Why we're here...

Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

We're honored to be a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association...click on their logo to visit them.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Leaving to Arrive - Five Minue Friday

Once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

Today's word is leave.


A man shall leave his mother, and a woman leave her home, they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one...and there is love...

Remember the song? If not, remember the Bible?

We have to leave our past, and the ties holding us, to arrive at the place we're supposed to be in our marriage.

The ties don;t want to be cut. It seems like they can be maintained, in a sort of compromise...where there's the major portion of your heart for the marriage, but there's a bit left over for the things that supported you and comforted you in the past.


Marriage is a sacrament, which means that it's a model of our relationship with God.

And God wants everything. He's not satisfied with a part of our fidelity. He wants it all, not because he's unreasonable, but because He knows you have to make that commitment to become a citizen of Heaven, and to be buds with the Big Dude.

Same thing with marriage, To be the husband or wife you're supposed to be, the commitment has to be total. Nothing else will do, because it'll end up like an unpainted part of a steel-bodied car.

It's going to rust.

And it's going to be compromised in strength, and can eventually fail.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vocational Respect - The Fourth Pillar

Before we start...do you like the blog's New Look?

Today we'll introduce the fourth of seven Pillars of Marital Respect - Vocational Respect.

Almost all of us work in some way. We have to; as Shakespeare said, "if all the years were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work".

Even if we don't need the money, we need the challenge, the bitter fruit of labor that makes the sweetness of rest something to savor, and anticipate. After all, if there were only light, and no shadows, the most beautiful landscapes would be flat and boring.

We also need respect for what we do, and for the sacrifices we make to do it.

How do you respect what your mate does? Simple. Learn about it. Ask questions, and listen to the answers. Celebrate the successes, and commiserate on the bad days.

Be involved, because involvement and engagement are the manifestations of respect.

And what of the sacrifices?

For the spouse in the workforce, it's the long hours and the unpaid overtime and the hard days that result in falling asleep in the soup.It's the cuts and bruises and the insults borne with honor and dignity.

It's the travel.

But what of the spouse who stays home?

We live in a culture that, for all the lip service it pays to raising children well and making an attractive home, still undervalues a stay-at-home spouse and parent. "You wouldn't be able to enjoy this luxury without support, since you're not bringing in the money...you're just spending it."

It's not society's business, really, but people love to judge.

The work is hard. Dealing with kids (and their disrespect) can be more trying that the most psychotic boss.

Keeping up a house that's nice to come home to...well, it doesn't do itself, and in between drinking champagne and eating bon-bons, the stay-at-home spouse generally has to do the washing, the cleaning, the vacuuming, the dusting, the gardening, the bills...and generally tries to get it done before the other partner-in-marriage gets home.

What's a bon-bon, anyway?

And the sacrifice?

For the stay-at-home parent (I almost said "mom" but there are some domestic dads) the sacrifice is being willing to step out of a large part of the world's flow, and attend to what is vital...but often unappreciated.

Being in the workforce makes us part of something, part of something big, and shared, and vibrant. The world makes demands on us, and extends little sympathy.

We thrive in that environment, and we've done something. We've won a small victory, every day.

But what of the parent who stays home?

She's important, but she's a big fish in a very small pond. Her influence doesn't cut across corporate boundaries; it may not even cross the street.

She's given up a sense of belonging in the world, to belong to her family.

She's dropped out of the race, and catching up will be hard.

Meanwhile, at social functions, she has to deal with the faint air of condescension..."Oh, you don't really work.".

How can you respect your stay-at-home spouse?

Help out. At the very least, don't create more work by leaving bathtowels on the floor and dirty dishes in the living room.

Help according to your mate's wishes and needs. If you're asked to help in a certain way...do it that way. Don't decide that you can make things run more smoothly by helping in the way you want to help.

Help in the way you're needed.

Ask questions. Know what's going on, so you can ask more than "how was your day". Ask how the roses are doing. Ask if she (yes, or he1) is tired, and would putting the feet up for a bit be appealing?

Compliment. Notice changes, and say, "thank you". If you left this morning and the hamper was overflowing with dirty clothes...and when you came home the hamper was empty, and the closet racks full...say, "Thanks."

Respect is understanding, and appreciation is expressed thanks...and we need them both.

What about you? How do you show respect for your mate's work?

(Please don't forget to visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cheap Marriage Dates

Date nights can get expensive. A dinner for two at a nice restaurant will set you back at LEAST $10.


OK, so it's maybe been awhile since we've been out.

With so many demands on time and pocketbook, it's hard to schedule - and to justify - date nights. There are so many things clamoring for attention that we tend to put married fun to the back of the to-do list.

And the bad part of that is that lack of fun can eventually cause lack of interest in fun.

Fun helps us reconnect with who we were when we wanted to be attractive, and when we wanted to win the heart of the person who we eventually married.

Winning hearts doesn't end when the ring goes on the finger. It's a lifetime privilege.

So, some suggestions...

  • Play miniature golf - something about the pace of this pleasant game just engenders conversation, and smiles...it's hard to sink into worries about your stock portfolio when you're trying to tap a luminous pink ball between the dancing feet of a dinosaur.
  • Visit local museums and historical societies - you'll find an uncrowded place, staffed by folks who are simply delighted that you took the time to stop by. My town is home to the Harvey House museum - Harvey Houses were the hotel/restaurants along the Santa Fe railway routes in the west - and two hours spent there gave us a huge amount of interesting knowledge, and introduced us to some fascinating local volunteers who really cared about history.
  • Go on a local history walking tour - Your town probably has some 'hidden history', visible if you know where to look. Make use of it - one of you can act as the tour guide, and do the research to make it an experience in which you'll learn about the place you live - and perhaps learn something about one another, as well.
  • Go to an open-mike poetry reading - Don't just 'go'; each of you write a poem, and participate. Scared that you'll be humiliated? Don't be. Most 'poets' can't write poetry either. You can "dare together", and in the poems you write (don't share them beforehand!) perhaps, again, learn something about one another.
  • Climb a tree with a picnic lunch - Make sure it doesn't have a beehive...but have lunch in a good climbing tree. It's a different perspective.
  • Play a board game - Get a good, old fashioned board game, and make it an event, with refreshments and comfortable seating.
  • Make a graffiti wall - Pick a wall in your house (inside or out) - or build a special wall - and tag it together, or take turns. One of you starts...and your partner takes up where you left off, in creating a piece of collaborative artwork. You can seen an example of this in the video of Daniel Powter's lovely song, "Bad Day". It's about 2:23 into the video.

LOike life, marriage is what you make it, and if you throw in some creativity and imagination, you can keep yours evergreen...

...without going into the red.

What are your favorite cheap dates?

(if you have the chance,please drop by my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a brief quotation-and-commentary on grace in marriage.)

I am honored to be linking to  "Yes, They Are All Ours" through Marriage Monday. Elizabeth does a great job writing about marriage and faith and family and God; please click on the image below to drop by, and to visit other linked blogs.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Marriage Dare - Five Minute Friday

Once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

We must all be mad. This is not easy.

The word for today is dare.


Marriage is a dare.

It's a dare to become part of someone's life, someone you probably didn't know until you were an adult.

It's a dare to commit to a life of service, a life of putting someone else first.

Not what we're used to, when we're young. Sure, we talk about it, talk about service in the church, service to our country...but at the end of it, we have the sneaking hope that there will be something left for us.

Marriage is not like that.

When you marry, you give your whole heart, your whole life. That's the vow you make, before God, your spouse, and your community.

To thee I pledge all I am.

That's why I write about marriage, both in this blog, in my other blog (www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com), and in my novels.

Marriage is the greatest adventure in life. It beats getting shot at for short-term thrills, and a good marriage beats wealth for satisfaction and joy.

I'll support it as long as I can put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. Pen to paper sounds better, eh?


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Physical Respect - The Third Pillar

This is the third installment of our series on the Seven Pillars of Marital Respect. Today we're talking about the third pillar - physical respect.

A large part of this - though not all of it - has to do with sex, so let's get that one done first.

Paul enjoins us to consider our bodies to be not our own, but belonging to our spouse, and that has to be one of the most misused pieces of Scripture in the New Testament.

Taken in its full context, Paul's talking about a fully Christian marriage in which respect is so deeply ingrained that we can trust our spouses with a measure of 'control' over our bodies.

What that really means is this - that "I have a headache" means you'll get a couple of Tylenol and a hug, not a comment about "spousal duty in the bedroom".

Physical respect grows out of emotional and spiritual respect, realizing that your spouse wants to be a full physical partner in marriage...but accepting in good grace that some times are simply not good.

Physical respect does not read rejection into "please, not tonight". Physical respect trusts.

Physical respect also focuses on a spouse's fulfilment as the first priority. "How was it for you?" sinply isn't enough.

"How can I make this a special experience for you?" is better, and it should be said well in advance of time spent in the bedroom. Anticipation is important for women...and it is important for men, too, whatever popular culture may tell you.

And...I hesitate to bring this up...physical respect does not view pornography. At all. Ever.

First, pornography (usually a failing of men) is degrading to both men and women. It creates a mindset in which a woman is viewed as a receptacle. View any woman that way - and you're well on your way to seeing your wife in the same light.

Second, pornography plants ideas...and guys, can you imagine how disappointing it would be for your wife if you suddenly suggested something 'new', and she quickly realizes you got the inspiration from watching porn?

The first time that happens, you'll have lost something, a shared innocence, that you will not regain.

Enough about sex.

There are other types of physical respect, as well, and these deal with health, fitness, and body image.

Health is important, and we should encourage one another to eat healthy, avoid smoking, and so on...but we should not harangue or blackmail. We've got to credit our mates with the ability to make adult decisions, and if they don't, we have to forbear to impose guilt. That's not our job; it's God's.

I used to be a runner, and I married a weightlifter (talk about role reversal!), so fitness was important to both Barbara and me...but when we established a home, suddenly we found we didn't have time to stay fit. It hurt us individually,and it hurt our marriage.

What we didn't realize was that we owed one another the creation of opportunities to keep fit. It meant that if Barbara wanted to go to the gym, I would find a way to keep myself occupied...without complaint. And if I needed to go for a run, Barbara would find something to do, and not pointedly ask how long I'd need (which she never did).

We should encourage exercise; it's wonderful if it can be shared, but if not...encourage the separate times. Again, it;s not a rejection. Trust that.

Finally, body image. You may one day find that the slim Romeo you married has turned into Elmer Fudd, and how did that happen?

And he may be fine with it. Men can be pretty accepting of what they look like (well, maybe "in denial" is a better way of putting it).

It's not your job to correct him, ladies. If he has accountability partners among his friends, they should handle it...but from you, it's going to come across as disrespectful and critical, even if your pure motivation is love and care. That just how it is.

And guys, if your wife has put on weight...she knows it. She does not need to be reminded, ever, in any way.

She needs to be loved for WHO she is.

Please stop by my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quick look at a quote and commentary on grace in marriage

And...we're pleased to announce that Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart is now a part of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association! This is a tremendous honor, and we're delighted!

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage (and I got to write today's!). If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear and Hope

"Any man out here who's not afraid is either dead or a liar"- attributed to Capt. A. A. Haldane, USMC, at the Battle of Peleliu, Sept. 16, 1944

I'm scared.

Scared to die, sure. I believe in God, I believe that there's a Heaven, and I've had some experiences that objectively support that belief...but the transition is frightening.

And I'm afraid of more pain. Today (Sunday October 19, as I write this) has been almost intolerable. Worse is unthinkable...but that may be where it's going.

I mentioned this to someone close today, and was told that if I had more thoughts of Heaven I wouldn't fear the pain so much.

That was not exactly the best thing to say. It calls to mind retorts that typically end up sounding like, "Oh yeah? let's trade, and you try it."

I'd love to have the serene faith and trust one typically ascribes to church martyrs, but I have a sneaking suspicion, from this end of the pond, that they were more scared than we know...it's just that they didn't quit.

After all, Jesus was scared! When He was sweating blood at Gethsemane, He certainly sounded frightened.  Good reason, too.

So I guess I'm in good company. And too ill, at the moment, to write more.

If you get the chance, please drop by my other blog, www.dailygracequotewordpress.com, for a quote and commentary on grace in marriage.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Longing To Live - Five Minute Friday

This is my first contribution to Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

I was introduced to this unique way to deal with a Thursday evening by Jeanne Takenaka. Thanks, Jeanne! (She has a terrific blog - visit her!)

I think.

It's tough.

The paragraphs below were done with about three seconds to spare.

Dealing with what my doctor says is a terminal illness - that will kill me quite nastily - makes for some pretty long days and some longer nights. There really isn't anything that relieves the pain any more, so I just have to deal with it.

Minutes can seem like hours sometimes.

But I don't have the worst of it - what's long for me is unbearably long for my wife. She has to watch the man she choose to marry decline long (that word again!) before his time. She has to make plans for a long future without me, without making me feel like I'm becoming excess baggage.

It's something that I would not want to do. Something that I don't know I COULD do.

I have the easy bit. I just have to fight an enemy that is unseen but very active, and I can devote my full energy to that. I have to - and sometimes that makes me less than a nice person.

Survivors don't survive because they're nice. They survive because they are, on some level, ruthless. With themselves, to ensure that they don't back down when the going gets rough; and with others, because pity is weakening, and can't be accepted.

Yeah, I think she longs for the old me, and the times before I had something in common with Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti.

So do I.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spiritual Respect - The Second Pillar

Some - either Ann Landers or Oprah Winfrey - once said that an ideal marriage doesn't consist of two people looking at each other, but of two people, side by side, looking into the future together.

It's a compelling image, and nowhere does it seem more important than in our spiritual lives. We want to be equally yoked, and to have a relationship with God that is accessible to and congruent with that of our mate.

But reality will go and intrude...we develop emotionally and spiritually at different rates, and chances are that at some point (or points) during a marriage, we'll be on different spiritual pages. To keep the relationship healthy, we have to look on our spouse's spiritual place with understanding and respect.

This isn't always easy.

Some couples have small differences; one partner might be a pre-Tribulation millennialist, while the other's firmly in the post-Trib camp. It's not hard to "agree to disagree" on points of doctrine like this; it doesn't really affect the sincerity and purity of one's faith.

Where lack of respect can raise its head is the degree to which we identify with our position. This is often buttressed by a feeling of belonging to a certain group, led by a pastor whom one likes...so when we get defensive about a seemingly minor point, we're often really defending a human institution that offers us definition, It's not about faith - it's about ego.

Then there are substantive differences in faith. This would be akin to one spouse believing that the Rapture will happen,and the other looking at that event with a tolerant, disbelieving scorn.

"How can he believe that?"

"How can you ignore the Truth?"

Respect, here, has to be a choice, so that the exchange above never takes place in real life. One must simply forbear to say anything critical, because your mate has a right to his or her beliefs.

Sometimes partners in marriage develop different approaches to worship. A personal example - my wife is enthusiastic about praise & worship, while my approach is very low-key. When I was still well enough to attend church, Barb would enthusiastically take part in Praise & Worship. I'd stand politely and listen.

She felt alone, and I felt pushed. Not a good combination for a marriage,

I could have respected her through the simple expedient of participating. It wouldn't have killed me.

Barbara could have tried to understand the influences that made me that withdrawn.

We could have met in the middle, but we didn't. That lack of respect, made manifest in an unwillingness to compromise, hurt the marriage.

Finally, what if your husband or wife abandons Christianity?

This is a terribly hard question. It can quickly kill respect, because to the 'staying' spouse feels abandoned and rejected on an elemental level, while the 'leaving' spouse is entering the unknown, a life without God. That's scary, and fear longs for company.

The only way to deal with a situation like this is to respect where your mate is.You do't have to sign onto their paradigm, but you should be willing to listen.

And you should lead - respectfully - by example. Effective evangelism exists in the space allowed by mutual respect.

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage (and I got to write today's!). If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wifely Words of Wisdom

My wife knows me pretty well.

I don't do well with self-care when I'm sick or wounded. Recently I put a large hole into my hand (don't ask). I simply poured a dollop of rubbing alcohol into the wound and kept going.

It didn't seem like much, and even when the hand swelled up to twice its normal size (it got infected) I just opened the hole to let it drain. I also tried to keep it concealed; no point in causing undue concern, right?

Wrong. When my wife saw it, she was horrified., and asked what I was was planning to do if I lost the hand.

I joked that I'd just build myself a hook and keep going. I didn't think there was much chance of that happening, and I wasn't too concerned.

Boy, was that the wrong thing to say.

Exit wife, followed by a slammed door, but not before she said this:

"If you don't care for yourself, there will come a time when others decide that you're not worth their compassion, either. Keep pushing people away, and one day they will stay away."

She's right. My response was keyed to who and what I am, and that does not square with most people. It's not that I'm stronger or 'better'; my life experiences have made me different.

But different or not, it's incumbent on me to understand others' perspectives, and to be respectful of them. I can expect myself to take physical pain and keep going, with blood running down my arm...but not to take others' feelings into account, especially those of my wife, is simply thoughtless.

I don't have to change what I am, but I do have to learn to see and value myself as others do.

I am valued, for one thing...and being uncaring toward myself invites the question, "What will he do if I'm hurt? Will he even care?"

Ashleigh Brilliant wrote, "No man is an island but some of us are rather long peninsulas".

True. But we have to maintain that contact, because the alternative is not only the loss of the support we all need...it's the loss of what we can contribute when we lose the trust of those around us.

The trust that we care.

Today's post is my contribution to the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association October  Blog Challenge - Words of Wisdom. This week it's "Words of Wisdom from Family".

Please click on the link below to visit other blogs taking the challenge - you'll fin a ton of enrichment for your marriage!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Emotional Respect - The First Pillar

Men and women are so different in almost every way that it's a wonder we can spend more than a couple of hours together without a complete breakdown in communications.

Oh, that happened of your first date with your spouse, too?

But two areas in which we're quite similar are our needs. Men and women need love. And women and men need respect.

But again - there's a quick divergence. Men need to be respected for what they do, while women need to be respected for who they are.

Tell a woman she's a lovely human being, and she'll glow. Tell a man that, and he'll say, "Ug," and drag his knuckles back to his cage, where he'll scratch his head for minutes trying to figure out what you meant. Then he'll give it up and have a beer.

Tell a man he's a terrific accountant and he's on cloud nine. Tell a woman that, and she'll feel just a little bit incomplete...like it's not quite a full compliment. And she may spend days wondering what she's not doing as well as she could.

The same paradigm applies in giving emotional respect. Both men and women react from the heart, and often to the same stimuli, bit they do it in different ways.

Men tend to become emotional about issues relating to goal-fulfillment. The ending of Saving Private Ryan is a good example; the now elderly James Ryan, standing in a cemetery in Normandy, asks his wife if he's been a good man. In other words, he's asking if his life validated the sacrifices made to ensure his survival. The emotional content is loaded into a relatively brief scene (or set of scenes); the rest of the story builds to that point with action.

Men respond strongly to this message, to the vindication of effort (or,in some cases, the lack of vindication as tragedy).

Women tend to respond more deeply to process; films like Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail generally appeal to women more than men because the emotional content is drawn out through the bulk of the film where the main characters aren't together. The process of their movement toward a central point of union is what gives these films their emotional 'meat'.

Men get restless during Sleepless not because there's no action, but because their emotional feelers are being overtaxed.

Women get bored during Private Ryan because their emotional range isn't being exercised through much of the film.

To respect one another, as husbands and wives, we need to understand this basic point - we're taking very different roads to get to a similar place.

The man has to subsume his emotional activity through action of some sort, but his reaction is heartfelt when it comes.

The woman has to ride the current of emotion over time, or else she feels cheated; her reaction is no less heartfelt, but it's a more gradual buildup.

Think of the Sierra Nevada mountains; the western slopes rise gradually through the California foothills, the feminine side; and once past the crest they drop abruptly to the Nevada high desert (the masculine).

To respect one another, first, understand. Then affirm.

Ladies, if you see your husbands tearing up at the end of a movie, don't inquire what they're feeling. You'll ruin the moment, Just be there. Give a hand on the shoulder, or on the knee (and keep it non-sexual; not every moment is right for sex, even for men).

Don't talk, because for a man, the bottled emotion is often the emotion fully lived. He'll talk if he wants or needs to.

Guys, if your wife is going through the Kleenex for ninety minutes, don't sigh loudly and roll your eyes. Hold her close (again, non-sexual touch, please) and ask, "What are you feeling?"

And, yes, guys, listen for the answer. Then ask another question, so your wife can fully live the moment.

Now, Quiz Time - what's the secret to providing emotional respect to your spouse?

Yes, good! Support, in the form of your full presence,manifested through supportive touch and listening.

Your turn - how do you show emotional respect to your spouse?

(Please don't forget to stop in at my new blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quote and short commentary that I hope will shine a light of grace...for October, the subject's marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage (and I got to write today's!). If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Evil Quid Pro Quo

If you know something's wrong, why do it?

In marriage, there's often a one-word answer - getting even.

"She did this, so I'm entitled to do that to make myself feel better!"

Of course, we don't say that out loud, unless we're being painfully honest with ourselves. But that sense of entitlement, the piece of candy that we deserve after we're wronged that drives our actions.

That sense that there is a threshold of entitlement...I deserve this much from life...is one of the most damaging squirrel-chases upon which we can embark, because we're setting ourselves up 'outside' ourselves.

We're passing a judgement on what we deserve, and we are trespassing on the turf of the Almighty.

Of course, this does not mean, "I'm a worm, I don't deserve anything except to be stepped on". If you're in an abusive relationship, be it courtship or marriage, get out.

But don't get even.

The problem with this kind of low-level revenge is that it sets up your spouse as an object, not a person. You're not reacting to something your husband or wife did, with communication and, perhaps, argument. You're hitting back against a faceless figure called "enemy".

I guess we've all done it, but it gets easier every time we indulge.

And therein lies the real danger - we may come to prefer the "reward" we give ourselves to a good relationship, and instead of looking for ways to heal...we look for another chance to grab a handful of candy.

But candy rots your teeth, and this kind rots the soul, as well.

(Please don't forget to stop in at my new blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quote and short commentary that I hope will shine a light of grace...for October, the subject's marriage.)