Category Archives: Marriage Counseling

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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Romance After the Wedding: Are We Expecting Too Much?

We all long for the passion and romance of when we first fell in love. In the early days of a budding love story, romantic moments are all over the place. But what should our expectation be, though, after we’ve been married one year, 10 years or 30 years?

Does romance have to die out and be replaced with apathy and boredom?

Maybe it’s time to redefine romance, particularly romance in marriage. It’s more than roses and romantic words!

What Is Romance, Really?

Romance is about doing something for your loved one that is special, unexpected or exciting. But over time, what we’ve come to view as romance now comes from what Hollywood and big business is selling to us: the extravagant fine dining experience with waiters hovering by, exquisite French chocolates and dozens of roses, and even the huge engagement ring with extra size bling.

While there is nothing wrong with fine dining, French chocolates or giving a beautiful diamond ring, these extravagant experiences and gifts in the earlier stages of a relationship can later lead to unrealistic expectations for Romance in marriage.

In Scripture, there are no romantic scenes in the way we’ve come to define romance. But there are examples of romantic, passionate love; like the way Jacob worked for his prospective father-in-law for seven years to win the hand of his bride. The Bible tells us those seven years “seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great.”(Genesis 29:20) From Jacob, we learn that true Romance is unexpected, utter devotion that perseveres.

Or, take the story of the young widow Ruth and the noble land owner Boaz. The tenderness with which he treats her and protects her honor shows that romance is about the highest good and special care we offer our loved one.

A Different Kind Of Romance

In my case, one of my favorite romantic moments occurred when I was pregnant with our first child. I was in my first trimester and very ill. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was reduced to bed rest and became somewhat depressed. Several days went by and I hadn’t even showered or done my hair, that’s how despondent I was feeling.

My husband called the doctor and told them he was bringing me in against my wishes to just be left in my bed. Then, he carefully lifted me up in his strong arms and carried me to the bathroom where he had a tub of hot, sudsy water waiting for me. Against my weak protests, he placed me in the tub and then kneeled by it and began to shampoo my hair. The hot water was soothing and so was my husband’s tenderness toward me. He knew how depressed I was feeling, and to lighten the mood, he pretended to be a French hair dresser and spoke in this ridiculous accent. I began to weakly smile for the first time in weeks.

He won my heart all over again that day, and it definitely wasn’t with chocolates or roses. While it would never classify as a romantic moment in the eyes of Hollywood or Hallmark, it is one of my cherished memories of feeling such love for my husband because of the way he cared for me – and isn’t that the goal of true romance?

Next To My Heart

Many times we get sloppy in marriage or in heated arguments over the lack of fun or who is not trying enough. Especially if you are looking for the quintessential displays of romance, you might miss the subtle romantic signs that you are being cherished.

Recently I watched the new BBC series, Victoria, about the real life marriage of Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert. There’s a scene from their courtship where the two are dancing together and she gives him the corsage she is wearing.

He mentions he has no place to put the corsage, but then suddenly takes a knife out of his boot and calmly cuts open his shirt and places the flower in the hole “next to my heart.” Viewers have been all in a tizzy over the passionate and historically accurate scene. And it was borne out of something that Albert unexpectedly did for her because of what he felt for her, in that very moment.

Ignite the Romance Again

So part of igniting romance is expressing our deep feelings, as transparently as possible. We have no problem doing that when we first fall in love, but then 10 or 20 years later, we somehow forget the essence of romance. And it starts when we open our mouths and speak the tender thoughts that run through our head, or take the action that will show our spouse that we care deeply for them.

It can be a fragrant burning candle at dinner time and a note left under your husband’s dinner plate, telling him how much you admire him and appreciate him. Or romance can ignite in a crowded room, when you suddenly lean over and whisper in your wife’s ear the reason why you choose her over all the women there.

Because Romance is more than chocolates and roses. It’s about the special, unexpected, or exciting moments when your heart is full and you put that love into action or words. It’s about recognizing the beauty and lasting nature of your love for each other. And then, in that moment, choosing to show that you’ve seen your spouse for who they are: the love of your life.

 

(Read this article of mine and more Relationship articles at Believe )

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 )
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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.

I’m Just Trying to Connect!!

I’m trying to understand men but they are a strange species. After 32 years of marriage I know a lot about men’s hobbies, their thirst for competition, their dirty laundry and the pungent smell it gives off, their voracious appetites…I just don’t understand their communication style. Actually, what I really don’t understand is their lack of communication. Or their lack of need to communicate deeply and thoroughly.

Basically when it comes to communication, women Do and men Don’t. I mean, men will talk. From time to time. They just don’t really put their All into communicating with us. There’s a subtle difference.

For example, I’m having a conversation with my husband. I’m using 2,346 words to try to adequately and completely explain my position on something, why it means so much to me, how it makes me feel…and he’s looking down at the callouses in his hands. Jiggling his leg up and down. Checking the weather on his phone.

“Honey, please, can you look at me when we talk?” I ask.

He looks at me. He is not rolling his eyes but he might as well be. I’d like his full attention when I’m talking with him. I want his eyes on me and his attention focused on what I’m saying. He wants the conversation to be shortened, for me to get to my point quicker, so he can get back to work. He needs to accomplish something–and so do I.

But what I want to accomplish is something big, in my mind. I’m trying to connect with him. I want to really understand him. And I want him to understand me, to hear my heart, so that we experience a real connection

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How to Know You’ve Found The One- Part 2

HOW WILL I KNOW?

The night that I sat on my bed journaling, I got this rushing sense of ‘knowing.” It was like Truth had been direct deposited into me; a sudden download of perspective on the matter of my life and how it would intertwine with someone else’s and make sense. I felt quite calm sitting there, my journal sprawled open on the bed and the pen in my hand. I remember suddenly smiling in amazement.

I went back to my college at the end of Christmas break and broke up with my boyfriend Rob.

Then, just 3 weeks later, Bill asked me to marry him.

When it comes to knowing if you’ve found The One, most people think you should first answer the question, “But do I love him? Or Do I love her enough to marry her?

We think Love will lead the way to us knowing whether we should spend the rest of our life with someone. And obviously we want Love to be the primary motivator of our lasting relationship.

But there’s something just as important as Love, when it comes to KNOWING if you have the right person.

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