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.

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?

Word Culture in Marriage

The words hung in the air. The kind of words that you regret as soon as they leave your mouth.

“Why? Why? Why did I just say that?”

Next to me sat the person who received the cut from the careless utterances, my husband.  I (Megan) know the great power of words yet I still mess up, I still get it wrong.  I know the sting of causing my husband, whom I love, pain.  Everyone who is married can relate.  Words have a way of getting away from us and those same words have an incredible power to affect our spouse deeply.

Assuming that you are as much a work in progress as I am, I wanted to share a few ideas about how to consider the power of the words we use in our marriages.

1. Become aware of the word culture in your marriage.

How much time do you spend speaking encouraging words to or about your spouse? So many times there are things we find endearing and enjoyable about our spouse but do we take time to share those things with our life partner? Never take for granted that your spouse “knows how you feel.” Give them assurances about how much you love them. There is a time and a place to talk to your spouse about changes that may be necessary, but building up your spouse on a regular basis will make those difficult conversations easier. Don’t underestimate the importance of complimenting and reminding your spouse of specific things you love, admire and enjoy about them.

What about the way you speak of relationships outside your marriage? Awareness is just one step towards understanding the word culture in your marriage. It is possible that you and your spouse speak well of each other yet maintain a negative attitude and speech pattern about other people in your life. While there is a time for “venting” and being vulnerable about frustrations and difficulties we face in life, trying to maintain a positive attitude about others will increase the positive affect in your own marriage.

2. Increase positivity in the speech patterns you uncover.

If you uncovered a pattern of speaking negatively about your spouse or others on a regular basis come up with concrete ways to change the bad habit. When you catch yourself becoming negative, complaining or being overly critical about your spouse or someone else, take a time out. What other factors are adding to the negativity? Are you tired, stressed out, feeling rejected or overwhelmed? These factors impact the way you speak and are often the root cause of what comes hurtling out of your mouth. The more in touch you become with why you are saying things the better able you are to make changes in your speech patterns.

3. Accept imperfect progress.(because after all, it is progress!)

Don’t be surprised by the internal resistance to changing speech patterns. Learning to be encouraging, affirming and positive with the words we speak is no easy task. There will be setbacks and missteps. Remembering that imperfect progress is better than no progress is important. When mistakes are made, taking responsibility and making mental notes to work on it benefit and build unity in marriage.

Learning to accept and offer grace continually is the backbone of a great marriage. Words become the vehicle through which grace can navigate into the unreached areas of our lives. Speak life into your marriage and keep working on it even when setbacks come your way.

 How about you? What are ways you have found that help you keep positive speech patterns in your marriage?

 

Marriage Strong, Energy Poor

We started off the year being transparent about the struggles 2013 brought into our lives. Despite the turmoil the past year brought, we determined to make 2014 The Year of Friendship. We did this for a specific reason, we knew 2014 was likely to bring about a fair share of struggles of its own.  We were right.

February has brought grief and pain into our lives in the form of loss. I (Megan) lost my mother (age 63) on February 7th. An incredible legacy but a heavy loss for my heart. This past week we also lost Justin’s grandmother. A woman with whom we we were very close and visited regularly.  The pain and grief of these losses has left us raw and tired. The most common question asked of us right now is, “How are you doing?” and let me tell ya, that’s a doozie of a question. Truth is, we are comforted and well supported. We are also sad, grieving and exhausted. However, when it comes to our marriage I describe that we are marriage rich despite being energy poor.

Maybe you can relate, your marriage is strong even though you are physically and emotionally spent. Maybe for you that is wishful thinking, you can’t imagine having a strong marriage during your most difficult season. Today I want to share three things that are keeping our marriage strong during this trying and difficult time.

1. Words

Words of encouragement, comfort, support and reassurance are necessary during times of deep hurt. The words can come in form of cards, notes or be spoken but, whatever the form, using words to build up your spouse is essential to a strong marriage.

2. Actions

Sometimes even words can’t soothe the heartache of the ones we love most. During those times it’s important to show our support of them through actions that speak where words are inadequate. A listening ear, a long hug, a comforting meal, a trip to the store – all of these actions and so many more can strengthen your marriage.

In addition, lowering the “normal” expectations of what your spouse may be able to accomplish with their time is an action of love. Around our house, laundry is getting done but may not always make it to the state of being put away properly. Meals are being eaten together, but may be of the variety of store bought goods and sides as opposed to my normal more healthy and frugal meals. The burden to keep up with all of life while processing difficult circumstances is oppressive but as a spouse, we can speak with loving actions when we let go of expectations and allow our spouse to feel supported regardless of the disruption to “normal”. A new normal will settle in but patience and support until that time makes a marriage thrive during the interim.

3. Space

Not to be disregarded, even in a one flesh marriage, it is important to allow our spouse space to process. Just as a garden does not bloom within hours of the seeds being planted, a spouse cannot process and heal without some space and time. Healthy amounts of togetherness and separateness during difficult seasons is important. Be observant, patient and sensitive to what your spouse needs most. If your spouse needs you to be there, then be there. If they need some alone time to cry, sleep, write, grant them that space.  The garden will grow, not from force, but from the space to receive the nutrients essential to support it’s growth.

Of course our faith in God and our Savior Jesus Christ is giving us the greatest amount of strength and comfort during this time, but on a practical level, words, actions and space are the ways our marriage is being nurtured.  These elements can strengthen marriages in all situations and can be applied in many close relationships.

Difficult times will come in every marriage and these are just a few thoughts on how to sustain health and strength. Feel free to share how you strengthen your marriage when difficulties (especially those outside of the marriage relationship) arise.

 

Marriage Challenge: True Compliments (Giveaway winners announced)

“You had the finest, most powerful, most resonant voice of any of the young male swans in the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana.” “I did?” said the cob. “Yes, indeed. Everytime I heard you say something in that deep voice of yours, I was ready to go anywhere with you.” “You were?” said the cob. He was obviously delighted with his wife’s praise. It tickled his vanity and made him feel great. He had always fancied himself as having a fine voice, and now to hear it from his wife’s own lips was a real thrill.” 

The Cob’s wife to her husband – The Trumpet of the Swam, E.B. White

When was the last time you complimented your spouse? I mean really complimented them. Telling them something about themselves that they don’t know or even more important reminding them of something they have forgotten in the midst of the demands of everyday life. In the above example, the wife’s compliment delighted her husband and thrilled him to know how she really felt and what she really thought of him. Today’s challenge is simple, think of a way to compliment your spouse and then do it! The idea is not to go about it selfishly, desiring a compliment in return. Compliment your spouse because of the positive impact it can have on them and your marriage.

And now for the winners of our giveaway:

The Simply Romantic Wife – Katie Adauto

31 days to great sex – Lindsay Harold

Please email us your information and we will get those resources to you.

Thanks everyone for continuing to read.

Connectivity and Sex

Sex is about connection. It’s about fun and games. It’s meant to bring a married couple together to share in something that is exclusive.  An exclusive moment of knowing and being known at the deepest level.  This is what sex is all about.  However, knowing all these incredible reasons doesn’t seem to eliminate how challenging it can be to make sex a priority.  See if you can relate to any of these common reasons people choose not to have sex.

  • too tired
  • too busy
  • no energy
  • too much work to do
  • don’t feel sexy
  • relational conflict (with spouse or others)
  • lack of connection/conversation throughout the day
  • it doesn’t feel good
  • our relationship needs help!
  • demands of the day (work, kids, family, house, bills etc) are overwhelming

A long list that probably doesn’t include half the reasons and excuses that shove sex to the bottom of the “to do” list.  We are unable to address all of those issues in one post but today we are going to share 4 ways to feel connected to your spouse throughout the day.  Trying these ‘touch-points of connection’ may just revive your desire to connect physically and intimately.

1. Begin your day with a smile, a kiss and a kind word.  It seems simple, maybe too simple, but what have you got to lose?  Starting the day with affection and touch can be a good way to boost the intimacy in your relationship.  A kiss, kind word and tender moment at the beginning of the day can help set the tone for the rest of the day.  Your marriage is supposed to be set apart from the rest of your relationships, so do something that truly sets it apart.  If your spouse is used to a rushed  and hectic morning encounter, determine what changes you need to make in order to give your spouse your best.

2. Communicate with your spouse throughout the day.  There are a number of ways that you can let your spouse know that you are thinking about them throughout the day.  It could be a simple lunchbox note or handwritten note in their car.  Maybe an email or text during the day.  And though our tech savvy culture may snicker at the archaic devise called a phone, it just might be the point of connection your marriage needs.  Take into consideration what communication works best for you and your spouse then follow through and begin regularly communicating. (check out these 5 text your should send your spouse from Messy Marriage)

3. Think about your spouse throughout the day.  While it is wonderful to actually communicate with your spouse, thinking about them is also very beneficial.  Set up reminders (or what we call “triggers”) throughout your day that entice you to remember your spouse.  Simple and mundane tasks take on new meaning if you are purposefully turning your mind and heart towards your spouse.  Don’t underestimate the importance of mentally and emotionally connecting to your spouse throughout the day.

4. Pray for your spouse. There is an incredibly powerful connection that is possible when we pray for our spouse.  Whether we are praying about specific concerns our spouse has shared with us or praying for more general well being, God can change the course of our marriage when we are willing to bring our prayers to Him.  There are many great resources available to help you learn to pray for your spouse and we would encourage you to use them.  Consistency however is the key.  Consistently pray for all different aspect of your marriage and watch God work.

“This post doesn’t have anything to do with sex” you may be saying right now. That may appear true as we didn’t address many of the excuses in our list.  It’s our belief though, that these ‘touch-points of connection’ can help revive your marriage.  A great sex life comes from the overflow of a strong marriage.  So if you want a great sex life begin by working on having a stronger marriage.

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Join the conversation:

How have you found that connectivity during the day helps you desire connectivity in the bedroom?

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum, Messy Marriage, Happy Wives Club