Get Off the Carousel!

Silver-Beach-CarouselOne of my daughter’s favorite rides is the carousel. Whether it’s on a beach boardwalk, a mall, or Disneyland, if there’s a carousel, she wants to ride it.

Can I be honest with you? I loathe it as much as my daughter loves it! It goes in circles over and over again. No matter what horse, or fish, animal, or object you’re riding, you’ll never get ahead of the person in front of you. Then there’s the obligatory wave at the loved ones watching you as you aimlessly spin around on this contraption. Whoever invented this ride was a genius!

Has your marriage ever felt like a carousel ride? Have you ever had those conversations that just went around and around, only to accomplish nothing? Maybe you find yourselves fighting the same issue over and over and over again. You ask yourself, “Is this ever gonna end?” And like the carousel for the motion-sensitive person, you start to have that nauseous feeling that signals some uncontrolled, unwanted “burst” is coming!
Too many marriages live on a carousel – they’re moving but they’re not going anywhere! The same arguments dominate their conversations. The same stagnant schedule with no growth whatsoever. And before you know it, one or both spouses are sick of going around and around that they decide to jump off the carousel.

Good!

You heard me. I said that’s good.

I’m not talking about getting off the carousel by means of divorce, dissolving their marriage. I am, however, talking about a conscious effort to resist being a slave to the seemingly never-ending, unnecessary cycles in life.

So how to we get off the carousel?

First, admit that you’re on the carousel. Too many people are in denial. They believe they’re in a perfect marriage. Are you a sinner? Has he/she offended you? Then there’s a great possibility you may be on (either now or in the future) on a carousel. Admit it!

Second, assess the situation. Not all problems are huge, earth-shattering problems. But if left alone, it can be. Pray and ask God to give you both wisdom to see the situation for what it really is.

Third, aim to make it right. Develop a plan by studying God’s Word. What does He say about your situation and how can you fix it? And give the plan an activation date. More often than not, that date is now! After, didn’t someone once say, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail?”

Finally, accomplish your aim. Work your plan. Do what you know is right. Don’t just talk about stopping the cycle and getting off the carousel – do it!

Your marriage doesn’t have to be a series of cyclical arguments and events. It can, through the power of the Spirit, be an upward climb towards a closer relationship with God and each other. A glorious, joyful relationship is yours , if you would only get off the carousel!

Romantically Challenged Support Group, Part 4

Today, we’ll conclude this article with two more tips for the “romantically challenged.” As I said before, these are areas I have struggled in and seek to be better with the upcoming days. There is no perfect marriage and the quicker you recognize that, the sooner you’ll humbly improve your marriage. So here’s the final two.

Realize That Romance is Not an Exact Science

Continue reading

Romantically Challenged Support Group, Part 2

Let’s continue to look at how we can be a more romantic spouse.

Make a Big Deal of Special Days. This means saying, “Happy Birthday,” or “Happy Anniversary” on the days they actually occurred. The other day, someone I know talked to their spouse three times on the phone before realizing that it was their birthday. Ouch! I understand that you may not celebrate it that day but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something or at the very least, say something. Let me say, too, that forgetfulness is not an excuse. With electronic calendars, reminder apps, smartphones, and computers, there’s plenty of ways to keep track of these special days.

Anticipate Your Spouse’s Needs. Gentlemen, especially, don’t wait until your wife has to drop hints (which we often miss) to do something for her. It’s amazing how many arguments can be eliminated by simply meeting our spouse’s needs. I love how David’s mighty men risked their lives just to get him water from a well in Bethlehem. Pay attention during conversations and learn to anticipate what your spouse may need or want.

The other day I got a big kiss from my wife that surprised me. I simply filled out her supplement container. I had a few extra minutes and decided to do something she typically does for both of us. Guess what, if I keep getting surprised that way, I’m looking for more needs to meet!

Learn How Your Spouse Wants To Be Loved. This may sound strange but not everyone enjoys being loved the same way. I suppose the best way to describe this is by citing Dr. Gary Chapman’s Book, The Five Love Languages. For years I rebelled against this book because I thought it was hogwash that you could box in the way you express your love. After being married a few years, I decided to read it again. And boy, was I wrong! The premise of the book it this: there are love languages each person usually speak and it is how they desire to receive love. The love languages are physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, and quality time. Each person likes for love to be expressed to them specifically in one or a combination of these languages. Which brings me back to the point of learning how your spouse wants to be loved. One of the best ways to know is to observe how he/she expresses love. If he loves to demonstrate affection through physical contact, more than likely he wants it reciprocated in the same manner. If she loves to give gifts, then she probably enjoys receiving them, too. The exception to these rules is if they have discovered your love language and is seeking to express their love to you. Talk about it and learn how you want love expressed in your marriage.

 

Eye Contact and Full Attention. When your spouse is speaking to you (especially when it’s a serious conversation), turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet, and give him/her your undivided attention. One of the surest ways to manifest this is through eye contact. Look into your spouse’s eyes. Think about it, what’s more romantic? A husband gazing into his wife’s eye and saying, “I love you.” Or a husband watching TV or playing Temple Run and saying to his wife, “I love you.” We live in such a multimedia, multi-sensory world that we don’t take the time to just slow down and focus. Don’t be so A.D.D when your spouse is speaking to you. Frankly, many couples have drifted apart due to a lack of focus and full attention. On date nights or late night conversations, stare into their eyes and give full attention.

Romantically Challenged Support Group, Part 3

I hope the last few weeks have been a help to you. I know that it has helped me to list and practice these principles in my marriage. Let’s continue.

Know When To Shut Up

This may sound harsh but not everything that goes through your mind needs to come out of your mouth! The Bible instructs us in the book of James to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” My Dad used to tell me, “God gave you two ears and one mouth. Therefore you should listen twice as much as you talk.” Thanks, Dad! That simple advice, which is rooted in a biblical precept, has saved my marriage much heartache. Of course you know, I am still human and therefore not perfect. Sometimes this tongue of mine gets me in to a heap of trouble! Guard your tongue. Pray what the Psalmist prayed, “Lord, set a watch before my mouth.”

Nothing kills the romance in your marriage quite like an argument or disagreement. Bob Lepine says it this way, “Using the words, ‘I told you so’ doesn’t create a romantic buzz. Avoid those four words at all cost.” Ogden Nash said it this way, “To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup. When you’re wrong admit it, and when you’re right, shut up.”

Laugh Together

Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. Even God had a sense of humor. Read the Bible. Look at what He created. I imagine that I must make God laugh with the different things I do in life. I’m His creation, His child, and He delights in me! So if He laughs, so should we.

When’s the last time you and your spouse just busted out laughing? To the point when you can’t even catch your breath, your stomach muscles got a good workout, and your jaw is so sore from being opened so wide? Personally I believe that laughter is a prerequisite to romance. No one wants to be around a grump! Honestly, one of the first things that attracted me to my wife is her infectious laugh. It makes me just want to be with her.

Intimacy Begins in the Kitchen

Get your mind out of the gutter and listen closely, husbands. Generally, wives are appreciative of the help you give around the house. Especially, unsolicited help. When you lighten her load by being a servant, she has more time for “other things.” And the grateful girl wants to say “thank you.” I’m not trying to be crude, just realistic. We wonder why they’re so tired when we get to bed. Why don’t you help and maybe she’ll reward you for your efforts. Therefore, intimacy begins in the kitchen. (we’ll conclude this article next week)

Romantically Challenged Support Group, Part 1

Digital Art By mrm

We just concluded our first ever Couples’ Conference at our church. For months, I excitedly prayed and planned for God to bless. After all the labor, the conference began with a fabulous banquet. The meal rivaled any restaurant experience I’ve had before! Then the spiritual meal was served up.

As one of my mentors, Rick Houk, began to speak, the Lord convicted my heart of areas in my marriage that needed His help. Because of my training and current profession (which is my calling), it’s easy to default to what we learn by proxy rather than on purpose. Frankly, many preachers can talk a good game when it comes to marriage, and that’s exactly the problem – for many it’s a game!  Continue reading

How To Keep Valentine’s Day Going

Couples-ConfIt’s February. Many call it “The Month of Love.” All because of a special day found right in the middle of the month – Valentine’s Day. Let me first say that if you haven’t yet made plans to romance your spouse during this special day, you better get to planning!

The unfortunate thing about Valentine’s Day is that when it ends, many times our romantic excitement ends along with it. Couples go back to their boring routines and unknowingly bring useless stress to their marriage relationship. Continue reading

Staying Focused

Pixar-Up-Dog

I remember watching a Disney movie with my family a few years ago titled, “Up.” It was about a man named Carl who had fallen in love, married, but later on lost his wife to a disease. While mourning and doing his best to live on, he meets a boy scout-type kid named Russell. Funny kid! Through the movie they bond over the goal of going to a place he and his wife had dreamed about living – Paradise Falls! Continue reading