Categories
Marriage

Getting your financial life in order AFTER marriage

This post is not to judge anyone, but people want to get their financial lives in order before marriage so that they can live blissfully when they finally tie the knot. However, this pushes back their union several years, and may cause them to compromise their integrity or to even end the relationship. I’m not saying this is the path that we all should take, but for those of you who are on the fence, deciding whether you should get married now or pinch your pennies together first, we pray that God may use our testimony to help you figure out what to do next.

When we first started dating, I was working part-time in the church office, and he was working for his parents’ ice cream truck business. Separately, we were getting by, but without the cushion of living at home with our parents, and with my college debt, marriage wasn’t even a dream for us. Of course, that changed rather quickly, as I transitioned to full-time at the office, moved into an apartment closer to him, and started to watch my budget.

After three months, Lenny told me he wanted to marry me. He told me he had talked to his parents about how much money he would need to start a life with me, and the number didn’t seem to bother him. Our entire relationship, we were in prayer, but when Lenny started talking marriage, I was on my knees a lot more often!

In general, we both have frugal mindsets. I grew up literally saving every penny in a piggy bank, spending money only when it was completely necessary, and making wise purchases at bargain prices (thanks to the teaching of my mom, who intentionally buys the items she needs at the cheapest prices, and grandma, who was the one that made thrifting cool!). Lenny grew up watching his parents start and maintain a business, so he learned the value of a dollar at a very early age.

When we started dating, we saved money everywhere we could, from going to walks at the local park, to eating dinner at home. When it was time to get engaged, I didn’t give Lenny a preference for a ring, but I told him please don’t spend a ton of money on it. He spent more than I wanted, but I learned later that it’s polite to spend a certain percentage of your income on an engagement ring, so I appreciated it.

We were engaged for a couple of months before we decided on a wedding date. While praying, we each felt pulled in different directions. Lenny was concerned about the money, while I was concerned that we were secure and maintained our integrity. We’ve learned that men and women have different priorities, and, generally, men feel more of a burden to provide financially for the family, and women feel more of a burden to provide a secure, nurturing home for the family. Lenny was concerned that he couldn’t provide for us, while I was concerned that we wouldn’t have security until we got married. One thing we agreed on for sure: no matter what, we wanted to be together, and we wanted to keep God at the center of our relationship.

So, we decided to get married eleven months later, giving us just enough time to gather our dollars together.

Right after making that decision, Lenny started looking for a job in his field, and I started to budget more intently. We cut the costs of our wedding (we’ll talk about that next week), and we kept a running total of what we spent and what we received from our friends and family. When we got married in November 2016, we both had jobs that gave us the ability to afford an apartment in our friends’ house, buy our necessities, and save for a house. We used the money from our wedding, and the selling of my husband’s car, to pay off my debt, so we could start our marriage without any financial burdens.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy, but looking back, we’ve seen how God has provided. It all started with a step of faith. We’re now in an apartment that we didn’t think we could ever afford, and now we’re saving for a house that we also didn’t think we could afford. But as God has led us, we have trusted that He will provide for us each time to choose to say “yes” to what He has for us.

What “yes” do you need to say to Him today?


Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

In Case of Infestations

Yep. You read that right. Today, we’re going to talk about how to deal with little critters.

Most people who have been married less than two years aren’t living in a house. Whether you’re renting from a friend, you’re saving up cash in your parents’ basement, or you’re in a complex, you’re most likely living in an apartment.

Did you know that apartments are the breeding grounds for rodents, bugs, and pests? I bet no one told you that in marriage counseling! I bet no one told you to put roach repellent and mouse traps on your registry. But these little critters try to infest not only your home, but your marriage as well.

In our two years of marriage, we’ve had our fair share of visitors creeping in and out of our living spaces. As a neat freak, control freak, and perfectionist, I put the blame on myself every time an unwanted guest would come into my apartment. Maybe I didn’t vacuum enough. Maybe I shouldn’t have left that tiny crumb on the floor. Maybe I should have washed the dishes. It seems like every time I finally clean my house, they show up. And seeing those little things in our space makes us feel so unclean, we want to throw out all our stuff and move!

Lately, God has been calling me to be faithful with what He has given us. We may not have a huge space, but we are responsible for keeping it clean and protected. I’ve been more intentional about washing the dishes, decluttering our space, and vacuuming (oh, how I love the vacuum!).

After seeing just one “bug” in our apartment, we are worried when we will see the next one. It has caused us to live in fear, which adds stress to our daily lives and makes us more irritable. We’ve gone into survival mode, “every person for himself,” but that is not the way that God calls us to live.

Let’s be real: If you don’t understand it, you’ll most likely be afraid of it, and you’re living in fear. We’ve seen everything, from ants to cockroaches to mice to spider crickets. Just the look of what shouldn’t be in our apartment is enough to traumatize us. So that’s why I’m warning you now, before you get freaked out: don’t freak out!

My husband and I are not experts, but here are some ways that we have coped with the little pests instead of living in fear.

Don’t blame yourself. Like I said, apartment complexes are breeding grounds for pests. Therefore, when you have one, it is 0% your fault. Get it out of your head that you’re dirty or unworthy of owning your space.

Do your research. Certain pests are more prominent in some areas. We actually saw a review on Google that our apartment complex has cockroaches. Spider crickets like basements and moist environments. Mice like areas near the woods and near water. So, if you live next to a park or a body of water, you should be aware of what you might see. Don’t freak out, just be prepared.

Prepare for the worst; hope for the best. My husband and I do whatever we can to keep the critters away. We clean the house regularly (making sure our stuff is off the floor and food is stowed in shelves). We don’t live in fear, but we prepare as if an infestation can happen at any time. Bugs and rodents can be nasty, and once you have one, there’s always a chance of more coming back to take over the place. The maintenance staff at our apartment complex also has been attentive. If we have any problems, we call them immediately and they come within 24 hours. Wherever you are, learn about your resources, and use them.

Pray! God has called you to be responsible for your living space, but He doesn’t ask you to do it alone. Just like with anything else, whether you’re renting or you own a home, God can provide strength, wisdom, and resources to make you successful in your stewardship. I cannot even begin to tell you the spiritual lessons I’ve learned from having bugs and rodents in our apartment. My prayers have never been stronger. My declarations of faith have never been more bold and confident. It has also been wonderful to see Lenny step up and act in faith, and to be the leader that God called him to be.

Psalm 91 is a psalm of God’s protection and provision. I wanted to share just one verse with you, but it is all so good, I can’t pick and choose! May God bless your living space, and may Psalm 91 become real for you and your marriage (especially in your dwelling place):

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”


Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Prayers for the Impossible

Three years ago, I wrote a post on Facebook:

“Sometimes we go through impossible situations so that we could truly know and believe that nothing is impossible with God.”

How appropriate for the conversation I want to have with you today about impossible prayers!

Think of the impossible situations in your life. I want you to really think: If God could answer any prayer in my life, what would I pray for? What fears would He remove? Which ways would He provide? Which miracles would He perform in your midst? Which blessings would He pour out on you?

Maybe you’re saving for a house, and your budget is tight. Maybe you’re pregnant, and you don’t know how you and your spouse are going to do this whole parenting thing. Maybe you have a house full of kids and you are still overwhelmed. Maybe God is calling you to start a ministry or serve in your local church, but you feel totally under qualified. Maybe you just aren’t on the same page as your spouse, and the happily ever after you expected is never going to come true for you.

Whatever impossible situation you’re facing, God can make a way. God is healer. God is provider. God is our wonderful counselor.

It’s not a prosperity gospel thing to say that nothing is impossible with God. He can and will answer the impossible prayers that we pray. He wants us to trust Him with the obstacles in our lives, especially if He is calling us to go through them.

Steven Furtick said in his book Sun Stand Still, “…if the size of your vision for your life isn’t intimidating to you, there’s a good chance it’s insulting to God.” God wants us to come to Him boldly, fully believing and expecting Him to do the impossible in our lives. If you are a follower of Christ, you are living by faith daily. And when you follow God and learn to listen for His leading, He will not lead you astray.

The same God who fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish can provide for you and your family.

The same God who multiplied the oil in the empty jars of the widow can give you everything you need to take on this next step of your life.

The same God who made the Sun stand still (a scientifically impossible task) can still the storm raging in your heart right now.

The same God who sacrificed His Son for us, and raised Him to life, will resurrect and restore your broken relationship.

When praying for the impossible, I must warn you that it will be uncomfortable. You might feel spoiled at first, or even unworthy. But remember that in Christ, who is our Great High Priest, we can have boldness and confidence to approach the throne of grace, to find mercy and help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

With that in mind, begin to pray for the impossible task that God has called you to accomplish:

Name the impossible. Put a name to what you want God to do. Really, think about the most impossible situation that comes to mind, something that aligns with what God is currently working on in your life. I gave you some suggestions above. For us, it’s having direction, provision, and unity of heart for our next living situation. Be specific, not because God needs to know the desires of your heart, but because you do.

Ask God. It’s that simple. Truthfully, if God has put this desire in your heart, it is part of His will for you to have it. It may not be exactly what you expect, but it will be exactly what God intended for you. Simply ask God for whatever you listed above.

Do I have a part to play? We need to take responsibility for the impossible situations that God has called us to overcome. Using our example of saving for a house, we’re not just sitting around waiting for a check to come in the mail. Lenny and I are both working and tightening our budget so we’re saving as much as we can each month. It’s not that God can’t give us a check in the mail, but He wants us to be invested in the life that He has given us.

Find accountability. I find it powerful to speak the impossible prayer to a friend. That way, you’re not just asking for it from God; you’re believing for it by declaring it to someone else. Over the weekend, I told a couple of my friends about our exact plan for saving for a house, and how we wanted God to provide. My friends each stated their agreement with our prayer, and now I know they are all praying for us as we take on this task.


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Categories
Marriage

Prayers for Eyes to See

Marriage is hard. It’s not impossible, and it’s definitely worthy of fighting for, but marriage really is a fight. It’s a fight against our own will, against our spouse’s idiosyncrasies, and against what society expects of us.

The hardest part of marriage is that you realize that your Prince Charming, or your Queen, is a human. A human who burps, says the wrong thing sometimes, and leaves his socks on the floor (in all seriousness, left my socks on the floor yesterday!). A human who talks too much, nags sometimes, and leaves her hair ties everywhere.

We need to pray for eyes to see our spouses the way that God sees them.

God made man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). When God created us and put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He called His creation “very good” (v. 31). In light of that knowledge, doesn’t that make our spouse a little more valuable in our eyes? But instead of focusing on that, we tend to focus on their flaws, slip-ups, and imperfections.

Since the Fall of man, it is true that we are not perfect. We have been stained by sin, and the image of God has been distorted in us. But by the grace of Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago, we now wear the righteousness of Christ when we accept Jesus as our Master. Now, when God looks at us, He looks at us with grace. We are no longer marred with sin in His eyes; instead, we are His precious, beloved children.

Are you viewing your spouse with grace, or with judgment? Are you nitpicking his every mistake, or are you choosing to look past his imperfections? Choose today to pray for eyes to see your spouse the way that God sees him.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some Biblical tips to help you pray:

Search your own heart. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells us to remove the plank in our own eyes before we judge the speck in our brother’s eye. Before you say a word about the faults in your spouse, think about your own faults. As I mentioned before, God looks at you with grace. Forgive your spouse as the Lord has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). When you realize how much God loves you and how much He has forgiven you, it makes it easier to overlook your spouse’s shortcomings.

Make a list of what you love about your spouse. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective. Your spouse may seem like a loser, but that’s only because you’re focusing on his flaws. Focus on what makes him a winner. Write down a list of things you love about your spouse. Think especially back to why you first married him. Thank God for this person that He has given you, the one who will be doing life with you from now until the day you die.

Surrender your idiosyncrasies to God. Admittedly, I’m a control freak, and I often want to fix everything about my spouse (truthfully, there isn’t much to fix!). But I’ve realized in the twenty-six months we’ve been married that I can’t fix him, nor can I control him. What I can control is how I respond to his shortcomings. If I find some flaws more difficult to overlook than others, I need to let them go and surrender them to God. You can tell God how you feel about your spouse, but ultimately, you need to get to a place where you put the issue in God’s hands.

Choose grace for your spouse. Grace is a choice, and it’s a choice more easily made when the God of grace is with you. In light of all that we have discussed, choose to have grace-colored glasses when you look at your spouse. You’ll find that whatever bothered you about him is no longer as apparent.


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Categories
Marriage

Prayers for Unity in Your Marriage

Relationships are essential for our well-being. Studies show that people who have healthy relationships live longer and have an overall higher enjoyment of life. There’s no better relationship (besides God) to invest in than the relationship we have with our spouse.

I believe that there is an enemy of our souls that wants to keep us isolated. Jesus says that this enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Based on the fact that relationships help us live longer, he literally is killing us by destroying our relationships and stealing our joy.

When I fight with my husband, it’s usually about selfish stuff. When I get mad at my husband, I’m not thinking of him. I’m only thinking of myself. While it’s important to have needs and to express those needs, we also need to be aware that ultimately, we are a team.

When you pray for your marriage, after praying for yourself, it is imperative that we pray for our unity. That is what the enemy of our souls attacks the most. That is what society thinks is the most archaic part of our relationships. But it is also what we need in order to have a thriving marriage.

Obviously, you should pray this prayer with your spouse, but you can also pray it individually on behalf of your relationship.

Thank God for your marriage. Your marriage is a gift from God. Start your prayer by thanking God for the unity you have with your spouse. By thanking God, you not only acknowledge marriage as a gift from God, but you’re also declaring that there is unity in your marriage. Decide to put God first in your marriage, starting today (if you haven’t done so in the past).

Acknowledge the areas in your marriage where it is hard to have unity. Last week, we prayed for ourselves. Specifically, we discussed praying for what is hindering us from being the best husband/wife we can be to our spouse. Today, we can apply the same prayer to our unity as a couple. Where do you struggle with being a team? Do you try to take control of the finances? Do you parent your spouse when it’s time to do chores? Do you make decisions before consulting your spouse? Ask God to show you where you need improvement in your unity.

Surrender those areas to God. When you acknowledge these areas where you need improvement, give them over to God. Allow Him to help you grow in these areas. If it’s an area you can’t control (like outside relationships such as how your in-laws treat you or how loud your neighbors are), surrender that fully to God. You can’t control other people, but you can control how you respond.

Ask for protection. The enemy of our souls will try to attack your marriage when you least expect it, or when you’re most vulnerable. For me, I’m exhausted by ten o’clock at night, so of course, most of our fights happen at ten or eleven o’clock. Pray that God would protect you during those times, and be on your guard. Now, when we get snippy with each other, I check the time. Okay, it’s ten-thirty. Whatever our issue is, clearly has to do with the fact that we’re both tired.

Make goals together. Aside from putting God first, nothing brings you closer to your spouse than creating common goals. When you’re working toward the same goals, you tend to work together rather than competing.

If you comment below, I will pray for unity in your marriage as well! God bless 🙂


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Categories
Marriage

Start with Me

A few weeks ago, I shared how we should start our years off on the same page as our spouse. We don’t have to be the same person, but we do have to make an effort to compromise and share goals with each other.

The best way to get on the same page as your spouse is through prayer. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share how to pray for your marriage in specific circumstances. Before praying to change my spouse, I always want to examine my own heart for anything that needs to change in me.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to look at our own lives before we judge others:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

This is not to say that we should not judge others, but that we should do so only after making sure our conscious is clear. Applying this to marriage, if I judge Lenny for leaving his dirty socks on the floor, and yet I leave my dirty socks on the floor, I need to get my priorities in order. If you don’t leave your dirty socks on the floor, but it bothers you when your husband does, there is a way to bring it up to him. We will talk about that in the coming weeks.

This week, we want our prayer to be three simple words: Start with me. The temptation is to try controlling our spouses, but in reality, we simply cannot control anyone but ourselves. No matter how much you nag or complain or even pray, you cannot change your spouse’s behavior or attitude. But you can bring your concerns to God.

I personally like to journal, so if you’re looking for a nice format to bring your concerns before God in a written prayer, here are some tips:

Be honest with God about how you feel. It may actually bother you if your spouse leaves his dirty socks on the floor, to the point where you can’t even sleep at night. If so, take it to God first! Your husband may not understand why it bothers you, but God does. Write down exactly how that action your husband does makes you feel. You’ll be surprised about what comes up.

Ask God to bring up any past hurts that could contribute to why something bothers you about your spouse. Looking back at the feelings you wrote down, think about why your husband’s actions invoke these emotions in you. Maybe your little brother used to leave his socks on the floor and it would stink up the whole house. Maybe you have an obsession with keeping your house clean. Maybe you want to control your spouse because you’ve put him on a pedestal and you don’t want him to disappoint you. Whether or not you know the reason why his actions bother you, ask God to reveal the meaning behind your feelings to you. If needed, ask God to bring healing into these hurts so that you can see past the faults of your spouse.

Confess your sins to God. This really should be before the other points discussed, but usually when we pray about our marriage, we pray to try to change our spouses or our situations. Now that your guard is down, and you’ve realized that whatever problems you have in your marriage are also your responsibility, you can deal with your own sins.

Ask for (and received) forgiveness. God wants a relationship with us. We can check off the list of sins we’ve committed, but unless we know that God forgives us, and we accept His forgiveness, we can’t fully, intimately connect with God. Don’t rush through this. Take time to receive the grace and forgiveness of God in your life.

If your marriage has problems, you are not the problem, but neither is your spouse. Before you blame your spouse for the chaos in your life, make your prayer, “Start with me.” Whatever you want to see changed in your spouse, ask it for yourself as well.


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Categories
Marriage

Preparing for Marriage

Preparing for your marriage is vital for success. During engagement, you and your betrothed are laying the foundation for the rest of your marriage. If you get off on the wrong foot, of course, God is still able to help you and heal you. But while you have the tools now, why wait until things get worse to make them better? If you don’t want the house of your marriage to crumble, make sure you have a strong foundation, one that is built on Christ and His teachings.

Here are the ways that we prepared for marriage, and specifically, how they have helped us thus far:

Deciding you are a team. Lenny and I are a team, as we have been since we made our relationship official. Knowing we were a team made it easier to make decisions, and to show respect to one another. Your finances are connected, your boundaries are connected, and you are connected. Marriage connects you to your spouse on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level. Get accustomed to practice being a team, even as an engaged couple.

Pre-marital counseling. I struggled with pride big time in the beginning of my relationship with Lenny, so getting a diagnostic test of how well they thought we would do as a couple was both intimidating and eye-opening. It is a counselor’s job to be neutral, but reflective. If you get your pre-marital counseling from a pastor, you will get counsel from a person who loves you and cares about you, but will know how to keep it biblical rather than personal. We also had our pre-marital counseling at an office about forty minutes from where we lived, so we had the opportunity to catch up before our session, and then process on the way home. Most churches require you to have pre-marital counseling in order for you to get married there, but even if you aren’t required, I encourage you to find a local Christian counselor who can start you and your betrothed off on the right foot.

Other married couples. From the moment we got engaged, we were blessed with so much encouragement from more mature couples. A week after our engagement, one of our small group leaders saw me from across the atrium at church and invited us to their group specifically for newlywed and engaged couples. Since that invitation, we have connected with our small group, as well as other young married couples in the church who are just a little bit more mature in their marriage than us. It has been great simply to have people who understand what we’ve gone through, especially in a world that says that marriage is when your life ends. You would not believe how many people told us that we’d have a couple of good years, and then it would get very difficult and we wouldn’t be as close as we are now. Two years later, I’m not saying that marriage is perfect, but it has not been as bad as people had warned. I’m thankful for the people who have spoken life into our marriage rather than declaring our marriage a curse from the beginning. For those who are married, speak life into these newlywed and engaged couples, instead of setting them up for failure. For those who are engaged, find couples who will speak life into you and your betrothed.

Marriage devotionals. Lenny and I both like to read. In our small group, we’ve done several marriage Bible studies, that have each spoken to us in different ways and have helped us in each season so far. We also do marriage Bible plans on the YouVersion app and pray together as a couple. But we started that when we were engaged, seeking God’s will and blessing for our future marriage. You can search for marriage plans on the YouVersion app, or you can study a topic together from the Bible to increase your faith and grow in God together.

The heart behind Marriage Monday is to show you how to have hope and love in your marriage through the power of God. Lenny and I thank God that we have seen God’s power and blessing in our marriage, because we have chosen to honor Him from the very beginning. We challenge you to make the same decision. Put God first in your marriage, and everything else will fall into place. It may not be perfect, but it will be much easier and more fun with God on your side. I pray that the posts that follow and that I have written about marriage will encourage you in this next step toward your marriage. In this next season, have fun preparing for marriage!


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Categories
Marriage

Be a Team Player

You may be wondering how Lenny feels about me writing about our marriage. Do you really think that I’m venting about my husband without his permission?

On this blog, I really don’t talk about deep issues in our marriage. I don’t believe an online platform is the place to do that. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe I should be complaining to my husband or my marriage about anyone. For those who like to vent about their significant others to your parents or your siblings or your best friend or even his parents (seriously?), read this clearly: STOP! Fighting in marriage should be like sex in marriage. Everyone knows you do it, but no one is involved in the details. When I share something about Lenny, I always ask his permission first, or I use an insignificant detail, like him leaving his socks on the floor (which he never does!).

You know why? Because we’re a team.

When we first got engaged, we spent a LOT of time preparing for marriage. We joined a Bible study for newlywed and engaged couples. We went through eight sessions of premarital counseling. We read whatever we could. And we prayed. A lot.

By doing this, we not only learned the value of teamwork, but we learned how to be a team. Now, in everything I do, from how I spend my money to how I conduct myself on Facebook, I have my husband in mind. I know he does the same for me.

While reflecting on what makes a good team, here are some attributes I’ve considered. I pray that you also think about making your marriage into a team effort, and that you and your spouse can both be team players.

Collaboration. In a team, each player has different strengths to contribute to the overall well-being of the group. We’ve discovered recently that we have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as different priorities. Not that we don’t care about each other, but that we are so focused on other things that we don’t think about everything. In our fight for control, we’ve learned how to let it go and let our spouse take control in the areas that matter to them. We’ve also learned not to compete in the midst of our different strengths and weaknesses. Instead of working against each other, we work with each other in order to achieve our goals together.

Respect. In a team, each player shares equal value. While my priorities may be different from Lenny’s, I respect his opinion and his feelings, as he does for me. I show respect to Lenny by listening to him, making eye contact with him when he wants my attention, and using an encouraging tone while speaking to him. He doesn’t want me to be his parent, so I shouldn’t talk to him like I’m above him.

Communication (and Prayer). I’ve always believed that communication is key in any relationship. Prayer is communication with God, and constant communication with our Heavenly Father is vital for us to have healthy relationships. Lenny and I pray on a daily basis and seek God’s will for our lives. We also talk consistently about our goals for the future and about our progress toward those goals. We discuss when incidences happen and how to avoid conflicts in the future. But even questions such as, “The dishwasher’s dirty. Can you put that dish in the dishwasher?” or “Next time you go to the store, can you pick up some more chicken?” are vital toward our marriage team. How is Lenny supposed to know I want that dish in the dishwasher if I don’t tell him? How am I supposed to know Lenny’s hungry for chicken if he doesn’t tell me? We’re not in the business of reading each other’s minds. We have to remain in constant communication, so that we can know what we’re thinking and make a game plan for the future.

Celebration. My favorite part of being on this marriage team is celebrating when we’ve done something right. We celebrate everything, from keeping our cool in front of difficult people to paying off debt. Life is so much more fun when we look back and see how far we’ve come, and how much God has done in our lives.

If you want to turn your marriage into a team effort, go for it. There is nothing stopping you from beginning this journey now. All it takes is a humble attitude, respect, communication, and celebration. Practice at least one of these attributes today, and let me know how it goes!


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Categories
Marriage

Encouragement for Those Who Are Sick of “The Question”

We newlyweds get this question all the time, especially at holidays: “When are you going to have kids?” This question is particularly challenging because, I’ve noticed, there isn’t a lot of Christian material out there for just Christian wives. I’m reading a book now that talks about being a confident woman, but the author dedicates several chapters to how she feels about being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love free parenting advice, but it’s almost like someone sent me a text message that was meant for someone else.

As a disclaimer for some of the readers in my family who think that this is a direct attack on them, I did get asked this question a lot over the weekend, and your questions did inspire this post. I’m more comfortable with this conversation now than I was, you know, during my wedding reception. However, while talking with my family, I gleaned some encouragement that I wanted to share with the couples out there who are still rolling their eyes when people see a baby and ask when they’re going to have one. So, thanks to my family for asking the difficult questions.

Some people are selfish, but most people mean well. Most people are also genuinely interested about your plans for your life. The people in your family or at church are simply enjoying watching you grow and taking the next step of your life.

I first noticed people asking me about the next step of my life when I was trying to pick a college. During my senior year, I didn’t know where I was going to go yet, but I remember getting asked about it five times in only one day. But the questions didn’t stop there. When I decided on a college, I didn’t have a major. When I decided on a major, I didn’t have a car. When I got a car, I didn’t have a degree. When I got a degree, I didn’t have a job. When I got a job, I didn’t have a boyfriend. When I got a boyfriend, I didn’t have an engagement ring. When I got an engagement ring, I didn’t have a wedding ring. When I got a wedding ring, I didn’t have a baby. Or a house. Or another baby. And then my kids will get asked the questions.

Some of my family members are in high school now, and I ask them almost every time I see them where they’re going to college and what they want to do as a career. It may not be what they end up doing for college (they still have a couple of years), but it’s nice to see that them grown up and making big-kid decisions. So, when I get asked the question, “When are you having kids?” it’s really just the next step of life, and I’m sure the person asking me is just really happy to see me grown up and making big-kid decisions.

If you get asked this question a lot, think of it as a compliment. It means that you’re ready in the world’s eyes. It means that the person asking you sees you as a mature adult now, able to parent your own children and make big-kid decisions. Please, do not see it as an insult. You and your husband are complete without children. You and your husband are not lazy for choosing to wait. You and your husband have your priorities in order if your priorities include focusing on your marriage or saving money.

For those of you who are sensitive about this topic, try not to answer their prying questions with too much detail. My husband and I already have a rough draft idea for our children, from when we want to start trying to get pregnant, to actually raising our kids. Hormones and circumstances could change things, but no one knows that plan but us and God. Why? Because no one will be happy (I mean 100% happy) with our plans, because they’re not their plans.

Being vague with our plans also gives God space to work. God is ultimately the giver of life. I know people who were on birth control and got pregnant anyway. I know people who used every form of fertility method and still couldn’t get pregnant. Our answer, over all, should be that we’ll have children in God’s timing. Until then, we’re serving Him as best as we can as husband and wife by loving each other and growing where we are planted.


Photo by Andrew Itaga on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Don’t Parent Your Spouse

Whether you have kids of your own or not, people joke all the time that if you’re married, you have at least one kid. What a terrible joke, to say that the loves of our lives are mere children! Unfortunately, sometimes we treat our spouses like children.

On The Good Doctor, one of the staff members made a statement (paraphrased below) that describes the difference between parents and spouses: “Parents know their sons as boys, but wives know their sons as men.” How true that is! Even when I was a little girl, I imagined my Prince Charming, not as a little boy but as a mature adult, strong enough to stand by my side and valiantly face whatever life throws at us. Although it is my job to help my husband grow into maturity, why is it so tempting to talk to him like he’s five?

Generally, women are more guilty of talking down to their spouses, but men do it also. I can only speak from the experience as a woman, but I’m sure men could learn from my words as well. In our society, the pendulum has swung in the exact opposite direction, from “submit to your husband” (as in, “your husband can do with you as he pleases”) to “parent your husband.” It may be a control issue, it may be payback for a patriarchal society, it may even be a response to how our spouses were raised, but it’s time that we treat our spouses like adults.

After all, the more you treat your spouse like a child, the more your spouse will act in childish behavior.

Start by praying to see your spouse as an adult. God calls us to maturity, and as spouses, we should be helping our spouses to grow in faith and character. Our spouses should be doing that for us as well. Pray that God would give you eyes to see your spouse the way that God sees him, and pray about your speech and your behavior toward him.

My husband and I do not have any children yet, but we are having conversations about our future parenting styles. If you don’t have children yet, but are treating your spouse like a child, write down or make a mental note of statements you make to your spouse that sound more like a parent than a spouse. After reviewing the words you say, decide if that is even how you would want to parent your children! It can be a learning experience for both of you to talk about how it feels to be spoken to that way, so it might hurt your children if you talk to them that way as well.

Finally, I think we need to stop congratulating our spouses as a form of positive reinforcement. My husband put away some dishes that I left out, and while I appreciate what he did, I didn’t make a huge deal out of it. We are both responsible to keep our space neat and to put everything back in its place. I pick up Lenny’s socks from the floor (NOT all the time!) but no one throws me a party. Why do I have to make such a big deal over Lenny doing me a “favor”? Let’s have a conversation with our spouses about the expectations for our household chores and finances. That way, our spouses will actually do what we expect from them, instead of guessing what we want them to do.

Generally speaking, people work in different rhythms. I may ask my husband to do something for me, and it may take him five minutes just to get up from his chair. In my mind, what I need is an emergency, but in his mind, it can wait. Our conflicting personalities in this way have grown my patience and have grown my husband’s efficiency. Just because he doesn’t get up right when I ask him to, doesn’t mean I should treat him like a child. He’s an adult; he can make his own decision about when to get up from his chair. Unless I’m bleeding or the house is on fire, there is no need for him to rush.

Overall, have grace with yourself and with your spouse. You don’t have to control your spouse; you have to be patient and let him do it in his own time. Your spouse also needs to have patience with you, since it’s frustrating when your spouse treats you like a baby. Have an honest talk about the communication in your marriage, and make steps to grow each other into maturity instead of keeping them locked in childish behavior.


Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash