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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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!

Good Gracious – How To Develop a Gracious Spirit

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A woman had been standing in a long line at a busy grocery store. An over-worked cashier rushed in to open another check-out line and totally overlooked this woman, but instead pointed to another customer who had just walked up and said,”Sir, if you’ll come over here I’ll check your groceries for you.” How did the first woman respond?  She simply shrugged her shoulders and continued to wait.  She was gracious.

My husband, a huge fan of keeping up with the news, went out early several days in a row to find NO PAPER in the newspaper box. He wasn’t  too happy, so what did he do?  He called the office to calmly explain he wasn’t receiving a paper.  He learned that a new carrier was now delivering to our house.  She said,
“Sorry this has been a problem! You’re a paying customer  and you deserve to get a paper.” “Oh, it’s totally fine.”He responded, “The truth is, I don’t deserve anything but hell. It’s all of God’s grace and it’s totally fine.”  What kind of response was that?  Gracious.

A teacher at church was in a hurry to get things prepared for her Wednesday night class.  In the last precious moments, a child came skipping into the room to give her a hug and “chat.”  The teacher stopped, as though she had all the time in the world and gave that child her complete attention.  How very gracious she was!

Graciousness is a trait that seems to be slipping by the wayside. It seems everywhere we see people that are demanding their “rights.”   Here’s what it means to be gracious –

Gracious – pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.

It’s times that you can’t really can’t prepare for that require us to show graciousness.  You cannot anticipate the situation, but it requires a pleasantly kind response.  If you can’t prepare for it, how can you be sure you’ll respond in a gracious manner?  You realize and understand every day that you don’t deserve anything.  Our society shouts otherwise, but it’s not true. Because we’re all sinners, our sin deserves hell, but Christ paid the penalty, and it’s by His grace that when we trust in Him, we are saved from eternity without Him! We’re promised heaven and a relationship with the God of the universe!  That salvation, and everything after that is an unbelievable gift of His grace. As we walk under the control of the Holy Spirit, we can be gracious, as we witness in the life of Christ at every moment of His life, and even in His death.

I wonder if it would even be helpful for us to look at that situation that we think should have had a different outcome, and mentally, and maybe even verbally, say,

I don’t deserve ____________!
(the next place in line, a newspaper, time alone…)

Graciousness is developed with a keen sense of gratitude for what we do have.

You and I can respond graciously even at times like these…

  • At a restaurant, even though my steak wasn’t cooked exactly the way I wanted.  Respond graciously
  • Another birthday, even though no one remembered to send a card. Respond graciously
  • A few minutes in a hot bath, even though a child is knocking on the door the entire time. Respond graciously
  • A trip,
  • a cup of coffee,
  • a spouse,
  • a child,
  • a computer,
  • a bag of groceries,
  • a day of vacation,
  • a home,
  • a dishwasher,
  • a job,
  • a friend,
  • a church…

you add the “even though’s” and then add “respond graciously.”

Let’s live a gracious life – one that realizes that everything we have, are, enjoy, get to do or experience, are all grace gifts that are going to be touched with something that will require us to respond with a kind, courteous spirit.  You’ll be a blessing to be near, just like my examples above.

Have you witnessed graciousness? I’d love to hear about it!  And if you leave a response, I’ll promise to respond graciously.  =)

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Family Friday – Be Kind!

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Sometimes all it takes is a simple request to repeat what I just said to my husband that will do it.  I make a statement, he doesn’t hear and he says,

“What did you say?”

So, out it comes again, only this time it has a razor-sharp edge to it that would make Floyd the barber flinch!

Do I think he purposefully cannot hear me?  Do I really believe his diagnosis of hearing loss was an intentional  plan just to get under my skin?

How ridiculous, yet, sadly, that’s occasionally how I respond!

Why is it often easier to be really kind to people we barely even know than to our spouse?  He’s the one to whom we pledged to love until death, yet we kill him with our sarcastic responses, glaring looks and deathly silences.

 

There are kinder, nice ways of saying something and there are words or tones of voice that I could use that would upset someone.  Your husband is a person, too.  There are kinder, nicer ways of communicating with him and there are ways of setting him off, just by your choice of words or tone of voice.

Today’s encouragement for your family, your marriage, is just this –

Be Kind.

  • There are two ways to say something.  Choose the kinder way.
  • Show him even greater kindness than you would a friend who you love dearly.
  • Smile at him.
  • Forgive him.
  • Listen.
  • Look in his eyes when he speaks.
  • Lend him a hand.
  • Do a favor.
  • Oh, and repeat yourself with the softest tone when he cannot hear you (said Denise to herself!)

Do you find yourself being kinder to others than you are your spouse?  What will you do today to fix that?

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