My Marriage This Month – April

Marriage is a relationship and relationships require work and effort. Here’s a practical way for you and your spouse to continue to work on and put effort into your marriage throughout the month that relates to what was discussed at the last Adventures in Marriage!

Week 1: Hopes & Dreams (April 13-19)

THIS WEEK: Take time to ask your spouse what his/her hopes and dreams for the future are. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routines of marriage and life. This question will help break through the mundane and allow you to pursue your spouse’s soul!

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  • Is there a job or career that you would like to try and work towards?
  • What would you like to accomplish by next year? 5 years? 10 years?

 

Week 2: Another Couple (April 20-26)

THIS WEEK: Find another couple to hang out with! Go to dinner, coffee, dessert or invite them over to your house. It’s easy to forget that we don’t know it all. One of the best ways to learn and grow in your marriage is by learning from others! Allow other couples to speak into your life and marriage and learn from them. 

 

Week 3: Values (April 27-May 3)

THIS WEEK: We all have values but most of us haven’t intentionally identified or recognized them. It will be important for you and your spouse to intentionally identify the important values of your marriage. These values will be a kind of guide and reminder throughout all aspects of your marriage! Take time this week to identify and come up with your own “Marriage Values”!

Examples:

  1. We see our differences as God’s gift to each other.
  2. We schedule time together.
  3. We have learned each others language of love.
  4. We never consider divorce as an option.

Week 4: Daily A’s (May 4-10)

THIS WEEK: Dr. Roger Tirabassi is a counselor who specializes in marriage and family. He discovered that most couples tend to be more courteous before and during the honeymoon. Then after it becomes work to be intentionally courteous with their responses to one another. Dr. Tirabassi developed a simple system that creates a healthy habit in a marriage which he calls “The Daily 5 A’s”. This week, try to do all 5 A’s each day…

The Daily 5 A’s (from Dr. Roger Tirabassi)

  1. Affirmation: “Thank you for _____”, “I appreciated it today when you _______”
  2. Affection: A hug, kiss, massage, etc…
  3. Apology: “Is there anyway I irritated, frustrated or hurt you today?”, “I’m sorry for _______. Will you please forgive me?”
  4. Ask: “Is there anything you would like me to do for you today, tomorrow or this week?”
  5. Amen: “How can I specifically pray for you today?”

From April’s Adventures in Marriage
adventurechurch.org/Couples
Meets the 2nd Thursday of every month
6:30-8pm (Free Childcare)

 

 

Pressing On

When we find ourselves in the midst of hardship and struggles it becomes more and more difficult to press on. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to hardships and struggles. As mentioned in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; 11:23-28 he experienced: troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, riots, hunger, dishonor, bad reports, imprisonments, poverty, hard work, shipwrecked, lost at sea, in danger, sleepless nights and regarded as an impostor! But even in the difficulties Paul pressed on. So what was he secret to Keep Calm and Carry On?

VISION (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Paul gives us a great image of running the race with our eyes on the prize. When we have a vision we have something to aim for. But the vision isn’t enough. “Vision without implementation is hallucination”. vision-egg and bird paintingPaul speaks to how to implement a vision through strict training and focus. He also mentions the importance of taking care of self. As a Christian, we quickly think “Love God, Love Others”…but what about ourselves. Jesus is clear in Matthew 22:34-40 that yes we should first and foremost love God and secondly love our neighbor as yourself! If there is no love for self then there can be no love for others or for God. Loving yourself has many cultural connotations so we need to understand the Biblical view of loving yourself. To go more in-depth into the Godly way to love yourself checkout my blog on the Replenishment Cycle.

ENDURANCE (2 Timothy 1:6-8; 4:5-8)

2 Timothy is regarded as Paul’s final letter and his final words to his apprentice he gives very specific instructions and encouragements. To paraphrase, Paul is telling Timothy to endure but in order to endure you need discipline. Endurance comes from discipline. Be disciplined in doing what you were created and made to do. Be disciplined in keeping your head in all situations. Be disciplined in doing the work God called you to do. Be disciplined in bringing others along with you instead of doing it all alone. Endurance is not something that we just muster up or find deep within us. It seems like that is how it works but the reality is our endurance comes out of our discipline. If we want to be able to endure the hardships we must remain disciplined in the off-season and throughout the season.

DEPENDENCE (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Even the Apostle Paul was begging for relief! We don’t know what the “thorn in his flesh” was but it was bad enough to beg God to remove it three times! Jesus’ answer is not the answer of relief that we may hope and wish for. He answer’s Paul’s plea by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you”. Paul understands that he is strong and able to endure the more he becomes dependent on Jesus. When we face hardships we say things like, “How did I get here and how am I going to get out of this!?” postturtle-1fr1wp3Paul gives us more insight into this kind of dependence in Philippians 4:12-13 when he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”. When Paul says “content” he is not referring to being well-pleased, gratified or happy but rather the definition of content here is “independent of external circumstances”. Keep Calm and Carry On by being independent of circumstances and dependent on Jesus!

Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
April 6, 2014

Surviving the Storms

We encounter trials, tests, hardships and storms of all kinds throughout our lives. How we respond and interact with these inevitable storms will determine our quality of life and the quality of our relationships. By looking at three storms mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew we can better learn how to respond to the storms of our lives.

The Storm of Surprise (Matthew 8:23-27)

Storms always seem bigger and scarier when we don’t see them coming. Sometimes we can predict the path of a storm and prepare for it. The ones that come up quickly and without warning are difficult and devastating. When this sudden and furious storm came upon the boat there was obvious fear and probably panic, even for experienced fishermen. I would also think the disciples had feelings of abandonment and loneliness – that during this major, life threatening storm their Teacher, their Leader, the One they followed was asleep and uninvolved in their efforts to stay alive! When they could take it no more and had run out of options they screamed at Jesus to wake up and save them. Jesus’ response had to have taken them back, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid” (Matthew 8:26) and then the Son of God calmed the sea. Jesus’s response gives his follower’s a reality check; that he was always and will always be there with them. When a storm surprises us, when we get blindsided and caught off guard, may we remember that our Savior WAS, IS and WILL BE there! Matthew 28:20 Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Storm of Struggle (Matthew 14:22-33)

Unlike the Storm of Surprise, this storm didn’t seem to be immediately threatening their lives. This storm is described as one that was constantly beating against the boat. “[the boat was] buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (Matthew 14:24). The disciples were in a battle, trying everything to stay afloat and the wind and waves seemed to have it out for them. The more they fought against the storm, the stronger the storm seemed to fight back. Exerting mass amounts of energy to just remain topside up. It may not have been a sudden and furious storm…but it was nonetheless a relentless storm. When Jesus comes to them walking on water he gives them the key to surviving this storm: Take Courage, Have Faith and Hold On! Even though they are fighting what seems like an uphill battle, Take Courage! Keep Fighting, Don’t Give Up! Then of all things, after Peter’s response to Jesus walking on water, Jesus calls him out of the boat and into the storm. Literally, to stand and walk on the water in the middle of the storm! Jesus didn’t calm the storm. Instead, he called Peter to stand in the middle of it! Peter had courage and stepped out of the boat…his faith allowed him to walk on water but upon seeing the wind and the waves his faith dwindled and he began to sink. As Peter cried out to Jesus, Jesus immediately caught him and brought him back to the boat! It takes courage to step out of the boat but it takes faith to walk on water! When Jesus doesn’t calm the storm remember that He is there, standing in the middle of the storm with you! He will give you the courage and faith to survive. And when we begin to drown He is there to catch us! Take Courage, Have Faith and Hold On to Jesus! (See Joshua 1:9)

The Storm of Instability (Matthew 7:24-29)

If we are not careful we will live our lives as a balancing act: trying to manage all aspects of our lives. Without realizing it our end goal has become balance. When we focus on managing everything we tend to neglect our foundation. When we have an unstable foundation and then try balancing our life it won’t take much to throw us off and bring everything crashing down! Jesus gives a parable at the end of The Sermon on the Mount that explains the importance of a strong foundation and the consequence of not having a firm foundation on Him. In other words, your foundation determines your survival. If you want to have any hope of surviving the storms you must have your foundation on Jesus! (See Psalm 18:2)

In Your Storms

Notice the commonalities between each of the storms:
1. Jesus led or directed his followers into the storm. Jesus never promises to keep us from the storms but He does promise to be there with us and help us during the storms. You will have storms. Be ready, be prepared, have a strong foundation! A storm is coming…
2. He was always there and within reach. Even when we feel alone, abandoned, helpless and hopeless Jesus is right there with us! Sometimes He is there to clam the storm. Other times He is there to stand in the storm with us. He is always there to catch us and keep our head above the water.
3. After the storm passed, people were in awe and amazed at Jesus. It is difficult to be amazed and in a “worshipful” mood in the middle of a storm. But once the storm passes we will be amazed at how our Savior came through! May we always remember to thank and worship Him after the storms!

Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
March 30, 2014

Conflict and Your Two Buckets

Conflict is inevitable in a marriage, and all other relationships. We will disagree, we will say and do what we shouldn’t and neglect to do what we should. A healthy relationship is not one that never experiences conflict but rather a healthy relationship is one that walks through conflict together in a healthy way. Instead of avoiding conflict at all costs, may we learn to engage in conflict in a healthy and productive way.

Everyone carries around two buckets: one filled with gasoline and the other filled with water. When we encounter conflict within a relationship we will choose to pour gas or water onto that fire!

Gasoline: Emotions are not bad or evil…unless we become controlled by our emotions. When our emotions take over we revert to immaturity and become blinded by our own feelings and wants. We blindly say and do things which cause us to win and our partner to lose. This escalates the conflict and further separates spouses from one another. Our emotions have the potential to blow up a small kitchen fire into a full blown house fire.

Water: Pouring water onto a fire will extinguish the fire although it may continue to smoke, smolder or remain hot for a time. The idea here is to take control of your emotions, keep a clear mind and remain loving (as defined in 1 Corinthians 13). Even in conflict we must choose to love: to be patient, kind, selfless, not rude, not keeping record of wrongs, etc… This does not imply that the hurt is immediately healed but it does mean you and your spouse will be able to have healthy dialogue to work through the conflict leading to forgiveness and ultimately growing and strengthening your marriage while increasing your intimacy.

Pour Water instead of Gasoline:

1. Take Time and Calm Down: If emotions begin to take over respectfully and lovingly request your need to cool off. This is not a way to avoid dealing with the conflict but giving you the time to gain control and composure.

2. Identify the Enemy: It is natural for us to quickly point to our spouse as the problem or the cause of the problem. In that scenario we end up making our spouse our enemy which leads to fighting against each other. The other option is to draw the line so you and your spouse remain on the same side and you both are able to identify a common enemy. This approach allows you and your spouse to attack the problem together instead of making one another the problem.

3. Quickly Apologize: We will hurt those we love. Most of the time it will be unintentional, but it is inevitable. When we hurt our partner we need to be willing to quickly apologize. The typical response when we cause hurt is, “I didn’t mean to”, “Oh come on, toughen up” or “There’s no way that really hurt you!?” Our intentions become irrelevant if our spouse felt hurt. In other words, perception is reality. We must learn to have a first response of empathy and apology. Keep in mind that apologizing is more than just “I’m sorry”. When we apologize we are 1) Recognizing and admitting we hurt the other person and 2) Committing to change so that we don’t continue to hurt them in that way again.

4. Forgive Freely: On the flip side, It’s also important to learn to quickly forgive and to not hold grudges. Forgiveness doesn’t indicate that everything is ok and the hurt is all gone. You may require additional time to process through the hurt but it begins with forgiving and vocalizing that forgiveness to your partner.

7 Choices for The Ups and Downs of Marriage

From Adventures in Marriage on March 13, 2014Image

On our wedding day, we all said something along the lines of,

“…for better or worse, in sickness and in health, whether rich or poor..”

But the reality is when we experience a down in our marriage we easily forget those vows or at least it becomes more difficult to live them out. So how do we maximize the ups and survive the downs of our marriage? It begins with understanding that it is a choice. The choices we make will result in a healthy marriage or one that falls apart. The choices we make in the midst of the ups and downs are ours to own. So what choices should we make in the Ups and Downs of Marriage?

7 Choices for the Ups and Downs of Marriage:

Choose to Remember and Celebrate the Ups:

We are in control of what we choose to focus on and talk about with our spouse. Spend lots of time reminiscing and remembering the great memories together. Take lots of pictures and look at them often!

Choose to Intentionally Create Ups:

We shouldn’t wait for life to throw us random UPs. Rather, let’s take matters into our own hands and create Ups. Plan a vacation, schedule in date nights, surprise her with a note or make dinner. Keep in mind, your definition of an Up may be different from your spouse’s. Talk about what an Up is for you and work together to create those moments regularly instead of waiting around for them!

Choose to Expect the Downs:

There will always be ups and downs in our marriage as well as our individual lives. We may not know exactly what will happen…but we know something will happen eventually. You can either ignore the inevitable or be prepared to the best of your ability.  Dave Ramsey has great principles to prepare for financial downs (i.e. The Emergency Fund). But there are other plans and ways you and your spouse can expect potential downs. Talk openly with your spouse about your concerns and how you plan to work through the downs together.

Choose Positivity:

Attitudes are a choice…our choice. We are not given an attitude. We do not fall into an attitude. Even though we may say it we don’t actually wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Whether in a down or an up you choose your attitude. Dr. John Gottman has researched couples and marriages for over 20 years and has uncovered an incredible common thread among all healthy marriages. He calls it “The Magic Ratio 5:1”. According to Dr. Gottman and his research findings a healthy marriage has 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death..” We must choose life!
More info regarding Dr. Gottman’s research visit: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/what-makes-marriage-work

Choose to Remain a Team:

One of our first reactions during a marriage down is to identify the problem, this is especially true for husbands. Find the problem, fix or eliminate the problem…problem solved! However, it is all to easy to see our spouse as the problem. The goal here is for both spouses to always be on the same side (outside of abuse situations). Draw the line so that you and your spouse are looking at the problem together not fighting against each other. If you and your spouse are on the same side then you can plan and work together rather than against one another. This may take some creativity. Even if it seems that your spouse IS the problem…can you find a common ground together that keeps you both on the same side.

Example #1:

Him vs. Her: “Our house is falling apart because HE isn’t staying on top of the repairs”
Him & Her vs. Problem: “Our stuff just isn’t lasting like we thought! What could we do to keep our stuff maintained?”

Example #2:
Him vs Her: “We keep going deeper in debt because SHE is over spending!”
Him & Her vs. Problem: “Our money just isn’t going as far as it used to because prices keep going up. How can we live within our means?”

Choose to Love:

Of course it’s cliche but nonetheless it’s important and true. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us God’s definition of love (and not just in regards to marriages but in all our relationships). We must choose to love even we don’t feel loved or loving.

Choose Christ as your Foundation:

Jesus gives us a parable in Matthew 7:24-29 about how to survive the storms. Notice, He never gives us a formula for avoiding the storms…only surviving them. Expect to have downs and storms in your marriage. Expect to survive those storms if you build your foundation and your marriage on Jesus.