When You and Your Spouse aren’t on the Same Page

Have you ever felt like you and your spouse were on different roads? At the time of your marriage you had all of these incredible dreams. You were going to walk hand in hand, arm in arm through life and tackle whatever came your way.

Together.

Part of what pulled you together were these common dreams,

these common interests.

Your spouse understood you and encouraged you.

But now something is different.

Life has entered in. Kids, in-laws, health issues, debt, a mortgage. The light in your eyes has disappeared. Your excitement about crazy ideas that would change the world are met with, “Now isn’t the time.”

For men and women this can be crushing, but especially for men.

One of the underlying needs and desires of a man is to know that the people around him believe in him.

Little boys are continually asking if they measure up. This is one reason they attempt crazy things like climbing high trees and standing on walls. They want to know, “Can I do this? Do you think I can do this?”

One of the most soul crushing things a person can communicate to a man is, “I don’t think you can do this.”

The same is true for a woman.

When they are dating, most men love to listen to their girlfriend talk. To hear her heart, her dreams. He asks questions and imagines with her what their future will be like.

But something changes.

Life.

Now it isn’t as interesting as it used to be.

What you used to have in common you no longer do.

When a man pulls back and finds other interests, looks for new challenges, he crushes the spirit of his wife.

This is a crucial moment in a marriage.

At this moment you either continue down the path of pulling away, discouraging your spouse and essentially becoming your own person (this is dismal and miserable),

or you pull towards your spouse.

At any given moment you are either growing closer to your spouse or pulling away from them.

There isn’t a third direction.

Marriages do not stall out.

It is difficult to re-engage with your spouse.

Things have been said. Hurt is running deep in you. There is a chance you have felt unsupported for years.

That won’t simply go away. It needs to be dealt with, by both of you. It needs to be faced, by both of you.

You have to face what hurts. You have to face what has been said, both to you and by you.

It will also take choosing to get on the same road once again, sharing your dreams with each other and giving up some of your individual dreams because they don’t help you reach your goals as a couple. This is crucial because too many couples continue living as single people when it comes to their dreams and goals.

Many times, and don’t miss this, many times a married couple’s romance and excitement at the start of the marriage mask that they aren’t on the same page. But as time goes on and life happens (ie., stress, kids, etc.), it begins to reveal that you aren’t on the same page. Life has a way of unraveling that newness and excitement.

How do you know this is you? You’ll say and think things like, “It didn’t use to be this hard.” Or, “Why is marriage taking so much effort and work? Remember when it just sort of happened?” Or, “My spouse used to just get me. They used to be understanding and supportive, but now they aren’t.”

To end, let me give a word of warning.

It is easy to think that this should come easily and quickly once you find you and your spouse are on different roads going towards different goals.

The reason we think this is because of how quickly we remember it happening while we were dating.

The reality, though, is that you have spent years (potentially) going down different roads. It isn’t as simple as “just getting on the same page.”

But don’t give up.

The newness and excitement you once shared, the hopes and dreams you stayed up all night sharing while dating, can be rekindled. They can be found anew.

The Halfway Point of the Year & the Top 10 Posts of July

It’s the middle of summer.

In Tucson, where I live, the monsoon’s are in full swing and school is back in session.

The year is more than halfway over.

Hopefully you are closer to the goals you set at the start of the year.

If not, don’t fear.

The year isn’t over and it isn’t too late to hit restart and try again.

In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts of the month of July. Hopefully, they are encouraging to you but also help you reach the goals you have as a leader and a person. Thanks for reading!

  1. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  2. How to Share your Faith
  3. 7 Ideas to Help Your Kids Grow Spiritually
  4. 8 Questions to Ask Before You Preach a Sermon
  5. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  6. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife
  7. How Many Times a Year Should a Pastor Preach
  8. 5 Books Every Pastor & Church Staff Should Read
  9. What Role a Pastor’s Wife Plays in the Church?
  10. When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him

Making Time for Your Marriage

The other day a friend asked me, “How do you make time to work on your marriage?”

Every couple struggles with this.

You have a job, hobbies, kids (maybe), and all of them are vying for your time.

The reality.

You make time for whatever matters most.

Let’s be honest. You might think you don’t have time to date your spouse or work on the latest issue in your marriage.

But you do.

I told my friend, “Whatever matters most to you, you will make time for it.”

If you don’t make time for your marriage, it doesn’t matter to you.

I know that sounds harsh.

But you have time for fantasy sports, hiking, cards with the guys, your kids’ sports. Are those bad? No, but they matter less than your marriage.

If working on your marriage matters, you will make time at 6am or 9pm.

Anyone who tells you they don’t have time for their marriage is lying.

They don’t care enough about it to make the time for it.

How to Keep Your Marriage Special

Let’s face it, when you date someone, you make things special. You think up incredible dates, time a picnic to watch a sunset or drive to the beach to see the sunrise. You scout out museums, new places to eat or grab coffee.

When you get married, this continues before you have kids.

You make big gestures like new jewelry, a big purchase your spouse has been eyeing, dream vacations and honeymoons. Maybe even decorating a new house or your first condo.

Then kids come along.

All of a sudden what used to be special is pretty ordinary.

Your birthday budget is now spent on throwing the extravagant toddler party. As they get older, an arm and a leg must be spent to take your kids and all their friends to the trampoline place. Family vacations take the place of that romantic getaway. Those big gifts and fun purchases are replaced by backpacks, a new toaster, shoes for the kids, camp or car repairs.

All of a sudden you’re not only ordinary, but it is now not romantic and not fun.

Many couples hit a wall in this spot.

The place of romantic gestures moves from being big and extravagant, posting all over Instagram, to ordinary, smaller gestures of romance. This feels uncreative, less loving and not as amazing as it used to be.

It also takes more planning and thinking, and this is why many couples fail.

If you have $500 to spend on an anniversary gift, the ideas are endless. It is simply picking between three amazing ideas, and then you could even stretch it to $600 or $750. They’ll understand because who’s going to be mad about spending a little more when you’ve already spent that much? Compare that to $25 or $50 to spend. Now what? How do you make that special?

This is a struggle for men because we like big gestures. Men also believe their wives only like big gestures. Don’t get me wrong, your wife likes big gestures. But she likes small, everyday gestures of love, too. Maybe even more. If you were to ask your wife is she would like one big gesture of love each year or small gestures each day, I bet she’ll pick the daily one.

What does this look like?

Right now you probably think you know what your spouse would like, but in all probability you have no idea. So ask.

Here are some examples: snuggling, giving a kiss good bye and hello each day, holding hands, cleaning up after yourself or pitching in, spontaneously making out, something they weren’t expecting (lunch out, a pastry from their favorite shop, a coffee in the middle of the afternoon), a text that says I’m thinking of you.

Yes, five day trips to the beach are amazing. Sleeping in and staying up late with your spouse is incredible. If you have kids, those days have hit pause. They’ll return, but only if you learn how to make your marriage special in everyday, ordinary ways.

Why Dating is Easy & Marriage is Hard

If you’ve been married any length of time, you’ve wondered what happened. Why did dating seem so easy? Why did it seem like it was easy to have fun and connect with your boyfriend or girlfriend while you were dating and engaged, but now that you are married it is like pulling teeth?

Anytime you share your feelings, you have a fight. One of you wants sex, but the other does not. One of you feels satisfied, but the other does not. While dating, you could agree on what movie to watch, what activity to do or where to eat, but now you find yourselves having nothing in common but a last name and maybe a child.

Many couples struggle with this. While you may feel like you are the only one, you aren’t.

Yes, your life has changed now. You are older, have more bills and more history with your spouse than when you dated. You also have stress you didn’t have before. I know, it was hard planning your wedding and dealing with families, but now you are dealing with bosses, teachers, your children and you are still dealing with your families! Everything has simply magnified.

But the question remains for many couples and keeps them stuck.

Why can’t I connect to my spouse like we did when we dated?

One other thing changed that is subtle, and many couples miss it.

It isn’t that you have less in common (although your interests may have changed) or that you aren’t in love anymore, although you may need a refresher on what love is.

There is a word that defined your dating and engaged life. A word that you didn’t discuss. You never sat down as a couple to decide on this word. It just happened.

Ready?

Intentional. 

You were intentional.

You decided in advance. You decided to pursue the other. To work at your relationship.

You decided you would put effort into your relationship and yourself.

You made special plans. You thought through how to wake up early and drive to watch a sunrise. You found out things they liked and sought to make that happen. You surprised them.

You decided to wear things to attract them instead of mailing in your clothes choice.

Most dating couples are incredibly intentional about their relationships, and most married couples expect a great marriage to just happen.

But it doesn’t.

Here’s a great question to discuss as a couple: In what areas of our lives (marriage, kids, career, finances, sex, spirituality, etc.) are we being intentional, and in which areas do we need to be more intentional?

Do You Believe in Your Spouse?

Do you believe the best in your spouse? Or do you expect them to fail? Are you pushing them to become all that God created them to be?

I have learned that people will often reach the bar we set for them. If the bar is low, don’t expect a lot. Expect to be disappointed.

Do you believe that your spouse can become all the things that God has called them to, or do you expect them to fail? If they are a follower of Jesus, they have the Holy Spirit living in them, which means they have the power to become all that God has called them to become in Scripture. What if you started believing that? Praying for that? For God to work in their lives and make them into the man or woman that God has called them to become?

How we see people is how we treat them. If we see them as a failure, we treat them as such. Katie is my biggest cheerleader, and I hope and pray I am hers. She believes I can do great things. She believes it, encourages me to become, and pushes me to become that.

There is also great power in this. Most people do not understand the power they have in a relationship in terms of their presence, their voice, their silence, eye contact, encouragement or insults.

You have the power to bring the best out of your spouse or discourage them. Yes, each person is responsible for themselves and determines what they do, but in a marriage, the closest human relationship, there is great power to bring out the best or the worst in your spouse.

How Your Past Affects Your Marriage

Every couple, every person has a story. Something they have carried their entire life. I call this the tone of your life, the tone of your marriage.

Often we have no idea this exists. This story is one that plays through every interaction of your life. It is the identity you take with you, the identity you play off of, often without even knowing.

Here are some examples:

  • Money was tight in your family, so you saved and saved. Money was your security. The tone of life is hectic, stressful, always watching every penny. The tone of your relationships very easily becomes one of desperation.
  • One parent is an alcoholic. The tone is one of walking around quietly, silently, not wanting to do anything to set that parent off. Excuses are made by the other parent. You eventually make excuses to others for that parent.
  • Perfection is the name of the game. Everything must be perfect. If you aren’t perfect, at least appear perfect. Always look perfect, act perfect. If a relationship isn’t perfect, pretend it is. Eventually you have no idea what is real and what isn’t, but perfection matters.
  • Grades. Grades are the key to getting ahead. If you excel in school, you win, you get attention and a good job. This carries into your career. The way to win and get attention is to be good at what you do. Weakness is for the people who lose. A fear of failure overwhelms you. If you feel, it shows you are inadequate.
  • Never good enough. The tone of this family is that we can never win, we can never get ahead. The only people who make it are everyone else. This is almost like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh in human form. Nothing good happens to this person or in this family.

How do you figure out your story and how it affects your marriage?

Here are a few questions I got from a counselor on this that I think are incredibly helpful:

  • What was the emotional atmosphere of your home growing up?
  • Were your mom and dad emotionally close or distant?
  • Did either of your parents rely on you for emotional support?
  • Were either of your parents detached or uninvolved in your family?
  • Were you ever mistreated by verbal, physical, sexual or emotional abuse?
  • Were either of your parents alcoholics?
  • In your family, what were you allowed to do or not do? What were you allowed to be or not be?
  • Lastly, what is the deepest wound you suffered in your family of origin?

This story often goes unnoticed.

Why?

It is all we know.

We only know the family that scrapes things together. We only know the family where the picture of perfection matters. We only know the father sleeping it off on the couch in hopes he doesn’t explode and hit us. We only know the family that says, “Nothing ever goes our way.”

Then when we move into our marriage, we take this story, this tone. This becomes the lens we look through as we look at our spouse, at our kids and the world around us.

We expect our spouse to fail us, lie to us, leave us, hit us, ignore us. We expect our spouse to be perfect, meet our needs, do what we want, take advantage of us. Whatever we saw.

All of this pain can be traced back to Genesis 3:15 – 16, where God tells our first parents the consequence for their sin. Ray Ortlund, in his book Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel, says, “These sad words declare and predict our cycle of dysfunction whenever a wife steps in to fill the void created by her husband’s failure to care and provide, with the husband resenting his wife for the implied criticism of his own passivity and silently or aggressively punishing her for it. Each one aggravates the weakness of the other, as they spiral down into mutual incomprehension, bitterness, and alienation. Both defiant feminism and arrogant chauvinism fall short of the glory of God’s plan. We will never get there by pointing an accusing finger at the other. According to the Bible, all restoration begins with merciful redemption coming down from God above.”

How to Enjoy Your Marriage

What if I told you that one of the goals of marriage was to enjoy your spouse? Most of us would think, “Duh, Josh, that makes sense.” We want to be happy and enjoy our relationships.

I’ve read that statistically less than 20% of married couples actually say they are happy and enjoy their marriage. Sadly, of the people I’ve met and watched, that number doesn’t seem that crazy.

You and I know that stat is true. We’ve been married, we watched our parents marriage, we see our friends go in and out of relationships.

What if I told you the choices you make when dating, in engagement and through marriage will determine whether or not you enjoy your spouse? We know this. And yet most people, most couples, make decisions that lead them to a place of misery in marriage, or simply giving up on their marriage but staying together for the kids.

Anyone can stay together. Anyone can stay for the kids and be miserable, but it takes different choices to find enjoyment.

Proverbs 5 says this:

Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. -Proverbs 5:15 – 19

So what do couples do to enjoy their marriage that you can do? Here are four things:

1. Decide you’ll enjoy your marriage. This might seem obvious, but couples who enjoy their marriage decide to enjoy their marriage. They decide to last. It isn’t just that they make a commitment to each other, but they really live with the reality that divorce is not an option.

When you decide to enjoy your marriage, you decide that no other relationship is an option. This leads into many other decisions. If divorce or not being happy is an option, that will also determine the actions you will take. If happiness in your marriage is a priority, that impacts your choices. If your needs and selfishness are your priority, that will impact your choices.

If you decide to enjoy your marriage, you will think of your spouse above yourself and look for ways to bless and encourage them. You won’t point out all their wrongs or imperfections. You know they aren’t perfect and neither are you.

This also means you will work hard at your marriage. You’ll read books on marriage, listen to podcasts and find a mentor who has a marriage you want to learn from. Katie and I are constantly talking to couples who are older and enjoy their marriages. What do they know? How do they make it to year 40, year 50, of marriage and still enjoy being together?

The reality is, your marriage will go through highs and lows. It will have incredible moments of joy and unbelievably dark lows. Every couple who enjoys their marriage has learned how to navigate these moments as a couple, and that’s crucial. You learn how to walk together no matter what life holds or throws at you.

This also means you find things to do together that you enjoy. You don’t have to enjoy everything your spouse does, but you enjoy being with them, and, as we’ll see in a minute, you enjoy making them happy.

Verse 15 tells us in order to enjoy your marriage, you must focus on it, take care of it and pour time and energy into it. A great marriage won’t just happen. If you meet a couple with a great marriage, you will see a couple that has worked on their marriage. They have protected their marriage and they have put effort into their marriage.

2. Fight for purity in your marriage (before and after you get married). This one is important. Purity is one of the things that protects your marriage from adultery, yet it also helps move you to enjoyment.

When you are looking at porn, fantasizing about someone you aren’t married to, reading romance novels, getting emotionally attached to a co-worker or a neighbor, you aren’t protecting your marriage. When this happens, you start to think, “This person gets me. This person listens. This person meets a need my spouse doesn’t meet.” In that moment you have not only moved into dangerous territory, but now you don’t enjoy your marriage.

Let’s be honest, porn, whether you are a man or a woman, is easier. It takes less effort, there’s no possibility of rejection or hurt, it takes no work, and it is enjoyable for that moment. But you miss connection and intimacy; it leaves you longing for more because it doesn’t live up to its promises.

Verse 17 says, “Let your bodies be for yourself alone (this is referring to your marriage), not for strangers with you.”

In years past at Revolution, we’ve challenged married couples in our church to do a 30 day sex challenge. To pray together each day, read your Bible together each day and do something sexual together each day. Every time someone will ask me what it means to do something sexual with your spouse each day. My answer? Look at your spouse and say, “What does it mean for us to do something sexual together, with no one else (digital or not) each day for the next 30 days?” Then do that. Here’s what you’ll find: your affection goes up and your pursuit of each other goes up. If you know you’re connecting sexually today, that changes what you do that day. You might not eat that spicy food, you brush your teeth again or get a shower. That expectation goes a long way in a relationship.

3. Rejoice in your spouse. Verse 18 says, “Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

Rejoice carries the idea of fun and enjoyment.

It is to feel joy, enjoyment and happiness from your spouse but also to bring joy, enjoyment and happiness to your spouse.

First, do you strive to bring joy, enjoyment and happiness to your spouse? Do you know what brings them joy and happiness?

Second, are you a cheerleader for your spouse, or do you fight against them? Bringing them joy means cheering them on, being excited about what excites them. If something goes well for them, you are excited for them. You don’t get jealous of them or irritated when things go well for them. You rejoice when they rejoice and you weep when they weep.

On the flip side of rejoicing is walking through pain with them. Katie always tells me, “Josh, you hold a crying girl.” This is great advice for dads of daughters and for husbands.

4. Strive to be great servant lovers. Verse 19 says, “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated by her love.” We’ll talk more about this in two weeks, but let me say this now.

Couples who enjoy their marriage are great servant lovers. They are drunk with love. Yes, old age and gravity affect us all, and you don’t look like you used to, but that doesn’t mean your sexual relationship can’t be great.

If you meet a couple who has been married for more than a decade and are happy, here’s what I bet you’ll find: a couple who are great servant lovers. They have worked hard on their sexual relationship with their spouse. They know what turns their spouse on and what they don’t like. They are affectionate, they gross their kids out with all the kissing and dancing they do in the kitchen.

Let me give you a few ideas on this:

  • Find out what your spouse finds attractive and try to do that. It might be to throw that shirt out. If you stay at home with kids, your husband might say, “Could you shower by the end of the day?” Whatever it is, talk it out instead of being frustrated by it.
  • Clean out your underwear drawer every year. That alone will go a long way.
  • Pursue each other and have a weekly date night (even if it is at home). I don’t care what you call it, but have a night each week that is set aside to build into your relationship. And empty nesters, unless you are intentional, don’t tell me every night is date night. Simply being in the same house doesn’t count.
  • In the bedroom, find out what they like and don’t like. I know guys, you are awesome in the bedroom, in your mind. My guess is, if you asked your wife what turns her on, she will surprise you because it isn’t what you think.

The reality is, to enjoy your marriage it will take work. It will take making decisions other couples don’t make. Why? Not every couple enjoys their marriage, so to enjoy yours, you must make different choices. You must walk a different path.

Love Is… (1 Corinthians 13)

I know that loving people is hard. It can be exhilarating and bring us so much joy, but it can also bring us heartache.

Last week Katie and I were with one of our mentors, and he said, “The people God has placed in our lives are there to activate what God wants to transform.” That is hard because everyone in my life isn’t always easy to live with. They can be messy, difficult, get in the way and get on my nerves. I can do the same to them as well. That is what relationships are like.

I want to encourage you to continue thinking through how you can bring love to your relationships, especially the most important and closest ones to you.

If you aren’t familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 on love (a very popular wedding passage), let’s remind ourselves:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Love is patient. We are impatient people. We want food fast, internet fast and we get annoyed when Netflix buffers. We are also impatient relationally. This plays out by being demanding, bulldozing people and pushing too hard. It’s the worst with those closest to us, pushing them, expecting them to be what we want, to do what we want. Yet love says, “However long it takes for you to get your act together, I’ll be here.” Our culture says, “If they don’t change fast enough, if they hold you back, move on.”

Can you imagine Jesus saying, “You aren’t changing fast enough, so I’m done with you”, or, “You aren’t responding to me fast enough, so we’re done”? This is difficult, especially if you are a control freak in your life.

Love is kind. Kindness is actions, words, emotions and so much more.

In your relationships, do you use your presence and words to show kindness, or do you tear the other down? Kindness often is keeping your mouth shut when you’d love to open it. Not in a way to cover sin, but in a way to say, “That isn’t a big deal; I’ll let that go.”

Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. Envy is a longing for something that isn’t currently ours. Boasting is puffing ourselves up, focusing on ourself and our needs over the needs of others. Arrogance is thinking we’re better than we are. Rude is controlling the agenda and everyone around us.

When we envy others, boast, are arrogant or rude, we push people away.

Often we do these things to be right, but also to protect ourselves from getting hurt. If I envy you, then I can blame you for my problems. If I boast, I can put you down to make me feel better. The same is true of being rude. If I’m arrogant, I protect myself from getting hurt. If I’m not proud, I’m willing to open up my heart to hurt, yes, but I also open up my heart to love.

All these emotions and actions do is isolate us. In this passage Paul is inviting us to let go of these desires.

Love does not insist on its own way. Many times love is self-seeking and about what we want.

Why do we insist on our way? For protection, fear, pride, anxiety, control, just to name a few. Love gives in relationships; it doesn’t take.

Love doesn’t insist on perfection. In our photoshopped, air brushed culture, we insist on perfection. We take and re-take selfies. We only post our highlights or our low lights in a way to get love. Think the next time you post something, are you posting it for affirmation? Most of us do.

But love says, “I’ll accept you. I’ll walk with you.” Love says, “I won’t have an independent spirit.” This doesn’t mean you are co-dependent, because that’s unhealthy, but do you bring an independent, “I’m going to do what I want when I want” spirit to your relationships?

At the end of the day, this is empathy and a willingness to see from the other person’s perspective in a relationship.

Love is not irritable or resentful. We all know people who are resentful and always irritated. They keep a list of wrongs in relationships, reminding people of past hurts. They also always expect the worst in relationships.

Do you know where this comes from? It comes from their family of origin, but often it comes from the picture they have of the relationship.

For me, I am often my biggest critic. Every situation I am in with anyone, I have a picture in my mind of what that interaction and time will be like. What this does is prevent me from enjoying the moment. I have to constantly battle this. Multiple times a day I have to remind myself, “This is good enough. The world won’t end.” When we let go and enjoy, we more easily let go of hurt, we more easily let go of things that didn’t go the way we wanted them to go.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This goes with the last one.

Do you rejoice over the mistakes of those closest to you? Being able to say, “I told you it would go that way”, which puffs us up to show that we are right. We look at people who make mistakes in our lives and think, “How did you not know that would go that way?”

This also gets into the area of being historical in relationships. Do you find yourself saying, “Remember when…”, “You always…”, or “You never…”? Don’t miss this: No strong relationship is filled with the words always and never.

But what if the other person in my life is hard to love? What if my spouse is difficult? What if my child is hard to get along with? What if my parents or in-laws are always getting into our relationship?

Paul ends with what I think are the hardest parts of this passage, because they cost us the most.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. This is the hardest part of love. This last verse shows us not only what God’s love towards us cost Him, but it shows us what love will cost us. It also shows us how strong love is.

Love can bear all things when we love the way God loves us. Love does not give up hope. Love is not naïve, but love is powerful. The love that Paul has been talking about in these verses is love that can bear all things, believe all things and hope all things.

But what if the other person doesn’t love like that?

Love endures all things. That’s why Paul ends with love endures all things.

You have the choice to endure all things, in love, even when things are the hardest and the darkest. Even when facing your hurt is painful, even when that person hurts you emotionally, you have the choice to love.

Will they return that love? Maybe not.

We love those around us the way we believe God loves us (1 John 4:19), whether we believe in God or not.

For example, if we believe God is indifferent towards us, this is how we approach most relationships. If we believe God is holding out on us, we will hold out on those closest to us in relationships. If we believe God has a short fuse, we will tend to have a short fuse. If we believe God doesn’t care what we do, this is how we will treat those closest to us.

How do I know this?

1 Corinthians 13 is a picture of God’s love toward us. All of these remind us of what God’s love is like.

God is not impatient or unkind with us. He is not pushy. God does not say to us, “Do you remember when you…”, or, “You always…” Instead, we are told that when we take the step of following Jesus and confessing our sins and need for Jesus, God remembers our sin no more. It is hard when we are hurt, carry around shame and regret and guilt from past relationships to see the truth. We are so used to seeing that relationship and all relationships through the lens of pain. Yet Jesus sets us free from our shame, regret and guilt. He is the power to overcome those experiences.

But why is love so hard?

Because, “The people God has placed in our lives are there to activate what God wants to transform.” So, as you read through the list in 1 Corinthians 13, you begin to see what God wants to transform in your life through what is difficult for you to live out.

Think of one thing, one relationship, and work on that. Change and growth take time, so don’t feel like you need to fix every relationship you have. That’s not possible. Give yourself permission to take your time. God isn’t in a rush.

Five Ways Men Lead Their Families That Are Destructive

The idea of roles, headship and submission in marriage is obviously filled with land mines. Many people have misused and misinterpreted these beautiful verses to make them say what they want to. We have visions of quiet wives who say nothing, men who dominate and abuse their families all based on Ephesians 5, completely missing the point of this passage.

Yet most couples tend to have arguments and frustrations around who does what in a family and marriage. If a couple doesn’t decide who will do what, they will often run into issues. A wife will do what she saw her mom do or what she thinks a woman should do. The husband will do what he saw his dad do or what he saw in a movie.

Before deciding, though, here are five things a man is not supposed to do when it comes to leading his home.

Spiritually apathetic headship. This husband completely abdicates his role as the spiritual leader of his family. He often will not go to church with his wife and kids, and if he does he is very passive. Not getting involved, not praying with his wife or kids, not praying at dinner, not guiding his kids spiritually, not asking questions, not reading the scripture to them. He leaves that up to the church or his wife.

Workaholic headship. This husband sees headship simply as providing for the needs of his family. While that is part of headship, there is more to it than making money so there is a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table. This type of headship is disconnected from the family in some very important ways.

Dictatorial headship. This husband uses headship as a way to control and get his way, all the time. It doesn’t matter how he gets his way, and it doesn’t matter what happens because he has gotten his way. He just wants his way. Often he will use Bible verses to get it. This husband will treat his wife and kids as slaves and order them around. Often this will lead to physical abuse, which is nowhere near what Paul had in mind when he called men to be the head of their house.

Emotionally detached headship. This is the husband who is the head of the family in name only. He has nothing to do with his wife or kids. He does not lead them in any form. He simply sits by, dictating when he doesn’t like something, letting his wife take on his role and responsibility, basically doing everything he is supposed to do. Emotionally he does not know how to relate to his wife and kids. He does not know how to connect to his family; he is distant.

Irresponsible headship. This is the husband who buys things without consulting his wife, makes decisions on his own and generally puts his family in financial, relational, physical and emotional danger because “he is the head of the house.” This husband sees headship as a club to get to do what he wants.