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Now that’s a title! And it’s one most of us face at one time or another in our marriage. There are times when we don’t have a clue what is best for us in certain situations. Maybe your spouse feels strongly you should do one thing, but you aren’t sure. Maybe you are fearful of the “what if’s” and it’s prohibiting you from taking steps of faith. Whatever it is, times like these are hard to face, even if you have a strong marriage.
We have learned how to navigate these turbulent waters by trial and error.
We have recently faced a similar challenge, one where we needed to make an important decision, but weren’t sure which way God was leading.
I had a pretty strong sense of what I thought God was saying. But I knew I didn’t want to “talk Tom into something” if he didn’t have the faith for it. So what did I do? I prayed. Not the kind of prayer where I’m pleading with God to help Tom see it MY way–no, I know this is a form of trying to manipulate God into manipulating my husband. It’s wrong. Instead, I prayed the way Jesus showed us to pray.
When He was facing a difficult road, knowing His road would end in death. He prayed asking God if this cup could pass from Him, but He didn’t stop there. He added, “nevertheless, not my will but your’s be done.” There’s the answer!
When we don’t know what to do, we pray for God’s will to be done. I’ll also include parts of The Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven.” And then comes a very important part. I have to let it go and trust God to lead through my husband.
This isn’t being a doormat letting my husband do everything his way. No, the right way to make important decisions is to talk about it over and over. Make sure you are both hearing what the other is saying. Ask lots of questions and repeat what you heard your spouse say. Then, as you pray, trust that God will direct your husband to the right decision. It may be that he chooses other than the way you would have chosen. This is a great way to discover how much you trust God to lead through your husband.
Will he ever make a mistake? You can be sure he will. But if he does, it’s because God wants to teach him, or ME, something in the process.
I heard someone say, I think it was John Piper, that if we could see what God sees we would choose the same road He’s chosen for us. But we can’t see what God sees. So we can either rest in His sovereignty–that’s a big word for God’s ability to control all things–or we can grow weary in trying to always get things to line up the way we want them to.
In 34 years of marriage I’ve learned it’s a lot easier to rest.
God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to tell us which way to walk. And I choose to believe that He meant what He said. I remember vividly when I first began to walk in this truth. I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders when I realized it was easier to let go than to hold on for my demands. And you know what? When I’m at peace it has a huge affect on how my husband leads.
How have you and your spouse learned to make important decisions? Has it been hard or have you discovered a way that would help others to know? Won’t you share in our comments so others can benefit?
Today my heart is heavy for those whose marriages are in a really difficult place. You may have just discovered your spouse has been unfaithful to you. You may be walking with them through a chronic or terminal illness. You may be dealing with a financial crisis you never imagined would come your way. Whatever it is you’re facing, you are saddened by it all, and you may be tempted to hopelessness.
It’s impossible for me to say “I know what you’re going through.” I don’t! And even if I’ve faced the same trouble, it’s never the same. My encouragement to you comes in the form of a quote. When I read it on my daughter’s Facebook page, I was immediately challenged by the godly perspective. My hope is that you will be too.
“The difference between shallow happiness and a deep sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope–and the hope that has become our joy does not (as happiness must for those who depend upon it) disappoint us.” Walter Wangrin, Reliving the Passion.
Did you catch that? Joy rises from the sorrow! I love that. I’ve often said that in all our suffering God has placed hidden joy for us to discover. Those who ask Him will find it. Those who cower under the pain miss it.
How I wish I could take your hand and look in your eyes and remind you of the faithfulness of your God. He can’t be unfaithful to you, for it would be outside of His character to do so. Friends can disappoint us, a spouse can hurt us deeply, but God will never leave you no matter how difficult the pain. He will carry you. He will sustain you. And yes, He will cause joy to rise from your pain.
Father, I pray for all who will read this post today. Will You help them in their pain? I ask that they will sense Your nearness to them right now. Whatever it is they are facing today in their marriage, will You give them faith and hope to face it, to endure it? I ask, in Jesus’ name, that You comfort them with the comfort only You can provide. Where there seems to be no way will You show them differently? I know that You are a great God. You are near to those who are broken-hearted, and You save those who are crushed in Spirit. May they sense Your help and hope as they read this prayer. It’s in Your Name and for Your glory that we ask these things.
In Jesus’ precious name, Amen!
This is our last date idea in our Get Your Romance On series. We hope you’ve enjoyed realizing how fun it can be to stay home and date your spouse. No babysitter, no restaurant bills to pay, just the two of you making a memory in your home–the place where God has chosen for you to live life and love another!
We found this appropriate T-shirt you could buy for your spouse to introduce the date.
All you need for this date is a good flashlight. Here’s how it works:
- Turn all the lights off in the house.
- Play your favorite music.
- Take turns hiding in the house as the other with the flashlight counts to ten.
- Search the house for your love.
- When you find them they have to take off one piece of clothing.
- Then it’s the other’s turn.
- Repeat until there are no clothes left, or you find something else you’d rather do!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the past fourteen weeks of ways to Get Your Romance On in your own home. To recap we’ve provided a link to each week below.
- Week 1 – Game Night Date
- Week 2 – Coffee Shop Date
- Week 3 – Alphabet Date
- Week 4 – Passport Date
- Week 5 – Interlocking Pieces Date
- Week 6 – Romantic Easter Date
- Week 7 – Blind Spouse Bluff Date
- Week 8 – Watch Your Wedding Video Date
- Week 9 - Spouse Appreciation Date
- Week 10 – No Electricity Date
- Week 11 – Drive-In Movie Date
- Week 12 – Cinco de Mayo es Romantico Date
- Week 13 - Get Lucky Date
- Week 14 – Flashlight Date
We also wanted to highlight the two couples who have done an amazing job sharing their GYRO Challenge dates with us. Make sure you visit their blogs for more creative at-home date ideas. You’ll be inspired!
As you know, my family surprised me last week by taking me to Savannah for Mother’s Day. I was struggling with sadness the entire week before because everywhere I went I saw signs for Mother’s Day reminding me my Mother was no longer here.
I couldn’t believe that all my kids would make such an effort to cheer me up. And that they did! The picture above is only one of hundreds I took. (They don’t call me Nanarazzi for nothing!) I was and am overwhelmingly blessed.
I’ve mentioned before that I often pay attention to the song on my heart when I awake in the morning. I see it as God’s way of speaking to me before the day begins. Well, is it any surprise that the song I awoke with on Mother’s Day was this one? Enjoy this segment from one of my all-time favorite Broadway productions, Wicked.
I am being freshly challenged by what it means to be a helper to my husband. It is a high calling and one that doesn’t come naturally to me. I am selfish and tend to go after what makes me happy, rather than purpose to do things to bless my husband. I am a work in progress!
Elyse Fitzpatrick has provided us a rich resource in her excellent book, Helper By Design. Today I want to share with you her thoughts on being thankful for our husband’s current struggle. That’s right, thankful!
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
Have you ever considered that God has placed you precisely in the marriage you’re in so that you might learn what it’s like to companion and help a fallen one? He wants us to be conformed to His image–He who was known as the one who ate with “tax collectors and sinners.” (Matthew 11:19 NKJV). Why not stop now and meditate on this blessed truth? (Helper By Design, pg. 51-52)
She goes on to lead us in this prayer:
Lord, You’re the only One who, because of Your purity, has a right to object to a relationship with sinners; and yet, Lord, You’re the One who stooped down to befriend me. Help me to remember that it’s into Your image that I’m being remade. (pg. 52)
God desires to use our husband’s failures to help us become more like Him.
He was willing to bridge the gap of our failures in order to bring us closer to God. When we love our husband in the midst of his failures, we are becoming more like Christ. We are helping him remember how much Christ loves him even though he doesn’t deserve it.
It sounds so simple as I’m typing this post, but I know from experience it’s anything but simple. When Tom fails to do something he said he would do, the last thing I’m thinking of is thanking God for this opportunity to be more like Him. No, I’m usually making a mental list of all the reasons I’m justified in being angry with Tom’s failure to meet my expectation. Ouch! Can you relate?
Think of your favorite TV sitcoms. Most of them represent the wife as all-wise and knowing and the husband as clueless. The wife has to hold a heavy hand over her husband in order to get him to do what she thinks he should. This is nothing less than manipulation, and it isn’t part of the helper role God has called us to.
It’s easy to find fault.
It’s easy to justify our self-righteous position thinking we’re better than our husband.
These two facts alone should clue us in that this isn’t the way God has called us to live. If it’s easy, then we can be sure there’s a good chance we’re feeding our selfishness, rather than our growth in godliness. Becoming more like Christ is a battle of wills–His will for ours!
Elyse goes on to say:
In light of that calling, rather than longing for the day that our husbands change (into our image), we should focus on and pursue our own change into Christ’s image. Instead of praying that your husband would change to please you, why not seek to become thankful for God’s ability to use even his failures and weaknesses to further your transformation? Of course, we are to pray for and patiently await his growth in holiness, but we must be vigilant to maintain a thankful heart all along the way. (pg. 52, emphasis mine)
Whoa! That’s hard, isn’t it? It’s one thing to be willing to overlook his offenses and failures, but to be thankful for them? That’s something entirely different! God has called us to a high calling, and for me that’s more than just a stretch–it’s a Herculean leap. Honestly, I would give up right now in despair if I didn’t trust that He will provide grace and strength for me to be my husband’s faithful friend. (pg. 53)
Marriage is hard work. It isn’t natural to be this kind of friend to my husband.
And God knew this was the case. He knew we would have to seek strength outside of ourselves to be a helper suitable to our sinful husband. He knew they would also need to seek the same strength to love and lead us. This is why He has bound Himself in covenant to us in marriage. We are not only two who have become one flesh–we are a triple braided cord that isn’t easily broken.
Elyse asks the following question, and I think it’s a great way to end this post. Ask yourself…
“Am I willing for God to make me thankful for my husband’s failures so that I can learn what it means to be like Christ–a friend of sinners?” (pg. 53)
As we continue our series focusing on the wife’s role as a helper to her husband, I want to share how much this has helped our marriage become what it is today. Not that I’ve been the one solely to make it happen, (God, and Tom, knows that’s not true!) But the two of us learning and applying what we’ve been taught in regard to our specific roles in marriage has made all the difference.
God created the idea of marriage, so it baffles me when people grumble or complain about how He designed it. This only reveals a lack of trust in who God is, not in the differing roles in marriage. Those who truly know God want to learn the right way of doing things. They want to please Him. And they want to understand the things He requires even when they don’t make sense to them on the surface.
When we are confused and lack understanding we must dig deeper. God will help us through His Holy Spirit if we’re really wanting to learn and grow.
A Covenant of Companionship
The next part of being a helper to our husband involves the idea of companionship. Elyse Fitzpatrick from her book, Helper By Design, says:
When you contemplate your relationship with your husband, do you see yourself peacefully lying in the bend of his arm, helping by speaking words of comfort, truth, and strength to him? I know that it’s easy to forget, but a wife, because of her nearness, is usually the most powerful human influence in her husband’s life. Conversely, when she neglects her calling to direct him toward faithful living, a wife has great potential to harm.” (Helper By Design, pg. 49)
I remember fondly when we were first married how much I enjoyed cuddling up with Tom with my head on his chest listening to his heartbeat. I loved the nearness of lying there with him, and I felt safe. The question to ask is does my husband feel safe with my nearness to him? Have I become such a close companion to him through all that life has brought us through that he knows he can come to me for help, comfort, support and encouragement no matter what it is that’s weighing on his heart? This should be the goal of every marriage. To get so close in life that you become what the Bible says in Proverbs 17:17, one who “sticks closer than a brother.”
Elyse encourages us to ask ourselves the following questions to help us take these truths to heart and apply them.
- Do you intentionally seek to be a companion for your husband?
- If an outsider observed your daily routine, would he say that befriending your husband is important to you? How would he be able to tell?
- Are you intentionally setting out to help him by being a continual influence for good in your husband’s life? Can you give an example?
- Do you recognize the power that your friendship wields in his life? How do you use that power?
- Have you committed yourself to stand by him throughout all the trials he faces? (Helper By Design, pg. 50)
These are thought provoking questions that cut to the heart of the matter. Answering them honestly while praying earnestly for God to help you will do more to help your marriage grow than anything else you could do or say. You can’t change your husband, but you can change how you relate to him. I encourage you to take this series and be diligent in going after the things God reveals are lacking in your heart (and buy Elyse’s book). He will help you become a better companion to your husband. How do I know? Because I’ve seen what God has done in my heart, as well as witnessing the transformation of other marriages of close friends.
How would you rate the companionship level in your marriage? Are you willing to allow God to help you become a companion suitable to your husband?
Everyone knows the number 13 is thought to be bad luck. Hotels skip numbering a floor with it which has never made sense to me. Just because you choose to go from floor #12 to floor #14 doesn’t mean the 13th floor doesn’t exist. Anyway, I’m drifting from the point. I’m not superstitious in the least. I trust God and believe He made the number 13 as well as everything else in the world. So let’s have some romantic fun and recapture this number making this date a memorable one.
- Plan your date on the 13th of the month, which happens to be today! Oh my, that’s lucky, isn’t it? And it’s 2013! Or you could wait until another month to give yourself more time to plan.
- Make a list of 13 things you love about your spouse. Tuck them away to share with them the night of your date.
- Either plan your dinner around the Luck O The Irish theme, or use a Kentucky Derby theme, since everyone knows a horseshoe is good luck. Even though the Derby was last week, it would still be fun to have your own Derby party. Buy a big hat for the evening and dress up for your dinner. Click the picture below for some great recipes.
- Find a penny dated the year you were married. Give it to your spouse telling them it’s to remind them of how lucky you are to be married.
- Give them 13 of their favorite things–e.g. candy bars, snacks, drinks, etc. Whatever it is they enjoy snacking on each day.
- Play a Top 10 Trivia game about luck. See how much you know about this way of thinking.
- Finally, whisper in your spouse’s ear that tonight they’re going to get lucky! You’re sure to bring a smile on their face and memory they won’t soon forget.
One of our favorite love songs is titled, Lucky by Jason Mraz. We hope you enjoy this video we made after a cruise we took of the Western Caribbean.
…to let you know my love and care for Debi this Mother’s Day has led me to intervene in her regular schedule in order to take her away for the next few days.
Our kids wanted to do something special this year since it’s Debi’s first Mother’s Day without her mom. I thought it was a great idea and did what I could to help make it happen.
Debi cried when we told her last night. Yep, that makes it worth all the effort!
What are your plans this year? Are you helping your kids communicate their love for their mom in unexpected ways? Check out our Romantic Mother’s Day ideas under the Only Husbands tab above.
We’ll be back on Monday. Thanks for understanding!
Most of us are familiar with the hit tune, Stand By Your Man. It’s a great virtue really, to be willing to stand up for, beside and with your man through all the ins and outs of married life. But it isn’t easy. Especially when they do things we don’t like or don’t understand.
As a Christian wife I know I’m called by God to be his helper. But to be a helper sounds so demeaning, like helping him do something he should be able to do himself. Or as Elyse Fitzpatrick puts it:
…when I heard the term, I tended to think of little toddlers struggling to put their toys away and trying, however inanely, to be “good little helpers.” But the concept of being a helper is much richer and far more challenging than I had ever imagined. (Helper By Design, pg. 38)
If you are tracking with me so far, I ask that you stay with me through this series.
There is no issue in regard to marriage that is more misunderstood and more maligned by our culture than the idea of the Christian wife’s role in submitting to and helping her husband. That word makes many women cringe, like hearing fingernails running down a chalkboard. It’s unpleasant and undesirable to most.
But have you ever considered that God is our Helper? The Holy Spirit was willing to come after Christ’s ascension to be our Helper, to help us become what we couldn’t become on our own. He lives in us and empowers us to do far more than we ever imagined was possible.
Does this elevate the idea in your mind of what it means to be a helper to your husband? Elyse continues on this idea saying,
“When I place the term helper as a descriptor of God’s activity and character, it takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it? I understand that as I grow in my ability to truly help my husband, I’m not regressing into some sort of infantile servitude; I’m becoming more like God: being a helper is one very specific way that women can mirror and glorify the Lord.” (Helper By Design, pg. 38)
Now this type of attitude is never appealing to one who is seeking their own interests. This is why in 1 Corinthians 13 the Bible tells us that love doesn’t insist on its own way. One who loves is seeking the best for their spouse and to do whatever is needed to help them.
Is being a helper is starting to sound more intriguing, more curious? If it is, then you’re beginning to understand God’s intention in our helper design. Elyse references several Bible passages in the following description of God’s helping nature in order to help us identify further what this looks like for us as wives.
A wife who is reflecting God’s helping character desires to sustain or uphold her husband; she strengthens, comforts, and seeks to protect him. Because of her love for the Lord and for her husband, she endeavors to dispel his fears by being trustworthy and gracious. She leans for strength upon her Lord so that she might share that strength with her husband. In her heart he finds shelter and protection from the world; he finds a companion who offers him what he really needs: help in his God-given calling. (Helper By Design, pg. 39)
Psalm 54:4; Psalm 86:16-17; Isaiah 41:10;Psalm 37:40;Psalm 28:7
The foundation of our marriage is built on Christ alone. He is the One who undergirds our covenant to love and cherish until death parts us. It is a privilege to discover year after year what it looks like to develop this covenant in a way which mirrors God by the way we love and treat our husband. If you still find the idea of being a helper to your husband distasteful, please stick around. There is much more to be said about this high-calling for us as women.
For further study, I recommend the following MP3 download titled, Watch Your Man. There is also an outline available for your convenience. Both are FREE.
I was talking with some ladies a while ago when the conversation led to our role as our husband’s helper. It was a good discussion with friends who have strong marriages that have lasted decades. There were some who shared how their husband valued their input in all decisions regarding their marriage, family, business decisions, etc. But when we brought up the idea of helping our husband by disagreeing with them on certain subjects that the conversation surprised me.
These women were afraid of lovingly challenging their husband’s decisions, even when they felt their concern was from God. They chose to keep quiet and let the consequences play out as they would, instead of sharing with their husband their thoughts.
Why? Why would a wife be quiet when it seemed her husband was making a wrong decision?
I believe the primary reason, as was brought up that day, was fear. They were afraid of how their husband would respond to their concern. They were afraid they would undermine their husband’s leadership in their marriage. It’s clear to see they were being led by fear and not faith.
So this begs the question: Wives, how comfortable are you with sharing your concerns with your husband? It can be in decisions he’s making for the family. Or it can be in sharing observations you’ve made about his lack in his relationship with the Lord or any other area.
Agreed, these aren’t easy topics to discuss. It seems a minefield just waiting to explode. But it’s often in the midst of these explosive discussions that God gets our husband’s attention, and ours for that matter!
Our 18th year of marriage was one long conflict that started when I made an observation in Tom’s life. I said it full of pride and arrogance, judging him based on what I saw lacking in him. He heard it with my displeasure in him, which led him to feeling condemnation from God, not grace. We were living in a minefield and the casualties were many.
That was 16 years ago. As we look back on that year now, we can see clearly what God was after. God showed me that I wasn’t the standard in determining the health of Tom’s walk with the Lord. God showed Tom that he was listening to my observations with a filter of guilt, not grace. If we had been able to discuss what I was sensing without all this sin in the way, we could have benefited greatly in one sitting. But God was after something more. He was after the deep-seated motives of my heart, and He desired to remove this dangerous filter from Tom’s heart. It was all good, but it wasn’t fun, in the least!
Here’s the take away from this post: Ask yourself if you hold back in any way in sharing your thoughts and concerns with your husband. Then, determine why.
I’m going to park on this topic all week, and see where it is the Lord is leading us in growing our marriages stronger for God’s glory. It might be an area of your marriage you’ve yet to explore. Let’s trust God to help us become better helpers to our husband in the fullest sense of this word!
I love the song, Dancing In The Minefields by Andrew Peterson. It goes well with our topic. Enjoy…
The resource I’m using for this topic is a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick titled, Helper By Design and can be purchased by clicking the link. It is available in book form or for your Kindle.
Linking up with The Happy Wives Club :-)
Here’s our GYRO Date night idea reposted from May, 5, 2010. We’re a couple days late – sorry. Hopefully you can still make time to celebrate this Mexican National holiday! Ole!
Since today is Cinco de Mayo – the Mexican celebration of the fifth of May and the day Puebla was liberated from the French in 1862 - we thought it would be fun to celebrate the number five (cinco) and how it can lead to great romance (romantico) in our marriages. Here is a list of several fives worth discovering – proof that cinco es romantico:
Five Senses: Spend one evening celebrating the senses of your relationship:
- Seeing – Look at pictures from when you first fell in love. Look at current pictures and marvel at how you’ve changed, grown and fallen more in love than you imagined possible.
- Hearing – Listen to your favorite romantic song together while looking in each others eyes. Let the words of the song communicate your heart and love.
- Smelling – Light an aromatic candle with a hot bubble bath together.
- Tasting – Chocolate is a known aphrodisiac. How about some delicious fondue. No fondue forks? No problem…feed your spouse with your fingers.
- Touching – Back massage, foot and leg massage – you name the body part – the touching is the best sense when it comes to being romantico!
Five Vowels – yes, there are exactly five vowels…who knew these simple letters could be so romantico! Follow the links below for an entire list of ideas revolving around that letter:
Five Romance Languages are listed below – plan an evening celebrating one of them – or plan five evenings celebrating them all! We have a lifetime, right?
Five specific things you love most about your spouse: Take some time and write out your top five and then, read them aloud to him/her. There is something about hearing this list read by you, rather than giving it to them to read themselves that is very “romantico”. Try it and see for yourself…
- to be filled in by you…
Cinco de Mayo feliz!
Today I want to share with you a short story I wrote years ago. With Memorial Day the end of this month, it seems the right time.
Vito’s Coffee Shop
The day began like any other; after doing a once over in the mirror, Eva dragged her frame to the coffee pot in her pink laminated kitchen. Pouring the hot eye-opener into her Stature of Liberty mug, she scooped the sugar into her cup – one, two, three teaspoons as usual. Taking the first sip the aroma wafted her away to another time and place.
She was waiting in Vito’s Coffee Shop. Ron was due in from sea where his unit had been on maneuvers for 6 months. They had decided to meet here instead of at the port because Ron knew how much Eva disliked crowds. Besides this was their spot; the one place in the City where Ron and Eva were not just another face in the crowd.
Vito Vandinelli lived in the same burrow as Eva’s parents. He and his wife had practically raised Eva into the beautiful woman she had become, and they made sure her parents knew it. They were like family to Eva, and always had advice to give along with a hot cappuccino and freshly baked cannolli. Their answer to everything was food!
“What? You don’t like?” Mr. Vandinelli pushed the cannolli closer to Eva as she stared out the window.
“Oh, of course I like it Mr. V., it’s just–I’m not hungry.”
“Love has a way of swallowing up the biggest appetite, but still you must eat!” He insisted.
Eva knew this was a losing battle. She took a bite of the cannolli and gently wiped her mouth with the hand-embroidered napkin. She had to admit she was hungrier than she thought; it was delicious.
As she finished, she heard “ring-a-ling.” Looking up it was him; Ron was standing there in full uniform with the morning sun forming a halo around his black wavy hair. He was the man of her dreams, but now very much her reality. Without words they were in each other’s arms clinging as tightly as they could fearful if they let go this moment would end.
But it never did.
For 50 years Ron and Eva woke together to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Without fail each year they remembered their long-awaited reunion with a cannolli and a smile.
As she swirled her finger around the rim of her cup a pang pierced her heart. The clock struck 8, signaling it was time.
Slowly she walked towards the bedroom, each step heavier than the first. She went about the familiar room without thought and finally emerged dressed and as ready as she would ever be.
Grabbing the basket she opened the door. A hot wind blew in her face reminding her it was indeed the middle of summer. This did not deter her plans.
She opened the door of her 72 Buick wishing Ron were here to drive. This was his car after all, and besides, she hated driving. Thankfully she hadn’t far to go.
Pulling into the Veteran’s Memorial Gardens it wasn’t hard to find his plot – it was still marked by freshly turned soil under the largest oak tree on the main road. The grounds were covered with little American Flags flying in the hot morning breeze. It was as if they were saluting her at full attention. But she wasn’t the one to be saluted this day. She trembled with the realization that each flag represented a life given in service to our country.
But today she remembered only one life. Sitting on the bench facing his grave, Eva opened her basket. She set two plates on the bench, and unwrapped the paper holding two fresh cannolli’s from Vito’s.
“Happy Anniversary, Ron!”
Let’s cherish every day we have together, and enjoy the routine each normal day brings. You might even want to give your spouse a cannoli tonight just because you can. It’s the little things we’ll remember best and miss the most.
This week we are joining the CMBA conversation with Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband blog.
He shared the lyrics to a song that he heard on the radio titled Little Things, by One Direction. He ended his post by asking this question to his audience:
Do you have this attitude about your wife?
It’s a great question. I’m providing the video and lyrics to this song, and I would ask that you listen to it and think of the little things you love about your wife. Then, have her listen to the song with you. When it ends, draw her close–look her in the eyes, and tell her all the little things you love about her. This is what intimacy in marriage looks like. It’s moments like these where you communicate on a deeper level than simply asking about her day.
I love taking photographs of anything and everything. I drive Tom crazy because I like taking pictures of what we’re eating as well, and he has to wait while his food gets cold. I like to think of myself as a photo journalist–capturing moments of our life with the camera.
One of my favorite apps on my smart phone is Instagram. It allows me to filter pictures and give them a completely different look. Basically, it alters reality to make it look prettier, brighter, more ominous or blurred. Whatever it is that strikes my fancy.
Look at the following photo I took while we were in Beech Mountain, NC.
You would be surprised to see what the day really looked like. It wasn’t like this at all! The filter I used in Instagram allowed me to take a perfectly beautiful day and make it look quite the opposite. A filter is a powerful tool for the photographer. It makes your options limitless.
This made me think of life and our marriage.
Our reality is processed in our heart and mind based on the filter we’re using. And this determines the response we’ll have with our current situation.
If you have a filter which causes you to see the negative side of life, then no matter how good things are, you will always see the bad. I have known people like this, and they aren’t much fun to be around. I call it the “Eeyore Syndrome”.
If you have a rose-tinted filter, you may always see the good and avoid all conflict. You tend to sing even when those around you are suffering. Those who view life in this way rarely encourage and empathize with those who are broken. It’s as if their pain will pop their false bubble of happiness. It’s good to have faith for the future, but we mustn’t allow our faith to keep us from entering into the pain of others and helping them by simply listening with a heart of love.
The best filter to have in place is the filter of grace.
When you see your life and struggles in light of the grace of God you’ve been given, it helps take even the most dreary of circumstances and see the good. It may be hidden way back in the back of the photo, but you know the good is hidden in there somewhere waiting to be discovered. This grace will take your best days and remind you that it is a gift from God and not your own doing. Those who view life with this filter, see the reality, trust God with the trouble and thank Him for the good. It is the best way to live.
How are you viewing your marriage? Do you see all the bad and none of the good? Do your accept only the good and ignore the bad? Or do you balance them both by trusting in God’s grace to lead you no matter how the picture in your life develops. God is at work in the midst of our black and white days and the One who should receive the credit when our days are brighter and better.
Are you curious as to how that day on Beech Mountain really was? Here’s the original photograph:
As you can see it was a picture perfect day!
If you’re interested, we have an Instacanvas Gallery where you can see our best photos on display. We invite you to follow us if you would like.
We had a reader ask us if we would post some tips on how to have healthy communication in your marriage. What a lofty goal to put such wise advice into our daily Healthy Marriage Tips. So we’ve decided it needed it’s own blog post. We invite you to add yours to the list as you think of them by commenting on this post.
Imagine the benefit of having a growing list on how to communicate more effectively with your spouse.
It’s different for each of us on different days. This is why the topic is so important and so deeply needed.
- Being honest with your spouse doesn’t give you permission to say whatever you feel like saying under the guise, “I’m just being honest!” Once words are spoken you can never take them back. Think before you speak.
- The best way to understand your spouse is to ask them good questions and listen to what they say in response. Oftentimes we assume we know what they’ll say, so we don’t listen as we should.
- Listen with the filter of grace. If they are confessing sin to you, remember how much Christ has forgiven you. If they are sharing concerns about something you’ve done, remember no one knows you better than your spouse. Listen and pray for God’s help in hearing it with grace, not condemnation. Many times our spouse sees areas in our life we are blind to. If we ignore their observations we won’t grow.
- If a topic is off-limits, then get help. Just because you choose not to talk about it doesn’t mean it will go away. In fact, it will do more damage as it sits there and festers.
- Choose the right time to talk about important subjects. If your spouse is tired, it’s most likely they won’t have the energy to give the topic the attention it deserves.
- When you think the time is right to talk about something important to you, ask your spouse if they have a minute to talk about something weighing on your mind. This opens the door for a friend to come alongside and listen, rather than demanding your need without thinking of what might be weighing on their mind.
- Be considerate. Always.
- Omit absolutes like “you always…” or “you never…”
- Don’t accuse your spouse based on your observations. Tell them “It seems to me you might have….” Give them room to explain the situation with grace. We are not our spouse’s judge. We are their companion and best friend.
- Conversation builds the friendship between husband and wife in a way nothing else can. Don’t share things with your other friends that you haven’t spoken to your spouse about first. This is protecting your marriage friendship.
- Love your spouse even when they don’t deserve it. This is modeling Christ’s love for them and may break down the walls the enemy wants to build between you two. Love speaks softly, not judgmentally.
- “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler (well said!) (You know what they say about what it means to “assume”–it makes an a** of u and me. Don’t do it.)
- “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” ― C.S. Lewis (Great advice from my favorite author.)
- “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ― George Bernard Shaw (If you’ve only thought about talking to your spouse be sure you actually do it.)
- You’re next…what communication tips can you share that helps you keep your conversation healthy and open? _____________________________________________________________
Imagine you’re having a conversation with your spouse when something doesn’t quite sit right with you. You ask your spouse a question to clarify what you heard them say. They don’t respond right away. There is, what we call, a “pregnant silence.” That’s when you know there are lots of things your spouse is wanting to say, but they’re holding their tongue until they figure out how to say it. Or your spouse may blurt out a defensive response that you didn’t expect.
Either way, what do you do in that moment? Here are your choices:
- Bark back allowing a huge argument to ensue.
- Cross your arms, close your heart and refuse to talk about it anymore.
- Wait until your spouse says what they have to say. And then ask more questions until you’re sure you completely understand how they got to this conclusion.
So often we judge our spouse based on the past, or based on what we think they mean.
Both of these are unfair treatments. It leaves no room for growth or change. If we always expect our spouse to be the same way in certain situations, it pretty much chains them to it. We make them a prisoner of our expectations whether good or bad. Where is the grace in that? Is this how Christ treats us when we’ve failed, yet again, in a certain area? Or is He patient, allowing us room to grow through our failures?
We know the answer. Christ was patient unto death. He willingly took what our sins deserved in order to make a way for us to change. God wants us to do the same for our spouse. He wants us to die to our own expectations and trust Him to work in our spouse for their good and His glory. Sometimes the best thing we can give our spouse is patient silence, rather than picking away at the lack we see.
But then, this isn’t easy, is it? We’re all sinners at heart and doing the right thing, thinking the right way, and responding with grace towards those we love takes diligent effort. We get tired. We grow weary. And we just want to be happy and have peace.
Times like these can reveal idols in our heart.
What is it you’re craving in a moment like this? Is it peace? Is it understanding? Or is it to glorify God. The last answer is the right one. God doesn’t promise us a conflict-free marriage. No, He uses the conflicts we face to challenge false gods we may be worshiping. Of course, most of us don’t set up an Asherah pole in our living room, or wield golden calves in our garage, but we do set up idols.
An idol can be anything we desire or long for more than glorifying God.
It could be financial freedom, job security, a new car, or even respectful children.
There is a fine line in our heart between genuine love for God’s creation and sinful worship of the same. Only He knows when we’ve crossed the line, and He’s faithful to let us know that is, IF we’re paying attention. Our conflicts often help us see what’s in our own hearts.
If we want our marriage to grow, then we must seize moments like these and ask God to show us the bigger picture of what He’s after in our heart. This isn’t easy, but it’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, and He will help us hear God in the midst of the trouble.
What conflict are you facing in your marriage? How can we pray for you?
We want to “Join The Conversation,” from time to time of other marriage bloggers that we respect. We are part of a greater community called the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association (CMBA), and there is a wealth of wisdom being shared via these blogs on a daily basis. By linking up with them and adding our thoughts to the posts we believe are important, we hope to accomplish two things:
1. Help marriages get the information and help they need to live out what they’ve vowed to do.
2. And introduce you to other marriage blogs worthy of your attention. So…
Today we begin with the To Love, Honor And Vacuum blog.
Our friend, Sheila Gregoire, recently posted an excellent article titled, Countering The Drift. We highly encourage you to take the time to read the entire article, and then come back here to read our part of the conversation. Sheila writes:
Too many of us drift through life. We figure our spouses are always going to be there, our kids are always going to love us, and our jobs are always going to be secure. So we don’t put in the hard work of keeping lines of communication open, or building up goodwill, because we’d rather concentrate on ourselves, and what we want. We are, after all, selfish beings, and most of us, if we can get by with laziness, will try. We’re naturally drawn to drifting.
Having sent off two of our three children to a marriage and family of their own, we’ve learned the lesson of life with how our children change and how this impacts our marriage. And when Tom lost his job last July that we hadn’t seen coming, suddenly he was here all the time. We have a strong marriage, but this shift in time together put a strain on us. We weren’t used to doing life together all day, everyday.
Gratefully, we have adjusted and resisted the drift, but it wasn’t easy.
We have had to have many long, heart-wrenching conversations where you know what you’re saying could potentially hurt the other. But not saying those things, could do even more harm, even though it would have seemed easier at the time–like those two bottles drifting miles apart. We can’t let drift happen no matter how strong the pull is to let go and ride the currents.
We affirm the point Sheila makes about us all being lazy at heart.
It’s true. Sometimes the laziest person can be the busiest. How you ask? By staying busy doing the things they WANT to do, so it leaves no room for someone to ask them to do something they DON’T want to do.
I remember doing this at work in my earlier years. Whenever my boss would come roaming near my office I would pick up anything to make me look really busy. I knew if he saw me idle, he would give a job to do I might not like. This is laziness (and selfishness, I might add) on full display!
You may not have ever thought of laziness in this way. But think about how you spend your time. Is your focus on relieving the stress of your spouse by helping in whatever way you can? Or is your focus on avoiding being asked to do something by them that you really don’t want to do. Ouch! That question hurts if you’re guilty of this habit.But be encouraged.
Our convictions increase based on the level of knowledge we’ve received.
You may find yourself noticing this tendency in your heart more now because you’ve read this post or Sheila’s post. If you do, then please respond to that conviction. To ignore it is to slowly harden your heart towards growing in godliness. No one can help you grow in this way but you. And it happens as we listen to our convictions and respond in a way that glorifies God.
What is one thing you can do today to fight this tendency? Maybe it’s doing the one thing your spouse has mentioned to you over and over again, but you’ve continually hit the snooze button! Ask God to help you fight the laziness and selfishness and embrace what it means to lay your life down for another. Our spouse is the closest one to us, and they should receive the most help from us on a daily basis.
You’ve heard Smokey the Bear say, “Only you can prevent forest fires!” Well, only YOU can prevent drift in your marriage. Do the hard thing. Do the right thing, and we are certain your marriage will grow stronger as a result.
I know we don’t normally encourage a movie night for a date, even at home, but this one is different. The idea is to pick a really bad, B-rated movie. Believe me, they’re out there. I found one site that lists the Top 10 B-rated movies trailers of all time. Now that’s some really bad publicity, isn’t it?
Why pick a movie that’s bad? The answer is simple–because you have no intention of watching it!
Set up your living/family/media room to where a love seat or small sofa is positioned front and center to your television. Make sure you have lots of cozy throws on hand. Pop some hot-buttered popcorn, open your favorite movie candy and soda then get comfy next to each other on the couch.
- Start the movie.
- Laugh at how stupid the whole thing is.
- Feed your spouse some popcorn or candy.
- Laugh some more.
- Kiss your spouse on the ear, or any other body part that will take their mind off the bad production.
Do whatever you can to make sure this drive-in movie stands up to its reputation of fogging up the windows as you make your own music, so to speak.
If you’ve had the privilege of going to a real drive-in movie with your spouse, you’ll know how to make this a great night. If you haven’t even been to a drive-in movie, then make up your own interpretation on this date your spouse is sure to never forget!
NOTE: If you have a projection DVD player, you could even set up an outdoor theater in your backyard. Bring a blanket to lay on, and have a great night under the stars.
What’s the worst movie you’ve never watched together?
Taking part in the Challenge? Click on the GYRO Challenge button in the header and share with us what you did under Week #11.
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
When Frodo sings these words on the way to the Grey Havens, he knows that he is about to leave Middle Earth, never to return. He takes in his surroundings. He kisses and thanks his friends. He knows what is about to happen. Many of us here on regular earth aren’t afforded the same opportunity.
I know the topic of death might seem out of place for a blog about romance, but I don’t think it needs to be. For Christians, the Bible is clear that death is only the beginning and is nothing to be feared. On the other hand, Jesus also points out that relationships will be different in heaven. I won’t be married to my wife after death.
I’m sure that the good news behind Jesus’ words will be clear in eternity, and I’m fairly certain that God knows what He’s doing. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
So it’s a good bet that I will agree with the way things work once I get to heaven, and I know I’ll see Ashley there someday. But honestly, the thought of not being married in heaven is depressing to me at the moment.
I don’t want to take life for granted during our time on earth. I’m sure things will be so much better in heaven, but they also won’t be the same. Ashley and I won’t have theater dates with $7 movie nachos. We won’t be spending an anniversary at a hotel on the beach. No more bowling or wishing on stars. All of these traditions we have will come to an end someday, and that really puts things in perspective.
So while I am looking forward to heaven, I don’t want to take what I have right now for granted. Earth isn’t just a waiting room. This life is beautiful and too short to be consumed with petty differences, arguments over money, or any of the other struggles that can consume our attention. Don’t let this life pass you by. We could turn onto the hidden paths at any moment.