One of the Biggest Mistakes I See in Marriage

Still In Love

One of the biggest mistakes I see made in marriage, and one my own marriage suffers from at times is:

…forgetting that men and women are not made the same way.

I was reminded of that fact again this morning by reading the story of a man in the Bible named Elkanah and his wife Hannah. (1 Samuel 1) Hannah had been unable to have children and it was the deepest pain in her life. (I wrote previously about that pain HERE.) Every year (and perhaps every day) Hannah would go to God begging for a child. God eventually blessed Hannah with a son, but in the midst of that story is one of the saddest, but funniest verses in the Bible (my opinion). It certainly illustrates the great difference that exists between most men and women. Here is the verse:

Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8)

Do you see the mistake? Elkanah could never fully comprehend the depth of Hannah’s emotions. To him, life was good the way it was. He had other children through another wife and he and Hannah were free just to be happy with each other. He couldn’t sense the depth of pain that was in Hannah’s heart. To him it made sense that as a couple they were enough. Hannah, I suspect, could never fully comprehend how insensitive Elkanah seemed to be.

Therein lies what I believe to be one of the largest mistake men and women make in a marriage. Whenever I believe Cheryl completely identifies with me or I completely identify with her, we are bound to run into some conflict. I will never understand the depth of emotions Cheryl is capable of producing and she will never understand the shallowness of emotions I am capable of maintaining. Neither of us is right or wrong, we are just different, and as I look at the situations we have handled together in life, I see why God allowed the uniqueness in each of us. To make our marriage strong, I must be careful never to place expectations on Cheryl for her to be like me and she must do the same with me. I have to learn to be more sensitive of her sensitivity and she has to learn to be more patient with my insensitivity.

This is just one issue among many where Cheryl and I are different, which makes marriage a consistent challenge. With awareness, communication, commitment and a willingness to humble ourselves and give grace to each other, we can allow our differences to work for the betterment of our marriage, not to the detriment.

In what ways are you different from your spouse? How do you see those differences working for the good of your marriage?

For more thoughts on marriage click HERE.

Don’t Confuse Activity with Success

Here is a principle that works in many areas of life.  You’ll find it helpful in businesses, in organizations, in churches, in relationships and in your personal life.  Here’s the principle:

Don’t confuse activity with success.

I once wrote that growth covers over a multitude of problems.  (Read that post HERE.)  I know many organizations and people that mistakenly believe for a time (before it catches up with them) that busyness means things are moving in the right direction.  That may or may not be true, but long-term success always depends more on the quality of activity than on the quantity of activity. In the short-term, you can mask success with an abundance of action, but substandard performance will be discovered in time. (For more on this thought process, read my previous post, The Tortoise and the Hare Principle of Organizational Growth.)

If you want to ensure success, consider the goals and objectives trying to be attained, determine whether they are currently being achieved, and, depending on your findings, be willing to adjust activity accordingly to achieve better results.

Have you been guilty of being busy rather than being successful?  In what areas of your life are you more likely to allow that to occur?

Father Influence Survey

I’m working on some blog posts, messages, and eventually a book on the impact of fathering. I’m especially interested in addressing the absence of a strong father figure in a person’s life, since I see it as a huge scar in many people’s life.

You can help me with this part of my ministry. Please consider completing my survey on fathering. It’s quick and easy and all responses are anonymous. I understand in advance that just answering questions about your father may be difficult for some, but your responses may help others. Thanks!

Click HERE to access the survey. Feel free to send others here to complete it also.

Also as a part of this post, I would love for you to add your public comments on fathering and the impact it has on your life, either as a father or by your father as a comment on this post. What difference has being a dad made on your life? What influence did your father have on you? Who knows, your comment/story may make it into a book some day!


Two Quick, Funny, Comic Strips, One Picture

Sometimes you have to laugh. I don’t normally laugh at comic strips…or share them…but something about these seemed funny at time so I decided to share them.  Sometimes you just need a smile.  The picture was in the same email…and what’s not to love about it?  Hope they produce some afternoon joy!

What/Who is making you laugh these days?

Emotionally Healthy People in a Marriage

Imagine these two scenarios…

  • One married couple is comprised of two emotionally healthy people…the marriage experiences problems, they seek help, they get better and the marriage restored and made better than ever.
  • One married couple is comprised of one or two emotionally unhealthy people…the marriage experiences problems, the couple and/or one spouse seeks help, nothing changes, and the marriage remains in trouble.

I wish I could say these two scenarios were unusual, but they are common for what I see on a regular basis. I have seen so many marriages struggle because one or both spouses is dealing with unresolved emotional baggage he or she brings into the marriage.

Here’s the point: All marriages have trouble at times, but building a healthy marriage ultimately takes two healthy people. If your marriage is in trouble, consider the emotional health of each spouse. People who are individually dealing with issues such as past hurts, broken relationships, damaged emotions, abuse, or personal loss, will have a harder time building a strong relationship until their own emotions heal.

If that’s your situation; if your emotional health has been severely damaged, get the help you need before you expect to heal your marriage. Working on your own emotional health may greatly improve your marriage!

Are you married to someone emotionally unhealthy? How has it impacted your marriage?

Life Encouragement to My Sons

Here’s a quick message to my two boys.  Jeremy and Nate are 21 and 18 years old. (This picture is a few years old, but it’s one of my favorites.)  Jeremy just graduated from college last week. Nate finishes his first year of college next week. They are tremendous young men, but I realize they have some incredible opportunities ahead and I don’t want them to miss anything God has for them, especially not because they were unprepared.  I wish someone had given me this advice when I was their age. (Perhaps you need to hear it as well.)


I’ve messed up many times in life…

Please learn from my mistakes…

I’m not perfect now, but at least I’m headed in the right direction…

I wish I had started this path earlier in life…

Don’t wait to build your character, discover your life purpose, and chase your dreams…

Head your life early in the direction you want your life to eventually end…

Start today…

Do you need that encouragement today?

I’m curious: At what age did you start heading your life in the direction you ultimately want to go?

Read a letter I wrote to each of my boys HERE and HERE.

Men and Women Need Accountability in Marriage

I am tired of watching marriages fall apart.  One thing that breaks my heart is when two wonderful people allow temptation to overtake them and fall into sin, such as adultery or pornography.  I wish I could say it was rare, but it happens every day.   I have seen and believe that marriages can be fully restored from these times and even become model marriages after them, but the goal should be to keep either spouse from reaching this point.

While this is not a fool proof answer, one of the leading struggles I know of for men and women is when there is no one is involved or interested enough in their private affairs to challenge them as he or she starts to stray.  Most affairs, for example, don’t start in one day. They occur over time as a person’s guard is let down and they ease into the temptations that exist for all of us.

Here’s the bottom line of this post:

Men need to be accountable to a few other men and women need to be accountable to a few other women. They need someone with the freedom to speak truth into his or her life and challenge them in love when there are concerns.  As much as my wife tries and desires to understand me, she’ll never fully understand the heart and mind of a man; just as I will never fully understand her heart and mind.  This is true of every marriage.  (It’s also why more women responded negatively to THIS POST about how I protect my marriage.)

I have often heard it theorized that King David may have never given into the temptation with Bathsheba if he had still had the close relationship with Jonathan in his life.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly would not have hurt.

Men and women that don’t see this as an issue are only fooling themselves.  Quit playing games with your marriage and pretending you are stronger than you are.  “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Do you have accountability built into your life?  If not, do you dismiss the need, are you afraid to invite it, or have you not found the person to hold you accountable?

John R. Edmondson, Sr. (Legacy of a Dad)


In April, 2010, my father peacefully passed from this earth into the presence of His Savior. His battle with cancer got the best of him and He gave up his fight and entered his eternal rest. I’m thankful he no longer has unbearable pain.

My dad would readily admit that he has made many mistakes in his life. We could pretend those days never happened, but the fact is that his alcoholism caused many scars in his life and in the lives of those he loved. He spent many years trying to overcome those days.

Because of his faith in the person of Jesus Christ, my dad finished his earthly life as a new man. He had been sober for many years and he and my mother were very happily married. He loved his children and wanted nothing more than to be with them. His grandchildren just think of him as Pa Pa, with no personal knowledge of years gone by. My father was active in church, loved to share Scripture with others, and would help anyone who needed a hand. At the funeral, I was overwhelmed hearing what a “good man” my father was from so many people.MSometimes we don’t know a person’s impact until they are gone. (That seems sad, but it’s true.)

Perhaps that is what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant in Chapter 7, verse 1, which says, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” I have learned from watching my dad’s life that finishing is better than starting and that finishing well by loving God and others is the end goal of life. My father was truly prepared to die.

When I meet with people who have made mistakes in life in my role as a pastor, I am always less concerned with where they have been or what they have done wrong. I am always more concerned with where they want to go in life and how dedicated they are to get there.  My dad is an example of someone that wanted to end well. I believe his legacy will continue to prove he achieved his goal.

Love you dad! Thanks for paving a good path for others to follow. Give Jesus a hug for me!

Are you prepared to die? Do you have a personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ?

Guest Post: Nate Edmondson on Trusting God

My youngest son Nate is in Chicago and we are bringing him home once again this weekend for a funeral.  This time for the funeral of my father. I thought his thoughts were worth sharing today:

I have a paper due tomorrow morning at 8, so I should probably be working on that… but there’s not too many things I dislike more than writing those.

This year has by far been the most difficult year of my life. I’ve had to go home 3 times for 3 different funerals, one of which for a very close friend. Mixing all of those emotions with the emotions of being homesick in general has been interesting. At the beginning of my first semester I sensed God trying to teach me to trust in Him with every aspect of my life, and unfortunately I’ve continued trusting myself instead of Him.

I think learning to trust God completely is the most important thing that any Christian could do. Imagine what would happen if every believer truly started living by faith in every arena of life.

It’s hard. I really suck at it. Instead of spending time with Him I sit on facebook and write blog posts..

Trust God. What does that mean exactly… I don’t know. But I know God’s real and has a real plan. The goal if figuring out how to stop holding on to my life and surrender it to God, but again, I don’t really know what that means or looks like.

It’s amazing how unstructured this post is…

Can you identify with Nate? 

Is trusting God completely a process for you as well?

What is the number one distraction in your life from fully trusting the God who loves you more than you could ever imagine?

Cheap Date Night Ideas

Cheryl and I believe in date nights. We actually believe in date days and date weekends and date vacations. Obviously, with our children mostly grown, stretching dates over several days has become easier for us to do, but the point is we have made a practice of spending quality and quantity time together on a regular basis all of our marriage. It’s perhaps been a key to protecting and growing our relationship.

I often hear objections from couples that they can’t afford to go out much. I understand. Babysitting alone is expensive. One idea I know several couples do is to partner with other couples to share the responsibility of keeping kids while the other couple has a date night. Your children enjoy playing with other children and you get to have a date night without the expense of a babysitter.

As for the date itself, it doesn’t have to be expensive. The goal isn’t to spend a lot of money…the goal is to spend uninterrupted time together as a couple. I hope this post will encourage you to get creative in spending quality time together.

Here’s where you, the reader, can help other marriages.

What’s your cheapest and best date night idea?  What are some ideas we may not have thought about yet? Share your suggestions as a comment so others can learn from you.

Could your marriage benefit from some couple time?