Seven things vital to your marriage

If I could spare you some pain and confusion young (or older) bride, would you listen to me?

Cause this marriage thing really can be good – but it takes work, commitment and it takes realizing that you are two sinners attempting to live together. But if I could zero in on seven things that are vital to your marriage, I’d love to sit you down…face to face, if I could…and share some key areas I’ve experienced in my own life and in the lives of other women that I’ve counseled over the years.

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1. INTIMACY IS VITAL TO YOUR MARRIAGE AND IS A GIFT FROM GOD

I was also that devoted and loving momma…and sometimes, giving attention to my husband and to my children seemed to go together about as well as trying to fit a puzzle piece into the wrong place.

You love your babies, I mean, c’mon, who else is going to take care of them, pick them up when they cry, attend to their needs, nurture…and all of that is exhausting. Picking up, cleaning up, diapering up, wiping up, folding, sorting, shopping, cooking, breaking up fights, tying shoes, finding matching socks…it is so utterly exhausting and by the time you come home from work and attempt to do a full time job (again), or by the time your man walks in the door the last thing on your mind is what’s on his.

Really.

Do you think I have any desire to do anything when I am so tired I can’t no longer see straight.

I’ve been there when the days seem to never end and when you do finally get everyone to sleep you cannot wait to throw your ragged behind into your own bed and  to finally – not hear the words,  “Mom, Mommy, Momma, Mother,” or anything that resembles the idea – “I need you.” That includes any particular husband who “needs,” you.

I remember pretending to be asleep or in a bad mood or angry or anything…just so that I can finally have a moment’s peace to myself without someone clinging to me.

But I want you to consider something.

Where does your man have to go for his pleasure, for his safe place, for intimacy?

Think about that for just a minute. You don’t want him looking in places that he shouldn’t. You don’t want him engaging with other women in ways he shouldn’t. You want him to be connected, to communicate to engage with you on deep levels, you want to be able to share your heart…

then share your body.

Be willing to be vulnerable.

That means some trust on your part.

That might mean some a shift needs to take place in your mind.

God designed your body perfectly for his and his for yours. He fashioned you so that you could be the sole person that would bring him delight – and equally so – his body should bring delight to you. You are a gift to him – and he knows that. Did you hear me say that?

He thinks of you as a gift.

And you are. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when the thought of one more person asking something of you repulses you and makes you want to lock yourself in the bathroom. Even when your retaining water, when you have dark circles under your eyes, when your thighs are rubbing together…he thinks you are beautiful.

It doesn’t mean he always approaches you perfectly or is perfectly patient.

But you are meant to be his safe place, where he finds comfort and he is meant to be that for you.

I know there are so many reading this who don’t have that and I know how painful and lonely that can be. And I know there are countless others who are in marriages that are cold and in crisis. God cares about you and your marriage. Trust me, I’ve been there.

But for those of you who have a man who desires you.

CONSIDER IT A BLESSING!

Because it is. You have someone who thinks you are IT! You have someone who wants to be with you. You have someone who really doesn’t care about the circumference of your thighs or if nothing sags and bags – cause you are the real thing – in the flesh. And that is a gift. That is a beautiful gift from God.

He doesn’t see you with all of the imperfections that you do. You stand in the mirror and only see the flaws. He looks at you with desire – and not what you consider things that are wrong – they are things that are “right,” to him.  It’s his and it’s good. At least it can and should be.

2. DON’T PUT YOUR CHILDREN ABOVE YOUR HUSBAND

Your life is demanding. Your kids can suck the life out of you. You are attempting to spin plates and most of the time- there’s not one you could let down without feeling as if everything would implode. But when you make your children more important than your marriage…then where is your husband to fit into that equation? Of course your not going to neglect your children -you are appalled at the mere suggestion. But the most important gift you can give your sweet babies is that of a solid marriage.

That means getting a sitter once in awhile.

That means saving some energy – for your man.

That means making a point to make sure he knows you still believe in him.

Remember those days when you thought he could do no wrong, then you got married and found out otherwise. Here’s a newsflash: You aren’t perfect either. Who is quicker to point out the flaws in your relationship? Who has seemed to shrink back some, even shrink back into the corner cause there’s not much room for them? If it’s your beloved…maybe its time to give him some attention. Even if you can only come up with one thing he’s good at – tell him. Tell him he’s still got it. Then give him the gift he desired when he married you.

As much as you want to lean on him or ignore him or take charge of him…he’s meant to be your partner, your covering, your intimate one. And when your kids leave home – he’ll still be there and you won’t have the kids to hide behind…or their flurry of activities. Don’t burn yourself out from all of the things you feel is detrimental to their development (really they don’t need every kind of lesson and experience before they leave your home) and leave your relationship to fend for itself. Cause it won’t – it will become burnt toast.

3. IT’S NORMAL TO STRUGGLE

And when you struggle. I want you to know IT’S NORMAL.

It doesn’t mean everything is unraveling or that you won’t grow old together. It means you are two human beings, two sinners, two selfish people attempting to make a life together. It takes work, a lot of hard work.

Sometimes, you’ll fail.

Sometimes, you’ll say things you wish you could take back.

And so will he.

The question is, where do you go from there? Do you stay in those same patterns of bad habits or are you willing to recognize that somethings might need to change. You might need too compromise. You might need to relax a little or a whole lot. It means you might be expecting and he’s not delivering all of of your

EXPECTATIONS which leaves you feeling shorted. He’s disappointed you.

Maybe you’ve disappointed him too.

But that the beauty of marriage – yes, beauty in your failures – that’s how you grow – together. It won’t be perfect because it can’t be. You aren’t perfect, he’s not either. But one thing it can be is GRACE FILLED.

That’s what you learn over time – that it’s about extending grace and mercy, not always having to be right, loving each other for who you are not who you want each other to be. It’s not getting them to see it “your,” way, or getting them to be who you desire. It’s allowing God to work in them – in HIS TIME, not yours.

People who tell you they never (or have never) argue(d) are either lying, forget or have not really challenged each other in ways that bring their relationship into a deeper refinement and commitment.

So those arguments – they can actually be productive. If you learn to communicate – to attack the problem, not the person.

4. ROMANCE IS PART OF THE MARRIAGE NOT THE GLUE THAT HOLDS YOU TOGETHER

Hear me on this one, young bride. Sometimes, you won’t feel in love. As a matter of fact, there will be times, when you’ll be tempted to pack up and head to a remote beach for a day or two or twenty. That’s normal too. There will be times when you struggle, when you are out of sorts, when you are feeling blah, overwhelmed and so very, very inadequate. Been there. My mom was too. Watch the video to the right if you want to see just how much I wanted to run!

There’s an ebb and flow, good times and bad, laughter and a lot of tears. It’s not meant to be a fairy tale romance – cause that doesn’t exist, so don’t kid yourself believing that yours is…cause you aren’t perfect – neither one of you are. It’s meant to be a commitment. It’s meant to bring delight and contentment. It takes time and sometimes it take time to reach rough waters…but you will. Just keep paddling, you’ll get through it.

The movies you watch, the exaggerated face book posts, the songs you listen to – they give the impression that the “feelings,” of love – and all that the best romance novels have to offer is what keeps your love going. That’s backwards. Romance is a product of your devotion to each other. Romance can and should be a part of your marriage (as I rambled about above) but when you are both exhausted, stressed and strung-out, those warm fuzzy feelings aren’t necessarily going to show up when you feel as if the the ship is about to go down. The longer you are married, the more you see that the trials, the dry times, the hard times – they are actually adhesives that help you grow together.

Young bride, don’t think you will be different or that you won’t struggle or that your love is just so stinkin’ good that nothing could ever taint the cloud of bliss…cause that’s an expectation that is bound to set you up for feeling like someone has let you down…mainly that man who sometimes is silent when you let him down.

5. DON’T TAKE EVERYTHING SO SERIOUSLY

Enjoy the ride. Lighten up. Don’t expect perfection – in ANYTHING. Don’t be critical. Don’t miss these days when you are young. Don’t miss opportunities to grow together – even if that means an argument or a season that seems pretty rough.

Being intentional, purposeful – working hard at it – yup, It’s all good. But sometimes, sucking in a deep breath, taking a giant step back, being willing to see the humor in the moment, being willing to laugh and NOT BE SO DARN ANGRY AND STRESSED ALL THE TIME…well, that goes a long, long, long way to help create a  peaceful environment within your home.

Remember that a house that is always guest ready means someone is too exhausted to enjoy guests.  A home void of at least some daily mess of life can mean someone is too busy running behind everyone picking up every crumb and sock rather than enjoying everyone.

Trust me. Dust will make its return for years to come but your kids and your young husband will be gone before you know it.

6. TRUST GOD TO WORK IN YOUR MARRIAGE

Marriage wasn’t man’s idea it was God’s. Being the CREATOR of it, He’s got this marriage thing figured out. Too many brides make marriage into something it ISN’T rather than something GOD MEANT IT TO BE.

It’s not meant to be your source of happiness or fulfillment.

It’s not meant to be your idol – or even the desire for a “happy, Godly marriage.” (that was my hang-up…again, watch the video to the right to find out).

God loves your spouse more than you do. As a matter of fact, that husband of your is HIS SON. He’ll do the convicting, changing, directing so you can relax and stop taking on that role.

God also cares about your marriage and family even more than you do. He wants you to succeed.

Trust Him…even when things look hopeless (here’s where I mention the video to the right again)

Trust Him to work in your husband.

Grab a hold of an older, married, Godly woman and spend some time with her. Allow her to speak into your life. There’s a well of wisdom out there from women who’ve done this married thing for decades – believe me, they know what they are talking about, they’ve been down this road and lived to tell about it!

7. GOD LOVES YOU

On those days when your husband makes you cry, when you don’t want to talk to him every again. When you feel as if you aren’t being heard or cherished or when everything seems to be unraveling at the seams…God loves you, perfectly. He will not leave nor forsake you. Your identity isn’t in being a “Mrs.” it’s in being a child of God.

God isn’t angry at you, trying to punish you or ignoring you.

He gave Himself for you. He sacrificed His own son for you. Your marriage is actually meant to portray His son, Christ and His beloved bride – which is the church. There’s a whole wonderful study for you to do…and it’s worth doing!

Marriage brings fulfillment and that’s a good thing. But only God truly fulfills. Which means if you do place God first in your heart and life, then your husband and THEN your precious kids…that’s a good start for your marriage. Even if you have really stunk at this and have been EVERYTHING to your kids and have left your man in the dust..it’s not too late. It’s never too late.  Chin up, keep paddling.

Even if at some point (or you are there now) you find your marriage in crisis, you can still trust an unchanging and ever-watchful and faithful God. (that video to the right again).

You are a splendor and a wonder, a beautiful gift to your man so walk confidently, young bride and know that are covered in His perfected grace.

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May friendship, encouragement and grace abound!