Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'You're Getting "Married," Not "Weddinged"'



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Yep...

A wise man once said that the reasons weddings go off without a hitch and marriages don't is because *people actually plan their weddings*. Straight copy and paste:

I want to explain a simple mindset shift that will have a profound influence on the foundation of your marriage. Amazingly, I’ve never seen it even touched on in the wedding world.

A few weeks before my wedding this June, a friend of mine sent me an email with various tips on getting the most out of my wedding day. The one that hit me the hardest was “Remember you’re getting married, not weddinged.”

In 2010, the wedding industry made over $161 billion (Fairchild Bridal Group). If you’re awake, you’ve probably noticed that our culture is obsessed with weddings. There are print publications that celebrate wedding design from bridal gowns to wedding favors, signature cocktails to bowties and everything in between.

According to Liene Stevens, founder of Splendid Communications, there are over 200 professional wedding blogs, which have published over 15,000 real weddings. Rebecca Mead author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding reports that the average wedding in the U.S. has 43 vendors involved. Even TV has jumped on the bandwagon in recent years with the success of Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, and Shedding for the Wedding.

And I don’t have to remind you that 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Looking at this reality, most people will conclude that weddings have become a circus for materialism, an excuse for brides to be b----y, and a total waste of money. I however believe that instead of “poo-pooing” the $161 billion spent on this years blushing brides, we should take it as a sign that weddings are plainly a really big deal. I believe that instead of trying to cut back on materialism, brides and the media merely need to balance the design obsession with an attention to love, personal development and preparation for marriage.

I’ve dedicated my career to helping brides strike this balance. My Breathtaking Bride Program helps women lose weight for their weddings without crash diets and boot camps. The lure of losing weight for the wedding (who doesn’t want to look fabulous on their wedding day?) is really a Trojan horse for helping women transition to become a wife, realize their dreams and create a rock solid marriage. Instead of getting overwhelmed with seating charts and fighting with their mothers, my clients arrive on their wedding day feeling centered, humbled, and psyched to be a wife.

Here are my three strategies for bringing marriage back into the wedding conversation…
 

Redefine “Perfection”. For a bride, the pressure to create a flawless, perfectly designed wedding can cause intense amounts of anxiety. Instead of focusing on how you want your wedding to look, focus on how you want to feel on your wedding day. Do you want to feel at home? Like a princess? Madly in love? Swept off your feet? Wildly ecstatic? Confident? Successful? Sexy? Defining how you want to feel will not only bring some meaning and integrity to your design, but it will also highlight the areas in your life you need to work on: do you need to get a relationship coach? Take up a new hobby? Finally write that book you’ve been thinking about? Face your messed up relationship with food?
    

Weddings are a milestone, not a dinner party. Becoming a wife is amazing, but it’s also overwhelming. Though our lives may not look that different from one phase to another, the change that marriage ushers in is profound. Many women have moments of grieving and anxiety during the engagement, and because they’re not understood as a natural reaction to this intense shift, women channel their unease into worrying about their weight, relationships and flower choices. When I encourage brides to stop sweeping these feelings under the rug and instead explore their fears, they can talk about the future and understand the gravity of getting married.  Through this process their inner bridezilla disappears, and the engagement process becomes just as much about preparing for marriage as it does about having a great party.
    

For every vendor contract – make a marriage contract; for every meeting with your planner – go on a date. This practice is simple: every effort that you are putting into planning your wedding, you should match (or raise) with an effort towards strengthening your relationship with your fiancé.  It’s funny how engaged women all-of-the-sudden put romance below ordering invitations on their priority lists. We so quickly forget WHY we’re planning a wedding in the first place. Make sure you have weekly date nights, talk about religion and when you want to buy your first house, dance in the kitchen, fantasize about travelling, ask how you want to be different than your parents, explore who influences what kind of lover you are, and fall in love all over again.

A wedding only lasts a few hours...then what?

Make sure you answer that question before saying "I do."

Luxuriant,

SRW


An Ounce of Prevention: '7 Signs You're a Love Addict'

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You know what they say...

The first sign of addiction is denial. It's a straight copy and paste:

It takes a lot of strength and internal reflection to examine your relationships and seek out signs that you're a love addict. Most people with love addiction don't know what they are suffering from and it's only upon reading about the disease that symptoms and signs begin to make sense and patterns begin to emerge. Love addiction comes in many forms from short, passion-filled relationships that end quickly to long-term, overlapping relationships with extreme highs and lows. Just like any other addiction, love addiction is a compulsive behavior that the addict uses to soothe uncomfortable feelings despite negative consequences. There are multiple contributors to love addiction, including upbringing, heredity and DNA, but this article is designed to outline signs that you're a love addict so that you can decide for yourself whether or not to seek additional help or counseling.

1. You Believe That You Can Only Be Happy If Someone Loves You. You're nobody til somebody loves you, right? Many love addicts feel this way and it is the most basic of many signs you're a love addict. You feel incomplete as person without someone by your side that loves you and are unsure how to function as a single person. Your identity is lost in a relationship and you cannot happily go through the day to day activities of life without feeling empty or lonely.

2. You Frequently Stay in Bad Relationships. Because love addicts are genuinely afraid to be unattached, they will often stay in a relationship that is negative rather than being alone. You may justify staying with an emotionally, physically or financially abusive partner by telling yourself that being in a bad relationship is better than not having a relationship. Even if you gather the strength to leave your partner or he or she leaves you, you will often return or beg to be taken back to avoid the feelings of loneliness and despair.

3. You Are Unable to Take the Time to Heal After a Failed Relationship. Non-love addicts are equally saddened and heartbroken after the end of a relationship; the difference is that non-love addicts are able to take time for themselves and heal before jumping into a new partnership. If you are emotionally unable to take time for yourself and time to mend after a breakup, it is one of the biggest sign you're a love addict. The feelings of despair become overwhelming to the point of actively searching out a new relationship before you are fully over the previous one.

4. You Are Often Needy and Clingy in a Relationship. It is hard for you to feel loved without someone to tell you how amazing you are. If your partner is not available physically and emotionally to give you the devotion you are seeking, you become increasingly needy and clingy. You require more attention and more affection from your partner than a non-love addict and this will usually begin to drive them away, which only increases your neediness.

5. You Jump from Relationship to Relationship as the Infatuation Wears Off. This is a different form of love addiction, referred to as romantic addiction or infatuation addiction. If you quickly get bored after the initial infatuation wanes and use it as an excuse to jump quickly into another, newer partnership this is a major sign that you may have this form of love addiction. It refers to being addicted to the large doses of "love hormones" that flood the brain at the start of a new romantic, relationship and is just a serious a form of love addiction.

6. Romantic Love Is the Most Important Part of Your Life. Relationships with friends and family will suffer when you are in a romantic relationship, as that becomes the most important thing in your life. Even when you are not involved in a romantic pairing, the only thing that matters is becoming attached again so it is hard to concentrate and work and difficult to maintain personal growth and friendships. Nothing else is as important as finding or keeping love.

7. You Take More than Your Share of Responsibility in a Relationship. You may shower the source of your addiction with gifts, even if they go unappreciated. You do most of the work in your relationship, including planning trips, dates or elaborate surprises in an effort to get the same amount of attention returned. You take responsibility for all arguments, even if they are not your fault to avoid being abandoned. Unfortunately, love addicts often chose partners that are emotionally unavailable to return the affection and adoration.

Yeeeeah. That last one is a doozy. It's better to be honest with yourself on the front end. Before marriage. Please take heed.

Luxuriant,

SRW

"On Fire": QUOTES OF THE DAY

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Monday, April 28, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'How I Knew I’d Found “The One” (And How You’ll Know, Too)'

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OK...

When it comes to articles like these, I don't believe there is a a "full-proof formula" into finding "your one". I say this because actually, although her husband didn't come through a dream, prophecy or "secret code", I know some women who recognized their one in some of those very ways. However, what I do like/appreciate/respect about this one is that it shows some clear signs of what a healthy relationship should look and be like. I also like that this speaks to two people having purposes that complement one another. *That's super essential*. The Garden of Eden reminds us so (Genesis 2:18-AMP). It's a straight copy and paste:

I used to wish God would give me a snapshot of my future.

That I could close my eyes, and for just a moment, see a picture of my future spouse. How much comfort that would bring me, I’d imagine. Because then, I would just know.

Know that he exists. Know that he’s out there waiting. Know that he’s real.

But more than anything- I just wanted to know I’d be able to recognize him when he finally came my way.  How else would I know?

So much to say- I never got a magical vision. My husband-to-be didn’t come my way through a dream, a prophecy, or even a secret code. No voice from heaven, no ray of light…nada.

How did I know that I’d found the man I was going to marry? I get that question a lot from people looking for love. But it’s not really a simple question to answer. There’s no one specific formula or experience that gives you the green light into marriage. In fact, I think there are many different factors that helped me determine whether or not this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I discuss those factors in detail in Chapter 5 True Love Dates and talk about the “red, green, and yellow” signs and symptoms of a relationship.

But as I’ve been thinking about this question, there is one main thing that opened my eyes to the reality that I’d found the one I was going to marry.

He fit into the my life.

Take that in for a moment, because it’s a really important truth. When I met John and as I got to know him more and more, I realized that everything about him fit into the narrative of my life, and in fact, he made my story even better. Just like that missing piece to the puzzle- he fit.

I didn’t have to force it, manipulate it, cram it in, or make it happen. I didn’t need to change my life goals and dreams, adjust my priorities, repress my morals and values, or completely change my life around. It wasn’t confusing, dramatic, uncomfortable, or chaotic.

It was easy, it was natural, and it made SO much sense. But the most important part to this whole thing is this:

The reason I knew he fit into my life – is because I knew who I was. After some really hard years and unhealthy relationships, I had finally taken the time to get to know myself, because for so many years I had no idea who I was or who fit into my story. But when I finally took the time to know, love, value, and understand myself, I recognized what I wanted and needed as I was searching for the right person to marry. Because like I say in the premise of True Love Dates, you can’t know what you want, until you know who you are.

So many people I’ve talked to have said similar things.They joined their lives together and their worlds just fit. That’s not to say that relationships don’t come with work, effort, and deliberation- but healthy relationships are far less complicated than we often allow them to be.They are full of life, of growth, and most of all- they are defined by the actions of love.

Last night, after the kids were in bed we were laying on the couch, chatting about our day. In the middle of our conversation I just looked into his eyes and realized- we still fit together so well. God’s grace is overwhelming, and I’m so thankful for the gift of a good marriage. But it’s not a marriage that “fell from the sky”- it’s one I had to prepare myself to receive.

Look for someone who fits into your life, and you in theirs- but first and foremost, understand your life. Know who you are and where you’re headed. And then- find someone to join you for the incredible ride.


NO DRAMA.

That's one way to know you're at least on your way to "the one".

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Emotional Sex: How to Practically Guard Your Heart'

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Yep...

When I public speak, "emotional whoredom" comes up from time to time. What I mean by it is this: There are a lot of people who may not be *physically* going from guy to guy but emotionally, they are doing just that. And yes, it's important that we honor our emotions just as much as our body. That's why this article caught my attention. "Emotional sex" is pretty telling and it's a straight copy and paste and definitely something to think about. Oh, and on her first point, I'll say that I'm led to encourage that on a case-by-case basis because every situation is unique. That said, she does have a good point that praying together is *very intimate* and so while I won't generalize and say "Don't do it while you're dating, what I do recommend is that you seek God first for wisdom (James 1:5) about if this is someone who he wants you to connect with in such a special and sacred kid of of way:

How far is too far?  I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that I get asked this question all the time from well-meaning young adults, looking to set up some boundaries in their physical relationships.

But I’m not going to answer that question today (although you can find specifics about How Far is too Far Physically in chapter 8 of True Love Dates!)

Don’t get me wrong, as a professional counselor and as a woman who has gone through the world of dating, I think the question of physical boundaries is really important and requires some serious thought and consideration.  It’s important to put mental time and energy in questions like this and to set your limits within a dating relationship- which is why I’ve devoted an entire chapter to it in my upcoming book.

But is the physical the most important thing?

It seems to me that our Christian society can get so fixated on the “physical” aspects of intimacy, that we neglect the emotional and spiritual components that can be just as binding and just as devastating in the end.

There is some deep power in emotional intimacy, more power than we give it credit.

More powerful than a kiss, more seductive than an embrace, there is something that happens when two people connect emotionally.  Something that has the capacity to outweigh even the physical.  A sort of “emotional sex” that can be just as harmful and heartbreaking, when it moves too deep, too fast.

My friend Emily learned this the hard way.  She decided not to “date around” but instead wanted to wait until she felt that dating would definitely lead to marriage.   As wise as that decision may have been at the time- when she finally did start dating Brian in her late twenties- she went too deep, too fast.  She had been holding onto her emotions for so long that when she finally entered into a relationship she let the flood gates open.

But here’s the thing about dating in an emotionally healthy way- it’s important to make sure that your emotional relationship is growing proportionally to your level of commitment.  Emily felt so connected to Brian, that when their relationship ended up not working out- she felt so confused, empty, and incredibly hurt.

Let me point out a few things to consider in order to avoid the pain of premature emotional bonding in a relationship- a relationship that may never translate into marriage:

1. Play Together….Don’t Pray Together: This might sound contradictory to your Christian beliefs.  We’ve always been taught that prayer is such an important part of any relationship.  I know of so many couples who started their relationship by investing time in deep spiritual prayer with one another and spending time in God’s word together.  While this sounds well and good…in my opinion, it’s actually a really dangerous road to travel at such early stages in a relationship.

Seeking the heart of God and pouring out your heart and soul to Him through prayer is one of the most emotionally vulnerable places you will ever be. It’s essentially like being spiritually naked because before God, you hide nothing emotionally.

It’s good to pray about your relationship and to seek God’s voice…but WAIT to seek it together. Seek to pursue God as an individual before allowing your relationship with Him to become a trio prematurely by including your significant other. There will be a day for that unity in marriage…but it’s not during dating.

Your dating relationship in it’s early stages is meant to be a time of getting to know each other, and learning all the superficial things you can know before taking it to the next level. Use this season for just that! Don’t go too deep too fast, because the emotional intimacy that comes with deep shared moments like this can actually pull you in far deeper than you were ever meant to go, and in the end, leave you with a broken heart…and a broken spirit.

 2.  Know When to Open Up and When Not To: Dating is such a special time. It’s a time to really get to know someone and invest in who they are. It’s a time to let your guard down a little at a time and begin to share the truths of who you are.

But that’s the key word.  A little…at…a…time.  When you enter into relationship, you should be at a point in your life where you are ready to be open, ready to share, and ready to communicate. But there should always be limits to this kind of openness. There are times to be open and share your heart–but, there are also times to withhold.

I don’t recommend sitting down at your first date and spilling every detail and secret in your life. Relationships should be seen as a journey of building trust. You build a little at a time.  You give a little at a time. Lay the foundations first, then begin building the house. Be real, be genuine, and be honest…but never without the anchor of boundaries and the weight of wisdom.

3. Avoid Talking About Commitment Before You’ve Actually Committed: There is such a temptation to talk about the future when you’re dating. You want to dream together, to envision the future together, and to create this world up ahead to live for. I think there is a time and place for this kind of discussion. Later on in a relationship it’s important to be on the same page and to have a similar outlook on what is to come relationally.

But let’s be honest…that conversation should not be happening early on in a dating relationship. It’s a problem when people commit to things far beyond the place they are at relationally. It’s a problem when you commit to the future, before you’ve actually committed to the present.

Take your time, allow your relationship to go through the necessary seasons before you allow your conversation to jump ahead. Because where your conversation goes…your heart will go, too.

We always hear Christians talk about “guarding your heart”.  It’s become so cliche that I’m afraid that phrase may have actually lost it’s significance.  God knows how fragile our hearts can be, and he begs us to take the time to protect them, to watch over them, and to take care of them.  But guarding your heart does not come in the form of some magical process or spiritual language…it is practical, every day decisions.

Guard your heart…because out of it, flows your entire life.  That’s legit.

Proverbs 4:23:  Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.


Good seed. Good ground.

Luxuriant,

SRW

Sunday, April 27, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: '10 Ways to Live an Extraordinary Life'

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So...

There are two things that I like about the particular article that I'm about to reference. One is the title of the blog that it's posted on: "Be More with Less. Life on Purpose". Secondly, it reminds me that one of the best ways to have an extraordinary marriage is to live in extraordinary life, even now, as a single woman. As you consciously strive to do "beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established" and more importantly, to be "exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, etc.; noteworthy; remarkable", it just might surprise you how your standards will shift and your attractions will change. And how that will bring you closer to true marital greatness.

Indeed, for some of us, God is like "I'm waiting on you to stop living such an average life so that I can bring you to the one who is truly extraordinary for you---and your lifestyle!"

That said, here's the list that this particular author provided:

1. Pay attention. When you are distracted, it’s impossible to notice the extraordinary things around you and how you feel about your life. Unplug, look up and be present.
    

2. Be grateful. Expressing gratitude will help you stay focused on the magnificent happenings of your day to day life. It feels good to say thank you and it’s always a good reminder of how extraordinary your life is.
    

3. Stop comparing. Someone will always have more or less than you. There will always be someone who is better or worse at what you do. You can’t assess who you are or what you have based on others and if your focus is on what they have or do, you can never fully appreciate all of the extraordinary blessings in your own life. Even your past and future cannot be measuring sticks for your life today. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
    

4. Let go. Every time I think something has a hold on me, I realize I’m the one with the tight grip. Don’t be afraid of space and the absence of all the things you think you need to be happy and secure. Absence makes the heart grow.
    

5. Make space. Clear out the clutter and the excess. You need space and room to pay attention to what matters most.
    

6. Slow down. The extraordinary life you’ve been waiting for is happening right now. While you are racing to the finish, making plans, keeping up and getting by, your extraordinary life is patiently waiting for a warm welcome. Slow your pace and look around or come to a complete stop to fully appreciate what is right in front of you.
    

7. Admire small miracles. Extraordinary isn’t always in the grand gestures and big impressive changes or events. Revel in the little things like the first bite of a ripe piece of fruit, a beautiful view, a stranger’s kind smile or some of the other things that happen every day. Enjoy small pleasures and find love in the little stuff.
    

8. Write it down. Keep a journal to record some of the extraordinary things in your daily life. Knowing that you’ll be recording your observations will be a reminder to notice and the more you notice it, the more you will notice it.
    

9. Act like a tourist. You might get used to your surroundings and daily events and forget about the extraordinary parts. Be a tourist in your own life and backyard and see things for the first time. Remember how that view used to wow you, or how the way someone treated you used to make your heart race. Recapture awe by changing your lens.
    

10. Be extraordinary. The best way to live an extraordinary life is to be extraordinary. Be extraordinary in how you treat people, including yourself. Be extraordinary in how you choose to spend your time. Be extraordinary through your thoughts, words and actions.

If you're not living this way, it's definitely something to ponder (Proverbs 4:26).

Sooner than later.

Luxuriant,

SRW

"On Fire": Don't 'Give Away' Your HOPE


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"But Naomi said, 'Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!'"---Ruth 1:11-13(NIV)


Last Friday...

I had a conversation with a woman who is probably my oldest (longest) friend. I say that because we've known each other ever since I was 5 and she was 7 and we're still pretty close.

Anyway, as we were catching up with one another's lives, one of the things that I shared with her was what I was planning to do for the Big 40 in June. A personality test that I took some years ago revealed that I am an "extroverted introvert" and so I get why the thought of a party is so (SO) not my thing.

So, I'm doing mini-celebrations with different people throughout the month.

And I'm going to register myself to refill my hope chest.

The second thing is what caught my sistah-friend's attention:

Her: "What do you mean you're going to 'fill it back up'?"

Me: "Well, I have a hope chest but over time, I gave a lot of the stuff away."

Her: "What a minute? You gave your hope away?"

Me: (After pausing for a moment) "OK. That's hilarious when you put it like that. But yes."

Her: "Yeah, we definitely need to pray about that."

And ever since we hung up, honestly, I have been. Now in my mind, in my hope chest, I had a lot of nice (and new) lingerie that, since it was appearing that I wasn't going to be using it any time soon, someone else could/should. Yet, it really is interesting what someone "from the outside looking in" can see about you---that you may not (Proverbs 17:27 & 24:6).

Initially, when I purchased every item that I had in my hope chest, *it was for me*. Does it matter that some of those things were several years old? It shouldn't have, right? Especially since I am continually mentioning Romans 5:5 in these postings: "Hope does not disappoint": To disappoint means "to fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of". To disappoint also means "to defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc.); thwart".

Most of us know the biblical definition of faith: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1-NKJV) And as we can see from the definitions, it's not just enough to "have hope". We have to be *confident* in what we are hoping for. In other words, *faith does not work without confidence*.

Here's a very clear example of that:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."---James 1:5-7(NKJV)

I don't know about you but for me, that's one of the main things that I "miss" about faith sometimes. That it's not just enough to believe in what I don't see (or see yet or see in the spirit realm-I Corinthians 2:14). I have to be confident. I have to be sure. I have to not doubt. When that happens, *that is when I'm truly walking in faith*. That is when I really am being hopeful:

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best

And here's what's awesome about hope. By its very (dictionary) definition, when we are confident (having strong belief or full assurance; sure) in what we are hoping for, we can be certain (CERTAIN) that either what we want we will get *or* (OR) how things turn out will be better than what we wanted in the first place. I mean, you see how the definition says that things will turn out *for the best*, right? Not good. Not better. The absolute best: "of the highest quality, excellence, or standing" and "most advantageous, suitable, or desirable". This is why we are told to have faith in God (Mark 11:22). It's because by having confidence in him, we can be sure that he can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21)!

So what does all of this have to do with the lead verses for this message?

If you've never read The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules, it's a book that truly is worth investing in. One of the things that the author (Carolyn Custis James) shares is just how *hopeless* Naomi was. To the point that, like me, she was basically setting herself up to "give away her hope": her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Even though Naomi had lost her husband and her sons (which many theologians believe sent her into a state of depression), God provided "a ram in the thicket": Ruth. Ruth, whose name actually means "friend". When Ruth said the following, it was planting a seed of hope within Naomi:

"And she said, 'Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.' But Ruth said:
 

'Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.'


When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her."---Ruth 1:15-18(NKJV)

If you follow through the story of Ruth, you know that Ruth's declaration was a hopeful resolve but there was a lot of time, work and waiting that was required in order for "things to turn out for the best". Yet because of the gift of hope that Ruth provided, it set a fire within Naomi that actually led Ruth to her beloved and Naomi to a restored state of promise and security:

"Then Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, said to her, 'My daughter, I must find a suitable home for you, one that will be good for you. Now Boaz, whose young women you worked with, is our close relative. Tonight he will be working at the threshing floor. Wash yourself, put on perfume, change your clothes, and go down to the threshing floor. But don’t let him know you’re there until he has finished his dinner. Watch him so you will know where he lies down to sleep. When he lies down, go and lift the cover off his feet and lie down. He will tell you what you should do.'

Then Ruth answered, 'I will do everything you say.'"---Ruth 3:1-5(NCV)

What I so dig about all of this is that it proves that hope has a domino-effect. The more confidence in God that you have that you can have what you want or something even more advantageous, the more you attract that kind of energy into your space. The more people, places, things and ideas start working in your favor to make manifest your hope. 

That's why the Liar (John 8:44) and thief (John 10:10) wants us to lose hope. He knows all too well that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12-NKJV) He knows that if we don't remain hopeful, it can make our hearts hard and nothing good comes from that (Proverbs 28:14).

So, what are you hoping for?

Whatever it may be, remember that hope is not just about "getting what you want" but trusting, *confidently*, that even if you don't, things will still turn out for the best.

That's an amazing promise that faith offers.

By all means...fight hard and intentionally...

To not give away your hope!

Luxuriant,

SRW

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"On Fire": BE YOU. IT RESONATES.

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This is probably the shortest post I've ever written.

The pic speaks volumes. PSA for today: BE YOU. IT RESONATES.

(Oh and pick up a copy and show your support. Congrats Lupita!)

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: (Pass It Along to Some Male Friends) 'The Power Of Monogamy'

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Yeah...

There are a lot of people in the world who fight against monogamy but this kind of article (aside from verses in the Word like "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband."--I Corinthians 7:12-NKJV) poses a great "argument" for why it is such a relevant and necessary and powerful thing. It's penned for men so be sure to pass it along to some you know; however, there's a lot of wisdom in here for us women too. Nice job, Chey B. Spoken like a married man who knows a bit about God's intention for an intimate relationship between a man and woman. A husband and his wife (Straight copy and paste):

Let me start off simply by saying that there a billions of women in the world, and you only need one. No matter where you go, you will always find extraordinary women who will blow your mind and the fact is, you simply cannot have them all. There will be tall women, short women, big women, small women, and women whose curves are so unbelievable you can’t even describe. While it may be fun to chase as many women as your heart desires at the beginning stages of your life, it will prove to add very little value to your life as you get older and start walking in your purpose. Don’t feel bad, it’s perfectly normal for a man to explore and see what’s out there in the world, this is why they call getting married “settling down”.

Not to mention, the more successful you become as a man, the more women will want to associate with you. And not just any women, but the ones you’ve always dreamed of. You know, coke bottle shape, gorgeous face, great in bed, don’t talk much and on top of that is a “magician” and knows when to disappear. The one’s that don’t ask questions, will go along with anything, and don’t require much. The reason why these women should remain in your dreams is because they won’t add value to your life in reality. They will take you further and further away from being the quality man of substance you are destined to be and from walking in your purpose.

Once you grow up and mature, you will look back to those same women who didn’t have any requirements, no standards, and were down for whatever and say “I need more”. When you reach a higher level of maturity, your values will shift and you will begin to go after what you need as opposed to what you want. This state of mind will humble you and give you a greater appreciation not only for yourself, but for other women. Learning to value and respect women is the key that will unlock the door to more positive relationships with other women, which will eventually lead to your happiness in a healthy relationship. This process doesn’t happen overnight, it will take you some time to experience the bad before you appreciate the good.

After ripping and running from your mid teens into your late 20s and lord forbid your 30s+, the world around you will start to look at your life and want to see progress/results. How does your personal decisions in relationships effect others people’s association with you? I’m glad you asked. Your relationship choices shows your level of discipline, commitment, loyalty and devotion or the lack thereof. We all reserve the right to be selective when it comes to our relationships, however the choices we make will heavily influence how closely people on the outside looking in will choose to associate. People want to know that you are committed to something, whether it be getting back into shape, saving money, charitable giving, community service, raising a child, marriage or whatever.

The beauty in committing to someone or something in your life is the value the comes from it. When you commit to something, not only are you showing the recipient that you value the relationship, but you will inevitably be on the receiving end that comes with that union. Loyalty may be a small word, but it’s a BIG thing. Maturity and growth is a part of growing up and it’s essential to your success in life. You might have a favorite shirt that you liked that over time you simply grew out of, and when you grew out of it you were forced to go out and look for something better. Had you held onto that shirt, not only will it begin to depreciate, but the people around you will also see that your fear and/or reluctance to upgrade.

When it comes to relationships, women who are seriously looking to commit want to make sure that they are teaming up with the best. She wants the security of knowing that you are capable of taking care of yourself and have the heart to take care of her. The first thing she’ll notice is the way you dress and carry yourself. This information should give you a heads up on how to prepare yourself for a relationship with other people. It’s time to let go of the old, and upgrade to the new. That means a new attitude, new perspective, new heart, mind and spirit.

For so long, we’ve been cheating ourselves and spreading ourselves thin thinking that the best thing that could ever happen to us is getting fast and easy benefits from a woman. Getting benefits from a woman that you did not earn only yields short term success. It’s only a matter of time before either you get bored, or she requires more. Hopping from one woman to the next not only wastes your energy and money, but it always waste valuable time that you can never get back, and it effects your credibility as a quality man of substance.

The same way us men don’t want a woman who’s been around the block and back is the same way women feel. There’s no pride in knowing that the women you work with, went to school with, or for heaven’s sake went to church with have all had a turn with you. It’s just as shameful for a woman who’s dating a manwhore as it is for you dating a woman with a promiscuous past. A man should take pride in saving himself for marriage just as a woman should, and protect him name, reputation, and credibility at all costs. After all, this is the name that you eventually plan to share with a woman, and no woman wants to take on a name that’s tainted.

But never mind the marriage for a second, as a man it’s important that you have respect amongst your peers. If you don’t have respect amongst your peers, then they certainly won’t have respect for your marriage. Marriage is a full-time job, so before stepping into it, take on the job of being single, building up a positive name for yourself, getting your life in order, and preparing for the obstacles that will come when inviting a woman into your life. A marriage is a partnership, however you first have to become a suitable partner. Being in a marriage will be so much more enjoyable when you know your value and are able to consistently contribute your share to the union.

One of the most popular reasons for divorce is sheer boredom, followed swiftly by finances. While single, you have the opportunity to work on both having your finances in order and developing a tolerance for other people’s thoughts and feelings. Committing to something for life is not something that you’re being forced to do, so if you choose to go through with marriage, have a plan! If you don’t plan for your marriage to succeed, then your marriage will eventually fail. If you plan accordingly, marriage will add tremendous value to your life and will continue to add value until death.

Many people bail out on marriage because it’s not what they thought it would be. When many people think of marriage, they foolishly believe that there won’t be any struggles, and that is far from true. In a marriage, you will experience new problems, problems that didn’t apply to a sex-driven relationship where both parties were simply looking to have a good time. No, you see now there are real issues, real responsibilities, and real crisis that demand your attention. You will say to yourself “This is all new to me” on many occasions, just know that your wife will be saying the same thing. This is all new to you both because you have upgraded your relationship and are transitioning into new things.

What a married couple has that a regular boyfriend/girlfriend relationship doesn’t is the promise that no matter what, they will stick together through the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s the power of monogamy, you’ve got somebody who’s got you. You ever look on an application where it asks you your “relationship status”? It never asks about the girlfriend because the word “girlfriend” in and of itself is enough evidence to show that the relationship has not yet grown to it’s full maturity, so it is too soon to even acknowledge. A marriage on the other hand indicates that you have declared before the courts, God and witnesses that you have chosen to be with this person and vice versa for life.

There’s a sense of pride in being able to declare your love, loyalty and commitment to someone before the courts, God and witnesses. You’ve just done something with your life that will forever be a part of your legacy. You’ve made a name for yourself, worked hard to become a quality man of substance, and then finally you’ve shared this honor with someone else. That’s more than you can say for your past relationships, but this time, you’re committed forever. Part of the reason your past relationships didn’t last was because you never planned for it.

Most of your past relationships were based on everything except the most important thing of all, love! If love isn’t the foundation in your relationship, everything that you build on top of it will eventually crumble because it wasn’t solid enough to hold it together. Yes, marriage is forever but there’s nothing to fear if you’ve chosen the best partner to enjoy the rest of your life with. You don’t lose your independence when you exchange the rings, you gain something new called “Interdependence”. That means that you no longer have to do everything all by yourself, you can depend on each other.

Let me break it down a little further for the brothers who are still on the fence about this “Declaration Of Interdependence”. When you get married, hopefully you will have reached a level of maturity where you are 100% done with flirting, dating and sleeping with multiple women. More importantly, it is my great hope that you have finally found a woman who is not perfect, but is perfect for you. She accepts you for who you are, and is dedicated to helping you become even better than the way she found you. When you think of your wife, not only are you excited about your future, but you have no intentions on ever returning to the women from your past.

What you’ve just done for yourself and for your lady is you’ve upgraded the relationship, and that is a sure sign of growth. First you started out as friends, then dating, then a couple, then engaged, and then marriage. The relationship is constantly growing, reaching new heights and the sky is the limit. If you’re starting to get bored, all that means is you’re not actively working towards continually upgrading the relationship. There is so much you can do to add value to your marriage like have children, adopt children, exercise, travel the world, start a new business, just to name a few.

That’s the beauty of a marriage, you get to upgrade different facets of your life with someone who actually signed up for it. Together you will figure out how to keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on your table and romance in the bedroom. It will give you peace of mind having this security in your relationship which will allow you to be a better man, a better husband, a better father and a better leader. Lacking discipline when it comes to relationships is something that holds many men back from being successful in life. So much time, energy, effort and money is wasted trying to conquer women that he never masters the art of being with a woman.

Women of substance don’t look to marry just anything, they have standards, and after building yourself up to be a quality man of substance you’re going to be more than ready to meet her. There’s no need to feel pressured into getting marriage, I’m simply sharing the value that comes with it. Marriage isn’t for everybody, marriage is only for the ready. If you’re going to make a life-long commitment, build yourself up first so that you’ll have the knowledge, the skills and the tools you need to maintain it. Happy wife, happy life!

Luxuriant,

SRW

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'What Is Disrespectful to Husbands?'



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OK so...

If you've never read the book Love & Respect, it is well worth the investment. A lot of marriages could be spared a ton of drama if the husband loved his wife *and the wife* respected her husband. As a heads up, this is a long disrespect list but what I appreciate about it is *men* provided it. Straight copy and paste:

This blog will be most relatable for wives who tend to be strong willed/in charge whose husbands are passive.

If your husband is controlling or you are more passive – many things I talk about will still apply (God’s Word always applies)- but you may have to approach some of the practical issues from a different angle.  This blog may not be as helpful for you. It is possible to be TOO respectful/TOO submissive. If your husband is actually extremely controlling or abusive, reading my blog may cause you to try to over correct in a dangerous way in the wrong direction. Please seek godly help ASAP and be sure you are safe!

I only write for wives – I don’t write for husbands. A husband cannot force his wife to respect him and submit to him. She must do this willingly and voluntarily out of her love and respect and obedience to Christ.

Just like wives need love, husbands need respect. God’s design for marriage is laid out here in Ephesians 5, and His purpose goes WAY beyond the scope of the health of our individual marriages – although if we follow His design, we will have much healthier marriages.  God’s highest purpose in marriage is to showcase the intimate relationship between Christ and His people.  We are acting out a living parable where husbands represent Christ and wives represent the church to bring glory to God and to help our children and others around us grasp what God is like in a more concrete way.
 

Ephesians 5:22-33 = God’s design for marriage

DISRESPECT
 

When a man feels disrespected, he feels unloved!

Every man has his own list of what feels disrespectful and respectful to him.  Some things are almost universally one way or the other to almost all men.  Some things are particular to your husband.  So – what matters most is what is respectful and disrespectful to YOUR man. That’s why it is important to ask him about his preferences and what bothers him and what speaks respect to him.  When things are not tense – you could ask him about some of the things on this list and get his take on the different items (if he is open to this idea).   You’ll need to custom-tailor your respect to your husband for best results!

Ladies – we have so much power to destroy our husbands or to build them up.  How I pray God will convict us and open our eyes and that we might learn to be respectful, cooperative wives who value our husbands’ leadership and who honor Christ with every thought, attitude, word and action!

SUMMARY OF WHAT IS DISRESPECTFUL TO MEN (FOR MORE DETAIL, PLEASE READ BELOW).  Keep in mind that even barely hinting at these things can often feel VERY disrespectful to men :


Implying he is not intelligent/capable/competent
    

Implying he is not enough for you sexually
    

Implying he is not providing enough for you financially
    

Implying that you are superior to him morally/spiritually
    

Displaying contempt for who he is as a man – not accepting him as he is (I am not saying you must respect sin, but that you respect him as a person and as your husband)
    

Telling him what to do/bossing him
    

Taking control of the marriage/family and not allowing him to fulfill his God-given leadership position
    

Making fun of him, putting him down, criticizing him, belittling him especially to others
    

Body language that communicates contempt/hatred/judgment
    

Implying that you respect another man more than you respect him
   

Implying he is not a good father
    

Undermining his authority as a father

=====

Here are some things that feel disrespectful to many husbands – thanks to the husbands who contributed to this list:
 

Asking him to do something, then doing it myself before he has a chance

Body language – especially frowning while you talk
    

Lack of attention/appreciation

Too much help

Criticism

Interruptions

Not really listening
    

Asking “Why…?” when paired with “Why would you do it like that?” and rolling the eyes.. or “Why would you go that way when it’s easier to go this way?”
   

Asking a question starting with WHY is automatically saying, “What you did is wrong and it should be done like this! How can you not see that?”
    

Always putting herself first and having the family fit into her plans/schedule
    

Second guessing/lack of confidence
    

Being too busy to spend time with him – too into your tv show to listen to him
    

Complaining
    

Speaking negatively of him to others or in front of others
    

Scowling
    

Body language – arms crossed, a look of condemnation

Answering for him

Telling him what to do
    

Undermining his authority as a father – telling the children they don’t have to do what he asked them to do
    

Disagreeing with his parenting in front of the children
    

Insinuating – even slightly – that he doesn’t make enough money to satisfy you
    

Not accepting his answer – continuing to question him
    

Putting him down to other people
    

Being irrationally afraid, as if I can’t protect her from a spider in the next room. A lion? I understand, but I have a gun for that :-)
    

Being critical of my driving (actual safe driving with mounds of proof) 
    

Automatically assuming we were going to call someone for a repair. Let me decide and let me handle it.
    

Asking me if I remembered to pack something.
    

Telling me to go speak to someone or tell someone goodbye at a social function.
    

Asking “Are you sure? ” after I have already given a confident “yes” to “Do you know what you are doing?”  (Peacefulwife here – Probably best not to say, “Do you know what you are doing?” ladies!)
    

In short, only question me once, especially if its something you know no nothing about.
    

Withholding sex from him out of spite or manipulation
    

Cussing/yelling/name calling
    

Arguing with me when I make a family decision
    

Remaining silent in front of  the children rather than supporting me when a discipline decision is made
    

Lack of acknowledgement of hard work/providing for the family
    

Failure to say “You’re a good dad.”
    

Failure to say thank you in general
   

Failure to support a decision I’ve made in my absence
    

Speaking poorly about me, even in a “joking” way to others
    

Correcting me when I am telling stories
    

Making light of or “poo-pooing” something that I think is important
    

“The look.”  It may vary from woman to woman, but you all have one.  Used whenever you disapprove of whatever just happened, whatever was just said, or whatever idea the husband just floated.  May be followed by verbal elaboration of the disapproval, but 100% effective without the elaboration.  The longer the marriage, the less need for any verbal elaboration.  It’s funny to talk about for everyone but the husband who receives it.  Believe it or not, it’s soul-crushing — at least when it’s a frequent occurrence.
    

Obviously, the eye-roll, the sigh, the huff, the pursed lips, the crossed arms, the tapping foot, the hands thrown in the air, etc.  These are all distinct from “the look.”
    

The comment to the kids that’s actually directed at dad, frequently while leaving the room with the child after getting dad’s input and not being satisfied with it.   

 Any disagreement with or disapproval of the dad in front of the kids is exponentially more crushing (and, probably for most men, infuriating — anger being the emotion that immediately follows hurt).
    

Refusing, avoiding, or qualifying your apology when the husband calls you on any of these disrespectful behaviors.  It doesn’t take very many times of hearing “I’m sorry I said that in front of the kids, but you [reiteration of the original complaint/criticism and/or addition of another].”  Why seek an apology if it’s only going to net another insult?
    

Keeping “your” finances separate from the “family’s” finances.
    

Blaming your husband for economic circumstances beyond his control — loss of a job, difficulty finding a job, diminished cash flow because customers are slow in paying, etc.  NOTE:  Complaining about the circumstances or wishing out loud for different circumstances feels like blame to your husband.  Find a way to commiserate with him about the circumstances without complaining about them.
    

Holding a grudge against your husband for economic circumstances that were within his control but turned out differently than he expected.
    

Complaining about an offense that he committed, usually unintentionally, and then not letting him fix it, or even attempt to.
    

Giving him your input (which he solicited) for an important decision — choice of a church, choice of a house, etc. — and then rejecting all the choices he comes up with, even if they meet all your stated criteria and nothing else does.  Bonus points for holding a grudge if he goes ahead and picks one of those choices, whether it works out ok or not.
    

Remaining silent when one of the kids complains that dad won’t listen or doesn’t care, rather than actively attempting to defend dad, when dad has in fact tried to take the child’s wants/needs into account but has made a decision that the child doesn’t like.
    

Expecting your husband to meet your need for security in a way that requires perfection or omniscience.  Of course he shouldn’t knowingly do things that undermine your security, but the reality is that his ability to keep or make you secure is very limited.
    

Implicitly or explicitly letting him know that, once your early days of poverty are behind you (those days when you told him that as long as you had each other, you had enough), you are going to be very unhappy about any prospect of being back there again, for whatever reason.
    

If marriage counseling is necessary, communicating (or simply believing, which will be communicated one way or another) that he is the problem.  Bonus points for firing the counselor (or simply not going back) if the counselor puts too much pressure on you to change something.  TEST:  What would your reaction be if your husband fired a counselor or refused to go back because the counselor was putting too much pressure on him?
    

When your disrespect for your husband has become too manifest to ignore, and your husband makes the rather obvious deduction that perhaps it’s time for the two of you to seek outside advice in a particular area (from a pastor, marriage counselor, financial counselor, etc.), reject the outside advice if it is in line with what your husband was doing or recommending.  Put him in a can’t win situation so that there’s no authority you’ll submit to and there’s no one whose endorsement of your husband will have any meaning to you.
    

If there are theological non-essentials on which you disagree (Calvinism vs. Arminianism (or just 4-point Calvinism vs. 5-point Calvinism), mode of baptism, music, determining the will of God in a decision, etc.), behave as if his view is dangerous.
    

Insist that your standards for acceptable family entertainment be the governing standards, and let it be known every time your husband’s choices stray from your standards.  Bonus points if you can criticize him, preferably in front of the kids, when a protective measure he has attempted to use (a language filter, fast forwarding, etc.) isn’t 100% effective at eliminating the content he was trying to avoid.
    

Live in fear because you can’t trust God to take care of you through your husband or, if necessary, in spite of your husband.
    

Attach catastrophic significance to every personal and parenting choice out of fear that if you and your husband do not “measure up,” God will punish you, including by allowing your children to become prodigals.  [Bonus points if you can, with a straight face, agree that God doesn't behave that way but arrive at the same level of fear anyway because "actions have consequences."]
    

When put on the spot to compliment your husband on something, focus on his skill at his job and not anything about his performance as a husband or father.
    

Write him flowery compliments four times a year (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, and his birthday) and then live the rest of the year as described above.  It will take him years to figure out that you didn’t really mean any of those nice things you wrote — at least not when times get tough.
    

Generally treat sex with him as a chore or an imposition (when you’re not ignoring it altogether). Bonus points if you can occasionally (twice a year may be sufficient) behave as if you actually want to have sex with him.  You’ll have him thoroughly confused pretty much right up until the time you ambush him with the divorce.
    

Deriding me in public.
    

Joking with another woman at my expense in front of me.
    

Making me feel that I’m less of man because I don’t look as attractive as I did years ago.
    

Making comments about my lack of ability to remember.
    

Doubting what I say until it’s affirmed by someone else.
    

Thinking that I’m not smart enough to know when she’s lying to me.
    

Treating me like I’m a child, and can’t take care of myself.
    

Taping notes to the refrigerator or cabinet telling me what to do, and how to do it.
    

Taking credit for things I did.
   

Changing the channel when I’m watching something.
    

Ordering me around like I’m her personal assistant.
    

Griping me out when I get something wrong that she should have done herself.

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Would You Marry a Prideful Man?'

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Yeah...

You'll notice a theme with the following posts today. I am prepping for a counseling session with a woman who refuses to submit to her husband but at the same time doesn't believe she's pride-filled. It reminds me of the last line in one of my favorite movies (The Devil's Advocate) when Al Pacino (playing Satan) says "Vanity. My favorite sin."

Anyway...

All of these are good reads and something to pray about. Before getting married.

A straight copy and paste:

Pride is a wicked thing. It is Satanic in origin and creates conflicts. It is a straight road to destruction. It destroys promising relationships. It brings a man down to his knees. It does not allow conversations to take place between couples. It is arrogant and self-exalting. None of us can stand prideful people. God despises the proud heart. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). For married couples, pride in any one of them is a sure killer of the joy in their fellowship and where it persists, could contribute to the destruction of their marriage relationship.

On the contrary, humility is a winner. It is godly. It is the nature of Christ Himself (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:6-7). It makes room for peace to settle in in a relationship. It strengthens the other in a relationship. It allows conversations to take place between couples because it listens to the other person and gives him/her enough room to express himself/herself.

If you are planning to build a godly marriage, you will be strengthened in your effort if your spouse is a humble person. But you will be discouraged most of the time if you have to deal with a prideful spouse. The time to ensure that you do not end up with a man God opposes is before you marry.

If your husband to be is a prideful person, the signs will be there. If you ignore them, you are not wise. If you want to give him an opportunity to address his prideful heart, that’s okay. But it Pride vs Humility-2means that you must recognize that pride comes from a heart that is not totally yielded to the Lord. The SELF in him is still on the throne of his heart and is the driver of his life. So, you might consider dealing with this first before you continue with the relationship. If he is not willing to deal with his prideful heart or if he claims that that’s the way he is and tells you to get used to it, then, that’s your signal to run.

On the other hand, if you are the prideful one, then, you are not yet ready for marriage. If you commit to marry without dealing with your prideful heart, you may end up being the foolish woman of Proverbs 14:1. You will end up destroying your marriage without knowing how you did it. Below is an article that compares pride and humility in marriage. It is not exhaustive but it is sufficient to get you started in taking the challenge of pride in marriage very seriously. If you can get a copy of the book Love that Lasts, get it and read it. You will find it very helpful.

Pride vs. Humility in Marriage

A great hindrance to fellowship in a marriage is pride—self-confident, self-exalting, self-protecting pride. Pride is perhaps the most deceptive, pervasive, and multifaceted form of sin, and it plays a central role in virtually all sin. One way the foolishness of pride comes out in our communication is in our love for our own voice and opinions.

Consider this proverb, just one of many that ties our speech to wisdom and foolishness: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2). In contrast, humility yearns to learn, because it recognizes its deficiencies (Proverbs 12:15).

Check out the chart below on pride vs. humility in marriage (modified from Love that Lasts by Gary and Betsy Ricucci).



PRIDE VS. HUMILITY
 

Pride loves to talk, reveling in every self-exalting form of self-expression.      
Humility asks questions and loves to dialogue.
 


Pride is quite content with what it already knows.     
Humility has never found someone it couldn’t learn something from.
 

Pride assumes I already understand everything I need to.     
Humility assumes there is always more to learn about everything
 

Pride assumes I don’t need help.     
Humility assumes I need others
 

Pride sinfully judges others by assuming they will respond negatively or unhelpfully if I am open.     
Humility would rather be open and vulnerable than closed and independent.
 

Pride uses conversation as broadcast time.     
 Humility uses conversation with a spouse to explore new worlds.
 

Pride doesn’t need a spouse, just an audience.     
Humility puts energy and effort into listening.
 

Pride denies what the gospel reveals about our seriously sinful condition.     
Humility treats a spouse as a fellow traveler on the road to biblical wisdom.
    

Humility that leads to intimacy takes an interest in one’s spouse as a gift from God.
    

Humility believes what the gospel says about our desperate need for God and His grace – after we’re saved as well as before.

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Female Pride and Dating – the Good and the Bad'

http://www.familytreecounseling.com/kathysblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/what-goes-between-a-good-relationship-pride.jpg

Yeah...

This author had me at this:

"In the end, the most desperate behavior is that which is governed by fear of coming across as desperate. In other words, what makes a woman truly desperate is when the reason she doesn’t do what she wants to do is because she is concerned about being perceived as needy and desperate."

There is no fear in love (I John 4:18) and motive speaks to everything (Proverbs 21:1&8-Message). A straight copy and paste:

Pride is an interesting quality. It can be very healthy and useful in many situations in life in general and particularly in dating and relationships. A woman’s pride is an essential quality that makes a woman come across as a quality woman – sophisticated, “classy” and confident. However, while some manifestations of pride make a woman come across as more attractive while others hurt a woman’s dating life and even make her miss out on many great opportunities to have more romance and love in her life.

In this article, I would like to discuss one example of “good pride” and one example of “bad” pride – the kind of pride you do not want to have or demonstrate when dealing with the opposite sex.

The “Good” Dating Pride

Every woman should remember that she has one very useful option when it comes to a serious conflict with a guy you are dating – walking away. While this shouldn’t be a solution to every problem, as no relationship is without issues, I believe that many ugly fights, including domestic violence and other outbursts of bad temper could be easily avoided, if both men and women realized that in times of anger – instead of thinking about destroying property or hitting each other, it’s much better to just walk a way – for a short period of time or forever.

A jealous woman, or a woman who suspects that her guy is cheating on her, or a woman who walks in on a guy while he is with another woman, is more likely to lose control of her emotions and do things that she will regret later. These are the times when walking away can be the best thing a woman can do – to show her confidence and to also allow her anger to settle and have her mind cleared before making any decisions about her relationship with the guy.

The Bad Pride

I have been teaching guys to be proud of their interest in a woman they are interested in, rather than being ashamed of it. I truly believe that the same principle applies to women. Too many women are victims of “The Rules” that teach them to be artificially unavailable, to play hard to get, and to not show any signs of romantic interest in a guy they might be attracted to and very much interested in until and unless they are absolutely sure that the guy is crazy about them. Although this might be true in some situations, in many cases this does more harm than good.

I have coached quite a few women who would consider making an eye contact with the guy who they would like to meet to be a sign of weakness and desperation, women who deliberately do not return a guy’s call for days to show that they have a busy social/professional life, etc…  This female behavior is usually governed by fear of showing interest and not having it reciprocated by a guy or by fear of coming across as needy.

These concerns paralyze a woman’s romantic life and especially her ability to meet better and more attractive single guys. A man of quality and independent mind is likely to admire and be impressed by a woman’s confidence and initiative when she is flirting and showing her interest in her own subtle but clear ways. A woman who is punctual about calling and showing up on dates will convey a strong message of being a “keeper” to a guy who is looking for one. A woman who isn’t too proud to call the guy and tell him that she is a few minutes behind to meet him for a date is going to score another big point with the guy who has been around and who has seen courtesy and lack thereof in the opposite sex. In the end, the most desperate behavior is that which is governed by fear of coming across as desperate. In other words, what makes a woman truly desperate is when the reason she doesn’t do what she wants to do is because she is concerned about being perceived as needy and desperate.

There are a lot of good options between the two extremes of acting completely unapproachable and unattainable vs being too easy and desperate. One of those great options is not being ashamed of what you want, being proud of your interest in someone, and remembering that when you show interest in a guy, it’s a great compliment to him – something that will make him feel very good for the rest of the day or longer, especially if it doesn’t happen to him very often (and it doesn’t to most guys).

So, make sure that you use pride to your advantage, and don’t allow it to stand in your way of giving and receiving romantic interest, love and romance when they come your way.


Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Prideful Women Dismiss Good Men'

http://unveiledwife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/proud1.jpg

Yep...

And let the Church say "Ouch." A straight copy and paste:

This one is for single evangelical princesses and those raising them. It was inspired by an…um spirited debate my husband and I had quite recently. We do have spirited debates. One can be a radically submissive wife without being a terrible bore of a woman that her man can’t have honest in-depth discussion with. But I digress.

Y’all know me and there is always a back story so this is it. There is a man in our family whom we love dearly, but his life is a mess. He’s handsome, personable, and charming, but he is in no way the sort of man a serious woman looking for something serious would be bothered with once she scratched the surface.

Nevertheless, he is presently dating a considerably attractive younger woman with every thing going for her, and she seems to be ready to commit to him for the long haul. Reactions are mixed, but most members of our family think she’ll be good for him, help him get his ducks in a row. We however, had other thoughts.

My husband’s first reaction when we discussed it was, “I wonder what you find when you scratch beneath her surface. Something’s up. Otherwise why is she with him?”

My response was the standard response in defense of black women looking for love in all the wrong places: “They take whomever they can find who is willing to commit to them. I feel sympathy for her. You don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman who worked and got her stuff together yet still can’t find a man to commit.”

“You don’t either,"  he told me. Ouch. “And a girl like that isn’t limited to black men anyway.” 

Still, I needed him to go further, to explain himself. Surely he isn’t blind and can see all the women around us who want to be married to good men but can’t find one. This is where things get interesting.

“There is no way you’ll get me to believe that even a decent looking woman hasn’t had good employed men hanging around her, probably a ‘friend’, who showed interest. One of those men could have been the right one, but she just didn’t see him that way.  Not until her life is a wreck, she’s been rode hard and put up wet, and has a kid in tow. Then she suddenly is able to see him ‘like that’. No man wants to be bothered with that.”

I actually agreed with that, but it doesn’t speak to the issue of Christian women, doing everything right, who still don’t meet a man to marry. I pulled out the big guns: “What if our daughters are 27 or 28 and they haven’t settled into a marriage, even with no immorality on their records?”

“They more than likely passed up good men too, because they ‘didn’t see them that way’. They’re my daughters and I love ‘em, but the truth is the truth.” Which brings me to the point of all this.

Why are large percentages of young women seemingly incapable of seeing good men as attractive, potential husband material? I am assuming serious Christian faith here on the part of both the men and the women and am not particularly interested in diverging off into what is commonly characterized as the sexual market place, or SMP. It has no place in the lives of  believers.

That said, even in the church, lifelong Christian women are more inclined to give attention to the charming new convert over lifelong Christian men in their midst, or to choose men who are marginal believers or occasionally unbelievers.

In this neck of the Internet, there are a lot of women who would “never!” and their children would “never!” either. I get all that. But not only was I one of the ones who did, I see Christian women doing it in increasing numbers, so we have to address it. Not all such women are “Churchian” either.

I am beginning to address it more with my own daughters as well, because I’ve given this a lot of thought over the past week and at its heart is the lack of humility. We have raised a generation of women who have a very hard time looking up to men as leaders.

I am a firm believer that if a woman doesn’t marry a man she can look up to, she will have a much harder time obeying God’s command to submit to him. It doesn’t excuse her from obedience, but it will be markedly more difficult because pride will always be there to infect her thoughts of him. It is this  same pride that keeps women from seeing good men as attractive in the first place.

We are raising a generation of young women who have been told from the crib that they are wonderful, beautiful, fabulous creatures, daughters of the King who can do and be whatever they desire to do and be. It’s a bald-faced lie, but they’ve been hearing it all their lives so to them it’s Truth. As a result, they only notice men whom they perceive as wonderful, handsome, fabulous creatures who do and be whatever they desire to do and be. Anything less and they are incapable of seeing him “that way”, and into the friend zone he goes no matter how many times he indicates that he sees her as a potential wife.

They don’t look up to them because they have been taught to look up the the wrong things. Style over substance, as it were. Now that marriage is more hedonic than sacramental and grounded in family, it is much more difficult for young women to value things such as  integrity, faith and a strong work ethic.

Those are just two of the things I look up to my husband for, but there are many more. He’s not just an appendage. He adds value to my life and calls me to a higher standard. I look at him and see things I desire to be. I am not so fabulously complete that he is lucky he *gets to* be with me, which is something I sense from so many young brides today.

Most young women today are being raised to believe that men are not worth looking up to at all. Women are strong, independent, and have worked hard to achieve everything they have- without men. Many even without a father. There is nothing a man can add to their lives worth looking up to but excitement and the ability to implant the seed required to fulfill her dreams of motherhood. Most good Christian men offer only the latter, and we see what happens to most marriages after the children reach a certain age.

Where I diverge here from many who write on this topic is that I refuse to lay the blame for this on the shoulders of young single Christian women, at least not completely. A lot of them are genuinely confused that they haven’t met a man they look up to admire so deeply that they want to join their life to his and be his helper and build a family.

They don’t see the connection between the denigration of men in popular culture, the near ceaseless indoctrination of the idea that they are capable of accomplishing all of their hopes and dreams whether they have a man or not. The Kool-Aid was in their sippy cups from the time they weaned off their mamas. It’s ll they know.

No, I blame parents for neglecting to teach their daughters the beauty of the interdependent relationship God designed to exist between men and women. For teaching them that there is nothing of value besides his seed (and possibly his paycheck) that a man will add to their lives. For giving them such an overinflated sense of self-worth that in combination with the cultural cues and false teaching in the church that they only see the man that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I am reminded of how the Israelites gazed in admiration upon Saul while David waited on the sidelines for his chance to show what God has placed in him. It seems wholly irrelevant to the topic but I can’t shake the image. So you get to share it with me.

*Definitely* something to ponder. Long and hard.

Luxuriant,

SRW