Keeping It Real This Christmas–Can You Relate?

Photo Credit: Magic Mum

Photo Credit: Magic Mum

My house is a mess. I am decorating for Christmas, but there are demands keeping me from finishing it all at once.

Oh sure, I’ve posted photos on Instagram zoomed in where it appears my home is picture perfect, but it’s not. It may not ever be this year.

Marriage can give the same impression.

We can present ourselves to others in a way leaving an impression that just isn’t real. We all have messes because anything worth doing is going to make a mess in the process! Consider…

  • A messy season of decorating and preparation precedes the wedding day.
  • Lots of hair clippings and foils precede a new hairstyle.
  • Dirty kitchen utensils, appliances and counters precede a perfect holiday meal.
  • And hurts and disappointments can be at the forefront of healthy marriages. What make some grow stronger and others break apart is how they handle the mess.

Tom and I are facing some challenges right now that could bring division. But we’re talking, we’re sharing, we’re disclosing our hurts and disappointments with each other. Not to place blame or accusation, but to make sure the mess isn’t in vain.

Imagine if when decorating your home for Christmas you never put any of the storage boxes away or cleaned up? Needles and glitter settles all over everything and this takes time to sweep up. What if the the mess became the focus and not the tree or the mantle?  This is what we do when we refuse to talk with each other about our current struggles. We wallow in it like a pig in his pen.

In the midst of this intense season, I’ve said some things I regret. Can you relate? When I realized how my words had hurt Tom I felt genuine remorse for my lack of kindness and love. As I was sharing how sorry I was that he had to put up with me and my sin, his response to me was astonishing!

He said, “Debi, I chose you and I still do!”

It took my breath away to hear it when we first got engaged, but it means so much more to me now. He has seen me at my worst and loves me still. He.still.chooses.me!

What mess are you facing in your relationship? Are you facing it together to clean it up? Or are you wallowing in it as if made to live this way? It may be time to sweep up the mess. There is a beautiful reality found in marriage when we don’t hide the mess, but deal with it as it comes.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬ ‭KJV‬‬

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Perspective in Marriage | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

(S)Elf On The Shelf


Our daughter sent us a photo on the first of December. It’s of their little elf who had brought hot chocolate for their 4 children to enjoy when they 2 woke up. It’s a cute tradition many young families have adopted to bring fun and encourage anticipation of the celebration we call Christmas.

Elf on the Shelf–He has become quite popular.

However, not all holidays are filled with such laid back fun. Our Christmas is requiring us to step up the care of Tom’s mom who broke her hip in October. It has been a challenging season knowing what is best for her and how I can best help Tom in the process. I have found myself struggling to do what’s normal as opposed to what’s needed. 

As I was praying this morning I felt the Lord encourage me to put my “self” on the shelf! In other words, lay aside MY plans to take care of Tom’s needs. He needs me to walk this road with him, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What about you? In what way is God asking you to put your “self” on the shelf in order to love and serve your spouse? 

Let’s do our best to do our best for the sake of our relationship. We may need to ask God to help us make this decision. I get that. It’s not easy saying no to self, especially when what is on your calendar is just as important to you. But this is what love is.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thirsty For Romance

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Many of us wait until January to make those New Year resolutions, but what if we were to change this mindset? What if we were to purpose to end 2016 well giving us a head start on 2017?

If you could make resolutions for your marriage what would they be?

Most likely romance would be included in your list. We all tend to fall short of what we desired or expected when it comes to being intentional in our pursuit of each other. This is why I believe our Romantic Christmas Ideas are getting so many hits. Check them out for yourself under the Only Husbands and Only Wives tabs at the top of our site.

Your weekly romantic tip for this week is to pick one way to make a romantic memory and do it before next Thursday.  Have fun looking through our list. Here’s a hint: think of one of your spouse’s favorite things and incorporate it someway to communicate your love.

Only 24 days to Christmas, make them count!

Posted in Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage, romancing your husband, romancing your spouse, romancing your wife, Romantic Ideas | Tagged | Leave a comment

Romantic Advent Calendar

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Christmas is coming and it’s easy for our marriage to take a backseat to all the shopping and family outings. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Spend a few minutes now to plan some romance into your month in order to bless your spouse. This is a great way to keep this year from being like all the others.

There are 25 days leading up to Christmas starting on December 1st. Why not make a list of your spouse’s 25 favorite things to do, eat or watch? Then give them one a day to let them know that giving to them is one of your favorite things!

Here are a few “favorite things” ideas:

Beverage, candy, movie tickets, video games, karaoke night, dancing, fire pit s’mores, favorite friends over for game night, caroling, volunteering at his favorite charity, going to a professional sports game, concerts, worship night, prayer meeting, bookstore, coffee shop…you get the idea.

Let’s be intentionally romantic this Christmas and make our spouse a priority on our to-do list. Your marriage is worth it!

I found some cute ideas on Pinterest for presenting your daily advent reveal. Check them out on our page here.

Posted in Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fighting For Thanks When You Don’t Feel Thankful


It’s that time of year again when everyone is talking about giving thanks to God for your lot in life. Well, what if you’re just not thankful?

I get it. 

Sometimes our life doesn’t look anything like we hoped it would. The Bible even reminds us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Is your heart sick this Thanksgiving? If so, do you feel sidelined by all the meaningful commercials showing how special we’re supposed to feel?

God knows and better than this, He understands

We recently heard an amazing message on the suffering of Job that has transformed how we view disappointment and heartache. God keeps count of every tossing and every tear. He is quite aware of what causes us pain. And He weeps with us like He did Mary when her brother, Lazarus had died. Even though Jesus knew He was about to fix it all–He paused to weep with her. He never makes light of our suffering–EVER!

Tell Him your struggles. Be honest about your disappointments. He can handle it. Lamentations is full of such prayers. Are you comfortable praying out of your heartbreak? God wants those prayers because they are honest. He never wants us to put on pretenses with Him.

This Thanksgiving don’t put on the Norman Rockwell face as if all is right in your world if it isn’t. Give God your heartfelt struggles–He’s God; He can handle it. Then watch how He comforts you in your time of need.

This may just be the year when your thanks is sincere because you’ve discovered how far reaching His sustaining grace is towards you. Just don’t pretend to be something you’re not. The only person you’re fooling is yourself. 

It’s better by far to choose honesty and let God receive the glory for the mercy and grace He extends in our time of need.

From our home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Thirsty For Romance

 

thursday-logoWe are one week away from the day we set aside to give thanks to God and to those we love for what they mean to us all throughout the year.

Our spouse is by far the best and closest friend we have, at least that’s how they should be to us. If you flinched when you read that, we encourage you to take these tips even more seriously. Why not use this holiday season to express your gratefulness to them in a way they won’t soon forget.

Romantic Tip: Give some thought to the ways your spouse blesses you in ordinary ways; The things you would miss if they were no longer here. Make a list and be as specific as possible. Then share one a day with your spouse between now and next Thursday. You can text it to them, email it to them, call them on the phone, leave a note or do a variety of these throughout the week. They are sure to be blessed hearing how they have blessed you. 

If you have trouble thinking of ideas, check out this list of 99 Reasons to Be Thankful For Your Husband.

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Posted in Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Thirsty For Romance

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I don’t know about you, but this past month has been quite difficult for us. And the election was only a small part of it. We’ve dealt with health issues–our own and those of people we love. We’ve had a busy schedule that has separated us from doing the things we love together. And we’ve discovered some of our friends are hurting and we had no clue.

Life is hard. Isn’t it selfish to think about romancing your spouse, to plan something special for just the two of you to enjoy when others are hurting? No! It’s because life is hard that we must do this–we need it!

Romance softens the blows we experience from life in a fallen world.

It strengthens the ties that bind us together as one. It helps us keep our head above the waves of adversity. And it encourages your spouse to face the difficulty rather than succumb to it.

Romantic Tip for this week is to find a way to make your spouse laugh. There are lots of funny clips from movies available on You Tube that you can copy the link and text it to your spouse. Or find a good movie you haven’t watched in a long time and enjoy it together.

This is one of my favorite funny scenes of all time:

Share this:

romance-is

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse, Romantic Ideas

Uncovering 5 Practices Detrimental To Marriage: The Final Two

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The last two practices you may or may not realize you’re doing. This is why we want to shine the light on these two together. It happens when we listen to our spouse either with our mind made up based on our view (assumption), or when we hear what you’re saying but have no intention to consider it (disregard). The discussion at this point is closed.

Assuming is never good because we cannot read our spouse’s mind.

Even if the evidence points strongly in our direction–we must give them the benefit of the doubt until solidly proven otherwise. What makes assumptions so harmful is you rob your spouse of their voice. We have seen it happen countless times in counseling when one spouse shuts the other down not allowing them to share their perspective. Assumptions press charges with no regard for mercy. It isn’t from a loving heart that assumptions flow, but from a proud, condescending heart.

When we stood at the alter pledging our love and commitment we had no idea that those vows would come at such a cost.

What is your limit? What is the one place where if your spouse took you there, it would be over? It’s supposed to be until death parts us, but sometimes the cost is more than we can bear in our own strength. And maybe that’s the point, we’re doing this marriage thing in our own strength! Maybe God wants to get us to the place where our dependence is on Him alone, not on our spouse’s ability to do things the way we want them done? Maybe it’s not about our happiness, but our holiness.

Ouch! I know that hurts. Doing real life with another sinner will hurt! But we must breathe grace, not make assumptions.

The other detrimental practice is disregard.

To disregard another is to put them on the sidelines, to take their opinions, their thoughts, their wellbeing out of the game. It’s telling them they no longer matter to you.

It breaks our heart to see couples treat each other with disregard because marriage is supposed to model Christ and His love for the church. And He never disregards us, even when we deserve it. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to hear every cry we whisper to Him in secret. He has even promised to keep all our tears in a bottle and count our tossing. Even when He knows He’s not going to fix things the way we want them to be fixed. He loves us enough to listen, love and work His plan in and through us. And by His grace we can learn to regard our spouse well.

Assumption and disregard are born from miscommunication that takes place for a long time, or worse–no communication at all. 

How do we avoid this practice? By having friends who are willing to point it out to you. Have a long talk with your closest friends about these practices, and ask them to hold you accountable when they hear you say anything that sounds like it. And don’t expect them to bring it up! Being accountable, as Tom often shares, isn’t having people who will ask often to see if you’re being faithful. Being accountable is self-disclosing your struggles, your temptations and your failures. It’s not waiting for them to ask you, but volunteering your struggle to them. After spending an evening together pause and ask your friends if they have observations that would be helpful for you to hear. And then listen to what they share.

In review, we’ve looked at five practices detrimental to marriage. Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. Do you see any of these in your marriage? We’d be surprised if you didn’t. Let’s talk about it and cut the temptation off at the start before it does permanent damage.

Quoteaddicts.com

Quoteaddicts.com

 

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Thirsty For Romance – Compared to the Cubs Thirst For The World Series Championship

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The Chicago Cubs managed to do the impossible last night, winning the World Series for the first time since 1908! Congratulations! They did what no other team could do in over a century. Quite the accomplishment.

We love seeing a good ball game, don’t we? Cheering for the underdog seems like the right thing to do–And when they pull it off and win it’s outstanding!

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune Gallery

This is why we love to encourage marriages to win. It doesn’t matter what your past record is. Today is a new day with fresh mercy and grace to do what may seem impossible.

Javier Baez made huge mistakes in this game of a lifetime, but he didn’t quit! He knew the team was counting on him to do his part. And did he ever!

“We planned to be here, to be in this moment,” he said while cradling a bottle of unopened champagne as another was poured over his head. “We stayed together as a team for a reason. When we were down 3-1, we talked to each other, we picked each other up. We did the little things to get back on track and we finally win it.”

Maybe romancing your spouse seems like an impossible change in your marriage. Change may not be easy or comfortable, it may even seem you are fighting a losing battle, but look at the great advice Javier shared with the reporters after beating all the odds and winning last night. Consider if you are willing to do the same for your marriage.

  1. We stayed together as a team
  2. When we were down we talked to each other
  3. We picked each other up
  4. We did the little things to get back on track
  5. We won!

Romance is the skill of communicating your commitment to, love for and enjoyment of your spouse in ways that convince him or her of the priority of your marriage.

Romantic Tip for this week is to communicate your desire to be intentional in sharing little expressions of love each day to your spouse–then do it!

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Romance in Marriage

Uncovering 5 Practices Detrimental To Marriage: Critical Judgments

Meme Credit: Marriage by GOD

Meme Credit: Marriage by GOD

You begin to share with your spouse about something that is really bothering you. Right as you are pouring your heart out to them, they ask a question about something else, revealing that they haven’t heard a word you’ve said. This affirms your suspicion (see previous post) that your spouse doesn’t care about you.

This is a situation where we can be tempted to form critical judgments of our spouse. A critical judgment is not thinking the best of someone. When they do something we don’t expect, rather than give them grace we judge their motive.

“Critical judgments can do great damage to relationships and to the kingdom of God. If you assume the worst about others, you will often misjudge them and jump to conclusions. This can cause deep hurt, bring you great embarrassment, and eventually destroy relationships. A critical attitude also leads us to exaggerate others’ wrongs and overlook their virtues, which distorts reality. This perspective will increasingly rob you of objectivity and often lead to decisions you later regret.”  Ken Sande, Peacemakers

In the Grace-Filled Marriage, Dr. Tim Kimmel says,

“We need to create an atmosphere within our marriage where our spouse doesn’t feel they have to wear a mask around us to keep from revealing where they are emotionally. They need to know that the deeper hurt or confusion within their heart can come out without fear of being attacked. You know the way God treats us.”

Think about how God in Christ has treated us. He saw the worst in us, and loved us still. And marriage is to be a reflection of God’s love for His bride, the Church.

It helps even further to define our terms.

Critical: 1. inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily. 2. occupied with or skilled in criticism.

Judgment: the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion.

If you are quickly inclined to conclude that your spouse is at fault, you can be sure you will hurt your marriage. Critical judgments left unchecked will eventually kill a marriage.

Advice for the Critically Judged Spouse:

One who is judged by their spouse most likely has no voice to bring the needed correction. Our encouragement to someone in this place is to PRAY; pour out your heart to the Lord in desperate prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction, and the best news is He desires to do so.

Advice for the Spouse who Critically Judges:

It is imperative that you police yourself in this regard. If you notice you are quick to make judgments that are negative towards your spouse and their motives, you most likely have work to do, but it isn’t work that is difficult once you see the pattern. Repentance is offered to you, and grace is available for those who seek to change through the power God supplies.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” Titus 2:11-12

Following is a prayer to help you ask God’s help to change:

Lord, help me to judge others
as I want them to judge me:
Charitably, not critically,
Privately, not publicly,
Gently, not harshly,
In humility, not pride.

Help me to believe the best about others,
until facts prove otherwise—
To assume nothing,
to seek all sides of the story,
And to judge no one until I’ve removed
the log from my own eye.

May I never bring only the Law,
to find fault and condemn.
Help me always to bring the Gospel,
to give hope and deliverance,
As you, my Judge and Friend,
have so graciously done for me.

The goal in all of this is to change detrimental behaviors in marriage in order to insure our marriage will last for the long haul. And not just last, but thrive!

In what areas have you allowed critical judgments about your spouse? Do they know? Or worse have you made your judgments known? Then, we encourage you to set aside some time to talk heart to heart. Humility is key for needed change, and God gives much grace to the humble.

For more help in this area we recommend this outstanding article by Peacemakers Ministry,

Charitable Judgments: An Antidote To Judging Others

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thirsty For Romance

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Romance is the skill of communicating your commitment to, love for and enjoyment of your spouse in ways that convince him or her of the priority of your marriage.

Romantic Tip: Do something unexpected and kind for your spouse, and as you do, pray for them. Don’t tell them what you’ve done; let them discover it on their own. 

It’s a privilege and blessing to have a spouse to romance–never forget it!

If you’d like, share what you did for your spouse. We’re sure to be inspired!

 

Posted in Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse | Tagged ,

Uncovering 5 Practices Detrimental To Marriage: Suspicion

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This is part two of our five part series on uncovering the practices or habits that are detrimental to marriage. Today we’ll expose another practice you may or may not be aware of in your own marriage.

Suspicion

Seventy-five years ago on November 14, 1941, Alfred Hitchcock released his well-known movie, Suspicion. It portrays a married couple’s journey through a web of distrust and suspicion. I won’t spoil the movie for you in case you’d like to watch it, but it’s safe to say that many of the suspicions don’t prove true.

We are often driven to suspicion because of the fears we battle.

  • A wife who knows her husband has been tempted to be unfaithful in the past, may struggle with suspicions even if he isn’t being tempted at the moment.
  • A husband will often struggle being suspicious of every dollar his wife spends.
  • A wife who has a charming husband may suspect he is being unfaithful, just because other women notice and comment on his kindness.
  • A husband with an attractive wife may be overprotective because he’s suspicious she wants the attention of other men.

Suspicions grow when trust in the marriage has been broken. I get that, and most of us would succumb given the same circumstances. I would even go so far as to say that suspicion can be a deserved consequence of broken trust.

However, many of us give in to suspicion because we’re listening to the wrong thoughts about our spouse.

In Genesis we’re told of how Eve encountered temptation. It came through the crafty serpent who whispered suspicions to her of God’s goodness. Satan, the enemy of God, wants to do all he can to thwart God’s plans for His people. It was true then, and it is true today.

Suspicion is born when we listen to his sinister questions:

“Why didn’t your husband tell you he’d be late? Maybe there’s someone else he’d rather be with?’

“Does your wife really care about your financial goals? She is always looking for ways to spend it faster than you both can make it.”

“Do you think other women don’t notice how nice your husband is? You know he enjoys it too.”

“Your wife is so beautiful. How can you be sure other men aren’t trying to woo her away from you?”

There is an easy way to thwart his methods though–don’t listen to him! When suspicion knocks on the door of your mind, be quick to recognize the tone of voice. If it’s accusing and cunning, you can be sure it isn’t the Lord. God leads us with a voice that reassures us and brings us together. The enemy’s voice is divisive and suspicious. (For further insight check out these synonyms and antonyms of suspicion)

Let’s not give him an ear to hear. Instead let’s be alert and ready to resist this temptation for the sake of our marriage.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV (emphasis added)

In what ways has suspicion affected your relationship?

For Part One in this series click here.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Temptation | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Thirsty For Romance

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We want to start a new segment on Thursdays we are calling, 

“Thirsty For Romance”

Imagine someone giving you a refreshing drink on a hot, summer day. We enjoy it. It feels good, and it invigorates us. Romance provides the same refreshment to our marriage. To neglect it means our spouse will be lacking something they need.

It’s helpful to remember that romance is different for each marriage. What you call romantic may or may not speak the same to someone else. Tom and I love this definition:

Romance is the skill of communicating your commitment to, love for and enjoyment of your spouse in ways that convince him or her of the priority of your marriage.

I will provide a quick romantic tip each Thursday in the hopes of inspiring you on this quest of a lifetime.

Romantic Tip: Look your spouse in the eye and encourage them for something you have noticed. Be specific and sincere.

Feel free to share with us your romantic tips in the comments. We’d love to add it to our growing list.

Posted in Encouraging Your Spouse, Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Uncovering 5 Practices Detrimental To Marriage: The Question Behind The Question

Image Credit: Creative Safety Supply

Image Credit: Creative Safety Supply

Stop signs are there for our protection and the safety of those around us. They help us know when to stop, think, observe, then proceed with caution.

Can you imagine a world without STOP signs? Where everyone can proceed full-speed-ahead with no regard for those approaching the same intersection? It would be disastrous, not to mention dangerous. Yet many of us live this way. We don’t know when to stop, so we keep doing the same things over and over even if they’re not safe for our marriage.

We want to begin a series on uncovering the practices or habits that are detrimental to marriage. Today we’ll expose…

The Question Behind The Question

There is a popular book out by the same name, but what I’m talking about doesn’t relate to his focus at all. Following is a hypothetical marriage modeling this practice.

Malcolm and Jenny have been married for ten years. They have three children who keep them busy and exhausted most of the time. Their communication used to be regular, positive even, but the demands of careers, parenting and church life have left them without time to think, much less talk.

Jenny has noticed her husband isn’t taking the time with the children like he used to at bedtime. He is always on his phone leaving her to tuck the kids in alone. She wonders who/what it is that is getting his attention. She hasn’t mentioned this to him, but she’s been taking mental notes of the times he hasn’t been present. She hopes it’s work, fears it’s someone else, and suspects he has lost interest in her.

It’s 10p.m. The children are finally asleep. Jenny decides it’s time to find out what’s going on. Instead of asking him the question on her mind she begins…

“Honey, how is work going? Has it been busy?”

When he answers that everything is fine at work, she becomes even more fearful. Which leads to the next question:

“You must have lots of e-mails needing your attention then?”

When he responds that he hasn’t been looking at his emails, her fear turns toward anger.

If only Jenny had asked Malcolm the question behind her question.

“Malcolm, can I ask why you’re spending time on your phone rather than helping me put the kids to bed?”

Do you do this? It may not be the same situation, but it may occur more than you realize.

More examples of questions (Q) and the question behind the question (QBQ)

  • Q – Not feeling well?
  • QBQ – Why did you go to bed without telling me?
  • Q – Was traffic bad coming home?
  • QBQ – Why didn’t you call saying you were running late?
  • Q – Are you not hungry?
  • QBQ – Don’t you like this new recipe?
  • Q – Are you mad at me?
  • QBQ – Why did you ignore me when I got home?

You see with these examples we often use a question to discover the answer to our real question. Why do we do this? It could be…

  • Fear of the answer
  • Fear of being so direct in our communication.
  • Playing the game of suspicion, which is always detrimental to marriage.
  • We’ve already determined their guilt and want them to admit it.

Let’s purpose to STOP this practice. We can do so by asking the Lord to help us see the ways this happens in our relationship.

Change requires that we slow down when we see an approaching conflict  to ask the right question. Ask yourself, what is it I’m wanting to know? And then ask that question.

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dissecting The Romantic Umbrella


We are members of The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, and this month we have been challenged to write a post based on this beautiful photo by Kate Aldrich Photography of the One Flesh Marriage blog.

When I saw this photo the first thing I thought of was the purpose of an umbrella–it provides shelter from the rain and shade from the sun. But the word “umbrella” also has another meaning that is quite fitting in regards to romance in marriage.

Umbrella:  a protecting force or influence.

We are currently in Tennessee watching four of our grandchildren while our son and his wife are away celebrating their 10th anniversary in sunny CA. We have modeled to our children for all of their 30+ years of life, the priority of romancing your spouse through all seasons, and to see our kids making it a priority in their own marriages is rewarding to say the least!

Photo Credit: Ashley Walter

Photo Credit: Ashley Walter

Couples who regularly use the umbrella of romance discover it becomes quite the protection from all kinds of trouble when it’s needed most.

Let’s take a close look as to why this is so…

An umbrella is made up of three distinct parts: the canopy, a folding metal frame, and the rod. Some open with the push of a button and others are opened manually. Regardless, a properly cared for umbrella can provide years of protection from all kinds of inclement weather.

First, The Canopy – the canopy is what makes each umbrella unique. It’s like the personality of your marriage and how it expresses itself romantically. Every couple defines romance differently, and that’s how it should be. There are no cookie cutter marriages–all are unique and it’s the same with romance. Some romance is vibrant and noticed from a distance, while others blend in with the surroundings hardly being noticed. But if the canopy is up it will do it’s job well, no matter the romantic act of choice.

Second, The Folding Metal Frame – this is what makes the umbrella work. The frame is our intentionality in making romance a priority. If we don’t plan it, it just won’t happen. Life takes over and romance is usually the first thing to go. Let me be quick to say though, that romance is not only date nights. It’s so much more…

Romance is the skill of communicating your commitment to, love for and enjoyment of your spouse in ways that convince him or her of the priority of your relationship.

“Romance is the learned response to the way your partner looks and feels, to the things your spouse says and does and to the emotional experiences you share. It is a keen desire to work towards the beloved’s happiness, no matter what effort is required.” – Wheat

That being said, be intentional in making the most of opportunities to express such romance. When you do, your romantic umbrella will be in good shape for years to come.

Finally, The Rod represents our marriage vows. This is what our marriages our built upon that gives our marriage strength and support. Without this part of the umbrella, there would be no umbrella. It helps to remember that when we go through times of subjective difficulty, the objective truth of our marriage vows are there to support us through the trouble.

So what is the condition of your romantic umbrella? We pray that this post and this photo will help you have a solid answer to this question. Guaranteed there will be stormy weather ahead, and those who have an umbrella will be best prepared to walk through the storm to a brighter tomorrow.

For ideas on practical romantic ideas check out our website’s sidebar for categories of all topics concerning romance in marriage.  It is our desire to help marriages grow for a lifetime, not only for our enjoyment, but most importantly for God’s glory.

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Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Secret To Deepening Your Relationship

Photo Credit: ellapinkette.wordpress.com

Photo Credit: ellapinkette.wordpress.com

It’s something with which most couples start off, but slowly over time neglect to the hurt of their relationship. Reclaiming this one practice is a secret to deepening your relationship and reclaiming what you’ve lost.

What is this secret? Expressing gratefulness to your spouse in all things. 

Think about it. When was the last time your thanked your spouse for the regular things they do to make your life easier?

Things like:

  • doing the laundry
  • making dinner
  • grocery shopping
  • working hard at their job
  • providing encouragement when needed
  • helping with the kids homework and extra-curricular activities
  • paying the bills

The list can go on and on of regular responsibilities your spouse takes care of that you may take for granted.

For as long as I can remember, Tom has thanked me for doing his laundry each week. In fact, I’ve grown used to his gratefulness. That’s the flip side of neglect. We can grow used to hearing I love you’s and thank you’s to where we hardly notice when our spouse says it.

My hope is that this Fall we will purpose to express gratitude for the everyday ways our spouse works hard to make our family-life better, by what they do and say.

Gratefulness is the secret to deepening your relationship, and appreciation for a grateful spouse is a double blessing.

Happy Fall Y’all!

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Thankfulness | Tagged , ,

Make The Most Of Ordinary Days

Did you know that today is a holiday? It’s the day we celebrate the birth of Johnny Appleseed. Now, you may not celebrate it, but you could start. One of the best things about marriage is you always have someone to do things with, like share an ordinary day in a special way.

I often refer to this website to find unusual, even silly, holidays to celebrate as a surprise to Tom. It’s a great way to plan unexpected fun into your marriage.

Check out a few holidays that are coming up in October:

  • National Homemade Cookie Day (1st)
  • Oktoberfest (2nd)
  • National Golf Day (4th)
  • Do Something Nice Day (5th)
  • National Gumbo Day (12th)
  • Dictionary Day (16th)

How fun to bake cookies for your spouse on the first and eat German cuisine on the 2nd. On the 16th you could plan to play Scrabble or another word game you enjoy. The idea of celebrating these unusual holidays is to help us all make ordinary days something that stands out in our memory.

We don’t know how long God will grant us time together. Make the most of the time by being intentional each and every day.

On a sad note: Our hearts and prayers go out to the Arnold Palmer family as he passed away yesterday at the age of 87. He and his wife, Winnie, were married for 45 years before she passed away from ovarian cancer in 1999.

“They were very close,” Cori Britt, vice president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, told the Golf Channel in 2014. “He always called her ‘lover.’ ‘Hey lover, how you doing?’ They were hand-holders, they were huggers, they were very close. It was sweet.

What a takeaway for someone to have after observing them for this interview. It makes me wonder what others would takeaway from spending an afternoon with Tom and me. How about you?

Posted in Celebrations, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Fall Date Ideas, Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Healing Balm of Humility in Marriage

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My last post dealt with an enemy we all face in life and marriage–the poisonous venom of pride. Now I want to shift gears and look at the healing balm of humility.

“Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”
― Andrew MurrayHumility

Humility is often looked upon as a weakness, a humiliation. But to choose humility is to choose to live like Christ to those around us; Choosing to put their needs above our own; Choosing to put their desires above our own; Choosing to be last, not first; Choosing to die to self so Christ can live and love through me for His glory.

Only those who don’t choose to be humble will find humility to be a humiliation. The very definition of humiliation is this…

to make (someone) feel very ashamed or foolish

Humiliation then is a consequence of pride. A proud person feels foolish when he/she is forced to take a lower position than they think they deserve. All one needs to do is look to Christ and His Word…

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…” 

Philippians 2:4-9 ESV

Consider marriages you know of that have ended through divorce. Many times it’s due to the fact that the insidiousness of pride has crept in and sucked the life and love out of the relationship. Like a viper undetected, pride poisons relationships. Humility brings healing, restoration and peace.

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So how can we practically apply this healing balm to our own relationship? By choosing HUMILITY every day.

H – Choose Honesty. Be honest in all communication with your spouse, even when being honest will hurt or make you look bad.

U – Choose Understanding. Pride assumes motives which makes understanding impossible. It’s hard to explain your view to someone when they are convinced that what they see is accurate.

M – Choose Maturity. The best way to know if you’re pursuing humility in your marriage if you’re finding yourself having to work at it. If things are going too smoothly, there’s a good chance you’re missing opportunities to grow and mature. Pride may be soaking in the inattention. Be alert and mature.

I – Choose Identity in Christ alone. Remember who we are in Christ and what He left behind for our benefit. This will help us remember that apart from Christ we are nothing. This will allow you to be more vulnerable in your relationship with your spouse.

L – Choose Love. Love covers a multitude of sins and is willing to overlook minor offenses. If you tend to nitpick  your spouse about every error, there’s a really good chance pride is having it’s intended way in your heart.

I – Choose Improvement. Our marriage won’t grow on its own. Left to ourselves, we all drift. We must choose everyday to make our marriages better, and doing this requires a willingness to admit you need improvement in the first place. Pride never does that.

T – Choose Team Mentality. When you said I Do, you left behind your individualism. The two have become one flesh. Working as a team facing a common enemy will do more to help your marriage than any other practice. Let your spouse know they can trust you to have their back, even when you may not be on your best behavior.

Y – Choose Yearly Review. We all have a tendency to forget. What started as a conviction can often become and empty practice. Pursuing humility requires constant awareness. Think of humility as a tiny plant in a field of weeds called pride. If not given care and attention, pride is sure to take over. Don’t let this happen in your marriage.

Choose H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y and watch your marriage grow stronger year by year.

For more on this topic I recommend this excellent article: Humility Foundation for Marital Happiness.

Posted in Besetting Sins, Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , ,

Detecting Poisonous Pride In Marriage

 

Meme Credit: focusedshooter.com

Meme Credit: focusedshooter.com

It’s present in every marriage because it lurks in every heart. Some have even erected thrones giving sacrifices to its preferences and desires. It is a wicked taskmaster that is never satisfied, and many Christians don’t acknowledge its presence much less its influence. This is when it has the most impact on marriages for their harm. What am I talking about?

PRIDE–Poisonous Pride.

In case you’re tempted to click the little X in the top right part of your screen, please resist. Pride doesn’t like to be visible, much less the topic of a blog post. It prefers to stay hidden where it is free to reign unchecked. How do I know? Because I gave it authority in my own heart for years–permission to infuse every thought, word and deed. Of course, I didn’t know I was doing it. I justified my prideful thoughts saying,  “that’s just who I am!”

The enemy loves us to identify with our sin because when we do, there is no hope.

If that’s “just the way I am” then there is no hope to ever change. However, if I put my identity in Christ where it should be, suddenly there is no room for pride. Christ is on the throne and pride must bow. Christ died to set us free from all sin, including the insidious pride we all received at birth.

In his excellent essay on Undetected Spiritual Pride, Jonathan Edwards offers 8 ways to help us identify its poisonous presence in our hearts:  (I’ve inserted “spouse” to help us examine our  marriage in light of spiritual pride.)

  1. It’s A Secret Enemy – Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature.  That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself.  Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it?  His thinking is that he thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high.  If the grounds of the opinion of himself crumbled, he would cease to have such an opinion. But, because of the nature of spiritual pride, it is the most secret of all sins.  There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable and there is no other sin in the world that men are so confident in. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence and drive away any suspicion of any evil of that kind.  There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in great many shapes that are undetected and unsuspected. 

    Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath.  Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help.  He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

  2. It Finds Fault – Spiritual pride causes one to speak of other persons [spouse] sins, their enmity against God and His people, or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt…The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints, that they are low in grace and how cold and dead they are, and are quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies. 
  3. It Has A Harsh Spirit – It has been the manner of spiritually proud persons to speak of almost everything they see in others  [spouse]  in the most harsh, severe language.  It is frequent with them to say of other’s opinion, conduct, advice, coldness, silence, caution, moderation, prudence, etc. that they are from the devil
  4. It Puts On Pretenses – Spiritual pride often causes persons to act different in external appearance, to effect a different way of speaking, to use a different sort of dialect from others, or to be different in voice, countenance or behavior.  
  5. It Is Easily Offended – Spiritual pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries that are received [from a spouse]  and is prone to be often speaking of them and to be much in taking notice of their aggravation, either with an air of bitterness or contempt.
  6. It Is Presumptuous Before God And Man – Another effect of spiritual pride is a certain self-confident boldness before God and men.  Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm 2:11 — Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling. 
  7. It Is Hungry For Attention – Another effect of spiritual pride is to make the subject of it want attention.  People often tend to act in a special manner as though others ought to take great notice and regard of them.  It is very natural to a person that is very much under the influence of spiritual pride to take all the respect that is paid to him. If others show a disposition to submit to him and yield in deference to him, he is open to it and freely receives it.  It becomes natural for him to expect such treatment and to take much notice if a person  [spouse]  fails to do so, and to have an ill opinion of those who do not give him that which he feels he deserves. 
  8. It Neglects Others – As spiritual pride causes persons to assume much to themselves, so it treats others  [spouse] with neglect.   

If you’ve made it this far through the list, I pray God will use it to help you search your own heart for one or more of these evidences of pride in your heart. A good way to know is to ask your spouse if they see any of these evidences in you. If they answer “yes” and you react in your heart either with anger or offense, proceed with caution. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to this deadly poison. No one can do this for you, it is a personal work between the Spirit of God and you.

Are you willing to ask the question? 

Pride will kill you. Forever. Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from crying out for a Savior. Those who think they are well will not look for a doctor. – Fabienne Harford

For further study on these evidences of pride I recommend Fabienne Harford’s excellent post on the Desiring God’s website titled, Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride.

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Posted in Besetting Sins, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Temptation, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Where Have I Been?

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The answer to this question lies in today’s post on my author blog titled, God’s Timing Is Perfect! I hope you’ll take a moment to click over and read it.

God has been at work in our lives in amazing ways! Do you see His hand at work in your life? Your marriage? I pray you do because He is always busy accomplishing His perfect will.

Posted in Blog Love, Testimonies | Tagged , ,