Wild Pitchers, Peaceful Catchers

And if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8
 
Have you ever been asked to sit in front of a very full room of the opposite sex and answer all of the questions they have about your gender? I have. Our men’s group leader at church approached me one day and inquired if all the men could pre-write the questions they’ve always wanted to understand about women and give them to me, to be answered in person at their next men’s breakfast. Without hesitation, I said yes! I figured hopefully I could help them understand the female gender a little better and, if nothing else, it would be entertaining!
 
A week before the big day, I received a six-page compilation of questions from all of the guys who would be in attendance. Thank God for my friend Connie who agreed to take on the questions with me so I didn’t have to face the firing squad all by myself!
 
There was every kind of question you could imagine: “What are most women looking for in a man?” “My wife looked great when we got married, but now she makes little to no effort on her physical appearance. I feel like she did a bait and switch. How do I politely address this with her, yet still communicate love?” “How can I better help my wife when she is emotional or tired from her menstrual cycle?” “Why are some women so emotional and others aren’t?”
 
One of my favorite questions of all was a very simple one. “What can I do in our relationship to communicate more effectively and prevent arguments?” Although we had prepared some answers ahead, when I got to this question, what shot out of my mouth surprised me. I encouraged the men when communicating to always think of their marriage or relationship as they would if they were on a sports team.
 
I inquired of the group, “Have you ever watched a college or Major League Baseball game and seen a pitcher throw a wild pitch the catcher had to run after? Have you ever then seen the catcher run for the ball, look back at the pitcher and say, ‘If you’re going to make me run for the ball, then I’m going to get you back and make you run for it too!’ as he proceeds to throw a wild ball for the pitcher to chase?” Of course not! No one would make it to the college or Pro level if they had a mindset like that because it isn’t being team-minded, yet many couples act this way in marriage all of the time and think it’s normal.
 
It’s common to hear about a wife or husband who has a bad day at work, then comes home and says something sharply to their spouse. What happens next? The other one thinks, “Who do they think they are talking to me like that?” They proceed to snap back and an argument ensues which could have easily been prevented with a little team mindedness and basic communication.
 

Think of your relationship, whether it’s your spouse or kids, like you’re a team riding on a jet ski or snowmobile together. Depending on the water maneuver or snow terrain you are on, you sometimes have to lean a certain direction to make sure the jet ski or snowmobile doesn’t tip over.

It’s the same in relationships. If we see our spouse or loved one is having a bad day or going through a challenge in life, the best thing we can do if they lean the wrong direction is to overcompensate in the right direction. Showing compassion and empathy to stabilize the team helps prevent a rollover.
 
Unfortunately, many people instinctively do just the opposite and veer towards protecting themselves rather than protecting the team relationship. If I’m thinking like a team, I will always want to give my spouse or kids my best, even if they aren’t at their best in the moment.
 
I remember my first example of Shaun taking this team approach with me in our first couple years of marriage. I’ll embarrass myself and tell you the story. I was on the phone in our kitchen and Shaun started to vacuum in our living room. I thought he knew I was on the phone, which of course he obviously didn’t, or he wouldn’t have started vacuuming. I looked around the living room corner with a face of exasperation at my husband who was in the middle of a loving act of kindness. Covering the phone, I strongly said, “I’m on the phone!” As we would say in our house today, I was clearly flubberstrated (a much-loved word in the Gustafson house coined by our middle child when she was three).
 
Within a few minutes of getting off the phone, I started feeling bad about my tone of voice and facial expression. I went into our living room to apologize to Shaun. “What are you thinking about?” I asked. “I’m thinking about all the reasons I love being married to you,” he responded.
 
Wow! I threw him an out-of-nowhere wild ball, and in response, he threw a kind, mature, straight pitch back at me instead of what I so deserved at the moment. I quickly apologized for speaking in a dishonoring manner and asked, “Why would you be thinking about good things when I was just disrespectful to you?” With a smile he said, “God’s plan for our life is too important for me to let myself get offended, so I decided to focus on what I love about you instead. I know your heart and you’re normally very kind with your words.”
 
I once heard someone say we tend to judge others by their actions; however, we judge ourselves by our intentions. Shaun’s team-minded example changed my life forever because he did the opposite of what most people would want to do. In this moment, he chose to be loving and respectful even when I wasn’t.
 
Are we always this good at our relationship skills 100% of the time? No, but we both really work hard at remembering we are a team in marriage and as parents. It’s not always easy, but it makes our relationship much more enjoyable when we act team-minded and respond with a soft answer instead of anger.
 
Another great way to prevent arguments is to simply communicate. When you walk through the door, gently tell your spouse, “It’s been a rough day at work. A client chewed me out. I’m needing some recovery time, so if I don’t seem as friendly as normal, it’s not you. I love you.” Just these few little words eliminate misunderstandings and help prevent your spouse from jumping to conclusions or wondering if they did something wrong.
 
I pray this encourages you today and helps strengthen your relationships, 
Amy

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Affirming our Family

One of our personal favorites of Jesus’ leadership qualities was that He affirmed those under His authority. He said to His disciples in the upper room, those who were closest to Him,

 

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you (John 15:15-16).
 

What a statement! He affirmed them by calling them friends and emphasizing that He chose them. He then spoke blessing over them, telling them that He chose them for a valuable purpose and calling. He believed with all of His heart that they would succeed in this calling. He then gave them a promise saying that whatever they asked God for in His name, they would receive it! The exciting thing for us as believers is, He was also speaking this over you and me! Jesus believed in His disciples, and He believes in us just as much today because we are also His disciples called to do His will in the earth.

 

We have this same ability to operate like Jesus did, within our own home. We can make a difference to those closest to us by believing in them, no matter what. Showing confidence in someone does amazing things. Shaun often says that when we believe enough in someone’s success, they will eventually become a success. We can change the whole environment in our home just by showing approval and confidence in our family members!

It is rewarding to see someone who was doing average or below average in life with no real goals for their future suddenly experience someone who believes in them. It typically changes everything! Most people like to live up to their leaders’ or loved ones’ expectations when they are spoken to with love and belief. Children and adults standards are raised when they know someone has positive expectancy over them. Hearing things like:

 

You can do it! I know you can!

I believe in you! You are going to do great!

Way to go! You did a great job!

I am so pleased with you!

Thank you for doing your best!

 

I remember once in fifth grade when I had gotten an F on a social studies test. I normally earned A’s and B’s so it was probably a big surprise for my mom and dad when I came home with this news. I had misunderstood what chapter I was to study, so I was not prepared for the test I took. I still remember my mom, who is one of the most encouraging people I know, saying to me, “All that matters to me, honey, is that you did your best. I will always be pleased with you as long as you try. Don’t feel bad about it. You are smart and you’ll bring your grade back up next time.” I went from having a feeling of condemnation to having joy because I knew I was accepted and loved. I was reminded that she believed in me and in my future. She helped me get things back in perspective. My life wasn’t over because of an F on a test!
 

            Friend, just as my mom believed in me and let me know it, God believes in you too! He has let us know it all through His Word. Jesus voiced His confidence and approval to His disciples, but He was also saying this to you and me. You are special to Him! He equipped you with everything you need to be a success in life, not only in your profession, but also as a spouse and parent. 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us,

 

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

 

This verse is specifically referring to those who cheerfully give money to God’s work here on the earth. It implies that when money is given to God’s kingdom, God’s grace will see to it that all of our needs will be met and that we have even more to give. This also can apply to anything we give cheerfully to benefit His kingdom and further His Gospel here on earth. When we give our spouse and children praise, affirmation, and encouragement, we are showing them a demonstration of how loving our Father in heaven is. When those we live with experience God’s goodness manifested through us, it will draw their hearts into a greater desire to know Him and His love more deeply. When we cheerfully give praise to others, we make ourselves able to experience more of the good God has planned for us. Another way of saying this is, the more love and approval we give to others, the more joy we will experience ourselves!
 

God’s grace manifested in us can and will give us the ability and knowledge to be an encourager to our family and to others we lead. Being an encourager is not a personality type, but rather it is a choice. Even if you have not been one to verbalize encouragement and approval to those around you, know that God can help you do this! Although it had not been Shaun’s “personality” to be an encourager of others when he was young, as an adult he saw the value in this behavior and determined to learn this good quality. With God’s help he trained himself to do this and is now an excellent encourager to others. If you would like to grow in this area, you can even pray this right now:

           

Father, I ask You to help me see the best in my family and those I lead. Please help me to voice approval of them and belief in them on a daily basis. I pray that they will experience my love and Your love through me each day in a tangible way. In Jesus name, amen. 
 
In love, Pastor Amy Gustafson

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Pray Together, Stay Together

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19).
 
“We deeply love each other and know it was God who brought us together. We just don’t understand why we fight so much. On a regular basis one of us gets upset or irritated with the other about something.”
 
Ben and Shelly verbalized thoughts experienced by many couples. Through further discussions we found they were both raised in broken families. Ben had never met his father nor had any male role model in the home. Shelly had some role models, but was raised in a separated family much of her life.
 
Unfortunately, this is very common in the day we live. Many people have grown up with either poor examples or no examples of the skills and unconditional love required to make marriage last a lifetime. Within a short time, they begin to follow the behavior patterns they observed in their parents marriage or just make an attempt based on what makes them feel loved. They enter marriage hoping to receive unconditional love, but having little to no idea how to give unconditional love.
 
Ben and Shelly longed for the peace and joy God intended for marriage and asked us if we would impart any truths we had discovered. We visited together, sharing the main key to unity God had taught us. God had shown us through His Word that if we would pray together for a time each day, we would have peace, unity, and single-mindedness in our marriage relationship all day long.
 
This is shown in Acts 4:24, which states the group of believers gathered together and “…raised their voice to God with one accord…” Later, verses 31 and 32 continue with,

 

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.  Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

 

Did you notice the three key effects unified prayer caused among the believers in this passage of Scripture? First, when the believers prayed together they increased in boldness of sharing the Word. God desires for us to be a witness to unbelievers as well as to other Christians around us. This is done verbally as well as through our being a living testimony of God’s goodness. As you and your spouse pray together, you both increase in boldness about sharing and demonstrating the love and goodness of God with those around you.
 
Second, praying together resulted in them having one heart and one soul (unity), meaning no difference of opinion for direction, purpose or motives. James 1:7 tells us a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. A marriage with two people trying to go their own direction, rather than God’s unified direction, is also unstable. However, as you and your spouse pray together, double-mindedness will leave your marriage and single-mindedness will enter to unify the two of you as one heart and one soul.
 
Third, the believers’ unified prayer resulted in selflessness rather than selfishness. The last passage says they did not count their possessions as their own but shared with whoever had need. Selfishness is a large problem in many marriages today; however, this Scripture shows us how to overcome this destructive behavior and become a loving, sharing spouse. When we as a married couple pray together, we are putting Christ at the center of our relationship. God is then able to do a work in us to encourage a sharing and giving spirit, which will produce a “what’s mine is yours” attitude. This is the way God intended marriage to be.
 
After we explained all of these benefits to Ben and Shelly, Ben shared that he questioned whether this would truly help their relationship. “Let’s do this,” we said. “You said you have disagreements almost everyday. Try praying together at least 15 minutes every morning for just one week. Then come back and tell us the results.” We also added, “One more thing, make sure you do your prayer together first thing, before you engage in conversation with each other, otherwise you may get in a disagreement first and end up not praying at all.”
 
One week later Ben and Shelly arrived for our meeting. Before they even said a word, we could tell things had improved. Their countenance had brightened, and their body language towards each other showed a new spark and tenderness. They excitedly shared with us that in only one week there had been dramatic changes. They both agreed the arguments had diminished by about 90 percent. With a smile Ben said, “The remaining 10 percent of disagreements happened only when we didn’t start the day with prayer first.”
 
Ben and Shelly had quickly learned and proven that God’s Word will always work for us when we put it into practice. Isn’t it good to know God didn’t just throw a man and woman together with their opposite strengths, gifts, and abilities and say, “Boy, I don’t know how they are ever going to get along with each other?” No, God made marriage to be a work of art, and He gave us a manual to follow on how to have strong relationships. He made man and woman’s opposite characteristics to compliment and strengthen each other and to be a powerful force in the earth for His kingdom. He created marriage to be a gift, and it can be for you today.
 
No matter the current condition of your marriage, there is hope. Remember God said, “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).  We can take God at His Word and ask Him for help to love our spouse with His kind of love.
 
Let us say here that doing things God’s way in marriage is not always easy. During the hard times, remember this great quote from Charles Kettering: “No one would have ever crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship during a storm.” This is also true with marriage. If we give up when things are the worst, we will never be able to experience God’s best. A rainbow comes after the storm.
 
It is often in the early years that many couples face their biggest challenges. Studies show most divorces take place within the first seven years of a marriage. The wedding is joyous, but then the challenges of life in a sin-filled world show up and people have to daily make the choice, “…as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Many couples happily married over thirty years tell us the toughest years were in the first ten, but they are thankful they worked it out. They would not have had all the joyous years together if they had not persevered and worked through those early challenges!  
 
Studies have shown that couples who choose to stay together and work out their problems are reportedly happier than those who become divorced.1 In order to achieve success in life and marriage, it is essential to learn how to overcome the rough waves. Through the challenging times, many couples begin to take their frustrations out on family and associate feelings from life’s disappointments with their spouse or children. They may become disillusioned with their marriage, thinking the relationship is their main problem. However in reality, marriage and family was designed by God to be a haven from life’s challenges.
 
When a couple puts God first and builds a spiritual bond with each other through daily prayer and going to church as a family, this is the first step in building a strong relationship that will weather the test of time. Then when tough times come, they have a strong foundation that is not easily shaken.
 
A couple can be so spiritually out of touch with God and each other that they do not even know this important bond is missing in their relationship. Then one day something major happens and they realize they have lost (or never developed) their spiritual foundation. Once a couple chooses to put God first and build or reestablish their spiritual bond, God is able to move mightily on their behalf. He can and will establish deeper love and excitement, as well as reveal His divine plan and purpose for their union together. 
 
We love you! 
 
Love,
Shaun & Amy

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Is this the one?

“Is this the one?” You may ask yourself this question when meeting or dating someone. How do you know? There are multiple clues along the way that we will discuss in the next few chapters. One type of person to be on the watch for is, as we like to call them, the imposter.
 
Imposters, in this case, aren’t bad people; they just aren’t right for you. By definition an imposter is “one that assumes false identity or title for the purpose of deception.” Our personal definition of the imposter is someone who is very close to what you are looking for in a spouse but is missing some of the key traits required to truly identify them as the right one. We aren’t talking about hair color or a couple inches of height here!
 
We know from personal experience as well as from mentoring others, there are certain desires God puts in your heart before marriage that are a big deal to you. They are meant to help guide you through accurately identifying who will be a good match for you. We know one lady who always had a dream to stay home and raise her children. She even told her friends in high school, “I’m going to marry a very financially stable man someday who will be happy to let me stay home and raise our children.”
 
When she met her future husband, she recognized that he was a very intelligent and motivated man. She finished her associate’s degree, they married, and she worked to help put him through college and graduate school. When they had kids, he happily encouraged her to stay home and raise them. Elated to have her dream fulfilled, she became a classroom mom and participant in all of the kids’ activities. Now she and her husband have been happily married for over twenty-five years. The strong dream in her heart shaped what she looked for in a husband and helped draw her to the right one.
 

Amy

I had character traits on my mental list that any female typically would look for in her future husband, but there were three unique attributes that were very important to me. They were in my heart for many years and I had no idea why. Later I realized they were beacons God had put there to point me towards Shaun. Psalm 37:4 promises, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires” (NLT).
 
When you invest time with God through Bible reading and prayer, He is able to not only place specific desires inside your heart but also help you clearly recognize what your true desires are. I wanted to marry someone who had sisters. Not just any sisters, but sisters with whom I would feel close. I also wanted someone whose family didn’t smoke since I am allergic to cigarette smoke. Finally, I wanted to marry someone whose parents had never been divorced.
 
As a side note, there is nothing wrong with those who have divorced parents. We are not recommending you add this to your list. Unfortunately, it is not as common as it used to be. Statistics do show, however, that when marriage gets tough, those who come from divorced homes are more likely to consider divorce than those from homes without divorce.1 If you or the person you consider for marriage come from a divorced home, we strongly encourage you to get good instruction on the covenant of marriage as the truly unbreakable bond God intends it to be. We also recommend you gain knowledge on how to build unity and vision in your relationship.
 
Back to my story. Before meeting Shaun, I dated a young man who was a great person and possessed many of the characteristics I was seeking in a future husband. After dating him for some time and assuming I would probably marry him, I remember saying to my mother one night, “I always thought when you found the right person to marry that you would see stars and hearts and be excited at the thought of coming home to them for the rest of your life.” My mom looked quite surprised at me. She said, “You should be excited about spending the rest of your life with whomever you are going to marry.”
 
Her response got my attention and caused me to begin questioning whether or not this young man and I were really a good match. He felt more like a brother. I’m guessing he probably felt the same way toward me; we were more like siblings than sweethearts.
 
I recall being at a holiday family event with many of his relatives. They were very nice people, but a number of them smoked inside the house. I came home and spent the next day in bed with a pounding headache and nausea. My mom walked into my room and asked, “Amy, are you going to have to live like this after every holiday for the rest of your life?” I began to revisit my mental list. I realized that the key characteristics I knew in my heart about my future husband’s family were not true for this man.
 
When I met Shaun, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had three sisters, all of whom were very kind and friendly to me right from the start. The first time he brought me to a family reunion, I noted that out of over one hundred and fifty people, I didn’t see anyone smoking inside. On top of everything, his parents had been married for thirty years. Shaun checked all of my major three list items as well as other important things I was seeking in a future husband.
 
As I got to know Shaun, there was a clear confidence in my heart that he was the right one. This knowledge became only stronger over time, rather than questionable. As Proverbs 4:18 states, “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day” (NLT). God desires to make your path brighter and clearer with each step you take so that you can easily walk in His plan for your life.
 

Shaun

When meeting Amy, I was immediately drawn to her confidence and character. As we would cross paths in the hallway at college, I noticed she always walked with her head up and was quick to give a smile. She didn’t come across as a female who needed a man in her life in order to feel good about herself, like so many other young ladies appeared. She dressed in nice clothing that was always modest. I knew from looking at her that she was someone who would be trustworthy and faithful.
 
One day when visiting my parents, my father asked if I was interested in anyone. “I really don’t want to get married until I’m at least twenty-eight,” I told him, being twenty-one at the time, “but if I were to get married, there is a young lady I cross paths with in the hallway at school on a regular basis. She’s a teller at my bank. I’ve never met her and don’t even know her name, but she is the one I would want to marry.” I was referring to Amy! You certainly don’t need to have this kind of revelation about your future spouse. I say this to point out that in your heart, if you are honest with yourself, you often have a good idea of what you are really looking for.
 
Like Amy, I also dated someone before we met who was more of a sibling to me. Although she was a very kind person and had a number of great qualities, she didn’t have some of the top things on my mental “wife list.” She seemed to be looking for more of a father role in a future husband rather than a teammate like I desired. Some females have this need, and some men like to fill it. There is nothing wrong with this; it just wasn’t for me and my personality.
 
Some females feel a need for a man who can fix the car, assemble every item that comes into the house, and repair the plumbing when it breaks down.  I am happy to mow the lawn and blow snow in the winter, but I personally enjoy how Amy likes to assemble many of the projects that come into our house, and I value her tenacious personality.
 

Shaun and Amy

Certainly not all qualities on a person’s future spouse wish list are worth splitting hairs over, but there are certain characteristics that you do need to take seriously if they are truly important to you. We have seen both women and men compromise in their future spouse’s relationship with the Lord. They may ignore their significant other’s lack of desire for the things of God and ignore how they have to coerce them to go to church each week. People ignore warning flags because they desperately want to be married or want to start a family.
 
Whatever we compromise to gain, we typically lose or become unhappy with in the end. Your relationship with the Lord is one area that you definitely can’t compromise without consequences. If you compromise God and His word in order to gain a spouse, you will eventually regret it, most likely because of an unhappy marriage. Remember Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In our opinion, it is better to stay single than to compromise and be miserable for the rest of your life.
 

Bringing it Home

  1. Of the qualities you want in a future spouse, in your heart, which ones seem the most important to you? List them in order of priority.
  2. If you are seeing someone right now, are you joyful at the thought of being with that person for the rest of your life?
  3. If you are seeing someone right now, do they consistently treat you with honor, respect, and value? Do you consistently treat them this way?
  4. If you are seeing someone right now, do they seem like the kind of person who would be faithful in marriage? Faithful to God? Faithful to you?
  5. Are you someone who would be faithful to your future spouse? If not, how can you change this? If yes, why do you believe you would remain faithful?
 
In Love, 
Shaun & Amy

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Communication is Key

…A house divided against a house falls (Luke 11:17).

 

Everyone has different communication styles. If we want to be effective in our marriage, it is vital to communicate in a way that our spouse can understand and relate with. This is illustrated well by the following story.
 
 
Jack and Ashley began with a good marriage. However, as the years progressed, Ashley found herself becoming increasingly frustrated because she desired to have a weekly date with Jack, but he usually only made time for that every few months after much persistence from Ashley. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but in the evening he normally did a lot of work on the computer, then watched TV and didn’t want to talk during that time. She got only about 10 to 15 minutes of his undivided attention every few nights. Jack also found himself feeling less desire to be with Ashley because she always wanted to discuss problems and he didn’t think they had any, other than wishing she desired intimacy more often.
 
One day Ashley came to Jack and said “Honey, when you watch those car races on TV, why is it that the car driver has a pit crew that changes the tires on their car after so many miles?” Jack responded, “Because the tires would wear out if they didn’t and they would eventually have an accident.” Ashley responded, “I feel kind of like a race car. As the head of my home, you do the best you know how to be a good driver. But I feel like I have to drive on bald tires quite often because my driver rarely gives me a pit stop by having a date with me to keep our relationship going strong.”
 
Jack was surprised by Ashley’s words. He had not realized that regular dates were that important to her. She had told him over and over, but using a different communication method that he could relate with finally drove it home. From that point on, he made an effort to make time for her each week, and he found her desire for intimacy increased as well. 
 
Ashley had decided to stop blaming and start praying for a way to get through to her husband’s heart. Through this, she had come across an important communication technique with men, and an example that her husband could relate with because of his love for auto racing. Word pictures that a person can relate with will often get the point across, just as Jesus used stories to illustrate the truths of God’s kingdom.
 
In the past, Ashley used persistence and nagging to try to get her needs met in their relationship, but it had started to drive her husband away. However, when she realized that she needed to approach communication as Jack being for her rather than against her, she started to communicate effectively. When we approach our spouse as our friend and teammate, reaching for a common goal, we will get our point across in a non-threatening, effective way.
 
Riding home on an airplane one day, we had a wonderful conversation with a businessman sitting next to us. When he found out that we did marriage ministry, he said he had one bit of advice he would like us to give husbands. He went on to tell us that for many years his wife would ask him to have a weekly date so she could have some communication time with him. With their three children, she felt they rarely had any quality conversation together.
 
Even though he loved his wife very much, for years he rarely responded to her request of weekly time alone. If they did go out, he was always looking around the restaurant to see if there was anyone with whom he could make a business connection. Then, with a look of deep appreciation he said, “God somehow finally got through to me and showed me what I was doing to my wife. He helped me see that next to Him, she is the most important person in my life and I needed to start acting like it.”
 
They finally started having a date on the same night each week without fail. Now wherever they go, he has eyes only for his wife. He is no longer looking for business connections and acquaintances and is no longer answering the cell phone or pager during her time with him. He said it has greatly improved their marriage, and his wife is so much happier now. Then, with a look of regret he said, “It isn’t even difficult to take one night out a week for her! I wish I had known sooner how important it was to a marriage.”   
 
Studies show that women have a need to talk at least three times more than men. This need to verbally communicate each day shows why it is so important to a wife that her husband take some time each day to listen to her without doing anything else. It makes a woman feel valued when her husband will just listen. However, it is also important for wives to remember that when a husband gives his wife time, it should not be used to vent all of the problems of the day.
 
When teaching on this topic at a seminar once, a woman from the audience told us the Lord had put it on her heart that the reason He gave her a greater need to speak was so she would edify her husband with those extra words she speaks and meet his need for respect and appreciation.
 

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

These Scriptures are of course referring to finding the way to eternal life with God in heaven. Yet it is also important to remember that each of our decisions in life also presents us with the choice of God’s way or the world’s way, the narrow gate or the broad way. Our style of communication is one of those daily choices we make. Are we going to communicate God’s way or the world’s way? Are we going to treat our spouse like our friend at all times, or treat them like our enemy some of the time?
 
Once a family member with whom we were visiting for a few days commented that she had been watching us closely to see if we ever gave each other irritated looks. She said “I’ve even been watching you when you didn’t realize anyone else was in the room, and I haven’t found you once looking anything but kindly at each other!” We didn’t realize this was supposedly abnormal for married people. It shouldn’t be. Our spouse should be our best friend, and we should make every effort to make them feel wonderful and accepted when they are around us.
 
It may be the easy thing to just treat a spouse with irritation or frustration after having a challenging day at work. But that is part of the broad gate the Bible talks about that is easy to slip into by the flesh. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit to help us walk in love at all times so we can enter through the narrow gate. Jesus made a better way for us to communicate with each other, which is through His unconditional love. Even if our spouse doesn’t walk in love toward us, we can choose that, as for us, we will live for God and live pleasing to Him. We are accountable to God for our own actions and our spouse is accountable to God for theirs, so as Romans 12:18 says, “…as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men,” and that “men” most definitely includes our spouse and family!
 
We hope this encourages you to always walk in love toward those around you, 
We love you! 
 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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