We as a couple, like many of you have walked thru some tough stuff (financial calamity, separation, death of a child, illness in family) and have found God faithful. I must write simply to get my racing thoughts out before my head explodes....Our history has brought hurting marriages to our door, seeking the hope we live. These thoughts come from those interactions which come as a result of deep pondering and intimate searching in my own heart.
When we married nearly 19 years ago we had no idea the roads we would walk. If you had told me then what I know now, I would not have believed that I could still live and live with joy with the man God has blessed me with. After all he was and remains my hunk, my knight in shining armor, the one I wanted to ask me out in the worst way, begging God to allow it to happen.... Are we perfect? Absolutely not. We mess up. We fight. (just ask our kids) But God has gifted us with truths that have come to us at the right times that have helped us make it through the crappy moments and I can truly say that despite all of the pain I am happier now then I have ever been. I didn't get there over night. And I still stray away from there...that happiness. BUT, Love is so much more then emotion.
If I could put down on paper a list of truths that have helped us most, these would be on it. No specific rhyme or reason just my random thoughts coming out as they do, maybe not profound but specific in our process.
#1. Love is not a fairy tale: (Duh, right?) As young girls, society puts a selfish twist on expectations. What will make me feel good? Who will do everything right for me? I am a princess... This is dangerous as it sets the grounds for much disappointment in marriage and results in many never marrying as that perfection can't be found. Now before you turn me off completely let me say that romance is a gift to be treasured and happily ever after DOES exist. My prince may not ride in on his sleek shiny stallion bearing roses and chocolate each week, but he does ride in bearing gifts, a new dish brush or broom or a block of my favorite Muenster
#2. Laugh together, MUCH! About a year ago my man came home from work all excited about a you tube clip his buddy had shown him. I was nearly to busy to watch and could have completely squelched his excitement. He had found the series, "Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage". This has been huge for us. We have learned so much about each other and have re established laughter in our home on a daily basis. Laughter is healing. It may not be this series that helps you but please find something that you can do together that makes you laugh...
#3.Take the time to hold hands: Case in point. One of our counselors made us do that many a moon ago. You can't really continue to fight if you hold hands. And it's fun too. The other night, we had 2 hours completely alone that of course had to be filled with glorious stops like Aldi and Walmart. Not having any little hands to hold brings nice opportunity...and togetherness.
#4.Study the Bible: We all know this. But it is easier suggested then done. Sometimes when one is raised in a society saturated with the Bible, one can be lazy. That's me anyhow, But the Bible has wisdom. Divine wisdom, about life, love, marriage. And tho it would be nice to see handwriting in the sky, we have truth in our hands. That word has shown us much. This is an area that has long disturbed me. The women that sit with me, opening their hearts and their pain, revealing the less then Godly situations they live in, a great percentage of them are tormented by the scriptures that are picked apart and not taught as a whole. These are the ones who live with abuse whether it be physical, emotional or mental. The "wives submit" verse is hammered but the "submit yourselves one to another" and "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church" are largely ignored. Lowell and I don't necessarily study together but we often discuss what God is showing us in HIS word. In our personal situation Lowell's new found salvation has made all the difference in the world....
#5. Be a cheeerleader: While Lowell & I are not necessarily on the same page on all issues or even our hobbies, we have found that stuff flows much more smoothly when we jump on each others bandwagons. He may not appreciate the energy my "causes" (events, pets etc) take but he supports me whole heartedly by taking care of the kids, offering muscle power and telling me "I can do it.." In return, while I may not agree with his choices, hunting, or the current political candidate he supports etc, I engage him in conversation about what he LOVES to talk about and try to join him in action as well.
#6. Establish your own family unit: This is a tough one. Sometimes the apron strings are well secured. Extended family is a gift, but one that must be kept in balance. When we say "I do" we are now a unit, a family, me & you. Finding correct levels of interaction can be challenging and we must always use kindness and respect but for us setting boundaries that protect our "me & you" has been vital to growth and health in "us".
#7. Encourage Friendship: Friendship is vital for health in marriage. Not only do I need female friendship that helps me use up my quota of daily words and emotions but He needs time to just do guy stuff. It make "us" work better as long as we surround ourselves with upbuilding and encouraging people who are passionate about our marriage flourishing. Ultimately God is the only one who can fill the voids we feel, but friendships designed by him can aid in the process.
#8. Cherish the Gift: How does one treat an antique heirloom or piece of value? We care for it, making every effort to insure that it is kept safely, not scratched or dented or broken. Our marriages are like that gift. They are meant to be treasured, to be kept safe, protected. If I view Lowell in the correct context, I easily remember. He is my gift. My treasure. I am blessed!