Photo Credit : Martha Stewart
This year has been a special year for us in the way of monumental milestones for several reasons. My oldest daughter turned twenty this year. Twenty beautiful years. One incredible milestone for her and one monumental moment for me.
In May I celebrated my twentieth Mother's Day. Twenty years of parenting.
And then in May another milestone. We celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary.
Ten years of marriage. It was a huge milestone for us.
I don't think either one of us could believe we had made it that long!
We have loved one another and we have survived tremendous adversity and overcome hurdles that almost seemed unfair. All without any mentoring or role models or any help from natural or spiritual parents.
And it has been incredibly difficult and immensly rewarding all at the same time.
I wish I knew then what I know now.....
I wish Martha would have told me. While my eyes were glazed over the glossy pictures of her beautiful wedding issues that marriage in and of itself has absolutely nothing to do with the cake, the dress and the ring.
And by the way, it's not for the faint of heart.
I wish she would have had offered articles on how to stand when every rug has been pulled out from underneath you. Or how to survive the corporate cutbacks, the paycuts, the miscarriages, allienation from "family" and worst of all how to stand when you have to walk through the unthinkable things in life like .......
cancer for example.
I'm married to an amazing, incredible, beautiful cancer survivor.
Praise His precious name.
But I've had to learn how to be a wife and not just any wife but his wife. I had to learn over time how to love again and how to trust again and how on earth to tear down the gigantic walls called my defenses that had taken up residence around my heart over the years.
I had to learn almost immediately that the wasted time I had spent pouring over those magazines, in my attempt to create my own little dream wedding, had absolutely nothing to do with our life as a future married couple.
After the cake, the dress, the ceremony, the pictures, the time and the careful attention to detail.
I arrived in our marriage with my precious ten year old baby girl and twenty eight years worth of baggage.
I wouldn't recommend that.
And basically with all of that tucked inside my newly monogrammed "Mrs. bag" I stepped into what I can now refer to as a complete war zone and without any armor on.
Rude awakening 101.
Thank the good Lord for His mercy and grace.....
God created marriage and He tells us in His word that a man who finds a wife finds "a good thing!"
God coined that phrase long before Martha.
And the enemy hates marriage. He despises unity and family and attempts to kill, steal and destroy almost the second we say "I do"
I had no idea what it was like to be loved unconditionally or to be happily married.
I did not have Godly parents who modeled a healthy and happy marriage for me. My husband didn't either.
Neither one of us had a clue. We just knew we loved one another and we loved Macey Girl and we wanted a great, big family!
Almost immediately after our wedding the attacks started. One after another. I could barely get my breath and something else would happen. I constantly felt like the bottom was dropping out...literally.
We were married. We moved to a new place. Then a couple of months later another new place. My husband started a new job and we lost our first pregnancy- the first of three. I was completely overwhelmed not knowing a soul and putting my daughter in a new school where she did not know anyone as well.
And my husband did what most men do. He went into provider - career- success driven mode.
He immersed himself in his job.
He left the house on the 5:09 a.m. train and he got home by 8:00 p.m. on a good night.
I can remember feeling abandoned and overlooked and ignored to some degree and very much like I was still a single mother.
Those days were incredibly difficult for us.
We had to learn how to have a realtionship with the Father most of all and we had to seek Him to learn how to minister to one another. To meet each others needs. To outserve the other. To speak the truth in love. To prefer one another ...
To speak the others love language.
I am so thankful that we were both willing to do so.
That we were willing to do the work and to keep trying.
There have been many times where I have expected him to leave...especially during the years where I walked through the pain of my past and some deep inner healing.
But the Father knew.
He knew that it would take an oak of righteousness who could not be moved to "become one" with me.
And during these ten years of marriage, there have been seasons where my Husband spoke my love language, he pursued me still, he met my needs, filled my love tank and made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
And there have been seasons when he hasn't.
It all seemed to go right out the window during our "winter seasons" just like it has for so many others.
We are not marriage experts, professionals or any such thing. But are seekers of His truth and desire to do things God's way and not the way the world says to do things.
That has never changed.
So when the Lord prompted me to write this post back in May right around our ten year anniversary I just pushed it away. (That sweet prompting of the Holy Spirit whom I love so much.)
Clearly He had the wrong girl. We don't give parenting advice or marital advice- just lots of encouragement and what has worked or not worked for us. We have walked through seasons of both.
But He wouldn't let up.
He kept prompting me to write about the one scripture and the one thing that has significantly helped our marriage when my husband has applied it and ultimately helped me to grow as a wife and better meet his needs ~ to have an earthly demonstration of the Father's love.
To see, feel and expereince the scriptures come to life. There isn't anything like it.
That scripture is "Husbands dwell with your wives according to knowledge" ~ 1 Peter 3:7
It means to study her. Become a student of your wife.
There isn't a woman on the planet who will not respond to a man studying her.
We love it.
Pay attention to her. Notice her. Prefer her. Surprise her. Minister to her.
To "dwell with her according to knowledge" you have to study her in order to gain the knowledge...
Many times I have listened to a broken heart describe how she feels invisible in her own marriage. How she feels lonely . How she feels used or forgotten or overlooked. Many times. And I have been there too.
He stopped studying. Life got in the way.
God created women with a deep desire to be studied. To be known. To desire intimacy. To be discovered.
If men knew the power that they hand within applying this one scripture.
It is life changing.
Years ago when I would share on occasion something incredibly sweet my husband did for me with another girlfriend, the very first thing they would ask was this.
"How did he know?" Did you tell him to do that? Did you tell him you wanted that?
The man is an amazing student.
He has dreamed up, created and executed some unbelievably thoughtful special gifts and moments.
And it has ministered to this hopeless romantic like no tomorrow.....
The world says:
"Give your husband a list of what you want."
"He's not a mind reader"
"How is he supposed to know if you don't tell him?"
"He will never think of something like that on his own!"
God's way says:
Pay attention to her.
Listen to her.
Notice the details.
Love her .
Spend time with her.
I do not ever give my husband a list.
God's way trumps the worlds way every, single time.
You have never seen intimacy in your marriage like what will come when you begin to study your wife.
As the Lord said long before Martha....."It's a good thing."
So for those of you who are waiting and hoping and longing and for those of you who have decided that "he is never going to change," I want to offer you a little encouragement today. And a little hope that if you can trust the Father for a new season for your marriage and if you can pray for your husband ~ even though your needs may not be met. If you can go a little deeper with the Father...the One who is the author of your marriage....
He can and he will change. He can and he will begin to minister to your needs. He can and he will begin to study you and begin to know you on a deeper level. He can and He will bring the romance back into your marriage. He can and he will rise up and become the spiritual head of your household. He can and he will begin to see the damage that has been done. He can and he will begin to repair and restore by the grace and the goodness and the prompting of the Father.
It is not over.
God is mighty to save.....
I want to encourage you today to begin to trust God for your marriage and begin to pray for your husband and your marriage like never before sweet friends.
And watch what He is about to do.....
*Disclaimer* This blog post was written out of obedience and a heart of humility that has walked through ten years and every season of marriage. The good, the difficult and the beautiful........