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.

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!”

Christmas Time Again

image by Krzysztof Szkurlatowski

image by Krzysztof Szkurlatowski

What a wonderful time of year when the sights and sounds of Christmas are everywhere. Trees are decorated with beautiful lights, the nativity is placed for all to see, familiar songs play in the background every place you visit. Christmas cards are sent and received with letters updating us on how other families are doing. Gifts are wrapped and ready to give. The grandkids are all excited about coming over to visit. The plans for dinner are made and the house has the familiar decorations here and there. Ah, what a wonderful time of the year.

At this time of year, we are reminded about peace and goodwill to all which brings back a particular memory for me. In high school one year, I was privileged to get the part of Scrooge in the play “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

What a wonderful story of a man who lived his life in pain and total lack of peace and joy, consumed by greed and self-interest. He was filled with regrets and despair. He was isolated and separated from his world. The name Ebenezer Scrooge has become synonymous with selfishness and greed.

A sad tale in one sense. On the one hand he had everything. Rich and wealthy, he could have anything he wanted. Money was no object. And yet, he had nothing. His life was empty. He did not open his heart to relationships. He closed himself off and walled himself in. He was a bitter and angry man who lacked compassion and understanding.

A sad broken man.

But this is also a story of redemption. A story about how this sad lonely man chose to turn from his despicable ways and be transformed. He got a glimpse into his past life to reflect on how things were before he hardened his heart. He could see he did at one time have joy in his life. He also had a glimpse into his present life, a life filled with selfishness, greed and a total lack of compassion. Finally, he was allowed to look into the future. A bleak, dismal, and dark future.

And then he made a choice.

“I can choose this day to change. I can choose to open my heart.”

Scrooge was redeemed. He was filled with joy, compassion, and love for others.

Photo by G-Man

Photo by G-Man

My prayer for each of you this Christmas, is for you to open your heart to the wonderful spouse the Lord gave you. Or if you are in a strained relationship with someone in your family, then open your heart to them. Seek forgiveness, restoration, and healing. And open your heart to your friends. Seek to heal the hurts of the past and let go of the bits of “Scrooge” in you.

And then we can all say with joy the last lines in the play,

             “God Bless us, Every One!”

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!

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.