Category Archives: Marriage Monday

Because your spouse matters

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

A Love Challenge and Two Mantras

Love Challenge and Just for Today ~ Lifeofjoy.meDuring the month of February, The Generous Wife, Lori Byerly, challenged her readers to bless your husband with small acts of kindness and generosity. On the last day of the month she found she was more in love with him than at the beginning of the month. (You can read her short article here about it.) I’ve had the same experience in the past when I’ve made an effort to be more intentional with my hubby.

Recently I’ve been following Kristie Sullivan’s youtube channel, Cooking Keto with Kristie. She’s been an inspiration to me in this keto way of eating (woe) upon which I’ve embarked. The mantra that helped her stay on plan is “Just for today.” It is a decision that can help you through that moment of that day. It is a short term goal . . . just for today, I choose . . . but it can be made afresh every day.

Then the other day I read this article from Ann Voskamp’s website, about softening your sharp edges. In it the guest poster writes about how she curbed herself from saying harsh things with the mantra “Only Love Today.” It is an interesting read with the best bits a little way after the pictures. ;)

These two mantras have collided in my mind today. Each one is a decision for TODAY. Today is easier to deal with than forever or a year or a month. It is more readily accomplished than embarking on a long-term commitment.

Then I realized that Lori’s daily reminder to do one kind or generous act each day went right along with these other two. So somewhere in my head, I’m combining them something like this . . . Just for today, I choose to speak only Love and act generously (especially to Michael). Understanding that each day is a fresh slate and a doable commitment. Only Love Today . . . Just for today . . . acts of kindness and generosity, because they aren’t limited to a challenge in February but a good idea all year long.

I hope somewhere in my ramblings today, you can find encouragement to Only be LOVING, Generous and Kind, making good choices one day at a time (a.k.a. Just for today) and in the end find that not only have you brightened others’ days but you feel more love towards those dear ones in your life.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Afternoon/Early Evening Tidy Up

Afternoon Routine ~ Lifeofjoy.meBack, many years ago, when the children were all young and we were homeschooling, Michael would come home from work and the place would be very lived in. After all, the four of us were home all day, most every day. It wasn’t like we could clean the house on the weekend, be sure it was tidy before we walk out the door Monday morning, and return to a clean house. No. We live here and are here all . . . the . . . time.

Since Michael is a self-employed paint contractor, he does not have regular hours. Consequently, we never knew exactly when he’d be home. Many a day came where he came in the house and we were surrounded by stuff. Needless to say it wasn’t an ideal situation for him to come home to. After many a conversation about the untidy status of the place, we came up with a plan that is still in place to this day. We decided that he would call before he headed home, so that we could do a quick tidy up of the place.

At the time, we lived in town and he could be home in as quickly as about fifteen minutes. So, when we got the call from him, we’d all drop everything and tidy up real fast. It became a sort of game to see if we could get the place in order before he arrived.

Eventually I got a mobile phone and he began texting me when he was headed home. Of course by then we’d moved to the country and we had substantially more time to get things picked up. Today it is only Tiffany and I at home when he texts that he is on his way and we’re no longer homeschooling but I still do a quick pick up when I get the text.

Recently, I’ve been trying to make sure I pretty myself up a bit before he comes, as well. It’s a small thing I can do to make it nice for him when he returns from a hard day at work.

For many years, I would prepare dinner to be ready when he arrived as well. Now we wait until Sean gets home to eat since he gets home after Michael.

These are just a few things I do to welcome my man back home. I encourage you to think about how you welcome your man.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

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Compliment Him

Handsome Honey ~ Lifeofjoy.meOn the way to church yesterday morning, I just stopped and looked, really looked at my man. I was filled with gratitude for how blessed I am. I wish I would have snapped a quick picture but I was living in the moment, as I should have been.

My husband is handsome. His beard is mostly gray now, which he dislikes but I love it. I think gray hair makes a man look distinguished. :)

I reached over, stroked his beard, and told him that I was blessed and that he’s handsome. :) Of course, he ate it up. It’s good to pump them up . . . it’s part of that respect thing . . . of course you can over do anything, so I keep it moderate so that he doesn’t get prideful. ;)

I held his hand for a few moments, as he drove along, trying to get us to church on time . . . the kids wanted some hot chocolate this morning and I had a few minutes before we left but it took twice as long as I thought and we ended up leaving about five minutes late, but he got us there on time. :)

I was just struck with awe at how blessed I am. Michael is, and has always been, faithful to me and loves me dearly (that does not mean that we don’t argue at times though-just keeping it real). He’s a really good man!

So on this day, that is not a holiday, birthday, or any such thing, I let him know that I love him and I’m blessed to have him for my husband, my partner in life. It made him smile and I could see that it warmed him.

So today, I just want to encourage you to compliment your man, for no special reason, but just because you realize that you are blessed.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

It’s Really About Choice

It's Really About Choice ~ Lifeofjoy.meI have a tendency to get defensive when Michael makes certain comments or does certain things. The problem is that I don’t always see it coming or even know why it comes but it comes. He doesn’t mean to offend me and yet I fight getting offended.

Oh, I hope I’m making sense to you. I’ll try to give you an example. I’ve started a new habit last month because I am notorious for leaving a dishcloth out too long. The new habit is that every night when I run the dishwasher before going to bed, I put out a clean cloth and put the used one into the laundry.  I’ve done very well with this new habit and am pleased with myself for accomplishing this new habit. So, a week or so ago, Michael picked up a barely used dishcloth and put it in the laundry made a comment about wondering how long we’d been using that same dishcloth.

I reacted poorly. I hadn’t told him of my new habit but had expected that he would notice by the end of the month. So for some reason, I got upset. I guess I felt attacked even though I was not attacked.

So the question is why do I react that way? Why do I get defensive?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that question. But I recognize the problem and can now do something about it. I guess the first step is to pray and ask God to help me. Then ask for His help again when a situation arises and I’m wanting to ‘defend myself’. Of course this is easier said than done.

It boils down to choice. It is a choice to react badly or without frustration. It’s like I told my children when they were growing up, happiness is a choice; and unfortunately for you, you only have one choice: choose to be happy. So now I just have to tell myself to grow up and make the right choice, which is to believe that my love is not intending to hurt my feelings in any way.

Now I just have to do the hard and mature thing and make the right choice. Choose not to take offense and remain happy.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

 

Doing It For Yourself?

Motivation ~ Lifeofjoy.meIn case you don’t know me in real life, I am overweight and have fought to lose weight nearly all my life. Continuing the fight after getting married, I heard many people say that you have to lose weight for yourself. I decided that they must know what they are talking about.

But all these years later, I have noticed one thing that is quite disturbing to me. I hear of people who lose weight after being married for a number of years. They feel good about themselves and then start having selfish actions where they start wanting to go out and socialize and “party” (whatever that means to the individual), whether or not their spouse wants to go and do likewise.

The very sad thing is that the spouse who was with them through the years of struggle, is now looked over, with the feeling of “I can do better.” Really?!? That person that has been with you through your struggle, and now, since you’ve won the battle, you are too good for him/her?

So this makes me look at this all over again. I’ll use my situation as an example. If I am getting into shape for Michael and my family (so that I am healthier, among other things), how would it affect my attitude once I lose the weight? Then it is a gift given to my husband and family, not something I did just for me. I think this motivation would help to keep someone from thinking they deserve someone better than the person who has put up with them during their struggle.

So I think that it comes down to having a combination of motivators. You cannot do it for yourself alone, you also have to do it for your spouse (and family), as a kind of gift to them. Then don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. And just in case you weren’t sure, thinking you deserve better, is thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think.

Bottom line for me: I have to want to change but I have to want to change as a gift to my family, as well as something I get to enjoy.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº