Who are you?

“Who we are at home, behind closed doors, is who we really are.” (Women Living Well) OUCH!

Who are you at home?  Are you the same person that you are at church, at your kids’ school, at the grocery store or the bank?  I think we all tend to put on a happy face to the outside world when there is trouble at home.  I will be the first to admit that I do this.  The problem, though, materializes when you become someone completely different when the front door closes.  Our homes are our “safe places,” therefore it becomes all too easy to take our frustrations or stresses out on those we love, especially if we have been letting them build up over time.  It’s one thing to not air your dirty laundry in public, however it is something entirely different to morph into a completely different person in the confines of our homes.  The root of this problem is bitterness.

Proverbs 19:13 says, “A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.”   That sounds pretty irritating, huh?  Do you ever find yourself pointing out your spouse’s flaws?  Or maybe you try to hold your tongue, but find yourself keeping a mental list of the things that irritate you or that you think he has done “wrong” only to blow up at some point and spout the list off in its entirety without missing a beat?  Focusing on the things that we deem as bad, wrong, negative or flawed is the quickest way for bitterness to set into our marriage.

What if the expectations we have set for our marriages and/or spouses are unrealistic?  Setting expectations in our minds of how we think our spouses should react or behave is one of the quickest ways to find ourselves let down, unhappy or discontent with our marriages. What if, instead of expecting our spouses to do something, say something or respond to something in a certain way, we simply wait and listen for their true response? I think what we might find is a lot more contentment and a lot less bitterness due to these feelings of not having our expectations met.  The goal is to strive for happiness in the home that, even in the difficult times, triumphs the bitterness that can eat away at our lives.  So, how do we accomplish even part of this?  Thank you for asking!

First, when you find yourself making that mental list of “wrongs”, try making a similar list of “rights.”  Maybe even write these good things down and look back over them when you find yourself reeling through your mental list of “wrongs.” If you’re feeling especially giving, try reading your list to your spouse! Courtney suggests not letting your bitterness fester.  She suggests confessing to God the bitterness that is in your heart through prayer.  You could also memorize scripture to repeat to yourself when you find your mind spinning toward the negative.  And finally, if you feel something that you absolutely must get off your chest, by all means do so! Holding on to true hurts will absolutely cause bitterness!  However, instead of blowing up immediately, take time to pray about it and ask God to soften your heart when you speak to your spouse.  Then, instead of completely focusing on how you were hurt or upset, point out some positives in the situation.  Leave the conversation on a positive thought and with a prayer.

Strive to be one person, the same outside the home as you are inside the home.  Live like He is always watching (He is)!

Marriage…Culture vs. Bible

Genesis 2:18 says “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.”  Genesis 2:24 goes on to say “…a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  From the beginning, God intended men and women to come together, care for one another (Eph. 5:29) , submit to one another (Eph. 5:21) and to put this relationship second only to our relationship with Him (Deut. 6:5; Eph.  5:25).  Unfortunately, the cultural view of marriage does not parallel with the Biblical view of marriage.  The media is one outlet that has helped to entirely reshape our culture’s view of marriage.  From reality television shows  to social media, the ideal of marriage has been completely ripped apart.

Reality television has created entirely UNrealistic ideas about marriage, family and life as a whole.  In Chapter 7 of Women Living Well, Courtney describes several different types of reality relationships.  First you have the “Casanova,” where the man says and does everything picture perfectly…think The Bachelor.  Second, you have the empowered woman.  This woman is liberated, independent and has no problems running the home…think Wife Swap.   Third, you have the revolving door of husbands and wives.  When one relationship doesn’t work out, simply move on to the next suitor…think Real Housewives.  Fourth, you have the couple that simply live together, perhaps even raising a family, yet refuse to get married…think Kardashians.  All of these are readily accepted by society, due in large part to their glorious portrayal by the media, however none are Biblically sound.  Sadly, all these shows do is serve to incite discontentment in the hearts of many spouses.

Outlets like Facebook have opened up doors that have caused many a failed marriage.  What may begin as an innocent online friendship, or a rekindling of an old friendship from the past, can quickly escalate to the inappropriate realm.  Courtney herself has stated that, although her marriage is strong and thriving, she felt it necessary to delete men entirely from her Facebook page.  How many of us have logged onto Facebook to find pictures of flowers sent for “no reason at all” or updates from friends about their wonderful spouse that brings them breakfast in bed or makes their coffee every morning?  These types of posts can stir feelings of envy and/or jealousy in even the strongest of spouses and marriages. These feelings create a “grass is greener” syndrome which, again, leads to discontentment.  Discontentment is detrimental in marriage. Disrespect also seems to run rampant through social media.  In the heat of an argument, before thinking things through entirely, a spouse can become quick to air their frustration online.  We’ve all seen the posts that have made us stop and think to ourselves “whoa, marital dispute!”  Social media also eats away at our family time.  The amount of time we spend looking at the screens of our phones, iPads or computers should never outweigh the time we spend looking into the face of our spouse and/or family.

So, what can we do to strengthen our marriages in a culture that is ready to throw in the towel at any minute?  For starters, arm yourself.  Arm yourself with the Biblical definition of marriage.  Arm yourself with the Word and how He says we are to live together in marriage.  Second, weed out the bad seeds.  If you find yourself bitter or upset at your spouse after watching a tv show or reading status updates from friends on social media, cut those areas out of your life.  If you think time is an issue, do as Courtney suggests and make a log of the amount of time you are spending looking at your phone, iPad, computer or any other electronic device.  If this time outweighs the amount of time you are looking at your spouse or family, it’s time to cut back drastically.  Third, filter what you post, say and associate with on social media.  Fill your newsfeed with positive, uplifting sites and people. If you believe having men in your newsfeed may be a weak spot for you, by all means delete them. Weed out anything and everything, anyone and everyone, that stirs negative emotions about your marriage.  It may sound dramatic, but then again, so is divorce.

Women Living Well Book Study

Last October I took part in on an online Bible study that truly changed my life.  The study was based on the book “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  Through that Bible study I discovered several awesomely inspiring women bloggers, one of which was Courtney Joseph from Women Living Well.

At this time, Courtney was very close to the launch date of her new book, also entitled Women Living Well.  I downloaded the book after finishing the online Bible study and immediately dove in.  Who was this woman that had the exact same thoughts as me?  To say I agree with Courtney’s views on Biblical living would be a vast understatement.  In “Women Living Well” Courtney discusses topics such as our husband’s being the head of the household, a hot topic after the release of (and subsequent interviews regarding) Candace Cameron Bure ‘s new book (whom I also love and entirely agree with and support). 

Other topics include ideas on daily Bible time, the effects of social media in marriage, parenting and more.  I am very excited to begin working through this book as a full-blown study, rather than a simple reading of ideas.  Will you join me?

First, pick up a  copy of Courtney Joseph’s book, “Women Living Well:  Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.”  It is available at most major book retailers, as well as in many ebook formats. Next, follow this 8 week reading plan:   (click to enlarge).

WLW-Book-Club-Reading-Schedule-4

Then, simply join in the discussion over on Courtney’s book club blog page and be sure to check back here for my insight as well.  I pray this study will impact your life in the days to come!

~Kayla~

You have a choice

The choices we make in our marriages have generational effects.  The choices your grandparents made effected your parents and, in turn, effected you and the way you perceive marriage.  In Ephesians 5, the relationship of marriage is likened to that of Christ and the church, the most important relationship there is and will ever be.  Therefore, it goes to reason that our marriages should be as important to us as our relationship with Jesus.  When your walk with God gets hard do you throw in the towel and look for a better God?  Hopefully not!  Why then, when times get tough in marriage, are we so quick to throw in the towel and look for a better spouse?

Our grandparents seem to have had a much better grasp on this truth than our generation today, which is all to willing to resort to divorce at the first sign of struggle.  Maybe you were raised in a home where the ideals of marriage were not Biblically portrayed.  Maybe your own marriage is now struggling.  You have an opportunity to positively impact your children, their marriages, your future grandkids and their marriages.  Value your marriage, respect it and your spouse.  Put as much effort and emphasis on it as you do your relationship with Jesus.  Study God’s word on marriage in Ephesians 5.  Even though this is not society’s ideal of marriage, it is Christ’s ideal of marriage and will truly stand the test of time if we let it.  Imagine the impact this could have on society!

Are you making positive generational decisions in your marriage?  Will your kids and grandkids be able to view yours as a model of Biblical marriage?  If not, now is the time to make changes that will positively impact the path of your family for generations to come.