Archive | February 2013

The #1 Rule for Building a Happy Marriage


Jesus spelled out our standard in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31)

Confucius taught a similar principle: “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”

As did Buddha: “What is hateful to you, don’t do to others; what is delightful to you, do for others, too.”

And Muhammad: “Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself.”

In fact, every major religion promotes some version of The Golden Rule.

In marriage it boils down to this:

“Treat your spouse the way you wish to be treated.”

  • Would you like for your husband to be patient and understanding? Then extend an extra measure of patience and understanding towards him. (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Do you want him to honor you as a respected colleague? Then be faithful and deliberate in the way you communicate respect to him. (1 Peter 2:17)
  • Do you hope he’ll be quick to forgive and forget when you’ve done something to offend him? Then don’t harbor grudges against him. Give no place to bitterness or resentment in your heart. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Would you like for him to show appreciation for the many things you do to make his life more pleasant? Then always make a point to say thank you to him. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and don’t take your man for granted. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Do you prefer kind, encouraging words over angry tirades? Then remain positive and upbeat yourself and resist the urge to nag or quarrel. (Proverbs 15:1)
  • Do you want him to prioritize things that are important to you? Then don’t make excuses to avoid what’s important to him. (Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Would you like for him to take notice of you and compliment your appearance? Then show him the same courtesy. Admire him and praise his manliness. Your husband wants to know that you still find him attractive. (Song of Solomon 1:16)

So that’s the key: Treat your spouse as you wish to be treated if you want a built-to-last, happily-ever-after sort of marriage.

The Golden Rule is a great principle to live by. How will you put it into practice, starting today?

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In Praise of the Manly Man

Doug and Jennifer FlandersMy husband and I had a lovely Valentine’s Day yesterday. He brought me roses and a huge box of chocolates, then took me out for dinner and a movie.

I wrote him a poem.

It’s not the first poem I’ve given him for Valentine’s Day, and it probably won’t be the last.

Although I wrote it specifically for my husband, it is really a tribute to all men like him — men who are not afraid to BE MEN in an age when masculinity is sometimes frowned upon.

So keep up the good work, guys! The world wouldn’t be the same without you!

In Praise of the Manly Man

In Praise of the Manly Man

All stand for the manly man!
He is tall, dark, and handsome, and tan.
    Though he’s covered in hair,
    Like a big teddy bear,
    He’s a softy inside,
    Where his feelings reside
    For the joy of his life —
    His dear children and wife —
Whom he loves just as much as he can.
             He can.
Yes, he loves them as much as he can.

Three cheers for the masculine male.
Yes, he cares for his family well,
     A-sweatin’ all day
     As he labors away,
     Comes home when he’s able,
     Puts food on the table:
     Potatoes and meat —
     That’s what he’ll want to eat,
Just as soon as he’s looked through the mail,
             The mail,
He will dine when he’s done with the mail.

Give it up for the gentlemen’s gent!
Whether living in mansion or tent,
     His home is his castle
     And packed with a passel
     Of children who love him
     And think highly of him,
     And brag that their dad
     Is the best to be had.
(They’d go on, but their breath is all spent —
             All spent —
They’d say more, but their breath is all spent).

All hail to the heart-throbbing hunk!
He has oodles of vigor and spunk!
     He’s brave. He’s courageous.
     His laugh is contagious.
     He brings his wife candy;
     With tools he is handy:
     Have burgers? He’ll grill ’em.
     See spiders? He’ll kill ’em.
Flat tire? The spare’s in his trunk.
             His trunk.
He’ll exchange it for one in his trunk.

Bravo for the noblest knight.
In his armor, so shining and bright,
     He is savvy and smart,
     And he has a big heart.
     He provides and protects
     And he likes to have sex
     With his wife who adores him
     And never ignores him.
‘Tis perfectly fitting and right.
             So right.
To ignore him just wouldn’t be right.

Hurrah for the hale husbandman —
A sublime and superb speci-man.
     His wife knows her place
     And she fills it with grace,
     Her heart full of pride
     As she labors beside
     This burly, this brawny
     (His muscles aren’t scrawny),
This strong, strapping stud of a man.
             A man,
This amazing, magnanimous man.

He’s a man among men,
So let’s hear it again,
For this jovial jock
Of superior stock!
     This gallant galoot
     With his size-13 boot.
     My captain. My chief.
     My heart-stealing thief.
How blest to be wedded
And faithfully bedded
By so great a talent,
So virile, so valiant!
     He’s stable and steady.
     He’s rugged! He’s ready!
     Robust and red-blooded!
     My heart’s simply flooded
With love for this marvelous man.
             This man.
This magnificent, masculine man!

            – Jennifer Flanders
              February 14, 2013

You will find a bookmark size version of this Manly Man poem on My Printables page. I printed mine (double-sided) on parchment and laminated.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Romancing and roses aside, this is the love we must build our marriage on if we want it to last: the perfect, self-sacrificing, putting-the-needs-of-another-ahead-of-my-own, 1 Corinthians 13 sort of love that Jesus shows us. Let’s make it our goal to demonstrate that kind of love to our families — not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year.

1 Cor. 13 - Rose and White copy

For a free printable copy of the above graphic, visit our family website. And remember: “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

5 Must-Read Books for Women Who Think

5-must-read-books-for-women-who-thinkOne of my readers recently criticized me for promoting what she considers oppressive and archaic beliefs regarding marriage and motherhood.

“Read something – anything
– on feminism,”
she pleaded. “Learn to respect yourself, then you can respect others.”

Of course, this is a cleaned-up version of what she actually wrote. Her original comment was so riddled with expletives and venomous slurs that it made me wonder what, exactly, her notion of “respecting others” entailed.

But that is beside the point.

As it happens, I had already read half a dozen books on feminism, but her suggestion sent me searching Amazon for new titles of interest. That’s where I found the book I just finished reading: The Flipside of Feminism, by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly.

This book — like the other four listed alongside it — is too good not to share. The authors examine feminism in light of common sense and expose it for the failed social experiment it is.

No intellectually honest person can look at the aftermath of the sexual revolution — rampant venereal disease and abortion, escalating rates of single motherhood and the abject poverty that it fosters, and coin-toss marriage survival rates — and not recognize that something is amiss.

That something is our godless worldview, of which feminism is a major component.

In my mind, buying into feminism is a lot like smoking cigarettes. While I understand why someone who has smoked two packs a day for the past 50 years might have a hard time kicking the habit, I am dumbfounded that anyone not already addicted to nicotine would ever take their first drag in this day and age, knowing what we now know about tobacco’s causal link to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and a host of other devastating illnesses.

In the same way, I find it incredulous that anybody who has witnessed firsthand the destruction and despair that follow in the wake of feminism would continue to cling to such a bankrupt ideology.

Yet cling they do, and with dogged persistence.

If these women could leave off chanting their antiquated rhetoric long enough, they would hear the cries and whimpers of the modern class of victims their manifesto has created — victims that include their own children, everyone on the planet with a Y-chromosome, and ultimately the feminists themselves.

To be sure, some espouse feminist ideals because they patently believe in them, but I suspect much of our society cooperates solely for the sake of remaining politically correct. They can see as well as the next person the mess this radical movement has made of things, yet they keep their thoughts to themselves and watch on in silence.

But perhaps that is about to change.

The whispers are beginning to circulate, and the crowd is starting to stir. The status quo has been boldly challenged by books such as these — books that say what we already know in our hearts to be true: “Feminism is a bust. The emperor has no clothes.”

For a fresh look at feminism, don’t miss these five favorites:

flipside-of-feminismTHE FLIPSIDE OF FEMINISM:
What Conservative Women Know — and Men Can’t Say

by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly

Excerpt: “Most important, we must begin by telling… the truth about what feminism has done. After all, no society can thrive — or survive — when half its members believe they’re oppressed and the other half are told there’s no reason for them to exist…. It’s time to end the war between the sexes. Men are not the enemy…. Americans aren’t used to hearing [but deserve to know] that women are the fortunate sex, or that ‘hooking up’ is wrong (and foolish), or that happy lifetime marriages are attainable, or that staying home to care for one’s children is a noble and worthwhile endeavor, or that men in America are the real second-class citizens.”

what-our-mothers-didnWHAT OUR MOTHERS DIDN’T TELL US:
Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman

By Danielle Crittenden

Excerpt: “It may be true that 30 years ago shockingly discriminatory attitudes towards women in the workplace prevailed, and we are all thankful to be rid of them. But in their place have risen some shockingly discriminatory attitudes towards women who wish to have children without neglecting them (as exemplified by Hillary Clinton’s remark, ‘I suppose I could’ve stayed home and baked cookies’). And it is these attitudes that have made it difficult for a woman today to occupy either sphere of work or home completely happily, without feeling guilty and exhausted in one or insecure and underappreciated in the other.”

return-to-modestyA RETURN TO MODESTY:
Discovering the Lost Virtue

by Wendy Shalit

Excerpt: “Modesty acknowledged [a woman’s] special vulnerability, and protected it. It made women equal to men as women. Encouraged to act immodestly, a woman exposes her vulnerability and she then becomes, in fact, the weaker sex. A woman can argue that she is exactly the same as a man, she may deny having any special vulnerability, and act accordingly, but I cannot help noticing that she usually ends up exhibiting her feminine nature anyway, only this time in victimhood, not in strength.”

Note: Shalit’s follow-up book, Girls Gone Mild, is also a very enlightening read.

case-for-marriageTHE CASE FOR MARRIAGE:
Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially

by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher

Excerpt: “[A]t the heart of the unacknowledged war on marriage is the attampt to demote marriage from a unique public commitment — supported by law, society, and custom — to a private relationship, terminable at will, which is nobody else’s business. This demolition is done in the name of choice, but as we shall see… reimagining marriage as a purely private relation doesn’t expand anyones’s choices. For what it ultimately takes away from individuals is marriage itself, the choice to enter that uniquely powerful and life-enhancing bond that is larger and more durable than the immediate, shifting feelings of two individuals.”

How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)

by Carol Platt Liebau

Excerpt: “When a girl’s attention is directed primarily to her appearance, there’s less time for her to pursue other interests and develop other skills that can serve as sources of self-esteem. When she’s learned to garner male attention simply by displaying her body, it’s less likely that she’ll develop the other common qualities that are conducive to strong relationships and lasting happiness; indeed, a lifetime of focusing primarily on her own appearance in body — and automatically expecting men to do so as well — can make it difficult to form deep, lasting bonds with any man.”

So there they are: Five of my favorite books on feminism. (You’ll find four more of them here.) What are your favorite books for thinking through these issues? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below.

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

HOPE for Hurting Marriages

Hope for Hurting Marriages
I’m over at The Laundry Moms this weekend writing about HOPE for Hurting Marriages.

Marriages are under assault today like never before. Even rock-solid relationships are not immune to attack, whether those attacks come from without or within.

It is possible to safeguard our marriages and to protect our homes and families from the forces that would seek to destroy them. Want to know how?

Read the whole article and find out four things you can do today to fortify your marriage and keep it standing strong.