Marriage advice from a newlywed?!

Last post I shared a bit of my thoughts on respect for my husband. Today I was thinking about my wonderful man and reflecting on the week, thinking back to times I may have shown respect to him and ways I may not have. I try to do this every night before we go to bed, just to be sure that he knows that I am aware of times I failed him and that I am working on making them far and fewer, and also so that he knows how much I respect him in my heart and mind even if at times my actions or words do not demonstrate that so well.

I don’t know a whole lot about marriage, its only been 11 months! But I can say that one thing that I am compelled to do at least once a day (sometimes more!) – is to thank Sweets for marrying me. The first couple of times I said this to him, I saw him light up and shine like never before, I know that I touched a place in his heart though he didn’t seem to know what to do with that!

He was surprised by my words and I think he took it negatively, as if I thought he had pity on me, or was doing me a favour in which I needed to thank him. In some ways maybe I feel this. Not for the same negative reasons, but my man is pretty amazing!   I dreamed my whole life of marrying a great guy, I had standards after all – but I never thought I would marry someone THIS awesome. I am still shocked he felt we were well fitted. On top of that, I come from a kinda wild, dysfunctional, emotional/vocal family and he comes from the most traditional, stable and reserved family. When I was young I dreamed of family life just like the kind in which he grew up, but with my personality coming out of my upbringing, I never imagined I could be yoked with someone from the complete opposite spectrum. I wasn’t expecting to marry poorly, or anything but I did expect to marry someone with a more similar upbringing, and a bit more chaos in their life.

So that being said, I am just so thankful for my marriage. I am thankful for so much about Sweets, our relationship, and our lives. But more than all of that I am so thankful that he chose me to be his one.  So everyday I cant help but tell him how thankful I am that he married me! Every day I see that same shine come into his eyes and smile as he assures me that he is equally thankful that I said “yes”.

I can not think of a better habit to have started in our marriage than open, vocal, love and appreciation for each other and this relationship.

So there’s my marriage advice of 11 months!  Appreciate your spouse verbally and let me know if they don’t light up and shine like never before!

Honour you God, Honour your marriage,

-Bree

Too shy to pray

A short time ago I posted about the book “power of a praying wife.” I can not tell you how much this has helped me to help focus on my marriage as whole and to not take our life or love for granted. It also helps me keep God in the center. Remembering that the only thing that can keep us strong is Christ Himself.

I continue to pray for my husband daily, and as things come up I apply more time and effort in the more urgent areas. However, one thing I have recently noticed is that Sweets and I do not pray together as we used to when we were courting. When we started our relationship, he began coming to Sunday night prayer service with me. This is a time of worship and prayer only. We are asked to not speak to one another during this time and to focus on the Lord.

Of course praying for and with each other is expected and encouraged (just not conversation, and it is not the time for counseling.)  Sweets and I prayed together every Sunday during those months of courtship and now on Sunday nights we still pray together the same. But when we were dating, we would pray before each of our dates many times, and at the end to really ask the Lord to make a way for us, or make clear the path we should take  and protection going home ect..

Once the Lord gave us Blessing for our marriage, I suddenly became too shy to pray in front of Sweets! I am not sure why this is! And now that we live together, we pray every meal but that’s it (as far as together  I mean – he still prayers on his own on the balcony every morning and I still pray on my own after he leaves for the gym.) But aside from meals or Sunday nights we just don’t seem to make it a priority together.

I am hoping to make a change in this though. First I have to get over my shyness and pray out loud for my husband! Does anyone else struggle with this?!

I want him to know what I am praying so that he can agree and I know that this will be an intimate act between us as well. I always felt that connection and closeness when we were dating. Now more than ever we need to keep this a priority I think, maybe it will help even greater in our communication (which is still in need of adjustment in many respects!) Thank goodness for unconditional love, and the grace to acknowledge this early on. I truly have a wonderful man, friend, lover and companion!

Now that I am bursting with thanksgiving to the Lord for my husband, I will take this opportunity to share with him how much I love, appreciate and respect him….and pray together – for many more years to come!

Blessings to you!

“Find out who you are, and Do It On Purpose”

A famous quote from a famous country singer. I loved it from the fist time I heard it  ( in A Walk to Remember). I am often reminded of it from day to day and week to week. Not because it was so profound or even that life changing of a quote for me at the time, but because it has a meaning now that I have decided with all my heart to live ON PURPOSE!.

One of the common ideas that seems to permeate most people’s lives these days is happenstance, or in other words allowing life to happen and dealing with it as it comes.

Now, generally this doesn’t seem like a bad way to live. In fact, in some cases it is the best idea! Life will happen! I know it, you know it! We have all been affected by “life” and many things we can’t choose, prevent or even prepare for. In these cases it is of course best to take it one day at a time, and deal with it as is fitting.

However, this is not the case with everything. Nor should it be. Specifically in our marriages. This is a dangerous belief and it is (in my opinion) destroying marriages all around me.

Why would I have this opinion? Because ALL of the stuff I have been reading about for marriage and listening to people talk about, seems to point to this idea. Those marriages in which the couples are so in love and they think they always will be and they are just living on love… tend to me miserable a few yrs down the line. They  think love will take them through anything and everything but they actually are not making any purposeful effort to keep the passionate love alive.

These are the people I hear that think how it is in the first few months or year of marriage is how it will always be. They mistakenly believe as long as you love it will all work out. BUT I don’t hear these people talk about how to KEEP the love alive, how to serve their spouse and how to make sure they are a blessing and not an annoyance or burden to their lover’s life.

These are the people I hear complain that their husband or wife “used to ____”. or they are the ones who say things like “enjoy it while it lasts”. It’s sickening, because so many people assume and live with a reality where the best days and years of their marriages are behind them and “somehow” it all just ended, stopped and is no longer like this anymore.

It made me wonder (and worry!) Why? What makes things change so drastically. Why are people who were once madly in love now resentful and apathetic? It really made me have to look at the big picture of what was going on and the common thing I note is that most of these people let life happen and do not choose to do anything on purpose…especially anything to stop allowing life to suck the love out of their marriages.

So, that brings me back to my theme for the month (maybe year!) Live on purpose. Love on purpose and above everything else choose your attitude on purpose.

Once you (and your significant other)  are making choices, planning for certain expectations and doing things on purpose to demonstrate love, appreciation and service to the other then it is easy to see that life has no chance to creep up and steal the passion out of these relationships. It is easy to see the contrast in people, who are happily married for 10, 20, 30+ years. These people love to talk about marriage! They are worth listening to, and their example is worth following.

I am ever the student, learning as much as I can about my life as a Christian women and now a wife as well. I see lessons in every relationship I come across and take the chance to talk about this with all of them who give me a few minutes to observe and ask.

There are the couples I learn from because it brings fear and worry that I do NOT want to end up like that. and others who are such great examples and it make me look at them and say THAT’S how I imagined marriage to be!

Blessings

Direction over Intention

I am sure that I am not alone when it comes to feeling like a failure as wife, a friend and more importantly as a Christian women.

I frequently do and say things that I am regretful of nearly the second they come out of my mouth. I am constantly ashamed and even surprised by my behaviour or words, even though really I shouldn’t be all that surprised since I did nearly the same thing earlier this week!

I continuously feel frustrated that I am not able to live up to a higher standard and even more frustrated that I am not the women I want to be, let alone hoped to be by this point in my life.

This week Sweets and I had to have some necessary (and some unnecessary) chats about future things, money, and expectations ect..) I know that most of this is due to us living abroad and we constantly need to evaluate and stay on the same page for future hopes, dreams, plans and expectations. Contract discussions are coming up in the next 2-3 months and we both need to be sure and secure in what we agree to with out current companies. (We really want to try our very best to live by “yes be yes” and ” no be no”, we would both hate to agree to a contract only to find that a move to North America was on the radar a few months later.)

I admit that I do not always handle these conversations very gracefully. I am  outspoken and I grew up in a rather harsh, tension filled home much of the time (though not all of the time as I have many great memories, and miss my family  while I’m here) However, our family communication consisted of screaming, yelling and hollering at each other – this was what would be normal conversation in most other peoples homes. So I still have that natural reaction/response in conversations that dig a bit deeper than “whats for dinner?” or talking about our day at work.

I despise this part of me and desperately want to change for both my husband and the Lord especially. A gentle and quiet spirit. I cant even imagine that could be me, but that is the goal! A gentle and quiet spirit, maybe if I say it enough I will start to associate with it! haha

I know that just identifying the problem is not enough, we also need to dig deeper to the root of the issue, and also come up with specific steps and a plan to change and get from where we are to where we want to be.

I am currently reflecting on my own habits, responses and reactions to various parts of life that really disappoint me as a Christian women wanting to serve the Lord and be more and more like Him.

I am realizing that (at least for me) just knowing what is wrong in my personality is not the same as becoming what is right. So my current project is underway. (ME!)

I have decided to start with What/ Who I want to be, and who I think I am. Working backwards to determine steps I can take that would bring me to this desired destination. The problem is that often times the person I think I am is actually not at all what others may experience. They may not see my good intentions through failures if I am consistently offending, raising my voice or any other poor response I likely have. Even though deep within my intention is nice, if my actions do not more often reflect my intention then it doesn’t matter what I intended! The best thing I ever learned (and I may end up posting more about this book later at some point)  is that direction NOT intention determines the destination. (Andy Stanley Principal of the Path)

I can intend as many things as I want but if I am not actively heading in that direction I will never end up there. I actually do not know what my plan of action will look like as of this second. I just know God wrote the end from the beginning and so it may be a good place for me to start. I want to be the kind of wife my husband will not only be proud of but that he can be very thankful for. I want to be the  gift from God to his life. Proverbs 18:22, 19:14, 31:10.

Please pray for me, that I will remember to seek the Lord for strength and help and humble myself before Him frequently instead of trying all the things on my own!

Thank you so much!

 

 

 

The Bikini Question

Should women of God be wearing bikinis? This is not one of those legalistic “should” questions but simply personal opinions about a christian woman’s conduct and apparel.

The reason I ask is because the other day when my husband and I were headed to the beach I grabbed my box of swim suits out of the closet to choose the perfect one for our romantic picnic/day on the beach. I decided to go with a red, hibiscus print, Calvin Klein, skirted bottom bikini that I had been saving for just this occasion (tags still on!)

Excitedly I got changed and looked at myself – it was super cute! I felt confident and ready to give my skin some much-needed salt and sun (my skin always looks amazing after a day at the beach!) But then instead of continuing to feel confident as I ran around the house looking for my flip-flops, sun hat , parasol and beach towels.. I felt rather shy and for lack of better description – territorial. Not my territory but my husbands.

Suddenly I felt uncomfortable…as if I was exposing things that belonged to my husband for the world/other men to see. I have never thought this way about my bathing suits before. I mean I have always worn bikinis for the main reason that I have extremely long legs and a short torso, one piece swimsuits just are not a comfortable fit for the way my body is made.  And my bikini choices would not in typical circles be considered “skimpy” or even raise eye brows. So whats the deal?

Apparently a lot more changed when I got married then I had expected. Or maybe God’s just finally putting His finger on an area of my life I previously was ignorant about. Either way I simply have no desire to wear a bikini in public again. I have a few other two piece swim suits – Tankini and shorts or skirt styles and a body-suit style that I wear to take my preschool class to the pool every week for swimming lessons. These are my choice swimsuits to wear now – even at the beach!

I wonder if anyone else has experienced this as well? Is this because of my newly married status? Am I really just aware now that this body of mine belongs to my husband and his eyes only and I do not want to share any part of it with other people at all?

Or is it possible that I just have finally woken up to the fact that society has made my bra and underwear out of fast-dry material, called it a swim suit and made it acceptable and “expectable” to wear them out in public? I am not sure but I am rather shocked  by my instant and complete rejection of the bikini,  I am 30 years old this is not anything that has ever crossed my mind before. Times are definitely changing!

Would love to hear anyone else’s opinion on the swimsuit topic pro bikini or con – No judgement here! Just friendly, Godly women talking about our own convictions and opinions in our freedom with Christ.

Thanks and Blessings to you!

 

Advice

There is a lot of advice out there for married couples. Shops are lined with books on how to help, save, better, ect.. your marriage. I am sure all of it to one extent or another has applicable advice that would be beneficial.

Right now Sweets and I are in the newness phase still, everything is perfect and exciting and wonderful. I am not so naiive to think that this will last forever though. Of course, it is God’s will for our marriages to be joyful and wonderful and represent Him well. We will have struggles, disagreements and other issues over the years.  I am thankful that we are both realistic enough to acknowledge this and also to plan for it to some degree as best we can right now, ahead of time.

One of those ways (and some of the  best advice I have heard) was directly from my husband. The one thing he always made clear was important for our marriage was that “No Matter What, we always speak respectfully to and about each other.”

He said that sarcasm over time slowly breaks down people’s spirits and the relationship and that it has no place in marriages. At first I thought he was over emphasizing this a bit too much, but as I now spend a bit more time and activities with other couples I totally understand what he is saying and agree 100% . I hear other couples “joke” about being chained to the other, or things like “I wish they would leave but …still here”  It sounds so negative, almost mean. I heard it right away, it made me cringe and sad for the other person. It was this week that I clearly saw the significance of what Sweets was saying.

I was talking to  a newly engaged couple who have been together for two years. There were jabs and sharp comments to and about each other in the midst of our only 15 min chat.  At this time when they should be the most excited and joyful for their union, already they make comments about being sick of the other or not being able to get away. I know they are joking and I assume they are looking forward to the wedding, but the point is that if they are already in the habit of wounding the significance of the other or the relationship in casual conversation what happens when they aren’t as happy or are disappointed or whatever? Yikes.

Sweets and I left that conversation re-vowing never to speak in a similar manner. Always speak highly and praise your spouse, even when you have grounds to criticize. There is a time and place to speak to them about change but in front of others where you can make them look/feel diminished or inadequate  is not a good place or practice for a marriage (or any relationship really.)

Speak highly and honour the one you have!

Blessings

Every Morning is Christmas Morning!

Sweets has encouraged me to Journal/ record my thoughts and feelings at this early stage in our union so that in later years if I ever need to, I can look back and remember what we are doing this all for and how it all started.

I have been struggling to sleep next to him still. Just not used to another body in the bed! Its taking longer than I thought it would to get used to and this is something I had not heard before! I assumed that I would just LOVE sleeping next to him so much that I would instantly fall into blissful sleep. Not so! He breathes and makes noises, sometimes he moves even! and I don’t know if this is normal and just something I never was told before/came across in all my readings – but guys (well my guy anyhow!) also have their own smell.

No, really! He has his very own scent. I am not sure what it is, but its 100% natural and it’s not a BO smell or anything like that. It’s not even bad or odour-y but it’s there, and its noticeable when I climb into bed and try to sleep. I am just not used to it yet. I know in time I wont even notice it but until then…I lay awake smelling him over and over again. I can’t get enough! I enjoy it! It’s just another thing that tells me BREE YOU ARE MARRIED!!! ha-ha It makes me so happy ( even though I am tired all day). I wonder if other people experienced this their first days together?

These days I wake up early, around 5:30 has been the trend. I get up real quiet and tip-toe around the apartment (our apartment here in Japan has NO DOORS! that means our bedroom is right open to the kitchen and living-dining room) Sweets sleeping is about 5 footsteps away from the kitchen table and I try my best to be real quiet, drink a cup of tea, pray and read for a while, it’s very lovely!

But then at about 7am or so I get anxious. I want to talk to him!! I just can’t wait till he wakes up! It feels like when I was a kid on Christmas morning. In our house we couldn’t wake my parents until 7am so until then it was just waiting and waiting excited and anxious and getting more impatient minute by minute!

Usually sweets wakes up between 7 and 8am so it’s very exciting!! As soon as he says good morning its like I just opened my Christmas present! I jump on the bed to kiss him and we spend a good time talking about our sleep, our dreams we remember and the plan for the day. It’s so nice!!! I am just so content and enjoying our time together. It makes the day feel BEAUTIFUL no matter what and it so far has been the best way for me to start my day!!!

I am sure in time, I will get used to him and everything wont be so amazing or keep me awestruck. I mourn that day 😦

But isn’t that the special thing about marriage? Where we can be in awe and amazed at what God has done in our lives if we just take the time to look and appreciate the person God designed for us and us for them? I hope so and I plan to! I am making it my own goal to continue to appreciate and enjoy every minute while I can. This is the good advice I am choosing to take. And it’s not too late, no matter how long you or anyone has been married I think choosing this way can breathe new life into an established and comfortable union as well.  Let us all live like every morning is Christmas morning! How fulfilling marriage should be!