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Encouragement for Hurting Spouses

“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.” (Amos 9:11, NLT)

I know that you are asking God to fulfill these words in your marriage, and I earnestly join you in that prayer, believing that God’s heart is strong for healing and reconciliation. But I also know that at this moment, you sense only cold silence and closed doors.

I want to encourage you that you are not alone in your pain, God is not discouraged, and His plan for your life is not in tatters.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV)

God is not limited by your emotions. You can feel low and yet have strong faith. As you set your will to follow God, He works powerfully through your yielded spirit.

“Therefore, since we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God …, we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion.” (1 Corinthians 4:1, AMPC)

I pray that the following five truths will strengthen you today.

1. God’s mighty purposes for your life and your marriage are not thwarted. 

“I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2, HCSB)

God is still using your marriage to draw you closer to Him. The Spirit is still using you to show those around you what God looks like. You have the opportunity to reveal God as a forgiving God, full of generous grace, unfailing commitment, and unconditional love. In fact, it is when our marriages are difficult that we are most able to demonstrate these awesome attributes of God.

And when our marriages are difficult, we are often able to see our own hearts better. When a spouse is warm and supportive, we may believe that we are more loving than we really are. “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” is usually a  pleasant transaction, not a self-denying sacrifice. But when we serve a spouse without receiving appreciation or even acknowledgment, then our inner responses reveal our true motivation.

As others have pointed out, when we are treated like servants, we quickly learn whether we have servant’s hearts or not! When we are not receiving positive feedback, we have the privilege to serve purely for the sake of love.

(Continue reading HERE at StartMarriageRight.com.)

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

 

 

 

 


*Photo by FreelyPhotos from StockSnap

Creating an Extraordinary Marriage

I invited my friend Kristen to share some of her insights into marriage as she and her husband recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. (Learn more about Kristen’s talented writing and her award-winning novels at the end of this article.*)

In this two-part series, Kristen explains twelve choices that create extraordinary marriages. Whether you are a newlywed or a seasoned spouse, practicing these guidelines will be a blessing in your home!

Just over a year ago, my husband and I said “I do.” Like most new couples, we received lots of advice, and we welcomed what wisdom others had to share.

However, one recurring comment troubled me: “The first year of marriage is hard.” Although I understood that we would both have adjustments to make, I didn’t like this “survivalist” mentality. After all, Jesus came so that we could have life “more abundantly” (John 10:10), and surely that concept applied to marriage, part of His design. But what did I know?

Well, I have good news. The first year of marriage doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can truly be extraordinary, but both husband and wife are responsible to each other to make it that way.

#1. Agree that you married the right person.

Once you say, “I do,” this one is signed, sealed, and delivered. In God’s eyes, that person is now the “right person” because you made a covenant before Him with this individual. You can’t make the excuse, “I married the wrong person.” The truth is that anyone you marry will disappoint or upset you at one point or another, and that reality doesn’t make him or her the “wrong person.”

In short, remove this excuse from your vocabulary. Resist the temptation to compare your spouse to any other person. It’s not a fair comparison, because you don’t know anyone’s strengths and weaknesses as well as your spouse’s. This person, complete with brokenness and beauty, is God’s plan for your life. Relish that reality and that privilege.

#2. Be kind and thoughtful to each other.

This one should be a no-brainer, but if the Apostle Paul felt the need to remind his readers, then more than likely we can use the reminder too. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)

Marriage brings adjustments. You each bring different life experiences and personal habits into the relationship. Instead of expecting the other person to be just like you, embrace the differences. Also, make room for changes.

When we got married, James moved into my house. Realizing what a big change this would be for him, I rearranged and gave away furniture to make room for his. I also practiced saying “our home” instead of “my home” and tried to look for ways to incorporate his things.

Everyone’s situations are different, but during those first early weeks and months, be sensitive and aware of simple ways to make the transition smoother. When in doubt, ask what you can do.

#3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

My husband and I marvel at how much other couples seem to fight. We’re redeemed sinners like every other Christian couple, but we don’t argue or yell at each other. If we disagree, we talk about it. If we’re having a bad day, we’re honest about it. If we mess up, we have to apologize.

I remember having a particularly rough day at work. Coming out of my office, I found James working on his laptop and told him straight: “It’s been a tough day, babe, and I’m pretty upset about it. Just know that it has nothing to do with you.”

Don’t make your spouse guess if you’re upset with him or not. Be transparent. Once James knew how I was feeling, he was able to lovingly support me through my emotions instead of wondering if he were somehow responsible for them.

#4. Be realistic. Your spouse is not a mind-reader.

Gals, this point is especially for us. We sometimes romanticize our spouses and expect them to know exactly what we want. That expectation is just not realistic.

A few months into our marriage, I kept seeing these posts from my girlfriends about their guys giving them flowers “just because.” I wished that James would do the same, but then I remembered something my brother once told me. “We guys aren’t mind-readers.”

The next time James asked if there was something he could do for me, I simply said, “I’d really appreciate if you gave me flowers sometime. It might seem silly, but I’d love to get flowers from you.”

He smiled and thanked me for telling him. “I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I got you flowers.” Guess what? He brought home flowers soon after that.

#5. Have adventures together.

I realize the wedding and honeymoon are expensive, but find ways to experience life together. James and I love to travel, so we’ll hunt for cheap-o flights, plan visits to see friends, or even just drive to the beach to watch the sunset. Adventures don’t have to be pricey. You just have to be intentional about planning them.

The time you spend together sharing new or favorite experiences contributes to both of your “love tanks” and builds memories.

#6. Grow together with Christian community and with Jesus.

This one is so, so important. After we got married, we tried several Sunday school classes for couples until we found our Honeymooners class. There is something so precious about doing life with other couples who are walking in your shoes. Also, being intentional about learning together deepens your relationship and fosters healthy conversations. With our class, we’ve gone through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Academy and are currently in the Love and Respect series by Emerson Eggerichs.

In addition to Christian community, husbands and wives should spend time together in God’s Word and alone with God. This year, James and I have been reading through the book of John and are looking forward to starting a new book soon. We also have our separate quiet times in our own ways. However, don’t fall into the trap of comparing your walk with God to your spouse’s. What matters is that you both invest in God’s Word and are committed to growing in your walk with the Lord, even if your approaches are different.

Also important is that you consistently pray for your spouse. Two resources I’ve found helpful are Jennifer Smith’s 31 Prayers for Your Husband and The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

Next time, we’ll look at six more choices couples can make to get their marriage off to a great start. For now, which of these ideas is most helpful to where you are right now?


*Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner who enjoys starting her day with Jesus and coffee.

Kristen and her husband live in Florida, the perfect setting for their many outdoor adventures. Connect with Kristen at www.KristenHogrefe.com, where she challenges young adults and the young at heart to think truthfully and live daringly.

A Winner and a Webinar (3 Tips for Marriage)

Most successful couples practice this one skill. In fact, this skill is so important to a healthy relationship that the direction of a marriage can be predicted based on this skill alone. Do you know what that is?

Another practice is so powerful in marriage that couples who make this a habit have a divorce rate of less than one percent. Wow! Do you know what that habit is?

Webinar

Anyone can develop these skills and begin to use them immediately. In a webinar last week, Dr. Jessica McCleese and I discussed three tips that will transform any marriage. We used the acronym MAP to discuss those three practices.

You can watch the webinar replay HERE.

Jessica is a licensed psychologist who uses biblical principles to help couples improve their marriages. I very much enjoyed working with Jessica on the webinar, which she hosted through her website BeFullyWell.com. You can view the webinar on YouTube HERE.

Winner

Thank you to all who entered the drawing for the book giveaway this week. Congratulations, Ken!  Ken will be receiving a copy of Gary Chapman’s latest release.

chapman

As always, you are invited to join our weekly prayer time on Thursdays, or listen to the recordings HERE. If you would like us to pray for you by name, just let me know. We consider it a privilege to pray for marriages and families.

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

 

7 Prayers for Your Marriage

One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to pray.

And one of the best ways to pray is to use the Scriptures as a guide.

That is because the secret to prayer—just like the secret to marriage—is unity. When two wills line up together, there is great power!

As we study the Bible, we learn the longings of God’s heart. As we allow God’s desires to become ours, we move into harmony with Him. Through this union, the Spirit of God works in awesome ways, restoring what has been damaged and creating new beauty.

Below are seven Scriptural prayers for your marriage, one for each day of the week. Perhaps you and your spouse would like to pray these verses together as you ask God to protect and strengthen your marriage. If your spouse isn’t interested in praying with you, don’t be discouraged—just keep praying!

Click HERE to read the 7 prayers at StartMarriageRight.com.

Blessings to you,
Tami

Praying for Your Husband (Based on Psalm 1)

LORD, I thank You for my husband. Thank You for creating him in Your image, designing him for greatness and strength.

husband

I pray that my husband will be like a great tree planted by streams of water, its branches reaching up to the sky. May my husband be a mighty man of God, strong in character. In his spirit, may his arms be lifted in praise to You all day long. May he raise his requests and burdens to You.

husband

I pray that my husband will be like a tree whose leaf does not wither. Keep him from compromising when things are difficult or when temptation is fierce. Protect him from the “withering” of discouragement or fear. Keep him leaning on You, drawing his strength from you.

Lord, show me, please, how to bring strength and refreshment to my husband, encouraging and supporting him. As I lift him up to You, I thank You that You are raising him up into greatness.

[Click HERE to read more of this prayer at StartMarriageRight.]

Blessings to you,
Tami

 

 

Coming Up:

Mark and Jill

Be sure to join us ON THURSDAY (April 20) for our prayer call with Mark and Jill Savage. They have an incredible story of a restored marriage. (Read more about this couple HERE.) You will be encouraged by their insights, and you will be strengthened by the time of prayer.

You can join us by phone or online at 12:30 (EDT), or listen later to the recording posted online. Simply visit the Prayer Call page on MannaForMarriage.com for info on the call or to view the recordings.

Congratulations to Angie for winning a copy of Mark and Jill’s book, compliments of Moody Publishers. 🙂

A Weekend Getaway

As you plan your summer, be sure to schedule some time for your marriage. A great way to do that is to sign-up for a “A Weekend to Remember.” There are many of these marriage events scheduled for this summer and fall.

“A Weekend to Remember” is a fantastic getaway for you and your spouse. You will spend two nights at a lovely hotel, listen to great speakers share practical insight and encouragement concerning marriage, and enjoy some much-needed quality time together.

When you register, be sure to use the group code, MannaForMarriage, to receive a
$100 discount on your registration. Click HERE to learn more, to find a location, and to register.

“A Weekend to Remember” is a FamilyLife event. You may contact FamilyLife directly by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. Remember to ask for the $100 discount by using  the group name: MannaForMarriage.

See you Thursday!
Tami

Christmas Prayers

Thank You, LORD, for the awesome message of Christmas:

You stoop down to make us great. (Psalm 18:35, NIV)

How incredible! This is precisely what You did through the stunning miracle of the Incarnation.

You stooped down beneath the stars, beneath a low stable door, entering our world to enter our lives.

You stooped to wash our feet.

You stooped to lay Yourself down upon a cross so that we could rise up into the greatness of knowing You face to face.

Lord, would You help us to flesh out that same Love in our marriages? Please birth in us the willingness to stoop to make our spouses great. Show us how to humble ourselves, laying aside our “garment” of prideful self-centeredness and picking up the “towel” of joyful service.

To do that, we need insight into one another’s true needs; we need discernment to know how to minister well. We relinquish our foolishness and weakness so that we can be filled with Your wisdom and power.

Thank You for the examples of Mary and Joseph in the first Christmas story.

Christmas

A Prayer for Wives

… God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. … For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.  (from Luke 1:26-38, NIV)

Christmas

LORD, we pray that You would enable us to follow the example of Mary. Help us not to be afraid but to know that, if we belong to You, we are highly favored by You, and You are with us. Help us to say each day, “LORD, I am Your servant. In this marriage, I am Your servant.”

When Your plan seems confusing, even impossible, help us to trust Your goodness. As You have promised, LORD, bless us with deep happiness as we believe that You are a faithful Promise-Keeper (Luke 1:45). LORD, give us rejoicing spirits, overflowing with praise (Luke 1:46-47).

A Prayer for Husbands

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to break the engagement quietly.

But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus. (from Matthew 1:18-25, HCSB and NLT)

LORD, we pray that we would follow the lead of Joseph. Chosen by You, may we be “the body armor of God’s righteousness” for our marriages (Ephesians 6:14, NLT). When we feel betrayed or offended, help us not to react out of our own understanding, but to listen to Your voice just as Joseph listened to Gabriel. Enable us to trust You as You speak to us through the Scriptures.

We pray that we would excel in caring for our wives, even when we feel that our own desires are not being met. Like Joseph, may we protect our families, both spiritually and physically. May we be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit, and quick to respond when we hear Your instructions.

A Prayer for Both

Help us, like both Joseph and Mary, to be listening for Your voice. Help us to yield up our own ambitions quickly and to press fully into Your will, confident that You are a trustworthy God. Your love for us is unfailing and fervent. Your wisdom is complete, and Your power is unlimited.

LORD, we pray that You would protect our marriages from all evil, just as You miraculously protected Mary and Joseph. Direct our paths, and help us to trust You, even in unfamiliar and uncomfortable circumstances.

So [the shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. … The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (from Luke 1:16-20, NIV)

Shepherds came to see what You were doing in the lives of Mary and Joseph, and they left amazed, unable to contain their wonder at Your marvelous work. LORD, would you do that in our marriages? Would You help us to hold You in our marriages so that others behold You? Would You please work in our homes so that others see something so fantastic that they are awestruck in Your Presence and full of praise for You?

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19, NIV)

LORD, make us aware of the things that You are doing in our marriages. And make us aware of all the things within our spouses that we should be treasuring. By Your Spirit, cause us to marvel and give thanks.

Thank You, God-with-us, for stooping to make us great. Thank You for helping us this Christmas to do the same for our spouses.

As we kneel in service to our spouses, we bow in worship and adoration before You.

Amen.
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Be sure to join us tomorrow for our weekly prayer call as we “fight on our knees” for marriages and family.

Merry Christmas!

Many blessings of joy to you,
Tami

 

 

 

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All photos are from the movie The Nativity Story.

This article, slightly modified, first appeared on StartMarriageRight.com.