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3 Things Your Spouse Is Not

Jacob Scott

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You’ve no doubt shopped for a card for your spouse and read something like, “You light up my world. You’re my everything. You are my every dream come true.” It sounds sweet and I understand the intentions. But your wife is not your everything. Your husband isn’t your every dream come true. Spouses don’t always light up the world. The cards and song lyrics and movies are lying. And let’s face it—expecting your spouse to be all these things would actually hurt your relationship.

The world tells you these lies are OK. But they aren’t. You need to see the lies about your spouse for what they are—lies. You shouldn’t have exaggerated expectations and unrealistic ideas about what your spouse should be. It’s too much pressure. It sets your marriage up for failure. You must get crystal clear on what your spouse is and what your spouse is not. Let’s talk about 3 things your spouse is not.

1. Your spouse is not your soulmate.

Despite what the world tells you, your husband or your wife is not your soulmate. I understand—the idea is romantic. It’s way less romantic to say, “We’re two imperfect people trying our best.” But at the core, this statement is closer to the truth than your spouse being your soulmate. When we think our spouses are soulmates, we’re believing we’re married by chance rather than by choice. But I chose Susan. That’s romantic. Chance or fate or situational circumstances don’t make choosing your spouse some deeper, more romantic, more valued relationship.

How you think about your spouse affects how you treat your spouse. Instead of looking to your spouse as your soulmate, see your spouse a person God has called you to love unconditionally. Your spouse is someone to serve and for whom to sacrifice. What’s more romantic than that? Understanding this helps me live as the spouse I’m called to be.

2. Your spouse is not who completes you.

Just as your husband or your wife is not your soulmate, your spouse also doesn’t, and shouldn’t, complete you. If you need your spouse to complete you, then the logical conclusion is that you aren’t a whole person. This isn’t healthy. Your marriage and your spouse should be great. Both should hold a great place in your life. But humans are flawed. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, your wife is not perfect, your husband is not perfect.

My point is that this kind of thinking is dangerous. It sets up a flawed, transactional system where you are seeking to get something from your spouse. Marriage takes two complete people working together, both giving 100 percent. Seek to make your marriage a true partnership that requires both of you to serve and sacrifice for one another.

3. Your spouse is not supposed to make you happy.

Your spouse should not make you miserable, but it’s not up to your spouse to make you happy either. Your spouse will make mistakes. Your spouse will let you down. This is what it means to live “for better or worse.” It’s not sustainable to look to your spouse for your happiness. What happens when your spouse doesn’t make you happy? Will your love ebb and flow based on your feelings? It’s better to base your marriage on more meaningful things.

Consider basing your marriage on the commitment you made, the calling you both have to each other, and the consistent effort this commitment requires. Feelings act as a great barometer to gauge our thoughts, but when we no longer want to do something, discipline should kick in so we’ll do the tough thing anyway. You’re asking too much from your spouse if you’re asking your spouse to make you happy. Instead, think less about your happiness and more about your effort to love him or her. When you do so, your spouse will be happier and you, in turn, will be too.

What would you tell newlyweds to prepare them to choose to love each other when someday, choosing it doesn’t feel easy? Share in a comment below.

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Family

4 Ways to Make Your Words Matter More

Jacob Scott

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Your words matter. They have the power to change minds, to change you, and even to change the world. They can build up and encourage or tear down and fester. Author Zig Ziglar once said, “There is power in words. What you say is what you get.”

So we should heed this anonymous quote’s advice: “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” When we understand that our words have power and that they matter, we make the most of them. Here are 4 ways to make your words matter more.

1. Be humble.

Humility brings patience with your words. If you’re humble, you’re often more likely to speak less and to speak gently. For example, being humble in an argument means you don’t get angry, speak louder, or talk more because you disagree with somebody. Instead, you use fewer words and you seek to understand the other person’s side. If you’re constantly thinking of others more than yourself in conversation, people will notice you care—so when you do speak, your words will carry more weight.

2. Know how to listen.

Good communication is completely dependent on how well you listen. Sadly, instead of listening, a lot of us talk—especially when we disagree with someone. When I’m in the wrong, my natural tendency is to talk more. We try to win or get our way in a conversation. But it only makes the problem bigger. The more we talk, our words start to matter less and less. But if you listen well, your words will mean more.

3. Spend time.

Many find that their words don’t matter to others because they don’t invest the time it takes to build a relationship. No matter how busy you are, don’t look at encounters with others as distractions. See them as opportunities to connect. See the value inherent in every person and every conversation. Your words will start to matter more when you give your time and attention to others. When you value other people, they’re more likely to value your words.

4. Please God.

Our words should align with God’s Word. Our words should be pleasing to Him. And when they are pleasing to God, they will be pleasing to others. So we always need to ask ourselves questions—am I speaking in truth? Am I speaking with love? Am I speaking to build up? Am I speaking with the best interests of the other person in mind?

Whose words have mattered most to you, and what impact has that person had on your life? Share in a comment below.

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Source: markmerrill.com

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3 Mistakes Men Make With Sex

Jacob Scott

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Men, do you know what your wife wants out of sex? We may think we know what our wives want, but often we don’t. When’s the last time you asked? Too many relationships struggle because husbands don’t consider their wives’ desires. We don’t often think about our role in creating closeness for a thriving marriage.

In the old movie City Slickers, Billy Crystal said, “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.” If you haven’t already, you’ll eventually run into differences with your wife in your view of sex. Recognizing the differences will help you address them and if you address them, you will grow closer. Here are 3 of the biggest sex mistakes men make.

Mistake 1: Thinking Sex Starts in the Bedroom

Culture has corrupted intimacy. TV and movies depict couples going from fighting to having sex. It’s unrealistic to think she can go from zero to 60—from nothing to the bedroom. Instead, it starts the moment you wake up. Maybe it’s a hug or surprise kiss to show how much you love and desire her. Perhaps it’s a text telling her you can’t wait to see her. The point is, sex starts when you show you care for your wife throughout the entire day, not just the moment you want it.

Mistake 2: Missing the Connection Piece With Sex

Men have sex and then feel connected. Women connect and then are more likely to feel like having sex. As husbands, we make the mistake of thinking we can have sex without connecting first. Sadly, many husbands in our culture have viewed pornography. So, they expect their wives to be like a character they’ve seen on screen. They exchange the twisted transaction on the screen for a real connection with their wives.

Instead of trying to have sex with your wife before connecting, learn to focus on her. Make it your priority to slow down and talk to her. Take time to find out how she’s feeling. Do you know how her day went? When you’re talking to her, are you picking up her nonverbals? Make sure you’re tuned in to her frequency. By the end of the evening, she should feel like she’s the most important person on earth to you. Why? Because you’ve made her feel that way the entire day.

Mistake 3: Thinking of Yourself First

With physical intimacy, are you more concerned about her pleasure or yours? Sex should be more about her and less about yourself. So, who are you thinking about first? And do you know what she wants? Focus on meeting her desires. Talk about them with her. Listen and focus on her enjoyment rather than your own.

What would you add to the list of the biggest sex mistakes men make? Share in a comment below.

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Original Post: markmerrill.com

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4 Ways to Find Your Purpose

Jacob Scott

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Lewis Carroll said, “If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.” It can’t matter if you haven’t learned how to find your purpose. But if you’re anything like me, you want to know where you’re going. I don’t want to feel like I’m wandering aimlessly. I want to feel like I’m living on a mission.

We don’t have to wander in the dark without a purpose. Do you want to feel like you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself? You can. You can do some things to help you live on a mission. Here are 4 ways to find your purpose.

1. Prayer

We must not treat prayer as a vending machine, inserting requests and seeing what comes out. Instead, we should spend time praying in order to be closer to God. This is part of how to find your purpose. Tim Keller said, “The basic purpose of prayer is not to bend God’s will to mine, but to mold my will into His.” Through prayer, we listen and communicate with God so we know his will rather than seek to rationalize our ideas.

Have you prayed about your purpose? 

2. Passion

One of the best ways to find your purpose is by considering what you love. What are you drawn to? What do you value? What causes do you find yourself caring about? What organization do you volunteer for most often? A great question to ask yourself is: What would I do even if I never got paid to do it? Your purpose is always shaped by what you care about. But the point is to be sure your passions aren’t just for money or fame but for things that are worthwhile.

What would you do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?

3. Past

Most of us are shaped greatly by our experiences. These can be positive or negative experiences. You can have such a negative experience that you decide to change something and find your purpose through that experience.

What experiences have you had—good or bad—that have shaped you in unique ways?

4. Partners

If you’ve ever watched a singing competition on TV, then you know the power of having honest friends. You’ve no doubt seen the person who can’t sing try out to be a singer in the competition. The person gets to the stage and the judges must tell him he can’t actually sing. The guy needed a friend to be honest with him. Been wondering how to find your purpose? Honest people partnering with you will help. You need people you can approach and say, “I think this might be a strength of mine; do you see that?” Or “What are some of my strengths that you see?” The point is, seeking wise counsel is one of the best ways to confirm your purpose.

What do others say about your purpose? 

What are some other ways that might help a person find his or her purpose? Share in a comment below.

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Original Post: markmerrill.com

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