Appreciating Your Husband for Who He is

A few years ago, my husband found a killer deal for a nice bed frame off Craigslist that he wanted to get for us. We’d been married 9.5 years and had never experienced the thrills of a king-sized bed. The problem was that it was nap time for our kids and we had to drive his chevy pick up truck in order to haul the frame and mattresses and comforter and so on. Not to mention the air conditioner on his truck was out, and the trip was not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump.

“I don’t know about this trip,” I told Jeremiah who thrives on spontaneity. “We’ve got to haul a lot of stuff and our four needy kids.”

“It will be fine,” he responded. “They can sleep on the way.”

It will be fine. Those four famous last words.

I started to whine about what could go wrong and how miserable the trip would probably be. But I decided to do it anyway. We had a flexible schedule that day.

Well the 2.5 hour trip to Denver turned into 3 hours with potty breaks, gas, and hungry bellies. We ran into bumper to bumper traffic, got cussed out by a crazy driver, and the kids were unhappy the entire time. We had to make too many stops that I didn’t care for and by the end of the day I was spent, vowing I would never do that again. It tested my patience and I was not a happy wife or momma. At all.

On our way home, Jeremiah agreed that I should have stayed home with the kids. “But I always like doing things together as a family,” he said.

I rolled my eyes and told him how some things are just not worth it. But after he assembled the bed together and we plopped our exhausted bodies onto our new bed and mattress, I was thankful we labored for it all. And I always appreciate how he loves being with all of us.

Admiring, Affirming, Appreciating

I’m guessing you’ve had an experience like mine where your husband’s idea seemed crazy and you sensed that strain and stress might be coming your way. But you followed his lead because you knew that’s what he desired.

The feelings and emotions are often different in our dating days. We often don’t second guess. We can’t imagine not going along with our lover’s plans or that things might not be “easy.” But in marriage, we eventually see how hard it can be to follow our man. To let alone love him in the way he understands.

When we talk about “loving” our husband what we really mean is how well are we admiring, affirming, and appreciating him? How well are we coming alongside him as his help-meet? That is what love looks to a man. In the wonderful book Creative Counterpart, author Linda Dillow says,

Learning to accept your husband’s feelings, tastes, and attitudes can go a long way… Does it matter whether acorn squash is good for him if he doesn’t like it? Accept his tastes. He doesn’t need a dietician or a substitute mother. Maybe he gets a kick out of football, and you feel the sport is stupid. Voice that opinion once or twice, and what will you communicate? That you feel you married a stupid man. How willing do you think he’ll be to express his likes and dislikes if he is called stupid when he does?

I can relate to Dillow’s football and food comment. I definitely have my opinions and I don’t always hold my tongue or communicate in the nicest manner, but over time in our marriage, I have been challenged to begin dwelling on the characteristics that I love about my husband: his intelligence, skillfulness, leadership ability, sexual capacity, courage, financial expertise, protection, prudence, and more. When I draw on what I appreciate the most about him, it helps me admire and respect him. And then eventually it turns into praise and affirmation which is what he craves to hear.

Knowing Your Man

To love your husband well you also need to know him. What makes him tick? What does he hate? What does he love? You might consider these questions.

  • What is the happiest thing that has ever happened to your husband?
  • What has been the hardest experience of his life?
  • What are his secret ambitions, his goals for life?
  • What are his deep fears?
  • What about you does he appreciate the most?
  • What traits of you would he like to see changed?
  • What man or men does he most admire?

(Creative Counterpart, page. 109)

You might write the answers down on paper and ask your husband if you were on target. No worries if you don’t get the answers right! It is never too late to learn something you didn’t know before. You might have him answer these questions about you. Jeremiah and I did this together several years ago and it was fun to exchange answers and see who got the most right.

Complete – Don’t Compare

The man God gave you is different than the man God gave me. Your husband is uniquely gifted in his role just as you are uniquely qualified to complete and compliment who he is. There is nothing more destructive than comparing our man to other men. Thoughts like, I wish he were more like ________ . Why doesn’t my husband do _________?  No perfect husband exists. Each has his own faults and limitations. Each has his own talent and unique abilities.

Focus your heart and mind on being grateful for the husband God has given you. Start to appreciate the qualities and interests that you don’t understand in him or can’t relate to. When you’re interested in what he is passionate about, it communicates that you care for him. When you admire and appreciate him through your attitude and actions, it communicates, “I love you. I respect you.”

I still fail at times to be the wife I know I should be. I can be pretty spicy and strong-willed. It is definitely a falling forward process of sanctification and dying to self. But I am growing, learning, and I know one thing is sure: I want my husband to know that I am for him.

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This article first appeared on FortheFamily.org as “Loving the Man God Gave You”

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

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Book Review & Giveaway: “Team Us” by Ashleigh Slater (Moody Publishers)

UnknownToday I’m so excited to review the new book Team Us by first-time author Ashleigh Slater. I was first introduced to Ashleigh several years ago when she gave me the chance to write for her webzine for women, Ungrind.org. I have always appreciated Ashleigh’s love for helping others grow in their walk with Christ. I’m thrilled that her first book is out and that it’s doing so well… as in… it’s selling so well that it’s out of stock on Amazon 🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get through a whole book so fast. From the moment you open the first pages, you see Ashleigh’s gifted story-telling, passion, respect and love for her husband, whimsical humor, and the ability to intertwine real life issues with biblical truth.

Ashleigh writes in such a way that is refreshing and real, like you’re having coffee with a close friend. She doesn’t claim to have marriage all figured out either, which I love. She writes with authority on the subject because she’s lived it out for more than 10 years. Ashleigh and her husband Ted have learned how to practice grace towards one another in every day life and dealings and she lets you in on their experiences and life lessons. Learning how to extend grace to your spouse and adopting a team spirit is what the book is all about.

Halfway through Team Us, Ashleigh candidly reveals a time in their marriage that she calls the Weeping Years where she and Ted experienced some of the most difficult trials of their lives but how God’s grace remained steadfast and pulled them through. She vividly describes a situation where all hope seemed lost and then God made a way. Those chapters were my favorite and I found myself nodding my head and relating so much to them.

The beauty of this book is that you’ll remember the truths in it long after you’re finished. It’s no wonder that Team Us has been endorsed by Gary Thomas, Gary Chapman, Kirk Cameron and more. The team work approach was a huge takeaway for me so much that when my husband and I are working on something together or need to be reminded that we are in fact a team, I’ll say out loud to him, “Team Us!” in an encouraging tone. He smiles and we remember that we’re not against each other even in the midst of our struggles. And speaking of husbands, throughout each chapter Ashleigh includes funny and insightful blurbs written by Ted offering his perspective.

Whether you’re single, newlywed, or have been married for years, Team Us will help you learn how to have a more satisfying, light-hearted, and God-glorifying marriage.

I’m giving away one copy today. To enter to win, please comment with what your primary love language is (Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical touch, Receiving gifts, or Acts of Service). I’ll choose the winner randomly and announce on Monday.

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Congratulations, Ashleigh!

About Ashleigh Slater: Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of Ungrind Webzine and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she loves to combine the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com. You can also find her on Facebook here or follow her on Twitter at @ashslater.

 

New Article: 5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

Last week was an exciting week being able to share an article I wrote that was inspired by a photo I saw. It was a blessing to hear from readers on Start Marriage Right and KirkCameron.com

If you haven’t read it yet I hope you will be encouraged as well.

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age…

Continue Reading…

How Our Life Together Began at the River {An Engagement Story}

We’d been walking for a few miles. The humidity was thick and my jeans stuck to my sweaty legs. It was our fourth day in Israel and Jordan and my boyfriend Jeremiah and I were with our seminary professor and classmates, visiting and learning about all the sites Jesus once walked. We were so excited to see the Jordan River for the first time. Both having grown up in the church, we had learned about it all our lives, and now we finally got to experience it.

We arrived at the bank of the Jordan and it was more narrow than I thought. I sat my backpack down on a rock so I could take pictures with friends. After a few minutes, I went back over to my bag to get my hairbrush out which was so random because I normally wouldn’t stop and brush my hair in a moment like this. When I reached for the front pocket, I stumbled upon a small black leather box with white stitching on it.

What is that? I wondered. Then something clicked and I was sure I knew. My heart raced. Was this really it?

Jeremiah rushed over and took the box as if I wasn’t supposed to see it in my bag. He looked really nervous and excited.

He smiled, opened the ring box, and got down on one knee. I started giggling.

“Samantha, just as John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and it represented the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, I want this to represent our new life together in marriage. Will you marry me?

I laughed some more and started crying.

Jordan River 2“Yes! Yes!”

He slid the ring on my finger and it fit perfectly. We hugged and kissed and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Our professor captured the proposal along with some of our friends. I finally took the time to really look at the ring and I couldn’t believe it. It was beautiful, classy, big, round, and flawless. During our 7 months of dating I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at rings. Jeremiah and I had shopped a few times for fun but I figured if he knew me well enough, he would know what I liked. And did he ever! I couldn’t stop looking at it. Its brilliant sparkle reminded me that life was certainly about to change. I would get to spend the rest of my life with the one I loved. The one God had given to me.

I was on cloud nine on the trail back to our bus. I couldn’t believe how he got me and surprised me out of nowhere. He had asked my dad for permission to marry me a few weeks before the trip when we were visiting my parents in Texas. I thought for sure he would have popped the question after Israel. But he carried the ring on the plane, through customs, security, several hotels, and excursions for four days. Needless to say he was happy to have the surprise off his chest. I thought more about how it couldn’t have been more perfect to be engaged right where we were.

Our next stop happened to be the Dead Sea, often called the Salt Sea, which borders Jordan to the East. A classmate offered to hold my ring while Jeremiah and I went for a dip with everyone. We floated on top of the water and it refreshed our souls from the intense middle eastern heat. Jeremiah held me in his arms and it was as if the world had stopped. The embrace of my future husband was all I need. I was going to be his and he would be mine. I had given my word to him, my promise. Our wedding day and new life together was on the horizon.Jordan River 1

Looking back on that significant day eight years ago {June 4, 2005} brings me nothing but great joy. There are those moments in life that God gives and you feel nothing but his sweet presence, where his love for you is absolutely overwhelming. It’s almost as if he gives you a little taste of the perfection that will be awaiting in heaven.

Jeremiah and I knew from the beginning that our relationship wasn’t just about us, but what God was doing and he has always confirmed that in our hearts. I have believed that all these years. In December we will celebrate our eight year wedding anniversary.

Before marriage, we had no idea the trials that would come our way. We didn’t quite grasp the hard work that’s required to be one as a couple and how we would have to fight daily against our selfish, sinful natures. We wouldn’t learn all of this through a book or classroom but by sitting in the school of experience.

We also had no idea how God would fashion and shape us more like him and give us the sweetest, most precious gifts we have ever tasted within the sacred covenant of marriage: unity, servanthood, companionship, fulfillment, purpose, passion, sexual intimacy, friendship, forgiveness, satisfaction, mission, the blessing of children, and unconditional love just to name a few. We had no idea how God would show us the true meaning of sacrificial, * till death we do part * love and commitment. And we are praying by God’s grace that he will give us many more years to have together.

There’s no doubt that the love I have towards my husband is deeper and wider than when I said “yes!” It is a different kind of love yet it is still the same. We are still the same people we were then yet we’ve changed and grown in so many different ways. Today on our engagement anniversary my heart is grateful for God’s faithfulness.

Through the calm and the storms in our lives, He has always been faithful just as he was that day on the river.

Trust, Truth & Sexual Purity in Your Marriage

“What words come to your mind when you think of trust?” 

I asked my husband while we were driving down the road the other day. I told him how I wanted to write my next article on trust.

While he thought about the question for a little bit, I chimed in: “Because you know, marriages fail or succeed based on trust. What’s the point of being married if you can’t trust the other person?”…

Today, I’m talking honestly about sexual sin and healing in marriage. Continue reading over on StartMarriageRight.com and feel welcome to share your thoughts.

Cleaving: What Does It Mean in Marriage Anyway?

On my way home from the store, in a shopping center just a block from our apartment building, I saw a man and a woman lying down on the ground in a corner holding one another tightly, trying to keep warm.

Their bags were beside them and I couldn’t believe what I was watching as I had never seen both a man and a woman together who were homeless.

I had no idea if they were married or boyfriend and girlfriend but that beautiful, heart-breaking image of that man and woman holding on to each other triggered something in my heart reminding me of my relationship to my husband Jeremiah.

Throughout our almost six years of marriage now, the wind and the rain and the hurricanes have swept through our marriage at times, testing our faith in God and our trust in each other, and we have learned to cleave.

But the truth is that I didn’t know how to cleave before I said “I do.” I mean I got the point of it all and I understood God’s word on leaving and cleaving, but I had to experience it first to really get it. And I’m still trying to get it.

But cleaving to Jeremiah has meant that I’m submissive to his leadership. That I honor, respect, and serve him with a willing heart. That I’m patient in his mistakes as he is with me and that I lift him up, not tear him down. That I praise him and build his self-esteem. That I continue to show him that I’m his #1 fan.

Cleaving to Jeremiah has meant that I put up boundaries in our relationship and keep it protected from harm and future trouble. And when there is conflict, that I’m quick to admit my faults and work through our differences in a godly way.

Cleaving has meant that our children come second, even as they demand most of our time right now. Our unity and oneness cannot be forfeited and our relationship is #1.

To cleave has meant that we are now one. We’re no longer two individuals with our separate agendas and plans. Everything we do affects one another, somehow and some way. We’re now our own family, distinct from the families we grew up in.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

God is using all of our experiences, joyful and difficult, to teach me to hold fast to Jeremiah. To work hard and be disciplined in the areas I struggle in so that when the winds and the rain and the storms of life come again, as they will, I’ll continue to cleave.

And to do nothing more because Jeremiah is God’s provision for me.

Marriage: Finding Beautiful in the Messy

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and I took the ENRICH relationship inventory. Last Wednesday, we went over our results with our mentor couple John and Pam. Our results astonished us, revealing that we were a vitalized couple. But the truth of the matter is those results wouldn’t have been that way 3 years ago.

Our marriage has needed some hard work done on it, a hard look into the deeper matters of our sinful hearts.

Some of it ties back to the day we sat down together about a year ago and read the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

As two people who followed Christ, we knew that those fruits didn’t characterize us as much as they should. We began to pray, reflect, bring our struggles before those we do life with, and most of all humble ourselves to find change.

God began to shine his light on the sin that was taking small bites out of our marriage. For me, I had allowed anger to inch its way in. Impatience. Ungratefulness. Harsh words and tone. Bitterness. I didn’t always see the degree to how destructive it was. But God didn’t give up on me.

Over time, God’s word began to change me and heal me in those areas. I’ve become less angry, more grateful, more self-controlled with my words and tone and more quick to forgive. I haven’t arrived and never will, but in God’s strength, he is making me more like him.

God continues to do an awesome work in Jeremiah and I respect and love him with such a greater depth than when we said “I do.” I value our relationship so much more and we both know that our marriage is the greatest treasure God has given us.

I’m so thankful that God’s promises are true. He is truly a God who takes the messy, broken parts within us and makes them beautiful. He turns marriages around so that His image can be better reflected in the world. And he will continue to do that if we let him.

Well after celebrating the good news of our ENRICH results, we agreed that there’s a temptation to get complacent in our relationship or even prideful. I’m sure we’ll have some kind of other “test” this week to make sure that doesn’t happen 🙂

Have you found anything “beautiful” in your marriage or other relationships lately?

Marriage: why it’s hard work

Recently, Jeremiah and I have been going through 1 Peter together before bed. After I turned out the light last night, I asked him in frustration:

“Honey, why does marriage have to be such hard work?”

This question was birthed out of the petty arguments we had that morning on the way to church (an argument I started). He thought about it for a minute.

“Because I’m screwed up. And you’re screwed up.”

I laughed and couldn’t agree more.

“Do you think anyone has a marriage that isn’t hard?” I asked, really really wanting to know.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Dead people.”

Well… next Thursday will be our four year anniversary (we’re so excited) and this is the year I think I’ve figured out why marriage is hard work. More than ever, I’ve realized that I’m broken, sinful, and selfish. I don’t always love God and if you had the supernatural ability to open the blinds to my house from the outside in, you wouldn’t always see a pretty woman.

You wouldn’t always see someone who’s allowing the Spirit to control my life, but it’s what I desire.

The Apostle Paul said that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:22-23)

God has given me everything I need for life and godliness and his Spirit is in me to empower me to love my husband and to love those closest to me. I am thankful that God is patient with me. He knows I’m in a process of sanctification. He’s come to set me free from my sin and brokenness- to embrace the gift of marriage as part of his will to conform me into his image.

He’s given me my best friend, lover, soul-mate and the only person in this world I want to be with as a gift to steward, love, respect, and serve well.

Marriage is really hard work because of me.

Sinful. Fallen. Human. But through Christ’s strength and empowerment, my marriage can be beautiful. It has been. It is. And it will be.

And I don’t have to wait until I’m dead for it to be that way either. And that is so encouraging.

So what about you… do you think anyone has a marriage that isn’t hard work?

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