Dear [Meghan Trainor’s] Future Husband

Dear [Megan Trainor’s] Future Husband,

I was on my way home from work recently, listening to the radio and enjoying the refreshing breeze wafting through my window. The song that came on was one I hadn’t heard before; it had a fun sound to it and I found myself tapping my fingers and feeling a little more upbeat. In addition, I noticed immediately that the woman was singing about her future husband. Since I have a soft spot for songs written from women to their men, I thought to myself that I was probably going to like this new song from Megan Trainor. However, as I listened more and started paying attention to the words, I found myself confused and aghast at what was actually being said.

I’m wondering, Future Husband, if you thought the same thing when you heard it.

You see, Megan seems to have some pretty high standards for you. Of course, most women do when they’re looking for the man to say “I Do.” We want to be sure that he is responsible, loving, caring, trustworthy, and able to provide. Personality preferences will vary from girl to girl, but the general wishes remain the same: every woman wants a good man. And again, women’s idea of “good” may vary, but I would venture to say that the general consensus on the definition of good would include the qualities I listed above. I’m sure we could agree that a man who is a pushover, weak, or unable to lead isn’t the manliest man. Yet…. strangely enough, those seem to be the same qualities that Megan would like you to have.

I conclude this because I am unsure how a man can succumb to every one of her wishes (dare I say demands) and still maintain leadership and respect as the head of the home. I suppose it’s my mistake for forgetting that many women nowadays can’t fathom the idea of a man having leadership over her. We live in a world where women’s rights are being shoved down our throats at every media outlet, and “equality” is the focal point of conversations, picket lines, and social media debates. When it comes to marriage, it’s no different.  It’s a fight that essentially revolves around the idea that a man owes a woman x-y-z, otherwise the woman deserves a better man. This logic wouldn’t be so flawed if it wasn’t so one-sided. It should go without saying that both husband and wife need to provide certain things for each other. But, by fighting for women to be powerful and dominant in every area including marriage, we are subsequently weakening our men.

Megan demonstrates this by saying, “Take me on a date, I deserve it, babe, And don’t forget the flowers every anniversary, ‘Cause if you’ll treat me right, I’ll be the perfect wife.” The attitude is that if you don’t do x-y-z for her (down to the specifics of what kind of gift you get her), only then will she be a good wife to you. I thought to myself, well maybe I’m taking it too literally, and maybe the rest of the song is different. But it goes on, “If you wanna get that special lovin’, Tell me I’m beautiful each and every night, After every fight, Just apologize, And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right.” Again… the idea is that if you are perfect, let her win every argument, and tell her what she wants to hear, only then will you be deserving of her love. Only then will you be able to be on the receiving end.

Dear Future Husband… I am here to tell you that you are worth much more than that.

I am here to tell you that not every woman thinks this way.

And I sincerely hope that your relationship with your future wife will not be based on such superficial demands. If your marriage will be contingent on what you do or do not do for her, then I hope you find someone who sees you for more than your deeds, and accepts you with all of your shortcomings.

It saddens me that people think when a man dares to be a leader in the relationship, it means he is controlling and that his poor woman is subdued and unequal. It saddens me that so many women think submission means suppression. I’m not sure how we got so far away from the basics of true marriage: partnership, friendship, mutual respect, submission, and good leadership. Sir, if you find a woman that respects you and trusts you as her leader, then you have found a good woman. Of course if you abuse that power and treat it like a slavery where she has to obey your every command, then you are not worthy of that good woman. But if on the other hand, she has a character that is overpowering or disrespectful to your position or belittling, then I would advise you to look the other way.

Marriage is a partnership. It is a man being a good provider and leader, and a woman being a supportive and encouraging helpmate. It is not about who is greater than who. Just because you are a man does not mean you are better than her, and just because she is a woman does not mean she is a weakling who does not have a right to an opinion. And neither of you have a right to put unrealistic demands on each other. Marriage is about being one.

In my own marriage, I have seen firsthand how the more I respect and submit to him, the more he is strengthened and empowered to lead us the right way. The more I encourage him rather than belittle him, the more love he gives to me in return. But it is not a matter of “If he does this, then I’ll do that.” There is no incentive other than to love him as he deserves to be loved, and as our God commands me to love him.

When Meghan told you in her song that she’ll be “sleeping on the left side of the bed,” and that you’ll “never see your family more than [hers]”, I’m curious if you are attracted to a woman who speaks like that to you. From my own experience with my husband, I would make the assumption that no man appreciates being disrespected with such selfishness. And since its fitting, just a personal side note on the sleeping topic: I have a certain preference on the side I sleep on too, but my husband prefers sleeping on the side that is closest to the bedroom door, for safety reasons. Similar to how he walks on the outer sidewalk and keeps me shielded from traffic. Regardless of what I want, I respect his desire to fulfill his role as our protector. I don’t consider him selfish and controlling; I consider him a good leader for thinking of my safety first, and therefore I respect him for that. Marriage is about compromise. Both husband and wife sharing each other’s lives and experiences. The wife Meghan says she will be seems like the sort of woman that men complain about in their marriages so often– a disrespectful, selfish, demanding woman who expects the world from him but does not contribute to his own needs. Harsh, I know.

I wonder if the tables were turned… and you wrote a song back to Meghan. And you told her, “Dear Future Wife, here’s a few things you’ll need to know if you wanna be my one and only all my life. Make me a hearty dinner every night; I deserve it, babe. And when I’m watching ball, you better leave me alone. I’ll need sex every night, or say goodbye to date night. Bring me a beer and you might get some kisses. Also you should know I’ll never watch a rom-com with you. Cause if you treat me right, I’ll be the perfect husband.” 

Sounds pretty controlling, superficial, and unfair, doesn’t it? (Well since you’re a guy, you’re probably thinking ‘hey that sounds pretty nice.’ Ha.) But you get the idea. If any girl read that, odds are she would feel disrespected and aghast that you would put those demands on her and make such one-ended criteria. After all, what if she is a woman like Meghan, who mentions in her song that she never learned how to cook? What then, if she can’t live up to a few simple expectations? HOW DARE HE. HOW CAN HE EXPECT ME TO DO ALL THAT. WHAT ABOUT WHAT I WANT OR NEED? HE’S NOT A REAL MAN. A REAL MAN WOULD BE A GENTLEMAN AND SERVE ME AND BE THERE FOR ME. Yes. A real man would. But the man that Meghan thinks she wants is not that man.  

Dear Future Husband… I know I touched on a lot of topics that could be broken down and spoken about for hours. But I wanted you to know that there is hope. Just because a celebrity tells the world how a man should be, does not mean she speaks for the world. Just because the media chooses to glorify her song rather than another does not mean anything other than that it proves the perpetual banner they are waving: women are strong, powerful, deserving, and a woman who gets what she wants and whose man does what she wants is the kind of woman we should all be. If that is the kind of woman that you want, than by all means, marry her and love her and be faithful to her.

But if you recognize the problem that I do with this, I would encourage you to seek your heart as to what a real woman is. All we talk about is the real man. But what about the husband who wants a good, real woman? Clearly culture has molded an image that is much different from what I believe God has called us women to be. I encourage you to read the Scriptures, or look back in history at some of the most incredible wives, whose heart and actions looked nothing like what the world demands now.

I hope you marry a woman who respects you, allows you to lead, supports you, and loves you un-conditionally. I hope your wife is compassionate, the strength behind your success, and gives to your needs as much as you give to her. Since you are Meghan’s Trainor’s future husband, I can only assume you will find her one day soon. And I hope that by then, this song will be a distant memory of a thought process that will have developed into one with more depth and intent. And that one day soon, she will be ready to be the wife that God has called us to be.

 

Lost and Found: the Search for My Husband’s Father

Words can hardly describe the level of joy that my heart is brimming with this week. It has been a blur, and it feels like a dream, as it has been one of the most life changing experiences for my husband and me. Despite the lack of words I feel I have, I can’t refrain from sharing this story. And I suppose, as with all stories, the best way of documenting it would be to start from the beginning.

When I first met Calvin and we began talking regularly, one of the first things we talked about, naturally, was family. It didn’t take long for me to learn that our families were as opposite as could be. While I had been nurtured in a loving home of two parents, five siblings, and strong values, Calvin had grown up fatherless, faithless, and abused and neglected by his mother. He, too, had five siblings and several stepfathers, but it was a broken, if not nonexistent, concept of family. From my point of view, it was hard to grasp being raised without a parent, much less an abusive one. From his perspective, he couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a loving family system. Most of all, he didn’t know what it was like to have a father.

The subject of family was a constant one in our relationship. Sometimes it was a point of discourse. I had to learn how to leave and cleave, let go of my dependence on my parents, and compromise with the frequency that we visited my family. He had to learn how to integrate into a family unit, understand functions and boundaries, and learn how to love and be loved. Despite the difficulty of those feats for both of us, we have grown exponentially together and with our families.

Knowing the sensitivity of my husband’s family situation, I didn’t often bring the topic up. I didn’t want to awaken bad memories or cause any more pain, so mostly I kept quiet unless the conversation happened in that direction. But there was always one thing I was immensely curious about: his dad. I wondered what the story was, why he left his wife and two boys, and where he could possibly be today. I also wondered if Calvin was ever interested in finding his dad. I would ask him every once in a while, but his answer was always a little vague and unsure. I never pressed him, but I quietly prayed that one day he would take the step to find his father and maybe find peace or closure, if anything. I prayed for three years. Somehow, I felt that God would restore Calvin’s brokenness and that maybe… just maybe… one day we would find him.

Last year, 2014, the first of many prayers was answered when Calvin casually told me that he had been thinking about his dad a lot lately. Over the years, he had slowly learned more about his father that made him curious to meet him one day. Recent conversations with other family members had confirmed stories he had heard. Most of his life, he had grown up hating his dad. He had only heard the worst stories from his mother, and then struggled with the fact that his dad had never come back for him and his brother. Yet aside from that, the more he learned about the truth of the divorce as well as the character of his father, the less he felt hatred and the more he felt intrigued to know more. I told him that when he was ready, I would gladly help with the research. A few days later he gave me the go-ahead, and my search began.

When reaching out to an estranged family member, there is always the fear and uncertainty of what you may find. There could have been a death. An incarceration. Or worse… the possibility of being rejected again. I knew that Calvin had thought of all these possibilities. But I also sensed a peace about him that I had never seen before. It’s what drove me even more to find this stranger and reunite father and son.

Months passed, and I compiled the information I had found so far: his dad was in his early 50s, possibly married, and from what I could tell, lived somewhere in southern California. How interesting, considering we were in the middle of moving there at this point! I found past addresses and phone numbers, but they all led to dead ends. I searched prison websites. I even tried locating him through the Navy since I knew he was a vet, but quickly realized how strict the privacy is. The biggest lead I had was that he was in SoCal, but despite searching yellow pages to find his current address, I couldn’t confirm his location. I spoke to an attorney friend who reached out to anyone who might be able to locate people, and I asked police officer friends for any advice on the search. Last but not least, I browsed social media many times, with no luck.

When we finally moved to California, I had many dead ends and wasn’t sure where to go at this point. I had put the search on hold because of our busy lives, but it was always on my mind. I still knew that with everything I had compiled, someone or something would help me get to the next step.

That next step came on May 13th, in what I can only describe as a fluke. I was scrolling through Facebook, winding down at the end of the day. For some reason I had the thought to look at Calvin’s Facebook page, so I typed in his full name in the search bar (he is a junior and shares the same name with his father). Up popped several other Calvins just beneath his profile, and before I clicked anything I had the casual thought to check the other men and see who they were. I had done this many times in Illinois, to no avail. I didn’t expect anything different. But this time, the 3rd man whose profile I clicked on caught my eye. I told Calvin, “What do you think, babe? This guy kinda looks like you.” After a moment of him looking, I saw a shy, incredulous smile creep across his face, and he looked at me and said, “That really looks like my dad, from what I remember.” I texted some of the profile photos to Calvin’s aunt to confirm if she recognized him. Within seconds, she exclaimed that without a question, it was him.

I can’t explain the feeling of joy that came over me as I squealed, BAABBEE! I FOUND YOUR DAD!!!” I think I even jumped up and down a few times. The search was over. We had found him. As I perused his profile, I found other facts and tidbits of info that confirmed all my other research: he was in fact, married, and his wife’s name was the same name that popped up in my searches. He lived in southern California. And to top it all, his photos were full of loving comments about his wife, friendships with people, and relationship with God. I couldn’t believe it.

Calvin’s aunt sent him a message immediately, and we decided to wait until he responed to see what he would say. We didn’t know how active he was online, or if he would even get the message. But after two more days of sitting on it, Calvin decided to take the leap and send his dad a friend request. At least then, his request would pop up immediately and we would find out whether or not it would lead to a conversation.

That Saturday morning, I was awake at 5am and driving to Arizona with a friend for my sister’s baby shower. Half way through the trip, I received probably one of the happiest texts of my life: his dad had accepted his request and they were chatting online. I yelped, stared at my phone for a full minute with my mouth open, and my eyes filled with tears. My friend and I prayed immediately together for whatever the next steps would bring.

The next couple days were a blur. It was so hard not to be there with Calvin over the weekend, but on Sunday evening we finally sat down together and Skyped his dad and mother-in-law.  Seeing him on screen was wild. It was a meeting filled with emotion. What we did not realize was that Calvin Sr. had been searching for his two sons for many years. Like me, he had only found dead ends. So for him to be sitting there looking at his 30 year old son and thinking of the 25 years he had missed, he was understandabely overcome with joy and tears. We talked about a few things, but it seemed like no words could really be said, other than, “Wow. We can’t believe this,” from both sides.

We still can’t really believe it. Calvin had started to give up on the search and settle in his heart that he may never get to know his dad. And though I myself hadn’t given up, it was hard to not be discouraged. And yet here we were, less than 2 months after moving to southern California, and only a 2 hour drive away from each other. All of the fears of who this man is has been erased. There is no doubt that despite the mistakes from the past, he loves his sons and has regretted every day of not being able to be the father he wanted to be.

Now, he will get the chance to be that father for the rest of his days. And my husband will be able to piece together questions he’s always had and find peace and restoration. My heart swells every time I hear him say the word “dad.”

In the time since we’ve moved, we have often asked each other what God really has for us here. We thought we knew the answer, but when we moved, we realized there were more questions to ask. Transition is hard. Making a giant leap of faith is hard. Sacrificing is hard. And even though we know we made the right decision, we’ve still asked the tough question, what really is our purpose here? How or where will this lead us?

Now, I know the answer. I have been constantly reminded of the verse from Esther, when Mordecai encourages Esther to be brave: “ Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:14) Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that we are here for such a time as this. There was a bigger picture that we could not see. Even if there are other reasons, which I am sure there are, God has reunited father and son, and that could only have happened if we made the journey across the country. My online search yielded results because it pulled up the men in the immediate radius around us, which wouldn’t have happened if we had still been in Illinois. There are many ‘what ifs’, but all we know is that God is incredibly perfect. His timing is perfect. He is glorified in countless ways through this reunion, and will continue to be for as long as the story lives.

 

So now, we begin a new chapter in this crazy thing called life. I have a real, blood father-in-law. I have a sweet and loving mother-in-law from the Philippines who already wants us to call her mom. My husband is the happiest I’ve seen him. He has a dad who is proud of him and anxious to catch up and play basketball with him and hug him. All of those times I spent in quiet prayer to Jesus, asking quietly for my husband’s heart and family, were heard. I am a blessed woman. Our little family is growing not only in size but in faith and gratefulness. I praise God from whom all blessings flow.

 

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12

The Truth About Bravery

It’s Saturday morning. I’m sitting in my room with a gentle California breeze cascading through the cracked window. The sky is blue, the birds are awake, and I’m reflecting on the reality that as of 2 weeks ago, this strange and tropical place is my new home. My real, forever home is 2,000 miles away in Chicago, where my parents and my siblings and my precious nieces live. It’s where I spent 23 years of my life, learned my greatest lessons, married my greatest love, and became the person I am today. Nothing will ever replace the memories of those chapters; in fact I never thought I’d actually be saying goodbye to my home one day. Yet here I am. I did.

Some have called me crazy. Some have called me brave. I’ve had moments of butterfly-inducing-excitement, and moments of intense fear and sadness. Friends and family have asked me how I’m feeling, and all I can say is that’s quite a conundrum. Its been a mix of emotions that I’m told is normal but is still difficult to sort through. The truth is, I’m incredibly excited for what God has in store for me and my husband, despite the pain of saying goodbye to my whole world. The truth is, I desire to be brave. I know I need to be. And ultimately, I know that the Lord knows what He is doing, and I want to be apart of it.

I’ve had a lot of alone time the past 2 weeks. Sitting in our temporary room, spending hours on the computer completing job applications, researching, brainstorming, and praying. We knew that this new adventure would require a lot of faith and bravery. But in thinking about bravery and courage and how that has related to my situation, the questions came to mind: what does bravery really look like? Is bravery simply the making of a tough and scary decision? Or is it more so about the follow through and the attitude behind it?  Yes, you can make a hard and life-changing choice, but are you really that brave if you do it begrudgingly?

Martin Luther King, Jr said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

So it’s not necessarily about the fact that you make a scary choice. It’s about following through that choice with endurance, determination, and patience. Even David made a terrifying choice when he determined that he was going to face the giant alone. But what made him truly brave is the follow-through and the courage that drove him to complete the challenge without backing down. That’s what helped him win. His faith in God’s help, and his courage to keep up the fight. When I look at my situation, I know that the challenge is not just with making the decision to follow my husband on a wild adventure across the country – it’s with being strong, loving, and teachable through all the challenges that will come with that decision.

According to the Scriptures:

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut 31:6

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom 8:26-27

I’m told from the Bible that God has given me free will, and the power to be courageous and to fight fear. I’m also told that being brave and courageous is a command. Sometimes the Lord asks us to take a big step in an unfamiliar direction, and to do so with faith. When I thought about what my fears are exactly, I realized that they mostly revolve around the desire for comfort, safety, and familiarity. Just like the Martin Luther King quote above. That’s my own personal weakness. Perhaps yours is a different area. But regardless of our own inner fears, God has given us the command to fight, and the will to fight.

The reality is, comfort isn’t always the breeding ground for a stronger person. Bravery forces growth because it teaches new things that wouldn’t otherwise be learned inside of our comfort zone. Birds don’t learn to fly inside their nests. They’re pushed out and forced to fall – the best way for them to strengthen their little wings.

This morning, and for many more mornings to come, I’m the little birdie, struggling with new wings and trying to figure out how they work. Who I am. What my purpose is. But I’m grateful to say I have a God that surpasses all my fears and concerns, and strengthens me daily to face the challenges. I also have an incredible man by my side, who I’m proud to follow and serve alongside. Together, we made a challenging decision, and together we have already grown leaps and bounds in the past few weeks of transitioning into a new life. We were comfortable. Now we’re uncomfortable. But we’re better for it. We’re stronger for it.

This is my challenge to myself, and to anyone listening, to be brave in unfamiliar and uncomfortable circumstances. To rise up and seize the day with purpose. To allow yourself to grow, rather than be suppressed by fear of the unknown. And to remember that you are not alone.

Hebrews 4:16: Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

What to Do After a Rough Season Ends

Life’s seasons come and go, and we live through constant ups and downs throughout our lifetime. When difficult times come, we have to work harder and stick through it together in order to come out strong. But what happens when the rain stops falling and the sun is finally shining? How do you handle life together after the storm has passed? I’ve tackled this question the past few weeks, and learned some valuable things.

The spiritual warfare doesn’t end when the battle ends.

When life hits hard and you’re facing a rough time where you or your marriage seems to constantly be attacked, chances are it really may be spiritual warfare you’re dealing with. Whether its personal or family loss, financial crisis, spiritual dryness, stressful work, or raising the children – while those are perfectly normal life situations, they are times where Satan will work even harder to attack what he hates most: marriage. But this is the normal pattern of our spiritual battle – we will always be at war with the devil. The important thing to remember is that just because the “rough patch” has passed and life is back to “normal,” we are still vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. We can’t let our guard down.

I say this out of a little personal experience. The last year (basically our first full year of marriage) consisted mostly of trying to deal with my husband’s difficult job. It wasn’t only just the job itself, but it was the lack of time we got to spend with each other and in fellowship with friends or family. We stayed close through it all, and ultimately learned to not take a single moment for granted with each other. After constant daily prayer, God answered and he is now in a better situation we could have hoped for. But we realized that as soon as that time was over, it was way too easy to get comfortable. Suddenly we didn’t have the need to be praying so fervently, didn’t read and hold each other as much, and forgot to praise God as much as He deserved. We’ve since made a point to remind each other of God’s faithfulness, pray, and continue to live life without taking our time for granted. It would be all too easy for us to slip up, let our guard down, and let the enemy tear down what we worked so hard for.

Ephesians 6: 11-12 — Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Stay in prayer together.

I can’t stress enough the importance of going before God together in prayer. This Focus on the Family article about Praying Together helps explain how it promotes unity, emotional intimacy, and ultimately invites God into the relationship.

Consider these powerful verses:

Romans 12:12 — Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Matthew 18:12 — For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Colossians 3:16 — Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

There’s nothing more powerful when you’re going through something tough than talking to God about it together. More importantly, to continue in that prayer when the season is over and you begin a new one. We don’t just pray during the hard times. We pray every day, because every day counts. Just as our marital relationship needs constant attendance, so does our prayer life. Keep at it.

HAVE FUN.

Moving out of a rough season doesn’t have to be all serious. I’m sure sometimes it may be extremely hard to move on from something really difficult, but try not to forget to celebrate overcoming it and entering into a new phase. Rejoice, and give yourself some ‘you’ time. Or – ‘together’ time if that’s what has been missing during that season. I know for me and my husband, our lack of time together was really hard for our first year, since we had been waiting so long to finally get married and then couldn’t enjoy it as much. Now, we are taking advantage of our free time and getting involved in “normal” life. We’re working on getting actively involved in our church, have gone on double dates, had guests over, and are able to start making more friends. We’re having a blast with it. Whatever new challenge life brings us this year, we at least know we will have taken the time to enjoy God’s blessing.

I know I haven’t touched on every single thing necessary, and probably only scraped the surface since there are so many different various situations people struggle through. This is just from my personal experience in my first year of marriage; some things I hope to be prepared for – since certainly we anticipate life having much harder trials than a tiresome job.

My encouragement is simply to not forget the past, but remember what God got you through. Pray, and pray together. Stay prepared for ways Satan may try to take advantage of any comfortableness or dryness you may fall into. And finally, rest in Christ and enjoy every blessing – especially when you conquer a trial together and He helps you emerge victorious. 

 

Why I Could Care Less About the Toilet Seat

Yuupp, you heard it right. It’s true I could care less about the toilet seat being left up, and I’ll tell you why. But before you get all concerned that there’s something abnormal about me… well…. there is. I mean, as far as I can tell. Since nearly every woman who crosses my path asks me if I’ve passed that *phase* of honeymoon bliss yet and entered into the realm of nasty toilet seats, open cabinets, smelly clothes, and man mess everywhere – and I just smile sweetly and give them a high-pitched, “Umm, nooo, it’s not really like thatttt!” – then clearly, there must be something abnormal about me.  I mean the whole world knows what is normal, right? That things are great until you actually live with each other and then suddenly you realize you can’t handle his daily grooming routine, you hate how he puts the toilet paper on backwards, you’re soon fighting about how to iron clothes the “right” way, and you begin questioning your decision to marry him? THAT is normal. So the majority of wives around me tell me.

Really quick here, I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Of  course certain things irritate me sometimes. I assure you I am normal person in that I have my own way of doing things and when they are challenged or things are out of the ordinary, it can be hard to adjust. I am a sinful, selfish being and I have my moments of frustration or irritation in certain areas. Some are bigger than others.  In one small example: my husband is wonderful and adorable when he comes home from work and tells me about his whole day while I’m cooking dinner – and I love it – but I’m not too big a fan of him taking off his soiled jackets and 4 layers of socks right in the kitchen near the food as he’s talking. (It’s winter in Chicago and he works outside. Four layers of socks, peeps. Believe it).  We’ve had a few silly talks about it, and now for the most part he catches himself and cleans up his mess without me saying anything. A little annoyance is pretty normal for any human being. But it is the way we handle it that matters.

In this way, sometime it seems like I am an abnormal wife. In my heart and head, I could care less about those small moments in the grand scheme of things… but it’s because I choose to care less about them. I really didn’t realize that this was so different until I began hearing the experiences of other women around me.

“Hey, how’s married life goin’?”

“It’s great, I love it!”

“So you don’t hate him yet? Oh, that will change, trust me, it all goes downhill from here!”

That’s just an example of the many conversations I’ve had. So apparently…. I must have an odd marriage. Because 10 months into it, I still don’t hate my husband and we still don’t get into fights about the toilet seat being left up or my jewelry being left on the counter. Now granted – I realize that I am different because I have the love of Christ, and I have been changed by Him. Therefore, I am accountable to the Bible’s standards and I look at things in a different light from others around me in the world. I’ve learned, however, that even my Christian sisters struggle with this, and “godly” couples have fallen into deep troubles that stemmed from small issues over developing over time, and some have sadly even ended in divorce.

I’m sure you’ve heard that LOVE IS A CHOICE.

What is also a choice is the way in which you react to situations around you.

Are you getting more frustrated about little things as the days pass? Calm down. Breathe. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not necessary to get yourself more stressed. We have to remember that he is human and is not perfect. People may mistakes. People have bad habits. But ask yourself if what you’re frustrated with is really that big of a deal.

Is he continuously not honoring your wishes about a certain bad habit you don’t appreciate? Here is where we need to communicate. We have to explain why something bothers us, how it may affect our day, schedule, flow, emotions, etc – because chances are, he’s just living his life and doesn’t know something may be rubbing you the wrong way. Take steps to HELP him with it. Leave reminder notes; use POSITIVE reinforcement and thank him when you notice him making an effort, etc.

Are you fighting more often because of it?  You will need to ask yourself if it is worth it. And you may need to have a discussion about what’s bugging you so much, and find some compromise that will help. When Calvin and I first got married, we learned that we both brushed our teeth a different way. He likes using warm water, and I like using cold water. So when we were getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth together, we found it pretty annoying to constantly be switching the faucets. “Babe, keep it warm!” “No no, I need it cold.” Okay then. The solution? We brush our teeth at different times. That’s a pretty basic example, but it seems like extremely small things often wind up snowballing into huge problems. And it starts with tiny little steps. Tiny little steps that could save your marriage.

I encourage you to analyze your around-the-house frustrations. Do we like seeing urine-splattered toilet seats upwards and having to put it down every time? No. Is it worth getting into screaming matches? Certainly not.

We have to be prepared to accept the fact that our men are NOT LIKE US. And we are not like them. We will do things to get on their nerves, too. And likewise, when they ask us to do or not to do something that bugs them – it’s our duty as godly wives to respect their wishes and make a conscious effort. Even if we think it’s something petty. What have you got to lose? You have everything to GAIN if you make every day an effort to please your husband.

Think about it. Is a toilet seat really that big of a deal?

Choose to nurture your marriage.

Choose to love your husband regardless of quirks.

Choose to care less.

Let Your Husband Love You (Reblog)

Hey all. I know I’ve been sort of MIA the past two weeks, but for good cause. I work a full time job, but my work isn’t done when I get home. I own a business and am currently in the process of completely rebranding and redesigning my website and blog. Therefore, my computer time for my business has been taking precedence over everything else. Can’t wait to get back in full swing here on the Newlywed blog.

However, I came across an article today that I desperately wanted to share with you. It’s written by a wife and mother of a couple little ones, but even though I (and maybe you) don’t have children yet, I was still convicted and inspired. I believe sometimes that the wisdom from MOTHERS is more powerful than childless wives – for the reason that it takes so much more work and effort to maintain a loving relationship with a husband when children are added to the picture. I’ve read and heard enough to know that it gets harder and harder.

But I believe that we as JUST wives right now have the power to put certain practices in play that will greatly help us out later on when we do have children. If we can train ourselves to love, serve, and think a certain way NOW, then how beneficial will that be to us when we need it most later on!

The following article tells us how to let go of our pride, and let our husbands love on us even when we feel nasty, dirty, ugly, tired, and weary. Even when we think he’s just trying to do it out of pity. Because the truth is, our husbands need us just as we need them. And at the end of the day, no matter what WE’VE gone through – we are still precious and beautiful to him. Let’s not make the mistake of getting into bad habits of pushing our man away because we think we aren’t loveable. C’mon now.

The following is written by Kristin at the When At Home blog. Link to article HERE.

I get it. The kids have been climbing on you all day. One or both of your boobs have been exposed 87% of the day and you’re sick of being clawed at, sucked on, licked, punched, kicked, pulled, snotted on, cried on, spit up on, pooped on, and peed on. You’ve wiped butts and noses and counters and walls all day. You’ve battled attitudes and arched backs and Dora the Explorer since dawn and you’re tired. So. So. Tired. I know. I really really do.

I know you don’t want to be touched and for some reason, an innocent compliment can offend you. When he says, “You’re so pretty”, you think he’s mocking you because you’re in the yoga pants you’ve been wearing 4 days in a row and your hair is either falling out of your scalp or tied so tightly on top of your head that your eyebrows are permanently surprised. You think when he hugs you he’s just trying to do the thing that made all this chaos start in the first place and that ticks you off. Please. PLEASE. Listen when I say these things.

Stop. Take a breath. Recharge. Try again.

He’s been away at work all day. He’d much rather be with you. All of you. He’s missed your face, your voice, your smell, and your touch. He’s had to deal with whatever crap he has to deal with in order to provide for the family that he loves. He doesn’t enjoy walking out the door every morning, but he does. Every day. For you. For them.

He does think you’re pretty. He wouldn’t lie to you. He doesn’t need to say those things. But when he walks in the door and the first thing he sees is the love of his life, don’t convince yourself that he’s thinking about anything other than how absolutely beautiful you are. Cause guys are weird. Once they fall in love with you, there’s nothing you can wear, no amount of weight you can gain, and no lack of make up that will make them see you any differently. You are their love, their bride, and after he’s been at work all day, you are a sight for sore eyes.

So instead of rolling your eyes, huffing and puffing, throwing out gut kicking comments about how he has it easy, doesn’t understand, is lazy, a jerk, whatever comes to your beautiful stressed out brain… BREATHE. Look away from your day and see the man that won your heart.

Let your husband love you.

Because he needs to love you. As much as you need to receive the love he has for you, he needs to be received. He needs to be welcomed, embraced, and loved. Even if the last thing you want is to be touched or to hear how amazing you look when you feel insecure and disgusting. Let him love you. Don’t push him away. If you do, I can guarantee there will come a day when your cold shoulders and eye rolling will have trained him to stay away. There will be a day when you will need to be hugged and need to be reminded of how amazing you are and he won’t know how to tell you.

So suck up your pride, your anger, your frustration, and your crazy and just…be loved.

 

Happy Wives Club

I came across this post on the The Romantic Vineyard blog.
I’ve never heard of Fawn Weaver before, but after reading this and watching the promo video, I have to say I’m really interested in reading that book! I’d like to know what Fawn discovered around the world on her search for happy wives. I am most definitely a “happy wife” and would love to hear other women’s stories as well.
The world believes that happiness in marriage is rare or nonexistent these days, but I know that that is not true. God is at work around the world, and His spirit is evident in countless marriages. I’m sure that’s exactly why Satan tries so hard to cover it up and portray only the nastiness!
Comment on the Romantic Vineyard’s post and share it for a chance to win a copy of the book.

In Christ, Charity

The Romantic Vineyard

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I remember a few years ago when I first discovered Fawn Weaver’s excellent website– Happy Wives Club. It was simple and focused on one goal–to find one million happy wives worldwide.

She was tired of hearing women tear down their husbands on TV and in the movies. Women were always cast as the “wise ones” in the relationship, with the husband being nothing more than a sidekick for a good laugh. I couldn’t agree with her more, and I have expressed similar disgust for the lack of respect given to men, in general and husbands, specifically.

Well, today it is my delight to tell you about Fawn’s new book appropriately titled, Happy Wives Club. She traveled the world to interview happy wives and hear from them what has made them so. I just finished the book this morning, and it is excellent!

Fawn traveled to 12 countries on…

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The Tug-of-War of Face Time vs. Shoulder Time

Men and women were designed in completely different ways when it comes to the way we communicate and interpret “quality time.” I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “face time” and “shoulder time.” In case you haven’t, they refer to the general prefered way that men and women communicate with each other. For instance, we women function on a face-to-face basis, preferring to sit close and maintain eye contact with the person we’re communicating with. We talk on a more personal basis, and want to be looked at, acknowledged, and responded to. It’s part of the way that we feel appreciated and love and that what we’re saying matters.

For men, it’s quite the opposite. They operate on a shoulder-to-shoulder basis, and are perfectly content sitting next to each other without much one on one conversation. Be it video games, hunting, watching sports, etc, their activity often doesn’t require much face to face interaction, and yet to them it is considered “quality” bonding time. It’s the way that God created them. Sometimes this is illustrated by two chairs, in which women have the chairs facing each other, and men have them side by side.

There was a time recently when Calvin and I were spending the afternoon at our marriage counselors/friends’ house. Throughout the course of our time there, much of it consisted of Renee and I sitting by the fireplace catching up and talking about some deep things. Meanwhile, the guys sat in the basement man-cave, in sofa chairs watching football. They even took turns dozing off. When they were done, they came upstairs, stretched, and exclaimed, “man, that was a good time!” Renee and I just had to laugh. To us, napping in front of the TV just doesn’t translate as being fun “bonding” time. But for them, it’s the best thing ever.

So how does this matter in marriage?

Well, because marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN – both of whom naturally communicate on different levels. (Of course there are always exceptions, but in this post I’m referring to the general idea here). If you’re not married yet, then you should expect this to be an area you will both need to learn about each other. If you are married, then perhaps you’ve already experienced the sharp contrast between each other and maybe even struggled to get the good “quality” time you seek.

Calvin and I were blessed to have incredible marriage counselors who made sure to discuss this in depth. We’ve also had a lot of talks about it together – some of them arising from frustrations we had as we were trying to figure out how to work together and give each other the time we needed.

We have learned a great deal of good things from just sitting down and talking it out, and then just by the experience of sacrificially giving to each other. Things we’ve learned:  

  1.  Be completely honest and talk about what ways you NEED/DESIRE attention from each other,
  2. Take turns giving each other that time from day to day or hour to hour,
  3.  Often it is extremely rewarding to you once you sacrifice your time to communicate with your spouse the way he/she needs it, and therefore to your marriage.

This whole issue can be like a great game of Tug-of-War: the man just wants to sit quietly with his activity and his wife next to him, but the woman wants to cuddle and talk about her day and discuss some important things. He’s feeling unloved because she doesn’t want to enjoy time together the way he needs it, and she’s feeling unloved because he doesn’t seem to want to give her any attention. And so it goes back and forth, two people fighting for a word (QUALITY) that has two different meanings to them.

You know what’s amazing though? When you decide to SACRIFICE yourself, forget about *your* needs for a few moments, and focus on what he needs from you. When you can change your mindset from thinking about what you need to thinking about how you are needed, great things can happen. Because the more you start to give, the more he will want to give back. Therefore, the more you will be rewarded with the attention that you need.

In my case, spending an hour or two quietly next to my husband as he’s playing video games (headphones and all) often gets me a big hug and kiss, and some very sweet words about how he was thankful for me spending that time with him. In my mind, I can’t fully comprehend how that shoulder time is considered quality time, but it matters to him, and I’ve discovered there’s a pretty nice payoff if I just give it to him!

I encourage you to sit down and have this discussion with your spouse. What does he expect from you in terms of spending time with him? Is he always begging you to go hunt with him, or take a ride on his motorcyle, go fishing, or watch the NBA game at B-dubs? THEN GO!! Show him you are interested in spending that time with him the way he needs it, regardless of your own personal thoughts about it. He will see that sacrifice and interest, and feel fulfilled and loved.

Likewise, tell him about your needs. Don’t be afraid to just be honest. Tell him how loved you feel when he does certain things or talks with you for a certain amount of time. Sometimes it helps to compare: “You know how great you feel when I do XYZ with you? Well that’s how I feel when you XYZ with me…” It helps to put things into perspective and gives your spouse something to relate to, even if he/she doesn’t fully understand it.

I’m sure if you follow these simple steps of understanding each other, then you will find greater heights of happiness and affection in your marriage. You may even discover that your spouse’s interests are pretty fun or relaxing!

Have a great week –

In Christ, Charity

7 Marital Truths From 2013

It’s been a crazy, wild and wonderful 365 days for me. The year 2013 started with a ring on my finger and frantic daily planning. It brought me a gorgeous wedding, wonderful husband, and a beautiful honeymoon. It brought laughter and tears, so many “first” experiences in life with my husband, and many big changes. It expanded my dreaming and stretched me farther than I’ve ever been stretched. My new marriage has definitely been the center of this year, and I’ve been so blessed to be able to dive into it full force and see what God has in store for us.

Here are just a few things I’ve learned so far.

1. Love doesn’t rollover on its own. We can’t make the mistake of thinking that just because we said “I love you” and made our spouse feel special somehow yesterday, that it should be enough to last a few days or weeks. Every day is new. Every day is a fresh start with an empty “love tank,” and it is our duty to express our love each day in the way our spouse needs it. It’s just the way the Lord has designed us.

2. It’s not worth the bitterness. Forgiveness is such an incredibly powerful force, which is exactly the reason Satan hates it so much. He’ll do everything in his power to keep us bitter and angry, but it’s simply not worth losing a relationship over. We are more than conquerors in Christ. We have all fallen short, and we deserve to give each other a second chance – especially if we are both God fearing people. Proverbs 17:9: “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”

3. God holds my husband. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve panicked when he has showed up later than when he said he would be home, or if I can’t get a hold of him for a long period of time. My heart tells me the Lord is taking care of him, but my head tells me he could by lying on the side of the road or unconscious in a wreck. I’ve struggled with finding peace that God is in control, not me. I am never promised another day with him. Therefore I have learned an immense amount of gratefulness for every moment, and am learning to sacrifice his days and years to the Lord.

4. I am more selfish than I thought. You know what they say, marriage has a way of showing you just how selfish we human beings are. So true! I’ve spent quite a good deal of time with Jesus, quieting myself before Him and surrending ME. It’s actually been amazing to see how he has changed me in this area and the way it’s helped our marriage. While I am confident it is something we will always struggle with here on earth, I know it is possible to improve or overcome when God is put at the center.

5. Dishes don’t clean themselves. One of the biggest changes that marriage brings is a whole new onset of responsibilities. My routine has gone from hanging with friends, social networking, and reading, to cooking dinner, washing dishes, and folding laundry every day. Not that I wasn’t used to that growing up in a home of 8 people, but there’s a profound difference when suddenly it’s just me, a man, and the Word of God that tells me how to be a godly, responsible wife. This has matured me in more ways I thought, and helped me start develop into the lovely housewife that I hope to be.

6. Putting God on a shelf doesn’t work. Not like we’ve actually tried it or done it intentionally, but so many times it’s easy to go through the mundane routine of life, and forget to pause and focus on the spiritual Food we need daily. I can see how easily it could be to “starve” yourself out, and the repercussion that that has on a marriage. We have seen how important it is to stay grounded, stay in prayer together, and daily encourage each other spiritually.

7. The honeymoon hasn’t ended. It’s been 8 months, and still, we stare at each other and giggle about how we can’t believe we’re really married, and how much we love married life. I’m so grateful that we had the time we did to become the best of friends and value our time in person together – it has made marriage all the sweeter. We have learned that despite the rougher moments, we will always remember the real reason we’re best friends, what God did for us, and why our relationship will always mean as much as it does. No matter the ups and downs we know will come, I’m looking forward to many more years of honeymooning with my babes.

I’m looking forward to a new year full of fresh starts and empty pages. Maybe this year was rough and sorrowful for you, or maybe it was a year of huge changes and dreams coming true. No matter the case, I pray you can grow closer to Jesus this new year, and closer to your spouse and/or children. The beautiful thing about a new year is that it reminds me of God’s unending faithfulness. We always have a fresh start and a new beginning, because He is faithful to forgive us and give us a second chance. So take that to heart this new year, and remember that your life is a gift. Give it back to HIM, and see what amazing things He will do in and through you.

Happy New Year!

In Christ, Charity

Merry Christmas! Making the “1st” One Together Count

In our less than 8 months of marriage, Calvin and I have talked a lot about one super important truth: we want to make the most of every moment, especially all of the special “1st” things/days we have to celebrate together. We don’t have a large budget, but we know that when it comes to having a blast together, money is so overrated. These moments come and go, and we don’t want to miss out or take for granted any of these seasons, dates, or opportunities because of money or poor time management. The key is to have fun with what you do have and embrace it. You won’t regret it!

Christmas was a tremendously special time for us this year. It’s always been one of my favorite holidays; I mean with my giant family of six children, spouses, and new grandkids, it’s an evergrowing house full of laughter and love. For my husband, however, Christmas has the opposite memories for him. He grew up in a broken home and Christmas was mostly just another day off school or work. So since this was my first Christmas being married and away from my family and certain memories I held, and his first real Christmas with a loved one, we knew we wanted to make it memorable. I can’t remember the last time I was THIS excited for Christmas morning!

We decided to start the tradition of having a big beautiful breakfast every Christmas morning. I took it upon myself to make it as special as possible on a small budget. On Christmas Eve we took a trip to the theater to watch the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the big screen. And on Christmas morning, I woke up while hubby was still sleeping and put together something sweet for us.

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I have some plain white walls, so I bought a string of lights and created a fun little Christmas tree on the wall. I then pinned the Christmas cards we received to it to complete the fun decor.

For the centerpiece, I used leftover burlap from my wedding, a small bag of pinecones, and a candle that I had lying around the house.

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 I filled our wedding champagne flutes with a delicious glass of egg nog, and we toasted to our 1st Christmas together. I also lit our wedding unity candles for extra atmosphere.

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 Breakfast was a feast of french toast, fruit, eggs, cinnamon rolls, and sausage. I had fun creating a cute little star to top the stack of french toast. I decided that each year I will try to add something Christmas-y and creative to the food preparation. (Boy, does Pinterest come in handy here! 😉

All in all, it was most definitely the sweetest little breakfast date we have ever had! We are grateful for God’s provision, and His grace in our lives.

For our “Christmas tree”, I used a leftover vase and branches from our wedding, and then snapped off additional branches from a tree outside our apartment. I bought a small box of ornaments and a string of lights, and Vualah!! An all-natural, cost-effective tree was born. I mean, sure I wanted a big fluffy real tree that could fill the house with pine-needle scent — but this worked, I loved it, and it was special to me.

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I didn’t too much more decorating, except wrapping picture frames in gift paper, and hanging some cute snowflakes from the kitchen awning. It was enough to create the “feel” of Christmas and still be affordable AND cute at the same time. Oh, and here is our ADORABLE handmade wedding cake topper (customized to look like us) by Lynn’s Little Creations:

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It was much more than just the decor and food, of course. We woke up that morning with joy and laughter and giggles. It was exciting and it meant a lot to both of us. We ate, cleaned the mess together, cuddled, and read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible before opening gifts.

We know that this is just the “first” of many Christmases to come (Lord willing). We chose to make it count. God has blessed us tremendously this year, and we are excited for all that is to come.

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 I really can’t stress the importance of MAKING IT COUNT.

We aren’t promised our next holiday. We aren’t promised our next year. We aren’t even promised our next DAY. Don’t make the excuses that lack of money or lack of time prevent you from making something special. Trust me – with a penny budget (or none at all), and even with a mere hour of time before bed – you can make it happen. You can do something sweet together, start your own little tradition, and create a cherished memory, no matter how small.

If you had a particularly precious Christmas, or have a fabulous Christmas tradition, please share it in the comments below!  I love hearing about everyone’s traditions. So unique and fun.

Merry Christmas to all – may this year be your greatest yet.

In Christ, Charity