5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

If you’ve followed my blog for a length of time, you may remember this article I wrote. It ended up going viral in December 2013. Since it’s been almost four years and I have new readers, I wanted to repost it. I pray the Lord will use it to encourage and strengthen your marriage!

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.

From the expression on her face, I saw a woman who deeply loved her man. A woman who fulfilled her commitment and stood on her word to love him “Until death do us part.” I saw the ache in her soul that he was breathing his last breaths and soon, he would no longer be by her side as her protector, provider, soul-mate, comforter, delight, lover and friend.

And my soul began to ache as I thought about my husband and the deep love we share for one another. It made me think of the vows I promised him on a wintry December day in Virginia amongst all our family and friends eight years ago:

I, Samantha, take you, Jeremiah, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

I also thought about the ways I’d failed my husband over the years and how I still have many areas of growth in loving him the way God intends.

Begin with the End in Mind

The five words “Until death do us part” are spoken of at the wedding altar in regards to lasting commitment but the reality of death being the actual end of the marriage is rarely expounded on. After all, the wedding ceremony shouldn’t be depressing right?

But the truth is that in order for our marriages to have the life they need to survive the long haul, we have to begin with the end in mind. Death—no matter how much we try to escape it—is the end and we have made a promise to God, our spouse, and other witnesses to love our spouse until then.

It sounds so easy and simple, but to actually live that out is another story. That’s why so many marriages end in divorce. Contrary to popular ideals, marriage is not a bed of roses, but is a battlefield that demands a daily dying to self.

Because of our sinful, stubborn, selfish natures we inherited in the garden, we continue to bring that nasty nature into our marriages—into all our relationships in fact. The manner in which we relate to our spouses and handle conflict is often broken. Ask anyone who’s been married for a little while and they’ll tell you just how much the molehills become mountains. Often they come out of nowhere and seem impossible to climb.

When we don’t get our way, conflict arises. When our spouse forgets his wallet or keys and makes us late to an important event, we grow angry. When he isn’t fulfilling our needs and desires the way we’d like, we have a pity party. When he doesn’t help out around the house enough, we grow bitter and nag.

When our spouse is short with us or raises his voice, we go on the defense and lash back. When he watches too much football, we tell him to get off the couch and get to work. And the list goes on. Conflict is a natural part of the marriage relationship and if it’s not happening internally at the moment, it’s guaranteed to hit you from the outside in just a matter of time.

Choose Humility & Forgiveness

The hope is that we can still have conflict in the midst of a healthy marriage defined by love. Through confessing our sins, repenting, and seeking forgiveness habitually, God refines those areas where we’re weak. Like iron sharpening iron, God uses our spouse to help change us. We put our hope and trust in God for help and guidance.

It’s having that humility before our spouse to say, “I know I’ve screwed up. But I love you and I’m committed to you every day of my life to make our marriage thrive.”

It’s realizing that, “Will you forgive me?” may just have to become a part of your daily vocabulary.

It’s choosing not to be isolated and asking trusted friends or family to encourage and help you get back on the road to loving and serving one another again.

It’s understanding that even if your spouse is driving you crazy and you want so badly for him to change that you may have to look in the mirror first to see where you need changing. Then you can dig your knees into the ground and pray for him.

It’s remembering that the very act of touching your husband’s hands, sexual intimacy, bearing children, laughing, working, playing, and eating meals together is all an act of grace that should instill gratitude in your heart. All of those life-giving moments are gifts that are not guaranteed or promised forever.

Being able to call him husband is a gift in and of itself.

Fight the Battle Against Sin

Above that beautiful image of the elderly couple, I read that the grandson wrote that they’d been together for 68 years and still kissed 15 times before bed every night.

As the wife sat next to her husband’s death bed, I’m guessing she wasn’t thinking about the times they fought or let each other down, but only the good, sweet, joyful, holy, precious, sacred times God had given them as husband and wife on this earth. There’s no doubt there was gratefulness and a deep sadness in her heart that it was ending.

Life is a vapor, as we know from Solomon in Ecclesiastes, and no matter how much we try to deny it, death is waiting for us and our spouse in the end. So the fight against sin in our marriage is worth it because one day, if we know and belong to Christ, He is going to make all our brokenness whole again and we will be made perfect as He is.

And the words “Until death do us part” don’t have to be brushed over, denied, or forgotten, but can inspire us toward a greater, selfless love for our spouse and ultimately for God.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

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

 

 

 

 

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Finding Your Tuesday People: Out of Loneliness and into Community

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About six months into my family and I being settled into our new home in a brand new state, I expressed to my husband that I felt really lonely. I was loving everything about where God had put us. The serenity, beauty, community, our church, and the simple way of life had my heart (still does!), but I still felt like something was missing. Solid relationships and friendships have been important to me since I was a child.

“Well, I think you’re going to have to be intentional in reaching out,” my husband responded being the logical man that he is.

I pouted a bit about it. “Well, I kind of want them to invite me…” I replied.

Then I remembered the popular phrase that goes something like this,

To make a friend you have to first be a friend. 

IMG_1956Deep down, I was waiting for an invitation. And the funny thing is that I already had several invitations from others but I was focusing on the negative and just in a “poor me” state of mind. Have you ever been there? I began praying that God would help me in those feelings of loneliness and I asked him to sort them out for me. I started inviting others for lunch or coffee and began to minister to others, instead of being focused on myself and waiting for others to come to me.

There happened to be two moms who I consistently rubbed shoulders with and enjoyed their company. Out of the blue, I got a text from one who invited me to coffee at her home. I felt like a kid again, excited to be included and invited. The three of us met and talked about life, struggles, and hopes. From that meeting, they asked me about my interest in leading a Bible study. At first I was nervous about starting it from scratch, but I was definitely up for the challenge. I loved that they asked because I’m not sure if I would have without their prodding.

We eventually landed on a book to go through and yesterday we finished our third meeting. There are five us who meet and a few who are considering joining in the future. Over coffee (a must!) and a sweet snack, we dive into Scripture, pray, and discover how the truths in the book relate to our everyday life. It is a highlight of my week and keeps me accountable to reading.

282540_SimplyTuesdayFreeman_pins5In the wonderful book, Simply Tuesday, author Emily Freeman shares about the importance of having your “Tuesday people.” Tuesday is the most ordinary day of the week. We need those friends that we can share life with in the mundane, small moments of life. Friends that we can be comfortable with letting our insecurities out on the table. We need people who will pull up a chair or sit on a bench beside us and listen to our stories.

While we are still getting to know each other, this group has been that for me and I have been blessed because of it. Ironically, we meet on Tuesday mornings too so they are my Tuesday people in this season of life. Our time together has helped get me out of the lonely zone and into community where people can know who I am and where I can in turn, know who they are.

If you’re finding yourself stuck in a funk of loneliness, know that you really aren’t alone. Maybe for you, it will mean sending that text and inviting someone into your home. Maybe it will mean inviting someone to lunch or dinner. It could mean offering to watch someone’s kids so they can have a break. Maybe it will require being very intentional in the sphere of influence God has put you.

We live in a well-connected society digitally, yet many of us remain disconnected and lonely in our relationships. The good thing is that we can do something about it by extending a hand and inviting someone to sit on the bench with us in the real, ordinary days of life.

Who knows, maybe God will do something great in your relationships as you first seek to be a friend to someone else.

New Article: I Love You, But How Do I Like You?

0035This week, I’m over at Start Marriage Right sharing some practical thoughts on loving your spouse for the long haul.

After my husband asked me out on our first date, we were inseparable. We couldn’t get enough of each other’s company. Our dating days were filled with joy, delight, anticipation, passion, and little conflict. But after we got married, into the newlywed years and beyond we started to grow familiar with each other… 

Read the rest on Start Marriage Right

Contributing to the Book, Take the Date Night Challenge by Greg & Erin Smalley

888243oLast week Focus on the Family contacted me and asked permission to publish part of my article, Missional Marriage: 10 Practical Ways to Serve Other People, in their upcoming book Take the Date Night Challenge by Greg and Erin Smalley.

The book is based off the Focus on the Family event, “The Date Night Challenge.”

First, I’m super excited and grateful for this opportunity because I love contributing to good books. Second, I’m a huge fan of the Smalley’s and we have a lot of books on our shelf written by Gary Smalley. And third, this book is going to be a great read that will apply directly to our marriages. I don’t know about you, but my husband and I have really needed some ideas to freshen up our date nights. And we’ve actually been a little slack lately on making sure we’re going on date nights consistently.

I look forward to reading the different ideas and tools so that our date nights can be more creative and fun. It will release in a few months and I’ll most likely do a review and giveaway so stay tuned!

Conflict Resolution: The Need for Face Time

0019I’m not writing anywhere specific today but someone I know who is really awesome and amazing is! My husband! Today Jeremiah is writing his first article for  StartMarriageRight.com, helping us discern how much we should share digitally verse face to face communication in our relationships.

He gives practical wisdom on what to do when you sense a conflict arising over any form of digital communication- email, texting, social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and how you can handle it biblically.

I think he did a great job and I really enjoyed editing the article. We would love to hear your thoughts or any wisdom you’ve gained over the years on this topic:

“We’ve all been there. We’ve either witnessed it or have personally shared the anxiety of working through conflict using digital communication. With life running at the pace of email, texting, Facebook and Twitter, solving conflict on these mediums has become almost as natural as breathing. But is this always the best way to go?”

Read the rest on Start Marriage Right

A Letter to My Single Self

Dear Self:

You’re 21. You just graduated from college but, to your dismay, after four years of rigorous studies, you never got your MRS degree. All your roommates had serious boyfriends who became husbands, but you’re still wondering when it’s your turn.

You’ve dated some really good guys but nothing serious ever came about. You’re remembering the advice from your dad who said you didn’t need a serious boyfriend in college. But… college is over. You’re on your way to Nashville for a publishing internship and you’re praying God will bring you someone special.

Well at this season in your life, if I could have a heart-to-heart conversation with you over coffee (or rather tea—your Starbucks addiction won’t come until you have a newborn), there are just a few things I’d say to you while you’re still single…

Continue reading over on StartMarriageRight.com

30 Things I Know Now That I’m 30

Well, it’s true friends. As of today, my 20s are behind me like a vapor in the wind. It’s surreal to say and I’ve been a bit nervous to approach this day, but so far it’s going well.

My 20s were some of the best years of my life. I graduated from college, got my Master’s, ran a marathon, started my writing career, married my husband, moved across the country, landed a real job, bought a house, became a Momma to three children 3 and under (whoa!) and more. There is so much to be grateful for.

The following is a random list of things off the top of my head that I know to be true about myself, faith, and life coming out of my 20s. Maybe you’ll find some things to be true if you’re no-longer-in-your-twenties.

1. All of life really comes down to two things: Know Jesus and make him known

2. Don’t cast judgment or assume something about someone until you know more of the story

3. Fear and worry do nothing for you except cause stress and unnecessary problems

4. Working out and staying fit is a non-negotiable

5. When you get older, you start to see the sad reality of death & disease more

6. Life doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder with more responsibility

7. Marriage to my husband is my favorite thing in life

8. Switching from a PC to a Mac has made life so much easier

9. I hear my mom’s voice in my head and quote her with my own children

10. It’s impossible to live life in isolation. We were created to know others and be known and loved in return

11. Celebrating my child’s birthday is way more fun than my own

12. Starting a family and sharing my children with my parents, sister’s family, and in-laws brings so much joy

13. The people you hang out with is who you’ll become so choose your friends wisely

14. God uses pain and suffering in our life to make us like Him and to trust him more fully

15. I was the perfect mother (parent) until I became one

16. You can’t trust your wavering feelings but you can trust truth. Always side with truth.

17. My parents are the wisest, most loving people I know

18. Driving a mini-van isn’t so bad after all

19. Being a mother is the greatest, most challenging calling

20. This world needs to see more married couples who love each other, have fun, and are committed to one another for life

21. Comparing yourself to someone else is foolish. God made you unique and has a purpose for your life

22. Coffee is a necessity in motherhood

23. Good relationships and friendships require vulnerability and authenticity

24. My husband should receive several crowns in heaven for putting up with me, especially on the “ugly” days

25. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others must happen daily

26. It’s okay to dream big, but don’t forget to enjoy where you are and what you have in the present

27. Facebook is awesome but so addicting

28. Being intentional is a must to get anywhere in life

29. To lead is to serve & love well

30. 30 sounds so much older than 29!

What would you add to the list?

When God Interrupts Your Story

image: DevotionalDiva.com

God interrupted my story the summer after I graduated from college.

I interned at a Christian publishing company in Nashville. I loved my work and what music city had to offer. I wanted to plant roots there but two weeks before my internship ended, I felt God leading me to pursue seminary.

The funny thing is that seminary was never in my thoughts…

Today, I’m excited to be guest posting for author and speaker Renee Johnson on DevotionalDiva.com.

Read the rest here and join the conversation.

Learning to Say “No”: How Routines Help Protect Your Marriage

When my husband Jeremiah and I were dating and just on the verge of engagement, I noticed a difference in the time we spent together as we grew more serious in our relationship.

I started to see that how I spent my time and energy would be much different as a married woman. My priorities would change from a schedule revolving pretty much around me to now considering my husband and what worked best for the both of us.

Those last few months before our wedding day, we went through an extremely helpful pre-marital book that a mentor had given us called Preparing for Marriage. After reading a chapter that dealt with expectations, we agreed that one of our expectations in marriage would be to go to bed together every night as much as we could help it.

One particular night…

Continue Reading over on StartMarriageRight.com

Not Another Dating Book- An Interview with Author Renee Fisher

When I was single, my college roommate suggested I read Tommy Nelson’s book, The Book of Romance. I had never read a book about dating and relationships and was a little skeptical. But I read it in a few days and was hooked. I started reading a bunch of other books about relationships after that to be encouraged in the seemingly never-ending waiting process of finding Mr. Right (or rather God finding him for me).

Now, as a married woman, I still love knowing what is fresh and relevant on the market regarding relationships. I love being able to share about books and authors that I believe in and can recommend to my friends and readers.

About a month ago, I was able to connect with author Renee Fisher, also known as “Devotional Diva.” I first heard about Renee on Twitter and then realized that my friend and former co-worker Lonnie Smith had done an endorsement for her new book. Renee and I also discovered we knew a lot of the same people in the writing world.

I have grown to admire Renee’s enthusiasm and love for people. The fact that she’s a devotional writer is my cup of tea as well. I asked Renee if she’d be willing to share with us more about herself and her most recent book, Not Another Dating Book. She said she’d love to because she is just so cool like that. I think you’ll agree too.

An Interview with Renee Fisher about Not Another Dating Book

Samantha: I can’t help but ask… How did you and your publisher land on such a brilliant title?

Renee: It just came to me one day. I was frustrated with the lack of relevant books on the topic of relationships. I knew I wanted my book to stand out as “Not Another Dating Book” and it stuck!

Samantha: Can you share a little bit about how the book was birthed and the process in writing it? What did God teach you while you were writing?

Renee: Oh man. Do you have ALL day? I’m kidding! The book was birthed through a process of being single my whole life. I knew God had strongly promised me a husband when I was 15 and somehow I never let go of that promise. After the success of my first book, “Faithbook of Jesus” I jumped at the chance to write something that was super important to me, my heart, and my friends who were on the same search for significance in all their relationships.

Samantha: I love that Not Another Dating Book really isn’t just a dating book. You’ve included scriptural insight, prayers, journaling space, and questions for reflection within each devotional. How do you foresee readers being impacted by a book they can actually interact with on a really personal level?

Renee: This is something I’ve only dreamed and prayed about. My hope is that it becomes YOUR love story. I don’t like it when books give formulas on how you can find Mr. or Mrs. Right. Get your own love story! This is my attempt at giving you the keys. It’s just a tool and it is my hope that God uses it mightily in the lives of so many young people.

Samantha: What was your favorite chapter to write, and why?

Renee: When It’s Over. I love my ending of “Remain. Remain. Remain.” That was the biggest lesson I learned while writing that book. I never knew how God would honor His promise by bringing a man into my life, but I just knew I had to remain in Him to find out!

Samantha: What is the overall takeaway you want young adults to leave with after they’ve read the book?

Renee: HA! Part of my personality is to say something as I said before of, “get your own love story!” But I also love being highly interactive so if nothing else I hope it causes them to wrestle with God as much as I did!

Samantha: Are you working on any future projects?

Renee: I am. I just finished the rough draft for my third book yesterday, actually. It’s on the topic of forgiving yourself and I felt it would be a nice follow up to a book on relationships. Once you get in one, you find out quickly how easily you can hurt others and be hurt yourself!

Fore more information on Renee, visit her website at DevotionalDiva.com.

Renee and Harvest House Publishers have provided a copy of her book to give away. To enter for a chance to win:

  • Leave a blog comment that answers: “I’m single/dating and would like to know _____ about marriage” OR “I’m married and I wish I knew _____ before marriage.”
The contest closes on February 20th and the winner will be determined using Random.org.

 

Renee Johnson Fisher is a spirited speaker and writer to twenty-somethings. She graduated from Biola University and worked with nationally known Christian speakers and writers at Outreach Events. Her devotional blog reaches hundreds of readers. Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God.

 Her first book, “Faithbook of Jesus” released Spring of 2010 with NavPress won the support of over 30+ endorsers in the Christian community including Josh McDowell, Miles McPherson, Eric Bryant, Shawn Wood, and Anne Jackson. Renee’s second book, “Not Another Dating Book” releases February, 2012 with Harvest House Publishers. With her trademark wit and enthusiasm Renee urges young adults to take a closer look at the way they relate to God and others, showing them that every relationship finds its perfect example in Christ.

Find her book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Harvest House

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