My soon-to-be 90 year old father-in-law was released from the hospital after a three and one-half week stay. Now home and continuing to deal with troublesome mind issues, he displayed an act that has been so common in his 67 years of marriage.
As he passed by the table, on a journey only in his mind, he didn’t forget to express his love and tenderness to his beloved wife . . . another time.
A hurry-up life-style results in a throwaway culture.
Indeed, many, many marriages are thrown away or put-on-the-back-burner because of the hurried pace and expectations of today’s society. There’s little time to develop attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize the culture of a good, godly marriage.
So, I offer a simple solution that can have positive “cultural” effects by way of two examples. If you don’t live in East Tennessee or travel these roads, just adapt to your neck-of-the-woods!
Travelling can become a very boring routine no matter your destination!
Do you take the interstate on all of your trips?
Do you only eat at fast-food chain restaurants?
Do you just stop for a quick restroom break and it’s back to beatin’ the pavement?
Suggestion: Slow down, get off the path everyone else is taking and enjoy the journey! Take the scenic route! Getting “there” is not the main goal. It’s living in the moment that God has given and making investments in the lives around you. That includes the people in your car and the many outside your vehicle!
So, let me give you some trip tips to make the journey more enjoyable.
I will begin in this post with the section of I-75 between Corbin and Lexington, Kentucky. Here’s a few neat spots to stop for a meal or overnight lodging.
Check out the website and see the prices. Add breakfast and you are set!
Friendly staff, very nice rooms, cozy and comfortable!!
Hope you get to meet the jolly, friendly bell hop, too!!
You’ll want to stroll around the block and step into the fudge shop, coffee & tea shop, sandwich shop and/or candle store.
Need some exercise? Good running or walking path on North Main Street!
There’s much more to see in America than Buc-ee’s!!!! So, check back with me in the days to come as I share other neat places on the scenic route . . . off the interstate!!
Scenic Route Marriage Tip: Side trips like these provide time to talk, listen, hold hands, share, kiss, slow down and enjoy the gift of marriage! Helps you get out of and stay out of the rut of mindless routine that traps many marriages.
So far this series, we have seen at least four ways to divorce-proof your marriage:
Make a habit of praying together.
Reject living your lives on two separate tracks.
Don’t make a habit of sleeping single in a double bed.
Humble yourself and do not wait to seek help when needed.
Now, you say, “How did you come up with this list?” These are common threads seen in all the couples we have counseled over the years whose marriages were falling apart.
The fifth way to make sure your marriage is divorce-proof is to make communication a priority.
Let’s begin with the “mute” side of things:
When you go out to eat, you are not engaged in conversation; your mind and your eyes wonder all over the place. You are more interested, for instance, men, in eating, watching the TV screens or checking your phone than creating meaningful conversation.
You limit your conversation to the basic elements of the day such as: “What time will you be home?” or “Who’s getting the kids at school today?” or “What’s for supper?”
Neither husband nor wife are willing to take time to listen to each other share about their day and their personal cares.
You connect in more meaningful conversation with your children and co-workers than your spouse.
You do not discuss future plans, purchases, or goals.
You carry past hurts and offenses around in your heart for days, weeks, months, years.
How do you correct this “mute” situation?
Set aside a time each day to just talk to each other. If you have children, have a set time for them to go to bed each night. Don’t let your children come between you and your spouse working on your communication. If you are empty-nesters, talk with each other in the morning or at a meal. Give each other at least ten minutes of your undivided attention FOR TALKING. . . and concentrated listening.
The person you should have the most intimate conversations with is your spouse. Therefore, guard emails, Facebook messages, texts and tweets to the opposite sex.
Men, you initiate the conversation. Your wife is longing for you to talk to her which helps fulfill her need for security. It tells her that she’s important and what she has to say is important. Ask her about her day, her concerns, her disappointments, what God is teaching her from the Word, about her ambitions and desires, what she has been thinking lately about life, church, school, the children, etc.
Wives, talk about things that matter to your husband—his work, his goals, his desires, how God is working in his life, etc. Please take this in the right spirit please, wives, learn to be quiet and let him talk. Don’t interrupt.
Let love cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Don’t harbor grudges, offenses, or bitterness. Talk lovingly about what concerns you and respond biblically. Take it to the cross; run to Christ (Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 4:29-32).
Learn to be transparent and vulnerable with each other. Trust has to be developed, but complete openness between one another is priceless. This produces wholesome intimacy (Genesis 2:25).
Return to the days when you had a love language that was all your own with pet nicknames, love songs, terms of endearment, whispering in each other’s ear, etc, etc, etc. Do you catch my drift?????
Recently, while standing in line at a funeral calling, I became acquainted with a young man in front of me. He asked me how long I had been married, and I said, “41 years and it’s gets better every year.” Quickly he said, “What’s your secret?” I answered “Work at your marriage every day.”
So, which one of you will start the conversation going today?
So, you just had another disagreement. Cross, jabbing words were spoken. Anger is written all over your face. The strength of the door frame and hinges have been tested again. You are courtroom sure that you are in the right! What are you going to do?
The fourth way to make sure your marriage does not end up in divorce is to humble yourself and not wait to seek help.
Marriages don’t disintegrate over night. They eventually reach the critical point when:
You think “hiding it under the rug” will make the problem go away.
You refuse to accept that you have a problem.
You think you can work it out on your own by your own schemes.
You are too proud to ask for help.
You are more concerned about what someone might think of you.
If you are in this situation, stop fooling yourself into thinking it will get better.
First, admit to God your problem/sin as well as your insufficiency to correct it.
Second, be honest with your spouse in a loving manner.
Third, call on a trusted friend, pastor or mentor who will give you loving, forth-right biblical counsel (not tell you what you want to hear).
Forth, repent and change.
Last of all, walk by faith in the principles and promises of God’s Word.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety
Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
If you are in vocational Christian ministry and your marriage needs refreshment; perhaps a caring, listening ear, and/or a place to just get away, please contact me at email@example.com. My wife and I would love to connect with you!
Years ago, country music artist, Barbara Mandrell, made popular a song entitled, Sleeping Single in a Double Bed. The song laments the husband’s departure and how lonely the nights are without him by her side. I’m not condoning the song, but sadly, this song title is played out in many marriages night-after-night.
So, what’s another way to divorce-proof your marriage? Don’t make a habit of sleeping single in a double bed.
The Word of God says, Marriage is honorable (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) among all, and the bed undefiled (pure); but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:4-5).
What are some things we can learn from this passage that would correct this marriage-killer?
Marriage is honorable because God ordained it at creation (Genesis 2:18), and it is recognized as such by all three persons of the Trinity (Matthew 19:1-9; John 2:1-11; Ephesians 5:18-33).
Marriage is honorable as a lifetime commitment between one woman and one man (Genesis 2:18-25; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 19:1-9; Ephesians 5:18-33).
Marriage is honorable because it is physically and spiritually fulfilling. When marriage is not given its rightful place, then discontentment and covetousness sets in. The temptation to “graze in other fields” and think that what you have is just not good enough leads to a broken home and a reproach to Christ. Just as Christ said He would never leave us or forsake us, so should a husband and wife follow suit. The plans and provisions of God for man and woman is sufficient for all of life.
Marriage is honorable and the bed is too. The marriage bed refers to sex within the boundaries of marriage. Take heed to the following from Pastor Steve Cole:
But the Bible affirms the pleasure of the sexual relationship in marriage, both for men and women. Solomon instructs his son to let his wife’s breasts satisfy him at all times, and to be exhilarated with her love (Prov. 5:19). The Song of Solomon extols the joys of sex in marriage for both partners. Paul tells both husbands and wives that they do not have authority over their own bodies, but their spouse does, and that they have a responsibility to meet the sexual needs of their mate as a preventative to immorality (1 Cor. 7:2-5). Sarah refers to sexual relations with her husband as having pleasure with him (Gen. 18:12).
Sex in marriage is directly related to the interpersonal relationship. God designed it that way. There must be mutual sensitivity, caring, and respect in the relationship between husband and wife as the foundation for the enjoyment of the sexual aspect. But I am emphasizing what Paul states, that it is a God-given preventative against sexual sin (1 Cor. 7:2). I once counseled a couple where the husband had fallen into adultery. He and his wife had not had sexual relations in over ten years and she assumed that everything was just fine! He was really angry about this, but he hadn’t said anything. When a neighbor woman became friendly, he fell. Sadly, the couple eventually divorced. It all could have been avoided if they had followed the clear teaching of Scripture: “Stop depriving one another” (1 Cor. 7:5).
So, you want to divorce-proof your marriage, then honor what God said is honorable! Here are some practical steps:
Go to bed together. Turn off the TV, the computer, the video games, etc. If you are making a habit of staying up while your spouse goes to bed, you are not creating an environment of intimacy, love, care and prayer. One of the sweetest things you can do before drifting off to sleep is pray while holding hands and together casting all your care on the Lord.
Put the children in their bed. I realize that our little ones can be frightened by storms, for instance, but your children need to know that your bedroom is your haven, not theirs. They have their rooms. Our children should never become a hindrance to a healthy marriage. What a paradox—you let the children sleep with you and it becomes an obstacle in your marriage because you have put them before your spouse. Then if a divorce happens, the children are the ones who get the worse end of the split! Even in reference to the bed, you need to show your children what a real, honorable marriage looks like.
Make your bedroom a place you really want to be. If the marriage bed is called honorable by God, then make the bedroom honorable. Make up your bed in the morning and have nice blankets and covers on your bed. Make your bedroom inviting. Don’t stack stuff up on the dresser or leave clothes piled up on the floor or your bedroom looking like a dungeon. Make your bedroom a castle even on a meager budget. Add some romantic touches like candles, music, pictures with love quotes, etc.
Don’t go to bed angry. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Anger has destroyed many marriages. Here’s where praying and forgiveness, whether you feel like it or not, would be so helpful to diffuse and correct any situation of anger.
Don’t make up excuses for not sleeping together. So, for instance, your husband snores. Get some earplugs, medical help, play music, whatever, but let your marriage vows of “for better, for worse” be fulfilled here. Now, I realize that health issues may cause you to sleep elsewhere, but if all is well, please sleep with your spouse. Make up for time away a night during the day! Remember, your flesh and the devil will give you all the excuses you need to destroy your relationship.
God is able, and He is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 9:8)
What does a marriage look like for a man if he treats his wife like a sister?
Someone I am forced to get along with or I get in trouble.
She’s just a “bud” in my life.
Certainly can’t kiss her! Remember the old sports line, “A tie is like kissing your sister!”?
She’s not my completer (Genesis 2:18).
She’s your “partner in crime” to bring out the worst in each other.
There’s competition between you in school, on the ballfield, etc.
You relate to each other on a different plane than God intended.
Husbands, if we get too busy, caught up in our own plans, games, demands, and work, your marriage can take on a brother/sister look rather than two shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
So, what needs to happen for marriage to be as God so ordained?
Surrender to God’s will for marriage and enjoy His plan. He will give grace to correct any misdirection your marriage. Marriage belongs to God and only operates in its full capacity as we follow His directives, as we submit to His all sufficient grace (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 5:18-33; Romans 6-8).
Your wife is your intimate companion, friend, sweetheart, confidant, helper, encourager, lover, etc.
Yes, you can kiss her!! Has it been a long time since you embraced and passionately kissed! Go right now and have at it!!!
Yes, she completes you in the way God intended. She is not your competition or enemy.
You can certainly have some “partner in crime” prank times, but your goal is to bring out the best in your wife, not the worst. Pray with her; share what God is teaching you from the Word; listen to her; point her to Christ; compliment her often; keep pursuing her; help around the house with clean up and maintenance; when you are with her, be all there and have eyes only for her!!
Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. (Proverbs 5:15-19)
If you have a sister, be grateful, but if you are married, be enraptured!! Go have another passionate kiss and embrace!!
Husbands, when it comes to expressing your love for your wife, it doesn’t always have to be high dollar!
While on our way home from vacation, we took a scenic route side trip to one of our favorite cities. Over 42 years ago, we shared a momentous picnic in its famous park which holds fond memories for us.
After strolling the downtown streets, in-and-out of the shops, and then walking through some of the residential area, we made our way to the park. My wife said, “I wish we had a picnic lunch we could share.”
Well, that was not in the plan upon arriving in the city, butspontaneity can be fun!
Since we had a few food ideas left over in the cooler and dry bag, I told Denise to find a park bench and to wait on me.
Within five minutes or less, plain cheese sandwiches on delicious rolls (we had no condiments), mint cookies and a tangerine were plated up and accompanied by our favorite soft drink, Ale 8. With food, drink and napkin in hand, I headed to the park bench.
“Well, this is the best I could do!”
I loved the look on Denise’s face and the tear in her eye!
What a romantic time we had eating our dry cheese sandwich that tasted like a $15 Reuben!
The recounted memories, time in prayer thanking God for all the years together since that infamous date, and just being together was in the words of one of my grandsons, “Super cool!”
So husbands, take time to enjoy the scenic route in marriage. You lead. Be spontaneous. Cheese and bread sandwiches can really be good!!
This past Labor Day weekend was an extremely special family vacation with my wife, our two daughters and their husbands, and our two grandsons! So much could be said about our four days together; so many grace blessings!!! So many memories made!!
One sweet joy was the “bookends” of our family get together. And “What was that?” you ask. Well, it was the trip to and from our family vacation destination. Denise and I have been referring to our marriage for a long while now as “Taking the Scenic Route.” And, that’s what we did all along the way, both in and out of the car.
Our journey to Sevierville, TN, included the country backroads near us all the way to Bulls Gap, TN. There we stopped at one of our favorite places, Yoder’s Country Market. They flat know how to build a sandwich; it’s a two-hander, for sure!! Denise and I always share one, and it’s plenty! This time it was Cajun turkey, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, banana peppers, pickles, and I don’t remember what else, piled high on sour dough bread! We added some pretzels and a drink and then found a place at the table under the gazebo. The view is total country, rolling hills and mountains in the distance.
Doing my best to stay off the interstate, we traveled I-81 for twelves miles and then gladly exited off through White Pine, to Dandridge, across Cherokee Lake, to Chestnut Hill to Sevierville, all on back roads taking the scenic route. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views!
Monday afternoon when we departed, we never hit the interstate at all. Our journey from Sevierville took us to Newport, with a jaunt down a side road at the foot of the Smokey Mountains through some beautiful, lush cow pastures and farmland and by an old mill, as well as a beautiful old white church on the hill. From Newport, we travelled to Greeneville, TN, accompanied with more mountain views, the Nolichucky River and a stop for CFA. We sat in the car with the windows down enjoying the food and the quiet. The final leg of the trip took us over Greene and Washington County backroad farmlands to home. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views!
Why do I share this? Because in the day in which we live, too many marriages are always in a rush! Time is not taken to just enjoy the journey; it’s all about getting to the destination!
Get off the interstate in your marriage. Slow down; soak up the moment. Don’t take your spouse for granted. And if you have children still at home, remember, you are constantly teaching them about marriage by your example. They will also feel secure at home when they know mom and dad really love one another!
God has blessed us with the ability to see, to speak His praises, and to savor all His creation!! How about taking the scenic route. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views . . . and for me, especially that beautiful view to my right!!
Hints: 1) Plan to take one route to your destination and a different one on the way back home. 2) The date/vacation/drive to the store, etc. begins when you pull out of the driveway and ends when you drive back into your garage.
This week, I had the joy of speaking with a man who has been married for over 60 years, and he said, “There’s still fire in the furnace!” My sweetheart and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary in June, and we’re still stoking the fire, too!
How do you keep “the fire in the furnace” so your marriage does not grow cold and lifeless? Well, here’s a few tips that I hope will help. I’m sure I have shared some of these in previous posts, but we need to be reminded again and again to keep putting another log on the fire!
Work at your marriage every day.
Don’t let a day go by without kissing each other (ban the peck!), holding each other, complimenting each other, eating a meal together, sharing your heart with each other, and don’t let someone or something come between you; especially your children!
Do the little things.
Leave little love notes around the house or in the car or in his suitcase if he travels.
Bring home a candy bar for him or a dozen roses for her.
Send a text message telling each other how much you love each other.
Husbands, seat your wife at the table and open the car door for her.
Speak well of each other in front of the children.
Read the Word together.
Flirt with your spouse, and only your spouse!!!
Starbucks and play a game.
Pizza on china plates after the kids go to bed.
A drive through the country with the windows down, a picnic basket, blanket, and your favorite romantic music as you head to that secluded spot along the creek, in the mountains, or just down the road.
Movie and popcorn.
A stroll around the neighborhood, hand-in-hand, talking about why you love each other.
Share a sundae at Sonic and smooch like you did when you were dating! (And we know you did.)
Don’t be a fuddy dud, a kill-joy!
Laugh at yourself!
Walk in the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control)
Enjoy each other; enjoy being with each other; your spouse should be your first choice always as your dearest companion.
Stop at Chickfila, get an ice cream cone and sit outside under the umbrella tables. Enjoy sharing just the one cone!
Wherever you go, make it an event.
Make even walking through the grocery store or the mall with your spouse a fun time!
When you leave the house, tell each other how good they look!
Serve one another.
Make meal time, especially supper, a well-thought out time even with the children. Be intentional.
Pay attention to each other.
Serve together at church; put your whole heart into worship; wear it out!!
May I encourage you to take inventory of your marriage? Be humble. Be honest. What needs to change? God didn’t create marriage for man and woman to be miserable. As I heard years ago, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.” You will have hard times in marriage, but choose joy. Put these five things to practice by God’s grace and enjoy the grace gift of marriage for a long time to come!!
Go ahead; add another log on the fire right now! Keep the furnace hot!