Thursday, February 14, 2013

Set Your Anchor- Part Two

I started yesterday writing out what Daniel and I feel helps make our marriage tick and keep ticking. You can find 1-7 here which was Daniel's list, and I elaborated on. 8-16 is my addition to 'The List'

8. Pray for your spouse, pray with them, and pray for yourself as a spouse
9. Say you're sorry
10. Forgive
11. Look nice
12. Date
13. Anniversary trips
14. Don't let anyone in the bubble of you and your spouse
15. Time/Share
16. Be financially wise

 8. Pray for your spouse. You won't believe what that does for you and them. You are lifting them up to God and you are pouring your heart out for them. When I bring Daniel to God in prayer I am showing him ultimate love and because of that, my love for him literally grows and strengthens for him. Pray for their heart, their mind, their spiritual walk, pray for what is troubling them, pray for peace, pray for wisdom, patience- it's endless. Lift your spouse up to God and God will honor it.
Philippians 4:6 "Don't worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask & pray. Give thanks to Him."
Pray with them- this intimate time solidifies the base on which our marriage stands. We show our vulnerability as we share our needs and lift them up and we see theirs. We make an invitation for God to enter into our presence and bless our relationship. It brings glory to God, and God will honor it.
Matthew 18:20 "Where two or three people meet together in my name, I am there with them." 
Pray for yourself. I ask that God helps me be a good wife, for guidance, patience, compassion, for love and to help me be someone who lifts my husband up. When we ask God to help US be the good spouse we become more aware of hearts and minds so we can slowly but surely move towards the goal of being a good spouse. And guess what.... God will honor it.

9. Say you're sorry.
This is so huge. Matthew 3:2 "Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repent you! For your marriage is at hand! A world of difference can be made when we say we are sorry. It turns the whole fight upside down. If I am in the wrong I am very quick to say I am sorry- usually- I try. If I am not in the wrong- sometimes I just apologize anyway! Maybe about my actions towards being upset or whatever the situation was- it brings peace to us automatically. Sometimes I want Daniel to say he's sorry and he isn't planning it- but if I apologize he will apologize back. Bring peace, suck it up and say you're sorry.

10. Forgive 
Luke 17:4 "Suppose he sins against you seven times in one day. And suppose he comes back to you each time and says, 'I'm sorry.' FORGIVE HIM."
Oooooooh how the bible is just filled with repentance and forgiveness and telling us to forgive. It is incredibly hard at times to let go- especially if it's a constant thing you find yourself forgiving. But such a wonderful verse Jesus gives us when he gives a limit to how many times we should forgive- He say's there is no limit. He didn't give us one, and oooooh how many times we have done a constant thing to Him we need forgiveness for. The hard part of forgiving is the emotional letting it go and NOT bringing it back up- into your mind or out in the open as a means to hurt your spouse. Thank God that He doesn't do that to us. So we must try our best to do the same.

11. Look Nice
When we were dating I can't count how many times I brushed my teeth in a day, checked my hair and spent hours styling it nice. Picking out an outfit, doing my makeup just right. Then we got married. And I couldn't keep myself looking constantly at my best and began to not care as much. I still care! I do. But some days not so much. But I try to make myself still look good for Daniel. I want him to know I still care about what he thinks of me and myself. I'm telling him he is still worth it. And keeping an attraction to each other is a big deal!

12. Date
Daniel and I did a lot of things together as far as going out when we got married. It was easy to still do. We gave each other time and went out and made an occasion of it. It was special.
When we had kids that's when dating got hard. It had to become intentional. Pick a day and time out so we can get a sitter. It's even more special. We are so busy with kids and we seem to revolve around them. It's important to step away from feeling revolved and revolve around just us again. It strengthens our relationship, it gives us personal time, it gives us intimacy that we just don't get whenever we want anymore. Taking time away out of each of our busy days tells the other that they are still very valuable to us and still desired.

13. Anniversary Trips
I told Daniel when we were engaged that I wanted us to do something every EVERY anniversary, to get out of town and celebrate. It is one of the biggest things for us that strengthens our relationship. Our time away from our home, our distractions, our children, our pups and just being completely focused on each other and ONLY each other... it's like a honeymoon every year. It is like a refreshing and a renewing over us and we feel like newlyweds! Take time out, and not just date time but a weekend trip, or a week trip and enjoy each other all over again like you did when you first met.
Also we make small guidelines- very limited electronics... like the only reason we keep our phones on is in case my mom needs to contact us about our girls. It's just to guarantee our time is utilized at it's best.

14. Don't let anyone is your bubble- Daniel and I have a bubble and you are not allowed in. Just like we aren't allowed in yours. It's a two person bubble. No one else should be in it besides God who is the bubble maker. Is this making sense? haha. I'm basically saying, anyone who talks negatively about my husband, who tries to bring me down about our marriage, anything that would make me feel anything less of my husband or marriage has entered our bubble and is squeezing  their way in between us, even if that's not their real intent- it is what it is. And so that thing or person needs to be removed immediately. Either by setting them in their place or removing them permanently. If you aren't lifting our marriage up then I'm afraid you don't belong and that's how you ought to be too.

15. Time/Sharing-
Honestly this falls into communication. I like to share my walk spiritually, or share my thoughts randomly- usually right when we get into bed which is bad timing cause that's when Daniel can't keep his eyes or ears open to listen to me. Nevertheless. I share my time and things that happen in my day etc. and so will Daniel. It just another block that helps build and keep our building of a relationship secure.

16. Be Financially Wise.
1 Timothy 6:10 "Love for money causes all kinds of evil. Some people want to get rich. They have wandered away from the faith. They have wounded themselves with many sorrows."
Thank goodness Daniel is in charge of our finances cause if I find a penny I WILL find a way to spend it! We discuss our finances together- where are money is going, where it's being saved, we save up for events, we stay out of debt as much as possible with credit cards and pay them off as soon as possible if we use them. When we are smart with our money then we aren't stressing about it and if we aren't stressing then it's not stressing on our marriage- it's not a source of frustration, anger or fear.

I'm adding one more... Talk about the future. It brings hope, it gives us expectations of good things to come. We share our hopes and wants for the future and we plan our hopes and dreams with each other. It will bring light to what may sometimes seem like a black tunnel. Hope.

There is SO much that can help make a marriage tick. These are just some of the major things that help us. I hope it helps you or someone you may know.
Daniel and I have what I would call 'Invisible Rules' it's not something we ever sat down and did major discussion on or wrote in stone. But it's rules we follow in our marriage.
We respect each other
We are kind to each other
We don't swear or use any profanity
We find ways to help each other
We are courteous
We try to have fun and laugh often
We take turns with not so fun things we have to do
We believe in the coventant of marriage and that it should not be broken
We have promised to do counseling before we ever let our marriage walk on the edge of falling apart

I sometimes wonder if it would help couples who are struggling to maybe make a 'Visual Rules' list to help get through tough times and rules to keep their relationship going. If you need to, sit down and write out the rules, maybe not bring up something that will obviously start a fight. Or if one of you want to talk the rule is the other one should be ready to sit and listen so there is no running from a needed conversation. Don't place blame rule. Whatever may help keep a fragile relationship bandaged and from knocking over and breaking.

Again, marriage is beautiful partnership, it's a blessing and brings an enahancement to ones life. It brings out the best and wost in us. It refines us. Marriage is unity- it's a perfect promise that is forever. It's a house with many parts that keeps it together, secure and from falling apart.

I don't claim to have the perfect marriage- we don't always communicate the best, I'm not the best listener, we don't always pray. But we're trying, everyday we keep going and pushing to keep our boat going.

And again it IS possible to make through any trial and any storm, you just need the right boat..
You have to have the right boat- God.
The right sail, your persistence.
The right rudder, your tongue.
And right navigation- His Word.

And the anchor is your heart- it's your beloveds and it should not be moved.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Set Your Anchor

Today my husband brought me home a cookie.

If I had to choose over flowers or a cookie... I choose the cookie. He knows me so well.

I was thinking about us and how our marriage ticks, what helps it tick and why after six years (which may be short to some or long) we still laugh, love and are best friends.

Last night in bed I thought about what is it that we hold valuable in our marriage that makes it strong. Then I asked Daniel what he thought. I asked, "If you were asked to give advice or pointers to a young man getting ready to get married, what would you tell them?"

He (eventually) numbered off;
1. Communicate
2. Listen
3. Make your spouse feel desired and needed
--He later added this evening
4. Watch out for pits
5. Always remember the Knight and Princess
6. You will learn patience- so be patient
7. Hold on and hold on tight song

My addition to that was/is;
8. Pray for your spouse, pray with them, and pray for yourself as a spouse
9. Say you're sorry
10. Forgive
11. Look nice
12. Date
13. Anniversary trips
14. Don't let anyone in the bubble of you and your spouse
15. Time/Share
16. Be financially wise

1. Communication is most likely every ones number one, yet one of the hardest things to do sometimes. 
The bible talks about speaking from the very first chapter of the bible. God spoke and it was. Words can build up and can tear down, words tie us together and expresses the depths of our hearts. We need our words to bind our relationships together and we need to be wise with our tongue, because words once spoken cannot be taken back. It should be used in a gracious way.
Colossians 4:6 "Let the words you speak always be full of grace. Seasoned them with salt. Then you will know how to answer everyone."
Daniel and I express with our words, even when mad or angry at each other, in a graceful way. We start our words by not placing blame but expressing our feelings and why we have them.
Communication is like a tennis match, you can't have a game and you can't have a solid and fair resolution if someone isn't hitting the ball back.
So speak full of grace and enhance your grace with salt to one another.

2. Listen. So much easier said than done. I seriously have a Attention Deficit issue and Daniel is very forgiving of me for it and I am sorry for it. He is an amazing listener and I appreciate being heard.
We all want to be heard, but guess what, so does your spouse. If we don't listen to our spouse we can't learn their wants and their desires, we wont know what needs to be done to help them tick. They wont feel wanted and the words will stop coming out if they keep falling on deaf ears- thus communication will end.
Proverbs 4:1 "My children, listen to a father's teaching. Pay attention and gain understanding."
We won't gain anything if we don't listen.

3. Make your spouse feel desired and needed.
Song of Solomon 2:10 "Rise up, my love. Come with me, my beautiful one."
It felt like that when you were proposed to huh? Or the one proposing. You felt desired and you desired your spouse. You were ready to go anywhere with them and start a new life at any moment with them. I tried to talk Daniel into eloping with me. To just run away together in the dark of the night and not have to wait for family and friends to witness our marriage. I was half joking. Our roots are deep now so just up and leaving isn't really possible. But I wouldn't go anywhere without him, and he wouldn't go anywhere without me. I would follow wherever he goes and he will follow me. We still desire one another.
It helps that when you feel like you're the one being desired- to desire them as well. So if you feel undesired- and you know you can make that feeling of being desired mutual, work on desiring them first and they will too communicate that back and you can begin to rekindle the flame.

4. Watch out for pits! 
Don't let yourself get too distracted with other things outside of your spouse. TV's, phones, computers are huge distractions that can consume our time. Other hobbies that overrule our time with our spouse can become idols. These things aren't evil but they can be if you put them before your wife or husband. So just watch it. And make some changes if you need to, or guidelines.
5. The Knight in shinning armor and the captivating princess
Psalms 18:2 "The Lord is my rock and my fort. He is the One who saves me. My God is my rock. I go to him for safety. He is like a shield to me. He's my place of safety."
Women want to feel safe. Men want to bring safety. Women want to be saved. Men want to save.
God represents His love many times as a bridegroom to His bride- His people, His children, His church.
He wants to save us and we want to be saved. Just as a real bride feels the same desire of safety. Just as real groom desires to bring safety.
When we keep this idea of the knight and princess it parallels in our marriage- to treat your wife like a Princess, to protect her, love her and keep her safe. And your husband a Knight, to trust him, follow him and respect him.

6. You will learn to be patient. Hopefully. Because if you don't you're in trouble. After the dating and honeymoon phase wears off, we can find ourselves seeing that cute chewing sound they make when they eat, isn't quite so charming. Or the messy side of your girlfriend made her seem ditsy and fun- but now she's your messy wife (sorry Daniel). Our endless patience can start to wear away.
You will ultimately learn about being patient as we get irritable, or impatient, or when you have kids! That was the real patience pusher for us.
So be patient!! Have grace and then COMMUNICATE it!

7. Hold on and hold on tight
Song Of Solomon 8:6 "Hold me close to your heart like the seal around your neck. Keep me close to yourself like the ring on your finger. My love for you is so strong it won't let go. Love is as powerful as death. Love's jealousy is as strong as the grave. Love it like a blazing fire. It burns like a mighty flame."
Psalms 63:8 "I hold on to you. Your powerful right hand takes good care of me."
When you find something good, you hang on to it. There may come a day when it may feel like that good thing isn't good anymore, or you're in that day. There was a day when it was good. Hang on to that, keep hanging on and hang on tight. Don't let a cool wind blow between you but keep the flame going. Even a spark can set a forest ablaze. Hold on.

I'm going to let that set in and finish off the other half tomorrow.

I really hope, in some ways, this can encourage others or help in some way if you need it. Or save it for a rainy day.

Marriage is precious, spectacular, an incredible ride and LOTS of work. It peels away at us showing our faults and our impurities. It brings out the worst and the best. It is possible to make it through any situation, any burden, season or storm.
You have to have the right boat- God.
The right sail, your persistence.
The right rudder, your tongue.
And right navigation- His Word.