Category Archives: Priorities

Date? I’m Married!

date-night-2

One of the elements of a healthy marital relationship that is all too often eliminated once the ring goes on the finger is date night.  It is amazing how many couples don’t remember the last time they and their spouse did something together by themselves.  Realizing that once the adorable little kiddies come things can be a bit difficult and schedules fill up fast does not make it less important.

Perhaps it would be good to view your relationship the same way you view your career and work life.  How do we get things done at work?  We prioritize the workload. This may seem very mechanical and even uncaring, but doesn’t the lack of prioritizing your marital life strike you as being considerably less caring?  For the guys, take the initiative and set up a babysitter, make a dinner reservation, make all the arrangements.  Trust me, she will appreciate it.  A man who takes the initiative in the relationship will be deemed very attractive to your wife.  A word of advice: don’t make the movies your destination unless it’s the rare exception.  That in itself does not classify as a date night.  Conversation and interaction is limited between a couple while the THX sound is blaring in their eardrums.

Ladies, you too have a great ability to orchestrate wonderful getaways and weekend excursions; use that gifting.  Not everything you do need be expensive.  For those on a budget, a walk in the

park, a long drive, or a field by the airport to watch the planes take off would all do nicely.  Both of you, be creative!  My wife and I have Disneyland passes and love to go there on a Sunday night, ride a few rides, and have a nice dinner, but mostly it affords us opportunity to chat as we stroll around the park.  If you don’t give your marriage priority, I can assure you that you will find the romance and intimacy diminishing rapidly.

Ask yourself this simple question, with regards to the topic of date nights, how do we measure up as a couple?  In what ways can I/we  pave the way for increased time together to grow and dream as a team?  What will be my first step toward improvement in this area of our lives?

If it has been so long since dating your spouse you might want to get a jump start by asking your mate some of their most favorite things to do.  What do they really enjoy?  This might begin to prompt your thinking, minimally you’ll have so suggestions to get you started.

There are few things that draw a couple closer than to know that they are important to their spouse.  Planning and executing date nights are a great way to demonstrate to your mate just how important they are to you!

Be Blessed and enjoy your date nights, I know your spouse will!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more aboutMarriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted

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Filed under Communication, Dating, Priorities, selflessness

Stumbling in the Darkness

darkness

Why is it that so often couples come into my office, there marriage a wreck, without a clue about what to do about it?  They are totally lost, hopeless and helpless with regards to what direction to go.  “How did we get like this?” is a very common phrase that echoes off the walls of my office.  My question for them,“ Why did you wait so long to address this situation?”

Marriages do not dissolve overnight.  Generally it takes an extended period of frustration to erode the foundation of a marital commitment.  Why the procrastination?  Let me share a little allegory that might give insight into the consequences of poor decision-making…

Once upon a time there was a man.  This man was enjoying a 3D movie in the privacy of his home theater.  Needless to say, the room was darkened as the glare from the movie screen lite up the room.  Suddenly, there was the sound of the telephone coming from the other room.  Annoyed, the man rose to his feet, crossed to the end of the couch, around a small padded leather child’s theater seat then past another, making his way to the screen in order to cross to the door leading out of the theater.  He passed another child’s chair, maneuvered past the wooden, cinema poster decorated coffee table, finally opening the door and exiting the theater.  In a hurry to get to the phone, he didn’t even bother to stop the video or turn on the house lights.  In fact, in his rush it never occurred to him to remove the 3D glasses he was wearing.  After all he was coming right back, no need to bother with that!  As one would expect, by the time he reached the phone the ringing stopped.  The call was obviously not important enough for the caller to leave a message.  With a sigh of frustration, he turned back around a headed toward the theater…

Is anyone predicting a problem?

…rushing back into the theater our main character does not take into account the eye adjustment required when leaving a brightly-lite room into a darkened theater, to say nothing of the fact that, don’t forget, he is still wearing those 3D glasses he was too lazy to remove.  He crosses the screen, blinded by the intense light from the projector, eyes that are still trying to adjust, and unable to see through the darkness before him, the poor sap bumps the coffee table at the front of the theater.  This one action triggers a ballet of disaster!  He tumbles forward, curves to the left, hoping to regain balance.  He falls forward, bumping an end table next to a chair.  To compensate, he pulls back, tripping on the chair which causes him to completely loose his footing.  Mind you, he hasn’t hit the ground yet.  The situation resembles a giant pinball machine; he is the ball that is bouncing from one furniture item to the next.  Now it’s too late to stop the inevitable.  Down he comes, crashing on the side arms of the child’s padded leather theater seat.  THUD! As he quickly discovers, the padding does a rather poor job of covering the solid wood frame of the chair.  Rolling off the chair he feels the pain as the end table crashes upon him, pelting him with the heavy ceramic coasters that adorned the table.  CRASH!  Lying on his back, a painful groan is the only thing that cuts through the dialog being spoken on the screen.  Now he feels it appropriate to remove the glasses that in all the commotion, as if to mock him, refused to fall off on their own.  The consequence of these little decisions included two broken ribs, several bruises and many weeks of painful recovery.  I’m sure that most of you predicted nothing but bad possibilities in the previous scenario.  I wish I had the moment the phone rang.

This is often how we conduct our marriages.  Here are a few helpful tips to promote healing in your relationship:

Turn on the lights!  We need to be realistic about the issues that face the marriage and stop ignoring reoccurring problems.  They will NOT resolve themselves.  You also need to accept responsibility for the areas in which YOU have done damage to your spouse.

Don’t be lazy, take off the 3D glasses!  It is important to consider the negative consequences if the marriage continues down its current path.  Try to imagine a clear image of what your marriage could be.  It’s harder to regain your balance once bad behavior, negative marital attitudes and resentments have become a way of life.

Stop the movie for a minute and tend to the business at hand!  Look toward the future.  Don’t be so focused on the problems of the present that you forget to prioritize what your marriage CAN be if you put forth the effort.  You’ll need to rebuild the relationship a step at a time, don’t think you can do it all at once, there are wound that need to heal.

Too many obstacles in a dark room create a nightmarish maze that is bound to trip you up!  You need a clear path.  Sometimes that takes a third party to help you both sift through the hindrances in your relationship.  Clear out the junk!  In many cases, small adjustment made sooner than later can eliminate a catastrophe down the road.  A good counselor who shares your world view can help you through that process.  Here is a great resource of counselors in your area:

http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

You will also find many other resources that will help you to propel your marriage forward.  Feel free to have a look around.  Take the steps necessary to begin your journey to the marriage that you’ve always wanted, the marriage that you signed up for.

Be Blessed.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Commitment, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Counseling, Expectations, Priorities, Restoration, Unity

Time to Dust Off Your Marriage?

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Reminders are a way of providing a tune-up in order to keep our marriage in the appropriate priority with all the things that compete for our attention in this crazy world.

Let’s consider some key elements about marriage that we may have forgotten.  Here are a few that help us to demonstrate the practice of love in our relationship:

A key component in revitalizing your marriage is the understanding that your marriage is not about you. Realize that God has created uniqueness in both of you. The more you come to accept and love the differences between the two of you, the sooner you can learn to let go of the little stuff that the enemy loves to use to distract you from the goal.  The goal of every couple should be to live for the other, to live for God. That doesn’t mean you sacrifice your individuality; it simply means that consideration for what is most beneficial to your relationship will outweigh what is solely beneficial to you individually. From that you will begin to reap increasing dividends.

Creating a richer, fuller marriage begins with a decision: the decision to die to oneself.  This is not only in relationship to God, but also in our relationship to one another.  Whether our dysfunction stems from attitudes, behaviors, past experiences, or simply choosing to believe the lies of the enemy, it is essential that we step out of ourselves and move into alignment with our creator.  As you continue on your journey of marriage, begin to step out of the shame and guilt of the past. No matter what you may have done, no matter what you may have partaken in, you are not out of redemption’s grasp.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.     – Colossians 1:13-14

Be comforted; your past doesn’t have to be a blueprint for your future. The time to start living intentionally is right now. Let your marriage be an example that glorifies God. The benefits of such a decision are countless, not just to you, but to your children, future generations, and everyone you come into contact with.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.      – 1 Peter 4:8-11

Perhaps it’s time to assess yourself?  That’s not a bad thing; we should ALL do it from time to time.  Maybe it’s time to dust off some of these elements and place them front and center in your life so that your marriage will to an extent that you never thought possible.  Marriage is work, hard work, but some of the most rewarding work you will ever do.  Just a thought…

Be blessed as you continue your marital journey!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Love, Obedience, Priorities, selflessness, Shame, Unity

I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part I)

gift-box

It’s that time of year again when the incurably curious sift among the beautifully ornate boxes and bags littered under Christmas tree.  The gifts come in all shapes and sizes and we always envy the one with the biggest gift.  They say “Don’t be selfish, it’s the thought, not the size of the present!”  I suppose that’s human nature to want the best and the biggest, this is what society teaches us.  As a pastor, I probably shouldn’t say this, but, I concede.  Sometimes the biggest gift is the best!

Let’s step back a few months, weeks before we even ventured into this holiday season…

I came through the front door of my mother’s home. I could feel the sadness hanging over the living room like a heavy, dark veil.  My oldest of ten years sat quietly, very quietly on the sofa.  This was most unusual for a boy that typically exuded energy.  My youngest, age seven, was curled up in the over-sized easy chair, with great futility, trying to contain his tears.  Their Oma came out of the kitchen, wiping her eyes, trying to be strong for the boys but cracking under the atmosphere.  The image was in stark contrast to the joyous way the day began…

I was about to participate in an event that would fill my heart with joy!  I had the pleasure of experiencing the same excitement a scant year ago with my eldest son.  I helped him up the steps as I walked around to the side.  He found his position and sat down on the step, he looked out at all the people, there to celebrate this event with us, then he turned to me with that ever familiar smile.  In spite of occasional displays, shy he is not.  The senior pastor held the microphone out as I asked, “Is there anything that you would like to share?”  “I would like to thank everyone who came out today to see me get baptized.  I love all of you and most importantly, I love God.”  He smiled, my heart nearly burst from my chest with happiness.  The congregation was clapping, my boy was obviously pleased with their response.  “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”  “Yes, I have.”  “Then I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”  I leaned him back, completely submerging him for a moment, then back to his upright position.  I bent down to his ear and whispered, “I love you.” He returned my words with a big kiss. “I love you too!”

Once he had decided that he was ready to be baptized, I had shared with him more specifically the purpose and symbolism of the event.  Baptism is an outward expression of your decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the lord of your life.  Although baptism does not save you, it is a testimony to others that you will strive to live your life for God and die to sin.  Your decision to accept Jesus is the key to eternity following our life here on earth.  The submersion in water represents our burial or death to self.  Coming up from the water is symbolic of resurrection into our new life with Christ.  The entire ceremony is symbolic of what Jesus did for us on the cross that most important day several hundred years ago.  Yes, even at the young age of seven, my boy understood the importance of baptism and the gift that was given to us, in spite of what we may have done.  As a believer and follower of Christ we are assured a glorious eternity with Him.  But, I digress.

After a wonderful celebratory lunch with family and friends, all were in high spirits.  At that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that God would use the events of the day to make a practical, hard-hitting point to all.  We needed to make one additional stop.  One of our dear friends, a neighbor to my mother, whom we have known for many, many years was going through a trial and we wanted to pay a visit.  Her elderly husband was confined at home with hospice care and we thought he might like a visit from us and the “crazy kids”, they have loved our boys for as long as we have!

His wife welcomed the visit and was thrilled to see the boys, hugging us all as she took us to his room.  It is always a bit shocking to see the frailty of life thrust in your face…

This life lesson will conclude in my NEXT POST, “I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part II)

May you all be blessed as you ENJOY this Christmas Season!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

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Filed under Baptism, Beliefs, Christmas, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Restoration, Salvation, Thankfulness

Relationship Priorities (Part III): Developing Confident Assurance

balance

In this series on relationship priorities we looked at the first two elements necessary to grow great relationships (model Christ and focus on other people).  In this, the final post in this series we will examine the third and final element of our priority list.

3. Focus on yourself. It’s amazing how when you initiate the first two priorities, the attitude about the third changes drastically. When you demonstrate Christ and put others first, what you get back in the contentment of joy carries you through most of your other trials. Joy is the confident assurance and trust of God in our lives. Throughout his letter to the Philippians, Paul explains how his joy carried him through some pretty intense tribulation. Read through Philippians and discover for yourself the difference between happiness and joy.

Do what is “right” and let the appropriate emotions follow the behavior.

 It’s exciting to see how the confidence and security of right actions affect our emotional state.  I always refer to the Bible in determining that “right” position.  Imagine having a tough day, traffic was terrible and you almost got into an accident, you got into an argument with one of your co-workers, your head has been aching all day and to top it all off you leave work only to be greeted by a flat tire!  It stinks, right?!  Now finally you get home, emotionally you are frustrated to say the least.  You have a decision to make.  In choosing to do what is right and behave in a loving fashion toward your wife and family you will have a direct impact on what you will receive from them.  Loving behavior is usually reciprocated thereby affecting your negative emotional state.  It can directly affect your well-being.  You will begin to feel better because of the consequences of right behavior.

 Live intentionally. As I stated in the introduction, the Scriptures are a guidebook to life, written by the one who created us. You benefit by living with intention and making decisions that guide the path of your life, with God’s direction, rather than living haphazardly, just letting life happen to you.  Understand that none of us is perfect, not by a long shot! But if we make selflessness our goal rather than serving our own self-interest, the odds of receiving God’s best in our lives increases tremendously.  Mark sums up our priorities the best.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  -Mark 12:28-31

By modeling and loving God and investing in others, the impact that behavior has on YOUR well-being will lead to personal peace, satisfaction and joy.  Be Blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part II): Putting Others Before Yourself

People focus

In our last post we began to address the relationship priorities that grow and enhance our interactions and our lives.  Previously we examined the importance of modeling Christ in our daily walk rather than expectations of happiness.  Now, let’s take a look at the second element.

2. Focus on other people. If you take the focus off yourself and spend more time focusing on others, you make it less likely that your motivations will be driven by your own selfish desires. This is not to say you should neglect yourself, because you can only pour into others if you stay emotionally, physically, and spiritually full. You simply do not become the priority as we shall see shortly.

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  -1 Corinthians 10:24

The therapeutic effect of stepping out of your own emotional state to serve others is amazing. Mary was diagnosed with cancer.  Her knee-jerk reaction was to withdraw from the world. She lived in fear that any exposure to the outdoors, to the sun, would accelerate the cancer. Mary locked herself away, covering all the windows and never taking a step out of the house. She withdrew from other people, embarrassed by the hair loss associated with chemotherapy. She stopped coming to church, essentially stopped living.

What Mary had chosen to do is eliminate any new input or thought that would challenge her emotions. She simply recycled all the negative fear messages through her head. Her behavior followed suit and was dictated by those emotions. After consultation, she began challenging the fears and weighing the possible consequences of stepping outside her home. Commonly, we assume that things will be much worse than they actually end up being. One thing appeared certain: if Mary didn’t take a chance, her fear would eat her alive.

The following week she came to church. The outpouring of love and acceptance was heartwarming and had a great impact on her. Having all these people walking alongside her gave Mary a new lease on life. Her hair grew back following the chemo treatments, and her joy and confidence returned even faster. This dear lady made the decision not to follow her feelings but choose her own behavior, in spite of those destructive feelings.  She stepped forward, in spite of her emotions and engaged and invested in the lives of others to the benefit of all concerned.

Investing in others reaps dividends far greater than monetary riches!

As a matter of habit, do you find yourself more inwardly focused than investing in others?  What do you fear might happen if you extended yourself to others?  I want to encourage you to take a chance, you have much to offer others…God says so and that’s good enough for me!

In my last post in this series I will reveal the final priority in creating stability in our relationships and in our lives.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part I): They Go Beyond Your Happiness

priorities

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship. Some of the other methods include the following.

 Don’t make happiness (a feeling) the ultimate goal in your marriage.

It sounds contrary to what you hear; everyone says, “I just want to be happy in my marriage.” Your desire should be to seek that deeper contentment known as joy. Emotionally we can be like a rollercoaster depending on what the day might bring. Happiness tends not to be consistent whereas the deeper sense of contentment or satisfaction (joy) remains constant regardless of what’s going on around us. True contentment is based on selflessness with a distinct priority system made up of three elements.

1. Model Christ in your life and in your relationships. The example Jesus sets in Scripture is the one we should follow while interacting with others. Christ’s example is demonstrated in the following passage:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…  -Philippians 2:1-5

Has the goal of “happiness” been an issue in your relationship(s)? How realistic is it to expect others to make you happy? How effective are YOU at making others happy? Do your relationships experience much emotional turmoil?

Modeling Jesus in our lives transcends personal happiness. When we strive to emulate him it produces in us a sense of inner contentment that those around us will only benefit from.

In my next post I will reveal the second priority in creating stability in our relationships and in our lives.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness