Marriage, Mission Report

A Marriage Seminar in Western Kenya

IMG_1301Sitting at a coffee shop three hours west of Nairobi, Kenya would have been unheard of a few years ago. Yes, the coffee café craze has even reached western Kenya. I am in the city of Kisumu, teaching at amazing and growing DOVE International church’s found in Kadawa village and in the village of Musima on the topic of marriage. Our pastoral hosts have with keen foresight arranged the meetings and the couples have responded. It’s hot, it’s humid, but they take in new thoughts like a dry sponge absorbs water. They look at their spouse in amazement, eyes wide open and hearts challenged by God’s word. I ask them to interact together doing some couple exercises and at first it is very difficult, even a tinge of embarrassment comes over them. I keep pushing, asking for responses given out loud, and trying to discover if they are connecting with their speaker, his North American style English words coming through a translator.

IMG_1257Wherever I speak here, part of my introduction is the same, …”the husband of one wife.” There are multiple spouse families here and I ask my host to be the one to address those issues. It’s the third session in the first day and I see some tears and husbands who are noticeably uncomfortable with knowing how to help their wife. On the second day, I ask them the purpose of marriage and to follow that up with writing a marriage mission statement for the two of them. Later, I would ask them to share their statement. They become more comfortable; laughter is more at ease as they talk among themselves and respond much more freely to my many incessant questions. By the end of the two days they are easily encouraged to discuss, open up with each other and attempt to accomplish what this strange mzungu (white man) is requiring of them. And then, my ultimate reward at the close, watching them pray for one another and embracing in a very warm hug. It makes me smile.IMG_1256

Issues of the Day, Marriage

Liberation: The Toilet Seat is Up

imagesYou know your wife is away for an extended period of time if the toilet seat is left in the “up” position. As husband’s, we have been properly trained and groomed in toilet seat etiquette and flushing. But when our wives are away, all toilet seat bets are off and flushing is optional. What a pleasure it is to go into the bathroom, take care of business without having to first bend over and place our clean fingers on the germ-filled underside of a toilet seat. Then, having to go through a lifting up motion just to repeat the whole ordeal all over again placing the seat back down. They say it is the small things that bring pleasure to a man in everyday life and I am here to tell you this is one of those “small thing pleasures.”

Don’t get me wrong; it is not out of rebellion or a silent protest against my dear wife. (I actually caught myself once and almost put the seat down by automatic response.) It is a simple pleasure like relieving oneself in the woods where no extra bending over or lifting effort is ever needed. Yes, my wife has left for the day and she has placed her full trust in me to care for her well-kept and clean home. Heck, I even put the toilet seat up in our extra bathroom and I don’t plan on using that one all day…soooo liberating. This is to all those men who feel any sense of toilet seat control, here’s your chance to be liberated for a day and catch a smile forming on your face as you walk into the bathroom.   And may I challenge you one step further?  Maybe, just maybe dare to go without having to put forth the effort of reaching up and flipping the light switch on.  Now we’re talkin’.

I just heard the garage door go up, I gotta run and take care of a few things.

PS  Secret: You do not want to get caught with your toilet seat in the ‘up’ position so please for the sake of marriage harmony, plan your toilet seat strategy very carefully!

Marriage, Singles

Marrying the Most Imperfect Person

images-10Did you know the marriage rate in the USA was 83% in the 1930’s and by the year 2012 was 49.7%? What’s going on? Singles are waiting longer to be married and others are trying it out by living together to see if they like it. There is a genuine fear of failure with the number of divorces families are experiencing today. We are told that the latest divorce statistic is one in four marriages. To put that into perspective, what if one in four planes taking off from every airport today also crashed? How many plane tickets would you be purchasing?

But, hey, you’ve got to realize there is no perfect marriage union, right? I hate to break it to you; not even mine. Marriage is imperfect because two imperfect persons entered into a marriage relationship. When two imperfect persons marry, lots of life struggles will need to be worked out. It is true of every couple that says, “I do.” If you are looking for the “perfect” person you, my friend, will never marry. Did you know that everyone wakes up in the morning with awful breath, their hair totally out-of-place, make-up missing or smeared, dry mouth and other things not to mention here? In time, you add weight, develop extra skin under your arms, gain a “turkey neck,” your hair turns gray or (imagine this) it falls completely off your head.

images-2Marry the most godly person you can find. Marry the one you are madly in love with, but realize just as you are imperfect, so are they. And then love them the rest of your life anyway.

Marriage, Postmarital

Got Sex? Does Our Marriage Have a Sex Problem?

images-18Every marriage either promotes security or insecurity; as marriage partners we long for security from one another. Security is a primary human need, and for the most part, a need we are attempting to have met in differing ways. When security is felt, normally honor, trust and respect are also present. When there is insecurity, most likely these ingredients are missing or at the very least, threatened. Further, where there is security, there is intimacy. Intimacy can lead to sex, but is not just sex. In reality, most couples do not have a sex problem, they have an intimacy problem, and that intimacy problem exists because they have security issues.

When we honor, love and respect one another security grows and leads to intimacy. To honor means to serve without expectation, all the while seeing the other as better than yourself. It certainly takes a high degree of maturity to arrive at this place. Immaturity expects an immediate return. In other words, “I do this; you do that.” Is it wrong to expect sex in our marriage? Of course not, but it does depend upon the condition one spouse can place upon the other. As security grows through love, honor and respect, it will have a side effect of growing intimacy. And as intimacy grows, your sex lives will also grow. images-6

Does our marriage have an intimacy problem or a security problem?

Marriage, Postmarital, Singles

5 Words for Singles and 5 Words for Marrieds

images-6“We just don’t have anything in common anymore.” Over the course of 15 years, serving as a marriage and family counselor, I heard that phrase a few times. Normally, at the same time, these persons could think of another with whom they felt many forms of commonality. Weird how that works isn’t it? You are sharing a marriage, most likely children, a bed, income and bills, household responsibilities, jobs and a local church. How could one possibly say those self-centered words unless they were attempting to ease their own pain, drifting thoughts or sin?

Most singles fantasize about married life, knowing (they tell themselves) it will be better in all aspects of life. All the while, some married individuals fantasize about singleness. Are we ever completely happy or satisfied with our status? Here are five things to coiStock_000017052875Small3-e1332976213633nsider if you are single:

1. Don’t live your life in waiting; be fulfilled in what God has for you today.

2. Know that to rush or blindly marry the wrong person is far worse than not being married.

3. Pursue maturity, personal growth and security.

4. Make a list of what you desire in a life mate and then commit that list to prayer. Hold yourself accountable to not engage with someone who compromises your list.

5. Stop the self-pity game even if all of your friends are married. It will not help you or your attitude.

Here are five things to consider if you are married:images-6

1. Take a look at your wedding ring. You are off the market; taken, committed to the one you spoke your vows to. You are unavailable to everyone else.

2. If you are dissatisfied in marriage, what is it that you need to change in order to stay in the game and remain committed?

3. Remind yourself that two became one and to initiate something hurtful or harmful against your spouse is to also hurt yourself, your future and your family’s future.

4. Ask yourself, “What am I learning about me through this challenging or difficult experience?”

5. Consider this question: “How have I become self-protective and what am I (if anything) hiding?”

In the news, Issues of the Day, Marriage

Has God Changed the Verdict for the Case of Marriage?

images-4Marriage doomsayers have been touting the end of marriage, as we know it, in multiple forms of messages for decades. Shouted from places of academia and even some pulpits is the specious notion that one half of all marriages end in divorce, that marriage is meaningless and old-fashion or the notion of cohabitation – no legal piece of paper is necessary. In spite of this relentless push, the great news is that marriage remains strong as an institution, is not crumbling off the face of the earth and the One who actually created and designed marriage has not redefined marriage or decreased the importance of marriage and the family as the basis of our society.

Believe it or not, the design of marriage did not take place in the halls of congress, a courtroom, a temple or through some enlightened monk centuries past. Here is where it all began: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.   I will make a helper suitable for him.’ So the Lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2: 18, 21, 22, 24)images

Did Jesus affirm this covenant act created by God in His “God became flesh” days on the earth? He did. “‘Haven’t you read,’ he [Jesus] replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’” I am so grateful for God’s design called marriage and how the Son of God spoke to and affirmed that design long after creation. May we continue to boldly do the same by strengthening our unions and serving those who are struggling in theirs.