Go With the Overflow

Overflow in the average household is usually a problem. For example:

  • When a casserole or pie bubbles over while baking, you end up with a crusty mess. At that point, you’re glad someone invented the self-cleaning oven.

  • Modern technology has ushered into our homes a host of electronic appliances and entertainment devices. But an overloaded circuit can mean anything from a tripped breaker to a menacing electrical fire.

Photo by  Git Stephen Gitau  from  Pexels

These are the kinds of overflow you try to avoid and can gladly live without. But there is another kind you desperately need in your home, specifically in your relationship as husband and wife and as parents to your children. It is the overflow of your individual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As your life overflows with what God is doing in your heart, your spouse and your children are the blessed beneficiaries. That kind of overflow is an aspect of celebrating love that helps you feel cherished and captivated by your spouse.

It is clear from Scripture that believers were not designed to contain Christ but to overflow with him. As you consider the following passages, notice that growing in your personal relationship with Christ can get, shall we say, a little messy—in the best sense of the word.

“If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

“May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)

Whatever you may believe about the much-debated “prosperity gospel,” that is not what we’re talking about here. Our point is not what should flow into your life as a result of your devotion to Christ, but what will flow out of your relationship with Jesus, touching those around you—principally your spouse and children. And our focus is noton material things but on spiritual things—Christ-like character qualities that will bubble over from your intimate fellowship with the Savior. This kind of overflow will make a significant impact on your relationships at home.

Here is a rather sweeping statement, but we believe it wholeheartedly and have experienced it in our marriage: Husband and wife, the very best thing you can do to foster celebrating love in your marriage is to grow in your individual relationship with Jesus Christ. The more you grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ through your study of the Word and prayer, the more Christ’s love, joy, peace, patience, and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit will flow out of your life, blessing your spouse—and vice versa.

Here’s an example of what that might look like in practical terms. You come to breakfast after having your personal devotions. As you eat, you share with your spouse a verse that was especially meaningful to you, something you intend to put into practice that day. Your spouse adds some important insights from his or her own personal time with God. You pray together about the issues you have discussed. You both leave the table enriched from the interaction with your spouse.

Later in the day you chat together by phone. Your spouse asks you how your day is going with specific reference to your conversation over breakfast. You share how God has been working in your life and ways you may have ignored his leading. Your spouse does the same. This time you offer a quick prayer over the phone for your partner.

At supper, at least part of the conversation is a recap of God’s activity in each of your lives through the day. You commiserate together over your failures and rejoice together over God’s victories. You sense a closeness in your relationship at the spiritual level, which is enriching other levels of your marriage. You can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s experiences will bring.

Imagine how this kind of interaction will positively influence your children. They will hear your conversations at the table. They will see how you depend on one another for spiritual insight and encouragement. They will see the overflow to one another from God’s activity in your hearts. They will sense your spiritual harmony orchestrating the depth of your relationship. What a way to prepare your kids for marriage!

In a very real sense, you and your spouse complete one another as you mutually celebrate the overflow of your relationship with Christ. Your spouse will gain insights that will greatly benefit you, and God will open your eyes to things that will enrich your spouse. Your husband or wife will actually grow spiritually as a result of what you share from your own walk with Christ. Think about it: You can be an instrument of spiritual maturity in your spouse’s life as you grow in Christ. It’s a completeness that you cannot achieve in any other way. Why would you not want to grow in Christ when your marriage will be all the better for it?

*For more helpful insights on how to connect with your spouse, check out Renewing Your Love: Devotions for Couples in our online bookstore.

How Do I Show Her How I Feel?

If we've said it once we've said it a thousand times: Men and women often don't view intimacy the same way! For men, sex is usually the way they define intimacy. But women, on the other hand, see emotional intimacy and non-sexual touch as their top ways to experience intimacy.

Photo by Inna Lesyk on Pexels

Photo by Inna Lesyk on Pexels

So, what does a husband do when his wife feels he doesn't show her love outside the bedroom? What are some non-sexual things a husband can do to show his wife the way he feels?

Nothing satisfies a woman’s emotional need like her connection with her husband. She trusts you to stand by her no matter what—when even closest family members may not be able to be there for her or understand. And friends may come and go in her life, but you are her constant companion; you are always there.

Wives flourish as they emotionally engage with their husbands and know that you are really

listening. Wives love being in the spotlight of your attention. Your wife has an intense drive to be emotionally transparent with you. She needs to know everything about you—not so that she can possess or control you, but so that she can experience true oneness with you. That’s what intimacy is on the deepest level: when you let her get into your soul and you get into hers, when together you reveal who you are to each other, when you talk about everything and anything, when you share your opinions and perspectives.

Most guys are quick to rush in with answers to a wife’s problems. It might be easy for you to love her in practical ways: unstopping a plugged toilet, mowing the lawn, always being the one to top off the gas tank in the family van. But the real servant not only serves where it is easy, but also where it is needed. If you desire to show her how much you love your wife, give yourself humbly to her. Ask her what she needs. Listen to her. Study your wife with the intense purpose of a servant who is eager to please.

Before you crawl out of bed in the morning, give your wife a heartfelt, “I love you.” Then, during the day, call or text your wife from work. You won’t believe how many points a simple phone call will score. It makes a woman feel loved and honored that you would take time from your busy day to connect with her. This kind of connecting, of taking the time to tune in to each other, builds security and intimacy in a relationship. It’s part of what makes a great marriage.

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore! 

How to Stick it Out

Q: I don’t think I can take it anymore—yet I don’t want to get a divorce. What advice can you give me to help me stick it out?

A: Maybe you have grown weary in your marriage and parenting. You have tried everything you know to do, but your situation hasn’t changed. Your husband doesn’t seem to appreciate what you do for him. Your wife is never happy because you can’t seem to make enough money for her. You feel hopeless and discouraged with no change in sight. You may have given up.

Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

Let us encourage you. God is working in your situation even though you may not see it right

now. Remember when Elisha and his servant were in the city of Dothan surrounded by the enemy army? The servant was terrified, but Elisha was calm. He prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” (2 Kings 6:17). At that moment, God opened the servant’s eyes to see that the enemy was surrounded by horses and chariots of fire. God was there all along; the servant just didn’t see him.

God calls us to desire what he desires above all things. Are you struggling to see what God is

doing in your marriage? Pray that God will also open your eyes to see that God is at work in your marriage. Realize that it is God’s job to change your spouse, not yours. Your job is to respond to the Spirit and choose to follow his ways even when you don’t understand what he is doing.

Admit to God your own hard-heartedness. Confess any pride that may be blinding you to what he is doing. A tender and sensitive heart will be ready to respond to God at the slightest nudging. Then act on what he reveals to you. Live it out by loving your spouse at the deepest possible level. As you guard your spouse’s heart, you and God are fighting a winning battle for your marriage.

Why You Might Be So Unhappy in Your Marriage

  1. Doing the “me” thing. Marriage is a “we” thing, not a “me” thing. Maybe you have gotten selfish and set expectations on your spouse to fulfill and meet your needs, your wants, and your desires instead of thinking of his or her needs, wants, and desires.

  2. Making comparisons. Do you ever watch another couple who look like they’re doing just wonderful—and burn with envy? You believe that they have it all together, they’ve got excitement, there can’t be a dull moment in their marriage. What’s your next thought? Of course, you’re thinking about your own marriage and comparing what you’ve got going. That comparison leads to discontentment and unhappiness. Ironically, that couple who looks great on the outside is probably in the same place as you and your spouse—just in other areas!

  3. Boredom. Maybe you’ve bought into the lie that is told so consistently in our society that relationships must be adventurous and exciting at all times! You must be realistic in the fact that there will be times that it feels repetitive and times of newness! Boredom is not a reason to end a marriage—it is definitely something that can change when two people decide to add spark to their marriage!

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore! 

Sharing the Load at Home

Q: My wife and I both work and she says I should help out more, but I’m just not a cooking/laundry kind of guy. What can I do?

Photo by Murilo Folgosi from Pexels

Photo by Murilo Folgosi from Pexels

A: When you both work, you both are exhausted at the end of the day no matter what your jobs. It’s tiring to have to be up and out somewhere every day. So both of you would probably prefer to come home and just crash. Yet things have to be done around the home. Meals have to be cooked, laundry done, the bathroom cleaned. Men, you’re just going to need to help share the load. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a cooking or laundry kind of guy. You can learn. You can heat up a can of soup for dinner. You can run a vacuum or sweep a floor. We bet you do some things a bit more intense than that at work—so we think you can handle it. You need to do what it takes to help out at home.

We can promise you this, when you ask your wife, “Honey, what can I do to lighten your load?” and you’re willing to do a task that is important to her, your wife will be thrilled. It shows your love, it shows commitment, it shows your heart for her, it shows honor. You’ll be amazed at how helping out in small ways will pay off in your marriage. Your wife is going to brag that you are the best husband on the planet.

Don’t try to be 50/50 on this. Don’t set yourselves up for fights and failure by trying to delineate all the responsibilities. Sure, a list of chores might help (if you’ve got kids—then you’ve got that much more help!), but everyone should be encouraged to see what needs to be done and do it. 

Talk about realistic expectations. How clean is clean enough? Come up with some creative ways to be clean and healthy without driving each other crazy. What about dinnertime after those long days at work? Maybe your wife feels that she has to prepare a five-course meal every night. Tell her once a week is fine, and the rest of the nights plan for easier meals that you or the kids can make. 

Be creative. Have fun. After all, you’ve been at work all day. Now you’re home with your wife and your family. This is the best part of your day!

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore! 

Redefining Sex

Sex has the potential to be to most profoundly satisfying and rich part of a marriage. Sex the way God intended it to be expressed--within the context of a loving, serving relationships between a husband and wife--is a mysterious and sacred act that knits a couple together in ways that are beyond description.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

We can talk about the deep, toe-tingling pleasure of orgasm, but words fail when we try to describe the oneness that a husband and wife feel after giving their bodies to each other. The Bible tells us that this oneness is a reflection, a mirror, of the oneness between Christ and his body, the church: “‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”

Although sex can lead a couple into some of the most intense pleasure in a marriage, sex also has the potential to lead them into pain. Why?

First, the very mystery that we just described can lead to misunderstanding between husbands and wives.

Second, most of us come to our marriages with unrealistic expectations about sex. We measure our own experiences against what we see on our television and movie screens or what we read about in books.

Third, our sexual lives can cause hurt because we too often see sexual pleasure as something we get rather than something we give. A great sex life leaves no room for selfishness.

Deeply satisfying sex occurs when husbands and wives connect the physical with the spiritual, emotional, relational, and psychological sides of sex. When all these facets work together, couples enter the mystery of the oneness God intended.

If we took seriously the glimpses that movies, television programs, and books give us into people’s bedrooms, we would conclude that singles or people in extramarital affairs have the best sex. Well, they don’t. Medical studies have discovered that married people have the best, most satisfying sex. They enjoy sex more often and have the highest levels of physical and emotional fulfillment. In fact, 88 percent of married people receive great physical pleasure from their sexual relationships, and 85 percent report the same positive experience emotionally.

Sex is extremely, intensely satisfying—when it’s used the way the Creator designed it. That’s when it works best, when it lasts longest, when it brings strength to a relationship, and when it elicits ecstatic responses from husbands and wives.

Great sex isn’t just a grope, a grab, and a romp in the sack—although at times it can be. Great sex involves a lifetime of study and practice. It requires commitment and discipline

Disappointment about Sex

Even with all of the statistics about how great married couples do in the bedroom, in Gary’s work as a counselor and in our work coaching people through our ministry America’s Family Coaches, we’ve seen literally thousands of people who have problems with sexual intimacy. In many households, couples are confused and disillusioned about sex.

We keep asking ourselves why married Christians are struggling so much with sexual intimacy. Of all people in the world, they should have the best, most incredible sex lives. After all, they worship and serve the great creator and designer of sex! But it is clear to us that Christian couples are struggling just as much as, if not more than, their non-Christian counterparts.

A few years ago we surveyed hundreds of couples from across the country to find out their top sex needs, their desires, and their struggles. The majority of our book, The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women, is based on our findings in that survey.

We define sexual needs as what goes on both inside and outside of the bedroom. What is or is not going on outside the bedroom has a profound impact on what goes on inside the bedroom.

If you are dealing with a sexual issue in your marriage—no matter what it is—we want you to find the hope, encouragement, and healing to pursue great sex. If you and your spouse are not experiencing a satisfying sex life, then we want to set you free from what is holding you back, lead you to an open discussion, and ignite a desire to seek God’s best in your bedroom.

The Ultimate Lesson

God made men and women to be different from each other. Most of the time we’re pretty happy about that. But sometimes those differences make it challenging to have and sustain a great sex life. Why is that? Is God cruel? No. We believe that God wired men and women differently so that we can appreciate the mystery of sex and so that we can continue to learn about each other.

Yes, sex is about pleasure, but so often we miss the larger purpose of sex. We seek immediate gratification, immediate pleasure. Sex is about me. Yet, that is the opposite of the way God works—and the opposite of the way God wants us to work, especially in our marriages and intimate lives. Ultimately this realization calls us to redefine sex.

We have brought into our bedrooms so many expectations and perspectives that shouldn’t be there. We’ve listened to our culture for far too long; we’ve defined sex in ways that are displeasing to God.

The more the two of us work with couples who struggle sexually, the more frustrated we become at what Christians have allowed our culture to dictate about what should and should not happen in the bedroom.

That’s when we look at each other and determine that enough is enough. As Christian couples, we need to guard our bedrooms and our marriages. We need to cordon off our marriages from negative influences. We need to redefine the environment in our bedrooms and reestablish God’s design for our sex lives.

*For more revealing insights about what your spouse’s most intimate sex needs are - and how to meet them - check out The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women in our online bookstore!