A few weeks ago while visiting with my parents in Kelowna, British Columbia, my mom and I started talking about marriage. She looked me straight in the eyes and asked: “Sweetie, what do you think is one of the most important ingredients in a marriage to make it successful?” My instant and candid response was, “Communication”. My husband Tim and I have been married for over twenty years and, and in my experience, the happiest times in our marriage are the times when we are communicating well with each other.
This is not something that happens overnight. When Tim and I started dating, we would sit side by side on a bench in the park for long periods of time and not say anything to each other. I remember thinking; “Is this really the right person for me? We hardly know what to say to each other?” Over the years we’ve learned how to open up to each other. But we have worked through a lot of these struggles and continue the complicated and ongoing process of learning how to communicate. However, here are some of the things I’ve learned so far:
1. Don’t be vague with your feelings. Men don’t like to play the guessing game. If you’re angry, don’t slam the cupboards and drawers in an attempt to have him ask you what is wrong. The longer it takes him to ask you if you’re mad, the madder you will get. Does it sound like I’m talking from experience? Believe me, I’ve tried this, and it doesn’t work. Tell your husband you’re upset and why. Try not to say, “you always” or “you never”, because this will make him feel defensive. Use phrases like, “I feel upset because I asked you 3 times to take out the garbage, and you didn’t do it”. This leads up to the next point.
2. Don’t let your feelings build up to the point of exploding. This is something I struggle with a lot. I want to be the nice one, and not dump my feelings all over people. What we often don’t realize is that negative feelings do not go away. Instead, they continue to build up inside of us. One day you can’t even look at your spouse and you feel incredibly angry and you don’t even know why. It’s difficult to get back to a good relationship when you’ve let your anger and resentment build up.
3. When feelings are overwhelming, try to take some time to cool off. It sounds like the opposite of what I just said. But what I’m talking about is to take an hour or two, or maybe a day to try to figure out why you’re upset. Then you need to stop and pray about it. Sometimes we need a new perspective on our situation. I find that when I pray about a very emotional situation the Holy Spirit will open my eyes to see situations in a new light, or through the eyes of another person. Talking things out is important, but when we’re extremely emotional we spurt things we don’t mean and that can severely damage our relationships.
4. Communication is verbal and non-verbal. Am I scowling when my husband comes home from work or do I greet him with a smile? What we don’t say can be just as powerful as what we do. Touch is a huge form of communication and a hug and a kiss either given or rejected can speak volumes.
These days, it can be difficult to find that time that you need to really communicate, the distractions are overwhelming. Take some time to turn off the TV, ignore the phones, put down the IPad and really talk to your spouse. When we don’t take the time to communicate we won’t feel close to our spouse and that can become very lonely. Taking the time to communicate with our spouse is a very important investment that we can make in our marriage; it creates a connection that will build the foundation for a strong and lasting relationship.
Archive for the Balancing life Category
Some predictable patterns evoke a sense of pleasurable anticipation. For example. My husband and I can’t wait for golfing season to start so that we can golf on every available Friday. This pattern is full of joy and freedom because it is something Jack and I love to do. But there are predictable patterns that turn into boredom, rob us of all freedom, suck away our joy and may leave us feeling depleted and even resentful. These are the patterns that evolve from repeated and endless duty and obligations. Once an obligation or duty becomes predictable…be prepared for the danger signs.
Let’s be realistic. In all marriages there are obligations that must be met every day. But there comes a time when we have to change our routines or pull away from them for a short time so that we don’t turn into time management robots. As I observe marriages these days, my heart aches for couples that are caught into the predictable pattern of work, driving children to activities, paying bills, going to meetings and the myriad of tasks that endlessly fill their days. We cannot experience the joy and fullness of marriage if we don’t break away from these predictable patterns and get reaquainted with the person we said “I do” to. Relationships cannot survive without eyeball to eyeball conversations and heart connection intimacy. Here are a few suggestions for breaking the patterns:
1.Unplug. Put away your phone, I-pad, computer, game boy and anything that resembles a piece of technology. Yes, those pieces of plastic and wire are important, but not more important than answering your child’s question, or your spouses plea for an important conversation. Pour your favorite drink, sit down, look each other in the eyes and talk.
2.Go away. Do something different. If you go to aunt Sophie’s house each summer, it may be nice visit, but over the years this may have turned into another assumed predictable pattern. Go to the mountains..the ocean…explore an area that you’ve never seen before. Try golfing, playing a new game, go to a different restaurant, try a new ice cream, buy coloured shoes, a different coffee shop or maybe it’s time to attend a marriage retreat.
3.Laugh. When was the last time you laughed? I mean belly laughed! Laughter has the power to heal wounds, it breaks down tension, and puts a new perspective on our relationships. Go to a funny movie..or download one on your tv or computer. A quick and easy fix is to watch some Brian Regan (the comedian) clips on utube…together. They are guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.
4.Prepare a Romantic night. Yes, get dressed up and go to a romantic restaurant where you have to sit across from each other and talk. Talk about your future. Dream about possibilities. Remember how funny you once were!
5.Give each other freedom. Tell your wife to go shopping for as long as she wants. Tell your husband to go golfing and not worry about rushing home. We all need to know that we are not TRAPPED into a certain time frame all the time. Because when we begin to feel trapped, we will find other means of pleasure.
We are living in a time in history where many marriages are struggling to survive the many demands that bombard us every day. Please do not be one of those that thinks it will be easier to walk from the marriage than to fight for it.
God made us to be fulfilled in our relationships. The only way we can thrive is to spend the most valuable commodity we have to succeed. TIME.
Please take the TIME to break some predictable patterns and change them into freedom finders. Freedom to be who God created you to be as your own person..and a successful spouse.
Five years ago my husband Jack and I “skipped Christmas”. Quite simply, we wanted to know what it felt like to let go of all the Christmas expectations and self imposed tension. What would a Christmas season be like without waiting in lines, looking for parking spots, finding the perfect gift and feeling exhausted from fulfilling all the traditions and obligations that are supposedly inflicted on us?
Just last week I was in a Christmas decoration aisle in a huge department store, buying ribbon for our office party. A young couple was pushing a shopping cart down the aisle and in the middle of an argument. I could see the tension and frustration on her face and the anger in her voice: “This is not just for me you know; this is for OUR Christmas. I am just trying to make it a nice Christmas for OUR family.” Sadly I saw the vacant look in the man’s eyes and I could see he just didn’t get this “Christmas thing.”
I wish I could l have grabbed them by the shoulders and told them what my I, as a woman, learned about simplifying and enjoying the Christmas season. Here is what I learned the year we “skipped Christmas”:
1. We have to realize we cram a year’s worth of shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and entertaining into about 30 days. Realize how impossible this is to do is without tension.
2. Many women, including myself, feel guilt ridden and responsible for creating the perfect story book Christmas. The kind we see on magazine covers, TV commercials and then pulling it together like it happened in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Do whatever it takes to get rid of that guilt and those expectations.
3. We don’t HAVE to send out Christmas cards. Our family now sends out a “Happy New Year” letter toward the end of January when life has settled into a more relaxed and manageable routine.
4. We don’t HAVE to spend a lot of money on the perfect gift. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t need another new thing that might end up in a cupboard or drawer. We decided as a family to give to organizations that really need our support. The greatest gift we can give each other in this crazy busy life is the “gift of time.” The grandchildren still get presents but make it simple and not exorbitantly priced. Send the extra money to children who really need it.
5. Sit down and ask your husband what type of things he would like to do to make Christmas meaningful for him. If he’s not interested in doing all “that stuff”, don’t load yourself with all the self-imposed expectations of creating the story book Christmas. The tension is not worth it.
6. Simplify the baking. Instead of 10-12 different items, chose 1 or 2 items your family really likes and get the children involved in the baking. Make it fun not stressful.
7. Pack your Christmas decorations away each year so that the following year it is easy to set them up. For example, I label my containers “kitchen-foyer-dining room table” etc. When I bring the container up from the basement, I open it and plunk these items exactly where they belong. If you need to buy new decorations; buy them AFTER Christmas when they are 70% off the last sale price and there are no long line ups.
8. It is more important to have harmony and love in our marriage and homes, than to buy into this new marketing scheme called “The Holidays.”
It has been a harsh reality for me to see that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; yet we don’t invite Jesus to His own birthday party. When I see the Christmas season through this perspective, it hurts my heart to see what I am doing to commercialize this Holy Christmas Season. I need to do whatever I can to stop this insanity.
Past hurts make us say crazy things. Hurtful words can be like an ugly misguided scud missile that has the power to rip apart our tender and easily wounded hearts. I have been the receiver and giver of those “miss”-guided words.
Our wounds MAY cause us to misinterpret the intent of someone’s words to us. This is so true in a marriage where we carry on conversations every day of the year. Imagine the “miscommunications” that can occur on a daily basis.
I am very familiar with the story of a wife who wanted new blinds for the bedroom. She asked if it would be OK if we spent XX dollars on new blinds. The husband immediately responded No.
MISCONCEPTION and MISCOMMUNICATION:
Wife: She is a home-maker who loves to create a beautiful home. The sun shines into the bedroom at uncomfortable hours of the day. She wanted to solve the problem.
Husband: He works hard to earn a good income for the family so that the wife does not have to work. He has given in to similar requests in the past and it seems quite frivolous, and a waste of money. Things are tight at work, he is working hard to make a good living for the family but right now the budget cannot afford something as unnecessary as blinds.
Wife: Receives the NO as a hurtful response. Something in her past triggers a wound of not having her needs met and her father sharply saying NO for no reason.
Husband: Feels he works hard and no one seems to notice that he gets no respect or gratefulness for all his hard work. He feels the NO is perfectly justified.
So we are dumbfounded when another missile hits our hearts. We feel unheard, angry, overlooked, rejected and unloved. What actually happened is that there has been another “MISGUIDED REPRESENTATION” of what was really happening. The wife’s heart becomes more wounded, and the husband feels even more attacked and less respected. The misguided missiles have hit a vulnerable target and it is another step to a full out war.
Our words have the power to bring hope, healing, understanding and LOVE. But…they also have the power to destroy, crush, wound and…DEATH to our soul. We need to be aware of the past hurts in our life that cause us to perceive and formulate our own perceptions of the words that we hear. We are all guilty of that. It is especially true in our marriages where we have opened up our hearts and made ourselves vulnerable to unguided missiles.
I have to remember that we live in a sinful and harsh world. All of us have past hurts, and wounded people wound other people. Now I know there is only one antidote for all our wounds. That is the healing power of grace. Grace in the human form of Jesus Christ who went to the cross to die for all our ugliness and to shed the blood of forgiveness over all our sin and wounds. The bible puts it this way: “Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).
When I stop and remember Jesus’ grace to me in the form of forgiveness, a gift I do not deserve,I have to take inventory of my wounded soul. I need to ask myself: “Heidi, how many times did you send a misguided missile into someone else’s heart? How many times have you hurt your husband, mother and children with harsh words that left them feeling condemned instead of loved? What emptiness and unresolved pain in your soul leaves room for feeling “mis”-understood and “mis”-taken? And now…how will you exercise grace?”Then I have no other option but to fall on my knees and ask for God to help me understand the real intent of the words that were spoken. Then I need to offer forgiveness for any misguided missiles that I have allowed lodging in my heart and infusing anger and resentment. I must do go through these heart checks and make a deliberate choice to forgive, because if these missiles are not detonated with the power of grace, they will eventually explode with resentment and destroy my soul.
Let’s be on a soul mission to apply grace and forgiveness in every area of our lives, especially where there is “miss”-understanding or when we “miss”-treat our husbands and children. I know that I want God’s grace to permeate every area of my soul…but especially my mouth. I don’t want any of my crazy words to “miss”-fire and accidently cause misery to my husband’s soul. Once words are spoken they cannot be taken back.
“Do you feel married?” How do you feel when you are in a season where everything seems to be changing? When the last child is off to University, a change in careers and the marriage seems too predictable and comfortable. I saw a movie a couple of weeks ago where the couple in the movie were considering divorce because “their marriage felt like a comfortable roommate”. Before I go any further let me just say that there are probably a million people out there who would love that “comfortable roommate.”
But for those of you who have been married a long time, we have to realize that we go through different stages in our marriages.
1. The “drug induced” stage. This is where your heart is overflowing with love and you in a pleasure filled state because your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals. We think this is what love should always feel like and we wish this stage would last forever. But struggles come along, tension arises and hopefully we go to the next stage.
2. The “distress stage”. This is where you are bu
ilding your life through having children, careers, mortgage payments, car payments and trying to find love and balance. This is the stage where you will be disappointed, feel resentment, perhaps rejected, angry and at times desperately wondering if you should stay in this tension filled marriage. At times you feel like you are being rubbed like sandpaper and you feel raw, vulnerable and unlovable. All of this tension, if you can work through it, will make you and your marriage partner better, stronger and wiser people.
3. The “stage of understanding”. During this stage of your marriage you may have read self help books, gone to counseling and been able to begin to understand how your partner thinks, reacts, listens and you have developed tools on how to function together.
4. The “stage of sweet connection”. This is a stage of coming to terms with each other’s idiosyncrasies, faults and shortcomings and you have developed a deep respect and connection with each other. This stage arrives after you have overcome many disappointments, struggles and you have learned to accept each other the way God created you. With this stage there sometimes comes a sweet contentment that may seem boring and predictable because you have outgrown the clashing, tension and different stages of both good and bad stimulation. You have not fallen out of love-you have learned to take life and yourselves, at the worst and best that each of you has to offer.
Perhaps there are health issues, extended family struggles, aging parents and financial difficulties that consume your energy and time and at times your marriage feels lifeless and boring. But you have learned through the different stages that “you have each other” and for this season in your life that may be just what you need. But don’t make that the status quo. Work towards bringing new activities, fresh ideas, renewed learning, and creative thinking to build the kind of marriage you always dreamed of. You know it’s possible. You have come this far, don’t throw it away.
I stood beside a woman in a line-up at grocery store last week, smiled and made a casual comment about groceries. She swirled around and with a frown on her face shot a mean response. Why? If we treat strangers this way, it makes me wonder if we bring some of that meanness into our homes and marriages. In the last while I have also felt like shooting back some of those angry responses and it has actually startled me. I would never, ever want to be mean to my husband, family or anyone. And yet it creeps in.
If we feel mean and mad, there is a root to those feelings. I took a deep soul inventory of my own heart, and here is what I came up with.
- For women, one of the greatest challenges is these days is that we are tired. Fatigue leaves us depleted and makes us very vulnerable. When we are tired we want to scream at the world, “Don’t you see how tired I am, please don’t add another thing to my day’s activities.”
- We feel mad and mean when there is no margin in our life. When our feet hit the floor in the morning and all we can think about is the endless list of things to accomplish that day…watch out when someone or something gets in our way to disrupt that agenda.
- When our present reality does not match the picture in our head.
- When we feel that we have not been heard.
- We feel hurt when we feel unloved, pressured, taken for granted or overlooked.
- We have had a poor upbringing or suffer from low self esteem.
- We may have grown up in an environment where this is how people treated each other.
- You may not be feeling well, you may be in constant pain or you find that life is just simply hard.
Whatever makes any of us feel mean, we have to be careful not to punish other people with our meanness. In our marriages we have to be aware that “mean does not cancel out mean.” We can’t be mean back and forth and expect the hurt to disappear.
Our homes and marriages should be those safe havens where we can share our frustrations, hurts and fatigue. Instead of being mean we need to communicate our hurts so that it defuses the “meanness.” The bible says: “Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in our lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT).
The next time you feel mean words ready to slip off the end of your tongue, STOP and listen to your heart to discover why you feel this way. Maybe it’s time to look at some of that stress in your life, the tension in your marriage or the days that leave no margin for laughter and fun. It’s time to tell your spouse that some things need to change. Meanness does not just go evaporate. Ask God to help you heal those things in your heart so that you can have the kind of marriages that are kind, tenderhearted..and flourishing.
I went into my first marriage as a young, insecure nineteen-year-old expecting my husband to love me, fulfill all my desires and complete me as a woman. I was in for a painful discovery that he expected the same from me. I am now in my second marriage and I learned some powerful life changing concepts from my first marriage.
When the policeman stood at my door 2 weeks before Christmas in 1994 to tell me my husband died suddenly while he was playing basketball; I felt like my life had also ended. My future seemed endless and meaningless and when I read in the bible that: “I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy” (Jeremiah 31:3), it almost irked me. Well, that’s fine for somebody else, I thought, but I can’t ever imagine feeling joy again.
Looking back I also realize that through our deepest pain, we learn how to have a different happiness…called “Joy”. You see there is a difference. In my first marriage my happiness depended on how my husband treated me. But through the pain that I have experienced, and now that I am in my second marriage, I have learned one of life’s greatest lessons: “Only God can fulfill me and make me joyful.” Happiness depends on my circumstances, but joy comes from the spirit of God. So now that I am in my second marriage, here are some of powerful and life changing lessons I have learned:
1. I can’t “expect” my husband to make me happy. None of us are wise or strong enough to meet each other’s needs. Most of us are broken people looking for each other to completely love us and fulfill those empty places in our soul. Only God can provide that kind of love. Our spouses cannot possibly be all things to we need for our personal development, and emotional and spiritual health. Our spouses are not the “savior of our soul”. If you and I are not a happy person, nothing in this world will make us happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness.
2. Let go of resentment…immediately. We become resentful when we have “unfulfilled expectations” of things we want our spouses to do to make us feel loved, validated, accepted and beautiful. It’s quite easy to keep smiling and let the toxic bile of resentment build in our soul. Yet we have to be aware that resentment is the #1 destroyer of relationships. Immediately we have to confront our own heart with the situation and decide if we are going to let the hurt go, or if we are going to confront it. More detail on how to handle this complicated and painful emotion, is found in my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making Bold Choices to Enrich Your Life (Chapter 5 – Resentment or Sweet Reasonableness).
3. Men need respect. This is a huge part of being in a loving and successful marriage. I have written about this before in many of my blogs because it is so important. Yet I know it is controversial because many women feel that their husbands don’t deserve respect. But, for men, knowing they are receiving your respect is even more meaningful and powerful than sex, or knowing they are loved. When we know it is so crucial; we have to orchestrate our actions to give our husbands the respect they need. Women need to feel loved, and it is the man’s responsibility to do that for his wife.
4. Create Story. (This is explained in detail on my blog “Create a Story”). Our marriage is like a book, if the book becomes boring, we put it down. We must create adventure, fun, laughter and stories in our marriage to keep it fresh, and interesting enough to want to be a part of it. We also need to keep ourselves interesting by staying fit, healthy, reading and personal growth. That doesn’t mean when life gets tough and uninteresting we walk away. Absolutely NO! It just means that we all want to enjoy life, and what better place to enjoy it than in the most beautiful union on this earth: marriage.
5. Praying together. This may be an awkward suggestion for many of you, but my second marriage has remained authentic, interesting, powerful and loving because of the power of prayer in our lives. There are so many struggles, pain and challenges in this life that we simply don’t know what to do with. So we go to a higher power: God. For the past fourteen Jack and I get up each morning to meet for time of reading the bible together and the spending time in prayer. I personally believe this has been the most beautiful and powerful aspect of our marriage.
Jack and I both believe that everything God makes is very good. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV). We both believe that, when we allow God to teach us how to have a good marriage, we will find the JOY we are looking for.
You will find more information on second marriages in Chapter 6 in my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making Bold Choices to Enrich Your Life.
Today I am celebrating sixteen, fulfilling, joyful years of marriage. Yes, this is my second marriage. My first husband died suddenly two weeks before Christmas while he was playing basketball. This utterly shattered my life and I clearly recall thinking I would never experience happiness again. I remember looking in the mirror and seeing my once blue, sparkly eyes, now dull grey, lifeless and heavy with sadness. The future seems endless and meaningless.
For those of you are going through a season of sadness or grief through the loss of death, divorce or separation; please hang on dear ones. Joy does come again in the morning. Our God is a God of restoration and second chances. Even though it does not feel like joy right now, believe it, pray for it and wait expectantly. But I am a firm believer in that we “must never waste our pain.” If it has not taught me anything, then I went through that for nothing. Here are just a few examples of what I have learned being married “the second time around.”
1. Accept each other just the way you are. The bible says it so clearly and emphatically. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love” (Eph. 4:2 Common English Bible). This is the hardest and most important component of any relationship. My husband accepts me and loves me without trying to change me. That is one of the greatest gifts anyone has given me. Acceptance says: “I love you just the way you are.”
2. Listen to each other. When we listen with our eyes, ears and hearts engaging in our conversations, we accept each other and are actually saying: “You are important enough for me to listen to your words.” This validates our feelings and affirms our value as a human being.
3. Be kind to each other. We live in a harsh, complicated and unkind world. We need a little kindness to put joy back into our days. Kindness says: “You are important enough for me to stop the busyness of my day and pay a little attention to you.”
4. Do something nice for each other. This is more than just being nice, it is about doing something nice. I know my husband loves deviled egg sandwiches with pickles and onions. I stopped what I was doing today to make him his favorite lunch. He will in turn wash my car, take my clothes to the dry cleaners or rub my feet when I am tired. It’s these small “nice things” that change our love from just feeling it, to actually doing something to show it.
5. Overlook small, petty irritations. Yes there are things in life that irritate me, but I have to realize I also do a lot of things that irritate other people. When my husband does things that are irritating (yes we all do), I try to close my mouth, look the other way and focus on all his wonderful qualities. When we chip away at our spouses at all the things that irritate us, we are in fact saying, “I don’t like this about you…and maybe I don’t even like you.”
Next week I will give you 5 more tips. In the meantime, soak up these 5 great points and see which ones you can work on during the next week. I would love it if you would drop me a line and tell me how YOU are doing.
“Whenever you were in a crowded room, your eyes would lock into an almost shameful, blushing, intimate exchange. You laughed at everything. The hours couldn’t move fast enough before you could see each other again. He listened to every word you said and you felt beautiful, treasured and safe. Then he asked you to marry him and you couldn’t believe you would spend the rest of your life with this tender, loving, brilliant and caring man.”
For many marriages those feelings and memories seem like sepia prints of an old, long forgotten movie. Your marriage has become more of a business arrangement scheduling the next meeting, family gathering or appointment. “Who will pick up the children at day care?” “Can you stop and pick up some milk and eggs after work?” “When are you going golfing this week?” “Don’t forget we need to be at the Browns on Friday night at 6:00…try to be on time.” Now it’s all about requests, schedule and demands. The lingering, intimate conversations have turned into impersonal staccato sentences.
We don’t just “fall out of love.” We have to understand that Love is not a feeling…it is an action. I don’t believe you fell out of love, I believe you fell out of “like.” God is love, when we love, it is the essence of God in our life. It doesn’t come and go…it just IS. Through our deliberate actions we can determinedly learn to love each other again. I know this for an absolute fact.
I’m not going to give you 10 – 12 steps on how to fall in love again, but I will ask you some thought provoking and probing questions about both of you. But you have to remember that: you can’t change him, but you can change yourself so that he will again see you as the person he fell in love with. Bring the fun and excitement back into your relationship.
1. What were your motives for marrying this man? Was it because you were afraid to grow old alone, or because you wanted to prove to your family and the world that you were worthy to be married? Or: did you choose to love him for the rest of your life?
2. Now that you have him, are you still the fun, interesting and attractive person you were when you were dating? Is he? What happened?
3. Have you become more like comfortable room-mates; letting the routine of life make you boring?
4. Do you still have the kind of home that both of you enjoy coming “home” to? Or, is it filled with tension, anger and endless “to do lists?”
5. Are you “not in the mood” too often?
6. Now that you “have him”…are you still interested in his sports teams and the sports equipment lying all over the garage floor?
7. Do you pursue YOUR passions?
8. Does he not give you the attention you need and make you feel beautiful anymore? Don’t wait for him to unleash your beauty; YOU take the time to exercise and make yourself attractive so that you will feel beautiful again? When you exude beauty, you will feel better about yourself and he will start to pay attention to you again.
9. When was the last time you asked him, “Are we happy? What can we do to make our marriage more meaningful, fulfilling and fun?”
10. What are the things that used to make you both laugh?
11. Do you pay more attention to the children than you do to him?
12. Have you become the “macho wife” that controls everything because things “just weren’t going your way?
13. Have you shut your husband out of your activities and conversations?
14. When you first met, what were the values and goals that you both shared? What has happened to them?
You see, we don’t just “fall out of love”. We get disappointed in the way things have turned out, we feel rejected or abandoned and start to nurture resentment. Then we build walls, start to carve out our own existence and perhaps become lonely. It’s time to break down the walls, pick up the broken pieces and begin to rebuild and restore something that at one time was obviously quite beautiful. God is love, and when we ask HIM to help us love again, I know He will give you the wisdom and desire to help you “fall in love all over again.”
When life is complicated we get irritated and frustrated. When I drive down our highway I am saturated with billboards that tell me how unsatisfying my life is. But I am told that it will be better when I move into the new million dollar subdivision, listen to THIS radio station, have laser surgery, and find freedom by going to THIS restaurant and never again having to do dishes. For the life of me I cannot figure out our 5 remote controls at home and I almost panic when I get a new piece of technology or kitchen appliance because that means I will have to read 77 pages of instructions. The last thing we need is a complicated marriage. Our marriage is supposed to be a haven of peace and joy…a reprieve from the onslaught of our crazy whirlwind, complicated life.
One of the greatest ways to un-complicate your marriage is by letting go a lot of unnecessary stuff. Like:
- Quit arguing over unnecessary, non life threatening, energy wasting stuff.
- Think about this: What will it benefit you to be right? Give up the power struggles in your marriage; at the end of the day most wins or loses probably won’t matter a hill of beans.
- How about re-wording and ending a disagreement by saying: “You’re probably right.”
- Re-think and re- frame your expectations. I said expectations not standards. Everything does not have to be done perfectly or right now. Breathe…let it go….
- Ask yourself this question: “Will it matter 10 years from now?” That question eliminates a lot of clutter.
- Instead of getting mad, say something nice. Kindness defuses offenses.
- Change the wording in your conversations and re-think your responses when someone asks you to do something, be somewhere or get involved in something. When someone suggests “You should do something”, rephrase it in your mind to, “Yes I COULD do this…I am quite capable, but how will this affect my marriage and family?”
- Eliminate the small stuff. Yes you’ve heard this before but now go and do it.
- Spend more time finding things to laugh about and do projects that give you pleasure.
10. Stop taking yourself so seriously; nobody else does.
11. Leave past garbage out of your conversations.
12. Make intentional choices to regain the freedom you were created to enjoy. Find the clutter that is hiding your freedom and reclaim it.
Most of us had a longing in our hearts to be married because we believed that “it is good to be married.” God also designed the concept of marriages to “be good.” One way to make them “good again” is to start with some of the basics in life by getting rid of all the unnecessary clutter and noise, and get back to that place of joy and freedom that we were created to enjoy.
The bible tells us in John 8:36 Amp. Version: ”So if the Son liberates you (makes you free men), then you are really and unquestionably free.”
I crave freedom; I believe we all do, but it’s not going to come looking for us, we have to pursue it.