Monday, November 29, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VII

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:15 PM 0 comments
The final “rule” for a healthy marriage is fun. Even though at first having fun may sound easier than the previous rules, it is often just as difficult to maintain. Life gets busy and things happen between two people that distract them from each other and their relationship. Therefore, fun often gets forgotten.

Chances are when you first dated your husband, you had a lot of fun together. Your relationship most likely focused on getting to know each other and having fun together. Even after the wedding takes place the fun tends to continue, at least for a while. However, as life adds responsibilities, stress and tension increase also. As stress and tension build, the distance between husband and wife tends to increase. So, even if you work on your marriage, make the effort to keep a proper perspective, and have made a solid commitment to your husband, if you don’t ever have fun together you’ll be more like partners of a business venture rather than partners a loving marriage.

I don’t know about you, but I desire so much more from my husband than just someone to go through life experiences and share child-rearing with. I want a partner, friend, lover, and companion. Life is not near as care free as when my husband and I were dating, and therefore we must be intentional about having fun together. Some of that fun is as parents. We do fun things at home and away from home with our children. We have fun together as a family. But we also have fun together as a couple. Sometimes this means staying up late to watch a movie after the kids go to bed. Sometimes it means sitting on the front porch alone while the kids watch a movie or are playing nicely. Sometimes it means recruiting a babysitter to go out to dinner. Sometimes it means lying in bed just holding hands and sharing what’s been going on lately. Many couples we know take a few days each year for an adult vacation. Others send the kids to the grandparents’ houses for a few days or weeks. Having fun doesn’t have to take a lot of money or time, but it generally takes a lot of planning and creativity. However, if having fun together becomes a priority in your marriage, it will become more natural. And the rewards will far outweigh any effort that is put into making time for fun.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Sunday, November 28, 2010

YA Book Earns an "A"

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:53 PM 0 comments
Having read several Nancy Drew books with my daughter, I was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of writing in Kathleen Fuller’s The Secrets Beneath. I expected a teen mystery with some Godly perspective thrown in and got so much more. From the beginning of the book, I found myself pulled into the characters and their situations. The characters are well-developed and are easy to relate to, especially for young readers.

The Secret Beneath had me wondering what was going on from the very beginning. It is written with enough intrigue to keep the reader along for the ride without being frustrated that you’re not getting enough information. Also, several times I wanted to scream at the main character, Bekah, to not do what she’s about to do – to me a sure sign that the book has drawn me in. Even though this book (the second in the series) was written as a Young Adult novel, I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed it and am confident that my daughter will receive the first and next books in the series, after I’ve had a chance to preview them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VI

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:12 AM 2 comments
Forgiveness. Your husband will irritate you, frustrate you and hurt you. After all, he’s only human. When these things happen, however, you have a choice to make. You either hold onto it and let it build a divide between you and your husband or you let it go, forgive him and add to the bond you have with him. Forgiveness is always the best choice: for you, for him, and for your marriage.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17: 14

You may be thinking, “but what he did was wrong! And I’m supposed to just forgive him?” Yes. And no. We are called to always forgive, but there’s nothing that says forgiveness is easy or simple. Often it’s not a matter of “just forgiving.” It’s about processing, dealing with, and forgiving.

If the source of conflict is minor (an irritating habit, being late, viewing things differently) then it may be as much about changing expectations so they’re more realistic and accept your husband’s short-comings as it is about forgiveness. There is an element of forgiveness, however. You may need to forgive him for disappointing you. You may need to forgive him for not holding to his word. You may need to forgive him for not being perfect. Although these instances are generally minor, they add up when they’re held on to.

Even small offenses and conflicts it’s essential to your relationship to forgive and let go. You may need to deal with some of these issues together. You may need to decide that things are the way they are, that they’re not that big of a deal, and choose not to let them bother you. At first letting go even of little things takes a conscious effort and practice. But with practice, forgiving the little things and letting them go becomes easier and easier.

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers overall wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Bigger issues take a little more of a process to forgive. Once the hurt has been acknowledged (which sometimes happens immediately, and at other times happens more slowly), the wrong action that caused the hurt needs to be acknowledged as wrong. Because you choose the past of forgiveness doesn’t mean a wrong action is okay or is to be overlooked. It does mean that you choose not to hold that action against your husband once it’s dealt with and forgiven. If you define who your spouse is by this action, use it to manipulate him, or bring it up at a later time, forgiveness hasn’t occurred. It will likely take discussing the issue with your husband, may take talking it through with a trusted third party (e.g. pastor, counselor), and it will definitely take prayer. The process may be quick, or it may be slow, but it is essential to having a healthy marriage.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Monday, November 22, 2010

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:05 AM 0 comments
Flexibility. Another piece to the healthy marriage puzzle is flexibility. If this piece of the puzzle is ignored, this rule broken, your marriage may not be in jeopardy of dissolving, but the joy and rewards of marriage will be stolen from it. Inflexibility, stubbornness, and general “it’s gonna be my way” attitude lead to frustration and conflict. Flexibility, on the other hand, fosters fun and enjoyment in a marriage.

Why is flexibility so important? Simply because a marriage is made up of two people who have their own backgrounds, their own baggage, their own likes and dislikes, their own way of perceiving the world, and their own ideas about, well, everything. All these things that make us who we are and who our husband fell in love with may also irritate him. And vice versa.
One thing I’ve had to learn to be flexible about is being flexible. I’m a planner and an organizer (which should be obvious from chapter one.) I like to have a plan and follow through with it. My husband likes to keep all options open all the time so he can make the best choice when it comes time. Needless to say, this has caused some conflict. Eventually I learned that he told me about upcoming events to keep that option open and he accepted that some things just have to be planned. We both learned to be more flexible in how we perceived plans and met somewhere in the middle.

The areas of potential inflexibility are endless. What types of things are served for dinner, who prepares it, and when it’s served. The level of expected housekeeping and who’s responsible for it. How money is spent. What types of vacations are taken and when. What type of extra-curricular activities are okay and how much is okay (for adults and for children.) How to hand family functions. Like I said, the issues are limitless. We each have our own issues, some more important than others. In choosing to be flexible, you’re not saying that your perspective isn’t important. Or that you aren’t important. What flexibility says is that your relationship is more important than holding fast to your ideas about this particular issue. Some issues are going to be more important to you and you will stand more firmly on those. However, these issues should be carefully considered, chosen wisely, and communicated effectively.

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1

There will be a host of things that you’ll discover aren’t worth arguing over. Having a healthy, joyful relationship with your husband is more important. Does it really matter if the kids drink sweet tea at supper? As long as bills are being paid, does it matter if he splurges at the hardware store once in a while? These are some of the small things that provide opportunities for flexibility. As you become more flexible towards your husband, theoretically he will naturally become more flexible to you. Then you have the wonderful, albeit complex, dance of give and take that can enhance your marriage even more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage V

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:03 AM 0 comments
The tools are first to recognize the differences between the way men and women communicate, second to listen, and third to respect what’s being said. Clarification is also important. As the examples I gave before and plenty you can probably think of make it clear, clarification is very helpful. I often repeat back to my husband what he’s said to me. “So..” and I repeat what I heard. It may sound silly, and sometimes he tells me that all I’m doing is repeating what he said, but it works. I tell him, “just clarifying, honey. Don’t want to misunderstand you.”

I statements are also important in communication. These are statements like, “It upsets me when you’re running late and don’t call,” and “I don’t like it when you ignore me.” The alternative statements that are unhealthy include character attacking and blame-placing. They are statements like, “You’re so inconsiderate and selfish. You can’t even take a second to call when you’re late,” and “You make me crazy when you ignore me.” Positive words and encouragement are also essential elements to healthy communication. That doesn’t mean that you lie, or hold back things that bother you, but that you share those things in as positive a way as possible. It also means that you make a conscious effort to speak words of praise and encouragement to your husband as much as possible. Accusatory, negative and bitter words reek havoc on your relationship. Uplifting, positive and loving words will increase affection between you and your husband. It’s your choice how you use your words. [Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage IV

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:01 AM 0 comments
Another piece of that puzzle is healthy communication. We all have communication issues. Sometimes we feel like we’ve said one thing, while the person we’re talking to has heard something completely different. I remember one time when my husband and I were dating and planned on going to lunch together. I went to meet him at the place we agreed we’d eat at that day, but he never showed up. On my way back to the office I got a call to find out what happened. He’d shown up at my office to pick me up to take me to lunch. We made a commitment to communicate better. That was about 13 years ago. Just the other week I told my husband that the kids and I would be going to a friend’s house and he’d have the evening to himself. When I called him at four in the afternoon to hook up with him for supper he was surprised. He understood that he had the whole day to himself. I’d said “evening.” He’d heard “day.” Obviously, we’re still working on communication.

Healthy communication fosters growth and closeness in any relationship, especially a marriage. However, communication within a marriage is quite possibly the most challenging. Not only do you have to communicate more often than in almost any other relationship, you also have to deal with the dramatically different ways men and women communicate. In their book Men are like Waffles Women are like Spaghetti, Bill and Pam Ferrelll highlight these differences. Their research and years of working with couples taught them that when men start a conversation it’s meant to be about that topic and that topic only. Women, on the other hand, process while talking and think of all the things related to the topic the discussion began with. The best way to deal with the different ways men and women communicate and deal with conversations is to listen. You know, the two ears one mouth thing. We should listen twice as often as we talk. This doesn’t accomplish better communication. It only leads to frustration.

If our men truly say very little compared to us, don’t we want to pay closer attention to them? If they say little they’re going to be choosy about what they say and it will hold more meaning. Listening to him is a form of communication in itself. It communicates that we respect what he has to say. It communicates that we believe what he has to say is valid and important to us. If he feels heard and respected, he’s more likely to tell us more and listen to us when we talk. This is important on surface level communication (details, thoughts, and opinions of life) and essential when communicating on deeper levels (the vulnerable issues of life.) As we communicate on those deeper levels there’s a greater chance for miscommunication and conflict. There’s also a greater chance for deeper intimacy and growth if we utilize healthy communication tools.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage III

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:59 AM 0 comments
The next “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes commitment. Commitment is a characteristic that is not revered in our culture. It is more likely to be made fun of and attributed to inconsequential items. Commercials constantly encourage people to make a lifetime commitment to a brand of car, or phone company, or even a sandwich. In reality of how we live, however, people rarely stay committed to things that really matter. The divorce rate for first marriages has been holding steady at about fifty percent for several decades now. “Til death do us part” has become “until I don’t feel like it anymore.”

Any time we enter into something without the mindset of being committed to it, we are much less likely to put effort into it and much more likely to quit. I remember planning a group with some co-counselors several years back. We discussed offering the group for free or charging a minimal fee. One of the counselors shared a study that found that participants in programs were more likely to attend more sessions and complete the program if they had something invested in it, even if it was just fifteen dollars. The more you have invested in something, the more committed you are to it. The more committed you are to something, the more you’ll invest in it. It’s a positive cycle that holds true in marriage.

The commitment part it your mindset. Most people have the mindset of being committed to their spouse when they get married, or they probably wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. But somehow over time and through difficult circumstances people begin to lose the “forever” mindset and start thinking that it might be better if the marriage ended. As soon as these thoughts start, the spiral towards divorce begins. Even though there is never a point of no return, it’s better to stop the spiral before it gets started.

Everyone has bad days, arguments, and negative thoughts. The key is to focus on the good days, argue less and more effectively, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This is an overflow from having the right perspective, but our thoughts about our spouse and commitment to our marriage are closely linked. If we reaffirm our commitment to our spouse with positive thoughts about our marriage (thinking about the good parts of the marriage, the positive traits of our husband, and the fact that we thought enough about him at one time to make the commitment of a lifetime) we are more likely to put effort into our relationship with him. As we put effort into the relationship, we will begin to reap the rewards of marriage and feel more committed to it. Each of these things are a piece of the puzzle which helps to make up the whole picture of a healthy marriage.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:56 PM 0 comments
Another “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes a proper perspective. Being aware of our thoughts, words, and actions is a large part of having the proper perspective. In the first chapter the importance of being conscience of and choosing a positive perspective was introduced. In the subsequent chapters the concept of perspective has been expanded on. The importance of perspective that we have in any given circumstance and any given relationship cannot be overstated. When looking at people who crumble under difficult circumstances compared to those who seem to persevere and become stronger, the tangible difference is perspective. The same is true for relationships, especially marriages. Marriages don’t fail because someone had an affair, there are financial troubles, or people just grew apart. Marriages fail because husbands and wives began having thoughts like, “I can’t take this anymore,” “I can’t stand the way she…,” “He’ll never change,” or “I’ll never live up to his/her expectations, so why even try.” Instead of brushing these thoughts out the door with the rest of the trash, they were allowed to take root and cultivated, watered and given light to grow until they overtake the healthy, positive thoughts that used to reside in the minds of spouses.

In his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman states it this way. “It’s hardly surprising that what you think about someone often determines how you’ll treat them. But when it comes to marriage, this simple truth has huge consequences. The assumptions you make about your spouse and your relationship can determine the state of your marriage’s health. Marital problems easily arise if your thoughts and feelings are distorted.” So what are distorted thoughts and feelings? How do we know if they’re distorted?

In his book, Gottman gives examples of how given the same situation different people will react differently. Those reactions, whether positive , neutral, or negative, begin in our thoughts. What we think about a person and the situation – what we perceive are the motives and feelings behind what the other person is doing – effects how we will act and react. It’s good to regularly take stock of your relationship with your husband. Are most of your interactions positive or negative? When you think about your husband, do you focus on everything he doesn’t do, or does wrong? Or do you focus on the things he does for you and the kids? When talking about him and to him do you build him up or tear him down? It’s good to ask yourself these questions regularly. As you answer them, measure your answers against a Biblical perspective of marriage. A Biblical perspective can be obtained and maintained through completing women’s Bible Studies and searching scripture for what it has to say about marriage and relationships.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage I

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:50 PM 0 comments
Rules for a Healthy Marriage

The first rule of a healthy marriage is that it takes work. Sometimes marriage takes grueling, sweat-inducing, grimy work. One of the biggest lies that our culture produces and cultivates is that if a relationship is built on true love it will naturally grow and always be wonderful. The problem is that there is only one true love, and that is the love of Christ. Any other love is imperfect. Imperfect people love imperfectly. Times will come when we don’t feel very loved or very much like loving. It’s those times especially that we have a choice to make. We can decide to make the effort and continue to act in loving ways, or we can let our feelings rule our actions. It takes a choice to treat someone in a loving manner when we don’t feel like it. This is when love feels like work. And it is. But just as we are rewarded by other work we do when we don’t feel like it (whether it is actually going to work and getting a paycheck, or cleaning the house and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, or working in the yard and enjoying the beauty of it) we will be rewarded every time we choose to act out of love.

Work in marriage also comes into play because our lives our busy. The first chapter of this book laid the foundation of the importance of prioritizing and focusing on the most important things. In our culture, and especially when children arrive, a healthy, happy marriage will not just happen. It’s very easy to get busy, get distracted and forget to feed your marriage. Working in your marriage, therefore, also means taking time and making time for your marriage. This may mean planning regular dates, turning the TV off once in a while to talk (about big and little things), going for a walk together, sitting down over the budget, giving small gifts, intentionally giving words of affirmation, cooking a favorite meal, or whatever it seems your relationship needs at the moment or on an ongoing basis. Each relationship, just like each person, is unique and has unique needs. But every relationship needs to be cared for and fed.

One additional thing I feel the need to mention in this section is a complaint that women often make. The complaint is: why is it my job to put in all the effort/work into the marriage? The answer is pretty straight forward. It’s not our job as the wife to be the only one working in the marriage. Marriage is made up of two people and takes effort on two people’s part. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is rarely, if ever, a 50-50 venture. When we expect it to be and try to keep score, we generally find ourselves frustrated, upset, and feeling negative about the relationship. We instead would benefit greatly from willingly and joyfully putting effort into our relationship with our husband. This doesn’t absolve him from also putting effort in. But we’re not responsible for what he does. We’re responsible for what we do. We are to make sure that our thoughts, words, and actions are in line with God’s will and word. When we as wives do that, it is amazing how much our feelings and attitude toward our husband will become more and more positive. And as we become more positive in our relationship, invariably, so will our husband.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rewards of Marriage II

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:47 PM 0 comments
The second reward in marriage is companionship. Our husband is supposed to be our companion. Someone to experience life with. Someone to share life with. Someone to hurt when we hurt and rejoice when we rejoice. Someone to hold our hand. Someone to stand in front of us when we need protecting, beside us when we need a friend, and behind us when we need extra support. They are a unique companion, though. Our husband has never been and is never supposed to be a girlfriend. Although we share our lives with him, it is in a unique way. When we marry our relationships with our girlfriends change, which they should. Our husband becomes our primary human relationship. However, we should not try to replace our girlfriends by treating our husband as one. I sometimes find myself sharing something with my husband that he absolutely could not care less about. It’s not because he’s uncaring or callous. It’s just something that doesn’t interest him. This usually happens when I haven’t been spending time with my girlfriends and I’m starved for adult conversation. (So, as you can see, fostering and maintaining your female friendships is actually a benefit to your relationship with your husband.) There are other ways we treat our husband as a girlfriend: in what we expect him to say, how we expect him to act, and some things we expect him to do. Dr. Laura Schlessinger states that the “major mistake women make in communication with their husbands is to imagine that their husbands are supposed to be their girlfriends.” When we do this, we are not respecting who God made this man - as a man and as an individual.

Our culture has become one which consistently demasculinates men. They aren’t respected for their differences, but instead degraded for their differences. Men and women are different. Most people realize this. What they don’t realize is that this is a good thing! I love being a woman and I love that my man is a man. As I’ve learned to accept my husband as he is (not being able to multi-task, not expressing himself verbally, not feeling things the way I do) and celebrate who he is as a man (being really good at concentrating on what he’s doing, wrapping his arms around me when I need it, being steady in almost any given situation) our relationship has grown closer and closer. Because we not only love each other, but also respect each other for who we are, who God made us, the rewards in our marriage have steadily increased.

Marriage can be, and should be, rewarding. However, those rewards don’t come automatically. You don’t have to look far and wide to see marriages in which the husband and/or wife are not reaping the rewards of marriage (even some of those which last a lifetime.) Just as with other things in life, rewards in marriage increase when we follow the plan and the rules. Many of us don’t like rules because we see them as restrictive. But rules, regulations, and laws are put in place for our protection and our benefit. The “rules” of marriage below aren’t meant to be viewed as strict “have to’s” for you to add to any list. On the contrary, they are meant to be keys that will unlock doors to a more rewarding, joyful marriage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rewards of Marriage I

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:44 AM 0 comments
So what are the rewards of marriage supposed to be? Before that question is answered, I will discuss one thing that is not a reward of marriage. Marriage is NOT supposed to be fulfilling. I’m not saying that marriage isn’t supposed to add things to your life, that’s what this whole section is about – what a healthy marriage adds to your life. What I am saying is that if you approach marriage (or any relationship) as starting with an empty cup, expecting your husband (or anyone else) to fill that cup, and keep it filled for the rest of your life, you will be greatly disappointed.

We all remember the famous line the movie Jerry McGuire: “You complete me.” Sentimental. Sweet. Charming. Completely misguided. And dangerous. The idea of needing another person to complete you will always leave you wanting. This is because we are all human and are therefore imperfect. We make mistakes. We hurt the people we love the most. We will not ever be able to provide everything that our loved ones need. To expect to be able to do so, or expect someone else to do so for us, leads us down a path of disillusion and never-ending disappointments. Instead of looking for our husband to complete us, we need to look to Christ to define who we are, to provide everything we need, and fill us up. We are to see our husband as a wonderful addition to our lives. He’s the icing on the cake.

My husband gave me the perfect Valentine’s card the first two years we were dating (yes, he gave me the same card two years in a row; without realizing it.) It talked about being perfect for each other because we complimented each other. And that’s how relationships are supposed to be. Complimentary. Thus, the first reward of marriage is not completing each other, but complimenting each other. My husband and I balance each other out very well – I have the personality tests to prove it. I am very organized (when my case of mommy brain isn’t too severe) and my husband is very flexible and spontaneous. I feel things very deeply, my husband thinks things through in a very logical way. We both love being around other people, and we both love being alone. As we have learned to appreciate and cooperate with each other in our differences instead of looking at them in a negative light, we have reaped the rewards of living in compliment to each other.

It is sometimes frustrating, however, in instances such as when I want the kids in bed on time and he’s enjoying a romp on the floor with them. On the other hand, he’s also helped me to stop watching the clock and doing chores and get on the floor for a good tickling match, too. We do sometimes clash in how we see things and how we want things done, but those are the things we work out in love. “Wives need to remind themselves that when their husbands do something differently from how they would do it themselves, it does not constitute a breach of sanity or a display of contempt, it is merely a different way to do something.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Great Christmas Book for Kids

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:27 PM 0 comments
The good books just keep on coming. This one is perfect as a Christmas present for the little ones in your life.

I'm always looking for Biblically based Christmas stories for my children. I am thrilled with Little Star by Anthony Destefano, as it gives a fresh and creative perspective on the birth of Jesus.

Tears came to my eyes when I came to the part of the story where the star gets it. "... Little Star was the only one to understand the king's message. His message was love." What a wonderful way to capture the purpose behind this once ever event.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Secrets to a Great Marriage

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:41 PM 0 comments
This is mainly for married women, but not just for married women. There are many things I learned about being a wife that I wished I had learned before I became one. In the more than seven years that I was in relationship with my husband before he became my husband I did and said many destructive things. I am very fortunate (and grateful) that God taught me early in my marriage what His perspective and expectations are about my attitude, words, and actions towards my husband. As with anything, it is a journey. There are days when my heart is in the right place and there are days when it is not. As I strive to follow God’s regulations for my marriage I have seen and tasted the wonderful rewards of having a Godly perspective on my marriage and of my husband. I love my husband more today than I ever thought possible.
Does it really matter? Some people may ask. With the number of single parent families today, is a healthy marriage really important to moms and their children?

The answer, unequivocally, is YES. Study after study has shown that a healthy marriage has a huge positive impact on children.

Rewards of a Healthy Marriage
Marriage is supposed to be rewarding. Marriage is supposed to be fun. Marriage is supposed to be full of love. I am often completely amazed at what God has done in my marriage. Not that it has ever been tumultuous. It’s never been rocky or in danger of ending. I can honestly say that we’ve never been even close to that point. On the contrary, by the grace of God, as good as it was in the beginning, it has steadily gotten better. My heart often overflows with love for my husband and I sit in awe at the increase of love God has added to my marriage. I never imagined that I would love my husband more and more as time passed in our marriage. I’ve seen too many marriages fall apart and studied marriage enough to know that of love does not always increase.

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.

Don’t get me wrong, however. I’ll never claim that my marriage is perfect. Of course it isn’t – it’s made up of two sinful, imperfect people. There have been bad moments and bad days. There are still times when I’m not really happy with my husband and he’s not really happy with me. But we have learned to work through those moments and those days and grow together. We have learned that it’s more important to focus on what’s going right than what we’re doing wrong. And we’ve learned that it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship, especially with several small children. We’ve also learned that putting the effort into our marriage is worth it. The rewards far outweigh the costs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A book to buy, read, and give away

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:02 PM 0 comments
As you can tell by now, I’m an avid reader and love sharing great books with others. Sometimes, I wish I could by 20 copies of a great book and hand them out at will. The most recent book put in my hands is one of those. It is “On This Day in Christian History” by Robert J. Morgan. This daily devotional is full of history briefs of saints, martyrs, and heroes. Some of them, you’ve probably heard of. Others will be completely new. All of the stories are interesting, encouraging, and inspiring. The book holds true to its promise.

If you ever doubt that God does amazing things with ordinary people, this book will convince you otherwise. These 365 stories, each highlighting a different individual who lived radically for God, are about ordinary people. It tells of people born in every type of circumstance and living during all time periods, dating back to the second century.

The key theme is that anyone can live a life that shines for God. The history that is included in the stories, how individuals fit into changes in the church, reformations, and missions, is an added bonus. This book is well written and the only problem is you won’t want to stop at reading one a day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Addressing our Hubbies

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:38 PM 0 comments
As I write this I want to let you know that I am well aware that there are moms that will be reading this whom are in all sorts of situations. Many moms are married to the man they were married to before they had children. Many moms are married to a man who is not the father of their children. Many moms aren’t married due to divorce, death or other circumstances. Many moms are married but separated for a variety of reasons. Our family and marital situations are as varied as our personalities are. As we begin to talk about our other relationships, especially our most important earthly relationship, my goal is to encourage you in the relationships you have. I hope to help you to understand the importance of relationships built on Biblical principles. I hope to provide a view of relationships that shows they are meant to benefit us as moms, those we’re in relationships with, and our children.

We’ve talked about the importance of friendships with other moms (and girlfriends.) There, I believe, the foundation for the blessings of such relationships was laid. God created us as relational beings and we are to thrive and grow through and in our relationships. Our female friends are an important part of our lives. They help keep us on track, support us, and increase the joy we experience in life. As important and beneficial as our girlfriends are to our lives, our husband should be much more. Our relationship with our husband, for those who have one, should be our highest priority human relationship, but too often it is not.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

It breaks my heart how often I hear women say negative things about and to their husbands. Other women don’t speak badly to or about their husbands, but don’t pay a lot of attention to them either. Many women are so involved in their careers and/or their children that they don’t foster and enjoy their marital relationship. It often seems as if husbands are extraneous, attested to by the attitudes of many wives, the divorce rate, and the number of women choosing to have children without an involved father. Please know that I understand that there are women who really are in bad marriages, women whom have very legitimate reasons to get out of a marriage, and women who find themselves in bad situations. My heart is not to pour condemnation on anyone who has ended up in any of these circumstances. There is just a trend that has happened in our culture which has had severe negative effects on us collectively and individually. And I believe, that one by one, in making sure that we shift our perspectives to be Biblical, we can begin to experience the fruit and blessings of healthy, loving relationships with our husband.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VII

The final “rule” for a healthy marriage is fun. Even though at first having fun may sound easier than the previous rules, it is often just as difficult to maintain. Life gets busy and things happen between two people that distract them from each other and their relationship. Therefore, fun often gets forgotten.

Chances are when you first dated your husband, you had a lot of fun together. Your relationship most likely focused on getting to know each other and having fun together. Even after the wedding takes place the fun tends to continue, at least for a while. However, as life adds responsibilities, stress and tension increase also. As stress and tension build, the distance between husband and wife tends to increase. So, even if you work on your marriage, make the effort to keep a proper perspective, and have made a solid commitment to your husband, if you don’t ever have fun together you’ll be more like partners of a business venture rather than partners a loving marriage.

I don’t know about you, but I desire so much more from my husband than just someone to go through life experiences and share child-rearing with. I want a partner, friend, lover, and companion. Life is not near as care free as when my husband and I were dating, and therefore we must be intentional about having fun together. Some of that fun is as parents. We do fun things at home and away from home with our children. We have fun together as a family. But we also have fun together as a couple. Sometimes this means staying up late to watch a movie after the kids go to bed. Sometimes it means sitting on the front porch alone while the kids watch a movie or are playing nicely. Sometimes it means recruiting a babysitter to go out to dinner. Sometimes it means lying in bed just holding hands and sharing what’s been going on lately. Many couples we know take a few days each year for an adult vacation. Others send the kids to the grandparents’ houses for a few days or weeks. Having fun doesn’t have to take a lot of money or time, but it generally takes a lot of planning and creativity. However, if having fun together becomes a priority in your marriage, it will become more natural. And the rewards will far outweigh any effort that is put into making time for fun.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Sunday, November 28, 2010

YA Book Earns an "A"

Having read several Nancy Drew books with my daughter, I was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of writing in Kathleen Fuller’s The Secrets Beneath. I expected a teen mystery with some Godly perspective thrown in and got so much more. From the beginning of the book, I found myself pulled into the characters and their situations. The characters are well-developed and are easy to relate to, especially for young readers.

The Secret Beneath had me wondering what was going on from the very beginning. It is written with enough intrigue to keep the reader along for the ride without being frustrated that you’re not getting enough information. Also, several times I wanted to scream at the main character, Bekah, to not do what she’s about to do – to me a sure sign that the book has drawn me in. Even though this book (the second in the series) was written as a Young Adult novel, I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed it and am confident that my daughter will receive the first and next books in the series, after I’ve had a chance to preview them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VI

Forgiveness. Your husband will irritate you, frustrate you and hurt you. After all, he’s only human. When these things happen, however, you have a choice to make. You either hold onto it and let it build a divide between you and your husband or you let it go, forgive him and add to the bond you have with him. Forgiveness is always the best choice: for you, for him, and for your marriage.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17: 14

You may be thinking, “but what he did was wrong! And I’m supposed to just forgive him?” Yes. And no. We are called to always forgive, but there’s nothing that says forgiveness is easy or simple. Often it’s not a matter of “just forgiving.” It’s about processing, dealing with, and forgiving.

If the source of conflict is minor (an irritating habit, being late, viewing things differently) then it may be as much about changing expectations so they’re more realistic and accept your husband’s short-comings as it is about forgiveness. There is an element of forgiveness, however. You may need to forgive him for disappointing you. You may need to forgive him for not holding to his word. You may need to forgive him for not being perfect. Although these instances are generally minor, they add up when they’re held on to.

Even small offenses and conflicts it’s essential to your relationship to forgive and let go. You may need to deal with some of these issues together. You may need to decide that things are the way they are, that they’re not that big of a deal, and choose not to let them bother you. At first letting go even of little things takes a conscious effort and practice. But with practice, forgiving the little things and letting them go becomes easier and easier.

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers overall wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Bigger issues take a little more of a process to forgive. Once the hurt has been acknowledged (which sometimes happens immediately, and at other times happens more slowly), the wrong action that caused the hurt needs to be acknowledged as wrong. Because you choose the past of forgiveness doesn’t mean a wrong action is okay or is to be overlooked. It does mean that you choose not to hold that action against your husband once it’s dealt with and forgiven. If you define who your spouse is by this action, use it to manipulate him, or bring it up at a later time, forgiveness hasn’t occurred. It will likely take discussing the issue with your husband, may take talking it through with a trusted third party (e.g. pastor, counselor), and it will definitely take prayer. The process may be quick, or it may be slow, but it is essential to having a healthy marriage.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flexibility. Another piece to the healthy marriage puzzle is flexibility. If this piece of the puzzle is ignored, this rule broken, your marriage may not be in jeopardy of dissolving, but the joy and rewards of marriage will be stolen from it. Inflexibility, stubbornness, and general “it’s gonna be my way” attitude lead to frustration and conflict. Flexibility, on the other hand, fosters fun and enjoyment in a marriage.

Why is flexibility so important? Simply because a marriage is made up of two people who have their own backgrounds, their own baggage, their own likes and dislikes, their own way of perceiving the world, and their own ideas about, well, everything. All these things that make us who we are and who our husband fell in love with may also irritate him. And vice versa.
One thing I’ve had to learn to be flexible about is being flexible. I’m a planner and an organizer (which should be obvious from chapter one.) I like to have a plan and follow through with it. My husband likes to keep all options open all the time so he can make the best choice when it comes time. Needless to say, this has caused some conflict. Eventually I learned that he told me about upcoming events to keep that option open and he accepted that some things just have to be planned. We both learned to be more flexible in how we perceived plans and met somewhere in the middle.

The areas of potential inflexibility are endless. What types of things are served for dinner, who prepares it, and when it’s served. The level of expected housekeeping and who’s responsible for it. How money is spent. What types of vacations are taken and when. What type of extra-curricular activities are okay and how much is okay (for adults and for children.) How to hand family functions. Like I said, the issues are limitless. We each have our own issues, some more important than others. In choosing to be flexible, you’re not saying that your perspective isn’t important. Or that you aren’t important. What flexibility says is that your relationship is more important than holding fast to your ideas about this particular issue. Some issues are going to be more important to you and you will stand more firmly on those. However, these issues should be carefully considered, chosen wisely, and communicated effectively.

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1

There will be a host of things that you’ll discover aren’t worth arguing over. Having a healthy, joyful relationship with your husband is more important. Does it really matter if the kids drink sweet tea at supper? As long as bills are being paid, does it matter if he splurges at the hardware store once in a while? These are some of the small things that provide opportunities for flexibility. As you become more flexible towards your husband, theoretically he will naturally become more flexible to you. Then you have the wonderful, albeit complex, dance of give and take that can enhance your marriage even more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage V

The tools are first to recognize the differences between the way men and women communicate, second to listen, and third to respect what’s being said. Clarification is also important. As the examples I gave before and plenty you can probably think of make it clear, clarification is very helpful. I often repeat back to my husband what he’s said to me. “So..” and I repeat what I heard. It may sound silly, and sometimes he tells me that all I’m doing is repeating what he said, but it works. I tell him, “just clarifying, honey. Don’t want to misunderstand you.”

I statements are also important in communication. These are statements like, “It upsets me when you’re running late and don’t call,” and “I don’t like it when you ignore me.” The alternative statements that are unhealthy include character attacking and blame-placing. They are statements like, “You’re so inconsiderate and selfish. You can’t even take a second to call when you’re late,” and “You make me crazy when you ignore me.” Positive words and encouragement are also essential elements to healthy communication. That doesn’t mean that you lie, or hold back things that bother you, but that you share those things in as positive a way as possible. It also means that you make a conscious effort to speak words of praise and encouragement to your husband as much as possible. Accusatory, negative and bitter words reek havoc on your relationship. Uplifting, positive and loving words will increase affection between you and your husband. It’s your choice how you use your words. [Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage IV

Another piece of that puzzle is healthy communication. We all have communication issues. Sometimes we feel like we’ve said one thing, while the person we’re talking to has heard something completely different. I remember one time when my husband and I were dating and planned on going to lunch together. I went to meet him at the place we agreed we’d eat at that day, but he never showed up. On my way back to the office I got a call to find out what happened. He’d shown up at my office to pick me up to take me to lunch. We made a commitment to communicate better. That was about 13 years ago. Just the other week I told my husband that the kids and I would be going to a friend’s house and he’d have the evening to himself. When I called him at four in the afternoon to hook up with him for supper he was surprised. He understood that he had the whole day to himself. I’d said “evening.” He’d heard “day.” Obviously, we’re still working on communication.

Healthy communication fosters growth and closeness in any relationship, especially a marriage. However, communication within a marriage is quite possibly the most challenging. Not only do you have to communicate more often than in almost any other relationship, you also have to deal with the dramatically different ways men and women communicate. In their book Men are like Waffles Women are like Spaghetti, Bill and Pam Ferrelll highlight these differences. Their research and years of working with couples taught them that when men start a conversation it’s meant to be about that topic and that topic only. Women, on the other hand, process while talking and think of all the things related to the topic the discussion began with. The best way to deal with the different ways men and women communicate and deal with conversations is to listen. You know, the two ears one mouth thing. We should listen twice as often as we talk. This doesn’t accomplish better communication. It only leads to frustration.

If our men truly say very little compared to us, don’t we want to pay closer attention to them? If they say little they’re going to be choosy about what they say and it will hold more meaning. Listening to him is a form of communication in itself. It communicates that we respect what he has to say. It communicates that we believe what he has to say is valid and important to us. If he feels heard and respected, he’s more likely to tell us more and listen to us when we talk. This is important on surface level communication (details, thoughts, and opinions of life) and essential when communicating on deeper levels (the vulnerable issues of life.) As we communicate on those deeper levels there’s a greater chance for miscommunication and conflict. There’s also a greater chance for deeper intimacy and growth if we utilize healthy communication tools.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage III

The next “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes commitment. Commitment is a characteristic that is not revered in our culture. It is more likely to be made fun of and attributed to inconsequential items. Commercials constantly encourage people to make a lifetime commitment to a brand of car, or phone company, or even a sandwich. In reality of how we live, however, people rarely stay committed to things that really matter. The divorce rate for first marriages has been holding steady at about fifty percent for several decades now. “Til death do us part” has become “until I don’t feel like it anymore.”

Any time we enter into something without the mindset of being committed to it, we are much less likely to put effort into it and much more likely to quit. I remember planning a group with some co-counselors several years back. We discussed offering the group for free or charging a minimal fee. One of the counselors shared a study that found that participants in programs were more likely to attend more sessions and complete the program if they had something invested in it, even if it was just fifteen dollars. The more you have invested in something, the more committed you are to it. The more committed you are to something, the more you’ll invest in it. It’s a positive cycle that holds true in marriage.

The commitment part it your mindset. Most people have the mindset of being committed to their spouse when they get married, or they probably wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. But somehow over time and through difficult circumstances people begin to lose the “forever” mindset and start thinking that it might be better if the marriage ended. As soon as these thoughts start, the spiral towards divorce begins. Even though there is never a point of no return, it’s better to stop the spiral before it gets started.

Everyone has bad days, arguments, and negative thoughts. The key is to focus on the good days, argue less and more effectively, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This is an overflow from having the right perspective, but our thoughts about our spouse and commitment to our marriage are closely linked. If we reaffirm our commitment to our spouse with positive thoughts about our marriage (thinking about the good parts of the marriage, the positive traits of our husband, and the fact that we thought enough about him at one time to make the commitment of a lifetime) we are more likely to put effort into our relationship with him. As we put effort into the relationship, we will begin to reap the rewards of marriage and feel more committed to it. Each of these things are a piece of the puzzle which helps to make up the whole picture of a healthy marriage.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes a proper perspective. Being aware of our thoughts, words, and actions is a large part of having the proper perspective. In the first chapter the importance of being conscience of and choosing a positive perspective was introduced. In the subsequent chapters the concept of perspective has been expanded on. The importance of perspective that we have in any given circumstance and any given relationship cannot be overstated. When looking at people who crumble under difficult circumstances compared to those who seem to persevere and become stronger, the tangible difference is perspective. The same is true for relationships, especially marriages. Marriages don’t fail because someone had an affair, there are financial troubles, or people just grew apart. Marriages fail because husbands and wives began having thoughts like, “I can’t take this anymore,” “I can’t stand the way she…,” “He’ll never change,” or “I’ll never live up to his/her expectations, so why even try.” Instead of brushing these thoughts out the door with the rest of the trash, they were allowed to take root and cultivated, watered and given light to grow until they overtake the healthy, positive thoughts that used to reside in the minds of spouses.

In his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman states it this way. “It’s hardly surprising that what you think about someone often determines how you’ll treat them. But when it comes to marriage, this simple truth has huge consequences. The assumptions you make about your spouse and your relationship can determine the state of your marriage’s health. Marital problems easily arise if your thoughts and feelings are distorted.” So what are distorted thoughts and feelings? How do we know if they’re distorted?

In his book, Gottman gives examples of how given the same situation different people will react differently. Those reactions, whether positive , neutral, or negative, begin in our thoughts. What we think about a person and the situation – what we perceive are the motives and feelings behind what the other person is doing – effects how we will act and react. It’s good to regularly take stock of your relationship with your husband. Are most of your interactions positive or negative? When you think about your husband, do you focus on everything he doesn’t do, or does wrong? Or do you focus on the things he does for you and the kids? When talking about him and to him do you build him up or tear him down? It’s good to ask yourself these questions regularly. As you answer them, measure your answers against a Biblical perspective of marriage. A Biblical perspective can be obtained and maintained through completing women’s Bible Studies and searching scripture for what it has to say about marriage and relationships.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage I

Rules for a Healthy Marriage

The first rule of a healthy marriage is that it takes work. Sometimes marriage takes grueling, sweat-inducing, grimy work. One of the biggest lies that our culture produces and cultivates is that if a relationship is built on true love it will naturally grow and always be wonderful. The problem is that there is only one true love, and that is the love of Christ. Any other love is imperfect. Imperfect people love imperfectly. Times will come when we don’t feel very loved or very much like loving. It’s those times especially that we have a choice to make. We can decide to make the effort and continue to act in loving ways, or we can let our feelings rule our actions. It takes a choice to treat someone in a loving manner when we don’t feel like it. This is when love feels like work. And it is. But just as we are rewarded by other work we do when we don’t feel like it (whether it is actually going to work and getting a paycheck, or cleaning the house and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, or working in the yard and enjoying the beauty of it) we will be rewarded every time we choose to act out of love.

Work in marriage also comes into play because our lives our busy. The first chapter of this book laid the foundation of the importance of prioritizing and focusing on the most important things. In our culture, and especially when children arrive, a healthy, happy marriage will not just happen. It’s very easy to get busy, get distracted and forget to feed your marriage. Working in your marriage, therefore, also means taking time and making time for your marriage. This may mean planning regular dates, turning the TV off once in a while to talk (about big and little things), going for a walk together, sitting down over the budget, giving small gifts, intentionally giving words of affirmation, cooking a favorite meal, or whatever it seems your relationship needs at the moment or on an ongoing basis. Each relationship, just like each person, is unique and has unique needs. But every relationship needs to be cared for and fed.

One additional thing I feel the need to mention in this section is a complaint that women often make. The complaint is: why is it my job to put in all the effort/work into the marriage? The answer is pretty straight forward. It’s not our job as the wife to be the only one working in the marriage. Marriage is made up of two people and takes effort on two people’s part. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is rarely, if ever, a 50-50 venture. When we expect it to be and try to keep score, we generally find ourselves frustrated, upset, and feeling negative about the relationship. We instead would benefit greatly from willingly and joyfully putting effort into our relationship with our husband. This doesn’t absolve him from also putting effort in. But we’re not responsible for what he does. We’re responsible for what we do. We are to make sure that our thoughts, words, and actions are in line with God’s will and word. When we as wives do that, it is amazing how much our feelings and attitude toward our husband will become more and more positive. And as we become more positive in our relationship, invariably, so will our husband.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rewards of Marriage II

The second reward in marriage is companionship. Our husband is supposed to be our companion. Someone to experience life with. Someone to share life with. Someone to hurt when we hurt and rejoice when we rejoice. Someone to hold our hand. Someone to stand in front of us when we need protecting, beside us when we need a friend, and behind us when we need extra support. They are a unique companion, though. Our husband has never been and is never supposed to be a girlfriend. Although we share our lives with him, it is in a unique way. When we marry our relationships with our girlfriends change, which they should. Our husband becomes our primary human relationship. However, we should not try to replace our girlfriends by treating our husband as one. I sometimes find myself sharing something with my husband that he absolutely could not care less about. It’s not because he’s uncaring or callous. It’s just something that doesn’t interest him. This usually happens when I haven’t been spending time with my girlfriends and I’m starved for adult conversation. (So, as you can see, fostering and maintaining your female friendships is actually a benefit to your relationship with your husband.) There are other ways we treat our husband as a girlfriend: in what we expect him to say, how we expect him to act, and some things we expect him to do. Dr. Laura Schlessinger states that the “major mistake women make in communication with their husbands is to imagine that their husbands are supposed to be their girlfriends.” When we do this, we are not respecting who God made this man - as a man and as an individual.

Our culture has become one which consistently demasculinates men. They aren’t respected for their differences, but instead degraded for their differences. Men and women are different. Most people realize this. What they don’t realize is that this is a good thing! I love being a woman and I love that my man is a man. As I’ve learned to accept my husband as he is (not being able to multi-task, not expressing himself verbally, not feeling things the way I do) and celebrate who he is as a man (being really good at concentrating on what he’s doing, wrapping his arms around me when I need it, being steady in almost any given situation) our relationship has grown closer and closer. Because we not only love each other, but also respect each other for who we are, who God made us, the rewards in our marriage have steadily increased.

Marriage can be, and should be, rewarding. However, those rewards don’t come automatically. You don’t have to look far and wide to see marriages in which the husband and/or wife are not reaping the rewards of marriage (even some of those which last a lifetime.) Just as with other things in life, rewards in marriage increase when we follow the plan and the rules. Many of us don’t like rules because we see them as restrictive. But rules, regulations, and laws are put in place for our protection and our benefit. The “rules” of marriage below aren’t meant to be viewed as strict “have to’s” for you to add to any list. On the contrary, they are meant to be keys that will unlock doors to a more rewarding, joyful marriage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rewards of Marriage I

So what are the rewards of marriage supposed to be? Before that question is answered, I will discuss one thing that is not a reward of marriage. Marriage is NOT supposed to be fulfilling. I’m not saying that marriage isn’t supposed to add things to your life, that’s what this whole section is about – what a healthy marriage adds to your life. What I am saying is that if you approach marriage (or any relationship) as starting with an empty cup, expecting your husband (or anyone else) to fill that cup, and keep it filled for the rest of your life, you will be greatly disappointed.

We all remember the famous line the movie Jerry McGuire: “You complete me.” Sentimental. Sweet. Charming. Completely misguided. And dangerous. The idea of needing another person to complete you will always leave you wanting. This is because we are all human and are therefore imperfect. We make mistakes. We hurt the people we love the most. We will not ever be able to provide everything that our loved ones need. To expect to be able to do so, or expect someone else to do so for us, leads us down a path of disillusion and never-ending disappointments. Instead of looking for our husband to complete us, we need to look to Christ to define who we are, to provide everything we need, and fill us up. We are to see our husband as a wonderful addition to our lives. He’s the icing on the cake.

My husband gave me the perfect Valentine’s card the first two years we were dating (yes, he gave me the same card two years in a row; without realizing it.) It talked about being perfect for each other because we complimented each other. And that’s how relationships are supposed to be. Complimentary. Thus, the first reward of marriage is not completing each other, but complimenting each other. My husband and I balance each other out very well – I have the personality tests to prove it. I am very organized (when my case of mommy brain isn’t too severe) and my husband is very flexible and spontaneous. I feel things very deeply, my husband thinks things through in a very logical way. We both love being around other people, and we both love being alone. As we have learned to appreciate and cooperate with each other in our differences instead of looking at them in a negative light, we have reaped the rewards of living in compliment to each other.

It is sometimes frustrating, however, in instances such as when I want the kids in bed on time and he’s enjoying a romp on the floor with them. On the other hand, he’s also helped me to stop watching the clock and doing chores and get on the floor for a good tickling match, too. We do sometimes clash in how we see things and how we want things done, but those are the things we work out in love. “Wives need to remind themselves that when their husbands do something differently from how they would do it themselves, it does not constitute a breach of sanity or a display of contempt, it is merely a different way to do something.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Great Christmas Book for Kids

The good books just keep on coming. This one is perfect as a Christmas present for the little ones in your life.

I'm always looking for Biblically based Christmas stories for my children. I am thrilled with Little Star by Anthony Destefano, as it gives a fresh and creative perspective on the birth of Jesus.

Tears came to my eyes when I came to the part of the story where the star gets it. "... Little Star was the only one to understand the king's message. His message was love." What a wonderful way to capture the purpose behind this once ever event.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Secrets to a Great Marriage

This is mainly for married women, but not just for married women. There are many things I learned about being a wife that I wished I had learned before I became one. In the more than seven years that I was in relationship with my husband before he became my husband I did and said many destructive things. I am very fortunate (and grateful) that God taught me early in my marriage what His perspective and expectations are about my attitude, words, and actions towards my husband. As with anything, it is a journey. There are days when my heart is in the right place and there are days when it is not. As I strive to follow God’s regulations for my marriage I have seen and tasted the wonderful rewards of having a Godly perspective on my marriage and of my husband. I love my husband more today than I ever thought possible.
Does it really matter? Some people may ask. With the number of single parent families today, is a healthy marriage really important to moms and their children?

The answer, unequivocally, is YES. Study after study has shown that a healthy marriage has a huge positive impact on children.

Rewards of a Healthy Marriage
Marriage is supposed to be rewarding. Marriage is supposed to be fun. Marriage is supposed to be full of love. I am often completely amazed at what God has done in my marriage. Not that it has ever been tumultuous. It’s never been rocky or in danger of ending. I can honestly say that we’ve never been even close to that point. On the contrary, by the grace of God, as good as it was in the beginning, it has steadily gotten better. My heart often overflows with love for my husband and I sit in awe at the increase of love God has added to my marriage. I never imagined that I would love my husband more and more as time passed in our marriage. I’ve seen too many marriages fall apart and studied marriage enough to know that of love does not always increase.

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.

Don’t get me wrong, however. I’ll never claim that my marriage is perfect. Of course it isn’t – it’s made up of two sinful, imperfect people. There have been bad moments and bad days. There are still times when I’m not really happy with my husband and he’s not really happy with me. But we have learned to work through those moments and those days and grow together. We have learned that it’s more important to focus on what’s going right than what we’re doing wrong. And we’ve learned that it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship, especially with several small children. We’ve also learned that putting the effort into our marriage is worth it. The rewards far outweigh the costs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A book to buy, read, and give away

As you can tell by now, I’m an avid reader and love sharing great books with others. Sometimes, I wish I could by 20 copies of a great book and hand them out at will. The most recent book put in my hands is one of those. It is “On This Day in Christian History” by Robert J. Morgan. This daily devotional is full of history briefs of saints, martyrs, and heroes. Some of them, you’ve probably heard of. Others will be completely new. All of the stories are interesting, encouraging, and inspiring. The book holds true to its promise.

If you ever doubt that God does amazing things with ordinary people, this book will convince you otherwise. These 365 stories, each highlighting a different individual who lived radically for God, are about ordinary people. It tells of people born in every type of circumstance and living during all time periods, dating back to the second century.

The key theme is that anyone can live a life that shines for God. The history that is included in the stories, how individuals fit into changes in the church, reformations, and missions, is an added bonus. This book is well written and the only problem is you won’t want to stop at reading one a day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Addressing our Hubbies

As I write this I want to let you know that I am well aware that there are moms that will be reading this whom are in all sorts of situations. Many moms are married to the man they were married to before they had children. Many moms are married to a man who is not the father of their children. Many moms aren’t married due to divorce, death or other circumstances. Many moms are married but separated for a variety of reasons. Our family and marital situations are as varied as our personalities are. As we begin to talk about our other relationships, especially our most important earthly relationship, my goal is to encourage you in the relationships you have. I hope to help you to understand the importance of relationships built on Biblical principles. I hope to provide a view of relationships that shows they are meant to benefit us as moms, those we’re in relationships with, and our children.

We’ve talked about the importance of friendships with other moms (and girlfriends.) There, I believe, the foundation for the blessings of such relationships was laid. God created us as relational beings and we are to thrive and grow through and in our relationships. Our female friends are an important part of our lives. They help keep us on track, support us, and increase the joy we experience in life. As important and beneficial as our girlfriends are to our lives, our husband should be much more. Our relationship with our husband, for those who have one, should be our highest priority human relationship, but too often it is not.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

It breaks my heart how often I hear women say negative things about and to their husbands. Other women don’t speak badly to or about their husbands, but don’t pay a lot of attention to them either. Many women are so involved in their careers and/or their children that they don’t foster and enjoy their marital relationship. It often seems as if husbands are extraneous, attested to by the attitudes of many wives, the divorce rate, and the number of women choosing to have children without an involved father. Please know that I understand that there are women who really are in bad marriages, women whom have very legitimate reasons to get out of a marriage, and women who find themselves in bad situations. My heart is not to pour condemnation on anyone who has ended up in any of these circumstances. There is just a trend that has happened in our culture which has had severe negative effects on us collectively and individually. And I believe, that one by one, in making sure that we shift our perspectives to be Biblical, we can begin to experience the fruit and blessings of healthy, loving relationships with our husband.
 

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