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Want a Good Marriage?

Learn to have a good conversation.

Want a Good Marriage?

Learn to have a good conversation. Couples in good marriages continue the premarital tasks of getting to know each other and expressing care for each other long after the wedding. If you want to master the art of entering your spouse's world, start by learning the do's and don'ts of a good conversation.


• Develop interest in each other's favorite topics of conversation.
• Allow time for your spouse to speak and wait until they are finished before commenting.
• Use conversation to inform, investigate, and understand your spouse.
• Give each other undivided attention.


• Use conversation to get your way by making demands.
• Use conversation to punish each other verbally.
• Use conversation to force agreement to your way of thinking.
• Dwell on mistakes—past or present.

From I Cherish You, by Willard F. Harley, Jr. (Revell, 2002).


The Work of Forgiveness

A man once confided in me that his wife had been unfaithful. He had forgiven her, but people at the church were treating her like an outcast, which made it harder for them to rebuild their marriage.

I suggested that he share their struggle with a small group of trusted friends, perhaps a few members of their Sunday school class or small-group Bible study. "Tell them you're struggling with the perception that your wife is being rejected by others," I told him, "and that you and she would appreciate their understanding and support. Also ask them to pray for you as you rebuild your lives together." This type of candor and openness can melt the hearts of Christians and lead to a new chapter in relationships among couples in the church. A small group of trusted friends can become your allies who will tell others, "We need to pray for these people, not discuss them. They have straightened this out in their relationship. We need to be on their side as they rebuild their marriage."

Facing the problem candidly not only speeds the healing process, but it also models a healthy way to handle tough problems. The message of the gospel is still true—there really is full forgiveness and redemption and the chance to start afresh when we repent of sin.

By Jay Kesler, from The Couples Devotional Bible (Zondervan).

Build Your Mate's Self Esteem

One of your spouse's greatest needs is to be encouraged. And knowing where your spouse struggles is key to meeting that need. To help you, answer the questions to the right for yourself and your mate. After you compare your lists, write down what your spouse recommends you can do to help with a problem area. Ask God to help you use your weaknesses as an opportunity to love one another better and enjoy learning to strengthen each other daily.

Saying "I Do"—Again

Reaffirming your vows is a way to celebrate the fact that you're still choosing to make marriage work and weather life's storms—together. And whether it's a public confession or a private commitment, making the choice to examine yourselves and your lives together will strengthen the tie that binds you. As you renew your commitment to your life mate, reflect on these things:
• When or where you met
• Your first impressions
• What drew you together
• Your first kiss
• Your favorite places
• Reasons why you're glad you married this person
• Surprises you've experienced in your marriage
• A time when you especially experienced God's presence together

For Better or Worse?

Dealing with the realities of war, unemployment, and personal stress is difficult and costly. But rediscovering the value of marriage is priceless. In a recent study, the Gallup Organization examined marriage's popularity in America, in light of the hardships of the past year. Their surprising discovery: When "for worse" is for real, the role of marriage is strengthened. Consider these findings:

94% of never-married young adults believe that a spouse should be a soul mate, first and foremost.

88% of never-married young adults are confident that there is a soul mate waiting for them somewhere.

78% said that getting married is a very important goal to them.

81% of young women feel that it is more important to have a husband who can communicate his deepest feelings than it is to have one who makes a good living.

Emotional and spiritual connection ranked far above the need for financial stability, and even the desire for children, in forming a romantic partnership.

MarriagePartnership.com Surveys:

Which sport do you and your spouse enjoy playing together?

Here's what you said:

Hiking: 16%
Bowling: 14%
Biking: 12%
Working out: 11%
Running: 9%
Golf: 7%
Basketball: 6%
Swimming: 6%
Tennis: 6%

This question was answered by 558 readers.

Visit our new online poll. Every other week at www.marriagepartnership.com, we'll be posting a new question—and we want to hear from you. After you've placed your vote, you'll see instant results. Then, you'll get to read about your answers in upcoming issues. See you there!

The Good News About Getting Divorced

It may be getting harder to do. A new type of marriage agreement is making a debut in America: the covenant marriage. In this union, divorce is limited to abuse or adultery. Without these circumstances, couples must seek counseling and wait two years before taking further action. Steve Nock, Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, and fellow researchers are tracing 600 newly married couples, half of whom are bound by covenant. Now, two years into the five-year study, covenant marriages account for only one-fourth of approximately 50 divorces. Covenant couples tend to be conservative and religious. But the greatest overriding difference between them and others, says Nock, is their certainty that their relationship is the right one. Now that's something to celebrate!


Finding the Hero in Your Husband

By Julianna Slattery

Struggle with feeling dominated? Struggle to stop dominating? Psychologist Julianna Slattery, in her new book, Finding the Hero in Your Husband (Health Communications), reveals that most women deal with this issue of "power" in one way or another in their marriage. Counseling couples and individuals through the rough times in their marriages, Julianna Slattery is prepared to offer guidance and hope. Here's what she shared with us.

How Do Married Women Have "Power"?

There are three main ways. First, a woman completes her husband; she brings a side of life that he doesn't have. Whatever her particular strengths, she can choose to use her knowledge against her husband or help him with it. Second, a wife has the ability to criticize her spouse and make him feel like a failure, or be his cheerleader and number one fan. Third, a wife has the power to withhold herself sexually or to offer herself to her husband, both of which have a huge impact on his well-being.

How can women correctly handle power?

Recognize the areas where you have power. Knowing where you have power is knowing where you can influence your husband in positive ways. Embrace the fact that this influence is God-given. Without acknowledging this, a woman may use her power without purpose, and that isn't being proactive. Your God-given power shouldn't be suppressed or wasted, but used to invest in your husband, giving you a part in helping him to become the man God wants him to be.

How do women abuse their power?

In every marriage, a woman's expectations will not be met. We grow up with dreams of the wonderful, protective, sensitive man we'll be with, and we marry a guy who makes bad decisions and has his own insecurities. Then fear sets in, and we want to take over. We feel as if we can't trust this person, and though he might be well-meaning, he's not able to make decisions for us and our children. Then, perhaps even unconsciously, we begin to doubt him and to use our manipulation skills to feel more comfortable, putting him in a side role.

When a wife lacks trust in her husband, how can she bring out the hero in him?

A wife must recognize that there are times when she needs to step in. In the daily decisions, women should be giving their input—that's important. But she needs to be more focused on what kind of relationship she wants to have at the end of the day, on what she's building. It's more important to ask, "Who does God want my husband to be, and how can I help him become that?" rather than worrying about your husband getting everything right all the time.

—Janine Petry

The No-Nag Way to Get Him Healthy

If you've been trying in vain to coerce your hubby off the couch and into his sneakers, it may be time to change your strategy. What works? Joan Tucker and researchers at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, took to the field and asked 44 married couples how they got on the path together to healthy living, exercising, and eating well. Husbands, as well as wives, listed these strategies as most effective:

Do It Together: Choose an activity you can share. Your involvement will help motivate him, and keep his interest.

Lend a Hand: Invest in a workout video and choose low-fat foods when shopping.

Be Supportive: If he skips snacks, recognize his efforts with praise. Be patient as he adjusts his life to a new style.

Instead of trying to control him into good health, show your concern and willingness to walk beside him, every step of the way. Start today!

You Said It!

A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs—jolted by every bump in the road.

Henry Ward Beecher

I gravely doubt whether women were ever married by capture. I think they pretended to be; as they still do.

G.K. Chesterton

Never try to guess your wife's size. Just buy anything marked "petite" and hold onto the receipt.

Barbara Johnson

Marriage is not heaven or hell; it is simply purgatory.

Abraham Lincoln

Be Heart-Strong

Spending time with your other half may help strengthen your heart. A new study published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal monitored the blood pressure of 120 healthy adults for six days and found it to be significantly lower when the participants were with their sweethearts than when they were with a stranger or by themselves. Time for another heart-to-heart?

Improve Your Sex Life

Knowing how to express love to your spouse is the starting point for a better sex life. Try asking, "What things communicate affection to you?" Add his or her answers to the following list of starters:

  1. Gentle initiation
  2. Increased cuddling
  3. Longer foreplay
  4. Better communication
  5. Better hygiene
  6. Romantic atmosphere
  7. A different time of day

Now go enjoy offering love in more ways than ever!

Adapted from Lists to Live By for Every Married Couple, 2001 by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens, and John Van Diest. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers Inc.


As counselors for couples, conference speakers, authors, and hosts of their own radio show, there's no doubt that Bill and Pam Farrel are devoted to encouraging Christians in their marriages. And while supporting others, they've certainly encountered their own need for marital guidance. But when the teachers need teaching, where do they go? Here's what Bill and Pam shared with us.

Why is it important to be mentored?

One of the wisest choices a couple can make is to look for a mentor couple—or two—that they can call for advice as they face the typical transitions of life. Much wisdom can be gleaned over a cup of coffee or a dinner at a mentor couple's home. Often just watching how healthy couples communicate, interact, and appreciate each other can lend the insight you might need to replace a bad pattern with a good one, one that will keep you in love for a lifetime.

Where Do You Go for Encouragement?

We find that those friends who have known us the longest and believe in what we're doing to support the covenant of marriage are our greatest sources of strength. We choose to stay connected to those who know us best and aren't afraid to ask the hard questions or give advice. We're also encouraged by getting to know couples who are successful in ministry together.

How can a couple find others to mentor them?

Look around your church or among your Christian friends and see which couples seem to have strong, lasting relationships. Invite those couples, one at a time, out for coffee or over for dinner. Watch how they relate to each other, and to you. If the couple seems to have faced similar trials, seems to be similar to your personalities, or carries your level of parenting or leadership responsibilities, simply ask if you can spend more time with them on a friendship level. If that goes well, ask them to consider being a mentor couple to you.

How can a couple become mentors to others?

Look for younger couples who either have leadership potential to other married couples, who are in crisis, or who might not have received marriage training. Try leading a small group study with a few couples, using a marriage book. Or spend time with one couple at a time. The key is to let the relationship develop naturally. A younger couple will learn best by simply observing a mature couple in all facets of life.

—Janine Petry


Change a Flat Tire

When warmer weather's on the way, so are you and your sweetheart. After all—summer's the season for taking a road trip. And whether it's visiting the family, or just seeing new sites, the last thing you want to see is yourselves on the side of the road with a flat. But should your tire retire, don't panic. Follow these easy instructions together, and you'll be ready to roll.

Before any trip, always check to be sure you have a spare tire, a car jack, and a lug wrench aboard.

When you discover a flat:

  1. Pull the car over and find a level area to stop. Turn on your emergency flashers and set the parking brake.

  2. Pry off the hubcap (if your wheel has one) and loosen the lug nuts by turning them counter-clockwise with the wrench. Doing this before you jack up the car will make it easier to change the tire (if the nuts are too tight, the tire will just spin).

  3. Raise the jack just so it reaches the car. Once the jack is raised, position it 6 to 12 inches behind the front tire, or 6 to 12 inches in front of the rear tire. Use the car's frame, avoiding the suspension. You can also check your car manual for the designated jack location (the jack point). Make sure the jack is level and secure it with a few more cranks.

  4. Raise the car by continuing to crank the jack handle. You'll be putting on a fully inflated tire, so be sure there's room for it.

  5. Finish removing the loosened lug nuts, being careful not to lose them. Remove the old wheel by pulling it straight out and off. Be sure to keep your weight forward so you don't fall backward.

  6. Put on the new wheel by seating it properly on the threaded shafts. Push the tire as far onto the shafts as it will go.

  7. Replace the lug nuts by spinning them on with your hands. Using the lug wrench, turn them so they rest against the wheel, but don't tighten them down.

  8. Lower the jack so the tire just rests on the ground, and tighten one of the lug nuts well. Then, go to the nut opposite the tight one, and tighten it. Tighten the others in the same way. If there are five nuts, tighten every other one until they're all tight.

  9. Lower the car completely. Replace the hubcap, if you removed one, by holding one edge in place and banging on the opposite edge.

  10. You did it! Pack up everything and get rolling.

For more helpful information, go to www.learn2.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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