Anniversary Celebration with Oil and Ice

celebration

July could not have been hotter or more humid that summer. We were seven months late celebrating our anniversary for several reasons. Money was tight in December, and so was our schedule. Child care was also a dilemma.  We decided to wait until later.

Later finally came, in July.

“If you’ll go with me, I promise I’ll stop and buy you diet coke on ice or an ice cream cone whenever you ask,” my hubby told me.

That’s because our little blue Mazda had air conditioning that didn’t work. Its oil reservoir had a continual leak. We would be stopping to add oil as often as we would petrol. We packed a case of motor oil, opened our windows, and hit the road.

Just the two of us. How long had it been since we’d had time to ourselves – just the two of us?

Less than half an hour after we left home, we stopped for gas – and to fill up with oil. Next, we stopped for my diet coke (that was back in the days when I drank soft drinks instead of water) and Dave got his favorite: Mello Yellow.

celebration

Every time we stopped to fuel the car, Dave added oil. We didn’t care.  Our half-dozen were in the care of a reliable babysitter and we had nary a care in the world.

Footloose and fancy-free, we drove west for almost six hours, stopping along the way to stretch and cool off our backs from those seats in the car.

celebration

 

Three days of relaxation and fun being together. Three days of fixing only our food and our plates of food. Three days of going to bed when we felt like it and getting up because we wanted to and not because someone else was calling our name.celebration

We’ve been a lot of places since then and celebrated in a myriad of different ways. They’ve all been fun. Yet the one that makes us smile the most is the time we hit the road in a Mazda with over 200,000 miles on it with money for gas, oil, and ice.

 

One True Fragrance (in Marriage)

roses

Roses. I do like roses and their fragrance.

‘Especially on our anniversary, my birthday, on Mother’s day, or any other time in-between. Especially other special times, like the births of our babies – I like roses.

I used to tell folks that when I wanted a dozen roses, all I had to do was have another baby.

While it’s true that roses were waiting for me six times over when I got back to my hospital room from Labor and Delivery, it’s also true that I don’t get roses for every birthday, every anniversary, or every Mother’s day. Just sometimes, and sometimes in-between.

After all these years, he continues to splurge. He keeps saying that he doesn’t know how much longer we’ll have each other and he wants to have no regrets, so I’ve quit fussing about the cost.

roses

You know what makes the roses so special? 

The fact that, on any other day when there are no roses, my man is in my corner. Any other day when I’m unkempt and the house is a mess, he helps pick up the pieces and puts me back together again.

Any other day when there is no wafting fragrance in the house, he becomes the fragrance by serving me, again.

The man’s rather imperfect, and no one knows it better than I.  But then, so is his wife. Imagine that. He can verify that, but he won’t broadcast that because, he says, we are one. To speak negatively of me is speaking negatively about himself because we are on the same team. Even so, in a world of strife where so many marriages have dissolved or  are falling apart, we are blessed.

Like so many other marriages, ours could simply be a statistic.

It’s not that we’re so smart or so special. It’s that God – and the way He tells us to do marriage – is.

When you go to God for help, when you really seek for wisdom, when you truly apply what you know to do even when you don’t feel like it,  you  will find that marriage can be done well.

There have been days when I’ve stormed the gates of Heaven, asking God to show me how to understand and love this man. Every time I have asked, He has given me answers.  ‘Not that I always liked the answers or felt like following the directions, mind you. But every time I’ve asked for wisdom, He has given what I needed. ‘Trouble is that sometimes we just don’t bother to ask or we just don’t really don’t want to know.

Our marriage bed is not an array of roses minus thorns.

It’s a fragrance that comes when the petals are crushed as  becomes us.

It’s a fragrance that comes when making love is not so much about “everything is perfect and we’ve got it all together” as it is about “even though we are frustrated with each other, we are still committed to each other; so tonight making love to you is a great way to emphasize that commitment.”

I always thought I’d want a summer wedding, but that didn’t happen. Does that matter now? Not at all. That’s how it is with marriage. The things on the “must have” list, many times, are no longer important and really weren’t that important in the first place. What really matters is commitment.

I figure some folks are tired of hearing me say that, but it’s true. If more people truly believed it, there would be fewer marriages floundering by the wayside.

In a small town in western Maryland over thirty-two years ago, in the church where my parents were married many years before, we tied the knot. Amid freshly-fallen snow, family, and friends, we celebrated. With flowers, music, family – and with God – we were wed.

Life happened, and now our kids are grown and mostly on their own. Life happened, and it is still happening. As life happens, we still celebrate. I still enjoy roses and their perfume. Most especially, I enjoy the fragrance of commitment.

Most especially, we continue to celebrate the greatest fragrance of all: the true faithfulness of God.

pinterest fragrance

Three Things that Make Marriage Hard

hard marriage

Our dreams of marriage don’t include the hard marriage.  

We rather like – and expect – smooth sailing. Sometimes we wake up to realize that our dreams haven’t come true like we thought they would (or should).

Starry eyes and happily ever after is sure to come to the couple so madly in love. Pre-marital counseling is completed and all that needs to be done is to say I Do – and then a lifetime of happiness and smooth sailing awaits.

After the disagreements and adjustments are complete. Which happens to be never.

Oh sure, marriage is fun and glorious when the sun is shining and the ship’s smooth sailing continues. Until that is, we hit choppy waters. You know, the choppy waters that other couples face, but not us. For we are so in love and so ready to get married. The seasickness that other couples endure, but not us. For we have it all together. We’ve waited and prayed for years for the right person. So when we find him, we know that our good ship marriage will face unchartered waters with calmness and serenity. For, after all, love is in the air!

hard marriage

Then it happens.

Sailing these waters is a little harder than we thought. We disagree on which course to take, on which way to turn the rudder, on what to do about the rent or the budget (or even if we need a budget) or the broken-down vehicle. We disagree about food and restaurants and what relaxing means.

Sometimes, because of our own childhood experiences, we want to remain totally in control – for as kids we had to be in charge. Sometimes, because of our childhoods, we expect others to pick up the slack – for as kids we had siblings or parents who allowed us to be selfish and irresponsible. Or we don’t want to talk about the small leak in the boat because we don’t do conflict. Or we haven’t learned how to communicate frustration and insist on talk, talk, talking when our spouse needs time to process first. So the night sets and the water becomes more choppy instead of calmer and our boat begins to take in water, one trickle at a time.

marriage is hard

There’s no easy cure-all for turbulence, but these three areas can become a pitfall.  If we can work on these three and come out ahead, the sailing of our ship is bound to be smoother. Otherwise, we have a good chance of suffering shipwreck.

marriage is hard

  • Gender Differences. Let’s face it. Men and women do not think alike. There’s no reason to try to make our spouse think like we do. They can’t because they are a different gender. Rather than try to force the other to be like ourselves, we need to accentuate the differences and be blessed by them instead of biased. Gender differences are why it’s so much easier for women to talk to other women about their problems (including their spouse) than it is to talk to the spouse.  He doesn’t think like we do; he can’t empathize like our friends can, and his thought processes in solving the problem are not like ours. If we were so much alike, it would become boring. We can learn to appreciate and allow our differences to remain instead of trying to change our spouse. Celebrate the differences!
  • SelfishnessWe’re born with it. Some of us are more used to getting our way than others.  Some of us got away with things when we were dating and now suddenly our spouse doesn’t think we’re cute or funny anymore. Woops. That’s a new wrinkle, isn’t it? Some of us have never had to share a room with a sibling, much less share an entire apartment or a house. Some of us always had to give in to other siblings, and we’re not about to be the one giving in now. My way or the highway.  So do it my way or you’re a loser.  We think, If he really loves me, he will . . . .  ‘Only problem is that sometimes he thinks if really love him, then I would be willing to . . . . .All of us have inherited that sinful nature of self. There’s only one cure for this: “let each esteem the other better than themselves. For certain, we need to nix that selfishness.  At the same time, we must never hide our feelings and concerns about matters that aren’t related to being selfish.
  • Our pastThis includes how we’ve handled conflict in the past or how we have been used to doing things. Simple things like where and how to celebrate Christmas can be divisive if we allow it. It doesn’t  matter if you grew up in the same community, went to the same school and the same church. The way things were done in our homes is different from each other. That means there will be disagreements and/or conflicts. Simple things like how quickly you take a child to the doctor can be a source of conflict. When I was a child, our family doctor charged little for our family’s visits because our father had been his patient. So when my father’s widow brought her children to the doctor, she was charged 10% of what everyone else had to pay. Little wonder then that my mother didn’t hesitate if we had a sore throat or were running a fever to take us to the doctor. Dave’s parents, on the other hand, used a doctor for emergencies only.  There were times when they treated their kids at home when they should probably have seen a doctor. Money was tight and their background gave them the inclination to do everything else possible and if all else failed, see the doctor.  A few years after we had children, someone asked me if we took our kids to the doctor frequently if they were sick.  I responded, “Not nearly as often as my mother would have, and a whole lot more often than Dave’s parents would have.” We had to find a balance. You will, too, because you also have ingrained patterns of handling life’s challenges. Whether we commandeer or hide from conflict, it is something we learned as kids and/or saw modeled by adults in our lives. When we bring those patterns from our past into our present, it will affect the way we do marriage. Don’t fight the turbulence in those waves! Ride with those waves and learn how to maneuver so that you can effectively blend your pasts into your marriage, together.

hard marriage

No matter the struggles or the storms that come our way, if our anchor is Jesus Christ, we can be unafraid during the storms while we do the hard part of marriage.

Jesus can come into the winds of our conflict and speak to the turmoil. In the Bible account of when Jesus woke up during the storm, He spoke. When He said, “Peace, be still,” the waves stopped crashing the boat and the wind became still.

He can do the same for us if we allow Him into our marriage boat. Trouble is, so often we try to out-row the storm instead of allowing Him to enter our strongholds and bring peace out of chaos. When we try to ride out the storm alone, we’re bound to take in water and sink. If we experience His presence in our marriage and ask Him to steer the rudder of our boat, we can be certain He can be the calm in the storms of our lives.

When the disciples were afraid for their lives, they called on Jesus.  They cried, “Save us or we will die!”

That’s what we need to do when marriage is hard. We need to cry out, “Save us for our marriage is on the rocks!” He will come. He will speak. He will bring peace, and we can be still.

Pinterest 3 things that make marriage hard

 

When Your Spouse Isn’t Who You Thought He was

Spouse is not who I think he is

Your spouse: you chose him, and he chose you.

Only thing is, sometimes it seems your spouse isn’t who you thought he was. At least, sometimes he’s not. Maybe he was different when you were dating or maybe you just didn’t pick up on those idiosyncrasies. Perhaps you didn’t listen to the advice of others or maybe everyone else thought he was the guy for you and you didn’t consider otherwise. Maybe you’ve just figured out that he is just like your dad (which might not be all bad), but you don’t want your marriage to be like your parents’. Or you wish he was more like your dad, but he isn’t.

Perhaps you thought you knew him well enough – and you were certain love would carry you through.

And now? Now he’s not your prince charming, and sometimes not your protector.

You feel hung. Hurt or betrayed. Hemmed in.

Sometimes you feel a little scared. Did you make a mistake?

What were you thinking? You thought you knew him pretty well, but did you?

So what do you do?

You’re a Christian. You believe in “’til death do us part.” You know this is right – and good.

But sometimes it’s hard and a little scary.

You want a happy marriage – a good marriage,

but you’re not sure what to do about some of your feelings and some of your fears.

When we struggle with life, there isn’t always a simple formula to make things right. It’s not an easy three-step thing we can do that guarantees success. So we flounder – and we wonder who to talk to and what to do. Really, who wants to share with someone else that marriage is more difficult than easy?!

Whisper in your spouse's ear.

Let me tell you some things that will guarantee your success as a spouse.

These are not things that most folks will tell you to do.  In fact, some folks will tell you to do the opposite. You’ll have to decide for yourself because only you can walk this journey. You’ll have to decide what outcome you want and then choose the path that brings you that outcome. I can assure you that, if you do these things consistently, it will make a difference in your spouse and in your marriage.  Guaranteed, it will make a difference in you.

  1. Commitment. It will make or break your marriage! You’ve got to be committed to your marriage and to your man. This means even when you disagree with him or you find him unattractive, you stay committed. If you allow your mind to think of Divorce, then how committed are you?  That word shouldn’t be in our vocabulary if we plan to be committed for life and until death parts the two of us. If you’re both committed, then you will find a way to work things out. It doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead. It doesn’t mean that you become a martyr because you believe divorce is wrong. You stay committed to the person and to the principle of being one. That means you work at becoming united in the things that matter. You won’t give up or give in to anything less. You’ll hang in there while you work through things. You’ll disagree and cry, you’ll feel discouraged and want to give up, but you’ll stay in that place of commitment.
  2.  Communicate.  Men are often clueless about things they say and do that cause hurt. Educate him in a respectful way. Talk. Tell him. Don’t hide your feelings. Think ahead what you can say so you will be kind yet firm. Choose the right place and the right timing. Don’t say, “You always” OR “You never,” ’cause it just ain’t so, ever. Instead, explain to him so he can understand. Use these words: “When you . . . it makes me feel . . . ” In using these words, you’re telling him what he has done and how it makes you feel. You’re not accusing him of not caring, just that it makes you feel like he doesn’t care. Try saying, “When you fail to ____, it makes me feel unloved.”  “When you wouldn’t go to ____ with me after  I asked you to, it really made me feel that I’m not important to you.” He won’t know unless you communicate with him. Don’t withhold how you feel about your hurts or failures.  It’s never right to keep your mouth shut so he won’t be upset or because it’s not worth the price you might have to pay. Keep talking, keep telling him, keep respecting him and thanking him when he does things that are right and good.
  3. Change yourself.  Don’t try to change him.  Yep. Ask God to change you. Ask God to help you love and respect this man to whom you have committed your life. Remember the things that attracted you to him before marriage. Focus on those things, for starters. Now add to your list. Ask God for wisdom, then listen to the wisdom you get from God – and do it. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive in your man. That’s changing you by changing your outlook. Make a note of the things he does right and that he does well. Focus on the positive and not the negative. If it helps, make a list of things you like about him (then whisper those things, one at a time, in  his ear.) Keep praying and asking God for wisdom. Keep praying for your man, and ask God to help you change you. Give God permission to work in the heart of your spouse, but don’t tell God what to do or how to do it or when to do it!
  4.  Respect. This is a basic need of any man and husband. He’d rather hear that you respect him than that you love him. ‘Don’t believe me? Ask him! My husband will vouch for that. Respect is a basic need of any man and of any husband. That’s why scripture tells the wife to reverence her spouse instead of telling her to love him. If he has your respect and admiration, he will want to conquer the world. A sincere husband will want to make you happy if he knows he has your admiration. It’s not good enough to just not say anything negative. You’ve got to show and say positive things and let the world know you’re proud that he’s your man. You’ve got to say it and show it by how you act. Things you say to him or about him to others tells the world whether or not you respect this man. Believe me, it shows. When you let your spouse know he has your respect and your admiration, he will want to do things to help you feel special.

When spouse isn't who you thought he was

Marriage brings together two people from different families. Sometimes they are from different communities, different cultures, and different backgrounds.  No matter how much alike you thought you were, you’re still different.

A good marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes work.

But oh, is it ever worth the sweat and tears! I can’t guarantee that following these steps will change your spouse, but I know they will change you. Your outlook will change and you won’t need to feel hemmed in and scared anymore. I think that, in time, you’ll see some neat changes in your spouse as well. You might be surprised; he might just become even better than you ever thought he’d be!

Pinterest Spouse isn't who you thought he was