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Heart of the Home - Part 2

Trust is missing in many marriages along with faith. We need to seek to trust and believe in another. Another important element is encouragement as well as keeping secrets. It would also be helpful to show appreciation. Financial planning is also important.
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Because the world is so weighted with the problems of home and marriage break-up, we're spending a few days on this subject in our daily broadcast. Friends, when the foundation shakes, the whole building trembles. This is one of the reasons America has lost her Christian image before the rest of the world. The home has come into deep and serious trouble, and consequently has sent shock waves of insecurity through every level of modern society.

Our last broadcast was involved with some of the basic requirements for a happy, compatible marriage. Today I'd like to introduce the quality of trust as an absolute essential between marriage partners.

Many people never learn to trust, and they try to gain sympathy by distrust. Husbands and wives use this as a club on each other. They don't trust each other, and they accuse and make evil surmisings. Love trusts. If we love one another, we'll trust one another. In some cases unfaithfulness has so shattered confidence that it may never be possible to trust perfectly again. Sometimes foolish jealousy and stupid attempts to get attention lead people to express distrust in order to wring out of the husband or wife assurances of fidelity and devotion. This sort of tactic is a sad mistake. When you do this, you hurt yourself and you hurt the other person. Very often such suspicion leads the other to infidelity. Don't do it. You can gain expressions of love and loyalty in ways that are positive rather than negative.

Along with trust, there also needs to be faith in each other. Faith is broader than trust. It implies belief in the partner, confidence that he's doing his best for the home, for the family, to reach his goal in life. It may be that he isn't earning that faith one hundred percent. Maybe he is weak; maybe he has failures; but doubting him or expressing lack of faith in him isn't going to help the situation. This will only turn him further from his full devotion to these matters that are important.

Then there's encouragement. How can a person get along in life without encouragement? Yet there are homes where days, weeks, and months go by without a word of encouragement spoken by either husband or wife. The husband works hard day in and day out-he feels defeated sometimes because he doesn't get ahead as fast as he would like to-but the wife just complains and gripes rather than speaking words of encouragement to him. And the wife works hard and tries to keep the home the way the husband wants it; but she probably isn't perfect and makes some mistakes, and he comes along and complains. We don't get anywhere by complaining. That's the normal and natural tendency, but let's learn to encourage one another instead. Someone has said, "Praise others and they bloom; nag and they sag!"

There are times, of course, when we need to face faults and weaknesses in each other and talk them over candidly, for the sake of constructive criticism. But as a rule there needs to be a whole lot of encouragement and only a little bit of constructive criticism in the attitude of husbands, wives and children toward each other.

Then there's confidence. The word "confidence" has two meanings, but the one I'm referring to now relates to keeping secrets within the family circle. There are things we should never tell outside the home. Perhaps there are close friends who can help us; or we may need to tell some of our problems to ministers and professional people in seeking help and guidance, but just to spread our problems around the neighborhood is a tragic mistake. If we want to unburden some of our troubles to a friend, we should always choose someone who is of the same sex, and preferably older than we are-someone who has more experience than we have. If we're having difficulties at home and need counsel, it's best to seek it professionally -that is, from a minister, doctor, teacher, or someone who is a family counselor by profession. Merely seeking sympathy from those outside the family circle can lead to infatuations that will take you down the road to ruin. Never do it. Keep home confidences in confidence.

Another very important attribute in the home is showing appreciation for one another. Few people realize the part that lack of appreciation plays in tearing down happiness in our day-by-day lives. I know of a young man who went through medical school happily married, really enjoying his studies, and planning to be a general practitioner when he got his degree. But his wife hoped he would become a specialist in some particular field. He didn't think he would enjoy that kind of work; he wanted to be a general practitioner because he felt it would be more satisfying to help a lot of people in more varied ways. Narrowing his work to a specialty simply did not appeal to him. But his wife coveted the prestige that she felt would come with his going further in his education and becoming a specialist.

He was very happy in his practice at first, but this difference of opinion, her lack of appreciation for his work, continued. As the years went by, he began to be dissatisfied in his work and finally it became a mental problem to him. He began to hate seeing his patients. He would tell his office nurse that he was going out, and he would leave his patients sitting in his waiting room for hours while he was driving his car around, trying to get control of himself. He was about to go on the rocks, professionally and personally.

He finally went to a minister for help and explained how he had once loved his work, but now he simply hated it. This counselor was wise enough to ask him some questions about his home life, and about his wife's attitude. When he learned the way she felt toward the doctor's work, he sensed what the trouble was and he asked her to visit his office to talk some of these things over. He explained to her how she was ruining her husband's happiness by her lack of appreciation of what he was doing, and showed her the effect it was having upon him psychologically. She was a good woman. She hadn't realized the effect her attitude was having on her husband, and she was willing to do what she could to change the situation. The counselor told her to start thinking of the things she really appreciated about her husband's work, the position they held in the community, their many friends, the esteem his patients had for her husband as a doctor, and so on. He advised her to express her appreciation for these things to her husband and see if it wouldn't change things.

So she went home and started to do things differently. She changed her whole attitude. She began to look for encouraging things that she could tell her husband about his work and what he was doing for the community. One day a lady down the street, an acquaintance who had been to her husband for treatment, said to her, "I think your husband is the best doctor in town! He helped me when no one else could." The wife repeated that to her husband. She began to encourage him and appreciate him; and it wasn't long before that doctor was just as thrilled with his work as he had once been.

If we would appreciate the wife's work in rearranging the furniture, the bouquet on the table, the cooking, it would encourage her to do even better. But criticism will pay off in poor work. Few of us realize the potential for discouragement there is in a lack of appreciation, and the potential for good that there is in expressing our appreciation. If we would appreciate the talents of our children and encourage them, how much farther they would go! We're always griping about their faults. They need to be dealt with about their faults-I'm going to talk about that in a moment-but we need to appreciate their strong points, too. This is the thing that builds people.

One other area of home relationships causes trouble in a large percentage of homes. Many divorces are caused by lack of agreement on how the home finances should be handled. Here are three principles that I believe will be helpful.

First, neither one of the marriage partners should enter into a major financial obligation without the consent of the other. You've heard the story of a man who said, "When my wife and I were married, we decided that I would make all the major decisions and she would make all the minor ones; and in the last sixty years there hasn't been a single major decision!" Whenever we spend an appreciable amount of money, it should be for something that we agree on together, unless we have lived together long enough to appreciate our partner's ability in this line so much that we don't mind leaving the decision with him.

If the man is in business he may need to take on major involvements that certainly would affect his family's finances, and he can't ask his wife about every business decision he makes. But when it comes to family spending, if the wife makes a major purchase or binds the family to payments on an appliance or furniture or clothing without counseling with her husband, she is only asking for trouble, and she'll probably get it! Likewise, the husband who gets a new car when they may not be able to afford it, is asking for trouble. Major decisions should be worked out together.

The second principle has to do with installment indebtedness. I may surprise you by saying that I'm not so old-fashioned as to think that it's wrong to buy anything on time. The economy of today's world, from the government on down, is based on credit buying; and I think it's probably good business for families to enter into installment buying to a certain extent. But I do believe that many people today are wrecking their homes and their happiness with installment purchasing.

It may be good judgment to buy some things on installments. Perhaps a car if you don't allow the installment feature to lead you into getting a car that really is out of keeping with your income. And perhaps a home, the same principle applies there. Perhaps some types of appliances, a refrigerator, stove, or something equally durable. But to buy things that wear out quickly, such as clothes, upholstered furniture, rugs, food on the installment plan is nothing short of financial lunacy. It is an almost guaranteed way to get into discouragement, and it will certainly spoil the morale of the home. It's like paying for a dead horse to buy things that wear out before they're paid for, or to run a bill at the grocery store. There may come times when this is necessary; but usually this sort of indebtedness gives people ulcers, gets husbands and wives at each other's throats, and destroys the happiness of the home. Don't do it. It's much better to wait for those things until you have money to pay cash for them.

Even where larger items are concerned (appliances, homes, cars, etc.), we need to watch that we don't go over our heads with payments. I was reading some time ago in the U. S. News and World Report that bankruptcy among families in the last few years has skyrocketed in absolutely fantastic fashion. The article gave a number of case histories, and in case after case young couples had signed themselves up until they had more payments than they had income! It makes one wonder where they went to school!

Many families have gone bankrupt because their payments outran their income. We need to recognize that payments should be kept to a small percentage of our income. If we have more than about 40 percent a month in payments, we are usually in trouble. Let's remember that financial good judgment is a part of Bible teaching. The Bible says we ought to be diligent in our business (Proverbs 22:29). It isn't necessarily being in debt to make installment payments; but when you get more than you can pay for, then you're surely in debt. And if you're in that kind of trouble, you ought to get yourself out of it somehow. Perhaps you can take back some things you don't really need like the color TV, etc. If you have a debt problem and unhappiness in the home because of it, I'll make you a proposition: You shed some of those debts and be able to have a few dollars in your pocket at the end of every month, and you'll find that home is just about one hundred percent happier.

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