The Obstacle Course We Call “Marriage”

designThe adventure enthusiasts among us may have participated in a “mud run”, “Tough Mudder” or an obstacle course race. The idea is complete the course in as little time as possible, without killing yourself. The race doesn’t take place on a smooth track; in fact the race is set up in some of the most miserable conditions possible. There are walls to climb, mud holes to crawl through, ladders to scale and ropes from which to swing. Sounds like fun, huh? For thrill seekers, these events are hugely popular. And rumor has it that physical therapists appreciate the extra business as well!

Marriage can be analogous to an obstacle course. The race starts at the wedding altar and proceeds, almost immediately, through a series of mud holes, which try their best to stop the race. As time passes, the hurdles become higher and the obstructions become more dangerous. Those who are expecting an easy experience are in for a shock. And those who aren’t committed to overcoming obstacle after obstacle will not make it to the end. Successful married couples learn to navigate, together, through even the most treacherous of traps. We suppose the only thing that could make an adventure race more difficult would be if the race involved carrying another person. Welcome to marriage!

Below are some of the obstacles that can make marriage more difficult:

Families of origin and diverse cultural expectations. How you were raised has major impact of your expectations in marriage.

Misaligned self-esteem. If you think too much or two little of yourself, marriage will be challenging.

Cultural distortions. With changing definitions, things get confusing.

Poor examples. Be careful who you model your marriage after.

Changing physiology. As we age, well you know what happens…

Changing economics. Financial stress is a real source of problems form many couples.

Unrealistic expectations. Don’t expect your spouse to be your Messiah.

Lust. It’s deadly.

Crisis. Things like job loss, health issues, or the death of family members can cause great distress on a home.

Selfishness, entitlement. The world doesn’t owe you anything.

Weariness. Sometimes we just run out of steam.

The devil. Make no mistake: there is an enemy of our soul that wants to destroy our families and us.

In “12 Causes of Stress In Marriage”, Dave Willis shares some great insight about stress in marriage.

He lists, in no particular order, 12 of the most common causes of stress in marriage. 1. Financial stress. 2. Parenthood. 3. In Laws. 4. Miscommunication. 5. Sexual Frustration. 6. Exhaustion. 7. Work stress. 8. Hurt feelings. 9. Disagreements. 10. Poor health. 11. Drifting apart from each other. 12. You fill-in-the-blank.

The bottom line…

 Only the strong (marriages) survive!

Like an elite endurance athlete, married couples must work hard, stay in shape, eat right, sleep well, learn to focus, discipline themselves, resist the urge to slack off, and motivate themselves. Then they must invest themselves in their spouse to bring out the very best in them.

Only those who work hard survive. And those who invite God to lead their personal lives and marriage stand a much greater chance of survival and success.

It is only then that our marriages have the potential to be all that God intended for them to be!


The Only Way to Repair a Broken Marriage


Whether it’s broken by infidelity, boredom or stress, a messed up marriage is one tricky fix. The problems usually begin with insensitivity on the part of one and hurt feelings on the part of the other. The frustrations turn to anger and communication breaks down. By this time, things are headed south quickly and somebody had better get a clue before it is too late.

And for the record, don’t let anyone tell you it’s never too late. Of course it’s too late once one of the parties involved goes too far; say for example – gets married again. There are some bridges that, once crossed, can never be used as a return route.

So what is the only fix for a broken marriage?

It’s when both people involved decide that they will do WHATEVER it takes to save their marriage. They may no longer be in love. They don’t have to care deeply about the other person. And they may feel that their marriage is not worth fighting for. But if the couple mutually agrees that they will stop at nothing to salvage, heal and restore their marriage, it will happen for sure. Refusal to give up is a powerful ally for a bruised marriage. For the record – nothing is impossible with God.

“Whatever it takes” means basically the same thing for both people. Whatever has happened to cause damage must stop happening immediately. Past hurts must be let go. Trust must be built. Both parties must be in the relationship to serve their partner. Total participation by both people is required. These details explain why this idea is so hard to realize. If it were easy, we would see fewer divorces.

So why is it so rare to find a marriage that is saved at the midnight hour? Because people who are so broken find it nearly impossible to believe that there is hope. Unforgiveness, pain and the desire for freedom set the agenda. If therapists or pastors can only get people to see that the real solution is in their hands, and get them to accept the possibility for change, many marriages could be saved.

It can happen. It is rare, but it is possible.

The problem is, most people are not willing to do “whatever it takes” – so this concept probably won’t gain much traction. However, if only one marriage is given a second chance, that would be awesome.

Please apply this idea as necessary. If you don’t need it, please pass it along to someone who does.

By the way, this approach is the best way to AVOID problems in marriage. Let’s prevent so we don’t have to repair.

Jealous Husbands Don’t Scare Me


There is one reason why I am not concerned about a jealous husband coming after me: I have not been doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I have not cheated with someone else’s wife nor have I cheated on my wife.  Please don’t take this as bragging and I know better than to get prideful; but there is a deep sense of comfort that comes from knowing that my conscience is clear.  I remember hearing my pastor talk about this topic when I was a kid and I didn’t really understand. He spoke of the freedom of walking down the street with confidence, knowing that no one was gunning for him because he’d been messing around – because he HADN’T been messing around! I understand now and I treasure the fact that God has taught me the value of relationship integrity.

I know too many guys who have been guilty of adultery and I also know many who have been victimized by it. While Hollywood normalizes these activities, the results in real life are always devastating; lives are being destroyed.

Let’s pray for men in general and husbands specifically. Pray for purity and fidelity among us. Pray that we older guys can model for younger guys what it means to be a man of purity. Pray that young men in America will not believe the lies being pushed by our culture that say manhood is determined by sexual activity. Pray for fewer reasons for crimes of passion. Let’s ask God for forgiveness of our sins and that He will help us to overcome our temptations and make us more like Christ.

I Corinthians 16:13 in various translations…

KJV: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

MSG: Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute.

Douay-Rhelms: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened. (I love that: “do manfully”!)

Whitter: Keep your guard up, dig deep in Christ, don’t be a weakling, win the war!

married, single, other?

We have gotten used to words being redefined. It happens all the time. “Sick” now means “really good”. “Wicked” now means … “really good”. Maybe eventually most words will evolve into meaning “really good”!

But today I’m thinking about the nuances of the language we use to identify our relationship status. Specifically, I am talking about the word “single”. “Single” used to mean unmarried. Now single means no boyfriend or girlfriend. This metamorphosis may seem slight and inconsequential. But I think not.

Along with a redefinition of the word comes a redefining of behaviors. Dating couples who no longer consider themselves single act, in most ways, as married couples. This is where the problem arises. I see kids changing their relationship status on facebook from “single” to “married”, and I get nervous. Obviously, they didn’t have a wedding but I see danger signs here. I also recently saw the old “it’s only a piece of paper” thing mentioned in regard to living together outside of marriage. Again, I get nervous.

Call it what you want, change the meaning of words if you like. There really are only two ways to identify yourself as it relates to marriage: single or married. If you did not have a legal wedding, you are single.

Oh, and the “it’s complicated” thing? I’m even more nervous!