Let’s Talk

Two business workers shaking hands at the office.

“If you want out of that tube, you’re going to have to work on those communication skills.” Fifth Element

I sat next to a young lady on a jet at 30,000 feet recently headed to Miami from Denver. I had the window seat, she sat in the middle, and my wife Linda had the aisle seat. She was in her mid 20’s, career minded and successful, and engaged to be married. She wanted to talk, and I was willing to listen and ask a few questions to see where the conversation would go.

I mentioned that I was writing a marriage book and we entered into a conversation about marriage and what it takes to have a good one. Since I have a lot to say about that, Linda was fearing I would wear her out. I would stop talking and she would ask another question. I would politely answer and we would go again. I was loving it!

As usual, the topic of communication came up, along with the need to talk about feelings and the life of the heart in order to stay connected in the relationship. The refrain I hear over and over again is,

“communication is our biggest issue in our marriage.”

This young lady had the same report about her man,

” He won’t emote.”

Unfortunately, the definition of this is a commmon complaint many ladies have about their men. This isn’t to bash us men, but to understand many of us are wired differently than women and don’t have as great a need to get into the feeling pool. I’m different as a man, and desire talking about feelings and connecting over them. Linda tends to avoid the feelings and I have to drag them out of her. Not all the time, but she generally will not initiate the “feelings” conversation. We all have to figure out ways to get each other to talk and engage.

To emote means to express emotions, ususally through facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language. Unfortunately for some women, the only emotion they get from their man is anger. Of course we know anger shuts down the positive emotions immediately and love cannot be felt. (Love is patient and Kind)

The meat and potatoes of emotional intimacy for a woman is the ability to access the feelings and deep heart of her man. Yum. No food spells big trouble for him and the marriage. Wise men gain this understanding and work to achieve incredible marital satisfaction. Most women don’t respond for specific reasons. You know what I’m talking about. Mark Gungor of “laugh your way to a better marriage” says, “You have to be nice to the girl.” We indeed reap what we sow.

When someone “won’t emote,” it means they aren’t showing any clear sign of how they feel or what they are thinking. They can appear passive or disengaged. They may be trying to hide their feelings or they may have difficulty expressing themselves emotionally. It can be challenging to talk with somone who won’t emote as it can be hard to know what they are truly feeling or what they are thinking.

Without something to work with, our security need goes unmet. we can easily listen to lies about them or about ourselves and believe something is wrong with us or the marriage. Cracking the code to the communication barriers is the key and can be done with tools, safety, and some practice. We aren’t destined to disconnected marriages because we don’t know how to access the heart of our lovers. Unless we do nothing, because passivity usually spells failure especially in marriage. Nothing is colder. I have also heard the refrain when asking why the marriage failed,

“We just grew apart.”

So, what are communication skills anyway?

I have a short definition, then I will unpack a few things that can help.

Communications Skills

The ability to talk strategically and successfully without escalating or sabotaging the process. It’s clearly and honestly saying what we need without manipulating for it by trying to change them. Most do this until seeing and turning from it.

Another way to say it bluntly, is that you learn to deal with your broken talking styles, like sarcasm and invalidation, poor word choice, defensiveness, and inability to listen. You manage the anger connected to your pain instead of abusing with it.

People don’t communicate well for clear reasons. Deal with the obvious reasons, learn to be a good listener and validator, and nothing can stop you.

Clearly stated, it’s about the words you use, your tone of voice, body language, emotional discipline (when your buttons get pushed and they will,) and listening skills without defensiveness.

If most couples would honestly and safely discuss together how they torpedo the process, they already know what they do to sabotage the process. If we are honest, it’s usually some self-protection thing we are doing that’s connected to some fear. I believe if we humble ourselves before God and each other, it becomes clear how we are blowing up our communication bridge. We have to dig a little deeper to find out why. It’s usually connected to our wounding and Mommy- Daddy history. Sorry, it’s just the way it is. Too many wounded children running around in adult bodies. We must put away childish things and grow. This happens as we confess to one another and God and let him heal and grow us.

“Yes, I can see my defensiveness and how it’s dishonoring you and hurting us. I want to make a comittment to you to work on that.”

“Yes, I see I am dishonoring you when I make fun of you, or use sarcasm. I see how much it hurts you. I choose not to do that anymore and give you permission to call me out on it if I slip into it.”

Slowly, we build a culture of safety and honor where respect reigns. It becomes increasingly safe to be vulnerable and honest before one another. Our emotional trust deepens where risks can be taken.

When we do this, an amazing thing happens! The fear dance gets broken over those conflict cycles that never resolve. You find you’ve been fighting over ridiculous things and not getting to the real issues at all. You get off the merry-go -round that never resolves, and go deeper in intimacy and truth than you ever thought possible. The most beautiful part about it is you grow ever closer to God and each other in emotional intimacy. The best kind.

Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant richess Pr. 24;3,4

I’ll be back with more in the near future. Prayers for all who read these words for breakthoughs in communication and learning to fight fair! XO Dan

I Forgave You Once

It’s 1978 and I have a newborn son. I’m so excited about being a dad! I’m only 21 and I barely have an idea what I’m doing. I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m working hard to be a good provider and now a good father whatever that looks like.

I have the example of Dad and how he illustrated the love of a good father. I can be that for my son who will need my love.

I have a job opportunity in a town a couple of hours away. My wife, reluctant to come, encourages me to go, offering to join me in a couple of weeks. You can imagine the surprise when I get divorce papers instead of her within those two weeks.

Seventy Times Seven

I learn to forgive in the coming years as she takes away my dream of happily ever after, including the dream of fathering my son. I will be assaulted with court papers over and over for many years, along with her demeaning phone calls, verbal assaults on me, my manhood, and my very existence. I don’t have the boundaries yet to stop her.

She has a different agenda she is working behind the scenes, one that will betray and break my unsuspecting heart. It feels like she only wanted a son from me, and getting that, she no longer had any use for me except to extract my money, emotion, and life force.

“I feel like I’m tied to the whipping post.” The Allman Brothers

I don’t feel like that anymore. Happiness began for me the day I married Linda 33 years ago.

Forgiveness & Boundaries

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you continue to live with abuse. Often, boundaries are necessary to create a healthy situation. This boundary could mean removing the tormenting influence of a destructive person from your life, unless or until they can behave. It can mean physical separation for safety in cases of physical abuse, substance, or sexual violation.

My boundaries were invaded for as long as I can remember. Growing up as a child, a sense of identity and personal power was not imparted. Performance for acceptance was the order of the day with affirmation and approval in short supply. This left me with a deficit of feeling approved of or affirmed in any way except performing and working harder to gain it.

I had no boundaries with my ex because I gave my personal power away to her to gain from her the approval I needed. This gave her the power to emasculate me, a distressing dynamic.

Even after marrying Linda, the phone calls continued from my ex, allowing her guilty poison into our relationship. When I sought counseling to help with the confusion this was creating, I learned that I needed boundaries. What she was doing was inappropriate, and I needed to do something about it.

I learned it was good and positive to feel indignant and offended when she trampled on me in disrespect, violating me and my sense of self worth. I learned the inappropriateness of what I’d been letting her do all these years.

I began to see that I had created the relational dynamics that were causing so much pain in my life. I opened the door to this by making my ex my “god,” by looking to her for what only God could give me.

Danny Silk, in his book Keep You Love On, pg.72,3 says;

“We have a deep God created need for intimacy, love, and comfort. But if we look to things that were not designed to meet these needs and elevate them above everything else–making them idols–then the result is always bondage and destruction. It’s only when we place God at the center that we can access comfort, peace, safety, joy, and pleasure that truly meets our deepest needs…

Think of a man who makes his wife his god. He makes her responsible for his joy, identity, and comfort–all things only God should satisfy. Inevitably his anxiety goes through the roof whenever he can’t control her. He has put her in charge of such deep needs in his life that he becomes scared of her. She is his addiction. And when he cant get his fix he’s a mess. His only hope is to turn to God. God must satisfy his needs. No one else can do that God job like God can.”

Out of the dark into the light

My experience was that I was doing this without realizing it. God never shamed or punished me in this process of self-awareness. He always leads me with love, joy, and tenderness, even though the process is painful, dealing with identity issues. I know it’s for freedom.

Not knowing about forming an identity, or what a healthy one looked like, I didn’t know where to reach for one. A lot of conditioning went on at home creating the only “normal” I knew which was not relationally healthy.

The first time I saw it, I was sitting in front of a counselor explaining my woes when he said to me;

“You need to remove her from the list of people you’re trying to get approval from.”

I saw it immediately, I needed her approval and was allowing awful abuse in because of it. I determined then that I could choose to repent of approval seeking and go to God for what I was going to a woman for in my brokenness. Chains were about to break.

By erasing her, I could take back what I was giving her in my idolatry. This was the beginning of learning about boundaries and regaining the personal power I was giving away as a victim.

We were divorced now, she no longer had inappropriate access to my emotions to manipulate me with guilt. The next barrage of questions to come from her were met with the words;

That’s none of your business, we’re divorced now, I’m not answering any more of your questions.”

She would use my answers to guilt and shame me and tell me what I should be doing with my life. It was her means of controlling me, and get me second-guessing myself.

I would no longer do this victim dance with her, it was over, though not instantly. She would still try to crank up the old music, I had to choose not to take her hand. 🙂

Old patterns die hard and take work, but once you can see where darkness had you, you can choose the light again and again. Different choices create different outcomes.

With me, the battle is mostly won once I come to an awareness of how deception is operating. Then it becomes a matter of doing the work and making the right choices, “dying” as it were to what another thinks or believes about you.

Freedom from people-pleasing comes when you lower the value you place on other’s opinions. When you care too much about what they think, you will forsake your own good for their approval. Jesus never did this. The fear of man brings a snare proverbs says.

Why Forgiveness is such a big deal

Have you ever wondered why God makes such a big deal about forgiveness in the bible?

We’re told not to take things into our own hands and work out the vigilante justice our heart is demanding. I think it all has to do with what’s happening inside our hearts, and the war between hate and love. God calls us to love, but hate has an agenda for our hearts.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God ; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 RSV

It’s almost like when we say: “I’ll get even, I’ll make them pay!”

We actually step in front of God usurping Him and His plan to even the scales and say;

“I’ll do it myself.”

David understood this. Remember when Saul was pursuing him to kill him and they found Saul sleeping in the cave? His men said;

God has delivered him into your hand, kill him here and now!

David wouldn’t do it, but cut off part of his robe. Later;

His heart smote him because he had “touched God’s anointed.”

David had many reasons he could have used to justify his own balancing of the scales. After all;

He had been anointed king in the midst of his brethren, the word of the Lord had been spoken over him, everyone had heard it. He had killed the lion and the bear, and even Goliath for God’s sake! David’s the one who delivered Israel, not Saul. Remember the song that infuriated Saul? “Saul has slain his thousands, David has slain his ten thousand.” Saul had tried to pin him to the wall more than once. Saul had disrupted all his relationships with David’s own family, and Jonathan. This stupidity had gone on long enough, Saul was crazy anyway!

But David forgave, he surrendered to God’s way of doing things, no matter how long it took and whatever came with it. He refused to take things into his own hands. This was a radical model of obedience to God and David passed the test. This one anyway.

The more serious part of taking things into our own hands is that;

We are seizing control in rebellion rather than submitting to the wisdom of God in obedience. When we try to control, we will obsess over “what they did to me,” and the venom of bitterness will be occupying our heart instead of love. Our emotions and mind will be hijacked to play the tape of their offense over and over hardening our hearts.

These are some of the tormentors spoken of by Jesus in His parable on forgiveness. Mt. 18:34

Bowing Down

Forgiveness requires transformation by submitting to the love of Christ and obeying. Un-forgiveness wants nothing to do with this transformation while pride rules. It requires extravagant humility to follow Jesus to the cross and forgive at the levels it takes to walk with a heart free to love.

Jesus didn’t say; “A new option I give unto you; that you love one another.”He said

“A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

There is imperative in this command. A couple more thoughts and I’ll leave you with a short poem.

Not forgiving keeps you from loving again properly.

This means whatever part of your heart is locked in not forgiving will be unavailable to give to another. Simply stated, forgiving properly enables you to love anew the next time. Some are unable to move on into fruitful relationships because forgiveness hasn’t happened. There may be other reasons related to abuse or fear holding you back, but forgiveness is the key to your future. Whole hearts are able to move on, fractured bitter ones are not.

Think of bitterness as a piece of your heart being held ransom. You are unable to access this area or give it away because it’s dark territory being held hostage by hate. It’s a prison of hatred and the only key to the door is forgiveness. It doesn’t matter what they did or took from you, how much loss is involved, or how much it hurts.

I sat with my counselor. He had me write a letter to my ex describing all I had lost and all she had taken from me. I had to write out the pain of the loss, and all it represented in honest emotional language. All of it. He then had me “read it to her” in proxy, not “to her.”

After reading it all and agonizing through it, I then told her; I forgive you.

It didn’t mean all the pain and loss went away. It did mean that I chose to forgive her and give her to God. I built an altar of remembrance that “I had forgiven.” I got out of the way, released any and all control of the outcome, and forgave her because Jesus said to.

I chose to trust God’s greater plan and open my hands in surrender to whatever he has planned for my future. I can do this because I know that He is good and He never shortchanges those who obey Him and surrender to Him and His ways.

I can love better today because I forgave yesterday. I pray these words help you to let Jesus heal your broken heart to love again. Here’s that poem;

Made For Love

My Heart was made for love, but gets attacked by hate

I want to hang with tenderness, but bitterness wants a date

Her kiss is naught but venom, poisoning my love,

Killing heaven’s song, singing from above.

Forgiveness is the arrow, piercing hatred’s soul,

Bleeding out the darkness, my heart becoming whole.

Where is found the grace to have this point of view?

Father please forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Dismantling Depression

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25

It’s easier to face a thing head on when we can see where it’s coming from

It’s easier to fight my enemy when I can see him

What causes depression and where does it come from anyway?

I’ll begin by answering the second half of this question first, then we’ll get into the causes.

First off, God doesn’t cause our depression and is not the source. rather, He came to relieve our depression and give us lasting hope and fill us with joy.

Isaiah 61:3 tells us Jesus came;

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

Verse one in the same chapter brings Jesus preaching good tidings to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance to the captives, and the opening of prison doors to those who are bound. Depression is a dark prison Jesus came to free us from, not put us in.

No, we can’t saddle the responsibility for our depression on God, rather we need to turn to a darker source of responsibility. Satan, the devil himself, whom Jesus labeled a thief, murderer, and liar.

John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

Revelation 12:9,10 speaks of him, (the devil), as the accuser of the brethren.

He is the one responsible for the mental illness, emotional struggle, depression, and suicide the sons of men deal with. Guilt, shame, and condemnation are the fruits of sin the devil handed Adam and Eve in the garden in the Genesis story.

We need to know the source so we can treat it accordingly. We weren’t created for it, and Jesus has a redemptive plan to free us from it. Moving into that plan is our personal journey.

Okay, so it comes from the devil. What causes it then?

This one isn’t as easy to answer because depression is as complicated as personality. We are all one of a kind in one sense as far as personality, emotional wiring, and genetic makeup. Our needs are different as well as our interface with life.

We have unique histories, families of origin, and experiences of life. One person has a strong family tree and a more noble heritage than the next, who suffers an upbringing in a dysfunctional or abusive family environment.

Alcohol and substance abuse introduce dynamics that fracture the family unit and remove stability and healthy parental modeling. Divorce resulting in the single-parent raising of children emotionally handicaps the emerging adult.

Sexual identity and gender orientation becomes confused. This is all part of the devil’s strategy to destroy marriages, and individuals. It’s a personal strategy tailor made for the destruction of the individual. That’s why Jesus came; to seek and save the lost. They are the sheep that have lost their way. We are those sheep.

Three Categories of Depression

I’m going to borrow this brief overview from Gary Champan’s insightful marriage book entitled Loving Solutions, from the chapter entitled “The Depressed Spouse.” Gary is the author of “The Five Love Languages.”


Depression may be the by-product of a physical illness

For example, when you have a full-blown case of influenza, you don’t care what’s going on at the office. You want to lie still and sleep as much as possible. You lose all interest in the outside world.

You temporarily check out; Your mind and emotions have moved into a depressed state. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from constant anxiety about what you are missing in the real world.

Fortunately, the influenza passes and your depressive mood lifts, though you may have noted that it tends to hang on for a day or two after your physical symptoms are gone. It often takes the mind a couple of days to get back to its normal state.


Situational depression or reactive depression

It is the depression that grows out of a particular painful situation in life. Such depression is a reaction to those painful experiences. Most of these experiences involve a sense of loss.

For example, depression often follows the loss of a spouse by death or divorce, the loss of a job, the loss of a child to college, the loss of parents to death, the loss of a friendship, the loss of money.

Depression may also arise over the loss of a dream, such as a happy, fulfilling marriage, the loss of the love feelings that you once had for your spouse, or the loss of hope that your marriage will ever be as fulfilling as you once hoped.


A third category is depression rooted in some biochemical disorder, which has put the mind and emotions in a state of disequilibrium. Sometimes this is referred to as endogenous depression.

The word endogenous means “from with the body,” and the biochemical change inside the body is it’s source. This is depression as a sort of physical disease.

There are various forms of biological depression. Some are related directly to the brain where something goes wrong with the electrical and neurochemical transmissions. Others are related to disorders of the endocrine system.

The glands of the endocrine system (thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pancreas, pituitary, adrenal, ovaries, and gonads) produce hormones that are released into the bloodstream to perform various functions. Lowered or heightened levels can produce depression.

Also certain disorders of metabolism can produce depression. The body is constantly assimilating food, breaking it into substances that can be stored and used as energy. When things go wrong in the metabolic system, depression can sometimes result.

For example, abnormally low blood sugar levels can produce feelings of emotional instability and depression.

There may well be biological reasons why females are more prone to depression than males. The female reproductive organs are known to create mood swings. Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is the depression at the onset of menstruation; it is a common occurance.

Women in menopause often face bouts of depression. The variation in estrogen levels markedly influences the mood of women.

The good news about biologically caused depression is that it is readily treated with medication. The bad news is that only about one-third of all depressions are biological depressions. The far more common depression is situational depression.

Taken from Gary Chapman’s “Loving Solutions, The depressed spouse,” Pg. 196

My family of origin and depression

“You’re bipolar.”

Linda declared to me at a time I was struggling emotionally with the circumstances of life. Somehow it didn’t bring me much comfort, rather it made me feel angry, labeled, and defensive.

My family tree and the history Linda knows about gave her good reason to suspect that I am bipolar and a manic depressive, although I am not.

Suicide and mental illness run in the family line. My experience is your parents don’t tend to talk about these things. Unable to handle it themselves, or not knowing the broken history line of the past doesn’t bring continuity of the truth to light.

You only have what you see growing up and try to make sense of it.

My mother suffered from depression until the end. Explosive anger and severe discipline accompanied it in the early years.

One of my uncles, her brother, took his own life with a gun in my adult life. My sister, one of eight of us siblings took her life after a prolonged bout with a brain tumor four years ago. she underwent surgery to remove the tumor resulting in hearing loss and the tumor returned. She just couldn’t take it anymore.

I have a mentally ill brother who suffers from addiction, and all attempts to help him get on his feet and redeem his life have failed due to his choices and inability to take responsibility. I don’t bail him out of jail anymore.

Another had a tumor on his pituitary gland removed that almost took his life. He was suffering from extreme bipolar and his endocrine system was shot. He suffered from what is called Acromegaly, and extreme alcoholism.

The tumor was removed successfully. He is recovered alcoholic many years now, and at 61, is the oldest living person with his condition. He functions at a near-genius level, talks about quantum theory, waveform, and the like and has invented some incredible things. I prayed for him many years ago and he received the baptism of the holy spirit and raised his hands and sang in tongues praises to God. We still talk about it.

My depression

I had my doctor do some blood work at Linda’s request and he looked me in the eye and said;

“You are not bi-polar.”

I was glad to hear it because maybe I was in denial. You can be you know.

The depression I battle is what Gary calls situational or reactive depression. This depression is associated with trauma and loss.

It may not have to do with a chemical imbalance or something my body is doing to me but it did come from my family of origin and continued to stalk me throughout my adult life.

I will list the possible sources of my battle with depression.

  1. As a child, there was simply no grid to process the emotional horrors of life. I guess that’s enough to cause depression.
  2. Emotions were suppressed, and not allowed to be processed externally. Everything was stuffed, or else.
  3. Anger, parental conflict, and an unsafe environment were the order of the day.
  4. Conditional love and performance for acceptance was the environment.
  5. God was not involved, then when He was, religion and the performance culture took over.
  6. My emerging sexuality as a boy was abused by another man, distorting my view and bringing shame.
  7. I was introduced to pornography at a tender age, and Jesus helped me destroy that addiction. His beauty is better than any other. Diligence is required with most men to keep that door closed.
  8. My Grandmother, my nurture and shield from abuse died on the operating table undergoing open heart surgery when I was a young teen.
  9. Then the 70’s came.
  10. My Ex divorced me after I gave her a son, then kept him from me for nine years while I believed for the restoration of the marriage that didn’t happen.
  11. She has been deceased two years and my grown son doesn’t want a father. I wait for the prodigal to return, and it has to be okay if he never does, like she never did.

My pathway out of depression has been,

  1. Accepting what God has for me, and loving & accepting myself with my weaknesses.
  2. Surrendering control of my life and where it goes, knowing that I would try to chain it to what I think is best, not God’s best.
  3. Trusting in God’s goodness; declaring that He is good and His mercy endures forever.
  4. Yielding to the Father’s pruning, whether it be relationship, ministry, title, or identity. Depression comes when I don’t yield. It’s a symptom of my resistant will.
  5. Gratitude and thanksgiving for all he gives which is good and fulfilling when I say “yes.”


Lord, You alone hold the keys to our joy and freedom. Come into our hearts and make depression a distant memory. Help us see what we need to see to be free. We know you came to set our hearts free and heal them to wholeness. Help us stop performing for people. Help us get our validation from you and not seek it selfishly from others. Help us to love others and care about them. Free us from narcissism and self focus so we can love those who need our love and truth. Help us forgive our abusers and love those who’ve hurt us. Help us as husbands to stay clean and love our wives Lord as you loved the Church and gave yourself for her. Help us wives love and respect our husbands and honor them with our lives and how we live and speak. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are We United?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is joanna-nix-walkup-vgkjJlEj-VQ-unsplash.jpg

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity! For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore. Ps. 133:1-3

We’re approaching independence day 2020. What a year!

We don’t feel very “independent” in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Things are easing up a bit in Colorado, but there is still a real and present danger about. We aren’t out of the woods yet and need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Informed but not obsessed. Life is going on.

We live in a country called “The United States of America.”

Somehow I don’t feel as united as a country as we were in my younger days. Yes, there were problems then too with Vietnam and Mr. Nixon, and the awful attitudes towards the veterans returning from the horrors of Saigon.

There are still a lot of hurting vets alive, some unable to recover from the trauma. Not just Vietnam. Trauma isn’t defined by one event or one war. Our country is undergoing trauma today.

I remember Kent State and the riots when I was in high school. I was in second grade when President Kennedy was shot. I still remember the announcement coming from the gold cloth-covered speaker on the wall as Mrs. Fleming our teacher burst into tears.

What’s happening today is nothing new. Our land needs healing.

I Pledge Allegiance

As I write this, my mind floats back to grade school where we stand from our tiny desks, turned towards the flag on its floor stand with the golden eagle on top, with that gold tassel hanging down.

With our hands on our hearts, we recite the “pledge of allegiance” together, the pledge feeling more like a holy prayer.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

That pledge is some good writing, concise and to the point, planting the first seeds of patriotism in a grade-schooler. I fear we’ve fallen from that pinnacle.

United in Marriage

Since I write on marriage and relationships, here we go.

In a real sense, our marriage covenant mirrors the intent of this pledge.

Liberty & Justice for all

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Liberty and Justice speak of freedom in the relationship. When we lose our freedom in our relationships, we become a slave to another person. Marriage isn’t about losing personal freedom, rather, freedom is something we are to retain and fight for. Freedom is about mutual honoring.

No one else owns your feelings, or your right to voice your opinion, married to them or not. Those things are God-given and belong to you.

“Justice for all” is about fairness in the relationship. It’s about equal representation and honor bestowed on the man and the woman.

Interestingly, the Spanish word for being fair is “Justo.” You can accurately say “with liberty and fairness for all.”

We are to affirm the personal power of one another with respect, not try to suppress or manipulate out of our insecurity, or fear of losing power. Unity is learning to respect and honor another, not suppress them.

The Commanded Blessing

God wants to “command the blessing” on our marriages, but we need to do the work to unite it to “dwell together in unity”, a seemingly rare commodity these days.

Your quality of life is determined by the unity your marriage has. If it’s bad or fake at home, it seems to be bad everywhere. There’s a core problem and you know it, it gnaws at you.

You’ll either develop “workarounds,” to survive a divided relationship without mutuality or you’ll fight for unity at all costs. This includes gaining the hard bought skills of communication and conflict resolution needed to become one in your marriage.

These workarounds involve manipulation, abuse of power, and hiding to avoid emotional truthfulness. We’ve not yet learned a better way.

The Party

We’re back home late and tired after attending a small party for a friend. It was tough as strife and stress were in the air from the rift between the married host and hostess.

I got pulled in unawares by the host into the emotions of the situation resulting in some tense moments. I tried to help by offering advice that wasn’t received well.

We ground through the evening, making the most of it.

Getting ready for bed, Linda says from the closet;

“I’m so thankful we have unity in our marriage!”

“Me too!”

I reply, feeling the same gratitude knowing that “It don’t come easy.”

I value the reality of the words “unity in our marriage,” realizing happiness does come down to whether you enjoy unity together. I ask myself;

How can anyone live that way?

Why no unity?

The reason for disunity at this party was made clear by the host; One wanted us there, the other didn’t. There wasn’t an agreement about having the party. An awkward environment to be invited into.

Better not to have the party until agreement and honoring can be established. If unity isn’t operating, something else is. See James 3:13-18

Where does unity come from?


“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Amos 3:3 NLT

An agreement is found when the needs, values, and concerns of both parties are explored and honored. Both must get equal consideration, it can’t be one-sided. Without this, it’s a dictatorship, not a marriage.

Not only men can be dictators, but I’ve also known some lovely female ones as well.


“Husbands likewise dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together to the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 peter 3:7 NKJV

“…She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so that your prayers will not be hindered. NLT

What does honoring look like?


Valuing and validating the opinions, needs, and desires of your spouse equally with yours, even if you disagree are necessary. Unity can’t happen without this.

This means forsaking false, growth limiting beliefs, such as;

“I’m the man and my opinions and desires carry more weight than hers.” or,

“Since I’m the man, I hold the trump card. She has to do what I say.”

These are bullying attitudes, once again, the nice lady can carry them also. (:

Validating means you listen respectfully without rebuttal, treating with respect the things your partner has to say. You listen without refuting it and affirm what you hear. If you can’t do this, you need to practice until you can.

Your unity will be blocked without the validation you both need. We must grow past our defensiveness.

We give honor to our spouses with an attitude that says;

“I hear what you’re saying, and I hear how you feel about it, what can we do to get you what you want and need?” This attitude will bring you into the promised land.

Honoring is;

Working out differences with respect without bullying, judging, or intimidating to get your way. You have to break these patterns to do this or nothing will change. I promise.

Think about it. If one doesn’t stop what is pushing the other person away, how will it ever change? If you’re the one being bullied, stand your ground, set a boundary, and state that you will no longer put up with it.

If you aren’t being treated with respect, leave them in an empty room while you remove yourself from destructive words or attitude.

Honoring is humbly negotiating to find common ground, giving and taking to get what you need.

Exploring alternative solutions to satisfy both parties. XO

Engagement Q’s

Pray with your spouse, inviting God in for a safe, honoring atmosphere. Thoughtfully work through these questions to grow in unity.

1. Can you see any workarounds you have developed as a couple that are blocking your unity? Talk about this together, bringing it into the open. Work a strategy and set goals together to change the dynamic.

2. Do you feel validated in the marriage? Do you both feel your opinions, needs, or ideas are respected equally? If not, say where, why, and give examples.

3. Do you feel freedom in your marriage, or do you feel controlled? Tell why, be specific. Talk together about what you can do about it.

What would it look like if you were free? Give an example. Agree to work together towards this. XO 



Quarantine Romance

Where are you my love?

Where’s the one I knew and married on our wedding day?

What happened to the spark we shared and love that lit our way?

We used to share each happy thought & catch each other’s tears.

Now it seems our love’s used up on bills, demands, and fears.

I want to reach and touch your heart, but can’t seem to get in.

Don’t know if we just don’t care, it’s busyness, stress, or sin.

My hope says there’s a doorway to reach inside of you.

I pray that you will answer me, and say again I do.

My heart wants to recapture the love that we once knew,

To share the kind of oneness known only by a few.

God help love burn again in us, alive with holy flame,

That burns so unconditionally in those who know your name.

Teach us how to love again, giving our hearts away,

To see how two can become one, renew our wedding day.

Dan Lillyblad

Hi everyone, I hope you all are surviving well and keeping your love alive. I’m including some connection tips for Quarantine romance.

First I want to announce my upcoming book I hope to have out this year; Hope for Happily Ever After. There will be sample chapters on my website soon for those who sign up, as well as access to other articles and poems.

Quarantine Connection Tips

Don’t be discouraged that it’s gotten harder. Quarantine is hard. It’s the cross. We can’t even go to church. Virtual isn’t the same. Thank God we aren’t being required to have a virtual marriage! Virtual hugs just don’t work for me.

It’s only normal for things to heat up relationally, being thrown together with all we’re used to being turned upside down or removed.

Linda & I have had more spirited conversations lately than we’ve had in a long time in our almost 33 years of marriage. Add writing a marriage book to the mix, and all sorts of things have come up for discussion.

Growing together in love never goes away in marriage, you don’t want it to. God is love, the greatest commandment is Love. God and others, including, especially, our spouses.

Growing in love is always on God’s agenda.

I’ve found the little irritations I feel will usually reveal my selfishness and intolerance. Love is patient and kind, not selfish. I need to be more flexible, lighten up, and make space. I take myself too seriously and start demanding too much out of myself, Linda, and our marriage.

Recovering Romance

Romance isn’t fairy dust or magic. It’s cultivated. Seeds are planted, watered, nurtured, and grown. It grows out of unselfish love.

Growing out of the new love or honeymoon stage is normal and part of the growth cycle of marriage. This brings hope when we realize nothing is wrong with us or our marriage.

Our fairy tale thinking gets exposed as we enter the disenchantment stage of marriage. The super high becomes a super low, but we can do it.

This is when we start growing, exploring, and healing together. Our differences start surfacing, and we start our fruitless campaigns to change each other. We learn to communicate, fight fair, or die as all our buttons we didn’t even know we had get pushed.

Being in quarantine is pushing our buttons. It’s thrown us into a new growing season. This can be good for us if we can see what God is doing, release control, and surrender to it. I will finish with some connecting points and some application

The caring connection

Biblical Self Love; Do yourself a favor

So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies; He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes, cherishes, and protects it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:28-30

Nourishes; What nourishes a woman’s soul?

Linda; I feel nourished when you tune into me, talk to me, resolve conflict with me, spend time with me. This is the love language of Quality Time

I believe a woman is nourished when she has access to her man’s heart. He treats her like she’s number one on his priority list.


A woman feels cherished when she is reassured by her man, as often as she needs it, which is more often than he needs it himself. Reassured that he loves her, that she is worth loving, and he couldn’t live without her.

Things like; I love my life with you. I love our life together, being married to you. You’re the best.

Come up with originals of your own.

This has to be sincere from the heart without manipulation. They can tell.


Linda; You respect my limitations, not pushing me beyond what I can do. Sensitive to me. Not expecting too much out of me.

A man protects his wife when he covers her, offering her his strength when she needs it, not lecturing her.

A man needs to be a big enough beach for the waves of his wife to crash upon. He doesn’t try to fix her or require anything of her. He is man enough to hold her and listen to her, loving her till the tide recedes.

The servant connection

Linda’s love language is Acts of Service. I need to be careful that my propensity for performance orientation doesn’t make me her love slave.

At the same time, knowing what makes her feel loved, I can speak her language by not neglecting her or her needs.

I serve her when I offer my support to her by talking out her fears, anxieties, and struggles, not to solve or fix.

Just being there with her loving her, listening, makes her feel protected.

For the ladies;

Remember ladies, the guys are less complicated. They need your respect and some words of affirmation. Remember that he is trying. Beyond that,

Show up naked, bring food. XO