When Desires Are Too Passionate and Hopes Too Optimistic in Marriage

It always makes for trouble in relationships when there is an expectation of perfection. Here is a clip from a sermon stating the details of how this happens and how to address it:

Half the miseries and disquietudes, half the interruptions of conjugal peace and domestic felicity, arise from desires too ardent, and hopes too sanguine; both parties, at their first entrance into the nuptial state, especially in youth, are apt to form to themselves ideas, very inadequate and disproportioned to the condition of human life; to entertain delusive notions of a romantic and visionary paradise, where the earth is cloathed with perpetual verdure, the flowers never fade, and the fruits are immortal; but when instead of this, they begin, perhaps in a short time, to feel the thorns springing up under their feet, when they perceive the fruits to wither, and the verdure to decay, they are filled with unreasonable wonder and astonishment; they had accustomed themselves to look for nothing less than uninterrupted health, constant success, invariable harmony and affection; they suffer, therefore, not so much from the evil which they have, as from the want of that which they have not.  At the beginning of the voyage, the sky is generally clear, the waters calm and unruffled; but to conclude from thence that we are to fail through life without storm or tempest, is, to the last degree, absurd and unreasonable. It is the duty and the interest of both, therefore, and especially of him who sits at the helm, to prepare against the worst, to steer the vessel with all possible care and diligence, and conduct it safely into the harbor of peace and felicity. From, Sermons on the Relative duties, viz Introductory Sermon on Domestic Happiness, preached at Queen-Street Chapel, Rev Tho. Francklin, DD, Vicar of Ware in Hertfordshire and Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty.  Printed for T. Davies, In Russel Street, 1770

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What Is the Correlation Between Facebook and Divorce?

The Chicago Tribune reported on the dangers of social networking. The author asks, “Do social media sites make cheating easier?”

In any technology, there are benefits as well as costs and risks. Social networking technologies are no different.

A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81 percent of divorce attorneys have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence during the past five years. More than 66 percent of those attorneys said the No. 1 site most often used as evidence is Facebook, with its 400 million registered users.

Another recent survey by Divorce-Online.com of more than 5,000 attorneys says Facebook is mentioned in about 20 percent of divorce cases.

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The Sweetest, the Dearest, and the Purest Life

Marriage was reformed during the protestant reformation.  Martin Luther demonstrated to a new generation what marriage for the glory of God could look like. He said, “Marriage is not a thing of nature but a gift of God, the sweetest, the dearest, and the purest life above all celibacy and singleness, when it turns out well, though the very devil if it does not. . . . If then these three remain—fidelity and faith, children and progeny, and the sacrament—it is to be considered to be wholly divine and blessed estate. . . . One should not regard any estate as better in the sight of God than the estate of marriage.”[1]

[1] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, American Edition [Works], ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, 55 vols. (Philadelphia: Mulenberg, 1955), 45:47

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Making Marriage What It Was Meant to Be – A Modern Story

This is a very touching story of sacrifice in marriage.

In light of this story, here are three keys to a marriage for the glory of God:

1. The Center:  If glorifying Christ is not the center of your objectives together, it cannot be truly God glorifyingly sweet. Marriage began with Christ, was defined by Christ, is sustained by Christ, and can only be truly sweetened by Christ.

2. The Cross: Unless the sins that surface in marriage are qualified by the cross of Christ, defined by the cross, and seen in light of the cross, then all frailties and disappointments end in futility and hopelessness. That’s how you get an unhappy marriage. But not when Christ and His cross is central.

3. The Glory of God: Marriage is short, so make the most of it for the glory of God. God gives what John Piper calls “a momentary marriage” in order to declare the everlasting glories of the myriad of lovingkindnesses of His Son.

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Teaching Daughters Theology

In the past, Jonathan Sides has spoken on “Preparing your Two-Year-Old for Marriage” at the NCFIC marriage retreat. He said that “the most important thing you can do to prepare your children for marriage is to teach them the gospel. This is the most important understanding in marriage.”

Then he said, “Just because women do not have a teaching role in the church does not mean that daughters should not be taught theology. In a home, the daughters grow up to play the role of the church, as the bride being loved by her husband, so the daughters need to be fortified by the sound doctrine of the true gospel.”

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A Question for Husbands

During Dan Horn’s message at a past marriage retreat, he asked a very important question of husbands: “When she married you, she gave you her life to spend. Are you spending your life wisely?”

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Startling Statistics About Internet Pornography

Here are some startling statistics about internet pornography.

  • 25% of all search engine search requests are pornography related
  • 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic
  • The average age of boys seeing internet pornography is age 11
  • 12% of the web sites on the internet are pornographic – 24,644,172
  • The most popular day of the week for viewing porn is Sunday

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The Lord’s Holy Institution

When God speaks about marriage, He uses graphic and beautiful language. This holds true in the book of Malachi where the prophet calls marriage, “The Lord’s holy institution which He loves” (Mal. 2:11).

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“And When Death Is at Hand” – I Read This to Deborah

In the time of health, you must often and seriously remind each other of the time when death will make the separation; and live together daily as those that are still expecting the parting hour….Reprove everything in one another, which would be an unwelcome memory at death. If you see each other dull and slow in heavenliness, or living in vanity, worldliness, or sloth, as if you had forgotten that you must shortly die, stir up one another to do all without delay which the approach of such a day requireth.

And when death is at hand, oh then what abundance of tenderness, and seriousness, and skill, and diligence, is needful for one, that hath the last office of love to perform, to the departing soul of so near a friend! Oh then what need will there be of your most wise, and faithful, and diligent help!….They that are utterly unprepared and unfit to die themselves, can do little to prepare or help another. But they that live together as the heirs of heaven, and converse on earth as fellow travellers to the land of promise, may help and encourage the souls of one another, and joyfully part at death, as expecting quickly to meet again in life eternal.

From the final paragraphs of Richard Baxter’s, “The Mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives Toward One Another.”

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Richard Baxter on Preserving Love in Marriage – This is Really Fantastic

Richard Baxter has very profound and timely counsel for husbands and wives for how they might love one another.

He gives directions for choosing a spouse, avoiding dissension, growing love, and many other areas.

Some directions for maintaining love are as follows: 1. Choose a good spouse in the first place. A spouse who is truly good and kind. Full of virtue and holiness to the Lord. 2. Don’t marry till you are sure that you can love entirely. 3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate. 4. Remember that justice commands you to love one that has forsaken all the world for you. One who is contented to be the companion of your labours and sufferings, and be a sharer in all things with you, and that MUST be your companion until death. 5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures, and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you. 6. Remember that you are under God’s command; and to deny marital love to your wives, is to deny a duty which God has urgently imposed on you. Obedience therefore should command your love. 7. Remember that you are “one flesh”; you have drawn her to forsake father and mother, and to cleave to you; 8. Take more notice of the good, that is in your wives, than of her faults. Let not the observation of their faults make you forget or overlook their virtues. 9. Don’t magnify her imperfections until they drive you crazy. Excuse them as far as is right in the Lord. Consider the frailty of the sex. Consider also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you. 10. Don’t stir up the evil of your spouse, but cause the best in them to be lived out. 11. Overcome them with love; and then they will be loving to you, and consequently lovely. Love will cause love, as fire kindleth fire. A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife. 12. Live before them the life of a prudent, lowly, loving, meek, self ­denying, patient, harmless, holy heavenly Christian.

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The Importance of Eyes—John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407)

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople and renowned preacher, here counsels those who struggle with the mental sin of lust. In his Homilies on Matthew’s Gospel, he encourages the right use of the eyes and warns the wayward.

Rather, if thou desirest to look and find pleasure, look at thine own wife, and love her continually; no law forbids that. But if thou art to be curious about the beauties that belong to another, thou art injuring both thy wife by letting thine eyes wander elsewhere, and her on whom thou hast looked, by touching her unlawfully. Since, although thou hast not touched her with the hand, yet thou hast caressed her with thine eyes; for which cause this also is accounted adultery.

– John Chrysostom, Chrysostom’s Homilies on St. Matthew Part One (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 256. In other translations see Homily 17 on Matthew 5:27.

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The Work of a Husband and Wife at Home Is Really a Public Calling

William Gouge explains in Domestical Duties:

Work in a family is a public work

This is to be noted for satisfaction of certain weak consciences, who think that if they have no public calling, they have no calling at all; and thereupon gather that all their time is spent without a calling. Which consequence if it were good and sound, what comfort in spending their time should most women have, who are not admitted to any public function in Church or Commonwealth? Or servants, children, and others who are wholly employed in private affairs of the family? But the forenamed doctrine showeth the unsoundness of that consequence. Besides, who knoweth not that the preservation of families tendeth to the good of Church and Commonwealth?

So as a conscionable performance of household duties, in regard of the end and fruit thereof, may be accounted a public work.

Family life is demanding enough

Yea, if domestical duties be well and thoroughly performed, they will be even enough to take up a man’s whole time. If a master of a family be also an husband of a wife, and a father of children, he shall find work enough; as by those particular duties, which we shall afterwards show to belong unto masters, husbands and parents, may easily be proved. So a wife likewise, if she also be a mother and a mistress, and faithfully endeavour to do what by virtue of those callings she is bound to do, shall find enough to do. As for children under the government of their parents, and servants in a family, their whole calling is to be obedient to their parents and masters, and to do what they command them in the Lord. Wherefore if they who have no public calling, be so much the more diligent in the functions of their private callings, they shall be as well accepted of the Lord, as if they had public offices.

Many are lazy in their family callings because they have no public calling

Yet there are many, who having no public employment, think they may spend their time as they wish, either in idleness, or in following their vain pleasures and delights day after day, and so cast themselves out of all calling. Such are many masters of families who commit all the care of their house either to their wives, or to some servant, and mispend their whole time in idleness, riotness, and voluptuousness.

Men and women wasting their lives in their fathers houses

Such are many mistresses, who spend their time lying abed, attiring themselves, and gossiping. Such are many young gentlemen living in their fathers’ houses, who partly through the too-much indulgency and negligence of their parents, and partly through their own headstrong affections, and rebellious will, run without restraint whither their corrupt lusts lead them.

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John Brown Finds a Wife

My friend Mark Weaver sent me this story:

John Brown Finds a Wife

The mid-1680s is remembered as the Killing Time in Scotland. Royal regiments martyred Scottish Presbyterians at will. Despite the danger, Presbyterian John Brown fell in love with Isabell Weir. He proposed to her, but warned that he would one day seal his testimony with blood. Isabell replied, “If it be so, I will be your comfort. The Lord has promised me grace.” They were married in a secret glen by the outlawed minister, Alexander Peden. “These witnesses of your vows,” said Peden, beginning the illegal ceremony, “have come at risk of their lives to hear God’s word and his ordinance of marriage.” The vows were spoken, then Peden drew Isabell aside, saying, “You have got a good husband. Keep linen for a winding-sheet beside you; for in a day when you least expect it, thy master shall be taken.”

The Brown home soon included two children. It was happy, filled with prayer and godly conversation. Fugitive preachers were hidden and cared for there. But on May 1, 1685 John rose at dawn, singing Psalm 27, to find the house surrounded by soldiers. The family filed onto the lawn. The commander, Claverhouse, shouted to John, “Go to your prayers; you shall immediately die.” Kneeling, John prayed earnestly for his wife, pregnant again, and for his children. Then he rose, embraced Isabell, and said, “The day is come of which I told you when I first proposed to you.”

“Indeed, John. If it must be so, I can willingly part with you.”

“This is all I desire,” replied John. “I have no more to do but to die.” He kissed his children, then Claverhouse ordered his men to shoot. The soldiers hesitated. Snatching a pistol, Claverhouse placed it to John’s head and blew out his brains. “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” he snarled. Isabell, fixing Claverhouse in her gaze, told him she had never been so proud of him. Claverhouse mounted his horse and sped away, troops in tow. Isabell tied John’s head in a napkin and sat on the ground weeping with her children until friends arrived to comfort them.

“Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” — Psalm 27:3-4

Source: Morgan, Robert J.: On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997, S. May 1

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Sanctifying Effect of Marriage – Sin Extraction Without Anesthetic

“Marriage is the operation by which a woman’s vanity and a man’s egoism are extracted without anesthetic.”

– Helen Rowland, quoted in Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

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Keeping a Marriage Exciting Day to Day – What’s the Secret?

My parents have been married for many happy years. What’s their secret? Well, here is one: They always say nice things to one another and keep the fun alive. Here are a couple of conversations we have overheard in the past.

Deborah and Claudia were taking my parents to the store, and my father was in the front seat and mother was in the back seat. It was quiet for a while and finally my dad broke the silence, “Hey Mary, you still back there?” My mom replied, “Bill, I’m still following you.”

The other day, my dad said to my mother, “So, how come you are wearing two different ear rings?” She replied, “Oh no, I can’t believe I did that!” Then she felt the ear rings in her fingers, and said, “No I don’t – These are the same.” He replied, “I know, I’m just kidding.”

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