Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Spouse Doesn't Love Me Anymore!

To have a really good marriage, it takes both people working together.  What if you want a good marriage, but your spouse is not cooperating?  Should you just move on, get counseling yourself or should you just grin and bear the way things are?

I wish there was an easy answer to the dilemma you may find yourself in, but there’s not.  You might try all the things that the books suggest and still find nothing works. 

The best advice I can give to a person is to surrender not only your marriage to God but every part of your life.    God is the only one who knows what is in your spouse’s heart.  He is the only one who knows what it will take to turn him/her to you and to Him. 

Here are a few things I recommend:

1.   Spend time daily with God.  Examine your own heart, asking God areas you need to change.   The only person you can change is yourself, so be open to hear what needs to change in you.  Ask God to prepare you for the day and give you wisdom in all you do.  

2.   Journal prayers to God.  It’s an effective way to process your current situation.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear God’s voice because of the turmoil inside.  By emptying thoughts, it sometimes helps to then hear God’s voice more clearly.  My friend once said it’s like the answer comes at the tip of the pen.  She’s right. 

3.   Find scriptures in the Bible that apply to your situation and pray them every day.  I used to put mine on 3x5 cards, but now I have them in my journaling app for reference.

4.   Guard your heart by watching what you see and listen to.  I’m sure you’ve heard the term “garbage in, garbage out.”   If your mind is programmed with positive things, you will be a positive person altogether. 

5.   Don’t spouse bash to others about your issues.   There may be things he/she needs to correct, but it doesn’t help to spread negative words.  You can still get people to pray with you for God to strengthen your marriage without sharing too many details. 

6.   Find one person you can talk with who you can share everything with, preferably a non-family member.   Share with other people what God is showing you, telling them you know God is working but you still need prayer. 

7.   Attend and get involved in a Bible-believing church that will build you up spiritually. 

8.   Do the things daily God shows you to do. 

Our surrender to God should not be contingent on our circumstances changing. 

God is the only one who can truly satisfy us.  Our spouses can’t and will never fill that God-shaped void in our lives. 

By filling ourselves up with God, regardless of our circumstances, we can find a place of peace. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

60 Dating Ideas

Last week we discussed the challenges of dating after marriage.  Upon coming home from work, it’s tempting to just plant in front of the television and watch someone else live their lives instead of adding one more thing to your own.

We discussed the importance of resting when necessary but not always choosing rest over connecting with your spouse.  Even though spending time together at home is great, it also enhances your marriage to just get out together and do something fun.  

When thinking about the investment of time and money, remember couples having fun together rarely divorce.  Living in Arizona, we are fortunate because the weather is so good, there’s a lot of outdoor activities we can do.  

I mentioned this week I would make specific suggestions to jump-start your own list.  Jerry and I had breakfast out last weekend and started making suggestions to each other.  It’s amazing how many things we came up with in a short time.  

We ate in downtown Gilbert and then walked around the farmer’s market.  It was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect for it.  That’s one thing you can try yourself.  

In addition, here’s a few other things:

1. Go hiking
2. Picnic in the park or by a lake
3. Take a bike ride to a nearby coffee shop or down the canal
4. Watching the sunset on the top of South Mountain or even on a parking deck.  Downtown Gilbert has a nice one to do that.  
5. Go star-gazing or birdwatching.  Check out Riparian Preserve in Gilbert.
6. Go to yard sales, thrift stores or antique stores
7. Pick fruit at a local orchard
8. Tour the Queen Creek Olive Mill and have breakfast or lunch while there
9. Take a class together, like photography 
10. Take dance lessons
11. Go to the gym together
12. Run in an event for charity or even a marathon
13. Take a boat ride (check out Tempe Town Lake for boat rentals)
14. Take a cruise at Canyon Lake or Saguaro Lake.  They may even have dinner cruises scheduled.
15. Go to a comedy improv night
16. Visit a museum (Art, Musical Instrument Museum, etc.)
17. Visit a water park for those hot summer days
18. Go tubing on the Salt River
19. Rent a movie at Redbox, take your computer and find a special spot to have your own drive-in movie
20. Look at model homes or open houses 
21. Volunteer together 
22. Recreate your first date
23. Take a mini road trip to explore what’s close by
24. Drive up north and play in the snow
25. Lunch break date during the week, even if your time is short
26. Meet after work for appetizers or just coffee/tea before going to a busy household
27. Go to a play.  Arizona has many productions.  We have discovered has great discounts.  Sign up for their newsletter to see the best deals weekly.
28. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden
29. Go to Castles N’ Coasters or another amusement park
30. Tour Goldfield, a little ghost town near Apache Junction
31. Visit the Zoo
32. Go horseback riding
33. Take a jeep tour
34. Tour the Tovrea Castle
35. Attend sporting events.    
36. Take a hot air balloon ride
37. Take a train ride
38. Ride the light rail and get off at interesting places, have lunch along the way
39. Rent four-wheelers
40. Go fishing
41. Play golf, mini-golf or go to the driving range
42. Practice your swings at batting cages 
43. Ride go-carts 
44. Visit an arcade and play video games
45. Go bowling
46. Tour the chocolate factory in Glendale and buy some treats.  It will be open during the Glendale Chocolate Affaire,  a festival in historic Glendale, February 5-7, 2016.  
47. Go to the Renaissance Festival (February 6-March 27, 2016), near Apache Junction
48. Check online for additional events in the area
49. Go roller or ice skating
50. Go water or snow skiing
51. Grab ice cream, a smoothie or coffee and go to the park 
52. Go shopping
53. Go to the farmer’s market or flea market
54. The old standby, dinner and a movie
55. Attend a concert
56. Go to the ballet or opera
57. Rent a hotel room, stay overnight.  Order room service, enjoy the pool and spa.
58. Attend the Chandler Art Walk
59. Attend First Friday in Phoenix
60. Find a classic car show

This list contains items for the budget conscious and those who just want to splurge.  Later, we will also make some at-home date ideas for those times you just prefer to do something more low-key.  

I would suggest, taking turns planning a date night.  Keep it a mystery.  The element of surprise will make it even better.   After trying some of these ideas, post your experiences in the comment section.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dating Your Spouse

My wife wants to have regular date nights. I'm so tired after working all week, I just want to put my feet up and rest. And we sure can't afford to be going out all the time. How can we compromise?

Do you remember when you were dating?  It didn’t matter how much you had going on, it was easy to fit in time with your girlfriend/boyfriend.  There was excitement and you just wanted to be together.  It didn’t matter if you were at a fancy restaurant or taking a walk at the park.   

After marriage, it’s easy to get comfortable, and somewhat laid back when it comes to cultivating your relationship with each other.  After the kids come along, it’s even harder to stay connected. 

With marriage, there are added responsibilities and things that just sap your time and strength.  The spouse who is overly exhausted really won’t be much good on a date, I’m sure.  Sometimes putting your feet up is necessary and brings the refreshment you may need to do something at another time, but be sure to not choose rest over your spouse every time. 

I find it necessary to be deliberate to connect with Jerry.  It is hard sometimes to do at home, I will admit.  Distractions have a tendency to come along. 

There have been times we have had in-home dates, but we have to put them on the calendar and follow through.  For instance, when the kids were young, they went to bed early, and we had candlelight dinners after they went to sleep.  This may take some help from both spouses to pull off, but it is well worth the effort. 

Coffee/tea time on the patio also is a good way to end the day.  There are lots of creative ways to connect at home.  We will discuss that on a later post. 

Beyond at-home connection, I still believe it’s important to ask your spouse on a date occasionally.   It’s easy to put dating at the bottom of the priority list on the budget; however, dating is much cheaper than divorce.  It’s important that we stay connected, and I don’t know of too many couples that divorce that have fun together.

Dating can be expensive or even free.  Living in Arizona, we are blessed to have great weather, so just going to the park for a picnic, hiking or a ride to take some scenic pictures are great ways to spend time together.

When we first moved to Arizona, our sons were old enough to stay home alone.  Every Saturday morning while they were still sleeping, we would look at a distance and say, “We haven’t explored that direction yet.  Let’s drive that way and see what we can find.”  We made some great memories and found some beautiful places.  Most of the time, the boys were still asleep when we got back. 

The purpose of dating is to connect.  Whether you do that at home or away is not important, but to create an intimate marriage an investment of your time is required. 

Each couple is unique and different, and I would suggest brainstorming together for a few minutes and make a list of things you’d like to do together.  Then start marking things off as you do them. 

Next week, we will explore some specific things to do together as couples.  You may want to help me out by suggesting some in the comment section.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Marriage Can Be Restored

Recently I was going through some files and came across an article Jerry wrote concerning our marriage.  I thought I would share that with you today:

A good marriage doesn't just happen.  It requires lots of hard work; however, it is well worth the investment.  I believe every marriage is a target of the enemy.  The interesting thing is he always uses the same strategy.  Why?  Because it works!

I found myself after 14 years of marriage falling into that same trap.  On the surface we had a picture perfect situation -- nice home, good job, three awesome kids, a couple of pets, and my wife and I were also involved in church leadership.  Without going into the details, let's just say our marriage became another statistic.  In my mind, it was over.  However, God had other plans due to my praying wife.

After being separated for quite some time, I started to realize the devastation divorce would have not only on my wife and me but also on our children.  God allowed me to see the effect it would have on future generations as well.  (Exodus 20:5-6)

Rebuilding our family was as slow as building a real house.  In every building project, there are good days and bad.  That's the way it was with us.  We had to reestablish friendship and learn how to communicate once again.  We learned to overlook each other's mistakes and serve each other instead of focusing on our own needs.

Over time, we were amazed at the love we had for each other.  Because of what we have gone through, we are passionate about marriages.  We know if our marriage can be saved, so can anyone's.