Marlette’s Musings #2

I received a link to an interesting post this week.  Marlette has been married 34 years and in celebration she put together a list of 34 Things about Marriage.  In the next several blogs, I’ll share some of her thoughts with you. Last time we looked at the number 1 item of Marlette’s list and found that their marriage has the priorities of love and respect clearly in focus.

Here’s her number 2 thought of 34:

We show love in medium ways (there is no small love) – he rubs my feet, folds the bath tissue like we’re in a hotel and he calls me darlin’.  I bring him his favorite treats, never run out of peanut butter, and record movies I know he’ll like.

Photo by Crystal Alifanow

Now we see their marriage is characterized by acts of service.  Simply put, they serve one another.  He rubs her feet and finds simple things to show he loves her.  She in turn makes sure to keep a healthy supply of peanut butter on hand along with his favorite treats. Hmmm, did someone once say that the path to a man’s heart is through his stomach?   If only other wives could have it so easy.  The key to a happy home and husband is as simple as having enough peanut butter!

The “Happy Marriage Manuals” would all go out of business if they only knew that peanut butter was the answer!

Photo by aamag

All kidding aside, the point is pretty basic.  Find out what is special for your spouse and do it.  If a foot rub makes her feel loved and melts her heart, then just do it.  Understand why it is so special to her.  It makes her feel relaxed and takes away the tension of the day.    Make it a regular event.  You can do the “quickie” foot rub where you just rub her feet while you sit on the couch and watch a movie.  Or you can step up your game and go for the full-on gourmet foot rub with candles, soft music, and scented foot massage cream.  Find out what makes your wife feel truly loved and go for it.  Serve her in this way.

And for you wives that can melt your husband’s heart with a pantry full of peanut butter, by all means, order the case lot size.  But if his thing is having the guys over to watch the game and you can provide all the fixin’s, then just go for it darlin’.

We all get the point.  Serve one another.  The path to a lasting marriage is to love and serve one another.

Serve one another, humbly in love. Galations 5:13

Marlette’s Musings #1

I received a link to an interesting post this week. It seems Marlette has been married 34 years and to celebrate she posted a list of 34 Things about Marriage. I’ll share some of her thoughts with you.

Her number 1 thought of 34:

We show love in big ways – he is unconditionally accepting, endlessly patient, and generally thinks I’m all that. I don’t bad mouth him in public, look for ways to serve him, and do my best to bring honor to him.

I find it truly wonderful that her first reflection is that she experiences “unconditional acceptance.” Isn’t that the way we all want to be loved?  No list of expectations; no spoken or unspoken demands. Just “I love you no matter what.”

When love is conditioned upon meeting a list of preset criteria it is truly flawed. It is at best a seasonal love, based on what you do. I will love you when you meet my expectations.

We are all less than perfect. We fail and let our spouse down at times during the course of our lives together. But does that mean we should turn our love off when we are disappointed or not feeling in love at the moment?

Husbands are commanded, yes commanded, in Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

We need to have a love for our wives that is not conditioned upon meeting a set of criteria, or acting or looking a certain way. Love is always patient, kind, and hopes for the best. Christ did not wait until we were perfect… he died for us while we were yet sinners. That is how we are to love.

She also shares about how she treats her husband. She notes that she is respectful of him, serves him, and seeks to honor him.

Our Marriage Group at church is beginning a series by Emerson Eggerichs called Love and Respect. Emerson goes to great lengths to say what a wife desires most is unconditional love and what a husband desperately needs is respect.

I find it amazing that Marlette’s first thought on 34 years of marriage so clearly states that she basks in unconditional love from her husband and she respects and honors her husband.

We’ll share more in future blogs about Marlette’s musings. Thanks Marlette!

Compromise, Part Two

In our last blog, we looked at several core beliefs in our lives that should never be compromised, such as our faith and commitment to marriage and family. These are central core beliefs that deserve our undying commitment. We also looked at day to day choices that need to be negotiated. We are both individuals with unique preferences and family history. Our traditions may be at odds with our spouse’s traditions. What to do at Christmas each year is an example. How do we meld our traditions?

A good quality relationship that is maturing and growing, requires you to navigate your differences, culminating in a peaceful and loving union.

Let’s look at it this way… We can either HOLD or YEILD.

Each of you should be willing to yield. If you truly love your spouse, you’ll be willing to sacrifice what you want, deferring to the desires of your spouse. By this I mean that each of you should be willing to move from your position in the direction of your spouse’s.

Photo by Kaan Tanriover

There are times when you need to yield. You need to humble yourself and just yield to your spouse. Simple example: It’s important for your spouse to clean the dishes and kitchen before going to bed. You’re ok with letting it go until the morning. Here’s a chance for you to stretch and yield, to be loving, kind, helping her get it done. No big deal. Just fifteen minutes of selfless service because it’s important to her.

By contrast, you might want to hold your own position, and demand that your spouse change and conform to what you want. This does not demonstrate a selfless love for your spouse. You have hardened your heart, unyielding and demanding. If both of you hold opposing positions, it will sow seeds of bitterness and resentment.

Photo by Mikas Vitkauskas

There may be times when you should hold on things that are important to you. For example, you thrive on affection and hugs and your spouse doesn’t hug you at all. Clearly and respectfully express this VERY important thing in your life and make every effort to be understood. If you always yield out of fear or just give up, this will sow seeds of discouragement and despair. Stand up and be firm; express the importance of this particular issue. Work lovingly to find a suitable and acceptable compromise.

No matter what the issue, you should work toward a selfless attitude and a willingness to move to a middle ground solution. Talk through possible solutions to the unresolved difference. This may take time and more than one conversation. Patiently work at it over time.

In our relationships, we need to find a way to balance the HOLD and the YIELD. It’s a give and take. But in all circumstances, we should be governed by an attitude of love and a willingness to serve.

Compromise – How important is it? Part One

Have you heard that “Compromise” is a dirty word? We are told we should be people of conviction. Never give in and hold fast to our position. We should be grounded in our own beliefs, not yielding to pressure to change or give in. After all, we don’t want to be someone’s doormat. We want to be respected for what we believe, be heard, and not be bullied. We have a right to that, don’t we?

Photo by
Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Let’s begin by distinguishing between core values and everyday choices. We should never compromise on our core values: our faith, our commitment to marriage, or commitment to love, nurture and protect our spouse and family. Some would add our core values should extend to our commitment to country and pledge to our nation. Our central core values should never be compromised. We should be a people of steadfast loyalty to our core beliefs.

But beyond that, how should we negotiate the day to day give and take needed to maintain a healthy, strong, and growing relationship.

Marriage is a union of two unique and at times dramatically different personalities. We come from unique backgrounds with a variety of circumstances that have molded us into the persons we are today. We have strengths and liabilities that we each bring to our marriage. Our very temperaments may be diametrically opposed.

We are different. And our differences in needs, preferences, and desires can bring about conflict that is difficult to solve.

There’s a new mattress now that solves the firm verses soft argument. The Sleep Comfort Mattress has a numbered system that changes the firmness of each side of your mattress. Amazing. Push the button to the desired number and her side is soft and your side is firm. Problem solved.

Photo by
albertomor

But the rest of the issues in our marriage don’t have a “Resolution Button” to help us find a middle ground. There’s no button for he likes camping and she likes condos for vacation. There’s no button for deciding how much you should spend on your vacation. There’s no simple easy button to decide how often you set aside time to be intimate together. He’s been lobbying for multiple times a week for years and she’s happy with the occasional “when the mood strikes me.” Oh, if only we had a magic button to fix this one!

Well, there’s bad news and there’s good news…

The bad news is there is NO magic button. The good news is there is a way to solve almost all our differences issues. We’ll look at that further in our next blog.

Viva la Difference!

When they got married, they thought it was wonderful having so much in common.  They liked the same movies and music, and went to the same church. They both liked the Seahawks, and thought baseball was slow and boring.  They liked the same coffee and thought it was fantastic they liked each other’s friends. She laughed at his jokes and he told her all the time she was beautiful.  Life was great.  They had so much in common.

But now they’ve been married for six years and see so many differences.  He stays up late and sleeps in till lunchtime.  She can’t stay up past ten and gets up every morning, six sharp.  He likes a cold beer and she won’t drink anything stronger than lemonade.  He can wear the same clothes for a week and she can’t stand wearing anything twice.  He’s OK with a lot of things lying around and she is Miss Neat and Orderly.

How did it happen that when they got married, they didn’t see all the differences between them?

Many times, when we are “IN LOVE” we see only the things we share in common and overlook the differences.  We have grace for (or overlook) the differences in each other.  We tend not to notice he doesn’t pick anything up or she is always cleaning something.

Photo by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne

But keep this in mind:  Many couples marry someone who is their opposite.  He is loud, boisterous, and the life of the party and she is quiet, thoughtful, and reserved.  He is careless with spending and she is frugal, and tracks bills and expenses.  He likes camping and being in the outdoors, and she likes the kind of camping that looks a just like a condo.

Some of you have probably heard the expression “viva la difference” which means it is good that there is a difference between two people, especially  between a man and a woman.  The difference is good.  Where he is weak, she is probably strong.  He’s not good at balancing the checkbook but she is.  He can’t even open a can of beans and you’re Martha Stewart in the kitchen.  You can’t fix the leaky faucet and he’s Mister Handyman on steroids.

Yes!  Your differences can be a blessing.

Celebrate your differences and don’t look at them as a liability but rather an asset.

Together you accomplish more.

Photo by Otávio Brito

And where your differences cause conflict, work at loving compromise.  For example, you may not like camping, but he enjoys the outdoors.  Make a special effort to be accommodating.  Show your love by stretching and do those things out of your norm.  It will communicate love and a willingness to share your lives together.

Both of you should be willing to say, “Viva la Difference!”

Memories of the Way We Were

  • What are some of your favorite memories with your spouse?
    • Do you often revisit them together?
      • Do you savor them fondly?
        • Do you ever say, “I remember when…?”

Photo by Gabriel Craciun

Good memories can be the glue to hold us together.  During a struggle or impasse in our relationship, cherished memories can provide a cooling place of respite, an oasis of sorts.  As we remember the happy times of closeness and connection, we also remember how we felt loved and appreciated and how we in turn loved.

Good memories give hope and provide a safe harbor in a troublesome storm.

Some of you may remember the 1973 movie “The Way We Were” with Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand.  It was a sad chronicle of a troubled young couple, from infatuation, courtship, marriage and unfortunately, final separation.  The theme song, sung by Barbra Streisand, is very poignant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju29bXJDHDk

In the song, she remembers

“the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave one another.”

She is reflecting on the happy times in their relationship, when they laughed and smiled together.  The times were easy and life wasn’t complicated.  They had few troubles and worries and their relationship wasn’t torn by changing desires and directions.  And she asks,

“Can it be that it was so simple then?”

Most of our relationships do start out simple.  We are in love.  You love me and I love you. Simple.  No children, no big financial issues, no career crisis.  Just simple.

And then life happens.

We get married, have a few kids, get into debt.  We find that we don’t have enough time to talk.  No date nights.  No weekends away.  No time for each other.  And we drift.  Then we look back to those happy memories.  Happy times.  The laughter.  And so the song ends with,

“So it’s the laughter, We will remember,

The way we were, The way we were.”

Here are my thoughts on memories.  Not only should you cherish them and hold them dear, but you should revisit them often.  Turn off the TV, laptop, and  phones and set aside a snuggle time together.  Put on a few candles and some soft background music.  Cuddle up and one of you can begin to share some of your favorite memories together.  The special weekend away a few years ago when Grandma had the kids.  Your first date.  Your first kiss.  Each of you share and take time to savor the memories.  Tell your spouse why each memory was so special for you.

And then make it a point to make new memories you can add to your library of memories.

They are like deposits to a bank account that you can withdraw anytime you need some hope in the midst of a struggle, or just a smile and a laugh together.

Memories of “The Way We Were!”

A New Year

Photo by Shondra Hull

Photo by Shondra Hull

Can it be? 2016 is almost over! It’s amazing to me how fast each year goes by. And many of us engage in the practice of making a list of what we want to get done in the next year. The “Resolutions” list.

Admit it! You’ve done it. Some of you even write them down. You cross off a few. And by February you’ve lost the list.

Some of you have a mental list. That’s easier to dispose of since you don’t even have to lose it. You can just quietly forget about it.

OK, I’m be being a little hard on you. Actually, I’m being hard on me. I have done this over and over. My resolving is a habit. But, to be fair, I have done some of what I resolved. But some things keep showing up, year after year. Ah, some day, I will have the old things done and will start the new year with a fresh list.

Optimism is what we need. An optimistic view. We can do this. Yes, we can!

So, this year, let me help you with a basic ready-made

Resolutions List for My Marriage

I Resolve to Love my spouse, not just in word but in action.

  1. I will look for ways to demonstrate my love to my spouse.
  2. I will actively seek what tangible acts I can do to show my love.
  3. I will make a point of saying “I love You” every day.

I hereby RESOLVE to love my spouse.

I Resolve to Forgive my spouse.

  1. Let this be the year I truly let go of anything I am harboring against my spouse.
  2. I will forgive my spouse.
  3. I will just “Let it go.”
  4. I will pray for God to give me the grace to forgive as I have been forgiven.

I hereby RESOLVE to forgive my spouse.

I Resolve to take time with my spouse.

  1. I will spend quality time with my spouse each week.
  2. I will get a babysitter if needed to get alone time with my spouse.
  3. I will not allow my time with my spouse to be second, third, or fourth on my priority list.
  4. My time with my spouse will be number one.
  5. I will plan a weekend away once every three months.
  6. I will plan a week away once this year.

I hereby RESOLVE to spend time with my spouse.

I Resolve to work on my marriage.

  1. I will make my marriage a priority.
  2. I will work on better communication.
  3. I will read a book or two on marriage.
  4. I will attend a marriage seminar.
  5. I will make every effort to make my marriage better this year than last.

I hereby RESOLVE to work on my marriage.

Photo by Roger Kirby

Photo by Roger Kirby

That’s a great start!

Prayerfully consider the above list and modify if you must, but do RESOLVE to get closer to the wonderful spouse the Lord has given you.