Written by: Gay Idle
We all long to have a relationship with the one person with whom we will feel safe, secure, accepted, respected, cherished, wanted, and encouraged to be all we can be...shall I go on? Most seem to be either looking to find that ideal relationship or longing for it while feeling stuck in one that doesn't seem to live up to any of those expectations.
So many people I know see more faults than strengths in the person they have chosen to spend the rest of their life with. It's amazing to me that we can think positively in so many other areas of our lives…even giving most friends the courtesy of trying to think the best of them in the most trying of circumstances...yet when it comes to our spouse...we turn into "negative Nellie's". As a result, so many women, and men jump ship before really trying to figure out what is going on in their relationship.
If you want to have a good relationship, a ten...then don't be a five...what are you bringing to your relationship? Maybe we should put into practice the verse that is referred to as the golden rule..."Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Luke 6:31. As clinical psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud says, " If we want the great things that relationships offer-like love, security, and growth-then we have to be capable of building love, providing security, and fostering growth. When we are, we can have the relationships we want. Until we are, great relationships will elude us.". That’ll preach! Imagine if we all took those words to heart and acted on them. All men and women...wow...can you imagine the results?
If you are single and looking for "the one", don't allow all of your energy to be focused on the pursuit. Your energy needs to be focused on "being" the one. Pay attention to the person you are becoming. Do you have healthy relationship skills, healthy coping skills? Work on developing skills that will give you the kind of relationship you want. Yes, it is important to find the right person, but if you are not the right person you will just bring the other one down to your level. "Relationships fail when the skills to make them work are not present in one or both of the people involved."~ Dr. Henry Cloud,
If you are married please know that I am not saying that if you work on yourself and practice treating your spouse the way you would want to be treated then all your marital problems will be solved. I know that it takes more than one to make marriage work. But you do have to start with you. In your relationship with your spouse, the only one you have control over is you.
I have said this many times as I have taught and counseled women throughout the years...we cannot be our husband’s Holy Spirit! Last time I checked that job has already been filled by One who is so much more capable and powerful in His influence than we could ever hope to be.
So what do we do?
Go humbly before God and ask for His wisdom and His knowledge in how best to grow in your relationship with God and in your relationship with your spouse. This is not a once-and-done deal. I’ve been praying for the entire 40 years of my marriage. I have learned that I can better love my spouse, and be more loveable when my relationship with God is my #1 priority.
Make sure you are taking the time to connect with each other. Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and needs honestly and take the time to listen to his needs. You don’t have to be in complete agreement on every issue. Pick your battles wisely and learn to agree to disagree when necessary.
Stop expecting your spouse to think the way you do. God created each of you to be unique in so many ways. Learn how those differences can complement one another instead of competing against one another. Side note: No one can read your mind…not even your spouse. You need to let them know how and what you are thinking. Assumptions can be the cause of many an argument.
Want to feel more connected to your spouse? Make a habit of expressing thankfulness to your spouse for those things they do that you appreciate. Focus on those positive aspects of your relationship. Gratefulness breeds contentment. It’s so easy to see the things in your spouse that drive you crazy…all the quirks and irritating habits, traits, etc…but if you don’t have the power to change those things (and you don’t), then quit pointing them out to them and to yourself. Practice gratitude. Sometimes we have to dig to find the gold, but unless you are married to a narcissistic psychopath…it’s there. Just keep digging.
Life happens…there will be lots of ups and downs. Just when you feel settled, you move. Just when you get used to having kids around all.the.time. They move out…and then you miss having them around.
Don’t stay stuck in past memories. Yes, revisit those memories from time to time. The good memories are nostalgic and the bad memories taught us lessons that were needed…but either way…don’t stay stuck in your memories. Move forward. Marriage is meant to be lived. All living things change. Adapting to change builds resilience in your marriage. Change brings adventure!
Not one of us operates in perfection. Mistakes happen. Sins are committed against one another. Slights occur. Grievances can be seared into our souls. I for one am so thankful that not only can I forgive, but I can be forgiven. We need to learn to let go of our grudges and work together to move forward. Forgiveness can be a hard issue. I’ve written an entire article about this…here’s an excerpt from the article entitled, Forgiveness…Why So Hard?
When you refuse to forgive you are giving the person who hurt you permission to hurt you all over again...in your mind, your memory. Every. single. time. you dredge up the offense you are allowing yourself to be hurt all over again. Bitterness becomes embedded into your heart and soul and becomes a heavy burden.
You see...when we forgive we are not letting the person get away with anything. We are not setting the offender free! It's okay to hold someone accountable that you have already forgiven. It is even okay, to set boundaries so that you cannot be wounded by that person in the same way again. However, it is NOT okay to hang onto the anger, bitterness, and hurt for the rest of your life.
Practice forgiveness with your spouse. Forgiveness restores marriages. Forgiveness restores your soul and gives you hope for a better future and opens the way for a deep and abiding love.
But…you may say, what if my spouse is not cooperating in all this?
Sometimes it’s necessary to take more extreme measures. So, with the help of godly counsel, we create the crisis that may be needed to nudge our spouse to wake up to the fact that they have married a daughter of the KING OF KINGS, who is worthy of his adoration, respect, love, protection...need I go on?
What are you looking for in order to be happy and content in your marriage? Where do you place all your expectations? On you, or your spouse? Should we be expecting our significant other to complete us?
My husband is fond of pointing out my very own words on this matter. Words I once blurted out to him earlier in our marriage in frustration, "I can't be your everything...I will never be the one to completely fulfill you, nor should I try to be...only God can do that."
Are you allowing God to fill in the empty spaces? Those spaces are God-shaped holes and no human being on this earth will ever be able to completely fill them up. So let your spouse off the hook and let God, in His perfect love and compassion, complete you.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love" ~ GOD (Jeremiah 31:3)
Written by: Alexandria Brown
I recently watched a short that was going around the gram and it was talking about how marriage is not a 50/50 pursuit. It spoke on how the idea that the load of life and love and everything in between should always be split 50/50 is a lie. This was so contrary to everything I had ever been taught and yet what the lady spoke was leaking wisdom all over the place.
Now, I don’t know if she was a Christ follower or not, but when the lady in the video spoke something connected in my head and in my heart. She spoke about how sometimes her or her spouse just have nothing left. The day, the circumstances, the experiences and expectations have just taken most or all that they had. At the end of the day they could never even try to muster up 20 let alone 50/50. And so that’s what they did…they started putting a number to it and recognizing it out loud to each other.
Sometimes the husband would come home beat up and tore down and say he has 30 or 40 and she would muster up the 70 or 60. Other times She would come home and say she has 10, he would come up with the 90. I think you get the picture.
After seeing this video I began thinking about it throughout the evening and there was such a release in my spirit. The Bible says, “Though one may be overcome, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecc 4:12. Marriage is a partnership, but what happens when one of the partners are to weak to stand?
More often than I would like to admit, I find myself frustrated and overwhelmed with all of the tasks at hand. Annoyed that all of the things that I want done are not done and instead of my honey do list getting shorter it only gets longer (my own fault).
Have you ever noticed that when you are already frustrated you notice more things that frustrate you? You come home and you see that the house is a mess. Then you start to notice the clothes all over the floor and then you notice the yard need mowed and on and on and on...Not you? Just me?
What you focus on expands. When I am busy focusing on the things that need to get done all I can see are things that should be done and aren’t which in turn only creates more frustration and irritation. I miss all of the things that have been done, and more importantly I miss the person right in front of me! I’m so concerned with what he has not done that I miss what I should be, could be doing. I miss the opportunity to love him right where he is at.
Marriage has never been about fixing your spouse despite what many people believe. Instead, it should about growing yourself. Allowing God to build and grow your character and heal you from past wounds to reveal the person you were created to be.
When I am walking out MY identity the way God intended I no longer see the flaws and annoyances, rather I see my husband the way God sees my husband. Through love and compassion. It is then that I am able to see beyond the clothes on the floor and the honey do list to the brave, courageous, strong, provider and leader that he is. It’s about making me better. It’s about being there for the person, our person. It’s about loving each other enough to lift each other up not shove each other down. When we both are striving to out love each other, that’s when we truly win.
So whether or not you decided to implement the number system or something else is up to you. I want to encourage you to find a way. Let’s get rid of the 50/50 mindset and begin to speak into your husband. Pray over your husband. Encourage your husband. We are women and we are strong. We don’t need permission to try and love our husbands better, we just find a way. It doesn’t have to be perfect. YOU, you don’t have to be perfect! And when we start to show up in a new way in our marriage watch God bless that sister! Give the Lord permission to to help you become a better wife and ask Him to reveal to you how He sees your husband and watch Him do mighty things in your marriage.
Love you Sis,
Written by: Tanya Glanzman
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
She sat before me visibly working through her thoughts as she spoke them aloud.
“I mean, what’s the point?” she said.
I sat quietly, contemplating her question. A woman who had been previously wounded in a relationship. Now older, wiser and more fiercely guarded, all too familiar with the potential fatalities of the heart that can occur with a failed marriage. Fear and desperation mingled as she weighed out the pros and cons of remarrying to someone that she loved and enjoyed and who wanted to marry her. He was ready to move forward in their level of commitment, she wasn’t sure.
She continued, “We are already together, marriage just seems to make it complicated.” Her tone pleaded with me to see things her way…to agree.
“Marriage is complicated,” I responded. I didn’t want to dismiss her understandable caution or dismiss her valid concerns.
Marriage is hard.
Marriage is messy.
Marriage is vulnerable.
Marriage is oh- so- very public and private all at the same time.
An agreement between two individuals to become one flesh.
To do life together through life together. It’s agreeing to go on a trip with someone when you have an idea of where you’re going but aren’t exactly sure how to get there or what obstacles you will encounter along the way while not having enough room to accommodate all the baggage that each of you possess. Bags that must be unpacked, repacked, re-arranged…some completely have to go.
Marriage is work.
Work to heal.
Work to grow.
Work to compromise.
Work to forgive over and again.
Once I could tell that she was finished pouring out her heart I responded the best I knew how.
“There is no other relationship on earth in which we experience the depth of intimacy, vulnerability, forgiveness, and commitment as we do when we are married and are doing marriage God’s way. Marriage is our opportunity to experience God’s love, mercy, grace, and commitment with and through another human being. The covenant of marriage and the gut-level commitment therein both refines and redeems us if we allow it in a way that a relationship not bound by covenant cannot. Marriage is God’s plan, and his plan is always for our best.”
I spoke from experience, one of the very best teachers outside of the Holy Spirit.
Married at 19 I married my husband not because I loved him (honestly, I didn’t have the slightest idea what love was), but because I so desperately wanted to be loved…to be chosen.
I was a broken, wounded little girl in a woman’s body who carried into marriage baggage overflowing with the remnants of a childhood filled with abhorrent abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
This September we will have been married 27 years. It’s been a journey of seasons. A journey of learning to love and be loved the way Jesus intended.
Learning to be loved has been by far the most difficult lesson for me. Fear kept me prisoner for far too long in my own cage of intimacy isolation. I believed that I could only be hurt to the depth that I let my husband into the sacred spaces of my heart. Self- isolation offered the façade of safety, protection, and control. For many years he stood on the outside of my soul peeking in the window…knocking on the door. Doing everything he knew to prove to me that he did love me, that I was worth loving and that he longed and desired a greater level of intimacy on all levels than I had been yet willing to allow. He was given the enormous task of disproving everything my life before him had taught me to be true.
He waited patiently for a long time. He persevered. He endured.
It wasn’t until a season of tremendous vulnerability, weakness and surrender that I found the courage to open my soul’s doors and windows allowing the fresh breeze of His love to flow freely. I was too tired to hold them shut any longer.
He has loved me like Jesus. Undeniably, completely, and fully. And through the redemptive nature of God’s love flowing through him, I have learned to love him in return.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
In this learning to be loved by my husband I too have learned to be loved on a deeper level by my God. So many similarities exist between these two most significant relationships in my life.
I know that as deep and wide as I am loved by this man I affectionally refer to as my Beloveder, his love is only a mere reflection of the love of the One who loves me best and knows me most…the one who refers to me as His BELOVED.
My husband, like my God, loved me first. In all of my brokenness, all of my inadequacy, all of my me-ness. They both loved me before I knew what it was to love, before I knew how to love them back. I learned love through them.
In both of these relationships, it was me that had to be willing to receive the gift that was being offered. Seems like it would be a no-brainer, right? To receive the gift of being loved?
The cost, however, was dear.
For me, learning to be loved meant…
Choosing to trust
Choosing to believe that both my God and my husband had a heart that was for me
Choosing to believe that what I had been told previously about love was a lie
Being willing to re-learn what I thought I knew and then
Learn to trust
Not to hide
To live fully in love means to live free.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
Let’s pray together….
Father, thank you that you have given us the ability to learn and re-learn. Thank you for truth that sets us free. Thank you, Father, for the ability to grow and change and heal. Thank you for the courage to live authentically, vulnerably and fearlessly so that we are able to experience your love and the love of the one you gave us to love in the way that you intended.
Written by: Olivia Caldwell
It happened relatively quickly. At first, I was busy. Just so busy, you know? And then I was distracted. And this busy-ness and distracted-ness kind of just snowballed into an apathy that seemed almost uncontrollable. Like, I knew what I should do and what I previously had wanted to do- but then I would distract myself. On purpose.
It was dumb, really. It should have bothered me more that I didn't want to do the things I had done at first, but in the moment, it was like I couldn't care enough. Those things felt like work. Like it would cost me something. Like it would require my full attention, all of me, and I didn't feel like I had it to give.
And eventually, because of my negligence and hiding behind all of the things, there was something like a wall built. Like I built it myself and I was ashamed I had built it but I had- brick by brick, one small choice on top of another and another and another. So when I finally recognized how far things had gone, it seemed that I had blown it.
How do I come back from this?
What do I do with this wall?
A few weeks ago, I read this passage: “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13). And I prayed it, you know? Earnestly prayed: “Lord, don't let my love grow cold. Help me to endure to the end.”
It honestly is terrifying how quickly and how easily a love can grow cold.
Just like how spreading a bit of mortar here and laying a brick there, bit by bit, results in that wall, so are our 'small' choices. Like being busy and distracted are a foundation of sorts and then we're just slinging brick and mortar with every additional thing we are throwing ourselves into and every desire of our flesh we are gratifying.
We believe the lie that to be uncomfortable, to die to ourselves and to make a 'costly' choice is worse than attempting to rebuild a divide that Jesus paid the highest price to tear down once and for all. We should be rejoicing in the finished work of the cross- and whether we realize it or not, those times where something else has captured our time and attention more than Jesus pours out such a disdain and contempt, even, for Jesus and all He has done.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)
The really great thing is that anything that we build with our human hands is nothing compared to the King of kings, Who already took care of every sin and every bit of shame. He is moved with compassion if ever we get stuck in any variation of the love-grown-cold cycle.
It's right there: remember, repent and do the works you did at first. It is that simple.
What was that love like at first? Do you remember? The delight and the joy and the running toward the Lord. The zeal and the intention and the purposing of your heart, the positioning of yourself at His feet with a hunger and an eagerness.
Did you feel bound then? Was there any reluctance or begrudging or obligation? Did anything else seem more appealing or important?
Oh, God, forgive us! Oh, Lord, we repent! Teach us and equip us to beat our flesh into submission. Replace the lamps of our first love! Remind us of the works we did at first and show us how You would have us put those works into action now.
The Lord can set you free right now and anytime that you find your love growing cold and your lamp running out of oil. And as He warms our hearts and sets us ablaze, just full up of His love, we can then love others well, with His love. It is only then that we can do this rightly.
We are doing two specific heart checks today, love. How can I love the Lord my God with all of my heart and my soul and my strength, with a first love kind of love? And how can I then love my spouse?
If we can so easily abandon the love we had at first with the Perfect and Holy One, the One who is most worthy of all our love, how easy is it then to abandon the love we had at first with our spouse? How easy would it be to build that same wall? To slip into being busy and distracted? To slip into complacency? How scarily easy could it be to cease pursuing and lavishing?
Or worse, then. As the bricks go up, could we grow in indifference? In disdain? Our first love becoming utterly unrecognizable?
Far be it from us, Lord.
Once we have completed a heart inventory with the Lord, we must allow Him to also speak to us and to sift us regarding our marriages. This is the one that God has gifted us. This is the one we have become one with. Are we filled with gratitude? With wonder over the joy and comfort and security and intimacy and even sanctification that has come wrapped up in the gift that our spouse is?
Maybe today you just need that fire stoked. Maybe today you need that wall to be demolished in one fell swoop. Maybe today you need to allow the Lord to tend to your heart, to offer up to Him anything you may be carrying, to release it and to allow His healing to overwhelm you.
Maybe today you need a miracle, because you are barely hanging on. If you're going to let go, then lift those hands in surrender to the One who is mighty to save.
Wherever you are today, dear one, things are not too far gone. It is not too late and it is not too big for our God. Sit before Him right now and make note of the things that come pouring out of you. Write down the date and the time, even. Wait and watch.
First love is being restored.
Lord, I pray that over my sister reading this. Lord, specifically in her marriage, would you come and do a mighty work? Father, I ask that You would reveal to her any areas in her heart that You are wanting to come in and cleanse. I ask that You would purge anything that may have built up over time. I ask that You would heal her heart, transform her mind and open her eyes and ears to see and to hear the Truth that You are leading her into in a specific area. Lord, would you renew and restore? In the name of Jesus, would you grant a love for You and a love for her husband that is beyond compare? Speak to her what things she did at first that You would have her go and do now- and Lord, grant her the courage and humility to obey You. I thank You, Jesus. Thank You for this sweet sister. Bless her and her walk with You and her marriage, in Jesus' name, amen.
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