Letting Children Have a Vision of Marriage

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“The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage.

On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.”

– Rev. George A. Kelly 

~ ❤ ~

I stumbled upon this passage above a month ago when reading, and it felt like getting hit with a two-by-four upside the head!  LOL  While I do strive to be the best mom I can be to our kids, enjoying teaching them and doing life with them, the overall quote felt convicting!  The worst thing I think in my journey as a mother would be to rob my children of the hope and joy they should have at this age – by making them fear growing up and feeling like they won’t be able to handle whatever burdens or trials they’re supposed to carry later on.

But I never linked breaking a youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life, with complaining – it makes so much sense!

And of course it’s true, a complaining mother is a drain on everyone in the family, she  sucks the joy and happiness out of life.  Sure, life may be hard, but I can see how crucial it is to choose our attitudesomething my husband taught me I think in our 2nd year of marriage from a book he had read in college.

Ironically, it was a book about work-ethic mentality, meant for people in the corporate world!  But it was a great book for how to live one’s life in general, echoing sound biblical advice of doing one’s work with a cheerful attitude, putting other’s above yourself in “making their day” (making them elated!), and finding fulfillment in enjoying your work.  It was interesting… to think one can change their whole experience of even their dire circumstances, by simply changing their attitude.

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How Does a Mom Exhibit a Worthy Vision of Marriage?

Make it a point to have fun, and have fun with your children and husband often!!!

This is something that should be a given, however, I think our natural default as humans is to fall into complaining.  Therefore we have to choose our attitude, no matter what is going on.  And to tell you the truth, even if everything is going well, our sin nature masked in the temptation to complain can come out even then unfortunately.

With how busy life gets, or bogged down with various day-to-day tasks, hardships or even trials families go through, I am seeing how setting aside time for making joyous and happy memories together is a necessary engagement.

This means even if we’ve had a long week, and we had something fun scheduled at the end of it, we make sure to still do it, in lieu of staying at home and calling it an early night.  We’ve found it’s so much more fun to go out together and experience our “fun” things, rather than just giving in the passivity of tiredness or even the kids’ moods.

Love your husband well… and openly… and at every opportunity!!!

It is sad to me that this still needs to be said, but nothing makes children happier and more at peace than seeing and knowing how in love their parents are, and how much fun they have together and with them.  

I think it is the secret recipe for a blissful family life overall.  Not that hard things don’t come, or heartbreaking tragedies, but even in the midst of these in our life together, we’ve found that the love and joy between us, carries us through those times much easier than it would be if we didn’t have that in our marriage.

Complaining or bad attitudes in general just makes everything harder, less fun, and definitely less loving.  This is true whether at work, school, in friendships, but probably especially within a marriage and around one’s children, who see them as they are all the time.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians, because it is the book on how to have joy in one’s life.  This passage comes to mind whenever I find myself tempted to complain:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” 

Philippians 2:14-16

I want my children to have a good vision of what a worthy marriage looks like, however human we may be.

Stephanie

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Letters from Mentors: Supporting Your Police Officer Husband

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Mine is bottom right, taken a few years ago

About a month ago, I had a dream that my husband had already passed away, and that I was living day to day, imagining he was here for short time periods to talk or touch base with, but that in reality, he was gone from this world and I was all alone, handling everything on my own and just “make-believing” I had a partner to do life with.  I was so grateful when I woke up that it was just a dream!  And it hilariously (and horrifically) reminded me of those women a few years ago in the media who were so lonely, they started having romantic relationships with ghosts! LOL  But I can’t deny that it had an element of truth to it in that being a police wife can sometimes feel like being a “married single mom,” even when our husbands go above and beyond to be there for us and our children!
Supporting one’s husband is something I’ve written about before in a more general sense for any wife, here.   It can be extremely stressful being a Police Officer’s wife due to the particular circumstances that come with that career.  The difficult family-schedules, the missing out on birthdays, major holidays, and weekends and special days with family members can be hard on not just the wife, but also your children.  And the unique struggles a police family faces aren’t something I think a wife should navigate alone.  We need neighbors who we feel connected to, supportive family members who can help out when our husbands can’t be there, loving friends who understand our limitations with our husband’s odd schedule or rules, and mentors who can guide us when we have questions and fears about this life, and in emotionally navigating the ups and downs of the political environment saying police officers are the enemy.
Ame, from BlendingAme has been such a mentor and friend to me, giving me very cherished advice and encouragement.  This post is from an email she wrote to me months ago, (and repurposed so that it can be for any police wife reading this).
From Ame:
~ ❤ ~

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

*
Before we took our first breath, every day of our life was ordained, written. There is no exception.
It is hard to remember that God has given each of us our own “Death Date,” and NOTHING we do or think or imagine will change that date. Our Death Date was set before the foundation of the world, so your life, your husband’s life, our children’s lives, everyone’s life – and every single day of our lives – were set before the foundation of the world.
 
Are there some who live lives with higher risk of death? Sure. Does that mean their Death Date will come too soon or unexpectedly to God who created every day of their lives? No. We cannot alter our Death Date.
 
The reality is … we all die. People die. At every age and for every reason imaginable. I know a man who works for his county’s Medical Examiner’s office, and he has seen just about every kind of death that is common and many that aren’t … at all ages … expected and unexpected. He has worked in this role for his large county for seven or eight years, and in all that time he knows of only one Police Officer’s death in the line of duty. Do officers of all agencies die in the line of duty? Sure. Is it unexpected to God? Never.
 
Your husband has chosen a very noble career as a Police Officer. It is who he is. He cannot change who God created him to be; neither can he change his Death Date by being and becoming that man. Asking him to choose between you and being a Police Officer is asking him to choose between who he is and who you want him to be, and what kind of choice is that? He would hate you because he’d hate himself, and you would hate him for caving in to you.
 
It is hard, sometimes, to accept our husbands and who they are, as they are. I remember a time when my husband and I had a conversation, and to do something that would obviously be beneficial to him, he flat out said to me, “I will not do that.” There is nothing I can do but to accept it, let it go,  and still choose to respect and honor him. His life is in God’s hands, not mine … not even his.
 
I have a friend whose husband works in a very high-security position with a good amount of stress. Although she has a good degree and had a good career before having children, they decided she would become a stay-at-home-mom when they had their first baby. So, she quit her job and her career when their first baby was born many years ago, and she hasn’t gone back. He is the first one to tell you that the reason he successfully do all that he does in his job is because she takes care of everything at home.
 
Your husband has that kind of job that demands an enormous amount from him. It demands everything from him. It forms who he is as much as who he is was made for this job. In that kind of situation, it’s like God is the CEO, and you are both Exec VP’s over the two divisions of your corporation: he runs everything outside the home; you run everything inside the home. He being the Senior Exec VP is the one you will always report to; never the other way around.
 
Do not focus on those whose husbands are home more than yours. Do not focus on those whose husbands do more outside of their job/career/profession than yours. Focus only on your husband. Focus only on who God created you to be and become and where He has placed you.
 
The risk of death is always there. For all of us. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. No one. It’s shocking to me how little it takes for someone to die … and also how resilient people are. Seemingly benign things take people into the next life all the time, and yet humanity has survived vicious wars, plagues, illnesses, and poverty since the beginning of time.
 
My first husband traveled extensively, and in the early years of our marriage I would worry myself sick. I desperately needed to hear his voice to know his plane made it, he didn’t have a wreck of any kind on the way, or nothing else freaky happened to him.
Finally one day I just got it. I got that God’s got all this, and my worrying about it would not change a thing. Either he would come home, or someone would knock on my door. And not a moment of worry would change that. 
 
My late Mentor taught me many things, one of which was to only live things once as I experience them in reality. When I worry, I let my imagination go wild and create all these possible scenarios. When I do that I live through things that aren’t even real yet affect my whole being. 
 
When you live wondering all the time about if or when Patrick will die in the line of duty, you are doing two things. One, you are living an imaginative experience that is not reality and yet is depleting you as though it is reality. And two, you are living his future death (which is guaranteed, by the way, unless Jesus comes back first 😉 ) over and over and over ad nauseam. That does NO one any good, especially you and your children and your marriage. 
 
Have a plan in place written down that is easily accessible. Review it once a year with your husband, and then force yourself to forget about it. You are prepared for “what if.” If you spend your time worrying about “what if,” you are taking away time and energy and emotion from yourself, your husband who is alive right now, your children, and what God wants you to do right now, today.  Don’t do that anymore. You only need to live through your husband’s death once – whether you’re on this side of eternity or the next when he passes through to the other side. 
  ❤
I hope her words bless you like it did me.  It’s hard to trust God with the outcome of our husband’s being in danger, and managing the home-front mostly on our own.  But even in the midst of struggle to find balance or fighting off feelings of guilt that we’re not doing “enough” like other families are able to, I’ve found that the joy and love in even a circumstantially-stressful marriage can far outweigh the trials or hardships one goes through.
I hope any police wife out there reading this knows you are not alone ❤ !
Stephanie
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Female Behavior & Social Media

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The Harpy

Social media behavior fascinates me, and fortunately it’s been around just long enough that we’re starting to see the beginning of what I expect to be a long list of research opportunities on how people behave while on it.  If you’ve been a long-time reader, you’ll know I’ve been interested in why women feel the emotion envy, for awhile.  It’s probably because I’ve never really understood it.  If someone is doing a great job, or having good things happen in their life, why would another person not be happy for them?

I’ve cataloged how odd this plays out online in a few articles, like when women look down on married couples who are actually happy in their relationship and show only each other’s best sides, or when just viewing your News Feed puts you in a negative and depressed mood due to other’s happiness.    Whether you’re a wife choosing not to air your dirty laundry for the public to see, or are criticized as being “fake,” because you don’t want to embarrass your husband, or are simply perplexed to find that other people’s happiness should make you feel depressed, you’re in the right place!

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“You happily married couples can’t really be that happy (we realistic ones know you’re lying to us),

plus you make me feel bad because my marriage isn’t like that.

You’re faking it in your photos and not being “real,”

let me show you what IS real by posting negative sh-t about my husband and I publicly.”

***

When I’ve researched into who is saying things like this quote above, the women who say they secretly hate their positive facebook friends, it’s almost always women who are (self-reporting as) deeply unhappy in their own lives; many are in fact, divorced and trying to survive single-motherhood.  Of course seeing beautiful, happy families makes them feel pain and sadness… and of course seeing a good husband show his wife how much he loves her, leaves them feeling sick.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12), and feeling the pain of that loss, or maybe the pain of never having it at all, is normal.  It’s ok to grieve when appropriate, but it’s crucial to learn how to redirect those feelings and emotions into something positive and graceful.  Otherwise, the intense feeling of pain can quickly turn into self-pity, which then often crosses into bitterness and anger, things that leave you vulnerable to demonic strongholds.

Here is a quote from one such divorced, single mom becoming bitter over her happily married friends –

“I’m also a Michigander but moved to Connecticut in 2001 when my now ex-husband went to school here! I am like you–brutally honest. I think it’s part of our culture. And that’s why I sometimes hate Facebook! Being divorced makes me feel like a loser when I see all these “happy” couples’ pictures posted for SEVEN days in a row! It feels self-serving–like it’s validating to them. But the people are truly good and close friends, so I can’t be (but want to) be honest like you! I have a 9 year old with autism and felt like such a fake liar when I posted the Motherhood Challenge with pictures of a happy, cooperative child. Reality is that he hits me, swears, spits, and has massive meltdowns sometimes. You are right reality is not as pretty. It certainly never gets a “like” or even a “dislike” because reality is a bummer.

No one wants reality from a single mom with special needs who now lives 800 miles from her family and has to face this life on their own. So, to keep my image, I guess I play the pretty picture game too and hope that one day my true feelings won’t come out! Thanks for being honest!”

Her story is hard, and I’m sure having an autistic child IS extremely difficult and involves lots of suffering on her part.  The key is though, choosing what you focus on DOES improve even a situation as bad as that.  Look at people all throughout history who had severe mental and emotional or physical handicaps, who when their caregiver had a better mindset, they achieved much more than what doctors thought would ever be capable.  Miracles have happened with children like this, but mostly it’s only when they had a caregiver who self-sacrificed over and over and over again, giving them the gift of unconditional love and humanity.  I know it’s hard for women to hear this, but accepting the difficulties of one’s life (carrying your cross), as well as choosing not to complain about how hard you have it, IS worth trying to obtain as part of spiritual and personal growth.  Like I said above, self-pity is not good.  The bitterness it can bring from dwelling on how unfair life is opens the door to more spiritual attacks and demonic influence into your life.  Because of all this, trying to give women in positions like this, short-cut answers to their problems by saying those happy couples are “fake,” is enabling them – not helping them to deal correctly with their own problems (like having a special needs child).  The suffering they’re already going through is then compounded by their own bitterness and disappointment in life. 

Allowing themselves to become bitter over how unfair life is, or develop feelings of hostility toward their happily married friends, only makes their own lives that much harder!

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It’s Coming from Hatred & a Root of Bitterness

The argument for sharing your husband’s flaws publicly online (or flat out humiliating him) has seemed to come from a concocted desire to appear more “real” and to show all of the sides of marriage – and to show-up those wives who only post the positive things!  The problem with this rationale is that it should be socially understood that no one is perfect, that everyone may have some issues sometimes and that marriage, because it is so intricately relationship-based, obviously takes hard work.   Choosing not to show this side publicly when it could harm or humiliate your husband, but rather focus on the positive, beautiful things in life and your marriage (or about your mate), shows wisdom, self-control, and discretion.

And as far as one’s marriage goes, when you love your spouse, you don’t want to air their issues online on your social media platforms.  In a trustworthy marriage, your husband should be able to feel totally safe with what you choose to share online publicly – because he knows without a doubt, that you have his back and are making wise decisions on his behalf.   Like we learned in the Proverbs 31 series, the heart of her husband safely trusts in her, and because she is his wife, he lacks for nothing good.   When we post things that show him in a bad light, no matter how humorous or “well-intentioned,” we tell ourselves we’re being, the consequences could be damaging to his reputation, image, or even his career, which means we’re actually harming him in the long-run, and for social media “likes,” at that!

“His honor, respect and privacy must be sacrificed so she can compete with the other women by being “more real,” than the ones who post only happy and positive things about their spouses.” 

From here

But wanting to show what “real” marriages look like, as much as these women claim their goal is, is not what this is about.  I used to naively believe that was their actual intentions, but over the years it’s become more and more clear that this attitude is coming from a root of bitterness and even hatred.

“You just hit the nail on the head!

I was so irritated seeing everyone’s posts about love your marriage (from the Love Your Spouse Challenge).

Most of the time I’m irrated at my husband.

How about a hate your spouse challenge?”

-Carla Burke (from here)

Why some women act like this though, is VERY interesting to me.  Why do some feel like everyone should post negative stuff about their mate or marriage?

Because seeing others unhappy or having problems in their lives or marriages, makes these women feel better about their own selves, or about the state their marriage is currently in.  It all comes back to the emotion I’ve studied for years now, envy.

Envy is more than jealousy, it is a painful emotion of which the Bible says is like rottenness to the bones.  While jealousy may come from a valid place of wanting what rightfully should belong to you and you alone (ie: God being jealous for our love), envy is wanting what another has which you have no right to want (ie: coveting something that someone else has earned or is in possession of).  It seems to be capable of completely enveloping a person, and grows the more they focus on the object of their envy and hatred.  The cure is found first in repentance, and focusing on your own life, living in gratitude to God for the gifts He’s given to you, and then choosing to live a life that pleases Him, instead of become embittered by whatever you believe He’s withheld from you.

Beauty, Goodness, & Happiness Often Evoke Envy

All throughout time, there have been countless stories in literature (be it biblical, classical, or in nearly every fairy tale) of women who were either good/beautiful/happy and somewhat naive, and women who gave themselves over to envy over the one who was good/beautiful/happy.  There were women who displayed qualities that seemed almost irresistible to the heroic man in their life, and then the women who played the Evil Stepmother, or the Evil Queen, or the Harpy.  This is something that goes far beyond social media, because it is a heart issue… a feature, not a bug, built into humankind.

Sometimes we get glimpses into what “triggers” these women to act out of their envious behavior, like in this real life example below of a woman’s Instagram post, “making” another woman feel inferior.

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So what are reactions like this based on?

“You seem to represent an almost impossible-to-attain portrait of womanhood, and as a woman, I honestly find many of your photos unsettling.”

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“Something about your photos makes feel strangely depressed/inadequate and I’m alarmed by my own reactions.”

It’s the beauty.  The artistic perfection… the woman’s elegance… her refinement.  It’s all the aforementioned put together that make her realize her reaction is not accounted for, or “alarming,” and worrying to her, as it should be.  It’s also this fact (that the pictures show beauty, perfection, elegance, and refinement) that makes her admit that the woman’s photos are amazing work:

“That being said, this is truly great work and I applaud your abilities.”

What a 180 right?  We just got an inside look at how emotionally tormented a woman feels when presented with someone who awakens feelings of envy.  When another woman is “outside her comfort-zone better than her” in some kind of way, it can be almost impossible for her to appreciate the beauty and goodness due to the painful or “alarming” feelings that may come up.

Even though she’s able to realize at the end of her comment that her observations are “alarming” and coming from a place of feeling depressed/inadequate, she still demands that this woman answer for why she’s “making” the commenter feel thing way, as though this artist can really control this stranger’s feelings.  It’s a normal thing for women (or men) who feel envy, to blame the object of their envy for “making” them feel that way, or “inciting” it with pictures of beauty in their life.  

“Ultimately, while people use social networks to keep in touch with friends and family, seeing those people happy often have negative effects on them.”

From research study here

But even if another woman’s pictures on social media aren’t “perfect,” just seeing other people be happy eventually may become a negative experience for women with this problem.  It doesn’t take artistic perfection, for some even seeing other moms out and happy with their kids or husband, evoke strong emotions of envy.

What is the real problem here?

Envy is literally as old as Cain, from one of the first Bible stories when he felt envy at his brother Abel’s approval by God.  Abel didn’t “make” Cain feel envious or bad about himself, Cain’s lack of self-improvement and desire to please God made his offering undesirable, and pale in comparison to Abel’s offering and disposition.

I used to feel sorry for women like this, because I know envy is a painful emotion to feel (and why not be happy for people who are happy?!?), but now I’m beginning to understand how women who don’t deal with their envy appropriately are not victims, they often know what they’re choosing and seek to place blame elsewhere to hide what they know they feel (the hatred or bitterness).  This behavior is not benign, as it tears apart the fabric of our society in a myriad of ways, harming the future of our children and grandchildren by working to dismantle social norms (think things like fat acceptance, obesity disability, welfare, hostility toward in-tact families, etc.).

If everyone engaged in envy whenever a someone does something praiseworthy or beautiful or inspiring or artistically stunning, our society would be utterly ruled by the ugliness and the decay of the miserable and self-centered.  If any attempt to be better personally – be it spiritually, mentally or physically, or create something beautiful, is squashed by miserable women who claim your attempts to better yourself makes them feel unhappy or ashamed of their own failures, then our civilization’s beauty, art, music, and literature will suffer… and it has.

When God dealt with Cain’s feelings of envy, before he murdered Abel (and there was still a chance for him to turn the situation around by making the right choices), God did not treat Cain like a victim of his own envy.  The Bible says Cain felt anger that Abel’s offering was accepted by God (and his was not), and looked dejected (he pouted).

Then the LORD said to Cain,

“Why are you furious?  And why are you dejected?  If you do right, won’t you be accepted?

But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Genesis 4:6-7

God warns Cain that he is on the brink of becoming “had” by sin, which is figuratively crouching at his door ready to overcome him.  God also commands Cain to “master it.”  This may explain why it can feel so hard for women who deal with this problem to eradicate their feelings of envy, because they have to learn how to “master it.”

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Envy Greatly Affects Women in Real Life

This point, that giving in to envy and allowing it to control your interactions with others online or in real life, harms you and others, is the most important point we should know.  Because it’s a heart issue, and not computer or social media-related, it’s not something that’s just going to go away when you step offline.  It has to be recognized and dealt with in one’s real life as well.

The problem with envy though, is that women (and men) who give in to this emotion and sin, often do not feel any remorse whatsoever.  It is usually coupled with pride in that they feel right to feel embittered, and therefore it’s hard to get them to care or sympathize with how their actions may impact themselves or others.

In fact, studies have proven that people who feel envy (in real life as well as online), actually have been found to report feeling happy when something bad happens to the person they envy – something bad enough to “put them in their place,” so to speak.  It is also linked with efforts to try to harm that person in real life, due to schadenfreude (joy at other people’s misery).  And if that isn’t depressing enough, another study shows us that only 50% of our “friends” on social media actually like us, or feel the same reciprocal kind of friendship feelings we feel toward them.  This would probably account for why those people aren’t happy for their friends’ happiness.  If they don’t even “like” them, then of course they may not feel happy when seeing their social media “friends” happy.

It’s the whole crab-basket effect, which Ian Ironwood explains in detail.

So for over 30 years, more than an entire generation, we’ve seen women at work, women in management, women “competing in a man’s world” . . . even though the “man’s world” looks more feminine than ever.
So . . .how’s that working out for women?
Turns out . . . not so good.  
Dr. Peggy Drexler has published two pieces back-to-back discussing the complexities of women working with women.   The result isn’t pretty . . . and pretty much validates everything I’ve said about the Female Social Matrix.  Also known as the Crab Basket.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a metaphor for how women relate to other women— how they self-organize, socially.

Thankfully not all woman are like this I’ve found!  Social media does seem to create more opportunities for women who wouldn’t be like this in real life, to let themselves give in to this sin where the consequences aren’t as tangible.  But they do have consequences, women who act like this online still have an overall negative affect on society, because it pulls manners and morality down to a more primal (it’s you or me) level, instead of a more civilized view of if we all do our best to succeed, we’ll produce a more beautiful and loving society.

It happens in Real Life far more than you’d imagine

Recently I happened upon a 3-year-old article where a mother was describing how simply having a good, positive and happy play-date for her daughter and a friend turned into something she was made to feel shame over.

When the mom came back I invited her in for a few minutes. She smelled the aroma of fresh-baked cookies and saw the kids happily playing and said, “Wow, you go all out for playdates. I just usually throw some goldfish at them.”

I felt a little surprised at the disdain I heard in her voice, but when I snapped back into reality I instantly went into defense mode, which for me is self-deprecation in overdrive.

“Oh, Gak is just glue and detergent and I had promised my kids we would do it, and the cookie dough was leftover and my kitchen never looks like this normally but we have company coming over tonight and…” I rambled on like an idiot. Because apparently being a good mom is something I did to offend her.

I felt shamed for doing something fun for my kids—and hers. Shame for even trying to be a good mom. Trying to be good actually brought out the worst in both of us.

This happened to me a lot over the years.  I have heard comments about volunteering too much at my kids’ school,or hosting too nice of parties or making a Pinterest-inspired handmade soccer cookie (one time).

Most people are appreciative, but there are always others that say something along the lines of, “Way to make the rest of us look bad!”

Sadly, this behavior really isn’t just relegated to social media alone.  It seems there will always be women who punish other women who aspire to do good, to be happy, to make beautiful things themselves, or to even make playdates for children happy and pleasant.

The female mantra even all throughout literature, seems to be “do your best, but don’t you dare do too much better than me!”  Instead of women being genuinely happy for each other when another succeeds, if it’s “too much” for one in particular, she’ll deem it as “bad” somehow.

In the past few years of blogging, I’ve seen how this even applies to women in the Bible, particularly the Proverbs 31 woman since she is the idealistic representation of what us wives should look up to and feel inspired by.  Even a decade before I started writing my series, there were already books and articles out there online with Christian women sarcastically slamming the Proverbs 31 wife as an unrealistic “super mom.”  Yes, I’m being serious!  Christian women regularly would mock and put down an entire passage in the Bible, mostly because they said it made them feel “pressured” or “inferior!”  Whether we’re told we’re Pharisees for seeing beauty in this biblical passage, or when we’re told to “Stop Obsessing” over her, or to “Rethink” her character to be a “fictional” one in order to downplay what the Bible calls us as wives to try to emulate and grow into, it’s downright getting rarer and rarer to find someone promoting her as real and what God wants us to take seriously.

It always seemed so strange to me that Christian women would actively hate the Proverbs 31 passage, or seek to ridicule anyone who wrote on it thinking it was applicable to today.

But after reading this article, do you still wonder why?

 

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Stephanie

Are Women Who Submit to Their Husbands in Sin?

I’m always late to know everything!  Apparently, it’s been making the rounds on the interwebz that popular and conservative blogger, Sheila Gregorie, has not only recently attacked a Pastor for trying to defend his view of biblical marriage (and calling for him to be fired… and calling for all the women in his congregation to rebel against him), she’s now accused wives who actually submit to their husbands of committing the sin of idolatry!

I used to think Sheila was on the more “conservative” or traditional side of Christianity – but I’d never really read her blog, and I never knew she was a Christian feminist.

Here is where she defends Queen Vashti as being the “hero” of the Esther story, because she stood up for herself and “social justice,” and refused to obey her husband.  It is a very twisted read in order to fit her feminist agenda of Vashti somehow being the “wife in the right,” with Esther being cast as a victim.

“I refuse to be treated like a sex object, because that is not what I am.” She stood up for the dignity of women, something, by the way, that Jesus did, too. In that culture that despised women, she said, “no more!”

Vashti doesn’t have to be bad in order for Esther to be good. Maybe both were standing up to injustice.

A few years ago, after reading what I thought would be a benign Bible study by Beth Moore on Queen Esther, I came across this same sentiment (from Moore) that Vashti really was in the right.  In the study, Moore builds up an elaborate case against King Xerxes in order to discredit him, much like Sheila does.  However, Moore is forced to admit to herself and her readers that Esther’s attitude and heart really were far superior than Vashti’s attitude and actions in winning over the King’s heart.

Sheila believes differently:

“I feel very, very sorry for Esther. I hate movies and books that portray her and Xerxes’ relationship as a love story.

She had to “audition” for a night to be chosen by him, and that’s pretty darn ugly, no matter how you slice it. We need to stop romanticizing it.

She was taken into a harem. It’s basically sex trafficking.

-Sheila Gregorie

Wow, so now Queen Esther was sex-trafficked!  I’ve never seen anyone interpret Esther’s story this far off from what it was meant to be.  It is definitely a type of love story, just as Ruth is another type of love story.  For centuries, women have always found these stories romantic, because they are!

Here is where I talk about how romantic Queen Esther’s love story with King Xerxes is.  From her uniquely tragic upbringing which forged her character and possible demeanor that captivated King Xerxes’, to being raised by a male cousin who gave her insight into men’s hearts, Esther made the King fall very much in love with her – to the point of him repeatedly offering her anything she wanted, including half his kingdom.

After reading Beth Moore’s study, I chose to focus on the good things she wrote about Esther, yet interject my own thoughts (as opposed to Moore’s) on how badly Vashti chose to behave.

From my post 3 years ago:

“Vashti had blatantly and cruelly humiliated him in front of all of Susa, during the finale of his week long party, during a sensitive time of his trying to ramp up political support for his campaign to go to war to conquer Greece (something that seemed like an extremely difficult undertaking).

He, of all men, understood what it meant to have a wife and Queen who would undermine you, publicly humiliate you, and refuse to support you at the time that you needed it most.”  (From Single Women: To Be Captivating is More Than Mere Looks)

Why Do Women Hate What the Bible Says?

Why is this topic such a controversial thing when the Bible says this command several times, I don’t know.  Just in the New Testament alone, I’ve counted four different books with specific verses that explicitly tell wives to submit to their husbands as they would to God Himself. I do know Truth is opposed.  And I know that when you start taking God’s Word seriously for your life, there will be people even in the Christian faith who will undoubtedly attack you for it.

Sheila calling submissive wives “sinful” for obeying and honoring the Word God’s given to us, is very similar to how Elspeth called women who revered Proverbs 31’s passage on the virtuous woman as a beautiful ideal to look up to, “Pharisees.”   It just shows complete lack of reverence for the beauty of God’s Word, and falsely accuses the women who are actually trying to follow it.

In fact, calling them “sinful” like Sheila did, or “Pharisees,” like Elspeth did, is slandering them for following the Word of God, and honoring it as something beautiful and true.  

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:10-11

When women who find beauty in the Proverbs 31 woman’s example are slandered as “Pharisees,” we should rejoice for being insulted and falsely accused by our fellow Christians.  And when women who submit to their husbands like Sarah did, and yet are accused of living in “sin,” we should be glad because our reward is great in heaven.  My husband and I expect behavior like this – attitudes that Sheila and Elspeth have shown against Christian women who respect and follow God’s Word – will only increase with time.

We best be prepared.

Stephanie

Marriage is an Opportunity for Comfort & Peace

The Brooklyn Duo is an awesome married couple who create heartfelt music with their piano and cello.  They apparently arrange and perform all of their duets in this fashion, in order to allow viewers to see them “live.”  I can’t seem to get enough of them!

This song above is actually from a children’s movie where the male love interest is trying to comfort the usually bubbly and happy-go-lucky female character, who finally became depressed after the hardships they went through.  He hates singing, and has his own issues with loss and depression (causing him to hate being around others and lose his “light”), but when he sees her finally affected, it moves him to sing.  Totally out of character for him, he sings to her to make her feel happiness again – just so sweet!

Here are the lyrics –

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
Its hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
True colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Songwriters: Billy Steinberg / Tom Kelly
True Colors lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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We’ve had moments like this in our marriage where the trials we were going through started to really bring me down.  I’m usually optimistic and don’t have a hard time feeling happy from day to day, but in times of great loss or sadness or even depression, it’s been so nice and romantic to be able to lean on my man for comfort, and have him react in this way.

In those times where he’s comforted me after heartache, I think to myself that this is why God created marriage.  So that men and women could find someone who could love and comfort them, and build something beautiful together – despite how hard life can be.

Marriage should be a place of peace and comfort, granted it can’t always feel that way.  But when two people work together, and genuinely care about how the other is feeling, the beauty of it helps me understand why God said,

“It is not good for man to be alone.”

***

My husband has a tattoo of the three strand cord mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12, representing our marriage composed of God, him, and me.  The context of that verse is talking about how beneficial it is to have a partner in life –

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor;  for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.

But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.  

Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Amplified Bible

Anyway, just wanted to share this couple’s work.

And here is a sweet one they did with for their newborn last year!!  Oh my gosh!!!!!!

Hope you enjoy their music!

Has anyone had any times where they felt like their partner comforted them or encouraged them?  It could be the husband OR the wife – I’d love to hear other people’s stories.

Stephanie

Look Who Just Turned 1 Year Old!!!

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This past weekend was definitely a crazy one.  With Father’s Day and celebrating our little one’s first birthday, there was just A LOT to be happy and joyful about!!!  ❤

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I went to our local grocery bakery and found her the perfect little cake.  It was white cake with fresh strawberry creamed icing (soooo delicious since it was naturally flavored!).

My mom did the honor of creating this little spread for photographing it.

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She really upped the elegance with her table settings ❤

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Le sigh… will they let me eat it? ❤

And in other news… Baby Girl is pulling up and starting to walk a little when assisted!

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That concentrating face though 😀 ❤  Aww sweet little one!!!

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We also had the incredible opportunity to dedicate our daughter to God on Father’s Day (how cool is that?!?!)!

Ugh just so much love here!

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My husband took these pics before church started Sunday… it was a sweet, tender moment

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There were more than a few tears shed this past Sunday when I heard our pastor praying over my husband and blessing him as the good, godly father he is.

I know I’ve posted before how we’ve dedicated each of our children to the Lord, but this one happening to fall on Father’s Day was just extra sweet and special.  Again… I had tears!

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Can’t resist ONE more picture of this delicious cake!!

Hope your weekend was just as beautiful and splendid!

We’re over the moon with love ❤

Stephanie

Why Can’t I Help My Husband Lead Us “Better?”

I recently wrote a post addressing the question of what to do when a wife wants more kids but her husband doesn’t.  Apparently, it’s a common thing for Christian women to look at their husbands’ faith or ability to trust in God, and decide it needs some work and that they’re the ones to “help him out here.”

I got an email after writing that post from a woman who disagreed with some of my answers, and agreed wholeheartedly with the other blogger’s advice, saying she reads her blog frequently.  I do like The Thinking Housewife’s blog 🙂 , it is possible for someone to give out very bad advice and yet still be a good person or have other good writings I think.  Her blog is a lot like mine in many ways in that we share many of the same stances against feminism.  One post she’s written recently, called Traditional Housewife – The New Hitler, is especially a great read about how the Leftists and feminists (but I repeat myself) view housewives.  It even focuses on our internet presence, which is very interesting.  But this reader’s issue with my post is she thought it’s right and even godly for a wife to point out her husband’s spiritual flaws, or to try to make him realize when he should be having more trust or faith in God.

I will admit that this topic can get very murky because in some respect a wife does have that privilege in her husband’s heart, to gently and humbly point out if she sees something is wrong or could be harmful in the future.  However, that is not the advice The Thinking Housewife gave out to women in that position.  The main point of her post (and the counterpoint of mine) was actually trying to get a husband to follow the wife’s lead for their marriage.  And in trying to get him on board with her decisions to lead them, The Thinking Housewife used a variety of unhealthy tactics.

Let’s look at what she suggested again:

If your husband is worried about money, that’s understandable but he should ask God for help and for the grace to handle whatever occurs. Why does he have so little confidence and trust? Insist with him that it is wrong for you to use contraception.

Continue to talk to your husband and don’t give up.

Let him know that your marital happiness is gravely threatened.  (from here)

Aside from the fact that she’s promoting using threats to get the husband to follow his wife’s convictions, this approach of “insisting with him,” and continuing to talk with him without giving up, are not productive with men.

When it comes to using the threat of a wife’s happiness (which is not the point of marriage at all, even if it is a wonderful byproduct), making it seem like she will be forever miserable if he doesn’t follow suit – and then her misery will of course affect everyone in the entire family, is not psychologically healthy for a woman.  If a mother decides that she’s not getting her way, so she’s going to be miserable (their marital happiness will be “gravely threatened”), then she’s basically trying to control her husband (Eve’s curse), and not seeking to live peacefully and by faith and trust in God.

It’s important that we realize that all of this advice is coming from a position of self-righteousness or a feeling of superiority in the heart of the wife toward her husband.  I’ve noticed that this is something Catholic women tend to have toward their husbands (and also toward non-Catholics), because their church has decided authority on issues like these, and therefore doesn’t allow husbands to make their own decisions regarding how many children he wants to have. **Instead of debating this point in the comments, we should probably just focus on how Catholic people can encourage their wives to submit to, and obey, their husbands like commanded in the Bible, while still following all the rules and restrictions of their faith.**

It’s also the most ironic thing to me, that while The Thinking Housewife is encouraging Christian women to view their husbands as not having enough faith in God, she’s actually endorsing these women’s own lack of faith in their husband’s decisions, promoting psychologically unhealthy manipulation tactics (using threats of her being miserable and affecting their family negatively!), and consequentially, encouraging a Christian woman’s lack of faith in her husband’s leadership – which is (especially if he’s Christian) ordained by God.

For the Catholic women out there, let’s look again at what God says about this in the Bible:

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:22-23

It’s important for Catholic women or any woman in this position, to truly understand how much faith this takes for wives to submit to their husbands “in everything.”

I really do believe it’s crucial to start teaching Christian women that instead of always looking for where our husbands may be “wrong” on something – or doubting his intentions in his leadership of our family, or his faith, etc., that instead, she needs to learn to have faith in him, and to trust him enough to follow his imperfect leadership.  In doing this, it’s a beautiful chance to reveal how much faith she has in God herself.

See what I did there?  Instead of putting all the blame on the husband in cases like this – or worse, trying to make him feel like he’s a bad Christian and doesn’t have enough faith – instead of choosing that route (which is a very negative and unproductive route) she can instead focus on her own faith (something she has control over) in being able to trust God even though she may not agree with the direction her husband is leading them in.

No husband’s leadership is going to be perfect, just like no marriage is going to be perfectly perfect 🙂 .

But I’ve seen that the best marriages

are where the wife learns to trust her husband with her life,

and also to ultimately trust God that He can and will lead them

even when they may take paths she doesn’t feel are right.

That is where the real growth of marriage begins, when the wife can fully trust her husband (which is a reflection of her own trust and faith in God), even when they’re going through stormy waters or rough patches.

When she decides to stop doubting his leadership, and to follow him like Sarah followed and obeyed Abraham, she has the chance to grow a beautiful faith like we are told in the New Testament.

In case anyone wants to go back and read the post I did which details submission even in the hardest circumstances, here is a link to the Sarah post.

“Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.

For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so.”

1 Peter 3:3-6

Watching couples where you can tell the wife truly trusts and follows her husband’s leadership makes women everywhere swoon, because not only is it beautiful, it’s actually romantic to be able to trust like that in your man!  And feminists hate that!  They hate that there are good men out there who cherish their wives so much, and wives who love them so much in return, that they’re actually willing to follow them and trust their leadership.  Because these feminists women don’t have that, they don’t want us women who know what it’s like to exist because it’s a reminder of how much they’ve failed.

No one else is telling you to have faith in your husband like this, but I am.  Husbands need their wives to believe in them and to trust their decisions for their family.

And I’m telling you to put your trust in God – that He can and will work things out for good for all those who are called according to Him (Romans 8:28).

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Aside from the faith or spiritual position, even from a practical perspective, there are clear reasons why a wife trying to get her husband to be “better” just doesn’t work.

Here is a quote from the author my mom had me reading as a young, pre-teen girl (and the main reason I am the woman I am today):

There are some Christian Women who have been taught “to provoke their husbands to righteousness.”  But the word provoke does not mean what is commonly implied.  The true meaning of the word is to incite, to inspire, or to arouse.  It does not mean to nettle or to push.

Women are Self Righteous

Why do women try to change men?  Because they have a self righteous attitude.  they feel that they put forth more effort into doing what is right, try more diligently to make marriage successful, are more active in church, and are better persons than are their husbands.  They look down on men, and therefore feel that the men, not themselves, need to improve.

The Sadduccees and the Pharisees in Biblical times had this same self-righteous attitude.  They were faithful to attend church, paid tithes, prayed, read the scriptures, fasted, observed any number of rituals, but the Savior called them “hypocrites”, not because of their faithfulness, but because of their self-righteousness.

The Christian Attitude

The very heart of Christian doctrine is: It is ourselves we must change.  We have been told to cast out the beam from our own eye first, and then we will more clearly see the mote which is in our brother’s.  Women who try to change their men trample on their freedom, and violate righteous principles.

From Fascinating Womanhood by Helen B. Andelin

This doesn’t mean that the things your husband decides to do will always work out.  Sometimes your husband’s leadership may result in some kind of failure.  If he got married young, chances are a few things worked themselves out through trial and error.  Or maybe your husband was a bachelor for a long time and wasn’t used to suddenly having to live with a woman in his house.  Maybe he had to adjust to the change through trial and error.  There’s nothing wrong with men having to take time to learn how to be a husband or how to lead in the way he feels comfortable in leading.  It’s the same with being a wife – it’s not something that just happens over night and POOF!!… you’re suddenly the perfectly trusting, adoring wife.

The first step is faith – having faith in your husband. 

And then the second mountain is usually figuring out how to deal with setbacks or failures, and still be able to keep your faith in him, as well as in God.

In other words, many things about your husband’s leadership will probably work themselves out through trial and error.  If a wife tries to keep that in mind, while also working on her ability to trust, and doesn’t nit-pick, or harp on his failures, or become a critical Christian toward her husband, then they’ll move beyond it.

I’ll probably post more about this at another time because it could be a rather longish post.  But knowing you both will fail each other at some point, and having a forgiving attitude puts a lot of failures in perspective, which again, allows for marriage growth and becoming more in love ❤ and closer.

Related Reading —

When You Want More Kids But Your Husband Doesn’t

This is a topic I’ve thought about a lot 🙂  I could definitely see us having 5-8 children… but my husband, from the time of our engagement, was adamant that he wanted no more than 4 🙂  And I’ve accepted this, although it is a funny thing to tease each other about in good humor.

In reality, this is a very serious topic, and something that could completely destroy your marriage.

I recently was pointed via email to a post written by the blogger The Thinking Housewife, on her advice to a woman who wants more children, but her husband is against it.

Here is an excerpt, but it’s not a long post so I encourage readers to go read all of it if they want:

“If you want more children or fewer children, take it up with God, but don’t do anything that prevents conception. To use contraception is “to usurp the right of God, who alone has the power to say who should be born and who should not.” You say you want two more, but it’s not for you to place an order. Just accept all. To do otherwise is sinful.

I think you should 1) Work on your own spiritual life (see some good talks here) and pray more. 2) Explain to your husband again and again that if you both trust in God, He will take care of you. If your husband is worried about money, that’s understandable but he should ask God for help and for the grace to handle whatever occurs. Why does he have so little confidence and trust? Insist with him that it is wrong for you to use contraception. How does he know that things won’t actually be worse for you financially if you don’t have more children? Neither of you have any obligation to pay for college educations for your children. Remind him of that. 3) Bear in mind that both you and your husband (and all of us) have been formed by a culture that does not understand this issue. Contraception should be illegal, but it’s widely promoted. This should temper your resentment toward him. Continue to talk to your husband and don’t give up. Let him know that your marital happiness is gravely threatened.”

This is by far, the worst advice I’ve ever read on this topic.  Especially considering it’s coming from a Christian writer.

I’m in this position myself, so at least I can relate emotion-wise as to how hard this is to accept (that your husband doesn’t want more babies with you), but again, this is NOT the correct biblical advice women in my position should be receiving.

Here is the advice I would give, and have given to myself, concerning this topic:

  1. You need to trust God, which means trusting that your husband’s decisions for your family (and family size) are going to work out.  He is the person you chose, for better or worse, life is not going to be “perfect,” so accepting the things that aren’t “perfect” (like having 5-8 kids) is a big part of spiritual maturity for you.
  2. Really learning to trust God to let His will be done in your life, when you are submitting to your husband’s leadership as well, provides so much spiritual growth and maturity in finding peace and lasting contentment with His provision for you.
  3. NEVER… NEVER threaten your husband with the happiness of your marriage by making him feel like he **has** to do what you want him to do – especially regarding him having more children with you.  That is the ultimate worst advice for achieving a godly, happy marriage and children I’ve ever read in the orthosphere.  You cannot.. I repeat, you cannot, make a husband feel guilt-tripped into doing what you want, and still retain a loving, trust-filled marriage 😦 .
  4. Contraception issues should be worked out BEFORE marriage, never during marriage.  If a wife feels convicted over using contraceptives, she needs to pray for forgiveness, but still follow her husband’s lead on the subject, and NEVER hold it against him.  She needs to regularly pray for her to never build up resentment or bitterness toward her husband over this issue, and just accept that she should have worked it out before marriage.  This is just her cross she must bear, and she must bear it with grace, without complaining and with a good Philippians 2 attitude.
  5. The Bible clearly tells wives to win their husbands over without a word on issues regarding sin.  If she feels they are sinning by using contraceptives, she needs to take this up with God, but not in a self-righteous way of believing she is “better” than her husband.  She needs to pray regularly for acceptance of her marriage and the state it is in, not work to badger him with guilt and using God to get him to be “better.”

For myself… I really don’t let this issue bother me.  It comes sometimes, the feelings or longings of wanting more children after we have our next (and last) child, but I try never to let it consume me.  I would NEVER want that issue to come between me and the man God has given me to help and support in his mission in this life.

Women were created for Adam, and to be Adam’s helper.  To hook your husband into following your plans for your marriage, is to wreck his leadership and headship over your whole entire family.  And your children will definitely end up scarred by seeing their mother berate their husband over his own decisions in leadership (when she should be working to support him).

Set a good example for your children and be a true helpmate to your husband.  This means learning to accept the man you’re married to, his flaws or convictions are of course, part of him.

Stephanie

RELATED READING:

Letters From Mentors: Elizabeth Elliot’s Marriage Advice for Wives

From her book Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot explains how wives can revive the romantic feelings of esteem for their husband:

Marriage is no house party; it’s not a college campus or a stimulating political row or an athletic contest, and the man’s having been a spellbinding orator or a great halfback somehow does not seem terribly significant anymore.

But you ought now and then to remember what he was, to ask yourself what it was, really, that caught your eye.

Come now, you will say to yourself, you didn’t marry him because he was a great halfback, did you?

No, you married this person.

Whatever the inner qualities were that enabled him to do the things he did then are still a part of this person that you go to bed with and eat breakfast with and wrestle over the monthly budget with.

He is a person with the same potentials he had when you married him.

Your responsibility now is not merely to bat your eyelashes and tell him how wonderful he is (but breathes there a man with soul so dead as not to be cheered by a little of that?) but to appreciate, genuinely and deeply, what he is, to support and encourage and draw out of him those qualities that you originally saw and admired.

***

I love reading pretty much anything that Elizabeth Elliot says on marriage and anti-feminism.  She is kind, clear, and to the point, something I admire in a writer.  I thought that some of her pieces may go well in this continual topic series I’m writing called Letters From Mentors.  I’ll be including these in my daughter’s book so that she has access to these other women’s thoughts in one place 🙂 ❤ .

It’s just so beautiful to have different perspectives from older women who have more wisdom or advice than I do right now.  There’s a reason the Bible counsels believers to gather many advisers, and for the older women to be teaching the younger women how to love their husbands and children, it’s because if they’ve been living rightly with God, they should be blessed with the ability to see things a younger (less experienced) woman may be able to see.  

Elizabeth points out something so crucial to marriage in this short script to us. Something so obvious and yet profound.  That we graciously and carefully handle our husbands as the unique man God created him to be.

That we remember his talents and beauty of his soul, and the romantic things about him that made us fall in love with him when dating.

That we genuinely look again at him, from that perspective we had when we were dating ❤ .

That we encourage him in his dreams right now, and for the future.

That we be his best cheerleader in his life ❤ .

And that we try to show him daily how much we love and adore him, just for the man he is and has become.

Stephanie

How To Survive a Rough Patch in Marriage

This music video and song are extremely romantic (aka cheesy to those who don’t appreciate these things 😀 ).

Chances are if you stumbled upon this blog post through a google search or something, you have ZERO interest in watching a sweet couple sing about how they’ve made it through hard and troubled times.  Romance and love might be making you feel tearful because you think that you’ve lost those feelings, along with the chance to have a marriage like this.

You’re in a rut, or feeling isolated and lonely or wondering if your husband even loves you anymore.

For wives who are feeling like this… the number one thing to do is admit you both are probably going through a “Rough Patch.”  And I say “both,” because if you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, there’s a good chance he’s feeling those same feelings, too.

Sometimes even just admitting this is enough to help you see it through to the light at the end of the tunnel.  And in most (almost all) marriages, there will be a light!

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Science has shown that couples who were unhappy to the point of considering divorce, if they stayed and just survived during that rough patch, that 5 years later they were happier, and guess what?  I’m sure they were SO GLAD that they didn’t pull the trigger to end their marriage, because it wasn’t the “end” – it was just a rough patch!

Here is a great excerpt from that study:

Many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals.

Why did these marriages survive where other marriages did not? The marital endurance ethic appears to play a big role.

Many spouses said that their marriages got happier, not because they and their partner resolved problems but because they stubbornly outlasted them.  With time, they told us, many sources of conflict and distress eased. Spouses in this group also generally had a low opinion of the benefits of divorce, as well as friends and family members who supported the importance of staying married.

The key is everyone is going to go through some kind of rough patch in their marriage.  Sometimes even SEVERAL rough patches that they’ll experience just due to circumstances putting way more stress on the husband and wife than they feel like they can handle.

Work schedules conflicting, extremely sick children, parenting issues, weeks of sleep loss due to little children & night-time tantrums, parents passing away and dealing with the grief, etc.  You may be in a period of learning to understand and communicate with each other better, because maybe things have changed some and you both need to learn a different way to connect.  Or you may be learning not to be so sensitive if harm wasn’t meant, and just in general… how to go on when you’re not “feeling” in love sometimes.

We need to come to understand how normal this is, and how successful marriages are made up of partners who learn to manage those rough times where loving feelings and romance is not at the forefront of the marriage.

So #1 – it’s normal and should be put out in the open where you and your husband are able to discuss it or admit that this is a really hard time, but that you are totally committed to the marriage and you’re going to see this through.

Since all marriages seem to go through one or more rough patches, you will probably experience some of these feelings and emotions (or already are), and if no one has prepared you for them, they’ll make you scared that your marriage is over.

It can be over, if you decide to just divorce, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

#2 – Once you’ve been able to come together, maybe over a private dinner or a quiet time where you were able to reflect on how hard it feels and voice these things to your husband, once you’ve at least admitted it to him and yourself that this feels like a “rough patch,” it’s time to decide what you, personally, are going to do about it.

It’s crucial to realize how much power we each have in the way we see things, and in the way we allow ourselves to either dwell on the positives and beauty of our lives, or be overwhelmed in hard times with how much of a struggle it can be.  We all have a choice.  We can either choose to make the best of things and thrive with our husbands going forward (weather out this storm), or we can choose to be overwhelmed by our temporary feelings of struggle and sometimes even despair.

Women’s emotions can feel so insanely real, and yet be so incredibly false.  Whether it’s due to hormones, or sensitivity to certain insecurities, or feeling inadequate, or like we are unappreciated – sometimes a perfect storm can occur to where a wife will start believing these faulty emotions that if listened to, can actually ruin her life!

For me when I’ve experienced this, the best thing is figuring it out with God as to why my emotions are trying to dictate my enjoyment of my kids and my marriage. 

Because that is exactly what it feels like.  Even though I know I can tell my emotions are lying to me, it can still be hard to trust what I know is true.  So part of this deciding what to do, is take a critical look at what is true or false, maybe even writing it down as a reminder if or when those feelings start popping back up again.

Here’s an example:

  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like my husband doesn’t love me anymore.
  • TRUTH – My husband loves us so much that he would die for me and our kids.  He may not know how to respond to hearing we don’t feel loved, so I should let him know (within reason) if it’s something he can do or if I simply want to spend some time alone together just enjoying each other’s presence.
  • TRUTH – When you start feeling like your husband doesn’t love you anymore, you may actually be projecting your own feelings onto him!  You may feel like you’re falling out of love in this rough patch, or because your marriage’s romance has been placed on the back burner for too long.  If that’s the case, initiate some romance.  But realize if it’s actually your feelings that need to be whipped into shape, and decide to stick with him until the romantic feelings come back again.
  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like if there’s no romantic love right now with him showing it to me everyday, then I have no purpose in this marriage (or in life!).
  • TRUTH – Everyone has to find their own purpose in life, and sometimes it may seem small, but is actually very powerful – like being a stay at home mom.  It’s hard to see how much you’re doing right now, but God’s Word promises us that what we sow faithfully, that we later will reap blessings from it!  Your purpose right now may be the quiet, unseen work of sowing seeds into your husband’s and kids’ hearts (and surviving this rough patch in your marriage).  Of course you can’t see what it will look like when it’s reaping time, because it hasn’t happened yet!  Sowing and reaping are never in the same season!  So continue your work in your marriage and raising your kids, resting on God’s promises that you will reap what you sow.  Trust in Him that staying married is better than divorcing in a rough patch.
  • TRUTH – Romance ebbs and flows in a long marriage relationship, and it’s supposed to be that way. If it’s not appearing very much right now, try not to worry.  Just put some effort in (a date night here or there, some long talks or watching a movie together at home cuddled up), and give it time and know it will probably return after this rough patch.
  • FALSE FEELING – If I fight with him enough, he’ll “get it” that I’m not happy and he’ll finally understand how to make me happy.
  • TRUTH – Fighting with him when you’ve realized you are both in a rough patch is not a good idea.  Emotions are or may be out of whack due to the rough patch itself.  And keep in mind, he’s probably experiencing the same set of stressors that you are, albeit maybe in different ways. Fighting and having intense emotions during this time will only prolong the rough patch or make it even more miserable for you both.
  • TRUTH – Fighting and acting highly emotional will never help a man to “just get it,” or understand how to make you happy.  If anything, it shows him you are giving in to emotions not based on truth and allowing your unhappiness to rule your entire life and being (and his by default).  This will make him possibly lose respect for you overtime.
  • TRUTH – Prolonged fighting like this in some strange hope that it will help save your marriage, will do the opposite overtime.  It will kill it, because there’s no “fixing” false feelings through crazy dramatic fights.

 

The Problem with False Feelings… It Puts Your Husband in a No-Win Situation

I’ve actually found that if I react in one of these inappropriate false feelings and allow the negative emotions to just dictate how I experience our life together, my husband is in a no-win situation.  But when women believe their false feelings like this, what else are we doing to our husbands but putting them into no-win situations?

If I overreact to something (be too sensitive), or assign blame to something he did by accident or without thinking (jump to conclusions), then my overreaction negatively affects our relationshipWe then have to deal with my over-reaction in addition to addressing whatever happened in the first place.  Hopefully you can see that allowing false feelings to override truth just compounds your problems!

False Feelings if not stopped lead to –> Arguments or Fights Based on Falsehoods –> Increases emotions and feelings of powerlessness and desperateness –> Your Husband Then Has to deal with your false feelings, along with the arguments or fights, along with rough patch stress and separate (logical) problems that need to be worked out as well

Clearly, if we cut it off at the beginning where we fish out what are false feelings and the Truth, then we can go straight to dealing with any logical problems that may be contributing to the rough patch emotions. 

So how do you get around this?  Remain calm and work on trying not to be overly sensitive, especially once you’ve identified that this may be a “rough patch” where your emotions are out of whack anyway due to surrounding stress from life.  I’ve found that I don’t think as clearly when feeling those feelings and am more apt to take things personally when I shouldn’t.

And… this a big one… Usually the root of the false feelings and emotions is some kind of nasty discontentment, as much as I hate to admit that.  My all time favorite verse is when Paul is talking about how he figured out how to be content in any and every circumstance – and coming from Paul and what he went through, that statement from him is just amazing!  I want so much to be like him in that.  But honestly, if you’re feeling like your husband doesn’t love you, and yet everything logically shows that he does, then there may be something else lurking in your heart that speaks of discontentment with your life that needs to be confronted.

When we learn how to be truly content, it’s because we are accepting of our husbands and of where we are right now – where God has us – and are ok with that.  When we trust that His timing is just right, and that we need to be exactly where we are right now for a purpose, it becomes a lot easier to see those False Feelings for what they are.

And then we need to decide to hold on to those Truths, and make it through that rough patch.

Now go back and listen to that music video at the top, and remember that rough patches are only temporary, whereas a love like that (that survives during those hard times) is timeless.

Stephanie