, by this renewed or brand new behavior. But she will appreciate your planning, time, and purposeful attention.

Spend your entire life learning her, so that the music she produces at the end, is far sweeter than the music when you were first learning. And always, rejoice in the wife of your youth.

*This post was originally published at TheWholeMan.co

Do I Need to Confess My Adultery?

infidelity-379565_1280

A few years ago, I was counseling a guy who had been hiding his affair from his wife. He had long since ended contact with the other woman, and even confessed his affair to a chaplain friend. However, he continued to hide the truth from his wife. On the day he confessed the affair to me, he was in the midst of struggling with the need to confess to his wife. I wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t confessed to his wife, or that he was struggling with whether or not to do so. What did surprise me was the advice that he received from his chaplain friend.

The chaplain friend, a Protestant Christian, suggested that confessing his affair to his wife would destroy her sense of security and safety in the marriage. The chaplain told him that because he was repentant and confessed (in this case to the chaplain), there wasn’t necessarily a requirement for him to confess his affair to his wife. I have several concerns regarding the chaplain’s advice.

The idea that you will destroy the security and safety of marriage, for your wife, by confessing to adultery is absurd. By committing adultery you have already destroyed her security and safety. Whether or not your wife is aware of your adultery is irrelevant. Any perception of security and safety a wife holds in the marriage, after her husband commits his body to another woman, is false. It is akin to erecting a fence made of cardboard and then painting the cardboard to look like a wooden fence. The owner may see a wooden fence, but it remains cardboard. The painting does not make for a strong fence. By committing adultery, you’ve already decided for your wife that your marriage is not a safe place. Along with that, if you think she doesn’t know, you’re wrong. She knows. Even while she doesn’t know the details; she knows something has changed.

I made the decision to have an affair during my first marriage. I never confessed. Eight years later, during our divorce, I finally confessed to everything. Her response to me was, “I know. I always knew. I was just waiting for you to tell me.”

Your wife knows.

Additionally, the advice that you don’t need to confess to your wife, because you already confessed to someone, is a hard pill for me to swallow. Aside from the legalism found in that advice, I have difficulty with it because it opposes what Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24. While Jesus was preaching the Sermon on the Mount, and teaching on anger and offenses, He said, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Jesus is saying that if we have committed an offense that causes, or would cause, someone to be angry at us; we need to go to that person, settle the issue and reestablish our close relationship. If he takes that stance with a “brother” (or sister), how much more do His words apply to the one that is intended to be the other half of our one?

Saying that it is not necessary to confess your adultery to your wife, is a cowardly and legalistic way of attempting to fulfill the call to “confess your sins to one another” without having to face the earthly consequences of your sin. Saying this ignores Jesus’s command to “love God and others” and Paul’s prompting for husbands to love their “wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” When you gave your body up to another woman, you ceased giving yourself up for your wife.

“Do I need to confess my adultery to my wife?” No, you do not. There is nothing that requires you to confess to your wife. Arguments could be made that scripture recommends it, but there isn’t anything that specifically states you must confess to her. However, I believe asking that question is weak. By the time you get to that question, you already know that you should confess. But you may still be looking for someone to tell you that it is not required.

“Do I need to confess my adultery to my wife?” That is the wrong question to ask. A better question is, “WHEN do I need to confess my adultery to my wife?” If you desire real intimacy with Jesus and your wife; eventually the weight of your sin will become too heavy to bear. The Holy Spirit will change your heart and give you the desire to confess to your wife.

Route 1520 says it like this on their FAQ page:

“Eventually you will want to tell her. Why live another day without the true intimacy of really being known? Why wonder whether or not she would leave if she found out? You don’t need to tell her every detail of your acting out, but she will need to know the general nature of it. It is important to find a truly humble and willing heart first. You should also be totally committed to your marriage and to sobriety from all sexual sins before you talk to her. You may need the help of a pastor or counselor to get honest with her. Your wife will also need lots of support. Don’t expect her to just forgive and forget. Rebuilding trust and finding true intimacy will be a lifetime journey.”

You do not have to tell her. However, if you desire true intimacy with the other half of your one, you will want your wife to know.

If you’re struggling with adultery, sexual addiction or pornography there is hope; there is help. Route 1520 is a ministry dedicated to helping those struggling with these addictions and their families discover the freedom offered by the Gospel. You can contact them HERE.

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Two Truths About Not Being “In Love”

Love

I would venture to guess that one of the most commonly used reasons for ending marriages in our culture is “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you anymore.” It’s the ready-made answer for ending the marriage that no longer meets our needs and desires. I confess that I am 100% guilty of saying this in the past.

On the surface it seems like a logical reason. Why would you continue to pursue a relationship when you’re no longer in love with your spouse? I’ve had a number of friends tell me that they are no longer “in love” with their wives. I was able to talk with most of them and I’m glad to say a few of them dug in, did the work and are still together.

Before I move on, let me clarify two things. First, there is nothing wrong with being “in love.” It’s a wonderful affair. It’s an amazing convergence of feeling like you might die and like you could live forever. I loved falling in love with my wife. Where the “in love” feeling becomes a negative thing is when we use it as an excuse to dismantle a union which we have promised to honor. Second, I’m in no way saying that if you are in an abusive or dangerous relationship, or one where your spouse is actively sinning against you, that you have to stay. If that’s the case, God loves you too much to watch you be continually hurt. You need to make decisions that are focused on your (and any children involved) safety and well-being. If that’s your current situation, find a Christian community that will help and support you, speak with a counselor, or law enforcement.

It is out of these conversations with my friends, and my own experience and study, I have discovered two profound truths about the statement: “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you anymore.”   Without mincing words:

Truth #1

The person may not feel the same “in love” feeling anymore, but they also do not love their spouse.

Being “in love” is a feeling, although it’s probably more of a collection of feelings, but nonetheless still a feeling. The feeling of “in love” is meant to draw and connect us to another person with the purpose of making a commitment to love only them. Because “in love” is a feeling, it can shift and is no more sustainable than the feeling of excitement. “In love” is akin to striking a match; it flickers with the breeze and is easily blown out. Its sole purpose is to light the flame of mature love that isn’t as easily influenced by the whims of other elements. Mature love has weathered trials and is hardened like steel by the flames of difficulty and success. Mature love exists regardless of, and in the face of, waxing and waning feelings. Mature love is a love that decides to stay because it’s rooted in something deeper than feelings. Being “in love” with someone and loving someone are completely different.

Because being “in love” is a feeling, when you say that you love your spouse, but you’re not “in love” anymore, you’re telling a half truth. The true part is that you no longer feel “in love” because that feeling is simply unsustainable. What isn’t true is that you love your spouse. If you loved them, how you feel would be less important than doing the work to mature the relationship. I don’t mean to make it sound easy; it surely isn’t. Marriage is probably (for most people anyway) the one thing you will have to work at harder than anything else. Ever.

If you love someone, then you keep the promise and put in the work. If your marriage is based on feeling “in love,” then you misunderstand what love is and how it works.

Truth #2

This statement is solely based on, and grounded in, selfishness.

When you make love all about your feelings and you’re willing to end your marriage when it doesn’t feel the way you want, then you’ve eliminated the other person from the equation. That’s selfishness. You’re selfish. Genuine love is always about the other person. John 3:16 shows us that God’s love for us moved Him to give to us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son…” so the WE could be saved. He, God, GAVE for US. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  Love gives – it does not give up.

I’m not saying that you can’t want to feel “in love.” We are made to give and receive love. We are creatures of love. I hope and pray that we all get to feel loved, but feelings aren’t useful for determining how we love others. Genuine love is always about the other person, regardless of feeling. That’s mature love.

I’ll close with this quote from C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity

“Ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

What does love mean to you?

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