11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage

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It is so sad when I meet a couple that is unhappy. Whether it is stress, finances, kids, in-laws or sin, too many couples simply settle for a mediocre marriage. They carry around this look that says, “I’m not happy, but this is as good as it will get.”

I’m sorry, but if I’m going to be in a relationship for the rest of my life, I want it to be better than a sigh followed by, “this is as good as it will get.”

So, how do you know if you are in a mediocre marriage?

Here are 11 ways to know if you have a mediocre marriage or are on your way to one:

  1. Your marriage and life revolve around your kids. I’ve written before about how to know if your kids are more important than your marriage, but if you can answer any of these, you are in trouble.
  2. It’s been over a year since you read a book on marriage. The best way to grow in your marriage is to get around a couple who has a better marriage or read a book on it. You should read at least one book on marriage a year. It’s a great way to create conversation and push issues to the surface in your marriage.
  3. Roles in marriage feel like a trap instead of freedom. Headship and submission are tricky things and controversial. They are meant to bring us freedom, not to be a trap. When they feel like a trap, there is sin under it. Whether in how it is playing out or how our heart feels about it.
  4. You can’t remember the last date night you had. I can’t tell you how important date night is. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive, but as a couple, you need to have at least one time a week where it is just the two of you (no phone, no tv, no computer, no kids) to talk about build into your relationship.
  5. You have sex less than 2 times a week. I realize this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Pregnancy, health, age, travel, deployment, etc. all can get in the way of this. That being said, sex is a great barometer of your marriage. In every situation when I talk to a couple struggling in their marriage, sex is the first thing to go. It reveals past hurts, addictions, abuses, etc. Every study also says the same thing, a healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.
  6. You nit pick at your spouse. I talked in more detail about this here, but disrespecting your spouse, making fun of them, being sarcastic is one of the fastest ways to move from a good marriage to mediocre to miserable or divorced.
  7. You consistently talk about how much you love your spouse on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but every time I read something incredibly awesome on Facebook, my first thought is, “That’s probably the exact opposite of the truth.” I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled a couple who seemed on the verge of divorce and the next day posted on Facebook, “I love my wife.” Or, “My husband is incredible.” The charade of Facebook reveals a lot.
  8. When you are alone with your spouse, you have nothing to talk about. Whenever Katie and I go out to eat and see a couple just sitting there, our hearts break. That’s so sad. It means a couple has stopped growing. Yes silence is great sometimes and needed, but when it is a consistent pattern, that’s a mediocre marriage. You know if this is you.
  9. There are things in your past your spouse does not know. Your spouse should know everything about you. That doesn’t mean you need to tell your spouse how many sexual partners you’ve had or how much porn you saw as a teenager. That isn’t helpful. They should know about addictions, hurts, abuse against you. No one on the planet should know more about you than your spouse.
  10. You fantasize about being married to someone else. Our imaginations are powerful, our memories are powerful. Often, we will think back to high school or college and wonder where someone is or what life would have been like if we married someone else. When that happens, we disengage from our marriage.
  11. A friend knows more about your marriage than your spouse does. Are you honest with your spouse? Do you talk about what bothers you or do you sweep it under the rug? Do you know how to fight well in your marriage? Do you talk more to a friend more than you do to your spouse about your marriage or kids? If so, well you get it by now.

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When Choosing a Spouse, the Past is the Best Predictor of the Future

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This story appeared in Henry Cloud’s book Necessary EndingsCloud told the story of a father who knew his daughter’s boyfriend was about to ask for her hand in marriage and he asked Henry Cloud how he should handle it, what he should ask the man asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Here’s the story

My friend told me that his daughter’s boyfriend had called and asked him to go to dinner, and he expected the proverbial “asking for her hand” conversation. He wanted some advice on how to handle that question, and I could understand his trepidation. Few thoughts are scarier to a father than wondering, Will this guy love her, treat her well, and take good care of her? As a father of two girls, as I look into the future, I could already feel what that must have felt like for my friend. We talked about how to handle it, and then I said, “After all of that, tell him that you would like to see his credit report and his last two years’ tax returns.” “What? You have got to be joking!” he exclaimed. “Not at all. I am dead serious,” I said. “Why? I can’t ask him how much money he makes. That’s so intrusive and the wrong message. Marriage is not about how much money he makes.” “Exactly, and money has nothing to do with my suggestion. I don’t care about the numbers at all, how much he makes. Tell him to blot them out if he wants. I only care about two things. First, the credit report will give you a peek into how he has fulfilled other promises he has made to people who have entrusted things to him. If he can’t be trusted to fulfill the promises he makes with something such as money, which is not nearly as valuable as your daughter, how are you going to trust him with real treasure? I would see a big yellow flag if he has a history of bailing out on commitments he has made to lenders or others.” While my friend was still trying to absorb the idea of asking for a credit report, I homed in on the tax return. “I don’t care what the numbers are. I just want to know if he has done them. Does he take responsibility for his life and get things like taxes done? If he hasn’t, then that is a sign of what your daughter is signing up for in the future: chaos and uncertainty that come from his character. That would be another big warning. No matter what his financial situation is, I would want to know that he obeys the law, has his affairs in order, gets his taxes done, and sends them in. “So, the message here has nothing to do with money. It has to do with looking at his past behavior in some areas that count: promises, commitments, and responsibility, and then seeing what the track record has been. That is important because the best predictor of the future is the past. What he has done in the past will be what he does in the future, unless there has been some big change. You can bet on it,” I told him.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

  • What a day at Revolution Church yesterday
  • Got to preach on manhood
  • Preached from the same passage I preached from the day we launched Revolution Church
  • The topic of biblical manhood I believe has enormous implications on our culture and the redemption of the world around us
  • So much damage and pain has been caused by the sin of men not being who God created them to be
  • Got to pray with tons of people after the sermon and the heartache and pain in so many lives is overwhelming
  • Got to talk with several people who have been divorced about feeling convicted about reconciling with their ex-spouse and confessing their sin in the divorce
  • Love seeing the gospel work on hearts
  • If you missed today, you can listen to it here
  • Got to pray over Dave and Yvonne Barreras as they prepare to move to Prescott this week and start a mission for the homeless population there
  • Love seeing Revolutionaries live out the mission of Jesus
  • Also prayed over Mike Miller as he shared that he will be transitioning off of our staff
  • Really sad to see him leave his role on our team, but I know God is going to use him in the next season of his life
  • Came home to a sad day as my Steelers lost to the lowly Chargers
  • Really glad I didn’t bet Dave Goffeney anything about the game, that would have been even worse for me
  • Started reading a really helpful book today as I get ready to preach on parenting this coming Sunday at Revolution
  • Excited to cover what the goal of parenting is, how do you disciple your kids, how do you do family worship together as a family
  • Lots at stake when it comes to the discipling of the kids in a family
  • Been starting to prep for my sermons at the beginning of January
  • We’re kicking off a series at Revolution called Meaning on the book of Ecclesiastes
  • So much wisdom in that book and it is unbelievably relevant to our culture
  • My mom moved out to Tucson this weekend and my dad will be moving out as soon as he sells their house
  • Really excited about this next chapter of my life and having them near us
  • We haven’t lived near family for over a decade, so it will be a nice change
  • Our kids are super excited about it
  • Free babysitting!
  • Off to another busy week of all things Revolution

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. Thom Rainer on The 5 types of critics in your church.
  2. Trevin Wax on The strengths and weaknesses of working from home. I work a lot from home and I would agree with most of this post.
  3. 5 steps to preparing a sermon.
  4. Ed Stetzer on The misquoted divorce stat.
  5. 5 tips for parents who put their kids before their marriage. Too many parents do this to their own detriment and their children.

Links of the Week

  1. Ed Welch on Fighting sin hurts.
  2. When leadership fails.
  3. Ed Stetzer on Technology and Faith: 12 Precautions and 12 Positives.
  4. Suffering from ministry arrogance.
  5. Thom Rainer on Why leaders lose their drive
  6. 8 ways to protect your kids from sexual abuse
  7. BJ Stockman on 9 ways to fight the temptation to pornography
  8. Michael Hyatt on The most important hour of the day. Definitely learning importance of this. 
  9. Russell Moore on Should I divorce if I’m miserable?

Links of the Week

  1. Harvard Business on 8 ways to communicate your strategy.
  2. Dispelling myths of expositional preaching. I love expositional preaching and these are definitely myths.
  3. Leadership network on Finding and developing a campus pastor.
  4. Shaun King on Stressed out pastors, crazy sins, and the death of pastor Zach Tims. This is a great, and sad look at what it can be like for pastors and how a church can help.
  5. 13 things Perry Noble would tell church planters. Great list here for planters or those thinking about it.
  6. Joe Thorn on Preaching like a man on fire.
  7. Tim Chester on 12 reasons to give up porn.
  8. Glenn Stanton on The link between premarital sex and divorce.
  9. Can parents make faith for their kids last?
  10. Tim Chester on Is your dining room table on mission?
  11. Jen Smidt on A wife’s testing ground.
  12. Great singleness, great marriage & great sex.
  13. Bob Franquiz on Why you have no leaders in your church.

Decide You’ll Last

During the series The Vow at Revolution. I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about marriage, manhood and womanhood, dating, being single, etc. through preaching on this topic multiple times, being married for almost 10 years and through countless premarital and marriage counseling sessions.

One of the most important decisions you make to last in marriage is deciding you’ll last.

While marriage isn’t as simple as simply deciding you’ll stay married for the rest of your life, it does change things. Many of the problems couples face, the arguments, sleepless nights, financial difficulties, sexual issues, etc. don’t go away by deciding to never quit, they are still there. They take on a different tone if you decide they will not stop you from staying married.

You become more willing to work through things, your patience goes up, your willingness to serve, meet your spouse’s needs, etc. go way up if you decide that you are in this for the long haul.

As long as there is a way out, you will find a reason to use it.

New Series Starting This Saturday at Revolution: The Vow

Saturday, we are starting a brand new series called The Vow. Over the next 4 weeks, we will look at what the Bible has to say about manhood and womanhood. We will look at being single, dating, marriage, divorce, adultery. How to not see being single as a curse, but a way to live more fully for God, how to enjoy your marriage, how to prepare for marriage, how to date, how to choose who to date and marry.

Here is what the series looks like:

August 20: A Good Man (Ephesians 5:22 – 33)
August 27: A Good Woman (1 Peter 3:1 – 6)
September 3: Breaking Free from Our Broken Families (Ephesians 2:13 – 22)
September 10: Enjoying Your Marriage (Proverbs 5:1 – 20)

Don’t miss the opportunity to invite someone to this exciting series. An easy way to do that is through an e-vite.

Preaching a Balanced Diet

One of the dangers of preaching is repetition. Repetition in one sense can be good because people need to hear things several times before they understand it or get it, and a church should have a nice flow of guests coming in that need to hear specific things about Jesus and faith.

Repetition can also be dangerous because communicators can get into the habit of saying the same thing over and over, always finding a way to make a passage about their soapbox, or just repeating sermons. I knew of one church planter that repeated his sermons, really repeated them, every 18 months.

One of my jobs at Revolution is setting the preaching calendar, what topics we will study, what books we will preach through, etc. I submit those ideas to the elders to make sure that we are in agreement on what our church needs to hear, get feedback on topics from them, etc.

Here is what makes me excited about the next 18 months at Revolution, we will study a wide variety of topics. Such as:  Jesus, the trinity, mission, evangelism, community, marriage, dating, being single, heaven, hell, the afterlife, the wrath of God, predestination, free will, election, suffering, does God cause suffering, hospitality, prayer, money, generosity.

We will touch on books like Malachi, Daniel, Jonah, Ephesians, Proverbs. We will preach through Titus, Jude, and Romans.

Pastors, one of your jobs is to make sure your church is getting a balanced diet of Scripture. Do you have a plan for that? Do you know what topics you will cover over the next 12-18 months? What books you will preach through? How will you make sure you don’t just preach from the New Testament or the gospels?

Links of the Week

  1. Brian Croft on How much a pastor/elder should share with his wife. This is a dicey call and one that is helpful to have some input on for a variety of reasons.
  2. Steven Furtick on Grace is power. Really challenging and encouraging.
  3. The Christian divorce rate myth.
  4. Insights on church planting from Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter. A must read for any planter or pastor, wow.
  5. Michael Lukaszewski on 5 steps to a good sermon.
  6. Some thoughts on Sarah Palin and women working outside the home when they have young kids.
  7. Dave Kraft on Leadership made simple.
  8. Tim Keller on Preaching to himself.
  9. Check out Aaron Spiro’s new album “Love.”
  10. Steven Furtick on We don’t pray enough (but not in the way you think).