I think the wedding dress is a much misunderstood article of clothing. When I have premarital couples in my practice for their handful of counseling sessions before they tie the knot, this is often a significant topic of discussion. It means soooo much to the bride that her dress is absolutely perfect, not overstated, but certainly not upstaged by anything else at the wedding....often times including God.
“For the Holy Spirit knows that a thing has only such meaning and value for a man as he assigns to it in his thoughts.” – Martin Luther
Every thought (positive or negative) leads you to action (behavior). No act is done without first having a
thought. Our first example of this concept is found in Genesis 1. We find that God created the heavens and the earth, but it had no form. We can conclude that as God’s Spirit hovered over the surface, He was thinking about His master plan. Then He spoke, “Let there be light,” which resulted in action – “and there was light.”
Here, God is showing us that He doesn't just do things, but He thinks about them. He plans them out. He doesn't just react out of nowhere.
Have you ever considered how your thoughts are impacting what you do or how you feel? It all starts in your mind. Thoughts impact your life; they affect your attitudes, your fears and worries, how you speak to others and yourself, your outlook of life, how you behave with others, and how you feel.
By: Dr. Kevin Downing
Several years ago I counseled a man who was a professional bodybuilder and also a very strong Christian. He came to me because he wanted me to help him turn his marriage around. During the course of our conversation I presented to him a hypothetical question.
I asked, “If you had four days to work only on your athletic ability and physique do you know what you would do?” He nodded his head in confident affirmation, as he told me what he'd eat, how he'd workout, with the number of repetitions and so on. (It was more information than I needed!)
Then I asked him if he knew what he would do if he were to spend four days where he only worked on his faith. Sure enough he told me what passages of scripture he would read, what books he might go through and how he would pray. Once again he was quite confident. Then I ask him what he would do if he had four days to work only on his marriage. His confidence dropped and he shook his head. He said "I'd take her out to the movies". (And he was serious!)
Frankly, I was expecting a little bit more than that, maybe flowers or a dinner out at least! This man understood personal disciplines in the area of bodybuilding and faith, but he didn't know how to apply personal disciplines to his marriage.
Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on men, fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. Job 4:13-14
And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord - that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.' Job 28:2 8
The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? Psa. 27:1
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psa. 34:4
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7
“You’re only saying that to look good to our friends – it’s just a show you’re putting on.”
“You don’t really love me.”
“You don’t care about anything that matters to me – you only think about yourself.”
These are all examples of what we call MIND READING. Mind reading is when we dictated the thoughts, motives or intentions of our mate. In essence it’s attempting to play God by claiming to know the intent of our spouse’s heart and mind. This is dangerous ground for a marriage because of the tremendous frustration and conflict it creates. (Indeed it is one of the leading conflict styles that is used to predict divorce.)
This Too Shall Pass
By Dr. Peter Robbins & Dr. Kevin Downing
[Elijah] came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord.” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” - I Kings 19:4
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry…”Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than live.” - Jonah 4:1, 3
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ Genesis 2:24-25
I got a good chuckle reading some of the Bible commentators who have written about this verse. They admit that the phrase “become one flesh” refers to sex between a husband and wife, but they are quick to say it is more than “just sex” and then take off on different ideas never to return to the topic of sex again. (Maybe they have spent too much time in the library!) We won’t be too tough on them though. I know counselors-in-training throughout the years sometimes have a hard time talking about sex with the couples they counsel. Perhaps it’s an uncomfortable topic for many, but not here in the book of Genesis.
Let’s begin by reviewing Marriage Mandates #1 and #2 and see why great love making is inevitable for those who follow this prescription.
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ Genesis 2:24-25
Years ago as a seminary student, I had a roommate who, for all practical purposes, couldn’t spell or write. Now mind you, I grew up with a host of learning difficulties myself, but Scott surpassed them all. I’d try to proof his papers, but I really couldn’t help. How do you edit something that doesn’t make a lick of sense?
You may think I was critical of Scott but the truth was, I had great admiration for him. You see, Scott just wouldn’t give up. Failing seminary was not a possibility for him. He studied long hours, re-took classes – whatever was required Scott did it.
In a word Scott had amazing – perseverance. Nothing discouraged him, not failing assignments or flunking classes or smarter classmates, Scott was unwilling to stop.
What does a single seminary student have to do with Marriage Mandate #2?
The fact that Janice and I have been married for 42 years gives me a certain level of credibility in writing this post. Have they all been happy years? Yes, albeit some more so than others. But the important thing is that our love continues to deepen as we look forward to growing old together.
I am fully aware that this list is far from comprehensive, but these keys have been instrumental in helping our marriage become what it is. Hopefully, they will help you have a happy marriage.
1. Love your differences...
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