Monthly Archives: October 2014

DIY Relationship Drafting

In 1960 Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500, even though his car was “25 to 30 miles an hour slower than everybody else”.   How did he accomplish this feat? Johnson is credited with discovering the concept of “drafting”. In a nutshell drafting is following close enough behind another vehicle to take advantage of the fact that the other vehicle is overcoming wind resistance…and allowing the second vehicle to move at a speed equivalent to the first vehicle. Interestingly enough Johnson tested this theory. In the race in question he assumed that his pit crew had somehow increased the speed of his car, however when he went back on the track he was only capable of his pre-drafting speed. Realizing what was happening he slid in behind the fastest car coming out of the pit and rode it all the way to victory. Details are in the above link.

Drafting isn’t unique to auto races; it’s likely you’ve heard of folks doing so on the road behind a semi. This is a dangerous practice as if the semi quickly slows or loses a tire then you may be in serious trouble. But studying drafting in this form reveals another aspect. Drafting behind a semi doesn’t make you go faster…but reduces your fuel consumption due to decreased air resistance. How about a third example? In his book “Lore of Running” Tim Noakes makes the following statement, “…about 8% of the runner’s energy is used in overcoming air resistance.  But by running directly behind a leading runner (or drafting) at a distance of about 1 m, the athlete can save 80% of that energy. In a middle-distance race this would be equivalent to a savings of about 4 seconds per lap.” Note that this plays out to just less than 16 seconds less per mile, a critical advantage in a tight running race.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with being a Happier Husband. Please bear with me. Around two and a half years ago I decided to take up running and train for a 5K. I didn’t know anything about drafting as a running technique and frankly I probably wouldn’t use it even now. I’d rather not follow that closely to someone who smells much like I do during a hard run. After running my first 5K I was hooked on running and exercise. I made it a point to get to the gym regularly and to run outside. I did several other races. As I became more excited about improving the health of the body God had given me an interesting thing happened. My wife signed up for a gym membership and we began going together. Then she decided that since I could run a 5K, so could she. In fact we did our first 5K together on October 13, 2012. Since then we’ve done a Warrior Dash (mud and fire and all kinds of fun ickiness) and a 10K (6.2 miles). This weekend I’m running another 5K at our alma mater…and my wife and son will be doing it as well.

You know what had happened? She started drafting me. I had broken through the resistance of being inactive and she followed in my wake. I’m nothing special here; I had friends who had walked the same path well before I started down it. But the point is when I began to make a positive change she was right there behind me, drafting me. There is another aspect of drafting that I have yet to mention. In racing a pair of drivers will often form a “drafting partner” relationship. This is an agreement to draft each other during the race. We already understand the advantage to the car following, but what is the benefit to the lead car? Not to get too much into physics here, but apparently the lead car deals with drag (a force slowing down the car) from both the air resistance at the front AND the swirl of air behind. The drafting partner in the following car breaks up the air swirl between the cars forming effectively a bubble of low resistance. This allows both cars to travel with less drag and therefore at a faster pace.

When Sally began going to the gym and running races I was encouraged to keep training and running. She made it easier for me to maintain the good habit I had started. So even though I had broken the initial barrier to inactivity, she was a big part in keeping us both on track. This is exactly how God works in relationships.

Here is how Paul expressed it in relationship to Jesus, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 1:11

If you begin to make positive changes in your personal life, whether in your relationship with God, or your physical health, or learning new information and skills you will have broken a barrier. You will be a trailblazer. If you want to improve your relationship with your spouse I’ll give you one simple suggestion. Work on improving yourself.

One final thought to ponder. Drafting can affect more than just you and your spouse. If the two of you improve your relationship it will be an example to other couples. Working to improve causes a ripple effect and makes everyone you touch see that more is possible.

Now go out there and get drafted!

Love you all!

-Troy

The 1 Most Common Marriage Killing Habit

We talk about many different types of habits and actions here at HappierHusband.  Some are good, such as how you should talk about your wife, how to truly show love, the importance of praying together and who should have first place.  Other habits are problematic and cause couples to divorce, drag us down due to poisonous relationships, and a very common mistake many couples make.

But today we are going to cover a habit, a problem, something so insidious that if practiced will almost certainly end your marriage sooner than you would hope.  In fact this may be the ONLY habit that is ignored by the VAST majority of Christians including lay people, pastors, and all types of leaders.  Statistically this is a sin that you are probably committing and not even thinking about it.

Galatians 5:22-24

In this passage Paul is letting us know that if the Holy Spirit of God is in us then we will exhibit these characteristics or this “fruit”.  We understand all of these words and Christians spend time in prayer, Bible study, reading inspirational works, singing songs and in classes learning how to better exhibit these nine important facets from God in our lives.

I could literally spend an entire blog post on each one and many sermons and books have been written on the fruit of the Spirit.  Unlike spiritual gifts, where different people have different gifts, the fruit of the Spirit should be exhibited in the life of every Christian who has the Spirit of Christ.  I’m going to focus on just one.

Self-Control

Ok, so this is the Happier Husband blog and the topic is self-control.  I’ll bet you are expecting a treatise on the evils of lust, thinking about other women and pornography.  Nope, not this time.  Ah, perhaps self-control in relation to anger and outbursts of emotion.  Not that either.  Before I hit the main point let me drop in a quote.

When you hear truth you become responsible for what you heard.” – Joyce Meyer

This might be a good time to stop reading and head back over to Facebook.  If you keep going there is a VERY good chance you’ll feel conviction and have to make some changes.  But fear not!

Conviction is not a step toward condemnation; it is a step on the path to reconciliation.” – Andy Stanley

Let’s go back to those verses in Galatians, but not to the list of the fruit of the Spirit.  Did you catch verse 24?  It doesn’t get nearly the press as 22-23.  But don’t miss it, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  The first thing most men think of here is lust.  Ok, stop going there!  Let me give you another quote.  This one is from Mark Batterson’s book, The Grave Robber.  Mark is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC.  NCC has multiple locations and he is a highly sought after speaker and author of other bestselling books.  (Stick with me here.)  In The Grave Robber Mark discusses a conference of elite medical researchers who had one goal, find the causes and solutions to the health care crisis in the world.

They found them.

 

“The experts concluded that they could not fix our problems for us.  Only we can fix them ourselves.  Unfortunately we choose not to.  Study after medical study identifies five behavioral issues that cause 80% of health problems: too much eating, drinking, smoking and stress, and not enough exercise.  It’s that simple, it’s that difficult.”

-Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber

Your body and my body serve as the temple of the Holy Spirit.  God comes to live in us.  Yet we don’t take care of His temple.  Would you fill your church with garbage and never clean it?  This is EXACTLY what we are doing when we overeat, or drink too much, or smoke, or fail to exercise.

I used to weigh 225 lbs which made me somewhere between 60 and 75 lbs overweight.  I dropped 50 lbs with nothing more than portion control.  I made a conscious decision to do simple things, such as no more regular soda, and that I would never eat more than one burger at a meal and I made a hard limit of two pieces of pizza.  Notice that I did NOT restrict myself from unhealthy foods, but in the power of the Lord I exercised self-control.  Then more recently I dropped another 22 lbs by substituting much healthier foods and then took up regular exercise.   Guess what?  I still have these habits and feel much better.  More self-control, the fruit of the Spirit and thanks be to God.

Let’s cover two more points.

Lack of self-control will kill your marriage sooner than you like.  Gluttony, too much drinking, smoking and lack of exercise will surely cause your body to fail much sooner than God designed.  You will die YEARS earlier than you should.  Don’t leave your spouse behind because you don’t have self control.  If you have self control in any area then you can have it in every area.  The same Christian who would never think about smoking a cigarette or getting drunk will fill their plate at the church event with terrible foods and then go back for seconds.  It is EXACTLY the same thing.  When we do that we are desecrating the temple of the Holy Spirit.  If you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you then where is He when you are back at the dessert table?

Here is the second point.  Overeating is gluttony and gluttony is a sin.  We make jokes; we talk about ‘pulpit bumpers’ and such.  It seems to me this is the single sin that is ignored almost universally throughout the church.  I’ll give you a couple of scriptures and let you ponder:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” – Proverbs 23:20-21

If you would like practical tips I am happy to help.

Love you all!

-Troy

Don’t Expect Too Much of God

When I graduated from high school I went to Western Illinois University.  At WIU I majored in Computer Science, then changed to Physics and took classes ranging from New Testament with Special Emphasis on Jesus and Paul to Human Sexuality.  Yeah, the first day of THAT class when the professor asked if anyone had a question a burly football looking type spoke up, “Is this a lab class?”  While at WIU I worked in Student Residential Programs, we assigned students to their dorms.  Effectively my job was to tell people where to go.  :-)

After a year at WIU I took a semester off and transferred to Olivet Nazarene University (ONU).  There I majored in Religion, considered Computer Science and ended up in Geology.  My bachelor’s degree is in Geology, but as you may remember from the post When Things Change, I have been in Information Technology for close to 20 years.  I transferred to ONU for a simple reason, God called me to do so.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;

I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. “

Genesis 12:1-5

In this passage, labeled “The Call of Abram” the Lord tells Abram (who will later be renamed Abraham by God) to “Go from your country”.  If you’ve ever read this section of Genesis you may have read verse one and just kept on going.  After all, the story of Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) is filled with twists and turns, blessings and curses, divine miracles and blatant promiscuity, life and death.  It’s an entertaining read.  But don’t miss the first words God speaks to Abram, “Go from your country”.

Before you read too much into where you THINK I’m headed here, this blog post is not about moving to another place or changing jobs or finding a different church or any of a myriad of other changes.  This post is about not expecting too much of God.

In the passage above and so many other places in scripture God gives people an option, a suggestion, perhaps even a command then tells them what He will do…if they do what He expects.  We spend a lot of time singing, praying, praising and thanking God for His promises, but we have to remember that almost every promise has a catch.  Oh, you don’t like that term?  Does it sound like something bad to you?  Ok, I’ll be gentle to your verbal sensitivities.  The promises of God are conditional.

Ah, see, that’s better, right?  No?  Bummer.  That’s just the way it works.  I’ll give you the most often quoted promise of God, advertised on signs in stands of sporting events for decades.

For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 KJV

Did you see the catch in the promise?  The promise is “everlasting life” but the catch is to believe in Him, that is Jesus.  Salvation is a free gift of grace, but to accept the gift we have to believe in Jesus.

Do you know why I put that whole section about my university years at the top of the blog?  So I could make a belabored point.  God called me to Olivet, but I had the option of ignoring that call.  God told Abram to leave his country, but he could have ignored that call.  Abram and I both had the free will to choose.  This post isn’t really about free will either.  Let me narrow the focus very tightly.

You should not expect too much of God because He won’t do everything that needs to be done.

I like how Mark Batterson puts this principle, “We have to do the natural so God will do the supernatural.

This is the Happier Husband blog and it’s about better marriages through a host of tips and truths that may or may not be apparent before reading them here.  Sally and I have an AMAZING marriage and we thank God for it regularly.  Let me tell you three of the thousands of things God did that I can only attribute to Him.

  • Sally was originally going to a different university, but God brought her to Olivet.
  • An ex-boyfriend of hers and another girl who was pining for him were the agents God used to introduce us to each other.
  • Early in our marriage God had someone give us a copy of The Book That Started It All.

Let me tell you the human responses to God’s work that were our part.

  • Sally decided Olivet was the place for her, even though her best friend was at the other university.
  • When we were introduced I felt God tugging on my heart for her and I pursued her, relentlessly.
  • We took the principles in The Book That Started It All and applied them vigorously in our marriage and taught them to other couples.

Growth in the Christian life and therefore the Christian marriage requires action.  Nothing of consequence will happen unless we act.  We must certainly lead with prayer and seeking and in our spirit we must frequently quiet ourselves and follow the admonition to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  But don’t make the mistake of using these truths as excuses for procrastination or laziness.  Waiting on the Lord means SERVING the Lord and service is action.  Again, nothing of consequence will happen unless we act, and more specifically unless we act in concert with the will of God and in His Holy Spirit.

Here is the point.  God provides a call, or direction, or opportunities, but it is OUR responsibility to follow the call, or accept the direction or grab the opportunity.  God gives promises with conditions and it’s our decision whether or not to do our part.  If we do then we will truly have the “abundant life” that Jesus promised in John 10:10.

Love you all!

-Troy

When Things Change

At my day job I just celebrated 7 years working for the same company.  Seven years.  Frankly that’s a little surprising.    You see before this job I changed positions and organizations every 2-3 years.  Like clockwork, after 12-18 months Sally would find me on IT (Information Technology) job websites or browsing the online version of the local newspaper to see what was available.  The frequency and predictability were consistent enough that Sally said I had “career ADD”.  In the first 16 years of our marriage I worked at 7 different places.  Feel free to do the math (one place was only 11 months J)

All but one were primarily IT jobs…the exception was the first when I was a professor at a university teaching Astronomy, Planetarium Operations and running labs for various Geology courses.  Even then I was doing IT work, developing websites for the department.  Every 2-3 years a new job, new responsibilities, different stress points, a change in pay, often new insurance and everything else that goes along with a different position and or organization.  Things changed frequently.

When I worked at a church where part of my responsibility was supervising volunteer teams and making sure everything went smoothly on Sunday morning Sally and I often didn’t sit together in church.  When I went from a job within walking distance to one that was a 30 minute commute we had to make sure there were two running vehicles in the family.  When I took a job 70 miles away I had to live in the basement of some friends for two months while our small children finished the last part of the school year.  I was home usually only on weekends and for the occasional midweek visit.  Various different challenges came with each change.

Sally was a trooper.  I am sure that every time she saw me looking for a new job she felt apprehension but she never dissuaded me.  I was encouraged, edified, and greeted with a positive attitude by my lovely bride.  Finances went up and down and up and down.  We lived in 5 different places.  Still she was consistently and graciously behind me.

She never let her circumstances affect her attitude for more than a VERY short time.  We have both matured much in the Lord and what happens around us isn’t really a big deal (well, except for the seasons, we both despise winter J).  Right now in our lives we are going through one of the largest transitions we have seen for many years.  New plans, new mission, significant financial adjustments and yet she is a rock.

Lest you think the reason for this blog post is to solely praise my wonderful wife (of course that would be a noble purpose and likely score me some points) what I have really been doing is spending five paragraphs setting you up.  I’m setting you up for a question.  I want you to think back over the time you have been married.  Whether it’s been 5 months or 50 years I want you to consider something.

What happens when things change?

What happens to your thoughts?  Do you find yourself filled with fear and apprehension?  What happens to your reactions?  Are you more on edge?  Quick to anger and getting into fights?  What happens to your relationship with each other?  Do you intentionally draw closer to each other or just let the emotions and circumstances push you apart?

What happens when things change?

Let’s take a look at a couple of passages in the Word of God in relation to change then I’ll throw some other ideas out.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19

Keep this book of the law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:8-9

Notice two important points here.

  • God is in the change. He is doing something new.
  • Stay in His word and do not fear, because HE is with you wherever you do.

In closing here are a few more of my thoughts.  You have the responsibility for setting the tone in your home when things change.  I know this is the Happier Husband blog and is focused on the man’s perspective and responsibilities but it does not matter whether you are the wife or the husband, the woman or the man, YOU SET THE TONE.  Stay close to God, live in His Word, accept His peace and do not fear.  You will feel fear, I promise this, but you don’t have to be fearful.  Trust in God and support each other.  When you feel the pressure and difficulty of changes just focus on what the Lord says.  When it all seems just too much and you feel you can’t hold up let me give you one last verse to get you through the times of change:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Love you all!

-Troy

Danger – Poison!

I didn’t pull any punches here.  Enjoy.  :-)

Many years ago we knew some folks who went to church regularly, loved their children and, although they had some issues, seemed to love each other.  Small things began to bother us and in a relatively short time we determined that it wasn’t healthy for us to spend time with them.   Over the course of our lives this has happened time and again.  We encounter people in various ways, work, church, family and discover that sometimes spending time with them won’t work for us.

Do you know why?  Because to us the relationship is poisonous.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20 ESV

Seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it.  Let’s face facts.  Many of us go about our lives, with days turning into months and months turning into years all the while slowly dying from the poisonous relationships we are in.  I do NOT mean marriages here.  Hear me clearly, among all human relationships the MOST important is that between a wife and husband.  Any relationship that negatively affects the marriage relationship must either be cured or cut off.  The question is how do we know when a relationship is poisonous and when it’s just a difference in personality?  Let me give you a few indicators of a possibly poisonous relationship:

  • When all or most of what you hear is negative.
  • When the other person or couple overwhelmingly dominates conversation and whatever they say is always right.
  • When one spouse talks about the other in unflattering ways, whether the other is there or not.

There are many others, but you get the idea.  Your marriage can be directly affected by the types of relationships in your circle of close friends.  According to an article on a study from Brown University which ran for over 50 years (the original group began in 1948), “about 9% of the adult children of the 1948 study group were divorced at least once.  The findings suggest that the chances of divorcing increase to approximately 16% if a friend or close family member has been divorced — an increase of 75% over the overall divorce rate.

If it seems a 16% chance of divorce isn’t high note two things 1) This was a 75% increase and 2) This is from the children of a 1948 study group…when divorce was very uncommon.  It’s clear that those with whom you form close bonds can affect your relationship, both positively and negatively.

We spend a lot of time planning our schooling, our careers and even our vacations.  But when was the last time you examined your relationships?  You wouldn’t intentionally enter a room full of people infected with influenza, why do we therefore allow ourselves to spend our days with people who infect our minds with negative thoughts about their spouses and others?

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23 NLT

It’s important to note I’m not advocating abandoning people who are in difficult relationships and want to be helped.  But that is the key, they have to WANT to be helped.  If people are negative, if they are dragging you, your wife or both of you down then you have to either severely limit your time with them to the required minimum or cut them off completely.

Let’s wrap up on a positive note.  Whereas negative relationships can affect your marriage in a negative way positive relationships can build you both up and draw you closer to God and to each other.  Find some mentors, a couple who have been married longer than you and have a relationship like you want in your marriage.  Happily married couples generally LOVE to help others!

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

Do what needs to be done to protect your marriage.

Love you all!

-Troy

Why?

Do you know why I write this blog?  Early mornings, late evenings, sometimes over lunch.  Why I take time to put down the methods, principles and thoughts about how we have learned to be the happiest couple I know?  Do you know why right now I am working on a short (10-15 page) eBook on three simple ways to have a happier marriage?

Do you know why?

I could sit back and keep this all to myself.  Sally and I are tremendously happy!  The time I typing these things up could absolutely be spent with her.  Seriously.  I love all of you that enjoy the blog, but I love her more.

After our first couple of years of marriage, when we really started to get a handle on how to have a truly and deeply happy marriage we were asked to mentor engaged couples.  We did that for some time and with several couples and really enjoyed it.  Over the years we have repeatedly taught marriage classes and enjoyed that as well.  Now I blog about marriage, we completed our Marriage Mentor certification and are looking forward to teaching, mentoring and coaching many, many more couples.

But why?

I have a friend who has been a pastor throughout his adult life.  He’s always been an associate pastor, on staff doing his part.  He supported the senior pastor but never had that role himself.  Then one day he announced he was planting a church.  Not only was he going to be the senior pastor…he was starting a church from scratch.  This is arguably the most difficult type of pastoring a person can do.

Why?

Because he was called.

God called this man out of his comfort zone to do an incredibly difficult job.  He obeyed because of the call of God.

Do you know why I do what I am doing?

If you’ve been reading this blog you know that recently Sally and I were on a personal focus retreat.  The purpose of that retreat was to discover God’s will for the next season of our lives.  Summed up here is what the Lord revealed to me, “I am called to make good marriages great.”

That is why I am writing this blog, why we have taught marriages classes, mentored young couples and why I am writing the eBook.  Now I know it is unlikely that you share that same calling, but for every husband who follows Christ we have something else that is shared.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” – 1 Peter 3:7

I’d like to dig into this verse a bit more, but before I hit the main point I want to note that in the 21st Century some women (and men) may be offended by the term “weaker partner” or in some translations “weaker vessel”.  This has absolutely nothing to do with emotional, spiritual moral or mental strength.  It refers to the GENERAL case that men are physically stronger than women…note this is the general case and is not always true.  Please don’t get hung up on this and miss the important part of this verse.  If you’d like to dig more deeply into the “weaker vessel” statement then check out Pastor Mark Driscoll’s excellent coverage of this verse.

Here is the reason I want very much to get the meat of this verse.  “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect “  The first part of the verse is a command, or an admonition, but it is a command with a follow up result, “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

As a husband my relationship with God will NOT be what it should be unless I treat my wife with consideration and respect.  You want a better relationship with God?  You want to be closer to the Lord?  You want to hear more from the Lord?  Then follow the command to be considerate and treat her with respect.

Our behavior toward our wives directly affects our relationship with God.  Notice the exact words at the end of the verse,  “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  Ever had an exceedingly dry season in your prayer life?  Maybe we need to check how we are speaking to, serving and THINKING about our wives.  Don’t just respect her in your outward speech and behavior, but respect and honor her with your thoughts.  Our behavior is caused by what is on the inside of us, not by outside circumstances.  Children believe that they have no choice but to respond based on outside circumstances.  Mature adults know that they control their reactions…based on their inner decisions on how to react.

I don’t know your calling and it may change over time, but I do know this.  Your (and my) responsibility as husbands is to love, honor and respect our wives.  Both inwardly and outwardly.

 

 

HusbandsLoveYourWives

(Credit http://www.wikihow.com/Love-Your-Wife-According-to-the-Bible)

Honor her and God will honor you.

Love you all!

-Troy

 

A Different Kind of Faith

About 15 years ago Sally and I were living in another city. I was working and being treated well, things were ok except for one thing. The home we were renting was being given to an organization as a charitable donation.

The organization receiving the home was kind and generous, having given us a more than fair amount of time to move. We researched apartments in the area, but really wanted another home because we had two small children. Homes to rent in our price range were fairly scarce.  However we found what seemed to be ideal. A nice place, affordable rent and in a good location.

As I was making final plans to sign the lease and pay the deposit Sally called me and told me not to do so. Keep in mind we had looked quite some time for a place and we even knew the owner. A bit confused but without question I did exactly what she said. We passed on the almost ideal home.

A few months later I was offered a job in Bloomington, IL. A hour and a half away in a city we had never considered. Had we taken the other house we would have been trapped in a lease.  I was so glad we had not walked that path.

On the day that we were preparing to sign the lease Sally said not to do so. Do you know why?  Because she didn’t feel it was the right thing to do. Where did she get that impression?  From the Holy Spirit. She was (and is) close enough to the Lord that He can whisper to her spirit and she will obey.

Do you know why I stopped on that day?  I didn’t hear from the Holy Spirit.  God didn’t whisper to my spirit. I stopped because I have faith. But not only faith in God.  Faith that my wife knows the voice of her Father. Faith that she knows to obey His voice. Faith not to doubt her when she brings His Word to me.

To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.” – 1 Corinthians 12:8 (NLT)

Let me ask you a question friend. When your wife tells you she feels something is from the Lord, what is your FIRST response?  To listen immediately or to question and doubt?

I am NOT saying that everything anyone ever says is “from the Lord” is necessarily so. But I am asking, how much do you trust your wife’s spiritual hearing?  My wife loves me, supports me and honors me as the spiritual leader in our household. That doesn’t make me proud or haughty, it makes me humble. Humble enough to have faith that when she says the Lord has spoken to her I have trust…and we follow HER lead.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” – Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)

The difference between a leader and a boss is simple. A boss is always right, but a leader takes counsel from those he trusts. Be leader, take her counsel and you’ll be a happier husband. :-)

Love you all!

-Troy

 

What Is Love Anyway?

This is a longer post, but if you really want to know what love is and what it is NOT then please read on.

Recently someone I care about deeply was is a difficult place.  She turned to me (which is an honor) and asked me a couple of questions.  Let me set it up with a paraphrase of her part of the conversation:

“I read a lot of quotes about love, but what are they supposed to mean?  What does love truly mean from a man’s point of view?  In the beginning they tell you daily that they love you, that they want to spend the rest of their lives with you and that nothing matters but you.  However a few months or years down the road all of the affection and attention is gone.  Then they say that they love you, but are not IN love with you.  Does that mean it’s over?  That I need to face this painful reality?  Is it hopeless?

Following is my (edited) response


Wow. Those are big questions. I really should do a long blog post (or short eBook) about what love truly means. (that’s what you are all reading now :-))

First, most of us (guys and gals) most of the time use the word “love” incorrectly. We say, “I love ice cream” or “I love the Cardinals” when we really mean “I have a strong preference for ice cream” or “I prefer the Cardinals over the Cubs.” In this case it’s not “love” it is “prefer” or “really like”.

Second, there are two other common misuses of the word “love”. They are cases of lust or limerance (hang with me a moment friends). We all understand lust. It’s a strong desire for the physical attractiveness of another person. Lust happens more commonly in men than women (at least in my experience) but women are not immune.

The truly tricky one is something called “limerance”. This is a term referring to the chemical reactions in a someone’s brain when they first meet a new person to whom they are attracted. It’s often mixed in with lust, but it is more than just physical. Limerance is the exciting time when the other person can do no wrong, when you want to spend every waking moment with them, when you could be on the phone for hours. They have no flaws and everything they do is AMAZING! They are the perfect person to you and no amount of input from other family and friends can convince you otherwise. (Hence the old saying “love is blind”.) This is the classic “falling in love” stage. Every Hollywood romantic comedy is really all about limerance and so is every fairy tale that closes with, “and they lived happily ever after.”

Limerance is based on feelings and emotions that come from chemical interactions in the brain. Here is the secret very few know about the limerance or “falling in love” period. It has a scientifically proven and measureable lifetime. Limerance lasts, on average, 18-24 months. This is why couples “fall out of love” or say “I love you but I’m not IN love with you.” They have lost the head over heels, butterflies in your tummy, can’t wait to see you feelings. They had limerance, they probably also had lust, but they never had real love.

Here is the big difference…and it’s likely to be a shocker.

Love has nothing to do with feelings. Love is not an emotion.

Don’t get me wrong. Feelings can be the gateway to love. Most long-term happily married couples start out in limerance (and possibly lust). Sally and I were INTENSELY in limerance when we met. But not love. Not at first.

In fact I would go out on a limb to say almost NO couples start out in a state of real love. So, what characterizes the change from limerance to love? One word. Choice.

Love is a choice.

Love is a choice a person makes every day and many times a day. Love is a choice to serve the other person when you are tired, or frustrated, or angry or when you simply feel nothing. Love is the difference between doing what you feel at the time and doing what you committed to do at the altar. Love is acting by doing what you know is best for the other person more so than yourself. Love is a choice.

So when someone says to another person, “I’m not in love with you anymore” it means two things. 1) They likely don’t understand what real love is and never had it in the relationship and 2) They have chosen what THEY want rather than what the other person wants.

But THERE IS HOPE even in this situation. I’m a Christian, do you know why? Not because I deserved to be saved from my sins. Not a chance! Not because God FELT like He should save me. No, I am a Christian because Jesus, in LOVE, CHOSE to die on a cross for my sins. He chose to love me and I accepted that love and now I choose to love Him by serving Him in various ways. Love began with God.

Is it possible to “fall out of love”? No, because love is not a feeling, it is a choice. Is it possible to “fall out of limerance”? Absolutely…and it usually happens within 18-24 months. Couples will often stay together much longer out of obligation or fear. Years longer, in a miserable relationship either characterized by simmering anger and frustration or with no feeling, only deadness and more like roommates than a happy marriage.

Let me wrap this up on a happy note! Can a couple with no feelings, or feelings of anger ever get good feelings back? Yes, yes a thousand times yes!! It’s very simple. Choose to love. Choose to love by serving the other person, by saying kind and uplifting words, by physical touch, by small gifts, by simply spending time together in shared activity. Feelings follow actions and if we take the actions which characterize the choice of love then we WILL have feelings for the other person.

Oh boy, will we have feelings! Deeper, more powerful feelings of love than most have ever experienced! This is SO possible and unbelievably worth it. Sally and I learned these principles from a book we received early in our marriage. It is called The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. Pick up a copy and jump into it! If you’d like my take specifically on that book check out The Book That Started It All.

Now go out there and CHOOSE to love each other!

Love you all, truly I do…because I choose to do so.

-Troy

 

Share Your Stories

Recently Sally and I celebrated an anniversary.  Not the anniversary of the day we were married, but rather the anniversary of the day we met.  It was 25 years and 2 days ago that a mutual friend introduced us to each other in the Red Room of Ludwig Center at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.  I knew that day that SHE was the girl I would marry.  I wrote the date down that night on a piece of paper and placed it in my wallet.  It was our “meet cute” and it’s a great story.  Of course it was over a year later that we were actually engaged.  Why? (Here is another story with embedded stories.)

1) I was a legalistic, arrogant jerk.

2) She was still pining for her high school sweetheart.

3) She broke up with me seven times (it was a VERY harsh but highly effective personality modification program).

4) I was a legalistic, arrogant jerk.

5) I finally got the message thanks to the Lord’s moving and Sally’s patience and methodology.

Our wedding and honeymoon have some interesting stories:

1) The relative who promised she would not attend the wedding because another relative despised her…then she showed up at the last minute, causing a HUGE fracas.

2) The mad French-Canadian.

3) The possibility that we would be arrested as international criminals.

4) When Sally called her sister crying and they thought I had beat her (nope, still the fault of the mad French-Canadian).

5) Sally’s discovery that after two roller coaster rides I am approaching the Hurling Threshold (and if she wants to ride a lot more she needs to bring a friend with an iron stomach).

I’ll bet some of you are curious to hear details about one or more of these stories.  I’m not sharing them here as that’s not the point.  Here is the point, shared stories make us unique as a couple and they can be an encouragement to those couples coming along behind us.

Over the past few weeks we have three couples in our lives that have lost their spouses.  They had stories as well.  I know that some of their stories were shared with others and helped in various ways.  Now I realize that some stories are for just the two of you, but think about how by sharing you might be able to show another couple the ways the Lord carried you through something difficult or perhaps just odd circumstances.

I challenge you to share a funny or encouraging story today!

PS:  Just for fun, I’ll bet you have some sayings or references that are inside jokes between the two of you.  A lot of these come from movies or TV shows.  Common selections are Friends, Seinfeld, The Princess Bride, Monte Python, etc.  I’ll give you three of ours that are NOT common and see if you can guess the source of one or more WITHOUT using the Internet to look them up.

1) “I care greatly for Fruit Loops.”

2) “Sonia is itchy, SCRATCH HER!” (Russian accent).

3) “I think you are a smarty pants.” (Lilting cadence, Middle-Eastern accent).

Love you all!

-Troy