Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Keeping Your Marriage Vows, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Growing up, Karen Loritts didn’t see commitment in marriage lived out.

Karen Loritts: The women in my family ate up men. They were an endangered species. These women just ate them up and spit them out. Either they didn't marry them, or they divorced them.

Leslie: Today, we'll hear what it takes to break that kind of cycle.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, May 20, 2016.

Today's program will give wives a lot to ponder, but this program is not appropriate for young children. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yesterday, Pastor Crawford Loritts took us to the book of Genesis to review God’s design for marriage. Crawford is the pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in the Atlanta area. He’ll be back at the end of today’s program, but first we’ll hear from his wife, Karen, as she talks straight to women about issues she’s struggled with, like submission, in marriage. Karen is knowledgable in God's Word, she has a lot of depth to offer, and she speaks as a woman who has learned to live out this message.

Crawford and Karen were speaking at a breakout session at the True Woman '10 Conference. Let's listen.

Karen: Let me just read a couple of Scriptures, a couple of Scriptures from the Word:

An excellent wife is a crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness to his bones (Prov. 12:4).

It is better to live in the corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman (Prov. 21:9).

It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman (Prov. 21:19).

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of the fools is deceit (Prov. 14:8).

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord (Prov. 18:22).

House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers but a prudent wife is from the Lord (Prov. 19:14).

It is amazing that God would bring together two completely different people. Crawford comes from this nice little family that had a white picket fence and a mother that wore an apron and pearls every day and a dad who supported and worked for his family.

And then God had this teenage woman who got pregnant by a sailor, a one night or couple-week stand, got pregnant, had me as a teenager, went on to have some other kids out of wedlock . . . all these babies, but she got saved. He saved me. I met this man in Bible college, and he had brown legs. He thought he was going to get married and live this happy life. And then there was me who thought, I'm a woman. I don't need a man.

My mother raised us. I'm the oldest girl. I'm the big sister. I ran the show for my two little brothers. My mom went to work, and I ran the show there in the ghetto of Philadelphia. But God had another plan. He saved me. He softened my heart and brought this handsome man into my life.

There were some earlier, hurtful days in the beginning because he was trying to tell me to submit. Submit? That is ancient. (Laughter) But God has a way of saying, “I'm going to take care of you, Karen, but you have to trust Me—trust and obey.” So for these forty years, God has showed Himself true, true, true.

You can go to 1 Corinthians 13, and put your name in some of those places. “Love is patient.” Put your name in place of love. Karen, is she patient? Karen, is she kind? Karen, is she boasting? Put your name in those places, but here’s the love quiz. I’m just going to give a couple, make a couple statements, and then we'll take some questions.

Here’s the first one. You're going to have a choice of one or two words.

The question is: Is your romance hopeful or hopeless? Today, is your romance hopeful or hopeless? What would you say your romance is?

This is a little love quiz, 1 Corinthians 13. We’ll make sense of it in a little bit.

Second question: Is your love generally selfless or selfish? Is your love selfless or selfish?

Okay, another question is: Is your love patient or impatient? “Man, how many times do I have to tell you that? Man, you know I don't take out the trash. Get with the program, brother, get with the program. How many times do I have to tell you that?"

Or, with Crawford, in the earlier days of our marriage, this is why God has given me forty years of getting this thing right is that I don't take out the trash. There are some things I'm just not going to do. That's not my love language, taking out the garbage. (Laughter) And, let me just tell you this: I’m thinking that would have been just selfish. That's just being selfish, but there are just some things I'm just not going to do. But his thing was, “Honey, just take out the garbage.”

I don’t care whether it was fossilizing, maggots were growing and having a family, I wasn't going to take out the trash. But you know, I just decided, “This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous, Karen. Help the brother out, help the brother out. There are more things to fuss and fume about than taking out the garbage. You are being a stinker.” So I was going to be a big girl.

It was the same thing with cutting the grass. I don't cut the grass. I don't like to go outside. I don't like bugs. I don't cut the grass. The grass can be at the threshold of the door, and I'm just going to go through it. So I'm nagging him, freezing the brother out. It wasn't working.

So I went to praying, and he cut the grass. But what I had to get over is that when my husband finally did what he was supposed to do, he had to have a party. “Oh honey, come see what I did.” (Laughter)

Now, how many times, ladies, we have cooked, we've cleaned, we've washed the clothes, we’re doing all this stuff, and we don't wait until you draw the pictures and have a party but . . . I was impatient. I was impatient.

So, is your love patient or impatient?

Okay, we're almost finished. Okay. Do I act becomingly or unbecomingly . . . most of the time? Are my actions or is the habit of my life just to act out? Do you always have to be the diva? Do you act becomingly or unbecomingly?

Some of us just whineto complain. We wah, wah, wah about stuff that you need to stop wah, wah, wah-ing about. According to 1 Corinthians, it says, “Stop.”

I have found that marriage is work. Here is an acrostic that has helped me, helped me, helped me immensely: w-o-r-k. Real simple:

Marriage is work. “W” is—it takes wisdom. “W”—wisdom from God. James 1. Some of you may be in the situation where maybe you're married to a guy who is just a knucklehead. (Laughter) Let's keep it real. He’s just a knucklehead.

Maybe you are the strong woman that is just trying to run the show, and you're hitting against a brick wall. Some of you may be married to an unbeliever, and it is tough, and you just don't know what to do. You may be like what I was: a single parent, a teenager. All the guys that were born into our family were biological, otherwise the women in my family ate up men. They were an endangered species. These women just ate them up and spit them out. Either they didn't marry them, or they divorced them. Men were an endangered species.

So coming into this marriage I said, “God, they’re showing me in the Bible in Bible college, but it doesn't have anything to do with me. I'll be a Christian, but I’m going to do my own thing because this is my model.” Well, you really can't do that!

I took a vow on May 22 before God and all my colleagues from school and my family. God's reputation is at stake. So when I wanted to act up and be a fool, I’d have to go to the bathroom and talk to myself because I'm saying that God can handle every single thing in my life, but He can't handle me being a wife to a man who loves me.

He could end up being a jerk, too, but I had nothing to do with what he does. My response is to do the godly thing, and work those things out. So I did a lot of what I call bathroom discipleship. (Laughter) Talking to myself in the bathroom in the mirror.

So James says, “If you don’t understand, ask God. Don't be an idiot; don’t be a fool. Ask God.”

O—obedience. In 1 Samuel 15, it says, “Obedience is better than sacrifice” (v. 22). One of the things I learned is that I obey because I don't want my disobedience and my mess to come off on my children.

I talk to ladies a lot of times, and they'll talk to me and say, “It's hard.” I'm understanding that, and "they can't do this . . . can't, can't, can't." I say, “Yes, you can't, but if God can part the Red Sea, if He can raise a dead Jesus, He can probably take care of you and your husband, but it takes obedience.”

Am I right? I know I’m telling the truth. “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” 1 Samuel 15.

R—responsibility. First Thessalonians 4 . . . this is my paraphrase. It says, “Take care of your own business.” Take care of your own business. I used to have these battling matches where I’d go, “God, Crawford wants me to do this, and he wants me to submit, and wah, wah, wah, but God, what about him?”

And God says to me—not audibly, He’s not audibly speaking, but He says, “Karen, I want to get to Crawford. I want to get to the brother, but you're standing in the way. (Laughter) You’ve got your acrylic nails around him; you're high-fiving him. Get out away, and let him go head to head with God.”

If he's big enough to wear the pants and go head to head with God, let God take care of him. Put him on the altar. Some of us are standing in the way of God getting to your man. Responsibility, 1 Thessalonians 4: “Take care of your own business.” I'm responsible for myself. When I stand before God, I’m not going to say, “God, I wasn't able to do this. This man that You gave me . . .” “Bring that brother over here.” No, God says I'm going to have to face God myself.

And the last one, w-o-r-k, K—knowledge. Know God for yourself and know your husband.

Know what ticks him off, what makes him tick, and what tickles him. Become a student of your man, but more so, become a student and know God yourself.

The four A’s . . . the last thing, the four A’s:

  • Accept him.
  • Access—give him access to your heart and life.
  • Attention—be a listener.
  • Affirm him as a man and for God's provision for you—verbally and non-verbal communication.

Here is what one of my favorite authors has written. This is so true. Jan Silvious, and she writes in her book, Big Girls Don't Whine.

A big girl knows who she is. She loves the woman God created her to be, and she’s willing to keep growing up. If she is twenty, she doesn't settle for living as a teenager. If she is forty, she embraces that transitional decade without holding onto her thirties in terror of the future. If she is fifty, she basks in the mellowing maturity that is in her command. If she is seventy, she begins to let go with the grace of a life well lived.

Now, she didn’t have anything for those of us who are going to be sixty. I'll be sixty on November 6, so I wrote this myself: (Laughter) If she is sixty, she delights in the trustworthiness of God. God is a trustworthy God. Can you entrust yourself to Him? Not your man, but you can trust God. You can trust God.

She concludes that by saying, “A big girl wears her life well. No matter what the circumstances comprise her life, it looks good on her.”

You can wear this marriage garment well. Some of us wear it a little tight, we wiggle around in there. But wait on God. Wait on God.

Honey, do you want to come up for some questions and answers? Now, be nice.

Crawford: I want to straighten out a couple things she said. (Laughter)

Okay, number one: I do take the garbage out. (Laughter)

Karen: Oh, now you do.

Crawford: Number two: We've had somebody taking care of our lawn for over twenty years.

Karen: I know, and I know the reason why. You're paying for it, though. (Laughter)

Crawford: So we got issues here, all this retroactive stuff.

Karen: Well, that's true, because you're paying for somebody.

Crawford: That's right. You see, I'm the head of my house. I had her down on her knees the other days begging and pleading and begging, and she said, “Crawford Loritts, come out from underneath that bed and fight like a man.” (Laughter)

We got a ton of questions which means we need short answers, right?

This person writes: “My Christian parents divorced after twenty-five years of marriage, the year I married my husband. We have been married two years, and I find it very difficult not to panic at conflict or have a deep fear of being abandoned. What can we do to stay close and trust?”

I think if you think about how you wrote this question, your answer is in how you wrote the question. In other words, what I would recommend to you is to have an honest conversation with him and just come right out and say, “Sweetheart, I am tender right now because the people that I trusted with my life and I never thought would go this way have divorced, and you have to understand, it deeply rocks me. So I'm very sensitive when we have a disagreement that this is going to whiplash on us, too. I just need you to understand me. It's not that I'm trying to avoid conflict, I'm just at a tender spot right now.”

I would also say it might be helpful for both of you to go to a counselor or pastor to help work through all of this. Now, what I would say to him is that, “What you need to preface every argument or disagreement you have with her, is that you need to sit down on the couch, look her in the eye and say, ‘Sweetheart, I'm not going anywhere. These pillows right here, they're the problem. You're not the problem. That's the problem. I'm having a problem with x, y, z, but I'm not rejecting you.’” I would suggest that's what you should do.

Karen: I'll do this one.

“Can you give advice on keeping marriage strong while kids are small? There is a three-year-old and a seventeen-month-old, and I have trouble making my husband the priority.”

That is tough. One of the things is that so much energy that goes into taking care of toddlers and really at the end of the day you're just so drained, so drained that you have nothing left. One of the things I learned . . . we had four kids, and I had to learn over the time. Then Crawford traveled ten to fourteen days a month when he was on staff at Campus Crusade for Christ, so he was gone a lot. When he came home, I gave everything to my children and yet I was leaving him out, but he was my first priority. God really spoke to me and said, “Karen, your primary relationship after God, it was the two of us. It's not fair for me to give him the leftovers even though I may not feel jovial and just happy. Sometimes I just have to act by faith.

Those times when my kids went down . . . we were on a schedule . . . I laid down, too. I had to make sure dinner was ready at a certain time and that I wasn’t frantically running around the house so at this bewitching hour at night when the kids are in bed and I’m so tired, I had some energy because I took a little rest.

Now, some of you can’t do that, and it can be hard. But I took some time to have some rest to recharge my batteries. You see what I'm saying? I had to be intentional about that. The whole idea is don't give everything away physically and emotionally that you have nothing for this man because after a while it will be like we are, empty nesters. Looking across the table we would be strangers if we didn't invest in our time. Don't let those kids steal your love from the man you said you loved. I've learned that the hard way.

Crawford: And the best thing you can do for your kids, and I'm talking to women who are thirty-five and younger right now, hear me on this, hear me, hear me, hear me. The very best thing that you can do for your children is to prioritize the relationship with their daddy. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know it does. But that's the best thing that you can do.

There is a spike in the divorce rate around age fifty, end of the forties into the middle of the fifties, and that's when the children, many of them have gone off to college, the last one is leaving the house, and this kind of thing. What has taken place is, you didn't mean to, but you poured your life into those children, and now they're gone, and the relationship, the primary relationship with the husband has been eroded. Nobody meant that, but it just happens.

The other thing I would say, and even if we don't, we won't get to a lot of the questions, but this is a huge one right here. One of the great things that Karen brings to the table is that Karen is a very disciplined person. I think sometimes people get burned out not because they are doing too much, but it’s because they're not using their time in what they're doing wisely. Seriously. Stand back and take a look at your hours in a day and make some priorities.

One of the things I’m on a lot of folks in our church . . . We have a fairly good sized church, and stuff is always going on. I'm always concerned about our young couples. Don't make these women and guys feel guilty because they aren't showing up for this men's thing or this woman's thing or this kind of thing. Some things you have to say no toThe most positive word in the English language is no because if you say no, the ability to say no means that you have the freedom and the time to say yes to the right things.

I would encourage you, don't let every opportunity become a calling for you at this stage in your life. Invest in what is really important. Those kids will be gone, and you are not going to lose anything. God always produces dividends in your life when you make right choices and temporary sacrifices. Rose bushes grow and flourish when you cut them back. I just want to encourage you along those lines.

If that's the only thing I could say to young mothers, I would just pour that into you. Say no to yourself, and say no to the pressures of the culture. Prioritize your kids and your family. Prioritize your husband in that relationship.

Nancy: We're listening to an important session that Crawford and Karen Loritts gave at the True Woman Conference '10.

Before you move on, I hope you'll take a moment and ask yourself, "Is there an area of my life that needs be changed based on what I just heard?" More specifically if you are married, "Am I submitting to my husband and treating him with respect?"

Earlier this year when we were airing a teaching series on the Song of Songs, we heard from a woman who told us how much that series meant to her. And she also said,

The Lord laid it upon my heart to challenge the wives in my church to take the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge with me. 

This is a challenge I’ve offered over the years many times, to not say anything negative about your husband for thirty days, and also to say each day at least one thing you appreciate or admire about him. When you sign up for this thirty-day challenge at ReviveOurHearts.com, we’ll send you daily emails with ideas for how to encourage your husband, and we’ll cheer you on in the challenge.

This woman said that twenty-two women from her church are taking this challenge with her. She said, “It is my prayer that as wives we speak life, respect, and love into our husbands.” And the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge is a powerful way to do that.

The reason we’re able to make practical, powerful digital content like this available at no charge is because listeners like you give to support this ministry financially. As we've been sharing with you over these past few weeks, this month we are bringing another fiscal year to a close. We're asking the Lord to provide almost a half-million dollars we need to help us end this budget cycle in the black and be prepared in the year ahead to call even more women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this month, we’ll say "thank you" by sending you the CD that Robert Wolgemuth and I listened to the day that we got engaged last year. We've listened to it many times since and enjoy it every time. It’s a hymn CD from pianist Jan Mulder that I know you’ll love. Here’s a sample.

As a transcript reader, your gift will be doubled this month by some friends of the ministry who see God at work at Revive Our Hearts and want to encourage you to give. They will match your gift this month when you visit a special site for transcript readers. It’s ReviveOurHeats.com/donate/transcript.

Your gift will help Revive Our Hearts as we step out in faith to do something we’ve never done before. This year’s True Woman conference is called Cry Out! And that’s what we’ll do the Friday night of the conference. We’re asking the Lord to provide at least 100,000 women to join the conference via simulcast and pray in perhaps thousands of groups across the country. What will we be crying out to the Lord about? Well Monday, we’ll help you think about that as we begin a series called “The Cry of the Captives.” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.