The Power of Friendships In Marriage

By Mandy Kelly, Contributing Writer

Marriage is a friendship, but not the only one we need

There is the old saying that goes, “Friendship makes the world go round.” There might be some truth to that. Friendships are such a vital part of our lives. The ultimate friendship, outside of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, begins the day our closest friend turns into our marriage partner for life!

friendship

Marriage is just a friendship that chooses to stick it out, through thick and thin, through good times and bad. They are the friends you choose to make family, and the ones we want to spend our every day and most intimate moments with. Yes, marriage is truly is lifelong, intimate friendship.

Yet, it wasn’t very long into my marriage that I learned my husband could not meet every need that I had. I still needed girl friends – and he still needed guy friends! I still like to get coffee and go shopping – and he still likes to go to the gun range and go fishing! We have learned to enjoy these task together, but he doesn’t like to shop as much as I might, and I don’t like to fish as long as he does! We have learned the importance of still needing friendships even though we’re married.

The blessings of other friends

It has been a great blessing to our marriage to have relationships with other married couples. Couples that are in the same life station as we are – that we can invest in, spend time with, and share life with! We have learned that there is a lot to be said of having people who call and encourage us, hold us accountable, and lift us up in prayer. These are all things we do together within our marriage, but that we also feel like we need friendships in order to help maintain these areas.

My husband is my best friend- there is no doubt in that. There isn’t a woman on this earth that I would run to before I ran to my husband with a need, for prayer, or to hang out with. However, I am so glad my husband knows me well enough to know that it fills my love tank, and brings me joy, when I get to spend time with other women. Especially women who can sharpen me in my faith. I have learned so much about being a wife and a mother through the relationships that I have made with other women in my life.

Some ways that my hubby and  I have this work out in our marriage are these:

1) We encourage each other to get lunch out with our friend (same gender)

This means we don’t take away from time with our family, or our spouse, but it does allow us time to connect. We set aside money in our budget for this as well.

2) Have couples over for dinner

This allows our whole family to get involved. We get to minster to another family in our home, and allows us to still be together, while allowing us to connect with other couples. We do dinner, game nights, and even movie nights at times. We have also done things where we go to events and concerts with other families.

3) Stay connected to your women’s and men’s ministries in your church

We encourage each other to always make church activities within our gender a priority. Baby showers, men’s prayer breakfasts, and Sunday school activities can be a great way to connect with other couples!

4) Double date

Grab a sitter if you need one (or a family member!) and go out and have fun with another couple. Sporting events, Bible Conferences,  or active things are always great ideas!

5) Keep “US” time a priority

My hubby and I make sure we have regular date lunches (once a week) and date nights (in or out) weekly. We have dinner together almost every night, and try to turn in at the same time nightly. This allows us to connect as a couple, and not get other relationships in a priority over that of our spouse.

Let’s allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy time with friends – I really feel like it makes my marriage stronger!

Take the 14 Day No-Nagging Challenge

By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer

Here’s a true conversation that happened a few nights ago:

Sam: I love you.

Me:  I love you too.

Sam:  Now why would that be?

Me:  Because you don’t nag me…anymore.

Sam:  But I used to – how long has it been?

Me:  Oh, a number of years, I can’t remember.  What happened?  How’d you quit?

Sam:  I gave it up for Lent.

Me:  Really?!!  Are you serious?

Sam:  No, of course not!  (We both laughed!)

Me:  Well, how’d you do it then?

Sam:  I quit judging you, that’s all.

 

Take the 14 Day no-nagging challenge!

Some of us are more prone to nag than others. People tend to think it is usually women who nag – and in my experience that is true. However, in our marriage it has been the opposite – where I am more prone to be nagged than to nag. Let’s define our terms to begin.

Nagging. Even the onomatopoeic utterance causes one to cringe. It means to banter, make repeated requests, constant reminders, use verbal cues to elicit response or action. At its core is impatience and a need to control. The goal of the nag is often to make another person do his/her bidding. It isn’t subtle – it is more overt in its attempt to manipulate.

Needless to say, it is toxic to marriage - or to any relationship. And often people resort to nagging because they just cannot figure out how to get someone else to do something. “But he won’t…” “She won’t…” Unless I nag.

I’m not going to argue with you. You may be right. Maybe your husband won’t take out the trash unless you remind him constantly. Maybe you’ll be living in absolute squalor unless you heap complaint and requests upon your spouse. Maybe you just can’t accept living with a messy and so you use nagging to accomplish your Will.

You may be right. I’ll bet the trash would sit for longer than it should. Dishes will sit unwashed longer than you’d like. Things will be messy, more than you’d like. Oh well. You choose. Would you rather a strained relationship that lacks life and love and joy and a clean kitchen? Would you rather have your spouse cringe when you enter the room, waiting for the onslaught? Or would you like to enjoy a warm, accepting relationship where you work together as a team?

I know what I’d pick.

Sam no longer nags me. He used to. Some of my habits were (are?!) annoying. Some of my lackadaisical approach to life is trying for those living with me. I’ll admit it – I’m a work in progress. I don’t proclaim this proudly – I fail on a regular basis. You may notice I don’t write posts on how to keep an organized house or how to run your calendar efficiently. Someday, maybe I’ll arrive at a modicum of ‘normal’ in these categories. But until then I’ll stick with writing on topics of marriage stress!

I only say this because I want you to know I am writing from the perspective of one who has lived with nagging and has seen it dissipate and leave room for my own growth (though slow) and a revived, warm, partnership with my husband. It IS possible to quit nagging!

I want to challenge you to take the 14 Day Challenge: To lay aside every gripe, complaint, request and effort to change your spouse. Maybe doing this for a lifetime sounds daunting. Don’t worry about the lifetime part. Just do it for 14 days. My bet is you’ll see changes you never knew were possible in yourself and your spouse and you may just want to continue the experiment.

That’s it?  No – you can’t just quit saying things that are so used to rolling off your tongue.  The challenge is, every time you’re about to say something that is pushy, forceful, discontent, complaining or whining, zip your lips and quote Ephesians 4:29 to yourself.  I said ‘quote’ because in time, you will know it backwards and forwards.  Go write it down on a small card and stick it in your pocket.  If you can’t remember the words just whip it out and read it over to yourself.  Your spouse may think you odd for having halting speech and pulling out a card now and then, but just do it.  Don’t tell him/her you’re doing this project.  Just take the reigns of your mouth and turn the bit a bit (!) until you have your tongue more under control.

But the challenge doesn’t end with just biting your tongue. Biting your tongue is painful, tiresome and difficult. It requires more of us than we may have strength to muster. So the goal is to NOT have to bite your tongue.

How so? Does that mean you get to go back to nagging?!! NOoooooo…..

It means you need to address your heart. Biting one’s tongue is difficult because we all have the urge to speak what is within us. I’d like to challenge you to take the second 14 Days to another challenge – no longer will the rule be: “No nagging.” But it will be “No thinking disparaging, complaining thoughts of my spouse.”

Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. Let’s go ahead and apply that, shall we? Here’s what it looks like:

(Thinking to herself…)
1st Thought: “Hmmm… he must not care about me. If he did he would know how much it irritates me that the toilet paper isn’t replaced at the end of the roll. I’ve told him a gazillion times!”
2nd Thought: “Well, that was downright negative of me! Quit it, brain. That thought isn’t helpful, loving, kind or productive. Let’s take that thought to the mental trash bin.” (Mentally clicks on the nasty thought and drags it to the mental trash bin).
3rd Thought: “Lord, thank you for loving me in spite of my negative outlook. Help me to love him in a way that would honour You.”

That’s what taking thoughts captive looks like.

Now, go try it. Let me know how it goes!

A Fresh Plan for Prayer

In January I shared a fresh call to prayer for all of us in the New Year. Prayer is such a neglected spiritual discipline, both in the lives of individual Christians and churches. Throughout Church history we can see that the times when God’s people faithfully sought Him in prayer, God moved in marvelous ways, bringing revival, conversion, and change to His people.

All this is well and good, but good intentions won’t be carried out without practical planning. In light of this, I’d thought I’d share my plan of action for becoming a woman of prayer this year.

Plan for Prayer

Pray first thing when rising. This concept just dawned new for me as I was preparing for women’s Bible study. The author was discussing our need to give to the Lord our “first fruits”- and generally we apply this to our finances. But what about our time? I should use my time to seek the Lord first. I’d like to try to pray, even if only for a minute or two, each morning as I lay in bed before getting up, or even as my feet hit the floor to go after a crying child. There is certainly a Biblical precedent for it:

“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” Psalm 5:3

“But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.” Psalm 88:13

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35

Pray over the Word. As a general rule, I try to read the Word first thing in the morning too. As a mama of two little ones, this often happens while I’m nursing a baby, or later in the morning than I would like. Some days I won’t get into the Word until nap time, but as I’m reading I try to pray through each text of my daily reading plan.

Pray over meals. It’s so easy to rush through an obligatory prayer before we eat, anxious to fill hungry bellies before food grows cold. Yet this is a wonderful time to quickly turn your eyes back to the Lord, connect with Him, repent of recent sins, and thank Him for His blessings.

Pray with the little ones. Last year I read Elyze Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson’s Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. The biggest impression it left on me was how desperately I needed to drench my own heart in the Gospel if I want to be a godly mother. One great way I can point my children to the Lord and show them what relationship with God looks like is by regularly praying with them. As we start the day, as discipline issues arise, as good things happen, as emotions elate and deflate.

Pray to kick off nap time. Once my children are asleep after lunch, I will set a timer for ten minutes of prayer. This allows me to refocus and be renewed in my mind, just in time for the late afternoon “witching hour” (the mamas all know what I mean).

Pray when I can’t fall asleep. It takes me ages to unwind each night before falling asleep. Instead of staring at the clock, running through my mental list of to dos, and allowing my mind to wander aimlessly, I am trying to take this time captive for prayer. I find it helpful to go over each part of the day just finished, using it as a structure to tether my focus. I confess sins committed, give thanks for blessings, pray for the people I’ve come into contact over the course of the day, etc. Usually this winds me down very well!

Attend corporal prayer meetings. Each Wednesday night our church gathers for prayer. Because the time usually runs over an hour past our kids’ bed time, my husband goes and I stay home with the kids. Now that our newest baby is getting older and less dependent on mom, we plan on rotating and taking turns attending. This helps me to connect with other believers as well as to the Lord, and is such a vital part of my Christian walk!

How do you make time for prayer? Let’s band together again and make a fresh commitment to prayer this month!

5 Ways To Spring Clean Your Marriage

By Naomi, Contributing Writer

Spring is almost here and most people will be spring cleaning their homes. Spring cleaning is a yearly task where the home is cleaned from top to bottom after being closed up during the winter season. It is a time to refresh the home. Well, marriages also need a little “spring cleaning” themselves.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Marriage!

They can get cluttered with ugly feelings or not-so-forgotten memories of being hurt. Even a marriage needs to be cleansed periodically. If not, those nasty little pesky things left undone just linger waiting to emerge at anytime to cause havoc. So, how do we cleanse our marriage? Here are five ways we can get our marriage back on track:

Getting Back on Track

1. We forgive

Are there things in our marriage that need to be forgiven? Are we harboring hurt feelings that can only lead to bitterness when not dealt with?

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

 

2. We apologize

Have we hurt the one we love and not taken responsibility for our words or action? We have a rule in our house: If we say or do something which we thought was in good fun but the receiver got hurt, we need to apologize for that even if our intentions were meant for good. How the one on the end received our words or actions matters more than how we intended it to be. Sometimes pride gets in the way of apologizing so we need to squash that pride and say “I’m sorry.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

 

3. We talk

Are there conversations that need to be had? About money, work, relatives, children, health, etc.? Being open with our spouse is very important. There should not be hidden concerns. This creates a wall of distrust. Open, honest and sincere is best!

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)


4. We romance

Have we forgotten to spoil our love? Sometimes we get so comfortable in our marriage we forget to demonstrate how much we love our spouse. We begin to take them for granted. Don’t do it. Romance them with love notes, flowers, favorite meals, massages, kind words, holding hands, etc.

Let us not love in word or talk [only] but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18, brackets mine)

 

5. We sacrifice

Are we putting our loves before ourselves? Sacrificing takes more intentional effort. Its easy to get caught up in what we want or desire without any regard to what our spouse might want or desire. Take time to ask them. Make what they love one of the ways you love and appreciate them.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

 

Spring cleaning a home requires hard work, intentional behavior and a plan. So does “spring cleaning” a marriage. If we have let things slide or “swept them under the rug”, we need to get on it. Fix that. Be intentional by forgiving them for a hurt even if they don’t seek forgiveness. Show them they are forgiven. Be intentional to ask forgiveness if you have hurt them. Seek to be sincere. Be intentional to romance them, date them, and put them before yourself. Don’t let these things fall to the wayside. Most importantly, talk with one another. Share your heart and build the trust in your marriage.

Does your marriage need some spring cleaning? How will you go about it today?

The UN-Acceptables of Marriage

By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer

Hear ye, hear ye:  Since royal heralds are no longer in operation, I shall resort to the use of this blog to Publicly Announce the UN-Acceptables of Marriage.  It could be that you missed this proclamation at some point in your life, so make haste to read on and discover what should be plainly obvious!

7 unacceptable things in marriage!

Image courtesy of [cuteimage] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By the way, these apply to most relationships as well.

Let us first define our terms: Unacceptable – made up of three parts:

1.  UN – meaning non, negative, reverse, opposite of.

2. Accept – to be okay, to be received, allowable, permissible, condoned.

3. Able – the ability to, the capability of, the standard of application.

Marriage:  the union of Husband and Wife

Relationships: the interaction of persons with each other on a small or large scale.

The List of UnAcceptables of Marriage and Relationships

1.  Thou shalt not blame thy spouse.

“But wait a minute!  She did XYZ and now look what’s happened!  What do you mean I can’t blame her?!”

Let me remind you of 429.  This is code speak for Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful to build others up, according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen.”  Unwholesome would include blaming words.

It is UNacceptable to lay blame.  Need I point out that it isn’t exactly helpful, it doesn’t build him/her up, it doesn’t bring progress or change, it only wounds and induces guilt that festers and divides close friends.  You may see temporary results – based on fear and nagging and such.  But blaming is never okay in marriage.

There are times to gently confront and share your disappointments and resolve issues.  But blaming tends to be in exasperation, frustration and anger – it tends to wither any goodwill that exists in your relationship.

2.  Thou shalt not put thy spouse under the microscope.

“But I thought I was here to improve his life!  Surely God would have me recognize areas of needed growth in his life and be the excellent counsellor that I am in order to make him a better, more-efficient, wonderful person!”

Sorry – try again.  You do not get to analyze your spouse to determine his/her faults and areas of needed change.  That is God the Holy Spirit’s job. Try to let HIM do the work and you do your part to lovingly accept him/her in spite of the things you think are so glaringly faulty.

How do you like being put under a microscope?  (Oh, you think you’re so well-adjusted that there is no fault in you?  Be reminded of the log and the speck:  “You try so hard to remove the speck from your brother’s eye all the while you have a log in your own.” Luke 6:42)

3.  Thou shalt not allow selfish habits to go unchecked.

“I’ve always watched this show while consuming a huge bowl of popcorn.  She’ll just have to get used to it.”

“I never miss the games my favorite teams play.  And that’s final.”

“I know he’s a meat-eater, but I’m a vegetarian so he’ll just have to live with our new diet.”

“I have always had this time-consuming hobby.  I won’t allow marriage to change that.  I will do as I please, when I please, thank you very much.”

“I don’t want to resent my spouse or marriage, so I am going to make sure I get my me-time in no matter what.”  (Does that include when all the kids have stomach flu and are puking their guts out and the milk is low and your spouse has to work late?)

Selfish habits do not contribute to the joy of marriage.  Sure, they won’t vanish over night.  But there is no taking a pass on these things.  It is UNacceptable to ignore the selfish habits in your life and expect marriage to be a blessing.  Seek to be a blessing to your spouse and commit to work on your selfish habits until they fade into the background.

4.  Thou shalt not complain.

Complaining to a spouse sounds innocent enough.  But when it is about the spouse you are actually making your complaint to God.  You are seeking to fix your spouse to your liking.  Complaining is not looked upon fondly by our Creator.

5.  Thou shalt not make your spouse responsible for your happiness.

This is a burden he/she was never meant to take upon him/herself.  When you insinuate that you cannot be happy unless ____________ you basically push him/her into a corner and hold them responsible for your emotional state.  This is not good.  Quit it.

6.  Thou shalt not hinder your spouse’s freedom to be the person God has called him/her to be.

God may call your spouse to minister to someone in your church, community or a friend.  Even though marriage is central to your life, if you stand in the way of his/her freedom to serve others you are doing a disservice to your marriage.  If you struggle with insecurity – thinking you are not as important to your spouse as other things – there are ways to address this and grow together.  But hampering each other’s freedom is a fast track to disharmony.

7.  Thou shalt not isolate each other from Church, family or much-needed counsel and help.

Simply because you fear for your reputation or because you cringe to think anyone would know you are having problems, it is not enough to warrant your efforts to isolate yourselves from those you need the most.  Take your pride and your reputation to the foot of the cross and recognize we all fall far short of what God’s ideal is for us.  Get over it and get involved with those who will strengthen your union.

Four ways to master your countenance

By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer

In marriage, as in every other area of our lives that involves interacting with others, there is great importance in not just the words we say, but the way we say them. This is nothing new, of course. It literally goes back to the beginning of time!

“…but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:5-7 NASB

 

4 Ways to Control Your Attitude in Marriage

Image courtesy of [Michal Marcol] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s pretty evident that God wasn’t just upset at getting some lame veggies from Cain’s garden instead of a juicy animal sacrifice (as an aside, while I fully understand the deep theological implications of this passage, a small part of me – OK, a big part – would like to think the Creator of the Universe is also lending His support to us meat eaters!), He was also upset at Cain’s countenance, at his attitude toward the whole thing. In fact, God directly relates Cain’s countenance with his sin, and instructs him to master both.

In the end, Cain didn’t master his sin. Instead, he chose to let his foul mood master him, resulting in dire consequences for both him and his family. We, thankfully, being still alive and kicking on planet Earth, have the opportunity to make different choices!

Our countenance, our moods and attitudes, all play a critical role in how we are perceived by others. No matter what we choose to say, they are the aroma that permeates our words as they leave our lips. While our choice of words is certainly important, if they are said with venom, sarcasm, or disengagement, the stench that surrounds them will sabotage even our well-intended words, and make those we might mean to be constructive-criticism far from constructive. And when we do say things we shouldn’t say, a bad countenance can do damage that is difficult or impossible to undo.

For example, it’s so easy to let completely unrelated factors affect my relationship with my wife. When I come through the door after a particularly bad day at the office, often my countenance can still be downcast from that. Maybe my wife is looking forward to seeing me (hopefully!), to telling me about something special that happened with the kids or with her students (she’s a teacher). She hasn’t seen me all day. She doesn’t know I’ve had a bad day, that is, until I forget to kiss her hello, until I toss a dismissive glance in the direction of the stove and callously ask, “What’s that?”

-What’s that?? What’s THAT?!?!-

I’m not thinking about my wife or her feelings at that point, just about my bad day. And at this point, my wife, who hasn’t even heard anything about my bad day yet, is contemplating the bad evening I’m ABOUT to have! :) My negative countenance has dripped from the office into my marital relationship, causing me to act like a complete cad, and starting our evening off on not just the wrong foot, but the wrong universe.

There are so many different ways a negative countenance can affect our relationships with our spouse, our children, and everyone else in our lives. Consequently, controlling our countenance is vitally important. I’m by no means an expert in this, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1) Compartmentalize

Compartmentalization is the ability to mentally separate the various aspects of our lives, to not let what happens in one bleed into how we perceive another. It’s said that guys (OK, especially serial killers) are better at compartmentalization than the rest of us (you know, the whole double-life thing and all that…), but in my opinion it gets a bad rap.

We should all work on letting our work stay at work, our home at home, and so on. Given that Jesus promised trouble in this world, the likelihood that something bad is happening in some aspect of our lives is pretty high, so the ability to not let that affect the other areas is critical.

2) Prioritize

With the overarching view that God is first, family second, work third, and so on, place priority on, and give your full attention to, where you are at the time.

3) Realize

Simply realizing and understanding how our countenance affects others will go a long way toward helping us to control it, regardless of how we are feeling inside. This affects literally everything and everyone. After all, who wants to get rung up by a rude cashier having a bad day at home?

4) Intentionalize

(OK, this isn’t really a word, technically, but hey, can you blame me for trying?) – Be intentionally aware, deliberate, choosing not only your words, but the WAY you deliver those words carefully.

Remember, God doesn’t like a bad countenance, and neither do the people in your life. Be the master of it – don’t let it master you!

What to read next:

Why-Should-My-WIfe-Obey-Me-Lessons-in-Biblical-Submission-ABiblicalMarriage

The Art of Studying Your Spouse

By Mandy Kelly, Contributing Writer

Remember when you were dating or just getting to know your spouse? You spent time learning all kinds of things about them – from their favorite color, favorite cookie, and goals and dreams for life. If you are your spouse were like my husband and I, we talked for hours about everything under the sun. I felt like I knew him better than anyone on the planet  – and that there was no one who knew me better than him. He could surprise me with gifts on just the right day – and I knew the right days to get a card in the mail so that it got to him on the day he needed it the most. Yes, I knew my love very well. So, we got married.

Are you spending time every day, learning more about your spouse? Learn more about the art of studying your spouse!

I have made it my goal, from the day I said “Yes” with my sweet man down on one knee, until the day Jesus takes one of us home, that I will never stop studying my husband. I am thankful he still takes time to study me. Something we know is a basic fact – people change. Yes, your spouse is going to change. Yes, YOU are going to change! The beauty is, change is okay. Change can be good! However, when we don’t take the time to continually know, to study, our spouse, we often don’t see these changes as they are coming. We see them after the fact, and sometimes, when the change comes, we don’t know where it came from? How can we stay on top of these things in our spouses lives? How do we study our spouse?

1) Spend time together

Give your spouse quality time – even if that isn’t their love language! We need to spend time with our spouses! Not just time in the same room, with her nose in a book and his mind behind the television- no! We need time together! I know we all need time to let our brains relax, and reading, tv watching, Facebook, and other things are ways we do that.

However, we need to spend time together too. Make it a point, at some point in your day to have time with your spouse, preferably, without your children. Different ages and stages require for different times of this. Right now,  we spend time together while I am fixing dinner and after the kids go to bed. We have found some things we have in common – and one is even a tv show- that we can spend time together! Make it a priority.

2) Have Conversation!

Now that we have started spending time together- take time to talk! Ask about each others day, what God is teaching them, even how you can pray for them! Being together is great – but if you don’t talk – if you don’t share your hearts, your struggles, and your dreams – you won;t connect at that heart level.

The more you talk – the more you will know about the areas where they are changing, and you can pray with them, for them, and understand what they are going through. Too often, a person in a relationship changes, the spouse has no clue – only because they didn’t talk and spend time together!

3) Plan frequent date times

These are different then your average day-to-day spending time together! Take time to just be a couple. To walk the mall holding hands, to go out to dinner, to be a couple! My husband and I try to go to lunch once a week. Not expensive. Not ultimately time-consuming. Yet, we connect as a couple weekly. It give us the feeling that we are still dating – and I love that!

4) Pay Attention

What I ultimately want from my husband, and what I know he wants from me, is my attention. He wants me to WANT to know him- not just assume I know the him he was the day we got married. He wants me to know the him that he is today.  I need to pay attention to my husband – in what he says and does, and in what he doesn’t say and do! The more attention I pay to him, the more I can meet his needs.

I want to know my husbands heart more than anything. I want to know what makes it beat – especially the things that make it beat faster! The more I study him, spend time with him, and really know him – the more he trust me with his heart (Proverbs 31: 11) and wants to share it with me!

I want to spend the rest of my life getting to know, and tenderly loving, my husband – not just for who he was when got married, but the amazing man he is today!

 

 

You Don’t Have to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

By Rachel O’Neill, Contributing Writer

I have a confession to make: my husband and I don’t “do” Valentine’s Day. While we love each other and have nothing against romance, the pink and red, hearts-a-plenty, consumer-driven holiday just isn’t our thing. Many of our friends make a point of celebrating it, and that’s fine with us. As a couple we’ve simply chosen to celebrate our marriage and show one another love in different ways.

You Don't HAVE to celebrate Valentine's Day

It’s hard as humans not to compare, and the advent of Pinterest and Facebook have made it even more difficult. Maybe you’ve been overwhelmed by the oodles of fantastic gift ideas that you’ll never be able to pull off for your spouse. Maybe pictures of a friend’s romantic candlelit dinner and extravagant gift from her husband have you twinging with jealousy. Your heart is struggling with discontentment with what you don’t have, or perhaps with pride over what you do have.

Pssst: Note from Jami – If you WANT to celebrate your love this year but don’t have any time to put something together – I’ve got you covered! I’ve so been there before. That’s why my husband and I created the Rekindling Romance eKit – it’s packed with over 30 pages of printable, romantic fun! Get a coupon book, 10 things I love about you, romantic quotes, a fun game, and more. Click Here!

 

Every marriage is different, and Christianity doesn’t necessitate cookie-cutter marriages. All that we’ve been asked to do is for husbands to love their wives with a laid down life, and for wives to submit to and honor their husbands. This speaks easy but lives hard. It’s enough to keep us busy without envying or turning our noses down at other marriages.

Will you be celebrating this Valentine’s day with rose bouquets and a date night? Wonderful! May you love one another well and cherish this special day.

Did your husband forget the day and fail to meet your expectations? Offer forgiveness and choose to love him well. Glorify God and honor your husband with a joyful heart in life’s big and small disappointments.

Did your best friend receive diamonds while you just got a card? Choose to rejoice with her, and to give thanks for what God has given you.

This Valentine’s Day, embrace your freedom in Christ to love one another, however that may look in your marriage. Ask your spouse what you can do to better serve them, or what makes them feel most loved, and make a point of honoring them in that way.

May your marriage reflect Christ’s passionate and sacrificial love for His Church, from February 14th, 2014, to February 13th, 2015, and every day after.

It's not too late to celebrate Valentine's Day!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

By Naomi, Contributing Writer

Have you ever heard that song “Love and Marriage” sung by Frank Sinatra? The second verse goes, “Love and marriage, love and marriage, goes together like a horse and carriage. Dad was told by mother, ‘you can’t have one without the other.’ ” Okay…the song is right in both instances. A carriage needs a horse to operate correctly and a marriage needs love to work effectively.

What's love got to do with it?

In the words of Tina Turner, “what’s love got to do with it?” A lot! L.O.V.E. has much to do with a good marriage. One definition of love is “to regard with affection.” When we regard our spouses with affection, we are demonstrating a tenderness and fondness towards them. It is filled with warmth and devotion. Ephesians 4:32 commands us to love one another with kindness, a tender heart and forgiveness. That is affectionate love. Jesus loves us that way and so we should follow His lead and love our spouses the same way. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Another definition of love is “to have benevolence and good will for.” This kind of love demonstrates that we desire what is good to our spouses. We will do what we can to bring about joy in their lives. We will yearn to do acts of kindness towards them and to show them good will always. This is a charitable love. It delights in bringing joy to another intentionally. It’s a selfless act towards the one we love. Hebrews 13:16 tells us to do good towards another with the reminder that this is pleasing to God.  It says “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Notice, too, how this charitable love is referred to as a sacrifice.

In addition, love cannot stand on equal ground with hate. They are opposite of one another to the farthest extremes. In a marital relationship we love someone deeply and shouldn’t want to hurt them in anyway. Loving our spouses should show that we want to keep from hurting them which means we watch our words and actions carefully. If we mess up then we fix it by talking with our spouse and apologizing. Swallowing our pride and admitting we’re wrong is never easy but it is necessary to a strong marital relationship not to mention personal peace. This kind of love is humble and meek. Titus 3:2 says, “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Jesus demonstrated a meek and humble love for us in coming down to live among us. He put us before Himself on the cross. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

One more thought on love and marriage is the foundation for the affectionate, charitable and humble love we ought to demonstrate in our union. This foundation should be built upon our love for the Lord we have as one.  This united love for the Lord shapes the way we love our spouses all the time. In making Him first in our marriage, we are creating a strong and stable footing for our union. This strong footing won’t fail us in times of struggle so we need to make sure it is in place. Remember “[Our] adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) We must be watchful by being in the Word daily, praying and seeking wisdom for our marriages making that foundation firm and stable.

In summary, let’s listen to what Peter says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8,9)

How do you express love to your spouse?

New Year Marriage Resolutions

By Naomi, Contributing Writer

It’s at this time of the year that people want to start fresh. They make resolutions for a better health, to do a better job of fulfilling bucket lists or to be a better person altogether. It’s time to turn over a new leaf and be more productive. I believe this can be applied to marriages as well. New year resolutions directed towards our marriages can encourage strong and loving unions.

MarriageResButton

My favorite rule for making marriages stronger is to be intentional. Love your spouse on purpose not because you have to. Think of ways you can show them love throughout the year, throughout the week, and throughout the day. Resolution defined: a firm decision to do or not to do something. Make this year the year you will love intentionally because you can. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Here are some ways you can do that:

Loving Resolutions To Make

1) Say “I Love You” every day

My husband and I make it a part of our day every day. Those three little words mean more each time we say them. We don’t just say them to say we did, we mean them.

2) Plan date nights

Okay…make a schedule for the whole year of how you will purposely be together…alone!!! Yes, maybe schedule every Friday night or maybe every other Sunday evening or even once a month but be intentional in doing this. My husband and I try to do something at least every other week or once a month. Its important to our marriage that we do this. It doesn’t have to be a fancy evening however it should be a time you are with your spouse exclusively.

3) Do unexpected acts of love

This is an easy one and truly makes an impression on the one you love. A hand written poem, a card, a love letter, or a small gift are ways you can do this. Maybe send a sweet text during their day or their favorite treat prepared just for them can do wonders in making someone feel loved.

4) Kiss

Yes, kiss your spouse daily. If you did it once a day, that’s 365 kisses in a year. Imagine if you did more than that?? Wow! Kissing shows love, tender affection and appreciation as well as desire. Bless your spouse with many kisses throughout the year.

5) Pray and read the Bible together

This one takes intentional commitment. Why do we find it hard to do this in a marriage? Or why do we slack on it as the year goes on? We need to make this a priority in our marriages. On a date night, search the internet or go to a Bible book store and find a study/devotional you and your spouse can work through together this year. Also, make it a daily ritual to pray for one another as well as with one another.

6) Be interested in your spouse’s day

Make it a point at the end of the day to ask the one you love how their day went. Most importantly, be a good listener. Really pay attention. You will be amazed at how much your spouse needs this especially if it has been a difficult day.

I named just six things you can do but I’m sure you can think of more. Ponder your marriage relationship and decide how you can make it better. Go a step further and write them down in a journal so there is some accountabilility. Let me add one more thought, resolutions also work in the opposite way. Deciding to not do something that is hurting your union is a great resolution for the new year, too. Pray and ask the Lord to show you what need to change in yourself to encourage your marriage for the better. Make 2014 the year you are intentional in growing your marriage unto the glory of God. In keeping your resolutions, remember what it says in Proverbs 4:21, “Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.