"Don't Just Survive...Thrive. Practical help for real families"
This was the title of a marriage event Wes and I went to last week at our church's main campus. It was sort of like a date night w/dinner, nursery open for kids, and great fellowship w/ other married couples. The title was enough to get me excited b/c I don't know about you, but the word "surviving" has been our go-to word to describe life ever since we had our second child. I've heard that saying "The days are long but the years are short," and I get it completely. My girls are growing up so fast and many times I just want to stop time and keep them both small, but Lord only knows some days feel like they lasts forever especially when Im in the throes of disciplining, cleaning, calming down meltdowns, and negotiations.
Check out the Thrive event which was recorded here. I will share some main points that I walked away with. These principals are probably not new to you but they were absolutely a needed reminder for me because when life gets busy I typically forget everything I've learned and get in survival-only mode.
* Marriage is not 50/50 its 100/100- We both have to give our ALL into the marriage not just half; Realistically speaking we are human so there are going to be times when someone just can't give 100% but the goal is a total of 200% so that means one of the spouses may have to give much more. Pastor Mike Glenn, the speaker, gave an example of when he was going through cancer and he said he may have had only 20% to give as a husband at the time while his wife was giving 180%, or after his wife had their twin sons the scale was off b/c she couldn't exactly give 100% to the marriage due to exhaustion and taking care of babies. We strive for 100% and then we do what we need to do to meet the needs of our family throughout each season.
* Communication is key. Men and women communicate differently and we need to understand those differences. My husband is quiet and I'm the talker in this relationship. I heard on a radio station the other day that women on average use about 7,000 words or more each day while men use about 2,000 words or less. (I am not 100% sure that these numbers are fact but either way I think we can all get the point that us ladies talk significantly more than men :)
* PRAY for your spouse daily. Simple task right? Sadly sometimes its not as easy for me b/c I'll just face it- I want to talk to Wes about all the things I need him to do and change instead of talking to God who created Wes and knows more about him than I do. This is not saying I can't and shouldn't tell Wes how I feel (remember communication point above), but I also need to take my cares, worries, and frustrations to God b/c He is essentially the only one who can change my spouse and really many times its me who needs an adjustment if Im honest with myself and He can definitely assist there too. ;-0 We had a time at the end of the gathering where we held our spouses hands and prayed over each other and then we had to commit until the end of the month as a start to just pray each day over our spouse.
Last we had to plan our next date night before we left. Something happens after you get married, after life gets crazy, and maybe you add kids and growing careers into the mix that you may forget to date your spouse. Think about the things you did to get the attention of your spouse before you got married and figure out ways to foster that now even in the mist of whatever crazy season you may be in and enjoy your dating your spouse!
Gift bag for each couple from the event with some great tools. I started reading Crazy Busy, and it's good and very relevant to the way my life feels right now ;-0
Why is marriage so complicated at times. Honestly if your life and marriage is full of rainbows and butterflies then maybe this post is not for you. But if you've ever asked yourself whoa, wait a min what ever happened to the all so famous "happily ever after" ending in marriage then read on. Why is it that when you get married, rarely people explain how hard two imperfect people coming together to become one really is? Leaving and cleaving, yes all biblical but non the less super hard.
In the day and age of social media marriage can be misleading. On one hand all you see is the happiness and the joy two individuals share. Their lives must be so perfect right? But on the flip side wouldn't it be awful if we tweeted and posted about all our frustrations with our spouses or shared every disagreement on Facebook as well?!?? There's enough negativity there already!! I can hear it now OMG can you believe how so and so's husband completely ignored so and so's feelings, or maybe how dare she treat her man like this and that... It's really a social media catch 22. How much sharing is too real? How much being too real is being too negative, and on and on. But in being real how often in a marriage do we step on each other's hearts strings and only focus on our own wants and desires? Really more often than not especially when we are lead by our core sinful natures. Isn't it easier to think about ourselves?
I recently watched my 2 yr old at the library walk up to another child who was playing w/ Legos and attempt to take a few as she told the kid the they were hers(btw the Legos were property of the library). I didn't hesitate to tell her to share and to be nice- obviously bc she shouldn't take things from others but a small part of me bc I didn't want the other moms to think I'm raising a selfish little drama starter (wait a min aren't most two year olds selfish in the grand scheme of things and don't get me started on the drama ugh!!) I promise another topic for another day but anyhoo why was it so easy to reprimand my daughter about sharing and being nice when honestly I need to take my own advice sometimes when it comes to my own relationships especially with my husband. I would say for the most part Wesley and I get along pretty well and after 11years of marriage we are starting (yes I just said starting...marriage is a LONG process lol) to really understand the way each other works and thinks. Yes we are so different but I really couldn't imagine me marrying someone just like me, no matter how much over the years I've tried my best but failed to make him more like me. (Once again another story for a different day)
So where's MY happily ever after fairy tale ending or even that blissful over the top look that you gave each other while dating/on your wedding night now that you are a few years into the marriage you ask?? I wrote a post about a book recently that asked "what if marriage was designed to make you more holy than happy?" So I'll ask, what if your happily ever after is really comprised of ALL the "real stuff" that make up a marriage- the good, the bad, and even the ugly at times. When I look back over my eleven years there are both ups and downs that have brought us to where we are today. TONS of growing pains along the way I promise. Sure some stuff could have been completely avoided if we were more mature in our thinking earlier on but it all makes up our unique story. I will go into more detail of our journey along the way but let's just say two young SUPER BROKE college love birds are bound to make an interesting start to a marriage story. (Inserts laughing crying emoji and my favorite eye roll one here!).
Im learning more and more that MY "happily ever after" is actually all in the process that takes place within my marriage; it's not one particular destination spot that we land on and we have finally arrived. Life has a way of throwing curve balls as they say (BABIES, miscarriages, loss of employment, deaths, etc) and it's what you do in those moments that will grow you and your marriage. If you can stick out the course and maneuver the crazy waves that you may (WILL!!) encounter along the way you may be on your way to building a strong relationship. I know personally Wesley and I have a lot more learning and growing to do. We believe God has much more to accomplish in our lives and marriage. So if you think you've already got this marriage thing figured out after few years in, good luck to you! After a little more than a decade I'm personally still reading marriage books, we are involved in a marriage small group, and just constantly trying to grow. Through my experience once I get over one hurdle there are typically more to jump over, duck under, and shoot sometimes just go completely around along the way. Personally going from just my husband and I for about 9 years to now my husband, I , and our two small girls had me breaking out all new books to read! Talk about really flipping the script after we thought we had things figured out.
I'll end with restating that I am constantly on journey to my "happily ever after" because it honestly just doesn't just happen after you said I do. Also trust that sometimes it may not feel or look anywhere near happy but I definitely feel blessed to know 100% that we are super committed to our ..."ever after."
In this day and age where we essentially have access to what everyone is doing, saying, eating, wearing, going, etc just by the click of a button, I can see how hard it is to get caught up in comparison. As I talk to people each day and even experience in my own life, comparing is one of the easiest things to do but also can be damaging to the soul. Comparing is something we learn early in life. We learn to compare what belongs in a specific group or category. We learn how pick out objects that don't belong. Its part of normal early learning but something happens as we get older where it's no longer just about learning but it becomes a way to classify who is doing better, who has more, looks better, etc .
Here is a small list of examples of things people compare...
- how well a child is or is not doing
-pregnancy bellies/pre-baby weight/post baby weight loss :0
I have personally compared these areas in my life AND had people voluntarily compare them for me. Its pretty depressing and unnecessary when you think about it. I remember getting frustrated when someone kept comparing the stage my two year old was in with another two year old at the time. Ok so the other kid has all their colors down, using way more words, and fully potty trained- great! At the time Malachi thought everything was purple or the newest color of the day and thats ok we will figure it all out, and btw she talks up a storm now (at least at home);)
My experience is when I start comparing what I have with someone else (and for some reason its typically with someone who has more than me) in a way that I am upset or sad about where I am, I feel like I am basically telling God that I am not grateful for what he has done in my life. The problem with comparing is that we never truly know what is going on in someone's life outside of what we can see on the surface. I sat in conference before where the speaker was sharing his journey to success and he said that before he truly had the life he was currently living, to everyone looking in from the outside, his family looked like they had it all together, was financially set, had a great job, but that if anyone really knew what was going on they would have seen that they were really drowning in debt, unhappy, and stressed out to no end.
You don't always know the struggles and the hard work it took for someone to get to the place they are at now. We have either all gone through something hard, going through something now, or eventually will go through something in life that will test our faith or may disrupt our footing in life. God didn't promise an easy life to those who follow him. John 16:33, I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. I heard somewhere that if we all wrote down our troubles and put it in a hat and passed around so that we could all pick a new one, in the end we would probably beg for our own problems back.
Yes some people are going to be doing better than you financially and vice versa, yes maybe another child will know more than your child or get into a better college, maybe someone seems happier in their marriage than you do at the time, maybe someone else takes much better trips and vacations that you do but its ok. Try to focus on the things that are going well in your life. For example, when I'm frustrated that I don't have that certain SUV w/ the 3 rows and all the nice upgrades that I desperately want (ugh my double stroller takes up most of my trunk space now!), I try to think about what we do have, which is two cars that are in good condition and completely paid off. Who knows what the future brings for us one day. Its not an easy task and at times I fail miserably at it but that is almost always when I'm looking at things from the wrong perspective. James 1:17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights; with him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. When I look at it from this perspective, I actually get excited about all the blessings God is pouring out on others around me and know there is no need to compare b/c He has His own plan for my life.