How You are Slowly Killing Your Marriage

My son begged me to play a video game with him. I’m not even certain the name of it, but we could call it “Everybody Shoot Everybody,” and you’d probably get a mental picture of what it was like. You pick a weapon, point and shoot at the bad guys. I figured, “How hard could it be?”

Umm. Hard.

I picked the biggest gun and tried to figure out how to make the guy walk. I pushed a variety of buttons until my man started to move forward. Only in pushing all those buttons, I accidently pushed the “put your gun away in your oversized pocketbook” button. Okay, so maybe they didn’t have purses. Backpacks perhaps?

Before a full sixty seconds had passed on the game, I found myself blinking. No, not my eyeballs. My man on the television screen.

“What just happened?” I asked my son.

“Mama,” he couldn’t hold in his laughter. “You just got killed. Now you are regenerating.”

Sixty seconds. I was dead in sixty seconds.

When I wasn’t looking, the enemy snuck up and shot me dead.

It sure seems marriages have been playing the same game. Everywhere I look, the enemy has taken out another marriage – another covenant before God has been broken. He’s sneaky, the devil, and will come after your marriage, too. I don’t mean to freak you out, but he probably already has you in his sights.

And the crazy thing is, so often, we reach into our hand bag or backpack, whichever you prefer, and hand him the ammunition. I know you think I’m being a little overdramatic right now. But hear me out.

Let’s play out a scenario that happens in households all across the nation. The husband does or says something to upset his wife. It could be anything from leaving the toilet seat up to not finishing the home project he started weeks ago to focusing more on his job than his wife. The wife, frustrated, calls her best friend to vent. After getting off the phone, she doesn’t feel better. She actually feels worse.

So, she gets on Facebook. As she scrolls through her feed, she notices all the vacation pictures, anniversary pictures and date night pictures from all her friends. Seeing how wonderfully perfect those husbands are make her even angrier at her own spouse.

She gets off Facebook and calls her mom. Again, she recounts all her husband’s annoying habits, looking for justification in her anger. Her mama, of course, gives it to her. It is her mama after all. She temporarily feels better, until she hangs up.

By the time her husband walks in the door, she is brewing for a fight.

Is there anyone who can relate?

So, how does that kill my marriage, you ask? Thanks for asking. Let me explain. You see, no one is perfect. NOT you! And NOT your spouse. Two imperfect people can not have a perfect marriage. It is impossible. There are going to be times where your spouse gets on your ever-lovin’ last nerve.

Consider the irritated thought about your spouse a small spark. Every time you recount that irritated thought to a friend or family member, or even just to yourself in your mind, you are adding fuel to the fire. That one small irritation grows. With each time you tell it, your feelings of anger grow. By the time you are finished “venting,” you’ve created a fire bomb.

Satan is using that, friends, to destroy our marriages. When your significant other does something to frustrate you, satan is the one who whispers in your ear saying, “Did he do that again? Why do you put up with that? You should go call a friend to talk about it.”

But you see, every time you re-tell the wrong that’s been done to you, it only upsets you more. So how should you handle it?

1. Take captive your thoughts
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

Lock the bad thought away and replace it with truth. You might say to yourself, “Yes, my husband works a lot, but I know he does it to help provide for the family. He works out of his love for me.”

2. Find an iron-sharpening friend
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV

While you don’t need to run to tell every friend what your husband did to upset you, you may need to go to a godly friend to get biblical advice. For the most part, when we share our story, we are looking for someone to tell us we are right and the other person is wrong. Iron sharpens iron by rubbing off the burrs. Find a friend that isn’t afraid to rub off your burrs with the Truth. But even then, be careful what you share.

3. Take it to God
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

God knows every single thing about your spouse and every single detail about what has gone on between you. If you need to vent, vent to God. He will always listen and you will walk away from time with Him feeling better.

What do your friends know about your spouse? Are you continually bad mouthing them to anyone who will listen? If so, you are slowly killing your marriage. You are handing satan ammunition, and trust me, he will use it to destroy your relationship.

I have friends who are currently struggling in their marriages or are in the process of divorce. I am not pointing the finger and saying that they are the cause of the demise of their relationship. But sometimes all of us, me included, can fall into the trap of focusing on the negatives. I don’t want to lose my husband. I don’t think you do either. Let’s not give satan a foothold in the covenants we made before God.

Marriages are falling right and left. Don’t let yours be one of them because you failed to do something as simple as keeping your mouth shut (says the lady with the biggest mouth of all). My quick minute playing “Everybody Shoot Everybody” taught me a life lesson for my marriage. Always be looking over your shoulder and walk with a big gun – God’s Word.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Carol

Creating a Pleasing Ambiance

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Alan and I love to find cute little out of the way places to eat. (Notice I didn’t say hole in the wall. It has to be really clean for me to eat there.) Small cafes in interesting spots.

When we went to San Francisco together, we loved walking the streets and discovering new places to eat. One of our favorites was an Italian restaurant called Mona Lisa. The inside walls were covered with paintings and the tables were small and cozy. Outside, iron tables and chairs dotted the sidewalk where you could eat and watch the world pass.

Think of one of your favorite spots to eat. Besides the food, why do you love to eat there?

Ambiance.

It’s the atmosphere of the place – cute tables, homey décor and pleasing music. As I got ready this morning, it occurred to me I am the ambiance of my home. I set the tone or create the atmosphere for how things go each day.

My voice is the first that both my husband and kids hear in the morning. Before Alan gets in his car and heads into traffic and the stressors of work, there is me. Before the kids jump on the school bus and dive into the books, I’m there.

When I wake up grumpy and snap at my husband or order the kids out of bed like a drill sergeant, it’s as if I’m cranking up rap music in the quiet café.

Sometimes I’m frustrated because my daughter doesn’t move as fast as I’d like and my tone sharpens by the minute. But can I confess? Those are usually the days I’ve woken late, which forces us into a frenzied panic.

Who wants to eat a ham sandwich in a cubicle while listening to an off-key organ grinder? Not me. But that’s what I force my family to do when I snap and criticize from the moment they open their eyes.

Instead, I need to use kisses and encouraging words to wake my little people and send off my husband. I can look for ways to create that pleasing atmosphere.

I choose the ambiance of my home.

Is your house more like a quick-order diner in the morning? Here are some tips we can both use to turn our greasy spoon into a cultured café.

For your kids:
•Give two wake-up calls. The first time you wake them, tell them “five more minutes.” Then they’re a little more prepared to get out of bed when you return.
•Hug them straight out of bed. Hold them for a minute and rub their backs. Just a little Mama-love to start the day.
•Choose your tone carefully. It’s easy to come across harsh when you yourself are tired. Practice using the same voice you use to talk to puppies. (Don’t laugh. It works.)
•Tuck notes of encouragement into their lunchboxes or bookbags.
•Pray together.

For your spouse:
•Kiss before you leave the bed.
•Ask what’s on his schedule and how you can pray specifically for him today.
•Watch your tone. (But don’t use the puppy voice on him. LOL.)
•Discuss evening plans (Ones that involve lots of smooching. Hint. Hint.)
•Pray together.

Do you have any morning tips on creating ambiance in your home? Please share!

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV

Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 21:9 NIV

 

*Photo credit

Carol

He Loves Me…

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There are times when my husband sends me off with girlfriends just so I can get away. Times he shoos me out the door to go to the mall or get coffee or anything away from people calling me “mommy” for just a while.

Some days he pampers me. He rubs my feet and brushes my hair and just listens as I talk.

I’m not going to tell you about one of those days.

Nope. I want to tell you about the day he came home late – 7: 30 p.m. He collapsed on the couch. And when I returned from the grocery store at 10 p.m. he didn’t even raise his head. But when he finally did raise his head, it wasn’t to help me unload groceries; it was to scrounge through the bags for a Star Crunch and return to his spot in the den.

As he headed back to the couch, I said, “Hey! I thought you were coming to help me unload the groceries. You were just getting a snack?”

He mumbled, “Yep,” and collapsed again, quickly falling back asleep.

I stood for a second, watching him, wondering if he knew how frustrated I was with the kids that day, how tired I was from running errands, doing homework and going to Kroger at 9 p.m.

But the longer I looked at him the more I thought, “I couldn’t love you more.”

You see, while watching him on the couch, I started asking myself, “Why is my husband lying there? He normally is so helpful. Why is he so tired tonight?”

And then I remembered hearing his alarm that morning in the early dark– 4:30 a.m. to be exact. I knew he drove downtown a little before six to get to a convention for work. I recalled the stress in his voice days before as he told me his concerns and responsibilities for the event.

The man who usually calls me during the day to see how I’m doing never once checked in that day. He was too busy to do so. He didn’t make dinner with the family. He arrived late and headed straight to the couch to lie down.

I peered over the sink, eyes brimming and realized my husband loved me just like Christ loved the church.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25

The Message says it like this:
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. Ephesians 5:25-28

Alan had been broken and poured out for me – for our family. He worked hard to provide for us, and the man was completely spent. I couldn’t have asked for more – for a man to love me more than that. He had given himself up for me. The knowledge of it was overwhelming.

Watching him go out the door each morning for work, I thank God for a man who loves me so.

That night, I walked close to the couch, leaned over to kiss his head and whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he mumbled never opening his eyes.

I know you do, Alan. Oh, how I know.

Carol

5 Ways to Stop an Argument Before it Starts

It was our honeymoon, and we weren’t speaking.

My mouth a firm line, I avoided all eye contact with my new husband. I tried staring at my plate but Alan’s shiny new ring kept catching my eye, taunting me. The ring represented everything I was trying to forget – Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:7 ESV)

After a few dreamy days at Walt Disney World, Alan and I had driven to the beach. And when you are at the beach and it’s time to eat, you want to eat seafood, of course.

Unless, you are me. Then you hate seafood.

So in an effort to find a restaurant agreeable to both of us, Alan and I used the following plan:

1. Drive to awesome sounding seafood place with “captain” or “shipwrecked” in the name.
2. I’d jump out and skim menu for a tasty chicken dish
3. Return to the car disappointed
4. Repeat

After doing this twenty-eleven times or so, Alan and I both got hungry. Really hungry.

To make a long story short, snippy words flew, we pulled into the local Red Lobster (yes, I know we could have eaten there at home) and found ourselves sitting across from each other angry – and hungry. We like to call that “hangry.”

After a few cheesy garlic biscuits, we were ready to talk. Some would be disheartened at a lover’s quarrel on their honeymoon. Alan and I decided we learned a valuable lesson – do not let the other one get hungry.

Trigger Factors
Here’s the thing. All of us – married or not – have what I like to call trigger factors. Trigger factors are those things that really annoy us. Some examples of trigger factors are clutter, too many noises at the same time (like all three children trying to talk to me over the sound of the TV) and heat. My mother’s pre-wedding advice to Alan? “Whatever you do, don’t let her vacuum without a ponytail!”

Okay, so those were really just mine. But here are some others:
-lack of sleep
-bad smells
-being interrupted
-heat
-hunger

You get the idea. There are many more. If you trigger one of these factors in your spouse, you may soon find yourself in quite a battle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let me offer some advice.

5 ways to stop an argument before it starts

1. Discover your spouse’s trigger factors (and make sure they know yours)
If you’ve been married for a while, you may already know these. But it never hurts to ask. Perhaps you’re aware of some, but may be surprised about others. Sometimes naming them helps both of you to be alert and recognize when either of you have been triggered.

2. Stop and look both ways
Next time your significant other explodes and you are scratching your head wondering why, pause and look for one of those trigger factors. One time Alan was working on the computer and I asked him a question. His response was clipped and snippy. I paused a second, put a hand on his back and asked, “Are you hungry?”

“YES!” was his quick reply. You better believe I hopped down to the kitchen and brought him a pack of crackers in a hurry. The same has happened when I’ve walked into the house when it needed cleaning. It made me irritable. Alan knew this and was great about straightening up when he saw my eyes cross and begin to spin.

3. Show grace
Does knowing trigger factors excuse bad behavior? No. It doesn’t. You still need to say I’m sorry for using a hateful tone of voice. But it does help to explain why your spouse is so upset. When you realize your honey’s irritability button has been triggered, show grace. Know it just as easily could have been you who fell into the grumpy pit.

If you are slow to anger and quick to understand, you may stop a full fight before it ever happens.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:9 NIV

4. Plan ahead
Some things you cannot help, but take control of the ones you can. If you know the smell of broccoli sends your loved one over the edge, then don’t cook it! Do what you can to prevent setting off a trigger factor. This applies to you, also.

If you know heat is your trigger factor, put your hair in a ponytail before you vacuum and turn on a ceiling fan or two. If you truly love your spouse (let’s hope you do or we have bigger issues here), then you want to make them happy. Do what you can to create a pleasing atmosphere.

If your spouse has lots of trigger factors, it may feel like you are constantly walking through a minefield. Take time to sit down with them when you aren’t in the middle of an argument and discuss some of these.

But whatever you do, don’t throw live grenades into your marriage or you will be guaranteed some casualties.

5. Forgive
In a loving, Christ-like commitment of two people, there will still be arguments. Toes will be stepped on. Feet will be inserted into mouths. You and your spouse will both have your trigger factors set off and will both fly off the handle from time to time.

Listen to me. This. Is. Normal.

It happens. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t call a divorce lawyer. Don’t buy a voodoo doll and stick needles in your lover’s eyes.

The best thing you can learn to do for a long happy marriage is learn to forgive. Simple to say, sometimes it’s not so simple to do.

But forgive them anyway.

When you are in the heat of the moment, decide it then. Decide to forgive them before they say I’m sorry. Forgiveness will deflate a fight in a hurry.

When I am the angriest, I stop and ask myself, “Do I expect God to forgive me?” Tomorrow when I screw up, do I honestly want God to forgive me of my sins? And I realize I, too, must forgive.

Disagreements are normal in a marriage of two imperfect people. Hopefully, we can learn from them. Pay attention and take note of the things that upset your spouse. Then work to stop arguments before they happen.

Because, honestly, your spouse isn’t just your life partner or your lover, your spouse is your best friend.

And friends don’t let friends get hangry.

*Image Credits

Carol

5 Ways to Keep the Home Fires Burning

Sometimes marriage can become as stale as the box of Cheerios your ten-year-old left open on the pantry shelf. What once burned hot and bright may now be a cold, black dirty log in your fireplace.

Do you drool over those married couples that look as if they share a secret no one else knows? The secret is they know how to be intentional in their marriage. A good marriage takes work. A great marriage is like wallpapering your two-story den – it seems impossible. But, alas, it is not..

Join me at 5 Minutes for Faith for 5 easy tips to heat things up in your marriage. Click HERE.

Carol