Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winner, Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Congrats Cassi! Be sure to check your email.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway!

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 31: Sex as a Weapon

I know what you might be thinking...and we're not talking about dominatrix here. (Yikes!)

What we are talking about today is using sex (or lack thereof) as a way to manipulate or punish your spouse.

"He didn't do this right, so there's no way I'm having sex with him tonight!"
"I'll show him!"
"I'm just not sexually attracted to my spouse anymore."

When you take sex away for reasons like that, what you're saying is, "My love for you is based on your actions and what you can do for me.  It's not based on the fact that I love you, just because."

1 Corinthians 7:3-5 tells us this, "The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

This is not an issue of one spouse being in control of the other or forcing one to have sex.  That's just wrong.  This is an issue of deciding to not be self-centered.  It's an issue of coming together intimately to strengthen the marriage bond.

I understand that medical issues and exhaustion come in to play.  I also know that a loving spouse should be sensitive to how their mate feels physically.  I'm not talking about those times.  I'm talking about the times when sex is just down-right denied for no-good reason.  It's dangerous to do that.  

We talked yesterday about foreplay, and I really believe that if foreplay is brought into the equation, sex will be more pleasurable for both parties and there won't be a desire to deny a spouse of it.

If sex has not been pleasurable for you, there are some practical ways to make it better.

Husbands:  If your wife denies you sex because it's not pleasurable for her, take some advice.  Ask your wife what she likes, and really focus on pleasing her during the sexual experience and not just "getting yours."  There are physical ways for men to 'hold out' so the wife can get the most pleasure.  Make the sexual experience less focused on you and more focused on the awesome intimacy with your wife.  If you're denying your wife sex, you're crushing her self-esteem.  Show her love this way, and she'll be able to show you love and respect in the ways you need.

Wives:  If you're denying your husband sex, stop.  Get to the root issue and resolve it, but don't deny your husband sex.  Maybe even be the one to initiate sex.  Shock him!  If you're being denied sex by your husband, consider a few's his stress level?  Ask him if there's something you can do to help him relax.  Are you really respecting him?  If you're not, you could be turning him off.

In our culture, sex has become about "ME, ME, ME!" and what's the most pleasure *I* can get from it.  Sex in a marriage should be more about 'us' and less about 'me'.  When we take the time to be intimate and pleasure our spouse, we're strengthening our marriage bonds.  Have sex!  Have lots of sex!  Enjoy that time with your spouse!

I'm so grateful you've joined me on this 31 Days series.  There were times I wasn't sure I'd make it, and your encouragement and reading made all the difference.  God really does want us to have a happy marriage.  We're blessed to get to be married.  I hope you've enjoyed this series!  Thank you for reading!

The giveaway ends tonight!  If you haven't signed-up, there's still time!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 30: Foreplay

We're jumping in the deep end!  Why not?  This is real life and what real married couples deal with.  Ain't no shame!

God designed sex to be good and to be that connecting factor for husbands and wives.  God wants you and your spouse to have an awesome sex life!  One of the very first things He told Adam and Eve to do was "be fruitful and multiply." guessed it!  That means have sex!  God is all about a good, healthy sex life for married couples.

So, on to foreplay...

We're going to talk about two different types of foreplay....out of the bedroom and in the bedroom.  The definition for foreplay is set of emotionally intimate and physically intimate acts between two or more people meant to create sexual arousal and desire for sexual activity

Foreplay Out of the Bedroom
I really believe that foreplay out of the bedroom is the most important.  Usually, without it, you won't even get to foreplay in the bedroom.  Foreplay out of the bedroom in it's most basic form is need to feel respected and women need to feel loved.  Have you read Love & Respect? Dr. Eggerichs explains it so clearly.  

Ephesians 5:33 tells us, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."

It's really hard to get 'in the mood' if you're a man and you feel like your wife doesn't respect you.  This comes in the form of nagging, correcting (especially in public), and even emasculating.  Husbands have a hard time giving love when they don't feel respected.  Love & Respect encourages wives to test their husbands by doing the respect test.  The respect test is when you tell your husband what you respect about him and listen to how he responds.  I did this with Jeremiah.  I told him a list of things I respect about him...he's willing to workout in the gym every morning to be healthy for our family; he works long hours to provide for our family; he helps maintain the house; he's a great dad, etc.  

Do you know what his response to me was?  "I love you, too!"  I never even used the word "love," but it was his automatic response to me respecting him.

When men feel respected they give love.  Respecting your husband is the best way to start foreplay outside of the bedroom.  You know, besides showing up naked with food.

It's really hard to get 'in the mood' if you're a woman and you don't feel like your husband loves you.  This comes in the form of neglect, unappreciation, and lack of support (emotionally and physically).  Wives have a hard time giving respect when they don't feel loved.  Husbands, you have a golden opportunity to have a great sex life when you really show your wife that you love her.  Help wash the dishes.  Change the kid's dirty diaper.  Send her a sweet text.  Let her know you love her and are thinking about her.  Brag about her to your buddies.  She might want to jump you right then and there!  If you treat her without love during the day, it's not fair to expect her to want to make love during the night.

If you find yourself in the crazy cycle of not respecting and loving each other, decide to break it.  It only takes 1 spouse to make that first move.  It will be worth it and, I bet you'll see a great return in the bedroom!

Foreplay In the Bedroom
So, have you read Song of Solomon?  Here's the very first verse of chapter 1:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.

Talk about some foreplay!  Foreplay is Bible stuff!

As a couple has been married over time, sometimes it takes a little longer for the juices to get flowing than in those first few years.  Hormones settle in and life happens.  Foreplay is an extremely helpful way to rev up the engines!

My parents are pastors and have done many marriage conferences and marital counseling.  They've always said, "Women are like crock pots and men are like microwaves."  Sometimes, it just takes us women a little longer to get warmed up (if we even get warmed up).  Husbands, you can really help in this area by going slow and making sure you're both on the same page while you're in the bedroom.  Women, you can help your husbands out by acting like you're into it.

Take the time to make your bedroom romantic.  Set out the candles.  Play some good music.  Get the mood going in the right direction before you expect your spouse to be on board and raring to go.  Don't wait until Christmas and Birthdays to be intimate.  Make it a priority in your marriage. 

                                                                        Source: via Nastja on Pinterest

Intimacy and sex in a marriage can bond a couple so that during the hard times it's hard to break them a part.  Don't neglect this part of your marriage!  Many times it's the first to go when we get busy in life.  It needs to stay a priority.

Try out different kinds of foreplay in and out of the bedroom.  Have fun with it!  God loves to see married couples have a happy sex life!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Monday, October 29, 2012

Giveaway! & 31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 29: Let's Talk about Sex, Baby.


Y'all knew this had to come....

The SEX talk.

Trust me, it's a good thing.

We'll be talking about sex until the conclusion of the 31 Days series.

To kick it off, let's have a giveaway!

About the Book:
Do bad girls really have more fun? Surveys say no. The women who are most likely to enjoy sex are married and religious. In other words, they're Good Girls!

But good girls know that making sex great isn't about acting trashy. It's about recognizing what God really designed sex for, and then learning how to reap all these benefits and joyfully enjoy your husband.

Frank and contemporary, The Good Girls' Guide to Great Sex will give the newly engaged and new brides—and some veteran wives—a Christian resource to answer their most intimate, and embarrassing, questions. In a conversational style, with lots of humorous anecdotes, the book will show that sex isn't just physical: it's also an emotional and spiritual experience. And we'll learn why commitment in a Christian marriage is the perfect recipe for a sex life which is out of this world!

I listed this book on the resources post.  It's a great book.  Even if you don't consider yourself a 'good girl', you can gain a lot of great info from this book.

To enter the giveaway, follow the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 28: What is Love?

I sure hope y'all can forgive me that I didn't post yesterday.  I needed a break. :)  But, I still want to put up a post.

This is going back to the basics.  This is what we forget the most and need the most.

When we understand that GOD IS LOVE and gives it freely and unconditionally to us, we're able to give it to our spouse.

Please read this scripture twice.  Once replacing "love" with "God" and then a second time as is.  God's pretty good.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 27: Guest Post - My Momma! (Beth Allen)

I love my momma. SOOO much.  She's a wonderful lady.  I love that as I'm growing up I see myself being more and more like her.  My parents have been married for 30+ years (I know that's crazy since my momma is only 35, ha!).  My parents pastor Living Hope Church together.  They've seen it all.  She has such great wisdom when it comes to marriage.  I hope you enjoy this post!

Take it away momma....

One of the dirtiest words in marriage begins with the letter S. You say "what is it". The answer is "STRIFE".

The first part of Proverbs 12:29 says,

     "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."

I can hear you say, "I would never do that!", "I would never cause trouble in my own home!", but unfortunately we do.  I found myself doing that, especially in my early years of marriage. We are not aware of it, but most of us go into marriage with a self absorbed, idolized view. We are very self-centered because before we got married our life was all about me, me, me. 

Back to strife, I'll give you some examples.

I like my bed sheets tight & tucked in. Ronald, likes his loose and half the time they are pushed to the middle of the bed and he is only under the bedspread. Ugh! Well, when we first got married I changed the sheets & tuck the bottom end in. Then I would get mad when we got into bed and the first thing he'd do was lift his leg up as high as he could, pulling his end out & mine out too! Then a fight would ensue.   

How I solved the problem:
It's easy! When I make the bed I tuck my side in, keeping his side out. (It ain't rocket science.)

Ronald was more of a meat & potato kind of guy, me, I can eat anything! He worked for the Fire Department 24 hrs on, 48 hrs off. Because of our finances sometimes I fixed hotdogs, grilled cheese sandwiches & soup, and fish sticks for dinner. He hated these meals and would complain any time I served them.

How I solved the problem:
The kids & I would eat them on the nights he was at the Firehall. It was like a mini-vacation from the kitchen for me when I could fix those quick & easy meals. Then when he was home I would go all out & he appreciated it so much.

Next example:
I thought one of Ronald's at home jobs was to take the trash out. Well, he was always forgetting or I would be nagging at him to do it.

How I solved the problem:
I'd take the garbage out. How simple is that? You might be saying, "I have to do it all". Well since I've been taking the garbage out you wouldn't believe how many compliments I have received. It must have been a burden to him. I get so much more out of doing that one little thing for him! It only takes a minute to walk the garbage can from the back of the house to the curb.

You are probably thinking, "None of this stuff is a big deal!", how is it sowing strife in my marriage? But look what it says in Song of Solomon 2:15

     Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

My translation is this:  problems that start out small and petty can become big issues in a marriage. It's these small annoyances that pick, pick, pick at the life of a marriage. It's not what you are arguing's that you are always arguing in the first place. This can destroys the peace in your marriage just when it's beginning.

If you find there is strife in your home take a look and see if what you are doing is adding to it.  Like Proverbs  12:29       says, you will inherit the wind. In other words, "do you always have to be right?" I know these issues I've mentioned seem small or petty, but the deeper issue stems from a need to be right, not an attitude of service and love.  Loves seeks the other's best, love always believes the best.  Strife comes from a need to be right, and that need can only be met by receiving it as gift from God.  

Man!  Aren't you glad you read this?  Thanks momma for sharing your wisdom with all of us!  You're a blessing!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 26: The First Resort

When I look back at my marriage at the times when it was most difficult and there was no peace, I know I wasn't praying.  And, by praying, I'm not talking about kneeling-by-your-bedside-hands-crossed-praying-for-hours kind of praying....I'm talking about just simply talking (and listening) to God.  I was too busy being focused on me and the problems, that I wasn't focusing on God and his answers.

James 1:5 tells us, "If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought."

God wants to help us...He wants us to ask Him for help.

Most of the time when we have marriage issues we talk to everyone but God.  God should be our first (and most of the time only) go-to guy.

We don't need to be under pressure about praying some holier-than-thou type of prayer.  Get real with God. He's a big boy and can handle it.  Talk to Him like you would talk to your best friend.  He's listening.

Praying is also not just for when times are hard.  It's a time to thank God for what He's done and a time to ask His direction for different areas of our lives.  You don't have to wait for a problem to show up to start praying.  You can pray for your spouse's job, stress-level, friendships, parenting issues, etc.

Instead of making prayer a last resort, let's make it our first.  We can usually get a lot more accomplished in our relationship if we talk to God about our issues without even bringing it up to our spouse. We give God the opportunity to change our outlook, which is usually the biggest issue. Ha!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 25: Expectations, these little (or great) things can make or break a relationship.

Expectations in and of themselves are not bad.  But, when an expectation is placed on another person it can cause a lot of frustration.

A lot of times we have expectations and don't even realize it....

Husbands should take out the trash and make sure the oil is changed...
Wives should have the house clean and supper cooked....
We should have nice things so people know we're doing well....
Husbands should be able to read wives' minds....
Husbands and wives should have sex this many times per week....

Some expectations are put in our heads by how we grew up or by what we believed was a good functioning marriage as children.

Some expectations we put on ourselves because we want to fit in or appear to have it all together.

Either way, expectations can cause a lot of frustration in your marriage, especially when it's not a spoken one.

Let me give you an example....

If I have the expectation that Jeremiah should know what I feel like and what I'm thinking, then I'll get aggravated at him when he does things opposite of what I think.  If I think Jeremiah should take out the trash, but he doesn't, I will probably get upset.  I have this little expectation of how our life should be, it puts pressure on our  marriage, and when it's not fulfilled, I'm upset.

Ask yourself what expectations you are placing on your spouse.  Remove them.  It will relieve the pressure from your relationship.

If your husband doesn't take out the trash like you think he should, then you take it out.
If your wife doesn't have the house cleaned like you think she should, then you clean it.

There's an old saying that says, “We tend to judge others by their actions, and we judge ourselves by our intentions.” 

Romans 14:13 tells us, "Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is."

It's not fair to put expectations on others, especially our spouse.  Instead of expecting our spouse to fulfill a need, let's serve and love them.  Let's ask them, "What can I do to make your life easier?"

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 24: Resources

I wanted to share some of the best marriage resources I've come across.  These are books I've read, websites I visit, and messages that have blessed my marriage.

I don't think you can ever invest too much in your marriage, and by getting resources that can open your eyes on how to resolve issues, you can really save your marriage.


The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregoire

Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

To Love, Honor & Vacuum by Sheila Gregoire

Bob & Audrey Miesner at My New Day

Modern Family Series by Pastors Allen & Janice Speegle

Family Values Series by Pastors Ron & Beth Allen

I hope you enjoy checking these out!  They are great resources, and most of them are FREE!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Random Cuteness

Just to brighten your day...


31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 23: Compliments

Compliments can go really far in a marriage.  Learning to give and receive them can give your marriage just the little boost it may need.

Yesterday, we talked about being attractive for your spouse.  But, what's even better than being attractive for your spouse is knowing that your spouse thinks you are!

Complimenting our spouse is another one of those things that we do a lot when we're dating, but as time comes and goes and as schedules get busy, it's also one of the first things to go.  I don't think we intentionally think, "I'm not going to tell my wife she looks beautiful."  I think it's just one of those things we don't really think about as much.

When Jeremiah tells me I look nice, and he takes time to notice the little things (like a hair cut, a good supper, or a new shirt) it makes me feel like a giddy school girl on the inside.

I'm not talking about fluffed up flattery here.  I'm talking about noticing the effort your spouse puts into looking nice, taking care of the home, working hard, cooking supper, managing life and actually letting your spouse know they do a good job and you appreciate them.

I can tell a difference in Jeremiah as soon as I show appreciation and let him know he's doing a good job.  It brightens his attitude.  Genuinely complimenting our spouse lets them know we care about them and notice what they do.  It lets them know they are on our mind.  We go from being self-centered to focusing on our spouse.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us, "Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose."

We have the power to speak life over our spouse by complimenting them.

Take a little time today to compliment your spouse.  Let them know how much you appreciate them and what they do to make your life better.  It will take your marriage a lot further than complaining and keeping the good stuff to yourself.

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 22: Be Attractive...B-E Attractive!

We've talked about a lot of personal attitude and relational issues the last few days.  Now I'm going to take a post to talk about something more external...

My sister, Amanda, recently sent me a link to a single dad's post entitled, "16 Ways I Blew My Marriage."  It's actually pretty funny and insightful.  One of the ways he listed that stuck out to me was, "Don't stop being attractive."

My Mimi was amazing at this.  She would wake up early and make sure she 'put her face on' so she looked good for her husband and family.  When my parents were visiting her one time and my dad noticed she was always 'put together' before breakfast, he asked her why.  She said, "If I can't do this for my family, why would I do this for anyone else?"


When we're dating we always look our best.  We spend time getting ready for our dates, picking out our outfits, brushing out teeth, etc.

But many times, after we're married, and we've got kids running around, we don't maintain that as a priority.

Our spouse deserves us looking our best.

Song of Solomon 2:16 tells us, "My beloved is mine and I am his."  We are in this together. We are one. When we put effort into looking nice for our spouse, we can really help our own confidence.

I know a lot of us don't look like we did while we were dating our spouse. That's life.  We get settled in home life, have kids, eat big family meals, and our bodies change as we get older.  It's just gonna happen.  No shame in that.  BUT, we don't have to dress frumpy.  We don't need to let being busy  become an excuse for looking sloppy.  We don't have to spend an hour curling our hair and $100 on a new outfit, but we can throw on some cute earrings and some mascara in less than 5 minutes and look more put together.  Husbands, you could wear cologne and shave for your wife without it being a special occasion.

I'm thankful for the times Jeremiah has overlooked my frumpy-ness.  And, I'm thankful for the times he's invested in looking good just for me.

Let's look our best for our mate.  Let them be the reason we 'put our face on'.

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 21: Agreement

Two people.  Two different opinions.  Two different ways of doing things.  Two different outlooks.


How does it happen?

Sometimes not very easily, other times you don't even realize you're agreeing because it just happens.

As a married couple it's super important to be in agreement.  So, how do you go about deciding what to do in certain situations...specifically when you don't agree?

If you're a wife and ever had the "submit to your husband" verse thrown in your face, many times decision making in your marriage can rub you the wrong way.  I love what Dr. Gary Chapman says about this...

“The problem is that we’ve gone outside the Bible and used non-biblical models, for headship,” Chapman says. “For example, we use military models. The husband is the general. Or we use business models. We say the husband is the CEO. But the biblical model is Jesus.”

You know, Jesus loved the church so much He gave His life for it.  Jesus is saying to husbands...don't be a dictator over your wife.  He's her so much you'd give your life for her.

As a wife, when I know that Jeremiah loves me and would lay down his life (or what he wants) for me, it's easier to yield to what he may think is best if we're not in agreement.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us that, "Two are better than one."

When it comes to making decisions in your marriage, it's better to both come together, share your ideas and thoughts, and to not make a decision quickly or under pressure.  

There are many times when I've brought up something and Jeremiah has said, "Why don't we think about this." Or, "Not now."  While I was probably aggravated in the beginning (because I'm awesome, and there's never anything wrong with my ideas...ha!), I'm so grateful that Jeremiah considered me and our family enough to wait about making decisions in haste.

In the same light, I know there are times Jeremiah is so glad I said, "Let's think about it this way." Or, "I don't know how well that would work in this situation."

When you know your spouse is for you it's easy to be flexible and compromise...and to hear, "No."

You can always disagree without being disagreeable.

Husbands, you have a treasure in your wife.  If she's not sure about a decision you're wanting to make, slow down and listen to her.  She loves you and doesn't want to see you hurt or your family in confusion.

Wives, you have a treasure in your husband.  The buck stops with him, and a good husband realizes that.  If he's saying no to something you're wanting to say yes to, give him the shadow of a doubt that he's really caring about the big picture.

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 20: Rest

Today I've rested and spent time with my family.  I love it!  It helps energize me for the work week.  

Today's post is small, but if practiced, I think it can have some of the biggest benefits...

We need to rest.  We just need to enjoy life.  We need to rest in God's love for us.  When we're resting in love (receiving love) it's much easier to give it. 

When we're rested, we're more pleasant to be around.  

Rest with your spouse.  Enjoy their company. 

In Mark 6:30-31 Jesus has something to tell us, "The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going."

We can get so busy coming and going that we forget what's important...resting with our Lord (and with our spouse).

Rest this weekend.  Guard against business.  Be purposeful and intentional in your time management, and enjoy this one life with the one you love!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 19: Friends

There's almost nothing better than having a good support system of friends and family.  When the people around you have the same values for a good marriage that you do, you tend to encourage each other without even realizing it.

Every month Jeremiah and I host our church's Young Marrieds group.  We eat good food and spend time talking about marriage topics that will hopefully help us all.  We've built friendships with this group and have been able to have an openness with them that provides accountability and a safe place to share.

I encourage all married couples to find other married couples to be friends with.

It can sometimes get dangerous if as married people we try to hang out with our single friends all the time.  We're in different phases of life.  It's not that we can't have single friends, but once we're married, we need to guard our hearts that we don't yearn for the 'single life'.  Be cautious if hanging out with your single friends does that to you.  By having fun married friends, it helps remind us that marriage is just as fun (if not more fun) than single life!

It's funny to me that sometimes married people long for the good ole' days of the single life, while during the single life most of them were longing for the days of finding 'the one'.

1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, "Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character"."

Single friends with bad intentions can hurt your marriage.  Men, be cautious of the guys you hang out with.  How do they talk about women?  How to they talk about your marriage to you?  Women, don't hang out with other women who tell you all men are bad.  That's not true, and it will sow negative seeds into your head.

If you're spending more time with your friends than with your spouse, change it.  Make time for the love of your life.  If you're not feeling the love anymore, spending more quality time together can help rekindle that.

Remember, your marriage is precious.  Guard it with your life!  And, find friends who will help you guard your marriage's oneness.

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 18: Bedtime Connection

I know what you're thinking...

And, we'll get to that bedtime connection sooner or later............... ;)

When you dated your spouse, you probably couldn't get enough of each other.  You could talk all day long.  You could share every little detail about your life so easily.  You made every effort to spend as much time with them as possible.  Then, you get married.  You have careers.  You start having babies.  You have bills to pay.  You have meetings to attend.  Life gets super busy and sometimes we lose that loving connection without even realizing it.

Connecting with your spouse everyday is an important thing.  I know not every couple has the same schedule or even gets to see each other everyday (bless our military families) but, even if you can't connect every single day, it's important to have that as at least a semi-routine of speaking with each be purposeful in connecting when you can.

One thing Jeremiah and I try to do is to connect at bedtime.  It's when we're both home, we're finished with the day's work, Emery's asleep, and we can take a couple of minutes to focus on us.

Dr. Doug Weiss who is the author of The Miracle of Marriage recommends doing a couple of things with your spouse at bedtime....

1.  Share at least 2 feelings you've had throughout your day.
2.  Share at least 2 praises you have about your spouse.
3.  Pray together.

Jeremiah and I have done this, and can really tell a huge difference in our relationship when we take the 5 minutes to share with each other.  I think it was a little different to share like this at first, but we got use to it quickly.

I know this type of thing may not be for everyone, but I do think connecting is a necessity for every couple.  In a time when everyone is usually extremely busy, it gives married couples a chance to come together and get on the same page.

Romans 14:19 tells us, "So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault."

Use your energy to make your marriage peaceful.  Being intentional to connect with your spouse as much as possible really will help you have a happy marriage!


Source: via Kristen on Pinterest

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 17: The Marriage Battle Cry: Correction

I will tell you....I am overly qualified to write today's post, because I can tell you exactly what not to do! Ha!

I don't know why us married folk get it in our heads sometimes that we have the right to correct our spouse.  We don't.  Plain and simple.  (I'm pretty sure I'm writing this post for myself today!) Who made us God?  Who made us the Holy Spirit to our dear one?


Many times we make it our job to tell our spouse what they are doing wrong, how they are acting wrong, and then move on to how they need to fix it.  We know best, or so we think.

Listen to me very, very, very carefully.

You will chip away at the very being of the person you love if you continue to correct them, especially in public.  I promise.  It will be ugly and painful.

I know as a correct-er, you really feel like you're helping out and making them 'better', but the correct-ee is slowly but surely feeling like they aren't good enough and can't do anything right.

This all comes back to Jesus.  If you really believe your righteousness is found in Him, you won't feel the need to make everyone else right around you to make sure you look good.  You will let your spouse do things their own way and have their own opinions without it having to be the way you think it should be.

Correction comes in many forms:

You're not washing that dish the right way, do it this way....
The vacuum marks on the floor should go back and forth, not left to right....
You need to hit the brake sooner....
Why can't you ever do this.....
Why do you have to do it that way....

Etc., etc., etc...

Our poor spouse shouldn't have to put up with that.  We're not their mommas; we're not their Holy Spirit; and we're not their teachers.  Beg your spouse for forgiveness if you've corrected them, especially if you've corrected them in public.  We are their lover, help mate, and biggest fan.  Don't take on another role in your marriage that will just bring more pressure to it.  Rest.  Love.  Compromise.  Let your spouse do things the way he wants to without saying a single word about it.  Leave that poor man (or woman) alone.

I've already shared this scripture, but it is worth repeating...

Matthew 7:1-5 says“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor."

Shew, Ok.  Now, I'm going to re-read this to myself as many times as it take for it to sink in. I might be here for awhile.  Ha!

Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 16: The Marriage Battle Cry: Nagging

I know that nagging is not an issue that only wives face.  But, since it is something that more wives than husbands deal with, this post is for us ladies.

Nagging is such a big deal that the Bible specifically talks about it multiple times.  Some of these scriptures make me giggle on the inside, and make me think, "Am I qualified to write this particular post?" Ha!

Proverbs 21:9 says, "Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse."

Proverbs 27:15-16 says, "A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; You can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it."

Proverbs 21:19 says, "It is better to live alone in the desert than with a quick-tempered wife who loves to argue."

You are probably getting the picture.  The biggest thing I've learned about nagging is that while you may get your way, your whole household will be frustrated and you'll run the peace right out of your home. Nagging isn't worth it.  You'll drive your husband away quicker than doing almost anything else.

The first thing to ask yourself if you're nagging is: Is what I'm nagging my spouse about really necessary or am I putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on him?

Let me give you an example...

You're having company over and your house is a wreck.  You really need help to get 'everything' clean before the company arrives.  Your checklist includes everything from scrubbing the toilets to dusting the cobwebs out of the basement.  

Ask yourself, what is really necessary to have a decent home for company to walk into?  Is it ridiculous to put pressure on my husband to clean the the baseboards with a Q-Tip when I could ask him to Swiffer the floors instead?

I know in my own marriage, Jeremiah is more than willing to help, but as soon as I put unnecessary pressure on him to make something 'perfect' (or really, my way), nagging begins, and frustration soon follows.

Freedom in Christ is knowing that our lives don't have to look and be perfect.  It's knowing His grace is sufficient for us.  It's knowing we don't have to nag our spouse to do what we think they should.

If you're a husband reading this and you have a nagging wife, I hope you can be patient.  I hope you can look at her through the eyes that she's really trying hard to make things perfect and right.  Encourage her to rest.  Help release the pressure by helping out without being asked.

And wives, when you feel like you're about to nag, bite your tongue.  Most husbands can't hear the need because the nagging is speaking too loudly.  In a time when usually both spouses work outside the home, it's really important to be intentional in sharing responsibility and appreciating when things get done.  Communication really is key.     Ask you husband for help when you need it, but don't put unnecessary pressure on him.  If you don't feel like you're being heard, don't try to discuss issues in the heat of the moment, wait until things have cooled down.  And, take the pressure off yourself to be perfect, have the perfect home, have the perfect children, etc., etc.  When we remove that off of our lives, we can live a more laid-back life and really enjoy our spouse and family.

*Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days to a Happy Marriage: Day 15: Adultery

Yup, I'm going there.  Adultery is rampant in our society.  And I'm not just talking about full blown sexual adultery.  There's also emotional adultery...when one spouse tries to fulfill emotional needs through someone or something other than God or their husband/wife.  Adultery is dangerous and extremely painful.

Is it possible to even experience a happy marriage after adultery?  Yes!  With God all things are possible!

During the time that most people need the most love and support is when so many people condemn them.  It's the time when compassion is needed most, and it's usually the last thing people get in that situation.

Do you remember the story in the Bible when the woman was caught in adultery and the religious leaders brought her to Jesus so He could "set her straight"?

Do you remember what Jesus' response was?  It was heart warming.

John 8: 1-11

 1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
11 “No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

Jesus' first response to her was non-judgmental, it was non-condemning, and it was peace and life to her.

Overcoming adultery in a marriage is probably one of the hardest things ever.  But, it is possible.  And there can be fullness of life on the other side of it.  Don't condemn yourself if you've been there.  Jesus doesn't.

It can take a lot of time and healing to forgive a spouse who's committed adultery.  If you are the spouse who has committed adultery, you also have to forgive yourself.  You've probably realized and have seen first hand how adultery can destroy a marriage and family.  You've seen how it can put your future in jeopardy.   When you got past the emotional high of adultery and reality hit, you may have even felt condemned.  Just know God's not the one condemning, and He can provide all the answers, time, and healing needed for marriages and families to overcome, whether that means getting divorced or staying married.

This is the best testimony I've ever heard of a married couple that faced adultery and overcame.  Please take the time to watch their story.  You can find more info and resources from Bob & Audrey Meisner's website:

*Find a list with links to the other posts in this series here.*