I love Christmas time. I love the smells. I love the lights. I love that people tend to show kindness a little more often. I just love it. Even buying presents now is wonderful. Thank you, Amazon!
What I don’t love is having to miss every other Christmas morning with my two older kids, who are 12 and 10. Since my older daughter was 3 (and my son only 1), they have spent every other Christmas morning in a different home. While we have all adjusted to living this life as a divorced family, we would be lying if we said it was fine. They have other siblings at their dad’s house and a little sister at mine. They will miss every other Christmas morning of watching their siblings’ excitement as well. Continue reading
Twelve years ago, I was dating this guy Phil. Man, he was hot!! He was short and stocky. Thick, thick thighs and big, beefy arms. The kind of arms you just wanted to be wrapped up in. That kind of thick, muscular chest that you knew would always make you feel safe. Phil and I were as thick as thieves. We did everything together. We rode bikes, went out to eat, went shopping, went to the movies, went dancing, visited each other at school or at work – just everything. And talk. We could talk about anything and we did. We talked about religion, money, kids, our parents, our family, and how we were raised. We would talk about potholes if it came up. We did not always agree but we enjoyed talking to each other nonetheless.
Then, we got married. And no, the story doesn’t change here. No dramatic Dun- Dun Duuuuun music here. We still did mostly all of the same things together that we did when we dated. We would even sit on the same side of a restaurant booth so that we could – guess what? Hold hands!! Yes, I know. We were in love. So in love. I could not wait to hear his car pull in the driveway, as he would return from work. We purchased a chair and a half (that’s fancy for a big chair – room for 2) so that we could sit with each other in the living room while we watched TV. I hated to be away from Phil. My heart was just so connected to that man. He was charming, tenderhearted, compassionate and so funny! Man, we really made each other laugh all the time.
Fast forward twelve years. Continue reading
God made sex between a married couple beautiful. He delights in it. Sex in marriage honors and is pleasing God. Becoming one flesh in marriage is symbolic of the covenant God has made with us in the union of Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32 NIV reads… “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” That’s how BIG of a deal marriage is to God. It is compared to the union of Christ and the church, the most important covenant there is.
Marriage is not easy. When the honeymoon is over, it’s difficult to stay in tune and on the same page about sexual intimacy and expectations. Watch our original film ‘Storms‘ and see if you can relate. It won two awards for outstanding actress and outstanding actor.
There she goes. Again. Crying for no apparent reason.
Wait. STOP! So what. So what she’s emotional? So what she needs reassurance and comfort? What do you need that she keeps giving you? Physical intimacy, words of affirmation, trust, grace, forgiveness, etc.
This is not your chance to complain about how emotional women are and how you just don’t understand. And… it is cruel to ignore her pain. Men, your wife needs love. All the time. She needs you to empathize with her pain, worry, concerns and her unexplained waves of emotions. That is how God wired her. He wired her to be in tune with His love, His emotional presence. She takes after God. Betcha didn’t know that, did you? Just like you are wired to be strong, logical and rational after God’s firm heart, she is wired to be soft, loving, empathetic, emotionally present after God’s loving heart. In 1 Peter 3:17, Paul tells us to live with our wives in an understanding way as the weaker vessel. Not weak as in strength or intellect, but weaker as in, we as husbands need to protect her heart. Her heart is fragile by God’s unique design.
“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” – 1 Peter 3:17 NASB
Here are 4 tips to help you better empathize with your wife.
1. Stop and listen. Listen to what she has to say. Turn to her. Don’t try and solve it. Just hear her words. You might ask questions that lead to the root of it, but sometimes she just needs to share with you what is on her heart. She doesn’t want to be disconnected from you, she wants you two to be in sync.
Sometimes it can be hard to figure us women out. Years ago, my husband and I discovered a book, The 5 Love Languages. It helped us figure out what language we “speak” in order to feel loved. The book goes into great detail and I highly recommend reading it with your wife. However, if you don’t have the time, here are some ideas to woo your bride. For best results, use every category. Some are easy to do everyday. Others you might work in once a week.
Acts of Service (Do something for her)
- Put gas in her car
- Clean the bathroom
- Make or pick-up dinner when she’s busy running the kids around
- Take kids to the park to give her a break
- Vacuum the floors
Words of Affirmation (Encourage or praise her)
- Tell her why you love her
- Tell her she is a great mom and why
- Compliment her often in front of the children
- Tell her how much better your life is with her as your wife
- Tell her how proud you are of her and why
Quality Time (Be with her)
- Take her out on a date once a week
- Don’t answer your phone, check facebook, or text while you are on your date
- Talk with her about her day so she feels connected to you
- Turn off all electronics after 8PM so you two can talk, plan, dream
- Call or text her during your busy day so she knows she is on your mind Continue reading
Years ago I wrote a post on trying to conquer envy. I wrote it during a time where I was trying to overcome the struggle of comparing what I had (materially) to those that seemed to have more.
An “AHA” Moment
Recently, I had an AHA moment. While talking with my husband, we were discussing why some marriages break down. Normally, I would say marriage breakdown is due to lack of communication, but many times it begins with LACK OF CONTENTMENT. I realized that many broken marriages are a result of discontentment in the life stage they are in. Many of us have dreams of the life we would be living, but sometimes the reality does not match that dream. As a result, we become embittered and resentful that we are not living the life we once imagined. Once we allow bitterness into our marriage, it becomes very easy to blame our spouse. Words then become weapons that we hurl at each other because our anger overwhelms the sorrow we feel.
“We have no money because you don’t make enough!” (lack of contentment in finances)
“If you only would lose some weight.” (lack of contentment in physical appearance)
“We never go on weekend getaways like the Joneses.” (lack of contentment in lifestyle)
“Why don’t you ever think to surprise me, like her husband?” (lack of contentment in relationship)
In each of these statements, there is an implied fault that is given to our spouse: My life is not good enough and it is YOUR fault. Continue reading
I’ve watched the show Hoarders just a handful of times. I found myself completely shocked and asking, “How does that even happen?” The truth is that no one just wakes up and decides to create that kind of mess. It happens over a period of time, often months and years; it starts little by little. A small mess is made and is not cleaned up…then another, and another. Over time, the mess gets bigger and bigger until you feel overwhelmed, like nothing can be done. Hope is lost. Eventually, the mess continues until it becomes so unbearable that it destroys your life.
This isn’t just true of the people whose story is told on the show. It is a common story for many, including myself. I’m not talking about the literal mess. I’m talking about the figurative messes we sometimes create. Whether in relationship (no one just goes from happily married to cheating on their spouse) or finances (that mountain of credit card debt didn’t happen over night), it just takes one small mess after another being left unresolved to create such a similar state of disarray in your marriage as the homes we see on the show. And just like the owner who can no longer walk through rooms piled with junk, at some point, you too will have to deal with the situation. The truth always finds a way of coming out.
So what can be done? If I want to grossly generalize what happens on the show, I would narrow it down to three basic things. Continue reading
How do you handle conflict?
I will be the first person (and my husband will be the second) to tell you that I don’t argue well. I struggle to articulate my points and am often overly defensive. The people-pleasing side of me dreads even the smallest dispute while my pride flares up and aggressively declares that my opinion is the only right one (truly, I’m a walking contradiction). Contrary to my newly-wed dreams, conflict has been an active part of my (soon-to-be) ten-year marriage. As a blogger who writes about her weaknesses rather than her strengths, I hesitate to offer advice, but to put a positive spin on my mistakes, here are the top ten conflict tips I can offer after having failed in each these areas:
1. Schedule a Talk.
So often, if there is an “issue” in our marriage, I tend immediately to jump into a discussion in the heat of my emotions or I avoid the topic until I can no longer hold my tongue. Neither are healthy options. Scheduling a serious conversation allows both parties to know that a difficult talk is about to happen. This simple step prevents a husband or wife from being caught off guard and controls the parameters of the setting. For example, you might plan for tough discussions to take place when the children are not around or choose a sentimental environment (such as a favorite park) to ease anticipation. Accountability enters the picture when both parties are aware of the scheduled time and place by preventing the conversation from being continually postponed.
2. Pray and Fast. Continue reading
Let’s just jump into it. Every guy knows that a happy wife means a happy home. No one desires to have a displeased wife of a displeased God. However, WE masculine, logical guys don’t want to be emasculated to be a good husband, but we do want to make her happy. We want to save the day, be admired, respected and be the hero in our queen’s eyes. You CAN receive all these things by following these 4 simple steps.
1. Chase After God with All your Heart
Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” When we as men pursue a relationship with God with all our heart, that journey creates in us a pure, holy and audacious spirit. In short, we are better for it because we have more of Him in us, guiding us, leading us, shaping us. This pays dividends in our marriage. That goes for both spouses. The closer you are to God in your personal relationship the more that pours into your marriage. Continue reading
I’m a man.
This is embarrassing and I’m ashamed of myself for it, but I need to confess it. The other day while at the mall, a young woman in skin tight, short shorts turned my head. The rule is I can look for a second or two but I cannot stare. Staring is essentially lusting or fantasizing. This time – I did. I stared for quite some time and just watched her walk. After about 20 seconds I noticed a young man staring at her too, not even trying to hide it. He boldly moved in for a closer look. And then I noticed an older man watching her. That slapped me hard in the face! I, was among several men gawking at this woman. I shook it off and bolted for the exit. I was ashamed of myself for objectifying her. Granted, she wore those shorts for a reason, but I need to be responsible for my own actions. There is no hope for me to fully honor God and my wife – operating from that sinful place.
I’m a married man.
Men, Here’s where I think we men fool ourselves into thinking we are justified to objectify and lust after women.
1. If She Wears it, She WANTS Me to Look
That may or may not be true. However, just because she wears it, or doesn’t wear enough, does not give you the right to drool or inappropriately stare. She has her own reasons for her choice of clothing, that shouldn’t justify lusting after anyone other than your wife. If a man drops his wallet, does his mistake mean you can have his money and use his credit cards? I don’t think so.