Wednesday, March 9, 2016

5 key things that make my marriage work

This past weekend was quite a revelation to me about how blessed I am.
We had a gathering for the Holmes VS Tate fight with food and a painting party on the side to keep the gals busy while we waited for the main event.  It was a joyful evening, a good time with great company. Unfortunately the before and after of the evening was not as pleasant for our guest.

A close friend of mine almost missed the party because she had been in an argument with her husband. I'm a mutual friend to both so her husband contacted me and told me she thinks he may be having an affair. He was firm that no such thing was going on and asked me to talk to her and assure her that she didn't have to worry. I tried calling and texting several times with no response, but to my delight, she made it to our painting party with a smile.

At the end of the night my best friend told me she was feeling animosity coming from her husband. She has an ongoing struggle between loving her husband and wanting to be loved in return. While the greatest proof of love is trust, her husband does not trust her. She made mistakes in her youth that he still holds her accountable for. He also has made mistakes, but those mistakes are in the past and have been forgiven. Still he refuses to move forward even though he has no real reason to doubt her.

And last but not least, the couple my husband invited over got into a domestic altercation on their way home. The young wife called out for our help in distress. She loves him but he's abusing her and she didn't know what else to do. She wants him to change but doesn't want to get him in trouble, so she reached out to us instead of going to the police. He is obviously still bitter about his previous marriage and is taking his unresolved issues out on his new wife. My husband and I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning, trying to help them talk through their issues. They're so young and have an infant so we hold on to the hope that they can work through this.

All of this led me to reflect on everything my husband and I have gone through. If I was to tell you detail by detail all that has transpired between us; you would not believe or understand how our marriage has survived or that we have a thriving relationship after all of it. The road has not been easy for us, from bumps to block-wide pot holes, we have kept on trucking through. What makes our relationship so different? Let me tell you about some of the understanding principles that we keep.

1) Forgive without condition:  The bible says that we ALL fall short of his glory (Romans 3: 10-18, 23) but even though we fall short, God loves us! (Romans 5:1-8) Was it not his commandment for us to love one another like loved us? (John 13:34, 15:12) He died for us even though we are sinners and make mistakes- so why would we not love our spouses through their short comings? (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13) When my husband makes a mistake, no matter how significant, I don't get upset. I expect that he will fall, and as his helpmate I see it my duty to help him back up. And if ever I find negative feelings in my heart, I turn them over to Jesus. Not religious? Holding on to a grudge or hate is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die. It's pointless! In the words of Frozen's Ana "Let it go, let it go!" (1 Peter 4:8)

2) Do your part: (Ephesians 5: 21-33) A lot of people take this out of context, submitting is not accepting failure, it is accepting protection. In todays world women are becoming quite liberal, discarding most if not all of traditional values. Women are trying to do or be the man and handicapping the men and then they wonder where all the good men have gone... They have been pushed out and annihilated! Be a woman and let your man be the man... Go to school, get a job, a career, pursue your dreams WITH your husband, not instead of him or without him. Allow him to make those decision with you, trust him, respect his opinion, don't rub his failures in his face, help him pursue his dreams too!  In the same way, men are accepting failure and stopped caring. They walk their journey leaving a trail of broken hearts... It is your job to love your woman, build her up, encourage her, lift her up when she falls, rebuild her, pray for her, cherish her, and forgive her. Everywhere I turn I see couples tearing each other down, STOP IT! The saying goes "It's you and me against the world" NOT AGAINST EACH OTHER!
Respect him, Love her, and fight together for your marriage, family and future. Not religious? Consider your family a company, each member has a role- choose/assign yours and accept responsibilities for your duties.

3) Stay humble: Accept and understand that we are not perfect and expect that mistakes and accidents will happen. (John 8:7) Life, love, marriage, parenting: these things don't come with instruction manuals! You learn as you go, or you seek answers in God's word. (Ephesians 4:2, Proverbs 11:2) I am not perfect, I don't know it all, I'm not the best at everything, I'm not always right. I know and accept this of myself and I know and don't expect perfection from my husband. If we do not agree on something, instead of arguing about who is right, we seek knowledge together. We take advice from others, and accept reprimands and criticism. We work together to improve. Not religious? Check out THIS article, it's about entrepreneurship, but it applies to life as well- Ego/Pride leads to failure, humility sets you apart.

4) Choose to be kind: (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7) Bad things happen, hurtful words are said, but just because it's started doesn't mean it must continue. Turn it around and remember 1, 2 & 3. Each day is a new beginning and a new chance to start over. Don't wake up with an attitude while giving your spouse the silent treatment! That solves noting, choose to be kind instead.  (Proverbs 15:1, Luke 6:35, Colossians 4:6) Sarcasm and snarky replies can lead to an acrimonious atmosphere at home. Being hurtful towards each other builds walls between you that prevent intimacy and separate you. I don't always know how to be sweet during conversations or situations that go sour, but in that case I would rather stay quiet. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" "If you cannot be nice, at least be quiet"   Not religious? You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, apply the golden rule. Treat others how you want to be treated or kill them with kindness, either way, you remain a decent, civil, diplomatic, cool-headed king/queen.

5) Don't give up: They say the hardest year of marriage is the one you are in. It's not easy, but it's worth it. Hard times will come, but don't give up. (Romans 5:3-5)You can't fail unless you quit. Marriage is a commitment and a commitment is staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you were in when you said, has left you. (2 Peter 1:5-7) You have to be determined to make it work. Determination is doing what needs to be done, even when you don't feel like doing it. Don't be a part of the problem, be part of the solution. Marriages don't fail because they "can't" XYZ, they fail because the people in them refuse to change their insane destructive patterns of behavior! Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Not religious? Quitters never win, and winners never quit. You can't win in life, love, and marriage if you quit. Keep working at it.

With all that said: I am not advising you remain in an abusive relationship longer than you have to, but from personal experience I can attest that your relationship can get past it if you both love each other. Anger management and recovery is possible. Things will not be the same, but they have the potential to be better. If you have a husband with a temper and your husband hits you for the first time (a smack/strike- just 1)- and you decide to stay, speak up for yourself and let him know that it's not ok. "what you allow, you accept"(Matthew 18:15-17) If it happens a second time, tell a friend and family member- set up an intervention, but if he hits you a third time please recognize the pattern of behavior and his unwillingness to change.: Call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233), the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. Concerned professionals will advise you about how to get out safely. It is ok to leave your abusive spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15) If you are in an abusive relationship and your husband is beating you call 1-800-799-7233 immediately.