A Profound Classic Wedding Reading

September 11th, 2011 by azweddingpastors No comments »

Today I performed a Wedding Ceremony in which my clients selected the creation account from Genesis 2 describing God’s provision of a life-partner for Adam. Many people are familiar with the Biblical passage but my clients took the reading a step further by also including an explanation of the passage written by Matthew Henry. “….The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved….”

We live in an age when many have grown cynical about marriage in general and about Christian marriage in particular. So frequently has the idea of lasting marriage been mocked and ridiculed that in 2009 a Federal Study revealed that 4 in 10 children are now born out of wed-lock. (See the NY Times article from more details including the tragic reality “Children born out of wedlock in the United States tend to have poorer health and educational outcomes than those born to married women..” -http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/health/13mothers.html )

Hearing that reading today reminded me that God’s plan for Men and Women was “very good”. He intended for Husbands and Wives to enjoy a life-giving partnership that would be satisfying and enjoyable.

Allow me to end my musings with the statement my clients asked me to make today, just before I pronounced them as Husband and Wife: “…..What we’ve seen here today fills us with hope.
You see, “Marriage is a high and holy state, to be held in honor among all men and women.” On the other hand….
“Marriage is a low and common state, to be built of the stuff of daily life. Men and woman are not angels, nor are they gods. Love can become hatred; joy, sorrow, marriage, divorce. But human beings are not condemned to failure.
Love can grow even in a real world. The wounds of sorrow can be healed, and new life built on the learnings of the old.
This is the reason for our gathering today; to renew our faith in the strength of hope and the power of love.

The Art of Developing and Delivering a Beautiful Wedding Ceremony

January 25th, 2011 by azweddingpastors No comments »

What is it that distinguishes a run-of-the-mill wedding ceremony from one that is beautiful, romantic and meaningful which you and your family will remember for years to come?

Consider the difference between the enthusiastic but novice musical attempts of a child playing Chopsticks and the elegance of a classical song like Nocturnes written by the masterful Chopin; both are played on the piano using many of same notes but they are worlds apart in respect to their grandeur and elegance because of the craft and artistry of the master composer.

While most wedding ceremonies contain similar elements; vows, readings and unity ceremonies, the skills of an artful and gifted Officiant sets apart the weddings they develop and deliver for their clients. The Officiants of our group, Arizona Wedding Pastors, pride themselves in creating signature ceremonies that reflect the unique characteristics and values of each couple we are privileged to serve. We accomplish our craft by taking the time to facilitate an in-depth dialogue with every couple we serve and then, from that interview, we weave together the elements they choose into a memorable ceremony that we deliver with masterful timing, well developed vocalization and great passion!

Please take a few moments to read the reviews on our website to learn of the quality of our work.

The Most Important Part of Your Wedding!
There are numerous optional ingredients that could be omitted in creating your wedding but the ceremony isn’t one of them! Don’t wait to arrange the creation of the core component of your wedding. Be proactive and reserve a skilled professional.

We look forward to visiting with you in a no-obligation conversation to learn about your big day! Let us help you turn your ceremony into an occasion where “I Do” becomes “Happily Ever After”!

*Photo Courtesy of Amy Leah: amyleahphotography.blogspot.com

The Naked Truth about Marriage

December 5th, 2010 by azweddingpastors No comments »

 This week I read a Time Magazine article with a title that asked the question: “Who Needs Marriage?”. Its author, Belinda Luscombe cited a poll that Time & Pew Research [ii]conducted this fall from which they concluded that “marriage, whatever its social, spiritual or symbolic appeal is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be. Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children-yet marriage remains revered and desired.” So why do people choose to get married if they can “enjoy the milk without buying the cow?

 Recently, in helping couples craft their wedding ceremonies I’ve noticed a trend that I believe sheds light on why couples choose marriage over cohabitation. By far one of the most popular wedding readings selected by couples for use in their wedding ceremonies conducted by Arizona Wedding Pastors is titled, These Hands:

 These Hands 

“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.


These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.


These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.


These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.


These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.


These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.


These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.


And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch—a touch from these hands.”  [iii]


What does this reading reveal about the aspirations of men and women? Marriage, while flawed by the respective limitations and imperfections of the individuals who enter the relationship, offers to couples the hope that their mutual commitment to one another will enable them to build a life together that will be life-giving for them even during hard times. And while couples don’t have to look far for examples of others whose marriages didn’t last they are inspired by the prospect that their relationship will be one where they will  enjoy the comfort of knowing another person intimately and being known and appreciated for who they are.

While some balk at the idea of being restrained by the obligations that marriage brings into their lives others recognize that their deepest hopes and dreams can only be met through life-long commitment. And here’s what motivates me to champion the cause of marriage: There is actually a long track record of evidence to support the claim that marriage is the most life-giving relationship on the planet!  According to Maggie Gallagher, co-author of the book The Case for Marriage”, “In virtually every way that social scientists can measure, married people do much better than the unmarried or divorced: they live longer, healthier, happier, sexier, and more affluent lives.”[iv]  Did you grasp that?! There are HUGE advantages to being married! Why would anyone settle for the crumbs of cohabitation when there is a banquet of life-enhancing emotional, physical and psychological nourishment to be found in marriage?!

The Origins of Marriage

As a non-denominational wedding officiant I don’t require couples to share my faith but choose instead to treat every couple who comes to me with the same respect and dignity I would want for myself. [v] Today’s marriable couples come to me from across the spiritual spectrum and I serve them with deep joy knowing that marriage was the Creator’s idea and apparently something that He is particularly fond of. If one reads the Genesis account of creation you will notice a pattern in which after God acts to bring something into existence the commentary is that “it was good”. [vi]  Six different times you will find this statement followed by an overall summary that “it was very good”! The sheer repetition of this phrase emphasizes that God felt positive about what He had orchestrated. Then, however, in stark contrast to this sevenfold emphasis on the goodness of what had been made, God reveals to Adam, through his encounters with the diverse species of animals, that “it is not good for Man to be alone”.[vii] What follows is the description of God’s intervention to address Adam’s isolation by the forming of the woman –an indispensible partner, uniquely designed to meet the man’s needs. (See my blog “Acknowledging the Giver in the Gift Your Spouse” for more on this). I love the record of the man and woman’s introduction to one another:  “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”.[viii]  Men and women are drawn to commit themselves to one another in marriage because by making this relationship offers the hope-filled prospect of connecting with another human being on a deep, intimate level.

So Who needs Marriage? 

The naked truth is most men and women have a God-given, felt-need for a close, intimate and enduring relationship with the opposite gender. The institution of marriage helps couples by calling them to make a commitment to exclusively devote themselves to one another. Unlike Adam and Eve before the Fall, we bring to our marriages personal and familial baggage and behavior patterns that complicate our relationships. While I don’t require premarital counseling to those who come to me for my Officiant services, let me make a “shame”-less plug (pun intended) for the tools I do use to equip those who want to gain better relational skills such as conflict resolution, open & candid communication, how to talk about money, sex and the in-laws. We really do want to help couples “Turn ‘I Do’ into ‘Happily Ever After’ ” and The Prepare-Enrich Inventory [ix]is a great resource to do this.  

We Need Marriage!

While some want to redefine marriage or down-play its significance we can rest assured that this time-honored institution will continue to provide fulfillment, security and many other life-giving benefits to the men and women who choose to enter it and continue to invest their time and energy in making their marriage a success!

[i]  Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution, Time Magazine, November 18, 2010 (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2031962,00.html)

[ii]   The Decline of Marriage And Rise of New Families

By Pew Social Trends Staff, November 18, 2010

( http://pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-rise-of-new-families)

[iii]  These Hands, Author Unknown

[iv] Quote from the article: http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_4_why_marriage_is.html

The Case for Marriage, Linda J. Waite, Maggie Gallagher, Random House, Inc., 2001

[v] ““So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (www.biblegateway.com)

[vi]  Genesis 1:3; 1:10; 1:12; 1:18; 1:21; 1:25; 1:31.

[vii] See Genesis 2:18-20 for the Biblical context of this expression

[viii] Genesis 2:21-25

[ix] Prepare – Enrich by Life Innovations, Inc (https://www.prepare-enrich.com)

Seeing & Seizing the Relationship Potential of the Holidays

November 22nd, 2010 by azweddingpastors No comments »

As a young adult I spent 11 months doing missionary work in the Philippines. When I came back to the USA after that time abroad I had a fresh appreciation for this amazing nation where I grew up. Though America is currently facing some tough economic times we are privileged to have a rich cultural heritage that observes two profound holidays. The Holidays-Thanksgiving and Christmas-present each of us with a remarkable opportunity to intentionally invest in our most valued relationships if we can keep the priority of those connections clearly in view.
A couple of months ago, while speaking as guest speaker at Desert Cross Community Church, I presented a message titled “Live Like You Were Dying”. In that talk I made the point that each of us have an unpublished expiration date which will come sooner than we think and that wise people intentionally invest in what matters most while they can. What if this is your last Holiday Season with someone you deeply love? Would it change your priorities if you knew that this Thanksgiving or Christmas was the last time you’d get to share the Holiday with your Dad or Mom or your spouse? As you gather with loved ones this Holiday season be sure to take time to enjoy one another. Ask meaningful questions and listen to what’s said. Express your love while you can!
Pushing Back Against the Culture
Our western culture moves very fast and bombards us with so much information that it’s easy to become distracted and to lose our focus on what has lasting value. The shopping, cooking and holiday parties on top of an already maxed-out schedule is a recipe for STRESS! As we enter this holiday season be careful not to over-commit. If this was your last Holiday season I’m certain that you would want to spend quality time with your family intentionally focusing on your deepest values. Do your children/ grand-children understand the meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas? If you are intentional about this Holiday season you could impact your family by creatively communicating the reason for the season. Don’t assume the young people you’re with over the Holidays understand the reason for the season. The other day I heard of an elementary school worksheet that emphasized that the Pilgrims came to America so they could “own their own land”. Property rights and the pursuit of happiness were secondary motivators for the brave Pilgrims but their core value was the quest for religious freedom. If your children don’t hear that from you they probably won’t hear it at all!
What you DO speaks more clearly than what you SAY
Jesus teaching about faith cuts through the fog of moral relativism and provides action-oriented priorities that guide our actions. He said that what really mattered is to “…. love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) As your family gathers for Thanksgiving why not model your love for God by facilitating a conversation where those present could share what they are thankful for? You don’t have to look far to find someone whose hurting these days. Think of the positive impact that your family could both make and experience if you led them to serve others who were hurting this Holiday season.
Go Make A Difference
For some of us the Holidays are emotionally overwhelming. If that describes you consider the following: A famous psychologist was once presenting a talk on mental health and after speaking opened up the floor for questions. This individual had been very involved in developing techniques for psycho-therapy and many of the questions revolved around his research. Someone in the audience, knowing the Doctor’s passion for psychotherapy asked, “Doctor, what advice would you give to someone who thought they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown?” Everyone was expecting this question to be a platform for the Doctor to focus on the benefits of counseling and psycho-therapy. But his answer took them all by surprise. “If I thought someone was on the verge of a nervous breakdown my advice to them would be to get up out of their house, go across the tracks, and find somebody who needs your help. That is the best prescription for mental health.”
Praying that this Holiday season finds you thinking clearly and acting intentionally!

Acknowledging the Giver in the Gift of Your Spouse

November 16th, 2010 by azweddingpastors No comments »

A.W. Tozer wrote that how people view God is critical in shaping who they become. He said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” (1)

What Tozer suggested on the large scale of people groups also applies to marriage. Marriage was God’s idea and a thriving, life-giving marriage will be one where a husband and wife see God’s hand in their marriage and work together to fulfill His purpose in bringing them together.

As I read the Bible, one of the themes I see emerging on page after page is God’s great compassion and wise-care for His people. (2) Of course we also find instances where we see God disciplining or judging people, but He delights in being merciful and generous to human beings. One of the most evident illustrations of God’s kindness to people is seen in the way God acted to meet Man’s fundamental need for a life-partner.

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (3)

Marriage, as God describes it was designed to meet the need Men and Women have for companionship. God, the Creator, recognizes that being alone is “not good” and creates a “helper” for Man. The following comment from the NetBible explains what “helper”, a complex Hebrew word means:

“The English word “helper,” …… does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role…… In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was lacking, although that is not stated here.” (4)

When God made Men and Women for each other, one of His purposes was to supply them with an “indispensable companion”; someone who could meet needs and help solve problem that they alone would be incapable of adequately addressing.

Would your marriage be any different if you started to view your spouse as a personalized gift to you from your Creator, uniquely suited to meet needs in your life? How much more joy would you and your mate experience if you would each value the other as someone you wouldn’t want to live without -aka -“indispensible”?

Differences: A Point 0f Connection or Contention?
It’s more than a little ironic that spouses sometimes become critical of their partners because of their difference. We all know that the differences between men and women are more than superficial, plumbing issues. Men and women process information differently; they typically orient to problem solving from a unique place leading them to have divergent strategies and priorities. Please don’t miss this: It is precisely in the differences between the sexes that God works to blend the components that make up masculine and feminine to create a wonderful wholeness! As a wife and husband humble themselves and seek to cooperate in this blending process their character is shaped to reflect God’s redemptive purpose (5) and their united course of action, rooted in honoring their God-given differences, enables them to discover God’s purpose for their marriage, family, careers, life-mission, etc…Often our lack of oneness in marriage stems from failing to recognize God’s purpose in the differences between the sexes and instead of enjoying completion and connection in our differences we experience contention.

Are you struggling in your marriage? Maybe you find it difficult to trust your mate’s judgment? What if, instead of feeling frustrated and critical over his or her behavior you invested your energy praying for God to guide your mate and additionally looked for ways that you could become a more “indispensible companion” for your spouse? He or she might not change dramatically but you would undoubtedly find God meeting you with more grace and your marriage would probably improve!

Acknowledging the Giver in the Enjoyment of the Gift
It is in God’s pure nature to only give good gifts to His children. (6) But maybe you’re thinking, “What if my spouse and I started our relationship in a less-than-honorable way? Can God still bless our marriage?” Yes, remember, God is merciful and when we come to Him in sincere repentance & faith and align our lives with His plan He will accept us by His Grace. (7) It’s also encouraging to realize that historically, God has a marvelous track record of taking people’s poor choices and bringing about wonderful things. (8) If you have guilt over anything in your life seek God for His forgiveness made possible through the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

God intends for your marriage to be a source of rich blessing to you. According to the Creator’s original design for marriage He wants to lead you and your spouse to enjoy oneness. This comes about as men and women “leave” their families of origin, “cleave” or hold fast to their mates, and in the process “become one flesh”. (9)

The author Matthew Henry captures God’s intention for marriage in his commentary on the book of Genesis: “….the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” (10)

Don’t miss God’s best for your marriage! He knew what He was doing when He made men and women different from each other. Include the Giver in the enjoyment of the gift and you’ll find that you and your mate can really connect and experience the deep joy that comes from living and working together in unity.

1 A.W.Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, Chapter 1
2 Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103
3 Genesis 2:18-25
4 http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Gen&chapter=2&verse=18&tab=analysis (emphasis by J. Schaeffel)
5 Romans 8:28-29
6 Luke 11:13; James 1:17
7 Acts 17:30; 1 John 1:8-2:6; Romans 5:6-11
8 This is illustrated in the life of Joseph in the Genesis 37-50. Joseph’s summary was “…you meant evil against me but God meant it for good”. (Gen 50: 20 )Nowhere is God’s Providential work through poor choices more abundantly displayed than in the death of Christ and the subsequent blessing that has come to the human race through Him. (Acts 2:22-41; 3:13-15; 4:27,28
9 Leaving one’s family of origin implies cutting emotional dependency from parents and orienting instead to your mate. Genesis 2:25
10 http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=629&commInfo=5&topic=Genesis&ar=Gen_2_18

Ten Powerful Words that Could Save Your Relationship by Pastor John Schaeffel

November 2nd, 2010 by azweddingpastors 2 comments »

I love seeing wildlife. Even encountering one of Arizona’s many lizards brightens my day! Outside of my office window I have a bird feeder on metal pole that attracts finches and doves and drives my cat crazy as he longingly watches them from the window. All I have to do is buy a little bird seed and keep the feeder full and I can enjoy the pleasure of seeing these graceful creatures 365 days a year.

Just as a birdfeeder requires maintenance so do the relationships we have with people. Our spouses, family members and friends expect that we will care enough about them to bring our best to our time together. Unfortunately, we live in an intensely fast-moving, high-pressure, sensory-overload culture that frequently distracts our attention and often depletes our emotional reserves. If we aren’t intentional about giving priority to maintaining our relationships we’ll find ourselves drifting away from those who we care most about.
The other day I came across a booklet called Standing Together that contains 10 words that can powerfully impact your ability to maintain vital, life-giving relationship with those you love.

“It’s been said 10 words will protect a marriage. They are: I was wrong. I’m sorry. Forgive me. I love you. These 10 words may restore your marriage (or other relationships). Is it time you ask your spouse (friend, child, parent, fiancé) for forgiveness? Is it time to rekindle your love?”

If you’re at an impasse in your relationship please know you don’t have to face it alone. There are skilled individuals who can help you work through the problems you’re facing and equip you with the tools to enjoy a life-long love!

If you’re planning to get married or if you’re married and struggling to get along please consider investing in your relationship by meeting with a qualified counselor. In my work with receptive couples I use the highly regarded Prepare/Enrich®resources to help them overcome challenges and enjoy a satisfying marriage. Learn more at our website www.azweddingpastors.com

Standing Together: Help For Strengthening Your Marriage, Copyright 2000, a booklet in the Tapestry Series, IBS Publishing, IBSDirect.com

Is There Still a Case to be Made for Marriage in the USA?

June 22nd, 2010 by azweddingpastors 1 comment »

The June 11, 2010 edition of Newsweek contained an article titled, “I Don’t: The Case Against Marriage”. [i] It was written by two women who argued that the reasons that once tied women to men in the legal constraints known as marriage are no longer sufficient motivations to enter into this life-altering commitment.

“Once upon a time, marriage made sense. It was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights. But 40 years after the feminist movement established our rights in the workplace, a generation after the divorce rate peaked, and a decade after Sex and the City made singledom chic, marriage is—from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway—no longer necessary.” [ii]

While that rhetoric might appeal to cynical individuals whose hearts were broken by absent parents or whose lives were shredded by painful divorces, the fact remains that married people, on the whole, live longer, are healthier, enjoy greater financial prosperity than their single counter-parts and enjoy a more satisfying sex life.[iii]

Dennis Prager asks and answers some important questions regarding marriage in a brief video posted and accessible to anyone with an internet connection at Prager University.[iv]

  • Do you want to share your life with someone?
  • Do you want become a deeper, more mature individual?
  • But a marriage license is just a piece of paper!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit Prager University to hear his well reasoned responses. He argues skillfully that marriage is not only necessary for society but that it’s the most beneficial living arrangement for men and women in regard to the depth of personal growth individuals can experience.

One of the many responses to the Newsweek piece was by the directors of an organization called Family Bridges. They wrote: “I’ve heard cynical comments about marriage being just a piece of paper. However, history and experience show that some papers (such as the Constitution) are timeless, priceless, and capable of providing an irreplaceable foundation for creation of stability, deep meaning, and greatness.”[v]

My heart goes out to those who’ve been hurt by marriages that went wrong. We can’t allow pain and cynicism, however, to keep us from upholding marriage between a man and a woman as the most life-giving relationship on the planet. While there are no perfect relationships in this broken world, those who give priority to establishing and maintaining a healthy marriage will reap the benefits all of their lives!

If you’re considering marriage and want to make sure you have the tools to build a solid foundation, the Arizona Wedding Pastors can help you with customized premarital counseling. If your marriage is struggling and you’d like some support, we can assist you with that through marriage counseling. Give us a chance to help you make the most out of your marriage! Call us at 623-606-8909 or visit our website www.azweddingpastors.com.

[i] http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/11/i-don-t.html

[ii] ibid

[iii] (See the book review for “A Case For Marriage”) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_6_118/ai_71250700/

[iv] http://prageru.com/13.htm

[v] www.familybridgsesblog.com

Dealing with Conflict in Your Relationship

June 15th, 2010 by azweddingpastors 2 comments »

One of the stimulating aspects of living in the age of information is the stream of diverse statements and ideas that pour over us through the media. If you enjoy variety just watch, read or listen for a while and you’ll encounter a broad spectrum of ideas! One statement that I’ve heard repeatedly in various ways is that aside from plumbing, there really is no substantial difference between men and women. While I’m all for gender equality in society and the work place this statement’s ubiquitous error transcends common sense. How is it that highly educated people embrace such obvious error?! Ask any school-yard child and they’ll confess that the opposite sex is WAY different–“Girls are weird!; Boys are dumb!” Maybe the singing group Smash Mouth got it right by summarizing the intellectual change from child to adult as “Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb [i]”  The fact is there are great differences between men and women which dating and married couples quickly realize as the guy and gal processing the same data or encountering the same situation frequently arrive at very different conclusions about what to do.

I saw this first-hand early in my own marriage. After being married about seven years and producing three offspring, my wife and I plus our pre-school children were doing missionary work in an obscure location on one of the islands in the Philippines. We were progressing in our study of the language and learning about the culture but something less than obvious was brewing under the surface. As we discussed the intangible tension that had been developing between us we realized that we were clashing due to our gender-based perceptions of what we were living through and how we individually thought we should respond to it. As we discussed the facts of our situation and our feelings-both of which are relevant in a relationship-we concluded that we were at a relational crossroad. We could either continue to minimize our mates’ perspective and grow apart or we could draw out our partners’ point of view and combine it with our own and have a much fuller and clearer outlook on the situation. Men and women are amazingly different but when they work together they can enjoy a synergy of wisdom and vision that individually would be impossible to create.

An ancient phrase that applies to nations and relationships is “Pray for peace but prepare for war”. While we all want to enjoy the comfort of a close, harmonious relationship with our mate this “peace” is frequently achieved through conflict. You and your partner are different so living and working together will, at times, lead to conflict! That is why one of the most needed- but frequently avoided- skills for a married couple is the ability to resolve conflict. As a counselor, one of the most satisfying experiences is helping a conflicted couple learn how to effectively verbalize their needs and work with their partner to arrive at mutually acceptable goals. Some of us naturally avoid conflict fearing the chaos that a verbal disagreement will involve. A more accurate and empowering perspective is that conflict is inevitable when two different personalities come together. If you’ll invest some time in acquiring the skills to have a constructive “fight” you’ll be able to work through your differences and enjoy a new degree of oneness! A good place to start is the book “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” by Les and Leslie Parrott.  Chapter Six asks and answers the question “Do You Know How to Fight a Good Fight?” It emphasizes how to resolve conflict in your relationship.[ii] Another option is to call Arizona Wedding Pastors and schedule a time to visit with one of our Officiants. We would be happy to assist you in working through your relationship challenges and customize a strategy to strengthen you! Our goal is to help you turn “I Do” into “Happily Ever After”.

Call us at 623-606-8909 or visit us at www.azweddingpastors.com

[i]Allstar” by Smash Mouth as performed on Shrek©

[ii] http://www.realrelationships1.com/store/206.html

What Can We Learn from the Divorce of Al and Tipper Gore?

June 12th, 2010 by azweddingpastors No comments »

On June 1st, 2010 Al and Tipper Gore announced that their 40 year marriage was coming to end. The Gores claimed it was “a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.”[i] I grieve whenever I hear of a marriage ending in divorce. Especially when it’s one that has weathered forty years of the wear and tear of life! How is it that intelligent people who once longed to be in their partner’s presence and previously drew comfort and strength from that relationship would conclude that life would be better apart?!

In January of 2009, our family gathered with my parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Like every other marriage, my parents have faced many challenges over the length of their relationship. (Not excluding the antics of this author, their first born son!) There were times of disagreement and tension in their relationship but they never allowed conflict to keep them apart. Over the years I watched my parents make many choices to maintain their relationship to one another. Personal imperfections called for generous doses of compassion and forgiveness. While being very different in personality-and obviously gender- they found common ground and oriented to spending time together. After years of working in separate domains Dad left a job that took him out-of-town and away from home and went to work with my mother in a real estate office. They worked together and in their free-time, served the community doing volunteer work together. While they maintained divergent interests they also found areas of common ground and invested time in doing things with each other. Dad is a skillful trap-shooter and seeing his love for that sport Mom consented to him teaching her to shoot and each week shot in league with him at the local gun club. She learned to consistently break the clay-pigeons as well as any of the male trap-shooters on the team and Dad loved it!

In October of 2009, Mom suffered a devastating stroke. Her recovery has included hospitalization, weekly rehabilitation appointments and a stay in an area nursing home. Dad stayed at Mom’s side every waking moment and as soon as possible transferred her out of the care-center to their home. Both their lives were profoundly impacted by the stroke. Mom can’t walk or talk and Dad now devotes all his energies to meeting her needs.  He shops, cooks, cleans, bathes her and transports her to all appointments. Though she can’t verbalize her needs, Dad studies her behavior and is quite adept at interpreting what she can’t effectively express. He respectfully and joyfully cares for his life-partner from the depth of a life-long relationship they cultivated choice-by-choice for over 50 years!

When I see them together I’m reminded of the ingredients it takes to enjoy a vital marriage. Generous doses of compassion and forgiveness, choosing to be with your mate and valuing the relationship so highly that you choose time together over other pressing issues or attractive opportunities.

If you’re planning to get married or if you’re married and struggling to get along please consider investing in your relationship by meeting with a qualified counselor. In my work with receptive couples I use the highly regarded Prepare/Enrich®resources to help them overcome challenges and enjoy a satisfying marriage. Learn more at our website www.azweddingpastors.com

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/01/al-gore-tipper-gore-separ_n_596199.html