Day 1: Selfless Commitment
“I’m a terrible friend.” We were surprised to hear those words from Samantha. The single 27-year-old certainly didn’t seem to be a terrible person. We asked her to elaborate.
“I have three friends I am extremely close to. Two of them I have known since high school, and one I first met in college. Somehow, I guess through me, all four of us became really connected. We don’t live that far from one another, but it would be at least a half-day drive for any of us. The point is, all of the others write one another and me. They are all good about calling. Most of them even make a point of visiting and getting together.” She paused. “All of them but me.” “Is your schedule so busy that you don’t have time to stay connected to your friends?”
“Well,” she said pensively. “My schedule is incredibly busy, but I don’t think I’m much busier than my friends. But somehow they make time to call me, send me e-mails, and even come see me. My best friend, Laura, sends me a handwritten note about once a month. She thinks she is encouraging me. If she only knew how guilty she was making me feel Then Samantha said it again: “I’m a terrible friend.”
Samantha was agonizing over the way she treated her friends. She wasn’t cruel or uncaring, but somehow she wasn’t able to give them the priority she thought they deserved. At the same time, her friends always made time for her, which caused her to feel guilty and to realize that her priorities were out of balance.
This week you will have an opportunity to bring clarity to the priority of relationships in your life. You will identify the most important relationships to you and will discover how you can give attention to those relationships.
In 2008 the movie Fireproof was released. The central characters were firefighter Caleb Holt and his wife, Catherine. Caleb’s rally cry each time he fought dangerous fires was “Never leave your partner.” He practiced that principle with fidelity on the job.
The problem was his failure to live that principle in his marriage. The argumentative, strained relationship propelled the couple toward divorce. Catherine had enough, and Caleb was unwilling to fight for his marriage.
In a last-minute intervention Caleb’s father challenged his son to fight for his marital partner with even more zeal than he would fight for his firefighting partner. His marriage and his wife were worth it, his dad explained. In the movie this challenge was called the love dare.
Fireproof tapped into a great need in our society. A hunger exists for healthier relationships not only between husbands and wives but also among fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, and coworkers Look at some of the comments from our surveys:
° “I would love for our family to spend more time together instead of needing to work so much and sending our son to day care.”
° “I wish we could manage our time so that we could spend more weekends together.”
° “I don’t feel that I know my husband anymore. With our schedules we hardly even have time to talk.”
° “I wish I had just one friend I could talk to anytime.”
° “I need better relationships with my stepchildren. They really resent me.”
° “We are constantly on the go due to our children’s sporting events, and we hardly have any quality time together. We are gone from home almost every night of the week.”
° “I have lots of people and family around me, but l’m so lonely.”
Go hack and place a check mark beside the respondents’ comments that express the way you feel about your significant relationships.
This week we will look at the second of the big four needs we heard across our nation-relationships. \/\/’hat types of relationships need improving? We put them in three broad categories: spouses to one another, parents to children, and other relationships. Today we will examine the first category and identify ways you can bring clarity to your relationship with your spouse.
Seeking Healthier Relationships Between Husbands and Wives
You don’t need statistics and data to know that many marriages are in trouble. As many as one in two marriages will end in divorce, and marriages after the first marriage have an even higher rate of failure. We could cite statistics on spouse abuse, separations in marriage, or spouses seeking crisis intervention in marriages.
But you don’t need to he convinced. You see it in the news. You see it among your friends. Maybe you see it in your own home. Let’s examine some of the reasons married couples need help with their relationships.
42% cannot strongly say they have a good marriage.
84% need to spend more time together
60% would like their husbands or wives to demonstrate love to them.
38% are satisfied with the quality of their sex lives.
33% are satisfied with the frequency of sex in their marriages-38% of wives and 27% of husbands.
55% of Christians are satisfied with their sex lives.
Time. As we observed last week, time is a major issue. Married couples are time starved for each other.
Demonstrations of love. A lot of married couples know what they need to do, but they don’t do it. For example, Shirley spoke for a lot of her friends when she said, “We would really like our husbands to demonstrate love to us as they did when we were dating and first married,” she said straightforwardly. “Why can’t there be romance after we’ve been married awhile?” Then Shirley looked at us right in the eyes. “What’s wrong with you men?”
Shirley is both right and wrong. She is right that many spouses want their husbands and wives to demonstrate love to them. But she is wrong in assuming that the issue is just a cause for concern for wives Men feel that way too. Activities have replaced demonstrations of love in too many marriages. That’s not good.
What activities are getting in the way of your relationship with your spouse? How are these activities affecting your relationship?
Read 1 John 3:18;
“Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth”
Name one way your words have recently demonstrated love to your spouse.
Name one way your actions have recently demonstrated love to your spouse.
Satisfying Sex life. In our research demonstrations of love were not limited to sex between husbands and wives, but sex is certainly a significant part of it. A large majority of married couples can’t state strongly they are satisfied with the quality of their sex lives. And we see a direct relationship between this statistic and the problem Shirley identified. If romance and demonstrations of love are not taking place outside the bedroom, it is unlikely that romance in the bedroom is satisfying.
Meeting needs. What do spouses seek from each other? What can help the marriage grow stronger?
Read Ephesians 5:22-33.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
How did Paul say a wife should show love to her husband?
How is a husband to show love to his wife?
How do you and your spouse show love in these ways?
In the Simple Survey, the married persons among the group were clear in what they would like from their spouses The good news is that the requests are not unreasonable. The bad news is that the needs are largely unmet.
For example, husbands and wives would like their spouses to do little things for them. What are these little things? The responses were varied but predictable:
° “I wish he would help with just a little of the housework.”
° “I would be happier if she showed more interest in my work.”
° “Why can’t she just try to enjoy watching one football game with me?”
° “I would love a shoulder rub without having to ask him.”
° “Flowers Unexpected. No special occasion.”
° “We need to have more grown-up talk. All of our conversations are with the kids or about the kids.”
List five things you would like your spouse to do for you.
Now try to imagine what your spouse would like for you to do in the relationship.
Heres the tough part. How many of the items on the second list are you willing to do for the other person it your spouse doesn’t reciprocate? The way you answered will help you gauge your commitment to a selfless relationship.
40% of married couples do little things for each other
36% of married persons receive encouraging words from their spouses.
36% cannot say with certainty they would marry their current spouses again.
Encouragement. Both husbands and wives long for words of affirmation and encouragement from their spouses. But only a minority strongly agree their spouses offer them words of encouragement.
You see, the simple life is really about simple things. And it’s those simple things we neglect most.
Relationships become healthier when at least one of the parties has a selfless attitude. We challenge you to be selfless in your relationship with your spouse for a week to 10 days. Remember these points:
° Make the commitment for a brief time. Don’t get too ambitious.
° To avoid failure, don’t go overboard on what you’ll do.
° Tell someone else about your commitment for accountability.
° Stay true to your commitment for a week even if the other person isn’t responsive.
Name one thing you will do this week to demonstrate selflessness in your relationship.
Name one thing you will avoid doing.