Finding the way out – weary and alone

Weariness.

Weariness is an exceptional liar. Whispering things such as, “You are alone.” “Everyone else’s marriage is going great. We are the only one’s with this struggle.” “There is no hope, stop trying.  You may as well get comfortable with misery.”

Many marriages wear this as a garment. Though it may be uncomfortable and doesn’t fit properly, it remains. No one intentionally keeps company with weariness but when it settles in like a wet blanket, shedding it is not easy and can rarely be done without help. If you find yourself in a weary place right now consider the following thoughts.

  • Give voice to your vulnerabilities – Admit that you feel isolated and alone. Admit that you are facing difficult circumstances and that you can’t see your way through. Speaking up about what you are experiencing gives you a voice and finding your voice gives you power over the weariness. Rather than the voice of weariness your own voice will begin to emerge.
  • Seek out counsel and wisdom – As you begin to find your voice find a counselor, therapist, mentor or group in which you can share and listen to other voices. Recognition is one step out of weariness but health and wholeness is only possible when the word and thought culture in your mind, heart and marriage become more positive. Your words may accurately relate where you are but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are completely true. Finding people who desire to guide you towards truth and wisdom will help you sort through the lies and truths you are believing and that will benefit your life.
  • Receive help graciously – Being willing to receive help often takes more courage and grace than offering to help others. Allow other people to love you by listening to you. Be encouraged by listening to counsel and support offered. Taking steps towards health does not make you inadequate, it proves your desire to live in freedom.

Taking off the garment of weariness will lead to health and freedom in your individual life and in your marriage. Freedom is possible and there are people willing to walk with you along the way.

Consider Sharing Your Story

Last night I (Megan) took the opportunity to attend an event titled, Radical Love: Loving, when loving isn’t easy. Eye’s were opened, hearts were softened and hope was offered.

While there were many wonderful aspects of the evening my favorite was when the speaker shared her story. A story filled with difficulties and struggle, victories and defeat. Hope was offered through the encouragement that if you are struggling to love someone, struggling in a difficult relationship… you are not alone!

That’s what story does. Reminds us that while present realities may not be what we wished for, we are not alone. You have a story. Your marriage has a story. Be sensitive to opportunities when sharing your story would be an encouragement to another. Sharing your experiences with others can help provide comfort and hope to someone in need.

“What if someone would be blessed by what I have to share and they miss out because I hide it?” ~ Holley Gerth

Check out Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough for a memoir about marriage and restoration. (Currently free on kindle)

Yearning For Grace

Want a peak into my day job?

Here it is: Yearing

Now you try describing the vocab word “yearning” to a classroom full of 4th graders. As a substitute teacher that’s exactly what was asked of me (Megan) recently. Honestly, yearning isn’t hard for adults to understand but I wasn’t quite sure how to explain it to a group of 9 & 10 year old’s. The best synonyms I could come up with were longing and desire, not likely the most relevant experience to most of these kids.

Marriage however is filled with yearning. We long for a closer relationship with our spouse, for more time together. We desire a fulfilling and satisfying sex life. We yearn for a healthy, happy and whole marriage. We yearn for love and grace to define and permeate our marriage.

This fall Justin and I spent nine weeks leading a group of couples through Tim Kimmel’s book, Grace Filled Marriage. We had many great discussions, “ah-ha” moments and left knowing some practical things we could actually apply to our marriages. If you are in a place where you find yourself yearning for grace in your marriage I would recommend checking out that book. For today though, here are a few thoughts to consider about grace and marriage.

1.Recognize your own need for grace.

The power of grace comes through recognizing your absolute need for the good news of Jesus Christ and the grace He so freely offers to all who are willing to receive. So much of our lives is spent in selfishness and self-centeredness. Grace provides power to see that it’s not about us at all. To have grace permeate our marriages means recognizing there is not a day that goes by when we are not in need of grace, God’s unmerited favor by which He shows us kindness and mercy.

2. Extend grace out of what you have received from God, not what you want the other person to give.

We all long to receive grace but rarely want to extend grace without believing the other person “deserves” it. That’s the exact opposite of what true grace is. Grace does not consider only oneself but rather considers the needs and desires of the other. Consider offer grace in your tone of voice and the way you touch your spouse. Practice offering gracious acts of service and general kindness. Exchange an attitude of seeking grace into an attitude of generously giving grace and see the changes that can result.

3. Apply grace liberally and see God transform your marriage.

Tim Kimmel says this:

Grace is the equilibrium we apply to all the conditions and challenges that allow our marital love to improve with age. Grace is the plus sign to counter all negatives inherent in partnership. Grace is the vintage agent to covenant love that otherwise becomes flat. Grace is the deal maker in a “till death do us part” commitment.”

Great marriages are built on people who willingly and continually desire the best for their spouse. This doesn’t happen out of sheer commitment but rather it is based on a relationship with Christ, the One from whom all grace originates. Satisfy that yearning you have for grace by turning to Christ first, then extending the grace you have received to your spouse.

Tidbits: Intimacy in the fast lane

Here at Do Not Disturb Blog we want to provide encouraging, helpful and practical ideas to strengthen your marriage in three core areas: friendship, unity and intimacy. Growth in any of these areas won’t occur without concentrated efforts and a certain amount of quality and quantity time. However, we believe that doing small things on a regular basis has the ability to make a big difference. From time to time we want to offer “tidbits” (small suggestions) to give you ideas of how to connect with your spouse.

For today we offer our first ever tidbit for intimacy in the fast lane.

Consider discovering or creating sexual nostalgia with your spouse.

Sexual nostalgia is the term we use to encourage couples to create sexual memories together. Whether it’s a place you longingly remember having sex, a position or perhaps even a tantalizing scent, creating sexual nostalgia with your spouse can be a quick way to get yourself thinking about your spouse sexually and about the next time you will connect.

Why not give it a try tonight. Give a long, passionate kiss in the hallway. Have a good old fashioned make out session on the couch. Do something even more spicy in the bedroom then use your memory to recall that connection tomorrow, and the next day and the next. That memory will become sexual nostalgia for your marriage, a great way to connect intimately with your spouse.

Encouragement: Receiving

In yesterday’s post we discussed just how important encouragement is to building your friendship in marriage. Noticing and mentioning things you love and admire, enjoy and appreciate about your spouse. It’s incredibly useful to be specific and genuine as well as consistent when complimenting and encouraging your spouse.

Giving encouragement though is only half of the equation. Receiving compliments and encouragement proves difficult for many people. The reasons for the difficulties vary greatly. From the family of origin to past abuse or neglect, betrayal, lack of trust or even personal preference can all contribute to how someone receives encouraging words. Dismissal, disbelief and distrust categorize how someone may react when they struggle to receive encouragement intended to build them up.

If you have serious problems receiving encouragement from others, please take time to get to the root of why that is. For the sake of this post however, we are going to share a few ways to begin the path to accepting encouraging and complimentary words.

1. Listen with vulnerability.

Drop the defenses. Release the fear and pride. They aren’t doing you any good.

Chances are, the person speaking to you wants to connect with you and affirm you as a person. Consider the heart of the person speaking and be vulnerable enough to hear what they have to say. Allow the words to soak in and perhaps you will find that they really do have a certain undeniable power. The words spoken can soothe and heal places that are reached by little else. Vulnerability is the first step towards receiving encouragement.

2. Listen with trust.

Even if it is a new experience for your marriage, trust that your spouse wants to encourage you and is doing so for your benefit not their own gain. Have an open discussion about the merits of how to truly speak words of encouragement that your spouse is willing to hear. After that, trust that as your marriage takes steps in that direction, your spouse is for you and really wants to support you.

3. Celebrate the encouragement.

 Accept what is offered then offer encouragements in return.

Maybe your spouse isn’t being as specific as you would like. Certainly there will be mistakes and fumbles with words but it’s important to keep the cycle going. Keep moving forward in giving and receiving encouragement and you may soon find that compliments and a positive word culture are a strength in your marriage. As you learn to receive compliments return them with greater and greater ease.

Encouragement: Giving

Growing your friendship is one of the most important things you can do for your marriage. And one of the best steps you can take to increase your friendship is to appreciate your spouse on a regular basis. Simply taking time to recognize the little things they do and making mention of it can go a long way.

However, we’ve talked to a number of couples who struggle with encouraging one another in marriage. The struggle usually has the possibility of two sides, 1. a spouse who doesn’t know how to genuinely encourage and compliment their spouse and/or 2. a spouse who doesn’t know how to receive and accept the compliments from their spouse.

Today we are going to share a few ideas about how to compliment and appreciate your spouse.

1. Be Specific – Consider the “why” not just the “what”

There’s a reason a declaration of “You’re amazing!” from Justin never really satisfies me as much as “The way you keep our house running means so much to me.” Specificity! The more specific a compliment is, the bigger the benefit. If you are a person who struggles to know how to compliment and encourage your spouse, look at the things they do and uncover the reason why they do them.

2. Be genuine – No flattery allowed!

Right along with being specific is being genuine. Time and time again we talk with couples in which the husband tries to tell the woman that she is beautiful but she just won’t believe it. We will talk more about how to receive compliments tomorrow but want to add this, a wife wants to know why she is beautiful. “You are the most gorgeous woman” is harder for most women to accept than, “The way your hips sway side to side is the most gorgeous movement I’ve ever seen.” The intent is the same in both cases but one sounds more like flattery than a specific and genuine reflection of the heart. Discovering how to be more genuine with your words takes some trial and error to see what works best for your spouse. But keep at it.  It may take some time, but you’ll continually learn what speaks love to your spouse.

3. Be Consistent

“Sometimes” and “Once in awhile” don’t count here. If you want to build your friendship and live in an encouraging marriage consistency is key. Recently, The Generous Wife offered a marriage challenge to “tell your husband one thing you love and admire about him”. She encouraged wives to do this everyday for a week. Building words of encouragement, specific compliments and genuine appreciation into the culture of your marriage will grow your marriage. Set up reminders for yourself. Be quick to compliment in the moment rather than waiting till later when your more likely to forget. Be a good at noticing things both big and small.

Every friendship needs encouragement and every marriage needs friendship. Learning how to make encouragement a regular part of your marriage will strengthen and sustain your marriage.

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1. Have you learned how your spouse best receives compliments?

2. What is one compliment he/she hasn’t heard in a long time? How you can creatively, and genuinely communicate to him/her this week?

Intentional Sex?

For many people this definition isn’t exactly what they would consider passionate or romantic. Yet, we believe there is a certain appeal to intentional sex. Here are three quick reasons why it might be beneficial to be more intentional about sex in your marriage.

1. You just may find yourself having more sex.

One of the biggest libido zappers and road blocks to a satisfying sex life is being overwhelmed, tired and stressed out. Plopping into bed with only the thought of sleep is pretty common. Perhaps sex is on the mind of one spouse but the other is just too tired and wants a rain check….regularly. Being intentional about sex (read: not legalistic) can benefit the overworked and over tired couple.

If you intend to connect with your spouse in the evening you can choose to think about it all day. You can practice mindfulness in how you use your energy, choosing to save some for the bedroom. Intending to have sex at the end of the day can be a good incentive and can be considered a reward.

2. You may find yourself more present during sex.

Preparing your mind and schedule for sex can serve to help clear your mind in order to help you be more present during sex. You’ve already thought through the pressing daily activities, you’ve made it through your day and you know what to expect tonight. If you find it helpful, spend time in conversation with your spouse to release the remnant stray thoughts but if you’ve spent your day thinking about and preparing for sex, chances are there are less mental worries pressuring your mind.

3. Having sex more regularly with a greater sense of presence can produce a positive sexual cycle.

You’ve intentionally made time for sex. You’ve cleared your mind and schedule to connect. You’ve made an effort to be more aware and present during sex. Chances are, if you’ve done these things sex was more fulfilling and satisfying. The more fulfilling and satisfying sex is the more you may want it. Keeping the positive cycle going because of intention, sounds like a good idea.

“…if we’re not intentional about pursuing God’s best for our marriages, and grasping the tremendous role intimacy plays in that relationship, what was intended to be deeply enjoyed – a passionate, life giving love affair…alight with laughter, fiercely protected, and drenched in freedom – becomes a stuffy, awkward thing to be endured.” ~ Joy McMillan