Love Built To Last

Recently I had a situation which left me surprised, speechless and stunned. I may share particulars of this issue at a later date. My natural tendency was to stop, breathe and process what was going on.

To do this, I had to withdraw so that I could gather all my thoughts. However, in the midst of organizing my thoughts, I was slipping into reclusiveness. Unbeknownst to me, I was at the same time pushing away the one person who wanted to be with me, cheer for and support me.

But my bride of 23 years would not allow me to withdraw, be quiet or remain lost in my thoughts. Nope! She took me by the hands and told me, “we are in this together, I want to know your thoughts and feelings. You can’t shut me out!” At that moment I realized that she would not compromise or back down. I was reminded of her deep love for me. I was reminded that because we are “won” my thoughts, feelings, fears and tears are also hers.

Yes, I was reminded of the fact that our “woness” does not work in isolation. I was reminded one more time of what our love means:

Lasting

Not Ordinary

Vital

Empathetic

Thanks honey!!

Understanding Differences Between Men and Women

So this past Mother’s Day, I tried to do more stuff around the house so that that my wife, and mother of our kids, could just relax. While my wife enjoyed her cards, flowers and lunch, she also had arranged her empty Clinique products on the bathroom counter for full display. “I don’t ask much, just for some observation,” she said as she swept her right hand as to uncover a prize.

At that moment, I felt like I was three days late for the prom! So I went into “fix it mode,” because that’s what men do, right? I told her that I would get new products but she told me not to bother, that she would do it.

This incident portrays a stark difference between men and women: women want men to notice things they need whereas men want to be told what women want or need.

A woman’s desire would be for her husband to be observant and proactive in both noticing and fulfilling some wants. This lets the woman know that she is being thought of. Unfortunately, most men aren’t wired this way. Most men would be happy to fill a need once they are asked.

Knowing and understanding these differences is of vital importance in a marriage. It prevents misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations and disappointments. It is also important to be able to discuss these differences with grace, patience and without setting ultimatums. This allows for healthy communication and may also help each person to be more sensitive to each other’s needs.

So how did this play out? Well, she never did go to get her Clinique products. So I assured her that I would take care of it and I did! Now she’s all set…and I’ll try to be more intentional on being observant.

22 And Us

My wife and I recently celebrated our 22nd anniversary. I remembered, she forgot. We were in Cancun at the time, so she gets a pass, lol!

In celebrating our 22 years of “woness,” I thought of some things that have characterized our union. I thought I’d share these:

1. We have always made “us” a priority.

No matter what was going on with our kids, work or family, we never sacrificed our togetherness.

2. We have never taken ourselves too seriously. Life is short and being able to laugh at ourselves has been good for our soul.

3. Praying together has allowed us to face obstacles that would’ve otherwise been very difficult.

4. Serving and encouraging each other has always been at the forefront of our marriage.

5. We modeled a loving relationship to our kids. And although as parents we had successes and failures, we never pointed fingers at each other.

6. Finally, I found out that I love my wife more today than I ever have.

I hope this can serve to both encourage future marriages and strengthen current marriages.

What are some things that have characterized your relationships?

Love Is The Way

Marriage is not easy. It takes work, it takes sacrifice, it takes mutual submission and it takes understanding. Most importantly, marriage takes a solid foundation. 
In our marriage the love of Christ provides the necessary foundation for us to function as “won.” This is a foundation based on sacrificial love modeled after our Savior’s love for us. Not that we have attained a perfect marriage, since we are both imperfect, but this is the love for which we strive.


1 Corinthians 13:7-8a describes the love we hope to attain daily.    

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” This is my favorite part of this “love chapter” because, in my mind at least, it describes the “love work” involved in a marriage. We bear, believe, hope and endure.  

In this manner, love never ends. And this is the way of love. 

What Does Our Marriage Communicate?

I’ve been married 19 years and I just recently thought about what our life communicates to our kids. What have I taught my son about how a woman should be treated? What have my actions reflected about my love for my wife? In turn, how has Lisa’s married life impacted our daughter?

I guess we often think about what kind of legacy we will leave our family. I wasn’t always a good role model, but as I matured in my Christian walk and as the refinement process continues, I would think that I became a better husband, leader, father and disciple. I can certainly say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have seen that growth in my wife.  

As we have both grown, Lisa and I have made it a point to impart the importance of servant leadership. As I lead my wife, I try to do so by serving her. She has done the same by serving her family faithfully and sacrificially. We have been most encouraged in our “woness” by hearing others tell us that our lives are an inspiration.     This gives us great joy. Not the kind of happiness that leads us to believe that we have reached the mountain top. But instead, a humble joy that God would choose to use such broken vessels to speak life to those hurting or those contemplating marriage.  

I think I can speak for my bride of 19 years when I say that in 2016, we would like most of all to communicate love. Not the emotion. But the verb. We would like to reflect in our lives what Jesus commanded His disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In this manner we can be sure we will leave a legacy of “won.”

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.

Unequal Yoking

I believe the third reason for the high divorce rate, even among Christian marriages is unequal yoking.

If one were to ask questions regarding compatibility in marriage, the usual responses may involve political affiliations, values, careers or how many kids a person may want have. And sometimes, unfortunately, no thought at all is given to any matters regarding compatibility. Faith issues seem to be less of a concern according to most research, especially right before marriage. To enter into a marriage relationship based on the afore mentioned items however, is not building a solid ground for a long lasting, successful partnership.

Even when religious affiliation is considered, differences don’t always detract wedding bells from being heard. In fact, interfaith marriages have been on the rise. According to this NPR broadcast stating that 20% of marriages in US in the 50’s were interfaith and this figure climbed to 45% by the first decade of the 21st century. In the same broadcast, it was mentioned that discussing family values and how to raise children within a world view was important but because society has become more focused on individual satisfaction, these concerns have taken a back seat. This lack of discussion leads to problems.

Looking at this topic from a Christian worldview, there is one primary factor that should be taken into account prior to marriage: whether your future spouse is also a Christian. The Bible describes this as being “equally yoked.” Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, where he warns against being unequally yoked, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with the Belial? What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

To put this term yoked in the perspective of an agrarian society which is the kind of society in which the Bible was written, a farmer would yoke two oxen of similar size for plowing. This way they could both carry a load equally and efficiently, without one working harder than the other. Imagine for a moment if an ox were yoked with one of my yorkies. How much would Roxy (our yorkie’s name) contribute? Probably close to 0%!! Well, applying this illustration to a marriage, an unequally yoked couple will have different morals, values, priorities and friends. These differences can create significant problems as each person in the marriage tries to “plow” through life.

This is not a New Testament concept. It has always been God’s heart to give us joy through this parameter. In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, as God led the Israelites into the promised land, He gave them commands about unions:
“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” God’s command was not to stifle or harm His people but to protect them and us.

As a married couple plows together through life, “life happens.” Job changes, financial difficulties, family difficulties, sickness, etc. People with different mindsets, values, beliefs, and priorities can have a difficult time navigating together through this maze of problems. The tendency may be to pull in different directions. It is no wonder why a survey by the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001, found that people of mixed religion marriages were 3 times more likely to be divorced than couples of the same religion. Why? I would venture to say that since Christ is not in the center, The foundation is weak and able to break. However, when Christ is at the center of a marriage two can truly become “won” and be able to withstand the pressures and challenges of life. God’s word relates this truth in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

So am I suggesting that is marriage a cake walk as long as Christ is in the center? Absolutely not!! Even with Christ at the center of a marriage, two imperfect people can have difficulty working through life’s obstacles. But when a marriage has been built on solid ground, on the “cornerstone that the builders rejected,” there’s a much higher chance that life’s challenges will be “won.”

So what if one finds themselves in an unequally yoked marriage? What’s the solution? I’ll touch on that in my next post.