Quick Tips for Adjusting to Married Life with a Chronic Illness

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  • Educate yourself about your condition. Learn how to live with your chronic illness. At first it might seem like it is controlling you, but the more you learn and can do for yourself, the more normal and in control you will feel.
  • Recognize your limits and learn to say no.
  • Build fun into your life. Plan some activities for both of you to participate in together.
  • Effective communication is vital for the long-term health of your marriage
  • Focus your physical and emotional resources on those things that matter most.
  • Accept help from others.
  • Share your gifts and talents with others.

Are there others that you would add?

Your Attitude Influences Your Marriage

 

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Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8 (New Living Translation)

You cannot always change your environment, but you can change your attitude. The day after a heavy rain, you can look down and see puddles and mud, or look up and see a beautiful sky. It’s a change of perspective.

A key element to a healthy, strong marriage is the attitude you both have about your marriage. The attitude that you and your spouse choose to have, on a daily basis, will greatly influence the life you enjoy together. Negative attitudes can create a tremendous weight on your marriage, while a consistently positive attitude can help uplift your marriage – putting everything in its real perspective.

Your attitude – how you think about your spouse and what you think about your spouse – is powerful because it determines your feelings and actions. It’s easy to be negative in marriage, which makes it even more necessary that you focus on your spouse’s good qualities and express thanks with positive words.

If you are expecting and anticipating that your spouse is going to be complaining, that is what you are going to hear. Since you are expecting it, it will be what stands out most when your spouse speaks to you. If you expect your spouse to be dissatisfied with you, then you are going to prepare an appropriate (or inappropriate) response in advance, even when that might not have been your intention.

When you think negative thoughts or expect negative responses, you develop a negative attitude. Attitude is what you get after you develop a style of thinking (positive or negative) and then practice it so well that it seems like you don’t even have to think it out before you respond. Having an attitude is like pre-thinking your next response.

A positive attitude requires a clear action plan that addresses your thoughts and words. Here are three affirmations that you can use to build a better attitude about your marriage:

  1. I will not be a complainer!
  2. I will speak to myself with encouraging words! I will speak aloud things that God says are true, regardless of how I feel.
  3. Every time I think of my spouse, I will pray, “Lord, thank you for giving my husband/wife as your awesome gift. Help me to see the great value of your gift to me!”

Let’s talk:  How has your attitude about yourself and/or your spouse played either a positive or a negative role in your marriage?  Please leave a comment below.

The above post is an excerpt from Tools for a Great Marriage Devotional by Willie Batson.

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Lessons Learned from Shattered Dreams

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I’ve been reading, again, a book that stirred, invigorated, and challenged me several years ago. Dr. Larry Crabb’s Shattered Dreams is a wise, hopeful, honest, and realistic examination of life’s difficulties and tragedies – our shattered dreams.

ShatteredDreamsDealing with a chronic illness marriage or any other loss in your life can be a genuine test of what really matters to you, what lurks in your soul and mind, the dreams you have or had. Dr. Crabb writes that “shattered dreams are never random. They are a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.”

From the narrative of Naomi in the Bible’s book of Ruth, Dr. Crabb has learned six lessons – hard ones, wonderful ones, lessons that must be learned if we are to fulfill our true destiny. Necessary lessons if we are to grow into people with peace and power and unspeakable joy no matter what our circumstances. I share them here for your consideration. I recommend you get the book for more insights on these lessons.

  • Lesson #1 – Shattered dreams are necessary for spiritual growth.
  • Lesson #2 – Something wonderful survives everything terrible, and it surfaces most clearly when we hurt.
  • Lesson #3 – Some dreams important to us will shatter, and the realization that God could have fulfilled that dream pushes us into a terrible battle with Him.
  • Lesson #4 – Only an experience of deep pain develops our capacity for recognizing and enjoying true life.
  • Lesson #5 – Not many Christians drink deeply from the well of living water. As a result, our worship, our community, and our witness are weak.
  • Lesson #6 – No matter what happens in life, a wonderful dream is available, always, that if pursued will generate an unfamiliar, radically new internal experience. That experience, strange at first, will eventually be recognized as joy.

As I re-read Shattered Dreams, my sense of what really matters, what I truly long for, my dreams for this life, are being upended. I’m being forced to honestly and radically trust God as He redirects my focus, my loves, and my dreams.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Against All Odds

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Have you ever been in a situation or circumstance where there were a lot of problems and it appeared that there was no way out? It appeared hopeless, against all odds.

An ancient king of the Jewish people – Hezekiah – faced a situation that appeared to have no good outcome. It was one of those “against all odds” circumstances. There were a lot of problems and it appeared that he was not likely to succeed in preventing the impending destruction of his kingdom. You can read about it in the Old Testament of the Bible (2 Chronicles 32).

The part of the story that I want you to think about is found in these verses…

“After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city. They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, “Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?” Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields.” (2 Chronicles 32:1-5, New Living Translation)

Hezekiah did not sit around waiting for his kingdom to come crashing down. Neither did he abandon the people who trusted him to lead them through this time of adversity. The king took steps to get his house in order, to make provision for the challenges he faced and was about to encounter.

His response to what appeared to be a hopeless situation is relevant for our own hardships and afflictions. Notice three things he did.

Blocked off the Bad

Hezekiah cut off the access the Assyrian army would have to the water in the area. That access would allow the “bad” to get a foothold around the city. Hezekiah doesn’t just sit around waiting for God to do something. This would be a good practice for us.

  • Do you have financial struggles, but continue to pursue an unsustainable lifestyle instead of living within your means?
  • Do you have relational situations where friends/family are pushing you in a direction you know God doesn’t want?
  • Do you want to grow spiritually in your marriage, but all of your busyness and distractions leave no time for the spiritual disciplines necessary for that growth?
  • What causes the enemy to linger in your lives?

Mended the Broken

Hezekiah repaired the broken sections of the walls around the city. What about the things that were once healthy and strong in your marriage, but are no longer – communication, trust, friendship, sexual intimacy, resistance to temptations that weaken your marital connection? Hezekiah and his people worked hard to repair what was broken in order to keep the enemy from easily overtaking them.

Bolstered the Weak

He built another wall outside the main wall and reinforced the supporting fortifications and terraces. It wasn’t enough to have one wall around the city. Do you know the weak spots in your life, in your faith, in your marriage? If the enemy concentrated his efforts there, would he be able to break through and destroy your marriage and faith in God? All may seem well now, but over the long run you would be vulnerable. What are you doing to reinforce the vulnerable areas of your relationship with your spouse?

Every marriage will face a time of adversity and distress. It may be a chronic illness, the death of a child, a crisis of faith, a financial setback, a loss of trust and security because of an adulterous affair, or an out-of-control addiction. Are you prepared? Is your house in order?

Let’s talk about it: What have you done to reinforce the vulnerable areas of your relationship with your spouse? (Please leave a reply below.)

*I want to express appreciation to Scott Ridout for his sermon (www.sermoncentral.com), Uncertainty, that gave me the idea for this article.

Want to listen to the full message I gave at Grace Community Church (Rochester, NH) on January 26, 2014?

The Super Bowl and Marriage

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The biggest and most-watched sporting event of the year has hit America again – the Super Bowl. It is the ultimate convergence of popular culture and athletics. From the star-studded halftime show to the multi-million dollar commercial time slots, the spectacle is unprecedented in sports. Two football teams have worked and endured injuries since early summer to achieve their mid-winter dreams.

But what does this have to do with marriage? What do marriage and football have in common? Winning the Super Bowl of relationships (marriage) requires some of the same things required to win the Super Bowl of football. To win the Super Bowl, football teams must be focused on some key fundamentals of the game.

Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi started every season with a team meeting and the same speech. Surrounded by veterans and rookies alike, he would hold a football high above his head so that each player could see it. With all eyes on him, he simply said: “Gentlemen, this is a football.” In only five words, Lombardi communicated his point – We’re going to start with the basics and make sure we’re executing all the fundamentals.

nflIn marriage, it’s not enough to simply hope your marriage will be a life-long success. You must know the basics and make sure you are executing all the fundamentals of a great marriage. So, here are three fundamentals that can help you win the Super Bowl of relationships. To help you remember them, just think NFL.

N – Nurture a Shared Goal for Your Marriage

Everyone on the football team wants to win. They have a singular focus. They are committed to moving the ball in the same direction.

This shared goal and focus is a major ingredient of being a “team.” Dr. Howard Hendricks, a noted author and speaker, said that one of the things he learned from working with the Dallas Cowboys was the importance of the team. “When you are on a team,” he said, “you play off the strengths of your teammates. You don’t tackle the guys who wear the same color uniforms.”

To win the Super Bowl, football players work as a team. They help each other do their job. They double team and cover for each other. They work at getting along with each other on the field and off the field. When there is discord between players or coaches there will be trouble on the playing field. Discord blurs your vision of the goal.

To win the Super Bowl of relationships also requires a shared goal and a singular focus. An old man was asked why he chose his wife to be his wife. His response was, “She was the one I wanted to grow old with.” That’s a singular focus.

What is your goal in marriage? To have your own way? To win all the arguments? To have your every need met? Selfishness destroys football teams and marital teams.

Jesus spoke about the marriage goal…

“Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Oneness – Unity – Bonded – Lasting a Lifetime.

F – Fight for Your Marriage

Expectations are high at the beginning of the Super Bowl. Each team is confident that all will go their way. There will be setbacks – fumbles, interceptions, quarterback sacks, and penalties. The opposition will try to keep the other team from gaining yardage, scoring touchdowns, and ultimately from winning the game. There are people on and off the field fully committed to making sure the other team does not win.

couple-hugging_canstockphoto7194135aOur marriages are worked out on the pressure-cooker fields of our lives. We have more than our share of daily stress. On top of career demands, there is a spouse to love, kids to raise, and perhaps aging parents to care for in their golden years. Marriages have been blown apart by unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations, unfortunate circumstances, and unwise choices.

You have to fight for your marriage daily. It begins with an all-out commitment to each other. Your marriage is bigger than any issue. You will stand together no matter what (or who) is lined up against you. Why? Because you promised.

A research study of more than 5,000 couples by the National Survey of Family and Households found that two-thirds of unhappy married spouses who stayed married reported their marriages were happy five years later. Researchers found that the couples that endured and overcame problems in their relationships found the strength to persevere because of their intense commitment to their marriages.

No marriage is perfect, but what are you going to do to protect what is good about your marriage from whatever opposition is coming at you?

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
(1 Corinthians 13:7, New Living Translation)

L – Listen to the Coach

Winning football teams pay attention to the coach. He makes the rules. He gives the instructions. He knows what must be done to win. Even the greatest quarterback needs input from the coach. They need an outside perspective. A great coach knows it is about the team, not about him/her.

Who is coaching your marriage? Whose rules are you following? Who do you go to for an outside perspective?

Jesus is our marital Head Coach. He knows all about how to have successful relationships. His Word, the Bible, is our “play-book.” This is where the strategies for the game are written. There are offensive and defensive strategies. In the Bible, you find the dos and don’ts of a healthy relationship.

  • Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Confess your sins to each other. (James 5:16)
  • Don’t grumble against each other. (James 5:9)
  • Do not lie to each other. (Colossians 3:9)
  • Encourage one another. (Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; Hebrews 3:13)
  • Honor one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • Love one another. (John 13:34)
  • Offer kindness to one another. (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Pray for each other. (James 5:16)
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Teach and admonish one another. (Colossians 3:16; Romans 15:14)

Our marriages are won or lost on our ability and willingness to carry out the coach’s game plan.

Marriage is indeed the Super Bowl of relationships. Winning football teams are unwavering and have an enduring commitment to reach their goal. Are you as determined to win the Super Bowl of relationships?

Discuss: What are some other fundamentals of football that would help you win the Super Bowl of relationships?

Tuesday Tip for a Great Marriage

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I heard Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, tell about the way he learned to make the principle of servanthood practical in his marriage. As he struggled through a difficult time, he discovered that he lacked an attitude of servanthood. As he puts it, “I had made demands of my wife. I had expected her to make me happy.” His marriage began to change when he asked his wife these questions:

  • How can I help you?
  • How can I make your life easier?
  • How can I be a better husband to you?

Their marriage changed when he let her teach him how he could serve her. It did not happen overnight, because the pain had been there too long, but change did occur.

Today, consider asking your spouse one of these questions. Then, do it with a loving heart.

Let’s talk:  How has a servant’s heart made a difference in your marriage?  Please leave a comment below.

*The above marriage tip is an excerpt from Tools for a Great Marriage by Willie Batson.

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Tuesday Tip for a Great Marriage

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Do not underestimate the power of prayer in your marriage. It is by prayer that we enlist the influence of God in our lives. We ask him to do what we cannot do. When a couple prays, it has several effects.

It helps you with your perspective on problems, and clears your vision so you can see what God wants in the foggy, murky moments of your lives. Your heart is quieted. You cannot worry and pray at the same time. The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Through sincere prayer, you can gain God’s perspective on an issue, which often helps you discover the solution to your dilemma.

Prayer helps you reorder your priorities. It activates your faith in God, puts him and his plan first in your lives, and forces you to leave the situation with him. Through prayer, you can also find that what you highly value may be a deterrent to God’s blessings in your home.

Prayer gives you a sense of purpose. Through contact with God, you discover how he wants to use your marriage for his glory.

Your prayers reduce your daily cares and keep you in a place where God can use you most effectively.

Let’s talk:  How has prayer helped you and your spouse build a stronger marriage relationship?  Please leave a comment below.

*The above marriage tip is an excerpt from Tools for a Great Marriage by Willie Batson.

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