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Succeeding In Marriage

By: Randy Jordan

New Life Bible Bookstore

Revealing the Heart of Marriage


Early one spring, Bill planted a garden of various beautiful flowers. Within just a few weeks of planting his garden, Bill noticed that his plants looked sickly and were failing to produce flowers. So Bill decided to start over. He dug up all his plants and put new plants in the ground in their place. Just as with the first plants, Bill’s new plants also became sickly and were failing to produce flowers. What should Bill do this time? Should he dig these plants up as well and plant new ones again? Obviously, Bill is assuming that the problem is with the plants. But unaware to Bill, the problem isn’t his plants, it is his soil. The soil in Bills garden is inefficient to produce healthy plants that will produce beautiful flowers. As long as Bill overlooks the soil, his garden will fail to produce healthy plants.

Marriage is very much like a garden. If a garden is not producing healthy plants, it is not a plant problem but a soil problem. The plants represents the bride and groom. The soil represents the hearts of the bride and groom. With the right soil every marriage will produce beautiful flowers of love and happiness.

Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23 reads, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” As your heart is so is your life and your marriage. All too often, this principle given to us by our Creator is neglected or overlooked when it comes to growing a beautiful marriage. Many couples who find themselves struggling in marriage, has made the mistake of trying to fix the plant as they fail to understand that the plant is only the product of the soil or heart. Attempting to heal a sickly plant while neglecting the soil is fruitless not to mention frustrating.

One reason why healing a troubled marriage is often difficult is that couples attempt to change outward behavior while neglecting to change the heart that is responsible for the behavior. All of your behavior – good or ugly – comes out of your heart.
As your heart is, so will be your marriage. It was Jesus Christ who said, “Out of the abundance of the heart comes all kinds of activities and behavior.” (Luke 6:45).  So how do you guard your heart?

The doors into your heart include your eyes and your ears. Therefore, guarding your heart requires guarding what you see and how you hear.

Just as a man can put poison or fertilizer into the soil of his physical garden, so a man can put poison or fertilizer into his heart. This process is done through what he allows his eyes to see and what he allows his ears to hear. Neither poison nor fertilizer can enter into a man’s heart without his permission.

You and I live in an age flooded with information, entertainment and influence. If the right information, godly advice and healthy influence are not before our eyes and entering our ears, our hearts will fail to produce a strong marriage. Your heart is as soil. It cannot produce healthy relationships without the necessary nutrients being put into your heart.

It does not matter that you and I may not be actually putting poison into the soil of our hearts. If we are not purposefully feeding our hearts the right nutrients, our hearts will be unable to produce desired fruit.

The books you read…the movies you watch…the friends you allow into your life…all either poison your heart or supply proper nutrients to your heart. Couples that are not proactive in guarding their hearts cannot expect above average results in marriage.
As a whole, our society does not build strong marriages. Therefore, if you and I are not active in setting our eyes upon books and materials that build marriages, we will not be getting such nutrients any other way. If you and I are not active in hearing sound advice for strong marriages, we will not be hearing it any other way.

Your marriage is the result of how your heart is being feed. If you desire a better marriage, build a better heart. All your behavior and all your words come from your heart. Whatever your behavior is towards your spouse, your behavior is simply revealing the condition of your heart.


The Simplicity of a Great Marriage

Human beings are a needy people. The more that you understand this simple truth, the better you will be equipped to build lasting relationships. Our creator created us to need one another. From the beginning God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Your spouse has God given needs that demand and require fulfillment to be happy and satisfied. Understanding your spouse’s needs is important. If you or your spouse is unhappy in your marriage, chances are it’s because you or your spouse are not having your needs fully met.

The primary needs of a husband are respect, honor, and affirmation. The primary needs of a wife are honest communication, quality time, and value. Make no mistake about it, when someone else fulfills your responsibility to meet your spouse’s needs, an affair is in the making.

It is with much hurt that conflict, the lack of money, sex and in-laws are all too often blamed for stress and trouble in marriage. None of these things destroy a marriage but rather how you respond to these things determines if your marriage is built or torn down. It does not matter what the reason may be, if the wife does not have honest communication, quality time, and value from her husband, she will be unfulfilled and unhappy in her marriage. This need for communication and time and value from her husband is not a weakness. This need is built into her from her Creator.

It does not matter what the reason may be, if the husband does not get respect and honor and affirmation from his wife, he will be unfulfilled and unhappy in his marriage. This is not a weakness on his part. It is not a weak man that needs respect. It is not a weak man that needs to be honored and affirmed by his wife. This need is built in to him by his Creator.

If a wife becomes unhappy in her marriage, her needs are not being fulfilled from her husband. If a husband becomes unhappy in his marriage, his needs are not being fulfilled from his wife.

Conflict only strengthens a marriage where the couple maintains the fulfilling of each other’s needs. For many it appears to be only natural that when stress and conflict arise for whatever reason, to take it out on the spouse with words that disrespect and show no value.

What do you expect within a marriage where the couple shouts at each other and cusses each other out every time they get angry? What do you expect when a wife gets mad because her husband fails to do something and she treats him like a little boy? What do you expect within marriage when a wife feels alone and isolated because her husband is too busy with other things to spend time with her and show her value?

Most troubled marriages are not in trouble because of great difficult reasons. But rather they are in trouble simply because they violate meeting each other’s most basic needs.

Stress and conflict does not destroy a marriage. It is the negative and unproductive behavior and words and body language that come out of stress and conflict that destroys a marriage. This is why divorce is never the answer for a troubled marriage. The root cause of a troubled marriage is never outward circumstances but always inward immaturity to handle stress and conflict. If you run through divorce from a troubled marriage you carry the root cause within you into your next relationship.

If you want to cause your spouse to fall in love with you all over again, then change your behavior, your words and your attitude toward your spouse. Begin to be a master at meeting the needs of your spouse.

Couples marry because they have needs that they believe will be met by their mate. Many couples have gone through hell and high water with joy and happiness because through it all they continued to meet each other’s needs. On the other hand, couples who have had it all… beauty… things…wealth, often, end in divorce simply because they failed to meet each other’s most basic needs. Don’t deceive yourself thinking that because of this or that that’s happening on the outside is the reason that your marriage is struggling. It’s never what’s happening on the outside that hurts a marriage. It’s always what happens on the inside… in the heart… in the thought life, that hurts a marriage. Look within and start there!


Keys to Restoring a Hurting Marriage

Your marriage can be restored, healed and become the best it has ever been. It is not too late, too far gone nor too messed up. If you are “willing” to work the following keys, they will work for you.

KEY NUMBER ONE: Work on changing you: your behavior, your actions, your words and your thinking. I know that many will be tempted to write me off here. After all, it’s your spouse that is the problem, right? Wrong! Until you fully understand this principle, you will be far from restoring any relationship: “People fall in love with behavior, words and attitudes.” People do not fall in love with beauty, money or the shape of the body…they may lust after such things, but they fall in love with how they are treated…what you say to them…and how you interact with them.  This is why couples with money, beauty and the best of bodies do not have better marriages. If your spouse has stopped loving you, it is because you have stopped the behavior, words and attitudes that caused your spouse to fall in love with you in the beginning. Please do not allow this to condemn you but instruct you into getting back into the behavior, words and attitudes that your spouse fell in love with.

KEY NUMBER TWO: Because your spouse fell in love with you through your behavior, words and attitudes you displayed towards them, restoring your behavior, words and attitudes will indeed give your spouse opportunity  to fall in love with you again and again. So key number two is, begin on purpose to treat your spouse as a King or Queen. Give him or her reason to fall in love with you all over again. Yes, your spouse should love you unconditionally, but people don’t make love with those who they love unconditionally. Sex has much more to do with “lawful” lust than unconditional love. This is a big key. This may mean that you need to go to anger classes. They may mean that you need to get professional help with your emotional roller coaster behavior. Remember, until you change YOU, your road to restoration is a “Dead End” street.

KEY NUMBER THREE: Make it your daily goal that nobody…I mean nobody…has any chance of making your spouse FEEL more loved, cherished, valuable and beautiful as YOU do! With passion and determination, strive to compliment your spouse more than any other person could in any given day. Be creative in this. Do not just use words. Work key number three with what you do and how you do it. Show your spouse how valuable he or she is to you. Remember, your actions do speak louder than your words.

Don’t expect your spouse to necessarily respond to your change immediately. You may need to prove your sincerity and genuineness. Don’t be surprised even if your spouse rejects your attempt to change. Remember…please do not forget this…people do not fall in love with a SINGLE act of kindness but rather the DAILY behavior of kindness.

KEY NUMBER FOUR: Practice seeing the end results long before you experience the end results. This key is about refusing to become distracted and knocked off course by seeing little to no change in your spouse. Remember, before your hair becomes the way you want it to look, it may look worse before it becomes right. Don’t get up from the chair screaming, “It’s not working” before the work is over.  Stay faithful to work on you and your behavior, words, actions, and attitude regardless of what you may not see in response from your spouse.

Being treated as a King or Queen is indeed irresistible. Over time, even the most rebellious individual melts with such treatment. The good news is that your spouse is not rebellious about loving you; rather they simply need the magnet of right behavior, words and attitudes to draw them back to you in love and passion.

These keys will not work for you as long as you blame your spouse for your troubled marriage. This is not about who is to blame. This is about once again becoming that irresistible magnet that draws your spouse’s heart and love back to you.  You know well people who you are attracted to and those who repel you. Your behavior, words and attitude either repels or attracts. Knowing the difference, makes all the difference.


How To Be Positive About
Your Marriage

Having a positive attitude in life is powerful only if you’re positive about the right information. Being positive yet lacking the right information can still produce negative results. With a positive attitude, many determine not to “give up” but because they lack the right information their positive attitude fails to produce desired results. If I gave you an address in Gainesville, Florida but with a map of Gainesville, Georgia, it would not matter how positive you were concerning finding the address. You will still fail to find the address with the wrong map or the wrong information. Allow me to suggest to you what to be positive about concerning your marriage.

Be absolutely positive that as you think in your heart about your spouse and marriage so will be your marriage. You cannot have a troubled marriage without a troubled thought-life. Be positive about the truth that your love for your spouse cannot grow cold without first your love growing cold in your thought-life. How does one remain positive about this truth? By the bold belief that as you think in your heart so are you. Being positive about this truth is working this truth for your good. Refuse to allow even the smallest thought to dwell within your heart that is unproductive and negative about your spouse. Sure, every marriage encounters issues and opportunities for conflict, but with creative, controlled and mastered thinking, issues and conflict only strengthen and never destroy.  Conflict cannot hurt your marriage without first conquering your positive and creative thought life. You think yourself into a wonderful marriage or a troubled marriage. Mastering your thought-life with positive truth means that you understand that whatever issues arise within your relationship with your spouse, you can control what and how you think, and what you say and how you say it. You are not a puppet on a string being forced to say and do whatever comes to your mind. What you do and say in any given circumstance must be allowed by how you are thinking at the moment. Be positive that as you think in your heart so you speak and act, so positively think lovely, caring, gentle and encouraging thoughts. When issues arise, think creative and not destructive. Be positive about the power of how you think in your heart so you are in every area of life. So use this power to create heaven on earth in your marriage.

Unhappiness cannot exist in marriage without first dominating your thought-life with negative vision and self talk. Be positive that as you think in your heart, your emotions will follow. How can one be positive about this truth? Positively know that your feelings follow your thinking. Therefore, if you desire to be passionately in love with your spouse, think passionate loving thoughts about your spouse – on purpose and with purpose.  Be positive that such thinking will indeed produce feelings of love. You cannot feel positive about anything you think negative about. And likewise, you cannot keep falling in love with your spouse if you fail to keep loving your spouse with all your mind.

There is no such thing as falling out of love. That is a lie. No one falls out of love – period. If loves falls away, it is “thought” away. Love cannot enter your heart nor can it leave your heart without the cooperation of your thought-life. It is helpful to understand that a person’s thought-life consists not only of thoughts but of how one sees and talks on the inside. How you see life and your marriage is determined by how you think in your heart. How you talk to yourself about life and your marriage is determined by how you think in your heart.

God, Who created you, knew the power of your thought-life and therefore commanded mankind to love Him with ALL HIS MIND. God knew that man’s thought-life was so powerful, that man could not love Him with all his heart, strength and soul unless he loved Him with all his mind too. Unless you love your marriage with all your mind, your own mind can become your own personal, private worst enemy.

Love rises or falls according to your thought-life. This truth can become transforming information that can positively change your life forever if you positively embrace and act upon it.  I pray you will.Until one openly and humbly admits they need help to overcome bad behavioral habits, bad behavior will continue to be reinforced. One must go far beyond being good at apologies to overcome poor habits. Many have become skilled and polished at asking for forgiveness as they make excuses for their bad behavioral habits. A clear sign of powerless excuses are unfulfilled promises that are repetitively broken.

Never be deceived by tears seeking forgiveness. It does not matter how sincere one may be in making an apology and asking for forgiveness, this act can indeed be and usually is done in denial that one needs help and cannot overcome their bad behavioral habits alone. Repentance sought in denial of needing help is sure to repeat the offense again and again. This is a common cycle for many couples in denial = offend…apologize…offend…apologize…offend…apologize. 

Denial that one needs help is the power and strength to continue as you are. Denial is powerful. It is a prison of going in circles repeating the same unwanted struggles year after year. Denial is an enemy of better and a friend of tolerance. Denial is the number one promoter of divorce and separation within marriage. Where denial remains, change and growth will not be anywhere in sight.

It is amazing just how easy change can be once denial and making excuses are rejected once and for all. One of the most powerful confessions a man can make while holding his wife’s hand and looking into her eyes is, “I need help…I am powerless to change my poor behavior by myself…Will you help me get help?” I assure you that healing and the power to change rushes into your soul once such words are spoken in sincerity.

Many couples are in denial that they need to become marriage students. Such couples are in denial that their marriage could be and should be better. As long as a couple remains bound in the prison of denial, change and better will be out of reach. Denial hides in self-justification and lies and satisfaction. Why settle for good when better is within your reach?

The only folks that cannot grow and become better and better are those in the grave. And that is what denial is…a graveyard of lost potential. No matter what your issues are…no matter what your bad habits are…your starting place for change is the realization that you need help.

Once you get out of denial, the next step is voluntarily submitting yourself to the process of getting help. Getting out of denial is like getting out of prison. Once of prison, submitting to help is essential.

Do not be deceived thinking that because a person freely admits their faults that they are not in denial. Here is where so many are held in bondage. Admitting your faults without addressing your faults is a form of denial. A person will remain unchanged as long as they fail to submit to a process of personal growth and development. That process may be marriage counselling or other classes designed for obtaining freedom from destructive habits.

Without voluntarily submitting to some legitimate process of change, denial is still ruling and reigning. The strong get help while the weak make excuses. No one has to live with an OK marriage. Marriage becomes better and better…not over time…but because of personal growth and development. It’s your choice. You can grow in becoming better at making up after yet another “blow out” or you can become better at growing better.

Marriage Isn't For Me


The following article was written by Seth Adam Smith and has incredible truth every married and engaged couple  will benefit from.  Please read, consider and apply!

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.
Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?
Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Wal-Mart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”
Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.
Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

To visit Seth Adam Smith's Website, click here


10 Rules for a Happy Marriage

Recently I came across “10 Rules for a Happy Marriage” that I wish to share with you. Allow me to encourage you to write or type out these 10 Rules for a Happy Marriage and post them somewhere in your home where you can review them every day.

Rule Number One: If one of you has to win an argument, let it be your mate. If you have a choice between making yourself or your mate look good, choose your mate. Rule number one is a standard measurement for maturity in marriage. Rule number one will require unconditional love, thinking of your mate more than you think of yourself, and humility to take a back seat even at the expense of appearing to lose an argument. Always having to be right and always having to win will trample upon rule number one.

Rule Number Two: Great communication is worth working hard on and honesty always wins.
Seldom is great communication an accident. Effective communication takes practice, patience, and yes, hard work. Without great communication, intimacy within marriage will never reach the level that it can. Honesty is the foundation upon which great communication is built. Without honesty communication always has some element of deceit and deception in its language.

Rule Number Three: Never assume. And on that note, people really can change. Believe in the best in each other. Recently a wife was talking with me about her marriage. After recommending several books that she and her husband would benefit from reading, she quickly responded, “My husband will never read books on marriage.” I challenged her not to think that way about her husband. I encouraged her to believe that God can change her husband’s heart. She accepted my challenge. One week later she came back to me excited that while she was reading a marriage book that I had recommended to her in her bedroom, her husband walked in and saw her reading the book and said, “Pick out any book on marriage for me and I will read it.” She bought her husband a book on marriage and she told me that he’s been reading it and even taking it to work to read on his lunch hour. Shortly after this, she shared with me that she could see a difference in her husband and she likes it. Never assume that your mate cannot or will not change. Believe the best in each other.

Rule Number Four: Never under estimate the power of just listening.
While honesty is the foundation for great communication to be built upon, good listening skills are the building blocks for great communication. The ability to just listen seems to wear out once a couple is married. While dating, listening is often easier because we’re striving to impress and win the heart of our mate. Never lose this precious gift of just listening.

Rule Number Five: Never bring up mistakes of the past.
Bringing up mistakes of the past reveals a heart of unforgiveness and often the intent to purposefully hurt and offend. Nothing good ever comes out of bringing up mistakes of the past.

Rule Number Six: Neglect the whole world rather than each other. Make it your priority and goal that nobody… and I mean nobody will ever in any given day complement and encourage your mate more than you do.

Rule Number Seven: Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled.
Be quick to address issues in unconditional love. This habit will make it easier and easier to resolve conflict. The longer that a hurt and an offense dwells within the heart, the more difficult it becomes to heal. Agree together now as a married couple that you will never go to sleep with an argument unsettled. If you have to… sign an agreement that spells out this agreement. When you and your mate have agreed together to practice this rule, it will be much easier to stay faithful to the agreement.

Rule Number Eight: At least once every day, say something encouraging to each other.

Rule Number Nine: When you have done something wrong, admitted and ask for forgiveness. Humility will bring you closer and it’s never ever too late to say, “I’m sorry.”

Rule Number Ten: When all else fails, last at yourselves.
Laughter is the laughter heals medicine in any marriage. Laughter heals. Laughter strengthens. Apply it often.


The “Love Bank” Concept

Soon after Susan and Mike started dating, Mike set up an account within the “Love Bank” of Susan’s heart. Likewise, Susan set up an account within Mike’s “Love Bank” in his heart. As Susan and Mike continued to date and see each other, they continued to make “love deposits” in each other’s Love Bank. As Susan and Mike’s Love Bank deposits increased, the desire for marriage became greater and greater. Not long thereafter, Susan and Mike entered marriage.

Susan and Mike’s marriage came with many responsibilities that created opportunities for Love Bank withdrawals. Mike’s love withdrawals from Susan’s Love Bank did not stir that much attention at first, however, as Mike continued to make more withdrawals and less love deposits, Susan’s Love Bank began to produce negative emotions toward Susan’s love for Mike.

Because Susan felt love and saw love from and through the deposits of love made into her Love Bank, Susan began to feel less love from Mike and less love for Mike. Unaware of what was happening within Susan’s Love Bank, Mike continued to allow the pressure of work and finances to make withdrawals from Susan’s Love Bank. As Susan’s Love Bank declined in love deposits from Mike, she too found it easy to make love withdrawals from within Mike’s Love Bank.

Over the following two years, Mike and Susan experienced good times and bad times. However, the bad times became greater than the good times. As each other’s Love Bank dried up, so did their love for each other. Unaware of the Love Bank concept, Susan and Mike assumed it was meant for them to be married to each other and agreed to divorce.

Mike began to date Amy. Because Mike was kind and treated Amy as a Queen, Mike quickly set up a love account within Amy’s Love Bank in her heart. Likewise, Amy created a love account within Mike’s Love Bank as she responded to Mike’s love deposits. Just as with Susan, Mike and Amy continued to make love deposits within each other’s Love Bank that created the desire for marriage. But because Nike never understood the Love Bank concept of making love deposits and love withdrawals, Mike was unaware that what caused him and Susan to end in divorce was soon repeating its cycle with Amy.

However, Amy, unlike Susan had someone else in her life that had set up a love account in Amy’s Love Bank. His name was Tom. Tom worked with Amy in the office. Tom never intended to create a love account in Amy’s Love Bank, but because Tom’s habit was to compliment Amy each day and make her feel important and valuable at work, Tom was making huge love deposits into Amy’s Love Bank. Amy never took much notice of Tom at first, but as Mike’s love deposits became less than Tom’s, Amy found herself thinking more and more of Tom.

Tom was married and loved his wife. But as Amy began to respond to Tom’s love deposits, Amy created a love account in Tom’s Love Bank. Soon Tom’s love deposits in Amy’s Love Bank far exceeded Mike’s. Because of Tom’s huge deposits, Amy soon was making more love deposits into Tom’s Love Bank than his wife was.

As soon as it happen, Tom and Amy both knew it was wrong. So they cut it off immediately. But Tom’s wife found out about his affair with Amy. Unable to cope with it, Tom’s wife left him. Tom hated himself. How could he allow himself to sleep with Amy? He loved his wife and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
Tom also failed to understand the Love Bank concept. But Tom’s close friend shared with him the concept. Tom got it.

Tom began to slowly make love deposits back into his wife’s Love Bank. As Tom gave his wife time, he focused upon keeping her Love Bank filled with his love deposits.   It wasn’t long before Tom’s wife began to respond with love deposits of her own into Tom’s Love Bank. Tom and his wife got back together and became stronger than before. However, Mike never learned of the Love Bank concept and soon lost Amy just as he had lost Susan.
Confused, Mike felt women were difficult. But the truth was Mike was just ignorant of how love works.

How to stay happy in marriage


At one time men considered the tomato a deadly poison. What they thought about the tomato in their minds produced physical and emotional feelings of fear if a tomato was eaten sickness and even death would occur. The emotion of fear was present because of a thought even though it was a fictitious thought. Our subconscious mind does not know the difference between what is true and what is false. According to how you are thinking, your subconscious mind is creating feelings. If you think a certain race of people are dangerous, your subconscious mind (true or false) automatically creates emotions and feelings of caution, suspicion and distrust for that race of people.

Have you ever had a bad dream where you woke up in fear? You may have awakened sweating or your heart beating faster than normal because of the bad dream, but the reality was that you were never in any danger at all. Your subconscious mind never knew that though, therefore it created feelings of fear causing your body to respond in a physical and emotional way. I remember more than one time dreaming I was falling to my death and awoke with my heart beating in fear as if I was falling to my death. My subconscious mind believed I was falling and produced emotions and physical reaction as though I was actually in imminent danger of death.

You can think yourself into a beautiful marriage or you can think yourself into depression, loneliness and misery. Your subconscious mind will automatically create emotions, feelings and an outlook of life according to how you think. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Time and again, I keep coming back to this truth. Until we change how we think, we will not change.

It is impossible to be unhappy in a marriage without first creating unhappiness from you have been thinking. You are the creator of your own joy and happiness. It is a lie that your spouse, because of his or her behavior, controls how you feel. Stop believing the lies that if only this and if only that would change, then I would/could be happy. Happiness may arise because of a positive outward circumstance, but fail not to remember, it was not the positive circumstance that created happiness, but from your thoughts that came from the positive circumstance. Your subconscious mind can only create feelings according to your thoughts. If your think poorly, you will feel poorly.

You are your own worst enemy or you are your own best friend. Blaming your marriage for why you feel unhappy is as profitable as blaming your spouse for the trouble in Syria. Whoever or whatever controls your thinking, controls your feelings. Where your thoughts go, so follows your emotions. As you think, so you feel.

So how do you get back in control of your happiness? Allow me to suggest the following:

Number One: Before you get out of bed every morning, think of at least seven things that you are thankful for. “I can’t do that,” you say. Yes, you can. Not only can you, but it’s to your benefit that you reject the “I can’t” lie if you want to create a happier life and marriage. Unhappy folks are unthankful folks in how they think. If you never stop and take the time to be thankful, even the best circumstances will fail to keep you happy. Just consider the rich and famous who have everything in life that one could want, yet often we hear about divorce, suicide and addictions that ruin life. Stop looking on the outside for happiness. Happiness is found on the inside where your thoughts dwell.

Number Two: Lavishly give praise to people in your life. Stay on the hunt for ways to encourage and bless others. Rather than complain and murmur, speak blessings. Happiness cannot dwell where complaining is allowed to stay. Giving praise changes you because praise requires thoughts that create feelings that are positive. Unhappy people give little praise unto others, unless of course they want something from you.

Filling your thoughts with thanksgiving and praise unto others is a sure way to attract happiness into your life and marriage. One more reason to think right is right thinking creates solutions to solve any problem. As long as you think poorly, improvement is out of reach.


You Can Change If You Want To!

Many well educated people, after being confronted with areas of their life that need to be changed, become unwilling to allow change to occur. Nothing is more difficult than to work with people who are too prideful and self-centered to change. There is simply no way to improve where you currently are in life without changing. If you and I were the people that we needed to be to have excellence and magnificence in our marriage and in all areas of our lives, then we would have it.

Without change, nothing changes. Constant struggles, fighting and arguing in marriage are all signs that change must take place. The wonderful thing about change is that it’s never a secret or hidden necessity. Everybody knows in their heart where they need to change. No one miss treats another human being by accident. No spouse abuses their mate without full awareness of what they are doing. Getting the right advice is not the problem. Having the wisdom to know what to do is not the problem. Poor marriages are poor because somebody chooses not to change. Stubbornness is behind much unwillingness to change. Stubbornness is cruel and ugly.

Our society today has become so self-centered that we would rather change partners and hurt our children than change ourselves. Far too many couples would rather allow their children to continually see fighting, arguing and conflict on a regular basis within the home than to change. Rather than dealing with their self-centered pride and ego that demands its own way, many would rather see their children suffer the anguish on the inside of seeing and hearing mom and dad attack each other with vicious words and often physical abuse. It’s a lie that you cannot change. You can change.

Change is really quite simple. It’s not complicated. It’s not necessary to get a degree to do it. It all begins with the choice: a decision to change. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is keeping you from changing and becoming what you need to be from the inside out except an unwillingness to confront the change necessary in your life. The only thing that keeps people from growing and changing is the unwillingness to do it.

There are many things in life that are unavoidable. There are many things that happen to us that were not our choice; that we didn’t bring upon ourselves. But a bad marriage with repeated conflict and fighting is indeed a choice. There’s only one reason for repeated conflict, fighting and abusive behavior whether physically or verbally, a choice has not been made to change.

Change begins with confession. Change begins with admitting that you need help. How long do marriages have to suffer because of anger and immaturity? No one is a slave and a victim to anger or immaturity in the sense that they cannot help themselves. Angry people are angry because they choose not to change. You and I may not be responsible for our childhood experiences and what has happened to us in the past, but you and I are indeed responsible for what is happening in our lives now.

Oh the joy of changing. Such freedom comes with it. The rewards of ever-growing and becoming better is peace in our lives, joy and happiness. Growing and maturing has incredible benefits. Life is exciting and beautiful when we are growing and changing and improving. It’s those who choose not to change and grow who struggle in life and fail to walk in abundance of joy. The thrill of life is this ever-changing and improving. Growth is beautiful. Whether it’s a flower garden flourishing or a baby walking for the first time or overcoming habits. Growth makes life worth living and change is what makes life worth living.

Making it your goal to add value to the people in your life and to yourself through personal growth can become the most rewarding goal you’ll ever set.

The longer we procrastinate in making the necessary changes to become better spouses and better people, the longer we will have to settle for a lower life than that which is available on the other side of change. The choice is yours. Once you taste the pleasure of changing, you will be hooked for life in the process of growing better.


Guidelines for Discussing Difficult Issues

When the heat is on, most of us have no trouble expressing our opinions. The skill and ability to be respectful and compassionate is where the conflict explodes.

Where there is disrespect there is seldom solutions found to dissolve conflict. Conflict really isn’t a big deal. It is the disrespect and condescending attitudes that are express to each other that breed conflict. When couples lack understanding and empathy concerning how to relate to one another…attempts to straighten out your spouse’s attitudes, beliefs, and behavior by trying to impose your way of thinking through lecture, ridicule, threats, and other forcible means are often the case.

Disrespectful conversations occur when someone tries to impose his or her way of thinking or way of doing things on someone else. If you ever try to force your spouse to accept your point of view or do something the way you want it done, you’re asking for trouble. Allow me to offer a few guidelines in how to engage in conflict without hurting each other.

Guideline 1: Agree to sit down together and talk. Make your time of discussion a safe and enjoyable experience. Listen to each other with empathy. Do not interrupt each other. Do not try to correct each other. Allow your spouse uninterrupted time to share all that’s on their heart. Interrupting your spouse comes across that you do not care about your spouse’s opinions and feelings. Agree with each other that you will not interrupt when discussing difficult issues that have been causing conflict. This may take practice, but it is well worth the price to hold your peace while your spouse shares their heart. Who wants to sit down and talk with someone that’s always interrupting them. Rest assured that where one or both spouses continue to interrupt each other, conflict will continue unresolved.

Guideline 2: When expressing your conflicting opinions to each other, always do so with respect and understanding. When you show disrespect to an opposing opinion, it gives the impression that you don’t understand and you don’t want to understand. Being able to state your own position clearly is also crucial in helping your spouse understand your motives and true objectives. Learning how to listen with empathy and with compassion and understanding will prove to be the greatest leverage that you will ever have in solving conflict in marriage. Showing disrespect and the lack of understanding is the quickest way to extend and prolong unwanted conflict. No one enjoys talking with a critic. If you are critical of everything that your spouse says, you are the problem.

Guideline 3: Learn to recognize when you’re making selfish demands. Selfish demands are abusive and controlling. Seldom is a problem ever solved through selfish demands. A selfish demand is any request that your spouse do something that benefits you at your spouse’s expense. Often a selfish demand is simply a request that makes your spouse feel guilty if he or she does not surrender and do what you want. Just the opposite of a selfish demand is a thoughtful request. A thoughtful request is asking your spouse to do something for you, with a willingness to withdraw the request if there is reluctance on your spouse’s part…and without getting mad discuss alternatives to your request that would be in your spouse’s best interest. Thoughtful request will help you create habits that provide the care you need for each other.

Guideline 4: Learn to identify and discuss the problem of conflict from both perspectives: You and your spouses. Never assume you know what your spouse is feeling and what your spouse is thinking. Learn to ask questions that show your love and compassion rather than questions that expose disrespect. Rather than saying, “You’re not making any sense.” Try saying, “I really want to understand so tell me again please.”

It’s always striking to see individuals who have such incredible tolerance and understanding with people at work but when they go home to their spouse that tolerance and understanding is absent. Often the people that we are the most intolerant of concerning behavior and most demanding of perfection, are the ones closest to us. Never lose the basics of great relationships. Respect, courtesy, value, empathy, understanding and compassion. These are the core ingredients that keep a marriage strong even when conflict arises.