How A Simple Kindness Can Change Your Marriage

How A Simple Kindness Can Change Your Marriage

So I had this really hard day.

Or, to be more accurate, I had a really hard week.

And I was close to tears by late afternoon.

He asked me what was wrong and I’m sorry to say that I snapped at him.

Was it not obvious? Hello…? You’d only have to take one look at all the pressures I’d been under the last five days.

He stared at me and I felt a bit of guilt for the hurt I saw there. Taking it out on him. Undeserved.

But not feeling guilty enough to apologize. I was too wrapped up in my own struggles.

I figured it was about to get ugly and, frankly, I had asked for it with my snotty attitude.

Then I saw his countenance visibly change – from offended to compassionate.

He didn’t exactly understand where I was coming from – but then again, he didn’t need to. What mattered was that I was in a bad place.

His eyes softened.

He reached out with a gentle touch.

Asked if I’d like run into town with him. A mini-errand date.

He also announced to the kids that Mommy was turning in early that night.

And then later ran a hot bubble bath for me.

So, yes, I did end up crying that evening, but these were very different tears. They were the tears that come when someone shows kindness to you that you didn’t necessarily deserve.

My husband is the hero in this story. But you know what? I learned something afresh.

I was reminded of the power of offering a simple act of kindness in a relationship.

Offering Kindness in Your Marriage

A loving look. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all. Just look at your spouse with loving eyes and communicate that you care and you’ll always be there.

A soft voice. It’s possible to completely turn around a situation by returning harsh or unjust words with a sweet response. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).

An encouraging word. Often our meanest moments come from our own discouragement or feeling of defeat. Those are the times when we could most use a friend (or spouse!) to cheer us up with kind, uplifting words.

A gentle touch. Reaching for his hand, rubbing his knotted shoulders, a loving kiss – these small gestures can have a powerful effect on the one we love.

A thoughtful act. Going beyond the ordinary to do something special or meaningful to the other person when they are down, or “in a bad place”.

Like any skill, kindness must be practiced repeatedly and untiringly in order to really master it.

And, like any gift, it is not up to us to judge another person’s talent, but far better if we simply focused on developing our own.

So, I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently renewed my commitment to showing kindness to my husband.

Even in those times when he doesn’t necessarily deserve it.

Maybe even especially in those times.

Because kindness is simply changing our marriage.

*What kinds of things do you like to do to express kindness in your marriage? Please share! I’d love to get some ideas from you.

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

Aging Grace: The Day My Smile Lines Made Me Cry

Aging Grace: The Day My Smile Lines Made Me Cry

It started with the mirror.

That strange place that can bring so many tears to so many women.

I had been getting ready for the day – drying my hair and applying mascara (but not necessarily at the same time) – when our oldest daughter popped in for a visit.

Her nearly daily ritual.

Savoury often sits on the edge of the tub and watches me while I get myself ready and we chat.  She’s had this same routine since she was a bitty girl.

Although now she’s 19 and all grown up and, yet, still she comes in.

So we talk – more about women things than girls’ things these days.

And that’s when I saw it.

Saw them, really.

All those swirly lines around the edge of my face.

Surely, they’d been there for some time, but it wasn’t until that morning that I saw them so clearly. So defined. Glaring at me.

Smile lines.

Small creases on either side of my mouth. And a few more around my eyes because I tend to squinch up my eyes when I smile or laugh.

Some people call these wrinkles. Or fine lines.

But whatever they are, everyone knows they’re not supposed to be very nice.

So I scowled at the very sight of them.

But not my Savoury.

She smiled big.

Grinning at me from behind the mirror,  she wrapped her arms around me and said this:

Oh, Mom, when we were young, you used to say you wanted smile lines when you got older and so you were determined to practice smiling so that’s what you would end up with.  And now you’ve got them – just like you’d always wanted!

Just like I’d always wanted . . . .

It’s funny that I’d forgotten about that wish of mine over the past few years. Life had become busy and I’d had no time to worry—about either happy or unhappy lines. No time to really think about wrinkles at all.

But it’s true: I used to dread  that I’d end up with frowny lines. Deep creases between my eyebrows and downturned lines around my mouth.  The natural consequence of a negative, unhappy attitude. Ugliness.

So I’d practiced smiling.

And now the results were in. And it would seem that there’d been a lot of smiling going on to get those kinds of lines . . . and so many of them.

I looked into the mirror and my eyes filled with tears.

Right there with with my now-grown-up-little-girl watching me.

A strange mix of happy and sad. Young and old. Past and future. Lined and unlined. All mingled together as we sat side-by-side on the edge of the bathtub.

Realizing I got what I’d always wanted. 

Lisa Jacobson at Home

Aging Grace

And how about you? Are you practicing now for those lines that will come later?

Maybe you’re young and your skin is still smooth and fresh. Or you’re already a ways down that road. Maybe you don’t want to think about wrinkles at all. Ever.

But they do come.

No matter what the world tells you, or how our culture seeks to defy it.

They show up no matter what creams and lotions you try or how you attempt to avoid it.

And can I just tell you something? The honest truth?

They’re not really as bad as they make it seem.

Besides, if that’s the price you pay for smiling? For laughing and crying with the people you love?

Then I’d say they’re worth it—more than worth it.

So smile away, my friend! Because, after all, isn’t that what we really want? 

Aging grace. 

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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

The Inside Scoop: How A Mother of 8 Keeps Her House Clean {or at least tidy}

The Inside Scoop: How a Mother of 8 Keeps Her House Clean

I’m always surprised at how often this subject comes up.

You’d think that as an older (*Ahem….Did I just say that?) and experienced mom that I’d be asked deeper questions. Things like, “How do you reach your children’s hearts?” or “What is the most important lesson you’ve passed on to your kids?” That kind of thing.

But no. It’s “How in the world you do manage to keep your house clean with all those kids?”

Who would have guessed that “a clean house” would be such a basic and monumental challenge for mothers everywhere?

So because we’re friends, I’m going to give you the inside scoop of my little tricks and tips of keeping a tidy home. Here goes . . . .

The Inside Scoop

Our kids don’t have toys.

Yeah, I’m totally serious. Other than the few exceptions of Legos and Playmobile and a favorite dolly or two, our children don’t really own many toys. And please don’t think they’re deprived because if you ever met them? That’s one of the last words you’d use to describe them. Instead, our kids play with blankets, rolls of Duct tape, cardboard, ropes, and bandannas.  They build forts and jump on the trampoline. They’re responsible for making their own fun and I’m always amazed at what they come up with!

Stay on top of the kitchen.

Be ruthless. Clean up after every meal as if your life depended on it. Never go to bed with dishes undone, if you can help it.

Pick one main living area that is a Stuff-Free Zone.

I LOVE this one! I do not try to keep my entire home clean. Repeat: I do NOT try to keep my entire home clean, but I love having an area that no one – no one! – is allowed to dump their junk, school papers, etc. or they will pay dearly (I’m not as mean as I sound, but you get the idea).

There are many benefits to this approach, but one is that I can go to this room when I’m overwhelmed with the state of the rest of the house and recover my peace. Another important benefit is if people drop by unexpectedly (which happens surprisingly often!), I can at least – somewhat confidently – invite them to this room.

Our kids help out.

A lot. Our children have regular responsibilities around the house, plus I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for extra hands when they’re needed.

Get organized.

Taking the time to put together a basic cleaning schedule – what gets done and when (and in our house, by whom) – goes a long way in keeping the sanity. Just to give you an example: in our house the boys clean up the breakfast dishes, I vacuum every morning after school (we homeschool), and Wednesdays and Saturdays are our big all-house “cleaning days”.  Stuff like that.

Turn up the music.

If you walk by our house and can hear the music clear from the road? Then we’re probably either having a party . . . or, more likely, cleaning the house. We can get so much more done with a fast beat and a song in our heart! So crank it up.

Let some things go.

This one is going to pain some of my neat-freak friends. But I can’t keep everything clean. There, I said it! A long time ago, I realized that if I was going to be a relaxed, fun mom that I just couldn’t keep it all together. Or at least all at the same time.

So if you ever come visit me and sneak past my Stuff-Free Living Room, and venture upstairs to the Movie Room/Recreational Room? You’ll find junk. Maybe even last night’s popcorn bowls left out on the floor. Sigh. I’ll work on that area some day . . . maybe when the kids are gone.

And there you have it! A tour of my house and a little peak into my closets.

Ugh, speaking of closets . . .  I need to clean those out!

Happy Spring-Cleaning my friends!

*Okay, I went first. What about you? What are some of your best tips and tricks? I’m always looking for new ideas!

In His grace
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

Bringing Up Children Who Have a Heart to Serve

Bringing Up Children Who Have a Heart to Serve

In the beginning, I did everything myself.

Mom was faster.

Better.

And more efficient.

I did things right. The way things should be done.

Oh, and, of course, I was serving my family all the while. I was the sacrificial mom who cooked, laundered, and cleaned up after everyone.

Most every job was done by me.

And, as a “shining model” of service, I counted on my children to eventually follow my example. It was obvious that I worked hard and did my best to please our family.

So wouldn’t they just naturally follow in my footsteps?

More is caught than taught, right?

But you know something? They didn’t catch on like I thought they would. They really enjoyed being served . . . and it kind of stopped there.

I was a good giver and they were good takers.

Um. Problem.

Sure, I was growing a ton by giving to them, but what were they learning? To receive. Not necessarily the hardest lesson for a child to learn.

So is that what I wanted to teach to my children? To be served?

Maybe I thought I was blessing my children with all my constant pouring out and cleaning up after them. But in the process, I was depriving them of the opportunity of serving their family. Yes, even of serving their mom.

Our children had yet to learn the beautiful lesson of blessing others.

Now just to be clear: this wasn’t about making my life easier. It wasn’t about them doing more so I could do less. This wasn’t about me at all. It was about them and what they needed.

And what they needed was to learn to have a heart to serve.

Bringing Up Children With a Heart to Servve Bringing Up Children to Have a Heart to Serve

Start by letting them work alongside you. Then, as you go along, teach them more than the mere skills of service, but the spirit of service. Talk about how pleasant it is to serve your family…as you’re folding clothes, baking muffins, or cleaning the kitchen. It’s not only a job to be completed, it’s a blessing to offer.

Teach your children to notice what needs to be done. To me it’s obvious that her little brother should have his face wiped up, but it’s not as evident to her young eyes. I have to point it out and then give her a chance to care for him.

Or prompt with, “Do you think your sister might want a glass of milk too?” rather than taking care of it myself. Although that would be easier and faster (and less chance of breakage).

Or, “Wouldn’t it be nice for daddy to come home to a clean house? Let’s surprise him by picking up the toys.” Rather than simply ordering the living room to be picked up.

Let them enjoy helping out. Show them the rewards of their service. “Isn’t it wonderful to be able to bless others by serving them like this?” Encourage them to see that helping others is not only the “right thing” to do, it’s a joy.

Instruct them in how they can be a help to you. Train them to ask, “What can I do for you, Mama?” Not waiting to be told what to do, but to actively look for ways they can help you. Then let them feel your pleasure when they’ve served you in some special way.

Cheer them on as they learn to serve. Take a moment to recognize their effort to help – no matter what the result. If they’ve spilled something or broken a glass in the process? It’s not nearly as important as them trying to help. What we care about is their heart to serve.

So this mom is not doing it all by herself anymore. We’re working on serving together.

Yeah, it’s slower, messier, and less efficient.

But, oh, so much sweeter.

In His grace
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

If You’ve Never Said, I’m Sorry {An Unapologetic Word to Wives}

If You've Never Said I'm Sorry I thought it was just me.

One of my particular quirks.

Because I happen to be terrible at saying, I’m sorry.

Oh, not to you. I’d apologize all day long to you. I’m sorry if I was a little late. I’m sorry if I forgot to call you. I’m very sorry if I hurt your feelings or let you down.

I’m actually quick to tell you I’m sorry, my friend.

The problem is with saying sorry to my husband.

When it comes to him, I’m much better at brushing things over. Willing to work on stuff, mind you. But not necessarily to come right out and say it.

I’m sorry.

Or, I was wrong.

And, Will you forgive me?

Maybe you think it’s because I’m proud. That I’m so hesitant to apologize to him. But I don’t like to think of it that way because . . . .

I’m proud.

And I don’t like being wrong.

And it’s not easy for me to say I’m sorry.

I’ve got my reasons and if I was going to be totally honest? I don’t believe what I did was really all that bad. Or maybe it’s because what he did was so much worse than what I did, it doesn’t seem like it should count. Or, I’m convinced that all the right stuff I do outweighs the wrongs and so I should get a pass.

You see how it is. The truth is that I don’t say I’m sorry because I’m NOT sorry. 

If You've Never Said I'm Sorry {An Unapologetic Word for Wives}

Now it’s funny that I thought this was just my own personal issue. Because I was recently with a group of girlfriends and we got to talking about this I-Don’t-Say-I’m-Sorry-Thing and, what d’ya know . . .

I’m not the only one.

Each woman there admitted that apologizing isn’t her strong point. Even though her husband was ready to ask forgiveness, she . . . was less so. As in, almost never.

Now maybe you’re the wife who feels like she is continually seeking forgiveness and he’s the one who never does. If so, then this word is not for you.

No, this one is for the rest of us. This is for those of us who find we have so much to say—unless it’s, I’m sorry. And then suddenly, strangely, we can’t quite figure out how to go about it. Not sure how to put it and when would be a good time to have that conversation.

But let’s walk this one out. See what it might look like. You know, in case you’ve . . . .

  • not been respecting him as you know you should (Eph. 5:33)
  • snapped at him this morning (even though it was somewhat justified!)
  • not expressed appreciation for those things he does well
  • complained to him, rather than been thankful
  • not been as loving as you want to be – or should be

If so? Then the right thing to do is to go up to him and say something along these lines:

Hey Love, I’d like to talk to you. I want you to know that I am sorry. I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you lately. It’s wrong of me and it’s not how I want to be. Will you forgive me?

And just so you know? All of this takes less than 20 seconds. Literally, that’s all it takes. I know because I timed it. (Yes, I really did.)

Who would have thought 20 seconds would do so much for a relationship?

But a sincere apology is like that. Saying I’m sorry is powerful, healing, and those 20 seconds will last you far into a lifetime.

So if you haven’t yet said, I’m sorry? And, Will you forgive me?  Then I’m telling you – without apology – that you should start. Soon.

I promise, you won’t be sorry that you did. ;)

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

Bringing Up Boys: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Bringing Up Boys - An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Okay, I’ll just come right out with it.

I LOVE raising boys! 

I never would have guessed when I started this motherhood journey that having sons would be so much fun.

Sure, they’re noisy (super-noisy!) and messy and energetic, but boys are awesome too.

And you know something? Now that our oldest “boy” is no longer a boy – but a young man of 21 years – I’m more convinced than ever that it is more than worth it.

The last time he was home for Christmas and he put his strong arms around my shoulder and told me he missed my hugs  . . . . well, there’s nothing quite like it.

Maybe you’re a mom who is in the “thick” of raising a son and could use some encouragement? Some ideas on how to make the most of it? How to reach his heart?

Bringing Up Boys - An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Encouraging and Helpful Articles on Raising Sons

24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Man to Become A Gentleman
Boys Are Awesome and The Best Way to Love Them
9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right
What’s the Best Way for A Mom to Show Love to Her Son?
21 Questions Your Son Really Needs You to Ask Him
Instilling Vision in Our Sons
12 Lessons I Want Our Son to Learn Before He Turns 12
Raising Our Sons to Seek After God
7 Steps to Raising A Courageous Young Son

So now we’ve got one son who is off and well on his way, but then there are these three little guys . . . .  noisy, messy, and energetic!

And awesome. 

Bringing Up Boys - A Helpful and Encouraging Resource for Raising Sons

I love raising boys, don’t you?

In His grace,

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P.S. Here’s another resource if you’ve got girls: Growing Up Girls: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Daughters

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).