Category Archives: Marriage Monday

Because your spouse matters

More on Exptectations

This week’s post comes from a lovely gal that I met in our homeschool group years ago. She is a darling, lovely, sweet lady that loves God, her husband, and her family with all her heart. She recently shared a post on facebook about marriage and I asked her if she’d want to write something up to share here with you. It’s a little longer than I usually share but I thought it best to share it all at once rather than broken up into two posts.

I found it interesting that she dealt with expectations recently too. (You may remember I wrote about that last week. ;) )

Without further adieu, I give you Ana Osborn.

Until next time God bless,

Michele ºÜº


It is incredible to me how relationships are painted in stories.

Boy meets girl.

Girl loves boy.

Boy and girl overcome a hiccup.

They live happily ever after.

Now don’t get me wrong, the passion that they portray in the stories is ALL true…well at least in my case.  I felt every extra flutter of my heart and loved every tingle that traveled up my arm when I held his hand.  The problem with Hollywood is that they tell of the greatness of love when the romance is young and it is easy to be selfless.  Yet the story rarely unravels past the I dos.  In my opinion, that’s when the story truly gets good.

As a little girl, I dreamed of a love that Hollywood would be envious of.  Then I found it!  The man that God brought to me was nothing that I had envisioned for myself.  He was better!!! In fact, he was just what I needed.

Fast forward thirteen years and he is still all those things.  However, in thirteen years we have had ups and we have had downs.  The incredible thing is that people assume we have a fantastic marriage because we are two people perfectly paired.  A more untrue statement could not possibly be made.  Each marriage comes with its sets of challenges and each challenge is usually harder than the one before.

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day and my anniversary (Note how I said my…more on that later).  I love days that celebrate me.  Yes, that sounds so selfish, and it can be.  However, who doesn’t enjoy being celebrated and honored?  My husband has always been incredible at planning the perfect dates and making sure that each birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, whatever, went perfectly.  Yes, guys, perfectly.  He checks restaurant reviews, and always finds unique gifts that sparkle that I always adore.  This year has been different.  He has been working six to seven days a week and has not had time all year to really put any thought into special days.  All year I was disappointed when special days came and went and nothing.

Imagine my expectation for last Sunday.  Two major days in one, surely, he had something planned!  Something, anything . . .

But nope, nothing.  We went to church and came home.  I kept thinking “oh he is just waiting for the right moment . . . any minute now he will go get something out of the bedroom or his car.”  Guys, it never happened.  Monday came and I was downright depressed.  I cried and cried and my usual bubbly phone call mid-morning to my husband was never made.  I sulked and brooded like a two-year-old . . . actually I think I out did them too.

As per the norm these days, due to a large project at work, he got home late.  I could see that he was exhausted from a long day of physical labor.  He was covered in mud and sweat.  As he removed his boots on the chaise in our room the Lord spoke to me loudly, “It was his day too!”  Instantly I felt a pang of shame, not because of the truth spoken but that it didn’t even occur to me that it was his day too.  Then I heard, “Every day you sought to be celebrated he was working.  He would rather have spent that time celebrating you!”  That was the moment I broke.  I walked over to him and helped him remove his socks.  For the rest of the evening my heart just poured out service on “the flesh of my flesh!”  Ephesians 5 came to life to me in that moment, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it,” I had become so obsessed with what I wanted and what I needed that I totally overlooked the needs of the one that completed me.  Now please hear me, I am not saying that I didn’t have a justified complaint . . . maybe I did.  However, in that moment I realized that my complaint did not, and does not, and never will supersede the mandate that God sets out before me as to what is love.

I had made the colossal mistake of buying into the lie that love needs to do FOR me.  I had crossed from love into entitlement.  My heart was not concerned with service but selfishness.  To my everlasting shame, I never once thought of how I could celebrate him.  As tears flowed from my eyes, and an apology to him from me came, I was surprised at how my heart shifted.  My heart was filled with gratitude and love and emptied of anger and disappointment.  Once I began to step away from me me me and I I I, I was able to shake off the depression and sadness.

God calls us to serve in every area of our lives but especially in our marriages.  When we serve our spouses we are also serving ourselves.   That should not be our motivation, but it is the truth.  I wish I could say that I know how it all works but I don’t.  In fact, Paul called the marriage union a great mystery (Eph 5:32).  However, the Word is clear that our spouses body is our body; and ours is theirs.  We are one and how we treat each other directly affects us.  In my opinion, that is why so many marriages end.  People assume that once they are free from that particular marriage their problems will cease.  Rarely is that the case.  All that really happens is the exchange of one set of problems for another.  Your spouse is designed by God to become part of your DNA.  When that DNA is disrupted death ensues in the heart, mind, body, and soul.

When it gets hard and it seems as if it would be easier to quit, remind yourself that it’s not.  The devil would have us believe that love is primarily self-serving.  God would have us believe, by his example, that love is selfless. In 1 Corinthians 13 the Lord expresses his definition of love.  I love how it begin . . . ”love suffers long.”  We are called to suffer with him when we love.  He tells us that love “does NOT behave itself unseemly.”  Love also does not keep a record of wrongs.

In every facet that I could have abused love and what it meant, I had.  I had abused the love given me by my husband and defiled  it with selfishness, entitlement, and wrath.  The good of all this came in the revelation of my wrongs and the heart change that followed.

So why write this?  Well so that I can hopefully encourage someone else to a different response than I had.  I challenge you today; that if something in your marriage is not going your way, then intentionally be moved by grace.  If you are hurt, be moved by peace.  If you are lonely, be filled with the love the Holy Spirit brings.  This action will shift the atmosphere.  I promise, it’s better to show grace and love and patience than to concede to despair.  Watch that change your heart…”love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,  LOVE NEVER FAILS.”

All for His Glory,
Ana Osborn

Expectations

Expectations ~ Lifeofjoy.meSometimes I have an expectation of how something will go or how something will be celebrated. I’ve learned this before but it bears repeating; unfortunately I’m repeating it AFTER Mother’s Day instead of before, when it would have been more helpful but maybe it will help you before your next celebration.

Unless you tell someone your expectations, you need to have low or even NO expectations about how a celebration will go. If I have hopes about how my celebration will be carried out, it is seldom realized. However if I have no ideas for how a day should be celebrated (like Mother’s Day, a birthday, an anniversary, and such) then no matter what we do, I’m good.

If doing particular things are important to me, then I need to tell the person that I desire it from, otherwise it is unfair to them and to myself. It sets myself up for sadness or even depression. It reminds me of what Lori Byerly of The Generous Wife said she had to learn: ask for what she needs.

Don’t drop hints. Don’t hope things will go a certain way without sharing your desires. Be realistic with your NEEDS.

I hope this will help you and will remind me in the future. :)

Until next time, God bless

Michele ºÜº

House Cleaning

House Cleaning ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen Michael and I first got married, we both worked. We actually rode to work together. Well, wait . . . he drove me to work, about thirty minutes from where we lived and then drove to wherever he was working, usually within fifteen minutes from me. He’s a painter and as such, doesn’t go to the same place all the time.

Anyway, the point is that we left the house at the same time each day and arrived back at the exact same time each day–neither one was home any longer than the other. When we got home, neither of us felt like doing anything. It didn’t take very long and I realized that I like food too much to make an issue of working more when I got home–the desire for a good dinner outweighed my tiredness. So I told Michael that I’d go ahead and cook dinner when we got home but after that, if he was sitting doing nothing, so was I. (This included cleaning up after eating.) He seemed to be okay with that.

We were a mess that first year! I quickly learned to buy paper plates because they could be thrown away and not have a moldy mess on our hands. Paper plates saved our marriage! LOL

Soon thereafter, we paid my baby sister to come clean for us once a week. Oh my! She really earned the pittance we paid her. She vacuumed, did dishes, and laundry. I think she may have even mowed the yard! I have no idea how long that lasted, hmmm, maybe she does. She was a huge help!

My other sister got married the same day I did (double wedding) and remember sitting at the laundromat, right up the street from where Michael and I lived, with her one time as we waited on the clothes to wash. We talked about how difficult it was to work and come home and work some more. The difference was she and her husband did not have the same work arrangement Michael and I did but there was also another big difference, I was not afraid to have an argument with Michael about something just to keep the peace whereas she said they never argued.

See I would not trade those early arguments for peace because we used them to work through situations not just argue. I’m sure there was a better way to work through them but neither of us had the self-control we do now. But each ‘fight’ was worked through and we were at peace. Whereas my sister and her husband did not fight but were definitely not at peace. I counseled her that day to stick up for herself, talk to him, and let him know how she felt. Of course I did not advocate yelling and screaming because even I knew back then that wasn’t the best way to deal with differences.

Somewhere  along the way, we settled into a rhythm and things were good. After a few years, I got pregnant and after delivering our precious Brian, I stayed home with him. So then keeping house became my job; one I did not excel at–hmmm, still don’t but I get by, but I digress.

As time passed and we had more children and they grew and I home educated them, keeping the house picked up was difficult and a sore subject with Michael. My argument at that point was that we actually lived in our house 24/7 and all that living is messy. Thankfully I found Flylady and learned how to stay on top of the cleaning, finally learning a method instead of something being so dirty I couldn’t take it any more.

We began a daily pick-up time when we knew Michael was on his way home, so that he was not greeted with a huge mess when he walked into the house. We also began a ‘home blessing’ day where we split the chores (the kids and I) and had the house vacuumed, swept, mopped, dusted. windows and mirrors cleaned, and bathrooms cleaned in less than an hour.

It was smooth sailing for a number of years. As the kids grew and started working outside the home, those of us left, absorbed their duties. It’s a bit harder today for me to stay on top of all that cleaning. I have a set of chores I do daily (one load of laundry completely done to putting it in the appropriate room, emptying the dishwasher and refilling it, making meals, and vacuuming–well most days) but am floundering a bit to find the right method for getting those other things done consistently now that it is just me, with some help from Tiffany who works at home. But I will come upon a solution/method, I have no doubt.

Oh, when animals came into the picture, it was at the children’s request and thus their responsibility. To this day, Tiffany and Sean tend to the needs of the animals. I do buy the required items for their care but that is it.

I guess all this is to say that there is a method whereby you can handle all the chores that need to be done without stressing and arguing. Michael has grown much in our nearly thirty years together and still pitches in when he sees something that needs to be done be it a load of his work clothes that he ran out of or mopping the bathroom floor. I too have grown and have learned that just because he sees some task that needs doing and does it that is not an indictment or accusation of me, which I tend to feel since it is technically my ‘job’ to do.

Are we perfect? Heavens no!!! I just had a breakdown last week because of some stuff that needed doing and couldn’t do it alone. But . . . we get over it and do what needs to be done.

This has gotten long but I hope it has been helpful. If you are struggling with getting it all done, pray and ask God to help you find the method/system that will work for you. Check Flylady–she’s helped thousands tame the messy house beast.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

How to Treat a Husband

Niceties ~ Lifeofjoy.meI have an unmarried friend that was relating a conversation she had with another lady friend of hers. She said she was talking to her about the fact that she wouldn’t even know how to treat a husband. Her friend told her that she would treat him the same way she was treating her as a guest in her home. I thought this was excellent advice.

Too many times we get caught up in the mundane tasks of life and forget this simple nicety. Not that our husbands should be sitting around waiting to be treated like company but it’s about being willing to treat him that way. Of course, he should be treating you that way as well. It really is about considering your spouse.

Is it easy? No! Life happens and you get busy and forget to ‘go out of your way’ to be nice to your honey. In fact, you probably are a bit short with him because things are hectic. If we attempt to remember to treat him like important company, we won’t be short with him. Maybe I should give myself a reminder on my phone, “Company is Coming.” ;)

This can actually show itself in many ways, not just in offering to get things or do things for him but in ensuring the house is clean and he has everything he likes/needs. Cooking foods he likes and having snacks available that are his favorites. Actually, thinking in this manner, gives you a whole new perspective.

Now I will admit, that when you are younger and have young children, this is a bit more difficult to do because the demands on you are very, very big. If nothing else, do just one little thing a day. Then after a while, that one will be almost automatic and you can add another. ;) See how many little niceties you can get up to in a day. :) That is my plan. I’m going to see how  many things I can do for Michael in a day, without feeling overwhelmed. Just taking it day by day, week by week, and adding one after one becomes automatic.

I hope you have a good week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Don’t Misinterpret Care for Control

Don't Misinterpret ~ Lifeofjoy.meI am a homebody. I seldom leave the house. There are however, instances when I do make plans to have lunch with a friend, go shopping with my sister, have a girl day with my daughter, or some other such thing. At first when Michael would ask me about my activities, such as these, I mistook his intentions. I felt controlled or like I had to ask permission to do anything.

After conversing about this together, I learned of his deep love, concern, care, and protectiveness regarding me. You see, he wasn’t being controlling. He loves me so much and feels responsible for me. So much so, that he is on alert when I am going to be away from home, in case I should need him. :)

I cannot tell you how many heated conversations we had about this topic before I understood his desire to know my whereabouts and activities. It wasn’t until I calmly broached the subject that I was able to hear his heart. I stopped being defensive, feeling like I had to report to him as if he were my parent and I were an underage child, and realized it is his love and care for me instead.

It can also seem as if he didn’t trust me. But again, that is just an assumption. Calmly communicating about the subject revealed his true heart. The truth of the matter is that being married, he has every right to know where I am at all times and vice versa. It is not a control issue, it is a courtesy and an expression of love and care.

So once again, it is important to think the best of others and not make assumptions about their motives for doing things.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Kindness: A Mighty Weapon

Kindness ~ Lifeofjoy.meBack in February, Lori Byerly of The Generous Wife held a challenged her readers to do a kindness for your spouse every day. I liked the idea and casually participated. I really didn’t think too much about it though.

Then this week I read this article by Shaunti Feldhahn about The Kindness Challenge. I love Shunti’s books and the information she shares. They’ve really been helpful to me in giving me understanding and insight into some wrong behaviors I had toward Michael. I wrote a little about it when I first started this blog a couple years ago but I digress. This new article isn’t just about marriage; it is about any relationship be it with your spouse, teen, co-worker, anyone.

Reading this article reminded me of my own “Kindness Project” I did, way back when I was in ninth grade. We had just moved from another state a couple of months into the new school year. I was not only an introvert but a shy one at that. At that time, Physical Education was a required course and I didn’t like the class to begin with but there was a popular gal in my class that decided to pick on me and make my life miserable.

I told my mom about it and she suggested that I “kill her with kindness.” I really didn’t see how that was going to help me but Mom thought it was the best course of action, so I did as she suggested. Every time I saw this girl I smiled and would say hi to her.

After about a week or so of this, she came and sat down across from me at lunch. She said something like, we are you being nice to me when I’m not nice to you? I don’t even remember what my response was to her . . . maybe it was something like, because I want to be your friend. Whatever my answer was to her, it astounded her. We became friends. We even exchanged Christmas gifts that year. When others would start to pick on me in PE, she told them to stop. :)

So, all that to say, I know kindness works! Give it a try in your life. No harm in letting your husband be the beneficiary of your kindness project, even if you did do Lori’s challenge in February. It is always a good thing for me to be extra kind to Michael. ;)

I hope this encourages you to add an extra bit of kindness in your life this week, month, or even year.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Christmas Budget

Christmas Budget ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is April. I know it is April and no where near Christmas. However, now is the time to think about Christmas or more precisely, your Christmas budget.

In the early years of our marriage, coming up with a budget for Christmas was a difficult thing because we would wait until November to begin talking about it. Since Mike is a painter, the holidays can be slower because people don’t generally want their home torn up at this time of year. After many years of this recurrence, I finally realized that the best way to handle it was to put money away every week, on grocery day. This way, when the holidays roll around, we have no struggles because we’ve already discussed it and the money is there, earmarked, untouchable for anything else. :)

This one move has saved us a lot of frustration and has made the holidays much more enjoyable. I plan my savings year Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving. I like to have my Christmas shopping finished by Thanksgiving, so week is the last week I put towards the current year’s Christmas budget. Starting with the next week, I begin saving for the following year’s Christmas budget. Thus by the time the fall rolls around, I have a substantial portion of the budget and can begin Christmas shopping in earnest. :)

Our Christmas budget is no longer dependent on how much work Michael has during the late fall. We planned for it and make provision for it all year long. It is one of the best things I have ever decided to do and I’m very thankful that Michael has allowed me to do it.

I highly recommend thinking about it now for yourself. You could take a certain amount out each paycheck. This doesn’t work for us because Michael has inconsistent paychecks.

I took how much I wanted to spend on each individual. I included money for filling the stockings as well. Then I took that total and divided it by 52 weeks, because I shop for groceries every week and I get the money with my grocery money. I have an envelope where I stash it each week. Come time to shop, I use a charge card that earns me points I can spend on things later, so that I don’t have to carry cash with me.

I made that mistake the first year and carried cash but then had a difficult time keeping track of all the change. Now I keep a running total of what I spend, as I spend it and then just pay the lump sum when the bill comes. Michael tells me the bill has arrived, I look it over, and give him the cash, which he deposits and writes the check to pay the bill.

Yes, it’s a couple extra steps along the way but I’m very thankful to have the cash available and remove the financial strain from the holidays. Now we can just enjoy!

I hope this encourages you to consider making a Christmas budget and following through with the savings.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Sex is not a Bargaining Chip

Don't withhold ~ Lifeofjoy.meOver the years, I have heard of women that bribe their husband with sex. They try to get their husband to do certain things (or not do certain things) with the promise of sex later. I’ve also heard the reverse where they say something like, if you do that, no sex for you.

This is just wrong! The Bible tells us not to withhold ourselves from our spouse. Now there is one reason to do so and that is if you have agreed to abstain for a time, as you devote yourself to prayer. (I Cor 7:5) That’s it. No other reason.

As a married person, your body is not your own. It belongs to your spouse. Now don’t go getting all weird on me. (I am not talking about abusive or other such dysfunctional relationships.) You should take good care of yourself and care for your spouse too, in all aspects of his life.

Bottom line: Sex should not be used as a reward nor the withholding of it as a punishment.

I’ll keep it succinct today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Family Togetherness

Fam Jam ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m learning that our family may be a bit unique in how we spend our evenings and weekends. You see, we spend the majority of that time in the living room together. Now we are all doing our own thing be it reading, watching youtube videos, gaming, surfing the internet or working on our laptops but we are all in the same room together. We used to watch television in the evenings and weekends while we did our other things but we were still all together and half-way paying attention to whatever was playing.

Recently we have cut back on our television viewing, but we are still all together most of the time. One person or another may go play music in the other room or shower and such but generally, we’re together and we like it that way.

Not long ago,  we watched a movie from Redbox. That night Tiffany and Sean were not doing anything else but watching the movie as they sat together on the sofa. Tiffany said that she felt like it was more of a shared experience because they were both fully engaged. She suggested that we, as a family, spend some time, once or twice a week watching something together, fully engaged, or even play a game together.

We talked about it and decided we’d give it a go. She likes to call these times Fam Jam. I’m not sure why but that’s what she calls it. So, as we’ve begun this new experience together, Sean and Tiffany make a nice comfy pallet on the floor and Michael and I sit on the sofa together. Nobody has any phones, laptops, ipads, books, or anything. We just all pay attention to the movie or show together.

It has been a nice addition to our family. It reminds me of a practice I instigated many years ago when trying to improve Michael’s and my marriage. (You can read about it here.) There is just something different about being intentional and focused with your beloved and even the rest of your family.

I hope this encourages you to be intentional with your loved ones.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

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Take an Interest in His Interests

His Interests ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen someone has different hobbies than you do, it can be difficult to understand their interest in the subject or subjects. It can be even more difficult when that person is your husband. Actually, sometimes we are more understanding of others more quickly than our own spouse, which is quite sad.

I understand how it can happen though. If you aren’t intentionally building commonalities, you can grow apart. It is a sneaky little thing that you don’t really see coming.

The hard but important thing to do, is to take an interest in his interests. Resist the urge to laugh or roll your eyes or say something in ridicule because those are excellent ways to build a wall between you instead of drawing you two closer together. Remember, he is genuinely interested in this thing, being condescending is not going to make his interest lessen; it will just lessen his desire to confide in you in the future.

The best thing you can do is genuinely listen to him and show interest in what he shares with you. Don’t let your eyes glaze over or let your mind wander to other things. Stay engaged in conversation with your man. I know it can be difficult. Sometimes you wonder why he’s interested in that thing because it is something in which you are definitely NOT interested in. But I encourage you to make the effort. Your marriage will thank you for it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº