Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How To Be a Great Dad

I was walking through the mall and noticed a man with a young boy .  His t-shirt caught my attention: “My #1 job is to be a great dad!”  At first I thought, “That’s a fantastic desire!”   But then I started thinking, “Is this really what a man’s number one job should be?” 

First, I thought about it in conjunction with Scripture.  The first thing God did with people in the garden was to have a wedding.  Then we don’t really see anything about parenting until we get to Cain and Abel.  That was a mess! Then came Noah--that too did not have the best of outcomes as far as a parent-child relationship is concerned.  How about King David and his progeny?   We can go on and on about so many examples of parent-child relationship run-a-muck.  Why?  Because the parent-child relationship is not the core of the family; it is the husband-wife relationship that is of the utmost importance.

In fact, the demise of a family is often when one or the other parent walls off in the marriage relationship in order to focus on parenting.

Study after study makes it clear that children are better off with a mother and a father in a marriage relationship.  Please take note of the following statement:  Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to be physically or sexually abused, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit delinquent behaviors, have a decreased risk of divorcing when they get married, are less likely to become pregnant/impregnate someone as a teenager, and are less likely to be raised in poverty. ("Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences," Bradford Wilcox, Institute for American Values.)

So, if the dad in the t-shirt really wanted to be the “best dad” his shirt should have said, “My goal is to be a great dad, so I will commit to love my wife and his mother as my number one priority!”  OK, that is a bit wordy, but I believe you get the idea.  In fact, maybe you can come up with better wording!  Share your ideas on our Facebook page—we would love to see them!

Here’s to happy parenting through better marriages!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marriage Fights--A Truce is Not Resolution

Do you remember your first real fight as a married couple?  I’ve heard of some couples that it occurred as they drove away from the church and others that it took months.  Did voices rise?  Doors slam?  Utter silence?  Did plates sail through the air?  What was it about?  One couple said their first fight was over whether or not it was acceptable to talk during a movie they were watching at home.  Another’s first blow out was over him forgetting his vows and laughing during the ceremony.  And let’s not get into the number of first fights initiated because of mothers-in-law.

The real question, though, is did you know how to handle it?  Conflict occurs in marriage.  A great counselor, Gary Rosberg, said, “If you have two people who have a pulse in the same room eventually it is not if you are going to have conflict, it is when are you going to have conflict.”  It occurs in your marriage, my marriage, and every other marriage that’s ever been, but the question remains:  Do you know how to resolve it correctly?

Too many couples only want to have a cessation of hostilities not necessarily the resolution of the issue.  Simply stopping a fight will only give a truce not a solution.  If one of you wins the fight, you both lose.  Marriage based on winning fights destroys the foundation of the relationship.  The becoming one flesh concept we discover in Genesis 2:24 is lost when one wins, because they are no longer one but two—a winner and a loser.  Winning cannot be the motivation in disputes; resolving must be the goal.

Unfortunately, most couples have no idea how to resolve an issue.  Some of us had poor examples.  Maybe your parents simply divorced rather than coming to resolution, maybe you witnessed abuse as a result of unresolved anger issues, or maybe it was simply always resolved behind closed doors and thus you never saw how to resolve it.

At Marriage in the Raw we have a seminar entitled, Better Communication = Greater Intimacy. (click here to find out more)  In this seminar we give a plan to resolve conflict.  If you would like to host a seminar, please contact us by clicking here.  We will get in touch with you and make this a reality.  If you are in trouble in your marriage, we can work with you as an individual couple in an intensive (click here) or, if you are close to Little Rock, we can meet with you weekly to get your relationship back on track.

What ever you do, don’t put this off.  If your relationship is suffering, the longer you wait the more entrenched the conflict becomes.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Do You Believe in Magic?

Magic?  Do you believe in it when it comes to an enduring relationship?  We do!

After working with hundreds of marriages, we are firm believers that couples need to spend a lifetime learning, applying, relearning, applying, day after day, year after year.  That’s why we do what we do!  But we also believe in an intangible thing we’ll refer to as “magic.”

One of our favorite teachers once said when teaching about marriage that it starts with a spark…no, we’re not talking about lust here!  We’re talking about butterflies in the stomach, feeling a need to get to know this person better, catching his eye across the room, noticing she likes Mexican food as much as you do, your heart skipping a beat when she enters the room.  That’s the magic!

Sometimes we hear the statements:  What does she see in him?  They sure are an odd couple!  I never pictured a guy like him with a girl like her.

I (Paula) remember my best friend confronting me when I was thinking about dating Kevin again after he had broken my heart two times already:  I can’t believe you are willing to even consider dating him again!!  What could I say…there was just something about this young man!  From the first time I set eyes on him I thought he was THE ONE.

So, when you look at the differences (age, race, background, personality type) and doubt the relationship’s viability, consider learning more about that person and how to communicate with and understand them.  That’s why we always help couples understand their differences (temperaments, background, conflict resolution styles, etc.)

Because sometimes, it’s the intangibles, the “magic” that makes an enduring relationship.  One woman (married over 50 years) put it this way:  I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s something about my husband.  Music always sounds better, sweeter, when we’re together.  Her husband agreed:  When she’s around, food is tastier, sunsets are more beautiful…everything is just plain better.

That is why we believe in the magic of “happier ever after”…  When we seek to understand that other person and to be understood by them (learning about them, sharing our hopes and dreams and disappointments with them, working on that day after day), we believe that spark that started it all can be fanned instead of snuffed out over time.  And that’s magic!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Want Marriage Help? Ask the True Experts!

I recently read a blog in which a man shared how to treat your wife.  It’s gone viral.  The interesting thing?  He is divorced.  Several days later I read a blog by a woman in response on how to treat your husband.  The interesting thing?  The woman is on her third marriage.

I believe we can learn plenty from our mistakes, but why is it we get our advice from people who can’t seem to stay in a relationship instead of asking a couple who is about ready to celebrate their 35th, or better yet, 55th wedding anniversary?  Any Christ-follower knows that we grow through down times, sad times, rebellious times, if we only let God teach us.  But the sad thing is this—why do we not seek out and listen to those who did it right the first time?
Do you want a truly great marriage?  If so, stop asking advice from those who are in stagnant, unfulfilling relationships or those who claim to have the answer now that they’ve failed.  Instead, find a couple who has the kind of marriage you’d like to have…then ask them how to have a great marriage.  They’re usually not the ones who say a lot about it, because they’re not complaining about their wife.  They’re not telling you about what a bum their husband is.  Instead, you notice them holding hands at church.  You see him leave work a little early so he can get home and help her with the kids.  They may be quietly sitting over coffee reading the paper or surrounded by their grandkids at the park. 

All marriages have their ups and downs; if someone says they don’t, they are either lying or oblivious!  But successful couples learn how to work through issues and come out stronger and better on the other side.  That’s what we need to hear!  We need to ask those who have successfully maneuvered through this thing called marriage, raised children, worked a job, had illnesses, had disagreements and fights, and are still living “happily ever after.”  That’s who I want to talk to, ask questions of, get answers from, see modeled before me.  Why do we always seek out those who failed and now say they have the answer?

There is a generation of couples who were highly successful.  They’re celebrating their 60th anniversaries, not their 6 month-iversary and we need to glean all the wisdom we can from them before it’s too late!

We will be sharing golden nuggets from couples who have been married 30 years or more on our Facebook page over the next few months.  Watch for it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


“Dial 911!  I’ve been robbed!”

I was where I love to be--sitting outside enjoying a cup of coffee and writing.  A young man came up to my table and asked, “What Starbucks is this?”  I didn’t give it much thought and told him.  He hung around close to my table and appeared to be on his cell phone.

Then suddenly in a blur he was ripping my laptop out of my hands!  He took off running with it.  I was so shocked I let him get about 10 feet away before I leaped to my feet and started chasing him.  Two other men also gave chase.  One jumped in his truck while the younger man and I ran after the thief between buildings and up a grassy slope.  But alas, he was younger, much faster, and headed right to the get-away car, which sped away before we could get the license plate number.

As we pursued him, I shouted:  “You aren’t stealing my computer.  It is the Lord’s!”  (Real spiritual, don’t you think?)  Then, I followed it up with a very spiritual scream, “You Jerk!!!”

I have now been robbed or threatened three times in the past year.  A particular verse comes to mind quite often these days:  The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.   John 10:10 The Voice

Then I thought about this from the perspective of marriage.  The thief of godly relationships hangs around the table of your marriage with malicious intent just waiting for you to look at your spouse with contempt or disrespect.  He will jump at any chance to steal your love, to slaughter your commitment, and to destroy your relationship.

Think of the damage a divorce brings.  The years you spent dating and married are all tainted, if not destroyed.  The people around you (mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends) are all now left to choose sides.  They are uncomfortable with the elephant of divorce in the room.  Then, of course, there are the children.  They have their need of a stable home stolen away for life.  I could go on and on, but I am sure that you know the damage of divorce.

But the good news is that God offers us life, with joy and abundance.  Wow! That sounds great.  The problem is that much of our Christian experience is passed along through platitudes rather than practical teaching.

Regarding being robbed, I have now learned some valuable lessons.  I need to be aware of something the police told me after the crime about what he called, “Apple Picking”.  It is a new wrinkle in crime.  Thieves walk through a restaurant, or better yet, outdoor cafĂ© and simply grab an IPhone or laptop or tablet and hustle out the door.  I have learned to keep my phone in my pocket at a restaurant and that someone designed cables you can purchase for your laptop so it can be locked to a table or your arm for that matter.  If I had been told this before that fateful afternoon, I would have saved myself a lot of grief.

We can save couples grief by giving them Biblical, practical tools to fix, restore, and grow their relationship.  Whatever the need and time of life, the Bible has solutions.  We need to equip an army of mentors who can come alongside pre-married couples, couples in trouble, and couples who simply want what God promises--life, with joy and abundance.  It can be theirs.  It can be yours for that matter.  We need to start handing out tools with instruction.

Now all we have to do is show couples how to protect the laptops of their lives.  Don’t let the enemy of our souls pick the “apple of your eye” and turn your life upside down.