Tips for Nurturing Your Marriage

12
Feb
2015

Closeup image barefoot couple legs at the beach

As I sit down to write this article on the importance of nurturing your marriage, I realize that it is likely more for me than perhaps you.  

I feel very convicted that I have not been making my marriage a higher priority.  It is like I know the why behind the importance, but the actual actions take time and energy, which as busy moms, are often lacking in our days.   With the scare my husband had with his appendix on Monday and the rush to surgery, I was really struck with how life can change in a matter of seconds.

The reality is, finding time to honor our husbands and share intimacy is extremely important in keeping our marriage a priority.   We can easily start to feel like roommates living under one roof with one goal in mind if we do not take the time to make our spouse feel special.

I am reminded of a very key point made by author Devi Titus in her book,  “The Home Experience” when she talks about honoring your husband:

Wives often mistakenly give to their husbands what they need rather than what he needs.  The Four B’s that husbands need:

Backed  (support, uplift, and encourage)

Bedded  (offer affection and sexual intimacy)

Boarded  (provide meals and a comfortable home)

Babied  (care for him when he is sick or feeling down)”

For those husbands who might be reading, she goes on to say what wives need:

“Loved  (both in words and actions)

Lead  (through kind direction and example)

Lifted Up  (encouraged, romanced, made to feel special)

Listened to  (without trying to solve all her problems)

Don’t you agree?

For me, as a wife, is seems rather simple.  If I can cover each of these areas in a day, then I would say that is a step in the right direction.   So what could that look like, without becoming overwhelmed with adding another “item” on my to-do list, let’s come up with some simple ways to incorporate fresh perspective our on spouses and creating that special connection that comes from dating.

Backed

Pray for your husband, ask him what you can pray for him in particular that day.  Find a minute to give him encouragement and praise for an area that you especially appreciate about him.  If he is having a rough day, take the time to encourage him with your words.

Bedded

Finding time to be intimate can be tricky, especially for those of us with young children, but this just gives you more of a challenge to overcome.  I totally get it, by evening I am exhausted and I have learned it is best to give my hubby a time frame – if we are to become intimate it needs to begin before a certain time.  That may seem not very romantic, but open communication is important in a home with kids coming and going, a toddler and a husband that works out of town!

But being bedded does not always mean having to have sex, it also includes affection by hand holding, hugging, caressing and being close.  Sitting together holding hands can often be just as special.  It takes intentional actions.

Boarded

Taking the time to create a nice atmosphere for my husband to arrive home to after being gone traveling is a huge blessing to him.  It is one way I can ‘date’ him in our own home.  We don’t have to go anywhere, but when I have the house picked up, candles burning or a nice meal on the stove, he is happy.  He knows I’ve been thinking of him – especially if it is a pie baking in the oven!  Fixing his favorite foods is an easy way to show him I care and am purposeful in serving him.

Babied

This one can be tricky if you have a man who declines help – but insist anyhow.  When they’ve had a rough day or are not feeling well,  be intentional to do something that will encourage him and make him feel better.  Maybe it is a cup of tea, a cold drink, a warm cookie or even letting him crawl back into bed to get some more sleep.  You know your spouse best, so think of those things in advance; those things that you know he would appreciate and finding comforting when he is a bit under the weather or feeling down.

It can be easy to procrastinate and always put off caring for your spouse.  We have our kids calling us all day and we tend to prioritize their needs above our spouses, because they are little, but our spouses our just as important and our relationship needs to be tended to and nurtured.

Just in time for Valentine’s day – a reminder for all year though!

5 Must Reads for Your Marriage

9
Feb
2015

Must-reads-Christian-marriage

In honor of Valentines Day coming this week I thought it would be the perfect time to share my five must reads for marriage.   🙂

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts – Gary Chapman5L

This book has been a huge hit for our entire family.  You likely have heard of it before – but if you have not read it, take it out and re-read it.  I know that for myself I used it a great deal when parenting my children, but I often forget to really remember how my husband “feels” loved.  We get so caught up in our everyday life that we miss those opportunities to truly convey our heart to the one who holds our heart. 

How We Love – by Milan Yerkovich and Kay Yerkovich

hwlMy small bible study group read through this book two years ago and it has changed our lives forever.  This book takes a look at how you grew up and how that really has everything to do with relating to your spouse.  Even though I read this book two years ago, I still have a lot of work to continue doing, but this book gave both my husband and I a place to start using vocabulary in hopes of moving past some of the brick walls where our arguments would end.  It helps you understand the emotional hurts of your spouses past as well as your own and gives you some tools to move forward.

Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband  by Jennifer SmithWAG

I love this inspirational 30 day marriage devotional written just for wives!  I want to have a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with both my husband and God and Jennifer Smith does a great job being real, vulnerable and authentic in her words.  Having it broken down into a 30 day devotional makes it easy to read and simple to follow through on.  Jennifer Smith also writes at Unveiled Wife.

This devotional study was prayerfully composed with 30 days of biblical concepts and practical challenges to help you nourish your relationship with God and your relationship with your husband in marriage into ones that are captivating, intimate and extraordinary. Every day you will be presented with a biblical topic to help draw your nearer to your God and your husband.

SFScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer  by Hal Runkel and Jenny Runkel

The ScreamFree concept changed my life.  I have written about it before and even had a group coaching program based on the ScreamFree Parenting book as well – calming down, keeping your cool and growing up is the way to be in ALL relationships – especially in marriage.

The focus is really about improving yourself, not focusing on the other person.  I embrace that concept because so often we are trying to change the other person in the relationship and that gets us nowhere!  This book offers up some real life strategies to help build responses to often struggles in a more mature manner.  

The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick

Do you remember the movie “Fireproof” from a few years back?  This book was the basis for that move and was based on the concept of offering unconditional love – no matter what.  It is a 40 day challenge that can help you get beyond yourself and realize what giving love truly looks like.

This book will challenge you!

I encourage you to pick at least one of these and read it in the next 30 days.  Take a few days and pray about which one the Lord would have you read and then step out and discover what He may be wanting to teach you.

Have you read any of these books?

Weekend to Remember

10
Apr
2014

Weekend-to-Remember-title

When was the last time you truly spent intentional time on your marriage?

I get it, time, money, other resources….it is hard and a challenge.  But ladies…..it is so worth it in the end.  Maybe it is a regular date night, finding ways to connect together regularly investing in each other, doing bible study together or perhaps you are ready to take it one step further and learn from couples who have been doing this ‘marriage’ gig for many years.

That is what Family Life’s Weekend to Remember is all about.

Weekend-Remember

My husband and I went to our first Weekend to Remember almost 6 years ago – less than a year after we were married.  Now, this being our second marriage, we knew we wanted to make this work and needed the tools and resources to be successful.  We had messed up the first time around, for many reasons and wanted to be united in our commitment and do whatever we could do be a true couple, together for God’s purpose.

That weekend changed our perspective on marriage, on our role as a spouse and what ‘oneness’ as a couple truly meant in God’s eyes.  It was a weekend filled with practical biblical information on how to build our marriage God’s way.

So when the chance came to go again, 6 years later, we decided to make it happen.  We gathered a few other couples who had never been before and set out to grow in our marriage.

We stayed at a lovely hotel that was local to use and had a great room with a view – it was perfect.  With 4 kids – we get little time away, so when it can be with a view like this I am one happy mama!  

Weekend-to-Remember-6

Going to the conference was great, but actually being able to stay overnight in the hotel for TWO nights was pure bliss!

The conference runs from Friday evening until Sunday at noon.  It is packed with sessions on communication, learning how we fight and even a session on “marriage after dark.”  Yes, it was about SEX.

Weekend-to-remember-7

Our two mentor couples, Bob and Jan Horner and Rick and Judy Taylor had very unique stories and were both very entertaining – which is more fun for everyone!  Who needs a boring marriage conference?  They shared personal stories which really helped couples identify and made it easier to apply the principles they shared to each of our marriages in real ways.

One of the major projects we did during the weekend was to write a love letter to our spouse.  Now, we had done this 6 years ago, but what I found very interesting was that the letters we wrote this time, were very similar to what we wrote previously.  We didn’t look at the previous letters until after we did the one for this season, but it was a confirmation to us of what we truly cherished in each other.

We also had our workbooks from 6 years ago and were able to look back at some of the information and what we thought being “newly married” and compared it to what we felt now.  It was very thought provoking for sure.

Weekend-to-Remember-3

We left the weekend each with specific action points to be intentional with.  This is important.  You can go to a ton of conferences about marriage or listen to a million podcasts, but unless you choose to make a point to pick certain things to change, nothing does.

One of the biggest take aways I got form this weekend was that my spouse is not perfect, but he is the PERFECT one for me.  I need to remember this daily, and be intentional in setting aside my selfish tendencies too.  

It is never too late to rekindle a romance, to think differently about your marriage or be willing to change.  If you are thinking you need a bit of a ‘tune-up’ in your marriage or maybe a complete overhaul – why not look or a Weekend to Remember conference near where you live?

Weekend-to-Remember

Family Life is also offering a new one day conference for couples called “I Still do” and may be near your area and fit your schedule too.

Have you ever been to a marriage conference?  Did you find it helpful, if so how?

Embrace Your Beautiful, Imperfect Husband

27
Feb
2014

Closeup image barefoot couple legs at the beach

I am hurrying to write this post, pack my bags, and get a schedule written down for my mother-in-law who so kindly came to stay with my little guy so my husband and I could go enjoy the trip I earned to Hawaii – don’t worry I will be sharing much more on my trip when I get back – it will be too great not too!!

This post and the timing of my trip is impeccable, as God always seems to place things, huh?  I am going to be spending 5 days with my husband and trying to focus on relaxation, conversation and connection, without writing blog posts or spending too much time on social media. Very hard!!  I am going to try to live out what we have been reading this week and I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity.

I don’t want to disappoint anyone, especially my wonderful ladies who come to my site each week to find encouragement, but this week my husband gets to win.  I likely will be away from social media and attending to comments until I return.

I found it again interesting to me, but no surprising that PRIDE comes into play. It did in week two as well, why is this such a big part of issues we may encounter?

“Pride is at the core of so much marital strife.  Pride believes our way is the right way – the only way.  Pride says you are more wrong than I am.  Pride says I’m you are more wrong than I am.”

I am horrible with regard to my pride getting in the way of my marriage relationship, and this was the wake up call I needed.  This is a constant struggle for me and I need to ask God to help me each day – seriously, adding this to my prayer for each morning.

I really was touched by how Jill explained her personal journey with her husband and how she asked God to help her know how to love her husband during his time of depression and distance.  It just became clear to me that I need to continually ask God to direct me and He will.  I can easily remember that I need to do this with regard to my children and parenting abilities, but I forget when it comes to my husband.

Replacing Pride with Humility

This is where I am weak….my pride can overtake my mind and my spirit and humility is no where to be found.

“Pride keeps conflict unresolved.  It keeps us from owning our own stuff.  Pride separates, hurts, and even destroys.”

I will be praying about adding more humility in my day, taking the time to evaluate myself more and owning my own part of the ‘stuff’ instead of thinking it is always “his” problem.

We’ve had a rough couple of weeks in our home, for a lot of different reasons.  I’ve had plenty of conflict to deal with  and am always looking to blame someone else it seems, and it usually ends up being my husband.  He’s a good guy, a GREAT guy….and I need to Thank God more for him.

I did do the motherhood gig alone for 8 years, I do know what it is like in that arena…..it is not easier, in fact it is a lot harder – and overwhelming.  I need to remember what I have and be grateful – working on my pride issue and what I bring to the scene, which I often create into a messier scene, anyone relate?

So as I get ready to jet off with my hubby for 5 days, I am remembering this:

“There are no perfect husbands – just imperfect men who make mistakes along the way and give you the opportunity to learn to love in ways you never knew you could.”

Apply

Write your husband a love letter.  Tell him what you love about him.  Affirm him.  Tell him what he does well.  Even if you are in a place in your marriage where you wouldn’t give it to him, write it out – you never know how doing this exercise can impact your heart and add humility.  I am doing it!

Begin reading Chapter Six – see you next week!

Chapter Five – The Hard Work of Marriage

25
Feb
2014

Hard-work-Marriage

Could you relate to the note Amanda sent Jill, you read right at the beginning of the chapter?  It can often seem like all the ‘other’ couples are madly in love and all gaga over each other, when you in fact are in the midst of a season where trouble, conflict and frustration seem to arise at every corner.

Our expectations of the perfect love story set us up for failure when the real challenges of marriage surface.

I had to laugh a lot as I read through this chapter – for those who may not know, I am on my second marriage.  I was married the first time for 8 years and was not a believer, I gave up on my marriage and moved on.  I am not laughing at my failed marriage and lack of conviction to hold it together, but more on Jill’s reflection of how marriage brings two families of origin together.  Well, when you divorce and have children and then get ‘re-married’ take that blending word and multiply it by like 4000!!!

With images of the Brady Bunch as the perfect blended family model, I thought it was going to be easy.  OH, boy – was I ever wrong and misled!  There is a reason God wants us to marry once and be committed to our spouse.  I have also learned a strong marriage just doesn’t happen – it is work.

A new marriage is tough enough, finding ways to compromise and understanding expectations, but when you add in children that perhaps were not interested in getting a step-mom or step-dad, it really adds stress and frustration!

Expectations are hard, for everyone, but certainly something you need to be aware of in marriage.

I thought this quote was so perfect and really resonated for me:

If we’re honest, real marriage brings our ‘yuck’ to the surface.  Selfishness and pride raise their ugly heads in the everyday life of a normal marriage.

Marriage is the one thing which will grow you up like nothing else.  You have to mature and grow in self-development or you and your marriage will suffer.  God intended marriage to provide opportunity for Him to mold you – along with raising children!

I know that my selfish nature rears it’s ugly head both when it comes to my marriage and parenting.  There are a lot of times I do only want to worry about myself or get my way.  {oops}  I need to work on this every single day.  I need to be more like Jesus in every aspect of my life, most especially my marriage.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3-5

I have to remind myself daily to respect my husband and the role he has been given as the Head of our home.  I have grown a lot in this area and will only end up biting me tongue every so often.  Respect for our men is HUGE.  

Have you been aware and conscious of how you speak to your husband and how others may perceive your words?

Emasculating our men is like chipping them in half…..we just kick them in the gut.  It clearly damages your relationship.  Is this an area you need to keep a close eye on?  Do you treat him like a husband or just another child?

If you need extra support in an area that your marriage is struggling in, can you reach out now to work on that?  Please let me know if you need suggestions, we all have our issues, just remember that.  Everyone’s insides do not reflect what you always see on the outside.  A strong marriage is a true possibility!

Did you download the discussion questions yet for this week?  You can do that here.

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