Tag Archives: marriage

31 Days to a better marriage; Romance vs. Love.

31 days to a better marriage; romance vs love

When we think of romance, we might picture roses, candles, rooftop dates under the stars, walking hand-in-hand through falling leaves, cozy evenings by a crackling fire…

We forget, sometimes, that romance is wildly overrated. That love is what we need most in our days. Love that steps over the scattered toys without complaining, love that says: “stay in bed, I’ll eat cereal”, love that holds you when you are sad, love that eats leftovers for days, love that brings home chocolate for those hard days.

Romance is the feeling of excitement and mystery surrounding love. (Webster)

I love romance! It is fun, and keeps our marriage interesting. But dear sister, please don’t expect your married life to be full of mysterious excitement! Many days will come and go with no rooftop dinners, no relaxing walks in nature, no wine and chocolate. There may be no money for date night, and there will be kids who want to go on that walk with you.

But there will be love. And love wins over romance any day, in my book. Don’t take that love for granted. Don’t miss the romance of a husband who knows what kind of treat to bring you after a hard day. Don’t miss the magical moments of watching a sunrise from your kitchen window together, no words needed. (You haven’t tried that? You need to. 😉 )

Romance is beautiful and there is a place for it, definitely. But the longer we are married, the more I realize that love is pretty romantic, after all.

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 Days to a better marriage: You don’t have to like him.

31 days to a better marriage: You don't have to like him.

Today I have a short and perhaps odd point to make about your marriage. See, I hear this a lot, and in different forms: “I don’t like my husband. I don’t love him any more. There’s no spark anymore. We just grew apart. There’s no feelings any more.

These statements may be 100% true. But that doesn’t excuse you from the vows you made before God. Lack of feelings doesn’t give you an excuse to leave your man – it just means you need to  give more attention to your marriage. See, you don’t have to LIKE your husband. You just have to treat him with love.

Feelings are fickle. They come and go. We can’t make decisions based on how we feel. Maybe you need to start practicing love. Practice speaking in loving tones. Practice by doing acts of love for him. Practice thinking good thoughts about him.

Jesus commands us to love each other, and the amazing thing is; if you practice showing love to your husband, (or indeed, anyone!) you will probably start liking them, too! It may take a while, but consistent acts of love are the best way I know to bring those fickle feelings around.

Ask yourself: “How would I treat him if I was madly in love with him?”

Now do that.

“Fake it till you make it” is a terrible-sounding adage. But really, it is pretty close to the truth! Only, it’s not fake if you are sincere. Sincerely wanting to obey God by loving your husband. Sincerely wanting a deep, meaningful relationship with your husband. There’s nothing fake about that!

“Practice till you become” may be a better saying.

You want to know something else? There are very, very few women who are willing to humble themselves and obey God in this area. To say: “OK God, I will begin today to treat my husband with the love and respect You command, no matter if he loves me back, no matter if I feel like it or not.”

Do you realize how brave that is? That is pure faith. Faith in a God big enough to hold you. Faith that His promises are true, that He cares about you.

We hear the term ‘be brave’ bantered about a lot these days, but the real bravery? It’s not wearing a cute tee-shirt with fancy lettering – it is following God into scary waters like these.

Be brave, my friend. Love him like you mean it. Love him till you like him. Do it till you feel it.

Practice till you become.

Read the rest of the series HERE. 

31 Days to a better marriage, Disagreements

31 days to a better marriage: working through differences.

After nearly 17 years of marriage, we have had our share of disagreements! I would love to say we always agreed and never got upset with each other. :) But that’s just not realistic. I hate calling them ‘fights’, because it never really felt like a fight to me! Just a disagreement.

When you bring two people together, both of whom have different personalities, backgrounds, emotional baggage, and interests, you are bound to have a disagreement from time to time.

What I can tell you, by the grace of God we have never slammed a door and walked off, we have never yelled at each other or physically hurt each other. But we can only have this testimony by the power of Christ.

When we disagree, I tend to retreat in silence. Thankfully, my man persistently draws me out. He tries to get me to talk about it. He could just say “oh well, I tried.” But he doesn’t. Instead, he says: “Are we going to allow Satan to get between us?” 

Ouch.

That one phrase has been the saving grace for our marriage. It reminds me of the bigger picture, and how I should respond to temptation. It reminds me that Godly marriages will always be under attack from Satan, and I should not take things personal, but remember that it is Satan taking advantage of our human nature to try and separate us!

Over the years I have learned to not retreat – to talk instead. But it took me years to trust him enough – to trust our relationship enough – to talk my way through the problem, not just meekly agree OR silently retreat.

So, when we disagree, we talk. We keep our voices calm and respectful, and ask each other “is that what you meant?” and “this is how it sounds to me” and “Why do you feel that way?”

We do not allow something between us for long. We try to make peace as quickly as possible! We are not perfect, but we try every day to grow closer, more unified, more like Christ Jesus in our marriage.

If you humble yourself and admit when you are wrong, it will go far. When you have two such people, you can have a beautiful marriage! Humility is such a glorious thing. Pride is often – oh, so often! – the cause of our problems. It is what got Satan cast down from Heaven, and it will keep us from Heaven if we don’t deal mercilessly with it.

Read the rest of the series here (scroll to the bottom of the page)

31 days to a better marriage – Roles in the home.

marriage roles

You can do a quick google search and come up with a thousand differing pieces on roles in the home and what they should be. I am not going to quote research or the ‘experts’. There is only one expert in the field of family and home – and that is our Father God.

As a child of His, I am only interested in what He has to say, what He asks of me. I don’t care if it is unpopular, I only care what He says to me when I stand before Him and give account of how I spent my time.That day is coming, you know. “Let God be true, and every man a liar“, you know.

So what does God say about it? Let’s look at some verses in Titus:

“Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:4-5

This is what the older, Godly women are supposed to be encouraging; a life working at home in love, respecting their husband, being kind and sensible. It really is so simple and plain, but Satan has used unGodly people to spread lies about God’s plan.

Instead of understanding our great calling as mothers and wives, we now have to explain and justify it, and fight the feeling of ‘I’m just a stay at home mom’. We try to look put together so no one guesses that we spend our days wrangling kids and wiping spills.

But consider Timothy’s mother & grandmother. If it weren’t for their sincere faith, we probably wouldn’t have the example and blessing of Timothy.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”  2 Timothy 1:5

What an example! That because of the lives and teaching of two generations, we have a Timothy. It doesn’t mention the fathers, you notice. Probably, they had to work long hours and were just not home much to help with the training of the children.

You see, mothers can teach and train their children to Godliness with the help of God. Two are better than one, but if our man is working long hours or gone a lot – we can still teach our children! We spend the most time at home with our children, so we are responsible.

Oh, but what if you are working full time? Who shapes and trains these young minds then? The daycare? Babysitters? Let me assure you that no one cares about your children’s souls as much as you do. Apple and Hollywood are not good substitutes for a loving mother who aches for the souls of her children.

Paul tells Timothy that women are not allowed the ministry of teaching or being a pastor, but she can be a mother. In this way, Paul is raising motherhood to the same level of ministry as being a pastor! 1 Timothy 2:12-15

What a glorious calling! Think of Susannah Wesley – one of my heroes since my childhood – she was poor, very poor, and had so many children (!!) but she was diligent in training them to God’s Word, and think of the far-reaching influence of that teaching! John Wesley has blessed thousands, and it began with his Godly mother. What if she had taken a job to earn money to relieve their poverty? The children would have missed that daily teaching that she faithfully gave them.

Should our husband help us? Of course! In my last article, I wrote about asking for help versus using him as our personal servant. Men naturally excel at most professions. I know women don’t like to hear that, but it is true! We can do almost everything men can – but it takes more effort to become great at it. Men are stronger, bigger, and have more testosterone. These physiological differences give them an edge.

Only one place where women outdo men – childbearing. Our bodies are geared towards childbearing and motherhood. Incidentally, women also have a higher pain threshold than men, which I find humorous! 😀 (childbirth, anyone?!) The way our bodies are created should be a clue to how God wants a home to work.

There are circumstances where mothers have to work outside the home for survival – I get that. And I believe God gives grace for such situations. But when we have small children at home, our first responsibility is to nurture and train them.

Men are wired to be more aggressive, to fight for their families, to protect, and serve. This serves them well in the Provider role in the home.

Women are wired to be nurturing, gentle, relational, and intuitive. This serves us well in the Nurturing role in the hime; caring for our chldren.

I am not saying it is sin to work outside the home. What I am saying, is to be wise and understand what the will of God is for you. Don’t allow the world to shape your beliefs and actions. Open the Scripture and get on your knees. Ask God what He would have you do. He gave you to these children as their mother – are you being faithful to that trust?

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 days to a better marriage – Asking for help.

31 days - asking for help

Have you ever been frustrated because your husband didn’t help you with some task? Maybe you were overwhelmed with caring for the baby, or getting a meal on, or homeschool, and he doesn’t offer help?

I remember a few times earlier in our marriage when this would happen to me. But when I took my frustration out on him, you know what he said?

“You didn’t ask.”

It wasn’t that he was forcing me to ask for help – what he meant was; he didn’t notice that I needed help, and I didn’t ask.

That was not his fault – that was mine! Why was I getting frustrated with him when I didn’t even ask for help? Maybe I thought: “if he really cared about me he would notice!” But that is just ridiculous. Your husband can’t read minds any more than you can! Don’t ask him to.

Ask for help when you need it. It is OK to ask for help. But ask in a gentle, kind manner. Don’t bark out commands like bossy mom. 😉 Remember to treat him as you like to be treated. He might not see what needs done – after all, you are (probably) the one who spends more time in the house.

Don’t use him. Yes, we all need help, and we are a team. That doesn’t give you license to kick back and take it easy the minute he walks in the door. He has been working too, you know. He is not your slave or personal assistant. Don’t throw everything under the guise of: “well, it’s his house too!” to excuse your laziness.

Maybe you work together all day. That is great! So continue working together at home. If you need help, ask. But don’t become his mother, and don’t turn him into your slave. Work in unity.

Be careful of your tone of voice. Are you asking or ordering? I am so used to telling my kids what to do, that sometimes I unintentionally just tell my husband what to do, too! That’s not cool. I try to work on that, to watch my tone and inflection. I want to be respectful of my husband in even the smallest areas of life.

Read the rest of this series here. (scroll to bottom of page)

31 Days to a better marriage – The rewards!

31 days to a better marriage, the rewards of a good marriage

Are you getting a little overwhelmed and bogged down with thinking about all the sacrifice and effort that a good marriage takes?

Me too.

So today, I wanted to remind us WHY we work on our marriages, why we sacrifice ourself, and put in the work. We do it because it is worth it, right? Maybe you are in a spot where it doesn’t feel like it IS worth it. If so, it could be that you need to put more work into your marriage before you start seeing the results.

A good, strong, loving marriage does not happen overnight. It is the result of intentionally loving one another, year after year. Intentionally sacrificing Self, intentionally building up a a deep reserve of good memories and intentionally forgetting the bad.

Here is a list of the benefits and rewards you can expect, if you both are seeking God first, and loving each other unselfishly:

Deep contentment. I don’t know why I never hear this, but it is one of my favorite parts. When I think of my husband, I get this feeling of contentment – like I have a hundred million dollars in the bank.

Security. We are secure in the love we hold for each other. We trust each other. I know I don’t have to worry about him cheating on me, or flirting with other women, and he has the same security in my love for him.

We enjoy being together. There isn’t much better than sitting next to him on the couch at the end of the day, sipping coffee. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we don’t. Either way is fine. Just being together is wonderful.

We have fun! Laughter, jokes, (he has a wonderful, dry sense of humor!) teasing…

He holds me when I cry. He doesn’t always understand my female feelings (shucks, even I don’t understand them!) But he always holds me and comforts me when I am feeling sad – even if I tell him “I don’t know why I am crying!!”

He encourages me in my dreams. No matter if it is raising chickens, (an exercise in futility, it seems) growing vegetables, (same!)  exercising, or writing a book. He is always encouraging and telling me to go for it!

We pray for each other. No one cares about me like my husband, and no one knows better how to pray for me than him. I value his prayers highly!

We balance each other out. His steadiness helps my impulsiveness. My touch of crazy brightens his quietness. 😀 My constant talking gives him someone to listen to, and his strength balances out my weakness.

We sharpen each other. Sometimes, we see something in the other one that they can’t see – so we (gently) call it out. This is something we do more as we grow in our love for each other. In other words, we didn’t do this much as young marrieds, and I think that was wise.

Too often young people get all self-righteous about something they see in their partner, and want to set them straight. Please be very, VERY careful about this. It is better to pray and let the Holy Spirit show them their faults, than to be harsh. Husband OR wife – be careful. Relationships can be ruined by too much ‘setting straight’.

But as we get stronger and wiser in our relationship, we can give and take gentle corrections. And it has been very helpful for me, when my man has shown me something in my attitude or actions that is unChristlike. I have blind spots where “I” am concerned, so it is a favor to me, if he tells me how I come across to others. Then, I can take that to God and let Him show me how to change.

We can be ourselves. In this politically-correct world, it is a rare place where one can say an opinion without someone mis-interpreting it. (thanks Facebook!)

Intimacy. Surely one of the best parts of marriage, but I will leave it at that! 😉

We are nearly at 17 years of marriage, and I feel more ‘in love’ every day! No, I am not stretching it. By the grace of God, our marriage has grown into a wonderful bond of love and care between us, and I pray it continues to grow. I am not saying this to brag, because I do have the benefit of a great husband. But I want you to be encouraged that you can get here too! Especially if you are in those first 10 years – don’t give up!! Keep working on it. Be careful that you hold God’s Word higher than any book, preacher, or counselor. (including this series)

The rewards can be better than you could imagine! Not that we don’t have troubles – finances, loss, disagreements, health, etc. Yes, we have had it all. But we keep coming back to God’s Word and each other, determined that Satan won’t separate us, by God’s grace!

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 days to a better marriage – Introvert vs Extrovert.

introvert vs extrovert in marriage

There are many personality profiles and charts out there, but most of us fall into two broad categories: Introvert or extrovert. I am not a psychologist, but I personally believe we fall on one side or the other. It makes me chuckle when I hear someone say they are an “extroverted introvert”. What? That doesn’t even make sense, haha! Just say you are have some introvert qualities.

They say opposites attract; I guess that is why we tend to marry someone on the other side of the spectrum. This can bring frustration, when one partner wants to do stuff to relax, and the other wants to do nothing.

One wants to have guests over for dinner, and the other wants to relax with a book. (Or Netflix, who are we kidding?) When one wants to go to a touristy spot for vacation, and the other wants to go to a wilderness area. When one wants to be involved in every community activity, and the other just wants to write a check.

How do you handle these differences? 

Oddly enough, Cliff and I are both on the introvert side, but I am closer to the center mark, while he is a ‘true’ introvert. We both are recharged and renewed by time alone. Or time together but not talking. We both are drained by large groups and activities. Mentally drained. But while he is reluctant to speak in public, I actually can enjoy it. (in the right setting) While he doesn’t talk much till after breakfast, I wake up instantly alert, and ready to plunge into deep conversation. While he says very little, I talk non-stop. (again, in the right setting!) I talk loud and fast – he talks slow and quiet.

But what if we were completely opposite? 

I think the key in this is humility. First of all, recognize that neither of you are wrong. Your personality was created by God, and is not wrong. Your husband’s personality is not wrong, either! Just because he is different from you does not equal being wrong or less than.

You will need to compromise. Have a discussion about what things are important to you, and what is important to him. Decide where you can come to an agreement, so you don’t nag and pester him. (or be silently bitter at him, if you are an introvert)

And by the way, we rarely have a “let’s sit down and discuss this disagreement” moment in marriage. If there is something I want to discuss with Cliff, I pick a  time when we are both relaxed — not exhausted or sidetracked with something else. (ranch dates, y’all! Go ride with him while he checks water!) Then I say: “hey, I was wondering…” and go from there. A lot of tension and fighting in marriage can be avoided by your timing, tone of voice, and manner. Be wise.

Try to understand how it feels to be him. Explain to him how it feels to be you. You may be home all day and desperately needing some time alone (introvert) or conversation with your girlfriends (extrovert), so tell him you’d like a few hours now and then to get your words out! Or get some time alone recharging.  Maybe he needs some time alone after working with other people all day. Understand your needs and differences, and work with them.

Could you just write that check instead of buying the dinner seat? Then you could be supporting your cause while having a cozy date at home with your man! Could you go to a girls night out once in a while, and not force him along to a couples thing?

Never use your personality as a weapon or excuse. Always check yourself for attitudes and behaviors that are destructive to your marriage. Honor God in this area. Your natural tendencies need to be tempered by the power of God within you.

Today’s Challenge: Plan something you know your husband will enjoy. You don’t have to do it today, but plan it today. Write it on your calendar. Or maybe he has been wanting to do something that you have been resisting – surprise him by agreeing to it enthusiastically!

My husband loves a date night or special, fun snacks for a movie night at home. Maybe yours would like to go bowling or invite friends over. You know your man!

How are you enjoying this series so far? Comment and let me know!

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 days to a better marriage – What about the big things?

31 days to a better marriage - what about the big things?

You may wonder: “What about the big things? It sounds like your husband loves God – What if your husband doesn’t? What if he isn’t saved, doesn’t want to go to church, refuses to get a job, yells at us, or is unkind and abusive?”

Physical abuse.

I will tell you that if he is physically abusive – get help. Do not stay and try to work things out alone.  He has bigger problems than you can fix. When I say ‘leave’, I mean gather your kids and a few things and go to your mother’s house, or a friends house, or something. Once you are in a safe place, you can take some time and counsel to decide what is the best way to go forward. Do not stay with an abuser.

Emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse is different. It is still harmful, and needs worked with, but so much depends on the situation. There is no way for me to give advice through an article! Do you know why? Because many women throw that phrase around far too quickly as an excuse to leave their husband. I’m sorry to say it, but sometimes the wife is the one at fault. I have seen this happen. Yes, the husband may be emotionally abusive, but he was driven to it by his nagging, whining, unsubmissive wife! (no, that is no excuse for his behaviour, but turn the situation around for a minute…)  If a wife  is walking in the fear of God and has a cheerful and respectful demeanor – the chances of a loving husband are much greater.

He won’t take the family to church.

Why? Because YOU picked the church and then demand he go along? Is there a church he would rather attend? Go with him to his church. I have often heard that if won’t go to church – then go without him. But I have a different thought on that… IF it were me,  (I have never been in that situation) I would stay home with him. Yes, the Bible is clear on being part of a local church, but it is also clear on being one with your husband. If you take the high moral ground by insisting on going to church, soon you will have a whole circle of friends whom he doesn’t know. You will have an entire section of your life that he is not a part of!

My suggestion would be: Stay home and watch online. The beauty of this digital age is that there are many churches that broadcast their services, now. Good churches. Find one that is biblically sound, and watch their service online. Don’t go make a big deal about it – just stick in your earbuds and watch on your phone or tablet as you snuggle up beside your husband. He’s over there watching football, you’re watching church – but you still have the connection between you. Or listen to a recorded sermon during the week. There are many. Find some Christian ladies in your community, an hang out with them during the week once in a while. It doesn’t have to be a Bible study – just fellowship is what you’re after.

He won’t get a job.

If he won’t, then you have to. You must pay your debts and feed your children, and if he won’t take his place, then you have to do it. I don’t know what else to say about this. You need money to live, and someone must earn it. If you can get him to counseling – great. Otherwise, go to work and pray that God changes his heart.

He does immoral or illegal things and/or wants me to do them, too.

Nope. Just nope. Yes, I believe strongly in submission to your husband, but when he crosses the line into breaking the law or immorality – then you have an obligation to not join in. Indeed, you must stop him! Call the police if you must. Leave if you’re scared. But don’t join in or assist him in these type of things.

When you should stay and work it out:

When he listens to music you don’t like. This is not the end of the world. Don’t break up a family over music. (I heard this excuse once.) 
When he doesn’t like your church. Or any church. You can teach the kids about God at home. 
When he is unpleasant to live with. You be the light in your home! Check your own heart…
When he has different career goals than you do.  Go with the flow.
When he doesn’t love you as much as you think he should. How are you respecting him? 

This is by no means a comprehensive list or article. It is intended to help you work through what is bothering you, to see if it is a leave-worthy problem, or a stay-and-work-it-out problem. I know there are some pretty terrible guys out there. I know that you can’t work everything out. But I have seen the grace and forgiveness extended by Godly women to their sin-natured  husbands, so I know miracles can happen.

Pray a lot.

Pray all the time. Fast for a time, if you can. Ask your trusted friends to pray wth you. (not your gossipy friends) Study God’s Word and pray some more.

 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.  Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:13-16

I am not saying that the responsibility is with the wife — husbands make their own choices and will be responsible for them. What I am saying, is that you have the choice to live in a Christlike manner, and perhaps, by your Godly life your example will inspire your man to change. Since I am writing to women, I am not saying what I think the man should do. I am only trying to help you walk in a Christlike way in your marriage.

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 days to a better marriage – Dealing with in-laws.

31 days to a better marriage, dealing with in-laws

Are you having trouble dealing with your in-laws? Are you frustrated that your husband seems to like them more than you? I want to help. I have been married for nearly 17 years, I have lived with my in-laws on two occasions, and very near them for several years. I know what it is like to be a young wife who live with or near her mother-in-law.

First, I want to say that I have great in-laws! My mother-in-law is a wonderful person and I enjoy spending time with her. I always have. But I did not always enjoy living with them. (my father-in-law passed away during the second year of our marriage.)

Two separate times, we lived in the same house as my husband’s parents. I was 20 and 21 when we lived with them. I was learning to be a wife and mother, and I was very young and inexperienced! I thought I knew ‘way more than I actually did, and to make it worse, I was very loud and opinionated. (sigh)

Anyway, my in-laws were very kind to me, because they were filled with Jesus. But still, I was very sensitive about my mothering, and I’m sorry to say that I did not always take advice well, and I didn’t pull my weight around the house. We lived in their house a couple months at a time.

Later, we built a small, 4-room house on my mother-in-law’s property. Our houses were only 100 yards apart – if that. By now, I had 2 kids and was expecting a  third. It was a recipe for disaster, relationally, but with Jesus in our midst we managed to live there 1.5 years and never have a fight or a real problem.

Here are my tips to have a healthy, vibrant relationship with your in-laws:

Remember that they are your husband’s family.

I don’t care how mean, manipulative, or nosy they are; they are the people who raised your husband. They are his parents and siblings – treat them with respect. Maybe even your husband doesn’t like them. Still, treat them with respect. They deserve respect for their position, if not for their character. We are only given ONE family. One true, blood-relation family. Don’t toss them aside or strain those family bonds just because you are ticked off. Work on relationships.

Humble yourself.

As a newcomer to the family, it is easy to feel like you have to carve out a spot for yourself. When your in-laws do things differently than you or your family did them, it’s easy to want to set them straight. You need to lay aside your family traditions when you are around your in-laws. “We never allowed football during Thanksgiving lunch!!

Sorry hun. That is your family tradition, not a moral issue. If your new family (and your husband) watches football during Thanksgiving lunch, then you must watch it too – happily, I might add! Try to learn the way they do things, and the stories behind them. Integrate. Figure out how this family works, and celebrate them! Remember; the Golden Rule still applies – treat them the way you want him to treat your family!

Take advice.

Your mother-in-law will see you differently than your mom does. If she has advice for you – take it! I have learned so much from my mother-in-law. She is a wise lady and –once I got over myself — I realized she had a lot of wisdom for me – because she knew my husband well!

Keep that in mind. Your mother-in-law loves your husband and knows him well. If you have a question about him, she is a better person to go to than your mom. In fact, I personally think that God gave us mother-in-laws to teach us how to be a good wife. After all, they have been married to this specific strain of men much longer than us! 😀

I know not all in-laws are as wise as mine, not as kind and gracious. But I believe most of them are well-intentioned, and a little humility on your part will do wonders to diffuse tension, and create peace. Maybe yours doesn’t always give you good advice. You can still listen respectfully, and thank her for the advice, even if you decide not to follow it.

Love them well.

Maybe they do intrude on your business – love them anyway. Maybe they are nosy and bossy-  love them anyway. Jesus never said to love your friends; He knew we’d have no problem with that. He told us to love our enemies. I think our ‘enemies’ are anyone we don’t get along with. If you find impossible in your own self to love them, then get on your knees and pray. Ask God to forgive you for being unloving, and to fill you with His love. If you are serious and genuine – He will!

You can’t say a quick prayer, get up and say: “See? I knew it wouldn’t work!” Pray daily. Pray with intention. Pray humbly… what if YOU are actually part of the problem?

Maybe you are the problem.

Hear me out. Can you say that you have never started a fight? Have you ever gotten ticked off at your in-laws, and then told your husband the whole sorry tale of woe? Did you make yourself sound pretty good, but them sound terrible? Because you knew you could influence the way he sees the situation? Ok, who is being manipulative now, hmm? I know there are truly difficult people out there, but I also know there are a lot of whiny, complaining, selfish young wives, too. I am going to call it like I see it: you need to stop stirring the pot!

“So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18

That is a clear command in Scripture, and I want to obey it. Sometimes you do all you can, and they still hate you. But especially in family situations; try really hard to keep peace!

If the in-laws are truly difficult, here is what I want you to do:

Stop complaining.
Stop talking bad about them to other people, including your husband.
Try to find something you DO like about them, and tell your husband, or better yet – tell your in-laws!
Examine your own life, see if you have been a bit of a jerk.
Pray for yourself first, and then for them.
Pray for wisdom for your man, as he has to deal with his wife AND his family. 😉

I am a huge advocate for restoring and repairing family relationships as much as possible. For one thing, God commands it. For another, we have lost so many family members, that I can’t take them for granted anymore. You never know how long they will be here. What if your mother-in-law died tomorrow? How would you feel?

That happened to me, you know. Not my mother-in-law, but my father-in-law. One day I received a phone call that he’d had a heart attack, and I had to tell  my husband that his dad was gone. Let me tell you, I was glad that we had a good relationship! I have no regrets, and I can’t wait to meet him again in the presence of Jesus. 

Today’s Challenge: Thank your mother-in-law for raising a good son. Text, call, in person or a real thank you card! 

Leave a comment and tell me: What is your biggest struggle with your in-laws? 

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 Days to a better marriage – dealing with kids.

31 days to a better marriage - kids

When you get married, you aren’t thinking of dealing with kids. At least, most of the time we aren’t! (there are exceptions, I understand) Usually we are in love with this handsome man – planning a life of fun and happiness. Somewhere in there, we jot down a space for ‘having a baby’, and that’s about it. We don’t plan for the colicky afternoons or the puking at night or the temper tantrums at Grandma’s house.

But they happen.

And while that stuff is bad enough, then you have to decide how to discipline, when to discipline, and what offense is worthy of discipline! That is what I want to write about today, because I feel it causes more stress than the actual ‘work’ that kids bring.

Differences in discipline.

Even if you agree on discipline methods, you may not agree on timing. I thought we agreed on discipline, but with our first child was young, I realized that I had very little idea what he thought about it. I always thought I was the tough one, but come to find out, I am actually a big pushover with the kids. Now not all the time, but most of the time, I am the softie. And I don’t say that as a compliment to myself, either! I get irritated at myself for being that way. I see kids that are totally out of control, and I tell myself: “Kay, this is why you have to say no!” Seriously, young mama: say no. Kids need to hear the word before they go to school.

Anyways, so when our first couple of kids tried out their naughtiness, we reacted differently. And I can tell you; it threw me for a loop. I assumed we’d agree on this, like we agreed on everything else. We never had any big fights, but we did disagree at times. (not every time) And I am ashamed to tell you – I did not react well. I tried to bully and nag him into seeing things my way. Thankfully,  my husband is not a puny pushover. We had discussions on the subject, and you know what? Nearly 100% of the time, I would see he was right and I was wrong. Not because he persuaded me, but because God gave Cliff  wisdom that He didn’t give me, about how to lead the family.

If your husband loves God, and is truly trying to follow His ways, you can trust him to make the right decisions. Even if he makes mistakes, you can trust him to lead you. You continue to respect your husband, and follow his leading. If you honor God, God will honor you. And if your husband desires to be a Godly father – God will honor that, too. Even if his methods are different than yours.

I made a resolution that I would always support him in front of the children, and if I had an issue, I would discuss it with him later, privately. I felt the kids needed to see Dad and Mom as a united front. Unfortunately there were a couple of times where I failed at this. But most of the time, I stuck to that.

But what if your husband is too strict or too harsh, or maybe not strict enough?
There is a solution to this.

You train the children to be decent little humans.

If you train them to obey, then they will listen when Dad tells them something, and he won’t have to discipline them. If he is lax and you are stricter – that is harder. But again, you train them, because you are with them most of the time while they are small. Then even if Dad allows them to get away with more when he is around – they will still be decent small humans.

What if he doesn’t discipline the kids?

You can’t just throw up your hands and say: “well, my husband won’t do it so why bother?” No, you have a responsibility to your children. If he isn’t training them, you will need to do it. Some husbands have gentle personalities, and have a hard time dealing with the conflict that  discipline brings – so you do it!

And please, whatever you do, don’t undermine your husband’s leadership. No matter what your disagreements are on child training, discuss it with him privately. Try to pick a good time, when you are both rested and not already upset with each other. If he doesn’t want to discuss it, just drop it. You are the one who spends the most time with them, so just step up and train your kids to be decent.

What if he is too lenient?

If your husband is more lenient than you, be thankful that he can balance you out! Go along with his ideas and enjoy the ride! You can be tougher on the kids when they are with you, but again; never undermine his authority.

Never talk ill of him to your children, or indeed, to anyone! Always speak respectfully of him to your kids, your mom, your girlfriends – everyone. Train your kids to respect their dad. Point out his amazing coolness and remind him of all the good things he does for you.

Today’s challenge: Ask yourself if you have been respecting your husband’s methods of child training. Have you been undermining him – especially in front of the kids? Be honest with yourself. Take a few minutes to just really think about how YOU relate to him in this area. Pray. Ask God how you can be a better support to him, and what you can do to help him raise decent small humans.

Note: Our kids are getting older, and we are past that hard stage of little kids who needs lots of training. And you know what? We agree nearly 100% of the time, nowadays. I am so thankful for a godly husband who leads our family with love and gentleness and wisdom.