March 8, 2010

Marriage: Baby Steps

I warned you last week during my bloggers block that this week would be a time of conversation. So get ready to leave a comment. :)

My sweet man and I are getting ready to celebrate 15 years of marriage in a few months. Yes, we were mere babes with barely a life lesson learned when we walked the aisle. Fortunately, we both said our vows with the intention of not only keeping them, but creating a marriage full of life and love. We didn't want a lukewarm marriage. We wanted one that was vibrant. Vitality requires work, but the benefits are worth it. Grant it, some years it took a lot more work than others.
There were times in our life (and I'm sure there are more to come) that we were just plain exhausted. Having 3 children 5 and under is enough to make anyone tired. Add a 4 month period of a bedridden husband and it's a recipe for disaster. Those are the moments that you just hang on. The decision we had to make before the storm came was whether we would cling to each other or allow the circumstances to sweep us away. We all have those times in our lives, and fortunately, they are the exception to the rule.

It's the daily living that really determines our marital character.
How are you doing on a daily basis? Are you making your marriage a priority? Are you a cheerful spouse or a complaining companion? Do you encourage more than you discourage?
I definitely have to give myself a check-up on these questions. I can fall into the trap of looking for the little nuances rather than celebrating the gift of life.

One of the greatest needs a man has is his need for respect. The way I speak to my husband, even when I disagree with him, must be respectful. It is not something that he must earn. I must choose to give it as a gift, expecting nothing in return. Hormones, frustration, and exhaustion are not justification to show disrespect. They are simply excuses to not show my love for him.
Have you ever been around someone who constantly berates her husband? Can you say awkward?! An interesting thing happens when this occurs. Her goal is to make him look bad, and in turn make herself look better, smarter, funnier, etc... When in fact, the opposite occurs. She is the one who looks the fool. I know 2 women who constantly belittle their husbands. Sometimes I just want to shout, "he's a good guy! Give him a break and ENJOY what you have!"

Before we go any further, I want to be clear about one thing. I know that many marriages come with a lot of baggage. I know that there can be years of pain and deep wounds that need to be healed. I'm not a marriage counselor, but I suggest you visit one. It's not something to be embarrassed about. If you are sick, you go see a doctor. The same principle applies. Get help.
My little blog entries about marriage are for the daily, baby steps it takes to reach the summit of a great marriage. I know it takes two to tango. You might be giving it all you've got, but you are feeling alone. That is valid, but you are not completely alone. The great Healer can mend even the broken hearted.

I want to encourage you today. Ask yourself this:
  • Am I being the best spouse I can be?
  • Am I making my marriage a priority?
  • Am I respectful, loving and fun?
  • What baby step can I take to get to the summit with a beautiful view?

Here is the question of the day (to answer in the comments):
What creative idea do you have that can be a baby step toward a vibrant, fun, fulfilling marriage? Just a baby step, we don't want a 12 step program. ;)

20 comments:

Trisha said...

What a great post! My cute husband and I have been married for 17 years. We also were babies when we wed! The years are full of ups and downs. A couple things we do that make things work are to 1. invite God into our relationship. Prayer, scriptures, church, service to others all help with that. 2. We hold hands, lots! In church, movies, on walks, parent teacher conferences, the grocery store. When Charlie takes my hand I know he is thinking of me and I LOVE it!

dawn said...

My thought--be the one to step closer. You know the days where you are both getting on each other's nerves, or bickering, or nursing a bad mood? Those days leave you feeling distant from each other--and sometimes not wanting to close that distance right then. Be the one. The one to step closer. Make the first move. Whether it's "deserved" or not. Whether you feel like it or not. You'll both feel better when the distance is closed.

That was my first thought! Second thought: kiss a lot!

ashley said...

This is such a wonderful post. It seems that strong, vibrant marriages are such a rarity these days. Thanks for being an example of a great one. One thing my husband and I try to do as often as we can is to put the kids down a little early for bed and then cook ourselves dinner and eat BY OURSELVES. Since money doesn't grow on trees and it's hard to find a babysitter every other week, this is a great way to feel like you're having a little "date night". Its still great to get AWAY from your home and your kids every once in a while, but this is a good substitute in the meantime.

Again, thanks for this post - I look forward to seeing more ideas! :)

New Every Morning said...

I love these ideas!!!

Laura said...

This is such a great reminder for me, thanks Gretchen!

Husbands love to be encouraged or praised in front of others. Why not show up at work with a special "something" whether it be a lunch or picnic to take him on or some goodies he can share with his co-workers. Kids can certainly come along too if allowed. Not only does this make him feel special but is also a great witness of marriage for his co-workers. This is especially true in today's world where marriage is seen as a ball and chain to carry around.

My second idea is to plan and do an activity he really enjoys (golf, hunting, bicycling). These may be things you dread, but its time together and you are showing him you care about his interests too.

Joy for the Seasons said...

We are both usually worn out at the end of our respective work days. I often forget in the evening to tell my husband little things during the day that he would want or need to know. So for years now we have instant messaged each other during the day. It is a quick an easy way to stay in touch and say "I love you" or "Guess what the baby just did?" or "I miss you" without interrupting his day. It has been a tremendous help in keeping us connected through the busy days.

Sandy said...

I love this post! And love getting to closely observe your marriage. One thing that keeps things fresh for us (& I see this in you two, too) is being playful with one another, especially when the other one least expects it. Life can be so serious, having fun w/each other keeps life on keel. My "baby step" is to try to be more diligent about planning fun things & then follow through w/them. Thanks for the challenge.

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest needs a man has is his need for respect. The way I speak to my husband, even when I disagree with him, must be respectful. It is not something that he must earn. I must choose to give it as a gift, expecting nothing in return. Hormones, frustration, and exhaustion are not justification to show disrespect. They are simply excuses to not show my love for him.
Have you ever been around someone who constantly berates her husband? Can you say awkward?! An interesting thing happens when this occurs. Her goal is to make him look bad, and in turn make herself look better, smarter, funnier, etc... When in fact, the opposite occurs. She is the one who looks the fool. I know 2 women who constantly belittle their husbands. Sometimes I just want to shout, "he's a good guy! Give him a break and ENJOY what you have!"




Good Morning,
First off your blog is very good. I love your music too! In reference to the above paragraph....THAT GOES FOR THE MAN TOO!!!!! My sister lived with verbal abuse for years. She was always trying to make things better at home. She also never spoke up. Finally they went into counseling. The above advice would have been good for her husband to read. Melissa

L~ said...

Awesome post girlie!

#1 - LAUGH ALOT! :)
#2 - Admit your mistakes concerning hubby & ask for his forgiveness
#3 - Pray for your Hubby w/out him knowing
#4 - Give him "BOY" days to recharge the "Warrior Spirit" God gave him!
#5 - Make-out! teehee
#6 - Put toothpaste on the others brush every night! :)
#7 - ALWAYS say goodnight & I LOVE YOU...NO MATTER WHAT! :)

Just to name a few! :) xoxoL~

Jenny Lynn said...

Thank you.

Such a great post for me to read today. My husband and I have been struggling with a big issue lately. It has overflowed into many smaller parts of our marriage too. Respect is huge! And the part about it being a gift is even bigger - it's not something he has to deserve, it should be a gift I freely give [expecting nothing in return]. You are dead on.

I need this today.

Thank you.

Mich said...

Great post! Love the cute picture too!

I have been married going on seventeen years! I love what you said about respect. My hubby is my best friend. We have had our ups and downs, which i call "growth spurts," but I have NEVER doubted his love for me.

I believe you should never let the day go by without saying "I love you."

Carpool Queen said...

There isn't a substitute for time spent together.

Janet said...

I know you heard me share this in our R and R group. Brian and I have been doing this for 14 years now. After supper we have "couch time". Basically Mommy gets Daddy first.

The kids go off and play while we talk for 20 minutes or, like a few nights ago, we realize we are still sitting at the dinner table and it is pitch black outside (the kids were still in the back yard playing tether ball --oops). Good for the kid's security to see a "healthy marriage" and good for the marriage.

Bugs and Sunshine said...

Ask God to fill your marriage and home with joy and laughter. Beg him for change if you have to.

He leads us in paths of newness!

He gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were!

(great ideas girls!)

lani said...

Wonderful post... These are the kinda things that should be exposed to the public and not all the negativity, media and divorce.

I am not yet married but hope to stay with her forever when I do get married

Gretchen said...

I brag to the kids about their dad, and often tell them to get his opinion (they do this often on their own) because he is a wise and gentle man.

Also...hate to be so brazen, but appointment sex. :)

Hey, we celebrate 20 in 3 months, so we're not doing too badly.

mj said...

Great post. I especially like to see--not trying to be selfish--that men's need for respect seems to be a recurring revelation to marriage building in recent years. Neither my wife nor myself had previously recognized that. We've been married almost 14 years; have four young, fun, loving kids; and our marriage is vibrant, despite a rough bout of trivial arguments in recent months. I agree with Dawn: we each need to be "the one," the one who initiates strides toward a better relationship... taking it a step further, I believe we each need to have a calling card... one or two very special things that we do for our significant other that we believe no one else does!

Amy Kinser said...

A great word from the Lord!

I agree that respect is huge. I never want my husband to wonder about how awesome, wonderful, handsome, hard working, etc. that he is. I never want him to need to hear those words of affirmation from someone else because he doesn't hear them from me. I want him to know that I think he is the very best husband in the world.

Kellie said...

When he does the slightest bit of something to help, say THANK YOU and mean it.

Say I LOVE YOU repeatedly in a day.

Kelli said...

This is so neat. I am doing a book club with 12 other women. We are reading Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley. After reading chapter 4 I encouraged the women to verbally encourage their husbands last week and to share it with us. Wow! The response was incredible. You are right....words of encouragement and respecting our husbands does amazing things. It all starts by having time with our Father each day. This love relationship will then spill over into our marriages and other relationships as well. So amazing! Thanks for sharing! I have also been reminded that I am to be his helper. This does not mean a blind follower. At times helping may even mean bringing observations (humbly with love and lots of questions:)Wow! Lots more could be said, but I will stop here! =)