Marriage from A to Z

Principles for a Successful Marriage

Can we “LIVE” together?

living together

Thanks to social distancing many couples are being forced to actually live together.  I say forced because before COVID-19 couples were used to coming and going and spending very little time together in their own homes.  Unless you work with your spouse, you probably spend more time away than together. Going to work, commuting and whatever other activities in the course of a day are enough to leave very little time for connecting as a couple.  With the exception of essential workers, we have all been encouraged to stay home.  Staying home means couples and families are actually learning to live together like never before.

Let’s look at the word “LIVE” and see what it really means.   To live is to dwell or reside.  To dwell is to stay as a permanent resident or for a considerable time.   When we add the word together it means that we are dwelling or residing at the same time, simultaneously.  Psalm 133 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  

Before COVID-19 many couples and families were spending very little time dwelling/living together.  Unfortunately, some actually like it that way because they feel like less is best.  However, let’s focus on the positive and take on the challenge to actually “LIVE” together. 

L  =   Love and learn as much as you can about your spouse and your children.  Find out what makes them feel loved.  What’s their love language?  (Gifts, Quality time, Words of Affirmation or Acts of Service)  Make every effort to give each family member the love that they need.  I have heard several couples say that for the first time they are actually learning what their spouse does at work.  If you have school-aged children, be sure that they are continuing to learn.  What are you learning during this season?

I = Imitate Christ.  Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you.”  This means that we should imitate Christ.  What are some of the things that Jesus did?  He fasted and prayed, praised God, spent time in the presence of God, He was kind, humble, compassionate, forgiving and went from place to place sharing the Gospel.  Jesus was willing to do the will of His Father.  He loved the unlovely, he supplied needs, did to himself to meet the needs of others, He had mercy on people and extended grace.  Wow!  I could go on and on but imagine if we would just put some of these things into practice.  The more we imitate Jesus, the positively our homes will be impacted.

V = Value each other and this precious time that you get to spend together.  To value something or someone is to consider it to be important and beneficial.  People are losing loved ones left and right, life is too short not to value the time that we get to spend together.  Your children will not always be this age, value the time that you get to spend raising them, nourishing them, training them and educating them.  Don’t look for someone else to do it, you do it!  You take this time to value every person living in your home.  You will never get this time again.  This too shall pass.

E = Enjoy each day that God wakes you up.  Enjoy eating meals together.  Enjoy each other’s presence.  Enjoy exercisingEnjoy entertaining each other.  Enjoy God’s presence, provision, protection and His power.  Know that He has a purpose and plan for us being home.

A WORD FOR SINGLES

Living together should be totally reserved for marriage.  I know we live in a world where living together before marriage is widely accepted.   However, if you are a Chrisitan Single, your goal should be to please God even in your living arrangements.   There are so many reasons why you should NOT practice living together before marriage.  The number one reason should be enough.  It simply does not please God nor does it line up with His Word.  In addition, studies reveal that there are so many disadvantages.  I encourage you to be obedient in this area.

Blessings to you!

Carolyn

“Can you be loyal when life’s not lovely?”

 

Are you Being Loyal to Yourself ? * Rafah Sabbagh

  One of the hardest things to do in a relationship is to continue to be loyal when life is not lovely.  Today marriages, families and singles are being hit with some of the most challenging life situations.  People are losing their precious family members, friends and co-workers to COVID-19, health challenges or the stress of simply trying to  live.   Many have also lost their jobs and are having to distance themselves from everyone.  This week’s message is two-fold; I want to encourage married couples to keep being loyal to God and each other in the midst of everything happening.  I also want to challenge all of the singles to keep being loyal to God!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE  LOYAL?

What does it mean to be loyal?  To be loyal is to give or show firm and constant support or allegiance to a person.  To sum it up, it’s simply being faithful!  Are you a faithful husband/wife?  Can your spouse count on you to be there or are you more loyal to other people and things?  I am reminded of Proverbs 17:17 which says; “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  As a husband/wife, we should be that friend to one another who loves at all times.  It’s easy to love and be loyal when everything is good, all the bills are paid and everything is laid.  However, if life is not so lovely right now, can you still be loyal?

To all of the singles, God wants to know;  Will you be loyal in your relationship with Him?  Will you continue to worship, serve Him, read your Bible and pray during this challenging season?  Many are turning away, but God wants you to be loyal to Him.  Faithfulness is the key.   I Corinthians 7:35,  “. . . An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs; Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.  But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world how she may please her husband.”  I know this is directed towards women,  but brothers can do the same.

CAN WE REALLY BE LOYAL?

With God’s help, we can be loyal when life is not lovely.  Human nature is to give up under pressure and to give up when things are not lovely.  However, with God, we can endure.  He is a very present help in the time of trouble.  He said He would never leave us not forsake us.  No matter how unlovely your life may be.  God will see you through.

HOW CAN I BE LOYAL?

Keep praying!  Keep praising God in spite of what things may look like!  Open the Word of God for comfort, direction, and wisdom to endure.  Apply the Word to your everyday life.  Be transparent and accountable to someone who will encourage you to do the godly thing. Seek godly counsel and apply what you learn.  Hang in there and remain loyal to God and loyal to your spouse.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  I can hear someone saying, it’s too late.  If you feel this way, repent and ask the Lord to forgive you and your spouse if necessary.  Lord, please help us to be Loyal!

Until next week. . .

 

Carolyn

“How will you spend this Holy week?”

Holy Week Reading Plan | Silverdale Baptist Academy

Sunday, April 5th (Palm Sunday) – Saturday, April 11th is recognized as Holy Week.  This is an exciting week for Christians all over the world because we celebrate the death, burial and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Each day has a special significance and this week, I want to challenge you to be intentional about celebrating Jesus like never before.

Who would have ever imagined that we would see the day that we could NOT go to church for a Good Friday or Easter service?  We could have never imagined COVID-19 and the impact that it is having on the world.  However, we don’t have to go to a church building to have church.  We are the CHURCH!  We must celebrate who Jesus is and make this week HOLY!

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the word HOLY.  Psalm 99:9 says Exalt the Lord our God, and worship His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.  So we know that God is holy.  The word holy is defined as; exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.  We are told in I Peter 1:15-16 that we should be holy like God “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”  We are to make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy for without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) The last verse that I want to share  is 2 Corinthians 7:11 says; “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 

So how can we make this a holy week at home?  I am so glad that you asked.  A song writer defined  the H.O.L.Y.  acronym as “High on Loving You.”  I think we should all be high on loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul.  Love God with everything that you have.  However, here is my holy challenge for the week.

H = Have frequent times with the Lord through prayer, meditation, worship, thanksgiving and praise in your house. Have hope in the Lord.  Make God your #1 Priority.  Remember that God has us in His Hands.  He will see us through!

O = Observe the promises of God and Obey them.  To observe is to see, watch, perceive or notice.  We must look for God in the midst of everything happening.  Take time to read the Word of God to remind yourself of His promises.  Take a walk and observe the beauty of the Lord.

L= Love God, your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and everybody.  What can you intentionally do to demonstrate your love this week?  Find ways to show your love. Make phone calls, send some love texts use your gifts and talents to bless other people. Take time to laugh too.

Y = Yield to God’s will and His way.  Obviously God wants us to change the way that we have been doing some things.  What has He spoken to you?  To yield is to give up your will or way and surrender yourself to God’s will and way.

May the Lord bless you and your family. Enjoy this holy week!  Thank you for reading!

Until next week. . .

 

Carolyn

 

“Are Couples Connecting in this Crisis?”

The Coronavirus has caused many to be in the house more than ever before.  We were accustomed to being able to come and go from day to day but not anymore.  A husband and a wife would normally leave each other to go to work.   Children were normally out of the house and gone to school.  Our lives, routines and schedules have all been changed because of the Coronavirus.  We are certainly experiencing a crisis!  Although this information can be applied to those who are single and married, this week I am focusing on married couples.  

Some couples are connecting, but many are fighting, considering divorce and are not getting along during this crisis.  Perhaps there were issues that were already present and the Coronavirus situation has made it worst.  So instead of drawing closer to each other, some couples are disconnecting in the midst of the crisis.

We are strongly being encouraged to stay in the house as much as possible.  This means that people who are usually not in each other’s presence for long periods of time are being forced to be in the same house, longer than usual.  Can we just get along? (smile) I know that we have been told to be socially distant (and we should obey the law)  but as a married couple, we need to stay connected and maintain a level of closeness that nourishes the institution of marriage.  

Here are four ways  that couples need to stay connected during the crisis:

  1. Spiritually – The first person that a couple should be daily connecting with is God.  Yes you can connect individually but it is so important to seek God together.  A couple that prays together, stays together.  Marriage takes work and each time that a husband and wife pray together they are inviting God into their marriage, acknowledging that they need God.  Prayer is a powerful tool that keeps couples close to God and to each other.  In addition to prayer couples can incorporate Bible reading, praise and worship to draw closer to God.
  2. Mentally – What’s on your mind? Check our thought life.  So many of our problems start in the mind.  What kind of thoughts are you thinking about your spouse?  Are they good or bad, positive or negative?   Your thought life could be the very thing that damages your marriage relationship.  Philippians 4:8 says; “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”
  3. Emotionally –  How are you emotionally?  Are you happy, sad, angry, fearful, disgusted, etc?  Your emotions affect the way that you treat your spouse, children and others.  Depending upon how you are processing the Coronavirus, working from home, homeschooling, multi-tasking, social distancing and all of the changes that we are experiencing,  your emotions may not be good.  If this is the case, you need to be able to communicate with your mate and share what you are feeling. 
  4. Physically –  I realize that some are having to be physically distant from their spouse for safety and health reasons.  However, if this is the case, you must fight to maintain a closeness in other ways.  Talk on the phone, face time, send a text, write a love letter, etc.  On the other hand, some couples are able to be physically close and in each other’s space.  If so, value and treasure this time.  Enjoy each other’s company by having a date in your house, playing games, cooking a meal together,  watching a movie together, going for a walk or exercising together etc. You may never have this kind of time together again.  Look for ways to serve each other.

It is my prayer that couples stay connected and stay together.  With God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26).  The goal is to connect spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally.  No matter what you are going through, God is able!  Be encouraged and know that God will see us through these unprecedented times!  

Until next week. . . .

 

Carolyn

“Seven Coronavirus Survival Skills”

 

I know we have bought more of these products than we have ever bought before.  So much so, that the stores are sold out!  Everyone is trying to survive!  Originally this was all we thought we needed to help protect us.  As we learn more about the Coronavirus, reports are saying that these items are helpful but they don’t prevent you from getting the virus.  Surviving this season will take more than having these products.  There are some things that we need to do mentally, physically and spiritually.  Here are Seven Survival Skills that I want to encourage you practice.

  1. Savior Start your day by seeking God first. Spend regular time in prayer, praise and worship. Draw closer to God like never before.  Pray about every concern.  God will give you peace in the midst of everything.  (James 4:8 and Matthew 6:33)
  2. Scripture – Study Scripture by reading and meditating on God’s Word daily. Focus on the promises of God.  (I Peter 2:2)
  3. Self Care & Safety Take time to nurture you.  Eat, exercise and do what you need to do to nourish yourself. Follow the safety guidelines being given about COVID-19 (I Corinthians 3:16)
  4. ServeTo serve is to be useful, to work or to help.  Work from home, help family members, friends and neighbors (especially seniors) Allow God to use you.(Colossians 3:23)
  5. Share Ask God who He wants you to share with.  Look for opportunities to share what you have. (Ephesians 2:10)
  6. Sister/brotherhoodCheck on each other.  Stay connected, make phone calls, send a text or email. (John 3:16-18)
  7. Stay SavedWalk in obedience to God.  Apply His Word to your life, do His will and follow His way.  Do the righteous thing.  (Psalm 119:9)

Let’s keep putting these skills into practice!  The Coronavirus is not a surprise to God.  In spite of how things may look, God is in control.  Be encouraged and fear not!  You are a survivor! Special thanks to God for keeping us in the midst of it all.  Also, thanks to all of the first responders who are literally helping people to survive.  Blessings to you and your families.

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

 

 

 

“Vows in the midst of the Virus”

Image result for remember your vows

“I Carolyn Ausby, take you, William Tatem, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.”  Does this sound familiar? I remember saying these vows over twenty years ago.    How many of you remember saying them or attended a wedding and heard someone else say them?   Many say these vows, but unfortunately, there are many who do not keep these vows. “A vow is a solemn promise to do a specified thing.”  As we all endure this season of the “Coronavirus better known as COVID-19, I want to encourage us all to remember the promises of God and for married couples to remember their vows to each other.  

Some marriages/families are being impacted more than others.  A husband/wife has loss his/her job, or is experiencing a decrease in income.  Some are working in front line professions and have to be a way from their families for long hours to serve,  some have loved ones who are sick or in a facility where they can not receive visitors right now.   In the midst of it all, some have loss loved ones and have funerals to attend.  Let me not forget the expectant moms who are preparing to deliver and bring a precious gift into the world.  The job of being a parent is on like never before because many are use to sending their kids to school for a break.  However, schools are closed and many students are working from home.

With all of that being said, I want to encourage every couple to hang in there!  Remember the vows that God has made to you and the vows that you have made to each other.  No matter how challenging life may be, go to LOVE (God) to get love and keep giving it to your spouse and to your family.  God will see us through!   When you feel depleted because of everything going on, that is usually a sign that you need to spend some more time with LOVE (God).  God has an unlimited supply of everything that we need.  He NEVER runs out.  If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure need Him now!  Draw closer to God and watch Him draw closer to you (James 4:8).

I also want to encourage us all married or single to remember the vows/promises that God has made to us.  Here are a few to mediate on in the midst of the virus.

  1. Isaiah 41:10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  2. Isaiah 20:31 – “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
  3. Isaiah 41:13 – “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”
  4. Deuteronomy 31:8 – The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.”
  5. Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you.” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  6. Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
  7. 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’

Let us use this as a time to remember the vows that God has made to us and the vows that we have made to each other.  God will see us through!

 

Until next week . . .

Carolyn

“Can You Disconnect to Connect?”

     Emails, text messages, voicemails, tweets, messages in Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook messages are being sent every minute of the day.   Do you respond to them all?   In most cases, there is something waiting to be read or someone awaiting a response from you. Thanks to the wonderful world of technology, we are ON all the time and people have easy access 24/7.  Staying connected is generally a good thing, but there are times when we need to disconnect in order to connect with the people who are most important.  This week’s post is to challenge you to evaluate your use of technology and see if there is anything that you may need to do differently. 

The question is, “Can you disconnect to connect?”  Do you have periods in your day where you disconnect from it all?  Can you put the phone down for any length of time without having to give a response?   I want to challenge you as I also take the challenge to disconnect for various times throughout the day.  Let’s be intentional about disconnecting throughout the day to connect in the following ways:

  1.  Connect to God – Start your day by connecting to God in prayer and reading God’s Holy Word.  The BIBLE is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and we must take time to connect with God through reading His instructions.  Before you get connected to your phone, computer or any other device, get connected to the Lord.  (Matthew 6:33 and James 4:8)
  2. Connect to Your Spouse – There are so many couples killing their time with each other because of the cell phone.  When you have a date night or dinner with your spouse, challenge yourself to give your undivided attention.  Take time to look into your spouse’s eyes without picking up your phone to send a text, email or to check social media.  When you are in bed with your spouse, don’t invite other people in by being on the phone.
  3. Connect to your Children – When you pick your children up from school, are you always on the phone?  Give them 100% of you when you are in their presence as much as possible.  Sometimes we are so connected with everything and everybody else while we are disconnected from our children.  Remember they are gifts from God. (Psalm 127:3)
  4. Connect to family and friends – Did you realize that you can be sitting directly in front of someone and not connect?  Your body is present but your mind and attention is far away in the phone.  (Check out the picture above)  So often, I see people sitting at the table together but their attention is on the phone and not with the person.

Remember that time is precious!  Value and treasure the time that you get to spend with God, your spouse, your children, family and friends.  Don’t take them for granted.  Disconnect so that you can connect!

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

 

“Myths about marriage”

Image result for marriage myths

Many believe that marriage will solve all of their problems.  Therefore, some rush to get married with hopes that it will fix everything.  Marriage is God’s wonderful institution and it can bring lots of joy.  I praise God for 21 years of marriage.  However, it does not solve all of your problems.

I Corinthians 7:28 (NIV) says, “But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries she has not sinned, But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”  There are some problems that one would think that marriage should solve, but it does not.  Here are four problems that marriage will not solve.  1)Loneliness  2) Sexual temptation  3) Satisfaction of one’s deepest emotional needs and 4) Elimination of life’s difficulties.  Let me explain further.

MYTH # 1:  LONELINESS

“If I get married, I will no longer be lonely.”  One study revealed that 62.5% of people who reported being lonely were married and living with their spouse.  How does this happen?  You can be in the same house but never connect to your spouse.  Especially if you live in a large enough space where both the husband and the wife can physically be separated in their own home.  It is so important for couples to connect in conversation and create shared experiences to combat loneliness.

MYTH #2:  SEXUAL TEMPTATION

“If I get married, I will not have to deal with sexual temptation.”  Although sex should take place within the walls of marriage, sexual temptation does not leave because you are married.  You can be married and be tempted to have sex outside of your spouse.  Marriage alone does not make you do the right thing.  Being committed to God and to the covenant that you made with your spouse makes you do the right thing. With God, we can all resist the wrong things.  God is a keeper!

MYTH #3:  EMOTIONAL NEEDS AND LIFE CHALLENGES

“If I get married, my deepest emotional needs will be met.” I will be satisfied, happy and content once I find the right one.”  This is not totally true.  You can be married and still not feel loved, dealing with depression. fear, sorrow, anxiety and anger.  Your spouse will not be equipped to meet all of your deepest emotional needs.  Only God is able to meet your every need.

MYTH #4:  ELIMINATION OF LIFE’S DIFFICULTIES 

“If I  am a Christian and I marry a Christian, we will not have any challenges.”  I wish this were the case.  However, it is probably the opposite.  Every marriage has its challenges but you may even have more challenges as a Christian Couple.  The enemy of your marriage wants to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).  However, God is able to help you through every difficulty.  Fight for you marriage!

As wonderful as marriage is, it does not automatically solve all of your problems.  This is a myth!  Married or single we must be content with whatever our situation and put our focus on Christ.  He truly is the answer for everyone of our problems.

Until next time . . .

 

Carolyn

 

“Who are you aiming to please?”

It’s Valentine’s Day and many want to be pleased.  Some have dreams of what they would like to see happen;  a romantic dinner, movie, a romantic get-away, a night out on the town,  or maybe some roses and chocolates.  All of these things are nice to receive and may be pleasing to you.  The question for today is; “Who are you aiming to please?”  Your answer may vary based on whether you are married or single.   The Bible speaks to both the married and unmarried about who we should aim to please.

I Corinthians 7:33-34 says; “But I want you to be without care.  He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord how he may please the Lord.  But he who is married cares about the things of the world how he may please his wife.  There is a difference between a wife and a virgin.  The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.  But she who is married cares about the things of the world how she may please her husband.  

Let’s look at the meaning of the word please.   To please is to cause to feel happy and satisfied.  It also means to take only one’s own wishes into consideration in deciding how to act or proceed.  So as singles, your number one focus should be to please the Lord in body and in spirit.  Ask yourself;  “Is what I am about to do pleasing to the Lord?” “Are my thoughts pleasing to the Lord?”   Finding ways to please the Lord should be your number one desire.  Your devotion should be to the Lord and your desire should be to please Him in every way.

Yes, married people should aim to please the Lord too, but their focus is divided with the cares of the world and in pleasing their spouse.  Imagine how different marriages would be if every husband really aimed to please his wife and if every wife aimed to really please her husband.  Are you aiming to please?   Do the things that you know brings pleasure to your husband/wife (providing it’s nothing that is contrary to the Word of God) and God will be pleased.   Marriages are stronger and more satisfying when each spouse is pleased.

I pray right now for a pleasing spirit to come over every reader.  May we all aim to please God and may every married person aim to please their spouse.  In Jesus’ Name Amen!

 

Until next time . . .

 

Carolyn

“What are you thankful for?”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  There is so much to be thankful for, but today I specifically want to give thanks for God’s wonderful institution called MARRIAGE.  Hebrews 13:4 (AMP version) says;  “Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things.  And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste (all guilty of sexual vice) and adulterous.”  Marriage is  honorable!  When I think about marriage and everything that God intended for it to be, I thank Him!

Why am I specifically thankful for my M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E?

M = Mutual Companionship, Mirror God’s Image, Multiply the earth and Manage God’s Creation, these are the four main purposes of marriage.  Thank you Lord!

A = All that we have accomplished together with the help of the Lord. Thank you Lord!

R = Respect that we have for each other.  Thank you Lord!

R = Regular Romance.  Thank you Lord!

I = Intimacy (My marriage has definitely brought me closer to God and has brought us       closer to each other) . Thank you Lord!

A =Anguish (excruciating or acute distress, suffering or pain) Why? Because it has helped us to grow and made us better individually and together. Thank you Lord!

G = God made marriage and He is the Glue that holds it together. Thank you Lord!

E = Encouragement that we have been able to give to each other and other married couples on the marriage journey.  Thank you Lord!

Take some time today to let your spouse know how thankful you are for him/her.  Allow your actions to say the same.  Remember that it is a blessing to have a wife/husband and if you have children, remember that they are gifts from God.  There are many who would love to be married.  Let’s give God THANKS for marriage!

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

 

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