The Problem with People Mechanics

Unless you’re a brain surgeon, a highly trained psychotherapist, or the Holy Spirit Himself, you won’t be able to change your spouse.

The hard reality about people is this: no one person can change another.

Too many of us get married thinking our spouse will change here and there, and then we’ll be happy. When they don’t change, the behavior becomes a source of aggravation and frustration.

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t behaviors that need to be changed.

So, what are we supposed to do?

First, talk about it.

Say something like, “It would help me…” This phrase invites your spouse into the conversation. Phrases such as, “You make me so mad,” obviously shut the conversation down.

Second, reward approximate behavior.

In other words, your spouse doesn’t have to get it right—just get close.

If your husband is a slob and he picks up a pair of socks, celebrate! He’ll know what you’re doing, but it feels so good, he won’t mind.

If your wife has a habit of leaving the car empty of gas, but pulls in with half a tank, tell her how proud you are of her. Again, she’ll know what you’re doing, but it’ll feel so good, she won’t mind.

In the end, you—and only you—will have to decide if this is something you can live with. And most of the time, you’ll find out you can.

Just learn to keep your eyes on the rose and not the thorns.

When the Church is At Its Best

Many times during the church’s history, it’s been pushed to the edge of society and culture. More than once we’ve been accused of holding back progress and told humanity would be better off without any religion at all.

Today, in post-Christian America, we find ourselves in much the same situation. Our faith is routinely attacked—even on major news channels.

Christians are the target of obscene, hurtful jokes. If the same things were said about any other group, it would be considered bullying or a hate crime.

How do we respond to this?

First, we relax. We’ve been here before and survived it. Not only have we survived, we’ve also actually thrived.

How did we do that?

By focusing on the areas nobody else wanted. Traditionally, the church has been at its best when it engaged culture in four ways: poverty, education, healthcare, and evangelism.

These opportunities are still here.

We’re a nation of chronic and growing poverty. Our school systems are failing our children. Thousands still have no access to healthcare. Our government has tried to address these issues with limited success.

But these are the issues Christ commanded the church to address. When we do, we’ll have thousands and thousands of openings to share the good news of Jesus.

The gospel of Jesus restores dignity to human beings. Once this dignity is restored, people are changed.

When the church starts engaging our culture in the ways they need us most, people will want to know about the difference Jesus makes.

They’re waiting to see the difference in us, however, before they believe Jesus can make a difference in them.

One Marriage At a Time

The epidemic of divorce in our nation continues to erode away the foundations of not only spouses and children, but of the nation itself. Our nation is only as strong as our families.

Every now and then, a new study will come out about the high rate of divorce in America. Then we’ll see a rash of articles from the experts about what we should do about this problem. The talk shows have shouting matches about who or what is to blame.

It’s the struggling economy, the transitioning roles of men and women, this policy or that policy. There will be so much hot air blown around you’ll think you’re in an August heat wave in Alabama.

And all of them will be wrong. The hard reality is this: there is very little we can do to change our divorce culture at a national level. Change has to come more locally, in each marriage, in each home.

While we may not be able to change our country, we can change our marriages. Sure, it takes a little work and sometimes a little money, but divorce takes a lot more work AND a lot more money.

Let’s covenant to change marriage in our country—one marriage at a time.

With this in mind, let’s begin our work. Where are we going to start? We’ll start by divorce-proofing our own marriages.

Here’s your first task: DATE YOUR SPOUSE. That’s right. Date your spouse.

This means, guys, call your wives and ask them to dinner—flowers and everything.

Wives, take your husband to the new action movie where everything blows up. Sure, I’m being a little facetious, but not much.

When you were dating, you went to extraordinary lengths to get the other person’s attention. You worked harder to make sure you could keep their attention. Whatever you did to get and keep their attention, DON’T STOP DOING IT!

Remember, husbands, you’ll never have any trouble with your wife as long as she never forgets she’s still your girlfriend.

Wives, you’ll never have any trouble with your husband as long as he never forgets he’s still your boyfriend.

Hey, the weekend is coming up. Get on the phone.

Ask her out.

Ask him out.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, just focused on each other. It’ll change your marriage and the healing of our divorce culture will have started—one marriage at a time.