Tuesday, September 16

This afternoon I was recalling how frustrated I was when Sean and I first married. I had no idea of how to be a good wife to him, no idea of what a healthy marriage ought to be, of how a functional family worked. My home was unorganized, my devotions with God undisciplined, my thoughts full of self and feminist ideals.

I am so pleased that we've spent the years establishing a functional, blossoming, beautiful home life - that God has led us to this point by His grace, steering, guiding, pruning and forgiving us into a functional family. Humbly I say this, ever feeling the tendrils of dysfunction that would want to enter our door and knowing that "there but for God, go we".

A beautiful thing of our marriage is that we've found the happy balance of giving completely of ourselves in support of the other. Obviously not without our faults, we slip out of this, but when we are completely giving - that is when we function at our best and have opportunity to glorify God with our marriage. Anyone who says that marriage is 50/50 is sorely mistaken. Focusing on giving, not getting is key.

I was just telling a friend how Sean blessed me by taking on some additional responsibilities so that I could visit my grandparents earlier this year.

He spent a day scrubbing the house before I returned, not wanting me to come home to extra work. Yes, oooh and ahhh now! He is a sweet guy!

Any of you who have a home with small children can guess what the house looked like the very next day... (!)
I love the empathy that experience gave my husband regarding trying to keep a tidy house with small children about! What is the saying, "tidying the house while the children are growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing".

Do you know what the most beautiful thing about that story is? Even before he had gained that added empathy for cleaning a large house and caring daily for small children - I still felt completely supported by Sean. (I do put forth effort to keep a tidy home, utilizing a rotational cleaning plan, but that saying is so true!)

Are there times in our marriage when we need to gently confront one another with issues? Certainly! Gently is a very important part of this equation!

I've found a great filter by which to run through the annoying things that come up in our marriage. The question is this - "Does it effect eternal things?" Ask yourself this the next time you feel like grumbling to your spouse.

Do his socks by the bed effect eternity? Does extra dust from the new kitchen? No. Of course, because we truly love each other, we are always striving to be considerate of each other and not make extra work for one another.

Would an issue on parenting effect eternity? Definitely. Am I speaking too abruptly to the children? Am I being slack in developing godly character in them? I would want Sean to gently bring an area where I need to change to my attention.

I find that most concerns that won't effect eternity are great opportunities for God to work more character into my life, whether it be patience or submission or servant hood or increased prayer.

Years ago God put a newly married woman in my path. Her criticisms of her young husband were ever abounding, everything he did was examined and dissected. At that same time I remembering reading an article encouraging women to cry out to God to change our hearts instead of focusing and complaining about the negative attributes of a spouse. I began to see a new strength in our marriage after beginning to put this wisdom into action in my own life and I hope that young woman did too.
How we embrace these issues in marriage will set our marriage on a path to succeed or fail.Can you imagine what the unhealthy results would be if I had a husband that came home from work grumbling, asking why the dining room floor was crunchy, not caring that I had just finished sweeping it for the twelfth time that day when an innocent toddler walked through with a fistful of crackers?

And what if this was a daily occurrence? His scrutinizing every room, complaining about meals, making wise cracks about my post baby body? (of these - Sean does none! Whew!)

I've heard the analogy used of a love bank. Of each married spouse having one. Each insult or criticism makes a withdrawal, each compliment or act of support gives a deposit. I love Sean. I want to build him up, encouraging him in Christ.

This is what love does. This is how we grow a functional home. Do you need a boost to get your focus off of your spouse's flaws? Start with these questions here.


Elizabeth said...

How sweet these pieces of advice are to my ear!

I'm on the cusp of thinking about marriage, and I want to go into marriage with the right attitude towards my partner.

I am blessed with parents who have an extremely beautiful, lovely relationship that has set the tone for my romances and that has been one of the biggest gifts they possibly could have given me.

I never realized how HUGE and important this was until I grew up and started thinking about getting married myself - I hope that your kids will grow up to see what a blessing you are giving them, but I also hope they see that marriage takes real dedicated WORK. I had no idea that people actually divorced until I was somewhere around 14 or 15 and went to a public school where most of my classmates parents were divorced! I think they made it seem a little too blissful ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post Hannah. I, too, am passionate about a marriage that is glorifying to our Saviour. It feels as though we have to really fight this day in age to have the kind of marriage God would want us to. I feel so blessed that after good times and bad, I can honestly say that I am more in love with my husband today that I have ever been, and he would surely say the same about me. Thanks for speaking such truth and wisdom about marriage:)

Anonymous said...

Good advice Hannah! So much of what you write works for an agnostic like me too.

amy said...

I came into my marriage (at barely 19), with no idea how to be a godly wife. I had too much, "Why should I have to do that?" in me. Feminism at work, right? There was turmoil in our home that was not necessary because of my selfish attitude. When I began learning how to be a keeper at home, how to be a wife and mother, how to love these things, and began implementing them in my family, what a glorious change! I say glorious, because to God be the glory! His way is perfect. It's amazing what following the Lord's plan for a family does for a family. Your words are so very true, and so needed these days.

Pam said...

I am catching up after being away for a while, so haven't gotten to all your posts. However, in reading through this one, I am so refreshed to see a healthy, godly testimony of marriage. May others find this report also and be blessed by right thinking and humility in marriage. --

Sarah said...

A very wonderful and wise post! I have been slowly learning all the things you spoke about since my marriage 3 years ago and subsequent births of my two sons and my current pregnancy with my third son. I hope that someday I may have the same sort of family atmosphere that wafts over from your delightful blog. It can be so hard for me to not complain to my husband when he comes home to a messy home when that afternoon while the boys napped I had spent a long time tidying it up! I love the quote about trying to keep a tidy home with small children! Mine are ages 23 months and 1 year. It is an everlasting effort! :) lol Thanks for the reminder that I need to love and encourage my precious hubby in every way possible. Every year of our married life has been even better than the year before and I hope it keeps going that way! God willing, so long as we keep our eyes on Him, it will. Thanks for your encouragement and conviction and example!

amy said...

Hi Hannah! This is Amy, at thehughesmob...I just wanted to let you know I have started another blog. thebeautifulsimplicityplace.blogspot.com (Why did I make the title so long?)

Anonymous said...

As a fairly new married woman myself THANK YOU for this post!!!!

Meredith said...

I recently found your blog and I have to say fabulous! I love your ideas about family and it is refreshing to hear. Thank you for sharing.