Posts tagged ‘Marriage’

June 25, 2013

One Husband’s need for Unconditional Respect

Respect

In almost a year and half of blogging the most popular post that I have written was my one about submission in marriage.  Here is a further post on the subject.

What the bible says about marriage is pretty simple.  It goes like this: wives, respect your husbands, husbands love your wives.  It is laid about by Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33.  Of course that one simple rule takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to put into practice.

In the Western world at present the part of that command that says, “wives respect your husband” is controversial.  But for those of us committed to living as Scripture tells us rather than how the world tells us we have to grasp with putting it into practice.  If you think that the bible shouldn’t say that wives must submit, obey and respect their husbands then your argument is with the bible authors, not me.  I’m just trying to do what is says (as is Catherine).

The problem that we come up against is that in our culture we believe that respect must be earned.  Not so with love, mind you.  Love should be unconditional.  But respect is only given when we see behaviour that we think warrants respect.  This cultural mindset makes it hard for Christians to have a biblical marriage.

What it means is that Christians, and Christian wives in particular, have to make a decision to not do what they would do naturally (which is give respect only when they think it warranted).  Instead they have to commit themselves to giving their husbands unconditional respect.

Just think about those 2 words sitting side by side for a moment – unconditional respect.  What a radical thought.

It’s radical because what happens in marriage is that we see the other person’s faults, weaknesses and sins far more closely than anyone else does.  If there is one person who knows your failings in the most detail it is your spouse.  As the saying goes, “behind every great man there’s a woman shaking her head”.  She’s shaking her head because she knows what he is really like at home.

Yet a Christian wife is called to respect her husband.  Not just when he is loving and Christlike, but all the time.  Men crave respect.  If you doubt this then try this experiment – tell your husband that you love him, and see what the reaction is.  The next day, in a similar context, tell him that you respect him, and see what the reaction is that time.  Men need respect from their wives more than they need love.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me there is plenty of times that Catherine has seen things in me that she could disrespect if she wanted to.  There has been no lack of selfishness and failure that she could point to if she wanted to keep a record of my shortcomings.  But she gets this, so she does her best to show unconditional respect, even when it is really hard to do it.  Thank you sweetheart!!

As for the male readers of this post, your challenge is quite simple – you are to show unconditional love to your wife, despite the fact that you may or may not receive unconditional respect from her.  People are sinful, men and women.  For all married people, God calls you to show grace and forgiveness when you are wronged.  If your spouse has failings, welcome to the club.  I’m sure your spouse is a member too.  All of us are called to show grace, mercy and forgiveness.  That is unconditional.

Unconditional love, unconditional respect.  These are the basis for Christian marriage.

John

October 24, 2012

Five Love Languages

The other day I wanted to do something nice for Catherine.  I thought I might get a card and put some pleasant words in it.  I’m good at that.  I thought more and it dawned on me that a bunch of flowers would actually be what she would appreciate most.  I’d love to say that I give Catherine flowers frequently and generously…but that might be pushing it.

The reason that I went with the flowers is that I recalled the lesson I had learnt from the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Chapman’s book is one of the best books I have ever read.  I read it over 15 years ago.  I’m pretty sure that I only read it once.  But how often do you read a book so long ago that you can remember the whole outline of it, and it makes a difference in your day to day life?

Here’s the big idea of the book: different people appreciate different things.  Different people feel love in different ways.  What makes one person feel loved won’t make another person feel loved.  To love someone well you have to express your love for them in a language that they understand and can therefore appreciate.

The five love languages are:

Touch.  Some people appreciate physical contact.  For them holding hands, cuddling on the couch and quick hugs and kisses when coming and going from the house are very valuable.

Words of Affirmation.  Others like to hear their loved ones say the right thing about them.  An unsolicited complement is like gold.

Acts of Service.  For others hearing the words, “Is there anything I can do for you?” make all the difference.  Doing a chore for this person will make them feel fantastic.

Gifts.  Others value the thought and effort involved in buying them a gift.  It’s nothing to do with greed or materialism – they value the thoughtfulness and care.

Quality Time.  Others simply want to have time with their loved ones.  Hours = love.  Lack of hours = I don’t feel loved.

For Catherine, her number one love language is gifts.  When you give me a gift I say, “Cool – thanks.”  When you give Catherine the right gift she feels a million dollars.  It makes her day, week, month and year.

Catherine has a friend who one day, when fairly newly married, was sitting inside the house, getting more and more upset about the fact that her husband was spending the whole afternoon washing, cleaning and fawning over her car.  What was going on was that her love language is quality time.  She wanted her husband’s full and undivided attention.  She was thinking they should go out for a coffee.  That would have been brilliant for her.  She didn’t get it, so she was upset.  Meanwhile her husband’s love language was acts of service.  He was full of love for his wife, and decided to show it by cleaning her car.  To him, that’s what you do when you love someone – you do stuff for them.  But that’s not how she receives love.  Two people who loved each other deeply managed to get mad at each other when both trying to do the right thing.

If you know what your partner’s love language is then you can then takes steps to give them what they want, rather than what you naturally would do.  I am constantly saying nice things to Catherine, but it doesn’t do a great deal for her.  The flowers the other day were perfect.

Knowing your partner’s love language and making an effort to show them that you love them makes the world of difference.  These insights have been profoundly helpful to our marriage.  Even if you are not married they are still useful in relating to the people who are closest to you.

So this week take the effort to show love in a way that your partner will understand and receive it.  Don’t do what comes naturally to you – think about what your partner actually needs.  And if you don’t know which of the 5 your primary love language is, then check out Gary Chapman’s website here.

John

September 12, 2012

Submission in Marriage

Peter Jensen, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, recently wrote an article carried in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age about submission in marriage.  He wrote in response to recent coverage of a new Anglican Prayer Book which has a set of vows (there are a number of vows that a marrying couple can choose from) in which the bride says she will “submit” to her husband.  Granted that for centuries brides have been promising to obey their husbands and these words are synonyms, you would think that it is no big deal.  You’d be wrong.

It’s safe to say the article caused a stir – it had over 900 comments within half a day, and that’s quite possibly a record for the Herald / Age website.

Whilst the vows require the woman to say that she submits to her husband the man makes no such promise.  Instead he promises to love his wife.  The vows are based on the passage in Ephesians 5:21-33 in which wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, and husbands are commanded to love their wives as Jesus loved the church by dying for it.  You really have to read the Ephesians passage to understand why the vows are the way that they are.

Here’s what I think Jensen is saying:

  • Marriage is important;
  • Marriage is based on promises;
  • Men and women are different;
  • Their promises should be different;
  • The husband has the very onerous task to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

That flow of logic is all well and good, but I think that the main point is missed.  The main point is that the vows say what they do because Ephesians 5 lays out that pattern for marriage.  I am aware that different Christians have different interpretations of that passage.  But for the sake of the argument let’s say that Jensen’s is correct.

What Christians believe, being based on the bible, will sometimes make sense to the world, and sometimes will not.  At this point in time the world loves the bit where the bible says, “love is patient, love is kind…”  And the world doesn’t like the bit where the bible says, “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”  In centuries past it might have been the other way around.  The church has to cling to the bible consistently, regardless of whether its views are in fashion or out of it.

These vows simply make no sense in the West in the 21st century.  There is no way that you can adopt them unless you accept that the way that a marriage should look is the way that the bible says that it should look.  In the modern world very few people are concluding that wives should submit to their husbands because it is a good idea.  The people who argue that are those who accept the bible as their authority.  The real issue is the authority of the bible.  Evangelical Christians believe that God has revealed himself through Jesus, and that God has inspired the authors of the bible to reveal truth in its pages.

I don’t think that you can really persuade people that they should follow what the bible says about family relationships on the grounds that it makes sense.  If it does make sense then fashions might change and it will no longer make sense tomorrow.  The best defence of vows that reflect the bible and are at odds with modern thinking is this:

  • God made marriage;
  • God knows how it works best;
  • God has spoken about how it should look;
  • What he says is that there is a different role for men and women;
  • The role of the wife is to submit to her husband;
  • The husband has the very onerous task to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

If people don’t accept the very first point above then they won’t accept the conclusion.

John

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August 29, 2012

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

This was the title of a book published in 1992 authored by John Gray. It was very popular in its day and had many spin-off versions. John and I both read it and found some of its advice extremely helpful in understanding the ‘other sex’. Especially helpful for me was the chapter on ‘the man cave’. John Gray explains that when men have a problem they retreat to their cave where they try to ‘solve the problem’. They have no interest in seeking help until they have done this. John Gray explains that woman ‘instinctively’ sense the emotional retreat of the man and take up residence at the cave entrance. They periodically yell into the cave ‘WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?’

In contrast when women have a problem they like to share it with a friend or with a group of friends.  If they share the problem with their male partner  they can easily put on there ‘problem solving hat’ instead of empathetically listening. What’s the answer here?  John Gray advises women to recognise the behaviours of the man who has retreated to the cave and then leave him alone. The woman needs to go out with friends, have a bath, or read a book. Eventually, he will come out of the cave with either a solution or a need to seek counsel to solve the problem and that person may not be you.

When a man is listening to his partner share a problem he should not weigh in with ‘advice’ but listen, smile and nod with encouragement. The woman usually knows the answer to her own problem.  She is mainly seeking understanding and a listening ear – but rarely advice.

Over the years I have made some observations about the opposite sex. While I am no John Gray I think they are practical, realistic and helpful. One of my first martial insights was to cease ‘threatening divorce’ when I got angry. Marriage should be a safe environment in which to work through your problems and the ‘threatening of divorce’ is like the hanging up of a phone or the slamming of the door on your way out – it has momentary satisfaction but it is deeply immature and a poor attempt to gain control over the other person, especially when you don’t mean it. The continual use of it is only breeds insecurity and hostility. Better to completely drop it from your vocabulary. I truly believe marriage or partnership is the backdrop and ever-present context in which to work your crap out. I had a huge issue with rejection when John and I married. Over the last 13 years John has created a safe and loving environment in which I have been able to address this problem. While residual elements of it probably exist in my psyche I really feel as if this issue is no longer a player in my emotional reactions. That is really something to celebrate.

Have you ever had a fight just before bed and then tried to sleep? I end up tossing and turning all night. I rehash the conversation over and over again thinking up brilliant one liners I wish I had said. I seem to awake in a similar emotional state. The bible says ‘do not let the sun go down while you are still angry’ and a recent study by sleep researchers at the University of Massachusetts suggests that if you go to sleep immediately after a negative interaction it’s as if your sleep protects the negative event. When you awake and are confronted with the negative situation again – your negative feelings and response are still there. Sleep neither lessens nor dulls your negative response, it has protected it as you slept. No matter how late it is I encourage you to talk it out.

I love sharing my life with you through this blog but I would really like it if you could extend yourself to share with me your best marriage/relational advice. You don’t have to be married to work through relational issues either – plenty to be had with friends, family and life partners – so no excuses. Please share – I want to live the best possible life I can and I know that many of you carry great secrets of success for me!

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

August 15, 2012

The Roommate Syndrome

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary.  John and I met and married within a year of laying eyes on each other for the very first time. Right now we are in the midst of a beautiful season of our marriage. It just feels like we are humming along but the last few years have been the hardest of all the years.

I identified a trend in our marriage that seemed to move us toward a relationship that was more like roommates with the very occasional benefit. I think they used to call this the 7 year itch? We slept in the same bed but I felt like we were leading parallel lives. We were just doing life next to each other rather than with each other. I realised this was not what I wanted as I saw a day far off  in the future when Poppy would finally leave home and I would turn to my husband to enjoy the twilight years and realise he was a stranger. We talked about this disturbing trend and decided to take some steps to tackle it.

A key part of the solution was going back to the beginning. Why did we fall in love? What did we like about one another? What interests and passions did we share? We discovered that we had two major interests that had been consistent our entire marriage. We both shared a deep passion for God and for playing games. We have always loved talking about all things God, the church and the Christian life. Starting this blog was probably a perfect expression of our mutual passion for Him. We also both love games. We love to play them and we share the belief that one should always play for sheep stations. On our wedding day I tucked a requested wedding gift of a Sony Playstation under my arm as we got on the plane for our honeymoon. We barely left the accommodation as we played Tomb Raider from dusk until dawn. We recently purchased Mario Kart for our Wii and we have found that the youngest Warren has inherited our delight in games. We gave time and energy to re-discovering the joy of these two mutual passions – which worked.

There was one key area of our relationship that had really suffered from the roommate syndrome.  Our sex life had become boring, predictable and perfunctory. As a woman I made some decisions to restore the intimacy – no matter how I felt – I enacted three things; I  would initiate once in a while, do something unpredictable every now and again and I practised not saying ‘no’ every time he initiated. Banning iphones from the bedroom helped too.

The longer you’ve been married the harder it is to fend off familiarity and that oh-so- comfortable feeling – you know the one you get from wearing that old t-shirt to bed.  Making an effort to be intimate, talk about things other than the kids and spice things up takes a big effort, but the rewards are there for those who choose not to become roommates instead of lovers. Sometimes it will feel like a lot of hard work but eventually the whole thing begins to bear fruit and you will enjoy being married to one another more than ever.

Any thoughts, comments or advice of your own. Has this been your experience?

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

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June 27, 2012

An Open Gratitude Letter

A dream of mine came true a couple of years ago. I made it on to a reality TV show! It was a documentary called “House of Food Obsessive’s’. I loved every minute of it. It was a fantastic experience of which I have no regrets. As part of the journey the producers asked us to write a gratitude letter. After much thought I chose to write it to my dearest husband John. I was filmed reading it to him. This is what it said:

Dear John,

I have chosen to write you this gratitude letter to you because I want to thank you for the incredible impact you have made on my life not just as my husband but as my best friend. When we met almost 14 years ago I didn’t know what lay ahead. I would never have guessed then that we would marry, have a gorgeous daughter and live happily ever after.

The things that I like about you the most are your spirit of generosity, your absolute unwavering passion toward politics, sport, God and me. Your gift of wisdom and you’re your application of that in and to real life situations. You continue to reveal a person who is deep and rich in character and godliness.I totally and utterly gave my heart away to you 14 years ago. I thank you for taking me into your heart and making me a part of your family.

We have written a lot of beautiful and meaningful cards to each other over the years and I think they express…..along the way a lot of what I am grateful for…. I have pulled some meaningful quotes from them.

Countdown to the Wedding – February 12, 1999

182 days to go. May the days go fast but be full.

Valentines Day – Married about 6 months – February 14, 2000

Many of the qualities I have looked to Jesus for I have recognized in you. You are my protector, provider, my best friend, my solid rock, my defender, the lover of my soul, my refreshing. You’re so much more things to me then this short list!

Married four years – Easter Day 2003

You are fun to be with and you make me laugh. You are also patient when I need you to be, loving when I am being a sooky la la, strong and wise when I am wacky and you’re a great companion and my heart is all yours forever.

Six years married – March 2, 2005

I enjoy the protection and refuge that you offer as my husband. I feel safe and sure as time moves on around us. You are never far from me…always just close enough for me to reach out to. I thank you for giving me someone to respect and honour. I know you to be a great man with greater greatness yet to be revealed.

Easter 2005

Thank you for your spiritual leadership all these years we have been married. From Easter to Easter in the years to come may you grow in your capacity to be Christ-like. I will follow you as you follow Him.

Fathers Day (Poppy is in utero) September 2006

You will be without doubt an exceptional father to our beautiful baby girl. She will love you to bits just like her mother does. Thank you for taking such good care of me so I could take care of her.

Card to John after being in hospital for 4 months pregnant with Poppy – Oct. 3, 2006

Thank you for being a big part of ‘project nest’. Being apart from you for those 4 months was very difficult and I am so much happier being home with you.’

Random Card April 29, 2007

You’re my best friend John.  I have always enjoyed talking to you even about sports! Thank you for being such a great husband. You’re also an amazing father. You juggle lots of balls in the air and you do it so well.

Valentine’s Day, Married Eight Years – February 14, 2008

Things I love about you over our entire relationship number the stars in the sky – too many to count!

Ninth Wedding Anniversary – August 15, 2008

It is a joy to share the days with you and know that my best friend will be with me always. I love what has been, I live for today and look forward to every day that is to come. Share them all with me.

John’s Birthday – August 12, 2009

Some things I love about you and have for 10 years:

  • Your passion
  • The thinker in you
  • Your love for hugs
  • The great decisions you make for our family
  • Your twinkly blue eyes
  • Your soft gentle nature

Filming for TV show – Thursday 22 July, 2010

You have profoundly changed me John Warren. I am so much more than the sum of my parts because of you and I could never repay you for all the love, adoration and mercy you have shown to me through out our life together. You have been my greatest mentor in this thing we call life and I have learnt so much from you. Thank you, my best and closest friend, my lover and husband , the father of my children and a simple man who loves and lives his life with incredible integrity, incredible passion, incredible wisdom and incredible mercy.

You’re the whole package. My love and respect are yours forever. Thank you for sharing this life with me.

Just another day in Blog World, 27th June, 2012

It is just another joy to share the world of blogging with you. It’s funny that the ‘lemon tree’ which we planted as a symbol of our love continues to die. It’s slow agonising death is more indicative of the fact that we have 2 black thumbs then our love for one another. The truth is we are in a beautiful season of harmony, unity and love. I sense the winds of change swirling about us which will only further enhance our relationship. Our dreams are taking flight…

I love you my darling husband.

Forever and Always,

Catherine xox

PS Who do you need to thank? Who needs to be the recipient of a ‘gratitude letter from you?

March 1, 2012

Are you a ‘Sherpa’?

In June of 1986 I became a Christian.  It was going to be perfect. I was  going to pray and read the bible every day. I was going to attend church weekly, love everybody, never get angry, stop speeding, never drink to excess and not swear. It’s been 25 years; I’ll let you know when I’ve arrived.

I also wanted to be the perfect wife.  For the first three months of marriage, I was a total cow as I tried to cope with constant sleep deprivation. As a light sleeper the very existence of another human in the bed kept me awake and it didn’t help that John slept on his back with his arms criss-crossed over his chest like some freaky Egyptian mummy. Once or twice when I was angry I threw the TV remote at my husband and I did a number 2 on the side of the Hume Highway after our car broke down driving back from Sydney. Lovely, just lovely.

Despite my previous failures at perfection I was still determined to be the perfect mother. I was going to be loving and kind and never dispense discipline in anger or let the TV baby-sit my child. Trips to McDonalds were going to be rare and freshly baked muffins would flow. My child would have a perfectly balanced diet and I was going to home school her. Recently I experienced unspeakable joy as I delivered my daughter to the local Primary school, Aldi’s chicken nuggets are a regular fixture and I suffer from eat- your- vegetables battle fatigue.  McDonalds have supplied us with at least 100 kid pack toys and I have baked maybe 3 dozen muffins in the last 5 years. I really should start paying the TV $12 bucks an hour and finally I yell, a lot.

I am clearly not perfect and the pursuit of perfection in any part of my life has only produced a sense of failure, heaviness and weariness in my heart. And to the unchurched world it has been perceived as self righteousness and judgement.

I understand now that God did not design me to be a ‘Sherpa’. That I haven’t been built to carry perfection and I really need to get down off the cross so that Jesus can have the wood back.

I need to live a real life, which reveals real problems and real struggles so that real people can relate to me and then they can be real too. I am taking off my ‘mask of perfection’ and smashing it on the ground forever because all it has ever done is hide the one true, real, perfect Saviour that lives inside of me. I know I’m not alone so consider this an invitation to smash yours too and let’s be see through together.

Over and Out.

Catherine xo

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