Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

The Cost of Passion

Today I’m joining Faith Barista to write about the passion God has put on my heart. I think the timing of this assignment is, once again, so perfect.

As some of you know, I have a marriage blog called, Messy Marriage. For many years, I’ve felt a huge passion for improving not just my own marriage, but helping others in their marriages as well. And I’ve had the privilege of doing this both in my career as a counselor, and also through the many churches my husband and I have served in over the years.

But I feel like there is often a high cost that comes with a God-given passion. Part of my passion’s high cost is the need to be real and authentic about my own marriage journey that has had more than its fair share of messes and mistakes along the way! It’s been hard, even painful sometimes, to be that honest, especially since my husband is a pastor and I am, of all things, a marriage counselor! (Don’t think for a second that God’s humor is not lost on me!) But God has convinced me that:

  1. Speaking the truth is where healing begins
  2. Everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, is messy now and then.

In fact, on that second one, my heartbeat is to normalize messiness in marriage because my hope is that by doing this some will come out into the open that would’ve stayed in hiding under the cloak of “all’s fine.”

But all is not fine for many. And God can’t help us if we don’t realize how messed up we and our marriages are—then surrendering it all to Him!

That’s my passion! I want to wave that banner. I want to face the high cost and personal embarrassment that often comes with helping others in this way. And the fact that I feel so strongly about that in the face of pain, convinces me all the more that it’s what God has called me to do!

Now, there’s a second cost that has come to bear with this passion. I recently shared that I’ve been feeling “down and out.” And I think that part of my problem is not having enough time for my passion. I’ve been trying to keep too many plates spinning in an effort to keep a lot of good things, like “writeontheknows,” going. So I’m facing a hard decision—that’s often weighed down with grief—to no longer do a lot of good things in an effort to do what is best.

Sadly, I must say that I will not be blogging on writeontheknows any longer. This isn’t a snap decision. I’ve prayed about it and thought about it for a long time. And because I really love this blog, this is a very painful decision for me to make, especially since I have some recent subscribers. I hate pulling the plug for them so abruptly. But this is what I feel I must do.

For those of you who are interested in the subject of marriage however, please stop by my other blog passion: www.messymarriage.com because that’s where I’ll be camping out from now on!

Today’s Post is linked to

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Proverbs 31 in Review

I’m so grateful that I was able to participate in the Proverbs 31 blogging “adventure” with Lara Williams this past month. Lara wanted those of us who helped with this project to share what we’ve learned from this month of meditation and reflection on the “Virtuous Woman.”

I feel as if I’ve learned everything from not putting my worth in my looks, to being mindful of how I manage my family’s money, to being careful with what I let come out of my mouth! But beyond all of that, I’ve learned how to give myself totally to the task of loving my husband.

It’s all been good. It’s all been helpful. And I hope that I don’t walk away from this series without it making a lasting impact on my marriage.

If you know me, you know that I love bottom lines. So for me, if I had to pinpoint what God has convicted me to do and be from this series, I’d have to say:

Be more than I am through the power of the “Great I Am!”

If you’re interested in reading more about this October series, go to Lara’s blog at: Unrehearsed Adventure

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Desire to Inspire

I’m excited to announce that my first guest post has been published this morning on Lara Williams blog.

Lara has been going through the verses of Proverbs 31 all this month of October, asking several other bloggers to help her in the quest to understand the Proverbs 31 woman.

Thankfully, I was one of the bloggers she chose to join her, so please check out my contribution at this link at: Desire to Inspire

Thanks so much!

 

Marriage Mistake #7 – Refused to Admit My Fault

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I really had a hard time seeing my wrong behavior as . . . wrong. Or maybe it was just that I couldn’t bear to admit to myself that I was weak. I’d say, probably a little bit of both.

Unfortunately, that meant that I rarely, if ever, admitted my fault to my husband. After all, it seemed to me that every conflict or problem we had was all his fault anyway! And even if it wasn’t, I usually felt like he handled the conflict so much worse that it canceled out any wrong doing I had done.

Yuck! Grandiose thinking at its best!

As time marched on, the fact that I believed I was so much better than my husband actually began to make my marriage worse (surprise, surprise)! So at some point, I was forced to wake up to the unfamiliar reality that it couldn’t always be my husband’s fault. Talk about a bitter pill to swallow!

A funny thing happened when I cracked open that door. When I offered my husband an honest and humble admission, I felt him moving toward me. I saw that he accepted my brokenness and failure. He embraced the parts of me that I felt were ugly and should remain hidden.

This miracle transformed my perspective and my way of relating, which in turn, with time, transformed my marriage. I’m not afraid any longer to be completely open and vulnerable with my husband. Admitting my faults has given me the intimacy and acceptance with my husband that I always longed for, but felt could never truly be mine.

So I’m here to tell you, intimacy and acceptance is possible when you humble yourself and reveal who you really are.

If you’ve never really made this your practice—if you have remained in hiding—I challenge you to come out into the open today. Then come back here and tell me how it went!

“If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy.” Prov. 28:13 (NCV)

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Marriage Mistake #6 – Turned to My Mom for Comfort

Early in my married life, I made a mistake that I feel is very common for many couples who find themselves in trouble.

This is how it worked for me:

  1. My husband did something that I perceived to be wrong or hurtful.
  2. I turned to a parent, in my case, my mother to vent about the problem.
  3. I received comfort and a, “I’m so sorry that mean old husband of yours hurt you!” pep talk.
  4. I returned to my husband to eventually work things out.
  5. My mother never got to see or hear about the resolution, (because that wasn’t nearly as interesting or fun to tell her!).
  6. My mother formed a skewed perspective of my husband and my marriage.
  7. I avoided learning how to respect my husband AND didn’t learn how to work through my private conflicts with my husband—just between the two of us.

As a result, a wedge formed between me and my husband. And the foundation that we should have been building together was filled with cracks, since I had invited an intruder into the inner workings of our marriage.

After about five years or so of walking through a revolving door between my marriage and my parent-child relationship, I realized that I was not honoring my husband. I had not “left” my parents. I was not choosing to be a full-fledged adult in my marriage relationship by fully “cleaving” or committing to my husband.

Now, I’m not saying that you can never talk to your parents about your marriage. But I am saying that your parents should not be your:

  1. Emotional Rescuer
  2. Financial Rescuer
  3. Director on important issues or decisions

If you allow your marriage to be infiltrated in those ways (and more) by your parents, then you are inviting division into your marriage. When you married, you needed to become an adult, and adults do not rely upon their parents for emotional, financial or decision-making support.

In the book of Genesis it says, “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (2:22-24, NIV)

When I learned to follow this admonition, I solidified, strengthened and improved my marriage immensely. So, I hope you learn from my mistake!

Can anyone relate?

Does anyone have an example of how turning to mom and dad negatively impacted your marriage?

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Marriage Mistake #5 – Negative Focus

Have you ever tried to tend a garden? If you don’t have the plastic weed barrier firmly in place, then you might as well resign yourself to a long-term battle with your finger on the trigger of Round-Up—aiming to kill.  In the same way that weeds can take over a flower garden, I allowed “weeds” to invade my marriage garden.

In the early years of my marriage, I tried to avoid dealing with conflict, (Marriage Mistake #3). Often when this is the method a person chooses, it comes out somewhere.  The person either complains to friends and family about the offender, or complains internally. I did both, but more often than not, I did the latter.

At the time, I thought that this was a great way to manage my anger. I was able to dwell on all the bad things I thought my husband was doing, enjoying the rush that comes from feeling justified and indignant, and I never had to face his anger.  Well, at least that’s how I thought it worked.

Actually, the negative thoughts, like weeds, began to take over and warp my view of reality. I began to think my husband was the biggest villain of all time, and I was his poor pitiful victim—strapped to the railroad tracks and all! This approach not only made my anger grow, but also my defensiveness, since I couldn’t imagine that my bad attitude had anything to do with me!

When I look back on it now, I’m embarrassed to admit that I believed that all that garbage could remain underground.  Eventually, the weeds of my mind made me an angry, bitter woman who could get ticked off by the slightest provocation. It was at that point, that I went down that path of “fighting fire with fire,” (Marriage Mistake # 4) another ridiculous strategy.

Thankfully, God intervened in my madness. He convicted me that my negative thoughts were not benign little contemplations that I could pull out and play with like evil Lincoln Logs.  So I began to train myself to notice when those delicious, but very destructive, thoughts wanted to surface. And in those moments, I made a choice to focus on the positive.

Almost immediately I felt a difference. I didn’t feel as angry or irritated. And there was an added bonus for my husband, who didn’t feel as defensive or rejected.  With consistency and time, I knew I had found an important strategy that clearly improved the love and positive feelings within my marriage. Now, every once in a while I notice that I’ve let one slide under the radar undetected, but believe me, it doesn’t stay alive long.  I “Round-Up” that thought and aim to kill!

So, what’s on your mind?

“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)

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Marriage Mistake #4 – Fought Fire with Fire

For years, my husband and I went ‘round and ‘round when it came to conflict. He would do something that would yank my chain, and then all of a sudden he’d notice I was being extremely quiet. So he’d ask, “Is there something wrong, Beth?” I’d say, “No, I’m fine.” He would then go into some long discourse about how I needed to be open and honest with him, that I shouldn’t sweep things under the rug, and that that’s how marriages are undermined, blah, blah, blah.

At some point, I decided to try it his way and I actually told him what was wrong. Unfortunately, I don’t think hearing the truth was the liberating experience my husband had imagined! Of course, I have to confess—I didn’t mince words. I thought, well, he did say he wants to know! So I let him know in no uncertain terms! And sadly, he didn’t like it!

At that point, instead of our conflict being side-tracked by a “game of cat and mouse,” it became a struggle of two wills—fighting fire with fire. I swung like a pendulum from one side, being passive, to the other side, being aggressive when it came to conflict.

As I’ve said in my last post regarding my marriage mistakes, conflict can only be resolved when two parties find balance and meet in the middle and not on the fringes.  In my next post, I will discuss how to find that middle ground in a conflict, so stay tuned!

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