July 28, 2011


Marriage is about love because our lives on earth are about love. We know this because the entire story of the Bible is about love.

The Bible begins with a marriage (Genesis 2). It ends with a marriage (Revelations). Marriage is scattered throughout (Hosea, Isaiah, Matthew, Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Peter). Jesus' first miracle was performed at a marriage. God constantly compares His relationship with us using the metaphor as marriage. Marriage is how Christians model for the world Christ's love for the Church and the Church's submission to Christ.

If our lives are reflections of the Gospel, how clear is the mirror of your marriage?

We can't have a good marriage without God. But marriage is hard. This is because Satan attacks it. He has attacked it since the first marriage had just barely gotten underway, and he has continued attacking it since. Just think of the existence of things such as divorce, adultery, internet affairs, separation, masturbation, men leaving their wives for the mistress of Work, wives critizing and nagging their husbands, or pornography.

If Satan succeeds at ruining marriage, children and the family will follow. So will Christianity as a whole, as nonbelievers see Christians engaged in bitter divorces, unhappy marriages, and broken families where children's souls are lost forever. If you were a nonbeliever, would you want to follow that kind of life?

Because we understand how important marriage is to God and to the health of our society and world, we should be more interested in maintaining our marriages than we are in anything else. More invested in our marriages than we are in our kids. In our jobs. In saving money. In working. In our friends. In our hobbies. In ourselves.

Yes, we should even be more into our marriage than into ourselves.

That's perhaps the hardest one to do.

Your spouse is probably a completely different person than you. Sometimes are you just baffled by the things he or she wants, thinks, feels, does? Yep? That's because he or she is a completely different person from you. And that's okay. But how can you show love to someone if you can't even fathom how or why they want something?

My advice is to see what your spouse does for you when they are trying to be romantic. Does he bring you flowers or candy? Then he probably would like a thoughtful gift. Does she write you letters? Compliment you? Give you a back rub? Does he make you a romantic dinner to surprise you?

If you look into the little gifts of self others do to make you feel loved, you get a good indication what kinds of things must seem "loving" to your partner.

For example, when I want to show my love to my husband, I do many things. I might:

  • compliment him at his job at work or tell him he's a good boss. This is because I value verbal praise and I, in turn, would feel loved if he noticed things I do around the house or in my job and complimented me on them.

  • stay up late to talk to him on the phone or see him home from work. This is because my gift of staying up late shows him I'm willing to dedicate time and sacrifice my sleep for him. I'd appreciate it if he did something similar for me.

  • cook him a romantic dinner. Several times I've surprised him by shopping for, preparing, and serving what was (for me) an elaborate meal to cook and prepare. I will take care to try something new for the meal, prepare several sides, and cook a new dessert I've never tried before. I'll dress up and do my hair and makeup. Taking the time and effort to do this shows him that I think he is worth the time and effort. I'd love it if he surprised me with something like this someday.

  • Leave him notes. I will usually write him a little note with a Bible verse when I pack his lunch. When I leave for a weekend, I leave a note on the pillow or mirror. This way he has something to make him smile when he's home alone. If he packed my lunch with a note or left a note on my car or mirror, it would make me feel cherished.

  • Always tell him, "I understand it's not your fault you're busy" when I'm complaining about something. This is me going out of my way to vent to him, without making him feel like I de-value his job. I want him to feel understood and appreciated for the work he does, even though I am unhappy. I would appreciate if he would be this careful not to make me feel hurt or defensive during fights as well.

  • Fix him lunch or breakfast. I sometimes get up when I don't have to in order to fix him eggs or pack him a lunch. This is just a small gesture to say "I care," and of course I'd think it was very sweet if he returned the favor.

On the other hand, my husband doesn't really do any of these things for me, but he shows me he loves me in other ways. He calls me a lot to check in with me throughout the day. He makes a point to listen to my day, even when I re-tell stories, because he knows being heard is important to me. He used to give me a lot of backrubs, before he got so busy with work. Sometimes he'll pick me up a candy bar or my favorite popcorn on his way home from work. These are the ways he shows love and affection, and by seeing how he demonstrates love I can learn how he'd probably like to receive love.

Try to keep the romance and love alive in your marriage, not the way you'd like to receive it, but the way your spouse would.

June 28, 2011

Your Desire Shall Be For Your Husband

Today I'd like to talk about Genesis 3:16. It's in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve have just sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, and God is pronouncing his judgment on them. Specifically, this verse is directed toward Eve as part of her punishment (the other part of her punishment is pain in pregnancy and childbirth). Here are several translations of this verse:

  • Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (NIV)

  • And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you." (New Living Translation)

  • Yet, you will long for your husband, and he will rule you." (God's Word Translation)

  • Thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (King James Version)

  • Still your desire will be for your husband, but he will be your master. (Bible in Basic English)

  • Thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (Douay-Rheims Bible)

Let's explore this verse more. What exactly does "desire for your husband" mean? Why does Adam now rule over her? Here's what some commentators have to say on this subject.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible:

The woman had taken the lead in the transgression. In the fallen state, she is to be subject to the will of her husband. "Desire" does not refer to sexual desire in particular. Genesis 4:7. It means, in general, "turn," determination of the will. "The determination of thy will shall be yielded to thy husband, and, accordingly, he shall rule over thee." The second clause, according to the parallel structure of the sentence, is a climax or emphatic reiteration of the first, and therefore serves to determine its meaning. Under fallen man, woman has been more or less a slave. In fact, under the rule of selfishness, the weaker must serve the stronger. Only a spiritual resurrection will restore her to her true place, as the help-meet for man.

Clarke's commentary:

Though at their creation both were formed with equal rights, and the woman had probably as much right to rule as the man; but subjection to the will of her husband is one part of her curse; and so very capricious is this will often, that a sorer punishment no human being can well have, to be at all in a state of liberty, and under the protection of wise and equal laws.

Gill's exposition:
And thy desire shall be to thy husband, which some understand of her desire to the use of the marriage bed, as Jarchi, and even notwithstanding her sorrows and pains in child bearing; but rather this is to be understood of her being solely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be referred to him, whether she should have her desire or not, or the thing she desired; it should be liable to be controlled by his will, which must determine it, and to which she must be subject, as follows:

And he shall rule over thee, with less kindness and gentleness, with more rigour and strictness: it looks as if before the transgression there was a greater equality between the man and the woman, or man did not exercise the authority over the woman he afterwards did, or the subjection of her to him was more pleasant and agreeable than now it would be; and this was her chastisement, because she did not ask advice of her husband about eating the fruit, but did it of herself, without his will and consent, and tempted him to do the same.

Wesley's commentary:
She is condemned to a state of sorrow and a state of subjection: proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride.

Matthew Henry's Commentary:
She is here put into a state of subjection. The whole sex, which by creation was equal with man, is, for sin, made inferior, and forbidden to usurp authority, 1 Tim. 2:11, 12. The wife particularly is hereby put under the dominion of her husband, and is not sui juris-at her own disposal, of which see an instance in that law, Num. 30:6-8, where the husband is empowered, if he please, to disannul the vows made by the wife. This sentence amounts only to that command, Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; but the entrance of sin has made that duty a punishment, which otherwise it would not have been. If man had not sinned, he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; and, if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness; and then the dominion would have been no grievance: but our own sin and folly make our yoke heavy. If Eve had not eaten forbidden fruit herself, and tempted her husband to eat it, she would never have complained of her subjection; therefore it ought never to be complained of, though harsh; but sin must be complained of, that made it so. Those wives who not only despise and disobey their husbands, but domineer over them, do not consider that they not only violate a divine law, but thwart a divine sentence.

It's important to remember that the woman's subjection to her husband was a punishment brought about due to her sin. The man also sinned and was given his own punishment. In both cases, God made the punishment fit the crime: the man showed he was passive, so God took away his leisure time and made him work. The woman showed she was headstrong, so God took away her freedom and made her submissive.

In Jesus, the old punishments were not completely revoked (women still have great pain in childbirth, and men still must toil over the land), but He did bring about a new life and a new covenant. I think this is why in Ephesians 5 and Titus 2, Paul says that women are still under men's authority but also exhorts their husbands to love and care for them, even laying down their lives for them. Suddenly, the man's role as leader changed from a tyrant to a Christlike leader. As such, I don't think you can make a Biblical case for husbands to be overbearing tyrants to their wives, because we are under a new covenant with Jesus as the author.

June 27, 2011

Living with Anxiety Disorders

Living with anxiety can be very difficult for Christians, especially as we are called to "rejoice" in all things.

If you or your spouse is living with an anxiety disorder, it can be a challenge, but it doesn't mean life isn't worth living.

According to Mayo Clinic, anxiety disorders can appear at any time of life, but often will appear fairly early. Was your spouse anxious from an early age? It may have been an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. These disorders are often especially challenging because they are often found hand-in-hand with other disorders like depression.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • constant worry over small or large concerns

  • feeling keyed up or on edge

  • difficulty concentrating

  • muscular tension or aches

  • trouble sleeping

  • fatigue

  • trying too hard to fit in

  • perfectionistic tendencies

  • need for reassurance and approval

The symptoms don't have to be there all the time. But they will be there much of the time, and they will pop up again in times of change or stress.

Anxiety disorders are also related to:

  • depression

  • drug addiction

  • alcohol addiction

  • teeth grinding
This means anxiety could cause these, or lead to these, or make them worse if they're already there. Note: if your spouse is already addicted to drugs or alcohol, quitting will probably make them more anxious. Talk to a doctor.

If your spouse starts showing these symptoms, it is often better to get treatment early. If you wait to symptoms are too severe, it will be harder to treat.

Other than the obvious answers (therapy and medication), how can you help a spouse who suffers from anxiety disorder?

  • tell them to relax. Just kidding.

  • keep a balanced diet

  • go with them to get daily exercise. Exercise reduces anxiety.

  • make sure they get enough sleep.

  • look into relaxation techniques and coach your spouse in them. A panicking person can't do relaxation.

  • Buy them Vitamin B and folic acid supplements.

  • When they get anxious, have them do a hobby or distract them.

  • Keep them social. Get out of the house!

You should also be familiar with the symptoms of a panic attack, so you can realize when one happens before it gets too bad. While generalized anxiety disorder is a long-term illness characterized by feeling overly worried and anxious, an actual panic attack is shorter (usually 10-30 minutes) and much more intense. Your partner will need more support during these times. Here's what a panic attack looks like:

  • feeling of losing control

  • feeling of going crazy

  • feeling of overwhelming panic

  • trouble breathing

  • feeling like you're going to pass out

  • hyperventilating

  • shaking

  • stomach cramps

  • nausea

  • feeling detached or unreal

If you suffer from anxiety, here are some things you should try to do:

  • focus on what positive things you are working toward, not what terrible things you are running from.

  • keep a list of 3 good things that happen every day... even if you have to stretch.

  • do things that make you feel good, even if you don't feel like it.

  • do nice things for others without expecting anything back. Giving kindness makes you happier, too!

Living with anxiety can be hard... but it's not impossible. With a loving, supportive partner and hard work, living with anxiety can be done.

June 20, 2011

When God Calls Someone Else in Your Life

What do you do when God calls someone in your life to do something you don't understand or agree with? What if God tells that person what to do but doesn't share it with you?

It can be difficult. Whether you are a wife who hates her husband's decision to move the family to a new job, a parent who violently disagrees with your child's decision to move to Africa and be a missionary, or just a concerned friend, it's hard to know: how do I know if God really gave them this message? What if it ends up terribly? How can I submit to God's will for another person's life when I'm not even sure what that will is?

The thing we need to remember is, we won't always know when, how, or what God tells other people. His messages can come in many ways. Now, if your friend is doing something that is clearly against the Bible, you can feel sure their message is not from God. But what about other decisions they make that you don't agree with?

We have to remember that in the Bible, God did not always tell the people around the person in question what the message was. For example, in Mark 1:16-20, Jesus only called a few very specific people:

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Remember that Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade. Jesus called him in the middle of his work day! So were John and James. I'm sure their father, Zebedee, felt confused and probably angry when his sons just left work in the middle of the day to follow a man no one had ever heard of. He probably felt like they were being irresponsible and letting their family risk poverty and even starvation. He may have even yelled at them to get back in the boat.

Yet those 3 men became Jesus' closest friends and disciplines.

In the Bible, there are other instances of God only giving a message to the person it concerns. Think of Job's wife, who ridiculed him for not losing faith in God. Think of Noah, whose neighbors made fun of him and called him crazy for building an ark in the middle of the desert. Think of Joseph, who at first felt betrayed by Mary, until later God confirmed to him in a dream that the message He'd given Mary was true.

Sometimes, it may be hard for us to accept the messages God gives other people. But imagine where our world would be now if Mary had declined God's call to bear His Son because she gave in to family and societal pressure. Imagine if Noah had not built the ark and just gone back to his quiet life like his neighbors. Imagine if Simon Peter had given up the chance to found the Holy Christian Church because he decided to do the "responsible" thing and stay at work fishing that day.

Let us pray to be like Joseph, open to the call of God in the lives of those around us.

June 9, 2011

When God Speaks to Us Through The TV

Has God ever spoken to you through non-traditional means?

He has to me.

Sure, I've had answers seemingly appear after prayer. I've received guidance through a well-timed "coincidence" with a Christian song, Bible verse, Christian self-help book, or advice from a Christian friend. We expect answers to come through these means.

But I've also had other little signs from God. A butterfly floating past, reminded me that life is good and beautiful in the midst of a worry session. A stranger in the airport who gave me a guardian angel pin. And today, a soap opera.

I believe it was Days of Our Lives. I don't watch soap operas so I'm not really sure.

Last night, my husband and I had a long talk about codependency. I don't want to be as needy as I can be around him. I worry that will amount to emotional abuse. Codependency. Enmeshment. All those nasty, ugly words counselors always used to describe my relationship with my mother. Only this time, instead of being the victim, I would be the abuser.

No, thank you. I'd rather be safe and cautious. I don't want to be so needy and clingy that I suck my husband dry til he's an emotional shell. All those books and websites tell you that to be "healthy" you need to:

  • have your own friends

  • have your own sense of identity

  • have your own, separate hobbies

  • spend some time apart

  • meet your own needs

  • rely on God and your support system and not just your spouse

My husband really doesn't hang out a lot with his friends anymore. We hang out together. A lot. And we hang out with mutual friends and family sometimes.

My husband says he wants me to bear my soul. He wants me to be as needy and emotionally open as I want.

I worry I will put too much of a burden on him. I don't want to be unhealthy. How do married couples find the balance that works for them?

Today, my dad had left his tv on when he left for work. When I woke up, soap operas were on. I was a little amused, but I turned the tv off because I hate background noise. I turned on my computer and got engrossed. A few minutes later, I realized the tv was still on. Sometimes the remote doesn't work and that happens. I let the soap operas run. They were quiet and not bothering me.

A character--I'm sure she has a name and a detailed backstory-- was having prom with her boyfriend in her hospital room. Apparently, he'd created a prom for her since she couldn't go. Sweet.

I tuned in somewhere when she started telling him that she needed to give him more space. She was saying things that sounded a lot like me. I don't want you to feel too claustrophobic. Other boys say they need more space. They want to be their own person. I don't want to need you so much that I push you away. I don't want you to feel like you can't have your own life.

Suddenly, I was entranced. What was the boy on the tv going to say?

"Whew. You're right, I have been feeling really suffocated, but I didn't want to say anything because you're so sick?"


Anonymous, fictional character that he was, he smiled at his girlfriend and said, "Those guys sound like jerks."

He explained to her that he was happy with her. He said he was needy, too. (Honestly, I'd feel a lot better about being needy if my husband would be needy, too, but he's not really.) He said he didn't need space from her and he loved that she was straightforward and didn't play hard to get, but was honest and upfront about her feelings. He said he preferred that to games.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't a Sign From God. But it did make me feel better.

A little.

Until I started thinking again about all the terrible emotional damage I could do to my husband with my neediness. What if, like my mother, I have narcissism and a Borderline Personality Disorder? What if I ruin his life? He only has this one life to live. I want him to enjoy it. I want him to be able to have his own friends and hobbies and "days with the guys" but when it comes down to it, I feel too insecure and jealous.

The Bible tells us not to worry. Maybe I should just work on that.

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, but learning to dance in the rain."