Tag Archives: Relationship problems

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 🙂

Advertisements

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 )

The Holy “No”: Setting Yourself Free From the Fear of Saying No!

It’s natural that we look forward to the big “yes” moments in our lives, like saying yes to a wedding proposal or a great job offer. The day we say yes to God and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives is a significant turning point.

On the other hand, we generally don’t enjoy having to say no to people.

We often struggle in declining an invitation to an event or denying someone’s request for help because we don’t want to appear harsh or unloving.

We obviously can’t say yes to every request that comes our way without overextending ourselves. But learning to say no to people doesn’t have to be a negative, stressful experience.

Open Doors

Every one of us is a steward of our time; the question is, how good of a steward are we? Stewardship involves the ability to manage our time, and that involves learning to saying no. This is especially important when we are working long hours, busy at home with children, newly married and trying to get time with our spouse, or dating and talking to people online. In these and other situations, saying no can be quite challenging.

But saying no to something doesn’t necessarily mean we are closing a door; it may just mean that we are indirectly saying a resounding yes to something else, like yes to time with our family or periods of much needed rest. It also means you’re saying yes to allowing others to come into the picture who may more adequately help the person in need.

Learning How To Say No

If you struggle to turn down all those invitations or requests for help, it’s time to practice saying no. Here’s how:

  1. Begin graciously. You can still show empathy for someone’s needs while declining to be involved. Your tone of voice can reveal kindness even when you have to deny someone what they are asking for. “I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing that, but I won’t be able to assist you at this time.”
  2. …..                                                                                                                                            (Read the rest of my article at Believe )

The “T” Word: How to Build Trust When Dating Someone New

In relationships, we often hear “I trusted him, but he broke my heart!” Getting to know someone does involve a degree of vulnerability and openness, but we can let our hearts get emotionally attached to someone and place too much trust in them without knowing their feelings and intentions toward us.

Many times, we think we are falling in love with someone when really we are just naively and prematurely placing our trust in someone – and we haven’t yet defined whether the relationship warrants our full trust in the person.

Misplaced trust leads to broken hearts, and is one of the most painful experiences we go through. But it also turns our eyes back to God, the One who is worthy of our trust.

Love And Trust

Trust and love may go hand in hand, but they certainly aren’t the same thing. We often incorrectly define Love as the feelings and emotions of passionate attraction to someone; however, it’s a deeper, intentional perspective and commitment than that.

In addition, we mistakenly think we should automatically trust a person with our heart because of what we feel for them. But you could be setting yourself up for a broken heart by associating your feelings for them as a reason for opening up your heart completely, but prematurely, to them.

In Scripture, we are admonished to love one another as Christ loves us, serve one another, bear with one another – but never does it say, “Trust one another.” Trust must be cultivated. It has to be earned. Aside from emotionally falling in love with someone, you need to also see if they are trustworthy. This involves an evaluation of their intentions and their character – specifically, if they have Christ-like character.

How, When And Who To Trust

Not sure where to start with trusting someone you’re dating? Use these guidelines for when you begin a new relationship:

  • Trust shouldn’t be given on command. Trust has to be cultivated and build. It should never be commanded from someone. Abusive and unhealthy relationships specialize in this. Credible, mature people will expect that trust has to be earned and built over time – and they will comply with this relational process in a spirit of grace and patience.
  • Misplaced trust puts too much pressure on the relationship. Fully trusting someone early on in a relationship puts too much pressure on that relationship. It’s like looking at wedding rings on your first date. Relationships crack under that pressure. Refrain from premature reassurances of, “I trust you, it’s okay.” Communicate about the concerns you have instead of just deferring to the word “trust” as a crutch. Consult with God, who you can fully trust to guide you. (Prov 3:5-6)
  • Establish trust one step at a time. It’s not wise to open up and share the deepest scars of your past on the first couple of dates. You need to discern whether the person you are dating is sincerely interested in you as a person and whether they have the maturity and grace to accept your past experiences. Eventually, it will be appropriate for you to be more vulnerable as the relationship becomes ……

(Read the rest of my article at Believe: Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way

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!)

3 Ways To Resolve Family Conflicts

Every family struggles, to some degree, with arguments and stress. When different personalities and different ages live together in one house, it isn’t hard to imagine how personal interactions can go wrong at times. Add in the challenge and blessing of creating a blended family or bringing your in-laws to live with you, and you may be experiencing a heightened level of stress in your home. But there’s hope for how to navigate these stressful times and bring peace to your home.

Open Doors

In our family, the tumultuous teen years were fun, yet also frustrating and stressful at times. My son and I, in particular, sometimes found it hard to get along and to understand each other. Often tempers flared, and there were plenty of outbursts and slammed doors.

At one point, after a stressful scene with him, I remember crying to a friend that I thought my son didn’t love me anymore. After we talked about it, I realized that the more important thing was that he felt I still loved him, not whether I felt loved.

When we present unconditional love and make ourselves approachable, even in times of stress, we are showing the utmost of grace. As Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” This grace provides the way for peace to reign in our home ultimately.

Besides offering unconditional love, here are 3 more ways to help bring peace and understanding in the midst of your family fights.

…Read the rest at Believe
“Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way.”

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.