Working Toward Harmonious Relationships

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I’ve remembered what this speaker said for decades.

I don’t remember his main topic or even where I heard him. But at some point in his talk, he mentioned a husband forgetting his wedding anniversary. And then he said something like this: “Wives, don’t stand back with arms folded, tapping your foot, waiting to see if he remembers, and then lowering the boom when he doesn’t. Help him remember.”

How wise. “Getting after him” in some way—pouting, anger, silent treatment—will only make him feel guilty, maybe even defensive. And the day that’s supposed celebrate love turns into a negative experience. You might think, “Well, he ruined it first.” However, we can either redeem the situation or make it worse by our reaction.

My husband doesn’t usually forget special occasions. But this speaker’s advice  filtered into my thinking to apply generally to how we deal with each other’s foibles. “Punishing” or getting back at each other or stewing in resentment compounds the negative and widens the breach. How can we work towards harmony and away from dissension?

Look for ways to help.

Perhaps a week or two before an anniversary (or birthday or whatever), we could casually say, “Do you want to do anything special on our anniversary?” We could even invite him to something we’ve planned.

This principle goes so much farther than marriage and anniversaries. It applies to any relationship. If a child constantly forgets a chore, instead of incessantly nagging, we can find another way to help them remember: a chore chart, a privilege after his work is done, etc. If a wife is constantly late, perhaps a husband can help the kids get their shoes on so that’s one less thing she has to do.

Confront kindly when necessary.

Does that mean we can never confront each other about a problem or tell another when he has hurt our feelings or offended us in some way? No, of course not. Working out these issues helps the relationship progress and get even closer—if the issue is handled in a kind, thoughtful, edifying way rather than an angry or punishing manner.

“Do unto others . . “

Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). Would we want someone to scowl or withdraw if we failed them in some way? Or would we prefer a frank discussion? Would a preliminary reminder help, or would that seem like nagging?

Take into account different personalities and “love languages.

Perhaps a husband shows love by working hard, keeping up with repairs at home, keeping the lawn mowed. Tell him how much you appreciate all of that—and then suggest that, just every now and then, flowers or candy or a nice dinner out or watching a romantic movie together would really make you feel special. Perhaps she showers you with gifts, but you’d really appreciate a compliment once in a while. There might not be a way for her to know that unless you gently and kindly tell her.

Choose what’s most important.

Perhaps he leaves things out of place. We might resent that he’s created even more work for us. We could tell him how debris around the house makes us feel. Or we could just pick it up.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8).

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).

Forbear and forgive.

None of us has to be doormats. We should never put up with abuse or outright sin. But we do have to accept that no one is perfect. (This article helps differentiate between things we shouldn’t let go).

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).

Build up instead of tearing down.

However we handle these issues, we need to keep in mind our goal. The aim isn’t “Everyone do everything my way”—or shouldn’t be. The goal is harmony, feeding and increasing our love for each other, and building one another up.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19).

Sometimes a choir or musical group will sing in unison, but more often they sing in harmony. Different voices bring different tones and notes into play, yet the outcome is all the more beautiful for the differences that come together into a beautiful whole. It takes a lot to get to that place. The composer has to arrange the piece. The leader has to interpret it. The instrumentalists and singers all have to learn their parts. They have have to practice together several times. Some might be too loud or soft, too fast or slow at first. But finally, each individual part works together with the rest, and the effect can bring tears to our eyes.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6).

What are ways you work towards harmony in relationships?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday [Anita wrote about relationships this week, too, and brought out factors I hadn’t thought about], Global Blogging, Senior Salon,
Hearth and Soul, Literary Musing Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode, Recharge Wednesday,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)

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Here’s my recent roundup of recommended reading for your reviewing relish. 🙂

Yes, You Can Trust the Four Gospels. Even When They Conflict. Argument against a new theory that posits the gospel writers wrote in a literary way, changing and even making up details to support their theme. This author did a lot of research and contends that, no, they reported facts..

When Valentine’s Day Hurts.

Crumbling Into Compassion, HT to The Story Warren. Beautiful story of redemption and reconciliation.

Are You Too Sensitive? Sensitivity has its good and bad points.

People Are Hard to Hate Up Close. “Attributing these characteristics to those on the left or the right may give us the momentary thrill of self-righteous indignation, but it deepens the divide, fuels our anger, and keeps meaningful conversations from occurring.”

Are You Seeking Counsel or Gossiping? I’ve often wondered what exactly makes up gossip. It’s not just sharing when someone else did something wrong–the epistles do that. I’ve often wondered if it primarily has to do with intent. This post has some good guidelines.

The Advance of the New Legalism, HT to Challies. I have seen wisps of this: “We are prone to seeing our way of doing things as a good way (which it might well be). But what we consider a good way soon becomes the best way (which, still, it could be). Only, the best way quickly gets called the right way which, soon enough, becomes the only way that, in turn, becomes synonymous with a biblical mandate (at least, in our minds).”

Leave “Always” and “Never” Out of Your Marriage. I came across that advice early on, and it probably saved us trouble.

What Do Hit Men and Porn Watchers Have in Common? “So what about those people who watched the video? If they watched a person being raped for their entertainment, surely they are complicit in that rape, aren’t they?”

The Way to Good Judgment. Is it only through experience, and bad experience at that? Nope.

The Best Way to Give Generously, HT to Lisa. “I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that the gifts I give of myself are frequently stingy and laced with traces of criticism, if not outright begrudging. Here’s where we have the chance to offer ourselves grace, though, recognizing that when God highlights one of His attributes for us like this, He’s giving us an opportunity to do things differently.”

Finally, a thought for carrying Valentine’s Day love into everyday life:

Louisa May Alcott quote about loving handsHappy Saturday!

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Here’s my latest collection of good online reads:

Seven Deadly Sins for Writers. Even though this post is aimed at writers, its discussion of the pervasiveness of pride applies to anyone.

Tolerance Trouble, HT to Challies. “The Corinthian church boasted about its tolerance of the incestuous man who was permitted to retain membership and acceptance within the Corinthian church. They were congratulating themselves for such open-mindedness when they should have been weeping.”

And concerning tolerance of a different kind: What Does 2 John Have to Teach Us about Partnering with False Teachers?, HT to Challies. This was refreshing to read because this is what I’ve believed for years, but have not seen many people writing this publicly.

What It Means to Pray “Your Kingdom Come.” The True Woman blog, which is under the umbrella of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s Revive Our Hearts ministry, is doing a series on the individual phrases in what we call “the Lord’s prayer.” I thought this one was particularly good.

Wives Who Churn About Husbands “Leading Spiritually,” HT to Lou Ann. Though this is addressed to home school moms, it applies to any Christian wife.

Sorry, Banning Plastic Bags Won’t Save Our Planet, HT to Challies. “As with other environmental issues, instead of tackling the big-picture problems to actually reduce the plastic load going into oceans, we focus on relatively minor changes involving consumers, meaning we only ever tinker at the margins.”

A True (Humorous) Look at the Writing Process. Although I have only reached the first three stages, and I’m writing nonfiction, I can relate!

Finally, I thought this was funny: a dog’s melodramatic reaction to having its nails clipped:

Happy Saturday!

Book Review: Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight

Many Christians are in a quandary when it comes to talking about sex.

We know God invented it. We know He created it not just for procreation, but for our enjoyment, within the parameters He ordained (Song of Solomon, Proverbs 5:18-19, Hebrews 13:4).

The Bible is actually quite frank about a number of matters that we wouldn’t express in exactly the same way today. Perhaps the culture at the time allowed for that. Perhaps our over-charged sexual culture these days causes us to keep all discussion of sex to “the talk” parents give their children, to premarital counseling, and between husband and wife.

One of my professors at a Christian college, I think in a class about the home I took as a Home Economics Education major, recommended The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. Of course, we knew the basics, nature will take its course, and people will figure it out (and have for thousands of years). But some of us like to be a bit better prepared.

I just rediscovered another helpful book that I had hidden away (perhaps so my sons wouldn’t stumble across it when they were younger) and forgotten about: Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight by Sheila Wray Gregoire.

The theme of the book is a common problem: men are usually “in the mood” more often than women are. Sometimes the situation is reversed (in as many as 1/3 of marriages at the time this book was written). Sheila addresses some of the matters that cause this discrepancy and shares ways to deal with them from a Biblical basis. There’s a chapter on each of the following topics:

  • Men and women are wired differently.
  • Paying attention to the rest of the marriage will affect the sexual aspect.
  • Lack of energy
  • The problem of pornography, past abuse, wrong attitudes, and “reclaiming godly sexuality”
  • Respect
  • Romance
  • Roles and gender
  • Self-image

The last chapter deals with a number of questions and problem issues.

A few quotes from the book:

We treat sex as if it’s something purely instinctive, not something imbued with all the relational and emotional components that God gave it (p. 64).

God made sex because He wants us to enjoy it. It’s precious. But think of how you treat other precious things. Men who collect antique cars polish them, wax them, and watch for any blemish or problem so they can take care of it before it gets out of control. They’re constantly vigilant. We need to have the same attitude about sex. It’s precious, it’s fragile, and it needs our tender care so that it can shine, too (p. 80).

Don’t feed your mind with romance novels, soap operas, or other harmful illusions that will just make you chronically unsatisfied. Take the initiative yourself to warm up the relationship to romance (p. 97).

While I didn’t agree with every little point in the book, overall I found it very helpful. I debated with myself a long time about whether to mention the book here on the blog. But since, as I mentioned earlier, these matters are common problems, I thought I’d share this as a good resource. And it’s a good resource even without problems, since it emphasizes the relationship, unselfishness, thoughtfulness, and marriage as the picture God intended.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Global Blogging, Happy Now, Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent)

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Here are the latest, greatest reads I’ve found:

For My Angry Friends, Part 7: Foundation II. This is a continuation of a link I posted last time.

A Different Kind of Humble Pie. I like this idea! And it would help us avoid having to eat the other kind.

I’m So Glad Our Vows Kept Us, HT to Challies. “God has not given you your love to protect your vows, but he’s given you your vows to protect your love.”

Don’t Squander the Little Years, HT to Story Warren. “The endless demands of parenting little ones can feel heightened by the fact that this is often the very season of life—late 20s through the 30s—when budding careers are most demanding and precarious. The need to be tirelessly devoted outside the home can tempt young parents to be less devoted inside the home.”

How Parenting Exposes Our Need for Faith. “Like nothing else in my following life, mothering has taken me to the edge of what I know for sure about God and how to follow him well.”

What Is the Aim of Christian Writing? HT to Challies. If you are at all into writing as a Christian, I encourage you to read this. “Writing is an attempt to take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to the crevices of life.”

Elderly Couples’ Photos. A professional photographer asked several older couple to pose for engagement-style photos. So sweet and beautiful.

It Is What It Is”…but God IS Bigger.” I’ve followed Carol at Blessed But Stressed for many years now. A few years ago, her son fought leukemia, and God graciously healed him. Now he’s facing serious surgery on his eye. Would you join in prayer for as much healing as possible in God’s perfect will?

I don’t know the origin of this graphic, but it looks like something Little Birdie Blessings might do. But I like what it says.

Happy Saturday!

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Here are the reads I have found most compelling this week:

Have This Mind Among You, HT to Michele. “‘We don’t treat our marriage like it’s the place where we can be our worst selves. We don’t treat our home like it’s the place where we can ‘be real,’ as though every other relationship in our lives deserves the fruit of the Spirit, but at home we can drop the facade and level all the pent up frustration of the day at one another.’ I said, ‘Nate should get my best self, the best of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and heart, not the worst self.'”

When Being “Relatable” Does Damage, HT to True Woman. “At its best, relatability is a transparent humility that aims to serve others by providing a starting point for relationship. At its worst, it’s a longing for others to relate to our sin in a way that minimizes it.”

Don’t Put Your Hope in Date Night, HT to True Woman. “When we falsely believe a date night out is the only way to grow in marriage, enjoy one another, foster intimacy, and maintain a healthy commitment, we’re bound to continually feel defeated and disappointed. God is gracious to provide many ways for couples to connect and grow deeper in their love for one another beyond a night out.”

You Don’t Want to Have a Megapastor.

5 Myths About Christian Publishing, HT to Challies.

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Here’s my latest list of good reads found online recently:

Should Christians Abandon Christmas? HT to Challies. “When churches ‘ignore’ Christmas, how much preaching and teaching are they likely to receive on the incarnation?” “The abuse of something shouldn’t be allowed to destroy its proper use.”

On the Death of John Allen Chau. Good points all, especially the first one: “We don’t need to rush to judgment.”

3 Internet Accusations Against Missionaries, HT to Challies.

Singleness Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, HT to True Woman.

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to True Woman.

Pastors: Preach, Don’t Rant, HT to Challies. Good advice for writers and teachers, too.

The 50% Lie, HT to Challies. Turns out it has never been true that 50% of marriages end in divorce, by any way of measuring. “Imagine the difference to our collective consciousness about marriage and divorce if we began to say ‘Most marriages last a lifetime’ [8 out of 10] rather than ‘Half of marriages end in divorce.'”

Why J. I. Packer Reads Mystery Novels (Or, In Defense of Light Reading), HT to Challies. “Light reading is not for killing time (that’s ungodly), but for refitting the mind to tackle life’s heavy tasks (that’s the Protestant work ethic, and it’s true).”

And finally, a smile found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

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Welcome to another gathering of great reads discovered this week:

Imperfections Make Sundays More Beautiful, HT to Challies. “I’ll admit it: these human quirks and errors sometimes exasperate me. I’m here to focus on the Lord! Your awkwardness is distracting me from worship! So mutters my self-righteous heart. Perhaps the real problem isn’t with the clumsiness of others, but with our expectations for corporate worship.”

The Bible: Reading the “Ordinary” Way, HT to Challies. Good thoughts about taking the Bible “literally,” how metaphor is used, etc.

Are You Different Enough? 5 Ways to Use Differences in Your Relationship.

The 17 Phrases That ‘Scare’ Introverts the Most, HT to Lisa. This was posted before Halloween, thus the “scary” faces.

Heartwarming Photos of Acts of Kindness, HT to Lisa.

Back to the Sources, HT to Linda, on cases of what were probably inadvertent plagiarisms by Christian authors (see the comments for how it could possibly have happened).

The 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Gift Guide for Book Lovers, HT to Linda.

As we look ahead to Thanksgiving in the US this week:

There seems to be a theme running through most of the posts I’ve read concerning Thanksgiving so far this year: the fact that thankfulness isn’t an emotion, but an act of the will, and not always easy. Here are a few:

Gratitude Is a Gift for All Seasons. “To intentionally call to mind images of gratitude in the midst of peace and prosperity is one thing, but it takes a sinewy faith to summon them when chaos reigns and the future looks bleak.”

Being Grateful Ain’t Always Easy (Or Is It Just Me?)

Thankfulness From Those Who Suffer.

Time Out for Thanksgiving

For some Thanksgiving fun:

Free printable Thanksgiving trivia, for use as a game or conversation starter

Thanksgiving Bingo.

Thanksgiving Word Search Place Cards, HT to Laura.

And, finally, a couple of my favorite Thanksgiving quotes:

Happy Saturday!

 

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Here’s my latest list of thought-provoking reads:

Women, Don’t Be Weak-minded, HT to True Woman. “I’m grieved every time I see another woman I care about succumb to the latest ‘Christian’ bestseller which, more often that not, is feel-good psychology scantily clad in a few decontextualized Bible verses.” “Critical reading in one thing. But, trying to glean ‘something good’ from an author who denies Christ’s supremacy, man’s depravity, or Scriptural inerrancy is entirely another thing all together and should be avoided.”

How (Not) to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, HT to Challies.

Five Things I’d Tell My Newlywed Self.

A Slanderous Charge. Far from promoting racial prejudices and stereotypes, the Little House series shows a different side.

I’d Like to Have an Argument, Please, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “In fact, all this opining just makes things worse. You don’t like what someone wrote and it upset you? Shouting your reaction is infantile (mere stimulus-and-response) and, worse, destructive….What we need instead is argument: inference from evidence to clear conclusions. Or, in a more right-brained approach, the setting-out of a compelling alternative.”

And finally, this cracked me up:

Happy Saturday!

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Here are noteworthy reads discovered this last week:

Hope for Parents of Prodigals.

Is Behavior More Important Than Doctrine? HT to Challies.

God Is With Us Every Present Moment. A book I’m reading talks about “reframing” memories. This is a good example.

The Space Between Courtship and Dating. I think this is right on the mark.

How to Repair the National Marriage, HT to Lisa.

Love Other Mothers as Thyself. “When we impose one-size-fits-all labels upon parenting, we fail in our call to love one another, and we also disregard God’s sovereign work in motherhood.”

Contentment in Motherhood, HT to Story Warren. Though the context of the post is motherhood, the encouragement to contentment and basis for contentment in Scripture are good for anyone.

Daring to Be Wholehearted. “The appeal of Cool is obvious in a world where things go wrong and we are sometimes powerless. But like an impulsively purchased pet python that seemed so harmless as a baby, have we forgotten how Cool can consume?”

Growing Old Graciously, HT to Challies.

When Flesh and Heart Fail: Why Believers Should Consider Advanced Directives.

Salvation Bracelets in Africa? No, Thanks, HT to Challies. “In order to share the gospel effectively, we must be willing to let go of our assumptions and to sensitively ask lots of questions in order to examine the culture deeply. We have to forget what feels comfortable and natural in our own culture and embrace what works in the culture we’re serving in.”

This is sweet, HT to Story Warren. A family took in an abandoned calf they found after a hurricane, and their dog “adopted” it: