Archive for October, 2007

Build a great marriage by Phil Bonasso

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007


Widespread marriage advice encourages couples to make time for themselves and their relationship by having a regular date night. As a marriage counselor, when it comes to building a great marriage, I couldn’t agree more with this principal. Although very important to every marriage, I feel a regular date night is especially critical to younger couples with small children who find it difficult to find time together due to the demands of their family.

I generally find the “date night principle” something most couples are aware of and are trying to do. Yet, the effectiveness of this time together is far from satisfying. They have fallen into a routine of boredom and “bad” date night habits. Here are 5 principles that will help to re-energize this important time together:

1. Always Plan! If you don’t plan a date night, rest assured it probably won’t happen. In the modern couples life, there is far too much stress and demand on their time to be spontaneous.

2. Be Committed! Once you have made a plan for a date night, it can’t be broken. Outside of life threatening circumstances, nothing is more important. At the 2004 Golden Globe Awards, Sean Penn won the award for best actor in the film “Mystic River”. Director Clint Eastwood accepted the award for him due to the fact Sean had promised his daughter the evening out! Your marriage relationship should have the same kind of dedication.

3. Plan Something Special! Be creative with your date night. Get out of the rut of doing the same thing every time. Be daring and try some new restaurants. Take turns with your partner in picking a new outing each week. Try and surprise each other. Soon you will discover that you actually look forward to these weekly adventures!

4. When together, be together! I cannot emphasize this point enough. A date night is a time when couples must focus on themselves in an encouraging and positive light. All to often couples fall into the trap of focusing on the stresses and problems of the day, or choose this time to argue with one another over disagreements. This is not to the time to discuss grievances and hurts. Nothing drains a date more of its life and energy and its potential intimacy than bickering.

5. Shut the Door to Work! No calls from work allowed. Let your date night be a cell phone “free” zone. This goes for family and friends as well. Other than a household emergency, no conversations with anyone but your spouse!

Put these points to practice and you will re-energize your boring date night into a very special moment together, as you continue to build a great marriage!

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

What is destiny? It is our mission in life. It is the answer to the question, “Why am I here?” It is what gives meaning and cohesion and expression to all our talents and personality traits. It is a journey. In the book of Ephesians in the Bible, chapter 2 verse 10 says “…we are His (God’s) workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in the them.” As we “walk” on life’s path, opportunities to do “good works” will present themselves and we will sense God’s grace to do those things. Philippians 2:13 says, it is “God who is at work in you to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

I think one of the appeals of “super heroes” like Superman and Wonderwoman, and the Flash is that they have obvious super power traits that dictate their mission in life. It is not so obvious for us. Our gifts and talents and strengths are discovered along the path of life. As we sense God’s pleasure in the things we do and we allow the Holy Spirit and the guidelines of Biblical principles to forge our character we will fulfill the mission in life God created us for.

One of my favorite movie scenes is in the movie “Chariots of Fire”. It is a story of an Olympic Gold medalist runner who comes from a ministry family. In this particular scene his sister was challenging his decision to “run” instead of preaching the Gospel. His response was “all I know is that I feel the Lord’s pleasure when I run…” What a wonderful thing to experience the Lord’s pleasure in the activities of our life. We are created by Him and for Him. It is our life’s quest and mission to do God’s will. Our destiny is a step by step process of revelation. It is an adventure. It is a daily decision. It is the Gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3: 13 “…that everyman… sees good in all his labor – it is the gift of

Note to Phil Bonasso: Thank you for pursuing God with all your heart…every day. It’s never been boring to follow God with you.

Build a great marriage by Phil Bonasso

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

The Four Central Truths about Marriage

I came across an article the other day while doing my usual marriage research. The article contained some statistics from the U.S. census bureau updating the trends of the divorce rate for marriages. According to the census, more than 70% of those who married since 1970 celebrated a tenth anniversary. The statistic suggests that the divorce rate itself has stabilized over the last decade, neither rising nor falling. Experts warn however, that the threat of divorce persists throughout marriage with the average year of divorce being the eighth year. (Please see my article on the 5-10 year marriage challenge.)

I realize that these kinds of stats are sometimes the subject of rigorous debate. It seems to be a lot like the election polls, which try to show which candidate is leading. The major criticism that attacks their validity has to do with the pool of people that were surveyed. Was the survey given to a broad enough group to be accurate? In other words “whom did you talk to?”

I am not sure of the complete accuracy of the census bureau’s statistic nor whether the divorce rate has stabilized or not. I guess if it has that should be good news, but somehow it doesn’t make me feel any better about the state of matrimony in our culture. Stabilized or not, most marriage experts put the divorce rate at around 50%! That’s across the board, in the secular world as well as in the church. To me, that’s horribly depressing.

A 50% divorce rate affects us all in many ways. You cannot escape its ugly influence. It’s everywhere. That means that one out of two of your married friends will divorce. I’m sure like me, you have watched other married couples that were close to you fall apart and walk away from each other.

This statistic also means 50% of all children in our society are growing up in divorced homes! Half of your children’s friends like mine live with single parents. The ramification of this is staggering to say the least. Without some significant transformation in the lives of these kids, they seem doomed to repeat the same broken pattern of divorce.

I think marriages would have a better chance of surviving if couples entered into the union with a better understanding of these central truths:

1. Every successful marriage does not just happen.

2. Every successful marriage is built with dedication.

3. Every marriage is a dynamic work in progress.

4. Every marriage has the potential to fail!

No matter the sad statistics about divorce, you marriage does not have to fail. Keep these truths in mind and you can build a great marriage.

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

The Bible says it is the kindness of God that leads people to repentance (Romans2: 14). In Proverbs 15:1 it says that kind words turn away anger. The definition of the word kindness according to Strong’s concordance is “goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others…” Jack Hayford writes “The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience.” The kindness of the Bible is also called a” fruit “of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22), in other words it can flow from our heart and soul but it takes a choosing of our will combined with the activity of the Holy Spirit to introduce the presence of God into a situation. It is a response as well as an instigator: It can be a first move or a second.

In the Gospels we can often see how kind Jesus is. One instance I noticed was the time He healed the man who had been blind since birth. The story is in the Bible in John chapter 9. The move of kindness occurs sometime after his healing.

The Pharisees were very upset because the man’s eyes were “opened” on the Sabbath. They couldn’t rejoice over the incredible and amazing miracle that had occurred to deliver the man from darkness but instead were offended by his joy and boldness and confidence that he had been healed and set free by an act of God. At this precious moment in his life when he wanted, like never before, to come to the Temple and worship his God, the Pharisees “put him out”.

At this point we see the heart of Lord Jesus: “Jesus heard that they put him out: and finding him…” (John 9: 33) Jesus went looking for him! He was not afraid that the man would now be able to identify Him to the Pharisees. (That was the information they were really after.) Despite the risk, He was not afraid to associate with the “delivered”. At times kindness can be risky.

Why did Jesus go to find him? He already healed him? The next few verses give us the answer. Very simply, it was an act of kindness. He wanted to give him the opportunity (which the Pharisees denied him) to express his heartfelt worship unto God and to comfort the man. When the healed man “saw” that Jesus was indeed the Lord, he worshipped Him. ( John 9: 38) He comforted him by bringing forth a righteous judgment for him. “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see…” (verse 39) The Pharisees’ unrighteous judgment “put him out” of the Temple but Jesus’ righteous judgment invited him into His Kingdom. How much better would the church and the world be if we all let the fruit of kindness flow through us! It’s always a winning move… and never too late.

Micah 6: 8 “ What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and
to walk humbly with your God?”

Note to Phil Bonasso: Thank you for consistently leading our family in prayer together. I love to hear you play the guitar and worship the Lord.