Laughter in marriage is good medicine. As we learn to laugh and not take our selves so seriously we can learn to enjoy marriage. As a married couple we deal with so many difficult, serious things in life, it’s good to just take time to laugh at ourselves.
In honor of getting ready for the Christmas Holiday, I thought you would enjoy a comedian’s take on marriage.
Marriage and Underwear
I love laughing at the differences in men and women. Have you ever noticed that women will communicate with questions? (I guess I just illustrated my point). Men are more likely to communicate by making a statement. We could either get frustrated at each other, or we could just laugh and embrace the difference.
I went on a date with my husband over the weekend. We went to see the movie “Woodlawn.” Set in the early 70’s it tells the story of a Football Coach and the newly forced integration of his football team. Starting out with race riots, the team allowed an evangelist to speak to his team. Young men black and white were saved and everything changed. These high school students so impacted their coach that He was saved which forever changed his marriage and his family.
Weeping through this movie, I held my husbands hand believing God for more of His Spirit to be poured out in our generation. When we receive His eternal life flowing into each one of us through salvation, we are forever changed.
As we move into 2016, my hope and prayer is that we would freshly invite Jesus to be at the center of our lives. When we experience a fresh outpouring of His spirit, we are forever changed. Then, we need to get incredibly practical, honest and transparent — inviting God’s love to impact our lives.
No matter where you are in the world, giving thanks opens a doorway to a happy life. In the United States, we celebrate thanksgiving as a nation but few of us remember the true sacrifice of the Pilgrims who came to America for religious freedom. I shared this history with my children as they were growing up and would place “five kernels of corn” on each plate to remember the first pilgrims.
Most of us have a vague notion that this holiday began when the Pilgrims invited their Indian neighbors to dinner to thank God for his provisions. But there really is much more to the story.
The Pilgrims made a 66 day journey across the North Atlantic Ocean.One Hundred and two made the voyage in a ship the size of a modern day volleyball court. They encountered the full gall of the winter storms of 1620 that plunged the pilgrims into prolonged seasickness.They were hated by the sailors on the ship who called them “psalm-singing puke-stockings”.Several of the crew threatened to throw them over the side of ship and feed them to the fish.
During one violent storm, the crossbeam supporting the mainmast cracked.The crew crowded below deck with the screaming children, who were frightened by the loud noise.All were concerned. What could they do to save the ship?The Pilgrims responded in the only way they knew how.They prayed, “Yet Lord, thou canst save!”
In answer to their prayer, the Lord reminded Elder Brewster of the iron screw of his printing press.In desperation, they brought in the press, cranked it up to meet the cross beam and raised it up to its original position.Even the sailors joined the Pilgrims as they shouted praise to God.He had saved each one from the terrors of shipwreck.They sailed the rest of the way across the Atlantic with a Printing Press holding the ship together.
The joy and expectation that must have filled every heart when at last the words “Land ho” were shouted.The land they saw was to become “New England”.It was out of the jurisdiction of the Virginia Company so they needed some law to govern their settlement.They drafted a simple covenant which said: “…Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation…”
When the Pilgrims arrived in the safe harbor they fell on their knees on the sands of Cape Cod thanking God for his blessing.Bradford later was astonished at “this poor people’s present condition… no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses, or much less towns to repair to…”
The pilgrims could rely only on God.They could not take solace in any other thing. “If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world…What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace.”
God used these trials to make the hearts of the pilgrims triumphant.“God sifted a whole nation, that He might send choice grain into this wilderness.”More than half of them died the first winter which was later called the “starving time.” They buried the dead at night so that the Indians would not know how few their number was becoming.
God Sent Help to the Pilgrims
In the Spring of 1621,the cry went up “Indian coming!”Everyone was surprised to see one bold Indian marching down the center of the street with nothing on except a loin cloth.In perfect English the Indian said “Welcome.”Then he looked at the stunned faces of the Pilgrims and said “Do you have any beer?” The Indian’s name was Samoset.He had learned English from traveling with an English sea captain.
Samoset befriended the pilgrims and introduced them to Squanto.Squanto had been kidnapped and taken to England where he lived for many years.He finally found a way back to his homeland, only to find all of his family dead and his home deserted.Squanto found a new purpose for life by helping the Pilgrims.He knew that they would starve to death if they didn’t learn how to live off the land.He showed them how to grow corn, catch fish and hunt.
The fall harvest was a success.The Pilgrims were thankful to God for the abundance of His hand of provision.With Squanto as their interpreter, they invited the local Indian chief Massasoit to come to a day of public Thanksgiving.The chief arrived a day early with ninety Indians! The Pilgrims were relieved when the Indians did not come empty handed.They brought with them dressed dear and wild turkeys.They also showed the women how to roast corn kernels until they popped. The popcorn was a favorite treat.
This first thanksgiving lasted three days.The Indians and Pilgrims competed in shooting contests between meals.The friendship and relationship that was built resulted in a treaty of peace that lasted forty years.
Later that fall new settlers arrived by ship.Everyone was filled with joy at their coming.But when they realized it was almost winter and the settlers had come with no extra provisions, they knew something must be done to help them make it through the entire winter.The pilgrims were each rationed 5 kernels of corn per day.They prayed for God’s mercy and received His sustenance.Not one of them died of starvation that winter.
In April of 1623, the Pilgrims worked with new vigor planting corn.They knew they needed an abundant harvest.But after planting the seed, they faced a terrible drought.Once again the pilgrims prayed.Edward Winslow recounts “…O the mercy of God, who was as ready to hear, as we were to ask.”The very next morning, God gave a gentle shower of rain.
This answer to prayer had a significant impact on the Indians.They had tried many incantations and rain dances without positive effect.They were impressed with the goodness of the pilgrims’ God.
The abundance of the harvest that year yielded the pilgrims a surplus of corn.They invited the Indians to a second Day of Thanksgiving. Massasoit was again invited and this time he came with 120 braves.The first course was served .An empty plate was set before each person with five kernels of corn on it.No one would ever forget to thank God for His abundant provision.
Facing 3 surgeries, 8 months of chemo, and 6 weeks of radiation is an unlikely time to build a relationship with the love of your life. Yet, nothing is impossible with God.
Have you been at a wedding and found yourself crying at the beautiful and profound way that God brings a couple together? I was crying those sweet tears this weekend as I witnessed Reid and Amanda (Noelle Wilcox) Patterson join their lives in a covenant of marriage.
The high point for me in the service was when Amanda pulled out a letter she had written to her husband in April 2014. She didn’t meet Reid until a month later. She wrote her letter in faith and expectancy that God would bring her the man that she needed rather than the man she thought she wanted.
Amanda surrendered to God her heart’s desire to be married. She put everything on the altar.
When Amanda wrote this letter in April, she didn’t know that she would meet her husband in a Juice bar in May. Neither of them knew that she would embark in a struggle against cancer, facing 3 surgeries and 8 months of chemo therapy and 6 weeks of radiation. In the battle of her life, a knight-in-shining armor arose – Reid Patterson. Reid was at her side during all the gross and difficult moments of this struggle.
Through the entire process, Amanda was a beacon of light and an encouragement to the medical community as well as the christian community who enjoyed Amanda’s talents as a vocalist and worship leader. As one of Amanda’s mentors, I saw her go deeper in her faith. Suffering made her more beautiful inside and out.
Last month I had dinner with Amanda and Reid in what is now their first home as a couple. They radiated with the presence and the power of God. God not only healed Amanda so she is cancer free, but he brought them together as a husband and wife. It was so much fun to give them my new book on marriage, and pray for God’s continued blessing in their life.
Buy a copy for yourself today, and an extra one to give as a Christmas Gift. This book will help you build a marriage that lasts. Invest in your marriage. No matter where your relationship is presently, this book will encourage and strengthen you to make it better, with God’s help!
God created each of us with hearts that desire to be open. It takes emotional energy to keep thoughts and feelings hidden. When we feel frustrated or hurt, a common response is to shut down emotionally—to protect, rather than share our hearts.
At a pivotal point in our marriage, I realized that, although I felt safe to openly share how I felt with my husband, Wayne didn’t feel the same safety with me. Wayne processes his emotions and thoughts internally, and when he doesn’t feel safe, he keeps to himself. Every time I spoke critically of my husband, in effect, I added another brick to the wall that divided us. We had been through a couple of hard years and the bricks were stacking up between us. The taller that protective wall got, the more effectively it hindered our emotional intimacy.
When I accepted the responsibility for my actions and asked for Wayne’s forgiveness, the wall between us immediately began to come down. A newly created environment of emotional safety allowed us to draw together with greater intimacy.
If an emotional brick wall is dividing your relationship, one or both of you are probably experiencing some of the following things:
Communication is closed or strained.
It feels as if you’re walking on eggshells in an attempt to avoid confrontation.
You feel like you have to perform a certain way to please the other person.
There’s an inability to be fully open and honest. 26
To experience intimacy in marriage, both partners need to feel safe. In addition, one or both of you may feel:
Misunderstood or rejected
Mistrusted or mistrusting
Emotionally shut down
An emotionally safe marriage is one that allows you the freedom to be who you really are. You can trust that your spouse will love you no matter what. You feel unconditional acceptance. You feel safe to share the most valuable part of you—your heart. In an emotionally safe relationship, you are confident your spouse will not crush your hopes, dreams, or deepest desires. And you feel confident that what you share will remain private.
Both spouses need to embrace their responsibility to create an environment of emotional safety in their home. You can start by learning how to handle conflict in a way that builds up, rather than tears down, your partner’s confidence and security.
Choosing words carefully can make the difference between a spirit of reconciliation vs. combustion. Words such as “You ALWAYS…” or “You NEVER…” can cause someone to feel accused. Rather than blaming someone for your disagreement, choose words that are understanding of their felt need. Take time to affirm your commitment to your relationship rather than threaten to end it.
3. Watch Your Tone
Become aware of your tone of voice. If your inflection sounds irritated, bored, or defensive, you will have much more difficulty communicating from the heart. Make sure that you are able to to speak during a moment that you are not overly stressed or pushed for time. Your tone will naturally be filled with affirmation when you take time to think positively about your relationship.
If you have been married for more than a week, I’m certain you’re aware that your marriage is not perfect. No marriage relationship is. And regardless of how wonderful or terrible your marriage may seem right now, I’m also certain that you are aware of ways it could be better, healthier, stronger, and more loving. We all desire to see positive changes in our relationships. We all want to be built up, encouraged, and empowered to live life to the fullest.
I Wrote This Book:
1. To Help Marriages Thrive Rather Than Survive
Unfortunately, so many marriage relationships limp along at less than life-giving; worse yet are the relationships that actively drain the life out of one or both partners. You may know someone in a hurting marriage; you may even be that person. And maybe, fearful of what others will think of your imperfect life, you’re hiding that pain from your family and friends. You think to yourself, “Suck it up,” or “Hang in there until the kids are grown,” or “Nobody’s marriage is perfect; this is just the way life is.” You think, if you try harder, you can just make it work.
Being connected to Jesus gives fresh life to marriage. He is the Life-Giver. The life-giving joy, power, and purpose for marriage flow from the One who created us to be in relationship with each other. Apart from Him, we can’t do anything. Embracing the creative power of God can turn a mediocre (or miserable) place in your marriage into a masterpiece of His design.
2. To Help Couples Learn a New Way to Communicate
For more than thirty-five years, Dr. John Gottman and his team have studied marriages. As a research scientist, he uses rig- orous methods and standards respected by medical science. The data he’s gathered gives a scientific glimpse into the anatomy of a marriage.
In the family research laboratory, aka “the love lab,” Gottman’s team uses instruments to measure the heart rates of couples during conflict-filled conversation. They record the dis- cussion and analyze the facial responses. During a ten-year study, with a ninety-one percent accuracy rate, they were able to predict which couples would divorce.
The couples whose marriages were not doing well often began disagreements with a harsh tone. Soon, the scientists watch- ing would observe what Dr. John Gottman labeled as “The Four Horsemen.” These four negative styles of behavior are lethal to a marriage and could lead to a chaotic end. Here is the list:2
Horseman 1: Criticism. Criticism is more than a complaint. Criticism attacks character and blames the other person, “What is wrong with you?”
Horseman 2: Contempt. Sarcasm and cynicism are common types of contempt. This disgusted attitude sometimes includes name-calling, mockery, sneering, or making jokes at the other’s expense.
Horseman 3: Defensiveness. Defensiveness denies responsibility and focuses all the blame on one’s partner. “I’m not the problem; you are!”
Horseman 4: Stonewalling. This is the last horseman to arrive, but the first one to parade off in silence. Stonewalling occurs when one partner shuts down or tunes out the discussion. They ignore the spouse with a coldness that is felt by everyone involved.
You may be thinking right now, “What should we do? The four horsemen not only know our names, but they regularly visit at our address.” If you are experiencing criticism, contempt, defensive- ness, or stonewalling in your marriage, you may be desperate for something to change.
[Tweet “Learning a new way to communicate is like learning a new dance” #MarriageRocks]
A new beginning can occur right now, if you make a choice to change your behavior. If you have been stepping on one anoth- er’s toes in this disappointing dance, shake up the steps. Decide today to relate to your spouse differently. You won’t be able to control your spouse’s words, tone, or behavior, but if you change your dance steps, you will change the dance.
God’s plan and purpose for your marriage is that you overcome all adversity through His strength. As your heart finds safety in Jesus, He will teach you how to bring safety into your marriage. The Holy Spirit is your comforter and your guide.
In a marriage covenant, you are promising before God and witnesses that you are going to be faithful and true to your spouse, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. Keeping your relationship strong in all three of these areas creates a wholehearted connection that helps divorce-proof your marriage. In contrast, a marriage without the safety of a wholehearted connection will fail unless the bond of intimacy is restored.
Remember, if you are brokenhearted, God is able to mend your broken heart. If you feel half-hearted because of stress, hurt feelings, or broken promises, God is able to light a fresh fire of intimacy and make your relationship whole.
If you or your spouse has spoken heartless words or done heartless things to each other, know that God still works miracles in the lives of couples who trust Him to restore their marriages.
You can’t control what your spouse does; you can only control how you react. You can control your own choices, so choose to walk with a faith-filled perspective towards your marriage.
God is at work in your heart and in your marriage. If you have been going your separate ways, turn around, and get reconnected. If your marriage has been under attack, get help. Sometimes reinforcements are necessary for the battle to win back your relationship and rebuild a wall of safety around it. If you feel alone in your marriage, begin again to prioritize the emotional, sexual, and spiritual oneness in your relationship.
4. To Help Couples go from “Good” to “Great”
As a couple, you have the opportunity to allow the Spirit of God to make your marriage a masterpiece. I pray that your marriage will be a sign that points to the goodness of God in how He has worked miracles in your marriage.
God desires for marriage to draw us into a closer relationship with Him—unity with Him enables us to have a life-giving marriage.
Only God could think of creating a rainbow of color, caused by the refraction of the sun’s light by rain in the sky. After the global flood, God showed Noah a rainbow and told him it symbolized a promise to human kind that He would never again destroy the whole earth with a flood.
The rainbow of promise between a husband and wife is not that each of them will be perfect in their marriage relationship. On the contrary, because every marriage is made up of imperfect people, the imperfection of your marriage will be evident to you and others. Thankfully, our hope is not in our own performance.
Helping good marriages become great marriages is a lifelong passion for Wayne and I. Help us share this message with others. Here is a video that you can share with your friends.