A few days ago, I was standing outside in the driveway. It was a very pretty day. The beginning of spring. I was just looking around at the sky and the trees and as I stood there I had this sort of strange thought or vision. I’m not sure what it was, but it felt like….like a glimpse into heaven. It sort of seemed that time had just stopped for a moment.
After being heavy into the Dave Ramsey get-out-of-debt plan for the last year along with many people I know, it occurred to me that there are still people out there, many I’m sure, that don’t quite realize why it is critical to get out of debt. This is for them.
Click here for a post on Dave Ramsey’s 6 Steps.
Click here for a post on the details of how we do our finances.
Oh my, why am I putting up a picture of us that is over 6 years old and we are skinnier and cuter. Oh well, I guess it is just to show you when it was that I really started getting some of this stuff. That’s a fat little Henry with us at a fancy restaurant.
It is December 26th. A wonderfully lazy day around this house. A nice time to just think a little. And my thoughts have led me to this, ladies. Yes, they probably go for guys too, but I will let the guys teach the guys. This is all about what YOU (I) can do.
Here is my unofficial list of 7 things that create a happy marriage. Of course, there are probably a lot more and of course, different strokes for different folks, but…..at the same time, I think these 7 can apply to most. I may think of some more later. But these have been swimming around in my brain lately.
They stand out.
One more thing. Sometimes marriage can seem so complicated. I believe the truth is, it is very simple. We can over-think, over-analyze and make the whole thing a quagmire. If you tend to do that, STOP. Just stop. Ok, enough already.
7 STEPS TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE
1. Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle, including your husband.
Every time I meet a couple that has been married 30, 40, 50 years, I always ask them what the secret is. And almost every time the response has been:
Be kind. Be polite to your spouse.
Those older folks say this because, whoever they are, after all those years of life together, they have figured out that the “stuff,” whatever it is, is irrelevant and it all comes down to just a little kindness. You know what I mean. In an instant, we can choose to be nice to the person that calls on the phone 2 seconds after we have reamed someone in our house up one side and down the other. We made a choice in that moment to be kind. So we know we are capable of it. But are we motivated to do it?
Zip Your Lips!
The bottom line is “If you don’t have anything nice to say, ZIP YOUR LIPS!” And I mean it. And yes, I need to hear all of this too!! Just because you have an opinion about something, DOES NOT MEAN IT NEEDS TO BE EXPRESSED VERBALLY. Ok, now we can go on. :)
2. Get your finances in order and be in agreement about it.
Disagreement in this area is the #1 reason for divorce. Guess what? That means we have to change whatever was hardwired into us from childhood and be willing to think and act differently. We have to die to our own ideas. Remember, those ideas are what have gotten us into trouble.
Stop the debt. Stop living beyond your means. Go to cash (no checks or debit cards) if living within your means is difficult for you. That means you cannot spend more money in any month than you are bringing in. Get radical. Be different. Stop having a consumer mindset. Stop buying stuff.
We spend the first half of our lives acquiring things and the last half getting rid of them. So we might as well stop the massive acquiring part as soon as possible. Here is a link to a post I did about Dave Ramsey. He will totally motivate you. Here is a post I did about EXACTLY how we handle our finances. (After we took the Dave Ramsey class)
And here is a post I’ve read several times lately about simplifying, owning little, etc. This guy talks about the “100 thing challenge.” Personally owning only 100 things. This does not include joint items or family items. Here is another good post on the same thing. I’ve started making a list of the things I personally own to see where I stand. I may get back to you later on this whole idea, but I’m not promising anything :)
3. Make your spouse your first ministry.
I know that might sound a little weird. It did to me when my friend first mentioned it to me. But after simmering on the idea for a good 5-6 years I definitely think this is the mindset we women must have if we want to be truly happy. It IS the nature God gave us. Feminist or not. We ladies brought up during and after the feminist revolution of the 60’s and 70’s have some very difficult hardwiring to undo. It doesn’t mean we can’t have gifts and use them to the fullest capacity, but we had better slow down and stop steamrolling the men in our lives, and we had better prioritize the elements of our lives correctly.
Who is the first man in your life?
Is a boss at work the lead man in your life? Do you do more for him that you do for your husband? Is a ministry at your church taking priority over how you are helping or loving on your husband? Or are your kids the center of your life? Do they take precedence over your husband? If so, I can pretty much promise you this will not lead to anything good.
Be willing to change
There are a ton of books out there on this subject. I will give you the one that has helped me the most. Yes, I’ve mentioned it before. And yes, you will likely want to throw it across the room a few times. I’m stepping out here and bordering on pleading with you. If you could just, for a moment, be willing to think outside your own self-made box; to think that maybe, just maybe there could be wisdom in these radical ideas……All I can say is you may never know ultimate joy until you lay down your own life and decide to be a servant in whatever way God has gifted you. The book is called “Created To Be His Helpmeet.”
4. Let Your Husband Take The Lead
One Captain. One CEO.
That last one leads nicely into this one. If you are still living and loving the feminist life, this might be a hard pill to swallow. But hear me out, please. I was once very strongly in those shoes. You and your husband are equal partners. Definitely. No doubt about it. He is not better. You are not better. He is gifted, as you are, in certain areas.
The smart couple will draw on each others gifts to create a marriage and a family that has something to offer the world. Whether it is awesome children that you raise together, products in the business world, or a tour guide company in Madagascar. BUT, and this is a big BUT: Your family is a corporation with one CEO trying to lead the team to success. Your family is a ship with one Captain trying to steer. If his crew isn’t “with him” he (and you all) will run aground and have all kinds of difficulty fixing the boat and being able to set out to sea again, or worse, you may all capsize and die.
Do Not Fail
If you, as the woman, fail to stop trying to lead, if you fail at bringing up difficult subjects of discussion with your husband when you know deep down the timing is right (this is an art to perfect), then you will fail altogether. Women: almost all of us have to relearn the art of being a wife.
Don’t be the bad guy
You may be thinking, “My husband is a jerk, he cannot lead, he is ruining our family.” I ask you what are you doing to help him lead. Are you criticizing him or building him up. Are you focusing on his gifts and abilities or his faults.
I’ve talked to many women about this next part and it is not pleasant, but it it true. When children watch a father trying to lead while his wife is battling him every step of the way, criticizing, scoffing, rolling her eyes, walking off in a huff, whispering under her breath, ignoring, etc: The children will wish the mom would hush up and leave the dad alone. EVEN IF HE IS DOING A BAD JOB. They don’t know the difference. They just know he is their dad and they love him and they simply wish you would close your mouth, leave him alone and love him too. That’s enough to make me stop right there!
5. ” Take Up Your Cross And Follow Me.” -Luke 9:23
We all have issues
We all have areas of difficulty. We always will. Maybe something will be with us for a lifetime. Maybe just a season. The question is how do we deal with it from God’s perspective? How does He see us? Maybe our cross is a bad habit you just cannot seem to kick, maybe it’s a disease, maybe it is the death of a loved one, maybe it is a difficult spouse that is hard to love, maybe it is abuse from our own childhood and it’s effects, maybe it is addictions and the list goes on…..No one is exempt.
Pick that cross up. Hand it over to Jesus daily. Start new each morning. And follow Him. This is the most promising avenue if you have any hope of overcoming that cross. Remember what He said: Take heart, I have overcome the world.
6. Have God-Time
Stress and worry
When I am stressed and worried; When my mind is racing about this issue and that issue; When things have been difficult in earthly areas such as marriage, parenting, etc. I can ALWAYS, without fail tell you that in the immediate past, oh maybe several weeks or months, I have let my regular God-Time slip away. I have not set that daily time aside for it.
For me, if I don’t do it immediately upon waking while I drink my coffee, it will never happen that day, because the day is off and running all the way ’til bedtime that night. But when I do sit and read the Bible, any part of it, the peace it imparts to my soul surpasses all understanding. All the issues of the day don’t really matter anymore. I can handle anything that comes my way. It’s that simple. And that essential.
7. Persevere. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
Check out this statistic from a new study on divorce and marriage. What is says to me is awesome and needs to be heard by many. Here is the link to the full story.
Does Divorce Make People Happy?
Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages
Call it the “divorce assumption.” Most people assume that a person stuck in a bad marriage has two choices: stay married and miserable or get a divorce and become happier. But now come the findings from the first scholarly study ever to test that assumption, and these findings challenge conventional wisdom. Conducted by a team of leading family scholars headed by University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite, the study found no evidence that unhappily married adults who divorced were typically any happier than unhappily married people who stayed married.
Even more dramatically, the researchers also found that two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy five years later. In addition, the most unhappy marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds: among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost eight out of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married five years later.
I will attest to being one person in that statistic.
And I will tell you that I had a terrier-like hold on the fact that I WILL NOT get divorced. I have children. I was married once before already (no children) for 2 years way back in another life (it seems) and this time it will stick. I will do whatever I have to do to make this work and not only that, make it awesome, because I refuse to have a miserable, unhappy life, in this ONE life God has given me. And mostly, what that has meant, is to lay down my pride, to lay down my opinions, to lay down the stuff that has been hardwired into me, and chill out!
Please, persevere. Our society depends on it.
The family is on the edge of extinction.
Growing up… oh I’d say I can remember this from about the age of 10 or 12 and until he died 4 years ago… my father would exhort in some form or another “This is God’s country!” or “Oklahoma is God’s country!” or “When you movin’ back to God’s country?”
The other day my children and I were standing in the front yard talking to one of my good friends. My 8 year old said to her “Daddy is moving home next week.” She thought “Oh my. Has there been some trouble? Did he move out and now he is moving back?” I have laughed about that little scene all week.
Well, the answer is no.
It’s something entirely different. After talking about this idea for almost 2 years (I looked back in my journal and noticed one of the dates on which we had been talking about it) Matthew, my husband, has decided he is going to move his law practice home. Yes, home. To our house. He will office out of our living room, which is situated quite well for an office. It almost seems like it was meant for that purpose.
Remember, we live in the house that I grew up in.
After my sweet daddy died back in 2005, my mother was ready to move to a smaller home and we thought it would be pretty neat to keep the house in the family. So we bought it and have been here for about 4 years now. The funny thing is, that living room was almost never used when we were growing up, except for a few holidays.
And the same has been true for us these 4 years. It is just sort of “off” the flow of the house. We have tried to make it a functional, useful room, but have simply never been successful. But….it is as if it was waiting for this moment. It is a perfect, very nice, office for him. It is right near the front door and the front hallway. Easy for people to enter. Easy for him to see who is walking up the path.
A lot of people think we are crazy to do this.
They think “how in the world will he operate a law practice with 4 children running around?” (For those that don’t know, we homeschool, so we are all here all day.) Some lawyer friends of his, though, know of those who have done it successfully. One lawyer even told of a doctor he knew that had his office in his home. We have watched our good friends with 8 children (in a different profession and also homeschooling) do this now for several years. We have read about people doing it all over the country in various other businesses. Most people did it several hundred years ago. Why not here and why not now? I haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer to that question yet.
The Age of Modernity
We have talked about and preached about (mostly my husband has), to anyone who is in earshot and interested, the idea that our modern culture (the last 150 years) has come close to destroying the family unit. From about 150 years ago back to 1000’s of years ago, 90-95% of the families lived, worked and learned together; most of them on a farm.
With the very quick advance of the industrial and then informational ages the family became fragmented. Dads left the farm to go to towns and factories. Then children left the home education of their parents to go to schools. With Dad gone to work, Mom could no longer do all of the work at home (the farm) by herself AND raise and educate the children. Little by little, these things became the norm. The changes in society were small, incremental, in the background, silent. Nobody noticed what was happening.
The 50’s and The 60’s
We arrived in the 1950’s and this new norm had been around long enough that nobody questioned it. The generations that did not know this new norm had died out and were probably not listened to if they were still alive because our disrespect for the elderly had begun to take hold too.
Then the 60’s arrived. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. The feminist revolution. Dissatisfied women. Women who felt oppressed. Women who, through several generations, had forgotten their true calling, their true nature. What would bring them their greatest joy.
Women wanted to be like men and their oppressed mothers pushed them into the thought that they should never be dependent on men. And the men were probably scared of them. Society started turning upside down.
The 70’s and Beyond
The 70’s turned into the 80’s with decadence and materialism at an all time high. It seemed as the 90’s progressed, there was a slight hint of noticing that maybe this way wasn’t all that it was purported to be. And then into the first decade of 2000. I, personally, see the pendulum starting to swing back now. I see women and men beginning to realize that they were, indeed, built in certain ways and that the joy of a man WILL NOT be the joy of a women. Or vice versa.
Great Strides in Civilization
And so as a result of all this activity over the last 150 years, what do we have? Well, we do have a very advanced civilization. We have gone to the moon, we can save people’s lives with the art of medicine, we have built magnificent things. But I have to ask the question, at what cost?
If we destroy the family, is it worth it?
We have boys in prison because their daddies weren’t there and their mama’s were too soft on them. We have girls giving their bodies for sex because they are just looking for love. They can’t find that love in their homes. I could go on and on. You know. You’ve seen the stories every day of your life since you were old enough to read.
Is it possible to keep the family intact. Is it possible to turn the over 50% divorce rate back to much less? Is it possible to get back the values, the morals, and the priorities of several centuries ago, yet have our advanced civilization?
Mom And Dad
What about the idea of a mother and a father working out of their home together, raising their children together? It seems to me with the internet, outsourcing and all the other technology we have today, that would not be a difficult task for lots and lots of people.
I’m going to say yes, there is a way to turn this nightmare around. It will be a slow process that will require serious self reflection and prayer for each person to figure out the way God can get them there. And this will probably take generations to accomplish on a large scale, but I have to believe it is possible.
I think, hope, believe and pray that Daddy coming home will be life changing for our entire family. We will be forced to work together. The children will see what their Daddy does. Daddy will be more intimately involved in the teaching and raising of our children. This verse really talks about that idea for all of us; not just the mamas:
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:5-9
We will become more focused on what our calling, as a family, truly is. I believe God has a calling for each family. He wanted a family in the beginning and so He created us, and gave us each a very specific purpose. A hope. A desire. A future. He says it in one of my favorite verses:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
And just so you know those plans will be the desires of your heart, here is another one:
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
It All Starts Now
Today is Matthew’s last day of work in his old office downtown. Tomorrow he and his guy friends will be moving all of his stuff home. And Monday will be the first day of our new life. Wow! It is scary and exciting at the same time. You know, those two feelings produce the same physical sensations in our body, so I think I will just keep calling it exciting : )
There Will Be Tough Times
No doubt, our schedules will dramatically change. There will be hard moments. There will be times he will want to change the way I do things, and that will irritate the heck out of me. I am expecting this. And my goal is to go with the flow. To chill.
I know God has given him a vision and me a vision and that they are intertwined. He has given him gifts and me gifts. And if we can get it together, work together, bring our gifts together, and be kind and loving in the process – the sky is the limit. The family vision/calling – the reason God put us together and brought these children through us, can be realized. We can accomplish what God set out for us.
Pray for me, please, that I am up to the task! I’m walking in new territory now. I’ll let you know how it goes : )
God Bless You!
So glad you stopped by! My name is Allison and I’m a blogger in Small Town, Oklahoma. I love social media, (used to be a tv producer in LA before kids) finding chemical-free answers for everything in life, building businesses with my hubby of 22 years and loving on my 5 babes ages 8-20. I’m mostly into social media video, so find me on facebook, instagram and lately, snapchat!