“Bad” Advice that Might Save Your Marriage

"Bad Advice that might Save Your Marriage
I spotted an article earlier this week entitled “The Worst Marriage Advice of Every Decade Since the 1900s.” Curiosity compelled me to click through and read.

I’ll admit that the advice from the most recent decades truly was horrible. No wonder so many marriages end in divorce, if the guidelines couples are attempting to live by these days revolve around keeping secrets until their deathbed or saying one thing while doing another.

But the earlier advice from bygone eras? Not surprisingly, many of those recommendations were actually spot on. In fact, I suspect marriages would fare much better if more folks adopted such attitudes toward their mates as were so highly prized in past generations.

Once source referenced was particularly good, I thought. It was a piece written by Abigail van Buren in 1965 called The Ten Commandments for Wives.

She wrote a companion column devoted to the Ten Commandments for Husbands, then later combined the two, but as this is the one referenced in the above article, I’ve chosen to reprint it in its original form, along with some of my own thoughts about what Abby advised:

10 Commandments for Today’s Wives

  1. “Defile not thy body neither with excessive foods, tobacco, or alcohol, that thy days may be long in the house which thy husband provideth for thee.”
  2. Doctors, health gurus, and the Word of God all agree: overeating and excessive drinking are bad for us (as is smoking). Why then would encouraging wise choices in these areas constitute bad advice for married women? Shouldn’t it be easier to “live happily ever after” in good health than in poor?

    “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” – Proverbs 23:20-21

  3. “Putteth thy husband before thy mother, thy father, thy daughter, and thy son, for he is thy lifelong companion.”
  4. If you want your marriage to succeed, you must make it your priority to nurture your relationship. That’s why most marriage vows include the promise to “forsake all others and cleave only unto thee.” You can’t just toss your spouse an occasional scrap of attention and expect love to flourish.

    “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

  5. “Thou shalt not nag.”
  6. This advice is both sound and Biblical. Not only does the husband benefit when his wife refrains from nagging, but she will be much happier, as well, when she learns to identify and be grateful for all the blessings in her life rather than focusing her thoughts solely on the irritations.

    “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” – Proverbs 21:19

    “…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

  7. “Permit no one to tell thee that thou art having a hard time of it; neither thy mother, thy sister, nor thy neighbor, for the Judge will not hold her guiltless who letteth another disparage her husband.”
  8. Be faithful to your husband in word and deed. You would not want him to say disparaging things about you to his friends, so treat him as you’d want to be treated — even when he’s not around to hear what you’re saying.

    “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

  9. “Thou shalt not withhold affection from thy husband, for every man loveth to be loved.”
  10. Be a generous lover. As I’ve said many times before, you are the only person on earth who can rightfully meet your husband’s need for intimacy. When you starve him sexually, you shoot yourself in the foot.

    “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another” – 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

  11. “Forget not the virtue of cleanliness and modest attire.”
  12. This is good advice, whether you are married or not.

    “Your adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4

  13. “Forgive with grace, for who among us does not need forgiveness?”
  14. I know of nothing that will destroy a marriage faster than bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. Let all those things go, for your own sake as much as for his.

    “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

  15. “Remember that the frank approval of thy husband is worth more to thee than the admiring glances of a hundred strangers.”
  16. Some people go to far greater lengths to bless and impress friends and coworkers than they do to please their own spouse. If you are going to concern yourself with gaining the admiration and approval of anybody, shouldn’t it be the man you married?

    “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy; he stands out in comparison to all other men. ” – Song of Solomon 5:10

  17. “Keep thy home in good order, for out of it cometh the joys of thy old age.”
  18. Keeping an orderly home goes far beyond making sure your house stays neat and tidy. It includes raising your children to be respectful and obedient and honoring the Lord in the way you relate to your husband and extended family members.

    “She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.” – Proverbs 31:27

  19. “Honor the Lord thy God all the days of thy life, and thy children will rise up and call thee blessed.”
  20. This, of course, is straight out of Scripture, as well. Glorifying God is what we were created to do in the first place. If we will honor Him in the way we love and serve our family, and they will love and praise and honor us, as well.

    “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:28-30

"Bad Advice that might Save Your Marriage

How to Date a Husband Who’d Rather Stay Home

Tips for Dating a Husband who'd Rather Just Stay Home

Below is a follow-up question I received in reference to the Date Night post I published a few months back. This writer raises a good point! Here’s the whole scoop, along with my response:


I really love this [Date Night] post! I’ve been reading your blog for a few days now and using your “praying from head to toe” printables daily. They’re really helping change my attitude towards my husband in a good way!

I do have a question about the planning it yourself aspect — my husband REALLY doesn’t want to go out and has told me so. So what if I take the initiative [to plan a nice date], and then he gets upset at me for “forcing the issue”? I could see it going either way.


I understand your concerns and agree: There is a big difference between planning a date for a husband who is willing but busy, and forcing the matter with a husband who has made it clear he prefers not to go out under any circumstances.

Some husbands are extremely introverted and do not enjoy being in a crowd. Others are stressed by financial burdens, and don’t see how they can find money for expensive dates on a regular basis. Still others are just tired after their long day at work and would rather relax at home.

If something like that is at work in your marriage, I suggest you discuss with your husband some acceptable alternatives.

  • If he doesn’t like crowds, pick something isolated.
  • If he’s concerned about spending money, pick something cheap.
  • If he’d rather stay at home, find something you can do together there that will draw you closer together.

Dates do not have to mean candlelit dinners or blockbuster movies. Consider his interests. Would he like to go fishing, just the two of you? Does he like cars? Maybe you could go to a local showroom and take a test drive. Gardening? Pull weeds together and visit while you do. Monday night football? Learn the rules of the game, make a big bucket of popcorn, and sit on the couch beside him cheering on his favorite team. You get the idea. Adapt yourself to him, and learn to take enjoyment in the things that interest him.

Want more ideas for date night at home? Here are a fifteen of our favorites:

  1. Cook a meal together.
  2. Throw something on the grill for a casual picnic on your patio or go gourmet and serve it on fine china with fresh flowers and crystal stemware.

  3. Read a book together.
  4. Take turns reading aloud from the same book or sit side-by-side reading different books and discussing the best parts.

  5. Take a walk together.
  6. Amble around the block, through the gardens, or just to the mailbox and back. Hold hands and enjoy each other’s company.

  7. Play a game together.
  8. Bananagrams, Chess, Scrabble, and Stratego are a few of our favorites and none of them need more than two players.

  9. Watch a documentary together.
  10. Pick a topic that interests you both and learn more about it. Or if documentaries aren’t your thing, try a foreign film with subtitles.

  11. Set some goals together.
  12. Where would you like to find yourself in twelve months? Five years? Ten years? What should you do now to make those dreams a reality?

  13. Do a project together.
  14. Whether it’s changing the oil in your car, cleaning out the garage, or taping off a room and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, find a task that needs to be done and tackle it as a team.

  15. Get some exercise together.
  16. Try a new workout video or see how many jumping jacks and sit-ups you can do. You can hold his feet and count for him, then trade places and let him do the same for you.

  17. Reminisce over old times together.
  18. Break out the photos albums, scrapbooks, or family movies and go through them page by page and frame by frame. Which memories are your favorites? Which do you hope to never go through again?

  19. Take a bath together.
  20. A long soak in a tub of warm water (bubbles optional) is very relaxing and provides a great opportunity for talking about your day. If you don’t have a bathtub big enough for two, try taking a hot shower together.

  21. Gaze at the stars together.
  22. Head outdoors once the sun goes down and admire the full moon or watch for shooting stars. Sit on the porch steps, break out the lawn chairs, or relax in a hammock and soak in the sights and sounds of the evening. If you have access to a good telescope, so much the better.

  23. Plan a vacation together.
  24. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Get out a map and chart a course. Google your destination and discuss what kind of activities you’d do once you got there. Planning a trip is half the fun of going, so enjoy this process, even if it’s unlikely you’ll actually take it anytime soon.

  25. Say your prayers together.
  26. Did you know that couples who pray regularly together have less than a 1% incidence of divorce? If you and your spouse have not already made it a habit to pray together, start now — date night or no.

  27. Do something creative together.
  28. Paint some pictures. Sculpt with clay. Compose a song. Take up whittling. Write something from the heart, then trade what you’ve written and edit each other’s work. Sign up for an online class and learn a new craft together.

  29. Get naked together.
  30. Throw the lock on the bedroom door and do what married couples should do — enjoy that one-flesh union God so marvelously designed, every chance you get!

As you read through this list of suggestions, you will see that together is the optimal word in all of them. Our lives are full of mundane activities that can be magically transformed into memorable dates when we do them alongside the one we love. The trick is to keep your eyes open and look for opportunities to cultivate that sense of togetherness and belonging.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but is designed to get you thinking in the right direction. What activities would you add for spending time with a husband who doesn’t like to “go out”?

Today Is “Kiss Your Mate” Day — So Get after It!

It's Kiss Your Mate Day!

There was a song that was popular when I was in high school, and for thirty years, I’ve thought they were singing, “Your Kiss is on My Lips.” It wasn’t until recently that I learned the words of that song actually read: “Your kiss is on my list... of the best things in life.” And you know what? I like those words even better!

The lyrics go on to say: “Because your kiss (your kiss) I can’t resist/ Because your kiss is what I miss when I turn out the light.”

Shouldn’t that be my goal as a wife? To make a habit of kissing my husband so often and so passionately that he would consider my kiss one of the best things in life? To routinely give him the kind of soft, sweet, sensual kisses that he finds irresistible? To make our nights together at home so memorable that he really misses me whenever we’re apart?

I once read about an interesting study conducted in Germany. Researchers found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than men who weren’t kissed. A simple farewell kiss was the one consistent factor that set high achievers apart from the rest. Can you imagine that?

The fact is, success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so if you want to communicate respect for your husband, be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure.

In addition to improving your husband’s earning potential, kissing offers many powerful health incentives — and these hold true for both participants:

  • Kissing prevents cavities and tooth decay by increasing saliva production, which in turn helps to wash away plaque.
  • Kissing reduces stress and anxiety by helping to lower blood pressure and relieve tension.
  • Kissing strengthens health and immunity by triggering the release of oxytocin and many other disease fighting chemicals into the bloodstream.
  • Kissing counteracts the signs of aging by firming up facial muscles, plumping lips, and precipitating a rosier, healthier complexion.
  • Kissing improves cardiovascular health by raising your heart rate (at least potentially) and providing total body conditioning.
  • Kissing boosts confidence and self-esteem by improving your state of mind, balancing your mood, and raising your happiness level.

And if all that is not reason enough to smooch your spouse, there is also this: Kissing fulfills a Biblical injunction. In 2 Corinthians 13:12, we are told very plainly to “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

With so many benefits riding on it, you’ll want to pucker up at every opportunity (not just on April 28 for “Kiss Your Mate” Day)!

Tips for incorporating more kissing into your marriage:

  • Get up early enough to brush your teeth and swish a little mouthwash before your husband leaves for work, so you’ll be ready to offer him a proper goodbye kiss at the door.
  • Perhaps you are the one who’s leaving home and returning later. It’s still a great practice to seek him out before you go, tell him you’re leaving and plant one on him.
  • As one of my readers suggests, don’t just limit your kissing to goodbyes. “Couples should also kiss each other hello. And goodnight. And OFTEN! Kissing is fun!”

Of course, you may find that kissing your spouse is like eating Doritos — you can’t stop with just one. That’s okay, too. If kissing leads to more intimate expressions of affection, so much the better. You’ll reap even more benefits when you make that a priority in marriage, as well. 🙂

Note: This post has been adapted from the chapter “Kiss Him Goodbye” in my award-winning book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband.

Winston Churchill Gives Sound Marriage Advice

A Little Marriage Advice from Winston Churchill

April 9th is Winston Churchill Day. This year marks the 53rd anniversary of Churchill’s being made an honorary U.S. citizen, so it seems fitting to spend a few minutes today reflecting on some of the words of wisdom for which he is so well known.

Apparently, Churchill exercised the same dogged determination in love as he exhibited in war: Despite the pivotal role he played in WWII, he often boasted that his “most brilliant achievement” was persuading his wife to marry him. When Churchill passed away at the age of 90, he and Clementine had been married 56 years.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes from the British Bulldog. Had Churchill been a marriage counselor rather than a Prime Minister, I imagine his marriage advice would have sounded something like this:

  • “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
  • Want a great marriage? Don’t just twiddle your thumbs, waiting for your spouse to create it for you. Take responsibility. Take ownership. Do everything in your power to make your marriage the best it can be.

  • “The first quality that is needed is audacity.”
  • A great marriage requires bold risk-taking. It takes a hundred-percent, sold-out, do-or-die commitment. No holding back. No hedging your bets. You’ve got to give it your all, pouring body, soul, and spirit into making your relationship everything God intends for a marriage to be.

  • “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
  • This is true in every area of life, and marriage is no exception. Want a happy marriage? Cultivate a happy heart. Dwell on the positive. Be loving, patient, cheerful, kind, and quick to forgive.

  • “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
  • Marriage is more about making a life than making a living. When you focus on what you can GIVE rather than on what you can GET, you stand a better chance of making that life wonderful in every way.

  • “‘No comment’ is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.”
  • Don’t feel obligated to spout off everything that pops into your mind. Some things are better left unsaid. Be slow to speak. Weigh your words carefully. If you can think of nothing worthy to say, say nothing.

  • “Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it.”
  • Do hardships send you spiraling to the ground? Pressures spin you out of control? Stay anchored and work together. You’ll rise above the buffeting winds and soar higher than you ever thought possible.

  • “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
  • Push through your misery — don’t sit down and wallow in it. Just as the joy of holding a newborn follows the intense pain of childbirth, couples who pull together and work through their problems report feeling far happier and more deeply satisfied afterward than those who let difficulties drive them apart.

  • “Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never.”
  • This was Churchill’s strategy in dealing with the enemy during WWII. Let it be yours, as well. If your marriage is to survive, you must repel anything that would threaten to destroy it — “great or small, large or petty” — with unyielding tenacity.

Every marriage will face adversity sooner or later. How will you respond when it comes? Will you panic, throw up your hands in despair, and watch your marriage crumble before your eyes? Or will you do as Churchill urged and meet each new challenge with “intense vigilance and exertion,” doing all that is necessary to protect and preserve life on the home front?

Could your marriage use a dose of that kind of moxie? What’s your favorite Churchill quote, and how might you apply it to your own situation?

Love in Bloom: 5 Essentials for a Thriving Marriage

Love in Bloom - Are you willing to put in the work to really make your marriage blossom?

I just love this time of year. I love the bright blossoms and the emerging bulbs and the grass that grows greener every day. I love looking through flower catalogues and landscaping magazines and pinning ideas to my “Outdoor Living” Pinterest board. I love spring!

I well remember my first foray into home gardening. I poured over a Breck’s wholesale catalogue for days. Inspired by all those beautiful photos of lush gardens, I ordered over two hundred tulip bulbs, then struggled to bury them at the requisite seven-inch depth in the patch of hard, black clay that constituted our “flower bed.”

Once they were in the ground, I put my gloves and spade back on the shelf and waited expectantly, envisioning the riot of blooms that would surround my house the following spring. I gave no thought to watering or weeding or fertilizing or nurturing those little bulbs in any way, yet I was totally discouraged and dismayed when only six of the two hundred ever even sprouted.

I think lots of couples face similar disappointments when it comes to cultivating a beautiful marriage relationship. They’ve seen the movies and read the books and heard all the “happily ever after” stories, so they buy the rings and go through the ceremony and exchange the vows, fully expecting the same blissful results.

But a beautiful marriage, like a beautiful garden, doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a lot of tender, loving care. It takes work. For a marriage to thrive, you must:

  • Cultivate the soil
  • Thorns and thistles may grow in hard, sun-baked clay, but cultivated plants need a little more soil preparation than that. If you want a beautiful flower garden, you must first break up the fallow ground. Likewise, love will never thrive in hearts that are cold, hard, proud, and impenetrable. For a marriage to flourish, hearts must first be laid bare – open, honest, and vulnerable.

  • Water deeply
  • For flowers to do well, their roots must be healthy and intact. If the roots are shallow or diseased or deprived too long of the water and nutrients essential to survival, the plant will wither and die. The same is true for marriage. A love that is firmly rooted in the Word of God, that drinks deeply and often from the well of Living Water, will be better able to withstand both droughts and storms that come its way.

  • Pull the weeds
  • You can prepare the soil and water well, but unless you stay vigilant, weeds will grow up and choke out more desirable plants in your garden. You must learn how to recognize such threats, watch for them constantly, and deal with them swiftly, before they have a chance to take root and establish themselves. So it is in a marriage. The love, joy, peace, and other good fruits that characterize a happy marriage cannot coexist with bitterness, resentment, arrogance, contempt, or selfishness, so don’t give those weeds a chance to rear their ugly heads. Stomp them out the minute they try to take root in your heart.

  • Fertilize as needed
  • The longer a garden grows, the more depleted the ground becomes of the nutrients the bedding plants need. To keep plants healthy, fertilizer must be used to replace vital nutrients in the soil. On the same principle, you should feed your marriage by reading books, attending retreats, and/or getting counseling as needed. It is important to maintain a teachable spirit and to never stop growing as a couple. Don’t assume because your marriage has been healthy and happy in the past, it will always be so. Keep a close eye on things: watch for signs of stress and address any deficiencies as soon as you are made aware of them.

  • Ensure lots of sunshine
  • Even with adequate water, good soil, and proper fertilizer, a garden won’t flourish without lots of light. Likewise, a marriage fares better when dispositions are sunny and bright. “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) A cheerful outlook and a positive attitude goes a long way in nurturing a happy, healthy home, so keep on the sunny side as much as possible!

Once I finally accepted the fact that great landscaping takes a lot of hard work, I was not only able keep the little patch of flowers outside our front door alive, but eventually planted and (with much help from husband and children) maintained nearly two acres of beautiful woodland gardens that are absolutely breathtaking when they’re in full bloom. If I’d thrown in the towel when my first attempts failed, I would have missed out on all the pleasure and satisfaction that gardening success brings.

Likewise, if I’d bailed on my marriage during initial hardships, I would have missed out on all the wonderfully happy years that have followed, for a marriage will produce strikingly beautiful and fragrant blooms when properly nurtured with lots of tender, patient, and loving care.

Love in Bloom: 5 Essentials for a Thriving Marriage. Are you willing to put in the work needed to make your relationship blossom?

10 Ways to Stop Arguing with your Spouse

10 tips for couples who want to quit quarreling
How can I stop quarreling in my marriage?

That’s the message one of my readers sent in a few weeks ago. Only eight words, but they describe a big problem.

How can the solution to such a simple, straight-forward question be so elusive?

Even in the best of marriages, couples will occasionally “butt heads.” How do we keep conflicts from spinning out of control?

My husband and I have known each other for almost thirty years, and we’ve been married for nearly twenty-nine. Since we’re both firstborn and innately stubborn, I can assure you that in those three decades, we’ve had our fair share of arguments. But in the process, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to stop an argument before it starts.

Our Top 10 Tips for Couples who Want to Quit Quarreling:

  1. Trade your pride in for humility.
  2. Nobody is right 100% of the time, so stop pretending that you’re the exception to this rule. Be willing to look at things from your spouse’s perspective. Put at least as much effort into understanding the other’s viewpoint as you put into articulating your own. How many marriages have been destroyed by the stubborn refusal of either or both parties to humbly extend such basic considerations?

    “Prides goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”Proverbs 16:18

  3. Give up the right to have the last word.
  4. Have you ever known (or been married to) someone who insists on always having the last word? It can be super-annoying, can’t it? Don’t be that person. Once you have gently explained your point of view, challenge yourself to remain quiet and voluntarily grant that last-word privilege to your spouse.

    “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.” – Ogden Nash

    Great marriage advice from Ogden Nash

  5. Stay calm, especially when your spouse is stirred up.
  6. It’s almost inevitable that your spouse will occasionally do or say something that irritates you, yet it’s important to keep those feelings of annoyance from turning into anger — particularly when the irritation is mutual. The Bible warns us not to let our anger control us (Ephesians 4:26). It is bad enough when one of you gives into anger; if you both lose your temper at once, the potential for damage is doubled, so take a deep breath, count to ten, and do whatever it takes to keep a cool head.

    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”Proverbs 15:1

  7. Don’t belabor the point.
  8. Make it your aim to communicate your thoughts clearly and concisely. That is a goal over which you have some measure of control. Convincing the other person to agree with you completely or to abandon their viewpoint in favor of your own, isn’t — and if you make it your goal, you will be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.

    “You don’t need to drive it in and break it off.” – My dad’s advice to me whenever I’d perseverate on getting a point across

  9. Be quick to apologize.
  10. “Let not the sun go down on your wrath.” (Ephesians 4:26) That’s how the Bible advises us to deal with our anger. That gives you only a few hours to bury the hatchet before bedtime, so if you’ve had a spat, don’t wait for your spouse to make the first move toward reconciliation. Accept whatever blame belongs to you and apologize without pointing fingers.

    “Love means never hesitating to say you’re sorry.” – My edited version of Erich Segal’s famous quote

    Erich Segal got it wrong: Love means never HESITATING to say you're sorry.

  11. Forgive without being asked.
  12. You should forgive your spouse freely, as frequently as you are asked to do so (Matthew 18:21-22), but don’t feel like you have to wait for an apology before extending forgiveness. When you forgive — even (especially) if it is unsolicited — you protect your own heart from bitterness and resentment and keep your conscience clear toward God, who promises to forgive us as we forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15)

    “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham

  13. Anticipate problems in advance.
  14. With a little forethought, you can resolve many problems before they crop up. Identify common argument triggers and agree on an appropriate course of action beforehand. I know it puts my husband on edge when the house is a wreck, so I try to keep things tidy for his peace of mind. Likewise, he knows that I don’t like for him to look at his phone while driving, so he has me answer it for him when he receives a call on the road and pulls over to look at maps or send texts.

    “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” – Proverbs 17:14

  15. Embrace your differences.
  16. Men and women are inherently different, not only in the way their bodies are made, but in the way they think and act and in what they value. “Different is not necessarily wrong, it’s just… different.” Stop trying to change your spouse to be more like you and learn instead to embrace those differences. Adapt to them. Be grateful for them. Celebrate the fact they exist. Life would be pretty boring if they didn’t.

    “Vive la différence!” – Popular French saying which means long live the difference (between the sexes)

    Enjoying the Differences...

  17. Confront sin carefully.
  18. Of course, not all differences in behavior are a matter of taste, preference, or opinion. Sometimes our differences are rooted in sin. If such a power is at play in your marriage (and to some degree, sin rears its ugly head in every relationship), you may need to address the matter with your spouse. Do so in a firm but loving way, and pray for wisdom and the right words to say before you broach the subject (James 1:5). Be specific. Don’t generalize. Seek forgiveness for anything you’ve done that may have contributed to the problem (see #5 above), then leave room for the Holy Spirit to work in your spouse’s heart, convicting of sin and drawing unto repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9).

    “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”Galatians 6:1

  19. If you must argue, argue naked.
  20. There are several advantages to having a difficult discussion in the nude: First, you are less likely to storm out of the house in the middle of it, slamming doors as you leave. Second, being naked puts you both in an exposed, vulnerable position, and tempers are less likely to flare when that is the case. Third, if you don’t have any clothes on, you are one step closer to making up when peace is restored. And fourth, seeing one another naked may inspire you to skip the argument altogether and enjoy some physical intimacy instead. Once all the resultant endorphins are circulating in your system, you may find the things that were irritating you earlier no longer even matter to your post-sex brain. So it’s a win-win!

    “Make love, not war.” – Slogan coined by the hippie generation of the 1960’s

These ten practices aren’t theoretical; they are tried and true. My husband and I have been using them with great success for over a quarter century now. Sure, we still have impassioned discussions from time to time. We have different personalities and do not always see eye-to-eye.

But we are also a team. We are committed to marriage in general and to each other in specific, and we can attest that these guidelines, coupled with God’s unsurpassed grace, have kept those disagreements from driving a wedge into our relationship and causing a split or an all-out war.

What’s more, these principles (with the exception of #10) can be used to avoid arguments in your other relationships, as well. For more on this topic, read this post. Do you have a good secret for keeping the quarreling at bay? Please share in the comments below. Thanks!

Can a Married Woman Have Male Friends?

Should a Married Woman Have Male Friends

“What would be your advice to a wife on male friendships?”

That’s the question one of my readers sent in a few weeks ago. From the signature, it appears to have been written by the husband, not the wife — which tells me the matter has likely become a point of contention in their marriage already.

By way of response, I’m going to post a chapter from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect that deals with this topic, but first I need to address an underlying question:

Can a married woman have male friends?

Roughly half the world’s population is male, so a woman will inevitably have to interact with the opposite sex at some point during her married life. She will encounter male bosses, physicians, waiters, police officers, sales clerks, coworkers, pastors, teachers and countless other men as she goes about her daily business.

Hopefully, all such interactions will be on friendly rather than antagonistic terms. So, in that sense, my answer is yes, a married woman can have male friends. Absolutely she can. But this sort of friendly acquaintance is not anything that would bother most husbands, and I don’t think that’s the problem troubling the one who wrote to me. His question runs much deeper than that:

Should a married woman have close male friends?

  • Should she cultivate an opposite-sex friendship that excludes her husband or makes him feel displaced?
  • Should she pour time and energy into any male-female relationship outside her immediate family?
  • Should she be texting, flirting, or spending time alone in the company of a man other than her husband?
  • Should she ignore her husband’s reservations concerning the amount of time she spends with a male colleague?

My answer to all these questions is no. It would be best for her marriage if she didn’t. (The same can be said for married men in regards to other women, a topic my husband addresses from a man’s perspective here: Husbands, Be Careful with Female Friendships)

Cultivating a Close Friendship with Your Spouse

Getting married changes a lot more than the marital status of the bride and groom — it also affects every other relationship either spouse is involved in. Family dynamics shift, responsibilities change, and old friends take a backseat to the new spouse.

That’s because marriage calls for a leaving and cleaving. When a man and woman become husband and wife, they should leave home and family behind — not just physically, but mentally and emotionally — as they begin to pour themselves into establishing a new family, building their own home, and investing in their joint future.

Roles change after marriage. Sure, family’s still family, and we still love them, but the dynamic is different. No longer are we children under parental authority, bound by their rules and dependent upon their provision. Rather, we’re mature adults who must make our own way and answer directly to God for the path we choose.

But marriage doesn’t only change the way we relate to our family, it also alters how we handle friendships.Not that our friends aren’t still our friends, but time spent with friends can no longer predominate our lives or free time.

This is especially true when it comes to male-female friendships.

Time spent socializing with friends of the opposite sex should probably be scaled back to zero, unless spouses are present. Such a practice would be consistent with traditional marriage vows, which include a pledge to “forsake all others and cling only unto thee.”

If you want to safeguard your marriage and assure your husband of your undying love and devotion, then you must be extremely careful in the way you relate to, speak of, and think about other men.

Once you’re married, there is no room for flirting with anyone except your husband; you must be more guarded when interacting with the opposite sex. Let there be no ambiguity about your commitment to marriage in general or to your husband in particular.

Never compare your husband unfavorably to another man. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Don’t compare him to your:

  • father
  • father-in-law
  • family members
  • friends
  • fellow workers
  • Facebook followers
  • fictional characters
  • fantasy of ideal manhood

Assure your husband that he has your whole heart. Affirm and admire him every chance you get. You may want to avoid even positive comparisons, because they still send the message that he is being measured against other men. This can cause feelings of insecurity, for if you make a habit of comparing your husband to others, he may fear that a comparison will eventually be made in which he’ll be found lacking.

Take care not to rave too enthusiastically about a member of the opposite sex, real or imaginary. Many wives would feel slighted to hear their husband go on and on about how drop-dead gorgeous another woman is. Even if it were true, and the woman in question were strikingly beautiful, it would seem inappropriate for a married man to provide gushing commentary on that fact.

Likewise, most husbands would prefer not to hear the rapturous praise of another man being sung by their wife. If your eyes are going to light up when you speak about a man, you’d better be talking about the one you’re married to.

A wife should avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause her to stumble in this area, as well. Jesus said that when we lust in our heart after someone to whom we are not married, we are guilty of committing adultery. (Matthew 5:27-28) Notice that this warning applies as readily to women as it does to men.

So before you pick up that romance novel, or buy that movie ticket, or pin that portrait of some shirtless star onto your (real or virtual) bulletin board, ask yourself whether doing so will be a snare and a trap to you. If so, choose the high road.

Pray with the psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) The word for “meditation” may also be translated “thoughts.” And there are many more verses that address the importance of our thought patterns:

  • “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
  • “For out of the heart come evil thoughts… adultery, sexual immorality…. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15:19)

Having eyes only for your husband doesn’t really start with your eyes. It begins with your heart and with your mind. So take the battle there and prevail.

Put It into Practice:

  1. It’s good for married couples to develop friend-ships with other married couples. Look for couples who share and support your values and vision for family. Couples who are in the same season of life will be able to identify closely with your struggles, which can be good for encouragement and brainstorming, but you should also form friendships with older couples if possible — couples who are a little further down life’s road and can point out the pitfalls and provide wise and godly counsel.
  2. When praising your husband, use comparisons only in the most general (and superlative) terms: “You’re the sexiest man alive” is acceptable. “You’re better looking than our mechanic” probably isn’t. Let your husband’s good qualities stand on their own merit rather than measuring him against a specific person. Build him up without tearing others down.
  3. If you’ve developed a habit of comparing your husband negatively to others, either verbally or mentally, turn over a new leaf. If faults must be addressed, do so prayerfully and respectfully without dragging anybody else into the picture.

This post was adapted from 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband: A Handbook for Wives
25 Ways to Revitalize your Relationship