Dealing with Difficult People: Is it Me?

Last month, I wrote a post on dealing with difficult people, about how we should have more understanding toward those people. We’re so quick to attack, judge, and cut them out of our lives that we don’t think about the positives that those people bring to our lives. Eventually with this series, I will discuss how to specifically deal with these people that frustrate us and make our blood boil. For now, I want to talk about you.

As much as we hate to admit it, we may have a part to play in our difficult relationships. Relationships are always a two-way street, and very few of us can say that we have perfectly handled a situation. Just like we hate to hear it, I hate to be the one to tell you that you may be at least partly responsible for the conflict. I’ve totally been there, the proudest person in the bunch telling you to own your mistakes. But sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes you need to look within before you cast the blame on someone else.

Paul tells us in the book of Romans to live at peace with everyone as long as it depends on you (12:18). I praise God that we have the ability to control ourselves. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. However, that implies that we cannot control those around us. We are only responsible for ourselves. We can’t control if a family member treats us poorly, but we can control how we react. I can’t control a cutting remark from my friend, but I can control whether or not I retaliate with a cutting remark.

Think of a difficult relationship in your life, whether it’s at work, home, school, or in your family. God has given us people to sharpen us, but the sharpening process definitely hurts sometimes! But think of the last conflict you two have had, maybe even the reason why you’re so upset with him/her. This time, don’t focus on the bad that she did to you. Focus on your actions. You may not have instigated her insults (or maybe you did), but maybe you reacted in a way that wasn’t exactly holy.

The other aspect of the phrase as long as it depends on you means that you have to give it everything you’ve got to save the relationship. Obviously, if she’s toxic, you need to create some distance, but don’t make excuses and claim that you’ve done everything you can. If you need to apologize, apologize. If you need to show more love, show more love. Do whatever it takes on your end to make it right. The rest is up to her.

On the other hand, even if you start to see things from her perspective and see where you’ve also messed up, don’t excuse her behavior. Mental and emotional disorders are becoming more common these days, especially because they’re easier to diagnose now. The difficult people in your life may not be hurting you maliciously (as in, with the intent of hurting you), but if they hurt you, you still have a right to be upset. She may have suffered abuse as a child or may be carrying the weight of narcissism or OCD or ADD as an adult, but even if her disorder caused you pain, you cannot continue to tolerate the behavior. Metaphorically speaking, whether she hit you with a baseball bat because she was trying to swat a fly or because she was trying to hurt you, it hurt you! Deal with the pain, and help her by explaining your boundaries (I’ll talk more about this Wednesday).

Remember what I said about self-control? Well, I have great news for you. Your marriage does not have to suffer because of your difficult relationships. You have the choice to let that difficult person drag down your marriage. I don’t know why you’d want to let it drag down your relationship, but if you do, and it does, it’s your responsibility now. That would be your fault, not hers (the difficult person).

You and your spouse are both adults, so you get to decide what you bring into your marriage. Your parents don’t decide for you. Your teachers, college professors, bosses, whatever, don’t get to decide what you bring into your marriage. If your difficult person is a work relationship, you don’t have to bring him home. You can drive and pray and sort through your feelings before you make it back to your spouse. You don’t have to take out your anger on your spouse.

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash


Why the Second Year Should Be the Second Hardest

Last year, I wrote about why the first year of marriage is the hardest. I discussed how marriage is sacrifice, and how we need to lay down our independence in order to fully love our spouses.

I grew up with the idea that my husband will make all my problems disappear. Anyone who has been married past “I do” can tell you that marriage is very hard work! However, while Lenny doesn’t make all my problems go away, he makes it easier to face them. He has been a wonderful accountability partner, and in the midst of the challenge, we make it fun.

In our first year of marriage, Lenny and I did everything together. Everything was a new experience for us. Even though I had gone to the grocery store before, it was a new adventure altogether going with my husband for the first time! Whatever we did, we did with fresh eyes. From going on two family vacations, to spending the holidays together, to moving into a new apartment and starting new jobs, we had a lot of energizing moments that propelled our first year of marriage and made it interesting.

Our society loves to chase the new and exciting. We’ve learned during our second year of marriage that we can’t do that. Once the first anniversary comes and goes, life goes on. And, to be honest, life gets a little boring. Although we did have some excitement this year, like starting new jobs, going on vacation with my family, and moving into yet another apartment, for the most part, we’re settling into a routine. Lenny and I are now officially in the jobs that we’ll probably have for the rest of our lives.

Most of us have been trained to think about the next best thing. Literally, right after we got married, people already asked me when I was having children. Can we just agree to stop that? If you’re in the midst of that now, trust me, people eventually stop asking you! However, even when you attain that next milestone, the questions never stop. When are you going to get a house? When are you going to put your kids in school? When are you having a second, third, or fourth baby? What is your two-year-old going to study college?

Looking toward the next best thing is a form of escapism. If we don’t like our reality, we tend to focus on a fantasy future that will make our present a little more bearable. Since I’m used to that way of thinking, it is often tempting not to enjoy what God has given us now and focus on what we still need to attain. We find ourselves discontent that life has settled, because nothing new and exciting is happening. While I know this lull happens multiple times in marriage, the second year is the hardest because this is the first time we experience it.

During your first year of marriage, when everything is new, when you’re practically treated as celebrities, it is easy to be emotionally invested in your marriage. However, as life goes on, you have to fight to enjoy the mundane. Practice thankfulness each day. Vocalize your thankfulness to your spouse; show what you appreciate about him/her and about what is going on in your life. When you focus on the positive, the negative seems to fade away.

I believe we have made the most out of this season of settling. We have been intentional about demonstrating thankfulness for what God has given us in this season. Since God has made it clear that we are in this season until further notice, we’ve decided not to bring up certain milestones until we feel God’s peace. Until then, we’ve learned to vocalize our contentment, with our dreams for our future in the back of our heads. We have our goals written down and posted on our refrigerator. To me, that means we are aware of them, but they’re not our focus. In the midst of the waiting and the living, no matter what we endure together, Lenny and I have each other. And that’s what makes marriage an adventure.

Although, maybe it would be a little easier if we still had our wedding cake from two years ago!

Photo by Stephen Cook on Unsplash


Emotional Consequences

One of my favorite parts of marriage is that I can be completely and totally honest with my husband without any judgment. I used to fear conflict, thinking that any conflict could cause a break in the relationship. Now that I’m in a stable relationship and we can fight without worrying about destroying our marriage, I feel safe.

Although I’m safe to say what I want, what I say has emotional consequences.

Words have the power of life and death. We speak what we don’t mean sometimes. We speak to control. We speak to encourage. However, our words have consequences, good and bad.

When you’re uncomfortable, you have defense mechanisms, like sarcasm, insulting, or joking, but those defense mechanisms can get you into trouble if you’re not careful. Since it is part of our spouse’s job to shape us, God can use our spouses to help us surrender our defense mechanisms.

As listeners, we can’t let people speak to us however they want. I have trigger words like “What is your problem?” that will shut me down in an argument. If Lenny wants to shut me down, he can use that, because he knows it will make me stop talking. But he also knows that if he uses those words, he’ll be breaking our trust, and he could put some emotional distance between us. Lenny will accomplish what he wants (shutting me up) but it comes with consequences.

We have different boundaries, and we have to be clear about them. We can’t let people get away with their words. We can be clear about what we expect, and if people don’t respect our requests, we have to follow through with our consequences.

We hate being parented by anyone, including our spouses. However, you are not parenting your spouse. You are sticking up for yourself. Your job is not to train your spouse; your job is to protect yourself from experiencing and causing emotional damage.

So, talk about your boundaries, and what would happen if your spouse were to cross those boundaries. Now, you obviously can’t threaten to leave, unless there is abuse involved. However, you are entitled to request counseling or to say that you are not going to be as trusting of your spouse. Remember the vows you made to each other and remind your spouse of them.

If you are in a dating relationship, breaking up IS still a viable option for you. There is nothing binding you together. Unfortunately, it’s not obvious anymore that insults, sarcasm, and threats hurt people, so you need to be clear about how those words make you feel. If your SO has a history of hurting you with his/her words, and you’ve made it clear that his/her actions are bothering you and nothing has changed, you have every right to leave. Do that for yourself. Do not keep hurting yourself when you know he/she can use words to hurt you.

To demonstrate how to have emotional boundaries in the midst of defense mechanisms, I’ll use a hypothetical situation. Jack confesses to Polly that he gets fearful around the topic of family conflicts, and that when the topic arises, he uses sarcasm to deflect his feelings. Polly understands this, but she confesses that she gets angry when people make fun of her family, so she could respond to his sarcasm with an angry outburst. Polly promises that she will try not to bring up family conflicts around him, and Jack promises that he will try not to be sarcastic or make jokes about her family.

Since we’re not perfect, Jack and Polly may have some issues with this at first. But now, when they fight about Polly bringing up family conflicts and Jack making fun of her family, they have an understanding about why the conflict is happening, and they are able to develop consequences as a result. If Polly brings up a family conflict, Jack will use sarcasm. If Jack uses sarcasm, Polly will have an angry outburst. Eventually, Polly will learn not to bring up family conflicts (or will at least approach the conflict in a different manner) because she will not want her husband to be sarcastic. Eventually, Jack will learn not to react with sarcasm because he will not want his wife to have an angry outburst.

While grace is needed in this situation, do not get too comfortable with emotional tension. If your spouse is using defense mechanisms against you, continue to love him, but don’t allow the behavior to continue. Do not punish your spouse, but be clear about your expectations and continue to remind your spouse about them as the behavior continues. Remember your vows, and remember that you are both in the process of growing.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash


One of Us is Irrelevant…

I heard a quote from someone a few months ago: “If I was just like my wife, one of us would be irrelevant!”

The number one reason why couples fight is because of their differences in opinion. Whether it’s finances, how to raise kids, how to decorate the house, or whatever, sometimes we don’t see eye to eye. I like balance. I like when we agree. But that’s not the way the world works. We are all different; there is not a single person that is like us. That’s why we need to be around a community so we can learn from each other, and teach others what we know.

Here are some ways Lenny and I are different, and how they’ve affected our marriage. What differences would you add from your marriage?

Differences in memory. For the life of me, I cannot get Lenny to empty his lunch bag until I have to pack it the next morning. If you do the chores in your house, you can laugh at this. I can’t sleep at night if there are dishes in the sink or socks on the floor, but my husband doesn’t give it a second thought! By me saying this, I hope you don’t hear that I’m perfect. My husband always remembers things that I don’t, and I honestly can’t even remember what they are to tell you! Well, what he remembers stuff is just as important as him leaving his dirty Tupperware in his bag overnight. For example, I had a job interview today, and my husband reminded me to print out my resume and cover letter and bring a list of questions to ask. Our minds were only meant to think about what is needed, and if we both remember things, one of us is irrelevant. Maybe God chose my brain to focus on the cleaning while he chose my husband’s brain to focus on how to prepare for an interview! Although Lenny’s not too stupid to know how to clean and I’m not too stupid to know how to apply for jobs, we can use our strengths to help each other out instead of both having to be experts at everything.

Differences in personality. While I tend to be anxious and energetic, my husband is relaxed and mellow. This has worked out in favor of both of us. When I struggle with anxiety, my husband helps me see that there’s no point in worrying. He is my go-to person on a plane; when I’m normally paralyzed, he’s squeezing my hand and reminding me to breathe. However, when Lenny gets too comfortable, I challenge him to go beyond his comfort zone. I actually encouraged him to apply for his first job, and I coached him on how to prepare for his first ever interview (see how the tables have turned!). We tend to think that differences bring us apart, but when we learn to appreciate our differences, we can use them to propel our marriage in the right direction.

Differences in experiences. Without going into detail, my husband and I have almost the exact opposite childhood. Although we grew up about twenty minutes from each other, and even visited the same places when we were kids, it was like we’re from different planets sometimes! While I wish I had some of what Lenny had as a kid, and while he wishes that he had some of what I had as a kid, we can learn from both of our experiences. What we’ve endured throughout our lifetime has shaped us into who we are today, and God has allowed us to have the lives we’ve had so that we could reflect His glory. The fun part of marriage is trying to figure out how God has weaved our stories together to bring glory to His name.

What differences do you see in your marriage? How have they made your marriage more enriching? How have they hindered your connection to your spouse?

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You Know What Happens When We Assume…

The other day, Lenny and I were driving home from a long day out together. I mumbled something about wanting to watch TV and go to bed, and he simply said, “Nope.” He told me he’d rather play video games. The nerve! He complained all day that he was tired, and now he wanted to stay up and play video games instead of going to bed?

In that moment, Lenny didn’t do anything wrong. was in the wrong this time, because I didn’t clarify my expectations.

Over the summer, I participated in a program for leaders at our church. We followed a curriculum created by Pete & Geri Scazzero called Emotionally Healthy Relationships. They have taught me so much about relationships and marriage, I’ll probably be referring to them pretty often on this website.

My favorite topic from this workbook involved clarifying expectations. Unfortunately, I assume all the time, especially because my husband doesn’t speak that much. When he’s quiet, I assume he understands. Since we’ve been married a little longer now, I know his silence means he either doesn’t hear me, or he disagrees but doesn’t know how to tell me.

I was in the wrong when I assumed Lenny would want to cuddle with me instead of play video games because I didn’t clarify my expectations. I assumed he wanted to do the same, because cuddling helps me unwind, but he isn’t wired the same way. Video games help him unwind. While I had the itch to lay on the couch until I was ready for bed, he had the itch to play a couple of games. His itch is one I don’t understand, but if I don’t clarify my expectations, I can’t judge him for his behavior.

In Emotionally Healthy Relationships, the Scazzeros lay out several pointers to remember when clarifying expectations. I will use the example of how we spend the holidays. Not only are the holidays a cause for conflict in our household, but it is also a topic of debate among most newlywed couples.

Expectations should always be conscious. It is more important for us to be aware of our own expectations than for others to be aware of them. When it comes to the holidays, one of my expectations is, “It doesn’t matter where Lenny and I spend the holidays, as long as we are together.” Whatever drama ensues from our holiday plans, as long as we don’t split up (as in Lenny sees his family and I see mine), we’ve had a successful year. I am aware of that, and although I don’t need to share that expectation with everyone, now you know it.

Expectations should also be realistic. We tried splitting the holidays (going to my family in the morning and Lenny’s family in the evening), but it is way too stressful for us. Expecting us to see both sides of the family every single holiday is unrealistic for our situation. I can’t control everyone in my life, and they can’t control me. If I have expectations that involve controlling other people, I will be sorely disappointed when they physically, emotionally, or mentally cannot meet my needs.

Expectations should be spoken. Before the holiday season (conveniently during our anniversary), Lenny and I talk about how we are going to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. We discuss our expectations and form a plan. Then, we tell our parents our plans for the year. This prevents us from having conflicts with our families later, when they expected us to spend the holidays a certain way.

Finally, expectations should be agreed upon. This point is the one I have the most difficult time following. I am free to share my expectations with Lenny, but I rarely pause to make sure he’s on board with them. This was the issue we had when he wanted to play video games. I expected him to come to bed with me, but he didn’t agree. Now, when I clarify my expectations, I ask him, “Are you okay with that?” If he’s not, he makes an addendum, and we form an agreement.

Expectations are not wrong to have. As a matter of fact, they are innate and necessary for survival. If we can keep our expectations conscious, realistic, spoken, and agreed upon, we will have better communication and less conflicts with our loved ones.

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The Beauty of Letting Go

Why do we have so many fights with our spouses? Why do we keep having the same arguments over and over again?

Because we don’t want to let it go.

I could stop right there. But I don’t want to let it go. I want to hold on to my anger, my hurt, my rightness. My husband can’t get away with saying something like that to me! After all the times I have been so nice to him, how could he speak that way to me?

Oh, right…I haven’t been very nice to him.

I thank God that He lets my sins go. As far as the east is from the west does he remove our sins from us (Psalm 103:12). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross gave us grace, which means that God does not hold our sins against us anymore. Praise be to God!

Since God forgave me, why is it so difficult to forgive my husband?

We all have excuses about why we say the things we do. We don’t mean to hurt our loved ones, and yet the wrong words come out all the time. From a women’s perspective, I admit that I use more excuses than my husband because I tend to have more times of the month that I’m irritable. But finally, after nearly two years of marriage, I’ve learned to shut my mouth long enough to listen to my husband. He’ll tell me he had a long day of work, and then he’ll say something totally rude to me about an hour later. He’ll tell me that he didn’t get enough sleep last night, and then a few minutes later he’ll give me an attitude. No, he doesn’t usually come out and say, “Sorry, honey, I just had a long day at work and I’m having a hard time controlling my tongue” (because who actually says that when they’re so tired they can’t even make sense of reality?). But I’ve learned that his insults are out of character for him, so I can make an assumption that he’s probably just having an off day.

Although he doesn’t have the same excuses as me about why he’s irritable, he has every right to be tired, hungry, or upset. I can’t expect my husband to be happy all the time, even though he’s happy most of the time. When he’s not at his best, my response is to let it go.

Through devotionals and YouTube videos we’ve been watching online, we’ve learned the importance of letting go. When we hold on to grudges, they can actually put up a wall between us. We may have decided we will never separate, but even if we are together on paper, we can be separate emotionally. On a daily basis, we strive to remove any obstacle from between us so that we can thrive in our marriage and maintain our closeness.

It’s important to let it go. I want to be right, but I would rather be united with my husband, physically and emotionally, than right. Obviously, if the negative comments and insults become continuous, we would have to have a conversation about it. However, if I know he’s having a bad day and he hurts me, I can let it go.

I make it sound so easy. It’s only not easy because we have complicated it. We live in an age of entitlement, when everybody has a right to be right. We all want to be rewarded for our actions and opinions. I have a hard time letting to when I want to prove my husband wrong, but most of all, when I want to protect myself.

If you find yourself in this place, remember that the Lord is our defender. God is our strength and shield. You don’t need to prove yourself in order to be protected. When Jesus was about to be crucified, he had multiple opportunities to prove himself. He even said that he could call a legion of angels to save him (Matthew 26:53). However, he chose to trust in God. No matter what you face, big or small, it is not as big as what Jesus endured for us. We have nothing to prove; we can show love to those around us without having to protect ourselves.

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Love is…

The internet has fallen in love with those cute comics that describe what love is. Too often I find one on social media and instantly share it with my husband with the message, “This is SO us!” What these comics have taught me is that love can be defined by various actions, feelings, and circumstances.

Love may look different in my marriage from the way it looks in yours. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means that we cannot compare our levels of love with our displays of love. Your husband may show love to you by surprising you with flowers, but I shouldn’t say my husband doesn’t love me because he doesn’t buy me flowers. My husband shows love to me by crafting the perfect date night for us.

Lately, I’ve discovered that love is defined differently not only in each couple, but also in each season of marriage. Here is a tribute to my 22 months of marriage using the “love is…” phrases that have described each season we’ve spent together:

When we started dating
Love is telling me that I make everything better
Love is buying me a smoothie when I have my wisdom teeth pulled
Love is walking around Burns Park
Love is unintentionally matching when we both decide to wear orange
Love is sitting and talking in Starbucks until the manager kicks us out at closing
Love is surprising each other with the perfect date night
Love is saying everything through our kisses
Love is being comfortable enough to completely and totally be myself with you

When we got engaged
Love is in the simple things
Love is juggling our time with each side of the family
Love is racing to my side when I tell you I feel like I’m going to throw up
Love is sitting with me and holding me through a panic attack
Love is counting down the hours until I see you again
Love is getting over my ginormous fear of flying when you needed me the most
Love is letting you cry on my shoulder when you hear the news that Papa died
Love is working on our future marriage together

Our first year of marriage
Love is holding your hand and praying on our wedding day
Love is seeing you at the other end of the aisle waiting for me
Love is being surrounded by people but only having eyes for you
Love is forgetting every guy who has ever hurt me, because only you matter now
Love is making room for discomfort
Love is becoming one
Love is cooking dinner together
Love is holding nothing back
Love is listening to me complain
Love is showing me off to your friends
Love is counting down the hours until we can go home from work and be together again

Our second year of marriage
Love is providing for me
Love is making my priorities your priorities
Love is letting me vent and express myself
Love is working overtime so we can take a vacation next year
Love is respecting me and listening to me, even if it doesn’t make sense to you
Love is encouraging me to pursue my dreams
Love is building the foundation for our future together
Love is working toward goals that we have established as a couple

In conclusion, it would be unwise to compare how Lenny shows me love now to how he showed it to me when we first started dating. Ultimately, his feelings for me haven’t changed, and our love is truly based on providing for one another’s needs and helping each other be more of who God wants us to be. We have both grown tremendously, and we’ve learned how to love in different ways.

How do you show love in this season? Is it different from how you were when you were dating or in another season of your relationship?

Photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash


Travel is the Best Marriage Therapy

My husband and I just came back from a weekend in Ohio, just to meet my favorite band, For King and Country! Lenny knew that I’ve wanted to see them in concert since I started dating him, so we took time and money just to have this special weekend together. He found this concert and saw that the platinum package came with a meet and greet. When he asked if we could spend our vacation this year on this concert, my answer was a wholehearted yes!

As much as I tried to play it cool when I met them, my voice went up a few octaves once it was finally our turn in line. I was so excited, not just because they’re a great group, but also because they rarely come to New York, so we had to take the eight-hour drive just to get the chance to see them in concert. The concert itself was wonderful as well. They are a fun group, in addition to the other bands that were there.

Okay, maybe you didn’t catch it, so in case you didn’t, yes, we drove EIGHT HOURS to Ohio and then EIGHT HOURS back to Long Island. We were on the same road for about 450 miles, between three different states. On the long drive back home Sunday, staring at the fifteen trillionth patch of grass in Pennsylvania, I realized how much my love has grown for my husband through this vacation. I felt so close to him, not just because he helped me to accomplish my dream of seeing my favorite band, but because he was all I had on this trip.

Road trips do wonders for your love life.

There’s nothing wrong with our marriage, except that it’s new. As with anything in life, there is always room for improvement. A thriving marriage is one that grows more and more each day, so since we’ve only been married for about two years, it will only get better from this point on.

One way where I personally needed to grow was trust. There is no better way to build trust than to put yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to trust your spouse. Lenny and I drove down a road that had exits every 10 miles (which, for Long Islanders, is basically like saying you’re in the middle of nowhere). If we broke down on one of those streets, we would only have each other. We would have to survive together. I know that is a morbid thought, and probably a little overreacting, but when you have anxiety, these thoughts are pretty normal. You always want to have a back-up plan. You always want to have a way out of the situation in case the worst happens.

As we drove, I realized that I kind of liked being alone with Lenny. We were in the middle of nowhere and we were in unfamiliar territory, but we were together, and that made it special. I truly learned the meaning of “Home is where the heart is” through this time. It didn’t matter how long we were in the car together. We learned to conquer traffic, making our snacks last the whole trip, impatience over driving in Pennsylvania for hours, and waiting for rest stops to stretch our legs, together. Sorry, Pennsylvania, but you’re too big. I still love you, though!

Through knowing no one but Lenny, he became my familiar territory. While having one of the coolest experiences of my life, meeting my favorite band, I was able to share that unique and fun experience with my husband. And, of course, the only thing I said to them was that “This is Love” (one of their songs) was our first dance at our wedding. So if Joel and Luke only know one thing ever about me, it has to do with Lenny. We’re a team.

The long drive also taught us to, as the old cliche says, stop and smell the roses. Pennsylvania was very big, and it took us about six hours to drive through all of it, but it was beautiful. Between every “We’re still in Pennsylvania?” we added a “Wow, what a beautiful mountain range!” We danced to the radio and made fun of the silly town names we found along the way. We learned to take a normally mundane task (driving) and make it fun.

So, on a serious note, I highly recommend taking a long trip with your spouse. See what negative emotions arise as you’re confined to a small space together. Be quick to forgive when your spouse grows impatient from hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Be honest about how you feel, and practice thankfulness and positivity along the way.  After all, in marriage, you are on a journey together.

Photo by Octavio Fossatti on Unsplash

Book Update Marriage

Make Your Own Dream

When you first get married, you think that you will always agree with your husband. Let’s pop that bubble right now: You’re going to disagree, and it will probably be messy.

I can only speak from a woman’s perspective, but I was taught that my wedding day would be the greatest day of my life, where all my dreams will come true. But it wasn’t. Why? Because my dream wasn’t my husband’s dream. We both had a say in our wedding, so we mixed both my vision of what the perfect wedding would look like, and his, and formed our own special day. That vision required compromise from both of us.

As a couple, you will have to make a ton of decisions together. When are we getting married? Where are we going to live? When are we having kids? How are we going to raise our kids? Whether long-term or short-term, you will have to work together to make decisions on a regular basis.

Currently, our next major decision is buying a house. We still have a couple of months before we can afford a down payment, but we’re taking the time we’re waiting to figure out what we want before we buy the first house we see. We’re finding that our ideas of a dream house are both totally different. For example, I want a big backyard with a ton of lawn space, while Lenny wants to cover our front yard and backyard with cement and pavers! I grew up with a big backyard, so I’ve always imagined our kids running around a safe grassy space (Barefoot, probably, because who doesn’t love the feeling of grass on their bare feet?). Lenny, on the other hand, wants a lot of cars, so he wants to have enough driveway space for his possessions. I’m not saying my way is right and his way is wrong, or vice versa, but that we obviously have a different way of looking at our space.

How are we going to make this decision? Well, like every other decision, here is what we’ve committed to do as a couple:

  • Be clear. I could write a blog post alone about how to be clear. But before you could decide what you both want together, you have to decide what you both want individually. Like my example of finding our dream house, I generally want a space big enough for our future family, but specifically, I know that I want a big backyard, hardwood floors, and an open concept to our house. That’s pretty clear. And Lenny can work with that.
  • Make a list. I love lists! They help to make things even more clear, and they provide a visual. Write down everything you want in your dream house. I recommend making your lists in separate locations (you sitting on your couch and your husband sitting at your dining room table, for example) so you don’t influence each other’s preferences.
  • Circle similarities. Find a common ground. We both want a safe neighborhood and a good school district. We both have the same housing budget. We both have the same location desires. Those are our starting points. Those are non-negotiable. Everything else will have to be discussed.
  • Discuss everything else on the list. For whatever else is on your list, you both need to decide how necessary the other items are. How important is it for me to have a big backyard? If there is a park nearby, can I take my kids there to play instead of using our backyard space? What about for Lenny? If the current driveway is big enough, maybe we won’t need to completely get rid of the grass in the front yard. Regardless, you must talk about each point with your spouse and see how necessary it is.

If you can’t agree, don’t make a decision yet. We need to wait. Circumstances may change our mind over time. Maybe our kids will be allergic to grass, for example. Keep praying and wait it out. Don’t compromise your marriage for any decision. Whatever you do, make sure you put God first, your marriage second, your kids third, and everything and everyone else, last. You can disagree with me, but then we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Photo by Andre Revilo on Unsplash


Check Out My Guest Blog on Inspire Your Marriage

Happy Labor Day to all my fellow workers! I have been blessed these past couple of weeks to have my articles featured on other blogs. This one is on a marriage blog. John Thomas interviewed me about some communication issues I was having with Lenny in the beginning of our marriage. Communication is an ongoing skill that we always have to improve. I thank God that we’ve gotten much better at it. I feel like we are on the same page, and we love each other more deeply through our understanding of each other. Check out Inspire Your Marriage for our story and for more marriage advice:

It’s always nice hearing another perspective on marriage. Tune in next week for more content of how God is working in my marriage with Lenny. Have a great day!