June: I Do Every Day
By Sherri Oehme
After a recent move, my husband and I are still working through the boxes of stuff we’ve collected along our 31-year marriage journey.
Yesterday, he pulled a small plastic tub from a moving box and laughed. It was filled with cards I’d saved—birthday wishes, anniversary blessings, notes from friends, and Mother’s Day “I love you” scrawls from my littles (now bigs) with hand-drawn pictures of me holding flowers.
I don’t treasure the pretty pictures on the front or the printed message inside. It’s the handwritten words that are special to me. Those manufactured out of the heart of the sender.
“Thanks for being the coolest Mom and my best friend!”
“You make everything I do worth doing.”
“You’re a wonderful friend, and I’m blessed to have you.”
But apparently, I’m not the only one affected by written words.
Loading our clothes into the dresser today, I found two saved pieces of paper left in a drawer on my hubby’s side. The first was a calligraphy piece I had made for him using the words from Song of Solomon 1:3-4. (Talk about steamy!)
The second was a full-page list I’d given him years ago, entitled “When I think of why I love you, it’s all about … The Little Things”. It included calling to tell me something quirky he just heard on the radio. Grocery shopping with me. Talking to me with his eyes …
He may not have saved the dozens of cards I’ve given him over the last three decades, but my written words (and God’s) meant enough to him to earn a forever spot in that drawer.
And his heart.
Need some inspiration? Read “How to Write a Love Note.”
The Good Stuff: My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. (Song of Solomon 5:10)
Action Points: Tuck a quick love note in a place where your spouse would least expect it—maybe under their pillow or in a shoe. Or spend time writing a real letter, expanding on specific reasons why you love them. You may just earn some extra real estate in your beloved’s keepsake drawer.
The Salad Ambassadors
By Andy Allan
Did you know you could put Oreos in a salad?
Up until marriage, every salad I’d encountered contained greenery of some sort, prioritizing health and minimizing taste. That is, until the first holiday at my in-laws, where I met a salad seemingly designed by Willy Wonka: Oreo creme “salad.”
In my wife’s family, salad had a wide definition: anything that fit on the small plate next to your big plate (Jello and whipped cream included!).
I think we learn to love like we learn to define “salad,” by watching the people around us love and experiencing being loved. It took years of marital conflict to finally understand my wife saw love differently than I did. And (shocker) I don’t always love her the way God loves.
When Paul declared, “We are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), I usually interpret that as representing Jesus’ love to people who haven’t yet met Him. But that’s not the whole picture.
I’m His ambassador to everyone.
I have the responsibility and privilege to show my wife a glimpse of God’s love so that she falls more in love with Jesus (and, hopefully, me too). When I let impatience creep in or angrily accost her “Because I love you!” I’m being an ambassador for broken old me, not for Christ.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus declared (John 15:13).
Am I laying down my life for my wife, putting her above every other want? Heck, am I willing to lay down my phone for five minutes to focus on her? Sacrificial love lies at the heart of being Christ’s ambassador, especially to my wife.
I know I won’t be perfect. Thankfully, God doesn’t fire us when we fail. I still get to be an ambassador as I confess to my wife, “I’m sorry sweetheart. I’m not loving you the way Jesus does.”
Growing over time, I can expand my ability to love her like Jesus does … as wide as her family’s salads.
If you’re looking for more practical advice on loving your wife like Christ does, consider adding this interview to your queue.
The Good Stuff: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
Action Points: Consider replacing one of your hobbies this week with intentional time connecting with your spouse. Ask, “Is there anything that I seem to choose over you?”
A Strong Spouse: What Not to Do
So you married someone whose internal strength is … strength. They’re competent. Smart. Maybe fervent. Perhaps even unintentionally intimidating at times.
God formed this potentially beautiful aptitude. (Jesus’ powerful leadership changed everything.) How can you help your spouse use this strength for His honor?
For starters, don’t…
- just come out stronger. Your spouse needs someone honest, brave, and bold; someone worthy of partnership. But domination could land you in a contest of the wills.
Partner alongside. Not above. Not hanging back.
- leave your spouse out. In decision-making, treat them as the equal partner they are—particularly in an area of gifting. Let your spouse fly in an area of strength (without using it as an excuse for your passivity).
- shy away from humility because you “can’t afford to lose ground.” This isn’t about who’s top dog! Jesus was clear the greatest among us is the servant (Matthew 23:11).
Let greatness define itself by Jesus’ actions: the equivalent of washing feet (John 13:14). Be the first to wholeheartedly apologize. The first on kid-sickness duty. The first to hop up and serve company.
- fail to sharpen. Maybe competence played a substantial role in your attraction. But don’t be a puppy dog.
Lovingly confront when they’re too hard on the kids. Lacking emotional intelligence. Dominating conversation.
Keep pace with who he or she is becoming. Dig into the Word; seize opportunities to mature together.
- capitulate when your spouse is passionate. Loving does not equal whipped. My husband laughs when he says this, but it’s accurate: “I’m not taking your side because it’s yours. I take the side of truth!”
Sometimes it’s more important to serve our spouses than for our version of “right” to triumph.
Yet biblical truth should consistently win. Not the most powerful personality. Not the most articulate opponent. And not the most manipulative one.
You possess one of the most intimate views to your spouse’s weaknesses and strengths. If you fail to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), what could the fallout entail in your family or community?
Check out Mary Kassian’s thoughts on the “Hidden Strength of a Woman.”
The Good Stuff: Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:12-14)
Action Points: Of the ideas above, which do you see yourself leaning toward in interactions with your spouse? What motivations push you in that direction? Ask God for courage and love to do what’s best for your strong spouse.
Schoolhouse Rock for Marriage
By Lisa Lakey
Some things from childhood just stick with you. And I definitely remember the days of Schoolhouse Rock.
Conjunction junction, what’s your function?
But my favorite was the one about how a bill becomes a law. At the ripe age of 9, I dreamed of a career in law and politics. I just knew I could get Bill to Capital Hill so much faster …
Long past the days of elementary school (and political dreams) now, I wish they’d come up with a few for adult life—and marriage.
Communication Station, maybe? I think I’m onto something here. Or how about instead of “Unpack Your Adjectives,” a jaunty little tune about “Unpacking Your Emotional Baggage”?
Because marriage can be confusing. Right when you think you have it all figured out, you have to learn something new. (My husband would say this is especially true if you are married to me.)
And married life might be a little easier if we could sing our way through it.
But the truth is, a lot of marriage is a learn-as-you-go lesson. You can read all the books, sign up for all the devotions (thanks, by the way), absorb all you can ahead of the big day. (And that’s good, really.)
But even if you are the most prepared spouse in the history of spouseness, marriage is going to throw you a curveball.
Maybe it’s an affair. Or a miscarriage. Or that long-conquered pain suddenly resurfaces without any prompting you can find.
And rhyming words can’t help you through that.
It’s through these tough times we learn the lessons of humility, peace, contentment, and utter dependence on God. In the tough times, He draws us closer to Him. To be more like Him.
During those times? Seek help—godly counsel. Push through to better communication with your spouse. But don’t fast forward past the lesson God has on the other side of the pain. It can’t be condensed or learned in five minutes. But it will be unforgettable.
Marriage is one big schoolhouse. But God is a fantastic Teacher.
Need a lesson on communication? Listen to, “Communication Tools that Work.”
The Good Stuff: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Action Points: Whatever your current marriage situation is, good or bad, ask God what He would have you learn through it. (And hey, a sweet song of praise won’t hurt!)
When a Season Feels Suffocating
Our 5-year-old special needs son had endured vomiting and seizures for days on end. It had the two of us frazzled. Tired. Frustrated. Wiped out.
When we walk through these times, most of us tend to think we’re doing okay. But what we don’t see in our own marriage is easier to notice with other couples: lifeless faces, discouraged conversations, hair-triggered annoyance, outright anger with the big issues.
We wished we could say our marriage was always closer to thriving. But seasons of drought were real, consuming.
The hopeful part: If this happens to you, it doesn’t mean your marriage is over. It means your marriage needs life!
In repeated dry seasons of raising three kids, we began to realize the importance of dividing and conquering in ways that would allow each of us to get to do things inside and outside of marriage that were fun and life-giving.
We took up dance lessons and golf. (We’re still bad at golf, but it got us out of the house and got us laughing.) Sometimes it was swapping Saturdays just getting to sleep in.
We poured life into each other with words, too, through gratitude and affirmation. We’d chisel out weekly time together: watching a show, talking over coffee, snagging a date.
Don’t mistake your marriage’s dry season for a death sentence.
It isn’t a matter of “if” but “when” trials come into a marriage. Listen to “What We’ve Learned About Trials.”
The Good Stuff: Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. (Proverbs 11:25)
Action Points: Take a few moments to discuss with your spouse what one to two things would bring you life and how they could help to make that happen. Then ask them the same. Try to make at least one of your discussion points happen this week for each other.
Lean on Me … When You’re Not Strong
While we were on our power walk one afternoon, my husband, Aubrey, began to struggle with shortness of breath. Concerned, I asked why his breathing was so labored. Barely able to talk, he pointed to his crossbody bag.
You’re probably thinking, Why was he wearing a heavy bag while going for a power walk? Good question.
Aubrey has a heart pump implanted in his chest to help his heart beat efficiently while he waits on a new heart. That bag carries the batteries that keep the heart pump operating.
So basically, that bag goes wherever he goes.
But I had an idea!
I offered to wear the bag across my body while we walked to lighten his load. This meant we’d have to walk closely together because the cords that extend from the batteries to the heart pump are connected to a driveline going into his abdomen and up to the heart.
At first, in light of his masculinity, he didn’t want me to lighten his load.
But I insisted. And it wasn’t long before his breathing improved.
I can’t tell you how honored I felt to be able to share this burden with him, even in this small way. After all, he has been my biggest supporter, provider, load-lightener, best friend, and shoulder to lean on for 39 years.
I was reminded of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” Leaning on each other when we need someone to help us carry on—that helps keep a marriage strong.
But more importantly, I was reminded of Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
To love each other the way God calls us to love is to assure our spouse they are never alone; that we will be there to help them get through life struggles, big or small. And to know they will do the same for us.
Find out why you really need your spouse.
The Good Stuff: Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)
Action Points: What’s one tangible way that you can “lighten the load” for your spouse this week?
Love It or List It?
By Jim Mitchell
My wife and I are home-improvement show junkies. Give us a relaxed Saturday afternoon and we’ll binge-watch like nobody’s business.
We’ve house-hunted vicariously all the way from Austin to Australia. We’ve spiced up kitchens, crashed bathrooms, and traded spaces. We’ve flipped ‘em, flopped ‘em, fixed ‘em up, and designed ‘em on a dime. It’s one of our few shared TV obsessions.
A show we especially like is the HGTV hit Love It or List It. If you’re not familiar, each episode features a couple choosing either to renovate their existing home or find a new one that better fits their needs.
Not only do the spouses typically fall on opposing sides of this decision, but so do the program’s dual hosts. One oversees an arduous, budget-starved renovation process, while the other scours the market for instant-gratification, turnkey alternatives. Love it or list it?
As a viewer, I admit I almost always favor listing it. The newer houses just look nicer, with no mess and no hassle.
So which option do you think most couples on the show choose? The arduous, budget-starved renovation, of course. And it’s maddening to watch! Why in the world would anyone in their right mind choose the imperfect over the dream?
It’s simple: story.
The imperfect has story. Memories from years gone by, hard to release and non-transferable.
A child’s growth markings on a door jamb. A family dog’s favorite napping spot. A rickety porch swing where boo-boos were bandaged and tears kissed away. Mature trees planted as saplings, with a well-worn path underneath.
These perfectly imperfect sights and smells and sounds are part of a routine, full of charm and nostalgia, with a rich relational patina no amount of money can buy.
Some things are worth hanging on to, not in spite of imperfections, but because of them. And a marriage is one of those.
So, make yours a “love it” episode. Don’t list it, flip it, trade it, or crash it. Accentuate the positives. Enjoy the imperfections. You’re building something lasting and non-transferable.
Read more to learn the secrets to a lifelong love.
The Good Stuff: Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” But they said, “We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Action Points: Decide today, afresh, that it’s official … this relationship is here to stay, a place where you’ll put down roots and build a shared history, an “ancient path,” with a lifetime of nontransferable memories.
The Power of a Pinky Toe
By Ben McGuire
I crumbled into a heap on my bedroom floor, trying desperately not to say all the words in my brain. We have children in the house.
I had just smashed my pinky toe on the side of my dresser. An explosion of pain rippled through my whole body.
I have the unfortunate tendency of smashing or stubbing my toes. While the pain is surprisingly intense, the lingering effects are equally debilitating.
When damaged, this small, often-overlooked part of my body impacts everything—my ability to walk, the way I walk, what I can physically do.
I rarely think about how each toe functions. Their job goes unnoticed until one isn’t performing properly.
Sadly, the same can be true in my marriage.
Jill works tirelessly to make our home a place of safety—a place we all want to be, a refuge from a harsh and cruel world.
Often, her labor of love goes unnoticed, underappreciated by our kids and me until the weight she bears bends her to the point of breaking.
When she is wounded and weary, our whole family feels it.
As her husband, I need to be more vigilant, more aware of the loads she carries. But not only for the purpose of sparing the whole family from the consequences.
Calling attention to the hidden ways she serves communicates value to her tasks and honors her as a wife and mother.
I usually wound my toes because I’m not paying attention to what I’m doing or because I’m being hasty to the detriment of my whole body. By taking greater care, I show honor to my less acknowledged body parts.
How much more does my wife need that type of care and attention!
Need more helpful tips? Read “10 Ideas: Helping Your Marriage Last a Lifetime.”
The Good Stuff: The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable… But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Action Points: What are you doing to value and honor the ways your spouse serves you and/or your family? What can you do to help him or her carry the load they bear? Write a note of thanks and leave it someplace obvious. Intentionally praise your spouse in front of others, especially your children.
Did I Say “I Do” to That?
I have clinical depression, which started as postpartum depression.
It’s not what my husband thought he signed up for.
The joyful and caring wife he married is often nowhere to be found. Replaced with someone who struggles to get out of bed and doesn’t want to be alive.
Many of us begin our marriages with the words “in sickness and in health.” But what about mental illness? It’s not something we think about.
Depression is a serious medical condition and medical intervention may be necessary, but this doesn’t mean we ignore our spouse while doctors care for them. Both mental and physical illnesses are exhausting.
But how do you convince someone with depression they are worthy of love? How do you show them you love them?
To invest in your marriage in the midst of depression, press in. Don’t check out.
My husband presses in by rubbing my feet when they’re the only thing I can stand touched. He presses in by leaving me alone when I don’t feel up to conversation.
Being married to someone with depression is exhausting. The healthy spouse carries the load of both themselves and the suffering spouse—while still seeking to love that person who once had so much light in their eyes.
Jesus reminds my husband and me both to rest in Him: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Seeking Jesus allows us to set down all of the burdens that come with loving a depressed spouse—or plowing through it yourself.
Through a relationship with Him, you can find the motivation to press in instead of checking out … and find the rest you need to continue on.
Looking for more on helping your spouse? Read “5 Ways My Husband Supports My Mental Health.”
The Good Stuff: He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29)
Action Points: What are some tangible ways you can “press in” to your marriage? Have you found yourself checking out? Be open with your spouse, and ask for forgiveness. Pray and ask God for wisdom on how to support your spouse as they walk through mental illness or other challenges. Ask your spouse to be honest about what is helpful and what is hurtful during their hard days; be open to the fact that their response may surprise you.
An Elevator is Not a Car, and Other Life Lessons
By Bruce Goff
I was tired. The elevator was in front of us. The car keys were in my hand.
And then I did it.
“Did you just try to open the elevator with the car remote?” my confused wife asked.
The doors stayed shut. Because it’s a car remote—not a magical elevator opener. Clearly I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing.
But not paying attention in marriage isn’t always funny.
The natural trajectory when coasting isn’t toward marital bliss, it’s toward subtle destruction. Messing things up comes so naturally to me, I can do it with my eyes closed. With the wave of a snarky comment about that still full laundry basket, I can make my wife’s happiness vanish and our oneness with it.
You’d think I was some kind of magician.
I’m not though. I’m like everyone else. I’ve got sin at my core and it brings death to my marriage. That is, if my sin goes unchecked.
It’s like what John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
But I’m a fool if I think I can kill it on my own. That’s like bringing a car remote to a gunfight … in an elevator.
My only hope is God killing my sin for me. And since my sin is at my core, I need what the Apostle Paul talks about in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
If God let me coast, I’d coast straight into hell. But the cross is miraculous, and it opened the door to new life.
The last thing my marriage or I need is to only point my own efforts (or a car remote) toward my sin. By God’s grace, I need to point my sin to the cross.
In this episode of FamilyLife Today®, Pastor Alex Kendrick talks to men about the effects of unchecked sin.
The Good Stuff: For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:10-11)
Action Points: Ask your spouse about any sin of yours that might have missed your attention. Point your sin to the cross, i.e., daily confess it and ask God to help you repent and trust Him. Memorize Romans 6:10-11.
Last Meeting of the Day … But It’s Mandatory
By Ed Uszynski
I most need Jesus when I’m standing on the porch at the end of the day.
Walking up the driveway, climbing the steps, about to enter the house.
After a day of giving in various ways, I’m ready to be served. Check out from my life for a while. Have people care about me. Unwind on my terms.
Be old-school, college-dorm-room, living-by-myself selfish for a few hours.
But different agendas reside inside the home attached to these steps.
A wife who’s been running all day herself, managing her own work and a houseful of kids.
Four people are inside who are all in need of more attention. Kids who think almost entirely about themselves, and a spouse who would like to—just like me.
One step in the door, and our lives will jumble together like kindling waiting for the first spark of self-centered, failed expectation to start the blaze.
Unless I make a pre-emptive, supernatural choice for one more meeting.
Unless I stop on the porch and remember Jesus saying that in order to find life I’ve got to lose it. (Luke 9:24).
Or Paul telling me not to merely look out for my own interests, but also the concerns of others (Phil. 2:4)—to be a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1,2).
Peter exhorting me to use my gifts to serve others (I Pet. 4:10).
The Holy Spirit waiting to help me live these living words if I’ll let Him.
Maybe you’re a wife standing on the porch with a husband inside or you meet on the porch after a childcare pickup. Different circumstances, same need.
If I’ll take 30 seconds to meet with Jesus before walking inside, and if my wife has recently done the same, beautiful things happen.
But if not? Well, you know what that looks like.
So I’d better make time for one more meeting on the porch…
Every marriage can face isolation. Read on for 9 tips on defeating it.
The Good Stuff: If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. (James 2:8)
Action Points: What does your default mode look like at the end of the day? What do you usually crave or wish for? Whether you have a porch or even cross a threshold at the end of the day, set a reminder on your phone for this last meeting of the day, and make it mandatory.
Can a Calendar Cause Divorce? Asking for a friend.
By Lisa Lakey
Can a calendar cause divorce? Asking for a friend.
Recently, I purchased a chalkboard calendar. It was love at first-organizing sight. The moment I got home, I quickly chalk-penciled in all the important dates from the planner I keep in my purse. (Are you noticing a trend?)
Baseball games, parent-teacher conferences, church functions … all there in black and white for the entire family to see—and appreciate.
But one person in particular did not embrace the awesomeness of my new purchase: the husband.
He said nothing as he looked at everything coming up. His eyes widened as he slowly took it in. And then he looked at me like I was crazy.
This wasn’t the first time my husband’s and my personalities clashed. We are night and day. I thrive on structure and organization. I like to know what’s coming.
My husband, not so much. He finds too much structure constricting. He’s the Oscar to my Felix. We’re an odd couple, indeed, but we work.
Until one of us forces our personality on the other.
Then? Unintended stress, sharp words, and feelings of being misunderstood.
I know how that feels. When he changes all of my plans at the last minute, I have a near-panic attack. It’s not pretty.
I want to embrace my husband’s unique self. First Corinthians 12:18 is a good reminder to me when I try to conform him to my own image: “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”
God knew what He was doing when He created my husband’s come-what-may preferences (although he’s not irresponsible—that would be different).
Besides, we don’t need another calendar-crazed person in our home. His spontaneity is one of the things I love about him. It balances our family. It balances me.
Kids’ schedules straining your marriage? Read more on “Connecting With Your Spouse Through the Busy Parenting Years.”
The Good Stuff: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Action Points: What was the last (minor) argument you and your spouse had? Is there a possibility that it was less about the issue and more about personal preference? Consider how you can look at the issue from your spouse’s point of view. See anything different?
I Need Counseling
There are two kinds of people in the world: People who see a counselor and those who should.
I’m a pastor in the former category. I’ve been seeing a counselor for years. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself and my marriage.
Here’s why it helps—and why you should go, too.
I need a listening ear—preferably from someone I don’t feel pressure to win over.
I don’t care if you’re as tough as a $2 steak or as tender as a newborn baby. We all want to be heard and understood.
I need help. I have blind spots: character traits and personality quirks plain to others—especially my spouse!
I need someone to lovingly tell me I have something in my teeth or my fly is down, physically or otherwise.
And even though it shouldn’t be the case, sometimes it helps when that person isn’t the one I eat, parent, and sleep with.
I need godly wisdom. I don’t need someone to beat me up with the Bible. I do need someone who’s experienced God’s grace and mercy, lovingly offering me what only God provides.
This takes more than an understanding of Freud. It takes wisdom from the Father.
I’m just not smart enough to figure out life, or marriage, on my own. I need godly voices speaking into my life. So do you.
I need to know I’m not alone. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one!’”
I need a reminder I’m not crazy. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. In my need and desperation, I’m amongst friends.
Maybe you need that reminder today, too.
Does your marriage need counseling? Read more on evaluating the help you may need.
The Good Stuff: Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Prov 15:22)
Action Points: Make an appointment with a Christian counselor. If you don’t know who to call, talk to your local church pastor and ask for a reference.
Suck It Up, Buttercup
By Lisa Lakey
I’m learning (slowly) to be a go-with-the-flow kind of girl. But to be completely honest, I’m a bit of a control freak.
I like things to go as planned (by me). Spontaneity has always been a four-letter word. Asking for help is hard, because that means relying on someone else to come through. And what if they don’t?
The struggle is real.
There are two areas where this less-than-admirable trait has been the biggest challenge: my marriage and my faith.
Both require me to trust someone else wholeheartedly and to not demand my way.
God knows all too well my struggle with trusting Him. Yet one of the most effective areas of life He has used to push and prod me toward trusting Him more fully is in my marriage.
I have to trust my husband for our marriage to work well. I’m learning to better trust him in the small things, like handing over the stack of bills to be paid when I’m sick or taking the kids to a doctor’s appointment. And I’m relying on my faith in God for the bigger things, like trusting my husband has our family’s best interest at heart when making a decision I can’t fully see the outcome of.
Trust in marriage requires faith. Faith in my husband and faith in my God.
And it requires letting go. Letting go of thinking my way is the best and only way. Letting go of control and taking his hand. And His hand.
When I act like a control freak, I’m short-changing my husband’s ability to handle things and showing him I don’t have confidence in him. I don’t want that.
Sometimes, I have to tell myself, “Suck it up, Buttercup,” and remember that in a relatively safe and healthy marriage, it’s okay to have faith in someone other than myself.
Listen to Crawford Loritts remind us that Abraham-like faith doesn’t deny the reality of your circumstances, but trusts God in spite of them.
The Good Stuff: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Action Points: Letting go of control and learning to trust are no easy tasks. But they speak volumes of our faith. Is there an area where you are specifically having trouble trusting God? Tell Him about it. He is willing and ready to help you shoulder this burden. And He is worthy of your trust.
Do We Need Counseling? (Part I)
As a counselor for 20-plus years, I’ve met a lot of couples on an intimate level. I’d like to let you in on a few signs it’s time for a couple to get more help.
Tend to these, possibly with counseling, before fissures become foundational cracks:
- Family differences
What kind of family did you grow up in?
- Were they poor, middle-class, or wealthy?
- Who was the primary breadwinner?
- Did you have siblings?
- Were your parents happily married, unhappily married, never married, or divorced?
We learn a lot about how to do life from the people who raise us. These differences can be divisive and polarizing.
- Communication problems; poor conflict resolution
Even the best relationships can fall victim to bad communication. Whether it shows up in the extremes of avoidance or over-talking, a communication style can set the stage for success or failure.
If you and your spouse aren’t connecting as well as you’d like, don’t call a lawyer just yet. A competent counselor, a decent book or workbook, or FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® can help develop healthy communication skills.
Much of what we learn is modeled for us in our families of origin. (Them again.) Did yours yell or throw stuff? Simmer quietly, but seek to jab or manipulate? That’s likely to show up in your marriage as well.
- Financial issues
There’s usually a spender and a saver. But with two spenders, you’ve got a challenge to reaching goals and managing a household well. This is especially true if you get into a habit of charging things on credit cards and not paying cards off every month.
Student loan debt is also common in financial stress—not a deal breaker, but you do need an aggressive plan.
Lots of people have great aspirational goals: “I’m going to start saving!”; “I’m going to set up an emergency fund.” But saying and doing are totally different things. Pay real attention to this: Financial stress is one of the top reasons marriages fall apart.
- Tomorrow’s signs are more serious, often requiring counseling.
Need a good Christian counselor? Start here.
The Good Stuff: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
Action Points: In what areas are you and your spouse naturally the most different? Which of these tends more toward causing issues between you, rather than just complementing or causing small ripples? Decide on at least one actionable solution.
Do we need counseling? (Part II)
If marriage were a car, yesterday’s devotional signaled a need to keep an eye under the hood. The issues we discuss today are more like your engine light blinking red: Get it into the shop (i.e., counselor’s office) ASAP.
- Trust issues/infidelity
Trust is foundational. Does your spouse keep secrets from you? Are they jealous? Sneaky with social media? Have they cheated? Do they feel the need to control?
“Infidelity can be a sign of character issues such as selfishness, untrustworthiness, and lack of self-control that need to be addressed in order for it not to repeat,” explains counselor Paula Butterfield. “It can also be an indication of … avoidance and escaping as part of attachment and intimacy issues.”
- Spiritual differences
I’ve counseled many people through the years who falsely assumed they could love their partner into becoming faithful or religious.
I cannot be any clearer: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse warrants an immediate need for help. The offending person promises it won’t happen again—until it does.
If you stay with an abusive spouse, you risk your safety and well-being, perhaps your life. You risk the safety and well-being of children and pets.
If you have any doubt about whether your situation is abusive, err on the side of caution. Get help.
Reach out to a pastor, counselor, abuse shelter, friend, lawyer, even the police.
But take action. Don’t stop until you find someone who listens and wants to help.
- Addiction and mental health problems
“It’s just a little pot.” “I only drink to relax.” “Lots of people take Xanax.” “Porn doesn’t hurt anybody.”
Truth: God wants us to care for our bodies. That includes not abusing drugs: illegal, prescription, alcohol.
Addictions and compulsive behaviors present a wearisome whack-a-mole untamed by willpower, prayer, and promises to change.
The same can be said for mental-health issues. We’ll all likely experience some sort of mental-health problem during our lifetime. But serious or chronic mental illness requires much attention and can cause much pain.
Please. Get honest about struggles. Seek real, long-lasting help sooner rather than later.
Listen to know if your marriage has turned toxic.
The Good Stuff: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Action Points: When you’re honest, what stands out as the biggest “red flags” in your marriage—possibly areas you’ve been ignoring, rationalizing, or minimizing? Ask someone to hold you accountable for getting help—and perhaps call a counselor.
The Problem With Concrete
By Judy Burrows
I hit the driveway hard.
I’d lost my balance on the sidewalk and attempted to regain it. My brain was yelling to my feet,
“Do your job!”
The downward slope of the sidewalk spoke louder.
You even managed to hit your head. That was my first thought as I lay on the driveway. Then I heard my husband’s voice, heavy with compassion. “Oh, honey…”
I was not in any hurry to rise. Something felt wrong.The fall felt traumatic. Cement is really hard, my brain harped. Not one bit of grace to it.
As my husband darted to my side, there was comfort: He knew where I was. I wasn’t alone. I wouldn’t have to yell for someone’s attention.
My feet had failed me. But my husband did not. He supported my weight back into the house.
Turns out my brain wasn’t wrong. X-rays showed a broken pelvis.
Suddenly bedridden, something deeper than my bones felt horribly fractured. Somewhere in the week after, as I stretched the wrong way in pain and tears, I told my husband, “I really feel broken.”
Truthfully, because of sin—that’s always my condition. But I don’t always feel it.
A big reason for that? A husband who’s acquired a significant tenderness. I think of him as a grace-partner: Someone absorbing my weakness—my frailty, or just plain sin.
He yields a lot more than concrete, providing a soft landing for my constant missteps. Which means in the end, a lot less gets broken.
Thankfully, my pelvis is one whole piece again. I carry no evidence of that humbling afternoon.
But I want to have more give with others, with my husband—a cushion for the ways our bodies and souls fail, absorbing each others’ failings with kindness neither of us deserve.
Read four tips for offering more grace in your marriage.
The Good Stuff: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Action Points: Life is hard like cement sometimes. How can you give your spouse grace today? Grace has a give to it. Where does your spouse need some give in his/her life right now?
The Real Enemy
Two weeks into our parenting journey, somehow my wife’s way of changing a diaper was right. Mine was wrong.
I had just as much experience as she did, but it didn’t seem to matter. I felt I would never measure up to “Mommy.”
I spitefully questioned whether I should just let her take over diaper duty.
Around that time, I was reminded of James 4:1-11. He says fights are caused because “you desire and do not have” and “you covet and cannot obtain” (verse 2).
James was right.
Our conflict wasn’t about the “right way to change a diaper.”
I desired respect I felt I didn’t have. I coveted the high status bestowed upon mothers. I feared my role as a father would soon be downgraded to financial provider, playmate, and occasional babysitter.
I didn’t want that.
The thing is, neither did she.
My wife wasn’t trying to dominate me or downgrade my role as a father. She simply wanted to share a trick to make both of our lives easier.
By turning parenting into a competition, I stopped assuming the best and started assuming the worst.
Over the years, we’ve had to learn to look beyond our gut reactions and uncover the hidden desires that fuel conflict. When we do, it’s easier to realize my spouse is not the enemy.
We still have very different ways of doing things. We still disagree. But now I assume we’re on the same team.
Together, we fight the problem. Not each other.
For more on resolving conflicts, read “Your Spouse Is Not Your Enemy.”
The Good Stuff: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
Action points: In what ways might you and your spouse be fighting against, rather than for, each other? The next job (or argument) you have to tackle together, consider how it would look if you were fighting for your team.
The Joy Hunters
I was so tempted to groan and roll my eyes when my watermelon rind hit the trash can with a thud.
Yes, my husband had taken out the trash (thanks, Honey!). But once again, he’d forgotten to put the new bag inside the can (sigh). Across the kitchen, he was scrolling on his phone.
I took a beat, exhaled, realized he had just finished a 12-hour shift. The fact that he’d taken out the trash at all was helpful. I was glad he had a few minutes to unwind.
By default, I lean toward discontentment. Add social media (hello, highlight reels and envy), stress, and sin into the mix, and any of us plummet downhill even faster.
How can we find joy and be content with our spouse and the marriage God has given us?
We’ve all heard the saying, What you water will grow.
We water marriage’s joy when choosing the 30,000-foot view, focusing on all of the loving and helpful things our spouse does to serve our family.
Practically, this looks like choosing to celebrate his or her commitment to excellence in their job. Acknowledging God’s provision through that job instead of becoming frustrated when an occasional meeting doesn’t wrap up on time, disrupting evening plans at home.
It looks like appreciating your spouse’s partnership in household chores (I’m looking at you, inefficiently loaded dishwasher).
It looks like remembering how full his or her plate is, offering gentle forgiveness when that bill isn’t paid on time.
Choosing to be thankful instead of critical is step one. But you’ll find even more joy in your marriage when you vocalize that appreciation.
When your spouse steps in the door after that late meeting, remind her with a hug how thankful you are for her dedication to her career.
When one of you accidentally shrinks a shirt in the dryer that should have been air-dried, communicate your appreciation for doing a load of laundry anyway.
Joy is there. Your perspective can uncover it!
Marriage isn’t the union of two perfect people. Read “Giving Your Spouse the Freedom to Fail.”
The Good Stuff: Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Practice the pause.
The next time your spouse does something that stirs irritation, take a moment to consider the 99 things they’ve done well before this one thing irked you.
- Speak life.
Aim to tell your spouse at least one thing each day that you appreciate about him or her.
Ask God to give you eyes that see all of the sacrificial ways your spouse is choosing to love and serve.
Getting Hit by the Same Train
By Ed Uszynski
The headline read something like this: “Man gets hit by train twice in same month.”
Definite clickbait, but I couldn’t resist. I read on.
Apparently, this guy got too close to the edge of the platform and got his arm mangled by a train coming into the station. Later in the same month, he did almost the exact same thing again. Crushed his arm. Baffled his friends.
What kind of an idiot does that? Bad enough to get hit by a train once. But wouldn’t the pain of that keep you from getting too close to the edge again?
Judgmental headline reading comes easy to me. This story provided low-hanging fruit.
Unfortunately, I read it in a span of days where I’d created misery in my home by saying something to my wife that always led to conflict.
The specifics don’t matter now. It’s the pattern that stands out.
Over and over and over again. Same result.
Then, annoyingly, God’s Spirit used mangled platform guy to put me in a corner.
“What kind of an idiot repeatedly steps across the edge to be hit by a train, you ask? Who doesn’t learn from pain when they experience it? Those are great questions—for you! ”
How often do I get hit by the same train in my own house? Same sloppy words. Same defensive posture. Same behavior that creates the same negative result.
I had to think: Instead of using my energy to judge the dude who kept running into trains, maybe ask God to help me start avoiding some of my own.
But God, can’t I at least ask, who gets hit twice by a REAL train?
Back to my own trains.
Trying to avoid that same stupid fight?Read more.
The Good Stuff: Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)
- What’s one marital “train” you’d love to avoid in the future?
- What are the common elements to the pattern? (Feel free to gently ask your spouse for their ideas, especially if you’re feeling clueless.)
- What foolish behavior will you purposefully, prayerfully avoid in the future?
Talk Grown-Up to Me
By Lisa Lakey
You know you’re in desperate need of adult conversation when you ask if your husband needs to go potty. But if you have kids, you’ve probably been there.
When I was a stay-at-home mom, I was immersed in toddler conversation 12 hours a day. We sang the ABCs and discussed whether the guinea pig on my daughter’s favorite show was a boy or a girl. We counted the number of beads aloud to make necklaces and read Bible stories before naps.
When my husband got home, I couldn’t wait to speak to a grown-up.
But instead of national news or even what was going on with each other, I talked about the guinea pig and necklaces. The art of adult conversation was lost on me.
Whether you have kids or not, you might relate. Years past the stay-at-home mom days now, I often come home after work completely out of words. I write words, edit words, and sit in meetings talking about words. By the end of the day, simple adult conversation can be hard.
But can I offer us all one word of advice? Persevere.
Adult convo doesn’t have to be an art form to be a vital part of your marriage. It’s the connection, not just the words that matter. What I didn’t realize while parenting toddlers was my husband didn’t care what I talked about. He just wanted a glimpse into our day that he didn’t always get to be a part of. And I feel the same way when he talks to me about his job (even if I only understand about 20%).
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you talk theology, stock markets, or intricate details of your preschooler’s macaroni art. What matters is you, your spouse, and connecting.
Need more on staying connected? Listen in on how to avoid becoming roommates in marriage.
The Good Stuff: Love one another earnestly from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22)
Action Points: Schedule some time this week for some good ol’ conversation with your spouse. Pencil it into your calendar if need be. Then turn the phone on silent, tuck the kids in bed, and just talk.
What’s Your Dream?
By Ben McGuire
“I planned to grab lunch with some folks from the office today. Is that OK with you?”
The tone of her voice and the look on her face gave her away, as much as she tried to hide it.
It wasn’t that she minded me having lunch out or that we couldn’t afford it. Deep down she’s genuinely happy when I can see my friends.
My lunch plans represented something much bigger: a small reminder that as a stay-at-home mom, her schedule isn’t as fluid as mine.
She encouraged me to attend seminary, then cheered me on for six and a half years as I labored for my degree.
She pushes me to find ways to develop skills and leadership—then applauds and encourages me.
I head off to work each day while she faithfully weathers the sometimes stormy seas of our home—because she prizes this course God has given our family; a course we chose together along with Him.
But in all my opportunities, it can be easy to forget how lonely and isolating her chosen role can be.
She has dreams, desires, and aspirations she has happily sacrificed for the sake of our family.
And sadly they can go largely unnoticed by the one person who should be her biggest champion—me!
I need to take the initiative and ask her, “Who can you have lunch with this week?” then make sure it happens.
I need to take the reins of our home and send her out for extended time alone to refresh.
Most of all, I need to remain aware of her dreams and find ways to make room for her to pursue them. It communicates I value her as a whole person.
Husbands, here are “5 Tips for Investing in Your Wife.”
The Good Stuff: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
- What are some of your spouse’s dreams and desires?
- How can you work toward helping him or her fulfill them?
- What might you need to set aside in your own life so that the spouse who’s made some sacrifices can pursue some dreams?
Point Your Nose
By Judy Burrows
“Point your nose. Don’t scan with your eyes.” The optician tutored me as I peered through my new trifocals.
I’d finally given in to buying glasses to wear full time instead of just reading glasses. Would I ever adjust to this new way to use this tool on my face?
Pointing my nose felt unnatural. It sits right on the front of my face but so often I ignore it. (Unless I have a cold.)
But could that be happening with my husband, I wondered?
We’re on the challenging journey of selling our house. Many outside voices are chiming in with opinions about what we should do.
We have had to sit down and point our noses toward each other to get on the same page. It’s been helpful to focus on what we are each thinking or feeling about an option. We come away refocused on us and our priorities.
My nose is invisible to me unless I concentrate. But the optician drew my attention to my nose so I could obtain my clearest perspective. “Don’t worry. Most people can adjust in two weeks or less,” she assured me.
As my husband and I point forward together toward our goals—like a bifocal lens, you could say—we’re more clear-sighted. But I have to intentionally point my nose in his direction. I’ve found I need to concentrate on him with a narrow pathway of vision, ignoring less-clear images on the periphery.
That takes intentionality. But the time it took to learn to intentionally point to him? It was well worth seeing my husband’s eyes more precisely—and thus his heart.
You won’t always see eye-to-eye with your spouse. Which is why marriage requires humility.
The Good Stuff: “Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.” (Deuteronomy 10:16, NLT)
Action Points: To what are you pointing your nose? Sometimes seeing a spouse requires new, “unnatural” habits. What sight could you gain?
Love Is the New Sexy
I remember riding in a friend’s minivan, both of us young moms with kids typically welded to our yoga pants.
Her husband was gone for the weekend. During our foray from Wet Wipes Land, she chatted via phone with him. I don’t remember much about what was said, except that she called him “Love.” And there was some cooing involved.
My husband is a lot of things, but definitively not the cooing type. When on business trips, he’s not really the let’s-check-in-frequently type. He’s never forgotten my birthday, but he’s also not the leave-a-trail-of-rose-petals type. Yet romance, as fantastic as it is for keeping the fire burning—and as an indicator of a lot of things—may not always be an indicator of your spouse’s success as a spouse.
There is something deeply good, even awe-inspiring and downright appealing, about a spouse who is simply faithful. He or she might just love well, without the rose petals and bubble baths.
My husband hasn’t ever busted out a bottle of champagne or (errantly) dubbed me the most beautiful woman in the world. But he does offer a quiet, steady leadership with his life. And considering Jesus was quite literally born in a barn, I would say God has a flare for sidling the heroic up alongside the mundane.
A lot of movies, fantasies, love songs, and books might lead us to think a super-great spouse would always be cooking up ways to make things sizzle, offering to rub our feet, or grab a favorite drink from the coffee shop.
Maybe your spouse forgets the love note, but wrestles with the kids, fixes dinner, pays the bills, or folds laundry.
Does your spouse love you and Jesus and your kids? Work diligently?
You might have a great one.
Affection and romance are gifts. Needed desperately at times, yes, but still leaving us beholden to someone else.
Ultimately, even with romance, my expectations need to be reasonable, open-handed, gracious—rather than self-centered.
Here’s to spouses who spend their days doing what isn’t decidedly sexy or romantic, but is tangible, actionable love for God and people.
Listen to Jeff and Stacy Kemp talk about how you see what you want to see in marriage.
The Good Stuff: Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)
Action Points: Get honest with God about desires that may have grown out of proportion and into unagreed upon expectations. Take a minute to express gratitude to God and your spouse for the ways they love you faithfully.
Your Spouse Is Not a Pest
By Ben McGuire
We have a rule in our house: “The Habitat Rule.”
As long as the bugs or pests stay in their natural habitat, they live.
But once they cross that line between nature and our home, they become a threat or a nuisance, and they die a swift, merciless death.
Of course, they don’t know when they’ve transgressed that invisible barrier. Yet, they die all the same, or at the very least make a quick retreat, often wounded.
In moments of stubbornness or fragility, I can erect those same kinds of barriers in my marriage.
As long as my wife stays outside my established perimeter, we’re good. But if she violates the threshold with uninvited personal questions, constructive criticism, or helpful correction, she crosses over into the category of threat or nuisance.
The last thing I need, though, is for her to remain distant. As much as I might try to push her away, I need her to press into my heart. Obviously, she is no cockroach.
God created us for intimacy on all levels, especially in our marriage. My wife knows me better than any person on this earth. She sees me at my worst and doesn’t ever give up … because she loves me.
It’s out of love that she is willing to risk crossing my sometimes-well-fortified perimeter, to risk being hurt by me.
It’s because I know she loves me that I should tear down my defenses and invite her in.
“The Habitat Rule” will keep your house insect or rodent free. But it will kill your marriage.
Read what one Weekend to RememberⓇ guest learned about overcoming communication barriers in marriage.
The Good Stuff
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
What invisible barriers have you established to guard yourself and preserve your pride?
In what ways can you invite your spouse to speak more openly and honestly into your life?
I See You …
When my husband’s cardiology team told us he would have to have a device implanted into his chest to help his heart pump efficiently, my heart sank.
The list of possible complications during surgery and the reality of our future new normal were overwhelming.
I don’t think I have ever been more scared in my life.
But I wanted desperately to be strong and courageous for Aubrey and our family. So I carefully hid my feelings.
One day, while walking the halls of the hospital, one of Aubrey’s doctors hurried toward me. “I’ve been looking all over for you!” he shouted. My mind raced. What could be so important that he would track me down?
He went on to tell me that my husband had shared with him that I had some fears and concerns about the surgery.
“What?” I responded in shock. “I never told him that.”
The doctor spent several minutes compassionately addressing my fears and concerns. Afterwards, I felt better, settled, and at peace with everything we were facing.
As I realized that Aubrey had seen beyond the façade I’d been putting on, I was reminded of a scene from the 2009 movie, Avatar. It was that heartwarming scene, when Neytiri—feeling as if she had come to know Jake intimately—put her hand over his heart and said, “I see you.”
In her world this phrase is better understood, “I see into you” or “I understand you.”
Asking his doctor to talk with me was Aubrey’s way of saying, “I see you.” In that moment, I felt deeply cared for and intimately known.
It was for me a beautiful picture of Mark 10:8: “And the two shall become one flesh. ‘So they are no longer two but one flesh.’”
Did you know that you have a special power in the life of your spouse?
The Good Stuff:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
One of the best ways to get to know each other intimately is to regularly connect over meaningful conversation. It’s during these times that you can discover more about each other’s personalities, preferences, favorites, concerns, fears, hopes, dreams.
Here are five conversation starters to give it a go!
- As a kid, what was one of your dreams for the future?
- Tell me something I don’t know about you.
- If you were planning an amazing day, what activities would be in the plan?
- When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?
- What’s one of your biggest fears or concerns?
I Appreciate You. Even When You’re Wearing That.
By Bruce Goff
It was just another routine bedtime for our 4-year-old daughter.
“Where are your underwear?!” I overheard my wife ask as I walked by the bedroom.
“On your head,” was the matter-of-fact answer.
“What?! How’d they get there?!” asked my wife, apparently surprised.
I realized in that moment that she has a lot on her plate. And her fun-loving head.
And I noticed something else—I don’t always give my spouse the credit she deserves.
So here are three things I want to acknowledge and appreciate about my wife.
- She makes life fun.
We have two daughters. Our oldest wants someone to play with during every moment of consciousness.
I’m all for tickle fights or running around outside, but there’s just something so draining about a pretend tea party. I can’t explain it.
But my wife sits down with a pretend cup of strawberry tea and connects with our daughters right where it means the most to them.
- She teaches our kids.
Whether it’s going over the New City Catechism, some project with jelly beans and math, or basic hygiene (hence the undies), our girls are going to be able to function in society.
And I owe most of that to my wife.
- She points our family to the gospel.
The other day I overheard her telling our oldest about Passover and the lamb’s blood on the doorposts. She explained how it’s Jesus who saves us now from God’s wrath.
My wife takes these lofty, amazing, beautiful truths, and captivates a 4-year-old. I’m pretty sure Jonathan Edwards or Billy Graham couldn’t have done better in that moment.
It’s so easy to take your spouse for granted, especially in simple, everyday things. But it’s those faithful, time-and-again gifts we should never forget to thank God for and voice to a spouse.
So here’s to you, undies-head mom. I see you, and I’m grateful.
In this episode of FamilyLife Today®, Gloria Furman talks about finding God’s purposes in the daily grind of being a mom.
The Good Stuff: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10)
- What are three things you appreciate about your spouse?
- Show your spouse your appreciation for something specific.
Stomach Flip-Flops and Other Marriage Myths
A TV drama recently set off my baloney-meter.
See, a character was talking about knowing he was still in love with his wife because his stomach still did flip-flops when she walked in.
Call me a cynic, or maybe just deprived of that level of marriage. But stay with me.
First, the original flush of passion we feel for someone statistically lasts two to three years. Heart-pounding first love inevitably dissolves.
And even bodily chemical reactions change in response to sex. New, exciting sex delivers a chemical combo in your body with effects similar to that of crack cocaine (no lie!).
But normal, committed sex? That gives you restorative, bonding, “faithfulness” chemicals.
Sex and relationships change with time—chemically. Logically.
C.S. Lewis would seem to agree. In Mere Christianity, Lewis remarks,
People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on “being in love” forever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change. …
The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there.
Haven’t we all experienced this with reaching a life goal, having children, starting a new job? After a time, they’re fraught with flatlined emotion. Burdened with dirty dishes and socks next to the hamper. Propagating another migraine.
Your lack of stomach flip-flops isn’t a sign you’ve got the wrong kind of marriage. Life on this side of heaven will inevitably leave us hungry. (Not even a relationship with God provides endless butterflies and happy-hormones.)
This world is a prescription for faithfulness and perseverance, preparing us for a world we can’t see.
So set aside some of the emotion—and buckle down for a far more rewarding level of devotion.
Read “7 Things to Remember About Sex.”
The Good Stuff: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Action Points: How have you experienced disappointment in your expectation of emotion or elation in marriage? How do your expectations influence your view of “normal,” happy marriage?
How do you think God redefines our culture’s view of being “in love”?
Eight Glasses a Day
By Lisa Lakey
For years, I was an avid diet soda drinker. After my morning cup of joe, I’d switch over to the second-most-beloved beverage in my caffeinated arsenal and consume three or four a day. I’m sure even my blood felt jittery back then (although I still have one or two a week).
Now I’m no health nut, but even I know diet drinks aren’t a body’s best friend. My body needs water to function properly. Eight glasses a day, the experts tell me.
I could go on and on about the benefits of good ol’ H2O. It aids digestion, helps with calorie control, and all your organs love it, even your skin. (That alone should appeal to me as I am now in my late 30s.)
But the best thing for my soul (and my marriage) is not water. Well, not the kind I find at my kitchen sink.
When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He found a woman whose soul was parched. But He offered her something far more satisfying. “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (verses 13-14).
Without regular connection to Christ—diving into Scriptures, being on my knees in prayer, seeking His response to my circumstances—I can’t be the spouse my husband needs. One that practices love, kindness, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).
And while taking care of my own physical health is one way to love my husband, eight glasses a day won’t help my spirit. My soul and my marriage need Jesus.
Find out why a Christ-centered community matters in your marriage.
The Good Stuff: And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (Revelation 21:6)
Action Points: Has it been a while since you’ve felt connected to God? Consider how your relationship with Christ might impact your marriage.