Differences that Disappoint

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Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2

Unless you really married someone who is perfect, your marriage dream has been tainted by disappointment. Whenever you or your spouse failed to meet each other's expectations in some way, somebody is disappointed. It happens in all relationships, but is most painful in a marriage relationship. You thought you were getting a perfect angel. You thought you knew your spouse well. Then – surprise! – you saw something in him or her you didn't see before or something that was no big deal before. And you felt disappointed.

For example, some people are disappointed to discover after marriage that their spouse:

Snores louder than a chainsaw;
Isn't as courteous and polite as when they were dating;
Isn't as tidy around the house as they hoped;
Doesn't place the same value on family traditions;
Doesn't display the spiritual depth they had perceived;
Is more reserved socially than they expected.

Let's say it plainly because we all know it's true: nobody's perfect. You didn't marry the angel of perfection you thought you were getting – and neither did your spouse. When the honeymoon ended and the glow of your first year together dimmed, you began to see your partner more realistically. You rubbed each other the wrong way occasionally – not because you wanted to (most of the time) but because your differences and flaws were beginning to show more clearly. In the overall scheme of things, these relational glitches are not usually major. Most are momentary annoyances. But the end result is disappointment that continues through married life. 

The antidote to disappointment is persevering love, a love that hangs in there even when your spouse doesn't live up to your ideals. You wish your husband wouldn't slurp his soup, but you love him just the same when he does. You wish your wife kept the house as neat as a pin all the time, but you love her just the same when she doesn't. Yes, you will still feel disappointed at times. But persevering love rises above feelings of disappointment and loves anyway, as if you were perfectly contented.

Marital disappointments are unavoidable because marriage is the collision of two different perspectives and ways of living. You brought into the union your own family background and traditions, but your spouse came with a different set. When your first Christmas together rolled around, for example, you were bummed because you wanted all white lights on the tree "just like my family did it," but your spouse insisted on colored lights "just like my family did it."

Your marriage is also a blend – and in some cases a clash -- of two different personalities. One of you may be the quiet, stay-at-home type while the other is an outgoing party animal. Somebody will have to deal with disappointment just about every weekend and holiday.

You also came to the altar with two different sets of values and philosophies. You may be fairly compatible on most issues, but it's unlikely that you grew up in the same denomination and political party, or if you did, that you share identical views on every issue. Here's hoping you have found a good deal of common ground in your beliefs, moral code, and practices of behavior. But there is plenty of room in these categories for shades of differences and the accompanying disappointments. 

Finally, you brought with you into marriage a truckload of expectations that may differ from those of your spouse. You always dreamed of having four or five kids, but your spouse wants two – tops. You would like to live close to your respective parents, but your spouse’s idea of happiness is living at least 1,000 miles from either set of parents. You expect a lot more romance out of marriage; your spouse expects a lot more sex.

So what do you do with the disappointments – great or small – that accompany the many differences you have discovered in your relationship? Where does persevering love kick into action? The apostle Paul's words in Ephesians 4:2 are the key to dealing with differences and disappointments. Ideally, both of you will adopt these "be-attitudes" in the power of the Holy Spirit and take turns cutting each other plenty of slack.

Be humble. Take the servant’s roll by not demanding that everything happen your way. Remember: you're basically dealing with preferences, not issues of life and death, right and wrong, my way or the highway. It's OK to state your desire to stay home on Friday night, but will it really kill you to go out with your more social half from time to time – and make sure he or she has a good time?

Be gentle. "If you don't do something about your snoring, I'm moving to the den--period!" Hey, do you angry ultimatums and threats really help settle differences and heal disappointments? No, and they can even make things worse. When you are persevering in some area, be tender and kind about it. And when your spouse is doing the persevering, be gracious and grateful.

Be patient. Maybe it seems that your spouse will never yield to your preferences in some areas. Maybe he or she is overbearing and demanding about some things, even to the point of being unkind or ungracious about it. Maybe you live with constant disappointment, afraid that things will never change in some areas. Here's a place where you need to lean into Jesus in prayer, hang onto his Word, and wait for him to do something you cannot do. In the meantime, follow Paul's instruction, make allowance for your spouse is faults, realizing that he or she is doing the same for you over other issues.

Why go to such lengths in a marriage relationship? "Because of your love," Paul answers. Your love for each other is not on trial when disappointments arise. Rather, your love, which is rooted in God's love for both of you, is the solid platform for working through and persevering in disappointments. And your love will grow even deeper as you take steps to heal any disappointments that arise.

Reflect Together
What were some of the first minor disappointments you experienced in your marriage? Were any of them humorous? How did you deal with them? Were there any major disappointments arising from your differences? How did you deal with them? What do you most need to remember from Ephesians 4:2 this week about dealing with differences and disappointments as they arise in your relationship?

Pray Together
Great Creator, thank you for not giving me a spouse who is a photocopy of me in every way. How boring that would be! Instead, you brought us together to complement each other in so many ways. One of us is strong where the other is weak. One of us is skilled where the other is all thumbs. We don't match up perfectly in every area. If we did, how boring that would be! The areas where we differ or don't seem to fit as well are areas to trust you and grow closer together. Don't allow my relatively minor disappointments to block your work of helping me grow deeper. Help me to be humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving with my wonderfully unique spouse. Amen.

Renew Your Love
Activate the "be-attitudes" quote from Ephesians 4:2 in your marriage this week in the face of differences that disappoint.

  • Are you disappointed that your spouse won't do things your way? How will you demonstrate the humility of persevering love in the face of this disappointment? For example, perhaps he will decide to adopt his or her method of doing something, such as how the dirty dishes should be arranged in the dishwasher.
  • Is there a disappointment where you characteristically respond with anger? How will you demonstrate the gentleness of persevering love in the face of this disappointment? For example, instead of barking at your spouse for forgetting to balance the checkbook, maybe you will sit down calmly with him or her to remember the details of each missing check and write them in for your spouse.
  • Do you often feel impatient with your spouse? How will you demonstrate the patience of persevering love with him or her? For example, perhaps you will decide to quit nagging your spouse for avoiding a certain task, even if it means doing it yourself.

Wrecking Balls and Dark Clouds

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Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always helpful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7

You probably don't know any of these people personally, but we are sure you know someone in a circumstance similar to one or more of the scenarios presented below. In fact, you may find one or two stories that are painfully close to where you live:

Driving home from work one night, Drew was T-boned by a drunk driver running a red light. The broken leg Drew suffered required major surgery – complete with pins and screws to put him back together. He will be confined to wheelchair and walker at home for eight weeks. His wife, Connie, is already frazzled from the day-to-date care of their three preschoolers. Now she has to handle all Drew's responsibilities at home – and care for him too. Their church is supplying meals three to four times a week, but Connie is still stuck with most of the clean-up.

Stephan was led to Christ by a co-worker and began attending church. He has shared his faith with his wife, Olivia, from the first day he received Christ. "That's wonderful for you, Stephan," she says, "but it's not for me." She declines his invitations to attend church with him. In many ways, they have a good marriage and happy life, but Stephan is brokenhearted that Olivia has no interest in Christ, who has become the center of his life.

Yvette, who is only 29, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing a radical mastectomy. Like many young women, she never believed it could happen to her. Collin, her husband of two years, is devastated that his beautiful bride will be marked for life by the surgery. The couple is crying out to God for a miracle as the date for surgery draws near.

Brett is in the fifth month without work. Talented and experienced in many technical fields, Brett has now been "downsized" out of a job by four different companies. Kayla's part-time job, Brett’s unemployment check, and a cashed-in IRA are barely keeping them above water. They pray and keep tithing, waiting for God to pull them back from the precipice of bankruptcy.

Problems. Pressure. Perplexity. Panic. Every marriage faces them to some degree. Sometimes a tragedy hits with the force of a wrecking ball, then goes away – an injury, financial reversal, an argument. Other times the same nagging problem can hover like a dark cloud for months or even years – chronic illness, a rebellious child, infertility, addiction. Since we live in a fallen world, no family is exempt. It's not a matter of if your marriage will face pressure; it's just a question of when.

When life is good and problems are minimal, it's pretty easy to keep a marriage relationship positive, productive, and even growing. But what happens when your love boat springs a major leak, when the devil blindsides you with a wicked sucker punch, when an unwise decision on your part sets you back in some way? Is your love for one another strong enough, deep enough, and tenacious enough to survive the worst life can throw at you? Or do you feel yourself crumbling under the weight of pain, problems, and tragedy?

If your relationship is founded on God’s kind of love – persevering love – you can survive anything, even the difficulty you may be struggling through right now. Notice how the apostle Paul describes the tough, enduring side of agape love in 1 Corinthians 13:7:

Love never gives up. When family life hits a rough spot, what are we tempted to do? Quit – quit praying, quit going to church, quit trusting our spouse, quit trying. God's love in us doesn't quit, and this bedrock of never-give-up love is just beneath the muck and mire of the problem you feel stuck in. Dig deep for it – and keep persevering.

Love never loses faith. Whose fault is it when something goes wrong at home – an illness, an injury, a conflict, a disappointment, a betrayal? Don't you sometimes find yourself pointing the finger at God? "You failed me. You're punishing me. You don't really love me," we murmur. God is big enough to have prevented your problem. But how could he build your trust in him if you lived in a bubble of safety in which you had no need to trust him?

Love is always hopeful. Worst-case scenario, even if your situation ever improves, God's love will bond you and your spouse into lifelong friends as you persevere together. Even if your life or marriage reads like a Stephen King horror story, God will write the final chapter – and it will be a happy ending beyond your wildest dreams. 

Love endures through every circumstance. If you didn't have any troubles and if some of them didn't seriously test your mettle as a person or couple, you could never know how strong and enduring God's love is. Any pressure or problem has the potential to permanently undo your marriage. But it also has the potential to unleash a godly love that won't just hang on through the calamity but hang on and thrive.

Reflect Together
What is the most difficult trial or tragedy your marriage has faced thus far (for example, death of a child, infidelity, serious illness or accident, or financial reversal)? How did you respond to it? How did your spouse respond to it?

Were either of you tempted to quit? Lose faith? Lose hope? What was the long-term impact of that trial on your relationship (that is, are you closer together or further apart because of it)? We sometimes say, "If I only knew then what I know now…" What have you learned about persevering love that you wish you had known when going through your big trial?

Pray Together
Lord Jesus, I am sorry for not being more trusting and helpful when facing tough times in my marriage and family life. My love for my spouse and my children is insufficient to hang in there for the long-haul. I need your love flooding my heart, motivating my actions, and feeling my faith and my hope in you. Empower me and my spouse with the love that perseveres and thrives through every trial and bonds us closer to you and to each other. Amen.

Renew Your Love
What difficult circumstance are you and your spouse slogging through this week in your marriage journey? Perhaps it is the same one you identified above, the most difficult trial or tragedy you have faced to this point in your marriage. What kind of pressure does your spouse sense in this circumstance? You can help him or her persevere through fervent prayer. Consider adding one or more of the following prayer exercises to what you may already be doing.

When your spouse is out of the house, spend several minutes each day this week kneeling in prayer beside his or her side of the bed. Pray for God's sustaining grace for your spouse in this time of trial.

Add fasting to your prayers for your spouse this week. For example, give up eating lunch each day and spend that mealtime in focused prayer for your spouse.

Ask your spouse if you can pray for him or her, then hold hands or lay a hand on your spouse’s shoulder and ask God to provide added strength and grace.

Is Attraction Outside of Your Marriage Harmless?


Q. I’m attracted to someone else, but I’m not involved physically. Is this wrong?

A. Yes. You can indeed be unfaithful without having a sexual relationship. Emotional infidelity is adultery. A soul tie and connection were made and boundaries crossed.

We hear about this far too often. We suggest that you can guard your spouse’s heart by praying with your mate. However, when a person outside of your marriage is trying to attach to you by praying for you or desiring to study Scripture with you, he or she is perhaps desiring to connect emotionally. We say that the person is not “praying” with you, but “preying” on you—and you are the target. That’s how Christians so often get drawn in. They think they’re having this spiritual connection and that it’s pure, but too often the emotional wiring overloads and suddenly they are experiencing a full-fledged soul tie. Even if sex has not occurred, the violation of marriage is just as strong.

Years ago a book titled Temptations Men Face by Tom Eisenman described twelve steps to an adulterous relationship. The first ten merely led up to step eleven—and none of the first ten involves sex. Instead, those first ten steps erode a man and a woman to the point where they begin the sexual relationship at step eleven. It starts with an alertness to another person, followed by surprise meetings, planned meetings, nonaffectionate touch, affectionate touch, then passionate embracing. Step eleven is capitulation; that’s where the intercourse occurs. It’s important to understand that by the time the first ten steps have occurred, it’s not a big leap from ten to eleven. Step twelve, then, is the acceptance of the affair.

Women need to understand that if they are in an inappropriate relationship with a man, it invariably will lead to sexual involvement. Men need to understand that women who are especially emotionally attentive may be seeking that kind of attachment.

Jesus talked about this danger: “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus warned that the first look begins a connection that can eventually lead to emotional unfaithfulness and often, finally, to full-blown adultery.

This excerpt is taken from our book, The Great Marriage Q&A Book.

Going the Distance Together

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. What's the difference? Think about the running events in the Olympics as an example. The sprints are between 100 and 400 meters in length, a little more than a quarter-mile, once around the track. The marathon is 42.2 kilometers (26 miles plus 385 yards). Sprinters burst from the starting line and run at top speed a race that is measured in seconds. Marathoners pace themselves to run with concentration and endurance for two to three hours. Sprints require leg power; marathons require lung power.

As a Christian, you may feel like a sprinter at times, racing through a myriad of tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines. You say things like, "I just have to make it through this week," or "If I can just hold it together until the kids are out of school." But in reality, Christ has called us to remain faithful and obedient over the long haul, through the grueling marathon of a lifetime. You can see it in the following passages:

"Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure it to the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:12– 13)

"Everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me [Christ]. But those who endure to the end will be saved." (Mark 13:13)

"Remain in my [Christ's] love." (John 15:9)

"He [Christ] will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good." (Romans 2:7)

"So you must remain faithful to do what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will continue to live in fellowship with the Son and with the Father." (1 John 2:24)

Christian marriage is a marathon in tandem. You and your spouse have linked hearts to serve God and get through life – with all its joys and pains – together. Your long-distance race is about winning as individuals; it's about helping each other go the distance and finish well. And aren't you thrilled to have a running mate, a partner, and a helper?

You have probably discovered by now that the love that brought the two of you together – that passionate, fiery, romantic love – may be alright for a sprint, but it's not enough to get you to the finish line. You need passion, fire, and romance, to be sure. But you also need persevering love, long-term concentration, dedication, patience, and endurance. Here are several important qualities of persevering love:

Total commitment. The starting point for persevering love is an all-out commitment to each other. It's the tough stance that says, "Our marriage is bigger than any issue. No matter what is arrayed against us, we will stand together. Neither of us will ever go through a trial alone. We will stay the course – not because we have to, not even because we promised to. Rather, we will hang in there because we care for each other more than anything in this world."

Unconditional acceptance. Persevering love says, "No matter how good or bad you look, no matter how much money you make or lose, no matter how smart or feeble-minded you are, I will still love you." That's the essence of our wedding vows – for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. Unconditional acceptance chooses to continue loving even when life dumps on us a world of excuses for falling out of love.

Deep trust. Persevering love is the product of deep trust between you and your spouse. Trust says, "I will depend on you to guard my heart and my life, to fight beside me always." You may need a lot of people to pull you through a crisis. But more than anyone on earth, husbands and wives should rely on each other. This level of trust grows richer over time and under the pressure of trials, as you each prove yourselves trustworthy to each other.

Tenacious endurance. Every kind of trial in life – emotional burdens, financial difficulties, spiritual doubts, physical pain, relational stresses – presents a new opportunity for you and your spouse to hang on together. Commitment helps you stay connected to each other through trial; endurance is the determination to outlast the problems, to help each other get to the other side. Think of the intimacy and friendship that can develop and your relationship when both of you are committed to getting through every trial.

Abiding faith. In order for your love to finish well through life's pressures, it needs to be grounded in a sincere, abiding faith in the God who designed marriage. Any of us can stubbornly pursue a lifestyle that our culture deems important and live independent of God. Sometimes a severe trial moves us to let God have his way with us and to see what truly matters in life. We often don't really appreciate the important role faith plays in our marriage until a crisis forces us to throw ourselves on God.

Diligent preparation. Whenever you and your spouse find yourselves in a lull between the storms of life, take the opportunity to prepare for potential stormy weather ahead. The law between the storms is the time to shore up your marriage. Work on a Bible study together. Take a second honeymoon – or third, or fourth. Read some good books on marriage enrichment, and discuss them together. Attend a Christian marriage conference together. Seek out a Christian counselor, and ask him or her for pointers on how to deepen your friendship for the long-haul. The more you invest in your marriage between the storms, the better prepared you will be to endure the storms together – and even come through them stronger.

Reflect Together
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high, how would you rate the strength of each quality of persevering love in your marriage? How would you rate the strength of your contribution to each quality? How would you rate the strength of your spouse's contribution?

Total commitment
Unconditional acceptance
Deep trust
Tenacious endurance
Abiding faith
Diligent preparation

Pray Together
Thank you, mighty God, for not giving up on me, my spouse, or our marriage. Thank you for your commitment to go the distance with us. You are with us through the highs and the lows. In every trial and pain, your presence and comfort help us persevere. Build into my heart this week the qualities of persevering love: commitment, acceptance, trust, endurance, faith, preparation. Equip me to love my spouse in every way over the long haul. And help us to finish well – together. Amen.

Renew Your Love
Which quality of persevering love did you rate the weakest in your marriage? Which quality did you write your contribution to be the weakest? Select one quality you would like to see grow stronger. Make it a matter of focused prayer this week. Also decide on something you can do this week to demonstrate that you were committed to loving your spouse for life. For example, write your commitment in a card or note or make it a point to verbalize your commitment, using comments such as, "I will love you no matter what" or "I will be with you through the good times and the rough spots."

Getting the Message

Continue with us and do our devotional challenge together as a couple!

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the profits. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his son. Hebrews 1:1–2

Think about the lengths to which people go in order to communicate with one another and be understood. We make the effort to learn a foreign language to move a growing business to an international scale. We take classes and read books on how to write and speak the "King's English" better. We do those little exercises to increase our word power.

Human beings really get busy when there is a challenge to clear communication. Someone invented sign language, allowing those with speech and hearing impediments to communicate. Without this effort, society may have missed valuable contributions of people like Helen Keller. Someone else developed computerized voice technology, allowing those with serious physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, to speak. Brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking and the entire scientific community have been the beneficiaries of such advances in technology.

Consider also the challenge God undertook to communicate with us in the Old and New Testaments. We couldn't speak his language, so he put his word into our language. We couldn't step up to his intellectual level, so he stooped to ours, explaining the Gospel in contemporary terms and illustrating eternal truth with stories even young children can grasp.

And even though we have the Bible in our own vernacular – including a plethora of contemporary translations – we often are not adequately equipped to understand God's Word and apply it. So God took the communication process even further. He sent his Holy Spirit to tutor us from the inside out, verse by verse. As a result of God's effort to communicate his love, we enjoy an intimate relationship with our Creator. And had God not revealed himself to us through his Word and his Son, we might never know him personally.

Is it any wonder, then, that communication is so vital in marriage, the most intimate of human relationships? We believe that communication is indispensable to the ministry of serving love and marriage. Meeting each other's needs is a vital element of a divorce-proof marriage. But if your spouse does not communicate his or her needs to you, you are flying blind when it comes to meeting those needs.

When our radio program aired daily, nearly every day, a love-starved husband or wife would lament to us the pain of a marriage lacking in communication. When couples do not share their lives and hearts with each other consistently, the atmosphere in the home can get colder than an Arctic winter. Without communication we fall out of sync and disconnect, leaving plenty of room for chilly distance and selfishness to grow.

Communication is the process of sharing yourself verbally and nonverbally in a way that your spouse both understands and accepts – though not necessarily agrees with – what you were sharing. Studies show that couples who communicate frequently have a more satisfying relationship. And couples who achieve deep levels of communication enjoy the most satisfaction of all.

So what does effective, meaningful communication look like in an intimate relationship? To answer that question, we must again look at God's model of communication with us, his beloved. Throughout Scripture we see at least three basic levels on which God has communicated with us. You and your spouse can evaluate the effectiveness of your communication by asking yourselves if these three levels are fully operational in your day-to-day interaction.

Information and History
God went to great lengths in Scripture to share with us volumes of important and interesting information. He tells us how the heavens and the earth were created. He includes countless biographies not only of godly men and women but also individuals who refused relationship with him. He recites in painstaking detail how his Son was born, lived, died, and was raised again to redeem fallen mankind. He describes the early decades of church history. In Scripture, God has provided information for us in panoramic, over-arching summaries in jot-and-tittle details.

Effective communication in a marriage must include information of any kind. Obviously, you need to be talking constantly about the details of personal schedules, finances, and childcare, for example. But your spouse also needs to know on a daily basis about your activities away from home, your work projects, your interactions with other people, the surprises that happened to you, and any number of events and happenings you encounter while apart. By sharing information with your spouse, you are welcoming him or her into your world, which encourages intimacy.

Opinions and Beliefs
In addition to the information in Scripture, God generously shared with us his opinions and beliefs about our life here on earth. He left with us the law and commandments of the Old Testament, the sermons and parables of Christ, and the instruction of the Epistles. And because God is God, his opinions and beliefs on any topic constitute truth. He is always right. His opinions and beliefs are moral absolutes for us, defining what is right and what is wrong.

Our opinions and beliefs are not perfect like God’s, but they are no less valuable to intimacy in a marriage relationship. Your spouse needs to hear what you believe about what is happening in your family, your community, your church, and the world. When you share your opinions and beliefs, you are welcoming your spouse into your thoughts, which encourages intimacy.

Feelings and Desires
Throughout the Bible, God reveals a wide scope of emotions – joy, anger, jealousy, love, grief, disappointment, and others. Jesus wept. Jesus became angry. Jesus loved. Jesus also held little children on his knee and participated in joyful weddings. God had emotions, and he chose not to hide his feelings from us in Scripture. We also sense the yearnings of God's heart and his Word, his deep desire for relationship with us, his sorrow when we do not respond to his love.

Your spouse needs to hear not only your information and your convictions, but also your feelings and desires about what is happening in your life. This doesn't just mean that you express your emotions by laughing, crying, or venting in front of him or her. It also means describing what is going on in your heart with words such as, "I feel like…," "It hurts me when…," "I'm so happy about…," "I really wish that…" when you share your deep emotions and yearnings with your spouse, you are welcoming him or her into your heart, which encourages intimacy.

A key to meaningful, intimacy-building communication is to develop proficiency at all three levels. Become an expert in the serving love of sharing with your spouse what you know, what you think, and what you feel. Your marriage will be richer for it.

Reflect Together
How would you rate yourself on these three levels of communication? How well do you share information and history with your spouse? How openly do you communicate your opinions and beliefs? How freely do you reveal your feelings and desires? In which area of communication are you strongest? In which area are you weakest?

Pray Together
Thank you, God, for sharing yourself so freely with me in your Word and by your Spirit. Thank you that for my benefit you recorded the information and history of your dealings with humankind. Thank you for being open and pointed about what is right and wrong, and how my life can please you. And thank you for sharing your deep heart, your love for me, and your desires for our relationship. I want to implement your example of open communication in my marriage relationship this week. Strengthen me at all levels of communication, for your glory and the good of my marriage. Amen.

Renew your Love
Practice expanding your communication with your spouse this week. Each day, take note of items of information you want to share with your spouse, perhaps even writing down a short list. For example: "Our receptionist announced her retirement today" or "The Sunday School director called to ask if I would teach a class." Do the same to identify some of your opinions and beliefs, such as: "I don't think I'm going to get the raise I wanted "or "I think the City Council is doing a great job." Then move on to list some of your feelings and desires, something like: "I'm so happy that you are going to be a discussion leader in Bible study "or "I'm really worried about my mother's failing health." At some point each day, share with your spouse from these three levels, even if you must use notes to do it.