Tag Archives: issues

Where Is Your Teen?

fight

The other day I took my family to a local park so the kids could get out some energy. Our new apartment isn’t well suited for it really.

We hadn’t been there long when seemingly from no where a group of 35-40 teens gathered in the center. There was an energy in the air. I noticed they were all focused on a couple of young men. It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve been in High School… but I still remember what it looks like when a fight is about to break out.

This was no ordinary fight though. There were tons of teens around. No one was trying to step in or talk the boys out of it. Even when punches starting being thrown no one stepped in like I remember kids doing. I jumped on my phone and punched in 911 and was routed to the police department.

I screamed out, “Hey Morons! I’m calling the cops!” To which some random watcher near me responded, “So.” I did my best to describe to the officer what was going down and why I was concerned. The fight did end and the crowd started to walk away quickly as word got spread that some guy had called 5-0.

Most of them walked right past me and glared. One girl said, “Why do people always call the cops?” another boy shouted, “I bet you feel all hard dontcha?” I didn’t. I felt stupid but I had to do something. I can’t sit by and watch that go on without a proper response. My daughter and son are to precious to have a bunch of thug kids take over their park and show them that violence goes without consequences.

I was left with a few questions in my mind.

1. Are there really 35-40 families who don’t care where their teens are at 5pm on a Monday?

2. “Why do people always call the cops?” she said. How many fights like this have you been to?

3. What happened to a basic respect for adults… or at very least adults with pre-school children nearby.

4. How many of the kids in that group would call themselves Christians… but did nothing, said nothing… and never even thought twice about it.

God help us.

About Roles & Trust In Marriage

greek-wedding

In the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” the main character’s mom mentioned something that stuck with me. It went something like this:

“The man may be the head of the house, but the woman is the neck.”

I gotta say… I love that. Never before or since have I heard a better illustration of how a man and wife work together to lead their family. It’s the perfect blend between traditional values and common sense.

In my marriage my wife is more than happy to leave the leadership to me… that’s because she knows I truly have her and the kid’s best interests in mind. I don’t make decisions selfishly. I’m no Giaus Baltar. That being said, I don’t make a single family decision without the complete support and agreement of my wife. We are a team. If we don’t agree, it’s not a right move for us. I trust her even when I’m not crazy about our disagreement on a particular move. In that way she is the neck to my head. We are inseparable. She gives direction and support.

In so many marriages I see spouses struggling with one another over power… over who will lead. Wives unable to trust their husbands and husbands unable to make selfless choices. Neither are able to fulfill their roles in the family because they’re out of sync, each trying to make up for the shortcomings of the other.

Secretly it’s not about power though… it’s about self-preservation and the avoidance of pain, which looks outwardly like a lack of trust and a grab for power. When couples are open and honest with one another about their own fears, they can start working for one another instead of against.

Here are some tips that have worked for Jenn and I when it comes to trusting one another’s roles in our marriage.

1. Figure out what your issues are.

Why are you unable to trust one another? What happened in your past (probably early childhood) that have caused you to make vows to protect yourself.

2. Share those issues, fears and shortcomings openly with your spouse.

Chances are that all of your issues are bumping into your spouses issues. Each of you pushing one another’s buttons unintentionally. This is not a time to be defensive. It’s a time to share your feelings and hear the pain behind them. If someone feels more strongly about something than you can understand… it’s because that’s how big of a deal it is to them.

3. Realize that your spouse is not your enemy or competition. They are your partner, friend and teammate.

If one of you have issues… then you both do. It’s not about one person working it out… it’s about both of you working on your issues together. You are more than a team… you are a unit. What hurts one hurts the other. You can abuse the relationship by taking your frustrations out on one another, or you can stick together and work out your frustrations together. In this way a bad situation can serve to bond you together rather than tear you apart.

4. Do all you can in yourself to help your spouse heal.

Once you figure out the reasons behind your trust issues the healing can begin… but it’s not instant or easy. Every day you have to make a choice to keep working on it and believe what doesn’t seem true… that you can trust those who love you completely. Spouses can help that process along by showing their love in new ways… by making real change that can be felt by the other. That’s where knowing your spouse’s love languages can come in handy.

5. Focus more on your own self-improvement than your spouse’s.

You can’t work on your trust issues if you’re waiting for the other person to start getting better before you do anything. You have to work on your problems like you want them to work on theirs, rather than monitoring them and only going as far as they do. This is the only area you’re supposed to be self-centered in. If we want an better relationship with an improved spouse… we have to become a person who deserves that.

When we can trust our spouse to fulfill their role, we are free to fulfill ours. It’s not about who’s the boss and who’s the slave… it’s like a machine, where every part does a different job… but they’re all equally important because without one if them the machine doesn’t work.

Being Unequally Yoked Stinks!

yoke

Today I got an email requesting some information on how to find happiness in a marriage where one spouse is Christian and the other is not.

I just came upon your site & looked through the marriage topic for anything on being unequally yoked. Do you have any wisdom on this subject? I am Born Again and in full-time ministry but my husband is not a Christian. This is becoming harder and harder. Thanks.

I replied asking for any specific questions or angles she’d like to hear about… but I thought I could address the whole topic in a general way.

I’ll start by saying that this is a difficult topic to address since I have never been in this situation personally. I have, however, seen the effect of being unequally yoked on the people involved in such a union, both spouses and children, in my 10+ years of ministry. It’s never ideal and in ever situation it’s a struggle for everyone involved.

Why Is Being Unequally Yoked A Struggle?

When is the last time you got into an heated discussion about Religion or Politics with a friend or co-worker with opposing views? There is nothing in the world people are more passionate about than those two topics. Now imagine being married to that person… sharing a home and a bed with someone who thinks everything you hold dear and sacred is stupid and a complete waste of time.

My wife and I always joke about how different we are… how there is no way we should be able to get along… but the reason it works is because our differences are on the surface. Just underneath we are in complete unity. Our Faith, politics, theories on child rearing, the trust we have in one another, our love for our family… exactly the same. But imagine a marriage where the only thing you have in common is what you eat for dinner, what you watch on TV and where you watch it.

Why Do Christian People Marry Non-Christians?

Most of the time folks who marry someone who is not of the same faith do so because they simply do not think it matters at the time. They believe that they can change the person… or that love will be enough to carry them through. Then others are not very committed to their faith and so their beliefs, though different than their potential mate, are not really practiced and are therefore mostly irrelevant. In rare cases one of the spouses find Christ afterward and then find themselves unequally yoked by accident.

Usually people with a Christian background will begin to depend on their faith more as they age and experience life. Having children also gets people taking their relationship with Christ more seriously. If they were raised in church, they’re typically going to want their kids raised in church. Though the Christian parent has the best intentions, they typically become the ‘bad guy’ of the family forcing children to get up early for church when Dad gets to stay home, enforcing rules that only they believe in… it can really be a huge hassle.

If you are a Christian and single, do yourself a favor. Realize that the feeling of being in love is not what keeps a marriage together… it is the depth of your commitment to what you believe that makes marriage vows stick. It makes so much sense it’s scary. How can you trust your potential spouse to believe in and live out his commitment to you when he doesn’t even share, much less live out, your commitment to God.

My Wife and I Are A Team

team

I hope to God you folks don’t think Jenn and I have a perfect marriage. We don’t. We have a few things going for us… but some days are better than others. One of the things we struggle the most with is remembering that we’re on the same team.

What does that mean exactly… to be on the same team?

  1. We have the same goals.
  2. We take care of one another.
  3. We do not do things that hurt our teammate.
  4. When a teammate is down, we fill in for them.

When someone in a marriage gets angry or frustrated it’s easy to turn that toward the other spouse. Sometimes the stronger a relationship, the more damage it can take… so the more likely we are to abuse it. It’s like hitting a pillow. It doesn’t hurt the pillow so we punch away at full blast. The only problem is even the best relationship isn’t a pillow. It’s a connection… not unlike The Corsican Brothers. They were conjoined twin brothers who were separated. From then on they could each feel what happened to the other. If they fought one another, for instance, it wouldn’t hurt the brother… it would actually hurt themselves. This is how a lack of teamwork affects a marriage.

One of us is hurting. It is taken out on the spouse. It does hurt the spouse… but not as much as it turns around and hurts us. It does this because we’re hurting the very person who is there to help us. Rather than lashing out at someone… why not share your hurt and have someone to lash out with you? That’s what teammates are for.

Jenn and I are a team. The trick is remembering that. We are for one another, not against one another. We want the same things for ourselves, one another and our families. It can be hard to let a spouse help you when you’ve forgotten they’re on your team. That’s why we have just got to let ourselves be vulnerable… blindly believing above all else that we can trust our spouse.

It’s called Faith. When faith is proven enough… it turns into Trust.

Marriage is a lifetime of ‘testing the fences for weaknesses’ like a Raptor in Jurassic Park. We find it so hard to believe we’ve found a love we can keep for a lifetime… we pick away at it to see if we can find a hole. It’s nothing we do consciously… but as we do… and find (and fill) the gaps… the love grows stronger. You find less gaps, less weakness and you can begin to trust more and more because of what you’ve gone through.

I don’t mind admitting we don’t have the perfect marriage because we have a strong one… because it’s been picked at the entire time… and it’s withstood and grown stronger as a result.

I love you Woman!. I’m on your team.

Thoughts On How To Handle The Way Things Are Now

Comedy Tragedy

The world’s been turned on it’s ear it seems. The economy is jacked to heck, celebs are dying by the boat load, folks are losing their jobs and home budgets are being shrunken. Is ‘shrunken’ a word? It is today!

With all of this constantly staring you in the face, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Here are some things I’ve come to that help me through it.

I can be concerned, but not worried.

I can’t ignore the obvious… but I can’t control it either. Concern allows me to face things realistically and think clearly enough to consider solutions. Worry, on the other hand, assumes that I have some kind of control… but keeps me from thinking clearly at all.

I will be thankful… as in full of thanks.

At my church they say, “God is good, all the time… All the time, God is good”. Though it does get old sometimes, it is no less true. Every good gift comes from God. Being full of thanks, and giving thanks, keeps you focused on the things that aren’t going wrong in your life. So often the things that are going easy are taken for granted because the things that are going wrong demand our attention. Thankfulness will help you remember how much in your life is good.

It will not affect my relationship with my spouse.

No matter how much we struggle financially, why in the world should it affect our marriage? If we’re on the same team and have the same goals… there is no reason. Let’s say the worst happens. My salary is severely cut… or I’m laid off. We become poorer, have to sell our home, forced to move and find work… if we’re on the same team with the same goals, these things should serve to bind us closer together… not become a source of contention and strife between us. Plus, we have small children… what do we want to teach them about how married couples handle life’s drama?

God has a plan.

Not everything in this world is in God’s control. He allows people to make their own choices… good and bad. So his Will is rarely actually done… but I take great pleasure in knowing that God does always have a plan. Take the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t God’s will for Adam and Eve to sin and leave the Garden… but he did have a plan to get them back after they left by sending his Son Jesus thousands of years later. In my own life, I’ve even seen Him use my mistakes in my own favor. It comes from having a heart that truly wants to follow God’s will. The Bible says it this way: “…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” It also says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and not on what you know. Acknowledge him with everything you do and he will make the way obvious.”