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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Valentine’s Day.  When we first married I told my husband that I never wanted roses for Valentine’s Day; it seemed silly to me to pay for overprices roses that weren’t going to last anyway.  The first couple of years we made each other gifts.  Eventually time stole that tradition, and we moved on to spending time together until children stole that gift.  And for a few years we floundered, not knowing what to do with the expectations of such a day.  Valentine’s Day just doesn’t make my heart go pitter-patter, though I am a girl and occasionally do find myself wanting to do something fun for the silly heart-infested day.  So . . .

A couple years ago, I decided that while I didn’t want to fall into the lie that buying a card would make my marriage better, I did want to do something for Valentine’s Day.  As a matter of fact I wanted to do a lot of somethings, inspired by this post, I planned 14 day of Valentine’s Day.  I decided that for 14 days I was going to serve my husband by doing things for him – one thing each day for two weeks.

I’ll be honest and tell you that there were days that were hard – because I was tired or just feeling lazy or for no reason at all, but most days were an absolute delight!  We had such a great two weeks, and I still look back at that time and think what a blessing it was to serve my man!

If you want to do something similar (I’d highly encourage it!), here’s a few ideas.

  • cook his favorite dinner
  • leave him a little note where he’ll find it on his way out the door – let him know you’ll be waiting for him to come home (and I do mean in the nicest kind of waiting way)
  • put a note in his lunch box or sort of hidden in his wallet
  • give him a backrub
  • tell him that he is a great provider
  • make his favorite dessert
  • find/borrow/check out (from the library)/pick up a movie that the kids haven’t seen and plan a candlelight dinner in the next room (feed the kids something easy just before he comes home, then pop that movie in and enjoy a nice meal with your man)
  • (ahem!) new undergarments
  • give him the night off (do whatever it is that your husband does to help out around the house in the evening and insist that he go relax)
  • get a sitter and take him out
  • fondue (There are tons of simple recipes online for fondue – find one that works for you and gather stuff to dip.)  You can do this with the kids or . . .
  • put the kids to bed early (bribe them, if you have to) and enjoy dessert together
  • watch one of his favorite movies
  • linger just a bit longer when you greet him after work
  • read to him (Don’t know what to read?  Song of Solomon is a good place to start . . . )
  • tell him that you are proud of him
  • a bath together
  • have “your song” playing when he gets home from work
  • take him coffee during a lunch break or another time in the day that you know he would love it
  • decide to not nag for a day . . . or a week . . . or whatever length of time you think you can
  • get a sitter (that will watch your kids at her house – trade nights with a friend) and stay in
  • make a list of ten things that you love about him – tape it to the mirror where he gets ready in the morning
  • share a bottle of sparkling cider or wine or Izze or whatever it is that is special for the two of you – do it on a night that you wouldn’t normally – the point is that you take the time to talk while you share
  • let him know that you are praying for him (and then do it!)
  • Change out of your yoga pants before he gets home . . . smell nice too

There are so many little things that you can do to build your marriage.  Many of them don’t have to cost you anything but a little time.  Many of them can include the kids (we’ve learned that our kids love candlelight meals and act like normal little people when we give them the opportunity to enjoy one with us), though it was fun to sneak around and find stuff to do without the kids.

So this is a little bit of a challenge, step it up for 14 days – see if you can serve your husband in some little way each of those days.  I’ll bet you’ll be rewarded for it.

 

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One of the greatest joys of my life outside of having a personal relationship with the God who created the universe has been my marriage to my best friend.  Saying yes to his proposal was the best decision I ever made, though I was so surprised by the whole thing that it took me days to really figure out what I had done!  In our fourteen years of marriage, we have been so blessed to be mentored by some amazing people: friends who have walked just one step ahead of us on this life’s journey, some who have walked miles ahead yet been kind enough to turn back to tell us how to avoid the bumps in the road, and some who have served as official guides, equipped with training and God-given wisdom to help others follow the path well.  We have been so thankful for all of those people!

Over the next few weeks months, I want to record some of the things we have learned:

Here’s something I remind myself often:  There is no “fair” in marriage.  For example:  my husband goes out to lunch regularly.  He goes to lunch with a group of friends, lets people wait on him, and has adult conversation!!!  I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (which I despise) for lunch with our four children, if I get to eat lunch between cleaning up spills and wiping off faces.  BUT I get to spend my days with our children, to see all of their first steps, hold their hearts in my hands, teach them.  Would I trade pb&j (and the time with the kids) for nice lunches out . . . maybe some days . . . I jest, really: no way!  It’s not fair or even, but it works.  It is good.

On the flip side of that scenario is the fact that when we’ve had a late night, I get to sleep in.  Our kids are old enough now that they often sleep until 6:30 or 7, while my husband drags himself out of bed at 5:30 or sometimes even earlier to get wherever it is that he needs to be that day to do his job.  I’m sure that there are days that he would rather stay in bed, but his pay off is a job that he loves. . . and he gets to eat lunch out some days.

If I expected to go out to lunch all of the time, we couldn’t afford for me to stay home.  If he didn’t get up when he does, he wouldn’t have the job that he does.  There are so many other things like this in life; I learned that I do much better to count my blessings than to try to keep track of “unfairnesses.”

So say it with me:  “There is no ‘fair’ in marriage.”

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One of the greatest joys of my life outside of having a personal relationship with the God who created the universe has been my marriage to my best friend.  Saying yes to his proposal was the best decision I ever made, though I was so surprised by the whole thing that it took me days to really figure out what I had done!  In our fourteen years of marriage, we have been so blessed to be mentored by some amazing people: friends who have walked just one step ahead of us on this life’s journey, some who have walked miles ahead yet been kind enough to turn back to tell us how to avoid the bumps in the road, and some who have served as official guides, equipped with training and God-given wisdom to help others follow the path well.  We have been so thankful for all of those people!

Over the next few weeks months, I want to record some of the things we have learned:

A good friend shared with me a great tip, passed on to her by her in-laws:  When you get irritated about something, give yourself time.  Wait until the next day; if it is still a big deal then, say something about it.

I have thought about this a lot, and I think it’s really sound advice.  I’ve even practiced it, and I think my marriage is stronger for it.  When I wait until the morning, the little things are forgotten. . . and if this thing that has frustrated me is indeed big enough to remember until morning, I have had time to think about it, to organize my thoughts.  The next day I’m not as likely to act/speak out of exhaustion or as a knee-jerk reaction to a frustrating day, and I’m much more likely to be able to express my thoughts in a way that is productive (ie. “I feel . . . ” instead of “You did. . . “)

That said, we stick firmly to the wisdom of Ephesians 4, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Rarely do big things sneak up all at once (usually big things are an accumulation of little things that should have been discussed along the way, see above), but when they do we take the time as soon as possible (even if it means being up late), to have the hard discussions.

It’s a fine line, and we don’t always get it right . . . but the balance of these ideas have been a great help to our marriage.

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One of the greatest joys of my life outside of having a personal relationship with the God who created the universe has been my marriage to my best friend.  Saying yes to his proposal was the best decision I ever made, though I was so surprised by the whole thing that it took me days to really figure out what I had done!  In our fourteen years of marriage, we have been so blessed to be mentored by some amazing people: friends who have walked just one step ahead of us on this life’s journey, some who have walked miles ahead yet been kind enough to turn back to tell us how to avoid the bumps in the road, and some who have served as official guides, equipped with training and God-given wisdom to help others follow the path well.  We have been so thankful for all of those people!

Over the next few weeks, I want to record some of the things we have learned:

When we lived in Maryland, one of the things our pastor taught us was to say sorry.  I’m not talking about any old, “Fine, I’m sorry!” or the eyes-diverted, shoulders-shrugging, “I’m sorry.”  I’m talking about the real deal.  We’ve taken his advice and implemented it a few times, and we’ve worked at helping our children understand how to be sorry as well.

How to Apologize:

1.  First you really have to BE sorry*, if you are going to say, “I’m sorry.”  You have to understand that what you did hurt the other person, and the outcome of that realization *should be* to be sorry for hurting him.

2.  Second, you must look the person in the eye.  Sure it sounds easy, but darn!  This one can be hard.  In general, if I’ve hurt my husband in some way, I’d rather look just about anywhere else than at him!

3.  Say, “I’m sorry that I _________________”  You don’t get to be sorry for what another person did, only what you did!  (ie. That means no, “I’m sorry your feelings were hurt.”  That doesn’t count.  You might be sorry that the other person’s feelings were hurt, but be honest:  are you sorry you got “caught” – which isn’t the same as being sorry for your sin – or are you sorry for what you did?)

4.  And if looking someone in the eye and saying, “I’m sorry” isn’t hard enough, you have to finish it off with a dose of, “Will you please forgive me?”  My husband is so gracious about this; if he ever wrongs me, he seems to have no problem saying, “Will you please forgive me?”  But me, well, that’s a different story.  Usually verbose, whenever it’s my turn to say that little sentence, I feel like I’m choking on a chicken bone and all the water for miles around has suddenly dried up**.  My mouth doesn’t want to cooperate.  I generally think of myself as someone who is not full of pride – until it comes time to ask for forgiveness . . . and suddenly I’m aware that I have pride to spare.  It’s rather unfortunate.

Here’s the thing:  There is something amazing and healing about being forgiven.  Forgiveness is so important that Jesus died for it, that God the Father sent his son to claim it for us.  It is the balm that covers our sins and the line through which we may commune with our Maker.  And when we offend our brother, it is the very boards that rebuild the bridge of communication.  It is key to healing a relationship.

5.  This one can get a bit sticky, but it is the duty of the offended to forgive.  This can be hard, and it can take work . . . but if God can die on our behalf to forgive our sins, aren’t we privileged to forgive others when they sin against us?  You might have to pray and ask God to help you forgive.  You might have to stop playing that mental soundtrack that repeats the hurt over and over.  You might even have to set aside your own feelings of hurt and anger.  But the answer needs to be, “Yes.”  Always, “Yes.”

*A note on children:  Apologizing well and offering forgiveness is a great skill for children to learn.  Children less than ten or so aren’t always sorry; empathy is a developmental thing and a learned skill.  It takes time for kids to really learn to be sorry for hurting another, and some kids get it sooner than others.  Anyway, we make our kids say that they’re sorry, even when they really aren’t; it’s good practice for something we all need to do eventually.  Saying yes to forgiveness is where our children have really seen the benefits of this “practice;”  they understand how good it feels to be forgiven . . . even if they weren’t completely sincere in their apology, somehow the sincerity is more real after the forgiveness if offered.  I know it sounds backwards, but kids are like that sometimes.  So often I have seen the offending child apologize out of obligation, then totally relax and warm to the offending sibling once forgiven.  Meanwhile the offending child feels empowered by the ability to say yes to forgiveness.  Powerful stuff indeed!)

**And finally, another benefit to apologizing is that I have literally been stopped in my tracks on my way to sin.  I have started to say something harsh before, only to realize, “I’m going to have to apologize for this.”  And just thinking of having to say, “Will you please forgive me?” to my husband or children is enough to make me redouble my effort to speak kindly.

We live in a fallen world, where conflict will happen in any relationship that has any substance or lasts any significant amount of time.  While apologizing is important in a marriage, if you are at all like I am, you will apply this skill in a wide variety of situations.  I’m sad to say I even “got” to use this skill recently, to apologize to a friend after I said something dumb.  Good thing I knew what to do!

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