Death (or failure) is the best thing for us

We read about failures all the time. With the right person who does not give up, failure leads to an awesome change. It leads to renewed energy, increased passion, and better methods to do what needs to be done.

I think that being saved is a lot like that, but supernatural. When we completely die (fail) and completely recognize that our way is not the right way, we can then be healed by God’s grace. Only then sometimes can we see that it is only God who knows how we should live. It is only Him who is good, and it is only Him who can save us from our ultimate judgment.

In complete death to self, we can become new. This refreshing gift of God is a new self. What is better than that?

Marriages can take the same course too. Complete death to each person’s selfish ambition is where the marriage prospers. Sometimes it is a complete death of the relationship before we find out how to live unselfishly with our spouse. In the latter case, we have to be totally committed to not give up even if the marriage feels like failure. Who knows, the supernatural and radical change may be just around the corner, just after you think it couldn’t get any worse.

To that end, remain committed. Stay strong: seek God’s will. He will save you and your relationship in its time of trouble even if you don’t see supernatural change on the horizon.

It may take five years, it may take twenty. It may take an ultimate fight that had loomed for a long time. It may take counseling. It may even take divorce.

I in no way encourage divorce, but I do know a man who was legally divorced from his wife three times before having a prosperous marriage (with the same woman). Now, he counsels me ūüôā God works in awesome ways, and His ultimate goal to see you be the best You is sometimes by seeing you be so committed to the cause.

Commit yourself, therefore, to becoming more like Christ. Commit yourself even to death for something that you deem imperfect (as Christ did for us… although he never deemed us not worth it). Radical change comes after death.

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The Cause of Divorce

You are being selfish.

These are words that we never want to hear in marriage, business, sport, or any other scenario for that matter. Being selfish means that you are making decisions without regard of someone else’s well-being and emotions. We disguise being selfish as “splurging” or “treating yourself,” but there are some major consequences to making decisions in ignorance of someone else’s (especially your spouse’s) feelings or well-being.

Marriages can end by Selfishness

Divorce rates are where they are due to selfishness. I really want to expound on this sentence, but I really don’t feel the need. There is no doubt that very near to 100% of marriages end due to this one characteristic.¬†Upon reflection, I’ve come up with 3 pointers to preserve your marriage and help you become less selfish.

1. Take care of the past

Each human being on earth is attracted to something in which they don’t want to be attracted. It’s part of our nature as a fallen species to have an unGodly urge to do something that pleases our flesh but destroys us long-term. Some people made decisions as children to look at pornography, smoke cigarettes, drink beer, etc. Some people are naturally bent to get angry quickly, to manipulate or otherwise have control over external situations.

When you make a decision to choose an addictive behavior, you make the decision once but the addiction chooses you afterwards.

To combat an addiction, you must seek a counselor, seek a friend, seek wisdom from the scriptures, and don’t give up. Passionately pursue kicking the habit. Write about it. Listen to sermons about it. Share your weakness in a small-group or personal setting. People will pray for you and will know which area to see God work in your life. But you must be vulnerable enough to let the beast out of the closet in order to see these things work. Kicking an addiction without community is nearly impossible. Get people around you that love you and will hold you accountable for replacing your selfish habit with a Godly one.

2. Don’t pick up an addiction

You cannot pick up a selfish addiction and live in a happy marriage. Your personal decisions are now decisions that will either grow you closer to your spouse or tear you away from her. If your spouse does not want you to have tobacco in your mouth, then leave it and don’t return to it. If your husband does not want to you drink, then leave it. It is a waste of money, and your husband has noticed that you are becoming more addicted daily. It pulls you apart, and it takes divine intervention sometimes to pull people back together. It actually takes divine intervention to kick a habit too,¬†which is why I am so adamant about you taking a passionate approach to kicking your habit before it alters your decision-making abilities.

3. “Don’t spend major money on minor things.” ~ Jim Rohn

Dave Ramsey’s talk-radio show teaches many married couples to live a debt-free life. Without debt, a lot of stress about the spouse’s monetary decisions decreases significantly. However, being debt-free is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is being able to trust each other with monetary decisions in the absence of the other spouse. When the two of you come together as a team to eliminate debt and dream about what your future will be some day, you become selfless. Becoming selfless is a huge part of being on¬†a team and is exactly what needs to happen for you to be in a happy marriage.

As a final note, this initial idea of selfishness destroying marriages came to me this past weekend when my wife and I attended the “Love Worth Fighting For” marriage event. There were many other great points that Kirk and Warren¬†made,¬†and I highly recommend you go to the conference if it is in your area anytime soon.

I was most impressed by Warren’s story-telling ability, transparency, and charisma. I think everyone in the place fell in love with him. His genuineness in telling us about his experiences with each song¬†makes each one¬†more meaningful, and I totally went overboard and bought both CDs (selfish right? lol).

Investing in the Future (we’re not talking about money here)

Everything that requires investment pays off dividends…

Whatever we put in God’s hands does not return to us void…

In life, we make decisions to invest in the future or not. Each investment takes personal sacrifice. Since each investment requires something out of us, we don’t, on the majority, make the investment.

Personal sacrifice is one of the most challenging things for a human to do. Consider the number of people who attend church versus the number of people who tithe regularly. There are far less people who obey the simple command of giving to God what is His.

How about retirement?

On the majority people are not preparing for retirement as they should because it requires self-deprivation on the short-term.

I know that this blog post is not about money, and here is where I plan to divert.

Exercise: a bad word for many people. The discipline it takes to have a regular workout routine is not worth it to many folks. However, many of the same people want to be thinner so try to compensate by diet, surgery, or some other measure.

What about investing in your marriage?

Some couples live their lives without fully committing to learning one another. They fight, cling to an addiction rather than to each other, or separate themselves from each other due to their “busy” schedule.

How about making small investments into your future marriage?

I think that each couple should purchase books and read along with each other. I believe that we should purchase DVD sets and watch/talk over with each other or even with friends. In some cases, I believe that counseling is needed, not to prevent divorce, but just make the extra investment and have that time that you can grow with your spouse.

As for Audrey and I, we are going to an event called love worth fighting for in Madison, TN this weekend.

With this investment I hope to experience something awesome with my wife. I pray that I say the right words and let her know that, no matter what, she can be secure in our relationship. I would never leave her, and when times are tough, I pray that she can reflect on moments like we are going to have this weekend and know that it will all be ok.

What can you do to invest in your relationship with your mate? Can you buy some flowers on the way home, start a book together, host a small group? Whatever it is, know that each investment you make will return to you with dividends. Nothing that you invest in to honor God’s covenant between your spouse and yourself will return void.

Make the important investment soon and regularly so that your special someone knows and fully understands your commitment to the relationship.

When to get upset… and when to relax

When having a conversation with one of my friends, I tend to relax and enjoy my time. Even if my friend says something contrary to how I think or believe, I don’t get upset. I shrug it off and keep enjoying the conversation. I may not even notice a mistake in the conversation at all.

Why does all of that change when communicating with my spouse?

When we talk, I’m sure that Audrey does not say anything worse than a friend. She says how she feels and talks openly with me, but often times I get upset. Why?

I’ll try to explain a) why it is ok to get upset, b) why I tend to get upset, and c) why¬†I should not get upset but enjoy the ride.

When it is okay to get upset: 

  1. If/when we are not on the same page with raising the children.
  • It is okay to be upset in this scenario because it is important for the parenting couple to really work towards unity in shaping their children. Be it through diet, proactive character development measures, or discipline, parents should be on the same page.

2. If/when we are not on the same page with our religious affiliation.

  • If we struggle with our beliefs, then we should be able to openly engage in conversation. These conversations may get heated, but they also must be constructive. In this topic I am including conversations about your place of worship. Some men don’t want to go to church which leaves the women and children going to church alone. You have to figure something out in this scenario, and don’t give up until this situation is rectified.

3. If/when we struggle with addictions.

  • Addictions happen to people. I know that people first make the choice, but that internal desire to cling to an addiction is a powerful force that must be dealt with through love, prayer, and patience. With that being said, a wife should not have to fight for a man’s attention due to his addiction. She should show emotion then and not give up on him. Likewise, a husband should not have to fight¬†for intimacy because his wife is too busy shopping, cleaning, on the smart phone, etc.

Of course, there are more reasons to fight in a marriage (for the marriage), but that’s all I’ll include here. Please just begin to use your discernment and ask yourself if it is truly worth the fight or is it a time when you should shrug it off and laugh.

Reasons that I get upset:

  1. When my wife says something in the wrong tone.
  2. When I feel criticized about what I haven’t done when I feel that I have done a lot.
  3. When I don’t get my way… it may take¬†too long¬†to leave the house

There is a lot that can be said in just the tone of your voice. I know that I certainly do not use the proper tone-of-voice in many situations. When I don’t, Audrey calls me on it. She says that I sound really snappy, and then I claim that I’m just trying to get whatever it is done. I really should watch my tone, recognize it, apologize, and move forward. Rather than casting it back on Audrey by saying that she is being too sensitive, I should recognize the miscommunication on my part. This recognition allows for a more pleasurable day in all.

I also get really upset when I feel criticized about not doing enough at home. I am a guy who does help out, but I am also one who takes care of myself. Therefore, I may eat when others are still hungry; I may take a nap even though my wife is busy with the kids, cooking, etc. With all that being said, I do dishes on a regular basis, help the kids to bed, and take my son outside when I get home so that we can have some time together. I try to get honey-do lists completed in a timely manner (there are a lot of loose-ends), but there is only so much time in the day. A big portion of the day has to be devoted to work, so it’s hard to notice what kind of impact I have on the daily chores. (I know it’s not much.) I still¬†feel¬†like I make a significant impact, and it hurts when it is suggested otherwise.

Reasons why I should just drop it.

My wife is the only person on Earth that supports me to the end of the world. She knows what it is I want and need in life and is here to support me. She is not an enemy, and she never (I mean never) speaks poorly of me. So why do I take it so personally when we disagree?

If I can back up, take a breath, and find the humor in the moment, then we may both be able to enjoy the conversation. Making this choice sends us into a more playful mode rather than argue. If we choose to argue, it could worsen our attitudes for  the remainder of the day. Often times it is more important to have a good day with each other than it is to be right about whatever it is we are arguing over.

I encourage you, friend, to find the humor in situations this week. Start enjoying each moment with your spouse and kids. Enjoying the moments is almost just as important as having the moment. If you are devoting your time to your family, make it a pleasurable experience so that you will stay committed to it.

Your Main Investment

There are a lot of things out there that are wanting your attention. From kids’ programs, debt collectors, mortgage payments, charities, and anything in between, they all seek for your help. Work calls on you night and day to be on top of your game, to meet the requirements of the clients, deadlines, and sales goals. Children call for your attention to be the best parent on the planet. Your spouse calls on you to be excellent.

But what about you? What do you call on yourself to be?

It is so easy to fall as a victim of someone who is overworked and underpaid. It is so easy to put others’ needs in front of your own. We call it valiant. We call it being a man, a hero, a parent, a servant.

I think that this concept is a lie that we are led to believe. We call ourselves valiant but lead a life that is miserable. Instead of taking the time to find out our intense passions and what we really want to do to experience true freedom, we settle for a 9 to 5 job that pays the bills, makes the minimum payment, and allows the family a little bit of social time.

We wonder why 50% of marriages end in divorce; we wonder why our kids struggle with their emotions or schooling. We wonder why there is no trust between our kids and ourselves in their teenage years.

I wonder about if we were truly free.

If we were truly free, I would want to wake up in the morning and take a walk with the family. I would feel the brisk morning air fill my lungs and chills run up my spine when I initially walk out the front door. I may have to warm up a little by bouncing or jogging in place. On the walk, my wife and I would talk about how beautiful each day is, and we’d talk to our children about the important things in life. We would finish our walk and come in and make a nice breakfast, make plans for the day, and execute those plans. In the end, we would be a family unit; we would not be a coexisting unit that gets together when we can between events. The family would be the priority rather than the leftover.

I would make goals and complete them.

How do we get to the point so that we experience freedom? We have to invest in ourselves. Today, I took an important step in investing in myself. I have just hired a life coach to talk to me on the phone for 20 minutes one morning during the week. This coach is going to keep me accountable for living up to my potential. He is a fantastic listener. He cares and loves the human race. I’ve known him for a long time, and it’s great to have someone like him on my side.

What about you? What is the next step for you?

Do you need to get rid of an addiction? Do you need to start a new habit? Do you need to begin listening to podcasts or audiobooks on the way home to improve where you want to be in life? Do you need to find time to go to the gym?

I encourage you to invest in yourself. Others depend on you to be the real you; in that case, you need to be the best you that you can possibly be. You will be happier when you make the step to care for yourself. In caring for yourself, you learn how to properly care for others. If you don’t invest in yourself, how will you learn to invest in others?

I hope that this post motivates someone out there. Let me know.

Thanks for reading.