Category Archives: Marriage

Feeling or choice?

“Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice.”

 Emerson Eggerichs

I used to think love was a feeling. It was something you fell into. It just happened to you.

And I think initially it can be, when you start to date and explore relationships. But,when you are young, you often don’t really understand what it takes to love someone.

We think we know. We think that everything will be great. We think we will love the person no matter what.

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But we have NO idea what life will throw at us. We don’t know that life itself will be hard.

That some days, we won’t feel like we love our spouse anymore.

That some days, it will take everything we have to just like them and not be completely irritated.

But, these are all choices.

While we don’t have a choice about how others treat us, we do have a choice about how we live. And our attitude.

We can choose to love someone, no matter what.

We can choose to take another step forward in our relationship.

We can choose to work through our problems, instead of taking the easy way out.

Everything in life is a choice.

How you choose makes all the difference in the world.

Do you think love is a choice?

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Filed under Love, Marriage

Nobody told me

Nobody told me how having kids would change my marriage.

Nobody told me that I would fall in love with these kids so much, that I would unknowingly isolate my husband, and make him feel like he wasn’t needed anymore.

Nobody told me just how HARD it is to raise kids.

Nobody told me that every waking minute would be consumed by taking care of their needs, and putting my own on the backburner.

Nobody told me that I would face serious hardships in my marriage. That my husband would be unhappy. That I would feel completely numb.

Nobody told me that I would ignore my husband for a very long time. And that he would get to a point where he didn’t really care.

Nobody told me that life can be really hard. And that sometimes I would just struggle to make it through the day.

Nobody told me these things before I had kids. Or even after I had kids. Or during those really, really hard early years with multiple children.

So I am telling you.

New Moms, young Moms, Moms with young kids – the road may be difficult.

You may feel exhausted. You may feel extremely lonely in your marriage. Your marriage may be struggling. You may feel like you can’t do it. You may feel like you will never love your husband the way you did before you had kids. You may be annoyed. You may be irritated. You may not have the energy to work on making things better.

Let me tell you something else. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There are other couples struggling through the same things. Many of them may not be talking about it, but believe me, there are plenty of people in similar situations.

Photo by Mother Letters

But don’t give up! It does get easier. The kids will get more independent. They won’t need your constant attention. It will get better.

I am in a place now where I am past feeling like this. I chose to make changes in my marriage, and I was forced to make others. But the one thing I know is that being a Mom is tough. There are days when it is hard to go on. But, you can do it.

Your kids need you to be alive, and be present, and help them understand that they matter. And, they need to see that you have your own life as well. That they are not your entire world. They need to see you being the you that God created you to be.

Have you ever felt any of these feelings? What advice would you give Moms currently feeling like this?

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Filed under Authenticity, Family, Life lessons, Marriage, Motherhood

Be Quiet and Back Off

“Be quiet and back off. You are getting in my way.”

Not exactly something I expected to hear from God. Now, I know what you’re thinking. That is crazy. Did you really hear it from God?

Yes, I did. I am learning to listen more closely when He speaks to me. This is not something I have always experienced, believe me! And it is something that is somewhat scary at first. Sometimes it is a gentle simple voice. And sometimes it is very clear. Like this time.

What was he talking to me about? My frustrations and impatience when it came to my husband’s faith walk. I had just gone through an incredible transformation and truly learning to find my own solid faith for the first time in a very long time. I was excited! I wanted everything to be perfect. (Why do we always think that way?) I wanted him to feel what I was feeling and to experience it together.

Is that a bad thing to want? I don’t think so. However, when I heard those words I realized something extremely important. His faith walk is different than mine. Everyone’s is. What speaks to me isn’t going to speak to him. What excites me isn’t going to excite him. Constantly nagging him or expecting him to immediately be where I was, was unfair.

So what did I do? The only thing you can do when you clearly hear an instruction from God.

I shut up.

I backed off.

I got out of the way.

I stopped trying to control something I had no control over.

Did I stop praying for him? Absolutely not.

Did I tell him that God said this to me? No. (Not at that moment. More on this later!)

Did I stop trying to control everything and trust God? Yes.

Which makes me wonder. Who was the lesson for in the first place?

My husband or me?

So my advice to anyone who is frustrated with a spouse or partner or child and their faith walk is to BACK OFF. Be a quiet example of what it means to have a relationship with God. But don’t try to fix them or expect their experience to be like yours. In most cases, that is the worst possible thing you could do.

I’d love to hear something that you’ve clearly heard God say to you, and what you did about it.

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Filed under Authenticity, Belief, Encouragement, Faith, Life lessons, Marriage

Is it worth it?

I remember being at a point in my marriage when I asked this question.

Is this worth it?

Is it worth working through all of this pain?

Is it worth trying to fix something that doesn’t seem like it can be fixed?

Is it ever going to get any better?

I vividly remember thinking maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it would be easier to just give up and move on. It still pains me to admit that. Deep down in my heart, I knew I didn’t want to give up. And as most of us know, it usually seems easier to give up on something than to work extremely hard at it. But in that heated moment, the option of giving up seems like it would be the best one.

Luckily, I have a good support system. I have people who tell me honestly what I need to hear. What I know is right. I also prayed extremely hard about this. I wanted hope. Thankfully, I got it.

I also had a spouse that was willing to work through things, just like I was. I know this is not always the case for many people. One person often wants to work at it and the other one doesn’t. I know that everyone’s situation is different. And I know that our situation can seem almost minor compared to real challenges that other people are dealing with.

However, I want to tell you that -

 IT IS WORTH IT!

Your marriage is worth fighting for.

You will be amazed at the things you can work through – if you try.

Your kids deserve to have you fight for your marriage.

Your spouse wants you to fight for him.

It can get better.

Will it be hard? Most likely.

Will it require a lot of work? Definitely.

Will there be bumps in the road? Probably.

But is it worth it? Yes. Absolutely.

Because at the other end of an almost ruined marriage is one that you never dreamed was possible.

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Filed under Authenticity, Marriage

We weren’t always like this

Last week was my 40th birthday. My sweet husband made this incredible video for me. It was a surprise, and I loved it! We have received so many amazing comments about it. They range from “Wow, you can just feel how much he loves you” to “he must have scored some big points with that one” to “tell him thanks for raising the bar too high for the rest of us”. That one cracked me up.

My husband is awesome. He continually shows me all the time that he loves me. Our marriage is in a great place right now. We have learned to appreciate each other, and we openly show each other, and let others around us know how much we mean to each other.

But what most people don’t know is that we weren’t always like this. We have been together for a long time. Next month, it will be 22 years since we went on our first date. Wow! If you’ve been married for more than a few years, you certainly know that there will be patches of good and bad in your marriage. If you’re not married, let me tell you that it is very common. However, after many years of drifting apart and taking each other for granted, we hit a major bad spot in our marriage a few years ago. Bad enough that the thought of divorce came up for the first time ever in my life.

It was bad. We were living in the same house, but completely lonely and unhappy. And, we weren’t even sure how we really got there. We had kids, and we just drifted apart. We stopped appreciating each other, and no longer made time for each other. We neglected our marriage.

That time was pivotal for us. We had a decision to make. We were either going to work like crazy to make it better, or we were going to give up on it. Luckily, neither of us gave the second option more than a moment’s thought. We both realized that although there were big circumstances that we had to overcome, we had both been responsible for neglecting our marriage up to that point.

We went to counseling. We started communicating again. We got raw and real and honest for the first time in a very long time. We started dating each other again.

What we did not do was say that it wasn’t worth it. I’m thankful for that. I know that there are so many situations where people can’t say that. They have been put in a position where the other person wasn’t willing to try. And, I can’t imagine what that would have been like if he had not been willing to put the effort in to make it better. I know that I am truly blessed.

My hope in sharing this is that you will realize that it’s never too late for your marriage. You can’t change the past, but you can significantly change the future.

You can start trying again. You can respect your spouse. You can date your spouse. You can learn to appreciate your spouse more. You can make it better.

Will it be easy? Most likely not. But will it be worth it? Absolutely!

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Filed under Authenticity, Marriage

Encouragement

I recently read a great series of posts on Encouragement for your spouse. You can read more on Stephanie’s blog here.

This is an area that I am continually working on. I am trying to be very intentional about encouraging my husband.

I am naturally a pretty encouraging person. Most people will say this about me. However, I find that sometimes the people who are closest to me often get the last of my encouraging attitude. Especially my husband.

I have found that this makes an amazing difference to my him, though. He appreciates it and wants me to tell him.

How do you encourage your spouse? Do you find that it makes a big difference? I’d love to hear from you.

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When was your last date?

When was the last time you went on a date with your spouse?

My husband and I dated for a long time and were married for six years before we had our first child. We went on dates as a married couple all the time. Of course, we didn’t think of them as dates because it was just what we did. We spent time together. We played golf every weekend. We loved traveling when we could.

Then, we had kids.

All of sudden there wasn’t much time for being alone anymore. I didn’t think about this, as I was so happy to be a Mom and learn all about this wonderful new little baby who made us a family. Our priorities shifted. It wasn’t as essential or as easy to go out to dinner all the time, or to go to a movie, or to play golf. Every waking minute we were not working, we wanted to spend with our son.

We also didn’t live near family when we had our first son. So, there were no grandparents to watch him so we could spend time together. And finding a babysitter at that young of an age wasn’t something I was very interested in. We simply stopped making time to be alone as a couple.

Obviously, this is something that happens to most couples when they first become parents. It’s natural and is good to get a schedule and routine with your child. And treasuring all of those “first” moments is something that you can never experience again. We didn’t want to miss any of it.

Unfortunately, the pattern of not making time as a couple continued throughout the years. Once you stop dating each other, it’s easy to forget how much you liked it and needed it. My husband would try to tell me, but as a new Mom, I was focused on one little guy instead of both of the men in my life.

I look back now and realize that we should have continued to make time together, even if it was short, simple dates for dinner. We do that now and it makes a world of difference. Yes, it is much easier now because the kids are older. And life does not seem so incredibly chaotic as it did when the kids were young.

Is it easy to carve time in your schedule to date? Usually not.

Is it easier to just stay home and relax without planning a date? Most of the time.

Is it worth it to carve out time to be with just your spouse without your kids? Absolutely!

What are some of the unique things you do to ensure that you keep a regular date night with your spouse? I’d love to hear from you.

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Filed under Love, Marriage

Kids

Having kids is a blessing. I am thankful every day for these amazing human beings that I have the honor of being called their Mom.

What I was not prepared for was the havoc they would impart on our marriage. When our first son was born, it was amazing . We were in awe. We were instantly in love with him. We had never experienced anything like it. We felt closer as a couple. I loved watching my husband with him. It made me fall in love with him all over again.

Baby toes

The responsibilities that come with learning how to be parents, however, can be overwhelming. We had no idea what to do with our baby who would not sleep in his pack n play, crib, bassinett, etc. But we worked through it. It was stressful, but we figured it out.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my husband was struggling somewhat with my attention now being focused on the baby. I wish I would have understood that better, so it would not have spiraled into what it did. He was starting to miss that attention, and I didn’t want to hear about it. I was working full time and losing sleep and every minute was scheduled or consumed. That was the beginning of many more years of drifting apart, which I wrote about here.

We made it through the first year or so okay. I knew our relationship was different, but was so caught up in being a Mom that I forgot to be a good wife.

After our second son arrived, things really got hard. I openly admit that #2 ROCKED my world. I had finally gotten into more of a routine, and now it was absolute chaos! I was tired, stressed out, and didn’t feel like I had one minute of free time for myself, let alone to work on our marriage. Rick started to become hardened to my lack of interest in him, which resulted in us drifting further apart.

I did not realize that he needed things from me that I wasn’t giving him, and in turn he wouldn’t willingly help me above and beyond what was required.

It led to a cycle of feeling very alone. I didn’t realize it because I was getting some of that needed love met by the boys now. I truly was making Rick feel like he wasn’t needed. Which was never true.

We also had some issues creep into our marriage that I was never prepared for. We have sinced worked through those issues, and you will hear more about our journey in the months to come.

What I do know is this. Kids are a gift from God. They will also require you to work harder at your marriage than you ever thought you would have to. But, it’s worth it.

My kids are at a great age right now (5 and 8). The challenges our kids bring change with each milestone they pass. However, what we are continually working on is making sure that our marriage is a priority too, and that we don’t forget that we are a couple first.

I know this is not easy. It was incredibly challenging for us for a long time. But, you will never regret it.

 

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Filed under Encouragement, Marriage, Persistence

Always and never

Always

Never

I use these words more than I ever realized. These two words have the ability to spike my husband’s blood pressure. He absolutely cannot stand it when I use them. Why? Because I typically use them when we are in confrontation or argument mode, and they are directed at him.

Are these two words ever used properly? Does my husband ALWAYS do something? Probably not. Does he NEVER do something? Probably not true either.

I’m not sure when I started using these words. I know from English class that you shouldn’t use them. But somehow they creeped into my vocabulary over the years. And I have made a conscious effort not to use them anymore.

So what about you? What are the words or phrases that irritate your spouse? What efforts can you make to change them?

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“It would be easy enough, then, to deduce that communication is the key to marriage, but I don’t agree. To say that communication is the key to marriage is to assume that both spouses speak the same language. I have learned that in fact, the wife speaks a ‘love language’ and the husband speaks a ‘respect language.’ They don’t realize this, of course, but because he is speaking one kind of language (respect) and she is speaking another (love), there is little or no understanding and little or no communication.” 

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Several years ago, I would not have agreed with this quote. I would have said that spouses can communicate no matter what. But the longer I am married, and after realizing how true this really is, I am amazed at what a difference it can make in your marriage.

Understanding this concept has truly changed the way that I interact with my husband. In the past, I would get upset if he didn’t do things the way that I wanted him to. Or, if he wasn’t responding how I would respond. Now I realize that we have very different languages and we respond differently to many things.

A few years ago, we did a small group at our church on the book ‘Love & Respect‘ by Dr. Eggerichs. It was a great way to talk about different challenges that we have as men and women and how we interact with each other. I learned so much from reading the book and discussing it with other couples. We’ve also read ‘The Five Love Languages‘ by Gary Chapman. These are both extremely insightful books that help you understand some of the ways you are different and possibly solve some of the ongoing disputes you’ve had over and over again.

 

Wall post with love in different languages. Ta...

Image via Wikipedia

 

One of the biggest lessons I learned is how much my husband needs to feel respected. To him, it is what keeps him going. If he’s not getting it, he is going to be cranky and irritated and have little motivation to show love to me. It’s how he feels loved. He used to try to tell me this, but I didn’t want to hear it. I felt like he was just being immature and needing far more attention than I had time to give while working full time and raising two little boys. I thought he should just “man up” and deal with it. The less respect I showed him, the more irritated we each got with our situation. It was a never ending cycle.

He certainly wasn’t going to go out of his way to help me with anything if I wasn’t showing him respect. And I would get mad that he wasn’t helping or pulling his share of the load, which are things that help me to feel loved.

Now that we understand this, our marriage is different. I can sense when he is not feeling respected, and he can sense when I am not feeling loved. It has made a huge difference in our marriage.

Have you read either of the books? What changes have these concepts made in your marriage?

 

 

 

 

 

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