Talking To Your Spouse with Grace

 

 

couple aThe phone rang and she answered it. The change in her tone was blatantly obvious to everyone in the room.  This wife went from bubbly/friendly to irritated/annoyed.  “Who was on the other end of the phone?” we wondered.  Then she said his name and we learned that it was her husband.

This scenario happened in the public setting of a business.  My heart sank when I realized that when this lady heard her husband’s voice, instead of being glad to hear from him, she was irritated.  His call interrupted her.  His questions annoyed her. And his needs overwhelmed her.  She was only too happy to hang up and move on with the people around her and the business at hand.

But I cannot point a finger at her because the rest of my hand is pointing back at me.  It’s easy to get a call from Dale and answer casually instead of enthusiastically.  Do you ever get caught up in the day-to-day routine as I do and forget the special bond you share with your spouse?  Consider the difference between answering the phone with,

“Yeah, whatcha’ need?”

Or

Hi Sweetheart!  I’m glad to hear from you!

What about when he asks you a question and you answer him for the second or third time?  Does each answer get louder and more aggravated? Remember how you loved his name when you were dating?  Do you say it with as much tenderness now?

Last week my brother-in-law was working his job inspecting roofs, as he has done for many years now.  The early morning dew was still on the back half of the house, making the surface slippery.  His work would be quick and he planned to climb down in just a minute, but just as that thought was flying through his mind, his foot slipped and he could feel himself falling.  He grabbed the gutter of the house, helping to break his fall, but only a little.  He was taken by ambulance to the Medical Center in the area where he was treated in the Emergency Room for his many broken bones.  Praise the Lord for sparing his life!

As my sister and I walked the hospital halls together, we discussed the abruptness of any calamity.  No one plans for it.  No one puts, “Visit husband in trauma unit” in their planner, but life as we know it can be changed in a moment. We all know that, but we move on each day as though we are ignorant of that truth, and we blurt out unkind phrases and words like an umpire at a ballgame.

Remember the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  The one who changed her disposition when her husband called?  Sadly, I learned the news of her husband’s death and I wondered if she ever wished she could talk to him again, with a completely different frame of mind? Did she ever wish he would interrupt her busy day by calling her?

If you knew that this was your last day with our spouse, would you use a different tone when we answered his call?  Would you use kinder words when responding to his questions?  Would your repeated answer be more patient?  Even if we knew we had 50 more years together, wouldn’t we want our relationship to epitomize tenderness, kindness and sacrificial love?  These are all words of grace – what we receive from the Lord every day.  It’s what might not be deserved, but we give it, because that is how we are loved and spoken to by our Savior.

I know I need to make some changes in order to fill my husband’s ears with words of grace. How about you?  Excuse me while I answer my phone…

Hi Sweetheart! I’m glad to hear from you!

If we asked others what they hear when we speak to our spouse, what would they say? What would our husband say?  It’s all about grace.

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Books On My Tables

A wonderful book is a treasure.  I love to read, and I’m always on the search for a new author or title to check out. While there have been years when I was busy with homeschool that I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted, I pretty much always have a “book going.”

It only seems fair to share my treasures with you! So today I’m sharing three books that are sitting on my coffee tables that I’m currently reading and LOVING! They’re different enough that I can read all three at the same time.

Book 1a

Adorned – This is one of those books that every woman needs to read – and then reread at least every other year.  Titus 2 is the backdrop for all the teaching and instruction found here.  It’s practical, convicting, helpful and challenging.  She addresses both the older and younger women and ends each chapter with a list of questions for each.  My copy is covered in yellow highlights to help me remember these essential truths for my life as a woman who loves and desires to live for God.

For my girls’ birthdays this year, I gave them each two copies – one for themselves, and one to give to an older woman they could ask to go through it with them.  This book is best when shared with at least one friend.  Do your spiritual life and your female side a favor and read this!

book 3a

The Most Important Place on Earth – This book about the home was written by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s husband years before they were ever married.  His first wife died of cancer, and he and Nancy married nearly two years ago.  Robert is an excellent, compelling writer.  I have laughed out loud as he shared many tales from his own home life.  He wisely shares the ingredients needed to make our homes the most important place on the earth.

I got my copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.  There are updated versions that have a cover that’s current to today, but the message is one that will be relevant for all time.  I highly recommend this book, and am thankful that my sis recommended it to me! Thanks, Dianne!

Book 2a

The Cave, The Cabin and The Tattoo Man – This book also came from my sister, who has met the author, Tim Callahan, from Kentucky.  To read the title you might be surprised that I’m reading it, but the story is precious.  It’s a fiction book based on the author’s growing up years, which happen to be the same era in which I grew up.  Hence, the illustrations and pictures he paints take me back to my own childhood days.

This is the story of a little boy who stays with his grandparents during the summer months.  He helps them with the little grocery store they owned.  He fishes in their pond so well that he is the envy of all the grown men, and he gets himself into precarious situations during his free hours.

When I need a book to just take me away on a little vacation, this is the one I’m reading…for the second time.  This is a series, too, which is fun.  I love knowing there is one to follow!

I hope you’ll check into reading at least one of these suggestions.  They’re all worthy of your time, and in my opinion, much better value than anything television has to offer!  Autumn is nearly upon us, and aren’t fall and winter the best times to snuggle in somewhere comfy with a cup of coffee and read a compelling book?!

Do you have a treasured book you’re reading?  Please share in the comments!  I’ll need some new titles soon!

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In-Laws and Outlaws Part II

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Jokes about mothers-in-law…there are many.  I remember hearing one about a Greyhound bus going over the side of a cliff, but there was no worry, because the only passenger was the man’s MIL.  Ouch.  Where do those punches come from?  Maybe from people who have gotten fed up with that female in-law who crossed the relational boundaries.  But it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  We may reason that

  • we only want to help!
  • we’ve been where our children are and we think we need to  give them some good advice.
  • we see our kids getting ready to make the mistake of a lifetime.
  • they need help raising those grandchildren of ours.

The reasons for mother-in-laws interfering are many, but for the most part, they may be very unwelcomed  from our birth children and our in-laws.  It can do far more damage than it does help when it’s unsolicited.

What is a mother-in-law to do if she desires to have a good relationship with a son or daughter-in-law?  Here are a few things I’ve learned (and am still learning!).

  1. Only give advice when it’s asked for.  If you see your kids doing something you think is wrong, pray about it instead of speaking to them.  Trust a sovereign God to direct them just as He directs you when you’re heading down a wrong path.
    That would include little “hints” you might want to drop about your DIL’s housekeeping, lack of meal prep, or careless parenting skills.  Or your SIL’s need to turn off the television, get a job, lead his family or attend church.  Take it to God instead.
    I’ve had to ask both of my girls to forgive me for stepping over that boundary once they got married!  We’re so used to being “mom” that we scold, advise and reprimand our grown kids as quickly as we used to throw our arm across them when we came to a sudden stop in the car.  Let’s fold our hands in prayer instead and ask the Lord to give them wisdom to make right choices.
  2. Don’t demand your children’s presence for ANYTHING. would mean Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Mother’s Day – you get the idea.  They have lives of their own.  They have a family to care for.  They have burdens to carry.  They have jobs and ministries.  Let them live their lives.  Again, if you feel neglected, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Even if you don’t demand their presence, but you pout because they weren’t there…it’s just as bad.
    Also, be sure you’re building that marriage relationship with your spouse.  Have so much fun together that your kids will know that if they’re not able to come home, you both are fine just being together!
  3. Never drop in to your children’s home without calling ahead.  “Yoo-hoo!” at the front door as you walk in could make an embarrassing situation for you and your children.  It can also turn you into the lady that might be given a ticket to ride that Greyhound bus!
  4. Consider your child’s spouse.  Think to your own MIL and how you liked or disliked when she left you out or included you, as the case may be.  Love them.  Talk to them.  Send a text.  Call them occasionally just to say hi.  Pray for them.  Treat them with respect and give them those kind of words.
  5. Allow your children and their spouse to be adults.  Treat them as such, remembering that you raised them to be independent. Don’t see your son as your little boy.  He’s a man.  Let your daughter be a grown woman. Let go of those early days and let them establish a home as adults.

Remember the story of Ruth and Naomi?  Ruth was said to have been kind to her mother-in-law.  We may cry out – “My daughter-in-law needs to take a lesson from her!  My son-in-law needs to learn to be kind to me!”  But what made Ruth and Orpah want to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi?  She had been gracious to them!  Someone has said,

Maybe if we were more like Naomi,

there would be more Ruth’s.

If you’re guilty of something in this post, be humble and ask the Lord to help you.  You might even need to ask your children and in-laws to forgive you for the way you’ve treated them.  A humble spirit of repentance could be the very thing that will turn those difficult relationships around.

Let’s be more like Naomi today.

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In-Laws and Out-Laws – Part 1

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Someone has said…

Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.

A huge part of the difficulty that can come to a marriage is dealing with the In-laws.   You see, when a girl says, “I do,” to a man she loves, she is also saying “I do” to receiving his family.  She takes them on as her own family, and of course, he takes hers as well.  But that isn’t always the easiest job in the world.  There are so many variables as to why that’s the case, but I’d like to address what to do in order to make those relationships better.

I’ve been both a daughter-in-law and am now a mother-in-law, so I can speak a little to the female side of these relationships.  Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the mothers-in-law.  But we’ll look today at being a daughter-in-law that would honor the Lord and also be a blessing to the other side of her family.

  1. Give your in-law’s names – When I was newly married, I had a sweet father-in-law who oddly enough had been (and still was) my boss at the school where I taught.  He was also my pastor.  Now all of the sudden, we were related!  That was a strange transition to make!  My mom gave me good advice before my wedding.  She said, “Start calling your in-law’s by the name you choose right after you’re married.  It will sound like it’s bouncing off the walls when you first say it, but keep on saying it. It will get easier.”
    My husband and I had decided to call one another’s parents as we do our own, Mom and Dad.  When you have parents of your own that you treasure and love, it’s hard to throw that title to someone else, but these people were parents to the man I’d given my life to! Could I not “adopt” them as my second set of parents?  So, after the honeymoon, I needed my mother-in-law’s attention and I had no choice but to say it – “Mom…”  It was just like my own mother had warned me.  It seemed like I had shouted it into a megaphone!  But I kept on saying it until it became as natural saying my own name.
    It can be so difficult to give your in-law’s a name that instead, you refer to them as only pronouns.  Love them enough to give them a name – Mom and Dad, Bob and RuthAnn, Mom C., something! It’s so much kinder than “her” or “him!”
  2. Give your in-law’s the benefit of the doubt. If you’re questioning their actions, their absence, or their words to you or your husband, just step back and don’t assume anything but the best.  Instead of asking, Why does your mother only call you and ask about the holidays?  Don’t I count?  Assume that he is the one who could answer her questions.  Then you make an attempt at saying, Hey, I hear you’re wondering about us coming for Thanksgiving.  We’re looking forward to it. Do you have a minute that we could talk about what you’d like me to bring?
    It’s a tendency to get offended, but sometimes if we build a bridge for communication, it will make things easier the next time.
  3. Give your in-law’s time to be with their son without you.  Don’t feel offended that your MIL would love to spend time with your husband.  Instead, help that to happen.  When my in-law’s came to visit us for Christmas, I always tried to encourage my husband to take his mom out for breakfast one morning.  They could talk and spend time together, and I know she appreciated having her son to himself for a couple hours.
    (Tomorrow we’ll discuss what happens if this need becomes obsessive for her!)
  4. Give your in-law’s time with your whole family.  Holidays can be downright dreadful if there are not wise decisions about where and when the holidays will be spent.  Going back and forth to both families is exhausting and sharing that holiday with only one side of the family can be hurtful.
    Our solution to that is to spend Thanksgiving with one side and Christmas the other.  Then the next year do the opposite.  Birthday’s, Mother’s Day and so on can be handled in the same way – back and forth.
  5. Give your in-law’s the same kindness you’d give your own parents.  Most husbands aren’t good at remembering to buy gifts and cards for their mom once they’re married.  Why not consider it your duty as his wife to remind your fella to buy a card for his mom for Mother’s Day?  Or you pick out the card and gift for her birthday and let him sign it for both of you.  She’ll recognize his handwriting and will be elated that he remembered.  Only you will be the wiser!  The point is, be sure to do the same kind acts for your in-law’s as you do for your family.
    In the book of Ruth, we hear Naomi saying to her two daughters-in-law:
    Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
    Both Ruth and Orpah had shown kindness to their mother-in-law and she was fully aware of it!
    Could that be said of you and me?  Take the high road and show kindness. Be first to do it.  Do it even if it’s not returned.  What to do?

    1. Call them.
    2. Send a text to check on them.
    3. Send them pictures of your children.
    4. Send them pictures of your husband!
    5. Pray for them.
    6. Love them with words
    7. Love them with your time.
    8. Love them with actions. A card, a gift, a loving gift of your time.

It would be hard not to love a daughter-in-law who responds with those kind of actions.  I didn’t always do that. I struggled, especially in our early years.  But I thank the Lord for the good relationship he gave me with my in-law’s over time.  Ladies, sometimes the hardship in the in-law relations can make them look like outlaw’s, but if we make the effort, we could very easily turn things around for God’s glory and we daughters-in-law could be remembered as favorably as Ruth was.

What’s your best tip for responding as a daughter-in-law? Who has a great daughter-in-law that you’d like to brag about?

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for tips for the Mothers-in-law!

Best Friends in Marriage

The posts have been about friendship this week, we can’t forget our BEST earthly friend and the importance of maintaining  our relationship with him!

Dari Ace a

Yesterday found my husband and me in the basement going through some boxes of “stuff.” Stuffed animals, old toys, pictures, school annuals, dolls, dishes, and books were sorted through. I was down there for several hours – not because I got so much accomplished, necessarily, but because when I go through old things it brings back memories and I have to stop and reflect! My husband and I passed many pictures back and forth to one another. “Oh, remember this?” “Look at us! How hilarious!” (You will not be seeing any of those pictures posted here!) Not only did we recall many special times from our past, but it was a sweet time together recounting good memories and numerous blessings.

I also leafed through a couple of the books that I hadn’t read in a while. One book was on marriage and there was a chapter on being best friends with your mate. The highlights were how important it is to spend time together having fun, talking, sharing your heart, and being open with one another. I smiled – we had done that even in a cool basement on Memorial Day when most of our neighbors were probably out at the lake or at the park having a picnic with their extended family. We had shared secret memories of times and places when notes were found written in our handwriting. We’d laughed. We’d talked about times when our girls were growing up. This is what friends do.

Dari Ace

After we’d had our grilled hamburgers later in the evening, we headed out for a drive through the countryside. Opening the sun roof on the car, the warm air blew through as we pointed at beautiful homes, the clouds over the mountain or a row of flags in a front yard. We even stopped for an ice cream at Dari ace – so cute! It was a great end to a fun day spent with my best friend.

Are you still best friends with your husband? Are you spending time together? I don’t mean time living – I mean time just being together. What tone of voice do you use when you speak to him or repeat an answer to his question? Is it the tone that one would use with their best friend? God gave Adam a wife so he would have a companion. Are you and I being the best kind of completer that we could possibly be? Best friends give each other the benefit of the doubt, love when no one else loves, and enjoy just doing little things together. Is your husband the one you spend that kind of time with? Don’t replace his companionship with that of your girlfriend, sister or parents. That is not God’s plan for a married woman.

I am planning on re-reading that book I found. It was a good reminder for me. We all need to be encouraged in what a godly marriage looks like. I’m thankful for a day in the basement that helped me to be refreshed in the friendship part of our marriage!

With love,

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P.S. I believe the book I was referring to is, The Ministry of Marriage, by Jim Binney.

Help Your Husband Live Joyfully With You!

I’m posting later in the day, but we just returned from an evening away. Read on and you’ll see what we did and what a special time it was!

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It was early evening and we had just finished a simple supper of BLT’s, a summer favorite. My husband pulled his Bible out of his book bag and told me he had something he wanted to read to me that he had read earlier that morning. We were spending an afternoon and night away at a lake cottage, just to have some quiet time to study, pray and be together on his day off. A boat or two rumbled past on the not-so-far-away lake as he opened to Ecclesiastes 9 and read about 6 verses, concluding with this verse:

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity, but that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

When he finished reading, he closed his Bible, nodded and smiled at me. As I looked at him I thought about how well he does that. He lives joyfully with me every day!

  • I saw it earlier when we were preparing to travel to the lake. He was coming to pick me up from my dentist appointment and sent a text to tell me he would be late.
  • When we stopped to pick up a salad for lunch, he brought the beverages to the car – a water for himself and diet Lemonade for me (my favorite).
  • As we made our way to the lake, he chatted, telling me the reason he was late – the opportunity to share Christ with a man. I love it when he shares his day, his burdens and his life.
  • He reached over and took my hand and said, “I sure love you!”
  • Later in the afternoon as we sat overlooking the lake, he said how thankful he was we could spend an afternoon together. Tears welled up in his eyes as he said, “Sometimes I just miss you so much.”
  • Even after our simple BLT supper, no fuss, no special recipe, he said, “That was so good; thank you, Sweetheart.”

Live joyfully with your wife – that’s what he does every single day. I am so blessed.

Why am I sharing this with you today? To boast? No. Even as I write out this list of only some of what he did in just ONE day, it is a stern reminder that I could make it so much easier for him to obey that Scripture if I was also living joyfully every day. There are days I just feel cantankerous! I’m often Fussy, griping, and complaining instead of joy-filled.

If I would laugh at his spontaneity, smile at disruptions, appreciate kindnesses, and live as though there was no tomorrow, I’ll bet it would help him to live even more joyfully with his wife. And maybe I couldn’t even believe there could be so much joy, and wouldn’t that be awesome?!

  • What do you need to change to help your husband live joyfully with you?
    MAYBE:
    Take the drive he suggests, even though you know you’ll be motion-sick on those curves.
    If he initiates a kiss in public don’t push him away.
    Leave the children with a sitter for an hour or two so you can sneak away for a date.
    Hold hands, rub his back, smile at him, send him a loving text message, ask him questions about his day, and really listen when he talks to you,
    Be understanding of his need for physical love.
    Tell him thank you for the ways he provides for your family.
    Pray with him before he leaves home.
    Be waiting at the door for him when he returns home in the evening.
    Get up and spend time with him before he leaves for work, if possible.
    Surprise him with a night away for just the two of you.
    Decide with God’s help not to fall apart when the next disaster strikes.

Let’s help our husbands obey the admonition to live joyfully with his wife by being joyful, too! Now, put a smile on your face and in your heart, and go share that joy with HIM!

Refresh your husband,

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