Renegotiating the Marriage Contract [Podcast]

In today’s episode of Creating Real Marriages that Last, I talk about how it’s natural that couples adjust how they make their lives work together through different seasons of life. Some of this happens weekly as you check in with each other. Sometimes it happens when one spouse sees a need for an adjustment and brings it up. For instance, when my mom moved up here, Jeannie pointed out that I was worn out because I was still living out my normal schedule as if nothing had changed. In reality, everything had changed, so we had to figure out how to make adjustments accordingly. It’s all about having the courage and the confidence to talk with your spouse and work together to solve these challenges. 

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A List No One Really Wants to Be On…

Every day, our world releases a new list. “The 10 Most Beautiful People in the World,” “The 10 Richest People in the World.” I’m not on these lists. I never am, and so I really don’t pay attention to lists.

A List No One Really Wants to Be On…

Until the other day.

The other day, the list of clients of Ashley Madison was released by hackers. In case, like me, you didn’t know what this was, Ashley Madison is a website which encourages people to have affairs. As the reports explained, people would register on the site and engage in conversations with people who were looking to cheat on their spouse.

According to the news, hackers released the names of those registered—emails and all. Well, there were the usual warnings about Internet securities and the expected catcalls of those deemed as “hypocrites” when their secrets were revealed.

First, what do you do if your name was on the list?

Biblically, you’re called on to repent. Repent means more than just apologizing. Repent means to turn away from the destructive behavior. If your name is on the list, confess to your spouse immediately! Get the story out, fully out. Your spouse deserves to hear it from you rather than read about it in the paper.

Second, get to counseling. Obviously, if you thought emailing a stranger about your marriage problems was a good answer, there are some problems. If you let Him, God will use your pain and frustration to redeem your marriage—but you have to act…NOW!

Second, what if you have a friend on the list?

Again, the Bible is clear. We go to the person who messed up. If you wait for them to come to you, they never will. They’re embarrassed, hurt, and humiliated. They hate themselves, and they are sure everyone else hates them too.

Call them. Go see them. Reach out. The goal isn’t judgment, but redemption. We all mess up. So, reach out to your friend the same way you would want some to reach out to you—gently, compassionately, mercifully, but confident in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Bring them back into relationship—with God, with their spouse, and with you. Jesus doesn’t give up. Neither does His followers.

One of the reasons I trust the Bible is that it tells me the truth about life, about humanity. Our world is a mess. Jesus knows that. He came anyway. Our world is still a mess. Jesus knows that. That’s why He keeps sending us.

Is It Wrong to Watch Porn in a Marriage?

The question caught me off guard. “Hey, Mike,” a young newly married friend asked me, “Is it wrong for my wife and I to watch porn in our marriage?”

Make Sure the Fight’s Worth It

As we talked further, I found out the porn industry is now selling itself as a “marital aid.” Couples are now given permission, if not encouraged, to watch porn in order to, shall we say—keep the energy flowing—in the marriage.

On one hand, you might be able to see how this idea would work.

On the other hand…

For this discussion, let’s put aside the fact that someone had to make the movie. That’s someone’s daughter, someone’s son being used in that film for “entertainment.” 

We’ll leave that for another blog.

For now, let’s look at what pornography does. Pornography plants images in your mind. These images do a couple of things. First, they define reality. Pornography, by definition, is unreality. This isn’t the way couples love each other. It doesn’t happen that way in real life. That’s one of the reasons we watch any movie; it’s not real. 

Second, these images become the lens through which you view reality. Given time, you begin to look at your spouse through the lens of the pornography. You expect your spouse to be your own personal porn star. That always leads to disappointment and resentment.

Proverbs says, “Drink water from your own cistern” (Proverbs 5). The writer’s not talking about the well in your yard. He’s talking about your wife. How do we know? He tells us, “Take pleasure in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

But my favorite verse is verse 19, “be lost in her love forever.” There it is —in black and white. It’s God’s will for you to be madly in love with your wife. It’s His desire for husbands to love themselves in the love of their wives.

Here’s the bottom line: God gave us our spouses to totally consume us—mentally, physically, and emotionally—in their love. Anything that takes your attention, thoughts, minds, desires, hearts, fantasies, joy, imagination, bodies, touch (Have I left anything out?) away from your spouse is wrong. That would include porn.

Our love for each other must be total and all-consuming, and porn definitely messes that up.

Marriage is Not 50/50 [Podcast]

In today’s episode of Creating Real Marriages that Last, I discuss the reality that marriage is never 50/50. A great marriage is always the husband giving 100% and the wife giving 100%. The secret that I’lll tell you is, you always have to come up with 200%. That means sometimes a season in marriage requires one spouse to give 140% because the other spouse can only give 60%. There are different seasons, and it’s all about the ebb and flow of those seasons in a marriage. The danger of assuming marriage is only 50/50 is making marriage more of a contract than a covenant. Often people enter marriage with an attitude that says, “I’ll do my part as long as the other person does their part.” But that’s not what marriage is. Marriage vows basically say, “I want to be here in this marriage come hell or high water.” No matter what. When you go into marriage with that kind of reckless abandon, you’ll experience a joy and adventure greater than you could ever imagine. 

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