Showing posts with label Wedded Wednesday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wedded Wednesday. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wedded Wednesday- Overdraft Protection

Note: A friend recently posted this on Facebook, and noted that she got this from It was written by a couple named Justin and Trisha, who have a pretty incredible story about the path their marriage has taken. Anyway, after reading this I really wanted to share it for Wedded Wednesday, because I totally related to this post, and was encouraged by it. I hope some of you will be too.

There are certain rules to every relationship. There are principles that are true even though relationships and people and circumstance may be different. As Trisha and I talk with couples and coach couples in their marriage, there is a principle that all of us know, but very few of us are living with an awareness of: If you make more withdrawals than deposits into your marriage, a relational meltdown is on the horizon.

When we started dating our spouse, the time we set aside for to invest in that relationship was huge. We carved out time to talk, we spent hours on the phone, we spent money we didn’t have to buy flowers, we drove long distances just to see them for a few hours, we went out to dinner three times a week. We’d call in sick to work just to spend the day together. We had a deep desire to see that relationship develop and grow. So when conflict arose in that relationship, it seemed minimal because there had been so much investment that a minor withdrawal was easily reconciled. So many of us got married thinking, ”Man we are the perfect couple. We rarely fight, and when we do we make-up so easily.”

But then…life happens. Careers start, and then careers start dominating our lives. Kids start being born, and then kids start dominating our lives. Schedules get busier. Work gets more demanding. Every night of the week has some game, concert, recital, or home improvement project. Gradually, our time at home consists mostly of watching TV after a long day. The only time we have deep conversations is because there is conflict. The only times we spend together are at school functions, or baseball games, or driving in the car to one more weekend obligation. The only time we go out is to take the kids to the movies.

So we begin to argue more, and fight more and resent more and demand more and have to be right more. We begin to make withdrawals in our relationship daily, while the deposits we make become less and less. One day you wake up and your are miserable in your marriage, because your account is overdrawn.

Here are some symptoms to an overdrawn marriage account:
-You fight about the same things over and over again
-A level 2 issue in your marriage is given a level 10 response
-Rather than thinking the best about your spouse, you are consistently assuming the worst.
-You’re more than willing to give others your best, while giving your spouse your leftovers.

This is a cycle that just feeds on itself. You begin to write relational checks that you can’t cash. So conflict happens more, it is more intense and it is harder to get over.Can I offer some suggestions that will begin to add value back into your marriage relationship?

-write a note to your spouse
-come home from work on time
-get a babysitter and go out to dinner
-spend 30 minutes a day talking to one another (not arguing)
-buy your wife flowers
-tell your husband you’re proud of him

These aren’t rocket science. But I have seen in my own marriage how taking time to do these things, allows us to navigate conflict in a way that makes us stronger instead of tearing us apart.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wedded Wednesday- The Bathroom

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless to see more Wedded Wednesday bloggers.

Having to clean the bathroom is pretty much the bane of my existence. I HATE cleaning bathrooms, even more than I hate wearing shoes, which as I discussed in the previous post, is a lot. Early on in our marriage, Justin agreed to take over the bathroom cleaning, because he said that he didn't mind it all that much. Looking back, he probably agreed to this task because he figured that it was something that he'd only have to do every six months {I am only marginally joking about this}. When he discovered that the bathroom cleaning duties would come up every week to two weeks if we're pushing it, I think he quickly began to hate bathroom cleaning too.

And the bathrooms quickly started to not be cleaned. And when Justin did "clean" it, it wasn't ever all clean at the same time. He'd clean the sink and the toilet. Then two weeks later, he'd clean the floor and the mirror. I'd ask about the sink and the toilet, and he'd sigh and say, "But I JUST cleaned those!" I'd try to explain that the whole bathroom, top to bottom, generally needs to be cleaned every two weeks. But I honestly don't think that the whole bathroom was clean at once in the first year that we were married.

So one day,  I was thinking that Justin was busy, and maybe I could bless him by taking over this task for him this time, and that maybe he'd grumble less when it was his turn to do it the next time. Yeah, that didn't work at all. What happened instead, was that I ended up cleaning the bathroom 89% of the time. And I was pretty darn angry and resentful about it. Because Justin had made that commitment to me, and he hadn't followed through with it. And if I couldn't count on him to follow through with the little stuff, how could I count on him to follow through with the really big stuff?!

Next, I figured that maybe ignoring the situation entirely would solve the problem. Maybe if I didn't bug him about it, he would just do it. That didn't work either. After that, I asked him if there was a different household chore that he would rather do, and he assured me that no, he was happy to do the bathrooms. But they STILL DID NOT GET DONE.

We had a few heart to hearts about Acts of Service being my love language {and yada, yada}, and eventually Justin agreed to take over the bathroom cleaning again. For the most part, he's done an okay job about it, though still, they bathrooms are almost always clean in segments, rather than all at once. But let me tell you...our bathrooms are WAY overdue for a good cleaning. Way, WAY overdue. Justin has been promising me for WEEKS that he will clean them. Without fail, every Friday we'll discuss our plans for the weekend, and Justin will want to go visit all of our relatives and be running all over the place, and I'll always say, "We can go anywhere you want, as long as you promise me that this weekend you will actually clean the bathroom."

Justin will always say, "I can totally do that. And if I don't, I want you to nag me about it." In fact, this very situation is what Justin was referring to in his answer to the worst part of being married (the nagging, even though it's usually deserved) in the Justin Says post two weeks ago. I was nagging, because yet another week where he had promised that the bathroom would be 100% top-to-bottom clean, but it wasn't. And friends and family would come over to visit Lizzy, and would inevitably ask to use the bathroom, and I would inevitably cringe, and say, "It's probably really dirty, and I'm so sorry."

Now? We're still in this odd stalemate of Justin promising to clean the bathrooms but not doing so, and me not wanting to give in and clean the bathrooms either, because he promised that I wouldn't have to, {and I am beyond stubborn}. It's kind of bizarre, because Justin will spend hours cleaning other parts of the house. It's almost like he will clean ANYTHING other than what really needs it.

Again, I was starting to become very resentful. My thinking quickly turned to things like:

He NEVER helps around the house. 
I can't EVER count on him to follow through
Why are everyone elses' needs more important than mine
Why can't he be my partner in this? Why do I have to do it alone?

But Justin recently had to go out of town for work. Just before he left, I pinched a nerve in my back. And let me tell you...caring for an infant 24/7 with a pinched nerve, is a HUGE task. And I began to realize how much I rely on Justin for little things....

Babe could you bring me a burp rag? 
Would you mind picking up milk on your way home? 
Could you take out the trash for me? 
I am exhausted and covered in puke, could you figure out something for dinner? 

I have never been so happy to see Justin as when I picked him up yesterday. I really didn't realize just how many little things he does on a day to day basis that make things flow easier. It kinda made me swoon. And will maybe, just maybe, get me to think about something other than our messy bathroom.

For a day or two at least.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wedded Wednesday- Gender Roles

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,

anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless for other 
Wedded Wednesday bloggers

In college, I was a Sociology major. One of the classes that I had to take was Sociology of Gender Roles--and it quickly became apparent that the professor's thesis was that there was essentially no difference between men and women, and that any and all differences that occurred were socially constructed. Now, while I was able to regurgitate the material in order to get a good grade (even writing a paper critiquing gender stereotypes in Disney movies), the glaring problem with this whole idea for me was that men and women ARE different...down to their physiology.

Aside from their anatomical differences, Dr. Marianne Legato from the Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine Columbia University has talked about the idea that men and women are genetically different because of the Y chromosome, and the 21 specific genes attached to this chromosome. Dr. Legato says that one example is how men can typically drink more alcohol than women without becoming intoxicated--something that is related to a specific enzyme produced by one of those genes specific to the Y chromosome. Essentially, science tells us that men and women ARE different.

In our Bible Study yesterday, we were talking about the differing roles of men and women in marriage. It's a concept that mainstream society doesn't tend to look favorably on (though, I recently caught an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker, and was surprised that the extremely successful matchmaker was advocating for "traditional" gender roles within the relationship and often refers to men as the "hunters and fishers").  But, I do think that Biblically, men and women have different purposes in marriage. However, I think that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that different doesn't have to mean unequal. In my opinion, misinterpretation of the verse calling for wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22), is the main reason for this perceived inequality, and one of the reasons that so many are hesitant to discuss the differing roles in marriage. {I highly suggest this article, which explains how and why this verse is often misinterpreted, and what it really means contextually}

I would argue that having differing roles in marriage doesn't necessarily mean an inequality-- you can have two different items that have different purposes, but have the same worth. And I believe that men and women are equal in God's eyes, though they have very distinct purposes within marriage.

The blessing of this all is that when we're together, my weaknesses are made stronger by Justin's differing strengths; Justin's weaknesses are made stronger by my strengths. I've said it before, and I'll say it again--we're stronger together than we are apart. Or, as Justin said last night, "We're like ears and eyes--one could exist without the other, but they sure work better together!"

So what do you think about gender roles in marriage? Do they exist? Should they?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wedded Wednesday- Justin Says

Head over to Marital-Bless to see other 
Wedded Wednesday posts and bloggers!

The blog has been seriously lacking in Justin I thought that I'd go ahead and interview him for my Wedded Wednesday post. Enjoy :)

1. So, as some of the blog readers know, your lovely youngest sister is getting married this summer to one of your best friends. What is the biggest piece of marriage/relationship advice you'd give them?

Don't take everything too seriously, except for the serious things.  Don't go to bed angry.  Don't drink when you're mad.  Always say I love you when you leave, finish a phone conversation, or go to sleep ( even if you're irritated).  And try not to grumble about your spouse. 

2. What has been the best part of being married? What has been the worst?

There is nothing like sharing a warm bed with a woman.  And I like not having to cook for myself.  I also have some pretty cool inlaws who like to take everyone to lunch, dinner, and a movie.  I'm not a fan of nagging.  Wives nag.  Nothing against them, they're wired that way.  And Meredith nags for good reasons.  So really, I just don't like having someone there to point out what needs to be done when I clearly don't want to do it. 

3. Do you feel like our relationship has changed since Lizzy was born? If so, how?

If it has I think that it hasn't been a big change.  I definitely didn't know about and/or expect a lot of what happened to Meredith's body during and after labor.  It was a huge eye opener for me and I have a lot more respect for women in general in regards to child birth.  I'm glad I'm a guy.

4. We've done a couple different Biblical Studies on marriage--The Love Dare, The Five Love Languages, Love & Respect, etc. Which was your favorite, and why?

I don't have a favorite.  All of them had some good parts to them and they had some cheesy stupid parts to them as well.  But it is nice to hear from other couples about their struggles in life and marriage and how they deal with them as well as getting tips and pointers, and insight to the woman's mind. 

5. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

I would be an underwear model.  Because this is America and I can be all that I want to be. 

6. Is your life today where you imagined it would be five years ago?

Pretty close.  I thought we would have a couple more kids by now.  I knew that I'd be doing something in construction.  And I knew we would own a house.

7. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

A couple more kids.  Maybe a wakeboard boat.  Lower car insurance.  Possibly a full beard.  And hopefully a six pack because my cooler is kinda empty and I want to be an underwear model. 

8. What's your least favorite meal that I make? What's your favorite?

That garlic chicken thing you made about a month ago.  I like garlic in certain things.  But the combination in that dish was pretty gross.  I do like the bacon cheeseburger pasta.  And the bar-b- que'd pulled pork is pretty good too.

{M here- obviously "that garlic chicken thing" was his least favorite, but unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about...I haven't really cooked anything that garlic-y since Lizzy was born}

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wedded Wednesday- Good Heart

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
See more Wedded Wednesday bloggers at Marital-Bless

One of the most recognized Bible verses is probably 1 Corinthians 13--you know, the "love is patient, love is kind" verse that is read at almost every wedding ceremony you've ever been to. But I want to talk about a different part of that verse today:
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I have a friend and former co-worker Emily, and she and I used to talk about our faith and marriage sometimes. She was (and is) a fantastic source of encouragement, and I still remember one particular conversation that she and I had about marriage. I think Justin and I were having some silly argument, and I was explaining to her why I was mad at him (which I think was that he promised he'd drop off the check for our car payment, had forgotten, and we ended up with a late fee). She responded that she could understand my frustration, but that it was important to remember that Justin came to the situation with a good heart. And it just clicked for me--Emily was totally right. Justin had come to the situation with a good heart. He was trying to take something off my plate. His intent was loving and helpful. Yes, he forgot and didn't follow through, but it wasn't his intent to not pay the car payment on time. And as someone who loves him, my response should have been one of forgiveness and grace, not anger, because again, he had come to the situation with a good heart
After that day, Justin and I talked a lot about remembering that we each come to almost every situation with a good heart. Very rarely, if ever, does either of us come to a situation intentionally trying to upset the other. And once we both talked about remembering each others' good hearts and good intents, I've noticed that we argue much less often. But sometimes, I still have to stop and remember the good-hearted approach. In fact, I did just this morning...

Right after Lizzy was born, I was invited to a Mom's group. I was super, super excited to go to the group, and had been looking forward to it for weeks. The group only meets every couple of weeks, and the next meeting was scheduled for today from 9am-11am. I was in the middle of getting Lizzy and I ready to go this morning, when I got a text from Justin. "I have your car key. I'll try to drop it off later today." 

We only have one car key for the car that I drive. Justin had it. He was on a call and couldn't bring it to me. The mom's group started in 30 minutes. I was stuck. And I was MAD. I saw my cell phone flash that Justin was calling, and I had to take a few deep breaths to keep myself from yelling at Justin. And as I tried to remain calm as I answered the phone, Justin immediately apologized. And as much as I still kind of wanted to yell and scream, I realized that again, he had come into the situation with a good heart--he had my car keys because they also had the mail key on them and he had gotten the mail for me yesterday. He hadn't thought, 'Oh, I don't want Meredith to go to the Mom's Group, I'll take her car key so she can't go.' He had a good heart, and so my response shouldn't be one of anger. I shouldn't hold this mistake over his head the rest of the week. I need to consciously choose to be slow to anger in this situation, because of Justin's good heart. 

So I guess that I want to encourage you all this week to remember that most of the time, your spouse comes to the table with a good heart. And knowing that, would your response to your spouse change in a frustrating situation?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wedded Wednesday: Blessings and Challenges

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration of married bloggers
sharing their inspirations, anecdotes, struggles and thoughts
regarding the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless to see more Wedded Wednesday Bloggers.

A funny thing happened in blog-land this week. One of my blogger friends, Leah, had an “Ask Me Anything” post, encouraging her readers to ask her absolutely anything they wanted. I’m nosy when it comes to other bloggers’ personal lives, and so I really do sometimes take those “Ask Me Anything” opportunities to ask things that I’ve always wondered, but under normal circumstances wouldn’t ever ask. So, I asked Leah, “What have been both the biggest challenges and the biggest blessings both in being married, and becoming a mom.”

Today, for her Wedded Wednesday post, Leah answered my question about the biggest challenges and blessings in terms of being married, and then challenged us to post our own difficulties and blessings. And since it was my question to begin with, I feel pretty obligated to participate ;)

For us, I think the biggest challenge is communication—and specifically, how we communicate when we disagree. Growing up, our families tended to be very different in this way. When Justin’s family has disagreements, they tend to hash things out loudly, right away. I have never seen them be disrespectful towards each other, but they certainly yell and get loud. For Justin, that’s a normal form of conflict resolution.

Growing up, I really don’t think I ever saw a major fight between my parents. I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing them raise their voices at each other. I saw them disagree with each other, but it was resolved privately. It was a blessing not to be aware of my parents fighting, but in some ways it was also a bit of a curse, because I didn’t really see how they resolved those conflicts.

So when we disagree, unless we really check ourselves through the process, it can have a tendency to look like this: Justin will quickly get loud and defensive. I will get upset, start crying, and ask him to stop yelling. He will yell, “I am NOT YELLING”, and then say the meanest thing he can think of. I completely shut down and I will retreat to our room and refuse to talk to him. Then I hold a grudge for days.

[For the record, neither the saying the meanest thing he can think of nor the holding grudges for extended periods of time are things we learned from our parents. They’re just our own bad habits, and we both acknowledge that they exist.]

We’re getting better at it though—and I think even just now being able to identify it as an issue and why it’s an issue is a huge strength. I think for both of us, the most helpful thing has been to intentionally give each other some space right when we start to get upset, WITH THE PROMISE TO TALK ABOUT IT LATER. It’s been suggested that we even set a specific time to talk later, which is something I’d like to implement.

In high school, I had a string of friends who died. It was really hard for me, and I still have a bit of a complex that anyone I end up becoming close with will either die or move away. Consequently, I have a hard time opening up to people sometimes. Justin doesn’t let me get away with that. He calls me out when I start to push him or someone else away, but in a really supportive way. Justin has absolutely shown me how to open up to people, and has affirmed with me that it’s worth it, even if that person does die or move away.

Additionally, it has been such a blessing to know that our marriage is someplace that I will always be able to receive support. I really can’t think of any instance where I’ve wanted to do or try something, and Justin hasn’t supported it. He’s a constant source of encouragement, and a safe place to go if I fail. He is incredibly quick to forgive, and often has already forgiven me before I’ve asked for forgiveness, which is a blessing beyond measure.

But I agree with Leah, in that perhaps the biggest blessing of all has been in knowing that this is a lifelong partnership and covenant. I believe that some of our friends and family members expected our marriage to fail because we were married at such a young age. But it will not fail, because failure isn’t an option for us. And knowing that, I sometimes feel like it makes us both fight harder to work things out and resolve situations. Even though we’re complete opposites in a lot of ways, and I often hear from friends as the reason that the relationships or marriages of my friends dissolve, we choose to look at that as a blessing—that we’re complimentary to each other, and help to balance each other out. And I firmly believe that Justin does balance me out and I balance him out—together, we’re stronger than we are apart, which is an incredible blessing!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wedded Wednesday: 5 Love Languages

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.

I'm betting that most of you are familiar with Gary Champan's 5 Love Languages, and all of the different books incorporated under that umbrella. But in case you aren't, here's the basic idea:

We all have one of five ways that we primarily and instinctively show love and appreciation to others. In turn, we feel most loved and appreciated when someone expresses their love and affection for us using our own "love language".

The 5 Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Rarely do two spouses have the same love language. This can create an interesting scenario within a marriage. For example, if my love language were Acts of Service, and my husband's were Words of Affirmation (and for the record, they aren't...) it's likely that I would show my love to Justin by cleaning the house, cooking dinner, etc--because that's MY language, and how I express my love and affection. However, Justin probably wouldn't be feeling very loved, because that's not the manner in which he experiences feeling loved and feeling affection--instead, he'd feel most loved if I were to thank him for being such a hard worker which provides for our family, or to tell him that he did a great job with a certain project around the house.

I think it's just a good reminder that the way we show love to our spouse is not always the way that they experience feeling loved. Sometimes, we have to speak their language! I also find that this premise applies in many other avenues of life besides just marriage--a co-worker and I were talking about how it even seems to occur in the workplace, or among friends. Gary Chapman also has a book specific to the love languages of children, and includes information about the type of discipline that might be most effective for children of different types of love languages. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wedded Wednesday: Purpose of Marriage

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless to see more Wedded Wednesday bloggers.

Last night in our couple's Bible Study, we talked a lot about the purpose of marriage. In order to make it work, I think that it's important for you and your spouse to be on the same page about what marriage means, and WHY the two of you are married.

Most Americans would tell you that the purpose of marriage is to make each other happy. And being happy in marriage IS important, even crucial. But what if the purpose behind marriage wasn't necessarily to make us happy, but to make us holy?

We've been talking a lot about Gary Thomas' book Sacred Marriage, which is formed around that exact idea. If you're interested, you can download the first chapter of the book here.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a quote to ponder...

"For the Christian, marriage is a penultimate rather than an
ultimate reality. Because of this, both of us can find even more
meaning by pursuing God together and by recognizing that he is the
one who alone can fill the spiritual ache in our souls. We can work
at making our home life more pleasant and peaceable; we can
explore ways to keep sex fresh and fun; we can make superficial
changes that will preserve at least the appearance of respect and
politeness. But what both of us crave more than anything else is to
be intimately close to the God who made us. If that relationship is
right, we won’t make such severe demands on our marriage, asking
each other, expecting each other, to compensate for spiritual
emptiness" (p 24).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wedded Wednesday: Love and Care for Each Other

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Head over to Marital-Bless to see more Wedded Wednesday posts!

In my hometown, there was an elementary school teacher, who was also a football coach. He was loved by almost everyone who had him in school, and even most of the kids who didn't. He had battled with cancer for quite awhile, but always seemed to pull through and go into remission. While my brother was on the football team, the cancer came back, and spread quickly. The boys made it to state that year, but the coach couldn't attend because he had to be hospitalized. Somehow, it was arranged for him to get a live video feed of the game to his hospital room, and he helped coach the game via phone. Everyone knew that he didn't have much longer to live. I wish that I would have been there to hear his pre-game talk--I've heard that it was incredible. One of the things that the coach was famous for saying, and told the boys that day before he passed away was to "Love and care for each other." It's such a simple thing, isn't it? But it's also the most important thing.

That statement has kind of taken on a life of it's own in my little town. All of the football shirts being sold through the booster club now have that quote on the back of them--and it really is quite something to look down into the stands and to see hundreds of backs that all bear that gentle reminder. For me, it's a good reminder in my marriage to stop, and think about that sentiment--are my words and actions loving and caring? Does Justin feel loved and cared for?

So for today, take a minute to think about that simple command--to love and care for each other. How will you show that you love and care for others today?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

So, this training that I've been at for the last two days is really draining mentally and emotionally. I just don't have the energy to look or type for any particularly enlightening thoughts about marriage. Instead, I thought I'd share this cartoon, which ABSOLUTELY cracks me up, because in some ways, it is so Justin!

Instead, I thought I'd ask y'all a question or two about marriage:

1- What has been the most surprising-in-a-good-way thing about being married?

2- What has been the most difficult or unexpected part about being married?

3- How is being married different than dating, in your opinion?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

Head over to Marital-Bless for more Wedded Wednesday bloggers!

Today, I wanted to share an article that I found on by Mary Fairchild called "5 Steps to Building Your Christian Marriage". It's an interesting article with lots of good points--though I will be the first to admit that J and I don't do everything on the list! I wish that we did...

Step 1: Pray Together.

My husband and I have found that first thing in the morning is the best time for us. We ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit and give us strength for the day ahead. It brings us closer together as we care for each other every day. We think about what the day ahead holds for our partner. Our loving affection goes beyond the physical realm to the emotional and spiritual realm. This develops true intimacy with each other and with God.

Perhaps a better time for you as a couple might be just before you go to bed each night. It's impossible to fall asleep angry when you've just held hands together in God's presence.

Step 2: Read Together.

This might also be described as a time of devotions. About five years ago my husband and I began setting aside time each weekday morning to read the Bible and pray together -- a couple's devotional time. We read to each other, either from the Bible or from a devotional book, and then we spend a few minutes in prayer together.

We've had to commit to rising from sleep about 30 minutes earlier in order to do this, but it's been a wonderful, intimate time of strengthening our marriage. It took 2 1/2 years, but what a sense of accomplishment we felt when we realized we had read through the entire Bible together!

Step 3: Make Decisions Together.

I'm not talking about deciding on what to eat for dinner. Major decisions, like financial ones, are best decided as a couple. One of the greatest areas of strain in a marriage is the sphere of finances. As a couple you should discuss your finances on a regular basis, even if one of you is better at handling the practical aspects, like paying the bills and balancing the check book. Keeping secrets about spending will drive a wedge between a couple faster than anything.

If you agree to come to mutual decisions on how the finances are handled, this will strengthen trust between you and your partner. Also, you won't be able to keep secrets from each other if you commit to making all important family decisions together. This is one of the best ways to develop trust as a couple.

Step 4: Attend Church Together.

Find a place of worship where you and your spouse will not only attend together, but enjoy areas of mutual interest, such as serving in a ministry and making Christian friends together. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25, that one of the best ways we can stir up love and encourage good deeds is by remaining faithful to the Body of Christ by meeting together regularly as believers.

Step 5: Continue Dating.

Once married, couples often neglect the area of romance, especially after the kids come along. Continuing a dating life may take some strategic planning on your part as a couple, but it is vital to maintaining a secure and intimate marriage. Keeping the romance alive will also be a bold testimony to the strength of your Christian marriage.

These 5 steps require real, committed effort on your part. Falling in love may have seemed effortless, but keeping your Christian marriage strong will take ongoing work. The good news is—building a healthy marriage is not all that complicated or difficult if you're determined to follow a few basic principles.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Laugh Much.

Head over to Marital-Bless to check out more Wedded Wednesday bloggers.

"There is nothing like the deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons. It was that good." -The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When was the last time that you and your husband or wife just laughed? Not a little giggle. Not the hah-that's-funny-now-let-me-get-back-to-blogging kind. The oh-my-god-I-am-going-to-pee-my-pants type of laughing. When was the last time?

It's not nearly enough for us. Which is funny, because it was A LOT while we were dating. But I was reminded last night, after we both just started absolutely cracking up at something, just how important it is to take time out of our booked schedules just for some child-like fun. To forget the dishes or the laundry for a little while. Sometimes, you fall into this cycle of work, cooking dinner, doing dishes, laundry, fixing something around the house, church, visiting family, rinse, repeat. Even if those things are actually enjoyable, they become so repetitious that they're just NOT enjoyable anymore. And neither is the marriage.

So....yeah. This post today isn't terribly profound--just an encouragement that taking time just to have fun and to laugh can be such a positive thing!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Find other Wedded Wednesday bloggers at Marital-Bless.

Taken from The Love Dare, based off the movie Fireproof

"Day 3- Love is not selfish.

We live in a world that is enamored with "self". The culture around us teaches us to focus on our appearance, feelings, and personal desires as the top priority. The goal, it seems, is to chase the highest level of happiness possible. The danger from this kind of thinking, however, becomes painfully apparent once inside a marriage relationship.

If there were ever a word that basically means the opposite of love, it is selfishness. Unfortunately, it is something that is ingrained into every person from birth. You can see it in the way young children act, and often in the way adults mistreat one another. Almost every sinful action committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people, but justify in ourselves. Yet, you cannot point out all the ways your spouse is selfish without admitting that you are selfish too. That would be hypocritical....

When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of his wife, that's a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that's a sign of selfishness...You cant be acting out of real love and selfishness at the same time. Choosing to love your mate will cause you to say "no" to what you want so you can say "yes" to what they need. That's putting the happiness of your partner above your own...When you relinquish your rights for the sake of your mate, you get a chance to lose yourself to the greater purpose of marriage.

Whether you like it or not, you have a reputation in the eyes of those around you, especially in the eyes of your spouse. But is it a loving reputation? Remember, your marriage partner also has the challenge of loving a selfish person. So determine to be the first to demonstrate real love to them..."Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Today's dare: Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It's hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says 'I was thinking of you today.'"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

Wedded Wednesday is a collaboration
of married bloggers sharing their inspirations,
anecdotes, struggles and thoughts regarding
the amazing union of two separate people, as one.
Check out the other Wedded Wednesday bloggers at Marital-Bless

Last night at our Young Married Bible Study, we arrived to see a beautiful spread of fall decor, wine glasses, and desserts--everything from cheesecake to ice cream with blackberries, to peach cobbler! The couple leading the group that week explained that they wanted to give us all a mini "date night" where we could each go off together, without kids, work distractions, or other family distractions, and just talk. They gave us prompts of several options of things we could talk about--and let me tell you, it was just such a good time for us to have this meeting!

Justin and I have been "off" lately. Do you ever sometimes start to feel like you're just ships passing in the night, or that you're more roommates than a married couple? It's not necessarily anyone's fault, it just happens sometimes. Especially over the weekend, we were both busy with different projects, and when those were completed, we both wanted to decompress. Justin wanted to play Nintendo, I wanted to sleep or knit. Our sleep schedules were also off, so often when I was awake, J was asleep, and visa versa. It was probably needed individually for us to both take the time to relax in a way that was meaningful to us, but we didn't do a good job nurturing our marriage in the process.

Needless to say, last night was a great opportunity for us to reconnect, and to talk about something more than the weather, work, money, or food! I wanted to share part of the handout that was given to us--I'm not sure where it's from to give credit to the author....but I think I remember reading this in either The Love Dare, or The 5 Love Languages.


Proverbs 8:6- Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.

Conversation reveals the inner person. When we're dating, we absorb every word our date utters and file each precious comment away for future reference. Some of our dates disqualify themselves the moment they open their mouths, but then we find the right one and marry, largely because of what that person said. A few years later, we stop listening. We know our spouse so well that his or her comments are predictable, and we've heard them all before. We stop talking about hopes and dreams and beliefs, and limit our conversations to the weather, work, and children. It doesn't have to be this way. Listen to your spouse with as much attention and affection as you listened while you were dating, and you may find your love is deeper than you ever imagined.

Genesis 26:12- Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.

When God told Isaac to take his wife and make his home in Egypt, Isaac obeyed, even though he was afraid for his life. In return for faithfulness, the Lord blessed Isaac, increasing his investment a hundred times over in one year.

Discuss: What is God telling you and your spouse this year? Should you be doing something else, or even be someone else? Is your current job, or your current lifestyle what God is calling you to do? Do you want to argue the point (or pretend you didn't get the message), or are you willing to trust God's guidance?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

Last night at our Young Married's Bible Study, we did a little personality test, identifying adjectives that we thought described us. Then, we filled out a test describing our spouse, and visa versa.

Apparently, in the book The Two Sides of Love by Gary Smalley, he uses this personality test to discuss whether you tend to use the "hard side" or "soft side" of love in your interactions, especially with those you love.

If you'd like to take the test, you can do so here (in pdf form).

Lions and Beavers are considered the "hard side" of love, where as Otters and Golden Retrievers are considered to be the "soft side" of love. Neither is positive or negative--they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. You could also think of it as "head" compared to "heart". We discussed how with the couples at the table, almost all of us had one spouse in the "Hard" category, and one spouse in the "Soft" category--which is a nice balance. But the key for us, was being able to recognize which category our spouse falls into, which then can help us be more effective in communicating with them and also with showing love that actually makes them FEEL loved (similar to the premise behind the 5 Love Languages).

I'd encourage you all to take the test, and talk about it with your spouse! What animal best describes you? I think I'm definitely a Beaver, but Justin thinks I'm a Golden Retriever! We both think Justin is absolutely, without a doubt, an Otter!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wedded Wednesday

Ms. Leah Maria of Marital-Bless has started a GREAT new blogging feature called "Wedded Wednesdays", which are basically an opportunity to share a devotion, thought, or piece of encouragement about marriage.

Today, I'd like to share a devotion about marriage from Worth Devotions.

"Phillipians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Recently my wife and I sat charmed at an outdoor performance by young Suzuki violin students. After the concert, an instructor spoke briefly on how children as young as two, three and four years old are taught to play violin. The first thing the children learn, he said, is a proper stance. And the second thing the children learn–even before they pick up the violin–is how to take a bow. “If the children just play the violin and stop, people may forget to show their appreciation,” the instructor said. “But when the children bow, the audience invariably applauds. And applause is the best motivator we’ve found to make children feel good about performing and want to do it well."

Adults love applause too. Being affirmed makes us feel wonderful. If you want to rekindle or keep the flame of love glowing in your marriage [or other important relationships] through the years, try showing and expressing your appreciation for your mate. Add some applause and watch the love grow.

What more can I say? We are all victims and we’re all guilty. Let’s start appreciating one another. There’s so much work to be done!"

I am so guilty of this in my marriage sometimes. Occasionally, Justin will say to me, "Am I doing ANYTHING right?!" And I just have to take a big gulp and realize that I have to make just as much of an effort to praise him and thank him for the wonderful things he does as I do nagging him about the soda cans left all over our house! My word of encouragement today is simple--make it an intentional part of your day to thank your spouse and show them appreciation!
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