How easily does criticism make its way into your daily dialogue with your spouse? Hurtful remarks can leave scars. Even when you are not trying to be mean, a slip of the tongue can happen so quickly when you are tired, irritated or furious. While your spouse often forgives you when you snap, what happens when you say something that really leaves a scar?
Keeping your system clean
Do you have a water purifier at home or at work? Have you seen the mess that gets stuck in the filters after months of use? If you don’t remove the filth, the filter won’t be able to keep your water clean. You can’t buy another purifier when your current one breaks down, so you need to make the effort of keeping your current system up to scratch.
Your marriage is worth more than a water purifier, so you need to make sure you are not letting your marriage’s filters accumulate filth. The grime that can build up between partners can damage your marriage as well as your relationship with God.
Maybe you are thinking: “But my husband and I have said so many hurtful things to each other. Can you ever really take it all back? It will be hard.” With God, all things are possible – but no one said anything about it being easy. Put on your garden gloves, get your scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water, and put God on speed dial. It is time to purify your marriage’s filters!
Two heads in one (prayer) hat
To become one in the body, brings you and your spouse closer together. With Bible study, you and your partner can be drawn closer to each other spiritually. If you and your spouse do Bible study and prayer separately, this needs to change.
Decide on a time that will suit both of you – maybe before work in the mornings or before bedtime in the evenings. Take turns to read parts of the Bible to each other. When you pray, thank God for the privilege to be married to each other and ask Him to bless your marriage. Couples that pray together, experience a decline in conflict and are able to create a deeper spiritual bond.
It is not a competition
Are you subconsciously keeping score of who wins fights? Stop this immediately, because your relationship isn’t a competition or a balance sheet. Arguments are only “won” if the issue is completely resolved and both parties are satisfied with the outcome.
Keep the (young) cows out of the ditch
How long does it take you to tell your spouse when he is doing something that frustrates you? Some people cannot wait to highlight their partner’s flaws and mistakes, while others will keep quiet for a long time and then just explode after a period has passed.
Both instances lead to unnecessary conflict. No one wants to be reminded constantly of their mistakes. You are not perfect, so how can you expect your spouse to be? Your spouse is just a human being with his own flaws.
Does it irritate you if hubby doesn’t put his hand in front of his mouth when he yawns? Don’t wait until he does it for the 50th time before you say something. Talk to him about it the first time – do not let the problem become a nagging issue in your marriage.
Always and never
Many times you tell your husband: “You never help me with the dishes!” Or he tells you: “You always complain about everything!” Words like “always” and “never” are worms in the apple you skin with hubby – it spoils everything. Avoid absolutes because it’s usually far from the truth.
The moment one of you exaggerates the problem, your partner will immediately be defensive. Your partner is so busy defending himself that the purpose of the argument gets lost.
The no-go words
Every time you insult your partner, a part of your relationship dies. Sometimes we don’t even mean it, we are just angry and want to say something hurtful. Unfortunately, you don’t just hurt your partner’s feelings, you also damage one of God’s creations.
The tongue is sharper than a double-edged sword. If you struggle to keep it in check, then give it up in prayer. Let go of your ego and ask your husband to also pray for you about the situation. He is not going to think less of you – on the contrary, he will gain more respect for you.
Bullying and manipulation
We all know how a bully gets his way – he threatens you with something that is important to you. What do you and hubby threaten each other with to get your way? Do you refuse sex if he doesn’t do what you ask? Does he refuse to lend you his car if you do not agree with him? This is a terrible bullying tactic.
Washing dirty laundry in public
Have you and your spouse attacked each other in public, in front of friends and family or the kids? You probably felt very embarrassed afterwards. It is awful to fight, but it’s even worse when you realize other people now know about your problems and they see how badly you are treating each other. There is a time and place for everything. Let whatever is bothering you go until you get home, when you can talk about it alone behind closed doors.
Your marital problems or difficulties are between you and your partner. It is private and personal. Similarly, it is very uncomfortable for those who witness the tirade. Your guests will quickly head for the door when you start fighting and you can be sure that invitations to social events will lessen if you keep it up.
“Sometimes my wife and I can argue about something for hours, but we do not get anywhere. There are only so many hours in a day – what do we do?”
Firstly, if you see the conversation is going nowhere, take a break and agree to continue when you both feel refreshed again. This isn’t a way out to escape from the problem, it just gives you some time to rethink what has already been said and to bring new solutions to the table.
Secondly, do not start an argument the moment you are on your way to work or on your way out. Postpone it for a while, but do not leave it all together.
It is going to take time and a lot of patience to get your marriage filters clean. Hold on, hang in there and the reward will be absolutely worth it.
Article by Thalia du Preez
Additional sources: christianadviceonmarriage.com, ivillage.com
When was the last time you told the story of your first kiss? I bet you had a smile on your face. Kisses do that. They make us smile and swoon. They put butterflies in our stomach. They make our hairs stand up a little taller and our blood run a little faster. Simply put, kisses have a special kind of power.
A kiss can turn a toad into a prince. It can wake a princess from eternal slumber. A kiss is art. It’s poetry. It’s candy. It’s life. It’s death. A kiss is the only appropriate response to finally lifting the Stanley Cup or finally returning to earth after a terrifying flight. A kiss seals the deal. That’s why we end weddings with a kiss, as of to say, “Okay, now it’s official.”
Where does the power of a kiss come from, I wonder? Maybe hormones. Kissing releases oxytocin, which is the same hormone that is secreted when breastfeeding. Oxytocin is responsible for the comfort and connection that forms between mother and child and may explain the way kissing bonds us to another. Kissing also releases dopamine, which triggers the same part of your brain that is stimulated by cocaine. Those butterflies in your stomach, they come from epinephrine and norepinephrine, which increase your heartbeat and send oxygenated blood to your brain. Some studies have even shown that kissing can cause a reduction in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so kissing could help lower your blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.
So, kissing is great because of science. But that can’t be it, right? I actually think it would be really sad if science explained the magic of the kiss. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be an accepted system for how to define, collect, classify, and interpret the data of kissing. Sheryl Kirshenbaum explores this in her book The Science of Kissing and ultimately suggests that, for the most part, scientists aren’t exactly sure why we kiss. I’m glad they haven’t figured it out. Perhaps the power comes, at least in part, from the mystery.
Surely you remember your first kiss. Do you remember your last kiss? Do you remember it with the same kind of nostalgia? Unlikely. For all the magic and art and poetry that’s wrapped up in a kiss, I fear that in most long term relationships, the kiss has become mundane. I know I take for granted the kisses I give and receive at the end of each day. And it’s been way too long since I’ve simply made out with my wife. I need to change that. Do you?
Too many couples come into my office lamenting that the passion is gone from the relationship. That the fire has died. It’s a common story: Life gets hectic. Work is stressful. The kitchen is a mess. Kids. I get it. But I don’t think we have to become victims of that story. And it definitely doesn’t mean that we have to stop kissing. It’s time that we reclaimed the kiss from the domain of parking teenagers and put it back into its rightful place as the official symbol of marriage.
Start simple. John Gottman suggests that couples share a six-second kiss each day. He likes to say, “A six-second kiss is a kiss with potential.” But you don’t necessarily have to attach it to sex. In fact, don’t. Let the kiss speak for itself. I mean, if it leads to sex, great, but don’t make that the goal. Just try connecting with your partner with a 6 second kiss.
Do you accept the 5 day Challenge?
(Article by Peter Edgar)
You keep fighting about the same things and, once again, you’re going to bed mad at each other. You think it’s just a phase and that every couple has its ups and downs, but then you find messages on his cellphone . . .
Whether you have been married for three months or 30 years, your marriage is never safe from the possibility of being wrecked by an extra-marital affair. Two couples tell their heart-breaking stories about infidelity. In both cases, the couples said that God saved and renewed their marriages.
“We both had misconceptions about marriage”
On paper, Laura (25) and Russel’s (28) marriage looked like a fairy tale. Shortly after getting married, they quickly realized that the idea of happily ever after was very different from the reality of marriage.
“Our wedding day was perfect and we had a fantastic honeymoon,” recalls Laura. They met each other through a mutual friend in February 2011 and a year later they were heading to the chapel. Laura’s friends and family were crazy about Russel.
“Initially I was a bit skeptical about Russel. I thought: How can such an attractive man be a good man?”
Laura’s mother encouraged her to give Russel a chance. “I gave him a chance and we developed a fantastic friendship and relationship. We were the couple that people would point to, saying: ‘Look how happy they are.’” The dynamics between them changed shortly after the honeymoon and things started to become unpleasant.
The couple moved to a new town, where Russel got a job as an electrical technician. Laura started working at a local high school.
“Both of us felt a lot of pressure to perform in our new jobs,” says Laura. They were not prepared for the big changes that would hit them as newlyweds.
“We battled to get onto the same page, especially regarding household tasks like who would do the washing and who would do the folding up,” she says. These seemingly small arguments would escalate into larger fights, and sometimes they just avoided the drama by fleeing to hang out with friends instead of spending time together. They started to drift apart, and they were not investing time in their faith or each other.
“It was upsetting to be unable to hold my husband at night, as we were often sleeping in separate rooms,” recalls Laura. Russel said he felt like he had failed as a husband because he was unable to make his wife happy. Laura’s friend, Rachel, started sending Russel messages to cheer him up and to find out how he was doing. Russel and Laura had been married for four months when Rachel started to send him messages.
Warning bells started to go off in Laura’s mind, but she reasoned that suspecting Rachel and Russel would be ridiculous. After a while, Russel admitted that he had feelings for Rachel but that he never acted on these feelings. This revelation destroyed Laura. After a lot of introspection and by recommitting to the relationship, Russel was able to win back Laura’s trust. Laura could see that she should also be blamed for the negative patterns that were damaging their relationship.
“While I didn’t realize it at the time, mainly because I had a victim mentality, Russel wasn’t the only one at fault. My selfishness also played a part in how everything panned out.”
Today, slightly more than three years later, Laura and Russel have a strong relationship without any signs of scars and wounds. “When God takes over, everything will heal,” says Laura.
“God says he will rebuild the walls of my marriage”
Sara’s (53) first marriage ended as a result of her husband’s infidelity. Her second marriage almost ended the same way when her current husband, TJ (46), had an extramarital affair.
The couple was getting ready to immigrate and Sara traveled alone to the country to prepare for their move. During this time, Sara noticed how TJ’s attitude towards her started to change. “Infidelity was already rearing its ugly head,” says Sara.
“When I noticed that my husband was attached to his cellphone and that he even took his phone with him to the bathroom, I knew something was up.” A flood of emotions washed over her. “Shock, rage, disappointment, sadness and rejection. Not again . . .”
Sara confronted TJ and although he initially denied the affair, text messages on his phone proved otherwise. Sara decided to kick TJ out, but unfortunately this decision led him straight into the arms of another woman.
Sara needed to clear her mind. She went to live with her brother, where she could recover. She filed for a divorce. “My husband sent me messages every day, telling me that he loves me and that he made a big mistake.”
She kept looking for answers from God and for His wisdom. One day during Bible study, the message arrived. “Zechariah 1:14-16 spoke to me. I had to go back to Jerusalem (which I see as a symbol of marriage) to rebuild the temple (to God, my marriage is sacred, like a temple). This is where my journey of healing and rebuilding began.”
It took Sara and TJ more than three years to rebuild their marriage, but today they are renewed people thanks to God. “The most important message that I want to get across, is to fight for your marriage and against attacks from Satan.”
Sara also did a lot of introspection and was able to recognize her role in their marital problems. “Rebuilding a marriage takes work. It’s a gradual process and even today, it requires ongoing work.”
What does a marriage therapist say?
Affairs are common and in some circles, it’s the norm, says marriage therapist Carien du Toit. “We often address differences in an aggressive way, instead of looking for win-win solutions.”
These approaches push partners away from each other. “At the end of the day, a third person comes in and fills the need of admiration and acceptance, while partners ignore their problems or continue fighting about the same old issues.”
The definition of what an affair entails also had to be rewritten as a result of modern technology. “A sexual encounter is the extreme definition of an extramarital affair, but intimate e-mails and text messages can be signs of an emotional affair, which can eventually lead to a physical relationship.”
An affair is almost always the result of another problem or a lot of problems between partners. “While there is never a good reason to have an affair, it’s vital that both partners acknowledge their role in the marriage’s dynamics,” says Carien.
It remains the responsibility of the partner who strayed to rebuild trust and recommit to the marriage. “It will take time for trust to be rebuilt. Commit to being totally transparent – turn off pass-code features on your phone and always be exactly where you said you will be. The one who crossed the line, owes it to his or her partner in order for trust to be rebuilt.”
There are rules, regulations and guidelines in the Christian faith. And then there are commandments – laws that are given to us in order to live honorable and rewarding lives. Ever wondered how these commandments can be applied to your marriage?
“I hit the jackpot when I married Eddie!” This sounds exactly like a woman who just got married and still has rose-tainted glasses – until she gets home from the honeymoon and the roof of their new house is leaking because Extraordinary Eddie forgot to clean the gutters. For those of you who haven’t realized this yet: Good marriages are not a matter of luck, and if you are unhappily married, it doesn’t mean that you married the wrong person.
“Good marriages are built on much more than passion. It is built on principles.” These are the words of preacher Bayless Conley on crosswalk.com. According to Bayless, the written Word offers the best guidelines ever for a healthy marriage and it is all enclosed within the Ten Commandments.
A marriage’s first commandment: Exclusivity
Exodus 20:3 says: “You shall have no other gods beside me.” In short, God says that he wants an exclusive relationship with you. How appropriate is this for a marriage? When Henry Ford was asked on his 50th wedding anniversary what his secret to a successful marriage was, he said: “The secret to my successful marriage is the same secret I have in business: I stick to the same model.” You must realize that your life partner shouldn’t have any competition. Decide today: One God. One man. One woman.
A marriage’s second commandment: Don’t love a substitute
Exodus 20:4-6 gives you the following principles for a strong marriage: God commanded that we do not serve any idols. Because, what is an idol other than a substitute for the real God? In the same manner, your wife or husband is a real-life partner and you shouldn’t be looking for excitement in things such as pornography – it robs you of an intimate relationship with your flesh-and-blood other half.
A marriage’s third commandment: Speak kind words about your partner
Exodus 20:7 says: “You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his Name.” Maybe you think your slight critique is harmless, but there are few things that can do as much damage to a marriage as negative words. Bayless says words can fill containers with love, hate, joy or bitterness. Your words can sway your marriage in a direction – choose which direction you want it to go.
A marriage’s fourth commandment: Spend quality time alone together
The fourth commandment appears in Exodus 30:8-11 and herein God orders us to keep the Sabbath holy. Sabbath means intermission – to lay down your work and to rest. To breathe. With this commandment, Bayless believes God asks for special time with Him for a long-term relationship. In the same way, a man and woman need scheduled time together for their marriage to flourish.
A marriage’s fifth commandment: Honor your partner by showing him/her how grateful you are
Exodus 20:12 says that you must honour your father and mother. Parents invest time, effort and money in their children’s lives and if a child is ungrateful, the outcome can be disastrous. While this commandment reminds us to be grateful for our parents, it also applies to a marriage because you need to be grateful for your partner, says Bayless. What fills the heart, is revealed in abundance by the mouth. Be grateful for your partner’s good characteristics and show him or her appreciation.
A marriage’s sixth commandment: Don’t destroy your partner, but be soft
Exodus 20:13 orders us not to commit murder. Many people jokingly say: “I have never thought about divorce, but murder? I think about that often!” On a more serious note, this commandment is more applicable to a marriage than you may think. If you want a long-lasting marriage, you must learn how to be sensitive towards your partner. Violence and short tempers destroy relationships. You have a duty to boost your partner’s self-image.
A marriage’s seventh commandment: Do not commit adultery
Exodus 20:14 probably gives the most important marital commandment. An affair is undoubtedly one of the most destructive things that can happen in a marriage. Beware of affairs that are committed by your thoughts, says Bayless. Mathew 5:28 says: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Bayless says there is no place for lust in a marriage. “Love gives, lust takes. Love serves, lust claims. Love feeds, lust throttles.” In addition, remember that sex is a holy institution that may be enjoyed within the boundaries and holiness of a marriage.
A marriage’s eighth commandment: Be a person of integrity
Exodus 20:15 advises us not to steal. If you aren’t a person of integrity, it will be difficult for your partner to respect you. Your honesty must make your partner proud. It’s difficult to give yourself wholeheartedly to someone who doesn’t have integrity.
A marriage’s ninth commandment: Be honest
Honesty is central to a happy marriage, because someone who tells lies, isn’t a good spouse, says Bayless. “If you can lie to someone else without giving it a second thought, you can just as easily lie to you partner. And if you deceive people or are dishonest, your partner won’t trust you.”
A marriage’s tenth commandment: Be satisfied with what you have
The tenth commandment in Exodus 20:17 says that you may not covet. It is a direct commandment. Be satisfied with what you have. Accentuate what you and your partner are blessed with. That means that you should rather celebrate the things that make your partner unique instead of thinking: “I wish he was rather like this . . .” Give your partner’s gifts wings and don’t think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
Live your life according to the Ten Commandments and before you know it, you will have a marriage based on principles – and then passion comes so easily!
Article by Annelize Steyn
Do It Yourself, here’s how!
We live in an era where anything you need can be bought, but every single item comes with a price tag.
This has led to homemade gifts and products becoming increasingly special; not only because it requires a bit of craft and skill, but because making something yourself will cost you precious time – something that we all need a bit more of.
In this article, we want to give you a few romantic DIY ideas to spoil your partner with. Our readers have requested this type of info so there are obviously a few people who are willing to get their hands dirty and produce something special on a tight budget!
Create a love bottle
Tie a ribbon around a glass bottle. Take a sticker and write ‘love bottle’ on the sticker and stick it to the bottle. Take coloured cardboard or pretty paper, cut it into 10cm x 10cm pieces, and write little love letters or a nice note on each paper.
Wrap each paper with tissue paper and put the notes and candy in the bottle. When your partner needs a bit of a pick-me-up or a thoughtful note, he can take a paper and a candy out of the bottle.
Cut strawberries down the middle and place the pieces on a baking tray. Pour melted chocolate over the strawberries to make delicious strawberry hearts.
How about creating your own scratch card that gives your husband the chance to win one of three bedroom spoils? Take an A5 cardboard and write “Your bedroom lottery” on it. On a separate card, write out the instructions: “It’s your lucky day! Here you have three chances to win a bit of pleasure. Each week, you can scratch open a square and a prize will be revealed!”
On the A5 cardboard, draw three hearts (about 5cm x 5cm) next to each other. Write three ‘favours’ – one in each heart. For example: “An hour long sensual massage”, “A striptease in the bedroom”, and “A blindfolded experience”. Paint over each heart with the following concoction: Two parts acrylic paint (mix equal amounts of black, white and silver paint) and one part dishwashing liquid. Now your hubby has his own personalised lotto scratch card!
Make your camping spot romantic
Are you happy campers? If you’re going camping for the weekend (especially if you’re going away to celebrate an anniversary or a special occasion), then try to make your camping spot as romantic as possible.
How about a homemade chandelier? Take a hula-hoop and cover it with old pieces of cloth (such as linen). Now take strips of ribbon of approximately 1m long and tie them at various sections of the hula-hoop so that they can all be bundled together at one point. Take a strip of fairy lights and twist it around the hula-hoop and voila! Now you’ve got your own chandelier to hang outside your tent or caravan to create a romantic atmosphere.
The coin date
Take a coin out of your purse. Ask your husband to choose a number between 10 and 20 (this is the number of times that you’re going to flip the coin). Get in the car and drive to the main road of your suburb or town. “Heads” means that you’re turning left and “tails” means you’re turning right. Keep flipping the coin to determine the route that you will be travelling. If your husband chose the number ‘17’, then your journey ends after 17 turns.
This is where you will stop the car for your date. You might have to tap into your creative sides to come up with a workable plan for your date. If there’s only a petrol garage in the street, then you can buy Twinkies and coffee for a coffee date. If there’s a pawn shop, spend a bit of time hunting for bargains, if there’s a park, sit on the swings and play together. Keep a bottle of champagne and two glasses handy in case your journey comes to an end in a quiet suburb – then you can sip champagne together!
Additional sources: youtube.com, pinterest.com
By – Annelize Steyn
Remember the 2008 Jim Carrey movie called “Yes Man”? In this movie, Jim Carrey’s character was caught in a web of negativity until he went to a self-help seminar that taught him the power of saying yes to everything.
This 180-degree shift opened him up to a wealth of positivity, great experiences and even a new romantic interest.
What would happen if you applied this type of enthusiasm and positivity to your marriage? If you became extra conscious about how often you say no to your partner? To spring clean your marriage, we’re inviting you to eliminate the word ‘no’ and witness the transformation that takes place between you and your spouse.
When writer of the blog Unveiled Wife, Jennifer Smith, asked God what she should give up for Lent in 2014, she was expecting to have to forego her favourite food or an electronic device. The message she received from God, however, was to give up the word ‘no’, which led her to realise how often she said no to per husband.
Jennifer quickly realised that when her husband asked her for a favour, extended a sexual invitation, or shared an opinion, her go-to answer would be ‘no’. When she committed to giving up the word ‘no’ for Lent, she blogged about how tough it was to break the instinctive habit of saying no all the time.
Jennifer asked God to help her on her journey of becoming a Yes Woman and she started to see results almost immediately. One of the things that Jennifer and her husband struggled with was sexual intimacy. Around halfway into Lent, Jennifer started to notice that not only were they having sex more regularly, but the sex was better, too!
Within a short amount of time, Jennifer’s husband reported that he felt more respected, that their relationship felt less strained, and that his wife was generally a nicer person, making it easier for him to be vulnerable with her.
While it’s easy to assume that becoming a Yes Woman simply resulted in Jennifer making more sacrifices, Jennifer says that it was an immensely rewarding experience for her as well. She wrote on her blog that it was beautiful to see what an impact she had on her husband and how her intention to do better positively impacted their marriage. This made her more loving, caring, happy, and it felt that she was serving her husband in Christ.
Can it work?
Yes, if you really want it to! And if you initiate the change. If you become a Yes Woman and your husband remains a No Man, then it can easily start to feel as if you’re being used. Obviously you don’t want him to abuse the situation and the goal is for him to turn into a Yes Man as well.
One of Jennifer’s blog readers, Amy Hatley, commented that she once heard a pastor’s wife saying that in the 20 years she had been married, she had never refused sex. From listening to the pastor’s wife, it was clear that this woman wasn’t a doormat, but that she was trusting that he wasn’t taking advantage of her to get his needs met. It also led her to trust that her husband seeks the Lord in all his decisions.
How do you do it?
- Start by accepting the challenge of committing to saying yes for ten days. Invite your husband to do the challenge with you.
- Decide to make your marriage your top priority for the next ten days. If, for example, you have to choose between a social event and spending time with your partner, choose your partner.
- Write the word ‘yes’ on your ring finger to serve as a constant reminder.
- Remember that requests and expectations should be reciprocated. Don’t abuse the situation and don’t make selfish requests.
- Say yes without hesitation if your partner asks you to cook a special meal or to take out the trash. Say yes to sexual advances and to any requests that requires your time.
- Say yes to the challenge of putting your own needs and agenda on the backburner. It may seem hard at times – especially if you like being in control – but trust your partner’s intentions and judgement.
- Say yes to spontaneity. Activities that get planned on a whim can add a bit of spark to your marriage.
- Say yes to your partner’s preferences. By now you know that you and your partner don’t always agree on everything and you can appreciate the value of compromise, but it can still be hard to give in sometimes. Make it a priority to give in.
- In her book 52 ways to wow your husband: put a smile on his face, author Pam Farrel encourages women to find areas where they can let their husbands take the lead. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an opinion, but that you can let go of taking charge and even challenging opinions in certain facets of your lives.
- Saying yes to everything may start to feel a bit forced after a while. Switch it up with comments like ‘good idea’, ‘that sounds good’ or ‘let’s do it!’, even if you suspect that what’s being suggested probably isn’t a good idea. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
Take in the power of positivity, the value of elimination (of the word ‘no’) and investigate the impact this has on your marriage. We predict that the mutual benefit you receive will keep the 10-day yes challenge going long after the period is up.
Additional sources: www.imom.com, www.blessedarethefeet.com.
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