Let’s start our marriage journey today by reconnecting and
reestablishing the foundation of our marriages.
You see, Marriage is meant to be a blessing from God. As we begin to reconnect in our marriage, it is also important to put our marriage back into God’s hands. By recommitting to God, we have given our marriage new life and new hope. Remember, apart from God we can do nothing, but with God all things are possible. If you have a great marriage today, that’s awesome, let’s make it even better, and if your marriage is struggling, that’s ok too; these weeks are designed to give you the tools you need to have the marriage you always wanted.
How can we reconnect with God in our marriage?
Although we will be digging deeper into many of the topics we are about to mention- it’s important to start somewhere. Whether you are doing these weeks together (which is always best) or apart (gotta do what you gotta do)-
1. Start with prayer. Pray for God to become the center of your relationship again. Then pray for your spouse. Pray for healing in those places that have been damaged by life, by mistakes, misunderstandings, and challenges. Pray together and for each other.
2. Start doing a short devotion together. Maybe pick a book of the bible and read a verse or two in the evening and discuss it. There are also some great apps out there that can do the hard work for you. In fact, this summer my husband and I used the “You Version Bible App”. Through this app there are short devotionals that are only a few days long up to many weeks. The topics they have for marriage are really awesome. At the end of each days devotion there is a question for you to answer that you both can see. For us it was awesome to be able to continue our devotional time together even while one of us was on the road somewhere. These devotions didn’t take a ton of time and really caused us to think about parts of our relationship we may have neglected (and that was a good thing!).
3. Finally and simply- just begin. This isn’t about being perfect, if you don’t pray or do a devotion every single day- it’s ok. The point is to begin somewhere. There are no “rules” to follow, only suggestions to get us back on the roadmap that God created for us.
(NIV) The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a
helper suitable for him.”
(NIV) The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she
shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man
leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one
Lord, we release our
marriage to you today. We ask that you become the center of our marriage, our
family and our lives. We commit today to allow you to change us, teach us, and
mold us into the people you have called us to be and to allow you to work in
this marriage to improve it. We know that you created marriage; and it was you
who gave each of us our needs and desires within our marriage relationships to
bring us balance. We are no longer going to look at our spouses differences as
a negative, but as a complement to our own unique personalities. We thank you
for this fresh start in our marriage Lord and we look forward to the days ahead
with you as the center of it. In Jesus name, Amen.
“I love you. You annoy me more than I ever thought possible, but I want to spend every irritating minute with you.”
This is the message that my husband sent me on a random Wednesday morning just a few weeks ago.
It’s apparent that he could use some work on his skills with the ladies, but after all these years I already knew that. (jk) (well sorta).
Today is our anniversary and I have to say this sums up our marriage pretty perfectly. And yes, I do plan to irritate him every single minute of the day for the rest of his life- especially now that I know how much he loves it.
Seriously though, marriage can be super annoying, and fun, and frustrating, and full of so many different challenges and joys in life. It’s a chance to laugh together, cry together, and work through some of the best and worst of ourselves.
I frequently tell my husband that at this point, whether he wants to or not, he has seen far to much of my “worst” so he can never leave.
As much as I hope you know that I’m joking, I also really mean it. Listen, we all have those moments we’d like to forget and being married often means there’s a witness to our crazy.
I love posting about the great days and putting the biggest smiles on social media but as for the skeletons in my closet, those need to stay locked up tightly.
A few years ago my husband and I were asked to lead a marriage conference. It was some of the hardest work we have ever done. I personally had no idea how writing, speaking, and planning together would cause us to really re-evaluate our own relationship. Now, if you’ve read this blog for long, you fully realize that we are not experts. However, you also know that life and all its challenges often causes us to grow and learn and change in ways we never thought we could.
And that’s what we have to give.
The tidbits we have learned over the years have taken us from that immature, selfish, ridiculous young couple to having a much more content, happy, and most of the time skeleton free life.
So that being said and in honor of our anniversary we have decided to share some of those tidbits with you. Each week we will post a little excerpt from the teaching we did and hopefully you will gain some great grains of wisdom for your own relationship.
So, Happy Anniversary sweetheart, here’s to helping other couples irritate each other in the happiest way possible for the rest of their lives too.
I had goals, I had expectations for life, and I had a plan. A really good plan by the way, and as long as everything went as planned then life would be perfect. Right?
Oh how wrong I was.
Nobody told me that no matter how hard you try, how meticulous you are with the details, life can still snatch that perfectly laid plan and disrupt the whole thing.
Disruptions were not part of my plan.
When I graduated High School (just a few very short years ago…) I planned to go to college, after college I would get married, and after 2 years of marriage I would have a baby. Now, I wasn’t actually dating anyone at the time but that was not the point. This plan was good and if I followed it to the letter I would be a successful, happy adult.
Oh how good life is with a carefully laid plan. (Insert sigh of relief here)
Then partway through my freshman year of college I ran into a guy I knew from High School. This was not just any guy, this was “the guy”. The guy who had been one of my best friends, the guy who I had dated a bit and had the most fun with, the guy who I really liked, and most importantly the guy who could mess up any carefully laid plan.
Dang, there he was, there I was, and there was that kiss in the kitchen that sealed the deal. I was toast.
BUT, don’t get me wrong. I still had a plan and this would fit so perfectly into it. In just a few short years I would graduate college and this guy would be the perfect husband to that perfect plan. I just love it when a plan comes together, don’t you?
If you are wondering where the punch line is- I won’t make you wait for long.
Every single plan I made changed, and I was not very happy about it. “The guy” was in the U.S.Navy and in case you aren’t aware, people in the service can be moved to locations far away from you, which by the way was not part of the plan.
Ok, so maybe I’d compromise a bit here. I mean who said you had to actually graduate college before you get married? Lot’s of people get married and still graduate right?
So I tweaked my plan and dropped out of college right before my junior year. We moved 18 long hours from home (In my plan I had ALWAYS said I would NEVER move more than 2 hours from home). Please, if you learn nothing else from me, please never ever ever say those two words. Because the truth is- following those two words are these two: Challenge Accepted…. Lord help me, it’s true.
My husband knew of my goals and my determination was unmatched. Once settled, I began looking for colleges to transfer to. I found one close, but alas, it didn’t have the major that I loved and again my plans had to change.
Did I mention that I hate change.
I really hate change.
I really really hate changes that I am forced to make.
I really really really hate changes that are out of my control. (I think you get the point)
Okay, so let’s look on the bright side, at least I can finish college… at least there’s that.
Then, a few months before our second anniversary I found out that I was pregnant. We were so excited. Plans were back on track, college was going well and life was good.
Why is it that curve balls get thrown when they are least expected? Just when you think you have it all together, bam, curve ball. Ug.
(Insert curve ball here…)
Sadly, we lost that precious baby on our second anniversary. (another blog for another time perhaps) Being in the hospital on our anniversary was definitely, not part of the plan. My heart was broken. My life seemed like one disappointment after the other.
Not being the type to give up easily though, we began to try again. I was determined to be a mother. Months passed. No baby. I began to get depressed. Friends were becoming parents and here I was wondering what was wrong with me? Then, on the very month our first baby was due, I became pregnant with our oldest son.
A friend once told me that although she had also had a very painful miscarriage, she realized that if it hadn’t happened, she would not have her daughter. My story is the same. Had I not had that miscarriage I would not have my son and I cannot imagine my life without him in it. Don’t misunderstand me here, I would never want to lose a pregnancy, but I did realize that I could chose to focus on the blessing instead of the loss.
Life has certainly not gone as planned.
No matter how hard I tried or how stubborn I was, life just had a way of knocking me right off course.
Life is so hard.
As you have probably already guessed, I did not graduate college as planned either. It took me a lot longer than expected. I transferred universities a few times and got discouraged more than I want to admit. When I did finally graduate, I had a 3 year old son and was 8 months pregnant with his little brother. My husband often reminds me that for as long as I was in college I could be a doctor right now, and he could be retired. I often remind him that it is his fault we moved around so much. We are at a stalemate on this one.
The point is- I did end up graduating. My goals were not met the way I thought they should be. Not one thing I planned has turned out the way I expected or wanted it to, but to be honest, (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) I really think it has turned out better. My plans were good, but the challenges and changes that life has thrown at us, has made me appreciate the outcomes so much more than if I had just accomplished them in my own way.
Change makes us uncomfortable but it also makes us see and experience things that we wouldn’t otherwise. And although some change can be painful, I can see now how it has all made me who I am today.
Change is the salt in our lives, it spices things up and takes us places we never thought we’d go.
It makes us regroup, re-plan, and refocus.
I can’t believe I’m saying this either, and I may not admit it later, but I have grown to really welcome change. I still don’t like it most of the time, but the outcome is always better than my own plans ever could be.
Maybe God really does know what He’s doing, and maybe I really need to just trust Him more.
So, the question is, do I still make plans? The answer to this one is simple, I most certainly do. I dream big, plan big, and then I ride this old roller coaster of life. It twists and turns my plans right upside down. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, and sometimes I just get sick to my stomach. My plans may change, I may accomplish my goals far differently than expected- but oh I do accomplish them. And along the way, I learn, I grow, and yes- I too change.
Change is good.
Life is good.
Hang on dear friends, change is coming. My prayer for you is that you can look back on your life the way that I do and be glad for every single unexpected turn.
My husband and I have many gifts – one of which is the ability to have some pretty heated discussions. Put two stubborn people with big ideas and strong opinions in a room together and watch the show.
I remember one day in particular, we were in what seemed to be a constant battle over everything, and nothing. I’d say the sky was blue, he’d say it wasn’t. He’d say the grass is green, I’d adamantly disagree. Raised voices, angry stares, we had it all.
Then we ran into people we knew- so we smiled, laughed, and carried on a pretty good conversation with them; a conversation that ended with them telling us how much they hoped to have a marriage just like ours someday. (Photo from Pixabay)
Be careful what you wish for…
I’ve had to swallow more pride and say I’m sorry more in the last 20+ years than I want to admit, and my husband has learned that women are pretty emotional creatures that need to talk- a lot. He’s had to learn that honesty is a huge deal breaker and even the smallest of discrepancies can put me right over the edge. I’ve had to learn to not take everything so personally and to quit analyzing everything he says and does.
We’ve plastered on fake smiles and hid raw emotions so the world around us wouldn’t have to see the truth. We’ve shared our facebook posts and pictures of our perfect family. We act the part of perfection while underneath we are really looking to strangle each other.
And then everything changed.
My husband and I were in one of our most heated arguments and hope seemed to be dwindling. Finally, he looked at me and said “Ya know Nick, we don’t have to be like anyone else around us, it doesn’t matter what has happened in our friend’s marriages, our families’ marriages, or the strangers down the street- This is our marriage and it can be whatever we choose.”
Enter Miracle #1. I was speechless.
I had never thought of it like that. I had spent so many years watching others fall apart and in my heart I guess I believed that at some point every relationship ended there as well.
I honestly never even considered that what happened in our marriage was our choice.
Ryan went on to say that he felt that every great relationship goes through the fires of life. We could either fight to stay together, or fight until we go our separate ways but either way there will be some battles in our future. (Photo by Pixabay)
Enter Miracle #2– I agreed with him.
Now I’m not going to say that everything immediately became perfect.
Nope, he still leaves the toilet paper roll completely empty and places the extra roll across the bathroom just out of reach. The toothpaste is still squeezed from the middle of the tube, and his socks still sit on the floor beside the bed. (Photo by Pixabay)
I still steal all the covers, become completely unglued when the bedroom ceiling leaks, and leave all my makeup and hair supplies on his side of the sink.
The difference is that now these things don’t cause strife in our relationship. We’ve decided to choose peace over perfection and that has been the best decision we’ve made.
We’ve quit comparing ourselves to others, the good and the bad and decided to just be us. Isn’t that what we were supposed to be anyway?
Our marriages are built or torn down brick by brick, nail by nail.
Proverbs 18:22 says that he who has found a wife has found a good thing.
Marriage is a good thing.
It was meant to be good. It’s time we quit trying to change each other and start becoming the team we were always meant to be. (Photo by Pixabay)
The minute I began to look at my husband through new eyes things did change. I realized that although he is very different from me, he is on my side and those differences are a gift to me. He is strong in places that I am weak.
Enter Miracle #3– My marriage. It’s not at all what I expected and once I let God get a hold of it, it became better than I could have imagined.
Miracle #4 is all yours.
Let God take your marriage and give it new life. Let hope begin to sink into the very crevasses. No matter how good or bad your marriage is today- this is your year to make it amazing. Instead of criticizing our husbands for what they are not, how about we pray for them to be the best they can be this year. How about we lift up our marriages to God and let Him do the work in both of us.
Today, let’s stop fighting with our husbands and let’s fight for them. It may just make all the difference.
When my husband and I began looking for a home years ago we decided on a fixer upper due the limited funds we had at that time. Excitedly we started the hunt.
I quickly realized that my husband and I had very different ideas of what this home should be. I wanted to make an offer on a nice little house in town, one that needed a bit of TLC, but was pretty move in ready.
Ryan chose other styles of houses.
His conversations always started with “Now Nick, you’re going to need vision for this one”… Ummm, I’m not a “vision” kind of girl.
I remember one particular house that he showed me. He said it needed a dab of extra vision and even some imagination.
He didn’t disappoint.
This house had the ugliest curb appeal I have yet to see. To make matters worse, you had to walk outside and down a hill to get to the first floor, and once there you needed a shovel to clear out the debris left by a previous tenant.
No exaggeration, a shovel.
I struggled with the vision needed for this gem. He persisted. In the end we bought the house. (Photo Via Pixabay)
I think sometimes we treat our lives this way. We meet people with hard exteriors and we often judge them, categorize them, and put them in this box that we’ve created for them. We never look past the exterior to see the gem within.
Can I admit something to you today? The house my husband picked out ended up being one of my favorites.
Once we cleaned out the debris, painted a few walls, and knocked down a few others- that house became amazing. Now, please don’t get me wrong here- this house took a ton of our time, and about as much of our money to make it happen. But, in the end it was completely worth it.
Finally, I could see the vision. It was just hidden in the dirt and unsightly edges.
Thank goodness my husband was willing to put the time in. He didn’t get discouraged when things didn’t turn out perfect, he didn’t quit because the job was too overwhelming or because mistakes happened along the way. No, instead he kept at it- one shovel full at a time.
Our lives with Jesus are much the same as that old house. Jesus can see the gem within each of us. He looks past the piles of garbage we have built around ourselves and is willing to work in us and for us, no matter how long it takes.
Where others judge us Jesus delivers us. Where others see harsh edges, Jesus sees potential.Most importantly, where others give up on us- He is in for the long haul.
The bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that God will give us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” I don’t’ know about you but that sounds a whole lot better than the life I’ve made for myself.
As for the house- we did eventually have to move and we sold that old house- but out of all the places I’ve lived, I still miss that one.
I think when you uncover something so special in the middle of a mess, when you work so hard for so long for something, you cherish it more.
I want you to know today that – that’s how God feels about you.
He is willing to take you where you’re at. No cleanup necessary, no need to change first. He is willing and able to do the work in you to uncover your beauty too. He doesn’t care how long it takes, or how much work is needed. You are so worth it to Him.
So, today, won’t you let Him give you beauty for your ashes?
About a year ago, my husband and I made the decision that we needed to trade in our minivan for something 4-wheel drive, something that could handle our rough northern winters. After getting stuck numerous times over the past few years, we’d finally had enough, deciding that shovels and rock salt just aren’t cutting it. That, and the fact that I was becoming unglued every time a snowflake was even mentioned–and I do mean unglued–left us with no other option.
So car shopping we went. It didn’t take long for us to realize that prices had changed quite a bit since the last time we went on a test drive. And that wasn’t the only thing that had changed. I can now have my bottom warmed while Siri checks for directions and my car parks itself. It’s pretty unbelievable, to the point that I’m honestly not sure if my car even needs me for anything anymore (except maybe to pay for gas). And if I’m being honest, these endless options–the seat warmers and all the other gadgets–were pretty enticing as we wandered about the lot that afternoon. So enticing, in fact, that I soon realized my wants were quickly outgrowing my pocketbook. I began to feel like what I could afford wasn’t quite good enough, and the more we looked the less satisfied I became. (Photo Via Pixabay)
Eventually I opened my eyes and remembered why we had begun this process: safety in the winter. It was our sole reason for car shopping, but I had lost sight of it while becoming envious of everything I didn’t have. Isn’t this what we do more than we’d like to admit? We want what we see and forget to appreciate what we already have. A friend of mine just built the most beautiful house. Gorgeous stonework lines the front, the views from the windows are amazing, and there are more rooms than I can count. I was happy for my friend, and yet when I looked at my house it began to seem stuffy and small. It lacked the grandeur of her large house on the hill. Maybe I was looking at the wrong things. Maybe, just like the car, I was making mental lists of items I didn’t have instead of the things I did.
There is an old saying that I hear many men and women say today, it’s the “I can look as long as I don’t touch” mentality. This mentality says that I can be in a relationship with someone but still check out the opposite sex and that’s ok as long as I’m just looking.
What I’m beginning to realize is that there are enormous amounts of harm in “just looking,” so I decided to give myself a little challenge. I decided I would only look at what I had. I would not allow myself to focus on anything that belonged to anyone else, regardless of how innocent it seemed. And that’s when I truly started to see things differently. I began to recognize the peace I get from sitting outside on my back porch with my morning coffee, surrounded by woods in every direction. It became exactly the place I wanted to be. I realized how perfect that porch is for me, and I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not even a huge house on a hill.
As for the car, well, I found one that is going to get me safely where I need to be this winter. It isn’t fancy, and sadly it won’t be warming my bottom, but I really like it. It has a few extras, and the more I look at it, and the more I quit comparing it to what I don’t have, the more I am enjoying it. (Photo Via Pixabay)
How about our spouses? Now, hear me out on this. No matter who we are married to, there is always someone better looking, someone with more money, you name it, and we can find it.
As long as we just look, it’s all good, right?
Well, I really don’t think so. Just like the car and the house, the more we look, the more we can’t help but see what we have as not quite good enough. We start to make lists of what we wish our spouse could be like. We begin to crave what we don’t have, and that can be dangerous. When we refuse to look at anyone but our own spouse, we can begin to see the beauty in them in ways we probably missed before.
Now, I know that all this goes against the norm, but as women who love Jesus, I think it’s exactly what we should be doing. Proverbs 14:12 says that there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Marriages fail because we think that someone better has come along, someone who has less baggage than our current partner. Checking accounts get depleted because we have to have the latest gadgets and keep up with the neighbors. Stress in this country has reached previously unheard of levels. Peace and joy have been lost in a sea of wants and wishes. People are shouldering baggage so heavy the weight is literally killing them. What if we put those bags down? What if we decide only to look at what we already have and appreciate it with new eyes? Wouldn’t it be nice to release ourselves from the burden of needing to keep up with everyone else and just focus on Jesus and the beautiful things He has given us?
Now, I don’t mean that we will suddenly have full bank accounts and husbands with washboard stomachs that hold on to our every word and talk to us for hours. No, I mean maybe we will see for the first time how the curve of his face is really perfect, or how he takes our hand right when we need him to. We will appreciate the things we forgot we had. Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not judging anyone. I’ve made all the mistakes and believed all the lies, but what I’ve discovered in myself through this process is a renewed joy. I’ve found that I need less and love more, that the smile on my face is much less fake these days, and that is something to shout about. (Photo Via Pixabay)
So how about it? What are you looking at? How about trying something different and stepping away from the crowd and the pressures of society for a fresh start? How about focusing on Jesus and all He has done for you. Let’s look with new eyes today, and tomorrow I believe we will see things a whole lot differently.