Tag Archives: marriage

I did 20 Years…and so did he

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A rather persistent, mutual friend insisted that I meet “this guy” that would be just perfect for me.  I brushed her off a couple times as I’d recently come out of a hurtful relationship and besides I preferred things to happen naturally.  Nonetheless, I humored her and agreed that she could give “this guy” my phone number.

He called and in a matter of a few conversations, we fell in love.  We had many subsequent, lengthy phone calls in the evenings after work.  Each of us couldn’t wait for the next time we could speak!  I agreed to attend a Christian concert with him and some other mutual friends.  After the concert, we all went out to eat.  I was starving.  Literally, I could hear the acids in my stomach raging but I was too nervous to eat.  I opted just to have a Coke and upon “this guy’s” insistence, a few of his fries.  I was so hungry, yet I wouldn’t eat.  Ah, young love.  Well, we talked all night and our love story was sealed that June evening.

We were engaged on Christmas Day and married the following June, 20 years ago.

What is the secret of staying married until death do you part?

I like the quote I’ve seen around, “We were born in a time when divorce was not an option.”

or this one:

“I was born in a time when if something was broken, you fixed it.”

There’s something to those sayings.  It’s called removing the option of giving up, of throwing in the proverbial towel, and pushing up your sleeves and working on it.  A little elbow grease.  Effort.

Marriage is hard work.

There are no two ways around it.  But did you ever have a relationship that wasn’t?  We are all enshrined in this flesh called humanity, and as such, we have tendencies of failure.  We also have huge capacities to love.

And in my Bible it says that love conquers all.

Love hopes.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not boast.  Love places the other before self.

That’s what love looks like.

Yes, love is hugs, kisses and all the physical trappings that accompany the marriage relationship and make it one of the most beautiful unions.

Sometimes life requires more than mere hugs and kisses.

Sometimes it demands forgiveness, forbearance, time, selflessness.

The demands of family, work, finances can be absolutely draining.  And sometimes one can feel like you have nothing left to give.  There are certainly seasons like that, especially when the kids are young.

We are happily at the stage now where our kids are nearly grown.  The two younger ones at home are 16 and 18.  Our oldest left home quite a few years ago and is 27.  So, the physical demands on us are fewer than they were years ago.  But during the years of great demand, that’s when dating your spouse really is important.  Carving out “couple time” is crucial to staying on the same page emotionally.

Twenty years now.  This June it will be 21 years!  God sure has been faithful to us.  We’ve weathered some fierce storms, times when throwing in the towel sure had its appeal.  If we succumbed to giving up, we would have forfeited the most precious love we share today.

When we were newlyweds, our euphoric love seemed incredible – like Fourth of July fireworks!  We thought it couldn’t get any better than this!  We were so young and naive.  Weathering the storms of life together creates an undeniable bond and deeper love than one could have imagined.

Am I thankful for the storms?  Well, maybe I am.  Strange as that sounds.  Without them, I would not have seen the sweet expression of love and care when my husband has brought me soup when I’ve been ill.  Without the challenges, we wouldn’t realize how desperately we needed one another.  Without the adversities, we would not know the grace and mercy of God as displayed through the other.

You know, friends, when we love our spouses, we are honoring God.  And when God is honored, there are blessings!

One of the most meaningful things my husband and I do together is pray.  When our hearts are overwhelmed, we invoke God’s presence and power into our lives.  When our hearts are full of thankfulness and joy, we express that, too, in prayer.  God is such a vital part of our relationship and He has always been.  I encourage you to pray with your spouse if possible.  God truly honors the unity of prayer.

Not only that, but I believe there is power in prayer.  Sometimes the most spiritual prayer is – “Help!”   God is close to the brokenhearted, my friend.

My husband and I are testaments of God’s grace and His power at work in our hearts.  The beauty of being married for a while is that before long, you know the other’s heart.  My husband knows what I will and will not do and vice versa.  Our hearts trust the other.

So, love begets trust.  And like a garden.  If left untilled, weeds will grow.  Don’t neglect your most precious relationship.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  There are weeds over there.  Till your own garden and your marriage will flourish.

What you invest in, you will reap the harvest.  Invest well.

 

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Our House Selling Saga

Hello there, friends!  As previously mentioned, my husband got the job we prayed for and we’re now two months into the process of selling our home!  Praise the Lord for the job and answered prayer!!  Hubby began his new job six weeks ago and being separated by 1,000 miles has been strenuous to say the least!  He visited three weeks ago and I flew to visit him (and retrieve our other car) two weeks ago.  Our beloved 12 year old SUV decided now was a good time to die!  *Sigh*  Fortunately, hubby didn’t need the car he drove to our new town as he has another vehicle.

We’ve had a lot of showings over the last two months, although some slow spots in between.  The real estate market tends to be slow this time of year, but we are resting in God’s hands.  We’re very happy that we have TWO showings scheduled for this evening!!  If you would, please pray that someone will fall madly in love with our home and make a solid offer!  What would be truly awesome is, if there was a bidding war!!  🙂

We’ve lowered our price twice now and are offering a $2,000 buyer’s agent incentive.  I think that incentive is largely the reason for the sudden interest.  Whatever the case may be, we are grateful!  The kids and I are ready to begin our new life 1,000 miles away and be reunited with my husband!  We’ve been married for 19 years and this is certainly the longest period we’ve ever been apart.  It is a strain on all of us.  I know the kids really miss their dad too.  The first month, I cried just about every night as it was completely foreign to be alone in our king size bed.  Although we are very thankful for Skype and cell phones, there is no replacement for the huge void that spans such a distance.  Now, I don’t cry, but I am ready to move onto our next chapter and settle in.

Preparing the house for showings is much like a dog chasing its tail!  We do the same actions — again and again!  And, then wake up the next day… and do them yet again!  It would be simple if we did not live here.  The house would simply always be ready for the next showing!  But, somewhere amongst the madness of selling our home, my children are plugging along in 9th and 12 grades!!  They’ve been absolutely wonderful throughout this process!  My daughter, who’s a senior this year, makes sure we are all duly fed.  She’s the chef, most days!  And my son has had a fast course in operating our John Deere riding lawnmower and has done an outstanding job maintaining the yard!  He mows, trims and blows the unending leaves off the driveway and sidewalk!  The John Deere is my husband’s baby, so it’s been interesting to see him hand over the reins to our son.  (only because he had to! haha)  I have to say, our son blows it off each time he mows and even wipes it with a cloth.  He says it’s like his first car!  🙂  Precious.  My husband has told him a number of times, “Now, son, you’re the man of the house while I’m gone.  Take care of mom and your sister.  Make sure the doors are locked and the alarm set.”  🙂  My 15 year old (now suddenly very mature) son has taken his marching orders very seriously and has been wonderful!  He’s been taller than me for a while, which isn’t hard to do, considering my 5’4″ stature.  But, he’s pushing 6′ very soon, I can tell!  He has really grown over the last six months and is about 5’11” probably now.  Considering he started out at 9lbs. 10oz. and 22 1/2 inches long, it’s not surprising at all!  🙂  Our 26 year old son stands at 6’2″ and I’m afraid it may injure his ego to know his little brother may surpass him in height before it’s all over.  🙂

… Pardon me, I just received a text from my husband, wishing me a great day, complete with heart symbols.  (only because when he types “I love you”, his phone prompts the emoticons! haha)  I have to laugh because my husband is a very hard worker, very diligent.  He really doesn’t have time for trivial things.  He’s not on social media and up until six weeks ago, he didn’t have a Smartphone for personal use.  So, he’s had a crash course and I helped him set up his address book, etc. on his new toy.  But, it’s been nice to text back and forth as we’ve never done that much in the past.  🙂  Feels like we’ve reverted back to our courting days with all the phone calls and wishing we could be together!

I can honestly say, our faith has grown as the Lord has truly been stretching us!  My perspective has changed on our relationship.  When you can step back for a minute … or six weeks … you see what’s really important in life, in your relationship, and what things you need to let go of, as well as things you want to change moving forward!  Perspective is a beautiful thing!  And, so the Lord has been teaching me that He is not confined to statistics nor seasons, but can perform miracles any time He so chooses!  Statistically, this is a dreadful time of year to be selling a house and the weather is turning colder now.  But, He’s been reminding me to take Him out of the box that I’ve put Him in, remove the limitations my little faith has placed on Him, and just believe that He is able to provide for us and show Himself strong and mighty on our behalf!  For He truly is working all things together for our good and ultimately for His glory!  That’s where I rest my faith!

If you would, would you agree with me in prayer that our house will sell very soon?  During this separation, I am made keenly aware of just how precious my husband is to me.  Perfect?  No.  Precious and priceless?  Yes!  He gets on my nerves.  Yes.  I’m sure I do too.  But, far above any trivial irritations in our relationship, he remains my best friend, my lover and one of the greatest gifts God ever saw fit to bless me with!  He is diligent, tenacious, loving, caring, generous, thoughtful, loves Jesus and serving others … and invaluable to me!  On our wedding day, we were so in love and one would tend to believe that it doesn’t get any better than that!  However, the longer we’re married and the more we’ve grown and experienced life together, I can honestly say our love becomes deeper and richer for it!  God knew what He was doing when He ordained marriage to be a lifelong committment.  Somehow I think our richest and most meaningful days are yet ahead…

Sorry to make this post so long.  If you’ve held on to the end and your eyes haven’t glazed over, thank you.  And thank you for your prayers, most of all.  There’s a testimony after the test, folks!  God is good and He is ever faithful that promised!

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Marriage: 3 Things I Wish I Learned Early On

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My wonderful husband and I will celebrate nineteen years of marriage next month and I’ve often pondered things I wish I learned sooner.  Time and experience are often our greatest teachers, but what if we could learn from the mistakes of others?  Wouldn’t that be the desired route?  Here are three things I wish I’d figured out as a 25 year old newlywed:

  1. Your marriage won’t be perfect.  Don’t compare your relationship to your friends’s marriages.  (You don’t know what happens when Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful aren’t on their P’s and Q’s) We are all unique and as such have our own set of challenges to overcome.
  2. You don’t hold the power to change your spouse.  Only God and prayer can do that.  Work on you.  Lay any expectations at the foot of the Cross.
  3. Overlook the petty grievances (i.e. socks and underwear on the floor, dividing up the housework, etc.) and focus more so on the big picture.

I can recall many challenging years as my husband worked long hours and the demands of raising small children coincided.  I was tired.  He was tired.  I think a big challenge in any phase of our lives is the fallacy of thinking that things will always remain this way.  Life changes.  Our kids are no longer toddlers.  They’re nearly all grown.  Our relationship has become rich and full, our love deeper than ever.  You see, the storms of life and the good times, as well, have both served to enrich our love and commitment to one another.

Too often spouses are ready to jump ship almost before it has left the harbor!  Hold on.  Remain steady.  The waters will be rough during the course, but you will be stronger for it.  You are not perfect nor is your spouse.  Expect imperfection and you will not be disappointed, my friend.  Extend grace.  Forgive often.  Love extravagantly.

The best things in life take time.  Marriage is not a sprint.  It’s more like a long distance marathon.  Pace yourself.  Give your relationship time and your spouse room to grow.  They don’t have life all figured out nor do you.  Make Christ the center of your relationship and He will never fail to guide you.

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.” ~ I Corinthians 13 MSG

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Two Really Good Forgivers

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I saw a quote not long ago that read:

“Marriage is made up of two really good forgivers.”

No truer words were ever spoken, I mused to myself.  My husband and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary this June and we can certainly attest to this.  We’ve shared some thrilling experiences together, but we’ve also endured some pretty fierce trials.  But, that’s life, isn’t it?  God has always been at the helm of this ship called marriage, and with His help, we’ve grown immensely.  I think we’d both agree that it was during the darkest nights that our relationship was strengthened.  When we didn’t have the answers to life’s questions, it was then that we not only cried out to God for help, but also turned to each other for strength.

No genuine, lasting relationship is without opportunity to forgive.  Men and women are so different.  And, we are created to be so.  We view the world differently.  We view our family differently.  We’re just polar opposites.  Sometimes just realizing this can eliminate so many arguments.  Too often, I think, we slip into the mindset that our spouse should view life through identical lenses when God created us to be unique individuals.  This is what keeps life fresh and exciting.  So, instead of warring against our differences, we really must learn to celebrate them!  They are the key components of what attracts our spouse to us to begin with.

The first cousin to forgiveness is humility and this is a godly character trait we must learn to cultivate in our relationships, especially our marriages.  Sometimes it’s difficult to admit fault in a situation, but when we learn to humble ourselves and apologize, we open ourselves to experience grace.  God always rewards a humble attitude and your relationship with your spouse will grow because of it.  When we value our relationship enough to invest humility and forgiveness, it will yield endless returns.

I Corinthians 13 says that love keeps no record of wrongs and we would be wise to adhere to this standard.  It will serve you and your relationship well.  Forgive.  No, it doesn’t let the other person “off the hook”, but it does free you up on the inside and allows God to work in your relationship.  I challenge you today to let it go.  Let it all go.  The petty and trivial stuff, the big stuff…all of the baggage.  Just dump it at the foot of the Cross.  The peace of God will flood your soul and your spirit will be much lighter.  Focus on the big picture.  And pray.  Pray not only for your spouse and changes that you might like to see, but pray for yourself as well.  Ask God to make you the spouse He designed you to be … loving, devoted, forgiving, supportive and one who is sold out for Christ!

 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” ~ Mark 11:25

 

 

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My Husband, My Best Friend

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Okay, can I just brag for a moment?  This June, we will celebrate nineteen years of marriage!  Whew!  Time flies.  It really does.  Has it all been wedded bliss?  Not hardly.  Our journey has been replete with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, victories and valleys…just like most.  

Our secret?  God has been at the center of our relationship from the very beginning, and, how we’ve relied on Him to see us through!  We would have failed miserably if we rested on our own strength, but thank God for His mercy.  His never ending grace has not forsaken us.

I am so thankful for my husband.  He is wise, kind, generous, loving, compassionate, intelligent, hard working and creative.  Whenever I have a problem, he tries to fix it.  When I’m sick, he prays for me and nurses me back to health.  When I’m discouraged, he speaks uplifting words.  When I try to take on the world, he urges restraint.  😉

He brings me flowers, sometimes for no reason at all.

Is he perfect? No, but he’s perfect for me!  God brought him from half way around the world just for me, and I am ever grateful for that!

When we’re apart, I’m looking forward to our reunion.  When we’re together, I am at peace.  He completes me and we complement one another.  He is my best friend.  I know I can confide in him.  He holds my deepest trust and I am secure in his love.

We’ve been through many difficult and challenging seasons together and our love is richer for it.  Young love is a many splendored thing, for sure.  However, mature love, love that has endured decades, has a depth that is gratifying and fulfilling like no other.

He loves to sing and we often enjoy singing together.  In the quiet times, his melodious voice soothes my soul.

My husband strives to do things that he knows will bring me happiness.  He really tries to please me…and I him.  That’s what love does.

Just to “keep it real” … When we’ve argued, he forgives me and I forgive him.  We don’t keep score.

Love doesn’t attempt to change what it cannot.  It accepts and keeps rolling on. I think that’s one of the greatest keys to a happy marriage.

He captured my heart twenty years ago and holds it still.

…Thanks for indulging me to brag on my husband for a minute.

What do you love most about your spouse?

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” – I John 4:7-12 MSG

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Marriage…Speak in tones of love

Anyone who has been married any length of time soon discovers that their spouse can say or do certain habitual things to make us upset.  They love us and we love them, but we all have our differences and quirks that can be upsetting at times.  Life can be demanding and we all lead busy lives, which can greatly deplete our cache of patience.  If we’re not careful, we can easily allow all of that stress to be unleashed on those we love the most.  We can sloppily permit complacency to creep in.

It’s been said that “Familiarity breeds contempt” and there is a lot of truth to that. (My Google research attributes the quote to Udall in 1548.)

So, how do we guard against such things?

By consistently reading the Word of God and spending time in prayer, we place ourselves in a position to surrender our hearts and hear from God.

“Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.”  ~ Psalm 51:10

I’ve learned that I need God’s help in keeping quiet when I’d much rather spout off.  Sometimes I might be tempted to be critical, but, instead, I ask God to help me speak with love.  Often we need to re-train ourselves to communicate in ways that convey facts and what must be said, minus the attitude and opinions that can be hurtful.  This requires a lot of self-control and prayer.  It’s only with God’s grace that I speak with love and compassion.

As a mother of three, I have been guilty of treating my husband the same way I treat my children without even realizing it.  I’ve been a stay at home mom for nearly twenty years and I’m accustomed to being in charge of the kids throughout the day.  But, if I’m not careful, I can subconsciously treat my spouse as a child also.  I can be bossy.  I am a female, after all.  😉  However, that’s not my intended role.  That is not the proper function of a wife.  So, I must rely on God and His power to operate through me to maintain peace in our home.  My husband and I are a team and we discuss everything.  He is ever patient with me and my shortcomings, as I am with him.  We both have very strong personalities, so we must temper these with wisdom and mutual submission.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.”  ~ Psalm 19:14

This is the prayer of my heart.

“Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”  ~  Psalm 141:3

The longer we’re married, the more I realize how few words are truly necessary.

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”  ~                                                                                                                                                       Proverbs 10:19

I also realize how powerful words truly are.

“Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”  ~ Proverbs 18:21  MSG

May we choose life and strive to communicate love always to those we hold most dear.

~ Below is one of my all-time favorite Bible passages:

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”  ~  I Corinthians 13:1-7   The Message Bible

 

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Marriage…Are We Communicating?

My wonderful husband hails from the Philippines and we will celebrate 19 years of marriage this coming June.  Woo Hoo!!  When he came to America over 25 years ago, he knew a little English, but not much.  Probably about as much Spanish as I recall from school, muy poco!  He quickly learned the language through being immersed in the culture, though.  Trial and error were his greatest teachers, I’m sure.  When we met in 1994, he was very fluent in English, so I was reasonably confident we would speak the same language once we married.

That was the first error in my thinking.  The fact is that men and women think very differently!  Men think in patterns of fact, reason and logic.  Women think in patterns of feelings, emotions and illogic based on such feelings and emotions.  (These are general statements, of course.)  And, after a couple is married for some time, it seems one is supposed to have the super power of reading minds!  These factors make for an interesting basis from which we are to convey our thoughts and make wise decisions.

Communication is key to any relationship.  I think we’d all agree on that fact.  And, marriage is no exception.

So, why is it that this important facet of our marriage is so difficult to attain?

We are a distracted society!  Between television, internet, cell phones, radio, work demands, financial pressures, the kids, and on and on it goes … There’s no wonder we find the task of communicating to be so daunting!  There is a remedy, however.

We must set aside a regular time to sit down, look our spouse in the eye and relate the things on our heart.

One recommendation I read years ago was to establish a “couch time” when your husband comes home from work in the evening.  This time is off limits to the kids for, say 15 minutes.  (Depending on the ages of your children, this may or may not be feasible)  I thought this was a good idea and we did try it for a while.

Another important idea is to never stop dating your spouse!

Complacency can easily set in and we need to freshen things up a bit.  For us, we try to schedule a “Date Night” once a month, at least.  Some months we are more successful than others, but that’s our goal. There’s something special about dressing up (even if it’s just a pair of jeans and a nice sweater) and being able to speak in complete sentences without interruption!

Our pastor said this recently and I thought it is worth repeating:

“Fight to understand, not to win.”

That means no name calling, no “You always do this” or “You never do that”, or “I wish you could be like so-and-so’s husband”.  Stick to the facts.  All healthy relationships have conflict.  And it is worth the effort to effectively convey your thoughts and feelings to broach difficult subjects.

One illusion many people have is that they can change their spouse.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  God made each of us with a free will that is not easily swayed.

The best remedy for lingering struggles is prayer.  That may seem like a pat answer, but the truth remains.  When we don’t have the answers, it is through prayer that we can ask God for breakthrough, wisdom and guidance.

We invest our resources in many things over our lifetime.  Our marriages are certainly worthy of investing our time, energy, understanding and affection.  A godly marriage is one of the greatest relationships we can model before our children.  It’s important for them to realize that despite conflict, love overcomes.  Love wins!  So, here’s to effective communicating!  It requires hard work and much effort, but it will yield dividends out of this world!

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” ~ I Corinthians 13:4-7

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