4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Choose Life!

You persevered to the last 4 Minutes 4 Marriage entry of 2007! Thank you!

 In the spirit of Good Friday, when Christians commemorate Jesus’ suffering on the cross, let’s consider how we can reduce suffering in the world, beginning with the person we love the most.

An examination of conscience-

At times in a relationship we may feel justified:

1.     In considering revenge (If he can do it so can I.)

2.     Playing the victim/Nursing wounds (Poor me, no one else suffers like I do. I’ll never get over the time…)

3.     Holding on to bitterness and anger (What she said/did is unforgivable.)

4.     Shutting down (The silent treatment)

5.     Not listening with undivided attention (I don’t have time.)

6.     Attacking (The best defense is a good offense.)

7.     Turning our backs on our spouse.

8.     Focusing solely on our own desires.

9.     Using our spouse’s strengths as an excuse to ignore our weaknesses.

10. Losing hope (Why try? Maybe it’s time to move on.)

As Doctor Phil McGraw says, “Would you rather be right or happy?” Marriage isn’t a win/lose situation. It isn’t possible for one of us to win and the other lose, because then the marriage loses, so we both lose. It’s much better for us to set aside our need to win and find a way for both to feel good because then the marriage wins and both parties profit.

Let’s always give each other the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he had good intentions. Maybe she didn’t mean to hurt me. Maybe he wants this marriage to be strong as much as I do; he just doesn’t know how to help it.


Alternatives for Enhancement:

For the sake of our marriage, let’s choose life!

1.     Accept that no one is perfect; we all need a second chance; we all want to be loved just the way we are.

2.     Play the hero, stand up for what we know is right and good and true, for the sake of our beloved. Forgive. Let go. Move on lovingly.

3.     At all times, treat our loved one with respect.

4.     Open up. We need to talk in order to repair damage, in order to grow from our mistakes.

5.     Our undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

6.     See the other’s anger as a cry of fear – fear of being alone, unloved, or rejected.

7.     Turn our hearts, though wounded, back toward our beloved.

8.     Focus on regarding our spouse’s needs as important as our own, and their wishes more rewarding to fulfill than our own.

9.     Learn from our spouses’ strengths. Value their strengths enough to emulate them.

10. Believe in the endurance of love. Trust that, together with God-Who-Is-Love, we can make life better for each other.

I’ve written this entry to be only a 2 minute read.

For the next two minutes, write down reasons you love your spouse. Then give the list to your beloved, perhaps in an Easter basket, or inserted in a card, hidden under the pillow, or taped to the bathroom mirror. These might prove to be the most meaningful two minutes you’ve devoted to your marriage this Lent.

Thank you for focusing on your marriage for the past seven weeks. As our marriage strengthens, so does our family. As our families are enriched, so is our society.

I will keep your marriage in my prayers in a special way this Easter season.

 Betty Arrigotti

I continue to love you because…………

4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Love Languages

Do you sometimes miscommunicate so badly that you wonder if your spouse speaks a completely different language?

Do you honestly love your spouse, but can’t figure out why he or she doesn’t believe you?

Gary Chapman, in The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, asserts that many times relationships flounder because the two parties speak different languages and can’t understand each other. Of course, he doesn’t mean this literally. Rather, we each grow up experiencing love in certain ways and expect to express and receive love that way. If our spouse had different experiences of love, even though we are showing each other our affection, neither party may feel loved.

Chapman believes we demonstrate our love in five ways. We tend to focus on one of the ways, or perhaps two. So does our spouse. If they match, our emotional reservoir fills to overflowing. If not, we run dry, and eventually have no love left to return.

Consider how your spouse shows you and others in your family affection. Then read the expressions of love below and choose which category describes how your spouse shows love. That is probably the primary way your partner wants you to love him or her. Can’t choose between two? Wonderful! You can be bilingual and have twice as many ways to show your beloved how much you care.

    Words of Appreciation – People who demonstrate and feel love verbally thrive on a simple thank you. On having others notice their efforts and express approval. On a kind tone of voice or a sincere compliment. Words of encouragement will inspire a willingness to take on challenges. A request for or an expression of forgiveness melts the heart and opens it to love. Use your words to affirm and express gratitude to your spouse.


    Quality time – Undivided attention from loved ones makes us feel we are a priority in their lives. Spending time together watching TV doesn’t count. Focusing on each other’s thoughts and feelings, excluding other distractions, does.

      A person who shows and feels love through quality time will thrive on conversation when both individuals offer self-revelation by sharing their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and desires. Sharing feelings may be foreign for many of us, and first we must discover what feelings we actually are experiencing before we can express them. But intimacy will grow if we do. Quiet people must learn to share themselves; speed talkers must learn to listen.

      Others who focus on quality time might value quality experiences more than conversation. They emphasize activities together, but still with undivided attention. Is there an activity you know your partner would love you to participate in? Join with a positive, enthusiastic spirit and watch the joy it brings to your relationship.

        Gifts – Many people experience and show love by giving gifts that are symbolic of their affection. Think of your wedding rings. They are precious, not because of the metal, but because of their meaning to you and your spouse. For people who demonstrate love with gifts, knowing that their beloved was thinking of them when they chose a flower, wrote a note on a card, or selected a gift warms their soul.

          Acts of Service – Does your spouse delight in doing little things to please others? To people who feel and show love through acts of service, actions speak louder than words. Yard or house maintenance can symbolize your love. Likewise, they might feel unloved when you don’t get around to the requests they’ve made.

            You may be doing many things for each other, but what will show your love the best is to do the things that are important to your spouse. If you’d like your spouse’s love to grow, ask, “What can I do to help you today?” Then follow through cheerfully, if at all possible.

            Physical touch – For some people, physical touch expresses their principal love language. Caresses, holding hands, or making love fills them with the assurance that they are loved. Different families of origin communicate affection with differing levels of touch. If you were raised in a reserved family, you might struggle to become comfortable with huggy in-laws, but if your spouse needs more touch, your marriage is worth the effort. Learn to touch her hand as you converse, to snuggle next to him on the couch, to hold her when she cries. If your spouse usually initiates intimacy, surprise him or her and take a more active role.


            If you aren’t sure of your spouse’s love language, think of what he or she complains about you not doing, or criticizes how you do it. Perhaps he or she is expressing a deep need, though not in an effective way. Ask for clarification, “This sounds very important to you. Can you explain to me why, so I can understand you better?”

            Find the particular ways that your unique, delightful spouse experiences love, and then concentrate on expressing your love in the way your beloved understands. May your love take on new life!

            Bible verses to ponder:

            Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38 NLV

            Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3-18 NLV

            Extra Credit – Which love language do you use to express your love for God? Try a new one!

            Betty Arrigotti

            If you’d like to read more: Chapman, Gary (1992) The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Moody Press.

            4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Opposites Attract

            Opposites attract, right?

            On the other hand, when we were caught up in that wonderful emotional rush of new infatuation, didn’t our beloved seem exactly like us? Didn’t we share all the same values, ideals, and hopes for the future? We found ourselves in agreement on nearly everything. Weren’t we perfect for each other?

             Over the last four weeks we discussed the writings of Dr. John Gottman. Today we will turn our attention to some of the writings of David Schnarch, from his 1998 book Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy in Committed Relationships.

             Lifting our honeymoon rose-colored glasses, Schnarch would say, “Yes, we are perfect for each other.” But not because we’re the same; rather, because our differences are so complementary. He writes that we tend to find life partners whose strengths complement our weaknesses and vice versa. For instance, where one of us feels comfortable with relating emotionally, the other is focused on responsibility. One may be an extravert while the other is an introvert, or value logic while the first loves creativity.

            Schnarch says, like a metal crucible that holds molten metal as it is refined, our marriages support us while we are forged into better people. Ideally, the “Marriage Crucible” of everyday struggles helps us learn from each other and grow in our weak areas. We’ll become well-rounded and more whole by adding the other’s perspective to our own.

            However, in most cases, we miss that opportunity. “He” sees his spouse excel at the nitty-gritty of finances, so he lets her take over those responsibilities. “She” sees him as a spiritual leader, so she focuses on the role of worldly thinker. One’s maternal or paternal instincts are strong, so the other lets her or him become the primary caretaker of the children.

            Unfortunately, as we polarize into more extreme versions of ourselves, we lose admiration for our spouses’ differences and begin to feel our strengths are more important than theirs. The logical thinker relinquishes desire to be creative and is irritated by the spouse’s “flightiness” or “immaturity.” Meanwhile, the creative spouse begins to see the logical spouse as boring or restrictive. I’m remembering Harold Higgins in My Fair Lady singing Lerner’s lyrics, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

            Held in the confines of a committed relationship, resistance to growth can worsen until it feels intolerable. The irritation of daily interactions will force us to make a choice. We can give up and move on, looking for a relationship with someone new who is “just like us.” Or we can tough it out and choose to round out our abilities, to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones while we are supported, as we do, by our spouse and by our commitment to our marriage.

             Once I read an article about a newly retired couple. They looked at their remaining lifespan very practically and assumed that one of them would outlive the other. In order to be prepared, they decided to spend the first year of their retirement exchanging responsibilities. The wife learned how to maintain the car, change the furnace filters, and pay the bills. The husband learned how to cook, do laundry, buy gifts for their grandchildren, and clean a bathroom. That wise couple grew strong and flexible within the Marriage Crucible, and no doubt, gained great respect for each other’s abilities. I imagine, when one of them does pass away, the other’s grief will not be intensified by the fear of learning how to take care of day-to-day life.

             I believe if we aren’t growing, we are stagnating. If we aren’t growing closer, we’re moving apart. But a marriage where both partners stretch to learn and develop remains fresh and exciting. Will we settle for less?


            What does your spouse take care of that you could benefit from doing? How can you stretch yourself by learning from your beloved’s strengths?

            Gentlemen, if your wife handles communication with your children, reach out to them yourself. If they are grown, call them up just to chat. You’ll be amazed at what it means to you and them.

            Ladies, we may all dream of a husband who notices the need and then scrubs a toilet. Still, I’m ashamed to admit how many times I let my husband be the one to dump the sewage from our travel trailer without feeling any guilt. And I truly do not want to learn how to change my car’s oil. But I could learn from him how to let little hurts roll off my back. And I really should tackle some of those phone calls that require assertiveness.

            Where can you grow?

            Choose one of your partner’s strengths that you’d like to practice and decide how to begin.

            In the mean time, as a gift, do one task today that is usually your spouse’s responsibility.

            Two Bible verses to ponder:

            • These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)


            • Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? (1 Corinthians 7:16 NLT)


            Pat yourself on the back for investing four more minutes in your relationship!

            Betty Arrigotti


            Schnarch, David M. (1998). Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy in Committed Relationships. Henry Holt & Co.

            New Living Translation (NLT)
            Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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