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Marriage

3 Ways to Help Your Spouse Who Has Anxiety

Almost everyone I know has an anxiety disorder or at least has had a panic attack at least once in his or her life. With this in mind, I am astounded that people exist who have never had a panic attack or even understand what it’s like to have anxiety. One of these people may be your spouse.

Anxiety is like another language. Those of us who have anxiety understand it completely, but those who don’t have anxiety are oblivious to what we feel. If you have a spouse with anxiety, and somehow you’ve managed to live on this planet thus far without any panicky experiences, you need to show your spouse you understand somehow.

Based on my own experience with a man who has no anxious bone in his body, here are some ways to help your spouse overcome their own anxiety. For the sake of saving word count, I’m using the “she” pronoun. This is based on my own experience anyway, and I am in fact a woman.

1. Tell her (and show her) you care

Anxiety is a very isolating disorder. When you have a panic attack, you feel alone. You feel like no one understands you.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety, you definitely do not understand why your spouse is acting the way she is or thinking what she’s thinking. Anxiety is irrational sometimes, but to your spouse, those anxious thoughts are as real as ever. Instead of trying to fix her, show her you care.

In the medical drama New Amsterdam, Max Goodwin, the Medical Director of the hospital, always asks his team and his patients, “How can I help?” Be like Max Goodwin to your spouse. When she feels alone, take a hold of her hand and ask her, “How can I help?”

She may know the answer, but sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she just needs you to sit there with her and listen to her talk. Sometimes she feels uncomfortable and may need to leave a situation. Always show her that you are on her side, even when her anxiety confuses you.

2. If you need more information, ask questions

I had a friend in high school who was afraid of pennies. Seriously? At first, I thought she was just seeking attention, but when I asked her about it, her answer made sense.

It turns out that she believed pennies were dirty and was afraid of the germs on the penny, not the penny itself. Why she was only afraid of pennies and not other coins, I don’t know, but instead of judging her, I accepted her and met her where she was.

Fears like going to parties, taking public transportation, and even going to work can make absolutely no sense to others. On the other hand, those who have social anxiety, PTSD, or work anxiety are totally gripped with fear at the thought of any of these activities. If you’re wondering why your spouse is anxious about a good thing, all you have to do is ask.

For me personally, I’m happy to answer questions about my anxiety. It doesn’t embarrass me to explain my fears, unless you make me feel like an idiot for having them. Truthfully, I don’t open up to you or listen to your advice unless I know you’re on my side.

3. Take her mind off of the problem

Since I have OCD, sometimes the best way to help me is to distract me from my anxiety. My panic attacks dissipate when I’m no longer thinking about whatever makes me anxious. If your spouse has OCD or an extreme phobia, help her take her mind off of the experience.

While you will need to help her deal with the root cause of her anxiety in the long run, if you’re out with your family or on vacation and her anxiety acts up, you need to distract her and help her as fast as you can.

4. Remember that your spouse is not a project who needs to be fixed

Anxiety is a mental disorder, but that does not mean that your spouse is a project. Your spouse is a person. Your spouse needs you to love her, care for her, and walk with her through this.

Now that you are one, this anxiety is yours, too. I’m still a newlywed, but I’ve heard that over time, you start to feel what your spouse is feeling and think what your spouse is thinking. I’m sorry if you feel your spouse’s anxiety, but instead of fixing her, show her you’re on her side.

You can show her you’re on her side by:

  • listening to her without judgment
  • praying for her on a daily basis
  • pulling her out of a situation when she is uncomfortable
  • standing up for her when others don’t understand

Pray for your spouse with anxiety

Ultimately, the only people who could heal your spouse with anxiety are her and God.

When you don’t understand, pray. When you want to be there for her but don’t know how, pray. When you’ve done everything you could to fix her and she’s still struggling, pray.

I believe God will give you the words. I believe God will give you the wisdom to help her. I believe God will ultimately heal your spouse from anxiety.

On behalf of all those who struggle with anxiety, thank you for taking the first step toward understanding your spouse and her deepest struggle.


Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Stay Together With Leather

Our third anniversary was a couple of weeks ago. We always tend to stick to tradition and buy gifts based on the theme for our specific year. Except this year, the theme was leather.

All I could think was: What in the world am I supposed to buy for my husband? He prides himself in picking out his own unique, compact wallet, and he has plenty of belts and shoes already.

While searching for a gift for my darling husband, I stumbled upon the meaning behind leather as a third anniversary gift. Leather represents strength and durability. How poetic!

That snippet I read about the reason behind leather inspired me to write this post. In my quest, I discovered how leather was used in the Bible and how leather is made today by tanners. Of course, I also connected the Biblical references of leather and the process of making leather to caring for our marriages.

How to Make Leather

Much preparation goes into the making of leather. Even before the cow or other animal is slaughtered, tanners do what they can do to make the quality of the leather strong. They make sure the animal is well-fed and is not exposed to insects.

On that fateful day, a cow sacrifices its life in order to make this fine material. In every part of the process, the tanner uses care and precision to clean, salt, and prepare the leather. If the tanner delays in any way, the leather could become too dry too quickly.

Leather in the Bible

Generally, in the Bible, leather is used to make clothes and for writing. Leather is also called “skin” or “hide” in some translations.

Leather Used as Clothes

The Israelites wore leather in the form of belts and shoes. In fact, the first clothes ever created were made of leather.

  • Genesis 3:21. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
  • 2 Kings 1:8. They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
  • Matthew 3:4. Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
  • Mark 1:6. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

Leather Made by a Tanner

Tanners are not mentioned in the Bible that often because the Jews considered them unclean. The trade of the tanner was probably learned in Egypt. In one instance, Peter stayed with a tanner named Simon, demonstrating the shift of what (and who) was considered unclean.

  • Acts 9:43. And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.
  • Acts 10:6. “…he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.”

Leather in Old Testament Sacrifice

Leather was part of the sacrifice price given to the priest.

  • Leviticus 7:8. Also the priest who presents any man’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has presented.

Leather Used as a Writing Medium

Leather was a popular medium for writing during Old Testament times, even though it was not specifically mentioned in the Bible. The remnants we have of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written on leather.

The Bible mentions writing to remember what has happened and to anticipate what will happen (see Revelation 1:19). The LORD instructs the people of Israel to have the written law all over their homes, so that they may remember what He has done (see Deuteronomy 6:8-9).

Why Do We Celebrate Our Third Anniversary With Leather?

Leather reminds us of the sacrifice we make in our marriages. Its fragility in the formation, yet its strength and durability as a result, is a perfect symbol of our marriage.

Before we even met, we made sure we lived a quality life instead of waiting until marriage for our lives to finally begin. When preparing for marriage and starting our marriage, we cleaned up our marriage by going to pre-marital counseling, joining a couples Bible study, and practicing open communication with one another. The seasons of hardship and the dry seasons we’ve endured so far have only made us stronger.

With the symbol of leather in mind, we can adhere to these resolutions:

  • We remember the faithfulness of God and will make memories to remind ourselves of His presence in our marriage and beyond.
  • The love we share protects us from whatever storms we will face in the future.
  • We recognize the sensitivity of this beautiful gift, but we trust God’s process for our lives together.

From the very beginning, our marriage has been an adventure. I’m thankful that we’ve been through so much so early on in our marriage. Now, whatever we face, we are together with our eyes fixed on God.

Gifts for Our Third Anniversary

So, what did I gift my husband for our third anniversary? I was creative and bought him a different type of leather: beef jerky! He had never tried it before, so it was fun to experience our first impressions of beef jerky together.

Lenny bought me a beautiful leather journal. The journal part is replaceable, so even when I finish the journal, I can still use the leather cover for my future journals. Now, I can write down all that God is doing in our lives to remind us of His faithfulness over the years.

You could give your spouse a leather gift, such as a leather-bound book or an autographed baseball. Whatever you give, may your gift remind you both of the strength of your marriage and all that you have accomplished so far.


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Marriage

How to Handle Stress in (and outside of) Your Marriage

It’s one thing to be busy, but it’s another to be stressed! Busyness is external, while stress is internal. You can have a schedule packed to the brim, but you can have peace. At the same time, you can have nothing to do, but your mind could be swimming. Regardless of how you handle stress, if you don’t handle stress, it can affect your marriage.

Just as we have busy seasons, we also have stressful seasons. Maybe you’re having a rough time at work. Maybe you’re dealing with a family or friend relationship that is draining you. Maybe you have a health issue that is sucking all of your energy and making you lose your patience much more easily.

I had a conversation once with a loved one about how we claim we love our family more than anything, but we tend to hurt them and get mad at them the most. Unfortunately, when I’m stressed, my husband is usually the target of my wrath. Whether it’s a work issue or an anxiety issue, I usually end up getting upset at the minuscule mistakes my husband makes.

As a funny side note, I always joke that my husband leaves his socks on the floor, and I almost caught him yesterday! I saw he left a pair of socks by his computer last night. I was going to take a picture and show it to you, but they weren’t there! So, in reality, he never leaves his socks on the floor! Good for you, babe!

Anyway, as I said in my post about busyness, don’t let your season of stress be a lifetime. You’re allowed to be stress, but you need to clean it up before it lasts longer than a couple of months. Not only is it not helpful, it is also not healthy. You may feel symptoms of sickness when you are stressed for a prolonged period of time. So, here is how to make sure that you don’t have this issue in your marriage:

Remember you are a team. This week is going to be particularly stressful for me. Without me having to ask, although I normally make our lunches in the morning and get us ready for work, my husband stepped in and helped today. He threw out the garbage, and he helped load the dishwasher. He also helped me get our snacks ready for lunch. Because my husband had a stressful season at work (lots of OT!), I took on a lot of the responsibilities at home, but now that he has more time, and I have less time, we’re now balancing the responsibilities. I know I can be a control freak and not want to let my husband help, but if I don’t let him help, I will be stressed, and eventually it will come out that I think he’s lazy! If you are the one who is stressed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Delegate the tasks that you don’t have time to do, and show appreciation to your spouse for him or her helping you (no matter whether he does it your way or not!). If you are not the one in the marriage who is stressed, recognize that your spouse is in rare form, and be intentional about helping. Whatever you can do to lighten the load for your spouse, whether it’s helping her get ready for work in the morning, or picking up some of the chores around the house (or, if you have kids, taking the kids out so your spouse can have a break), show love to your spouse by helping relieve his/her stress.

Know your triggers and communicate them with your spouse. Being around people stresses me out and drains me. I didn’t know how to communicate that until I heard my co-worker talk about her friend group. After that, I realized why I get drained when I do. Now that I can communicate that with my husband, we can plan how I can have less stress on a regular basis. I have also learned my husband’s triggers, so now I do my best to accommodate him so that he will have peace.

Make changes to your schedule as needed. If your schedule is stressing you out, then stop doing something! Look at your schedule, and cross out one thing this week. Don’t do it. Obviously, attending classes or going to work is mandatory, but if it’s something you can give up for the week, put your self-care over whatever task you think is more necessary than your well-being.

Make time for each other. Make time to pray and read Scripture (especially together), and learn to communicate when you are stressed. Often, the best cure for stress is to stop and talk about it. Talk about what stresses you out, and listen to each other.

How do you handle stress in your marriage?


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Marriage

Busy seasons in your marriage

I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I should. I’ve been working on my novel. Lately, I’ve discovered that I’m really good at writing words, but what my readers want is quality words strung together into a beautiful narrative. And hey, by the way, I know I normally write non-fiction on here, but if you also read fiction, can you let me know? I’m trying to figure out how to best serve my audience.

In addition to this, my husband has also been working a tremendous amount of overtime hours. Of course I am thankful for this. My husband’s company has been very gracious in letting him work overtime and making sure he’s putting money away toward our down-payment-for-a-house fund. And my husband has done a great job in showing up, being present at his job, and giving his best.

Our marriage is not suffering. We don’t have any problems. But we have big-kid responsibilities now, like paying rent (and taking care of our apartment), buying a house, starting a family, and (gulp) paying taxes!

If you’re in a busy season like we are, don’t be afraid. Your marriage is not in jeopardy. You just need to be intentional with your spouse about the time you spend together and the love in your marriage. Here are some points to remember!

This is a season. Before we even started dating, Lenny and I had conversations about our dream jobs and what it would look like for us to pursue them. At the time, we were in great jobs, we had no idea that Lenny would be doing IT for a law firm and I would be working in the editing field. But even at the beginning, we made it clear to each other that we would never let our jobs come before each other. We would never spend so many hours in the office that our marriage or our future kids suffer. And while I was tempted for a while to fear that it was happening, that we were placing our jobs above our marriage, I realize that it is just a season. We are busy now, but we won’t always be. We are saving for a house, and we are building wealth for our future. We’re living that DINK (Dual Income No Kids) life. And, quite honestly, staring googly eyed at each other isn’t going to pay the bills. We need to be busy right now, in this season, so that we can survive and enjoy the blessings God has given us. If you’re in a busy season, do not let it become a lifestyle. If you have years where you are busy, maybe you need to sit down and reevaluate your priorities.

Your marriage isn’t taking a back seat. If I really sat down and thought about why I write, it’s because I enjoy writing. My writing doesn’t necessarily help my husband, but it helps me express myself in a way that makes me happy. Happy wife, happy life. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is start working on my manuscript. No questions asked. But I get up before my husband is awake, so that when he is awake, I can make sure he has what he needs to get to work, and I make sure I can give him my attention. While my husband loves his job, he’s not working just because he likes to work. He’s also working because he wants to fund our future, because he believes in my dream as a writer and he’s helping me be able to make time for that, while also saving for a house. No matter what your job is, remember that you are working to support you and your spouse. May that fuel you to work your best and be intentional at your job.

Make time for each other. No matter how busy we are, Lenny and I always have one meal together each day. We sit down and read the Bible and a book on marriage. One day this week, when he was gone for more than twelve hours, he wasn’t hungry, so we just sat on the couch and watched a TV show. I know all the marriage counselors frown at couples watching TV together, but…You try talking to your spouse when he’s been working ten hours straight, and then had to sit in an hour of traffic. At that point, he just wants to decompress and sit with me. And I’m happy to do that. Besides, if you know me, you know that I talk through the whole show anyway! (Blame the writer in me that sees every plot hole and can’t sit still until it’s resolved!). Since my love language is quality time, it is essential for us to have at least an hour a day to sit together and talk.

What do you do when you and your spouse are in a busy season?


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Marriage

what about me?

Over the summer, we’ve seen so many of our friends and family go through various life events, including buying houses and having children. We are genuinely happy for them. We know some of their stories, and the hard work and grace it took to get to where they are today, and we are so proud of them and so thankful to God for His faithfulness. But, although I still don’t want these things yet, as strong as my contentment is, the temptation is still there to want what everyone else has.

What about me?

If you feel overlooked because of your waiting period, here are some ways that I’ve learned to find contentment in this season:

  • Think about what you have. Last week, I struggled with contentment, and with the belief that I’m not enough. I realized how many people have what I want, and how I just can’t seem to get there. When I prayed, God asked me to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t. Later, in the car, Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” came on the radio. The first line of the song? “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough.” In that moment, God showed me that He sees me and He knows me. He asked me to focus on what I have, and what I have, no matter what season I am in, is His Presence. He is always with me, no matter what I have, no matter how I feel. Do you have the assurance of God’s continual presence? If you struggle with contentment, take some time to think about how God has been faithful to you.
  • Celebrate those around you who have what you want. You may feel like you’re not enough or you don’t have enough, but you have everything you need. Often, we need to step outside of ourselves and give ourselves a little pep talk. David did this all the time in the Psalms, when he would command his soul to bless the Lord (see, for example, Psalm 103). His soul didn’t feel like blessing the Lord all the time, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Sometimes, we have to fight to do the right thing. It is right to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. When your friend tells you good news about what is happening in her life, be happy for her, even if it is exactly what you wanted.
  • Talk about it and pray with a friend. Contentment truly is a fight in this progressive, ever-changing world. But we don’t have to fight alone. My husband has been my number-one partner in fighting against contentment. I often add my own fears to the situation, but my husband, the voice of reason, helps me see what is real and what is simply based on what’s inside my own head. Thankfully, I also have friends who understand me, who can also get inside my own head and my heart and feel what I am feeling. Those friends have prayed for me and have helped me love where I am in this season.

The final point is to remember your prayers. I had asked God for a chill year this year.  (Please, no major life events in 2019!). Witnessing how good and faithful He has been these last couple of years, I know He could give me a brand new house, an army of kids, and a super-successful business in the snap of His finger, but He was faithful to answer the deepest prayer of my heart: rest. Help me find meaningful rest. These last couple of years have been like a whirlwind, and I’ve barely had time to process it all. I realize that this season is so essential for me, because, when I do have all those other things, I will need to know how to find meaningful rest.

What have you been asking God for lately? What is truly the deepest desire of your heart? Remember what you prayed for, and believe that God is working on it!


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Marriage

friends, brothers, or potential threats? how to deal with the opposite gender

I am blessed to say that I have great friends that just happen to be guys. But for some reason, that seems to be an enigma in our Christian culture. How can you be friends with someone of the opposite gender? If you’re married, can you even have friends besides your spouse?

After doing research (I’ll post the links below), I’ve discovered there is so much controversy about whether we can truly be friends with members of the opposite gender. If you want to know more about what I think about the issue, here is one article I found that completely sums up my thoughts (I even bought the book that goes along with the article!).

The definition of the word “friend” has been diluted because of social media. I have a ton of male “friends” on my Facebook, but that doesn’t mean I would hang out with them. It just means, quite simply, that I’ve had some interaction with them in the past. According to the dictionary, a friend is someone to whom you have some sort of personal connection, someone who can support you, someone with whom you are on good terms, and someone of the same social group as you. I may have six-hundred-plus “friends” on Facebook, but, in light of those definitions, I’m only actually “friends” with about thirty of those people.

To have friendships with members of the opposite gender, we need to have clear boundaries, practice open communication, and be part of intentional community.

Have Boundaries

The key to any friendship is boundaries. Some Christians do not advocate being friends with members of the opposite gender is because of sexual temptation. You don’t want to fall into sin. You don’t want to be too attached. OK, great. Then, establish in your mind (and, if needed, out loud), that you won’t pursue a sexual relationship with anyone that is not your spouse.

If sexual temptation is a struggle for you, then you have to set strict boundaries with yourself. Be smart. Don’t sit alone with a guy in the car at two in the morning and talk about your past relationships. That has “trouble” written all over it. Before entering a friendship (and you have a choice to enter a friendship), decide how far you’re willing to go with someone who is not your spouse, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.

Have Open Communication

When my husband first asked me on a date, I was scared out of my mind. Typically, before him, boys would ask me to “hang out”, but they wouldn’t be clear of what that looked like. I would be wondering the whole time if they wanted a relationship with me or if they just wanted to be friends. I really liked Lenny, and I was kind of burnt out from all the “dating” (or not) I’d done, so I was very hesitant when he asked me to go to the movies alone with him. But he made his intentions clear: “I think you’re a really nice person, and I want to get to know you better.” And then we started our pre-relationship dating, going on a couple of dates alone.

Then, when I felt like we were going to pursue a relationship, I sat him down at the diner and explained my expectations for a relationship. Then we started our relationship. After three months of dating, Lenny told me he planned on asking me to marry him in a couple of months. Of course, we sat down over dinner at Houlihan’s and talked about what that would look like. Finally, when we got engaged, we prayed about when we would get married, and we talked about what we were willing to sacrifice in order to get married sooner. As I look back, the entire time, we were in constant communication. There was no assumption.

If you have a friend that seems to be pushing your boundaries, be clear. I know it’s hard and scary, but it is so much better than “ghosting” him. I know we’re all afraid of rejection, but honestly, it is worse to lose a really good friend than to have a really good friend simply say he doesn’t want a relationship with you.

Intentional Community

Community can help you stay accountable with these questionable friendships, but community can also help you find true friendship. We as humans have needs that others can fill. We don’t just have sexual needs (which, obviously, only one person can fill), but we also have emotional and mental needs. We need encouragement. We need a listening ear. We need accountability. We need wisdom. I am so thankful for the men who have poured into my life, who have encouraged me, who have taken the journey inside my head with me and have helped me process my thoughts, who have listened to me and have given me guidance about my next step.

If you are a Christian, you belong to the family of Christ. Your “guy friends” are actually your brothers. How would you treat your brother? Keep this in mind as you interact with all of your friends. If you are married and you have “couple friends”, think about your interaction with your brothers in Christ in light of your sisters in Christ. Would you want to let emotional attachment ruin your sister’s happiness?

So, yes, it is possible to have friends of the opposite gender. You simply need to establish clear boundaries, practice open communication, and be a part of intentional community.


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The Billy Graham Rule: Should You Be Friends With Someone of the Opposite Sex?

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-christian-men-and-women-be-friends

https://www.gotquestions.org/married-friend-opposite-sex.html (musings from reading this, not actual information from it)

Relationships: Opposite Gender Friendship

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Marriage

marriage is like a child

I may not have kids of my own, but I have enough nieces, nephews, friends, and children from the ministries I’m involved in to know a thing or two about raising them!

One thing I know is that children are fragile when they’re first born, and as they grow, they are supposed to get stronger. Children at a young age need constant attention so that they don’t hurt themselves, and so that they can receive the nourishment they need to survive.

I couldn’t help but thinking that marriage is the same way.

When you first get married, you need to establish boundaries. You need to establish new rules. The people around you depend on you, as the husband of wife, to create the atmosphere for how you two interact with each other. And you need to be careful about who (and what) you let into your marriage, especially in the beginning, but as you continue to mature together.

People will try to give you unsolicited advice about how to treat your spouse. But you know. You may not be an expert, but you are now the closest person to your spouse. The newlywed stage is a learning process. You will learn your spouse’s favorite color. You will learn how your spouse likes his steak. You will learn your spouse’s schedule, and what keeps him calm. And eventually, the people giving you unsolicited advice will be asking you how to interact with your spouse.

Our marriage is two and a half years old, and from the very beginning, we’ve had to give our marriage constant attention. We’ve had to adjust our lives to the new schedule, and we’ve had to learn new routines to make our marriage work. We’ve had moments that make us roll our eyes because of how ridiculous they are, but we’ve also had moments that work so well, they’re like watching a child walk or hearing her say her first words.

But my absolute favorite part of marriage now is when people ask me questions about my spouse, and I actually know the answers! Like, “Does he like shrimp?”, or “Do you think he’d be up for this or that?”

I also want to note that marriage requires a lot of grace, just like it requires grace to parent a child. We may think that the mistakes we make now will affect the rest of our lives, that if we mess up in the beginning of our marriage, we can never have hope again. But that is not true. Sure, our mistakes have consequences, but there is grace. I’m not the same person I was when I got married. There were times I said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, and I know it hurt my husband. And there were times he said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, and it hurt me. But there’s grace. Thank God for His grace! So don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right from the beginning. Trust in God’s grace to sustain you through it all.

How much attention do you give to your marriage? Is your marriage high on your priority list? Like a child requires constant attention and a change of schedule, you need to make time for your marriage, and make time for the man or woman who matters most to you. Then, as you both grow, you will see your marriage grow, and you will be amazed as the work you put into your marriage early will produce fruit.


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anxiety Marriage

Marriage and Anxiety

Marriage often brings two different people who work together to become one, and in so doing, there is some growth between the two people. My husband, with his calm demeanor, has helped me tremendously with my anxiety, while I, with my organization and administration, have helped him to plan better. However, if we’re not careful, we can let anxiety put a wedge in between our marriage. Our previous coping mechanisms can isolate us, and can confuse our spouse, especially if he or she does not struggle with anxiety.

Before I met Lenny, I believed that my husband would cure my anxiety. For those who are single and waiting for a man to fix you, read this carefully: Marriage does not fix you. Only God can take your brokenness, redeem you, and make you new. But for those who are married, God can use your husband, however great or however flawed he is, to help in that sanctification process.

You cannot rely on another person to fix your anxiety. While therapists, friends, and family can help, you still need to deal with your anxiety yourself. No one can make you stop believing lies; only you can. No one can control you when you have a panic attack; only you can. The only difference between being married and single is, now you have to be open with your spouse about your anxiety, and see how God uses him/her to help you overcome it.

While anxiety has consumed less of my life in the last couple of years, here are some practical ways to be open with your spouse about your struggle with anxiety:

  1. Be clear with your spouse about your fears, triggers, etc. If you have been following along with this blog long enough, you have dealt with your triggers, so you know how to communicate them with your spouse. Your spouse may not understand right away, so he/she might need a reminder. I’ve told my husband about my obsessive thoughts, and it didn’t click with him until I was telling him about another person who had the same disorder. Suddenly, my anxiety made sense to him. He said, “Oh, is that why you do such and such?” If you have specific coping mechanisms, tell them to your spouse, especially if they involve what to do in the middle of a panic attack. Although you may be tempted to isolate yourself when anxiety strikes, you can’t do that anymore. You need to let your spouse into your pain. I’ll warn you, it is not an easy process, but it will help you both become one in your journey together.
  2. Don’t be afraid to say no. For most people, anxiety is like a physical ailment. When I’ve had an anxiety-inducing day, the last thing I want to do is be around people. I don’t want to be exposed to more anxiety. If I know a situation is going to bring me into panic, I tell my husband I can’t do it. He understands, and he advocates for me.
  3. Be flexible when you can’t say no. We both have family in Florida (a plane ride, or a ridiculous drive, away). I hate planes, as they give me debilitating anxiety, but I can’t let that be an excuse not to see my family. If my husband has a work event, or a family gathering where I have to be, and I’m not able to say no, I kind of have to suck it up. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Remember that you have to be there for your spouse, and take the focus off of yourself. Now, if you are forced to go to an obligation, plan ahead. If you have an anxiety-inducing event on Tuesday, take it easy on Monday or Wednesday.

Don’t let anxiety creep into your marriage. Bring your anxiety to God, and then to your spouse, to find healing and to become one in your marriage.


Photo by Kylli Kittus on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

This will RUIN your wedding…if you let it

So much planning, so many details, all go into that one special day. The first day of the rest of your life. Oh, so much can go wrong. But will you let it?

The truth is, anything can ruin your wedding. We live in a fallen world, and we interact with imperfect people. Think about all the people in your family (and in your future spouse’s family). Do you really think that, just for one day, they could be perfect? From experience, let me tell you: the answer is no. They are all still the same people, just wearing fancy clothes and welled up with emotion. So, there’s even more margin for error than usual, because everyone’s emotions are up in the air.

The key is not to let anything ruin your special day.

So, the photographer shows up late, the decorative flowers show up as the bride is walking in, Uncle So-and-So had too much to drink and is now making a fool of himself, and somebody will say something that will make you wonder why you married into this family. Or why you were born into it. Or why you hang out with the people you do.

My husband and I…well, we got married relatively quickly, so we didn’t really have expectations. Until other people did and we realized our expectations were not their expectations. Then chaos ensued. But instead of focusing on what went wrong, we focused on the beautiful day that God gave us.

First and foremost, Lenny and I were dedicating our marriage to God. The church ceremony was beautiful, and (from what I could see) there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as emotion welled up throughout the sanctuary. I was marrying the man of my dreams. My husband was marrying the woman better than his dreams (his words, not mine!). It was an abnormally warm day, at sixty-five degrees in the beginning of November. Our venue was right on the water, so the pictures were beautiful and our guests enjoyed walking around outside. The food was delicious (whatever I was able to eat in my dress!), and I was able to see friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years. And, of course, I felt incredibly beautiful in my dress, and everyone who met me on the receiving line was quick to remind me of how beautiful I looked.

When I focused on what went right instead of what went wrong, whatever petty drama happened in the background stayed there. In the background.

I don’t tell you this to rain on your parade. I tell you this to prepare yourself for what is to come. If you’re imagining a day where nothing goes wrong, you’re imagining a day that doesn’t exist on this side of Heaven. There is a perfect wedding coming, but it won’t be in this lifetime, and it will be between the perfect Bridegroom (Jesus Christ), and His sanctified Bride (the Church). Until then, embrace the day that God has given you and enjoy it. All of your planning was not in vain. Now that it’s all done, take this one day to rest, breathe, and celebrate your union with the man (or woman) of your dreams!


Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Priorit(ies)

Every morning, I feel like I have to make several choices. Do I help my husband get ready (since he has a long commute to work), or do what I need to do to get ready for work on time? Do I iron my husband’s shirt, or work out? Do I make us breakfast and lunch, or do I work on a blog post while he cooks the food? Do I fill up his water bottle, or do I wash the dishes?

The word priority has changed over the last couple of years. It used to mean the most important thing, but now, it can be made plural. When it comes to balancing your marriage, your free time, your kids’ schedules, and your other obligations, it seems like there are multiple priorities. I mean, which one could you really put first before the others?

When we’re single, our priority is to look out for ourselves, or maybe even to look out for a friend or family member. Once we get married, it seems that our priority shifts to making sure our spouses are healthy, happy, and at peace. However, those other important people in our lives don’t go away; we just have to learn how much of a priority to give our spouses.

I believe the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) pertains to this idea of choosing our priority. One day, Martha invited Jesus over to her house. Since hospitality was important (a priority) in the culture where Jesus chose to have His ministry, Martha was focused on making sure everything was perfect for Jesus’s stay. Her sister Mary, however, did nothing to help her sister get ready. In fact, she was listening to Jesus, which was important (a priority).

What Martha was doing wasn’t wrong. She was doing what was expected from her in the culture, and although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the text, I’d like to believe that Martha was busy preparing because her priority was making Jesus comfortable and well fed in a clean home. Nevertheless, Jesus admonishes her for not choosing what is better. What was important (her priority), in that moment, should have been listening to Jesus, the Great Teacher.

We have a lot going on in our lives. During this past school year, we had plans every single day. It was exhausting! From work, to ministries, to family parties, to small groups…we didn’t have room to breathe. Now that it’s the summer (and we’ve made some changes to our schedules), we have more down time, but before that, we literally had to choose what was most important (the priority) in each moment. Especially since money, and not only time, is also a priority for us now, because we are saving up for a house.

So, our questions were:
Do we save gas and food money, or do we visit a friend who we haven’t seen in months?
Do we have a date night, or do we clean the apartment?
Do we go to our small group, or do we have a date night?
Do we sit in traffic to go visit a relative that lives a twenty miles away, or do we go to bed early?

There was no wrong answer to each of those questions, but there was always a better choice. If my husband chose to work overtime while I wanted to spend time with him, I would have grown resentful, and his choice to work would not have been the better choice. If I chose to clean the house instead of helping my husband get ready, he would have been late to work and angry, so my choice to clean would not have been the better choice. It’s not always going to be a clear-cut correct choice, but when you have one priority, making the choice of what is better is definitely easier. Our priority, overall, was that we made the decision together.

I believe that, although we have multiple people and tasks that are important to us, ultimately, we have an overarching priority that encompasses them all. For me, my priority is obeying God and showing His love to others. Ephesians 5:22 calls me to submit to my husband as I submit to the Lord. The way I submit to my husband reflects how I submit to God. Men are also called to love their wives as Christ loved the church, so my husband’s love for me is a reflection of his love for God.

Think about the priority of your life. Does your schedule reflect that? Are you truly doing what you want to do? Choose today what is better.


Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash