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The Rushmore Report: Six Habits of Healthy Couples

We are creatures of routine and can often find ourselves stuck in these bad cycles of either fighting, being too busy, or not having the right expectations. The only way to create new habits to build a stronger connection in your marriage is to become proactive. Here are six habits we have established that build healthy marriages. We promise you’ll see results if you put them into practice in your own marriage.

1. Cultivate positivity.

Maybe your spouse says something critical, something off handed that doesn’t quite land the right way. Our natural response is to retaliate or shut down. This can easily put couples in a toxic cycle of tit for tat. Trust us, we ran on that treadmill for years. Don’t do it. Go positive.

2. Compliment often.

It’s not enough to know how much you might love your spouse, you need to communicate that as often as possible. Words are extremely powerful. Practice a daily 60-second blessing.

3. Dream together.

Couples who stop sharing common goals together often drift apart and become more like roommates than lovers. You must cultivate a sense of excitement and anticipation about the future, which helps carry you through those dry seasons.

4. Own your mistakes.

We are constantly making mistakes and failing to deliver on our promises. When you apologize, it shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions in the marriage. Ask your spouse frequently if there is anything you need to apologize for in the relationship.

5. Pray together.

There is power as it is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned and hope is lifted. And when couples do this together, they simply become unstoppable in all that they do. Try it tonight. Pray as a couple.

6. Do date nights.

Yup, you guessed it. It’s our go-to cure for 100% of couples we coach. Date nights are about rekindling the romance and friendship by building emotional intimacy. Plan your next date night today.

About the Author

Meygan Caston is co-founder of Marriage 365, where she blogs on marriage and family issues.

The Rushmore Report: Did Pat Robertson Just Defend Polygamy?

Popular televangelist Pat Robertson, who serves as chancellor of Regent University and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, has said he doesn’t know of anything in the Bible that condemns polygamy – the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time. “I’m not sure the Bible indicates polygamy is wrong,” he said. So what exactly does Robertson believe about polygamy?

Robertson continued, “But we don’t do it [polygamy] and there are a lot of laws based on the New Testament that don’t permit it, and that’s where we are.” He was responding to a question from a viewer identified only as Margaret, who asked, “Why did God allow the men of faith in the Old Testament to have multiple wives and concubines?” And when did God change his mind and make marriage monogamous?’

“I don’t think God changed his mind,” Robertson said.

Although polygamy is illegal in the U.S. and culturally unpopular, some researchers estimate that 50-100,000 people are involved in polygamous relationships and the arrangement is more common between men and multiple wives.

Robertson noted that a man will find it easier to take care of multiple wives than vice versa.

“The truth is that women have babies. And when they have babies they can’t fight wars because they are having babies, and they are looking after their babies and they need somebody to look after them – that’s why husbands are supposed to look after their wives. And a man can take care of several wives whereas one wife can’t take care of several husbands,” he said.

Robertson continued, “I think in the early days there must have been more women than men. Multiple wives were standard stuff in the primitive societies, at least they still are in Africa. I know one guy, the chief or something, the general, he had 60 wives. That’s a little excessive, it is, but nonetheless, God didn’t change his mind, but then came the New Testament. And Jesus gave the standards of marriage, man leaves his mother and father, cleaves to his wife, and the twain will become one flesh,” he explained. “And so that’s the biblical order of the New Testament, but the culture has changed. God didn’t change his mind.”

Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, told The Daily Beast in 2015 that if polygamy is legalized, he believes it could happen within “the next 20 to 30 years.”

Earlier this year, however, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to Utah’s anti-bigamy law brought by “Sister Wives” star Kody Brown and his wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.

Brown is only legally married to one of the “wives.” The fundamentalist Mormons who are part of the Apostolic United Brethren Church, claimed in their legal challenge that Utah’s law banning multiple spouses violated their religious liberty rights under the United States Constitution’s First Amendment. They claim polygamy as a religious belief.

About the Author

Leonardo Blair writes for The Christian Post.

Oldtimers

A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. They decide to go to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor tells them they’re physically fine, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember. Later that night while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair.

His wife asks, “Where are you going?”

“To the kitchen,” he replies.

“Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?”

“Sure.”

“Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?” she asks.

“No, I can remember it.”

“Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. You’d better write it down, because you know you’ll forget it.”

He says, “I can remember that! You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries on top.”

“I’d also like some whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, so you better write it down!”

Irritated, he says, “I don’t need to write it down. I can remember it! Leave me alone! You want ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream. I got it, for goodness sake!” And with that he walks off, toward the kitchen.

After about 20 minutes the old man returns and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.

She stares at the plate for a moment and then says . . . “Where’s my toast?”

You don’t have to be old to have a short memory. My uncle was a great example. The family joke was that he heard what he wanted to hear and remembered what he wanted to remember. We are all a lot like that. We remember what is in our best interest.

But there are a few things we must always remember – love God, treat others right, live lives that reflect His grace. And the good news is, we don’t even have to write that down. God did it for us.

It’s called the Bible.

The Rushmore Report: Three Reasons Christian Marriages Fail

I love God’s institution of marriage. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many marriages – even Christian marriages – fail. I have met with hundreds of couples in my tenure in counseling and have, after much contemplation, exhaustive study, review and prayer, narrowed the list to three major reasons Christian marriages fail. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Selfishness

2. Selfishness

3. Selfishness

It’s a well-known axiom in real estate circles that the three most important considerations when purchasing a home are location, location, and location. In similar fashion, I propose the three most important reasons Christian marriages fail – selfishness, selfishness, and selfishness.

If you have one selfish partner in the marriage, it can limp along. Two selfish people almost invariably results in carnage. A couple who professes Christ should be following biblical principles, and if they do, then the marriage can survive, thrive, and prosper.

We have seen many people benefit greatly from deliverance ministry, temperament analysis, and marriage counseling. We have seen others who reap very little. I believe the key begins with the attitude of the heart in this area of setting aside self.

If you are selfish, can you purpose and commit unilaterally to becoming more of a giver and less of a taker in your marriage? If you are primarily a giver now, you need to ask for the grace, wisdom, peace, and power of God in your situation. He is faithful and all things are possible for those who believe.

About the Author

Don Ibbitson has been a Christian counselor since 2001. Through Above & Beyond Christian Counseling he has impacted hundreds of marriages.

The Rushmore Report: Seven Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage

After an affair, couples often feel blindsided by the betrayal. “I have no clue how we got here,” one partner will say. “I can’t believe this happened to us.” But therapists who counsel couples in such a position usually have a good understanding of why it happened. We have consulted with such therapists, and now offer seven ways to minimize their risk of infidelity.

1. Don’t think you are immune to an affair.

If you think infidelity is something that only happens to other couples, think again. Accepting that an affair can occur in any relationship ensures that you’re better equipped to see the warning signs, said Alexandra H. Solomon, a clinical psychologist and the author of Brave, Deep, Intimate: 20 Lessons to Get You Ready for the Love of a Lifetime.

2. Recognize and tend to the needs of your relationship.

People who cheat often talk about how their affair partners simply fulfilled a need their spouse couldn’t, be it physical or emotional. To sidestep the same fate, clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark said you need to fiercely guard the connection that initially brought you two together. At the same time, check in occasionally to make sure everything is still okay on your partner’s end.

3. Define what monogamy means to you.

Talk openly and honestly about what kind of behavior isn’t acceptable outside the confines of your relationship, then set some clear, mutually agreed-upon boundaries, said Solomon. For example, you might think your borderline flirty behavior at dinner is okay, but your partner may think you need a reality check.

4. Close the door on old flames.

With Facebook at your fingertips, it’s all too easy to reconnect with an old boyfriend or that girl from biology class you always had a thing for in high school. It only takes a click to add him or her, but you ask yourself, “Is it really worth the temptation?” If you’re already having problems in your relationship, your answer should be a clear-cut no, said Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author.

5. Make time for sex.

It’s natural for your sex drive to wax and wane in a long-term marriage. But if you can’t recall the last time the two of you were intimate, you may want to address this issue, said Clark. “The truth is, touching and sexual activity drive up chemical reactions in our brain that promote feelings of connection, attachment, and desire.”

6. Don’t confide in someone other than your spouse (especially an attractive someone).

It’s fine and healthy to have close friends and family who listen to your relationship rants. But discuss your relationship problems with someone you’re drawn to in a physical way and you could be well on your way to an emotional affair, said Saltz.

7. Actively show how much your partner means to you.

The love you feel for your partner may be more than you ever imagined possible, but don’t assume he or she knows that. Your partner wants to feel wanted; make a point to prove your feelings to them on a regular basis, writes Clark.

About the Author

Brittany Wong is the Relationships Editor for The Huffington Post.

Stages of a Cold

A husband’s reactions to his wife’s colds during the first seven years of marriage evolve.

Year 1 – “Sugar Dumpling, I’m really worried about my baby girl. You’ve got a bad sniffle and there’s no telling about these things with all the strep going around. I’m putting you in the hospital. I know the food is lousy, but I’ll be bringing your meals in from Landry’s.”

Year 2 – “Listen, Darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough and I’ve called the doctor to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl.”

Year 3 – “Maybe you should lie down, Honey.”

Year 4 – “Now look, Dear, be sensible. After you feed the kids, do the dishes and mop the floor, you better get some rest.”

Year 5 – “Why don’t you take an aspirin?”

Year 6 – “If you’d just gargle or something instead of sitting around barking like a seal all evening, you might get better.”

Year 7 – “For Pete’s sake, stop that sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia?”

Does this sound familiar to anyone other than my wife? Remember the nice guy you used to be? Guess what? That was the man your wife thought she was marrying.

Shopping Carts and Marriage

The great Charlie Brown commented on what it meant to have a good day. “I know it’s going to be a good day when all the wheels on my shopping cart turn the same way.”

Don’t you love it when you get the one cart that has one wheel that is not aligned?

If ever we need our wheels aligned, it is in marriage. I heard about one couple who could never get aligned with their schedule. Bob called his wife from work in the middle of the afternoon. “I’m able to get two tickets for the show we wanted to see. It’s playing now. Do you want to go?”

Martha answered, “Oh, yes! I’ll get ready right away!”

“Perfect,” said Bob. “The tickets are for tomorrow night.”

Another couple was not aligned. The Vermont farmer was sitting on the porch with his wife. He looked over at her and thought about all the ways she had blessed him in 42 years of marriage.

Then he spoke, “Wife, you’ve been such a wonderful woman that there are times when I can hardly keep from telling you.”

To have a really great marriage, we need all wheels headed the same way. Then it is okay to tell your spouse you love them. Read the Song of Solomon, in the Bible. You will find a modern romance story. You will find two mates whose carts are fully aligned.

The Rushmore Report: Liberals Unhinged over Pence Loyalty to His Wife

Vice President Mike Pence probably wasn’t expecting to receive backlash when the Washington Post published a profile last Tuesday on his wife, Karen. The piece detailed the couple’s relationship and included a statement Pence made in 2002 saying he didn’t go out to dinner with another woman without his wife being present and that he didn’t attend events serving alcohol unless his wife joined him.

Though this honorable and respectful practice can logically be seen as refreshing in today’s society, which has divorce rates as high as 50 percent nationwide, liberals around the country and even Canada are attacking Pence for the dynamic of his relationship.

Friday morning, the liberal website, Vox.com, published a story called “Vice President Pence’s ‘never dine alone with a woman’ rule isn’t honorable. It’s probably illegal.” The author, Joanna Grossman, argued that Pence’s practice is illegal “sex discrimination” under Title VII with regard to employment law and a boss-employee relationship.

“The practice described by Pence in that 2002 interview is clearly illegal when practiced by a boss in an employment setting, and deeply damaging to women’s employment opportunities,” Grossman wrote.

“By law, working dinners with the boss could be considered an opportunity to which both sexes must have equal access,” she continued. “Employers are not permitted to classify employees on the basis of gender without proof that sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for a particular job. A Pence-type rule could never satisfy this test.”

Notably, the Vox.com article did not offer in support of their position a single instance of a court ruling that a rule like Pence’s constituted sex discrimination, in any jurisdiction. In fact, the only court ruling mentioned by Vox.com was an Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which held that an employer’s decision to actually terminate a female employee because of the employer’s wife’s jealousy was not sex discrimination under the law.

Vox harshly criticized this ruling as “absurd” but offered no legal precedent that would suggest that their bizarre reading of Title VII has been upheld by any court, or by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Not to be outdone, Ashley Csanady of the Vancouver National Post actually wrote, apparently with a straight face, that Pence’s care to avoid the appearance of impropriety with respect to his wife constituted an element of “rape culture.”

Csanady contended that while she believes the term “rape culture” is widely overused in today’s society, it is entirely applicable in this case.

“‘Rape culture’ is a phrase so overused, it’s become almost meaningless, like calling someone a Nazi on the internet. But it has a very clear meaning: the notion, whether conscious or unconscious, that men can’t control themselves around women because boys will be boys,” Csanady wrote.

“The explicit reasons for Pence’s restriction are religion and family, but the implicit reason is that he must avoid alone-time with women lest his stringent religious moral code fall apart in the presence of a little lipstick and decolletage. That is rape culture,” she wrote.

She ended the opinion piece in high dramatic fashion, attempting to connect dots with no real evidence other than her own assumptions.

“So, while Pence’s marriage is none of our business, his attitudes towards women are,” she concluded. “And if, in 2017, he believes they remain such fallen, lascivious things that he can’t possibly be in a room alone with them, it says less about his faith and more the fact he sees women as lesser beings.”

After the outrage extended to President Donald Trump for his derogatory comments about grabbing women, it is difficult to understand how liberals can muster the same outrage toward Pence for saying virtually the exact opposite.

About the Author

Sara Gonzales is a writer for The Blaze.

God’s Gift

The unthinkable occurred 34 years ago. On February 26, 1983, Elizabeth Ann Solomon became Elizabeth Ann Denison. The most beautiful, godly, amazing woman in the universe became my wife. In the ultimate example of “opposites attract,” Beth said “I do” when she could have easily said “Are you kidding me?” To the disbelief of those who knew me best, she married me.

Looking back over these past 34 years, it is clear that this was ordained by God. Beth has demonstrated the character and love of God like no one I’ve ever met. I am a better man because of her, and the world is a better place. These 34 wonderful years of marriage have taught me five lessons.

1. Laughter is a good thing.

The Bible says a godly woman “laughs without fear” (Proverbs 31:25). Solomon said “there is a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:3). For Beth, that time is a daily occurrence. Through times that were bad and times that are good, we have learned to laugh in our marriage – a lot. We laugh at life’s circumstances, each other, and many of you! Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” By that standard, of our 12,418 days of marriage, very few of them have been wasted.

2. Grace is real.

One of the great lessons I’ve taught Beth is the value of grace and forgiveness. By that, I mean I have given her thousands of on-the-job opportunities to practice grace on the highest level. And rarely has she disappointed. Jesus said to forgive 490 times (Matthew 18:2 ). That worked well for us. And then we entered our second year of marriage. Ruth Graham Bell said it best – “Marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Grace is real.

3. Marry your best friend.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Beth and I are together – a lot. And we never get tired of each other. We seldom need “a break.” We have fun together and share so much in common. We love the outdoors. We love the beach. We collect shells together – a state requirement for anyone over the age of 50 living in Florida. We even bought a two-person kayak recently – the ultimate test of our friendship.

4. Marriage is a journey, not a destination.

I used to think the marriage altar would be the consummation of a dream. I’d be married. Check it off the list. Take a victory lap. Take the ring, cut the cake, and accept the congratulations. But marriage is not a destination; it is a journey. God said he’d guide our journey with his light (Psalm 32:8). But I have learned God uses a tiny flashlight, not a giant spotlight. For 34 years, marriage has been about the next step, not the next mile. And that’s a good thing. It is the unpredictability of marriage that keeps it fresh. After 34 years, we are having more fun than ever.

5. It only works with God.

Solomon spoke of marriage as a cord of three strands (Ecclesiastes 4:12-13). You can have a good marriage apart from God. You just have to decide if “good” is good enough. It is through God that success becomes celebration. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Beth and I have learned that marriage only reaches its highest mountain and deepest meaning inside the boundaries and personhood of God in Jesus Christ. Max Lucado writes, “God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”

Today, we are celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary at Disney World. We are riding roller coasters. If properly drugged, I may even ride the “Tower of Terror.” But when we leave at the end of the day, our greatest ride will continue. We’ve been on this ride called marriage for 34 years now. And with all the twists and turns and ups and downs, the ride is as fun as it is unpredictable. And it keeps getting better every day.

The Rushmore Report: Ten Commandments of a Better Marriage in 2017

Is your marriage all you could hope for? As you move into 2017, keep two things in mind. First, if all you do is what you’ve done, then all you’ll get is what you’ve got. Second, your current strategy is perfectly suited for the results you are getting. A better marriage requires changes. And a good place to start is with ten biblical commands to a better marriage.

This is from Stephen Arterburn, best-selling author and host of New Life Live, a Christian radio program heard by two million listeners.

1. Never bring up the mistakes of the past. “Stop criticizing others or it will come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

2. Neglect the whole world rather than each other. “And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?” (Mark 8:36).

3. Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled. “And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).

4. At least once a day, try to say something complimentary to your spouse. “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

5. Never meet without an affectionate welcome. “Kiss me again and again; your love is sweeter than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

6. “For richer or poorer” – rejoice in every moment that God has given you together. “A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate” (Proverbs 15:17).

7. If you have a choice between making yourself or your mate look good, choose your mate. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them” (Proverbs 3:27).

8. If they’re breathing, your mate will eventually offend you. Learn to forgive. “I am warning you, if another believer sins, rebuke him; then if he repents, forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).

9. Don’t use faith, the Bible, or God as a hammer. “God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:17).

10. Let love be your guidepost. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

About the Author

Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show in the country, heard by over two million people. He is also the author of the best-selling book, Every Man’s Battle.