Today is a post by my wife Summer. She is a pretty big deal, so you should read this…
Josh and I have been married for 18 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. That’s 6,719 days, 1.84 decades and 129 dog years. Now matter how you look at it, that’s a long time! (Unless you’ve been married for 18 years, 5 months or longer, to you, we are rookies.) Please don’t ask me what our secret is. I don’t believe in formulas. I loathe conferences. Self-help books make me angry. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to relationships. But, if you were to twist my arm and demand that I tell you what works in our marriage, I would say something about maintaining the friendship, keeping a sense of humor, discovering new things together, making date night a priority, blah, blah, blah…
The Family is the backbone of our culture and it’s time for an adjustment.
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6
But, lately I’ve been asking myself that question. What does make our marriage work? When I look a bit deeper it seems that a theme emerges. We live our life by a couple of cliches. You may have heard them. The older cliche is, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The newer one is, “Happy wife, happy life!” My husband likes to say, “I married up.” My husband is my best friend. My husband likes to take care of me. He encourages me in my dreams. He listens to me when I’m down. He knows when I need some space, or when I need a hug. He’s not perfect. Sometimes he gives me a hug when I need to be left alone, and leaves me alone when I need a hug. But, we work through it.
I can already hear the internet ask, “What do you mean he ‘takes care of you’? Are you talking about ‘traditional roles’? I don’t need a man to take care of me!” I’ll tell you what I mean. My husband loves to serve me. He likes to surprise me with gifts and flowers when I’m not expecting it. He does housework and enjoys spending time with the kids. He likes to plan date night and the occasional weekend away. He brings a cup of coffee to my bedside table every morning. Lucky me!
I believe there are a lot of good men out there who love their women and want to see them happy. I also believe it’s very easy for us, as women, to take advantage of that. It’s easy for me to demand my way and be selfish. If I really wanted something, I know he would do everything he could to try to get that thing I wanted.
But, there’s another cliche I’d like to address. “Behind every successful man stands a strong, hardworking and wise woman.” We live in an age where we want to empower women. I’m all for women empowerment. But, I hate to see men being pushed down under that same umbrella. I see too many men lose sight of their unique contribution to this planet because their wives decide they want something different in life.
Marriage is a partnership and requires sacrifice. This is not a new thought. It can oftentimes clash with “I deserve to be happy.” What is your husband’s dream? Are you encouraging it, or discouraging it? Are you lifting him up, or belittling him? Are you pushing the brake pedal when he feels he needs to step on the gas?
Imagine all the sacrifices made by the First Ladies of the U.S. before they were able to call themselves that. It takes a strong woman to support her husband in the risks he takes to put himself out there as a candidate. It takes a hardworking woman to take care of the family while the husband has his focus on other things. It takes a wise woman to overlook the massive criticism about her husband and the open window into their private lives.
Who was your husband when he first caught your eye? Was he an adventurous thrill-seeker? One who was willing to take risks? One who had big dreams? Did he have a desire to help others? Who is he now? Is he different? Those qualities don’t go away, but they can become squelched. He can be easily discouraged from taking a risk on a new business venture. He can be tamed from his adventure seeking. His dreams can become squelched. We women have that power. That’s the ugly side of women empowerment.
I once had a woman ask of me, “Please pray for us. My husband needs a new job. It needs to be within (this specific line of work), near (this specific side of town), with (this specific amount) of pay. Because we need to be near family, and I don’t want to sell the house, and blah, blah, blah…” Are you kidding me? I never want to be that woman. I never want to limit God. I never want to justify my wants with excuses. I never want to limit my husband. Do you want to know what I prayed for this girl? I prayed that God would open her heart to any possibility He might have for their family. I prayed that God wouldn’t allow their limitations to stifle His possibilities. I prayed that I would always be open to God’s leading in our life…no matter what. Does God want to move us across the country from Oregon to New Jersey? Ok. Does God want us to step out in faith and plant a church? Alright. Does God want us to open our homes to an orphan? I’m open. Does God always ask me to make minor adjustments, or does He challenge me with situations that I think are outside my realm of comfort? When I read the Bible I see a theme. I see people being challenged beyond what they think are comfortable. I see people who have to rely completely on God, because only He could make a bad situation good. I see people that have to depend on only Him…anticipating that only He can predict the outcome?
Don’t limit God…and don’t limit your husband. I strongly believe that when we try to control situations, that we miss out on possibilities beyond our imaginations.
My Husband Likes 3 points, so Here’s my attempt at the three point marriage advice –
#1 Encourage Him – Choose to focus on his strengths, and not his weaknesses. Give him permission to be who he was created to be. Let him know you appreciate him and value him as your life partner.
#2 Trust Him – Don’t try to control him, but trust that he’s going to do what he feels is right. He will fail, just like you fail. Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Never throw his failures back in his face, but encourage him to keep moving forward.
#3 Pray For Him – Every day. Right now. Pray for his health. Pray for his mind. Pray for your relationship. Figure it out and make it happen.
I could probably come up with 12 more points, but I’ll just stick to three at this moment. Just remember, in the end this is your love story. In the end, I want to know that I married a man who lived exactly how he was suppose to live. Every marriage is different and has its own unique set of challenges. Embrace yours.
Join us at 217church for our series Live Differently…
May 11- Family Health (Mother’s Day)
May 18 – Physical Health
Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ. 217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15. Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday. If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. Celebrate mother’s day with us Sunday May 11.