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Loving Your Spouse Again

Finding ways to show love to our spouse extravagantly is important to the health of our marriages and is also Christ-like. In Ephesians 5:1 in The Message, it says, "Observe how Christ loved us. His love is not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." Are you showing your spouse love in this way?  

That is our challenge to you. Think about it. What if you started dating your spouse again? How wonderful would it be to get the sparkle back in their eye (as well as yours) like before you married, when you and your spouse would see each other? Part of the reason that happened is because you put the effort and time into romancing each other. Now is time to do it again. You fell in love with each other by romancing this person—doesn't it make sense that by making them a priority in your life again you'd re-spark the romance? THAT would be an example of loving each other extravagantly!

What about bringing back the days where you show each other common courtesies and politeness? Just because you live together it doesn't mean that you can't be polite, even for the little things again—like you did before you married.

Are you courteous with strangers? Why should you be less so with the person you claim to love above every other human being –your spouse? How extravagant and yet sensible would that be? After-all, your spouse didn't outgrow the need to be appreciated or want any less to be thought of as important in your eyes and priorities. Could you be forgetting that?

Hopefully this is a wake-up call for those of you that need it. Don't let strangers treat your spouse with more courtesy and appreciation than you do. If you do – it might eventually lead to either a "dead" marriage or at best a lethargic, tired one! And is that what God calls us to have? The answer is a certain "NO"!

You certainly don't want to be accused of having a marriage lived out like it says in Philippians 2:21 where, "Everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." Our marriages should so reflect the love of God that when others see how we treat each other they want to know our "secret" because they'll want a marriage as healthy as ours. When you tell them that it's because of the love of God that you extravagantly lavish on each other, it very well may spur them on to want to know your God. How much that would delight
the heart of God!

So we challenge you to:

• Be intentional in showing your love for your spouse as a priority by showering them with affection—even spontaneous in performing random acts of romance! Surprise them! (This may be especially difficult for those with children because they can take up a lot of energy and time. But ask the Lord to show you how and when you can do this and you'd be surprised how this can happen. By being INTENTIONAL and alert in looking for opportunities it will happen and you may even find it to be fun—like it used to be before you married each other.)

• Treat your spouse in respectful ways (as "unto the Lord"). Keep in mind that it's a mind-set as well as an action.

• Commit, "Random acts of kindness" upon your spouse. Look for ways to make them feel special by doing things for them that would mean a lot to them.

• Be a partner who displays thanks-LIVING everyday by saying and showing your appreciation to them for even the little things (things you think should be expected). Instead of noticing their faults, look for something the do right and praise them for it. That is extravagant love!

We pray this is a challenge, but also a blessing to your marriage. Love extravagantly!

Dating Your Spouse

If you want to add life to your marriage, perhaps even save its life, you’d better do whatever it takes to bring romance and dating back into the picture. There’s no quick fix. But if you’re willing to make the proper investments, you’ll find great rewards. So – in the face of all the excuses, let’s take a look at some important ways you will benefit from dating your spouse.

Dating Strengthens Your Relationship: Relationships are strengthened through time spent together, honest communication, and positive memories. Dating provides all of these. Dating builds up marriages and helps solidify their foundations. Enduring relationships aren’t constructed out of fleeting emotions and occasional passion. They’re solidly built on quality time spent together, each partner investing in the other.

Dating Enriches Life: Life was given to us by our Creator to be lived to its fullest. He gave us a great playground we affectionately call “Earth” to use and enjoy while we have the opportunity. Setting time aside to enjoy one another is not only pleasing to God but enriches the quality of our lives. You are bound to be a much better husband or wife when you invest time in your marriage, giving it higher priority than such things as the television set or the office or different activities.

Dating Creates Positive Memories: Memories recall significant expressions of the past. Quality relationships are rich in positive memories. Since our world does a good job of dispensing negative experiences, it’s up to us to do an even better job of providing positive recollections. I love to hear older couples share stories of their early dating events. While such rememberings are fun to hear, imagine how much more enjoyable they were to experience. My wife and I are sure to have disappointing episodes and some regretful moments. But one of our goals is to make sure that our positive memories outweigh our heartaches.

Dating Models Marriage for Your Children: A long-term benefit of dating your spouse is the model you set in place for your children. One of the best ways we can demonstrate love to our children is by expressing affection to our mates. When children see their parents placing priority on dating and romance, they’ll carry that expectation into their own relationships. Children need to see quality, loving relationships in a world where those aren’t the norm. Your dating can relieve a tremendous amount of pressure from your children and set an example they’ll never forget.

Seeing the Big Picture: Two construction workers were busy working on a huge brick- laying project. A passerby was curious about the future of the building. She stopped the workers and asked, “Just what is it you’re building?” The first worker told her he was simply laying bricks trying to finish a construction project. When she asked the second worker the same question he stood and proudly explained to her he was helping to build a great cathedral. He was able to see the big picture, and was
excited about the outcome. He viewed his job as a worthy task.

As you think about your own marriage situation you might want to answer that same question, “What are you building? I hope you’ll be proud and say, “I’m building a great marriage, day by day, year by year, brick by brick!”

Ideas for Oneness

This month, we’re going to feature some things that Cindy Easley (whose husband Michael is the president of Moody Bible Institute), had to say to wives on the subject of “oneness” at a Conference

In this message we’re going to give you 3 quotes from Cindy Easley’s talk. After each quote I (Cindy Wright) will comment further on the subject—which will have [brackets] surrounding it. Next month we’ll feature several different quotes about a husband’s responsibilities for oneness that my husband, Steve Wright will comment on. Here’s what Cindy Easley had to say to wives:

Be creative. Take the romantic lead. Teach your husband what is romantic. You are not usurping your husband's leadership by teaching him how to be romantic. If you love candles, get out the candles. One night when we first moved to Virginia—we had moved from Texas and we didn't have a fireplace in Texas, there was no need—but in Virginia we had a fireplace. One day I said, "Do you know what I think would be really romantic?" to Michael, and he said, "What?" And I said it would be really romantic to have a fire in the fireplace and just to be able to turn off all the noise in the house, put on some romantic music at night when the kids are in bed, wouldn't that be romantic? That's what we had at our house that night. He set it all up, and it was wonderful. And it didn't bother me at all that I had to plant, not so subtly, the idea. It worked, I thought, very well.

[This is a touchy subject because women want men to anticipate their every romantic need. But most men aren’t “wired” that way—some men are, but that appears to be rare. (Some men may have gone through a romantic period before marriage, when temporary brain chemicals –which studies have shown to be present—were altering their minds, but later they “lost” that sense of romanticism.) Women can think it’s because of another excuse, but we need to quit being fault-finders and instead work with the way things really ARE. If your husband is “clueless” as to what you need then demonstrate the grace to respectfully “help” them. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. We don’t lead fairy tale lives. This is the real world and if our husband’s need help, then do so by the grace of God. Quit complaining and start initiating, if that’s what it takes.]

Communication Keys

Many people feel they struggle when they communicate. Add to that the trouble should a difficult or tough situation arise and the results can be disastrous. Here are some principles of effective communication, "when it has to be said":

1. Choose your words carefully.
Stay away from trigger words.
"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19

2. Don't speak during a moment of frustration.
Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying, "Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
It's not the time, when emotions are heated, to speak.

3. Be very clear on what you expect.
U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had this to say about effective communication: "Be sincere; be brief; be seated."
Be as specific as you can about a behavior or a lack of result.

4. Say it once and only once.
Otherwise, you become a nag.
"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21

5. Focus on a behavior rather than an attitude or an emotion.
By focusing on a behavior, you bring badly-needed clarity to your communication - because you separate yourself for the moment from your feelings - and are more likely to get the result you desire.

6. There's no guarantee on their reaction, so you need to be prepared.
People don't change unless they intentionally want to change.

7. Don't close a door to intimacy.
In the rules for Christian households listed in Colossians 3:18-21, Uninterrupted intimate communication within the family is inferred.

8. Don't take away their dignity.
Truly, respect is a two-way street in a marriage - or, really, any interpersonal relationship.
"A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue." Proverbs 11:12

You can love someone and still not have shown
him or her any affection whatsoever...

Can you believe that? It's true. Affection is the show of love in daily actions that allow your spouse to have a tangible understanding. Affection is the conduit that allows your love for someone to show.

You can love your spouse, but if you don't show it - in kindness, in hugs and kisses, in doing things for them without them having to ask - in your daily behavior, you may as well not be in love with them! It's kind of the same thing I was talking about before. I had good intentions of helping Donna warm up, but if my intentions didn't match my action...what good was it?

You can intend to clean the shutters. But if you don't they will still be dirty.

You can intend to comfort your husband or wife. But if you don't actually do it, they will still be uncomforted.

You can intend to tell your wife you love her every single day. But if you don't she may not hear it enough.

It's an easy concept to grasp in theory, isn't it? But to master it is difficult. Try to remember this as you go through your day: Your actions show the love you intend for your spouse. As a result, your behavior will speak of the love you have for your spouse.

Try it. Next time you have a chance, just do that "something" that your spouse has always reminded you to do - and do so without the reminder. After they are done asking you what is wrong, you'll see what I mean.

Your Marriage Attitude Can Increase Your Marriage Aptitude!

An Attitude Indicator tells an airplane pilot how the plane is tilted in flight. If the plane is tilted upward, then the attitude is pointed up. If the plane is tilted downward then it follows that the attitude is pointed down. Imagine, for a moment, if the attitude indicator on an airplane didn't might have a real problem on your hands. And, like a plane attitude indicator is important for telling the pilot which way to turn the plane-up when needed, down when needed-your attitude regarding your marriage is a good barometer of what you should do in your marriage as well.

A change in attitude can do wonders for your marriage. If your attitude is positive in marriage, many other things will follow suit. If your attitude is negative, then likewise, things will probably go poorly.

Now that may seem fairly obvious to the casual observer, but you'd be surprised what a simple action like changing your attitude will change the outcome of your marital relationship!

So, how exactly does someone change their attitude to get to positive outcomes? Follow the next four steps to gain some insight that might help you see how to do just that.

1) Learn when it is time to change your attitude

Be realistic about how you handle things and understand that others don't control your behavior. When you become self aware about your reactions and actions, you have begun the process of a developing positive attitude.

2) Stop blaming your spouse for your attitude

Did you know that blaming others for your attitude actually gives them power over you? Think about it. Complaining about the fact that such and such person is responsible for how you act is saying that person controls how you do things...By not blaming your spouse for your attitude you do two things: You stop making them responsible for you feeling bad and second, you stop putting a burden on them that really belongs to you.

3) Change your way of thinking

Here's an idea to allow you to change your way of thinking...keep an attitude journal! Write down what you tell yourself about various situations to see the connection between your thoughts and your behavior. Write down when and how you deal with your spouse.

4) Change your behavior

You can change your way of thinking but if you don't follow through it doesn't mean a whole lot. But, when you put your new way of thinking into action then you are making a difference. Here's an idea: speak an encouraging word to every person (including your spouse) you see today! I bet by the end of the day you will notice that your attitude "feels" a lot better!

Whether you are flying a plane or living your Christian life with your spouse, it is important to keep your attitude positive. You must be aware of your behavior and act positively in order to make a real difference in your relationship.

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