8 Ways to Maintain Your Friendship In Marriage

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Growing up in a Christian home was a blessing.  I had the privilege of watching my  father and mother live as best friends in our home.

There was never another person my father preferred over my mother.

And there was never another person my mother preferred over my father.

Mom and Dad

They both have good – life long friendships with multiple couples – but those are bonuses in life.  My father – a very friendly outgoing man – is not the type that goes out with the guys on a regular basis and my mother, who is a little more private, is not the type to attend conferences with the girls – like I do. Lol!  At the end of the day, they prefer each other’s company over everyone else’s.

The two are truly inseparable. I don’t mean that my parents are always together – my father traveled for business all of my teen years and he loves sports. So he has his own interests but their hearts are 100% on each other.  My mom knows that all commitments or choices she makes, affect my father and my father knows the same vice versa.

Here are 8 ways I’ve watched my parents maintain their friendship in marriage.

1.  Great Communication

I grew up in a very open home. There were very few secrets amongst any of the siblings or my parents and us kids. We ate dinner around the dinner table every night – without any distractions and talked and talked and talked.  Even now as adults, we sit for hours around dinner tables and talk. It’s our family’s favorite past time!

Here we are hustling and bustling in the kitchen before our Sunday lunch this weekend as an extended family.

mom and dad Sunday lunch

2. Great Listening

Since we are a family of talkers – we are also a family of listeners!  Dad and Mom listen to each other.  We all tell looooooong stories – but we listen attentively, ask questions and care.  We learned this from our parents role modeling this in their marriage.

Here we are after lunch this Sunday looking at photos of my parents recent vacation on my father’s laptop.

{Pictured below – my 2 sisters, my father’s brother, my father, mother and nephew}

mom and dad at table

3. Loyalty

My parents are always on each other’s side.  If someone is treating one of them poorly – the other one is always loyal to counsel them well and support them.

4.  Reliability

My parents are predictable.  They can count on each other. What they say they will do for each other, they follow through and do.

5.  Memory Builders

My parents make memories together. They plan special vacations, outings with the grandkids, and fun holidays. My father takes a lot of pictures and my mom makes albums out of them for the kids so the memories are captured forever.  They value making special memories for each other.

Here they are at Steak and Shake with all the grandchildren {and a family friend} – following this lunch, they took us to see the movie “God’s Not Dead”.

lunch at steak and shake

6. Shared Values and Faith

While their opinions on some things differ their shared values and faith unite them on the big decisions in life.

7. Support Of Each Other’s Ministries

My parents worship together.  This is a blessing to me and my husband as we have sat in the same pew with them for over a decade worshipping along side them every Sunday.

Here we are in church together this week:

mom and dad in church

 

My father leads an adult Sunday School class and my mother is there supporting him and giving him feedback. My mother leads a women’s Bible Study and my father has watched the children of the moms in her study, for many years on end. They support each other so well.

8.  They keep short accounts

Truth be told – my parents argue – *gasp*.  Lol!

You may read the above list of qualities in their marriage and think they have a perfect marriage. And yes – it is very strong but they are human! And like all couples – they banter back and forth but they keep short accounts.  I remember watching my mom walk out of the room to end discussions that were not getting resolved and then  -  *wham-o* – a few minutes later she waltzed back into the room as if nothing ever happened and all was well and happy again in our world.  My parents keep really short accounts and forgive easily. This is a blessing!

I know that having parents who are best friends is a gift and I want to give this same gift to my children. But I recognize that it is harder to achieve than it looks.  It takes compromise, sacrifice and self-denial to maintain a deep friendship through out the different seasons of marriage.

Elisabeth Elliot writes:

A Christian marriage is built on sacrifice–each for the other. It is a lifelong NO to myself and YES to the other–a sublime and intimate union, a call to “spousal” love as defined by Christ and the Church. The husband represents Christ, the wife represents the Bride of Christ. What an awesome privilege for each of us! But it will cost.

Having a strong friendship in marriage costs both spouses something.

It costs us our pride, our time, our attention, and our desires.

It’s about seeking to honor God within the four walls of our home.

It’s about walking intimately with God and allowing Him to make us the wife He has called us to be.

It’s about extending the same forgiveness and grace we’ve received at a the cross to our husband.

**Chime In:

Which of the “8 ways” do you need to work on in your marriage?

The “Embracing Your Marriage” series has come to an end. How have you seen God working in your marriage during this series?

Join me back here tomorrow when I announce my new “Monday Series” for October…if you’ve been around this ministry for a few years – you know what’s coming ;)

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**This post is a part of the…

Embrace[3]

This week’s group challenge is:

Embrace Your Friendship – Carve out some time to spend together. Do something that takes your minds off of screen time. Then make it a habit.

Today my friends pictured above are also writing on
Embracing Friendship in Your Marriage.

Please visit them!

Darlene Schacht at TimeWarpWife.com
Jennifer Smith at UnveiledWife.com
Sheila Gregoire at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
Ashleigh Slater at AshleighSlater.com
Lisa Jacobson at Club31Women.com

Barriers & In-Laws vs. Oneness in Marriage

Barriers and In-Laws vs. Oneness in Marriage

 

Mark 10: 6-9 says:

6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

This week’s topic in our “Embracing Your Marriage Series” is “Embracing Oneness”.

We see 2 barriers in Mark 10 to Oneness in marriage.

1.) The first barrier is our differences.

Verse 6 tells us “God made us male and female”.

Being different – male and female – immediately poses a problem in marriage. As I pointed out last week – this brings about differences which leads to disagreements and if we let these disagreements fester without resolution, they lead to a break down in communication and the marriage itself.

But God made us different for His purpose – for His glory!  We are not to let those differences divide us but unite us!  Marriage will require a level of selflessness that no other relationship in the world will require of us.  God uses our differences to sanctify us and make us more like Him.   This is his good work in our lives.

2.) The second barrier is the In-laws!

Verse 7 tells us that “a man should leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife“.

It is tempting for some guys (and wives – ahem) to let their parents meddle in their marriage.  I am sure that every one of you, that have meddling in-laws, can testify to the fact that this is the WORST thing for oneness in marriage.

If you are a mother-in-law please heed the words of this verse and release your son and daughter from the pressure to please you and encourage them to do what this verse says: ” hold fast” to their spouse.  Their spouse should be their first priority – not us, the parents.  They should be faithful – first – to their spouse.

Friends, if you have a meddling mother-in-law. Love her. Forgive her. Give her grace. But do share this passage of scripture with your husband in a gentle, respectful way.  Pray that your husband would have the courage to follow God’s word.

Understand that it’s very hard for some who have manipulative parents to break those ties.  If he is caught in an unhealthy cycle, he may not be emotionally and spiritually equipped to change without outside help and your patience, support, encouragement and prayers.  It will be a process not an overnight victory – 2 steps forward, 1 step back.  Do not let this tear you both apart – as verse 9 says – do not let “man separate” what God has joined together. Stay strong – stay faithful to your husband and faithful in prayer for your marriage.

Addendum:  Wives, let’s not forget to love our husbands by loving his parents and family.  It’s important that we selflessly love them like we love our own family.  It will hurt our husband to not love and care for his family or to try to pull him away in an unhealthy manner.  Just as it is not Biblical for for a mother-in-law to meddle, it is not Biblical for us to selfishly demand that things always be done our way.  This is a tightrope walk.  I know it is not easy but if we walk closely with the Lord he will give us the wisdom we need to make it through each day and love our in-laws as God would have us love them.

Now, here are 2 ways in Mark 10 that oneness comes in marriage.

1.)  We are one flesh!

Verse 8 says, “and the two shall become one flesh.

The covenant of marriage makes us one flesh.  It is not the declaration of love between two people. Many people love their boyfriend or girlfriend deeply – that does not make them one flesh.  Many people live together and share finances – this does not make them one flesh.

The marriage covenant is what makes a male and female one emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and financially.  This relationship is to come before all others.

Declaring independence within marriage is the surest way to separate what God has joined together.  It is a rebellion against the plans of God for marriage.

2.) God does the joining!

Verse 9 says “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Who joins the two together in union?  It is not man, not the pastor, not the parents, not even the bride and groom.  According to verse 9 it is GOD!

We see in this passage that God created male and female.

He created (and defined) marriage.

And God joins a bride and groom together.

Marriage is so much bigger than ourselves – it is God’s work in our lives.  It is his good work in our lives.

And marriage is meant to be “as long as we both shall live.”  It is not something we walk away from when the storms rage or our spouse fails to meet our expectations or words pierce and bitterness grows like a weed.

We are to “hold fast” to each other in those storms – not walk out the door.

We are to humble ourselves and say apologies and forgive and give grace over and over and over – not hang up the phone.

Marriage is meant to be – until death do us part.

But we need Jesus’ to help us do this. We simply cannot maintain this level of forgiveness and faithfulness without looking hard at the cross and remembering what Jesus has forgiven in us and his faithfulness to us.

May we strive to live as one in our marriages.

**Chime In:  
How is the oneness is your marriage?
What barriers do you face?  
What ways has God brought you together through the storms?

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**This post is a part of the…

Embrace[3]

This week’s group challenge is:

Spend time talking with each other. Plan to do something that provokes conversation, like a board game or a walk in the park.

Coming next:
September 29: Embracing Your Friendship

Today my friends pictured above are also writing on
Embracing Oneness in Your Marriage.

Please visit them!

Darlene Schacht at TimeWarpWife.com
Jennifer Smith at UnveiledWife.com
Sheila Gregoire at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
Ashleigh Slater at AshleighSlater.com
Lisa Jacobson at Club31Women.com

How to Deal With Differences In Marriage

How to deal with differences

All marriages deal with differences. If we traded in our marriage for another, we would just be trading problems with this guy – for problems with that guy – because the reality is, all marriages have problems to varying degrees.

Sometimes I wonder why God made men and women so incredibly different.  And while I understand that our differences should make us complement each other – some days it just feels like a huge hurdle.

My husband and I are very, very different people.

I am an extrovert – the more the merrier is my mentality!

He is an introvert – he is very private.

I love social media and social gatherings fill me up!

My husband does not participate in social media, and social gatherings drain him.

I am a very cautious person when it comes to safety.

My husband loves to shoot guns and ride motorcycles and prefers I be on the back of the motorcycle with him…which is not really my cup of tea!

motorcycle riding

He even bought me this jacket……let’s just say, I wear it for him ;) and pray the entire ride!  I appreciate how he has enhanced my prayer life! Lol!

motorcycle jacket

He has also enhanced my prayer life by taking the kids on very long road trips on the back of his bike. ;)

I like pop music (anything with a beat), Christian and classical piano music (weird mix right? Lol!).

He likes country music and talk radio.

I like Diet Coke.

He drinks Sweet Tea by the gallon.

I prefer new cars – you know with a cup holder and a DVD player.

He loves old classic cars…without cup holders and DVD players.

I love big cities and living in a neighborhood.

He prefers to live on a huge piece of land and not see the neighbors!

I love to sing.

He does not.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg friends.  Our temperaments are very different.  Our family histories are very different. Our school experiences were very different. Our hobbies are very different.

And while I list all these things and wonder how in the world we ended up vowing our lives to each other –”till death do us part,”  I am amazed at how like-minded we are on faith, our view of the world, our morals, values, love for each other and love of family.

I could sit all day and focus on the things that are different between my husband and I and get very frustrated.

Let’s face it – you can’t change a zebra’s stripes. God absolutely changes people from the inside out and I’ve heard testimonies of dramatic changes in marriages where God was at work on sin in their lives…but I don’t foresee my husband’s taste of country music or sweet tea or personality traits, such as loving social gatherings, changing anytime soon.

During different seasons of life, I have tried to get my husband to change. This always brings fights and it’s miserable and he feels disrespected.

Philippians 2:3 -5 says:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

This is truth!  When we look only toward our  own interests, our own selfish ambitions will ruffle feathers in our marriage and stir up trouble.  We will create misery and though it may feel unintentional – it is very real and it can put a wedge in our marriage.

So how do we deal with differences in marriage?

1.) Do not be selfish. (verse 3)

2.) Humble yourself and look at your husband as more significant than yourself. (verse 3)

3.) Do not discount your husband’s interests. (verse 4)

4.) Have the mind of Christ. (verse 5)

This my friends, is nothing like how the world would advise us.  But this is God’s way.  Number 4 is vital to overcoming the selfishness and pride in marriage.  We must pursue having the mind of Christ.  Christ was humble to the point of death on the cross for us.

Have you humbled yourself and considered laying aside your own interests for the sake of your husband, for the sake of your marriage and for the sake of Christ?

**Chime In: What differences in your marriage has God brought to mind while you were reading this?  Will you selflessly put that issue in the hands of God and trust Him with it?  

And one final thought, when we pray that God changes something about our husband – if it is done in selfishness, most likely it will not be answered. One thing I have learned is to pray for these changes for one reason alone – so that our marriage would be more unified and bring more glory to God by the way we love and care for each other.

Next week, we’ll talk more about unity in marriage but until then – let’s pray humble, selfless prayers that focus on God’s will for our marriage rather than our own will.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**This post is a part of the…

Embrace[3]

Coming next:

September 22: Embracing Oneness
September 29: Embracing Your Friendship

This week’s group marriage challenge is:

Embrace Your Differences – Don’t just tell your husband that you love him today. Tell him some of the reasons you love him.

Today my friends pictured above are also writing on
Embracing Your Differences in Your Marriage.

Please visit them!

Darlene Schacht at TimeWarpWife.com
Jennifer Smith at UnveiledWife.com
Sheila Gregoire at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
Ashleigh Slater at AshleighSlater.com
Lisa Jacobson at Club31Women.com

 

For Better…or Worse {When Seasons In Marriage Change}

for better or worse

 

1For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Ecclesiastes 3 describes 28 different seasons of life and one thing is guaranteed, change.

Change is absolute.

In John 14, when Jesus met with his disciples he told them change was coming. He was going to depart but they were to have no fear because he was sending them the Holy Spirit.  The Greek word for “Holy Spirit” is parakletos which means: one who comes along side and helps and comforts.

God uses change to shape us and to open our eyes to his presence. We are not alone. The Holy Spirit is with us helping us through life’s changes.

Change is what turned Mary the peasant girl, into the mother of God Almighty! Change is what turned David the shepherd boy, into the King of Israel! And the change of Jesus’ blood covering over our sins, is what turns you and me from sinners to saints!

In our marriages, we will all face seasons of change.

Change comes from job changes, location changes, friendship changes, sickness, new births and the loss of loved ones.

Sometimes our likes and dislikes cause distance in our marriage.  I know in my marriage our hobbies have heavily influenced the way we spend our time.   Never did my husband and I foresee me being a blogger or a homeschooler.  As change comes into our lives – each spouse has to readjust their expectations, grace needs to be made, sacrificial love needs to be poured out to sustain the marriage.

Changes from the college days to starting a family or raising teens or taking care of ailing parents can be rough. When exhaustion and stress sets in – it changes people.

Some of these changes in life have not brought out the best in us…but rather the worst.

When iron sharpens iron – sparks fly.  Have sparks been flying in your home lately?

You aren’t alone. All marriages go through these seasons. Some last longer than others.  But this one thing I know….

God is using marriage as a great sanctifier in all of our lives!

What is sanctification?  Sanctification means to make holy or to purify, to set apart for God’s use.

When we were born again, we were declared justified in the eyes of the Lord.  Jesus’ blood covered our sins but we still need to be sanctified and made more like Christ.

Do you see how God is using your marriage to sanctify and purify you?  Marriage brings out our selfishness, anger issues, score keeping abilities, pride and trust issues.  God reveals our sin to us through the marital relationship and as we read His word and confess our sins, he purifies us and makes us more like Him.

Marriage is a sanctifier and this sort of spiritual growth is vital in the lives of all Christians.

Sometimes we are tempted to think that we are the only ones experiencing the pains of life. But changing seasons are normal, as Ecclesiastes 3 shows. Some are pleasurable and some are painful. There are positive things and negative things that happen to all of us and sometimes we just have to ride the wave as it goes down because a swell is coming on the other side and it’s going to be okay.

This week’s marriage challenge is:

Consider some of the ways that your marriage has changed over time. Start counting the blessings that these changes have brought. Write them down.

Chime In:  Which season are you in – a “For Better or…For Worse” season.  How has God sustained your marriage and what blessings has been brought through these changes?

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**This post is a part of the…

Embrace[3]

Coming next:

September 15: Embracing Your Differences
September 22: Embracing Oneness
September 29: Embracing Your Friendship

Today my friends pictured above are also writing on
Embracing Change in Your Marriage.

Please visit them!

Darlene Schacht at TimeWarpWife.com
Jennifer Smith at UnveiledWife.com
Sheila Gregoire at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
Ashleigh Slater at AshleighSlater.com
Lisa Jacobson at Club31Women.com

 

5 Ways to Embrace Grace In Your Marriage

5 Ways to Embrace Grace

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God.  We see this best through the death of Christ given for our salvation so we can receive present and eternal blessings.

Grace is what we receive when we have messed up, fallen down, made wrong choices, and sinned.

And this grace we have received – we need to humbly extend to our husbands when they mess up, fall down, make wrong choices and sin.

But how do we live this out practically in our marriages?

Here’s 5 Ways to Embrace Grace In Your Marriage

1.) Grace sees with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Grace is foreign in many marriages because wives have not experienced the grace of God. Once we have experienced this lavish grace, we have the strength to turn around and give it to others.  The first person we should look square in the eyes of is our husband. He needs grace.  Often times, we give grace to our children, friends, even strangers – but we expect our husband to meet our expectations. The first step in extending grace is recognizing every human needs grace…including your husband.

2.)  Grace does not focus on failed expectations and the shortcomings of our husband.

David Platt writes: “[God's] gift of grace involves the gift of a new heart. New desires. New longings. For the first time, we want God. We see our need for him, and we love him. We seek after him, and we find him, and we discover that he is indeed the great reward for our salvation…. [W]e are saved to know God. So we yearn for him.”

Sometimes the expectations we place on our husband are higher than he can attain.  We have to take into account our husband’s God-given personality, the home he was raised in and his current walk with God.  Sometimes the very needs we want our husband to meet – our husband will never be able to meet.  Only God can meet them. Releasing our husband from these expectations will bless not only your husband – but you as well.

Grace includes new desires and longings and a turning to God with our disappointments and trusting him to meet our needs.  Grace releases our husband from a wife who criticizes his shortcomings or whines about her unmet needs and replaces her disappointment with the joy of the Lord.

3.) Grace Forgives.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. ~Matthew 18:21-22

I don’t know what your husband has done or said, but if you hold on to it and refuse to forgive, it will poison your thoughts, your heart and your marriage.  Every.single.marriage has hurts and heartache that must be left at the foot of the cross and exchanged for mercy and grace that only God can give. This is supernatural friends! We do not have it in ourselves to forgive – but with God’s help – we can!

Are you holding on to a hurt that your husband cannot heal for you? Take it to the cross today.

Let . It . Go .

And restore your marriage.

4.) Grace puts on compassion and gentleness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32

We need to be a safe refuge for our husband.

Paula Rinhart says “Man lives with a challenging combination of great expectations amid great isolation. Hunter, gatherer, warrior, husband, brother but don’t let anyone see you sweat.”

Your husband needs to know – it’s okay to sweat…or fail, be frustrated, have a hard day, need alone time…or cry.  As wives, it’s easy to forget the heavy burden that our husband’s carry. God made our men with broad shoulders and they carry the weight of the family on those shoulders every day.  But don’t be fooled by those broad shoulders – they carry insecurities as well.  Compassion will give your husband the space to be open about those burdens and give you the ability to speak into his life and build him up as he bears his burdens.

5.) Grace prays.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. ~ James 5;16

It’s easy to nag, criticize, or try to control your husband.  It’s hard to sit back and pray.  But grace prays.

Grace recognizes the power in prayer and trusts the frustrations you have with your husband – into the hands of the loving heavenly Father.

Do you see how vital grace is?  

It is vital in the reconciliation we have with our heavenly Father and it is vital in our marriages!  Let’s start living it out today!

This week’s challenge: 

Before you can extend grace to others, start with the preparation of a pure and tender heart. Pray asking God for wisdom and guidance in this area. Think of how God’s grace has impacted your life, and acknowledge the areas where you have been forgiven.

Consider – what area in your marriage do you need to extend a wee bit more grace? Now begin this week extending the grace  you’ve received from God, to your husband.  Watch as God transforms your marriage!

Chime In: Which of the 5 Ways do you need to work on in your marriage? 

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**This post is a part of the…

Embrace[3]

Coming next:

September 8: Embracing Change
September 15: Embracing Your Differences
September 22: Embracing Oneness
September 29: Embracing Your Friendship

Today my friends pictured above are also writing on
Embracing Grace in Your Marriage.

Please visit them!

Darlene Schacht at TimeWarpWife.com
Jennifer Smith at UnveiledWife.com
Sheila Gregoire at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
Ashleigh Slater at AshleighSlater.com
Lisa Jacobson at Club31Women.com