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

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.

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.

Love is an Action Verb

This week our Marriage Ministry at church began a series by Andy Stanley called Staying In Love. He says falling in love is the easy part, because you only need a pulse. But staying in love requires much more.

Our culture allows for an easy out if a relationship has struggles and he explains many have a very low pain threshold when it comes to working through the inevitable relationship struggles all couples face. Many end a relationship because they just don’t get along anymore. Others say they have lost their loving feelings.

Andy points out love starts as a feeling, but later should become an action. That is, love should be a verb and not a noun. As a noun, falling IN LOVE, is often based on chemistry, beauty, and the best behavior people maintain during the dating phase.

But Andy reminds us love is an action verb and to love one another as Christ loved the church.

  • We need to actively seek HOW to love our spouse.
  • We need to selflessly LOVE them.

And when we do, we build the core of a truly remarkable relationship. We are giving to one another and the very act of giving creates an atmosphere for love to be returned.

Photo by Joanna Kopik

Photo by Joanna Kopik

I have often used this illustration: Imagine that you are each a plant, with a unique need for certain ingredients to survive. You can check out my previous blog, “Water Often.” People need affirmation, care, help, understanding, and physical love just as plants need soil, water, nutrients, and sunlight. If you do not give these ingredients in the right quantity, your spouse cannot flourish and will die just like a deprived plant. You are the only one who can give these ingredients to your spouse. He depends on you to love and nurture him in his unique way.

The message is this: pay careful attention to what your spouse needs and lovingly supply their needs. Become a student of what your spouse needs to grow and flourish.

Love in action requires us to do the things that demonstrate our love. Expressing love to your spouse verbally may be good, and even needed. It is important to tell your spouse that you do indeed love them. “Honey, I love you”.

But if the words are never followed by action, the words become meaningless and hollow. So not only should we tell our spouse we love them, we must also selflessly do the things that show them. Ask them what things you could do on a regular basis to show them your love, and actively work at giving to them the very things that demonstrate love.

In this case, helping them turn green is a loving thing!

It’s Time to Be Positive

Remember the story of Chicken Little who ran around wailing that the sky was falling?And Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore who always sees things from a pessimistic perspective. Poor Eeyore, the glass was always half empty and the grass was greener in someone else’s yard.

Here’s a personal growth lesson – work on you! It’s amazing that we can come up with all sorts of advice that would make our spouse a better person. If only they would change this, learn to say things differently, dress better, or if they would just have some manners! Wow, life could be so much easier. It’s easy to see what others could change.

Instead, we need to be better at seeing what we can change in ourselves to improve our relationship with our spouse.

Let me ask you this: Have you arrived? Or are you a work in progress? Hopefully you chose the second and see there are things YOU need to change to improve your relationship. Take responsibility for those things right now. Don’t wait until “they” get “their” stuff together. You get your stuff together! Work on you. Be positive. Change takes time but you can make small incremental positive steps forward .

Do you need some ideas of what to work on? That’s really simple. ASK! That’s it. Ask

Photo by Lorinc Nyitrai

Photo by Lorinc Nyitrai

your spouse this question,

“Honey, what are a few things that I can work on to show you I love you?”

Then add this,

“No, really, I would like to know because I want to work at those things you need from me to help us have a closer relationship.”

She will probably be skeptical because she’s been telling you for years. But, be positive. Even if she has a “Yeah, right, you’re going to work on it” attitude. Commit to work on changing YOU.

For example, your wife may need a “break time.” Away from kids, chores, dishes and floors. So, plan ahead and give her a note saying you will watch the kids while she has the day with friends, shopping, or whatever she’d like. One husband packed her suitcase, checked  her into a hotel room, said good night, and left. He told her he wanted her to have some alone time to relax, read, and just take a break. She loved it.

Find out what would make your wife feel loved and just do it!

Photo by  Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Photo by
Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Here’s another example: your husband may really appreciate it you would take the lead in the bedroom some time. For some of you ladies, that may be a stretch. Just go for it. You know what he likes! Make him feel special. Be positive and see what a wonderful response you get.

And finally, we all need to remember the story of the Little Engine that said over and over again, “I think I can, I think I can”. Work on those things in you that will have a positive impact on your relationship and see what happens.

I Just Want to Quit, Part 2

Last time we looked at the frustration of dealing with a sensitive issue in your relationship, one that you have been working on for years, many many years.

Here are a few of my thoughts on how to proactively step through the process of working it out.

Photo by Ryan Forkel

Photo by Ryan Forkel

1. Pray. Understand that at the core, this is a spiritual battle. You need to pray for your spouse every day. Even if you are convinced that they are “the problem”, pray for him. Pray for her. And not a prayer like “God, would you open his eyes to see his problem” but rather a prayer lifting her up, thanking God for the spouse given to you. You can check out these two great books by Stormie Omartian,

2. Understand God’s desire is for you to have a GREAT relationship. That’s right! He wants your marriage to be an example to the world, your neighbors, fellow workers, of what His relationship is to His church. He doesn’t want you to have a mediocre or tolerable relationship. He wants you to be in love, full of joy and passion.

3. As you are praying, God may open YOUR eyes to see something in yourself that YOU must change. At the core of a close Godly relationship is a belief that we are to selflessly love one another. Love your spouse as Christ loves you. This is sacrificial love, forsaking yourself and following Christ’s example to love unconditionally.

4. Try again to lovingly discuss the issue with your spouse. Never get angry, threaten, or force yourself. Understand that it is OUR issue. In order for your relationship to be close, you both need to work toward a resolution.

5. If you are still at an impasse, seek Godly help. Get with another couple that you respect and see if you can work together to get to the bottom of the issue and resolution.

6. Never give up. Try to picture your relationship in the future when you are no longer dealing with this issue, when you have a loving and healthy relationship filled with joy. Keep that picture in mind and work at it. Work takes time, so never give up along the way.

I am reminded of a song by Jesus Culture, One Things Remains. Click to hear it…

 

That’s Christ’s love for us. He will never fail us, He will never give up on us, and He will never run out on us. Never. Love your spouse with that kind of love, and I believe you will be able to work through ANY issue by His grace. Pray and believe, and watch the miracles that God can do in your relationship.

 

Hey, I Need Help! Part 2

Last time we looked at how chores around the house can cause major stress in your marriage. If one spouse feels they do a majority of the chores while their partner relaxes, this can lead to resentment and anger.

So how do you divide these chores up so  no one is feeling  they are doing an unfair percentage of the work load?

First, do either or both of you need an attitude change?

Photo by Rachael Ball

Photo by Rachael Ball

Maybe you do most of the work…. But do you have expectations of your spouse that cause you to demand things your way? Have you lost your servant heart in all the resentment? Fix your attitude and get in a place where you can forgive and start a new discussion with a servant heart.

And if you suddenly realize that you are the one relaxing, then it’s time for you to think through why that is. Do you notice when things need to be done or your spouse is exhausted? Do you wish he or she was more relaxed? When you think of helping out with chores, how does that make you feel? Maybe you are OK with messiness, or maybe you just don’t want to help out. Figure it out and make a decision to be a servant to your spouse and take part in keeping your household orderly.

Now you can have a discussion to clear the air and start fresh. Listen to understand each other. Forgive if needed. Bend if that helps. Throw out any unrealistic expectations.

List all of the tasks that you both do around the house by frequency.

Photo by Belinda Bohlken

Photo by Belinda Bohlken

Decide which tasks you each prefer to do on a regular basis. For example: One may prefer to cook. That’s great. You’re probably better at it and don’t mind doing it. Narrow the list this way.

The rest you need to creatively work at dividing up.

Maybe neither of you want to vacuum. But you can trade off every other week. One may decide to do the vacuuming if the other spouse mops. You can horse trade. I’ll do this if you do that. Try to work through the list with this give and take cooperative attitude. Be creative. The goal is to equitably share the chores.

If there are items left on the list still, you could agree to do those together. Four hands work faster!

Every family is unique. Your situation may determine who does what chore. If only one spouse is working, the other spouse will usually have more on their list. Find a way to work at sharing the work load around the house so that no one feels they are doing an unfair amount of the work.