Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Everybody Fights

Everybody fights. It is a part of any relationship. Not all fights are the same though, and everybody fights differently. I don't know how other people fight so I am only going to write a little about what I have learned about myself.

I am very passive. Overly passive. Not even passive aggressive because that's too aggressive. Men were designed to have an aggressive streak, to fight and wrestle and play rough. Somehow while I was growing up I was ingrained with the idea that aggression was a bad thing. Don't fight, don't yell, don't be angry. So I learned to stuff all those feelings and emotions away and not talk about them or let them out. I was a very angry person for a while because I didn't know how to deal with those feelings in a healthy way. I have since learned a lot about forgiveness and dealing with anger. That being said, I want to share something that I learned recently.

Usually if me and Rebekah get into an argument or even a fight, which doesn't happen very often, Rebekah is very outspoken and I tend to just shut up and ride it out or walk away till we both calm down and then talk it out later. That is not a healthy reaction on my part.

The other night during a fight, we were both angry and Rebekah told me to get out of the room and like always I went into the other room. I was sitting on the couch and I was really mad and frustrated and thinking about what happened when something clicked in my head. I realized that I should not be walking away from fights with my tail between my legs. As the leader of my family and the head of my house I should be dealing with the situation, not running away till Rebekah calms down enough for me to talk without getting yelled at. The problem was not that we had a fight or that we both got angry, the problem was a lack of respect on Rebekah's part.
Ephesians 5:33 - So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 
 By Rebekah telling me to leave the room just because she knew I would and then she wouldn't have to deal with what was going on, she was stripping me of the authority that God put on me as the head of my house. I was surrendering my role as the leader. Once I realized what was happening I was no longer angry, I got up and went back into the bedroom. Rebekah glared at me and asked me what I was doing there. I told her that she was out of line and that it was not her place to be bossing me around and telling me what to do. As soon as I said that Rebekah calmed down too. She told me later that she was really proud of me for finally standing up for myself and that she had been craving that kind of leadership from me. She said that when we are fighting sometimes her emotions take over and if I don't do anything, she says and does things that are hurtful to me and to our relationship. She needs me to be the leader that God wants me to be. Not so I can not listen to her and make her do what I want but so that I can keep things from getting out of hand and we can work through things in a healthy way.

Everybody fights, but the fights don't have to end in anger and hurt. We can work through our disagreements in a healthy way that results in a stronger relationship and brings us closer together instead of creating wounds and driving us apart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Marriage Worth Fighting For

On the radio this morning they were talking about the current divorce rates in the U.S. The divorce percentage for first marriages is over fifty percent. More then half of marriages end in divorce and the rates are even higher for second and third marriages.

So what has happened to make marriages so disposable? Why are people so quick to bail out once things get tough? Does a vow not mean anything any more? Or did they just change them so instead of "Until death do us part" it's more like "Until I get bored" or "Until I am tired of trying"?

When me and Rebekah got married we made a vow to God and to each other and that vow wasn't taken lightly. We are going to be together until one of us dies. We both agreed before we ever got married that divorce was not an option. We wrote our own vows and we put a lot of thought into them.

This is what we wrote:
I, Ben, take you Rebekah, to be my wife.I promise to care for you and to protect you.I will be faithful to you and honest with you.I will be your partner and your best friend.I will help you raise our children and point them toward God. I will savor our time together.I will be understanding and supportive through laughter and through tears.I will hold you tight through good times and bad times.I will forgive you as we have been forgiven.I will never leave you.I promise to love and cherish you today, tomorrow and forever.

I, Rebekah, take you Ben, to be my husband.I promise to respect you and trust you.I will be faithful to you and honest with you.I will be your partner and your best friend.I will help you achieve your goals and dreams.Wherever you go, I will go. I will encourage you and support you through laughter and through tears.I will stand by your side through good and bad times.I will forgive you as we have been forgiven. I will never leave you.I promise to love you today, tomorrow and forever.

We meant every word.

As men we need to take a stand! We need to fight for our marriages and for our families! We have to stop sitting on our butts until things are so bad we don't even know how to start fixing them. Marriages don't just fall apart overnight. Little things creep in and start to build up over time. There may be a final breaking point and it might catch us off guard but if we look back the evidence is there.

My parents are divorced. They were both raised in christian homes and they were both christians. One day my mom said she was moving out and my dad never saw it coming. I have to give my dad credit because he truly started fighting for his marriage. He never wanted to be divorced. They had been meeting with their pastor and working on things before it happened. I don't know everything that brought their marriage to that point and maybe there was just to much stuff built up. My parents did a great job raising us, and me and my brothers and sisters all turned out great but along the way their marriage suffered.

I am not going to let anything sneak up on me. I am very proactive about making sure there is nothing coming between me and Rebekah. I can tell when she is upset and I make sure we sit down and talk it out. Some times she tells me I just need to let her be mad for a while but I hate for there to be anything wrong between us even for a second. I am fighting for my marriage before it can even start to slip away.

But why is marriage so important?
It is an example of Jesus' relationship with us; His church and His bride. It's not just about us, it is about honoring God and being an example to the world. In the same way that we have to fight for our marriages Jesus gave everything for His relationship with us. It means that much to Him and it should mean that much to us.

 Ephesians 5
21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[b] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

So when it gets hard, don't stop fighting, don't surrender, lay it all down for the ones you love.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Keeping the Adventure Alive!

Deep inside every man is the desire for adventure. We want to be a part of something exciting, something challenging, maybe even something that will change the world, if we aren't too scared to let ourselves dream big.

Do you remember what it was like growing up? I was lucky enough to grow up in the country, surrounded by miles and miles of land just waiting to be explored. Me and my brothers would spend our days building forts,  digging holes, climbing trees, and racing our bikes. The older we got the farther we would explore, and the more extreme our activities became. Me and my brothers and our friends would be playing paint ball, rock climbing, four wheeling, swimming, and all sorts of craziness and fun. 

So when did it end? One day we wake up and it's gone. Somehow it slips away. We "grow up". We have to get a job, go to college, be responsible, be a good little member of society. 

But deep inside, that love of the adventure is still hiding.

It is there for a reason. It is there because it is a part of God. It is there because our entire existence is God's great adventure. Satan wants us to lose sight of it. To get caught up in the everyday blah blah blah that is our normal life. He wants to distracted us from what God created us to be.

So the question is: How do we keep the adventure alive in our everyday lives? We can't always pick up and head to the mountains for a weekend of adventure. But there has to be a way to hang on to that feeling of excitement. Sometimes we forget that it is OK to have fun, it's OK to be goofy, it's OK to remember what it's like to be a part of an adventure.

It is not always easy to find adventure in the midst of suburban America. Everything is safe and tame and predictable. I try to break it up a little. To keep the excitement alive.

The other day me and my wife's family were all together at her parent's house. When it's nice out, we all like to go out to the yard and play a game or two of croquet. Well, after one such game the girls were ready to head in but us guys were still up for one more game. I suggested that we spice it up a bit and we came up with Extreme Croquet. We played with all the same rules except that you had to be running when you hit the ball and there could be no more then five seconds between hits or you would lose your turn. So there we were, (me and my three brother-in-laws) racing around the yard swinging our mallets like a bunch of mad men and it was the most fun we have had in quite a while.

It is the little things like that that can keep the adventure alive, and when we love life and it shows in every part of our lives that is what makes our friends and coworkers stop and wonder why we are so different. What do we have that keeps us going strong when others give up. Why are we happy when everyone is just trying to get to the end of the day.

So keep the adventure alive! Have fun! Show the world what life can be when we live how God created us to live!

If you have any ideas or stories about keeping the adventure alive, feel free to add a comment!