Category Archives: Commitment

When The Fireworks End, It’s Still Not Over

If you’re worried about staying “in love”, maybe it’s time to look for something better than explosions of passion and fireworks.

The highlight of July 4th comes in the evening: fireworks! Those explosions of color and sound sizzling across the dark sky thrill everyone watching. But that’s the key word: thrill. When you’re married for years, not everything will be so thrilling and exciting.

There’s a big difference between the exciting passion of new love and the love that endures after 20, 30 or even 50 years. But don’t be mistaken about the difference between thrilling and loving each other: when the fireworks end, it’s still not over.

I Feel Good

The feel-good chemicals released in our body when we’re in the throes of infatuation are exhilarating. There’s no doubt that we love to be in love. But science confirms that the rush of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, and the accompanying heightened feelings of bliss, cannot last for more than two years. And thank God, because nobody would ever accomplish anything in this world if we were all walking around in that blissful, grin-on-our-face, drugged-like stupor that comes from falling in love. The fireworks can’t last forever, but that shouldn’t alarm us.

There’s something better than fireworks, better than explosions of passion and the euphoric state we feel when we are first in love. For one thing, that kind of state is really all about you; it’s all about how good you feel, how in love you feel. It’s like a high that we feel and it isn’t really centered on the truth of what love is all about. The essence of love is less about what we feel, and more about what we hope to make our partner feel: adored, secure and thoroughly loved.

When The Party Is Over

True love shows up when the party is over and the fireworks display is done. Deep, lasting love is shown at the hospital bedside of your spouse, or in the bathroom when you’re holding back the hair of your wife as she becomes violently sick. Real love is truly listening to our loved one confess their fears or share their story of pain. In those less-than-glamorous moments of reality, wouldn’t it be selfish of us to complain, “This doesn’t feel good. I’m not getting to feel those euphoric highs of love”?

It’s time we stop pursuing and idolizing that blissful state of falling in love and start living out the love we claim we feel. That’s when we get to the part of enjoying lasting love, committed love, true love.

Start A New Trend

I’d love to see a new trend begin in our culture…
(Read more at Christian Mingle Believe  and then comment here:

What do YOU do to keep love alive, after the fireworks are over?!)
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It Only Gets Better: Why Our Marriage Is Built To Last

I’m not an optimist or a Pollyanna. But something happened to me during these last 32 years of “for better or worse” that’s changed my view on what marital happiness is. Over the years, I’ve learned how good our marriage is, how strong my husband’s love for me is, and how much better it’s going to get.

That was one of the first unofficial promises my husband made to me when we got engaged. I was nervous about keeping our love alive and whether we could have that “happily ever after.” My husband reassured me with a sincere smile, “Honey, it’ll only get better.” He promised our communication, our love for each other and our sense of peace about our future would improve day by day.

And he was right.

The following are the four bedrock values that have helped to make our marriage built to last.

Today Is A Good Day

A good day for us is no longer a day when we have absolutely no quarreling or frustration with each other. It’s nice when we have a day like that, but that isn’t the essence of a good day. A good day is more about meeting challenges and getting through any miscommunication with maybe a laugh or a quick prayer where we lay out our concerns we are experiencing.

Psalm 118:24 encourages us to echo the statement, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” A good day is making the decision to rejoice and press through to the other side of renewed love and deeper trust.

We’re On A Mission

Married life is no longer about the goal of each of us being happy. It’s about whether we are serving each other in love, and then taking our united front as a team out to a hurting world and serving together in some capacity of ministry.

It doesn’t have to be a formal ministry based at a church. It could be that you two decide you’ll host a dinner once a month at your house and invite newcomers from your church. Or perhaps the two of you can “adopt” an elderly neighbor or get involved in foster parenting. A shared mission makes a marriage stronger.

It’s Time For Play

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that laughter is good medicine. We laugh more and more as the years go by.

When I married my husband, he was the one known for having a good sense of humor; he was the clown in the relationship and I was a bit more like the lion tamer! But over the years, my husband’s jovial sense of humor has rubbed off on me. I always had a sense of humor, but now mine is quite developed and very much used, thanks to my comical, sweet man.

It’s About Constant Communication

I asked my husband the other day what things surprised him the most about being married….

Read more of my article at Believe

I’d love to know what makes your marriage better over the years!
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Is Your Relationship Worth Rescuing??- Take the Test!

Every relationship reaches stressful turning points that could seemingly threaten the end of the relationship. You may be in a relationship right now and wondering if your current problem is the one that will make him call it quits. Or you may be wondering if she is starting to give up on the two of you, due to the recent disagreements you’ve been experiencing.

Your relationship is continually being tested, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When we hear the word “test,” we think of the performance anxiety we feel at the thought of failing a challenging test we weren’t prepared for. But testing can also be a positive thing because it helps to prove what’s authentic and valuable.

Every relationship goes through a type of testing that is ultimately clarifying. The test results indicate the direction you should take – either breaking up or breaking through to a stronger commitment.

It’s Real

My daughter and I love to go to antique shows and flea markets. At one flea market, we were looking at some old silver rings that were a bit tarnished. We couldn’t see the microscopic markings and were wondering if the rings were sterling silver, but we had no way of verifying that. The antique dealer at the booth showed us how to test for sterling silver by using a magnet: sterling silver is non-ferrous, and won’t cling to a magnet.

In the same way, we have to let our relationships be tested to see what they’re made of: is there a foundation of forgiveness and an expectation that ongoing grace is necessary? Is there an attitude of respect for each other? Is God at the center of your relationship, with the two of you leaning on His direction to guide you through the challenging times?

Your relationship doesn’t have to derail when you hit a problem. It may not be time to break up; instead, you can break through to a new level of understanding and a higher level of love.

Take the Test

Not sure if your current relationships is ready to go the distance? Here are four questions that can help you evaluate the strength of your relationship:

  1. Can we talk about it? Healthy relationships excel in communication. Verbally expressing your intentions and using words of affirmation are important, but so is communicating through eye contact and through action. One of the best ways to truly communicate well in your relationship is to learn how to pray with each other and let God in on the problems you face and the desires of your hearts. Can you both open up and honestly talk about stressful situations and difficult subject matters?
  2. Do we harbor resentment? Built up resentment can lead to an explosive turning point in your relationship that is hard to recover from. And forgiveness is not a one-time deal. You shouldn’t ignore serious problems, but as you speak the truth in love to each other, you’ll also need to express and walk in continual forgiveness. Are you both committed to a lifestyle of  forgiveness and showing ongoing grace to each other?
  3. Are we repeating patterns of dysfunction from our pasts? Everyone brings some “baggage” into their current relationship, but not everyone is willing to work through their past problems and pain. Some people walk in denial of their problems, and relationships can suffer under the weight of repeated blowups born out of unhealthy patterns of coping. Are you both ready to be truly vulnerable and open up about your past pain and resulting coping patterns?
  4. Do we both have the same outcome in mind for our relationship? If one person is looking forward to marriage and building a family, but the other partner is not really commitment-focused, this could be the turning point in your relationship where you realize your hopes for your futures just don’t line up. Are you both committed to the goal of long term commitment for your relationship?…..

(Read the rest of this article at BELIEVE by Christian Mingle)

Comments or Requests?! I’m here to answer them 🙂

Complaining About Your Marriage Might Just Save Someone Else’s

Marriage isn’t for cowards. It isn’t for idealists, either.

Perhaps one reason why marriages are failing at an alarming rate is that people idealize what marriage will be like. They marry and find themselves in a world mixed with joy and pain, commitment and contention. They look around and see other married couples smiling and holding hands, and they wonder what they are doing wrong.

What they don’t realize is that every married couple out there has gone through difficult times and struggled in some area of their marriage. They just haven’t heard anyone complaining about these tough times … yet.

The Truth About Happily Ever After

The prevailing fairy tale is that as soon as you find your prince, you live happily ever after. But the reality looks a little different when you’re married. You now have someone who is committed to you and who loves you enough to be amused and also annoyed by you at times, someone who will see you at your best and at your worst. Even though it isn’t always easy, your spouse is there with you through it all.

That’s the good news we need to share with each other. But we also need to share about our disagreements and hurts (without betraying our spouse in a complete tell-all).

I’m not suggesting we throw our mate under a bus and blurt out every embarrassing or sad detail of our marital disharmony. But a little healthy complaining about the realities of your marriage may just encourage your married friends who are comparing themselves to an impossibly perfect picture of what marriage should be.

The more we see and hear of friction and squabbles in the lives of other couples, the more we realize what a normal marriage is like. We won’t freak out when we’ve had a season of intense irritability with each other, a week of stormy silences or a day where we just could not stand to be in the same room with our spouse for one second longer.

We’ll start to accept the ebb and flow of marriage and relax into those tough times with an attitude of “this too shall pass.”

When we smilingly “complain” about our marriage and open up about the journey we’re on, we teach other couples these 3 key truths about Marriage: …

 

(READ the rest of my article at Believe )
*(Feel free to click on “Leave a Reply” at the beginning of this post and comment!)

The Sound of a Healthy Relationship

Nothing really shocks me when it comes to the reality of relationship problems many of us experience. So over the years, I’ve had the privilege of couples asking me to help spiritually counsel them in their troubled relationships. I’ve listened to women weeping, and men with averted eyes of pain, sharing their stories of relational breakdown. And the sound of weeping, angry words, and anguished questioning breaks my heart. It breaks God’s heart too.

But there is another sound that is literally music to my ears. It’s a secret, almost indiscernible sound that occurs in healthy relationships. And when I hear it, I get excited for that couple and their future. It’s not romantic music playing in the background or the sound of someone whispering sweet nothings in their partner’s ears.

Let me tell you about the sound of a couple on their way to growth, wholeness, and lasting love. Listen in as they talk to each other and deal with their baggage and their pain. Here’s what you’ll hear with your spiritual ears, if you listen carefully:

It’s the sound of chains falling. Bondages being broken.

When I see a couple that knows how to not only care for one another, forgive each other– yes, all that– but actually knows how to powerfully and prayerfully counsel each other, then I know that couple will make it. They will go the distance. They can overcome any obstacle, trial, or challenge in their relationship.

I Didn’t Sign Up for That!

You might say, “Lauren, I’m not a trained counselor! I didn’t sign up to do counseling when I got married.”

But you don’t have to have a Master’s degree to counsel your loved one. You don’t have to have thick psychology textbooks on hand to speak to your spouse the words that will break that despair they’re battling, that bondage they’re under. You just have to lovingly listen, and know the Bondage Breaker Himself, Jesus Christ. He will break every chain of deception and despair that’s on you. His Word speaks with authority.

And it’s not that you have to be a theologian and understand every nuance in every verse. The basic principles are there for even a child to understand: He is for us, not against us. He gave His life for us so that we can have abundant life. It’s His will that we forgive each other, bear with each other, love each other. And it’s not His will that we are in bondage to any secret sin, addiction, or pattern of defeat.

So here’s how you start: agree that you won’t ever lie to each other about what you’re personally battling. Agree that you both may have negative patterns developed from your past that need to be changed. And agree that in your relationship, you will pray for and fight for healing, wholeness and personal growth. Pray for that repeatedly.

And I’ll Be There…Always

Be committed to being each other’s counselor in the best sense of that word–because the Holy Spirit is our Counselor.

John 14:15-17 …I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit comforts and helps us. He counsels and convicts us when we’re going off course. And while we don’t have the perfection of soul to convict someone of sin (leave that to God) there is something powerfully important about His ultimate function on earth: He is always with us. Ask God to help you function the same way, with your fiance or spouse. Commit to being there for them, always, in that same attitude.

Unstoppable

In our 33 years of marriage, Bill and I have counseled and comforted each other countless times. We have often joked about sending each other a bill for our counseling services rendered to each other. We’ve logged thousands and thousands of hours of prayerfully listening to each other unburden ourselves of hurts, fears, and painful memories from our past. And because of that trust built, the healing received, and the comfort of counsel given, we’ve become unstoppable as a married couple.

So reassure your spouse of your commitment to them. Tell your loved one, “I want to see you well. I want to see you whole. I want to see you walking in everything God has destined for you. And I’m not going to stop listening to you and praying and declaring that over you.

Let them hear you say that. Say it with conviction. And live it out.

Then get ready to hear that wonderful sound that lets the two of you know–you will make it: It’s the sound of Chains Falling.