Marriage Monday: Protective Boundaries

 

image1.JPGMy husband and I have a lot of boundaries in place to protect our marriage. Some of them seem strict to some people. But, in a world where everywhere I turn people I know are getting a divorce or news from an affair is coming out, it doesn’t seem quite so strict.

Recently we were talking with some friends about marriage boundaries: the husband was telling us that a lady he works with just doesn’t understand what the big deal about riding together in a car is. Often they have business lunches with a group and she doesn’t think it is a big deal that they ride together. He has tried to explain that is just an agreement he and his wife have in place, they won’t ride in a car with the opposite sex alone.

Now, it didn’t seem nuts to us. My husband and I have the same boundary. We don’t do car rides or meetings alone with the opposite sex. This means coffee meetings, lunches, or even counseling sessions. Why? Our marriage is the most important relationship we have and we believe in protecting it. My friendships are important to me but not as important as my relationship with my husband. Most people don’t go looking for an affair, it just happens.

It starts as texting, riding to lunch together, meeting for coffee and becoming too comfortable with each other. Also, we don’t want it to even look like we are doing something that could potentially cause division in our marriage. I would prefer to risk offending someone else than to break a  boundary that I have set with my husband. I believe that men and women can be friends. I have some men in my life that are like brothers to me, but they are also friends of my husband; and they are for our marriage.  Friendships can flourish as long as there are healthy boundaries. There are many friendships throughout the years that have had the potential to ruin our marriage and very strong boundaries had to be established.

 

The world may see it as weird, but I see it as putting the most important relationship first and making efforts to affair proof our marriage. It is not jealousy. Neither my husband nor myself are jealous people. We have just witnessed far too many people we know live through the heartbreak of affairs that could have been avoided.

What about you? What boundaries do you have in place to protect your marriage? What boundaries do you need to consider putting in place to protect your marriage?

 

 

Marriage Monday:10 Ways to Show the Love

If you love someone but they don’t know it, what good is it? In our current culture the cool things to do are make people come to you, stand your ground, fight for your right, don’t ever give in and don’t ever forgive. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Too many times we love our spouses, but we don’t love showing it. We assume that they should know we love them just because well… we are here aren’t we?! Not good enough.

As Christians especially, we are called to love better than that.  Marriage is the ultimate place to learn servanthood, if you can’t serve your spouse you have no business trying to serve anyone else. This relationship should take priority over every other earthly relationship you have or will ever have.

Stuck in a rut? Have no idea how to start acting out love? Here are a few tips to help you SHOW THE LOVE! Don’t leave your spouse hungry for love!!

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” ~Mother Teresa

  1.  Greet your spouse in a loving way!! It doesn’t have to be some passionate full on kiss. But, a sweet “Good Morning”, a loving touch, a pleasant smile, a hug, greet them at the door when they arrive home, etc. Let your first interaction each time you meet be pleasant.
  2. Put down the phone. Spend time with your spouse without the phone!!! Making eye contact tells other people that they are important and you care about what they are saying!!!
  3. Celebrate your spouse! Too often we act like we are tolerating our spouses. I for one don’t want to be tolerated, I want to be celebrated. I want to know what my husband loves about me and that I am more special to him than anyone on the planet. Don’t wait on your spouse to do this, you start. If you think something good about them, say it!! Focus on the good things about them instead of the things that bother you. Trust me, you bother them too.
  4. Work on being in right relationship rather than being right. Sometimes we just have to let go of our need to be right. What does it matter if we are right but we end up with a hurt spouse and a bad day?
  5. LISTEN. I mean like without talking or without thinking of what you want to say. Just listen and be supportive. The best conversations have the best listeners. Ladies, DO NOT try to finish their sentences; even if you know what they want to say and they are taking forever to say it. Men, wait till she asks for your advice and if she doesn’t; just give her a hug and hush.
  6. Ladies, give him some space. If he needs a minute to unwind, let him have it. We should be safe places for our spouses to get what they need even if it is down time.
  7. Men, when she gets all dolled up for you, tell her she is beautiful. DO NOT ask her where she got the dress, shoes, or purse nor should you ask her how much it was.
  8. Cards, Flowers, Notes, Sweet Texts – Just do it. Ladies, men love to find those little notes as well.
  9. Time. Make time just for the two of you. It is not just something you should do, it is something you must do. Your spouse should be the most important person on earth to you and how you spend your time should reflect that.
  10. Pray. Really, really pray for your spouse.

 

Our marriages matter. Let’s treat them that way! Don’t just love someone, show them you love them everyday as often as possible!

You Don’t Just Fall into a Good Marriage

Sometimes as I listen to people talk about marriage I feel that they view a “good marriage” almost as an accident. Like two people just happened to trip and fall into a ditch together. I can tell you after  – ummm, hang on and let me do the math… 17 years of marriage that a “good” marriage is anything but an accident.

The marriage my husband and I have goes far beyond good. It is the best part of our lives. But, this is only because we have endured some things that had the potential to destroy our marriage. Not only did we endure, we allowed God to use those very things to strengthen our marriage.  We didn’t just find a great marriage, we made one. Creating a good marriage is not something that comes easily or fast. Building anything that lasts takes time.

In the beginning, our marriage was a struggle! Two people trying to come together with different views, mindsets, opinions, ways of doing things and thoughts about marriage. There were times I know he wanted to give up and there were times I could have walked away. But neither of us did. We chose to keep making our marriage work. When it was broken, we fixed it. When most people would have given up on the marriage we had, we didn’t. Now, we are reaping the rewards from that.

We were only 20 years old when we got married. I couldn’t expect a 20-year-old man to act like a 40-year-old man, so I chose to respect him even on days he acted un-respectable. I was a 20-year-old girl, he couldn’t expect me to have the wisdom of a 40-year-old woman so he chose to love me on days I acted unloveable.

Don’t get me wrong, it is good to glean from people who have been married a while and are doing it right. But, don’t fall into the trap of wishing you had a “husband like that” or a “wife like that”. You don’t know what it took to make them the spouses they are. They didn’t just end up in a ditch together. They weathered many storms. Our culture just gives up too easily. I am so glad that I didn’t give up on that young man I married and I am glad he didn’t give up on me. We have grown together over time into the couple that God has called us to be.

If you are not married, realize that you are not going to fall into a good marriage. You are going to have to create one when you get married. If you are not ready to fight for someone, sacrifice for them, respect them when they don’t deserve it, love them when you don’t feel like it and choose them again everyday; don’t get married yet. Pray for God to cultivate your heart and prepare you for marriage.

If you are married, I challenge you to change your perspective about your marriage. Put in the work, give grace and mercy. Realize that your spouse is not perfect and neither are you. There is no perfect marriage or accidentally good marriage. Stick it out. Don’t walk away when it is hard. Pray for God to give you a vision for your marriage and pray that as you choose to work daily on your marriage, God will bless it.

 

image2 2.JPG

Real Housewives with Satisfied Lives

Those real housewives shows are a TRIP! I can’t even watch them. If that is what a housewife is, I sure don’t want to be one. Most of the time the term, “desperate housewives” comes up when talking about women who stay home.   I don’t know that I even actually ever considered myself a “housewife”. It sounds so old school. But, here is the actual definition of housewife: a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.

According to that definition, all married women are housewives whether they work outside the home or not!! However, I still don’t like the term housewife for some reason. Maybe because then there could be a work wife. Ha! Sorry, not in this house. My husband has ONE wife, I hate that whole “work wife” thing. I think it opens the door to some dangerous stuff; but that is for another blog post.

Back to being a housewifey… I also have never thought of it as an “occupation”, which means job or profession. Being at home is not the same as going to a workplace. I can break whenever I want, I can leave whenever I want, I have a freedom the workplace doesn’t offer. So, even though it is a lot of work,  I have always thought of it as more of  a role in life than profession.

I have actually worked most of my life. The only time I didn’t is from the time I got pregnant with Ethan until he started Kindergarten. I wanted to be the one to take care of my son, it was one of my only real desires in life.  When he went to school I went back to work, with perimeters. I didn’t want him to ride the bus (I had really bad experiences as a kid, total personal issue; busses are fine) I wanted to be the one who took him and picked him up from school.  So, I was limited in my career and gave up my previous career path. Why did I even go back to work?? I felt like a “housewife” wasn’t enough. I was trying to do it all and it led me down a crazy path. You can read more about that in a previous blog post, “Journey to Simplicity”.

Fast forward to current day. I stepped away from a very LARGE role at church recently. Why? Easy, my husband is the Senior Pastor and as his ministry got larger,as that happened my ministry to him and our family had to get larger. Truthfully, I have always felt like this was my truest calling anyway.

I faced some struggles I wasn’t prepared for. People that didn’t know me well assumed I didn’t understand leadership, business, politics, ministry, etc. They had no idea of my background and easily wrote me off as being uneducated or unimportant. Although I am confident in who I am and what God called me to do, I could easily see how this attitude makes stay at home moms and wives feel that they are not valued in society.

Others that knew my past wanted to know why I would “sacrifice” my dreams to support my husband. Didn’t I have gifts that I still wanted to use? Well, I had always dreamed of being a wife and so considering  all of things I have gotten to do in my life, it has all been more than I ever dreamed of.

So, if you are a woman that works from home or is stay at home mom, here are some tips that help me keep living a satisfied life!

1- My home is the center of my life, but not my entire life. I still have a few responsibilities at church and go into the office a few hours a week. I write, blog, paint, play bass and lead Sisterhood. Make sure you do something outside the home. Whether it is joining a small group with other stay at home moms for support or starting your own business endeavor, create something in your life that gets you out!

2-I know God! I talk to Him, I study Him and  I worship Him.. daily! No one else can fill the deep ache in you to be known like God can. The days I don’t do this I start reaching out for other things to satisfy only what He can.  It always leaves me frustrated.

3- I know many people will not agree with the way we live our lives. You just have to accept that right now. Many people will think you are old fashioned. They may even wrongly assume that you are uneducated or just not capable of anything else. Don’t let it get to you!!! It takes a very strong and capable woman to manage a household and support her family.

4- I know my worth!!! There is no higher calling than raising a family. During Ethan’s teenage years I wanted to lean in, not run away. I believe he needs stability at home now more than ever and I am determined to give him that. It is an honorable and worthy decision to be there for your kids. There are days I don’t feel valuable, accepted or worthy: all people struggle with that.  I have to remember that I am only worthy of the calling God has given me because of what God has done for me. Not because I deserve it or can do anything to deserve it.

5- I quit feeling guilty about loving my life. Every time I had a free minute, I use to  feel guilty. I also felt guilty about how much I loved managing our home, cooking and taking care of our family.  I mean getting to do what you love is just crazy, right?? I have just now learned to really embrace life and that it is ok to enjoy it – guilt free!

6- I am there. I get to be there for others. I am available. Don’t miss opportunities God gives you to serve others. Most people have to take off of work to help others, you don’t. Embrace that.

7 – This way is not the only right way! If this is what God has called you to, amazing.  But, don’t think too highly of yourself. Just because other women work does not make you better than them or vice versa. Sometimes, our insecurities will lock us down into thinking we are “better” or our way is “better”. Women are the solution, not the problem and don’t go starting problems by tearing down the choices of other women. I wrote about this today because of my own experiences and wanting to encourage women who feel left out by society.

8- Appreciate your husband. If you have a man that sees the advantages to his woman running the home, you are blessed. Don’t take that for granted.

Don’t be a desperate housewife, be a satisfied one. It is possible to be a woman who is considered a real housewife and be satisfied in that.   If you are like me and hate the term, “housewife” …  then just be a satisfied woman doing whatever it is that God called you to do.

fontcandy 7.jpg

What Can We Do?

Many of us watch the news everyday in horror. We scroll through our social media news feeds with story after story of tragedy, injustice, lies, deception and it is scary.  We get angry, we get mad, we post things, we want to do something. Many of us don’t know what to do, sometimes we don’t even know what to say. We decide that all we can do is pray. I think prayer is the most important thing that we can do but there is something more. For some, God may call them to stand up in ways that others can not. But, all of us have a mandate, something we are called to do and that is LOVE.

The Bible tells us to train up a child in the way they should go. As I look around America, I am seeing homes where children are being provided for but not raised. We are hustling chasing down the almighty dollar, fame, popularity, authority and glory. But, in the mean time our homes are suffering. Our most important calling is being forsaken. One thing we all can do is go home and love our families and teach them to love. Whether we realize it or not we are training our children. We are either training them in the ways of God or the ways of this world. They are learning by every move we make.  They are also learning from friends, social media, school teachers, coaches, and tv. Do you know what is influencing them?  When I love my husband and my son well, I am filling up their soul with the good things of God. They are replenished by my love because my love for them comes from God.  It is hard to love others when your own love tank is overdrawn. It should be our goal to at least make sure those in our home are full on our love so they can go out and love others. This is not easy, and I don’t always get it right. But, I know that if we don’t get this right in our homes, our world will never change.

We may feel safe and protected in our homes, but if you think our children do not know what is going on in this world then you have your head in the sand. They are exposed to so much at school and through social media that it would blow your mind! They have to deal with it. Maybe instead of getting consumed about what everyone on Facebook is saying about the shape our world is in, we get around the dinner table and talk to our kids. It doesn’t have to be fancy, make a bologna sandwich and pull up a chair. Have the tough conversations with our kids. Ask them what is really going on in their life! Talk to them about ways things could be done better, talk to them about the way God would want us to handle situations. Teach them to love.  Teach them to stand up for the right things. Teach them, train them, raise them.

If we really want harmony and unity, then we should clothe ourselves in love and we should teach our kids to do the same.

I know there are many more things that can be done. This is just the first place we can start.

 

fontcandy 5.jpg

 

Marriage Monday: Where are the Directions?

My husband can do a lot of things very well; putting stuff together is not one of the things on that list. When we first married, the situation of putting together furniture or other household items caused many fights. I thought the man was CRAZY! A typical fight in the Camp’s early marriage would go something like this…

Something I had ordered would arrive in a box to our home in pieces. My husband, Eric, would immediately begin to question my decision making skills about ordering the furniture. I would remind him that because of his frugal nature he had vetoed the expensive piece of furniture that would have been delivered in ONE piece. Of course I would say it with a sweet smile on my face. The box would go into a corner, even though I was anxious to get it out and put it together. Eventually, he would work up the mojo to drag it all out and start putting it together. The whole time he would have a terrible attitude about it all. I would try to help, but that made it worse. He spent the most time making sure all of the necessary pieces were there while secretly hoping they were not and he could box it all back up to ship it back.

There would always come a point in time where something wouldn’t work and he would become VERY agitated. Finally, I would ask the question to end all questions, “Where are the directions?” That was it! The Camp fight was on. I couldn’t understand why this one question would cause my beloved husband to act like a mad man. It wasn’t like I was asking for him to explain to me the molecular structure of wood. I mean, I was just going to look at the directions and figure out where he messed it all up 😉 How could he be so arrogant as to not want help?

I thought he just had some serious issues. I could not understand how we had the same fight every time this happened. How could he not appreciate me wanting to point out what he did wrong and fix it for him?? Wait.. what?

That was it. We were newly married and the man of my dreams wanted me to think he could do everything well. I didn’t realize it was insecurity and not arrogance. He didn’t want me to think I had to come in and rescue him. When asking where the directions were, I had no idea that I was communicating to him that I thought he was incapable.

Above all, men need to feel respected. We ladies don’t realize how fragile the ego of the man we love is at times. I could be all feminist about it and say, “that is his issue, he needs to let go of that”. But, I don’t want to. I am glad my husband is a real man. Marriage is about recognizing the needs that your spouse has.

I learned how to communicate with Eric when he was frustrated in a way that he didn’t perceive as me questioning him. After many years of marriage, most of the insecurities he had are now gone and we communicate much more openly. However, I am convinced that if I had of continued down the path I was on with him, that may of never happened. Instead of building him up, I would of been feeding into those insecurities.

So, how does furniture get put together in the Camp house these days? By me! That is right, my man is so secure now he has no problem letting his woman put stuff together. I am pretty good at it anyway. There are times I get stuck or need some help and he is more than happy to come to my rescue. I am more than happy to let him, because women need to feel loved and I love it when he helps me!

(Proverbs 21:9) “It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic
    than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.”

fontcandy 4.jpg

Marriage Monday :Think Together

Some of the biggest challenges my husband, Eric and I have faced in marriage are the different ways that we think. Sometimes, we Christians take that whole two become one thing way too far. We still have different ways of thinking and doing things. We do not share the same brain!

Early on, our biggest fights were trying to convince one another to think the way we think. It never worked. Man, do the two of us have entire different thought processes. Sometimes we thought God surely got His wires crossed putting us together.  Our entire conversations were wrapped up like we had each other on trial. We would present our case and all of the reasons that the way we were thinking about something was the RIGHT way. The problem with this method was it was pitting us against one another. We were on opposite teams, not the same team.

The argument would continue until someone relented and pretended to agree. Of course, we really didn’t agree. We just realized our spouse was not as well informed in this particular area and they couldn’t help that we were slightly superior to them on this matter 😉  Obviously, that kind of pride didn’t help either.

It took quite some time and a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, but we realized that God didn’t bring us together because we are alike. He didn’t bring us together because we think alike or we do thinks alike. He brought us together because of our differences. Joined together, we bring about so many more ideas and different ways of doing things. We learned we didn’t have to think alike, we just had to think together.

It went from us being on different teams trying to change each other’s thought processes to being on the same team coming together in unity. Marriage isn’t about becoming carbon copies of one another.

There are still MANY things my husband does today that I think “if he just would do this my way, his life would be easier.” I know there are MANY things I do that he thinks the same way about. But now, it doesn’t bother us. In fact, I giggle about it sometimes. I can truly celebrate the unique way God made Eric and how he has is own way of doing things. God knew we would need each other. He knew we would bring balance to one another and together we could accomplish many things. It is not the ways we are alike that help us accomplish great things, it is in the ways we are together.

I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you the ways you are trying to make your spouse think like you, act like you or do things like you. Pray that God would help you focus on being together with your spouse instead of being alike.

Start celebrating the differences and think together!

fontcandy 2.jpg