Marriage Work 

The work involved in marriage can be compared to a home improvement project. When we built our house 10 years ago there was that excitement of a newly built house and and trying to make sure that everything stayed spotless and clean. That emotional high lasted about two years. 
After that, cares of the world and other interests made us a little more complacent about keeping up with the new house. All of a sudden, the occasional dust and occasional scratches on the paint became less of an emergency. There was more of a laissez-faire attitude. Well, as we buckled down recently and decided to do home-improvement projects including painting and staining cabinets and hardwood, we are surprised at how much dust and scratches they were all around. We also got into the landscaping and found that weeds had over taken some of the plants and bushes.


Friends, if we treat our marriage like this, not paying attention to the scratches, dents and weeds all around, eventually this will be all that is seen. This will cause the relationship to become stale and lifeless. The energy involved in repairing such a situation can be overwhelming because one does not know where to start.  

Therefore, I urged those that are married to continually make small repairs, adjustments and tune ups. The life of your marriage depends on it.  

Marriage Valentines 

As Valentines Day has come and gone, I wanted to share my thoughts on Valentines as an acrostic for our marriage life as “won.”

  
VIBRANT 

Letting our love life be lively, dynamic and active. Not letting our marriage life to be passive.    

ALIVE 

Keeping our marriage alive by paying attention to each other 

LOVE 

We don’t just say we love each other, we show each other love daily 

ENCOURAGE 

 Encouraging each other when one may be feeling down. 

NURTURE

Investing in each other emotionally and spiritually 

TIME

In all the business of life we make time for our marriage. Never putting  our marriage relationship on the back burner

INTERESTING  

Keeping marriage interesting by not allowing routine to define our marriage 

NOVEL

Trying new and novel ways to express our love for one another.

ENJOY 

Enjoying  each day because tomorrow is not guaranteed 

SERVE

Letting our marriage life be marked by serving each other 

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.”

Better to Do Than to Receive 

Christmas is indeed a beautiful time of the year. I know this post may be a little late…but, oh well.  The hope in anticipation of something new can be very exciting. We anticipate spending time with the ones we love, we anticipate some time off and relaxation. We look forward to Christmas parties and exchanging gifts with people we love.  
Right around this time there is a natural temptation to go all out and be frivolous as a result of being influenced by our materialistic culture.  

There is nothing wrong with expressing love with gifts. After all, some people’s love language is giving gifts. However, Christmas time has become associated with buying more and more. The true message of the Greatest gift is lost with all the hustle and bustle. Furthermore, the sharing of quality time with your spouse is a gift in and of itself.

This Christmas we took a different approach. Although we did exchange some gifts, our motto has become “have less, do more.” This started with our 3rd annual Christmas Eve ice skating outing. We not only shared falls, but laughs and created lots of memories.    

These memories in turn are how the foundation of love continually gets patched up and strengthened. Furthermore, that which is strengthened, is maintained. And that which is maintained is preserved. This is how two stay at “won.”

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.

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.