When my children became pre-teens, my husband and I were talking about what we needed to do to capture their hearts and KEEP their hearts during the teen and young adult years. We have always wanted to have our children’s hearts softened toward us and close to us. When they open their hearts to us and keep them open, we can minister to their hearts and disciple them up for the glory of God.
As Harold and I were looking at how to capture and KEEP their hearts through the teen and young adult years, Harold said something that forever changed ALL of my relationships–with the children, with my friends, and WITH HIM! 🙂 He said that we needed to do what it takes to “KEEP THEM TALKING.”
Think about that.
It is sooo important! It worked! The kids may have disagreed with us from time to time. They may have been confused about why we do what we do. They may have thought we were crazy or OLD from time to time. And, yes, there were many, many times along the way that we did not understand them either. Even since they have been adults, there have been many decisions that they have made that we have not liked. But, through it all, this one thing has worked–keeping them talking! It has kept us close. It has pushed past disagreements. It has kept an atmosphere of mutual respect, honor, and unconditional love. It is soooo important!
And, in nothing could it be MORE important than in our marriages. If we want to build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage, we need to KEEP THEM TALKING! We need to keep those communication lines OPEN!!
But, how do we do that…well, especially since we talk in two completely different languages????
This will help you wherever you are in your marriage…
There are essentials that keep communication lines open…
1. DO NOT TAKE OFFENSE!
Even the word, “Offense” should alarm you to its use by the enemy. It comes from the Greek word, “skan-da-lon” or “scan-da-lon” which means scandal. An offense is caused by a fault or misdeed or perceived fault or misdeed.
Offense is a big tool of the enemy. He uses it to lure us into unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, judgment, and all manner of sin. It will shut YOU down and resurrect a wall between you and your spouse!
I am not sure if you have ever watched the movie, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. But, if you have, you probably remember the boys building a big pit to capture the lion. They put a bunch of effort and time into digging a pit that the lion would not be able to get out of. They covered the pit with branches. Then, right in the middle of the pit, they hung a yummy piece of meat to capture the attention of the lion. As the lion took the bait, he fell into the pit and was capture. The meat was bait.
Sweet friend, you have an enemy as well. He has dug a pit for you too. He has covered it up so you cannot see where you could go if you took the bait unsuspectedly. And, he has set the bait in a way that you will never, ever suspect that it lures you into the pit. You would never even suspect how deep that pit can be or how difficult it can be to get out of that pit.
The enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy you. He wants nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy your marriage. He hates you. He hates your spouse. He hates your home. He hates your seed. He hates your legacy!
The enemy has dug a pit. He has set the bait. Offense is bait that the enemy will use to distract you and lure you into the pit. It is a scandal! He knows that when you take the bait, he HAS you! Only God can help you get back out.
Be on guard!
Don’t take the bait!
Don’t take offense!
Nothing could be more freeing than forgiveness. Nothing can tear down the walls like forgiveness. Nothing else can bring intimacy in the way that forgivenss can.
I was watching a movie just last night, not really paying full attention to it. But, I heard a comment that is SO true! It was that “forgiveness is 90% of love.”
Think about that for a moment.
We can say that we love our spouse. We can do all sorts of things to show our love. We can stick it out through the years. We can even move forward when we are wronged. But, if we want to build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage, then we must do more–we must walk in forgiveness.
We cannot have a relationship that is immune from conflict, differences, mistakes, failures, and sin. Each of us is HUMAN. Each of us is born a sinner. Salvation redeems us from the curse of sin, but it does not take away our potential to sin. That opens the door for us to offend, hurt, and wound others–especially those we love the most.
Years ago, God put on my heart that you KNOW that you really love someone when you know ALL of their “stuff” and still CHOOSE to love them. You have HIS heart at that place in the relationship.
It is pretty easy to love our children in that way–at least it is for me. But, something did not connect for many years in my marriage. I carried bitterness for little things and big things. Oh! I didn’t see “bitterness” at the time. I saw, “my side.” I saw my pain. I saw my disappointment. I saw my loneliness. I saw my heartache.
Our marriage was obviously affected. I had a decision to make–would I love Harold enough to lay it all down and walk in true love and forgiveness? I am glad to say that I chose to lay it all down! Not saying that there is not a temptation to pick it up from time-to-time–I AM HUMAN! But, I get the opportunity to choose forgiveness. That is a big, big thing! I get the opportunity to know all of Harold’s ways, differences, mistakes, failures, and sins, yet choose to let him have a safe-place to be himself without risk. He does not have to fear that I will judge him or try to make him pay for sins that cost him more than he can pay. He knows that he can be himself–fully transparent and he is still loved! Talk about intimacy! Talk about oneness! Talk about keeping his heart open to me!
Want to build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage? Keep the lines of communication open through walking in forgiveness. It will open up an intimacy that you are craving! So, today if you need to let go of the pain, heartache, disappointment, or even the bitterness and unforgiveness, know that it is worth it! Nothing else can take you where you want to go–towards your passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage! Forgive!
Oh! I have to confess! I LOVE talking! In fact, my dad cannot believe that I am PAID to speak! ha! I love to talk. But, as much as I love to talk, I really do struggle with communication! It is not because I hold back or don’t know how to say things. It is because communication requires that we open up the lines and LISTEN! THAT GETS ME! Does it get you too? Of course!
Years ago, I was researching how to encourage reluctant, resistant young writers to get past their reluctance and resistance to write what was in their heads. We all know that if you can really get INTO someone, you will find that EVERYONE has a story. EVERYONE has something that moves them. EVERYONE has a message!
One thing that I found in my research was that there is one major disconnect that cripples young writers. I am talking about 100% of those who experience this disconnect also have this one thing in common–they don’t think that anyone else wants to hear what they know, love, or are interested. Now, think about this in a day where their are billions of books on any big or little topic. Think about this in a day where we have the huge expanse of the internet with thousands upon thousands of websites, blogs, and podcasts on any and every topic imaginable! Yet, how many children think that they have nothing to offer, nothing to interest others, nothing that matters???
Well, that is another topic!
But, bring this into the marriage. How many couples are married 40-50 years and have a disconnect, a distance between them?
Again, we all need a safe-place. We all need a place where we are safe to share our emotions, our thoughts, our struggles, our hopes, our plans, our dreams. We all need someone who slows down to tune in and really listen to us. When we have that person who gives us that gift, the lines open up. We can build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage.
So, sweet friend, keep your ears open, tune in, really listen, and keep their mouth moving!! 🙂
I remember being a little girl and my parents confronting me over and over and over about “my attitude.” I thought it was well-hidden. I thought I could put on a “front” and just DO the right thing without necessarily putting my heart and mind into it. But, it always showed!
That is the thing about attitudes. Remember the story about the little child who was told to sit down, but when confronted about their attitude said, “I am sitting down on the outside, but STANDING UP on the inside!”
Isn’t THAT the truth?
When we let our heart and mind go, it just cannot be hidden. It shows clearly through our countenance, our expressions, our spirit, and eventually, our actions. If we want to build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage, we must keep the communication lines open. To do that, we are going to have to set guard over our hearts and minds. We are going to have to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ’s way and Christ’s thoughts. Oh! When we do, we can grasp onto God’s very best. It is sooo, soooo sweet!
5. Love Unconditionally!
We all HEAR this one, don’t we? But, isn’t it interesting how we still set conditions upon our love?
As long as they do not do_____________.
As long as they make me feel___________.
As long as I can_________.
I remember marrying my spouse with “intentions” to love him, but my love for him was far from the love that God wanted for me to have for my spouse. I hear people talk about how love changes. That is not what I am talking about. I completely agree that love deepens and grows exponentially over the years. I am crazy in love with Harold. It is a love that daily expands, depends, and grows. I know that kind of love grows over the years. But, that is not what I am talking about.
What I am talking about is the type of love that I had for years. For years, my love was tainted by my own view, my own standards, my own conditions. It was love–we have obviously been married for almost 24 years. But, my love was not God’s best–a forever, passionate, happier-and-happier-ever-after kinda love. A 1 Corinthians 13 kind-of love.
Oh! I have always loved Harold, but there was a block. There were limits. There was a point that my selfishness took over and held me back from total surrender and total love. The block was my “conditional” love.
Yes, sad as it is to say, I had conditions upon my love that kept me from totally loving Harold. As a result, I could not leave, cleave, and become one with him. Those conditions built a wall between us. Funny thing, that wall would later bring about situations that would “test” my conditions.
Now, let me mention, I was not 50% in on my marriage. Not even 75%. I would say that my love was 99% unconditional. I knew that our love could overcome anything, well, but ONE THING. I held out for ONE THING. The wall between us was built over ONE THING–ONE GOOD THING. One ALMOST reasonable thing. Want to know what it was?
I promised to love Harold through anything EXCEPT if he were unfaithful to me. Yep! That was it! In fact, we commonly hear preachers and teachers teach that it is the ONE THING that warrants a divorce. Funny thing, that is NOT in Scripture. Well, not in the original Scripture. I love, love, love Bible Translations. I have four different translations of Scripture right here at my desk right now–more on the shelf. But, this one area of marriage is mis-interpreted in most versions of the Bible. I believe that it is because this teaching has SO permeated the church that we do not realize the importance of words. They matter when we are building our homes.
In original Scripture, there are two “allowable” reasons for divorce–
1. When the marriage is consummated, a partner finds that the other partner is guilty of fornication. Of course, even in that situation, they have a choice of whether to forgive the spouse and build a marriage with them or end the marriage. However, fornication–sex before marriage–is an allowable reason for divorce.
2. If an unbelieving spouse leaves a Christian spouse, then the Christian spouse is commanded to let them leave (not to drive them out, by the way!) and they are free from the marriage covenant.
These circumstances, understandably, allow for divorce. But, what about adultery? What if they are NOT faithful? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news–or better yet, good, but hard news. In the Old Testament, adultery was punished by DEATH. We are in a new covenant–after Christ’s death forever paying the price for sin. What does he tell us in Scripture? You probably already know this–He tells us to forgive, to not keep a record of wrongs, to love. Even in Malachi (in the Old Testament), we learn in chapter 2 that God hates divorce. The Message Bible says that divorce is “the violent dismembering of ONE FLESH.” It destroys the godly seed that is God’s greatest desire.
So, bring this back to my test? For years Harold and I loved each other, but I had a very well known limitation and condition for our marriage–that I would love him UNLESS he ever cheated on me. This very “condition” may have been only 1%, but it constantly affected everything. That is how conditional love works–it affects our choices, our words (yep!), our reactions, our fears, our insecurities, and eventually brings us to a place of destruction.
Sweet friends, seek for a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. Dig out that passage and set it as your constant “test” for how well you are really loving your spouse. Keep it before you. Test your actions. Test your words. Test your decisions. Take all of your “conditions” and test them against that passage! I suspect that you will find yourself, just like I did, laying down your conditions and opening up the door for God to build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage!
Hey! It saved ours! It rebuilt our marriage from the rubbish. It has given us the marriage we dreamed of!
6. Fight Right!
Oh! This is one that I cannot really even begin to touch here in this space. In fact, I encourage you to join our Marriage 911 Flight Plans Study Course. I have a lesson that digs into this one very, very deep. You don’t want to miss it!
I grew up in a home where fighting, strife, contention, unforgiveness, and bitterness were a daily lifestyle. I had no idea how to confront something that was seriously hurting me in a godly way. I had to be re-trained in this area.
You may have grown up in a completely different atmosphere, but I think we ALL need to learn how to “fight right.” Even with the best training, our flesh gets offended and rares up into “fight or flight” mode. EITHER is destructive to our marriages. For this reason, we have to learn from our Heavenly Father how to “fight right.” Again, I know that I cannot do this one justice in this small space, but for now, here are some do’s and dont’s to get you going…
–> Speak truth without love–truth without love is dangerous, harsh, hard, divisive.
–> Don’t confront problems with harshness, judgment, or contention.
–> Don’t let things build up! (The longer you wait, the longer the devil can accuse you or accuse your spouse and put thoughts in your mind that are not healthy–deal with it in a timely manner!)
–> NO STRIFE!
–> NO QUARRELING!
–> NO NAGGING!
–> No disrespect!
–> Don’t assume that the other person meant things they way that they seem to you–give them the benefit of the doubt. MOST things are simple misunderstandings.
–> No blaming!
–> No accusing!
–> No attacking!
–> Don’t sweep things under the rug–keep the marriage CLEAN!
And, don’t get discouraged. here are some powerful “Do’s” for you…
–> Know the REAL enemy! Don’t take shots at your spouse–they are on your team!
–> Test your responses by 1 Corinthians 13–Handle everything WITH LOVE.
–> Balance truth with love–love reigns! (Ephesians 4:15)
–> Deal with issues in a timely manner–before you are offended, angry, or bitter.
–> Commit to deal with problems DAILY in a safe way–in love before the enemy can get in there and stir things up.
Fighting can cut off communication lines and destroy your marriage. Your marriage is too important to let the enemy have that foothold. So, today, commit to re-train so you can fight right. When you do you will build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage.
Oh! This is a big key to keeping the communication lines open!
Our culture has hi-jacked romance! I believe it is because the enemy knows the importance of romance. He has skewed the image of romance. He has attacked the purity of romance. It is time that we take back what the devil has stolen!
Romance your darling!
Constantly be on the lookout for little things to bless them.
Go back to the sweet things that you did when you dated. LISTEN to their big AND little wishes. NOTICE the little things! HEAR THEM! MAKE THEM HAPPEN!!
Want to build a passionate, forever, happier-and-happier-ever-after marriage? Romance your sweetheart ALL YEAR LONG!
Ready to go?
I pray that you are busting at the seams with ideas that YOU CAN DO! I pray that we have removed the blinders and revealed any blindspots that you need to keep your eye upon. I pray that we have confronted the things that have been cutting off the lines of communication.
Now, what will you do with this today?
What is God saying to you today?
Will you LIVE this one?
My prayer is that you will go for that Passionate, Forever, Happier-and-Happier-Ever-After-Marriage! It is SOooooooOoo sweet!
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