Four ways to master your countenance

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

In marriage, as in every other area of our lives that involves interacting with others, there is great importance in not just the words we say, but the way we say them. This is nothing new, of course. It literally goes back to the beginning of time!

“…but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:5-7 NASB

 

4 Ways to Control Your Attitude in Marriage

Image courtesy of [Michal Marcol] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s pretty evident that God wasn’t just upset at getting some lame veggies from Cain’s garden instead of a juicy animal sacrifice (as an aside, while I fully understand the deep theological implications of this passage, a small part of me – OK, a big part – would like to think the Creator of the Universe is also lending His support to us meat eaters!), He was also upset at Cain’s countenance, at his attitude toward the whole thing. In fact, God directly relates Cain’s countenance with his sin, and instructs him to master both.

In the end, Cain didn’t master his sin. Instead, he chose to let his foul mood master him, resulting in dire consequences for both him and his family. We, thankfully, being still alive and kicking on planet Earth, have the opportunity to make different choices!

Our countenance, our moods and attitudes, all play a critical role in how we are perceived by others. No matter what we choose to say, they are the aroma that permeates our words as they leave our lips. While our choice of words is certainly important, if they are said with venom, sarcasm, or disengagement, the stench that surrounds them will sabotage even our well-intended words, and make those we might mean to be constructive-criticism far from constructive. And when we do say things we shouldn’t say, a bad countenance can do damage that is difficult or impossible to undo.

For example, it’s so easy to let completely unrelated factors affect my relationship with my wife. When I come through the door after a particularly bad day at the office, often my countenance can still be downcast from that. Maybe my wife is looking forward to seeing me (hopefully!), to telling me about something special that happened with the kids or with her students (she’s a teacher). She hasn’t seen me all day. She doesn’t know I’ve had a bad day, that is, until I forget to kiss her hello, until I toss a dismissive glance in the direction of the stove and callously ask, “What’s that?”

-What’s that?? What’s THAT?!?!-

I’m not thinking about my wife or her feelings at that point, just about my bad day. And at this point, my wife, who hasn’t even heard anything about my bad day yet, is contemplating the bad evening I’m ABOUT to have! :) My negative countenance has dripped from the office into my marital relationship, causing me to act like a complete cad, and starting our evening off on not just the wrong foot, but the wrong universe.

There are so many different ways a negative countenance can affect our relationships with our spouse, our children, and everyone else in our lives. Consequently, controlling our countenance is vitally important. I’m by no means an expert in this, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1) Compartmentalize

Compartmentalization is the ability to mentally separate the various aspects of our lives, to not let what happens in one bleed into how we perceive another. It’s said that guys (OK, especially serial killers) are better at compartmentalization than the rest of us (you know, the whole double-life thing and all that…), but in my opinion it gets a bad rap.

We should all work on letting our work stay at work, our home at home, and so on. Given that Jesus promised trouble in this world, the likelihood that something bad is happening in some aspect of our lives is pretty high, so the ability to not let that affect the other areas is critical.

2) Prioritize

With the overarching view that God is first, family second, work third, and so on, place priority on, and give your full attention to, where you are at the time.

3) Realize

Simply realizing and understanding how our countenance affects others will go a long way toward helping us to control it, regardless of how we are feeling inside. This affects literally everything and everyone. After all, who wants to get rung up by a rude cashier having a bad day at home?

4) Intentionalize

(OK, this isn’t really a word, technically, but hey, can you blame me for trying?) – Be intentionally aware, deliberate, choosing not only your words, but the WAY you deliver those words carefully.

Remember, God doesn’t like a bad countenance, and neither do the people in your life. Be the master of it – don’t let it master you!

What to read next:

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Footprints worth following

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

When it snows at our house the kids love to go outside and play. Inevitably, my wife or I have preceded them out the door for one reason or another – to shovel the driveway, get the mail, or just check out the beauty of God’s amazing creation. When we do, of course, we dot the previously pristine snowscape with giant, adult footprints.

When the kids first come out to play, it’s fun to watch them take abnormally large footsteps, trying their very best to walk in the footprints we left. It’s a different world than the one they knew the night before, cool, exciting, pretty, but just a little scary. So, when they first go outside, we think they like to walk in our footsteps until they become familiar with their surroundings, until they find confidence enough to venture out on their own, to make their own tiny footprints in the snow.

Biblical Parenting

Of course, if snow covered backyards were the only places where kids followed the footsteps of their parents, parenting would be an easy task indeed. However, the frightening reality, at least for those of us who aren’t perfect, is that they follow our footsteps in life as well. In an age where the children of divorce (already roughly 50% and climbing) often end up divorced themselves, making footsteps in our marriages worthy of following is perhaps more important than ever before.

My son is nine, and the thought that he is learning how to treat women from the way he sees me treat my wife, his mother, is a sobering one indeed. The thought that children learn about marriage from the marriage that produced them should give us all pause. I wish I could say that I always do as I should in front of him, but I don’t, not always.

I’m not always kind. I’m not always considerate, polite, chivalrous. When we disagree, my wife and I sometime argue incorrectly and unproductively and guess what, our kids notice and they follow our footsteps by arguing incorrectly and unproductively with each other. Not only do our children inherit our sin natures, they often inherit our sins. The drunkard’s son is often a drunkard himself, and so on… Sadly, there are a million more examples.

Thankfully, if we purposely and lovingly give them footsteps worth following, they will do that too. Last month, I left on a business trip for four days. I don’t take many trips like this, so I’m not used to being away from my family, nor are they used to being away from me. On the morning of my departure I wrote several notes– one to each child placed under his/her pillow, and several to my wife, placed at strategic locations where I knew she would find them at various times during my absence. Each note was a personal, specific, attestation of love and appreciation. The kids have held onto their notes ever since. As Kim found hers, one by one, she not only read and appreciated them, but showed them to our inquiring kids as well.

The next week, after my return, Abby and Nathaniel (our two who can write) wrote notes to each of their siblings and both their parents, telling us, in their own special way, how much they love us, even putting them under our pillows for us to find.

When we spy some of our kids playing ‘house,’ calling each other ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ tenderly and lovingly, we know they’ve at least noticed some of the footsteps we’ve left, and are starting to walk in them. When our children know and expect to be in church when the doors are open, when they pray to Jesus as they hear us pray, we know those are footsteps worth following.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing these stories to build myself up as some sort of ideal husband, or our marriage as the best ever, because there are many times where we fall woefully short (as everyone does!). But they do serve as examples of how positive actions can replicate themselves, creating footsteps by our kids leading to places we want them to go, to lives we desire them to lead.

Whether we have children or not, we should all be ever mindful of the actions we take. Someone is watching us, looking up to us, waiting to walk in our footsteps. What path will they follow?

Grits, Gravy, and Minor Conflict Resolution

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

We’re breakfast people. You name it, we probably make it – eggs done every possible way, bacon, sausage, biscuits & gravy, cooked apples, homemade French toast, oatmeal, waffles, pancakes. We’re serious about it too. No gravy out of a box for us – we make real gravy from flour, grease, milk, sausage chunks, and lots of pepper. No instant pancakes or waffles – everything is from scratch, including the flour. (We grind it ourselves!) No instant oatmeal – old fashioned or steel cut or bust. No plain syrup – pure maple all the way baby! Our bacon and sausage is organic or locally raised. Our biscuits are from scratch. Our milk, fruit & eggs are organic…

What does breakfast in bed have to do with conflict resolution?

Image courtesy of [Ambro] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, you get the picture. We understand that not everyone shares our passion, and that’s OK, but we take breakfast seriously because we just LOVE it so doggone much. Sure, on busy school mornings we might settle for cereal & some fruit or a frozen waffle made fresh last weekend, but on Saturdays or holidays, if we don’t have to be anywhere too early, we’re cooking up something delicious to have with a big, steaming cup of hot coffee with just a touch of cocoa for good measure. We’ll even make any number of excuses to have ‘breakfast for dinner’ as well!

However you slice it, breakfast is a Morefield family tradition, one that we enjoy greatly. For us, the preparation is almost as fun as the eating, because we do it together as a family.

So, besides quality time together cooking & eating, what does all this have to do with marriage? This is, after all, a marriage site, right?

Well, what happens when you blend breakfast and minor conflict resolution in marriage?

Why, you guessed it – breakfast in bed, of course!

Huh?

The way we do breakfast (as in mmmhm, good!), there’s only one thing better than cooking and eating it, and that’s having your spouse get up early, cook, and bring it to you in bed. And so, over the years, we’ve developed a tradition whereby on those special days (birthdays and Mother’s & Father’s Day especially), one or the other of us will commit to giving our other half that special experience of a platter of morning goodness delivered right to our bedside. Now there just aren’t that many things in life more awesome than that.

That’s great, you say. But what does that have to do with conflict resolution? Glad you asked! This true story will hopefully explain the connection:

Enjoying some ‘down time’ after a long day, my wife and I were watching the excellent, family-friendly Patricia Heaton sitcom The Middle. This particular episode involved a rather contrarian, elderly school librarian who we hadn’t seen before on the show. Knowing that show creators often like to reunite stars who played together on previous, especially iconic series, it made sense to me that this lady must be an older, slimmer Doris Roberts. How cool would it be for Patricia Heaton and Doris Roberts to be finally reunited for an episode of The Middle after spending so many years together on Everybody Loves Raymond, right? I turned and told Kim as much.

My loving wife, however, insisted this was not the case. Instead, she told me that this elderly librarian was none other than former Golden Girl Betty White. Figuring that the Golden Girls must surely all be dead by now (hey, they were already ‘golden’ in the 80’s, and nobody lives forever, right?), I bet my wife a breakfast in bed that this was, indeed, an older, skinnier Doris Roberts.

The problem for me, however, is that a quick Wikipedia search told us that Kim had, indeed, won her bet. Though I felt the show creators missed a ‘golden’ opportunity on that one (although I was pleasantly surprised in Season 2!), I conceded defeat and, since this was a Friday, told Kim I’d make her breakfast in bed the next day.

We’ve made this bet several times in our marriage, normally when we differ but are both ‘sure’ we are right about something. (To her credit, Kim’s record is really, really good, which is why I’m so good at cooking breakfast! :)) Sometimes we’ll even use it in exchange for some sort of special favor (um, no… get your mind out of the gutter!!). Although this certainly couldn’t replace Biblical conflict resolution on serious issues, we’ve definitely had a blast with it.

The cool thing is, both of us enjoy cooking and both of us enjoy doing nice things for the other, so having to cook and deliver breakfast isn’t really so much a chore. We know what a treat we are giving our spouse, so it feels good getting to do it. And after all, isn’t serving one another one of the keystones to a great marriage? So, why not make it fun!?

Letting off steam

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

Show me a married couple who says they *never* argue and I’ll show you a married couple either lying through their teeth or one that’s about a month or two (at most) from a sudden and tragic divorce that one or the other partner ‘never saw coming.’

The fact is, like it or not (and most of us don’t!), arguing is a part of marriage. And when you think about it rationally, it makes perfect sense. Two completely different people, with completely different sets of life experiences, from two completely different planets (Venus and Mars, don’t ya know!?), now living under the same roof, sharing the same bedroom, sleeping in the same bed… now if that doesn’t lead to the occasional heated exchange (of the bad sort!), I don’t know what would!

Learning to let off steam...Biblically!

Image courtesy of [artur84] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


This might sound a little wacky, but think of life like a giant pressure cooker. The heat source is the stress that comes at us from every direction: our jobs, our kids and the unlimited (but worth it) stressors that come with raising them, our finances, things around the house that need fixing, vehicles in constant need of repair, and a thousand other little things that occupy our minds from day to day. We’re inside, rolling along for the ride, but once that pressure cooker starts really cooking we’re in trouble.

We’re in this pressure cooker, but we don’t want to be cooked.

So we look for ways to let off our steam, to relieve the pressure. Some people turn to destructive sins like pornography, drunkenness, drugs, and the like. Others turn to ‘lesser’ vices like spending too much time at work, on hobbies, or excessive alternate realities (video games, etc.). The reality is, however, that those of us to whom God has bestowed the wonderful honor and privilege of a marriage partner have a special blessing – the same blessing the Bible says Adam received when God made Eve – a helpmeet.

Now of course, spouse or no, God is enough to help anyone overcome any trial and temptation life has to offer. But a true, God-given spouse, friend, confidant, and partner is indeed one of life’s greatest blessings. A helpmeet to help us bear our burdens – to clean the house, to do the dishes, to repair things that break, to mow the yard, to fix the car (or, in my case, to take it to be fixed by someone who knows what they are doing), to provide for the family, to teach the children, to HELP us do the countless things that need to be done. We raise the next generation, we accomplish the un-accomplishable, with our helpmeets by our side.

Yet, once we move from the dating stage to marriage it finally hits us that our similar tastes in restaurants, milkshakes and movies, stuff that seemed so cute and ‘meant to be’ during the ‘infatuation’ stage of the relationship when everything was roses and dancing pink elephants, doesn’t necessarily translate to the weightier issues that have to do with actually running a household. It can be a rude awakening and, when kids arrive, ruder still.

So, although it is certainly necessary for everyone to let off some steam from the pressure cooker of life (to keep it from exploding!), it’s important to do so in a positive, constructive way. I firmly believe that when couples learn not to avoid arguments, but to embrace them and argue in a positive, constructive, non-threatening way, it can be a long-term de-stressor that will not only help deal with life’s hard times, but can help foster healthy marriages as well.

This involves teamwork, communication, commitment, and a spirit of love. It’s true that a couple can argue too much. We shouldn’t walk around with chips on our shoulders, always looking for a fight. We should exercise grace in dealing with our spouses, giving each other the benefit of the doubt. But when genuine concerns arise we should, guided by a spirit of prayerfulness and humility, seek to resolve those concerns with our spouse. Don’t let hurt and resentfulness fester, and don’t ever let the words, “it’s not worth it” enter your thoughts. By taking this attitude, you are saying your marriage isn’t worth it.

My wife and I firmly believe that one of the things that makes our marriage work so well is that, although we certainly engage in our share of arguing, we know, we genuinely KNOW, that when things ‘seem’ good between us, they really are good. Between us, our hearts are always bare. There is no room in our marriage for hidden hurt, for wounds that aren’t allowed to heal. That’s the kind of peace of mind that money can’t buy, the kind that helps you sleep like a baby at night beside someone you trust with something much more precious than your life… your heart.

If you have trouble (we all do from time to time!) with arguing excessively, incorrectly, or not enough, it’s worth the effort to prayerfully study the issue. There are plenty of books out there on how Christian couples can ‘fight’ constructively. But the bottom line is we all need to let off some steam now and then. Let off steam engaging in constructive arguing when necessary, and that’ll help you let off even more steam in other, much more enjoyable ways!

Peacemaking for Families

Note from Jason & Jami: One of our all time favorite resources on conflict and conflict resolution is The Peacemaker. We highly recommend this book to every believer but it is a bit thick to get through. A companion book that is a quicker read and deals with managing conflict in the home is Peacemaking for Families. These books are full of practical advice that is firmly rooted in a foundation of Scripture.

“Basic conflict-resolution skills found in Scripture can help you change your home from a battle zone to a love nest. Distinguishing between positive and negative conflict resolution, Peacemaking for Familiesintroduces the reader to valuable principles such as “The Peacemaker’s Pledge,” the “Seven A’s of Forgiveness,” and the “PAUSE Principle of Negotiation.” Real-life stories and case studies help the reader to acquire the skills needed to create a true “peacemaking family.”

We highly recommend you get these books if you struggle with conflict in your family – even if you don’t see it as a major problem, all families and marriages can learn how to work through issues in a more Biblical manner!

Pin this post so you can come back later and re-read it or share with a friend!

The Amazing Power of Grace

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

To those of us who are Christians, grace is truly an amazing thing. It is the favor that God gives us, apart from anything we do, that allows us to experience fellowship with the God who created us. Despite the fact that we are sinful creatures, utterly and completely depraved and devoid of any goodness whatsoever, Christ reaches down into the miry clay-filled pit, the pit wherein we would otherwise prefer to wallow, and pulls us out, cleans us up, and places us at the right hand of fellowship with the Father. Despite the fact that we didn’t do anything at all to get it, He goes ahead and gives it to us anyway. Grace is, after all, the ultimate manifestation of Christ as the bridegroom, and us, the church, as His bride.

The amazing power of Grace within Marriage

mage courtesy of [smarnad] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The difference, of course, between this and marriages between humans, which are supposed to be a type of the relationship between Christ and His church, is that God’s grace is, of course, quite one-sided. After all, Christ is hardly in need of any grace from the likes of us, now is he?

However, here on earth, from the most remote Third World village to the swankiest gated neighborhood, from newlyweds on their honeymoon to 80 year-olds still holding hands, marriages everywhere could use more of what Christ has given us as individuals… Every husband and every wife could use more, from each other, of that wonderful, magical gift from God called grace.

When she forgets that he hates chili and makes it for dinner… When his round of golf runs a bit later than expected… When her iron leaves a black mark on his favorite shirt… When he takes the ‘scenic route’ and gets the family lost, again…

All the crazy ups and downs of two lives spent together, the foibles that make us human, the eccentricities that make us unique, the things that can drive our spouse quite literally up the wall, the things that make a marriage tough… all could use a heaping helping of grace.

Grace is the glue the holds marriages together, the oil that keeps them running smoothly.

Grace is loving the (at times) unlovable. Grace is showing mercy to the guilty. Grace is befriending the unfriendly. Grace is forgiving those who don’t deserve it.

And haven’t we all been unlovable, guilty, unfriendly, and undeserving from time to time?

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32

 

Grace is a little bit of heaven, right here on planet earth. Christians, because we have experienced grace in its purest form, should be the ones best at giving it, and yet the Christian divorce rate belies that fact. Before we have anything of consequence to say to the outside world, we need to get our house in order, to practice what we preach. It all starts with grace.

To those who are hurting, to those whose marriages, for any one of a billion possible reasons, are teetering on the edge, hanging on by the very thinnest of threads, don’t give up. Instead, let’s the power of grace not only transform your soul, but your marriage as well.

Grace is something we have the power to give, but not to force from others. So give it, consistently, purposefully, with no strings attached, and you will likely receive it in return. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month…

Maybe not ever…

But, ultimately, the only person we can change is ourselves, and the best shot we have at making any relationship with another human being work is to choose to exercise that most sage of Jesus’s earthly teachings, the Golden Rule… to choose grace…

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12

How to pick the woman of your dreams

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

We spend our lives making choices. We choose what foods to eat, what products to purchase, what jobs to do. Most of the choices we make don’t really matter in the long-run. They are neutral – the difference between spaghetti and lasagna for dinner one evening, or what to wear to church tomorrow. Others, however, need to be approached with much more care.

Who to marry is just such a choice. Choose correctly, and you are in for a lifetime of love with the person of your dreams. (Please don’t misunderstand – we’re talking about two fallible people here, so I’m not trying to say there won’t be rocky times because, as in ANY marriage, there will be!). Choose wrong, and, although God can make any marriage whole, the challenges you will face will be exceedingly difficult.

Photo by  Katsunojiri

Photo by Katsunojiri

Let’s face it – the Bible says foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. I’m not sure that foolishness ends until the ‘child’ is at least 25, if not older. My children, thankfully, aren’t old enough to make those choices yet, but the choices I see teenagers make with regards to the opposite sex make me long for the days of arranged marriages.

Now, I’m not going to single out boys or girls for their comparative levels of foolishness in this area (there’s plenty of that to go around!), but this article will be addressed to boys. Why, you ask? Because I was one of them, and I understand what it’s like to make foolish choices, and, ultimately, to make the right choice in the end. I can testify with absolute certainty that marrying the right person is one of the best choices you will make in your entire life. It’s worth every caution, every hour in prayer, every winding road that eventually will, with God’s help, lead you to the person He has for you.

Guys, here are six things to look for in the woman you marry. Find someone with all six, and you will be well on your way to a long and happy marriage. Although there obviously needs to be some physical attraction, please note that none of these have anything to do with how she looks. Beauty is, after all, fleeting (Prov. 31:30), but character lasts forever. (If this article isn’t for you, consider passing it along to some hapless single guy who could use some sage advice. :))

And please, don’t take this too far! We are all fallible humans, and we all make mistakes. All of us will be lacking in one or more of these areas, but the key is if you see a pattern that runs opposite these attributes in the woman you are dating, it’s a red flag to watch out for. If you see too many or enough to make you uncomfortable, RUN!

“It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” Proverbs 25:24

 

1.) She loves God

This is, ultimately, the most important thing to look for. First of all, the Bible clearly says not to marry an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14), so by definition a non-Christian shouldn’t even make it to the ‘date’ list, much less the marriage one. Second, look for someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus, who prays and reads God’s word regularly, or at least desires to. If she is looking to Jesus for her advice and comfort, He won’t lead her astray. Even in the rocky times, you can’t go wrong marrying someone like that.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

 

2.) She loves and honors her father

Just as women should look at how you treat your mother, you should pay close attention to the attitude she has toward her father. Understanding, of course, that there are reasons some fathers deserve contempt (in those situations, look for her relationships with prominent males in her life), a woman who ‘hates’ or is rebellious toward her father for no good reason is likely well on the road to ‘man-hating’ in general. Since, after all, YOU could be the father of her children someday, that is probably a situation you want to consider avoiding.

(Additionally, often young women who choose the wrong guy do so because of severe ‘daddy issues.’ If such a person is choosing you, it may be a good idea to look inward and ascertain why.)

“Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)” Ephesians 6:2

 

3.) She is flexible and easy to please

Let’s face it, we guys are pretty much like dogs – we’re content to sit on the front porch, pant, and wag our tails. As long as she pets us once in awhile, we’re all good. We’re also insensitive, crass, impolite, rough-around-the-edges, and generally a nuisance to everything and everyone around us. We need a lady in our life who understands us and accepts us for who we are. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to do better, that we shouldn’t treat our ladies with chivalry and respect, but it does mean we can be a lot to put up with.

If she is rigid, if everything in her life has to be a certain way or she isn’t happy, don’t walk, RUN the other way. Life is going to come with all kinds of ups and downs, valleys and mountains. If the person you share it with isn’t at least to some degree flexible and easy to please, especially at the dating stage where she is on her best behavior, you AREN’T going to please her, EVER, and you are in for some very, very tough times.

4.) She is giving

Like it or not, men, by their natures, just aren’t very giving. We want to be, and with God’s help we can work on it, but we aren’t typically born that way. Women, on the other hand, tend to be much better givers. Of course, a marriage shouldn’t be about the wife giving and the husband taking. Far from it! Marriage is a journey, together, and all along the path we are working to be better at our faults. But, a giving wife will help teach her husband how to give, will gently nudge him in the direction of Biblical giving to his church, his wife, and his children.

If you are dating someone who is ridiculously selfish (of course, we all are selfish to some extent, even the ladies!), given the fact that you are probably more selfish than she, consider the two of you together, long-term.

Hard to imagine?

Exactly.

5.) She is not contentious

This goes hand in hand with being flexible and easy to please. If you are dating someone who is looking to argue about petty things, who always has a chip on her shoulder, consider that a BRIGHT red flag. There are enough real issues that will come up in your marriage, issues about which you WILL, on occasion, fight about, to marry someone with a predisposition toward contentiousness. It’s just not worth it! Consider the words of a man who doubtless knew his subject all too well…

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Proverbs 21:19

 

6.) She is kind

Women are generally the gentler sex. While we are gruff, rough, and generally UNkind, our ladies should be the influences that ‘soften’ our rough exteriors. The person you marry should be kind to animals, kind to children, kind to others, kind to her family… and kind to you.

It’s certainly not magic, and nobody is perfect, but looking for at least the foundations of these six attributes in the woman you spend the rest of your life with will fill the rest of your life with more joy than you could possibly imagine. Marriage, after all, should never be a ball and chain – so don’t go and create your own prison by choosing the wrong wife!

 

Four Ways Biblical Submission Affects the Husband

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

Greetings ABM readers! It’s me again, that glutton for punishment who, back in February, stuck his neck out so far that he could have been mistaken for a giraffe. What did I do, you ask? Well, I wrote an article entitled ‘Why should my wife obey me?’ I was pretty ssscared, to be sure, but, fortunately for me and for my long-suffering wife who depends on me to help feed and clothe our kids (among a ‘few’ other things), it didn’t get chopped off. In fact, judging by the overwhelmingly positive comments, most ABM readers, thankfully, appear to be well on my side of the issue. So, at least for now, my kiddos will have their Daddy to play catch with and read them bedtime stories each night.

(At any rate, if you haven’t read the article yet, please consider doing so before reading, and especially commenting on, this one. It’ll make much more sense! :))

Biblical marital submission certainly isn’t about the husband always getting his way...it’s about a healthy, vibrant, partnership wherein two entirely independent and unique souls form a team that reflects Christ’s relationship with the church.

Image courtesy of [arztsamui] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now, I would like to elaborate on this issue once again because of a great comment that was made in response to the article. Crystal B wrote, “I would like to see the writer take this and delve deeper spiritually for readers (especially women who may be struggling with this and whom are with husbands who have since become passive) and go in deeper about what his wife’s submission does for him spiritually and how he thinks a wife’s conscious choice to let/encourage her man be in the driver’s seat (no matter the issue) facilitates growth in each of them.”

This is such a great question, because Biblical marital submission certainly isn’t about the husband always getting his way, the wife having to acquiesce to his every whim, Henry VIII style (anyone who thinks I’d get away with that anyway really doesn’t know my wonderful, loving, patient wife!). Rather, it’s about a healthy, vibrant, partnership wherein two entirely independent and unique souls form a team that reflects Christ’s relationship with the church to everyone they come in contact with including, and especially, the children the marriage produces.

Biblical marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and the church, a loving framework within which both parties are able to grow closer to each other and the Lord. When my wife practices Biblical submission, when our marriage is operating as it should, with us both loving and submitting to each other while honoring our unique roles, as a husband it affects me on a much deeper level than whether or not I get dinner that night (although, let’s be clear – she IS a great cook!).

Four Ways Biblical Submission Affects the Husband

1) It makes me humble

Unless you’re an egomaniac know-it-all tyrant (hopefully, you’re not! :)), you know that leadership and humility go hand in hand. God calls us to lead our homes, but we can’t lead unless we are willing to serve. Isn’t that what, at its root, the concept of chivalry is all about?

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Matthew 20:25-27

 

“…Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5

 

2) It makes me thankful

As anyone who doesn’t know this already is bound to find out one way or another, good women who want to do things the Biblical way don’t grow on trees. Like diamonds in the deepest mine, they are a rare treasure to be valued above anything this world has to offer. Each day of my marriage, I am more thankful than words can describe for the wife God has given me.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12

 

3) It makes me make better decisions

When a man truly recognizes the enormous weight of responsibility he bears for his family, when he recognizes that they are depending on him for leadership and direction, any sane Christian husband and/or father can’t help but fall on his knees (literally or figuratively) before God and beg for guidance and direction, for WISDOM. There is no way, absolutely NO WAY, that I could do this right without God’s help, and neither can anyone else.

“For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

 

This weight of responsibility makes my steps guarded, careful, and intentional. Because I know my wife practices Biblical submission and is depending on me to make the right decisions for our family, I become MORE dependent on God, and more desirous of my wife’s counsel and approval. Rare is the case where I would ever consider ‘going it alone’ without both my wife and I feeling God’s peace.

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

 

4) It draws us closer to each other, and to God

Doing things God’s way is bound to result in His blessing on our marriage, and Biblical submission is no different. The state of marriage today, including the sky-high divorce rate, is a telling indictment of the ‘world’s way’ of doing things. How long until we as a society once again realize that God’s way is not only the right way, but the BEST way as well?

Assumptions can be dangerous things

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

As men we tend to want to fix things quick and ASSUME he know what she is thinking - but often this just leads to fights and miscommunication. The problem lies when we try and assume...

Image courtesy of [Ambro] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

My wife is a lucky gal. After all, she’s married to the guy who knows everything (that’s what she tells me anyway, and I assume it’s a compliment!). Yep, that’s me. I’ve apparently been a ‘know it all’ since my momma put my crib next to a dresser. To hear Mom tell the story, I scared her to death – but hey, what are four walls and a Winnie the Pooh mobile when you can have freedom (and a knot on the head, but that’s beside the point!).

Well, I don’t REALLY know everything (hey, don’t act so surprised!), but we guys sometimes tend to ACT like we do. That is, for a good portion of us anyway, at least until we’ve been married for a few weeks. However, hard as it may be to believe, there are some men who refuse to learn from experience (or much of anything else, for that matter). Some of us, instead of looking to Christ for a role model, look to the likes of Al Bundy instead.

Now I’ve made (and still make) more than my share of mistakes, to be sure, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve even made a FEW of the ones I’m going to list below. I’ve even known a few poor saps who have made most of these mistakes multiple times. IF they are still married, let’s just say ‘momma’s not happy’ very much and leave it at that. Since a smart man (and I am, occasionally…) learns from not only his own mistakes, but the mistakes of others, I’m going to list a few here, the things the ‘mister know-it-alls’ among us do over and over, based on the things he apparently assumes will make his lady happy (??).

News flash – they don’t, she’s not, and… WAKE UP!

Learning to Not Assume With Your Wife

Mister Know-It-All assumes (and we all know assumptions can be dangerous things!) that -

She loves it when he gets right to the root of their arguments so fast and tells her exactly why she is angry and why it’s silly. It makes her feel… understood.

She loves it when he knows exactly what to get her for her birthday without asking or even observing. After all, she surely would have never thought of or considered some of the awesome things he’s introduced her to (Dyson vacuums anyone??).

She appreciates it when he saves the family money by skipping useless holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. They may have little kids, but she ain’t HIS momma! (He does appreciate it, however, when his wife gets his mother something for Mother’s Day, but it’s not like it’s any kind of sacrifice since everyone knows women LOVE to shop!)

When he ‘listens’ to her talk about her problems at work (yeah, if anything THAT should earn him a medal!), then proceeds to tell her exactly how she needs to go about fixing them, usually without even letting her finish the story.

When he tries to save her calories at a restaurant by ordering water instead of tea. After all, she’s always complaining and saying she needs to lose some weight, so why not do his part to help?

When he’s brutally honest with her about how those particular clothes make her look. He thinks it’s pretty clear that God hates a liar. (Did I mention he can be an amateur theologian when it suits his  purposes?)

When he takes charge of the remote control and gives her a sampling of not just one show, but EVERY show that’s on. Who knows the cool stuff she would have missed just leaving on Lifetime and Hallmark all those years! Plus, let’s face it, those channels are just plain BOOORRRRING! (You guessed it – this is one of the ones I’ve made and still make, but I’m still NOT apologizing for it! :) )

Since the Bible clearly says the older should teach the younger (there’s that ‘amateur theologian’ again!), that means he should take every possible opportunity to tell her how his Mother does things!

When he tells her that itty bitty extra ingredient that would have made the meal she cooked even better. It doesn’t mean what she’s cooked is bad, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

When he points out the places she inadvertently missed while cleaning the house. Wouldn’t anyone want to know this? After all, the Bible does say that iron should sharpen iron (by now our ‘amateur theologian’ is probably burning at the stake…).

When, after a stressful day at home with the kids, he saunters in from work and proceeds to ask her what she’s been doing all day. Most everyone could use SOME help with their time-management skills, right?

We could go on and on with all this – the moral of the story is, guys who seek to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, those guys not only get the moral and spiritual satisfaction out of doing what is right, they also tend to spend a LOT less time in the doghouse!

Six Ways to be a Friend to Your Husband

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis explores the nature of love from a Biblical perspective using the four Greek words for love – storge (affection), phileo (friendship), eros (romance), and agape (unconditional love) – as a foundation. He shows that ‘love’ is far more complicated than most of us think, and a simple term like ‘God is love’ can have lots of nuances as the various ways His creatures ‘love’ each other are manifested and explored.

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The lesson here and elsewhere is, when the word love is used in the Bible it is well worth exploring just what exactly that word for love means in both its context and meaning, because it could lend an entirely different interpretation to the passage. Take, for example, the words of Paul in Titus 2:3-5:

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands…”

 

Now this is a wonderful passage, and not just because it encourages older women to lay off the alcohol. While that’s definitely a good thing (let’s face it, nobody wants to see Granny drunk!), here Paul also encourages older women to teach the younger women how to ‘love’ their husbands.

One might think, given the proclivities of (some) young, immature women not only these days but probably from the dawn of time, that they would have no need of being taught how to ‘love’ anything. Just ask any tattooed, drug-head, just-out-of-prison gang member who may not have a lot going for him, yet can barely beat the ‘ladies’ off with a stick, or any heartbroken Daddy who has lost his daughter to someone like that.

Agape love in women, coupled with wisdom, is indeed a beautiful thing, but without that wisdom it can get ugly fast.

No, women don’t need to be taught unconditional, or agape, love. Sure, it’s not perfect. Only God, of course, is the perfect example of agape love, the only one capable of truly loving without any conditions or strings. But on the mortal plane, women reign supreme. I may not be a drug-addicted, tattoed, ex-con, but I’ve certainly got my share of faults. I’m so glad my wife loves me unconditionally. She didn’t need to be taught this – it’s in her DNA.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the ‘love’ mentioned in that passage, the ‘love’ that the older women are to teach the younger women to practice, is an entirely different kind of love. A closer look at the passage reveals that this is, indeed, the case.

The word for ‘love’ in this passage is, “φιλος – philos – friend.”

Now it becomes clearer – the older women are to teach the younger women how to be a friend to their husbands. The NAS Greek Lexicon definition of phileo is, “to love, to approve of, to like, sanction, to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend, to show signs of love, to kiss…”

It also stands to reason that, seeing as how I’m a guy and all, this passage isn’t instructing ME to teach any woman out there how to love their husbands. However, I would like to share a few ways my wife chooses to ‘phileos’ me. In that way, perhaps some ‘younger woman’ can learn from her! :)

Six Ways to be a Friend to Your Husband

1.) to approve of – If anything makes a friend a true friend, it’s accepting that friend for who they are, warts and all. That doesn’t mean that iron shouldn’t sharpen iron on occasion, but my wife doesn’t spend her time trying to ‘change’ the essential things that make me, well, me. She accepts me for who I am.

2.) to like – My wife enjoys my company. She wants to be with me. Her interactions with me are full of genuineness and sincerity. Whether my fault or not, the people I interact with on a daily basis won’t always like me, but the person I am sharing my life with does, and that’s worth more than a king’s ransom to me. It’s so easy to love each other, when you like each other!

3.) to sanction – My wife is my number one cheerleader. She knows what makes me tick, the things I’m passionate about. She doesn’t try to cherry-pick my interests for me, but rather she genuinely seeks to understand and share in my passions and pursuits. Not only does she sanction them, she encourages me to be the best that I can possibly be in whatever endeavors I have chosen. She rejoices when I rejoice, and she’s sad when I’m sad.

4.) to treat affectionately or kindly – Far too often the world can be a cruel, mean, heart-breaking place. My wife makes our home a haven, a place of refuge where kindness and affection rule the day.

5.) to welcome – Coming home at the end of the day is a joyous occasion. When I enter the room, especially after a long day at work, her eyes light up and she can’t wait to tell me about her day, to hear about mine, to share the evening together. It’s obvious she missed me, and that certainly makes a guy feel special.

6.) to show signs of love, to kiss – When you’re married, there’s certainly something to the whole ‘friends with benefits’ stuff! The whole worldview, especially as portrayed by countless sitcoms and jokes, of the hapless, sex-starved husband chasing his wife around the bedroom only to be rejected time and time again is a worldview that, sadly, many Christians have fallen for. My wife doesn’t just like me, she truly enjoys my company in every possible way, and she takes measures quite often to make that blatantly obvious to me. It makes me feel loved, liked, special, appreciated, desired, and, frankly, about 10 feet tall.

We spend the bulk of our lives with our spouses. I am so fortunate to have not just a wife, but a best friend to share the ups and downs of life with, a friend who accepts me for who I am, a helpmeet who isn’t merely in my life, but is a part of it as well. If marriage is but a shadow of our future with Christ, heaven will be a wondrous place indeed!

Wives, how do you be a friend to your husband? And husbands, how does your wife show her love to you? Share in the comments below!

Five Ways Preparedness Can Save Your Family Money!

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

Saving Money While Eating Healthy ~ Preparedness is the Key ABiblicalMarraige

We’re by no means rich or even moderately well off, but we do believe strongly in living within our means. Granted, we’re probably not as strict on some things as noted Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey would be, but on most financial matters we try to follow what we believe to be the spirit of Dave’s financial ‘school’ of advice. While he teaches specifics that any family who wants to get out of debt and attain financial freedom should follow, the basic things we have done to get and stay out of debt include some of his and even a few of our own – one of which is… prepping!

Prepping?!?! When most people think about prepping, they probably think about spending gobs of money on doomsday bunkers, 30-year freeze-dried goods, solar panels, and other expensive items. Sure, those are fun and, given a few truckloads of discretionary income, would be great things to purchase; but prepping, ultimately, should be a money saver first. We firmly believe EVERY family, on even the most modest of budgets, should take some basic prepping steps.

It’s a crazy world out there, and it’s getting crazier by the minute. Economic uncertainty, war rumblings, a shaky power grid, natural disasters, an out-of-control Fed, and a gazillion other reasons attest to the probability that things aren’t likely to continue as smoothly as they have in our relatively recent past. Doing our best, as wise stewards, to prepare our families for the potential hard times to come is not only the smart thing to do, it’s the Christian thing to do as well!

In case you’ve been considering these things but have been holding back for financial reasons, we’d like to explore five ways prepping can actually save your family money over the long haul.

Five Ways Preparedness Can Save Your Family Money!

1) No matter what you buy, buying in bulk is usually less expensive.

This is often true whether you are buying raw ingredients or your favorite canned, frozen, or dried items. While it’s certainly important to check the cost per ounce, buying things in bulk, especially from a wholesale retailer like Sam’s or Cosco, is normally less expensive than buying things one at a time. Furthermore, seasonal, local, fresh vegetables from a co-op or local farmer’s market can often be less expensive than the grocery store. Gardening yourself is even cheaper!

Buying in Bulk ~ Ways to Save Money While Eating Healthy  ABiblicalMarriage.com

2) Raw ingredients are usually cheaper and store longer than processed foods.

Cooking from scratch is much healthier than buying chemical laden processed foods. The good news is, for those with a preparedness mindset, cooking from scratch is a win-win. First of all, it’s much less expensive than eating out or buying processed foods from the grocery store (OK maybe you could make a cheap meal out of SPAM but who really wants that?).  Basic rule of thumb – the more ‘hands’ (or machines) that touch the food, the more it costs and the more unhealthy it often is! Even buying that can of soup from the store is much more expensive than making the soup yourself. Secondly, basic, scratch ingredients store easily and often for longer periods of time – a real boon for those who want to prepare and save money at the same time.

For many families, the transition from convenience foods to a lifestyle of cooking healthy, nutritious, wholesome foods from scratch can certainly involve a pretty dramatic lifestyle change, but it’s well worth it!

3) Prepping allows you to buy almost everything on sale.

Except for fresh items like milk, eggs, fruit, and the like, we rarely buy a food item that’s not on sale. Let’s say you want to make a nice chicken casserole from scratch one night for dinner. Great idea, except you don’t have any chicken in your pantry – so you go to the store, only to find out the chicken you need isn’t on sale. In fact, it’s marked higher than it normally is! Had you been prepping all along you wouldn’t have run out of chicken in the first place, and the chicken you have in the pantry would have likely been bought on sale. When you spot a good deal on foods you would normally buy, buy as much as you can! After all, who knows when that deal will come around again? Not only did you take advantage of the chance to buy something at a great deal, but the next time you pass that section of the store and see the item is not on sale, your fully stocked pantry will allow you the chance NOT to buy at the more expensive price.

Buying Raw Ingredients is Usually Cheaper Than Processed ~ How to Save Money While Eating Healthy | ABiblicalMarriage

4) Prepping saves time – and time is money.

How much time, gas, and vehicle wear and tear do those avoidable (see point 3) trips to the grocery store take? If you have a grocery store in your pantry, and are stocking it up with bulk and scratch items, how many trips to the grocery store do you really have to make? Not as many as most people!

5) Prepping in this way will help you eat healthier, and eating healthier will save you money in the long run.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Cooking and eating healthy ingredients from scratch is certainly not something only preppers do, but preppers who practice this will reap the same rewards. A healthier lifestyle = a healthier family = less medical expenses = more money in your pocket! Win-Win-Win-Win!!

It’s a no-brainer – prepping, properly and smartly done, can SAVE the average family money over the long haul. Then, later, maybe there’ll be enough for those doomsday bunkers and solar panels!

More Resources:

Want more Real, Whole food goodness? Sign up for a Traditional Menu Plan. Save money and eat healthy whole foods! Sign up for TWO weeks FREE! You can read about Jami’s  experience with this menu plan HERE. Preparedness