Tending to the Garden of Marriage

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

Tending to the Garden of Marriage

Photo by mikecogh

Some of the most beautiful gifts God gives us can easily be taken for granted. We get naturally accustomed to these things being in our lives and just assume they will always be there to enjoy. The truth is, most things take work to grow and cultivate. Just like a garden needs to be tended, to mature and produce a bountiful harvest, so do our marriages.

Marriage is one of the most precious gifts that God has given to mankind and it’s up to both the husband and wife to make sure to plant, water, and weed it to make it grow.

Planting our Marriages

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

 

In His Word, God tells us that the surest way for a marriage to stand firm and not be torn apart, is for it to be based on three things, God, the husband and the wife.

When this type of  solid foundation is laid, it creates a legacy for future generations to look back on and learn from.

The planting of a good and fruitful marriage happens when husband and wife are on their knees, seeking the Lord’s guidance in prayer, and turning the pages of His word to learn about His will for their lives.

Watering our Marriages

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

 

The way you water and nourish a marriage is through loving one another. The gift of love can be shown to our spouse in a variety of ways. Both the husband and the wife may have different love languages, so it’s important to stay in tune with your spouse and what they need to feel loved. The following ways are just a few ideas that will bring the streams of living water flowing swiftly through your marriage.

  1. Tell your spouse everyday that you love them.
  2. Listen to them.
  3. Kiss them passion.
  4. Ask them how their day went.
  5. Hold the door open for your wife.
  6. Respect your husband.
  7. Never talk bad about your spouse to anyone ever.
  8. Date your spouse.
  9. Never call each other names.
  10. Help your spouse cook dinner.
  11. Help with household chores.
  12. Watch the children for the afternoon so your wife can take a break and relax.
  13. Bring home flowers to your bride.
  14. Make your spouse their favorite desert.
  15. Give your husband the weekend off, let him relax and have fun.
  16. Never yell at your spouse.
  17. Mow the lawn for your husband.
  18. Tell your wife she is beautiful.
  19. Be your husband’s biggest cheerleader.
  20. Ask your spouse how you can pray for them.
Tending to the Garden of Marriage

Photo by spilltojill

 Weeding our Marriages

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 (NIV)

 

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)

 

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 (ESV)

 

The weeds of selfishness and pride can quickly spring up in a marriage if they are left unchecked. A marriage is a bond between two people, with God at the center. It’s not about one person demanding their own way, and stomping their foot until they get it. It’s about give and take, honoring and respecting, thinking of the other as more highly than themselves.

Take time to do yearly, monthly, or even weekly check ups on your marriage. Ask you spouse how they feel about your marriage and what needs to be changed. Be willing to compromise and put aside self for the sake of the other.

Marriage isn’t about self, it’s about two coming together to be made more into the image of Christ, as they follow His will and His ways. In marriage you need to nourish your garden, and bloom where you’re planted so God can finish His perfect will in your lives.

Are you ready to start tending to your garden? Have things been long overlooked? Ask for God’s guidance, be willing to work hard to produce a bountiful crop of love that will last a lifetime.

Cancer, Marriage and God

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

When a cancer strikes a marriage, choosing to stay is the only option that glorifies God. When you dig down deep and cling to God with all your might, your marriage becomes a living example of who Christ is and what He can do. When you choose to stay, you find out what it means to truly love your spouse, regardless of how hard it may seem.

Photo by Rick Phillips

The young bride smiles with joy and excitement on the day of her wedding. The fairy tale picture is laid out before her, the white dress, the scent of roses wafting through the country chapel, the I do’s and the promises of happily ever after, make her heart melt at the future that ‘s before her.

Many times these dreams come to fruition, developing into a beautiful bond far better that we could of other dreamed. Other times, the fairy tale crashes like crystal falling to the ground when the newness of marriages wears off and the fairy tale images vanish and change, like the changing of the seasons. The season of  winter can set into a marriage all to soon, and the bitter cold of the silent, still months can ice over and create damage to the heart and soul of a marriage if wise choices are not made.

Cancer

When a diagnosis of cancer is brought into a marriage the experience can seemingly set this long dark season into something that feels like you can never escape from. It can be as if you and your husband are alone on the frozen tundra with darkness and cold filling the very core of your being and finding relief is not and option.

On August 3rd, 2003, a breast cancer diagnosis shook the foundations of our marriage, took us through a long hard winter, and brought us back to the season of spring with renewed strength and determination.

Cancer is a hard thing. Much harder than people looking in from the outside can ever imagine. Your belief system is shaken, your emotions run wild with  fears of the unknown, you question God and try with all your might to hold it all together.

When you’re faced with cancer you have two choices.

You can give up, wallow in self pity, let Satan declare victory as you lock yourself away from everyone, including the support and love of your spouse. Or, you can choose to look beyond the circumstances and make a commitment to glorify God through it all, with your spouse by your side, supporting and loving you every step of the way.

From the beginning of our marriage my husband Bill and I have had a life verse for our marriage which is, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) We’ve made a choice to keep God at the center of our marriage, in doing so this union has been able to withstand many storms. It’s not to say that we’ve handle each situation perfectly, but making sure God was a part of who we are, gave our marriage the opportunity to be built on a firm foundation.

When God envisioned marriage He didn’t plan it with each person looking out for their own interest first, but rather each working together as a team, thinking of the other more highly than himself so that marriages could grow and flourish. When the choice of a “me first mentality”, comes into play that’s when tensions start to crumble and erode away at a marriage.

When the realities of cancer become part of everyday life for a husband and wife, you are faced with a do or die situation. Some may want to run, and say, “This is not what I signed up for!” while others may choose to stay regardless of the cost. When a cancer strikes a marriage, choosing to stay is the only option that glorifies God. When you dig down deep and cling to God with all your might, your marriage becomes a living example of who Christ is and what He can do. When you choose to stay, you find out what it means to truly love your spouse, regardless of how hard it may seem.

 I can think back to when I was recovering from surgery and had seven JP drains attached to my body with plastic looking hand grenades at the end of each one. Every few hours the drains had to be wiped down with alcohol and cleaned to help with the healing processes. I was ready to take care of everything myself, when my husband walked in, turned on our song by Steven Curtis Chapman called, “We Will Dance,” and he loving took care of the task,  making sure everything was fine. He said that I never had to do it, and that it was his job to take care of me. He put aside his own needs and wants and truly showed what it meant to love, putting the following verses into action, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

In talking with my husband about what it meant for me to have cancer and for us to be married, he said, “I’ve always taken the marriage vows  seriously. I meant it when I said to love, honor and cherish, through sickness and in health. It’s not a vow that I am willing to break, or that God wants me to break.”

“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” Numbers 30:2 (NIV)

 

"When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said." Numbers 30:2

Photo by Drregor

Almost ten years after my original cancer diagnosis, 2 1/2 years into my stage IV breast cancer diagnosis, and over 20 years into our marriage, we (God, my husband and I) are still bound together by love, commitment and choice. Through all the bad of cancer, the surgeries, the chemotherapy treatments, radiation treatments, hair loss, injections, infusions and so much more, we choose to love. We choose to put God first. We choose to think of the other more highly than ourselves.

In my husbands words, “We choose to move forward one day at a time. When the road gets to overwhelming we then choose to move forward one hour at a time and even one minute at a time. Giving up through the hard, unlovable, scary moments is not an option.

The only option we have is to put God at the center of our marriage, and move forward in His grace, strength and love, following His plan for our lives, while giving Him the glory each and every step of the way.

 “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9 (NIV)

Have you and your spouse ever faced challenges in your marriage that have seemed impossible to overcome, mountains of trials that seemed insurmountable? What have you done to face those as a couple?

How to Overcome the Nagging Wife Syndrome

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

The-Nagging-Wife-Syndrome

We’ve all had those times as wives where the sharp, hurtful words spew out of our mouths faster than expected, so fast that we didn’t even have time to think first, and that deep sense of regret soon follows. You know, those instances where you snap at your husband for the umpteenth time, because he forgot to pick up his dirty clothes. Those times when you wish you came with a back space button so you could take back all the hurtful words you said.

Once the words are said, it’s impossible to take them back. Some husbands may even look at these sharp, cutting words as nagging, as an incessant drone in their ears of things we say over and over again. The sound of your voice becomes like Charlie Brown’s teacher and they start to tune you out, not paying attention to you at all. When this happens, we end up with what we call, the “Nagging Wife Syndrome”, a condition where the wife feels like the husband never listens to what she is saying, and where the husband feels like all the wife says is the same thing time after time, and each one never listens to the other.

There’s good news! There’s hope on both the side of the wife and the husband to overcome this.

Today’s the day to stop thinking the way the world thinks, to stop looking at things through the eyes of one who believes that her, or his way is always the right way, and it’s time to renew our thoughts through the grace of God.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 – NIV

How will this happen?

As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango; likewise, it will take two to work on improving the health of a marriage, both the husband and the wife.

  • We need to make sure that we have a thriving, personal relationship with the Lord. The first and only way to get on track with our outside actions, is to make sure we’re on track on the inside as well. We need to be in prayer and in the Word daily. We need to be challenging ourselves to grow deeper in our walk with Christ, and to know Him better so that in turn we may be able to serve our spouses better. Not only do we need to be growing in our personal walks with the Lord, we also need to be growing in our relationship with the Lord as a couple. There’s nothing more important than seeking God as a couple. 
  • Communication in a marriage is so important. Wives, when you are speaking to your husband, do so in a kind and loving way, treat him the way that you would want to be treated. If you have something that you would like to ask your husband to do, pick a good time to ask him. Don’t ask him right when he walks in the door from work, when he’s tried and the kids are wanting his attention. Wait until he’s rested and had time to re-energize after a long day. One of the main things a couple can do to improve their marriage is to actually listen to what the other person is trying to say. Husbands, when wives are trying to tell you something, don’t automatically assume that they are trying to attack you or belittle you. Honestly listen to them and seek clarifications for any type of miscommunications you may be having. Look for the underlying meaning of what they are trying to tell you, don’t just assume what your wife is trying to say before she even stops talking.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 (NIV)

 

  • Wives, realize that we are born into a sinful, fallen society, and that no one is perfect, including ourselves and our husbands. Once we realize and accept these imperfections and differences, we will be much better off. Sometimes, it can be so easy to lay false expectations onto our husbands, expectations that they will never live up to. Take things with a grain of salt, when mistakes are made, or if a husband may not listen the first time. Realize that they are not doing things on purpose to upset you, they are trying the best they can.
  • Wives, instead of belittling, or nagging your husband when something doesn’t go as planned, pray. When he’s doing that thing that annoys you the most, pray. When you feel that emotion of anger rise inside you, take a step back and realize that this accomplishes nothing. Getting angry over a situation only makes the problem worse.
  • Set aside times where you can specifically talk about your marriage and any unresolved issues. Go to each other in love trying to resolve things for the benefit of the both of you. Remember that your not at war with one another. You are fighting on the same side, and you need to be encouraging one  another and building each other up. You are not fighting against each other, but rather against an unseen enemy that’s trying to pull your marriage apart. Don’t let the enemy win! Stand united in the Lord.

 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,” I Thessalonians 5:11a (NIV)

 

perfect couple

 Image courtesy of [photostock] /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Take the time today for some self evaluation.Make a conscience effort today to speak kind and loving words to one another. Make an effort to truly listen to one another. Don’t let the, “Nagging Wife Syndrome” be part of your marriage anymore, work together to overcome it. Today’s the day to take that step towards changing your marriage for the better.

The Five Love Languages – Review

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

The Five Love Languages

Photo by Emery Co

The bride of two years wondered why things were so different in their marriage. Her husband was not as affectionate any more, and  he rarely gave her flowers or cards like he used to when they were dating. The arguing seemed more frequent and the good times seemed to have vanished along with the fading dreams of their happily ever after life together. She asked her husband, “Do you still love me?” “What do you mean do I still love you?”, the husband said in anger as he began to raise his voice. “I show you I love you all the time. I’m always helping you around the house. I mow the lawn, wash the car and help you with the grocery shopping. I’m always showing you that I love you!”, said the husband with a now exasperated tone and red face.

Have you ever been in this couple’s shoes? Sometimes it seems as if a husband and wife can speak totally different love languages and neither one can understand what the other one is saying. A valuable resource for learning and understand your spouses love language is called, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  The “Five Love Languages” is an amazing  tool that has breathed fresh new life into many marriages and has given couples the hope of a brand new start.

 The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

Within this book, Chapman explains that each one of us has a love tank, that can be filled and overflowing, if we are shown love in such a way that we can understand and relate to.  Before marriage, and during the first two years of marriage, it’s very easy to have these tanks filled to the brim as both husband and wife are still experiencing the euphoria from the “in love”  feelings that come with a new relationship. However, once the newness has started to wear off, and those little things that used to be endearing traits about your spouse have now becoming annoying habits and the Cinderella and Prince Charming fairy tale you thought you had, is suddenly shattered, you know things need to change.

When things get to this point it’s time that we have to come to the understanding that, “Love is a choice”. It’s not something that will always come naturally, but it is a daily choice of choosing to love your spouse and looking out for his or her best interest before your own. One of the best ways to do this is to understand which love language they speak.  The author covers each one of these languages in detail.

Love Languages

1. Words of Affirmation

Words are so important. They have the power to give life or death to a human soul. It can be so easy to let slip out of our mouths the first thing we may be thinking. We need to be careful to train ourselves to speak words that will support and build up our spouse. Taking the time to encourage and compliment one who thrives on affirming words will benefit both parties in the marriage.

2. Quality Time

Some individuals flourish when their spouse spends quality time with them. But it’s more than just being with them, it needs to be a time of focused attention on that person. Find out what that person likes to do and go out of your way to meet their needs by trying new activities that will bring them joy. When you’re with them, make eye contact with them, show them that they are what’s important.

3. Receiving Gifts

Gifts are an important part of a relationship. They are something that can be kept forever and looked back on and treasured for the person who loves to receive them. A gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It can be a homemade card, or even the gift of self to bring meaning and fulfillment into the relationship.

4. Acts of Service

Chapman states within  The Five Love Languages, what he means by this language. “By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for here by doing things for her.” Many spouse feel loved and taken care of when their spouse takes the time to make their life easier. It can be in the form of helping out with chores around the house, cooking a favorite dinner, or helping with the children.

5. Physical Touch

Most marriages start with a high degree of physical touch being shown to the other spouse; however, after time and the struggles of life this can quickly fade. Physical touch within a marriage can take the form of holding hands, kissing and intercourse. A spouse should never withhold physical affection from their spouse.

Finding out your what your spouse’s  love language is does not have to be a difficult task. Most often, it ends of being the love language they try to express themselves. For example, if a husband’s love language is acts of service, many times you will see him performing acts of service for his wife, because that’s the type of love he would like in return. In order to determine what your love language is, take a moment to think about what makes you happy and the most fulfilled when you’re with your spouse. Once you determine this, then you’ll know what your love language is. If you would like to take a test to determine your love language you can go to The Five Love Languages website to narrow it down even further.

Once you’ve determined your husband’s or your wife’s love language, ask him or her what things that they would like you to do in order to fill their love tank. Make sure you take the initiative to follow through and watch them transform as your love grows into a healthy, thriving, marriage that can stand the test of time.

Giveaway

We are excited to announce that we are having a giveaway for a copy of the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The giveaway will run from today, March 19th, 2013 12:00 am EST to March 26th, 2013 12:00 am EST.  The winner will be contacted via email, and have three days to respond. If the winner does not respond within this time period a new winner will be chosen. Please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s your love language? What is your spouse’s love language?

Laying the Ground Rules for Creating a Firm Financial Foundation

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

Marriages are made of stories woven together, both good and bad, that form a foundation that will either stand the test of time, or crumble like the sifting sand. Within some marriages, you may find the following story ringing true.

Image courtesy of [luigi diamanti] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The wife knows she is running late and her husband will be home any minute. She has to get to the house before her husband, so she can hide her most recent purchases in the closet so her husband does not yell at her for the umpteenth time for spending money they did not have. Her heart is heavy; she knows she shouldn’t deceive her husband, but something deep down tells her that this one more purchase won’t hurt anything. She pulls into the driveway and quickly opens up the trunk and grabs her bags. As she reaches up to close the trunk, she sees her husband walking out of the house with a sullen look on his face as he approaches the car.

He reaches for his wife’s hands and says, “Honey this needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. This isn’t what the Lord has designed for our marriage. God wants us to work together as a team, not divided with each of us looking out for our own interests.” The wife hung her head in shame, she knew he was right, she knew she didn’t want this anymore, but rather wanted to be unified with her husband, working together for the betterment of their marriage with God at the center.

Finances can be such a difficult topic within marriages. In order to ease the burden that financial discussions can bring, there needs to be ground rules for how money is handled within a Christian marriage, each one forming a strong layer and bond between the husband and wife in order to create a firm financial foundation.

Laying the Ground Work

1. Get on the same team.

When a man and wife are united in marriage; they need to remember that this puts them on the same team, not opposing teams who are each jockeying for the best position within the relationship. The Lord’s word states, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT)

When a couple decides to come together in unity, each working for the common goal of honoring God, and seeing their relationship succeed and grow, they will flourish in establishing a union that can handle any storm.

2. God needs to be at the center of every marriage.

As with anything in life God needs to be at the center of all that we do. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of finances within marriage. “Though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) The husband and wife need to go to the Lord in prayer seeking His guidance for how their finances should be spent. They need to ask tough questions concerning what they want their future goals to be and how this will affect their finances. They also need to seek the Lord’s guidance in the area of tithing, making sure that the Lord is given what’s owed to Him.

If these questions as with many others are ignored, and God is taken out of the equation, it will create a foundation with cracks that will haunt their marriage for years to come.

3. The wife needs to relinquish final control to her husband.

This can be a controversial subject for some wives. Many women in this current day and age may feel that whether they earn part of the money or not, they should have just as much say in how it’s spent. This type of attitude can cause serious discord within a marriage. This is not how God intended marriage to be, God’s word lays out direction for the husband’s role in marriage. “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Ephesians 5:23 (NIV)

Again, both husband and wife need to come together seeking God’s will, as well as having the freedom to express their own opinions. However, when the final decisions need to be made the wife needs to allow the husband to lead. She needs to rest easy in her faith in her husband and the Father, trusting that the best decisions will be made.

4. Recognize that God equips each person with distinctive gifts.

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well”. Romans 12:16a (NLT) God has granted us each of us with unique gifts that we excel at. In the area of finances, some are better with math, and balancing the budget, while others may prefer to write the checks, mail the bills, and make any needed phone calls.

The point is to not force one person into doing a job that they don’t fill comfortable with. Sit down as a couple and discuss each area that you feel comfortable handling and work together as a team to take on that specific role that’s best suited for each of you.

Whether you’ve been married one year or fifty, it’s never too late to create a firm financial foundation. Leave the mistakes of the past in the past, and bring with you your success stories to build upon. You can start today to create a marriage that’s works together as a team, where each member is working towards a common goal and moving forward in the Lord.

Download our FREE eBook: Glorifying God in Your Finances! Find great advice like this article and more regarding how to Glorify God in Marriage and finances, from the heart of God to practical tips. Find out more here!

Glorifying God in your finances

My Spouse Put up the Out of Order Sign…Now What Do I Do?

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

Out Of Order

Photo by HVargas’

When a couple starts dating or courting, so much work is put into the relationship to make it grow. Once the wedding bells ring the devotion and love towards one another seems as if it will never end. But then, something happens…..years pass, babies are born, jobs to support the family take up time, and the special relationship that is cherished between the two of you can sometimes be forgotten. Often times a spouse can be left wondering, “What is going on here? This is not how it was supposed to be! Why isn’t my husband or wife treating me the way they way they used to?” That’s when you realize, without you knowing it, the out of order sign was put up on your marriage, leaving you alone and not knowing which way to turn.

We need to remember that marriage takes work, just as much work as it took when you first started out. It should be treasured as a precious gift from God. If the out of order sign has been put up in your marriage, here are eleven ways to lead you on the path of healing.

11 Ways to Lead Your Marriage on the Path to Healing

1) Pray

First, make sure you take the issue to the Father in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, “pray without ceasing” (NIV). Make sure you tell God what’s on your heart, share with Him your concerns and longings about your marriage. Ask Him what steps should be taken to bring unity back into your marriage.

2) Repent

Confess any sins that you may have towards your spouse and seek God’s guidance for what to do. The Bible tells us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”(NIV) 1 John 1:9

3) Read the Bible

God’s word is our instruction manual for our marriages.  It’s within the pages of the Bible that we will find direction and guidance. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so he that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV) 2 Timothy 3:16-17

4) Communicate

I once attended a wedding where the pastor officiating at the ceremony said, “When you’re in a marriage you’re on the same team, you’re not on opposing sides working against each other. Your traveling together on this journey, helping each other and supporting each other. You’re not trying to compete to get your own way, or to see who is best, it’s a partnership in the Lord.”  Remember this when you approach your spouse in a loving way about the condition of your marriage. Without accusing, seek for the root of the problem, ask your spouse what he or she may be feeling, as well as letting them know what’s on your heart. Come together in prayer with your spouse seeking the Lord’s guidance for how healing can begin in your marriage.

Marriages Photo by Ben30’s

5) Ask for Forgiveness

When speaking with your spouse ask them for forgiveness, in any area where you may have wronged them, or any area where they may feel hurt.

6) Forgive

Also be willing to forgive your spouse for anything they may have done to you. It doesn’t accomplish anything to keep a record of the wrongs that  have been done to you. Move on and lay the hurt in the Lord’s hands. Remember what God’s words states about love, “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

7) Seek Counsel

Be prepared for there to be resistance to change from your spouse. Be willing to seek Christian counsel, sometimes it may take a third-party to open your eyes to things you may have been missing or areas that need work within your marriage.
Commitment – Once you and your spouse have dug deep into the issues of your marriage, resolve to make a commitment to change. Set a framework for how your can create a new relationship with each other and resolve to fervently work on it.

8) Love

In moving forward with your spouse, above all else, remember to love each other. Love is not something that you will always feel, love is a choice. It’s a decision that both husband and wife need to make regardless of their circumstances. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV) John 13:34-35

9) Acts of Kindness

As you seek changes in your union don’t forget to show your spouse how important they are to you. Little acts of kindness go a long way. From holding the door open for your spouse, to making their favorite dinner, to also texting them words of love. If you want a thriving, healthy marriage take the time to create an atmosphere where one can prosper. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (NIV)  1 Corinthians 13:4

10) Words of Affirmation

Remember to encourage your spouse. Make sure that you are their biggest cheerleader! Let them know through words that you’re proud of them and what they are doing for you and your family. One thing that you never want to do is talk bad about your spouse, to anyone ever! This is not biblical, this will only tear down and weaken your marriage.

11) Don’t try to fix each other

When you’re on the daily road to reclaiming your marriage remember that it’s not your place to step in and fix your spouse. Continue to pray over your spouse and your marriage, but it’s not up to you to tell them how they need to change, only God can do that.

Don’t lose heart, if you feel as if your marriage is not working out how you planned.  God is in the business of doing miracles and He can do great and wondrous things between you and your spouse, far greater and better than you could ever imagine. Are you willing to make the first step towards change and leave the outcome in His hands?

Dear Wife, Your Husband is not Superman

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

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Walking down the aisle twenty years ago, to meet the man of my dreams, I had some pretty high ideals of  what our life together would be like. I expected a marriage with no problems,  a white house with a picket fence, a couple of children, with my knight in shining armor standing right beside me, ready and able to save the day.  I expected the type of marriage that I had read about in fairy tales and seen in the movies, one where nothing bad ever happened, and where arguments were few and far between. I thought my husband would be perfect, able to know my thoughts before I did and be able to take care of me in the way I thought I deserved. Poor guy…..he didn’t stand a chance with the unrealistic expectations that I put on him.

One day many years ago, when my husband and I were having a disagreement he looked at me and said, “I am not perfect, I am just a man.” It’s as if the Lord whispered in my ear and said, “Dear Wife, Your husband is not Superman. He can not leap tall buildings in a single bound. He does not have magic powers to read your thoughts. He can not save your world from all its problems. You are getting my design for marriage backwards. Your husband is not their to serve you. Your role is to be help, love and support your husband.”

For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 (NIV)

The problem was not with my husband…the problem was with my way of thinking. I wanted my husband to be my all, when in reality Christ is the only one who should have been my all. It was a wake up call for me to realize that my thought process had to change from the world’s way of thinking to God’s way of thinking.

 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

In accepting and acting upon my role as wife, not only was I serving my husband, but I was also serving the Lord. I was relaxing and letting go of what I thought should be and starting to embrace and enjoy what was. Instead of complaining and being critical about my marriage not matching the tales of old, worn out, story books, I had a change of attitude and decided to be thankful for the story that the Lord had already written on my heart.

When I came to the realization that marriage was not a one-sided adventure, but rather a partnership in the Lord, God’s joy began to fill my weary soul, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV)

Wives, what visions and dreams do you have for your marriage? Are they aligned with the will of the Lord? With your husband, seek guidance in prayer and reading the Lord’s word, remember that God’s ways are always better than our own.

Creating Holiday Memories

By Shari Miller, Contributing Writer

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As the holidays approach, memories of my childhood cause me to travel to days of long ago.  It’s as if a switch to an old movie projector has been turned on and I see Thanksgiving being played out before my eyes.  A young girl with blond hair and green eyes races throughout the house in anticipation of the big day. She smells the turkey billowing through the house, and hears the Thanksgiving day parade playing in the background, as she waits eagerly for dinner to begin. The scene changes and the six-year-old dreamer is leaving cookies and milk  for Santa on what she thinks is the biggest night ever, Christmas Eve.  In the morning she runs out to the Christmas tree in her footed pajamas and finds the present of her dreams, the exact one she had asked for, a new watch to call her very own.

As the whirring of the projector stops I’m transported back to present day and my hopes well up inside me for what I want my children’s holidays to be like. I want them to share in family traditions that will bring joy to their lives and create memories that will last a lifetime. These hopes can quickly turn upside down fast, if there is no planning put into the holiday season, by both husband and wife.

Intentionally Creating Lasting Memories

So often it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the holidays, and forget what really matters, making sure that Christ is the center of all our decisions and our marriages during these seasons. My husband and I have a life verse for our marriage, which is Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (NIV) When a marriage is unified with Christ at the center, it can stand up to anything, especially the stress of the holidays.

Before Thanksgiving and Christmas arrive, sit down with your husband and have a planning session concerning the way you want these special days to look like. Make sure you start all your conversations with prayer, and bring the Lord into everything. Look at each holiday separately and all that goes into them. Beginning the seasons this way helps to eliminate stress and it helps others to know what’s expected of them during this time.

We begin by looking at our budget, to see what can be afforded and divide up the work load so it doesn’t rest on the shoulders of just one person. We would also make sure that our children are included in this process, because they need to learn these life skills. It’s also because our family is a team and working together is all part of the making of memories. For our family, the Thanksgiving celebration is always held at our house, so this would include meal preparations, house cleaning, cooking and baking. We would also discuss the type of atmosphere we want our home to be in during this time, which is a home that’s filled with the love of Christ, giving thanks for all that He has done for us.

Image courtesy of [digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Once the feasting of Thanksgiving has passed, the Christmas season peeks its head around the corner the very next day. We love traditions during the holidays, and one of our favorite is decorating our home the weekend after Thanksgiving. We love to make our home look festive as we plan how we can have a Christ centered Christmas.

Again, the budget talk will soon follow. In our home, my husband is the head of the finances. He knows what bills need to be paid and the amount of extra income that will be allowed for shopping. Wives, I urge you to follow your husband’s leading on this. As it states in 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. ” (ESV)  Ladies, it’s in God’s plan for the husband to be the head of his home, so let him be the leader. Don’t try to take away his authority, and demand your own way. This is where problems happen, and cause the gentle spirit of Christmas to leave your home. It also states in Proverbs 31:12, “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (ESV) Nothing will be accomplished by begging or pleading to allow for more money for this or that, that’s really not what Christmas is about.

When you’re knee-deep in the Holiday season, look at it as a privilege to celebrate the life God has given you with family and friends. Don’t worry about what you don’t have during this time. The holidays don’t always need to be wrapped in boxes and filled with things that will long be forgotten. The secret to stress-free holidays that are filled with memories that will warm the heart and last forever is to focus on what is, and not what isn’t. Let go of the things that don’t matter and focus on what matters most Christ, the bond with your husband, and your family. Once your focus is fixed on the most important things, the most unbelievable memories will unfold before your eyes.

This post is part of our Surviving the Holidays With Your Marriage Intact series! Come back all month long for tips, advice, giveaways, and a FREE eBook on the Holidays here at A Biblical Marriage. You can find the rest of the series HERE.