21 Tips to Togetherness in Marriage

Twenty-one.

Boy, we were young. I look at the pictures from our wedding day and I barely recognize the two energetic, love struck kids I see. It seems like so long ago, yet I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Twenty one ways to keep it together in marriageI remember the hot dog roast we had at the campgrounds the night before our wedding.

I remember the silly Flintstone socks the men wore.

I remember the t-shirts we gave our parents so they could advertise their role in our wedding everywhere they went.

I remember the staged kiss, where we let our kiss linger until the pastors interrupted us.

marriage tips(I think that one would truly make me blush if we were to do that today!)

But, most of all, I remember the commitment we made to one another . . . to love, honor, and respect, for better or for worse until death do us part . . .

Twenty-one years ago today.

Twenty-one seems like such a long time, and yet it has gone by so fast! What started out as two crazy kids has turned into 2 forty-something adults with 5 crazy kids.

togetherness in marriageThrough it all, our relationship has stayed strong and our commitment has remained firm.

And so, on this, our 21st anniversary, I’d like to offer my top 21 tips for keeping it together in marriage.

21 tips to togetherness in marriage

1. Keep Christ at the head of your relationship and your family. Jesus needs to be first or everything else will be out of whack.

2. Do not rely on your spouse to fulfill all of your emotional and spiritual needs. He just can’t.

3. Laugh together. Often.

4. Listen to one another. Without distractions.

5. Do not hold grudges. Keep past mistakes in the past.

6. Be your spouse’s number one encourager.

7. Do not talk badly about your spouse with your friends (or anyone else). Ever. (That includes jokes at his expense. See my earlier article on this topic here: https://cherigamble.com/2014/11/03/jokes-at-his-expense-theres-nothing-funny-about-disrespect/)

8. Be a servant. Even if this means picking up his dirty socks for the fifth time that week.

9. Keep dating one another. Even if this is simply a walk around your neighborhood.

10. Take an interest in his interests. (Yeah, even if that means staying up to watch the Blackhawk’s game so you can wake him up to tell him the final score because he has to go to bed early . . . They won, by the way!)

11. Pray for him daily. And specifically.

12. Make the first five minutes together at the end of the day a time to reconnect – not a time to complain about all the horrible stuff that happened during the day. (That can come later.)

13. Serve with him. Find a ministry you both love and volunteer together.

14. Nourish your own interests and gifts.

15. Don’t always have to be right.

16. Pray together.

17. Avoid situations that could threaten your relationship. This is especially relevant with social media and how easy it is to connect with anyone anywhere. Be very careful with who you connect (or reconnect) with, and if there would be any danger of a threat to your relationship, avoid it at all costs!

18. Do not let activities take over your life . . . slow down and enjoy the time you have together.

19. Recognize that love is a commitment, not a feeling. You will not always feel in love, but you should always stay committed!

20. Seek help from a 3rd party if difficulties arise. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor for marriage counseling or seeking the advice of a godly older couple.

21. Enjoy the journey. Time goes by fast! (21 years, is it really possible???)

I am so thankful that I said “Yes” (well, actually, I nodded my head) when that cute college kid asked me to marry him on that cold February night 20-some years ago.  I have truly enjoyed the journey.  And the best part about it is that God isn’t finished with us yet!  We will continue to serve Him and love Him together and it will be fun to see what is yet to come.

togetherness in marriagetogether in marriagemarriage

Happy anniversary, Tom!

Intentional Acts of Kindness in Marriage

What would happen if we suddenly became intentional about kindness in our marriages? What if we started to practice “Intentional Acts of Kindness” towards the person who is closest to us, in addition to random acts of kindness towards complete strangers?

We have all heard of “Random acts of kindness” — the idea that, if we are randomly kind to other people, kindness will spread and the world will be a better place.  While I agree that random acts of kindness can be a great thing, I wonder what would happen if our acts of kindness weren’t so . . . well  . . . random.

What if kindness were so much a part of us that we couldn’t help but be kind to everyone we came in contact with . . . strangers, neighbors, friends . . . even our spouse.

Especially our spouse.

1 Corinthians 13:4 reminds us that love is kind.  The fifth fruit of the spirit, kindness is a trait that is present in a healthy Christian’s life.  It should not be strange or newsworthy when a Christian shows kindness.  It is expected of us.  We can’t help but be kind.

Even to our spouse.

So why is it, then, that we are so often unkind to the one person whom we love more than anyone else?  Why is it so hard to show kindness to our spouse?

Maybe it’s because we haven’t made kindness a priority.

Life is hard.  Marriage is tough.  In the midst of busy schedules, difficult children, financial worries and daily trials, it is easy to overlook something so simple as an act of kindness . . .

but something so simple as an act of kindness can go a long way in keeping our marriages strong.

What would happen if we suddenly became intentional about kindness in our marriages?  What if we started to practice

Intentional Acts of Kindness

towards the person who is closest to us, in addition to random acts of kindness towards complete strangers?

Perhaps then the world really would be a better place.

Intentional kindness in marriageLet me give you a few suggestions of ways that you can be intentionally kind to your spouse this week:

1.  Get up before he does, scrape the windows and warm up his car for him.

2.  Match up his socks for him.

3.  Make him breakfast.

4.  Let him read the paper first (or use the computer first).

5.  Let him watch his favorite sports program without complaining . . . and without interrupting him or vying for his attention.

6.  Greet him with a smile and kiss when you see him again at the end of the day.

7.  Fill up his gas tank for him.

8.  Pick up his dirty clothes for him . . . without complaining.

9. Really, truly listen to what he tells you . . . without interrupting him to share your thoughts on the subject.

10.  Make him his favorite meal or take him out to his favorite restaurant . . . just because.

Do you have anything to add?  I’d love to hear your ideas of ways to show kindness to your spouse.  Share them in the comments below for all of us to see.

And now here’s this week’s Bible Study for married couples.

Enjoy!

Cheri

monday marriage momentMonday Marriage Moment, November 10, 2014

But the Fruit of the Spirit is:
Kindness

ON YOUR OWN:

1. Read Ephesians 4:32

2. What are some specific ways that your spouse has shown kindness towards you?

3. What are some specific ways that you have shown kindness towards your spouse?

4. When do you find it difficult to show kindness? Why do you think this is the case?

5. What are some very specific ways that God has shown kindness to both you and your spouse?

TOGETHER:

1. Read Romans 2:1-4 together.

2. What specific traits of God’s are mentioned in Romans 2:4?

3. How are these traits related to one another? How are they related to kindness?

3. God is kind, tolerant, and patient with us and we need to be the same way to one another. What are some specific ways that you can be express these traits in your marriage relationship?

4. Spend some time sharing with one another the areas where you feel you could improve in showing kindness to one another. Also spend time expressing the areas where you feel your spouse excels in kindness towards you.

5. Here is a song to remind you of God’s kindness:

FOR FURTHER FUN:

1. You have heard of random acts of kindness towards strangers . . . well, I want to encourage you to participate in random acts of kindness towards one another. Clean off the windshield for your spouse, get up early and fix your spouse breakfast, write a kind note “just because”. Work hard to outdo one another with kindness and see what happens in your relationship as a result.

2. If you have kids, spend the week lavishing kindness on them.

3. Brainstorm together a way that you can show kindness to one of your neighbors or friends who could really use some extra kindness this week. For even more fun (and challenge) try to keep the act of kindness anonymous.

4. To show how our acts of kindness can impact others, watch the following video together:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WDZDD7NX

Jokes at his expense: There’s nothing funny about disrespect

It happened again this past week. There it was, a “shared” quote on facebook, staring at me from the computer screen on my desk. Like you, it seems as if I view hundreds of these shared quotes a day. Like you, I ignore most of them, smile at some, and share even fewer with my own facebook friends.

But this one was hard to ignore. This one I could not smile at, and I definitely would never share. This one made me downright mad.

As a wife, it made me mad because it attacked the very essence of my wonderful, godly husband.

As a mom, it made me mad because of the message it portrayed to my five young boys.

And as a Christian, it made me mad because it mocked the institution of marriage – an institution that God Himself set in place at the beginning of time.

What is the quote that made me so mad? It went something like this:

Daughter: What is marriage?

Mom: Marriage is just a fancy word for adopting an overgrown male child who cannot be handled by his parents anymore.

man

Really? Do we as Christians REALLY believe that? Do we as Christians really believe that men are inferior, lazy, childish, and immature???

If the answer is, “No, of course we don’t believe that,” then let me ask another question:

Why do we as Christian women continually laugh at and share quotes that ridicule the male population?

You see, this quote was not shared by an unbeliever. And it wasn’t just unbelievers who “liked” this quote, either. This quote was shared and “liked” by a number of sincere Christian women.

WHY?

In his excellent book, “Love and Respect” (Thomas Nelson publishing, 2004), Dr. Emerson Eggerichs states:

Women need to learn how to understand and use the word respect because, in truth, respect is a man’s deepest value. Ever since I started developing the Love and Respect approach to marriage, I knew the Scriptures plainly taught about the male need for respect, and my own observations confirmed this. But I was always curious. Would these ideas stand up to statistical analysis? Would this need for respect by men show up in research done by a top-notch survey group? Yes, it would. In one national study, four hundred men were given a choice between going through two different negative experiences. If they were forced to choose one of the following, which would they prefer to endure?
a) to be left alone and unloved in the world
b) to feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone
Seventy-four percent of these men said that if they were forced to choose, they would prefer being alone and unloved in the world. For these men, the greater negative experience for their souls to endure would be to feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone. I have had numerous men confirm this research by telling me, “I would rather live with a wife who respected me but did not love me than live with a wife who loved me but did not respect me.” (p. 49)

Men NEED to be respected. In the Bible, men are commanded to love their wives, but women are commanded to RESPECT their husbands (see Ephesians 5:25-33).

respect

From the very beginning of time, Satan has been attacking the institution of marriage, and he continues to attack it today in many very obvious ways.

But he is also attacking it in some rather not-so-obvious ways, as well.

He is attacking it by using humor — jokes, silly quotes, sitcoms, and commercials —  which place men in the limelight as immature, incapable, not nearly as strong as women . . .

And we women are joining in on the attack.

Every time we share a quote that demeans a man, we are perpetuating the lie that men are weak and immature.

Every time we complain about our husbands or make them the focus of our jokes, we are doing Satan’s work for him.

Let’s reverse it for a minute. How would we women feel if, when with a group of friends, our husbands began to belittle and joke about us? How would we feel if they said things to each other like, “You won’t believe how stupid my wife was the other day,” or, “My wife looks so silly when she wears that outfit”?  We would be appalled! We would think that our husbands didn’t love us anymore.

Yet how often do we women do the exact same things when we are with our friends? How often do we make our husbands the source of our jokes? How often do we announce their shortcomings to our ladies’ ministry groups?

How often do we “like” or “share” a male-bashing quote on facebook?

Christian women, we need to stop! For the sake of our marriages, for the sake of our sons, for the sake of our Christian witness in the world, we need to stop bashing men and start giving them the respect they deserve.

Have we forgotten – Men were made in the image of God?

Have we forgotten – Men are called to be the leaders of the family and the church?

Have we forgotten – Jesus was a man?

Jesus

Maybe we should think twice about what quotes we “like” on facebook.

“Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33, NASB).

Monday Marriage Moment: Patience

monday marriage moment

Monday, October 27, 2014

We are not a very patient people.  We want what is ours and we want it NOW!  Don’t expect us to be happy about waiting for anything . . . we want instant service, instant gratification, instant results.  Ask us to wait, and we will instantly respond with, “How long?”  No, patience is a virtue that is lost on so many of us.

Yet, patience is one of the fruits of the spirit.

That means that God expects us to be patient!

Patient with our friends, patient with our families, patient with strangers . . .

patient with Him.

Think of all the people in the Bible who had to wait.  God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, but Abraham had to wait . . . a. long. time.  Joseph waited many years before seeing his dreams fulfilled.  Moses had to wait 40 years before God even gave Him his purpose in life . . . and then He spent the last 40 years of His life waiting once again!  The list could go on and on . . .

God always keeps His promises, but sometimes we have to wait to see them fulfilled.

What about you?  Are you waiting on God today?  If so, HOW are you waiting?

It’s one thing to wait . . . we all have to wait.

It’s quite another thing to wait PATIENTLY!

Are you a patient person?  Are you patient when it comes to waiting for the Lord to keep His promises in your life?

Are you patient when it comes to your family?

Are you patient when it comes to your spouse?

This week’s Monday Marriage moment focuses on the issue of patience.  Open up your Bibles and spend some time discussing this issue in your lives.

May God Bless you and your marriage this week.

Cheri

PS.  The November prayer calendar is coming out on Wednesday.  Be sure to check back and get yours!

PSS.  If you like what you are seeing here at Ministry Mom, why don’t you come like my facebook page or follow me on twitter?  I’d love to have you be part of my online family!!

Monday Marriage Moment Patience (downloadable pdf)

But the Fruit of the Spirit is:
Patience

ON YOUR OWN:

1. Read James 1:19-20.

2. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself when it comes to being patient with your spouse? How do you think your spouse would rate you?

3. When is it the most difficult for you to remain patient with your spouse? Why do you think this is?

4. Spend time praying for God to help you to be more patient towards your spouse.

TOGETHER:

1. Read James 1:19-20 together.

2. Which of these do you need to work on the most in your marriage? (quick to listen, slow to speak, or slow to become angry . . . or all of them). What steps do you think you can take to improve on that area this week?

3. Read Colossians 3:12-13 together.

3. Verse 13 tells us to bear with one another. Do you ever feel like you have to “bear with one another” in your marriage? When? Discuss the times when it is difficult for you to be patient with one another and spend some time praying for those situations.

4. Perhaps you do not have difficulty with patience towards one another at all, Perhaps the area where you experience the most difficulty is waiting on the Lord. His timing is not our timing, but He always keeps His promises. Can you think of anyone in the Bible who had to wait on the Lord? Discuss this with one another.

5. Here are a few songs that can help with the area of waiting:

And here’s a fun one . . . sometimes you have to wait for it!!

5. Sometimes it can be so hard to wait patiently on the Lord, but, as mentioned above, God’s timing is not our timing. He will keep His promises, but we don’t know when. Think about how long Abraham and Sarah had to wait . . . and Joseph . . . and King David. It seems like everyone who was promised something in the Bible had to wait. What are some ways that you can wait on the Lord without letting the situation control and worry you? Discuss this together.

6. I love the lyrics of the first song above . . . I will serve you while I’m waiting. Spend each day serving and worshiping Jesus, and maybe the wait won’t seem quite as long.

FOR FURTHER FUN:

1. Give yourselves opportunities to practice patience with one another this week. Be quick to listen to one another (without having to interrupt to give your own input), slow to speak and slow to become angry. Find a time when you can sit down and practice listening to one another.

2. Offer to babysit for another family or take your kids out for a fun evening. This will give you lots of practice in patience!

3. Instead of grumbling the next time your spouse does something that makes you want to lose your patience, stop and pray. Right then and there.

4. The next time you find yourself having to wait (at a stoplight, in line at the grocery store, for a slow clerk at the bank . . . ) spend the time waiting praying for your spouse.

5. And, since I’ve had this song going through my head this entire time, I must now share it with you.

Experiencing a Peace-Filled Marriage

monday marriage moment

Monday, October 20, 2014

 What do you think of when you think of “Peace”?  Are you filled with thoughts of the sixties and phrases such as,  “Give peace a chance”?  Do you think of today’s world and the incredible lack of peace around the globe?  Or maybe your thoughts hit closer to home.  Maybe you think of your own relationships and how difficult it is to maintain peace in them.

We certainly do not live in a time of peace.  From individual families to communities to entire countries and beyond, peace is noticeably missing.  And besides the daily reminders of strife and war across the globe, there is enough stress in our own lives to keep any feeling of peace far away.  It seems like there is continually something new to worry about . . . something that threatens to destroy us, that scares us, that makes us want to shrink away and hide in our homes.

Yet, the Bible tells us that we can experience the peace of Christ in our lives.  How is this possible?  How can we possibly live with peace when there is no peace surrounding us?  How can we possibly live a peace-filled life when there are so many legitimate threats to worry about?

How is this possible? 

It is possible only through Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:4-7 states,  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

When we turn our worries over to Jesus, He gives us His peace. This is a peace that the world cannot understand.  It does not make sense to them why we should be living in peace when there is so much turmoil in the world.  And, sometimes, we can’t understand it either.  But it is there.  It is peace . . .  God’s peace.

Peace knowing that God will take care of us in the midst of terrorist threats, ebola viruses, political turmoil . . .

Peace knowing  that God will take care of us in the midst of family tension, money shortages, and personal stress . . .

Peace knowing that God will take care of us  . . .

even in our marriages!

It is only through Jesus Christ that we can experience a peace-filled marriage. 

Only with Jesus at the center of your relationship will you truly be able to live in peace with one another and only with Jesus at the center of your lives will you be able to experience peace in the midst of the never ending stress invading your lives.  Why don’t you let Jesus fill you with His peace today?

Scroll down and you will find a Bible study to do with your spouse over this very topic.  There is also a pdf if you would rather print it off.

May you experience His peace today!

Cheri

mondaymarraigemoment (downloadable pdf)

But the Fruit of the Spirit is:
Peace

ON YOUR OWN:

1. Read Philippians 4:1-9

2. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the amount of peace you experience in your marriage?

3. What do you think it would take to make your life and your marriage more peace-filled?

4. Spend time praying for your spouse and for peace in your home.

TOGETHER:

1. Read Philippians 4:1-9 together.

2. Who did Paul appeal to in verse 2? Why?
Notice that there were two people in the church who seemed to be having a difficult time getting along with one another. We don’t know what they were arguing about or how serious it had become, but it was obviously serious enough for Paul to address it in his letter to the church. Isn’t it interesting that a passage of Scripture that is known for talking about the “peace that passes all understanding” found in Christ, begins by talking about a different type of peace – the peace between two people? Why do you think this is the case? Is it possible to experience the peace of Christ when you are not living in peace with other people? Discuss this together.

3. According to verse 6, what are we supposed to make known to God? How do you think making our requests known to God (prayer) leads to a peace-filled life?

4. What do you think it means when it says that the peace of God surpasses all understanding?

Have you ever met someone who is going through an incredibly difficult and stressful situation, yet he is full of peace? He is not anxious or uptight about his situation, even though he would have every right to be worried. It is hard to comprehend how someone like that can be full of peace . . . but when Christ gives us His peace, it is enough! Christ can help us live with peace no matter what is going on in the world around us. This is a peace that the world does not understand. It is a peace that comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. Read Matthew 6:25-34. Make a list of the worries that you have as a couple and as a family. Then spend time praying for each one. Give them all over to God and let Him replace your worries with His peace. Spend time praying for these worries every day this week.

6. These songs always helps me when I need to experience peace . . . sing them together and be encouraged!

FOR FURTHER FUN:

1. The Scripture in Matthew 6 talks about how God will take care of your needs . . . we do not need to worry. There are many people in the world who need to hear this, and who may need us to be the hands and feet of God. Find some of those people this week and help take care of their basic needs. Example: Take a homeless person out for lunch, take winter coats to a shelter, go through your stuff and find some items to give away . . . Even if you are wondering how God will take care of your needs, you will experience peace by helping take care of someone else’s. Do this as a couple and see what happens!

2. If you are having difficulty getting along in your marriage, find another couple that can help mentor you. Invite them over and discuss how they have dealt with arguments in their marriage. Go on a double date with them and learn all you can from watching their marriage.

3. OR . . . if you are a couple that can mentor a younger couple who is struggling, do that! Find a couple that needs you and take them out on a double date. Show them how to have fun as a married couple. Show them how to learn to live at peace and how to experience a peace-filled life.

4. Make a list of all the ways God has provided for you in your marriage and spend time thanking Him.

5. And, since we can’t get through a study on peace without this song, sing “I’ve God Peace Like A River” together . . . and do the motions! Have fun!! After all, Philippians tells us to REJOICE!!

And one more fun one . . . simply for the “Peace that Passes Understanding” verse:

 (Try making your own verses for this one . . . lots of fun and a great way to relieve stress!!)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

I took a couple weeks off at Ministry Mom to work on publicizing my new book, “Banana Bread & Mismatched Socks: 100 Devotional Thoughts From My Every Day Life”.  If you enjoy my blog posts, you might enjoy my book! It is available in both print and e-book editions (and the print edition features cute illustrations from two of my boys.)  Check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Banana-Bread-Mismatched-Socks-Devotional/dp/1500519839/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413649123&sr=8-1&keywords=Banana+Bread+and+mismatched+socks

Monday Marriage Moment: JOY

monday marriage moment

Monday, September 29, 2014

 Do you remember how happy you were on your wedding day? All the hours of planning and endless preparations led up to this one moment in time – this moment when you first became “Mr. and Mrs.”. Extremely happy, you were in a true state of wedded bliss!

married_car_01

How long did it take for the happiness to wear off?

How long did it take before “real life” settled in, and the “wedded bliss” was replaced by financial struggles, personality conflicts, and job stress?

If the happiness has not yet worn off, congratulations! But let me warn you that there will come a time when the happiness will wear off.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it is totally possible to have a happy marriage.  But even in a happy marriage, the two people involved are not always happy all the time.

Why? Because happiness does not last! Happiness is a feeling, and feelings come and go. What we are talking about this week is not happiness . . .

it’s JOY!

Joy is much deeper than happiness. Joy is experienced when we are truly dependent on God . . . when we place Him in the center of our lives and our relationships and when we let Him guide us. .. when we focus on praising Him in whatever situation we find ourselves no matter what.

In Nehemiah chapter 8, the Israelites were faced with their own sinfulness. Hearing the Words of the Lord for the first time in years, they were overcome with grief at how they had strayed so far from the one true God. Grieving and mourning, they focused on their own lives and their own lack of obedience.

But Nehemiah came along and told them to focus on God. “Stop your mourning!” he said, “This day is holy to the Lord. Praise Him! For THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH!!”

joy

According to that verse, it is through JOY where we find our strength! And, the best way I know to experience joy is to spend time in praise!!

No matter what is going on in your life or your marriage, GOD IS BIGGER!! Take a break this week from your worries and struggles and spend time praising God together! When you praise God, you will experience His joy, which will strengthen your marriage.

Following is a short Bible study to complete together that will help you in this process. If you prefer  a printable pdf, the link to that is included below.

May God bless your marriage this week!

Cheri

Monday Marriage Moment Joy  (printable pdf)

But the fruit of the Spirit is:

JOY

ON YOUR OWN:

1. Read Psalm 100.

2. Think back on your life as a couple. How has the Lord shown His faithfulness to you? Try to come up with specific examples.

3. Spend time praising the Lord for His faithfulness.

4. Pray for you and your spouse to be able to experience the joy of the Lord in your lives.

TOGETHER:

1. Read Nehemiah 8:8-12 together.

2. Why were the people so upset? How did Nehemiah respond to them? Why do you think he responded in that way?

3. According to Nehemiah 8:10, where do we get strength? How do you think this happens?

The Bible tells us that the JOY of the Lord is our strength! No matter what is going on in our lives, if we learn to live in God’s joy, we will have the strength we need to persevere. This is true in our marriages, too. If we can learn to live in JOY, we can handle any stress that may come our way. The question is, how do we experience the joy of the Lord?

4. So, what do you think? What are some ways that the two of you can experience the joy of the Lord in your marriage?

One way that I can think of is to live in an attitude of praise. Spend time together PRAISING the Lord. Take some time out of each week to sit together and focus on the ways the Lord has been faithful to you the previous week, and then praise Him for it. Offer praise together on a consistent basis!

5. Read Psalm 100 together and share the answers that you came up with on your own of ways the Lord has been faithful to you.

6. Here are some songs that might help you as well.

FOR FURTHER FUN:

1. Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness”. Another way to experience joy in your marriage is to serve together. Find a way to serve together this week! (Examples: Visit a nursing home together, serve at a soup kitchen, babysit for a needy family, make a meal for someone who is sick . . . the list could go on and on. The important thing is that it is both of you serving – do this TOGETHER!!)

2. An old acronym I once learned was “JOY = Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third.” Try practicing this in your marriage this week. Look for ways to put your spouse’s needs before yours! (Note: We sing this song with our kids at church, so I couldn’t help but include it here. Watch it and try singing it together . . . it might just make you LAUGH!!!)

3. Sit together and SMILE!! Remind each other of the fun times you’ve had in your marriage. Think back to your dating days and share experiences you remember that made you laugh. If you have kids, share some of these experiences with your kids and LAUGH together!!

4. If you are going through a difficult patch in your marriage right now, be encouraged! Do not confuse happiness with joy. Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes based on circumstances, but joy is much deeper than that! Our joy is directly related to our dependence on God – spend time praying together for the difficulties in your marriage and then turn your focus entirely on God and PRAISE Him together!

5. But, since it is fun to laugh in your marriage, find a children’s joke book and read it outloud to one another. (Or try writing some of your own jokes. Try to outdo one another in silliness!!)

“The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” clipart courtesy http://www.christart.com/

Monday Marriage Moment: LOVE

But the Fruit of the Spirit is:

love-lines

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love the kaleidoscope of colors on the trees, the crisp, coolness in the air, and the happiness of my boys as they play football in the yard. But most of all, I love the trips to the pumpkin patch and the memories that are made carving pumpkins.

This, however, is not an activity my husband enjoys. Nonetheless, every year he takes our family to a pumpkin patch, helps us pick out the perfect pumpkins, smiles for all the pictures, and supervises all the carving. Why? Because he loves me.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. . .

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On the wall of our bedroom are the following words: “Love Beareth all things, Believeth all things, Endureth all things.” These words are taken from 1 Corinthians 13 and serve as an excellent reminder that love is much, much more than just a feeling.

In fact, love is NOT a feeling at all. Love is an action — a commitment that we make. In a marriage relationship, love says that we will stay with that person no matter how we feel. We will not always feel wildly in love with the person we married . . . but, because we understand that love is not a feeling, we will still always love our spouse.

Here are some ideas for how you can work on love in your marriage relationship. These work best when you do all the “On your own” activities first, followed by all the “Together” activities and one or more of the “For Further Fun” activities.

ON YOUR OWN:

1. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Substitute your name for the word “love”. What areas do you need to work on in your marriage relationship?

2. Think back to when you first started dating your spouse? What initially attracted you to him/her? How has your love for your spouse changed over time?

3. When have you felt the most “in love” with your spouse?

4. Pray for your love for your spouse to grow. Pray also for the areas you know you need to work on when it comes to expressing love according to 1 Corinthians 13.

TOGETHER:

1. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 together. Stop after each characteristic of love and share one way that your spouse has displayed this quality in your marriage relationship. (ex: Love is patient: I remember once when you were patient when I was shopping for a new outfit. You didn’t hurry me along at all.)

2. How has your expression of love for one another changed over time (for good or bad)?

3. Pick one quality of love that you both need to work on in your marriage relationship. Come up with some ways that you can both improve in this area.

4. Pray together. Pray for your love life. Pray also for the expression of your love to follow the characteristics you read about in 1 Corinthians 13.

FOR FURTHER FUN:

1. Rewrite your vows. Knowing what you do today about marriage and your own relationship, what would you include or change about your vows? Spend some time writing them out and then read them back to one another. You may even want to copy them and put them some place where you can both be reminded of them on a regular basis.

2. Look into each other’s eyes and sincerely say, “I love you.” Go one step further and tell each other what that means.

3. Write a love letter to each other at some point during the week. Find a way to sneak it into your spouse’s stuff so it is a surprise when he/she finds it. (Or send a love email or text, or post “I love you, have a great day,” to their facebook page.)

4. Look for ways to show each of the characteristics of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to each other at some point during this week.

If you have any other ideas of ways that we can work on love in our marriage relationships, please send them my way!  I would love to hear from you!

Here is a link to a pdf document of this Bible Study that you can print off:

 Monday Marriage Moment Love