Friday, August 10, 2007
Building Stronger Relationships by Akindele Akinyemi
My personal motto in life is education is my ministry. I never back down from praying with or for a student in the education arena. I acknowledge strong Christian ministries that place an emphasis on relationships and family. Unfortunately, so many of us have strayed away from God's Word and are using OUR word to satisfy our worldly needs.
I have a student in my class who is going through some rough times at home. His mother is on heroin and his father has never been in the picture. His family has let him down many times in his 19 years old life. Therefore, he has turned to abusing himself.
What struck me about this young man is all that he is going through he still wants to strive for life. I had to pull him out of my class and talk to him about just that...life.
When I asked him about the Word of God he, like many students in my class, has never experienced the Word. Moreover, he has never cracked open a Bible a day in his life.
In this day and age we need to strive for the Word of God instead of making excuses for our actions. So many families are broken because of us straying away from our scriptural and traditional roots only to embrace a ghetto culture of total confusion. We lust after other men and women while we are married. We commit adultery. We rather get a fix on drugs and sex rather than get a fix on our spirit and getting hooked on the Holy Spirit. We even make excuses on why our young ladies are lesbians and our young men are gay. There is no leadership in the home.
When I told my student about how marriages do work in our community unfortunately he said really? For him to say really shows me that he has never seen a functional relationship work in his lifetime.
I am a staunch supporter of strong relationships and marriages. I promote marriages all day long as well as relationships between men and women. I do not try to take another man's woman away because that is unholy and will get you killed. I pray, promote and even when things are falling apart between the two I still lend a ear to the brother who is hurt or the sister. I ask God to heal both of them for their actions.
We divorce each other because men and women do not listen to one another. Financial hardships can also cause a strain in the relationship. Both can be solved if we turned to our scriptures and read what God has prescribed for us to follow. It is our road map to freedom and if we can take a few minutes out of our busy day to see what the Word has in store for us then we can begin to change our family lifestyles.
Financial hardships can be solved if we began to live under our means instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses or Smiths. How many married couples are financially literate to begin with? What is the game plan for the future instead of today? Do you have a Roth IRA? What about a 401(K)? Do you have stock portfolio or any mutual funds? How are you preparing for your children's educational funding in the future when they turn 18 years old?
How well are we balancing each other out financially? Are you patient with your loved one when it comes to finances? Every fiscal storm will eventually clear if you set up a simple budget and discipline yourself to follow your own path to financial freedom.
How is your health? Not just physical health but your spiritual and mental health?
Communication is important. Instead of lying to your loved one all the time be honest to one another. I had to lean the hard way that living a lie will get you nowhere.
All too often, marriage problems are blamed on issues like personality clashes, communication failures, schedule stresses, or money woes. But while many issues are symptoms of a troubled relationship, there is only one root cause – sin. Once you face the reality of your own sin and your spouse’s sin, you can find hope in the Gospel’s power to transform your relationship.
Relationships (between men and women) are important because we need to help each other out, balance ourselves and begin to leave legacies for the ones coming up behind us. There are so many men and women in our community that are afraid to marry or even commit in a long term relationship because they have been burned in a previous relationship, disappointed our have developed hatred with themselves.
Many of us have the wrong view of the purpose of a relationship. For example, the rationale for marriage is not so people can share in each other’s insurance and retirement benefits. It’s not about inheriting someone’s property or social security check. We see this in mainstream society and we see how long those people stay married. And, as compelling as the argument sounds, hospital visitation and end-of-life decision privileges are not core reasons to get married.
Marriage is privileged because of the tremendous impact for good the institution has on the culture. Marriage, with its uniquely positive environment for procreation and the rearing of children, is worth maintaining for the perpetuation of society and the future of the nation. That’s why it is not simply a religious institution, but is protected in our body of law.
I also think that it is time for brothers to begin to take charge in the relationship. I am not saying that to be sexist, but I blame us for allowing our homes to become hell and the world to become heaven to most of our sisters. How in the world can you find "heaven" out here in the Devil's playpin and your home is hell? It's happening all over the place because we do not finish what we started. We have a tendency of saying what we are going to do and never do it. We say we are going to help build our women up and never do it. After a while our sisters fall to vices (drugs, sex, alcohol, porn, etc) to escape reality from the hell in their relationships.
We have to do better as men to balance our sisters out. It's hard work. And even when they say they are fine we STILL need to check on them and help build them up. My experiences is when they say they are fine there is ALWAYS some fine tuning needs to be done somewhere, somehow.
Brothers, you cannot be afraid or insecure of your woman if she is going out for the night with her girls. If you have her mentally FIRST there is no reason to be insecure in your relationship. Stop trying to control her. Instead, you should walk with her and hope that she has a great time fellowshipping.
The lack of respect as well as the insanity need to stop today. It is our responsibility as men to understand our women, listen to our women and heal our women. While brother and sister circles are needed to help men and women talk about their problems from their perspectives we need each other to heal one another. Our relationships are confronted with the following obstacles:
(4) conviction for crime
(9) living apart
We need to come back home to basics. Despite the crumbling relations, chaotic social situation and frightfully escalating divorce rate in our neighborhoods, we still attach great importance to the institution of marriage. This being true, peoples’ understanding of marriage and family life is distorted and a source of great distress. I do not presuppose by a flight of fancy that just because most couples live together without divorce they all are leading virtuous family life. There are couples disdainfully pulling together for various constraints.
Looking at divorce by any standard there can be no greater tragedy in the life of individuals and society. Relationships are shattered, children stranded, finance crumbled, violence induced and hopes and aspirations devastated. The anxiety, fear, hate and feeling of insecurity which it creates carry for the rest of the life and pass it on a bad legacy to next generation.
What's worse than divorce is the fact that men create babies with their women and never marry their child's mother. Therefore, children are the most hapless victims. Children need the love and care of mother and father both, grandparents and close relatives to develop positive attitude about life, toward family and society. Children living with parents who constantly argue and fight, single parent, foster parent, etc are more susceptible to all sorts of wild feelings than those who live in lovable family atmosphere. Children, who are isolated from the love of parents live in seclusion, and suffer low esteem. Wantonness induces abuses, addiction to drug, alcohol and sex which in turn incites violence, psychological disorders and ultimately become threat to themselves and society.
I often ask brothers how are they helping their girlfriends with their dreams and ambitions in life? Most cannot even answer the question. I ask the same question to the sisters and they too cannot answer the question. If you see someone with potential then you should embrace their dream and help their hard work become a reality. Instead of playing PlayStation, X-Box or even watching sports on Sunday when you should be in church with your woman, praying together and holding each other and asking God to get the both of you through the rough waters that lies ahead.
It is important to understand what you believe about God determines the quality of your relationship. Realize that your theology governs how you think, what you say, and how you act. Recognize that it’s sin that is ultimately causing problems in your marriage (and every other relationship you have). Know that the Gospel is the only remedy for sin, and your only true hope for change in your relationship.
Also, realize that some of the expectations you and your spouse have for each other (and the underlying perspectives from which those expectations emerge) are not biblical. Ask God to align your view of reality with His perspective so you can adjust your expectations to what is right to expect.
Instead of blaming God or your spouse for the problems in your relationship, recognize and acknowledge that the sin inside you is causing much of the trouble. Take responsibility for your own desires that are at war within you, and pray for the grace to choose faithfulness over selfishness when facing decisions. Know that, although your spouse sins as well, your real opponent is not on the opposite side of the bed, but in your own heart. But remember that, in Christ, you’re forgiven, and you can always count on God to give you the power to overcome sin. Pray for fresh power each day to confess sin, love your spouse, forgive your spouse, and restore your relationship.
What about pursuing integrity about yourself first? Consider your own sin before your lover's sin, rather than automatically placing blame on your man or woman. Inspect the accuracy of your perceptions about your spouse and issues in your relationship, realizing that you could be wrong. Ask God to correct your perspective so you can see a more complete picture of what’s going on in various situations. Check your motives, honestly asking yourself whether or not you’re intending to serve your spouse or yourself by speaking or acting in certain ways.
Instead of dwelling on what needs your spouse isn’t meeting for you and letting resentment poison your marriage, remember that neither one of you deserve God’s grace, yet He has chosen to freely give it to you anyway. Ask God to help you freely extend grace to your lover, no matter what the current circumstances of your relationship. Rather than trying to manipulate your mate to meet your needs, try to be a blessing to your mate, trusting that your love will change the dynamics of your relationship.
Realize that the greatest agent for change in your relationship is forgiveness. Understand that, just as God has forgiven you, He expects you to be willing to forgive others. Know that you can count on God to help you forgive your loved one, no matter what. Recognize that all sin against you is also against God, and the gospel of Christ’s forgiveness encompasses your loved one's sin as well as your own. Rely on God’s power to repent of your own sins, forgive your girlfriend or wife and vice versa for his or her sins, and pursue restoration in your relationship.
Talk openly about temptation. Figure out where your spouse might face temptation for physical and emotional intimacy outside your relationship , and let your loved one know what temptation you face. Once you know each other’s vulnerabilities, help each other battle them. Discuss each other’s expectations for how often you should have sex. Set a common goal for frequency that respects each other’s desires. Then work together to change your schedules and environment to help you both achieve that goal. Don’t use sex as a bargaining tool to get what you want, or withdraw to punish your spouse. Stay committed to each other’s pleasure. Be specific with each other about what enhances or inhibits your sexual pleasure. Educate each other so you can enjoy your time together more. Don’t let laziness rob you of an exciting sex life; keep coming up with creative ideas for romance together. Realize that no problem in your sex life is beyond God’s reach; believe that He can and will answer your prayers to help solve problems. Get rid of bitterness by regularly forgiving each other so you can remain close. Woo each other as you did before you were married, so you won’t take each other for granted and will be able to continue to enjoy each other.
If we can apply these rules to our lives and work at our relationships God will bless us and our children. Then perhaps students like mine would not be saying really on the subject of marriages and relationships but will be embracing and understanding his role as a young man in life. It is up to us to create of path of righteousness for our children by standing on the Word of God.