Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together today. There is something about marriage that makes me think of The Princess Bride. The wedding scene makes me laugh every.single.time. But, while I do love the fictitious tale of Westley and Buttercup, the promise of for better or for worse is not a joke. After all, there are days that things certainly feel worse. Days when it’s hard to remember the better. Today, I remind you that we are all in this together – you are not alone. Here is my story…
How did you meet Dave and how long have you been married?
Oh goodness, this makes me sound (and feel!) old. Our relationship is a long story but, here’s the abbreviated version: We met when I was 16-going-on-17 years old (yeap, think Sound of Music, my friends!). Back then, Dave was a self proclaimed atheist; but now he has a personal relationship with Christ (phew!). We dated all through highschool and college until finally saying those “‘till death do us part” vows. Dave and I were initially drawn together by our mutual passion for music but, as the years have passed, our love and appreciation for one another has grown in every area. This November we will celebrate 15 years of marriage.
How do you successfully practice work/life/church balance?
This is one of the biggest challenges our marriage faces. My dad is a pastor. Church has always been a priority to my family and serving the local church is non-optional. In the early years of our relationship my gaze was so focused on the actual acts of service that I forgot why we are called to serve. Many of my relationships were negatively impacted by this. There are friends I lost during those years and, to this day, it is something I deeply regret. Somehow in my desire to exemplify Christ I forgot what it meant to love God and love others.
I love to be behind the scenes supporting our church, our school, and our community. But I have a tendency to over-commit myself. Dave has been instrumental in helping me establish healthy boundaries. I am happy to use my strengths and skills as a volunteer as long as it doesn’t interfere with my first responsibilities as a wife and mom. Most of my volunteering takes place during the day when the kids are at school and Dave is at work. This mindset has drastically freed up my weeknights and weekends allowing me to spend more time strengthening those important relationships with family and friends.
How do you deal with disagreements and difficult situations?
Let me first talk about the disagreements part of this. Dave and I don’t have major disagreements but we do have silly arguments, like most marriages, over ridiculous things! Things like him staying up too late (in my opinion, not his) at night and needing to take a nap the next day, or how an immaculately clean house can get so incredibly dirty on weekends, or where I put the Tupperware container full of nuts and bolts that are necessary for installing our dock at the lake, etc. These are things that feel infuriating in the moment but are actually not a big deal at all. We have both learned to let them roll off our backs.
On the flip side, we have had our fair share of difficult situations to navigate through. Dave was diagnosed with cancer just before his 30th birthday. Abigail, our middle child, has life threatening allergies to foods and vaccinations. There were several heart wrenching moments we experienced as foster parents. We lost my father-in-law in a very sudden, very shocking way. In these moments, we were not able to rely on one another for strength because we had no strength to give. This is when our friendship, deeply rooted in trust and love, keeps us from crumbling. This is when Christ carries us, together, from the valley to the top of the mountain and transforms our fragile marriage into an unbreakable force. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
In what practical ways do you help Dave?
First, I prioritize intimacy. I need my husband emotionally, he needs me physically. I never deny him that pleasure
Second, I try hard to make sure that when Dave arrives home from work his only obligation is to spend time with the kids and me. I do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, shopping, shoveling, etc. If it is a task I can physically do… I will do it. I get incredible satisfaction knowing that I am contributing to our family in this way,
Third, my husband’s job is demanding and he needs time to decompress. He often does this by working late into the night on restoring his dad’s 1973 AMX Javelin. While I would prefer to spend that time together, I do recognize the value that comes from him using these solitary hours to mentally, and physically, work through his thoughts and feelings.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for women who may be struggling in their marriage?
You are not alone! Every marriage has their ups and downs. There are times you will not be on the same page. When you take two different people from two different backgrounds – unity is a challenge. If you are in the middle of marital struggle than I urge you to pray for your husband. It’s amazing how anger and frustration evaporate when you are actively praying for your spouse. And, just as importantly, pray that God works in your own heart. It may not be your husband’s issue driving a wedge in your marriage, it might very well be your issue.
Many years ago, when I was in a particularly lonely place, I came across the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. It transformed my own heart which, in turn, brought closeness to our marriage. I still do this challenge once a year because it is that good. I highly suggest you give it a try!