My husband and I recently attended the Family Life conference called A Weekend to Remember, and I wanted to share with you what I learned. Take it, leave it, apply it, or deny it. I'm not here to be judge or jury, I am just here to share.
Marriage is hard and wonderful. There are seasons of incredible love and connection. There are seasons of great strife and distance. Its all purposeful, its all part of this journey called oneness, and its rich with lessons and growth. 2 months ago, Bob and I were at a bit of an impass. We had battled with each other for over a year regarding a few issues. It was constant. So much miscommunication, so much hurt, so much misunderstanding. How did we get here? How are we still here? Why can't we get past this? We wrestled with the question, "Do we need counseling?" and the following, "We can't afford that" concern. We were struggling and simply didn't know what to do. Bob happened upon the conference above and we committed to it. It was a lot, and we worried over the expense, but we needed something. Oh how grateful I am for it.
Ladies....NEVER, EVER, allow yourself or your spouse to negate the needs of your marriage because of money. If you are struggling together, and your response is, "we can't afford that," I can say with absolute assurance that you can't afford not to. Invest in your marriage. Forget the house, the kids, the trips, and the stuff. None of it matters without your marriage.....invest in it. We did and I am grateful.
I could write novels on what I learned, but lets face it, if you are like me you want the bullet points so here is what I learned:
1. Not all things you think in your head about your spouse, your feelings, or your circumstances should be spoken. Its not about hiding, its about thinking. Remember the whole "if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all" thing our Mom's used to tell us. It applies in marriage.
2. Respect your husband. Every day, all the time. In marriage respect is something given freely not something earned. Your husband is not perfect and will never be. You are to give your husband unconditional respect in spite of his weaknesses.....all the time.
3. Love is a gift.
4. To BE loved is a gift.
5, Leadership and submission are not mutually exclusive. These do not represent hierarchy, they represent Divine identity. To lead requires submission, to submit requires leadership. They are intertwined. Created in the image of the Divine.
6. Respect your husband. All the time (and you thought I was only going to mention it once). Learn how to help him in his weaknesses by showing respect and being a woman he trusts with his ego. There is a right and a wrong way to provide criticism. I guarantee our default is the wrong way. The path is narrow....and few will find it.
7. Respect extends out of the home, in the presence of your friends, during your Mom's Night Outs, and when you are angry.
8. Believer or not. A successful marriage takes a Higher power. Seek it, Dwell richly with it, and allow it to guide you.
9. Pray. Every day, all the time. When you pray, pray the fruits of the spirit over your spouse, even when you want to pray the fire.
10. Invest in your marriage. Yep, I'm gonna repeat this one too. You can only grow if you tend. You can only find when you look. You can only truly love when you give. Give your time, look for ways to reconnect, and tend your relationship by investing in it. Invest your time, invest your energy, invest your money.
I have chosen to apply these things to my marriage, and the fruits of its planting are already growing. There is more richness, purpose, connection, and oneness in our relationship together.
So my friend, my fellow wife. I may or may not know you, but I see you, I feel you, and I understand you. This marriage thing is hard a beautiful and you are not alone in it. Know without question that your marriage is special, purposeful, and meant to challenge you. Without challenge there is no change and you, my friend have been made to change the world.
Remember you are a warrior, and a beautiful one at that.
In Him who has made you and your spouse and delights in you.