6 Books That Will Transform Your Marriage

Marriage can be a circus sometimes. The process of two becoming one is not as easy and magical as you expect it to be when you stand at that altar and make your vows. Even the truth that we actually made vows to each other is not a reality that is often thought about in the trenches of holy matrimony.

I LOVE marriage. I think it is a beautiful gift from the Father. I love that we get to do life with our best friends. I like that we get to knock the rough edges off of each other and make the other a little better each season.

I am also aware of the reality that marriage is not always easy. It takes a lot of work to help it grow, to keep it healthy, and to maintain connection and healthy communication. These books I am sharing today are not your usual marriage guru written books. They probably won’t be on a ton of other lists.

Nevertheless they have each transformed Mike and I’s marriage in some area or another. These are the books I will forever recommend to married people and singles alike. They are full of helpful tools that will work for any relationship but in a marriage they are super life giving.

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5 Things To Consider When Your Husband Lets You Down

Sometimes husbands are disappointing. It’s simply inevitable when we decide to marry another flawed human being. From unmet expectations to unkept promises and forgotten plans, them letting us down from time to time, unfortunately, is bound to happen.

It is important how we respond to these situations. We believe the goal of marriage and conflict within marriage should always be connection. That’s what we all want, right? To feel connected and loved and known by our husbands.

As someone who tends to romanticize EVERYTHING, Mike has let me down on more than one occasion. Some more significant situations and most smaller but still challenging. These are some tips and practices we have learned over the years so far. 

I am aware that there are different degrees of let down. Some let downs do substantial damage. I believe this post can help in all situations, but for the more extreme disappointments like betrayal and the like, I highly suggest seeking help outside of your home if you are interested in working through the problem. 

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7 Verses For The Struggling Marriage

People warned us that the first year was the hardest. I am pretty sure those people have no idea what they are talking about because it was the second year that almost took us both out. When our marriage was falling apart, and talk of divorce began to come up, these are the verses to which I turned. 

Today’s post is for my dear sisters out there are in a marriage that is struggling. You worry you’re failing and that you will never figure it out but you don’t want to give up, and you need encouragement to keep going. These verses are for you, my sweet friend. 

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Who To Take Relationship Advice From - And Who Not To

Someone once told me that opinions are like buttholes - everyone’s got one. I have always loved and lived by that piece of well-spoken wisdom. Everyone knows how you should be living your life or what you should or shouldn’t be doing in your relationships. Most people will be more than willing to share their inflated knowledge with you, usually without you even asking. 

When navigating marriage, there are so many hurdles and challenges to work through and overcome. You are going to need advice. You are going to need counsel and guidance. With opinions flying around from every side, how can you know who’s advice to take to heart and apply and who to just smile and nod at as their words just bounce off your forehead? How can you discern who's just talking out of their hind ends and who is actually offering genuine help and wisdom?

Today’s post is for my dear sisters out there are in a marriage that is struggling. You worry you’re failing and that you will never figure it out but you don’t want to give up, and you need encouragement to keep going. These verses are for you, my sweet friend. 

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How To Keep Loving When You Feel Neglected

A year ago my husband & I were in a very different place than we are now. Very different. I eventually gave up on the blog title idea but never deleted it. Going through my phone a couple months ago I came across the title again and this time I realized that it was never meant to be a blog post idea but a question from my heavy soul to my loving Father. 

I was a wife who felt very neglected but wanted to learn how to love in spite of how I felt. I wanted to learn to take charge of my feelings and emotions and love my husband even when I felt abandoned or believed he didn’t deserve it. 

Mike and I have had so much breakthrough and healing over the course of the last year. So now I sit once again to write out this post. This time I come to share all that the last year has taught me. If you are feeling neglected, abandoned or forgotten then this, my sweet friend, is for you.

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Top 4 Tips To Take Your Communication To The Next Level

One of the most annoying cliches in movies, tv shows, and books is when tons and tons of drama could have been avoided if only the characters had communicated with each other. Usually, even the most basic grasp of decent communication would save them from all kinds of chaos. Unfortunately, such could be said for many of our real life relationships. 

Communicating well and developing skills are big deals to my husband and me. As I mentioned in my recent post, Four Misconceptions I Had Before Marriage, communication is something we both admit we were not good at during the early portion of our relationship.  Mike sat down with me, and we came up with these tips together. We acknowledged to each other that we both have tons of “head knowledge” about communication, but we must make an effort daily to put our knowledge into practice. 

So here are our top four tips for better communication.

1. Stay Current.

Take time to deal today's problems today. If you were to take the first three phases of training with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, this tip is something that would be instilled and reinforced in your brain during every session. And for good reason, because this is the hardest suggestions for me to follow.

I have had too many nights in my young marriage lying awake in bed unable to fall asleep because I have so many emotions raging in my head and heart. I know that I should wake my husband and let him help me sort through it all, but I guilt myself into thinking that I shouldn’t because I waited until bedtime to bring them up. Then, eventually, sleep arrives. I wake up the next morning and the problems seem to have faded.

BUT THEY DIDN'T! They're still in there, especially if they involve a marital conflict. It's still in there. The next time your spouse does something, big or small, that bothers you, all the previous issues are likely to come rushing back. Those are blow-up moments that make the current issue look bigger than it really is because you're just now dealing with these past events.

So keep current. The Bible even says in Ephesians 4:26-27, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil." Those verses are so packed with goodness but focus on that sound advice to work through your stuff immediately. 

2. Share Feelings Rather Than Facts.

From a young age, we are taught to suppress our emotions, especially the negative ones. We sit down with our loved ones and we tell them only the facts about our day. 

My husband comes home and asks me how my day was. I tell him that it was okay and that I worked on inventory for the online shop. I ask him about his day and he says that it was long but good. Then the conversation moves on. Those were not feelings. They were just basic facts. 

I don’t tell my husband that I am feeling overwhelmed with pressure to get several more items into the shop because I have convinced myself that it’s the only way it'll be successful. He doesn't know that I am feeling extremely anxious and a little depressed because I am in over my head. He doesn’t tell me that by "long day" he meant he faced several conflicts and challenges and now he's doubting himself a bit as a leader and provider. 

Because we didn't share feelings neither of us is aware of the baggage the other is carrying. We have to guess what factors are throwing off each other’s moods and neither of us is prepared to be patient and compassionate with the other. Most likely we'll both be so focused on our own crisis that we won't see the other’s crisis until we collide. 

Share your feelings. It's uncomfortable at first. It is worth the effort and it and builds an amazing intimacy. Start by sharing three feelings you had today. Be vulnerable. 

3. Eat Dinner Together Every Day With No Distractions

It is so easy to come home from work exhausted, sit down on the couch with dinner and just mindlessly stare at the TV for the next two or three hours. So easy but so potentially destructive.

The TV, cell phones, laptops and computers just suck us in and pull our focus away. So after a whole day apart, we're now home but we still aren't paying attention to each other. Make dinner, the breaking of bread, sacred. No distractions. No devices. Set up the ritual of knowing that every day that we sit down and eat together we give each other our full attention and the opportunity to be vulnerable and share feelings. 

For me, this gesture says, “You are important enough to have my attention.” I love that. 

4. Work Through Conflict Without Throwing Accusations

When I mentioned this one, Mike's eyes got wide and he said, "Oh yeah. You don't handle being accused very well." Ha ha. This is so true. The fact is, no one does. No one likes being accused of things. When an accusation is hurled at you, you immediately go into fight-or-flight mode. You'll either fight to defend yourself or you'll try to evade and escape the conversation altogether. Neither of those reactions will help you work through the conflict.

When there is a problem go back to number two and attempt to share feelings, not accuse. If my feelings are hurt because I took something Mike has said, I don't tell him about his smart mouth. That is how my emotions and hurt feelings want me to respond because our human nature wants to repay hurt for hurt. Instead, what I should say is, "I got my feelings hurt this morning and I've been replaying it all day in my head." That will go so much further and won't harm your intimacy. 

I don't know where you are in your relationships currently but I encourage you to remember there is always room to grow in our communication and conflict resolution skills. Scripture tells us, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12:18 ESV) That is our goal, isn't it? Peace? I believe these tips if implemented are a few more baby steps toward peace. 

As far as it depends on you, keep short records with people. Fight to stay current. Don't let stuff stew. Make sure you are baring your soul and sharing what's happening within you. Go deep. Share feelings. Carve out sacred pockets of regular time for the people in your life that deserve it. Remember you can tell the truth and have confrontation without hurling accusations. Be kind. 

If you guys like these tips, we would be happy to share more posts like this. If you found this helpful would you please share it out with your friends and followers? Sharing these posts helps us reach more people with a message of hope and love. There is a small share icon below this post that will make it super quick and easy!

Are you in the Living For Love VIP Club? It is the best way for us to stay connected with you so we can keep you encouraged plus you gain instant access to our library of free resources which include our Ebook - Overcome as well as prayer cards and other goodies. The library is constantly growing. 

If you guys have tips that you'd like to share with me then leave them in the comments below and we can keep the conversation going! As always, thanks for reading.

Four Common Misconceptions I Had Before Marriage

You guys know that old saying that says people who assume make a donkey's hind end out of themselves and others? Well, I guess you could label me a donkey hind quarters because I tend to make a lot of assumptions. Turns out I had some assumptions in mind as I went into marriage. Now I am not sure when these assumptions settled into my heart and mind though I would imagine it was gradual over the course of my life and marriage. Some of my assumptions were true but some...well some were not. 

Turns out some of the things I assumed about married life were not all that accurate. My husband and I got married in mid-November of 2014. So, as of today, at the end of February 2015, we have been married three and a half months, which very much makes us newlyweds.

I almost didn’t write this because I realize that we know very little about marriage compared to seasoned married couples. I decided to anyway, though, because even three months in I have learned a lot! In a year or two, I am sure I will have many more lessons to share, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some value in the lessons I currently have to share.

Before I dive in, let me say that I LOVE married life. It is absolutely awesome. I am having the time of my life. It is overwhelming to me that my husband is mine. Like, for life...Crazy. I love it. I had never lived with a man before my husband, and we both come from interesting upbringings. We both entered this marriage with expectations. Unfortunately, expectations don’t always line up with reality.

Misconception #1: You won't be lonely anymore when married

Reality: Lonely before = Lonely after.

This one was quite surprising to me. I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 20. I spent three years living on my own. From time to time I had a roommate, and it was during those times that I loved living out on my own. However, most of the time I lived alone. I loved those seasons until I hated them. I would be so content being alone for such long periods of time that I would isolate myself and allow myself to fall into these fits of depression. Soon anxiety would overwhelm me and wreak all kinds of havoc on my relationships. Then, one day I would realize, “I am alone. I am alone and I don’t like it.” I would feel so lonely during those times.

I thought that when I got married I wouldn’t have time for those terrible behavior patterns. I thought that my permanent roommate would be the solutions to years of negative behavioral and relational patterns.

Wrong!

I have learned that if you are lonely before you get married, you will probably be lonely after you are married. Bad behavior and relationship patterns don’t cease to exist because you’re married. I still have to work to stay “others-focused” so that I am building healthy and involved relationships with my husband, friends, and family instead of sinking into myself, neglecting those relationships and allowing depression and anxiety to attack me with their lies.

It is not my husband’s job to break those habits, nor is it his job to control my emotions or what I choose to believe.

Misconception #2: Once you’re married, conflict will be easier

Reality: You'll handle conflict married, the same way you did before marriage.

And now all the seasoned married couples begin to giggle at the silly newlywed. I really thought this. I looked forward to marriage because I thought it would make conflict easier! I don’t think I ever outwardly expressed this misconception. I simply thought it in the back of my mind.

Mike and I had to learn to communicate while we were dating. We both came into this relationship with terrible communication skills that we had learned from our families and previous relationships. We spent around four years doing it terribly! Sometimes I am shocked we made it to the altar at all.

During that time, though, I always wished we could just hurry up and get married because once we were stuck together, we’d be forced to work things out. Ha. Nope! Maybe to an extent that is true, but we can let an issue stew for quite a while before we go anywhere near it in a reasonable way. We can go days passive aggressively tiptoeing around an issue that we need to work out. The fact is that even after marriage you still must learn to communicate better. It’s an area you’ll never master because room to grow always exists.

There will always be ways in which we can become better communicators.

Misconception #3: Once you're married, he’ll be better at reading your mind

Reality: Your spouse is still not you, even after marriage.

This one is funny to me now. I love my husband, but my husband is not me. He does not do things the way I do them. He does not react to things the way I react to them. Again, my husband is not me. Even now that we’re married, he is still him. Crazy.

While engaged, we decided that we wanted a relationship in which he is allowed to be him and I am allowed to be me. When we disagree, I try not to turn my husband into myself, and he doesn’t try to turn me into himself. We don’t try to convince each other to agree with our own points of view. Instead, we seek to communicate our sides.

Sounds awesome, right? Hard to do.

I find myself expecting him to do things or not do things. Then I get upset when he doesn’t do them, or when he does them but in a weird way that isn’t how I would have done it. Why does that make me so mad? WHY?! In these last three months, I have learned the answer: even after marriage, he cannot read my mind. He is still him and that’s okay. It goes right back to communication.

If I don’t express to him what I want him to do or, more importantly, what I need from him, especially emotionally, he will most likely not meet that need. This is (usually) not his fault. If I am feeling neglected because he is super-busy with work and I don’t tell him, even though I know he is very distracted, I can’t blame him for my feelings and emotions.

Choosing to punish him is unfair and unproductive.

Instead, I should bring it to his attention. Pull his focus back to me for a minute and communicate what’s happening in my heart. My husband loves me and will try to listen and help.

Misconception #4: Losing your independence and space will be a big issue

Reality: You adapt quickly and when nurtured, love just keeps growing.

I couldn’t have been further from the truth. I thought that even though I was madly in love, I would have trouble giving up my independence. I thought that having my husband with me constantly would cause me to want space and lots of “me time.” I was worried that living with him and having him always around would make me grow tired of him.

Wrong again.

I still have a large degree of independence. That’s just ingrained in me, and I didn’t lose that to marriage. However, I enjoy depending on my husband because he is so dependable. I love loving him. I trust him to be a great leader and provider because his character testifies to the fact that these traits are part of who he is. We both are pretty busy with work on the weekdays. My husband runs a construction business and I am trying to build a business. So in the evenings and on the weekends, I cherish every moment I get to spend with him. I have yet to feel like I need space from him. I love being with him.

My love and my desire to be with him grow every day. I know I am dangerously close to letting this one become a Brad Paisley song, but I mean it. I didn’t think it was possible to love a person as much as I love him now. When he has to go out of town for work, I miss him terribly and count down the time until he’s back. I understand when the Bible tells us in Genesis that the “two shall become one flesh.”

We are two parts of one thing and when we are away from each other I feel that absence.

Maybe this will lessen in time, but I sure hope it doesn’t. I love being in love with him and looking forward to just doing nothing with him. I will fight to make sure that is always my mindset and would encourage all couples to do the same.

I am curious if I am alone on these expectations! Please feel free to share if you relate to any of my misconceptions or share you own in the comments below. Also if you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it out with your friends and followers. There is a share icon below this post to make that super easy for you!

Lastly, are you in the Living For Love VIP Club? It is the best way for us to stay in connected with you so we can keep you encouraged plus you gain instant access to our library of free resources which include our Ebook - Overcome as well as prayer cards and other goodies. The library is constantly growing.