My Longest Night

I don’t know if anybody else has been through this, but I; well my wife and I, were recently in a spirited disagreement which led us to do the unthinkable: go to bed mad at each other with our backs towards each other.

You know that moment in a “discussion” when an impasse is reached and there’s no going backwards. There is an option of saying “I’m sorry,” whether or not you’re to blame, another option would be to say “I think we should agree to disagree.” Yet another option would be to stay angry and not communicate at all. You know, the mature thing to do.
Well, we’ve been there recently. The topic of the argument or discussion doesn’t really matter. I don’t know if it really ever does. But on this particular day, for some reason, the topic mattered either because of pride, stubbornness, or stupidity. You know, there has to be a winner and a loser. So our voices got louder as if there was a third-party listening to declare the person with the loudest voice a winner.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, nightfall come and then the awkward time of going to bed without resolution. Do I say good night, do I not say good night, do I say “I love you?”

Do I say anything at all? Do I even sleep in the same bed? What are the rules of engagement? Well, we actually said nothing at all. And it was one of the longest nights of my life.  

You see, even if our anger is justified, it should not supersede love. Just as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26, we should not “let the sun go down in our anger.” The anger to which Paul refers is justified anger against injustice or against the precepts of God. Even this anger however, cannot go unchecked or be long lasting. Therefore, our default  (what ours should have been) should  be to swallow pride, engage our spouse and say, “Because I love you, I would like for us to discuss this later. I love you, goodnight.”

In this manner the fellowship of love is not broken. In this manner two can stay at “won.” And to put it simply, tomorrow is not guaranteed for anybody.

Celebrating 19

19thAnniversaryIt was a rainy day in July, 1996. Although this event was to be held outdoors, threats of hurricane type weather forced the occasion to be indoors. I was nervous about what was about to occur. Was this inclement weather an omen of turbulence ahead? Did I make the right decision? Was I stable enough in my career?   After all, I hadn’t really planned for any of this to happen this way. I wanted to be well established before I tied the knot. Was I truly ready to be a husband? A father?

Well, all those fears and anxieties came to a halt when I saw the doors open at the Merion Tribute House. I know we had invited guests, but all I could see was this angel, dressed in white and a smile that could’ve lit up a New York black out. Her beauty radiated with each step and came to an ever increasing crescendo as she approached me.

I thank God for that moment 19 years ago. Although I was a different man then, somewhat insecure and scared about the future, that beautiful angel has not changed at all. She still gives me strength, courage and confidence. She has also shown me patience, kindness and unconditional love. I have since then become the true man that my angel deserves.

Rob n Lisa Godspell 2014

My angel has always been the wind in my sails, the coffee in my cream, the syrup in my pancakes and the milk in my cereal. So in honor of my beautiful wife, I’d like to share some things that these 19 years have taught me about marriage: First, you can never have enough love. Although we have had our ups and downs, love has brought us back to common ground. Through love we have battled back from a few disagreements and arguments. Through love we have stuck together during difficult times that could’ve easily caused division. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, our mantra has been “love is patient, love is kind.”

Second, through mutual submission servant leadership has been the focus of our union. Not having had a model for leading in a marriage, I had no idea what this meant much less how to start. But as I learned over the years from Scripture and godly men, the way to lead was through serving my wife. In doing so, we have humbly served each other without keeping tabs of who has done more. Love to serve and serve to love became a model for us. Serving in a Christ like manner, we have attempted to model Christ’s love to our children.

And finally, by forgiving one another we have avoided bitterness, resentment and division. As stated in Scripture, we are forgiven by forgiving. This could not be more important in a marriage. Although there have been times when I just knew “I was right,” this became less important as the two of us grew into “won.” It was only by forgoing our pride and self-satisfaction that the importance of forgiveness became clear.

So as I reflect on my 19 years of “woness,” I thank God for His grace to us. I thank my wonderful angel for her love, grace, and forgiveness. I look forward to many more years of our life together and more chocolate cake.

The Log In My Eye- Ashley Madison 

The Log In My Eye- Ashley Madison 

Whether it’s the TV or the newspaper, it’s difficult not to be exposed to the Ashley Madison website story. Of course, there are millions of people who have known of this site for a while. They are the same people whose names were made public.  
These names are the primary focus in a sea of compromised marriages. Spouses may be finding out for the first time the gravity of the problem that they have been suspecting. Others, after seeing their husband’s name on this exposed list, may be as surprised as a person who has received a tax notice charging them for 5 years of back taxes.  

The one thing I’ve seen is a preoccupation that some people have had to see if they know any names on this “knock list.” It’s almost as if the overarching goal is to make oneself feel better about themselves by comparing themselves to those who are “immoral scum”. The prevailing thought process is, “I may not be perfect but I’m not as bad as that person.”

Three points come my mind regarding this whole topic. First, you reap what you sow. In the world of cyberspace and social media nothing is really private. This is a well-known biblical principle, as stated in Galatians‬ ‭6:7-8‬, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

‭‭ Second, the names on the list represent struggling marriages and this institution of marriage is under attack. Whether it’s materialism or depravity, if couples do not take time to invest and truly become “won,” these forces can create division and destroy a marriage which eventually destroys communities. We can all be tempted. Surrounding ourselves with positive influences and keeping open communication can be extremely important in protecting a marriage.

Third, what is adultery? The actual act of committing adultery only describes an action, not what’s inside the heart. A much stronger standard is described in Matthew 5:27-28, in part of a passage in scripture named the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus raised the bar for believers. No longer was the standard of conduct an external, work based pharasitical standard, but one based on what’s in one’s heart.  

Therefore, according to this standard of the heart as described in Matthew 5, many of us can be guilty of adultery as well. There are no lusts associated with this verdict though.

So rather than examine this list of names to see who I may know, I instead will pray more intensely for marriages and take time to closer examine the log that resides in my eye before casting stones on the sins of others.

COUNTING THE COST

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I’d like to get into the second reason I believe that lead to divorce. I have termed this, “Not Counting the Cost.” Any big decision takes thought, consideration, counsel and prayer. This is true for choosing careers, planning a career change, moving or planning a trip. Think of the last vacation you planned. Didn’t you think about dates, coordinate potential dates with work obligations, and how you being out of town would affect those around you?

We spend so much time and effort planning a vacation and a career but our society as a whole spends less time considering the important decision of a marriage. A decision that makes two people united; two people “won”, a decision that has implications for the rest of our lives, a decision that affects all other decisions afterwards, is made with less thought and consideration than choosing what pair of shoes one should buy.

Don’t believe me? Ok, after I said “I do,” decisions of what I was doing after work, on the weekends, or where we should move were made not by me alone but by discussion of two who became “won.” Why? My spouse became part of my flesh and my body part of hers. What happens to my kidneys will ultimately affect other body systems. A marriage is no different. We are now interdependent.

With the backdrop of how two independent bodies start functioning as one, we can now look at how ignoring this can lead to system failure. Imagine for a minute an athlete training for a team fitness event such as a doubles tennis tournament, a team crossfit competition or a soccer tournament. Although these are very different events, if the athlete preparing for his/her respective event ignores proper nutrition, his/her body will struggle. If hydration several days before the event is lacking, performance during the event will suffer. In short, if person training for these events does not consider the amount of training required, the proper amount of rest, the sacrifice that is needed to excel and compete against other elite athletes, he/she will come up short, get injured or exhibit system failure. In other words, not counting the cost of what preparation it takes to perform well will obviously affect the team’s ability to excel.

The same can be said of a marriage where failure to consider the give and take, the sacrifice, and the team work it takes for two to become “won,” will severely affect the effectiveness of the union. Although not a passage about marriage, in Luke 14, Jesus talked about the cost of becoming a disciple, which can have an application for considering the cost of a marriage. In verse 28-30, Luke wrote, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”

Likewise, ladies and gentleman, if we don’t sit down and count the cost of what it means to sacrifice, what it means to love, what it means to become “won”, there will be a shaky foundation which will be difficult to last the tests of a marriage.

What Does “I Do” Mean?

 

I said "I do" and I still do.

I said “I do” and I still do.

These two words which mark the signature on a binding contract seem to have lost their meaning over so many years.  According to the American Psychological Association about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. This being the case, one must wonder if these two words have lost their meaning over time.  Or are they truly being spoken from the heart.

How can the promises that are made between two people as they face each other and later confirmed with, “I do,” lose their strength over time?   How can the commitment behind these two words diminish over time?   How can the love that two people profess to each other simply vanish in thin air?  These are questions that I have asked myself regarding half of the marriages in my family, including my mother and father’s.

Well, as I pondered on this topic, even before I said “I do,” I still never understood why a man, like my father, would dare to make a such an important, lasting commitment if he did not want to be loyal and monogamous.  How could he leave three teenagers behind and establish another family.  I understand that not all situations are the same, but as for my parent’s marriage, the main issue was a lack of leadership and commitment. My father was not the head of the house and never commanded respect from his sons.  He also was not loyal and had no commitment to his own promises – “I do.”  My mother had her own set of issues and broken promises but none of these warranted infidelity.  Of course, after this, trust went out the window.  They had never had laid a foundation for effective communication or the help of the Counselor, so getting over such a tragic situation was virtually impossible.  He then looked elsewhere and left home for another woman.

Those two words, I do, uttered several years before became a punch line.  They became a bed of resentment, anger and lies.  The commitment to “won” became a preoccupation with self.  “What makes me happy,” “How can I have what I want,” “I want, I need.”  “I” becomes the focus instead of “you” or “we.”

I share this story not as a form of catharsis, since I have made peace with my own demons of anger that plagued me as a result of a man not fulfilling his part of a sacred and solemn vow, but as a backdrop to what “I do” should mean.  You see, when I looked into the eyes of my beautiful bride and we exchanged vows, I made a promise first to God and then to my bride that I would love and cherish her, always protect her, work through any arguments, be a servant leader, always respect her, and never leave her.  I also made a promise to treat love as a verb and not a noun.  In other words, I made a commitment to fight for my marriage.

And this is what “I do” means to me. It’s a commitment, a promise before God and bride that two will ALWAYS be “won.”  It means that no there are no obstacles that can’t be overcome.  It means that I commit to making this union work.  Not out of compulsion but out of love.  It means that I and my wife will work on our shortcomings to make our “won” functional.  It DOES NOT mean that it’s easy.  But it does that “It’s worth having and saving.”

HOW DO WE COMMUNICATE?

Ro-Lisa Orlando

Success can come from our differences:

 It is no secret, men and women communicate differently.  Women are more verbal whereas men are less expressive of their feelings.  Women use conversation to search out or express their feelings and men use conversation as a means to solve a problem.  With such diverging starting positions, can there be effective discussions or communication?

The answer is yes.  Although we are made differently, we were made to complement each other.  This is especially true in the marriage relationship. In a marriage relationship both husband and wife bring their sets of flaws and idiosyncrasies to the table as well as their strengths. These however, should not prevent effective communication.  Nor does either person have to be “fixed” as so called experts would have us believe.

Take my wife and I for example.  I am a huge extrovert whereas my wife is an introvert.  Although I like to talk, I rarely talk about how I feel. My wife on the other hand, can do this rather easily.  My wife is a great listener whereas I, well, I’m working on it.  I am quick to want to find a fix, whereas my wife just wants to work out an issue verbally.  I tend to be a bit sarcastic, which is not always appreciated.

In spite of all this, we have excellent communication because we didn’t just give up trying to communicate after things broke down.  Nope, we powered through and got better.  With the help of the great Counselor, we remained committed to improving.  My sarcasm also improved to an almost imperceptible level….lol

Men and women were made in God’s image and therefore do not have to be fixed. We are however, marred by sin, which is in our DNA.  Therefore, we are not perfect to begin with.  But if you know Jesus Christ as your savior, you have access to a teacher and a counselor.  More specifically, this is the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  We therefore, have access to the fruits of the Spirit as Paul wrote in Galatians.   With this access husbands and wives can be reminded of love, gentleness, kindness and self control.  Since God is love, as John wrote in 1 John 4:8, a couple that is has a true foundation on the Rock, will be reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  This kind of love seeks to improve communication.

Well, the truth is that God made men and women different.  Even with these differences two can still be “won.”  And despite what some “relationship experts” say, men and women don’t have to be “fixed.”

Here are 4 simple ways guys can work at communicating:
One, communicate clearly.  For guys this means that we may actually have to tell our wives how we feel.  This does not come naturally, but we can do this as we grow in love.
Two, don’t problem solve.  In other words when listening we shouldn’t be quick to offer a solution, because most of the times that is not what’s wanted.
Third, be a passive listener.  This means we acknowledge what our wives are saying without being quick to offer solutions or opinions.  And the last item, number four, act only when your wife is done speaking and if she asks you to do so.  From her perspective, she may not want a solution as much as she wants your time. It’s almost like playing “Simon says,”  if your wife does not “say,” you do not “do.”

Although a brief review may be helpful, your wife will usually have no problem reminding you of the 4 keys to communicating in a marriage relationship.  Trust me, I’ve been through the training….lol

What Can A Husband Learn About the Resurrection and New Life?

Rob n Lisa Godspell 2014

As I contemplate on Good Friday and Easter, I first thank God for sending His one and only Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Scripture is clear that Jesus, Lord of Lords and King of kings, came to be a servant to many; Matthew 20:28, “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He gave us an example of what it is and how to love, as stated in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus also gave us an example of how to be a great leader in Mark 10:43-44, “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

I also think about how this applies to a marriage relationship. First, let’s talk about love. If we learn anything from God’s word it’s that love is a verb not a noun. In other words, if I am to love my wife as the Bible teaches me to love, then I have to do more than just say “I love you.” I must show and be the fruits of the Spirit for my wife; gentleness, kindness, patience, peace, joy and perseverance (Galatians).

Second, I must serve my wife with the compassion with which Jesus served. Although my wife also has a responsibility to serve her husband, I must be the lead in this. I must not wait to be served but I must serve with love, with patience and with joy.  Serving in this context means being available, being helpful, being supportive, being loyal, and being trustworthy.  In other words, I am leading by serving.

Third and last, as a husband I must be a leader. Jesus taught his disciples to be servant leaders.  This is also the type of husband I am supposed to be; Matthew 20:25-26a, “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.”  Although this was not a direct teaching about marriage, it does have applications to how I am to treat my wife.  If I am to be the husband that brings glory to God I must not only love and serve, but I must lead.  I am to be the spiritual leader of my wife.  This does not mean that I am her boss or her master. But being a servant leader means that I serve my wife and sacrifice for her.

So let this Easter be a new beginning  to your marriage. Just as Jesus came to make all things new, let the Spirit of the risen Christ encourage you to keep your marriage relationship fresh, new and “won.”

Marriage and sacrifice….can’t have one without the other

Everything that is worth having is worth working for.  This old adage couldn’t be any truer than in the marriage relationship.  In the context of marriage this “working for” can be labeled as sacrifice. Sacrifice has a bad connotation in our society when it comes to relationships because we are told to always look out for number one. But we admire those who sacrifice of themselves for others in other contexts- military, physicians, firefighters, etc. 

When you sacrifice for someone, you show them love.  And love is more of a verb than an emotion and therefore requires action. Love as a feeling is conditional and dependent on our mood or our feelings.  True love however, should cause you act in tangible ways for the one you love.  We think of our spouse’s well being first. True love requires sacrifice. 

Men, by nature are explorers, conquerors, and protectors.   The first two characteristics serve well in the context of dating.  But when a commitment is made, when two truly become “won”, the role of protector should take over.   As such, sacrificing of ourselves for our wives should come as a natural extension of who we are.  When we sacrifice of ourselves for our wives, it communicates that they are important, that we care about them and we want wants what’s best for them.  Sacrificing of ourselves more importantly puts us second.  This is not only sacrifice, but it’s the basis of servant leadership.  

 What does sacrifice look like in the context of marriage you ask?  Great question!  Well, I can say I would watch “The Notebook” with my wife if she wanted me to instead of the Super bowl but I would be lying! Just kidding.  But really, there would be no way I could do that.

True sacrifice in marriage means that I would be willing to do whatever is needed for my spouse’s well being.  That means I will be cancelling a planned golfing weekend to be with my wife after a stressful week.  This means that I will leave work early to pick up and stay with the kids if she needs time with her friends.  This means that I will wash dishes after she has cooked.  And it definitely means that I will help her onto a boat if I sense danger in the water while snorkeling. … Well actually this is one area that I failed since I did the exact opposite when confronted with the same situation during our honeymoon.  But to my defense, it was my first time snorkeling.  Ha!

The real take home point here is that when we sacrifice for our loved ones we are really sacrificing for ourselves because in marriage two become “won.”

We don’t feed the Machine

Roses

We don’t Feed the Machine

So what are you getting your wife for Valentines Day? Are you getting your wife flowers? Every year these questions are asked of me by some women at the work. There is such an expectation to hear some great, elaborate story that it almost seems like a chance to live vicariously through a romantic tale. The irony of it all is that usually these questions are asked by ladies who openly complain of their married lives and how much their husbands don’t do. The interviewers are almost dumfounded when they hear my response: “We don’t feed the machine.”

I understand about doing something special for the one you love, which sweeps her off her feet all over again. But why should this be relegated to one day of the year that dates back to the 5th century? Why should the expectation of treating the one you love, the one with whom you became “won” be for only 1 out of 365 days?

Well, before I get labeled as a curmudgeon, I will say that I like to do special things for the love of my life. I like to be spontaneous, romantic and do things that just make my wife feel as if she were a newlywed. But I enjoy doing these things throughout the year instead of one day where society has created an expectation that a husband’s love is to be proved with flowers, chocolate and cards. The only spontaneous, romantic thing I cannot do is breakfast in bed. Why you ask. Unfortunately I cannot cook. : (

However, I like to clean after my wife cooks. I like to vacuum, sweep and mop the floor. What I like even more is to hear my wife say, “Thank you honey,” after I do these things. Not that she needs to say this but to know that I did something special for my beautiful wife is GREAT! To see the look of relief on my love’s face as if she were to say, “I am so glad I don’t have to do that after I’ve just done…,” is so satisfying that if makes me want to do it again. Why? Because I love her and she deserves it. You see, the Bible is clear on how I should treat my wife: with respect and in a way that protects her. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:7, Peter states that if we neglect this, a husband’s prayer will not be answered.  This refers to how a husband treats his wife on a daily basis.  Not on special occasions.

By telling my wife that I love her throughout the year, two can truly become “won.” This is not necessarily done with words, although saying “I love you” everyday is important, but with actions. This is especially true since love is a verb not a feeling. If this is practiced often it is easy to continue. It takes a lot more inertia to do this once a year. Just sayin’…. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Loving To Infinity and Beyond

Rob nd Lisa-Southern Adventure

I have to take a break from my regular post to share the fact that I recently celebrated 17 years of marriage. Neither of us did anything extremely special. Neither of us got cards, I didn’t get flowers, there were no gifts and there was no special celebration.
You would think that after 17 years of marriage I would have sent my wife flowers and a card. You would think that I would’ve made her breakfast in bed; scratch that, I don’t cook.
Instead, we gave each other our past 17 years. Sure, it is nice to get flowers, go out to dinner, a bed & breakfast or a meaningful gift. But nothing says “I love you” more than truly showing love to each other 365 days a year. How do you show love that many days you ask? Well, it’s about more than saying “I love you.” It’s about showing your love to her by being a strong leader, by being her rock, by helping her cook/clean and occasionally saying, “honey, I got the kids and the house. You go have some alone time.”

And sometimes it’s sipping coffee on the front porch and just listening to her. But most of the times it’s by encouraging and affirming each other in everything you do. It’s about being there in tangible ways. But I would like to give a word to the wise: do not attempt this if you have not nurtured your marriage relationship.

That is how a marriage should be celebrated; like everyday is your anniversary. After all, don’t we invest time on ourselves? How is this different from daily investing in your marriage? If two have truly become “won,” it is not different at all. Because investing in a marriage is investing in yourself. Scriptures says it like this in Ephesians 5:28-29: “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”