Common Ground

Steve Arterburn

Regardless of whose survey you look at, money always lands near the top of the hot-button issues in marriages. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Whatever is a critical issue in one partner’s life is going to become an issue in the marriage and according to a recent survey by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, 68% of American men are fearful about financial security now and in retirement. Therefore, I can assure you that at least 68% of American marriages have a measure of tension in them as a result.

In 1985, Richard Foster wrote a book titled Money, Sex, and Power: The Challenge of a Disciplined Life. Think of those three subjects in terms of marriage and you’ll identify three prime places for couples to either stand their ground or seek common ground.

Far too often you’ll stand your ground, holding tenaciously to practices and points of view you’ve either learned from your parents or picked up along the way in life. Most couples enter marriage thinking about money the way their parents did’detailed record keeping or constantly overdrawn; poor credit ratings or great credit ratings; disciplined savers or dedicated shoppers; planning for the future or living for today.

Men, money is an important and strategic area upon which to build consensus in your marriage. But it requires making a commitment and connecting with your spouse. The future is coming, like it or not. It’s up to you and her to find common and faithful ground on this important issue.

Subject: Kicking The Dog

Steve Arterburn

Remember the old phrase, ‘Stop kicking the dog?’ It describes the reaction of someone who’s been hurt or rejected, and then proceeds to take out his emotions and frustrations on those around him’usually family members who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened in the first place.

 

One way or another, we’re all susceptible to giving the dog a quick boot following losses and hurts that we experience, aren’t we? In fact, you will spend your adult life either making others pay for your pain, or, with God’s help, making them pay less and less.

When a man lives wounded, he withdraws himself from God and people’and that only spells trouble. It compounds the problem. To put it simply: No one likes the feelings produced from blowing it and causing harm to the relationships we deem important. And it’s precisely at this moment that the world, the flesh, and Satan get a better foothold in your heart’and that often results in sinful action you take in an attempt to ease your pain in isolation from God and your loved ones.

That’s one reason why Satan likes for those matters in your life to remain perpetually unresolved: It keeps you distanced from God, destroys your relationships, and keeps you in an ongoing position of extreme vulnerability to temptation and sin. Thankfully, God has the answer for each you, and it comes in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Creating Your Boundaries

Steve Arterburn

Men, establishing personal boundaries is imperative to your spiritual freedom and vitality. These boundaries should be intentional and thought out ahead of time; while in the midst of temptation is no time to attempt to put them in place. They should be determined by and measured against God’s word. And finally, boundaries should be appropriately and strategically customized to your unique life situation and struggles.

 

These are some general guidelines for thinking through how you create and apply boundaries. But what concrete expression might they take in your life? Perhaps a few examples would be helpful. Perhaps your boundaries may include:

         Blocking the pay-per-view option at the hotel front desk.

         Refusing to make low-blow putdowns during marital disagreements.

         Saying ‘no’ when asked to do things on weekends that don’t involve the whole family.

         Never being alone with a woman who isn’t your wife.

         Turning the channel when there’s too much skin and too little clothing on TV ‘ even if it’s only a commercial.

         Refusing to keep self-destructive secrets from your wife.

         Never making a significant financial or family decision without first consulting your wife.

Guys, formulating and committing to personal boundaries forces you to take honest stock of your life both practically and spiritually. It means counting the cost of what it’ll take to build a solid spiritual life, and adjusting your expectations to match the reality of being God’s man.