North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

   A woman felt like her husband was taking her for granted. So, finally she told him, “You’re never home. All you want to do is hang out with your buddies. We only go out if they’re not available…” Her husband responded, “That’s not true. You know I’d rather be with you than have fun.” Marriages can be happy despite the difficulties associated with married life (bills, children concerns, in-laws, and other factors). All of these and others are just challenges to work through; challenges that are also to be considered opportunities to work with one another and to master the solutions.

    It’s important to understand a happy marriage is exactly what God wants you to have. A happy marriage is one of the glorious ways God has worked out a plan for joy and fulfillment to be achieved in this life (Gen. 2:18). When you trust in God, your love and marriage problems can change for the better. This positive change requires you to practice encouragement toward one another. God binds the relationship and makes it a strong cord of three parts (Ecc. 4:12). Encouragement is a force, given by God, to build a happy marital relationship. Accept this fact, practice using it, and you will have a valuable tool that can help your marriage.

    What does it mean to encourage another person? By your words and actions you communicate to them, “I accept you as you are, I understand your goals and desires, I value you,” rather than, “I accept you if…I understand, but…I value you unless…” Encouragement is unconditional love. It is given with no strings attached—no ifs, buts, or maybe. Let’s admit it, when marriage doesn’t meet our expectations, we become discouraged—Normal challenges begin to appear over whelming and when one or both partners become discouraged— the marriage becomes vulnerable. However, discouragement can be replaced with its opposite. Encouragement should become a way of life in a marriage. By accepting, valuing, and affirming your spouse you exercise the most powerful positive skill available to you.

    Your confidence in each other means you believe in one another. And when you believe in someone, you trust the person to do what was promised. If you ever feel the “trust factor” slipping, take the time to talk about it then! Don’t wait! It’s important to be cautious concerning anything that could develop as a threat to your marriage. Don’t assume something, but affirm everything!

    One way to affirm your relationship and communicate encouragement is by recognizing effort. When you know your spouse is weak in a particular area—like “cooking” or “fixing” things, it’s important to note effort as it occurs. By recognizing even small improvements and any positive changes, you provide the incentive to keep going…together. As partners learn to affirm what strengths one another bring to the marriage, there is an increase in self-esteem for each person. The marriage is made stronger giving the couple the feeling of togetherness they desire.

    In my experiences of marriage I have discovered that beliefs and expectations are very powerful forces as well. You mustn’t compromise your beliefs to satisfy your spouse or to avoid arguments, but you should respect the differences you have. Also, we mustn’t place unrealistic expectations on one another. Often we operate on the basis of what we feel our partners should do, rather than what they are doing. As a result, we frequently focus on faults rather than virtues. Whether we labeltheir actions faults or strengths depends on the attitudes we bring to the situation. This is where forgiveness can help. Attitudes are not “little things” that make a big difference. They are “big things” that make a huge difference. It’s important to communicate what you feel and observe about each other. But make sure you do it with love, tactfulness, and with the right attitudes.

    One thing I have learned is to not hear your partners complaints as an attack on you. If you do, you may defend yourself with an attack of words yourself. I had to learn this lesson. Listen not only to your words, but the feelings behind them. Practice empathy by putting yourself in their shoes and attempt to understand how they feel. Any major arguments can be quelled if you practice this.

    Above all, try to be enthusiastic and hopeful. In other words, think positive! We raise the spirits of others when we’re enthusiastic—it promotes positive energy. Look for something positive in your marriage every day. Communicate something positive every day. Act on your positive impulses: give a hand-written note or a surprise “I Love You” call. Give something that shows you value them being in your life. This may seem like a “pie in the sky” approach or even a “Polly Anna” exercise that will not work. But let me remind you…the power of love is stronger than any other emotion. When love is given with sincerity and genuineness, barriers can be broken. If you have tried and failed, you can at least know you have given your best effort. A loving church family can “encourage” you in this area. So, find a church, attend faithfully, and follow God in all your ways.

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at  

Posted by on Jul 29 2012. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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