Category Archives: Marriage

Mirror, Mirror

by: Kerri Young

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

I’m going to be really honest with you because I had an incredibly crushing and humbling experience the other day and I like to believe the Lord wants to use our mess-ups and life experiences to help others not do the same silly things we do.

Even though it is no excuse, my life is incredibly insane right now. Between my husband’s full-time job recruiting, my should be part-time but feels at least like ¾ time job coaching, the full-time job of partner raising for our upcoming adventure across the world, preparing to take on another full-time job of homeschooling, and the more than full-time job of parenting three young children, my husband and I are stretched thin some days. Okay, many days.

Lately our conversations revolve around romantic things like who’s writing what thank you and would you please pick up a package for me from my office? Most days we take it all in stride, but every now and then I get impatient and I start to get flustered that my husband doesn’t necessarily operate on the same time table as me. Things get done; however, they don’t always get done when I want them to get done.

If there is one thing the Lord keeps trying to teach me over and over again it’s that I need to let go of wanting things accomplished on my schedule. But, I guess I haven’t learned it yet; and I’ve been getting frustrated. Last week the Lord used my daughter to show me that not only have I been impatient, but I’ve also been terribly disrespectful to my husband in the process.

One night when the kids were watching the Olympics with my husband I was in the other room when I heard my girl tell her daddy that he needed to put his cell phone down and stop playing solitaire. I wish I could say she asked him in a sweet, loving tone, but it was nothing but sass and exasperation. Then she followed up her command by coming into the bedroom and tattling on her daddy for “playing on his phone.” I lovingly corrected my daughter and explained to her that she didn’t need to be telling daddy what to do, but didn’t think much else about it until….

The next evening we were preparing to go somewhere fun. As we were getting ready to go my daughter asked my husband to do something for her. When he didn’t respond immediately she took that as her signal to let him know he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing.  As I watched her innocent disapproval and disrespect for her daddy yet again my heart broke because I knew she was only emulating behavior she had seen from me. Mirror, mirror. Ouch!

It’s so easy for our frustrations to sneak into our verbal and non-verbal communication and turn our interaction into nagging or even belittling. Even though the disrespect might be subtle or even unintentional, it’s still there and my girl proved to me last week that she is picking up on it all and thinks if Mommy does it, it must be okay.  So, coming to you from a heart that desires to love and respect my husband and teach my children to do the same, will you please pray for me to make a concerted effort this week to speak words of truth and encouragement to my husband so that our kids will know how important it is to honor one another with our actions and our words? If you would like me to pray for you to do the same, please let me know in the comments below and join me in this prayer:

“Father God, thank you for the gift of my husband. Please help me to love him well, not only with my actions but with my words. Help me to honor and encourage, instead of disrespect or tear down. When I get frustrated, please help me to speak the truth in love and in constructive ways rather than nag or belittle. Help me teach my children how to honor and love their father as well. Thank You for Your grace, Your mercy, and the help you provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

 Related Articles:

Lessons Learned From My Daughter: Prayer

Lessons Learned From My Daughter: The Mirror

 

 

A Love Story

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Love and Marriage

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28

Right after we moved here almost two years ago we were eating out one day for lunch when an older gentleman came walking in the restaurant. It was hard not to notice him because he was pushing a woman in a reclining wheelchair in front of him. As someone held the door open for him, he smiled and pushed the woman through nonchalantly as if it was an everyday occurrence to be pushing someone around like he was.

As I looked on with curiosity my husband turned to see what was going on and said to me, “Oh, that’s Dr. Walters. He’s the retired professor from JBU I told you about. That’s his wife and she has multiple sclerosis (MS).” He proceeded to tell me that Dr. Walters took his wife with him everywhere, including to class when he would still teach on occasion.

As I watched with interest and awe I noticed that Lynda didn’t really say much, but she did constantly look up at her husband with a trusting smile and contented look of affection. He smiled right back at her, asked her what she wanted to eat and then after sitting down proceeded to feed her as he fed himself. It all seemed so normal and natural, but I couldn’t help but think how incredible the whole situation really was.

We saw the Walters out together on several other occasions after that and every time I became more inspired by Dr. Walters’ unconditional love for his wife and the way he gently took care of her every need. Despite her handicap, her inability to walk, bathe herself, get dressed on her own, etc. he looked at her with such pure love and compassion that it was enough to make me want to weep when I witnessed it.  Here was this man who had chosen to LOVE his wife in the purest meaning of the word because she was his best friend and he didn’t want to do life without her. What a tremendous reflection of God’s glory and grace, which is what marriage should be about!

According to an interview he gave for an article written by JBU Alum Hannah Nielsen last summer, Dr. Walters didn’t see his situation as presenting challenges as much as opportunities to “grow and reflect Christ.” He stated, “Opportunities is a word of potentialities. There is the potential of doing that which can only be done at this moment. There is the potential of showing loving-kindness in a tangible way. There is the potential of showing Lynda that she is more important than anyone or anything which might try to intrude on this holy moment. There is the potential to die to self. There is the potential of reflecting Christ, who came, ‘not to be served, but to serve and give His life.’ There is the potential of realizing that ‘we have come to the kingdom for such a time—opportunity—as this.”

What an amazing testimony! Sadly, not long ago, Lynda went home to be with her Savior, leaving a heart-broken husband and family behind. Dr. Walters was gracious enough to share his thoughts and prayers with the JBU family as the days led up to her death. Each email was filled with loving and conflicted words that expressed his desire to keep her here but also allow her to pass on to eternity and be healed. As he poured out his anguish and despair over the loss of his wife when the final day came, I couldn’t help but think there could be no truer example of what it means for a husband to give himself up for his wife like Christ did for us.  And I was so grateful I was able to catch even just a little glimpse of it.

If you need some inspiration to press on and LOVE in your marriage today, I encourage you to read more about Jim and Lynda Walters’ amazing love story with each other and Christ by clicking on this link which will take you to the special article I mentioned above. It’s a long story, but well-worth the read. Keep some tissues handy if you’re a weeper. =)

How Do I Love Thee?

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Love and Marriage

“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12 

The following are things I have learned in the past 12 years that have helped me focus on loving my husband. Some of these I do well and do regularly. Some of them I stink at and wish I did more often. Likewise, some of these might work for you and some might not. So, as always, feel free to pick and choose the suggestions that will work for you and ignore the rest if you’d like. I won’t be offended. =)

1. Remember that different is not necessarily wrong. Just because your husband doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way as you does not mean he is wrong. He just doesn’t do things the same way. And that’s OKAY. This subtle difference in perception is the source of SO MUCH grief in relationships. Decide today you won’t let your husband’s different approach to household chores and non-essentials in parenting create a wedge between the two of you. Differences keep life from getting boring.

2. Figure out what fills his love tank. For the first few months of our marriage when my husband came home from work after having a bad day I would smother him with hugs and kisses in an attempt to make him feel better. But I quickly learned it did not help. If anything, it actually created more stress for him because he really didn’t want to be touched in that moment so he would shut down and I would sulk off wounded and not sure what I had done wrong. After we had been married for about six months someone introduced me to Gary Chapman’s five love languages and I figured out that my primary love language is touch, but my husband’s is not. =) By discerning that he receives love primarily through acts of service I learned that when he was having a bad day nothing would make him feel better than coming home to a closet full of ironed shirts (Yes, this was definitely before we had children!). I needed to save my hugs for another time. =) Go check out “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman from the library and figure out how both of you give and receive love. It will revolutionize your marriage.

3. One of the wisest and godliest women I have ever known taught me the concept of “Blast Off and Re-entry” (which can also be found in “The Politically Incorrect Wife” by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby). She explained that one of the best ways to show your husband he is important to you is to first, make sure you always say goodbye with a kiss or hug when you part from each other (even if one of you leaves at 5am). And to, second, always make a big deal of your reunion when you see each other again. When you have kids and you stay home you can make re-entry even more fun by getting the children involved. When I hear my husband’s car pull-up I yell to my kids, “Daddy’s home!” and they come running ready to greet him with big grins on their faces. The goal is to make sure that your husband knows you will miss him when you are apart and then to be sure he knows how excited you are to see him again. Sometimes this just involves changing out of my sweatpants and putting on some under-eye concealer five minutes before Daddy’s supposed to be home; while other times it just means having dinner started so that when he walks in the door I am available to talk if I know he will need it. Which leads me to number four:

4. Communicate with your husband throughout the day if at all possible so he knows you are thinking about him and so you can get a gauge on what his needs might be when he comes home. I don’t mean thinking about him like, “Honey, did you remember to call the insurance company about that bill?” I mean calling him to wish him good luck before an important meeting or telling him you love him on a voice mail message when you know he will have a stressful day. Flirt with him by text message or email and remind him of an inside joke between the two of you that you know will make him smile. The point is to remind him that you see him as your friend and your lover and make sure he knows you miss him when he’s not around so he feels like more than just a utility.

5. Make an effort to know and understand what your husband does during the day so you can have intelligent conversations with him if he so desires. For most men, their career defines so much of who they are. If you take the time to understand and affirm that part of his identity it will speak volumes to your husband. My husband likes to talk to me about what happens at his job. Maybe your husband doesn’t want to talk to you about his work because he just wants to forget about it when he comes home, but take the time to figure out what he prefers so you at least give him the chance. Which brings me to number 6:

6. Figure out what your husband wants when he comes to you with problems. Is he a “typical male” and looking for feedback and suggestions when he shares with you or is he more like a “typical female” and just wants you to listen while he airs his grievances? I say this because my husband has three sisters and I have learned that he often just wants me to listen. (Having three brothers, just listening can be kind of difficult for me.) =)

7. Don’t keep score. We are all human and it is impossible to not disappoint people on a regular basis. Your husband isn’t any different. Stop keeping track of those wounds and mistakes and lay them down at the feet of the Cross. It will set you free to love unconditionally and with grace.

8. Pray for your husband. Pray for every aspect of his life: his job, his fathering, his relationship with God, with co-workers and friends. Pray for his protection from temptation. Pray for his relationship with you. This is especially important on those days when you are frustrated and want to play the blame game or pull out the scorecard. I find that when I pray for someone God changes and softens my heart and fills me up with grace I would not have otherwise. There are a lot of great resources out there to help with this. “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian is a good place to start. Feel free to recommend more in the comments if you have favorites.

9. Pray with your husband if he is willing. Nothing will bring you closer to each other and to God than hearing your hearts poured out in prayer.

10. Go to bed at the same time if you can. After a long day with kids, work and other life stresses, there is nothing better than snuggling into bed with your hubby and allowing time to talk or just silently be together without the distractions of the world. That, of course, brings me to the next tip:

11. Ask God to make your sexual desire to only be for your husband. When I was a newlywed I read in a Beth Moore study that she prays this prayer daily for herself and that her husband’s desire would only be for her. I decided to adopt this petition and encourage you to do the same. That said:

12. Make yourself available to be intimate with your husband. Trust me; I have an eight month old who still has not slept through the night. I know this can be difficult, ladies. I once heard a wiser, older woman tell one of my friends at a bridal shower that when her husband initiated making love she always tried to say yes unless she was physically ill…because more times than not once she made up her mind to be in the moment she would actually enjoy it. I know this is a touchy subject and I could spend a lot of blog posts discussing this very thing, but I’m just going to say this: your husband does NOT care if you haven’t ever lost that baby weight. He doesn’t care if you haven’t shaved your legs or taken a shower today. Though you might spend your whole day feeling as if everyone wants something from you literally and figuratively, your husband sees you as more than just an object to be used. He loves you and wants to show you. And he wants you just the way you are. That’s a WONDERFUL thing! Take advantage of that on the days you are feeling good and change things up by being the initiator. He will love it! Make yourself available and commit to trying to enjoy it. You might be surprised! =)

13. Flirt with your husband in public. When you are out and about, whether it be at your kids’ athletic events or shopping at Walmart together, let him know you have eyes only for him. Wink at him, hold his hand while you walk, kiss his cheek, smile coyly from across the room. Make him feel like you just met and recreate that chemistry that made you both irresistible to each other in the first place.

14. Find simple ways to show your love. Make your husband’s lunch if he takes a lunch to work. (And put love notes in with his lunch.) Send him on business trips with a note for each day. Sit down and watch a ballgame next to him if that’s what he enjoys. Offer to mow the lawn or do another chore that he typically does and let him take a Saturday morning off if he doesn’t get to do that very often. Bake his favorite cake or make his favorite dinner on a regular basis. Talk about how awesome he is in front of other people with him nearby so he can hear you genuinely praise him. Make a list of all the things about him that you love or that made you fall in love with him and be sure to tell him what those are when he needs encouragement.

Please feel free to add your own tips and ideas in the comments section. I am always looking for ways to cheer on my husband and would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Give me an “M”….

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Love and Marriage

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”       (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

I have wanted to write about marriage for some time now because I think it has a huge impact on children and the way we parent. So, with Valentine’s Day festivities just finishing up, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I could talk about this topic for the rest of the year, but I’m only going to scratch the surface. And it is a topic many far more eloquent and knowledgeable than me have already written about, so today I’m just going to share my personal opinion and experience. On Wednesday I will share some of the things that have helped me in my marriage journey and on Friday I’m going to tell you about an inspiring love story that exemplifies Christ-like love and sacrifice.

When my husband and I were engaged– 12 years ago! — I remember having conversations with him about the guys we worked with and how they would refer to their wives as the “old ball and chain”. We also talked about the ladies we worked with who would gripe and complain because their husbands couldn’t do anything right. We both made it clear from day one that we were not okay with either of those scenarios. We agreed from the beginning that even when we felt like it, we would never publicly malign each other. Maybe it’s because of my cheer background, but I always like to say, “I want you to be my cheerleader!” When I do something really silly or make a big mistake, I want my husband to be the one who hugs me and tells me it’s going to be okay right after it happens (even if he is seething on the inside) and I want to do the same for him. We agreed we would be each other’s biggest fans and if we had frustrations with each other we would tell each other with love and work through it. Why? Because this is what God intended:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

In addition to being the captain of each other’s fan clubs, we also agreed before we had kids that our relationship would always come first. We refuse to become child-centered because even though it seems like I am never going to get a full night’s sleep again, our kids ARE going to grow up and move out and then what? Some people might disagree with this, but I was a wife first and I want to do everything I can to keep my marriage growing and thriving which sometimes means putting my kids’ desires – not needs — on the back burner. Granted, this can be a little difficult when you are in survival mode with three kids five and under or insert your stressful child situation here, but I am learning there is always going to be something that could distract me from loving my husband the way I should. This is why it is so important to figure out what fills your husband’s love tank, as well as your own…which I will talk a little more about on Wednesday.

Marriage is indeed a great gift from the Lord, but it is one that takes A LOT of work and sacrifice and patience. It takes choosing to love your husband daily, no matter what. Trust me, though, the pay-off you receive when you put forth the effort outweighs anything you have to give up to get that love and support in return.  When you feel safe in your relationship with your husband, when you know he has your back and when you would rather spend time with him than anyone else, there is nothing other than your relationship with Christ that compares. And, how wonderful will your choice to LOVE your husband first make your children feel?  There is such joy and peace in a child’s heart that comes from knowing without a doubt that mommy and daddy love each other and are committed to one another no matter what.

I remember taking road trips as a child (long trips…cross country trips) and feeling such comfort from looking up and catching my dad reaching across the van to gently touch my mom’s arm while she would smile back. It made me feel safe and it made me feel like all was right with the world. I know without asking that my children feel the same way. Why else would they chant “Kiss on the lips! Kiss on the lips!” to us in the morning as my husband is rushing out the door to drop my daughter off at school on his way to work? They hunger for us to show them that we love each other, and we don’t mind obliging them. =)

The temptation is there for us to cater to other people (especially our kids) before our husbands and sometimes we feel more like doing that, anyway. But I honestly believe that in the long run our children will be more secure if they see us choosing to put their daddies first. The temptation is also there to get frustrated and gripe about our husbands because they are human and disappoint us sometimes. But I also honestly believe our marriages will be stronger if we keep our mouths shut and lovingly talk through our grievances with our husbands rather than our friends. I challenge you to be your husband’s biggest fan today, even if it’s difficult or if you don’t feel like he does the same for you. LOVE him, cheer him on, and show him he is the most important person in the world to you. I promise you won’t regret it, and neither will your kids.