All posts in Marriage

This Father’s Day, Don’t Stop Praying For Your Man!

 In most families, the mother –not the father —  is the spiritual driver.  Sorry guys, but the research supports me.  Studies identify women as the “spiritually stronger” sex – not just in church attendance, but in spiritual leadership within the family. 

I’m not saying this is the way it’s supposed to be.  It’s just the way it is.  And such was the case in my own family growing up.

My mom got us out of bed and dragged us to church on Sunday morning.

My dad stayed home, smoked cigarettes and read the paper.  (It was the 70’s after all.)

I can still remember peeling off  the Surgeon General’s warnings from the bright green pack of Kool cigarettes.  I would leave the warning in conspicuous places – like by my father’s “Archie Bunker” chair – in hopes that he would see the light while the rest of us prayed for him on Sunday mornings.   My prayers went something like this.

Dear God, Help Dad to stop smoking.  Save his soul too.  I really like being his “Squirt” and I want him to be in heaven with us.

Yet week after week, he would sit in his chair, read his paper, and dismiss – and even mock – my mother’s faith.

But my mother never gave up.  

Sometimes, the tension was so thick in our house that you could cut it with a butcher knife.    Other times, we looked – and acted – like the happiest nuclear family on the block.  And we truly were.  It’s just that my mom was in love with Jesus, and sometimes I wished that He wouldn’t come between my parents – and that she wouldn’t act like such a Jesus Freak.  It really made Dad mad. 

But she kept praying.

God first answered her prayers about cigarettes.  My dad stopped smoking over 30 years ago.  And while He won his battle with nicotine, he fought another battle with cancer.

That’s when God first got his attention.

But some men (like some of us!) are very stubborn.  You know the type.  It was through another awful disease that God really got his attention.   But God didn’t stop there.  He took my father from the wheelchair to the walker.  From the walker to the cane.  From the cane to his feet. 

Today, at age 82, my father publically proclaims his faith in Jesus Christ.  You can hear his story and witness his baptism here. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mR1QZH_-WAM 

But the greatest aspect of his story isn’t his physical healing.  It’s the spiritual transformation of a man.  A praying wife.  And a relentless God.  

To those of you who don’t think that miracles happen today, think again. 

To those of you who have stopped praying for your husband, don’t ever stop.  God never gives up.   

Isn’t Father’s Day a great day to keep the faith?

[This blog was originally posted on November 18, 2012 – shortly after my father’s baptism.]

Don’t Stop Praying For Your Husband

In most families, the mother –not the father —  is the spiritual driver.  Sorry guys, but the research supports me.  Studies identify women as the “spiritually stronger” sex – not just in church attendance, but in spiritual leadership within the family. 

I’m not saying this is the way it’s supposed to be.  It’s just the way it is.  And such was the case in my own family growing up.

My mom got us out of bed and dragged us to church on Sunday morning.

My dad stayed home, smoked cigarettes and read the paper.  (It was the 70’s after all.)

I can still remember peeling off  the Surgeon General’s warnings from the bright green pack of Kool cigarettes.  I would leave the warning in conspicuous places – like by my father’s “Archie Bunker” chair – in hopes that he would see the light while the rest of us prayed for him on Sunday mornings.   My prayers went something like this.

Dear God, Help Dad to stop smoking.  Save his soul too.  I really like being his “Squirt” and I want him to be in heaven with us.

Yet week after week, he would sit in his chair, read his paper, and dismiss – and even mock – my mother’s faith.

But my mother never gave up.  

Sometimes, the tension was so thick in our house that you could cut it with a butcher knife.    Other times, we looked – and acted – like the happiest nuclear family on the block.  And we truly were.  It’s just that my mom was in love with Jesus, and sometimes I wished that He wouldn’t come between my parents – and that she wouldn’t act like such a Jesus Freak.  It really made Dad mad. 

But she kept praying.

God first answered her prayers about cigarettes.  My dad stopped smoking over 30 years ago.  And while He won his battle with nicotine, he fought another battle with cancer.

That’s when God first got his attention.

But some men (like some of us!) are very stubborn.  You know the type.  It was through another awful disease that God really got his attention.   But God didn’t stop there.  He took my father from the wheelchair to the walker.  From the walker to the cane.  From the cane to his feet. 

Today, at age 82, my father publically proclaims his faith in Jesus Christ.  You can hear his story and witness his baptism here.

But the greatest aspect of his story isn’t his physical healing.  It’s the spiritual transformation of a man.  A praying wife.  And a relentless God.  

To those of you who don’t think that miracles happen today, think again. 

To those of you who have stopped praying for your husband, don’t ever stop.  God never gives up.   Why should we? 

[If you’re praying for your man who feels far from God, check out Winning Him Without Words by author Dineen Miller]

Who Wears The Pants – And Who Irons Them?

Men pants

“Trying to blend two personalities in a marriage is hard enough, but when you both work – and especially when the wife earns more than her husband – you’ve got a potential disaster on your hands.”

In Work, Love, Pray, Diane Paddison hits the nail on the head.  Dual career families are complex.  And when the rubber hits the road, dividing up household responsibilities can be tricky – especially when both spouses work outside the home.  Should the wife take full responsibility for household duties, just because she is a “woman”?  Is her husband less suited to contribute inside the home, even if she earns more than he?  Is a “woman’s work” primarily inside the home?

You can probably guess where I come out on these issues!  As a wife, working mom and lawyer, I rely heavily on my husband to “hold down the fort” when I’m running to court or hopping on an airplane.  No, it’s not easy, and Diane fully recognizes the complexity of modern working families – a dynamic inadequately addressed in many Christian communities. 

Rather than starting a debate or getting defensive, Diane steps back and takes a reality check.  The fact of the matter is most women are working outside the home in growing numbers.  And most collage educated men (some 71% – as compared to 37% in 1970) are married to college educated women.  We are living and working in a different world than other mothers and grandmothers.  Which means we have some issues to tackle:

  • Who makes the financial decisions in your marriage?
  • Do you have separate or joint checking accounts?
  • How should you divide household chores?
  • Does your husband feel valued and appreciated, even if he isn’t the breadwinner?

Work, Love, Pray doesn’t present easy answers to these questions.  More importantly, it starts a dialogue.  A dialogue that doesn’t draw lines in the sand or throw stones.  A dialogue that gives practical examples and insight.  A dialogues that encourages us to play to our strengths and approach marriage as a team – with joint stewardship as the goal, not gender stereotypes.

How do you go about serving your spouse while dividing up household responsibilities?  Should gender play any role?  Whether you’re married or single, how can the Christian community can better address modern families?

[Continue the discussion with me at the 4Word Book Club.]

Faking The Pain (Part 3 of 4)

I was having coffee with a friend who is struggling in her marriage.  I mean really struggling.  Yet she’s figured out how to get by. 

What’s her secret?  She’s given up all expectations in the relationship. 

“Marriage is about managing expectations.  If I expect nothing from him, at least I’m not disappointed.  I am so tired of opening myself up, only to be hurt again.”

I wonder, is she faking the pain?

While I don’t want to discount her pain – and I know firsthand that unrealistic expectations (or even reasonable expectations) can cause more hurt and pain when people disappoint us – I’m just not ready to subscribe to the theory that one can “manage” pain by giving up hope.

Numb the pain?  Maybe.

Ok, I realize there are seasons when we’re in survival mode – when numbing the pain is the best we can do.  But hear me out.  Have we missed the boat on this whole “pain management” theory?

We say things like, “People are always going to disappoint me.  I only need God to make me happy.”  We marginalize our relationships with other people so the pain doesn’t hurt as much.  We put up walls.  We pretend it doesn’t hurt.  Then, we tell ourselves we are spiritually mature for “managing expectations.”

Is this the best we can do?  Doesn’t God have something better in mind?  And hasn’t he put us in relationship with other people – people who will give us joy, hope, and even pain?

While expectations can kill, life without hope is sterile.  Lifeless.  Sure, I’ve heard it said, “Hope is in God.  Expectations are in other people.”  But in practical terms, the lines are a bit gray.  Which is why I’m constantly struggling to balance these two seemingly competing sisters:  Hope and Expectation. 

How do you reconcile the two?

Why Marriage Is Good For Business

There’s good news to celebrate about marriage.  And the research backs me up!

No, I didn’t just emerge from underneath a rock.  I know the divorce rate is still hovering around 50%.  I know that marriage is about hard work, prayer, and personal inconvenience.  In fact, I know lots of couples who have “split-up” this year – they’ve decided marriage is just too hard, too disappointing, and too confining.

But I’m here to tell you the good news – and I’d like to throw some positive data your way.  Regardless of whether you (like me) believe that marriage is a spiritual and sacred union, marriage is good for business! 

I first thought about marriage in these terms when I read a thoughtful series about lessons learned from elite leaders by Christine Schellar at The High Calling.  As it turns out, marriage is actually a huge asset to most business leaders.  To my surprise, some 82% of elite leaders are married.  And their marriages are a marked component to their professional success.

Of course, this makes perfect sense.  According to award-winning studies (and a recent book) by Dr. Michael Lindsay, marriage provides the structure and support that many of us need in our professional lives – a partner, a confidant, and someone who will “pick up the slack!”

And it’s not just professional men who benefit from marriage.  A couple of decades ago, career women were less likely to marry.  In the 1970’s, birthrates in the US declined, and Baby Boomers (and working women) generally had fewer children.

But the tide is turning. 

Today, a college educated, 30-year-old woman is just as likely to get married as her less-educated counterpart.  And women in top income brackets are just as likely to marry as other women who work full time.  Women in Generation X (my generation!) generally place a higher value on family and less on work than our Boomer counterparts.  And we’re having more children than our Boomer predecessors!  (If you don’t believe me, check out the research in The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 by Joel Kotkin.)

So what does this mean for you?

I can only tell you what it means for me.  Doug and I were privileged to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary this week.  And, as a mother, lawyer, writer, and all-around over achiever with a crazy challenging schedule, I can honestly say I’d never even attempt to be “Superwoman” without my husband.
Most days, he’s the God-given glue that holds me together.

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Are you surprised (or encouraged) by the emerging, positive research about marriage?