Laughing Together: Choosing to be joyful & thankful in marriage

By Justyn Lang, Contributing Writer

Chosing to be joyful in marriage

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Every couple has their own unique set of difficulties, trials and stresses. Too often we allow those things to come between us, rather than letting God use them to strengthen our marriages. We get impatient with each other, we forget to speak in love, sometimes we even begin to see each other as the problem. The stress builds and our marriages suffer.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

 

Joy can be healing.

When life is crazy and we just can’t get our feet under us, laughing together instead of snapping at each other can make all the difference. Some people mistakenly think that going through hard things together will make them stronger, but that isn’t true. We have to choose to respond to those hard things in the right way for us to be strengthened in our marriage. If we default to attacking each other, all we’ve done is reinforced bad habits.

Last winter we were going through a very stressful time. Some was good stress, some was bad stress. We intentionally laughed together whenever possible. You might be surprised how often funny little things will pop up if you are looking for them. I’m a naturally serious person. I don’t “make light of things” like my hubby. I tend to want serious things to be taken seriously, which has always meant that stressful times just weren’t the “right” time to laugh. During that stressful season I realized that if I waited for smoother waters, it would be quite a while before there was any laughter happening in our house.

Laughing together may seem like a very small thing. After all, most people talk about praying together, trusting God and other more “spiritual” things when times are tough. We did all of those, of course, but we chose to really focus on being thankful and joyful, too. The people I know who have really been able to trust God through the hard times aren’t the ones who stoically and unemotionally endured, they were the ones who could see good things and be thankful for them throughout their trials. They were the  ones who had light hearts in spite of heavy burdens, because they chose to let God carry the burden for them. As a result, they had joyful hearts.

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Image courtesy of [nuttakit] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

We don’t need to deny how serious, tragic or painful a situation is, but why not appreciate the small pieces of happiness that are scattered throughout the situation, too? If a husband and wife are able to do that together as they trust God, their marriage will be strengthened. Laughing together builds a bond in a unique way. A person doesn’t relax and laugh with an enemy. When we laugh with another person, we’re letting them know that we like them. We build camaraderie through the shared moment of joy. It doesn’t have to be anything extremely witty, just make sure that your spouse knows you truly are laughing “with them” not “at them”.

In our stressful season, we grew closer to each other and we sincerely enjoyed watching God work things out in our lives. I wonder whether we would have noticed all the little blessing as much if we had been gloomy and sad. Not only was our marriage strengthened, but our kids benefited, too! Laughing with your spouse and laughing with your kids really can take hard times and help you to see the blessings.

Setting the Atmosphere of the Home – 3 Ways to Glorify God

By Justyn Lang, Contributing Writer

We have all heard the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Horrid grammar, but it’s so true. We ladies have the power to set the atmosphere in our homes.

Setting the Atmosphere in the Home ~ 3 Ways to Glorify God | ABiblicalMarriage.com

Photo by Wonderlane

When the wife/mama is calm, cheerful and content, everybody in the house can feel it. We’re like thermostats. Sure, the husband and kids can affect atmosphere, too, but not in the same way. They are more like windows. They can let in some cold air, but they aren’t running the heater and air conditioner. I know some of you ladies are thinking, “Ha! When my hubby is cranky, it’s like somebody left the garage door open all night and there’s snow in the hallway!” I understand, but there is absolutely nothing we can do to make our husbands (or kiddos) quit being cranky. All we can control is where we set the thermostat.

So, how do we set the thermostat? Look back at those three things: calm, cheerful and content. Being those three things won’t make us perfect, but they will help us to keep our focus on how we want our homes to feel.

3 Ways to Glorify God

CALM

What is the opposite of calm? Anxious, frazzled, worried, afraid. Not pretty words, are they? I don’t want to be that kind of person, but I know that I can be described that way more often than I’d like. So, what do I do when I catch myself in a less than calm moment?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

When I’m anxious, I take it God, give it to God and trust Him to get me through it. It’s simple, but not easy. It takes practice, but it’s worth it.

CHEERFUL

The opposite of cheerful is negative, sad, depressed. I’m not crazy about those descriptions, either. Cheerfulness is not about being silly, but about being joyful. What gives joy? Knowing and loving God, of course, but I think there is more to it. We can be Believers and still be focused on the negative things in life. I think the key is what we choose to think about.

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” Philippians 4:8

We have to choose what we think about and these are the things we are told to choose. When I’m thinking along those lines, I’m much more cheerful!

CONTENT

A discontent person is covetous and unthankful. The fix for that one is… be thankful!

“…in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

There is always something to be thankful for, right? Even if things are so horrible that the only thing we can think of is to thank God for walking through it with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. Doesn’t that make you want to thank Him? Most of the time, most of us have so much more to thank Him for and that expression of thanks makes our hearts content. We are told so many times in the Bible to “give thanks”. I think that we are told to do that for our own benefit. Thanking Him changes how we see the people and things around us.

Ladies, what would our homes look like if we were calm, cheerful and content? How differently would our husbands and children see us and how differently would they respond to us?

Making Your Husband a Priority

Priority

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NASB

The relationship of marriage is unlike any other earthly relationship. The only comparison is the relationship between the church (believers) and Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32). It is the core of the family. Children are born and raised as part of that family unit, but when they are grown they leave that unit and create their own family with it’s own husband/wife core unit. That isn’t to say that grown children cannot be close with their parents, but the priority shifts from the parents to the new spouse. When that happens, so many mamas have “empty nest syndrome” and feel like they don’t even know their own husband, anymore. Why is that?

Most husbands feel that when little ones arrive, the role of “wife” gets usurped by the role of “mama”. It’s so easy for most of us mamas to agree that, yes, marriage comes first… until our everyday lives get in the way! Little ones are sincerely dependent upon us 24/7. They legitimately need us for survival. During the season of having littles, it can be so hard to remember that our husbands need us, too. No, not for survival (though I’ve known some men who might not survive if they had to cook for themselves!), but for relationship.

When a baby is born, mama is exhausted. Most of us go into survival mode and just try to make it through until we’re able to get enough sleep to think and function normally. During that time, the easiest thing to let slip is the marriage. After all, he’s a grown man and he’ll be fine until I can give him more attention, right? Wrong. Yes, expectations need to be adjusted and a “new normal” needs to be found. Things won’t be the same as they were pre-baby. The problem comes when the season of survival creates habits that last a lifetime. We may not intend to shuffle our husbands down the list of priorities, but it will happen by default, if we’re not intentional to make them the top priority (after God).

What does it really mean, in practical terms, to “put your husband first”? Does it mean ignoring the kiddos? Does it mean going on a date night every single week? Does it mean taking care of his wants before the children’s needs? No. It’s about knowing what you can do that really means something to him and making an effort to do it. I believe that putting our husbands first will look different in every single marriage. It will even change from season to season within each marriage. It depends on what is important to him, what tells him, “You’re special to me”.

I can almost hear all of you tired mamas with little ones pulling on your pants leg saying, “I can’t even keep up with the kids real needs! How am I supposed to find the energy to do extra things for my husbands?!” I hear you. I’m one of you. I’m tired, too, and I understand. But ladies, this is really important. Our marriages matter. Our husbands matter. You don’t need to be perfect and do it all, just try. He will appreciate the effort and nurturing your marriage really is worth it. :-)

Before you jump in and start doing little extras for your hubby, please be sure that you aren’t wasting your time doing things that don’t mean anything to him. How will you know? Ask him! Find out what you already do and what you can start doing that would really matter to him. And don’t assume that something he told you ten years ago still applies. We all change and it’s important to allow that in our husbands, too. I’ve been guilty of saying, “But you told me once that you liked this meal.” Well, tastes change in a decade. I’d been making food I thought he liked and he was just tolerating it!

Ask Him for Input!

So, ask him if there is anything special that would really bless him. Some men have a hard time thinking of these things on the spot (or working up the courage to say them!), so I’ve included a list of ideas to get the conversation going. Show it to him and ask if any apply.

  • Making (or not making?) certain meals.
  • Giving him “downtime” for a few minutes when he gets home.
  • Packing a lunch for him the night before.
  • Making an effort to keep a particular part of the house clean (kitchen? bedroom?).
  • Taking part in his favorite hobby.
  • Taking a nap/rest when the kiddos are napping so that you’re not “too tired” in the evening. ;-)
  • Wearing (or not wearing?) certain clothes. (My hubby loves my yoga pants, which are a comfy alternative to sweatpants, ladies!!)
  • Planning fun family activities.
  • Allowing for more family “downtime”.

These are just a few ideas to get the brainstorming started. If you are in a particularly demanding season of life and he’s asking you to do more than you can handle, don’t panic. Let him know that you’d be happy to do what he’s asking, but something else will have to be given a little more grace. For example, if he would appreciate the kitchen being kept really clean, then the rest of the house might not be as tidy. If he’d love for you to have more energy left at the end of the day (hint, hint- this is on the top of many husbands’ lists!) maybe he could do the dinner dishes with the kids while you lay down for half an hour.

This isn’t a post about demanding more from an already drained mama, it’s about changing where you put a little bit of your energy so that you can show your hubby how much you love him.

How do you make your husband a priority? Do you have any ideas to add to this list?