Sometimes Love in Marriage Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

How can one jar of peanut-butter cause so much trouble?

No kidding, that’s what I wanted to know too.

Because apparently it was A Big Problem and he made that quite clear.

My husband was fed up with the sticky, slimy mess dripping down the sides of the peanut-butter jar and insisted we put a stop to the madness.

“Why can’t we keep this jar clean?! There’s no reason we should live like this and it’s driving me nuts!” He didn’t yell, but I could tell by his tone that he really meant it.

Oh, but there was a very good reason as far as I was concerned and protested against his somewhat ridiculous request.

Actually, there were eight good reasons. You see we have these things called children and one mother can’t be on top of everything!

Why so unreasonable? So demanding?

Now on his behalf, I have to tell you that my husband is not a complainer.

He doesn’t make negative remarks about my cooking. He doesn’t complain about having to throw on his robe in the morning and search for the essential items in the laundry room (oops! meant to fold and put those away…). He’s even good about patiently sitting in the car and waiting for me to get out the door. And that can be a pretty long wait sometimes.

But the goopy peanut-butter container? That just about does him in.

So how many of you moms can I count on to side with me on this one?

I mean, we have a bunch of kids and they all make their own peanut-butter sandwiches. Even the three young boys. Let’s face it – it’s a sticky, slimy world we live in.

And I basically communicated to him . . . .

Sorry. But that’s just the way it has to be. 

That we were going to have to learn to live with it. That he was asking the impossible. And I left him in the kitchen feeling quite justified in my defensive and huffy response.

Except for one thing . . . . 

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Epiphany in the Parlor

I left the kitchen to recover and regroup in our front sitting room – our “parlor” as we call it and my very favorite room in the house.

It’s a special place.

The Parlor has pretty pillows, a tea tray, and a clear glass (yes, that would be GLASS) coffee table.

The kids are not allowed to eat in this room.

Or have their electronic gadgets.

No Legos, dirty socks, or rollerblades are permitted in the Parlor. Happy sigh.

I love this room.

Now wait! Are you beginning to wonder how it is that I can keep an entire room looking pristine even though we have all these children? With a glass coffee table, no less??

Well. It’s because it’s important to me, of course. Really important.

But I can’t keep the peanut-butter jar wiped down?

Right.

Yeah, that’s the question that got to me too.

You see, I have this tendency to take my priorities very seriously. And this room is one of those.

Not only that, but when the rest of my family do their best to keep it the way I like it?

It makes me happy.

I feel respected.

Maybe even loved.

I know. It’s a small thing. So maybe you don’t see why it’s a big deal to me.

But it kinda is.

If at all possible.

So maybe I don’t understand why all the fuss over the sloppy peanut-butter jar.

But if it’s important to him?

Makes him happy?

Feel respected?

Maybe even loved…?

Then I can do this small thing.

In fact, I’m determined to have the cleanest peanut-butter jar in town.

And if you ever find yourself anywhere near our area, I hope you’ll stop by ’cause I’d love to make you a peanut-butter sandwich. Or have that youngest son of ours make you one. He makes the best.

It’s true that you might have to step over a heaping pile of rollerblades on the front porch and overlook the baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded in the living room.

But there should be a nice place for you to sit in the parlor.

And you’ll be sure to admire the amazingly spotless peanut-butter container, won’t you?

Because he sure does.

He likes it that way.

But better than that?

He loves me.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:4

In His grace,

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*Parlor photo is with thanks to Allison Harp
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For the Wife Who Feels Unloved: 3 Loving Steps to Take

For the Wife Who Feels Unloved:3 Loving Steps to Take

For 24 years, I have been happily married to a man who cherishes me. So when I write for Club31Women, I have the perspective of a healthy, fulfilling marriage.

Often I hear from readers, though, who say, “What about me?” There are many women who are struggling in marriage and who feel unloved and not cared for.

Let me start by saying I’m sorry, sister. I’m really sorry for your wounded heart and for the struggle you’re having.

Will you let me write to you from my experience as a pastor’s wife and also as the wife of a licensed professional counselor? My husband and I have known a long line of unhappy wives.

One thing I know is that you cannot change anything on your husband’s side of the relationship.

You can only control your side of things and exert influence through your own actions, so let me offer three steps you can take that have the potential to transform your marriage.

Three Loving Steps for the Wife Who Feels Unloved 

First, you must believe the gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Christ can make people new, so pray that Christ will step into your husband’s life and make him a new person with a new heart that can love you. We cannot go inside our husband’s hearts and make him into a new person. Any wife who has tried to change her husband knows this is futile. Only Christ can change the heart of a man.

If you stop believing that your husband can change, that means you’ve stopped believing Christ has power to change people.

So wives must remain hopeful in Christ.

Second, settle in for the long haul and be willing to wait on the Lord.

Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

How long will you have to wait before God works in your husband’s life? I have no idea. I know a friend who waited decades before her husband chose to follow Christ and their marriage started to improve.

Waiting requires a backbone of faith. You’ll have to be strong and take heart.

Imagine the silent message you are sending to your husband as you wait, though. You are quietly saying to him, “I will wait for good to happen in your life. I will wait for you to know the love of God. I will have patience while Christ works in your life.”

Third, you need to show respect for the man.

In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, “The wife must respect her husband.”

Must.

This command is wonderfully separate from a woman’s emotions and also separate from a man’s actions. No matter how you feel and no matter how he acts, you are to show him respect. Have you been obedient to this command from Scripture?

Do you speak to him with respect? Do you talk about him to your friends with respect? Does your body language convey respect? Do you serve him with an attitude of respect?

It is possible that your purposeful actions of respect may well be the first step in his heart warming toward you.

So, if you’ve been unloved by your husband, turn to Christ and have hope. Take actions over which you have power, and live in faith that God will honor your efforts and take care of you in every way.

Blessings,
Christy Fitzwater

*Is there anything we can we pray for you, or encourage you? 

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Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

My husband is a licensed professional counselor and a pastor, so he performs a lot of premarital counseling for couples. I’m always giving him helpful advice about things he should discuss with engaged couples.

My newest idea is that he should add one hour of counseling just to talk about dirty socks.

First, he should look at the guy and say, “Do you intend to take your socks off and leave them in whatever place they drop?”

Then he should look at the girl and say, “When your guy leaves his dirty socks in whatever place he takes them off, perhaps even very close to but not actually in the laundry hamper, are you going to immediately assume he doesn’t love you?”

Because this is marriage 101.

I asked my husband, a professional counselor but also a sock-leaver-arounder, to tell us what guys are thinking about their socks when they take them off.

“I gotta get these off my feet,” he said. “Aaaaah, that feels better.”

“When you walk away from your socks,” I asked, “are you in any way making a statement about your wife’s value?”

“No,” he said.

Okay, so I’m a professional wife and also a sock-picker-upper, and I used to get my feelings hurt over those dirty socks. I would see them lying there and immediately think Matt didn’t care about me or surely he wouldn’t have left those for me to take care of.

But this is the man who once jumped between me and a Rottweiler that ran at me on a dark street one night.

This is the man who held me close, night after night, while I grieved my father’s death.

This is the man who looked at me in McDonald’s a few weeks ago and said, “You and me, babe. We’re the only ones in the world right now.” And I swooned like a middle school girl.

This man loves me. Ain’t no lie.

So here’s a truth from Scripture that young women need to hear, as part of their premarital counseling:

“…the devil…is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44 ESV)

The devil wants to destroy our marriages, and it works pretty well to whisper into a woman’s ear, “See those socks? He must not care about you.” And the woman who feels not cared for becomes resentful, and resentment can turn into deep-seated bitterness that will undermine the relationship.

We need to be prepared for the lies.

Marriage 101 - What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

He Loves Me

You know that game we played as young girls? We held the flower in our hands and plucked one petal at a time. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

Well, the devil is going to try to get you to think, He loves me not. He loves me not. He loves me not.

So the next time you see those dirty socks on the floor, pretend you’re plucking one of those “fragrant” flower petals and choose to say, He loves me.

Take time to think of all the ways your guy shows that he cares about you. Remember how he brings in a paycheck so you have a roof over your head. Remember what he’s really good at doing for you.

Be thankful.

Lean into the truth.

Pray for him while you humbly and lovingly put his socks in the hamper.

Let’s give our guys some room to have imperfections, as well as some credit for their good intentions toward us.

~ Christy Fitzwater

*What is one way your man shows his love for you?
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A Dozen Things You Can Do to Keep Your Marriage Fresh & Fun

A Dozen Things to Keep Your Marriage Fresh & Fun

It’s not always a party around here.

Not that we don’t have a good time or that we don’t love each other.

Because, of course, we do.

But there are some seasons that are tougher than others.

We both have so much on our plates that we begin to feel weighed down by the pressures and bills and time-constraints. Health concerns and relational-challenges. It all just keeps coming at us and life doesn’t feel as fun as it used to be.

And so a general heaviness sets in.

But we can’t let that go on like this for too long because it’s not only “not fun”  – it’s not really right either. It’s not good for our health, not good for our family, and certainly not good for our relationship.

So something needs to change!

The funny thing is that the solution doesn’t have to be all that dramatic or expensive. It’s often those simple or relatively easy things that help revive our friendship and restore that spark.

A small investment with a big return.

Now in case you and yours ever find yourself in such a season? Here are some things that Matthew and I like to do when we’re stuck in a rut or are feeling the strain . . . .

A Dozen Things to Do to Keep Your Marriage Fresh & Fun

A Dozen Things to Keep Your Marriage Fresh and Fun

1.     Go for a walk in the fresh air.

When we’re crazy-busy and don’t have the time, or if we can’t get too far from the house, we will simply go for a walk. We might only walk up and down our long driveway, or possible wander out on the trails that go out into the desert behind our house. As long as we’re holding hands – sometimes talking and sometimes silent – we’re happy together.

2.     Try a new place to eat.

Now this might just be us, but we love finding some neat little place to eat! Some place that we’ve never tried before. He and I especially enjoy all kinds of ethnic food – Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, Vietnamese – you name it! Yum.

3.     Watch a funny or fascinating movie.

While watching movies isn’t usually my favorite thing to do, I’ll confess that it can be rather nice to “check out” and get a good laugh from a comedy, or temporarily disappear into another place or time in a well-done film. Just don’t tell our kids that I admitted, that okay? 😉

4.     Cook up something new that you’ve never tried before.

I don’t know why this is, but trying out a new recipe or cooking up something special can turn an ordinary evening into a celebration. Caramel popcorn, onion rings, guacamole al fresco—we’ve tried them all! Five stars.

5.     Invite old friends over that you haven’t seen for a while.

Do you know those longtime friends whom you just love . . . but never seem to get around to getting together? Call them up! Ask them over and order pizza. Then laugh over old times and get caught on on new happenings. We recently went out for Thai food with friends we’ve known since before we married. Talked about everything. Sweet for the soul!

6.     Make new friends by asking interesting people over.

This is more my husband’s strong point than mine, but I’m wanting to grow in this. When you’re going through a hard time, it can be difficult to reach out when you feel like you’re merely hanging on.  Yet we’ve found that it can be “just the thing” to lighten things up to focus on new people and new friendships.

For the Woman Who Is Simply Weary of Serving - The Super-Homemaker

7.     Throw a party.

Small party or big party – it doesn’t matter! Open up your doors and let the festivities begin. Yes, it can require a bit more work (when you’re already feeling over-worked), but the benefits of fun and fellowship make it all worthwhile.

8.     Tell him something you’ve never told him before.

Share a wonderful memory you have from your childhood. Tell him about that camping adventure or that silly experiment you tried. Maybe talk about your favorite book or biggest accomplishment. Then ask him about his too!

9.    Step outside the usual routine.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a “creature of habit.” I like my routine. A lot. But there are times that shaking things up and doing it totally different is just what’s needed! I might surprise him and suggest we watch a late-night movie (we’re usually in bed by 10pm) or challenge him to a boardgame together. Woohoo!

10.   Sneak away with only the two of you.

You have all kinds of reasons why you can’t. So many responsibilities, not enough time, and can’t afford it. I get it. I really do. But do it anyway. There is no better investment than in your marriage. Make it a priority, even if it’s not “screaming” at you in the way these other things are in your life.

11.    Lighten up with a good laugh.

I’m not sure I should tell you this, but the truth is that he and I are both big teases. He is worse than I am, but I find great satisfaction in catching him off-guard with a joke of my own now and then. We flirt, laugh, and play practical jokes on each other often. It’s one of our “secret” ingredients. :)

12.    Pray for one another.

When my eyes for him are clouded with the stress and strain of our situation, I ask God to give me “fresh eyes” for my husband. I pray that He will restore our love for each other and infuse new life in our relationship. He has always been faithful to answer that prayer.

So be sure and invest in your marriage. Don’t let the urgent and the heavy keep you from enjoying one another as God intended. Keep it fun and fresh.

Try one of these ways . . . or maybe all twelve!

In His grace,
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*What are some of the ways that you like to bring light and life into your marriage?

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Summer Marriage Splash Series

Summer Marriage Splash - Reading 2014

So do you have a favorite season?

Mine is summer. Hands down.

I love the sunshine.

I love the lighter schedule.

And I love reading on our front porch swing with a glass of iced tea.

Would you believe I already have a stack of books waiting impatiently for me and for summer to begin?

How about you? What do you enjoy about summer? And what books will you be reading?

I have some recommendations, if you’re looking for any. I have read each of these books below and each one has blessed me and encouraged my marriage in a different way.

And with that in mind,  recently the authors and I got together and decided we should celebrate summer by putting on a fun Summer Marriage Splash!

Five days. Five bloggers. Five books.

Yes, every day this week, we’re going to be sharing something encouraging and inspiring for your marriage. How’s that for a terrific way to kick off the summer?

Here’s how it’s going to work. Today is my day (as you see) and then here is the schedule for the rest of the gals.

I hope you’ll get the chance to visit each every one of them and benefit from their wisdom and insight. You’ll be very glad you did!

So grab an iced tea (if you like)  and then hop on over to my post here and then on over to each of the others as the week unfolds. I’ll look forward to seeing you over there . . .

With many blessings on you, your marriage, and the warm summer months to come!

In His grace,
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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Summer Marriage Splash Book Recommendations:

The Virtuous LifeThe Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth by Darlene Schacht

“Powerful, is right. This is such an encouraging and challenging book for any wife to pick up – whether she’s newly married or been married for many years.” ~ Amazon review

Time-WarpWife: Keeping Christ at the Center of Marriage

Women Living Well by Courtney JosephWomen Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home by Courtney Joseph

“I came away from the book with practical tips to loving my family better, making my home a haven and strengthening my relationship with Christ.” ~ Amazon review

WomenLivingWell: Finding Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home

Wife After God by Jennifer SmithWife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband
by Jennifer Smith

“Whether you are going through a rough patch in your marriage (like we all do!) or your marriage is doing wonderfully, there is something in here to encourage, challenge you and help you improve your marriage and your walk with The Lord.” ~ Amazon review

Unveiled Wife: Encouraging Wives Daily

Team US by Ashleigh Slater Team Us: Marriage Together
by Ashleigh Slater

“Team Us is a lighthearted, encouraging read with a poignant message: marriage is one of the greatest adventures God gives us in this life. Make the most of it!” ~ Amazon review

AshleighSlater: Encouraging Couples to do Marriage Together

200429208-001100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson

“This is a “must have” little book for every married woman or yet to be married woman! It comprises 100 practical little thoughts, well laid out and each one profound and challenging in its own way.” ~ Amazon review

Club31Women: Sharing a Passion for Husband, Home and Family

 

If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

The First 5 Steps Toward a Loving Marriage: A Summer Marriage Splash

Summer Marriage Splash - Lisa Jacobson

How do you create a loving marriage?

That’s what she asked and that’s the question that stopped me right in my tracks.

It was late afternoon and we had just returned from running errands, so I was scurrying about putting groceries away while trying to figure out what we should have for dinner.

Our daughter had been chattering away at me and I had been listening. Or somewhat listening. But mostly I was concerned how I was going to make room in the freezer for all the ground beef we’d picked up in town.

But when she threw that question at me? Well, that put a halt to everything.

Suddenly dinner – or freezer space – didn’t seem all that important.

I think it was that she used the word create that got my attention. Seemed so insightful for a teenage girl to pick such a word. Not “have” or “get” or even “find” – but CREATE. Such a big, powerful word when you think about it.

So I closed the freezer and we sat down at the kitchen table and dove into a good, long talk.

I closed my eyes and mulled her question over in my mind.

Then I mentioned one thing. Then another. And then finally laughed, “Oh, it’s that and about a hundred other things!”

And that was how the book, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, really started.

So here’s the beginning answer to that big question, How Do You Create a Loving Marriage?

#1

Always choose love.

Above all things. I Corinthians 13

#2

Greet him with a loving smile.

Who wouldn’t love coming home to that every night? Even if you are tired too. Or have something else on your mind. Put that aside for just a while to make his day wonderful with your warm, loving smile. There are not many smiles out in the world these days, so let yours be one of the few and the best in his life.

#3

Let the little things go.

Don’t hang on to small annoyances. So many marriages have slowly deteriorated over the smallest, silliest things. He doesn’t take out the trash? He snores at night? He’s terrible about leaving the laundry on the floor? It’s not all that big of a deal. Just put it behind you and get on with loving him instead.

#4

Work through the big things.

Take the time to talk those through. Yes, it might mean some hard work and long hours, but it will be worth it. Don’t let the things that really matter go. It’s worth the effort to address it and deal with it. Otherwise, you’re left with a shallow and/or a hurting relationship. No way. Go deep.

#5

Don’t try to change him.

He’s a good man just as he is. He might have room to grow – but then again, so do you. Leave that work to the Holy Spirit. He (the Spirit) is always so much more effective than we’ll ever be. So don’t make it your job to transform him, but to simply love him.

And so goes the list of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband. Simple steps really. But things I wish I’d have known and understood when I started my married life with him. I think it would have helped – helped a lot, actually. Which is why I wrote them down for you, or maybe for someone you know.

So if you’re looking for some fresh ideas or new encouragement in your marriage? I invite you to come along on this journey with me. Or if someone you know is soon to be married , she might  benefit from this “little handbook” on marriage as well (plus there’s the companion book to go with it, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, written by my husband).

My hope and prayer is that people all over would come to enjoy loving marriages that are lasting and that honor God.

And that’s my prayer for you too.

100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Life-Long Journey of Learning To Love  is currently available in both print and digital format. You can get the book here.

*This post is the first of the Summer Marriage Splash series going on all this week. Please be sure and check out Darlene’s post on Time-Warp Wife! Also, you can see who’s coming up by peaking at the authors of the books below. 

In His grace,
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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Summer Marriage Splash Book Recommendations:

The Virtuous LifeThe Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth by Darlene Schacht

“Powerful, is right. This is such an encouraging and challenging book for any wife to pick up – whether she’s newly married or been married for many years.” ~ Amazon review

Time-WarpWife: Keeping Christ at the Center of Marriage

Women Living Well by Courtney JosephWomen Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home by Courtney Joseph

“I came away from the book with practical tips to loving my family better, making my home a haven and strengthening my relationship with Christ.” ~ Amazon review

WomenLivingWell: Finding Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home

Wife After God by Jennifer SmithWife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband
by Jennifer Smith

“Whether you are going through a rough patch in your marriage (like we all do!) or your marriage is doing wonderfully, there is something in here to encourage, challenge you and help you improve your marriage and your walk with The Lord.” ~ Amazon review

Unveiled Wife: Encouraging Wives Daily

Team US by Ashleigh Slater Team Us: Marriage Together
by Ashleigh Slater

“Team Us is a lighthearted, encouraging read with a poignant message: marriage is one of the greatest adventures God gives us in this life. Make the most of it!” ~ Amazon review

AshleighSlater: Encouraging Couples to do Marriage Together

200429208-001100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson

“This is a “must have” little book for every married woman or yet to be married woman! It comprises 100 practical little thoughts, well laid out and each one profound and challenging in its own way.” ~ Amazon review

Club31Women: Sharing a Passion for Husband, Home and Family

 

If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).