My parents celebrated 57 years together recently. What an accomplishment! Of course like most couples, they could have chosen to give up at any point, as I’m sure most couples could. They are committed to each other.
They’ve been retired for several years and are enjoying spending time with each other. Daddy always worked hard and long hours, so Momma was frequently alone. But now they are able to be together all the time. It’s a good thing they are best friends.
People are often amazed that my kids can have a big disagreement but can end it without hard feelings and still talking to each other and even still being friends. I dare say, it is true of this good marriage as well; I know it is true of my own marriage.
The way I see it, forgiveness, commitment, and and being friends with your spouse are three big keys to a long and happy marriage. It’s what I’ve seen in my parents and what I’ve experienced in my own 32-marriage as well.
The Generous Wife, Lori Byerly, shared an article from Shaunti Feldhahn (author of For Women Only) that really made me think about how I converse with my husband. I think I need to talk to him about this article and see if it resonates with him. I’ve learned that just because many or even a majority of men think a certain way does not mean MY man does. So while this is good food for thought, it is not necessarily spot on with everyone’s spouse.
So the article was an answer to a message that Shaunti got from a relatively new bride about how it seemed that her husband didn’t like her inquisitiveness after they got married and this bothered her. Shaunti shared how most men work through a problem and how her inquisitive nature could be making the husband feel she didn’t trust/respect him.
In reading Shaunti’s response, I realized that I can be that kind of person and that I do not speak my agreement with Michael nearly enough. Since then, I have made an effort to begin my part of the conversation on something Michael’s shared by stating my agreement with something he’s said. (Yeah, that was real wordy but I hope it was clear.) I noticed in doing this that he is not as defensive and we are relating a bit better.
So, I’ve rambled enough. I hope you’ll click on over and give the post a read. It is always enlightening to see how most men process things.
I mentioned that I finished reading Black by Ted Dekker last week. In it he talks about The Great Romance and some parallels can be made to marriage. Here is the first:
“You give a flower to a maiden, why? Because she needs nourishment? No, because she wants it.” (page 121)
This just resonated with me! For Michael and my anniversary last week I mentioned that I hadn’t gotten any flowers, to which he replied that the weekend was not yet over. The next day he came home with a pretty bouquet and they are still bringing me joy a week later. But had I not mentioned that I’d like to have some flowers, he probably wouldn’t have gotten them.
This line from the book got me to thinking about what I do for Michael. He recently told me that he loves to receive something little when I’ve gone to the store (I generally only go once a week). I’m trying to be mindful of this and pick him up something. Why? Because it would make him happy, a.k.a he wants it.
Now of course neither of us would go off the deep end and go buy a brand new car for the other, just because they wanted it because we are not in a position to do that. But doing the little things that bring them joy is worthwhile.
“We woo our women every day.” (pg 124)
This was another line that resonated with me. I should tend to my marriage daily. Intentionally.
I know this is easier to say than do. AND it is much easier in my season of life than when I had young children. But there has to be a way to be intentional with your spouse on a daily basis no matter what season of life you are in.
It can range from picking up a treat that he enjoys but doesn’t usually get. Maybe it is taking a shower with him. Maybe it is making his favorite meal or a special dessert. Or maybe just simply having dessert. Maybe it is scratching his back, rubbing his shoulders, taking a shower with him , or just giving him thirty minutes of peace and quiet. It all depends on what he likes, you can agree to, and fits in your budget.
I guess the bottom line is that I’m not just going to sit around. I’m going to actively woo him, in subtle ways frequently. Oh, I’m not going to be naive and say it will be daily, although that is the goal, but definitely several times each week. And I’m going to keep changing it up so that he doesn’t come to expect the little thing, so it is always a pleasant surprise. Hmmm, maybe I should make a page in my bullet journal to write down some ideas, so that I do a variety and not rely on the same ones over and over again.
I hope this sparks some ideas for you. I recommend reading Black, by Ted Dekker; his thoughts and ideas are interesting and it is a good story.
Marriage is tough enough without adding pressure and high expectations. Michael and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary last week! Yes, 32 years! I have to say, this last year has been one of the best!
You see, we are both working at our marriage. Marriage can fall apart if you don’t work at it because misunderstandings can abound.
We don’t do anything big or extravagant for our anniversary. Usually we go to dinner and a movie. We are homebodies and don’t go out often. This year there really wasn’t anything playing that we wanted to go see and we REALLY needed a new bedspread/comforter. It’s been about 20 years since we got the one we have and it is definitely showing that it needs replacing.
Tiffany and I went into Big Lots on errand day because we needed some coconut oil and we get the best price on it there. (We’re frugal; it’s not organic. ) While we were there, I decided to check out their comforters and I found one I liked. It was a bed in a bag kind of deal for about $60 and had 10 pieces or so.
Michael and I went to Golden Corral for their breakfast buffet. We were both pleased with our meals although I must admit that I ate way too much meat!!! His was mostly fruit and eggs and mine was mostly meat and eggs. We both had a salad to finish it off, making mine a bit healthier for me.
We also needed to do a little shopping for clothes for Michael. We went to T J Maxx and he found one shirt he liked. Then we went to Burlington Coat Factory but found nothing, unless you count the Himalayan Pink Salt I got . . . I’ve found the best price on it at stores like this. It was crazy hot but he was a trooper and didn’t complain about the number of places we were stopping!
Then we were off to Big Lots. I showed him the comforter set I was considering and then we proceeded to change our minds about a half dozen times. We ended up with a nice set that came with 14 pieces, including 2 sheet sets, shams, comforter, 2 decorative pillows, and a throw all for $70.
I wanted to go into Old Time Pottery, which is next door but neither of us were really up to it at that point. We had headed to Dollar Tree and Walmart because I needed to pick up some bins for our bedroom and a few things at Walmart. Then I saw a sign for this clothing store that advertised its clothes for $9.99 and below, in the same plaza. Hubby didn’t even complain about walking across the parking lot in the heat to the new store. (It’s a nice store and I’ll be stopping in with Tiffany on errand day or a Girls Day Out soon. They had a large variety of sizes. )
After leaving these stores, our trip was not yet over. We needed to stop by Auto Zone and I did not complain. I promised to remind him that he wanted to stop at the post office to drop off a bill payment and I duly remembered before we were near. Of course, Auto Zone did not have everything he needed so we had to stop at O’Reilly’s too.
Then I realized that Bixby was having their Green Corn Festival but completely forgot about stopping at the post office because we were finally headed home. And then hubby remembered! He hates to turn around but we weren’t very far and did so anyway. Then of course I forgot about the roads being blocked off in the area near the post office and we turned down the road and realized we couldn’t get to the road for the post office this way and had to work our way around another way. To say our patience was tried is an understatement. But we managed to drop off the mail and head home. Round trip was around 5-6 hours!
We got a new bathroom shower curtain while we were out too. I was so tired that I didn’t put up either that day! (I’ll add some pictures here when I finally do get it up this week.)
Now this probably does not sound like a great anniversary celebration but we were out together talking about things we liked, deferring to the other (which made decisions more difficult sometimes ), and just enjoying being with each other, which is what our marriage is all about. We are best friends and sometimes in the busyness of life, that can get forgotten. It takes work to stay best friends.
I have found that we are happiest when we don’t pressure ourselves with high expectations. Oh and it is important to communicate whatever expectations you do have. If you don’t ever express your expectations there is a higher probability that your expectations will not get met and that is frustrating to both of you.
Sometimes I don’t know how to pray for my marriage, myself, or my husband. That’s one reason I’ve loved Lori Byerly’s site, The Generous Wife, because she encourages me in this area.
Well I recently found out that there is another Christian marriage blogger that is doing a daily marriage prayer too. It’s a succinct prayer. I don’t know how long she has been doing this daily but there are quite a few pages so she must have been doing it a long time. You can sign up to have them delivered in your mail if that is helpful to you . . . it would just get lost in my email. I’m better off setting it as my home page.
Some times disagreements happen because both parties are trying to explain their point and not listening to the other person. I learned in a managerial class many years ago to listen to what the other person says and then respond with something like, What I heard you say was . . . or Is this what you’re saying . . . The point is that by telling them back what you understood them to say, they don’t have to keep pushing their point. Then proceed by sharing your point or how you see the subject.
Many times both parties are saying basically the same thing just from different directions, which may sound different. But if you tell it back, you will probably realize that the two points can actually coexist without friction. And if they don’t, since you’ve shown that you understand their point, you can come to a solution more readily.
So here are the steps:
Tell back what you heard them say/how you understood what they said
Let them confirm or correct
Share you point
Ultimately, they’d say back what they heard you say/understood
and let you confirm or correct
continue to a solution
I hope these tips can help you keep misunderstandings at a minimum and disagreements from being fights or shouting matches.
Michael is opposed to long distance relationships. There have been very few times when we have been away from each other for more than a night or two (and even those have been pretty sparse) in our nearly 32 years of marriage. But in reading Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson recently, I realized that if you are stuck with a long distance relationship, now is a pretty good era to do so.
With Facetime, Google Duo, Skype, and the various social media platforms, you can really stay in touch much more easily than in past eras. In the book, they have a video chat on as they spend the evening together. It reminds me so much of how we spend our evenings. We are all in the same room together and we may have some video playing on the television but we are all doing our own thing, multitasking, if you will. Sometimes I knit or crochet while watching the show. Sometimes I do some art or play a game on my laptop. Other times Tiffany and I want to read books, so we don’t have anything playing on the tv.
The point is, it is important to spend time together in the same room. If doing that over a video chat you are getting a peek into the other person’s life. It can be vulnerable to open yourself up that way. People tend to be private individuals and sequester themselves in their own spaces/rooms. But spending time together in the same room and able to share something that sparks your interest or makes you laugh is relationship building.
I don’t really know what point I’m trying to make other than, if there is a will, there is a way to build your relationship, even if you are long distance. And if you are already married, I hope you are taking advantage of just being together, even if you are doing your own thing. Yes, there are times when it is good to get alone but when you are married, in my opinion, those times should be few. But even then, I guess it is vital to know what you need as both an individual and a couple and be sure to make those needs known (upfront if possible). But remember this too, needs change as we grow, mature, and situations change. Make sure that you keep the lines of communication open both to what you desire and what your spouse desires. And by all means, pray about the things you think you need and the things your spouse says they need/desire. Ask Him to help you to communicate well with your spouse and change each where change is needed.
Well, that is enough rambling for today. Until next time, God bless,
I mentioned on Friday that I read, and enjoyed, Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson. It seems to me that it should be a part of the O’Malley series, which I also enjoyed.
Now, I’m going to try to do this without spoilers, in case you want to read this.
Marriage Advice from Full Disclosure (my take on it):
Don’t bury hurt.
Risk talking about problems.
If you can’t find the words in conversation, write it down . . .
Write a letter every month including as much as you can about what is right and what is wrong and what needs to be talked about. This keeps the small things from getting larger.
Don’t ambush the other.
I really loved the part about writing a letter every month. It would be good to let it be something that is created throughout the month rather than at the last minute. It’s hard to remember things way after they happen. It could be done as just notes throughout the month (like on a collection page in a bullet journal) and then created into a thoughtful letter each month. This reminds me of the couples journal I read and wrote about before. Clearly I didn’t follow through with it and it was just over a year ago when I wrote that too. Maybe it will stick this time.
It’s Memorial Day here in the USA and is supposed to be a time of remembering those who have died while serving in the military. Unfortunately way too many Americans don’t remember that and it is only a day off from work, a three-day weekend.
The Poppy became the flower of remembrance in the United States back with WWI according to History.com from a poem, In Flanders Field, written by a brigade surgeon. The article is a short read about how the poem came to be and how two women in two different countries chose the poppy to remember the fallen soldiers.
When we get married, there are some things we have to give up. But the benefit of having a life partner is worth the trade-off. It’s important to remember that we are trying to build a stronger “us” and not striving to get our own way. Thinking “what is better for our marriage” may be a better thought process than “what I want.”
Now I realize this is coming on the heels of saying that sometimes I have to just do something that refreshes me. This is true but not at the expense of “us.” It’s a big balancing game. But with God’s help, we can learn to find that right balance.
This year, I am sitting outside more. I’m absolutely loving the breeze as I sit in the shade of the mimosa tree. I’m even writing this post, sitting outside.
There are times that you just have to do something for yourself, that makes you happy. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I am not that self-sacrificing, I do things for myself on a daily basis. But there are some times that you have to do something a bit more.
This year I asked for a porch extension for my Mother’s Day gift. We have had a good portion of it for several years sitting around here but it has never been a priority to put together. This year, I decided I wanted that instead of my usual flower bed for my Mother’s Day gift–I’ll probably buy some flowers and plant them myself soon.
Any way, last week Tiffany and I decided to go sit outside for a bit. OH! We loved it! I remembered part of what I enjoyed about going camping in the first years of marriage. I love the outdoors when it is breezy. I don’t like heat and get hot too easily.
I decided to take one day each week and call it my ‘vacation day.’ A day where I’ve done the meal prep ahead of time and do the required chores immediately following breakfast and go outside and sit and read and drink southern sweet tea and just enjoy nature and the Creator, my God.
I really believe this is going to be a very good thing for me (and Tiffany). I also believe that it will be a good thing for my marriage because a relaxed and peaceful me is a good wife. Now I’m writing all this before I have even put it into operation yet but last Monday was so wonderful in spite of having other things I still needed to do, that I’m pretty sure that this is going to be a great thing.
So all that to encourage you to find something that refreshes you and find a way to incorporate it into your life. I cannot do a lot of traveling or go on many excursions right now but I can go outside and enjoy the peacefulness of the beautiful outdoors. (Don’t be mistaken, I will hightail it inside to the air conditioning when it gets too warm and breezeless for my liking. )