Saturday, May 14, 2011

Love or Commitment

Have you ever heard someone say "Love is all it takes"? Or how about "Love is enough"? Or any other number of ways people say something like this? Then there's my favorites "We fell in love" or the opposite "We just fell out of love". Love, love, love. In the world we live in today people everywhere are obsessed with love and anything to do with love.

Now don't worry, this is not an ani-love post by any means! But I think before you can really deal with things you have to figure out truth and build a foundation that will stand, otherwise you'll end up like the man in Matthew 7:24-27 who built his house on the sand, and when the winds and the storms came his house fell. As wonderful and important to your marriage as love is, it is not what your marriage should be built on. Marriages are built on commitment, not love!

When my husband and I got married we were just barely 18. We had been together for about a year and a half and we honestly thought we had everything it would take to make our marriage work. We found out very quickly that we were wrong. We, like so many others, believed that all you need is love. We thought that as long as we felt those love feelings everything would be great, and of course those love feelings would never leave right? Wrong! It did not take long into our marriage to realize that we knew nothing about marriage and neither of us had any clue how we were supposed to make this marriage work. We were like that man in Matthew and had built the house of our marriage on sand.

In our first year we did so many things wrong but I honestly feel that the number one thing that hurt us was our view of what it took to make marriage work. See we had bought the line of "love is all it takes" and while love is so important in a marriage it does not come first and is absolutely not the most important thing.

The number one most important thing to have in your marriage is commitment. Absolutely, without a doubt, solid first. Without commitment to your spouse, your marriage, and the vows you both made to God, you will never last.

Just after Colby and I had been married a year things in our marriage had gotten very bad. We had both made some choices and done some things that almost destroyed our marriage. If i'm honest and completely candid here, I was done and wanted out. So I went to talk to my former pastor, basically to ask for his "ok" to end my marriage. I knew he hadn't particularly cared for my husband when we first married so I thought if I got his ok it would be good and I could just leave. I mean his ok would be pretty much like God's ok right?! But he didn't respond at all how I expected and it caught me completely off guard. I don't remember what all I said or what all he said but I do remember this one thing, he said "Jamie, if you want out of this marriage you will find a way out. You will continue to do things to destroy your marriage and eventually you will leave. Nothing will change until you decide one way or the other if you are actually committed to this marriage".

At that point it shocked me to hear him say that! I remember feeling like I was committed to the marriage but it was just an awful marriage so it would be better for us to both walk away and just start over. Notice the "BUT" in that sentence? Don't you just love how you can justify pretty much anything if you try hard enough?! When I first walked into his office I had no idea I wasn't really committed to my marriage, but I left there seeing I hadn't been committed at all and ended up gaining a new resolve to be committed to my marriage.

Now i'd like to say that I went home and everything became perfect instantly and we have never had any problems since then but I just don't want to lie! :o) Choosing to commit doesn't mean that you will never have problems or want to walk away, it simply means that regardless of the situation you will poor everything you have into it and simply will not quit. Completing your marriage is a HUGE success and no great success has ever been completed with half hearted commitment.

Take some time and evaluate your level of commitment to your marriage. Ask God to show you were it needs improvement and then talk to your spouse about it. Confess to him/her any areas you haven't completely committed resolve to increase your commitment.

Matthew 19:5-6 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly (joined inseparably) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (separate).

This post has been linked up with Time Warp Wife and Women Living Well.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Communication Part 5: Timing

Now that we have talked about all different kinds of communication I only have one more thing to say on this matter (for now!). Timing! As with almost every area of your life, timing is so important!

During the course of your marriage you will have ups and downs, good times and bad, days with problems and days with little to no problems. There will be things you will love about your spouse and things that will drive you absolutely crazy! They will do things for you that make you feel so special and they will do things that hurt or embarrass you. You'll see it all.

The good things are of course easy to take, but the bad things? Those can catch you off guard sometimes, and especially early in marriage they can be difficult to handle. While it is good to talk to your spouse about something they say or do that hurts you or bothers you, the timing in which you do so is key. When you are in the middle of an argument about your in-laws (because yes, those arguments will happen!)...that's not the time to bring up how much him hanging out with his friends so much bothers you! While you may have every right to be bothered, learn when to approach him about the subject. Take the time to come to him in a relaxed, calm way and whatever you do, do not start attacking him with your words!

Something that would be good to set up is a kind of complaint department. Figure out a way to come to each other about problems you are having (when you're not in the middle of a fight) and be open to the issues your spouse brings up. But at the same time, I have to say, be sparing with your criticism and judgments. Lets face it, words hurt! If it is at all possible for you to accept your spouses behavior and weird quirks, do so!

You have to work very hard to not throw things in each others faces. Let me tell you, there is no one in this world who knows me like Colby. In the same way, there is know one in this world who knows him like I do. That being the case, no one knows his flaws like I do and no one knows my flaws like he does. That can be a powerful weapon or it can be a huge comfort. It's all in what you do with that information!

Whatever you do, never stop talking to your spouse. Talk about everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember to include each other in every part of your life. If you consistently and consciously work to keep all forms of communication open between each other your marriage can really flourish!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Communication Part 4: More on good communication

I love to talk to my husband, he is my best friend and there's nothing that I can't talk about with him. I love to talk about our days, our kids, our families, our future, about everything really. By talking about all of those things we can both continue to learn so much about each other. It's through talking that we learn everything about each other, it's how we learned when we were dating and how we continue to learn now.

There are some things in marriage that it's so important for couples to talk and communicate about. Just a few of those things are...

Your dreams It's so important to realize that you both have dreams for you future. You both have places you want your family it go and ideas of how things will turn out. Take time on a regular basis to dream together. I love talking with my husband about our future! We sit and picture the house we'll live in someday, dream about building a house. We dream about future careers, what life will be like once the kids grow up and move out, what life will be like with grandkids. It's all future stuff but it's so much fun to dream together! You have to remember that you got married to build a life together when you quite dreaming together you are simply just surviving.

Your plans This one can seem like it falls under the dreaming category but it is different. Your plans are things that are happening now. They can be anything from your plans for the weekend to your plans for a budget, or how to discipline your children, when to get a pet...the list goes on and on. Your plans are the day to day part of your life and it's so important to include each other in every aspect of that. At any given moment of a day my husband and I can both tell you where the other person will be. We both know each other's schedules and activities. It's not about keeping tabs on each other, for us it's simply a conscious effort to include each other in our days and our lives.

Your needs Every person needs something from their spouse. It can be simple, or it can be very complex. But do you take the time to tell your spouse exactly what you need? Having to tell your spouse that you need something from them does not mean they have failed you in some way or they don't know you. I remember thinking that early on in our marriage but it was a very naive and immature thought. There is no possible way for Colby know absolutely every single thing I need from him or just in general without my voicing those needs to him. Now he has gotten very good at reading me and can usually tell, but he is not perfect nor is he a mind reader and it would be silly of me to expect him to be.

There are so many other examples I could give but they would pretty much fall under these categories. It's just so important to make talking to your spouse a habit. Learn to talk to them about anything and everything. Include them in everything about your life, after all, you did chose them to be your partner in every area of your life!

As always, if this series is something you're interested in feel free to become a follower or subscribe and have each post delivered directly to your inbox.

This post is linked up with Time Warp Wife, Raising Homemakers and Women Living Well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Communication Part 3: Good communication

Well I was planning on having one more post on bad communication but i've been having a HUGE block and really feel like i've said enough on that topic for now so we're going to move on. :o)

Let's talk about good communication now. As we've already talked about before, everything you do can communicate something to your spouse, from the words you say to your body language. Just like you can negatively communicate those ways you can also use those to positively communicate. Use your body language and eye contact to show your spouse that you're actually listening to what they're saying.

I think listening is one of the most important parts of communication in a marriage. How can you ever effectively communicate with your spouse when you never listen to what they are saying? When you find yourself disagreeing with each other, it can be so easy to stop listening and start forming your argument in your mind. I know sometimes I get caught up with trying to prove my point and get Colby to see things my way that while he's talking I am thinking about the next thing I want to say. Can I just say tell you right now...that does nothing for effective communication!

Another time you need to listen is simply when they are talking about their day or things that can even seem like nothing important to you. I am a stay at home mom of 3 little ones who all love to talk all.the.time! With that being the case, sometimes when my husband gets home at the end of the day I don't want to listen anymore. If anything I want to do the talking and just have him listen because i'm so excited to finally have an adult to talk to and discuss something other than princesses and batman! But it's so important to remember that conversations and effective communication are a two way street, you both have to talk and you both have to listen.

I think communication is especially difficult for men. Guys, some of you just weren't made to need to talk. You're just fine saying very little and hearing very little for that matter. But you need to understand that women need to talk. We need communication. We thrive on it, and through it our love for you can grow. My pastor always taught something that I thought was so perfect and described it very well. He said "Guys, as much as you need and crave sex, women need and crave communication!". It's true, we crave it.

So many guys think they don't need communication but here's a little secret for you...guys need communication just as much as girls need it for two reasons. The first reason they need it just as much as girls do is because, in that communication is the information needed to make their marriage last another year. You will never get to the point in your marriage that you can stop communicating with one another, there will ALWAYS be more to discuss, more to learn about and more to simply talk about with your spouse!

The second reason is this, men, if you are not talking to your wife someone else is! Women crave communication and if you are shutting her off from you and communication with you, you are opening her up to emotional and even physical affairs. Just as men can drift towards physical affairs when their wives are not meeting their needs physically, women can drift towards emotional affairs when their husbands are not meeting their needs emotionally. By doing these things and shutting your wife off from communication with you, you are creating the conditions for a perfect storm.

You have to make a point to set aside special time to just talk to each other. Talking with your spouse is an amazing way to stay connected to each other and if you don't actively choose to stay connected to each other Satan will make sure that you stay disconnected. Make communication a priority in your marriage, but remember, priorities aren't determined by what you say they are but by the time, energy and resources you invest in them. As hard as it may be to continue or even begin to communicate with your spouse don't give up! Remember Galatians 6:9 says "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

As always, if this series is something you're interested in feel free to become a follower or subscribe and have each post delivered directly to your inbox.

This post is linked up with Time Warp Wife, Raising Homemakers and Women Living Well.