How “Encourage Him” and “Expect a lot of yourself” Went:
Ok, this is another opportunity to be honest with you. I wish that I could tell you that we had a great day yesterday. I wish that I could say that everything went swimmingly and we are the happiest couple on the planet. I COULD say that, but it would be a lie. Our marriage is under attack. No, it’s not another woman or another man, it’s us. Something I’m learning along the way is that, working on our marriage isn’t going to make everything perfect, as a matter of fact, it’s going to be much harder than I thought. We still have the same issues that we had before. One of those being that we have trouble communicating with each other. For some reason, I thought that when we were working on our marriage, our old issues would go away and the only issue we would have is Satan. Well, it’s not true. You still end up struggling with the same problems, but then because you are trying to work on improving your marriage, you have Satan causing problems too. It’s actually almost twice as hard as it was before. So where does that leave us? Fighting a battle together, but at times, acting like we are fighting a battle against each other. This is obviously not the way things are supposed to be, and hopefully, one day it will get easier, and one day it will get better but it will take a lot of work. We are good now, no longer arguing, but it’s still not what I wanted, and I’m sure that that’s not what my husband wanted. On the up side, now we are both not feeling well (possibly the flu) so perhaps God is giving us this opportunity to slow down and take care of each other because that’s exactly what we are doing! Now what do we do? We press on!
F: Flexibility Breeds Contentment:
The thing about life is that it’s full of disruptions. It’s full of unexpected knocks at the door, random phone calls in the middle of the night, and of course, unplanned illness. The problem is though, as annoying as unexpected life events can be, what can be even more annoying is when our spouse throws unexpected things into the mix.
Growing up, I saw a lot of that. My dad is what my mother would call a “social butterfly”. I’m convinced that if it were up to him, we would have gone to every single social event that life had to offer, and spend very little time at home. My mother on the other hand, was the exact opposite. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t a wall-flower, or one of those people that is so anti-social you worry about them going berserk on a crowd of people one day, she’s just one of those people that is content to say “hi” to you and be on her way. This would cause a strain as my dad would constantly invite others over to our house after church, or accept invitations for our family to go over to other people’s houses. It drove my mother CRAZY! The thing is, she, like me, has trouble eating other people’s food. We aren’t stuck-up or snooty, but rather possibly a bit paranoid. Think about it this way: you go to someone’s house who has dinner prepared, but what you DON’T know is that they never wash their pots and pans, and when they were preparing it they sneezed in the food. We actually KNOW a woman (someone famous in Baptist circles so I won’t mention her name), that told us the following story: her husband had invited guests over to eat for them one day. He gave her 24 hours notice, so she was good to go. She decided to make a lemon cake. At some point, she realized that ants had crawled into her batter, she didn’t have the ingredients, nor the time to start over. So what she did was put poppy seeds in the cake. Her guests LOVED it, as did her husband even though she kept TRYING to tell him to stop eating the cake! It’s a funny story, but it does kind of make you want to think twice about accepting dinner invitations doesn’t it? Well, anyway, back to my parents. As I said, my dad constantly got us invited places and invited people over to our house, which drove my mother (and sometimes me) up the wall. I knew that almost every time this happened my parents would get into an argument. Pretty much the same argument. My mother would be angry that he didn’t talk to her first, and he would really have no clue as to why it was a big deal. Nothing ever really got settled because it happened over and over again. The thing is though, he didn’t HAVE to stop, because he knew his wife, my mother, would act like a lady. She never embarrassed him, they didn’t get into arguments in the presence of the guests (or hosts), she acted like a lady. Now, I thought this was something that would go on until the day that they died, but I was wrong. After talking to my mother a couple of years ago about this, she said that they kind of met in the middle. My dad started to talk to her first more often, and when they did get invited to places, my mother purposed to go with a good attitude. It definitely changed things for them.
My marriage is somewhat similar. My husband is very shy, while I’m extremely outgoing. Usually what happens in our case is that I get to know the woman of the couple, and after a while, my husband gets to know the man. Now after he gets to know someone, he can talk to them like they have been friends since birth, but until then he’s really shy. In our household, we both have a weird way of dealing with social gatherings. I’m all for having gatherings at our home, but they must be planned weeks in advance, I want everything to be perfect and it becomes really stressful because I’m stressed about everything being perfect. My husband is happy to have a couple of people over to our home (we don’t have a large house), but most of the time he prefers meeting up with a couple somewhere, which can also be stressful as we have the kids. I realized recently though that we had somewhere along the line met in the middle. Here’s our story. Several months ago, our family moved out to the country, there’s two acres of land, we have three bedrooms two baths. It’s nice, but there’s a LOT of work needed both on the house and the lawn. Well, our pastor’s wife (who I would consider my friend), was so excited that we were moving out to the country. She said “hey in August we are going to come over and see the meteor shower that’s supposed to happen!” The whole conversation made me smile, because the mark of a true friend is one who doesn’t say “hey could we come over” but one who says “yeah…I’m coming over be ready!”. So I loved it, I was so excited, and I told my husband who was totally fine with it, but because it was going to be from about 11pm-1am he said he’d have to go to bed so he could go to work in the morning. No big deal right. So my pastor’s wife was bringing herself and three other people. I thought: well that will be fun, I’ve never seen meteors and it will be nice to spend time together. Then, because this was on a Sunday evening, we decided that she and her family would come to our house to eat first, then her husband (the pastor) would leave with their children and put them to bed, while the rest of us stayed and watched the shower. I figured, since we are having a cookout, why don’t I invite a friend from work? I didn’t think she would even come, but she accepted the invitation and brought herself, her daughter, and her boyfriend. Then, I thought about the fact that there would be no one for my husband to talk to. Who better to invite than a couple from church that we had just recently made really good friends with? Since we had two couples from church coming, I realized that my kid’s God-mother and one of my best friends should come with her family too. Do you see where this is headed? One thing lead to another and all told there were over 20 people at our house. We have a grill that’s made to cook for a small family, that my husband cooked on all night, with the help of his friend who held a flashlight over the grill…oh and our grill is CHARCOL. That’s right! They had to get the charcoal to light. They also had to bring our dining room table outside with meant taking the door of the hinges. This was no small thing. This was a LOT, and I put EVERYBODY to work! In the end, I had fun, but I was worried that my husband would be so annoyed the next day. What surprised me was what he actually said: “I had a lot of fun! I hope we can do it again next year, plus then we will have everything more straightened out and more organized!”
So I said all of that to say this, things don’t always happen the way that you expect them in marriage, but you have to be flexible. If you keep working on flexibility, one day you might find that you have actually met in the middle and that you are BOTH enjoying yourselves. It also makes your relationships with other people better, because neither of you spends their time being angry and annoyed with each other while socializing. This of course does not only apply to socializing, it applies to all areas of your life. Remember though, that flexibility in a marriage is just like physical flexibility. You don’t just wake up one day and discover that you can do splits and turn yourself into a pretzel, it takes time and work, and after you do become more flexible, you have to continue to work at it to remain limber. So KEEP BEING FLEXIBLE!
F: Forget the past
This one is hard for me. I grew up with a family that can tell you everything that you’ve done wrong since the time that you were an infant. The sad thing is though, that our family would pride ourselves in that. It’s really one of the WORST traits a person can have, and it’s something that can be passed down from generation to generation. If you are reading this right now and thinking “my spouse remembers everything I’ve done wrong all the time!” I want you to consider the story that follows.
I am really OCD about certain things, and one of them is food. I know that my mother often struggled to put food on the table but she always made it happen. I have become really OCD about it though. So, what I do is purchase almost everything in pairs. So instead of buying one jar of peanut butter, I buy two. Instead of one can of green beans, I buy two. Everything for us comes in twos. I have one hard-fast rule: we NEVER eat the last one of anything unless we absolutely need to. Therefore, if we are down to the last chicken finger, no one gets to eat that until I replenish them. I know it sounds insane, and it really isn’t a good thing being as God calls us to depend on HIM not ourselves for our DAILY bread, and not be consumed about what’s going to happen tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.). This is something that I struggle with. Well, two years ago, my husband ate the last pop tart in the house. When I realized it, I was REALLY upset, and said that I would NEVER purchase pop tarts again (which I didn’t for about a year). My husband and I just recently got into an argument where I brought up that pop tart he ate two years ago. HOW STUPID IS THAT? Don’t judge! You’ve gotten into some dumb arguments too!
So here’s the deal, in most relationships there’s at least one person, or sometimes both people bring up the past, either during arguments or just random discussions. It’s not a good thing, not for either of you. What it does, is it makes one person feel like no matter what they do, they will never be able to make up for the past. It also breeds a seed of bitterness in the other person’s heart as they are constantly remembering and reminding the other person of things that have happened in the past. Instead, we need to forgive and forget, in the way that God does: Isaiah 43:25 says: I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Hebrews 8:12 says: For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. One of my personal favorites is Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Think about it, you can never travel so far east that you are starting to head west. God forgets our sins, and he’s PERFECT. He’s NEVER done anything wrong. He has every right to remember every single thing we’ve ever done wrong. We on the other hand are sinners, we have done a LOT wrong, we have no right to hang on to the past and the sins of others. So to truly forgive, we need to try to do what God does. Am I going to work on this? ABSOLUTELY. Do I think I’ll do it great right away? NO WAY! I’ve had YEARS of practice holding on to stuff, so it will probably take quite a while to learn to let go, but it’s something that I want to do to improve my marriage.
I hope that those who are following this blog are enjoying it. I also hope that you are continuing to pray for our family, because we really do need it! For those who are trying to do this as well, we will keep you in our prayers. Feel free to comment at any time and let me know so that we can be praying for you! Until tomorrow!