Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Birth of St. Mary, The Theotokos
Volume 8 No. 498 September 8, 2018

VII. General Weekly Features

Family Special: 10 Habits of Happy Couples Who Make Friendship a Priority

by Lindsey Maestas

My husband, Jesse, and I recently taught at a beautiful Valentine's Day event hosted by a local church. As we studied through scripture, talked about our marriage and prayed about what to teach on, we kept going back to two things that felt most important to us and made us a "happy couple": Foundation and Friendship.

Jesse and I know that our marriage is at its peak when the two key components of friendship and foundation are a priority. Our marriage is to be founded on God and God alone and our friendship is at its strongest point when we are running side by side toward God and His mission. We will fail if we rely on one another for our joy, our hope or our contentment. Jesse will never be able to give my life true purpose, and I will never give that to him. But God does. He is our foundation and our rock.

Matthew 7:24-27 says, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

Although the tips below are fun and practical ways to maintain a friendship in your relationship, God's gospel and word on marriage reign in my life. Above all, my number one tip on keeping marriage healthy is to keep it Christ-centered.

I believe that it is more important to thrive in this area, by God's strength. Read the Bible together, pray together, pray for one another, attend church, remain in community and accountability and listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides your heart. Love God more than one another, love one another more than your kids and remain on mission together. But remember - we get to live in His grace. Nobody expects you to perfect this list, but that we can pray for the ability to love our spouse's better for His glory.

10 Habits of Happy Couples Who Make Friendship a Priority:

1. They communicate well

In every strong relationship, intentional communication is key. Happy couples tend to work past the basic "how was your day?" conversations. They speak openly about the good topics, as well as the hard, just as they would with their best friend. They aren't afraid to ask questions that they don't necessarily want to hear the answer to. For example: "In what ways do I make you feel unloved and how can I change that?" They put their guards down and allow vulnerability in their relationship because their primary goal is to grow closer to their spouse.

2. They forgive quickly

It takes a strong person to ask for forgiveness and a stronger one to forgive. Couples who have a healthy friendship think the best of one another. They also aren't afraid of admitting when they are wrong and they know how to argue well and in a loving way. There is no reason to tear one another down (they're on the same team, aren't they?!) and they work toward reconciliation quickly to prevent bitterness from affecting their relationship.

3. They have strong friendships with other couples

Who doesn't want to be reminded that other people go through the same silly arguments (like which direction the toilet paper roll is supposed to go)? It's also important to see that the bigger disagreements that you and your spouse face are dealt with by other couples as well. It is beneficial to find friends that you both enjoy because you are allowing other people to offer advice and a fresh perspective regarding your relationship. And isn't it true that you are often more aware of how you speak to and act with one another when there are people around? It's a win win! God has called us into community and never intended for us to live our lives on our own.

4. They don't keep secrets from one another

BFF's have relationships based on trust and the same goes for couples who live as best friends. Happy couples don't feel the need to hide things from one another. Secrets breed problems - and let's be honest, who has time for more of those?

So as far as that hidden internet history goes - happy couples aren't about that. They don't keep their phones from one another. They may even go so far as to share passwords (we do!) - because why not? They're in this together.

5. They keep the romance alive

Remember the days of the honeymoon phase when you couldn't get the butterflies out of your stomach? The nights when you would go on fun adventures, just because, and stay out way too late? It's so important to keep that fun and romance alive, even in small ways. Take weekly date nights, write short and sweet notes to each other and hide them throughout the house or send flirtatious text messages throughout the day.

6. They assume the best about one another

When you come home and the dishes aren't done or your spouse doesn't hear something you said, it can be easy to immediately think they worst. "They always fail to do the dishes and just don't care about how hard I work" or "They never listen to me." However, couples who assume the best about one another immediately jump to the best conclusion rather than the worst. They understand that their spouse may have just been busy or became distracted in their conversation. They don't allow themselves to generalize their spouse as a person who "always" does something wrong or "never" gets it right. Those words don't belong in their vocabulary. They want the best for the marriage, so they think the best of their spouse.

7. They don't expect intimacy to begin in the bedroom

I believe that waiting for marriage is totally worth it. But I also know that for some couples who have been married for a while, it can be difficult to keep the fire burning as much as you would like. Happy couples don't let the busyness of life get in the way of their sex lives. So don't let intimacy begin in the bedroom. Touch one another, kiss one another playfully while dinner is cooking, give one another a hug every time someone comes home, sit next to each other on the couch and hold hands whenever you walk together. Once you begin to create that intimacy outside of the bedroom, the desire to be in the bedroom more often will grow.

8. They put down their phones

Checking out after a long day to scroll through social media or work on emails for hours doesn't help to create a BFF relationship. When couples treat one another as they would their best friends, they make the daily choice to put electronics down and talk with one another face-to-face. By putting everything away, they are saying: "I am going to give you my attention. You are home and I see you. You are important to me. I am devoting this time to you because I want it to be evident that I appreciate you and love you."

9. The compliment one another more than they criticize

It is proven that when you affirm your spouse, you are likely to strengthen those same qualities that you are praising. You have the opportunity to build them up and make them better.

However, when frustrations do arise, addressing them immediately helps to prevent any future nagging or criticism of those same behaviors in later settings. BFF couples deal with issues head on, giving more opportunity to praise and compliment one another. Why? They aren't blinded by one another's faults or frustrations. Tearing one another down, especially in public, is a quick way to damage the ‘best friend' relationship that you're working toward.

10. They go to bed together

For married couples, night time is a time for deep conversations, cuddling, movie watching and, you guessed it, sex. Happy couples go to bed together to create opportunities for closeness. Even if there are a million other things that they could be doing, they are showing one another that they're carving out time to make them a priority. Go to bed together! Have sex! Enjoy one another.

This article originally appeared on Used with permission.

About The Author:

Lindsey Maestas received her degree in Journalism and has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl. Lindsey began Sparrows + Lily to remind moms, wives, students, employees, dads, husbands and families that they're never alone.

Source: Daily Update

Be Willing To Be Stubborn

by Wes

"Perseverance isn't just the willingness to work hard. It's that, plus the willingness to be stubborn about your own belief in yourself."
Merlin Olsen

If only the road to our goals was a smooth, straight line! That would be nice, but for a whole lifetime - boring!

Yes, I know, a little boring once in a while is good. Believe me, I know. But most of the time we need what our quote recommends - a potent combination of "never quit" perseverance and a stubborn belief in yourself.

When you start out on the road to a big goal, you can answer all the uncertainty with a firm affirmation that "I've got what it takes! I can learn it, I can do it!" Repeat as needed.

When you hit a road block, regroup and hit it again. And again. Be creative, learn, try new things, never quit.

You may be surprised at the support that shows up when you least expect it, the opportunities that appear out of nowhere.

As our quote says, believe in yourself and don't quit. It worked for Olsen in his career in American football, sports commentary and acting.

It'll work for you.

Source: Gratitude

What Does it Mean to Surrender?

by Cliff Young

"It is better to risk starving to death than surrender."
- Jim Carrey

We live in a world where we are groomed to "never give up," "fight until the death" and "to the victor goes the spoils." We have been taught to hold our ground, not let others push you around and to be all you can be. We have reaped the benefits of the privatization of businesses, capitalism and allowing the human mind and spirit to be unleashed.

This mindset has made our country great and given us all a foundation in which to prosper, but even so, what more can we do in order to reach our own maximum potential?

In the investment world, you often have to go against what everyone else is saying to be successful. In athletics, you have to work out longer, try alternative approaches and do what others aren't in order to achieve your goal. And In life, I have discovered surrendering instead of fighting (yourself) can frequently provide the most reward.

Before you "give up" on this article, let me share with you what surrendering isn't.

  • Surrendering isn't giving up, but rather giving in.
  • Surrendering isn't admitting failure, but rather discovering more and better ways to succeed.
  • Surrendering isn't being helpless, but rather gaining strength through humility.
  • Surrendering isn't showing weakness, but rather exemplifies personal fortitude.
  • Surrendering isn't about not caring about the results, but rather opening up more possibilities.

How often have you asked another believer how they were doing and their answer was, "just seeking God's will for my life" or "waiting for God to show me his will"?

I've spoken those same words in the past, and that's all good and fine as long as you're being forthright with yourself. However in my case I probably really should have said, "I'm just waiting for God's will to coincide with mine."

Analogous to Luke 6:41 (Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?), oftentimes we can't see the will of God for our life because of our own log-sized will in our face.

I've recently signed up on an online "relational networking" site and find it interesting how human nature, or more precisely, our own nature, shows up in profiles.

At the outset, there is an opportunity to determine "what you're looking for" in a prospective mate so the computer can have some basis on whom to match you up with. I am amazed at some of the specificity some people have…must be between 6'-0" and 6'-2," be of Norwegian descent, have brown hair and brown eyes, be 28-30 years old, work in the ministry , make over $250,000 a year, love exotic pets, and live with 10 miles.

I definitely have my personal "must haves" - like the person must love Jesus and not be a smoker. But why limit your possibilities, or more specifically, God's prospects, by thinking you know exactly what's best for yourself?

For a number of years now, I have (reluctantly) tried to step aside from the plans I seem to have laid in stone for myself in order for God to show me what he wants. I have tried not to question and fight every incident I don't understand, believing there may be a bigger purpose behind it.

Each day as I have strained to surrender myself, a clearer path has developed and more doors seemed to have opened, all with less "help" from me.

All too often we may be closing our eyes, thoughts and mind to other perspectives, differing opinions and ultimately where God may be leading us because we believe we know better.

What if the person I would best be suited for were a couple of inches shorter or taller than I had preferred, or was a year or two older or younger than I had specified? The more constraints we put on our life, the more we limit God. The more parameters we place on our future, the less we surrender to his will.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Have we given up believing and think he's forgotten us? Is it not happening "fast enough" for our time frame? Do we only need him when it all goes wrong? Or do we believe "I totally got this"? How is that working for you?

Pastor A. W. Tozer once said, "The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us. "

Does that sound like anyone you know?

After years of frustration with my own plans, I am starting to get out of the way of myself and places I don't necessarily have to be in order to succeed. I am finally moving closer to surrendering all.

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I've constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle I believe I've finally found
I'll never know the thrill of victory till I'm willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I'm laying down my arms and running helplessly to yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

(–"I Surrender All," Clay Crosse)

  • Surrendering is confessing you can't do it all by yourself (nor want to anymore).
  • Surrendering is acknowledging the need for our Creator.
  • Surrendering is allowing God to take control of your life.
  • Surrendering is freedom.

All too often our failure to surrender is for fear of what others may think of us when in reality everyone is struggling in some way or another.

"You cannot fulfill God's purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans."
- Rick Warren

About The Author:

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the bi-weekly column, "He Said-She Said," in's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries.

Source: Live It Devotional


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