Monthly Archives: April 2020

I Need to Die

The most difficult verse in the Bible for me to live successfully is Ephesians 5:25, ”Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” Jesus gave up His life for me so that I could be forgiven of all my sins, and live with Him for all eternity. I am supposed to love my wife in the same way. 1 John 3:16 says pretty much the same thing, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”.

Give myself up for Patty, lay down my life for her, die to self and live for my wife. That sounds great, it even sounds manly, even romantic, but how do I do it, what are the nuts and bolts of a “sacrificed life”.

Rarely is it going to be some big deal, some major sacrifice, instead it is going to be a bunch of little things that add up to a sacrificed life style, that make her feel incredibly loved. Here is one little thing that I am working on.

1. Do the things on her “honey do list” enthusiastically. Usually I don’t want to do the things she wants me to do when she wants me to do it. I always have a whole lot of things on my list not yet done which I would much rather do than her list. Most of the things Patty wants me to do for her seem very unimportant to me in comparison to my own awesome, amazing list of things to do. In the past, one of my common things was to say, “OK, I will do it soon”, but have no intention of doing it soon by her definition of soon, usually forgetting all about it, and needing reminding several times. 1 John 3:18 tells us how to love, “let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” Because I am doing something for her reluctantly it is easy to act like it saying, “Oh, all right”, making her feel like an imposition in my life.

Give myself up for Patty, lay down my life for her, die to self and live for my wife. So, I say with enthusiasm, I would love to do that for such a wonderful and sexy wife!

The Power of an Appeal

When our husband or wife or anybody else for that matter is doing something on a regular basis that bothers us, hurts our feelings, makes us feel bad, or offends us, we can attempt to change their behavior in a way that won’t change anything, and cause conflict, or we can choose to use a method that is very powerful and blessed by God, it is called “making an appeal”. It was used by Daniel when he was a slave as a Hebrew youth to the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. Jewish people had a very strict dietary code given to them in the Law of Moses, and the Babylonians diet was anything but kosher. Daniel was faced with a dilemma because he was being asked to eat food that was against the Law of Moses which he had lived by all his life. He could have simply said, “I refuse to eat your stinking food”. The result would have been that he was killed and we wouldn’t have a book in the Bible called Daniel. Instead he made an appeal to the one who was in charge of feeding him.

Daniel 1:12-13. Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

The result was that Daniel was healthier than the others who were eating the Kings’s choice food, and so he was allowed to continue with his own choice of foods. And more than that, he ended up in a short amount of time being the second most powerful man in the Kingdome. The reason was that God blessed Daniel and all that he did. Others have used this method of resolving conflict and influencing people in the Bible and it always resulted in God’s blessing and successful relationships.

Daniel 1:9. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,

A couple of key elements in a well given appeal. First of all, it was gracious and polite. Notice that the first word in Daniel’s appeal is “please”. Second, he didn’t make a demand, he made a suggestion and left the final decision to the commander. Daniel didn’t get angry, threaten, attack the commander’s motive or character, he simply made an appeal. There are certain things that seem to attract the blessing of God, and this seems to be one of them.

Training Patty

Sometimes people will take exception to my statement that a husband or wife ought to get rid of all the expectations that they have for their spouse. My response is, it isn’t the expectations that are the problem, the problem is what we do when our expectations are not met by our wife or husband. Most will get irritated, if not angry, they will nag, remind, instruct, and scold. The next question is, “does my nagging, yelling, pouting, scolding work, are my expectations now going to be met”? And the answer is, no, that method of trying to change our spouse doesn’t work, it only produces conflict. I do have needs and desires that only Patty can meet, there is a way she can act, treat me, talk to me and respond to me that will make me very happy. How do I train her to be a Champion wife, how does she train me to be a Champion husband. Training is a very important word. It is the word we used in raising our kids, we trained them how to act, and talk, and love the Lord. If I was a world class tennis player and Patty had never played before, and I wanted to play competitive tennis with her, what would I do, I would train her how to play. Here are some simple observations about that very important word;

1. I know that it will take some time, probably lots of time before Patty will be able to play well at all.

2. Knowing that it will take lots of time results in me being very patient when she hits the ball over the fence, or into the net, or missing it altogether.

3. I understand that for any of the skills to become permanent it will require lots of repetition and practice.

4. I also understand that clear instructions on what to do and when needs to be repeated over and over again.

5. Good coaches always give instruction graciously, being careful to build the worth and esteem of the one being trained because they know that intimidation and shame do not motivate, and always lowers performance.

6. Good coaches also know that the greatest tool to motivate, energize, and cause growth and change is praise and lots of it.

7. In my training, I am always making sure that my motive is the mutual joy we will experience in playing tennis together, and that Patty knows that, it isn’t about me, it is about us.

Men and women are very different so the coaching that I do is very different from the coaching that she does, meaning that we can coach each other on how to be Champion spouses at the same time. I have a friend that I taught how to “drift fish” for salmon, and he taught me how to fly fish. A good marriage results in rapid growth for both husband and wife, and as they grow they both become better coaches.

How Do You Change Another Person

If your husband or wife has a character flaw that really bothers you, what do you do about it? How are you going to fix them, change them, make them into the kind of husband or wife that you dream of having. Should you even try? Much marital conflict happens at the point where one or both make concerted efforts to change the behavior of their partner.

Most attempt to change others with confrontation which is usually very emotionally charged. I would use the word, scold to describe what most do in an attempt to change their spouse. The question shouldn’t be , “is it alright to try and change someone’s behavior”? A much better question to ask is, “Is my method of trying to change my husband or wife working”? A good follow up question would be, “Is the reason my method of trying to change my spouse isn’t working their fault or mine”?

Parents are commanded in the Bible to “train” their kids to do the right thing, to serve God, and to love God. The very word “parenting” suggests training. So it seems good that spouses train each other in right living and good habits, pastors do that with the people that are in their church. So, the right question is, “What works?” Good coaches know how to coach and get the best out of their players, good parents know how to raise good kids who succeed in life, so, a good husband or a good wife will know how to positively change the character and the behavior of their spouse consistently.

Good methods are really easy to understand and they really do work.

Grand Champion Husband

If we lined up 12 guys who are married, and we attached a microphone to each one, and 12 wives who had never met these guys listened to them for one week and then ranked them from Grand Champion husband down to loser husband, what would be their criteria for the placing? I gave a couple of key principles yesterday based on feedback from Patty on me and from observing a lot of good and bad marriages over the years as a pastor. Here is another key principle that is very important if you want to really make your wife the happiest woman on the planet earth.

3. A good husband is always praising and appreciating everything his wife does for him and never complaining about what she doesn’t do. The motto I use to help remind myself of this principle is, ”Everything is gravy”. What that means is that I need to get rid of all expectations. If I expect Patty to do something then I don’t appreciate it when she does it, because that was what she was supposed to do, and if she doesn’t do it, I fuss because she didn’t fulfill her obligation to me which I had established in my own mind. If I have no expectations, then everything is gravy, and oh boy, do I love gravy! Our expectations are the bars in the prison that we build for our wife. Freedom gives joy and confinement and restrictions take it away. Our goal as a husband is to give our wife joy, not to take it away. Affirm, praise, appreciate, compliment, build-up, value, more and more. If you hire a housekeeper and pay her good money you can have expectations, if you hire a cook, pay them well and expect to eat well, if you hire a prostitute, you get what you pay for. Patty is my wife, my life partner, and a gift from God.

How to be the Best Husband

Occasionally I ask Patty if there is anything I can improve on in order to be the best husband possible to her. One thing I have learned is that if I am serious about getting an accurate answer is that I need to give her time to think about it before she gives me the answer. So announcing to her that we are going out for dinner in a couple of days and I am going to ask her that question usually results in some insight for me on how to improve and grow towards my goal of being the best husband possible to the best wife in the world.

Over 50 years of marriage, hundreds of hours of marriage counseling, many hours of listening to teaching on marriage, and reading dozens of books on marriage has resulted in a fairly concise list of principles for husbands on how to be a Grand Champion. It will take several days of blogs to cover these, and I will write them in order of importance.

1. Never, never, ever, get angry, not even a little bit irritated not even a little bit intense, or heated, not even a little bit, never, ever!! Now I feel angry, irritated, upset, hurt, and frustrated all the time by things Patty does and says, but I can exercise self-control and not respond the way I feel. I mess up occasionally, but I confess and ask for forgiveness soon after the offense, if not immediately. Sometimes I will graciously explain that certain things that she says offends me and make an appeal to her to change, emphasizing that what she does is not wrong, it just makes me feel irritated for some dumb reason. She always responds positively wanting to make me happy.

2. Accept certain behavior as permanent. There are certain things that Patty does and says that no matter how many times I make an appeal to change, it probably won’t. One of the things that she does often that always pushes my button is to tell me what to do, I call it, “bossing me around”. When I get in the car and put my IPad on the dash of the car she will say, “That will fall on the floor as soon as we start up, put it in the side pocket in the door”. I used to respond by saying, “It is my IPad, I can let it fall on the floor if I like, quit bossing me around”! That response didn’t result in a pleasant drive to church that morning. My self-talk goes like this now, “Patty is a Grandmother to 27 kids, that is how she thinks and talks, so just be patient and talk nice”! So, now when she says, “that coffee is hot, be careful”, I respond by saying, “thank you”. I can do that as I practice, think about it, and seek to be the best husband ever.

Who Has the Best Wife?

When I was a kid I was in 4-H and I had a cow as a project. It began when she was a calf and continued for 4 years after “Dawn” had several calves. One of the things that I did was take her to the County Fair and “Show” her. I was in a ring with a dozen other kids with cows of similar age and breed and a Judge would rank tham on the basis of their “confirmation”, and we would get a first place ribbon down to about fifth place. When I was 22 years old I took a cow from our dairy to the “National Guernsey Show” and she got reserve national champion, that was a big deal to me.

Now, I don’t want this to sound like I am comparing my wife, Patty to a cow, I am just using the concept of comparing or ranking. So, let’s suppose a bunch of guys decide to rank their wives, best to worst, and i get picked to be the “Judge”. The obvious first question would be, “what is the standard or the criteria for being a super wife”. Obviously some might say, “looks”, others might say, “how well they cook”, and certainly, “sex” would be included, for sure. Over the last 45 years of Pastoring and doing lots of marriage counseling, I would say that the best criteria for determining a “Champion” wife would be how they talk to their husbands.

Patty and I have been married almost 51 years, and I am declaring her the “Grand Champion” of wives. The reason is that she makes me feel like a “Macho Man”, the worlds best preacher, highly intelligent, and the world’s best Dad and grandpa by the words that she speaks to me. The New Testament says that a wife ought to be a major source of “glory” for her husband, and that she should respect him. Proverbs says that a wife ought not to scold, nag, belittle, or criticize her husband. Someone recently responded to one of my blogs by saying that, “I wasn’t perfect”, according to Patty, I am. Men, as a whole, tend to live up to the “image” that is portrayed of them by those most important to them, and a universal law of relationships says that we all, “work hardest to please the one who praises us the most”, and nobody praises me more than Patty. Yep, she is the Grand Champion of wives, so now I just have to figure out how to be a Grand Champion husband!