How Good Are Your Listening Skills?

Okay men, how good are your listening skills? Would your wife describe you as a good listener? You know…I cringe thinking of that question.

Take a free online quiz to assess how good of a listener you are. Or simply ask your wife, “So, how can I improve my listening skills in our relationship?” Yikes, that’s tough!

Very simple, but that is the thought for today.

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1:19).

Some Old-Fashioned Etiquette

Sorry for the late arrival of this email. I kept having glitches with WordPress. Today’s post is about some old-fashioned etiquette. We probably all need some reminders once in awhile about good manners. Not that we are trying to look like the royal family in Buckingham Palace, but there are some common courtesies that we can bring back, especially with our wives. For those of you who are courting/dating, keep this in mind, too (and don’t forget them after you get married!).

Here is a great cheesy video from 1953 about good manners. It is about 10 minutes long, but it really does have some good concepts in it about manners.

Some Old-Fashioned Etiquette

  1. Put the phone away. If you are out on a date with your wife, put the phone away. You are not the President, and most things people text you about are not a matter of life, death and national security. Folks can wait for a few hours to talk to you. Like my wife Anna says often, “Phones used to be attached to the wall, now we carry them around everywhere.” Don’t even leave the phone on the table, it can send a message that you are not fully there with your loved one.
  2. Table manners. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Flatulence – save it for the bathroom not the dinner table. Wait till everyone has their meal before you start. Remember it is not a race, slow down, no one is going to steal your food (this one is for Aaron).
  3. Say “please” and “thank you.” This just may sound basic, but it is amazing how many folks don’t say it. Sometimes we just get a little too comfortable with each other, and forget basic common courtesy. It happens to pretty much all of us.
  4. Open doors, help her with her coat, help her with her chair, etc. I have heard about women who do not like these things done for them, but I have never met one personally. I’m sure they exist, but your wife is probably not one of them.
  5. Stand up when she comes to the table or leaves the table. Now, this one is really old-fashioned, but I was asking my girls about some old-fashioned etiquette and how to treat a lady, and Jessica and Lindsay both mentioned this one. Guess daddy needs to pay attention, huh? Standing up is a form of respect and honor, in fact, God commanded the young to rise in the presence of an older person (Leviticus 19:32).
  6. When walking on a sidewalk, you make sure you are on the side closest to the road. That means you get splashed or hit first, that’s the way chivalry works, baby! You are her protector, always keep that in mind.

There are many others we could discuss, but this is a good start.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).

God is a marvelous knitter.

God is a marvelous knitter. A friend recently pointed out to Anna and I a connection between two “knittings” in the Bible. One is how God knit the human body together including the joints and ligaments in the mother’s womb (Job 10:11; Psalm 139:13). The other “knitting” this friend pointed out is how God knits together His church with its joints and ligaments (Colossians 2:19).

“…and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God (Colossians 2:19).

In both instances, God gets the glory. The growth is from God, Paul said. That precious baby and the church both serve as a testimony to the marvelous power of God.

God is a marvelous knitter.

Considering that today is Tuesday, and our theme on Tuesdays is a focus on marriage and honoring the women in our lives, I want to take this concept and apply it to marriage.

Is not God also “knitting” two people together to become “one” in every sense of the word? Think of the marvelous handiwork of God in our marriages. When we embrace the working of God in our marriages, God will knit us together in body, mind, soul and spirit.

He made them one (Malachi 2:14-15). “So then they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6).

That happens through being one with the word of God and prayer. We are knit together by our common experiences. This also happens through facing the trials and pain of life together. God’s knitting is not always the most pleasant of experiences for us. Growth and the creation of true spiritual union in marriage will sometimes take pain. There will also be great times of joy. But what is the end product in God’s eyes? A glorious marriage that resembles the beautiful relationship Christ has with the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

So, embrace God’s knitting. He is a beautiful artist and His handiwork is second to none, especially when you see what He can do with a marriage.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all (Psalms 34:17-19).

Is it okay to cry? The righteous cry, this passage says. That is a fact. We cry sometimes. Grief is part of our lives. This passage also says that “many are the afflictions of the righteous.” We all face various trials and adversity; I may not be going through what you are going through, but we all face afflictions and pain in life. I may not be able to understand your pain, but I can understand pain.

Where is God when I am hurting? Psalm 34 says “God is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God’s promise to the Christian is so comforting, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Do I have to grieve “perfectly” for God to stay with me? Is there a “better” way to grieve? Sometimes we are tempted to say that someone is handling adversity “better” than another? What does that mean? The grieving process can appear plain ugly sometimes. One person may internalize it all, another may pour it all out with great volume, and another may just focus on keeping busy to suppress the pain. Which is “better”?

Remember that Elijah was ready to die. He asked God to kill him. Elijah in his fear, grief and depression made some unrealistic statements. Did God abandon him? Was God standing aloof and distant until Elijah “got a grip”? Read 1 Kings 19 to see how compassionate the Lord was with Elijah.

If we read the Psalms we will see people in great pain who just pour out their hearts to God. They ask God why. Their hearts wonder where God is, because they feel abandoned. Did God abandon them? Did God remove Himself from them because they didn’t grieve the right way?

We all grieve differently, not necessarily better. I must not place my expectations and understanding of how to grieve upon others. If God is near to the brokenhearted, then that’s where I need to be when someone is brokenhearted, even if they may get a little scary in their pain.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle (unruly), encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Marriage Advice from Elderly Couples

For today here are a few YouTube videos of great marriage advice from elderly couples. These lovely couples have all been married for around 70 to 80 years! Take some time to listen to and consider their relationship advice.

Marriage Advice from Elderly Couples

Couple Celebrate 81st Anniversary, Shares Secret to Marriage

Couple Celebrates 81st Anniversary

Notice how they hold hands and talk about how to deal with disagreements.

105 Year Old Woman’s Marriage Advice

105 Year Old Woman’s Marriage Advice

How to Make a Marriage Last for 70 Years

How to Make a Marriage Last for 70 Years

Man-Made Climate Change

Lots of discussion and attention has been given over the years to man-made climate change. No, I am not diving in to that mess, I am just using that phrase to talk about a different “climate.” This climate is clearly under our control, and our behavior directly affects it. The climate we will consider today is the one in our homes, specifically our marriages.

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9).

Yesterday, we saw how God views complaining. It is a big deal to Him. He wants us to be thankful. Words of gratitude, blessing and praise should be regular parts of our speech. Christ set us free from darkness and sin so that we would be His kingdom priests, proclaiming His praises (1 Peter 2:9).

This is not to say that we never deal with problems or discuss them. It doesn’t mean we are never discouraged and hurting. Life has real pain and trials. Ignoring, suppressing or minimizing problems is not what God wants. Jesus wept, Paul despaired, and Elijah was depressed.

“Climate” by definition means weather conditions over a long period of time. That is different from today’s weather. Someone may have a bad day or week, just like it might on rare occasion snow in the South. I’m talking about our “climate” as men. What is our consistent pattern of behaviors and attitudes at home?

What I do want to focus on today is specifically our attitude and words around our wives. It becomes very easy to complain. Sometimes being negative and cynical is as comfortable as our favorite recliner. We can settle in to a really nice whine and grumble about all that isn’t right in the world. We can get tired and overwhelmed, and we begin to see problems everywhere. What the kids aren’t doing right. How the wife isn’t doing what she should. The house and car repairs. Health. Finances. Politics. My job and my boss stink.

Husbands, take inventory. Is there a critical, negative, cynical, complaining dark storm cloud over us? If we find ourselves in that negative mindset and we are grumpy about everything, how does that affect the climate of the home? What position does that put our wives in?

Man-Made Climate Change

If God advised us to live joyfully with our wives, and to “eat your bread with joy,” how do we accomplish that?

Try to smile. Really, I don’t mean to be flaky here, but just try to smile…at your wife. Even when all you want to do is gripe…look at your beautiful wife and smile. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).

Of course and always, pray! Lord, help transform this grumpy old troll. Help me Lord to see the joy and blessings you have showered me with.

Consciously look around for blessings. Force yourself to see what is going right, and verbally acknowledge it. We have to teach our mouths to do this, because it does not come naturally.

Consider the following Proverb:

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:23-24).

What kind of “man-made climate change” are we producing in the home?

The 5 Love Languages

Last week in response to the article about Valentine’s Day, I received a note from a friend and brother, Geoff, who emphasized the importance of the 5 Love Languages. He made the personal observation that his wife could care less about the gifts, but really appreciates acts of service, like cleaning the kitchen while she is away from the house.

If you are not familiar with the 5 Love Languages book by Dr. Gary Chapman, it would be a great book to read. We all speak different love languages, according to Dr. Chapman, meaning we all communicate and receive love in different ways.

Here are the 5 Love Languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Physical Touch
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Gift Giving
  5. Quality Time

Here is a short trailer on Gary Chapman’s YouTube channel that illustrates the 5 languages.

Learn your love language – Use this link to take the quiz to learn your love language.

This is so important because we sometimes are trying to speak our own language to our spouse when that is not how she communicates love at all. A simple example would be if a wife wants words of affirmation, but a husband is giving gifts or acts of service, she is not receiving what she really needs. He can give gifts all day, but if his words are not affirming her preciousness and value, then the gifts have no value.

Have you ever had someone buy you a gift for Christmas or your birthday, but the gift was really something that person likes, not what you like at all? They didn’t really consider your interests and personality, they thought of what they would like to receive. This is that very same concept behind the love languages. Am I considering how my wife communicates and receives love, or am I trying to demonstrate love based upon how I communicate and receive love?

Paul makes this point in Philippians about considering the needs and interests of others above our own. Let’s meditate upon this in our marriages today, men.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:3-5).

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, men. Make sure that you get her flowers at the gas station on the way home…yes, just kidding.

Over the years, I sometimes get caught up in the thinking that that I have to buy the really expensive gift, or take her on some lavish trip. Those things would be nice, but that is not what Anna wants.

For example, we were watching a Jack Hanna show recently where he and his wife were in South America swimming with dolphins. Awesome! Anna loves dolphins and I know that would be an incredible trip. Of course, I begin to think that would be the ultimate. She however, says, “You know, Aaron, that would be great, but really what I want are a few ducks to raise.” A few ducks? Seriously…that’s my wife. A few bucks for a few ducks.

Another example is for this Valentine’s Day. Anna told me what she wanted. “I want the new Troll movie, and Dove Chocolate.” Now, I can start analyzing and think of something that she REALLY would like, some incredible gift, but she told me what she wanted and she meant it. She got the Troll movie and Dove Chocolate. She was ecstatic.

I’m not saying this is the same for every relationship. If you get the Troll movie and Dove Chocolate for your wife today, you may be in the doghouse. What I am saying is…listen to her. She most likely is telling you what she likes and what she wants. Not all gifts are going to be expensive. However, if your wife is telling you that she needs that weekend getaway, then get saving and planning and make it happen.

Remember to pay attention to the little things. Sure there are times for more expensive gifts and a cool vacation, but don’t forget the little things. They are not little to her.

Showing Endearment

Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife (Genesis 26:8).

Isaac went into Philistine territory, and was afraid that the men there would steal his wife and kill him, so he lied about being married to Rebekah. However, in time, he could not hide his affection for his wife, and he was “caught” showing affection to Rebekah. Other versions say Isaac was “laughing” with Rebekah (ESV), or he was “caressing” her (NASB). Young’s Literal Translation says he was “playing” with Rebekah.

I love the next verse where Abimelech king of the Philistines said, “Quite obviously she is your wife” (Genesis 26:9). Quite obviously. Something to think about men, isn’t it?

In years past, I’ve heard preachers ask the question, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Great question, but I want to take that concept and apply it to our marriages. Would you have been “caught” showing endearment to your wife? I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about intimacy, affection and tenderness. Two people who truly love to be around each other. A man who is madly in love with his wife, and he can’t help showing it to her.

Showing Endearment

Is your wife your sweetheart? Rebekah was Isaac’s sweetheart, and that fact could not be hidden, to Rebekah nor to others observing. Do we play with our wives? Are we daily showing endearment to our wives?

A man told me one time that he could go into a restaurant and tell you which couples were dating and which couples were already married. His observation (right or wrong, it was his observation) was that the couples who were dating were looking deeply into each other’s eyes and talking and laughing. The married couples were just looking down and eating, with the occasional word to each other. Now I know that is not true for all couples, but there is some general truth in this observation.

Men, in most marriages, for many different reasons the intimacy and tenderness may have been lost, but it can be rebuilt. Fight hard for this in your marriages, men, make your wife your sweetheart again. Don’t forget to notice her perfume. Compliment her genuinely. Come up behind her and just hold her. Touch her lovingly and tenderly. Find ways to “play” with her; just have some fun together. Be creative. Keep your eyes on her, and only on her.

Rebekah was “quite obviously” Isaac’s wife.

Links to Resources for Dealing With Pornography

Men, here are some links to resources for dealing with pornography. The reality is that either you or someone close to you is struggling with this enslavement and destructive addiction. Please take some time to look at the following resources. If you are fighting this addiction alone, please come to the light. Expose the sin to God, to your loved ones, and to those who can help you (Ephesians 5:11; James 5:16; Psalm 51).

If this is not your temptation, then understand that someone you love is dealing with it right now. Use these resources to prepare yourself to help others, so that “they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26; James 5:19-20; Galatians 6:1-5).

A book by Heath Lambert, “Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.”

A book by Jason Hardin, “Hard Core: Defeating Sexual Temptation with a Superior Satisfaction.”

Covenant Eyes – Accountability Software for your computers, tablets and phones. It is worth the monthly expense to have this software on all your devices, and on your children’s devices. Even if you don’t think this is a problem in your household, it will provide the safety and peace of mind desperately needed in this technological bombardment of evil in which we live.

Covenant Eyes Blog – This website has a lot of helpful articles, not only on dealing with pornography, but on the healing of the relationships.

It is worth the fight, men.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).