Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 25: Matters of Marriage, and Singles

I should start this post by saying no one is more surprised then I am that I got married. I decided in my late teens-early 20's that I really didn't want to get married. I didn't have a problem with the institution of marriage at all. I just didn't think it was what I was created for.

Therefore, I never spent much time or energy day dreaming about my soulmate, my fairytale wedding, or our happily-ever-after. 

I am pretty weird in that I always like to research/become familiar with the otherside of any issue. If I read a book geared for girls or women, I always read the male counterpart, when available. 

So while I read books on singleness, I also read a lot of dating and marriage books to help me understand the majority of my friends, and society as a whole.

I am so thankful I was created this way, with the desire to understand the otherside of situations. It prepared me for many situations I was to face in the future, and for marriage in particular. Since I didn't think marriage was a ticket to a fairytale, I read books that dealt with the heart of marriage, not the fluff of weddings.  Reading about how marriage could be a refining tool used to grow you into the person God created you to be, gave me the courage to keep an open mind on the subject of marriage. And I am so glad I did!

When I first decided to take part in the 31 Days of Writing challenge, I made a list of topics I wanted to write about. Marriage/my husband was one of those topics - How to keep your husband your priority after adding another kid to the brood, etc... Let's just say I am in still in the very early stages of learning these lessons. After just getting back in town, recovering from all my late nights, and a sick toddler, this week just isn't providing the literary stimulation for such a topic. And my husband would probably think I was a complete hypocrite. ;)

But I still had lots of "marriage-y" thoughts rolling around in my head...

Last night I read an awesome relational blog post by one of my favorite Christian Authors, Gary Thomas, about how his daughter being in love on her wedding day was not his top priority for her on her wedding day. Yes, I know, it sounds insane and way too radical. But seriously, read the post. Its awesome! Its what I hope we can instill in Ellie Faith and Quinn when it comes to picking out their spouse.

Then it hit me - I have a lot of singles (primarily ladies) who read this blog. Why not write something more relevant to them. While I am still very much figuring how the wife and mom combo, I feel confident enough to say - when it came to choosing my spouse, I hit it out of the park. I am not taking all the credit for this  - my parents, authors like Gary Thomas, and other christian mentors had a lot to do with it. But I am going to give myself credit here, something I don't often do. I personally spent a lot of time in my younger years cementing into my heart what my spousal criteria was. And because I didn't put stuff like "tall, dark and handsome; guitar player; worship leader; starting quarterback; doctor, etc..." my list lasted through my ages and phases in life.

1. He had to be a solid christian. Independent in his relationship with Christ
    a. if our relationship progressed, he needed to love Christ more then he loved me.
2. He had to respect me.
    (yes, I wanted respect before love. I am weird that way)
3. He had to make me laugh.
    a. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones prov 17:22

I still stand by these criteria. They are not for everyone nor are they a guarantee for success, as we all have our own free will to choose and make decisions as we see fit. However, here is how I see it:

  •  if someone maintains ownership in their relationship with Christ, their chance of keeping up the marital relationship are far better than someone who starts (and tries to maintain) a christian walk for someone else.
  • if you have respect as one of the cornerstones in your relational foundation, that is going to support the waves and trials of life way more then any butterflies-in-the-tummy- in-love feeling could ever hope to do. Because guess what, you may not always feel in love with your spouse. In my opinion and experience in all types of relationships, it is my respect for someone that will keep me maintaining my relationship with someone, over my love for them.
  • if someone can make you laugh, chances are they can laugh at themselves too. I wanted someone who was kind enough to help me laugh, even at myself at times when needed, but was also humble enough to laugh at himself too. I never wanted perfection, and I didn't want perfection required of me. Humans make mistakes in life, and if you can really and truly laugh together after mistakes, I think you have probably both learned something.
Gary Thomas says something in his book Sacred Marriage along the lines of what if marriage isn't just to make you happy, but to make you holy?

Ponder that for a minute. Let me assure you in NO way is he stating that you should ever enter into a joy-less marriage, or that an unhappy marriage is a healthy marriage. No, what he is aiming at is that what if marriage, in addition to everything else we are familiar with marriage being,  is also something that could be used to make us more Christ-like, and draw us closer to God.

If this is truly the case (and I firmly believe it is) and I am a single today, in the process of choosing my future spouse, I am going to do my darn-dest to make sure I choose someone who is going to make this process as easy as possible on me. :) Because I don't like pain, discomfort, stretching, or stepping out of my comfort zone. Someone who is going to be pursuing Christ on their own, and who is on their own journey with Christ, so that when I am going through the training process of becoming who Christ created me to be, they will love and support me through the painful and difficult times. Because they see Christ in me and in those times. And if I am to love an imperfect human, who might from time to time make my life not so fun or uncomfortable, I want to know that I can see Christ in them. Because, sadly, I am selfish. I don't like others to suffer on my account, but I sure as heck get frustrated, ok even angry, when someone else's shortcomings are having an negative affect on me

A commonality in Christ will carry you much further than any feelings of love ever could. 

Single readers - it matters greatly who you marry!

It will affect every action of every day for the duration of the relationship, and leave a lasting impression on you if/when the relationship ends, whether by death or divorce.

The type of car or house you buy is not going to affect you for the rest of your life. Who you marry will. So please, choose carefully!

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 

This is the perfect verse to help evaluate yourself in the process of choosing your spouse. 

Are you on your guard? Ladies, especially, we can get swept away quickly by our emotions. I tell girls all the time you can't help who you feel attracted to, but just because you are attracted to someone, does not mean they are someone you should enter into a relationship with. I am even willing to admit, based on the exact right circumstances, you sometimes can't help who you fall in love with. But just because you are in love with someone does not mean a relationship, short term or long term,  is the correct path for you to follow. Guard your heart! Know what your criteria are, and don't settle. Be on guard for people who try to appear like they meet your requirements, but in reality are only becoming who you want them to be, and not who they really are.

Are you standing firm in your faith? We are all humans, therefore we are going to make mistakes, and God will love us despite our shortcomings. However, if we are being vigilant in not only maintaining our relationship with Him, but more importantly, being active in getting to know Him better, our mistakes will tend to be much less costly mistakes. Calling a deepening relationship with Christ as sort of like an insurance plan definitely cheapens the relationship in a word play, but in reality it kind of is your insurance plan. Yes, you have free will to make your own decisions, as do the people around you. You will be the victim of other's free-will made decisions. But if you are actively pursuing Christ and His plans for your life, you will make life much easier on yourself. I promise you - there is safety in His plans for you!

Are you being courageous? A charge to be courageous is not an encouragement to go out and try something different or outside the God's plan. I think being relationally courageous more often times means being brave enough to not compromise. To hold true to who you are and your convictions. This can be very scary, especially early on in a new relationship. Being you is extreme vulnerability, as is expressing your convictions. But better to do the courageous thing and be honest upfront in the beginning, then attempt to do it later. Chances are, you will have compromised some of you by then, and that deep honest place inside you will be much harder to express, or even find.

Are you being strong? In order to be courageous, you have to be strong. Real relationships take strength. They are hard work. Doing the right thing is often hard, sometimes even undesirable. And if you ever want to maintain an lasting marriage, you better have strength in Christ beyond words! Again, this is where a personal on going relationship with Christ is so vital. He will help you be strong and courageous! Go ahead - try Him!:)

Are you doing everything in love? Clearly I am not just talking about twitterpated love, I am talking about the real deal. Sometimes loving someone means not entering into a relationship with them, because you aren't whats best for them. Maybe they have some lessons they need to learn and maturing to do first. You might be a distraction, enabling, or even a crutch. Loving someone isn't always fun, and it isn't always, initially, rewarding. Its often hard and painful, but when its done correctly, whether in a romantic or friendship type relationship, it can bring about much growth and beauty.

Marriages today often don't last. The younger generations are becoming used to seeing divorce as the more common and acceptable outcome, as opposed to marriages of 60+ year being ended by death. It can make it very difficult to know how to find the right spouse, especially if you think your parents got it all wrong.

So what are the singles to do? Everything I already stated, along with surrounding themselves with a church body (and much more... I don't have all the answers!).

Yes, statistics show that the divorce rate is just as high in churches theses days, but the marriages in the church that do work are, for the most part, built on foundation of Christ's love. Not only will the husband and wife love each other, they will have asked Christ to enter into their marriage. They will also be honest about what they have learned, the mistakes they have made, and how God has redeemed their short comings. A Christ-centered marriage will/should become your standard. I love what Gary Thomas says:
" want to become so aware of genuine character and godliness that when you hang around false character and pseudo-piety, you smell it for the rat that it is."

Finally, more for the marrieds out there, I recently had a revelation about love languages.

I am not a clear this or that when it comes to the 5 Love Languages... it kind of depends on the person and situation I am dealing with. But this revelation came to me involving my husband and my house.

Our house is small and gets messy very quickly, especially with the toddler, also known as hurricane Ellie. A messy house drives me batty, and often makes me feel like a failure, or just really far behind in the day.

And for the sake of full disclosure, the thought of allowing someone other than myself or Jared to clean my house or do my laundry makes me shudder... its a bad pride issue. And, I like things done a certain way, and if its not done that way, I won't like it. Yeah... not good.

Jared is not a neat freak in any shape, form, or fashion. He is very much a Quality Time and Words of Affirmation love language guy. (let's all just agree that physical touch should just be a given when speaking of male love languages, ok!? Good! Moving on...) So he would rather me sit on the couch and watch a stupid football game, and discuss it, or just talk, then live in a tidy house day in and day out.

The other day I was fuming inwardly that, in my mind, he never did anything around the house except make more housework for me.

I really try to stop these negative thought patterns as quickly as possible. Sometimes I am better then others. Right now, I realize I am still somewhat sleep deprived and hormonal from being postpartum. There is a very good chance I am the one out of line. :)

My husband does the vast majority of life very well, so I usually just try to think of those things. And that's when it hit. He is always commenting and complimenting me on the intentional quality time I spend with our daughters.

When he is home with us, he is always doing something with either one of the girls. Even if he is "just" watching tv, he is usually holding Quinn. He takes Ellie to the park, or on walks. He is very intentional with the time he has at home with the girls.

Yes, would the act of service of having him clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, etc... knock me over. It absolutely would. But that is me only looking for love in the places I think I want it most.

When in reality, if he asked me, "Amy, would you rather me clean the bathroom or take Ellie for a walk?" I wouldn't even think twice about it - take our daughter for a walk!

I think we often show others love in our love language, because it is what makes the most sense to us. I am trying to love Jared by keeping the house clean, and he is trying to love me by spending time with the girls.

In doing so, we are both loving each other, actively.

So if you are getting frustrated with your spouse, first, remember the role female hormones play in life, then look to see if you are being blind (or deaf actually I guess) to the language of love your spouse is speaking, acting, or doing in your life.

In closing, I thought I would share some for my favorite relational books, authors, and posts.


For Girls:

For women of all ages:
Liberated Through Submission ( pinky swear its not scary, but awesome, even though it deal with the dreaded "s" word - submission)

On marriage:
Sacred Marriage ( Gary Thomas recently wrote a book for singles, Sacred Search. I haven't read it, but I am sure its great!)

On Singleness:
Singled out for Him

And for if/when the marriage falls apart:
Beyond Ordinary
(this book is must read for ANYONE! Even though the central theme is marriage, it applies to anyone in all walks of life. One of things I most respected about these authors, was how they in no way sensationalized the affair that took place in their marriage. I have many articles, etc... about broken marriages and relationships, and often times come away feeling that more time was spent on how things went wrong, almost more of a how-to, if you will, then how they made things healthy again. Again, I recommend this book to everyone to read. More than a book about marriage, it is a book about a personal relationship with Christ.)

Blog Posts:

It matters who you marry: girls

It matters who you marry: guys

That should keep you busy reading for a while! :)

Happy Relationships!


  1. I totally love this post! When we are having issues in our marriage, I can almost always take a step back and realize that we are neglecting to show each other love in THEIR love language instead of our own. I love your spousal criteria as well!!

    1. Thanks Josey! I see so many young people focusing on criteria that will only sustain them in the here and now, and not so much in the future. And Yes, perspective is soooo important in marriage!! I always have to remember that just because I may not be seeing/feel love in the way I want it at that moment, doesn't mean its not being shown. And that I may not being showing love in the way Jared is wanting it either. I think you always do a great job writing about/being honest in this aspect of marriage.