The Unsinkable Marriage
It only took six small stress fractures to sink the Titanic. According to pastor and counselor Tim Kimmel, here are at least six stress fractures that threaten the safety and welfare of your family:
1. Hurried, busy lives. Satan seems to have figured out that for most of us he doesn't have to make us bad, he just has to make us busy. The net result is the same.
2. The success illusion. This is referred to as the "fake it till you make it" syndrome. Looking successful can be a higher priority than doing the consistent things that ultimately yield success.
3. Unresolved conflict. The roots of bitterness grow from a failure to close the loop on anger.
4. Debt. Many people in debt don't look like they are. In fact, they look like they are doing well. But reality says that they're barely surviving.
5. High control tendencies. A lot of nice families end up on the bottom because someone inside the family uses strength of personality to get other family members to meet a selfish agenda.
6. Failure to maintain a healthy fear of God. God's people often decide to behave like spoiled brats. We'd all do well to learn from the epitaph inscribed on the tomb of Lord Lawrence in London: "He feared man so little because he feared God so much."
— Heart of the Home newsletter
What Couples Argue About Most
1. Money/Partner's spending habits (note: 21% of American couples keep separate bank accounts)
2. Which TV shows to watch
3. Spending too little time together
4. How to discipline the children
5. How the house is kept
6. Leisure plans
7. How to spend vacations
8. Which friends to see
— Are Your Normal? By Bernice Kanner
Let's Talk About Sex, Baby
Both women and men believe that the opposite sex isn't interested in discussing the details of bedroom behavior, according to a study in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. What's weird about that? The same men and women studied said open communication about sex was important to them personally.
Your Job Is Killing Your Husband
Here's a good reason to make sure a woman's work gets done: When a married woman works at a job more than forty hours a week, her husband's health plummets, according to new research by Ross Stolzenberg, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.
The survey revealed—surprise, surprise—that married men are not in the habit of watching out for their own health and that wives were more likely than husbands to remind their spouses to get enough sleep, exercise, and to take their medications. All that to say, when hard-working women book more than forty-hours a week on the job, they focus more of their available time on household tasks and less on nagging their husbands about their health.
A couple very close to us announced that their marriage was in trouble. They had been married only four years but there had been problems from the start and they saw little hope for rebuilding their relationship. The sad part was that all of us close to them were taken completely by surprise.
By God's providence, we found out soon enough to come alongside in their moment of crisis and help them sort through the long-term implications of divorce. They've been able to stop the stone from rolling all the way down the hill—now comes the arduous task of rolling it back up.
This experience reinforced the critical role we can play in the lives of couples around us. It's easy to be so preoccupied with the crush of living that we don't even see the cracks in our own marriages, let alone in others'. Or when we do sense our friends' relationships floundering, we find it easier to look the other way.
But survey after survey affirms that couples in trouble will hint of their pain to friends long before seeking professional help. Are we keeping our antennae tuned for those S.O.S. signals or is the ship lost before the pleas for help are ever heard?
By Keith Stonehocker
Did You Know?
Frustrated by the dull picture society often paints of marriage, the Family Research Council compiled some data to show just how vibrant it really is.
Married couples have better emotional and physical health, longer lives, more wealth, and higher earnings than single people.
Compared to all sexually active people, faithfully married couples experience the most physical pleasure and emotional satisfaction with their sex lives.
Married people have the lowest rates of alcoholism, depression, and mental disorders when compared to unmarried, divorced, and separated individuals.
Married people can handle stressful situations better than their unmarried counterparts, and they are the least likely to be lonely, when compared to the never married, divorced, widowed, and separated.
In a study comparing married and cohabiting couples, married people reported higher levels of commitment and happiness in their relationship and better relationships with their parents than cohabiting couples.
A study of mothers who were married, never married, divorced, or remarried found that first-time married mothers reported the highest levels of general well-being and the lowest levels of depressions.
A recent study on marital status and happiness found that married men and women are 3.4 times more likely to be happy than cohabiting couples.
How to Cook Crabs
Dealing with a spouse whose bad mood has you ready to blow? Jo Ann Larsen and Artemus Cole offer a sure-fire bad-mood remedy in their book, Get Off the Best-Stressed List (Shadow Mountain). If your partner gets cranky, simply serve the following recipe.
Ingredients:1 adult crab
1 tub of "just right" hot water
Liberal amount of light banter
1 pint of love and affection
Soothing potion of your choice
Put crab in hot tub. Provide light banter while crab cooks. Add love and affection. Prepare the soothing potion. After soaking for thirty minutes, remove crab from water. Towel dry with warm towels. Apply potion. Crab should lighten up with treatment.
Speak Sweetly and Save Your Marriage
Married couples who speak positively of and to each other seem to have a good shot at staying married. On the other hand, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health find definite patterns— with 87 percent accuracy—in couples who eventually get divorced: Divorce predictors include husbands who don't let their wives give input and wives who initiate harsh or hostile arguments.
— Hope Health Newsletter
You Said It!
Marriage isn't an amusement park that you exit as soon as the fun comes to a stop. It's a relationship you believe in enough to stick around until the fun returns.
I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.
Faith makes things possible—it does not make them easy.
Quotes gathered from Still the One (Revell) by Martha Bolton.
Between the Covers
The Act of Marriage After 40
Interview with Tim LaHaye
Although lovemaking may change after forty, it can remain the most thrilling experience you share with your spouse. In their book, The Act of Marriage After 40 (Zondervan), Tim and Beverly LaHaye address the key concerns of growing older together, including the loss of sexual desire. With their candid answers, they teach couples how to experience a more satisfying sex life long after forty.
You say loss of sexual desire is the most common form of sexual dysfunction today. What can be done about a person's loss of interest?
It starts with the mind. If you think your sex life is over, then it is. If you think it is going to last, then you will take steps to make it. Nutritional issues also contribute to our lack of sexual drive. Lifestyle choices impact our sex lives as well. Over the years, a husband may become driven to achieve success in his career. A wife may get interested in raising children or in her career as well. These things create pressure. Instead of the sex drive diminishing gradually through the forties, fifties, and sixties, it can come to a screeching halt much earlier. So we must be aware of the influences that can hinder our relationships.
What are some of the common excuses men and women use to avoid sexual intimacy?
Fatigue, pressures, being "out of the mood," and fear of pregnancy are just a few. These may all be legitimate concerns. However, sometimes sexual intimacy is avoided due to unkind treatment, particularly verbal abuse. Most people fail to understand that the most powerful sex organ they have is their tongue. If there is verbal abuse, criticism, or disrespect, resentment can build up. But by using kind and loving words, you let your spouse know that they are greatly valued. You can start loving a person by what you say to a person.
What is the role of the mind in sex as we get older?
The mind is the most important organ in your body. If you have wrong thoughts about the importance of sex in marriage, then it will affect the way you relate to your spouse. If a person is angry about sex because of a negative experience as a child, they can carry that into their marriage. Unresolved anger and rage can shut off one's emotions and make one frigid. There may be nothing physically wrong with them, but they need to examine their mind.
How to Set a Table
Are you sick and tired of having to involve Mom in your romantic dinners because you have to ask once again which side the salad fork goes on? Well, those days are over!
We've adapted some tips from Emily Post's Etiquette (HarperCollins) to give you what you need to know for setting the perfect table for a romantic dinner for two or an informal dinner with friends.
You will need the following:
One butter plate with butter knife
One water goblet
Additional stemware, if desired
As a general rule: Lay out the silverware in the order of its use, with the last piece to be used set closest to the center. So the more courses you serve, the more pieces you may need.
Don't set the dinner plate before the food is served. Instead, treat your spouse or your guests to warm plates just before dishing out the food.
In case you needed another reason to strive for a joy-filled marriage, it turns out people with happy home lives also enjoy happy work days. People who feel loved by their spouses are happier and more confident in their work environment, according to a new study. Joseph G. Grzywacz, a National Institute of Mental Health fellow at the University of California, Irvine, concluded that people who experienced a "positive spillover" of personal life satisfaction into their work life reported less job stress, better physical health, and fewer chronic illnesses like headaches.
You Can Mend a Broken Heart
It's not just the tissue damage and blocked arteries that determine a heart patient's ability to function, according to Psychology Today. Things like emotional support from a spouse, feelings of self-efficacy, and living depression- and anxiety-free are so crucial that cardiologists are shaping rehabilitation programs around them.
However, unconditional support from a spouse is not always the best medicine, according to the magazine. It's important to distinguish support that enables and that which disables. Mark Sullivan, a psychiatrist from the University of Washington, gives an example: Putting a spouse to bed and waiting on him hand and foot does not actually help him.
Instead, the best support may be a listening ear, says Martin Sullivan, a cardiologist at the Center for Living at Duke University. "Those patients who have a confidante do much better than those who don't."
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.