Archive | August 2013

Recipe for a Happy Marriage

Marriage may not be the piece of cake you expected, but you can keep it tasting sweet...My husband and I celebrated yet another wedding anniversary last week — our 26th.

Marriage has been every bit as sweet and satisfying as I always dreamed it would be. My husband is my best friend, and I love getting to live life with him, sharing moments and making memories together. I feel incredibly blessed to be wed to such an amazing man.

Even so, staying married — and happily so — has taken much more work than either of us ever imagined.

Building a happy marriage is an ongoing process. It’s not something you can power through once, then check off your to-do list. There’s no propping your feet up and saying, “That’s done. Now I can move on to a different project.”

Marriage is a dynamic relationship. If a husband and wife are not drawing closer, they’re drifting apart. If their love isn’t waxing, it’s waning. If their passion’s not heating up, it’s growing cold.

There is no automatic pilot, no cruise control, no steady state, no mindless maintaining of the status quo.

Living “happily ever after” is not a given. It takes purpose and persistence, planning and prioritizing. If I want a happy marriage, then I must work to make it happy, each and every day.

Getting married is easy. Staying married, not so much.

A lot of couples expect marriage to be a piece of cake. When they discover otherwise, many want to throw in the (dish)towel and get out of the kitchen.

They forget that even a piece of cake takes time, attention, and know-how. The very best cakes (like the very best marriages) are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, carefully measured, skillfully mixed, and beautifully decorated.

Do you want a happily-ever-after marriage? It will require a lot of love and commitment, self-sacrifice and mutual respect, patience, forgiveness, friendship, and tender affection (refer to recipe below). God will supply the ingredients, but you’ve got to furnish the labor yourself.

You really can have your cake and eat it, too, but only if you stay in the kitchen and keep on baking.

Recipe for a a Happy Marriage | free printable from Loving Life at Home

[click on image to download free printable file]

Don’t Let Anything Steal Your Joy

Joy springs from a grateful heart. Don't let the enemy steal your joy.Joy springs from a grateful hearts, but there are two things that will snuff out gratitude faster than blowing out a candle, and we must vigilantly guard against both.

Those two things are envy and expectations.

Envy causes us to see the glass as half-empty instead of half-full. It fills our hearts with jealousy and bitter resentment, so that we begrudge others the good things they enjoy and pity ourselves for not sharing the same fate.

Nothing will blind you to your own blessings more effectively than moping over what you lack, rather than rejoicing over what you have. When you can’t even recognize or acknowledge the good things in your life, then you certainly won’t feel proper appreciation for them.

Expectations can deal as serious a deathblow to gratitude as envy does, for expectations give rise to a sense of entitlement. You can’t sincerely appreciate anything if you think someone owes it to you. It is impossible to feel truly grateful for something when you’re convinced you deserve it.

Expectations have destroyed a lot of marriages, and it’s not difficult to understand why.

Imagine for a moment that it’s your anniversary. Your husband brings you flowers… but you were hoping for diamonds. You’ve been hinting for weeks and had even left a marked catalogue on his desk. Doesn’t he know this is the year for diamonds? He probably just bought these flowers at the grocery store on his way home from work. What a slacker! Can’t he ever plan ahead? Why are special occasions always an afterthought with him?

Before long, you’re really miffed. Your husband can see this in your eyes, sense it in your tone of voice—and it stings. He does something nice for you, and this is how you react? Whatever happened to a simple thank you? Why does he even bother trying? He stews until he’s boiling, then spends your wedding anniversary sleeping on the couch.

Life doesn’t have to be like this.

Let’s try that scenario again, but this time when your husband brings home flowers, you are delighted. He’s been so busy at work lately, you’re surprised he remembered your anniversary at all. What a sweetheart! You hug his neck, give him a long kiss, and thank him profusely. You arrange the bouquet in water, set it on the table, and stop to admire it every time you pass. Your husband sees you do this and smiles with pleasure. You comment on how beautiful the flowers look, how wonderful they smell, and how blessed you are to be married to such a sweet and thoughtful guy— not just tonight, but repeatedly throughout the week.

The question is, which wife will you choose to be? Which would your husband rather come home to?

Do you want joy? Then rid yourself of envy and expectations and any notions of entitlement.

Do you want to live happily ever after? Then cultivate a heart filled with gratitude — first to God, from whom all blessings flow, but also toward the people He has placed in your life. People whose kindnesses, whether great or small, should never be taken for granted.

Pray for Your Husband from Head to Toe

Pray for Your Husband from Head to Toe | free printable from Loving Life at HomeRuth Bell Graham advises wives to “tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” Take your concerns to God. Faithfully lift up your husband in prayer every day, and you will likely notice a transformation not only in him, but in yourself, as well.

Of course, we needn’t wait until there is some problem or disagreement before beginning this practice. A wife can and should routinely intercede on her husband’s behalf. Prayer should be a habit of life, something we do continuously and “without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

There are many different daily, weekly or monthly plans available that can help make praying for your husband more systematic, but one of my favorites is praying for your spouse from head to toe. I heard about this concept several years ago. What follows is my own take on it, plus a free printable version you can use in your personal prayer time.

  • Pray for His Brain:
  • Ask that God would keep it sharp and focused and that his thoughts would not be conformed to this world, but would be transformed and renewed by the power of God. (Romans 12:2)

  • Pray for His Eyes:
  • Ask that he would guard them diligently and would set no worthless thing before them. (Psalm 101:3)

  • Pray for His Ears:
  • Ask that they’d be tuned to hear God’s still, small voice and that your husband would always remain attentive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Isaiah 30:9)

  • Pray for His Mouth:
  • Ask that no unwholesome talk would proceed from it, but only what is good for building others up. Pray that your husband would always and only speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15, 29)

  • Pray for His Heart:
  • Ask that Christ would sit enthroned upon it, that your husband would love God with all his heart and soul and might, that he’d love his neighbor as himself. (Mark 12:30-31) Pray for his heart to remain soft toward you (Proverbs 5:18-19) and to be knitted to the hearts of his children. (Malachi 4:6)

  • Pray for His Arms:
  • Ask that God would strengthen them and make them firm. Pray that your husband would take delight in his labor and that God would bless the work of his hands. (Psalm 90:17, Ecclesiastes 3:22)

  • Pray for His Legs:
  • Ask that God would give him strength and stamina, that your husband might run with endurance the race that is set before him, without growing weary or fainting along the way (Isaiah 40:31; Hebrews 12:1)

  • Pray for His Feet:
  • Ask that they’d be quick to flee from temptation, to turn away from evil, and to faithfully pursue wisdom, righteousness, peace, love, and truth. (2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 34:14; Proverbs 4:5-7)

So that’s the whole plan. It takes only a few minutes to cover your husband in prayer from head to toe. Can you imagine the benefits you both will reap if you’ll make it a habit to pray this way for your spouse every day?

This post is excerpted from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband. For more marriage encouragement, connect with me on Facebook.

If your husband would like a matching guide to use when praying for you, tell him to check out the one my husband posted on his blog: Praying for Your Wife from Head to Toe. And if either of you would like a similar guide to pray over your children, check out this post: Praying for You Children from Head to Toe.

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