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My Husband and I are Fighting (Again)

We're at War (and you are, too)WE’RE AT WAR…. That’s what headlines all across the United States boldly proclaimed on the morning of January 17, 1991.

The Masthead was so large, it grabbed my attention the minute I opened the curtains of our little studio apartment.

Wanting to capture this historic moment on film, I bundled my two young children up warm and ushered them across the parking lot to take their picture front of the newsstand.

Rather than the somber faces one might expect from the offspring of an Army Reservist, my little ones broke out grinning from ear to ear as soon as they spotted Mom’s camera, totally oblivious to the tumult that threatened to rock their world.

Doesn’t that typify what happens in other areas of our lives, as well?

When I look back at photographs taken on our wedding day, I can’t help but notice my husband and I were wearing those same naive smiles.

Like most couples, we had no idea that as we walked arm-in-arm down the aisle and out of the church at the close of the ceremony, we were marching into battle. We were oblivious to the fact that there was a war raging on the horizon and that, even as we smiled for the camera, our marriage was under attack.

Marriage is under attack on all fronts. Do you have a battle plan for helping yours survive? Here's ours. http://lovinglifeathome.com/2014/10/09/my-husband-and-i-are-fighting-again/Unfortunately, when the attack is particularly sudden or stealth, it is sometimes difficult to even identify the enemy.

Some couples act as if they’re at war with one another. They mistakenly believe they have married the enemy, but they are dead wrong.

Know this:If you are married, you have an enemy — an enemy that will do everything in his power to destroy your marriage — but that enemy is not your spouse.

Ephesians 6:12 warns us:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

And 1 Peter 5:8 tells us:

“Be alert and of sober mind.Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. looking for someone to devour”

From the moment your marriage ship was christened, Satan has been plotting to sink it.

He is crafty. He is relentless. He is on the prowl. But we needn’t succumb to his attacks.

We can win this war. But to make that happen, we need God’s grace, we need grit, and we need a good battle plan.

Our Battle PLAN for Marriage:

  • P = Pray
  • The best place to do battle for your marriage is on your knees. Couples who pray together regularly enjoy less than a 1% chance of divorce.

    Marriage was God’s idea in the first place. It only makes sense to enlist His help in preserving yours. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18, John 15:7)

  • L = Learn
  • Maintain a teachable spirit. Study what God’s Word says about marriage and about your responsibilities to your spouse.

    Seek counsel from older, happily married couples who have remained committed to one another for several decades or more — what’s their secret?

    Read good books about marriage, gleaning as much wisdom as you can and applying what you learn to your own life circumstances. (Proverbs 4:7, Psalm 25:4)

  • A = Anticipate
  • “Into each life some rain must fall.” Longfellow’s words are true of marriage, as well.

    Expect an occasional gale. Prepare for it. And when storms blow in, don’t let them drive you apart. Hunker down and weather the tempest together, confident that the sun is still shining behind the clouds and the skies will eventually clear.

    Anticipate also how your actions and reactions, both in good times and bad, will affect your spouse. Choices have consequences, so be careful that the decisions you make, the words that you say, and the things that you do are things that will build up and strengthen your marriage and your spouse rather than tearing them down. (Proverbs 14:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

  • N = Nurture
  • Just as a gardener must spend time cultivating his beds — weeding, watering, fertilizing and pruning the plants to keep them healthy and fruitful — you must invest time and energy into your marriage if you want it to blossom and bear fruit.

    Spend time with your spouse. Work together. Play together. Dream together. Pray together.

    Be patient. Be considerate. Be respectful. Love your spouse with the kind of unselfish, sacrificial, committed love Christ has for the church. Do all these things, and your marriage will not only survive, but will thrive — even in the midst of attack. (Mark 10:6-9, Malachi 2:15-16)

So my husband and I are fighting again. We’ve been doing battle for our marriage for 27 years now.

We have no intention of throwing in the towel, because we believe marriage is worth fighting for — and we know God is on our side.

Have you joined in the fray? What has helped strengthen your marriage against the attack? Please share in the comments below. We’re always on the lookout for new and effective strategies.

Messy Beautiful Love {Review and Giveaway}

No marriage is ever beyond God's redeeming grace...Is your marriage struggling? Does it feel one-sided? Do you long for it to be more than it is?

Marriages are under attack as never before. Unfortunately, those attacks sometimes come not from without, but from within.

In Messy Beautiful Love, bestselling author Darlene Schacht discusses just such an attack on her own marriage — one that surely would have torn it apart were it not for God’s redeeming grace.

The biggest marital problems rarely begin big. Seldom are we slammed with something that materializes out of thin air. Our problems usually start out small and grow.

“If I were to pinpoint the one thing that led me to almost destroy my marriage,” Darlene writes candidly, “it would be that I was keeping a record of wrongs…. I took count of [all my husband's] faults and kept track of each one.”

Do you ever do that? Do you harbor grudges against your husband or nurse resentment toward him in your heart? Be forewarned: doing so will lead you down a path you do not wish to follow.

“I had forgotten what 1 Corinthians says about love,” Darlene continues. “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

"Love is what is left in a relationship when the selfishness is taken out." - Nick Richardson

Love is unselfish. It puts the other’s interests ahead of its own. While love heals wounds, unforgiveness causes them to fester. When we keep a record of wrongs, we do so to our own detriment. When we give root to bitterness, our love gets choked out and our hearts grow cold, hard, and impenetrable.

“The problem here isn’t your husband,” Darlene explains. “It’s that your level of expectation for him is outshining his character. When you measure him against the weight of expectation, you are left with an unbalanced scale.

“Accepting a person for who he or she is doesn’t mean that you excuse sin. I’d never ask or want you to do that. What I am asking you to do is to look past the human frailty of a man to seek his beauty by removing the weight of expectation you hold. I’m asking that you walk in the grace of messy, beautiful love.”

Darlene opens the book with a prayer that her testimony would bring glory and honor to God, and that it does. Hers is a powerful story of hope and redemption that will powerfully impact the life of everyone who reads it.

Messy Beautiful Love

Messy Beautiful Love is a collection of important life-lessons learned — some of them the hard way — that you can take and apply to your own marriage. When you do, you will avoid many of the pitfalls the author points out along the way.

Want to read this book yourself? Darlene’s publisher has graciously offered to give a free paperback copy to one of my readers. Enter to win it here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are You Up for a Challenge?

UPDATE: The 30-Day Respect Challenge is having some technical difficulties that Revive our Hearts will not be able to fix until after the TrueWoman Conference in October. I’ll be sure to let you know just as soon as it is up and running again!

Being Married is Like Riding a Bike

Twenty-seven years, two days, eleven hours, and thirty-nine minutes. That’s how long I’ve been married to my husband.

You might think that after more than a quarter of a century, we’d have this marriage thing down pat. That by now, the hard work would be behind us. That maybe we could just coast through the rest of our marriage with the wind on our faces, enjoying the view.

You might also think that writing books on love and respect would so cement those concepts in my mind that I’d no longer struggle with them myself.

But if you thought any of those things (like I sometimes do in my naiveté), you’d be wrong.

Marriage is like riding a bike. You can only coast for so long before losing your momentum and falling over. You’ve got to keep pedaling if you don’t want to crash.

That’s part of the reason I signed up for Revive Our Heart’s new 30-Day Respect Challenge over the weekend.

I’ve been waiting since February for this challenge to be released. That’s when Revive Our Hearts first contacted me about turning my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect, into a 30-day Challenge.

I enthusiastically agreed and provided the extra 5 days worth of material they requested, then waited eagerly for their design team to get everything else ready.

The process took several months, but last Friday, on my own 27th wedding anniversary, the project was finally completed and released.

I signed up for it immediately, wanting to experience the challenge myself and thinking it would be a nice review. At least on a subconscious level, I imagined myself being able to check, check, check off each day’s challenge. After all, I wrote the book. It should be old hat by now, right?

Well, the first day’s challenge was delivered to my inbox yesterday morning. It took all of sixty seconds to read, but brought with it something I wasn’t really expecting: Conviction.

Not initially, but within an hour of reading it.

I’d checked my email before church and found the first day’s challenge waiting for me: CHOOSE JOY. Been there. Done that. I’m a naturally happy person, so I marked that off my list and moved on.

Flash forward forty-five minutes, and I was sitting at a breakfast table in a bagel cafe listening to my husband recount how he’d fed the goldfish before we left for church that morning.

We have an unusually friendly goldfish who lives in a bowl on a ledge behind our kitchen sink. He swims to our side of the bowl every time anybody comes into the kitchen, wagging his tail like a puppy and begging for food. My husband, especially, finds this behavior impossible to resist.

But unbeknownst to Doug, I’d already fed the fish when I first got up. And I’d changed the water in his fishbowl, too.

And so I immediately began quizzing my husband on how many pellets he’d dropped into the bowl. And reminding him that if he gives the fish more than three or four at a time, they sink to the bottom faster than Gill can eat them. And explaining that when food sits in the bottom of the bowl, it turns the water murky, which means I have to change it every other day instead of once or twice a week.

Can you sense what’s happening here? I’m getting testy over four extra flakes of fish food! My husband’s been as generous with the fish as he is with all the people in his life, and I’m letting that fact threaten to steal my joy.

That’s how easily I’m tripped up at times.

But fortunately for all of us, that first day’s challenge was fresh on my mind, and it helped me to recognize this situation for what it truly was: An opportunity to CHOOSE JOY. A chance to practice what I preach. A moment that called for grace and love and respect and thankfulness.

And so, mid-way into my exasperated lecture on The Proper Way to Feed a Fish, I stopped and chose to laugh instead.

I smiled at my husband and told him how much I love him. Our family had an absolutely wonderful day worshipping together, sharing meals, and fellowshipping with dear friends.

And the fishbowl was still crystal clear when we got home.

I’m looking forward to the next 29 days of this free 30-Day Challenge. I think it’s going to be a great time of growth for me and of blessing for my husband. Want to join me? You can sign up here.

And if you’d like more than a 60-second synopsis of each chapter, I’d encourage you to get the book. When you order a print copy through Revive Our Hearts, you help support their wonderful ministry worldwide.

Or, if you’d prefer reading a digital copy, you can get it on your Kindle for just 99-cents through Wednesday of this week.

Why I Keep Saying “Yes” to Sex

Why I Keep Saying Yes to Sex | a word to wives from lovinglifeathomeAuthor Leah Holder wrote a terrific post this week for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which she entitled Why I Keep Saying “No” to Sex.

The gist of the article is this: She says “no” because she is not yet married.

Sexual purity is important to her because it is important to God, and she has therefore made a commitment to save sex for marriage, however unpopular or difficult such a decision has sometimes seemed.

The Bible is very clear in its stance regarding sex outside of marriage. (Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 13:4)

The reason we have the skyrocketing rates of STDs, abortion, divorce, and single-parent families we see today is because far too many people have ignored God’s guidelines in the area of sex for far too long.

But there is a flip-side to the coin: The Bible also speaks clearly about what our attitude toward sex should be once we’ve walked down the aisle. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Sex between husband and wife, says God, is a good thing. (Genesis 2:24-25; Genesis 1:28, 31)

Sex within the context of marriage is part of His perfect design. That is why I keep saying “yes” to sex within the context of mine:

  • Sex is Protective
  • I’ll be honest. I didn’t fully appreciate how vitally important sex would be to my husband (and to my marriage), until after I’d married him. Like the vast majority of men, my husband likes to have sex. Often. After my early attempts to lower his expectations concerning frequency failed to convince him, I did what I should have done from the start: I changed my priorities to match his. Sure, I could have stubbornly insisted he wait for the weekend. He married me for better or worse, and — being a man of integrity — I believe he would have honored his vows regardless. But much of the joy and happiness and satisfaction and delight that comes from fully embracing God’s purpose for passion in marriage would have been forfeited had I done so. And it would also have made it far more difficult to resist the many, many, many temptations that daily present themselves in this sexually-charged culture, if he didn’t have a wife at home who is ready and willing to take care of his needs. To deny your husband physically is to leave him vulnerable and unprotected. (1 Corinthians 7:5) It is foolishly shortsighted. Why would any thinking woman do it?

  • Sex Promotes Good Health
  • There is not a vitamin, supplement, or herb on the market that benefits our bodies as much as monogamous sex in a loving relationship: It boosts energy and immunity; increases longevity; decreases the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease; alleviates stress, anxiety, and depression; strengthens and tones muscles; improves mental and emotional health; promotes deeper, more satisfying sleep; and fosters a more youthful looking appearance… just to name a few. Want to know more? The first 11 chapters of my book, Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself, discuss in detail the studies that support these and myriad other blessings that come from prioritizing sex in marriage.

  • Sex is Pleasurable
  • My husband took me out for a hibachi dinner date a couple of nights ago, and the other people at our table complimented our deft use of chopsticks. Where did you learn to do that? they wanted to know.The answer? We first visited a hibachi grill on our honeymoon, and my husband thought it would be fun to eat the entire meal with chopsticks, so we did (albeit very awkwardly). With every bite, more food fell back to our plate than made it to our mouth. But after 27 years of practicing every time we go out for Asian food of any sort, we’ve steadily improved so that now we’re both very comfortable and adept at eating with chopsticks. You may not realize it, but a similar thing happens with sex. Sex may be novel and new on your honeymoon, but it just gets better and better with practice, so don’t give up or quit too soon. I can testify that after 27 years, sharing physical intimacy with my husband is more pleasurable than I ever imagined possible when we were first getting started. What was fun but fumbling and awkward in the beginning, is still fun but has become more natural and easy over time.

  • Sex is Procreative
  • I love babies, and sex makes babies, so that’s just one more reason to love sex! While it is true that God intended sex for marital oneness, that’s only half the story. He also intended it for fruitfulness. And one of the advantages to embracing this aspect of sex is that it makes for greater spontaneity — no pills to pop or scrambling around in the heat of the moment for a misplaced diaphragm. Of course, being open to children does not automatically guarantee you a Duggar-sized family — we’ve known lots of couples who would’ve loved to have lots of children, but were only blessed with one or two despite never doing anything to prevent pregnancy. Still, there remains an obvious link between having sex and having babies, and the more comfortable you are with that fact, the easier it will be to fully enjoy the physical part of your marriage relationship.

  • Sex is Part of God’s Plan
  • God made sex. He made it for a purpose, and He made it good. Even if your marriage isn’t what it should be — or if sex with your husband isn’t what you thought it would be — you can still choose to live in cooperation and obedience to God’s original purpose and plan for sex in marriage. If your husband shows interest when you’re not in the mood, accept his advances anyway. Willingness often precedes desire for many wives, and responding positively and sincerely to your husband’s romantic overtures will put you in the mood in a hurry. If you are interested when your husband is not, initiate sex yourself. Admire him, flirt with him, and encourage him every chance you get, praying that God transform this aspect of your relationship into everything it was meant to be.

In our society today, I know a lot of women say yes, yes, yes to sex before marriage, and a lot of wives say no, no, no to sex afterwards. This is completely backwards. In the end, such practices lead only to heartache, frustration, disease, and constant emotional turmoil. This was never God’s plan for sex.

If you are single, do everything you can to protect this vulnerable side of yourself and save it for marriage, then share it with one person, completely and consistently, for the rest of your life.

If you are married, don’t treat sex like some rare, exotic spice to be sprinkled sparingly on special occasions. Realize, instead, that sex was meant to be a staple for married couples — more akin to bread and water or meat and potatoes — and should be enjoyed regularly in liberal amounts. Doing so will strengthen, support, and sustain your marriage like nothing else.


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Life with You is Awesome

The children and I have been working on this little surprise for Father’s Day, based on the theme song from The Lego Movie. Of course, it’s almost impossible to keep a secret in a household our size. Since Daddy already found out about it, I decided to publish a week early.

You’ll have to excuse the audio. Rap music is clearly not the forte of this classically trained soprano, but we had a great time putting it together, anyway… because “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”

And for those who are inclined to sing along, here are the lyrics for our version:

Life with You Is Awesome!

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.

Married life is better when we work together.
Side by side, you and I gonna stick together, in all kinds of weather.
Man and wife, I love you, you love me, we’re both working in harmony.

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.

(Woooo!) 3, 2, 1. Go!

Have you heard the news? Everyone’s talking.
Life is good and people are gawking.
Baby’s due, our family is growing.*
We’ve got love and joy overflowing.

Life with you is full of adventures
I’ll love you even when you have dentures.
Food in my teeth? Oh, that’s just awesome.
Next time, tell me when I need to floss ‘em.**
Love is blind — now I know that’s true.
It’s so awesome to be loved by you (be loved by you).

Married life is better when we work together.
Side by side, you and I gonna stick together, both now and forever.
Man and wife, I love you, you love me, we’re both working in harmony.

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.

Marriage vows, wedding rings,
I just named two awesome things.
Pledged my love, said, “I do.”
You know what’s awesome? Life with you!

Clean, fresh sheets upon our bed, a feather pillow for my head.
Let’s go soak in a hot jacuzzi.
Not too long, or we’ll get woozy.

Pools, tools, jewels.
They’re awesome.
Girls with curls and pearls.
They’re awesome.
Boys enjoy their toys.
That’s awesome!
Every day of life as man and wife
Is awesome!

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.


* As far as we know, there are no babies currently on the way, although it is probably just a matter of time, at least as far as grandchildren are concerned!
** This really did happen, although (thankfully) not at the wedding. It was actually on one of our first dates, when I got a whole black peppercorn lodged between my top central and lateral incisors and didn’t realize it was there until the date was over. Doug still claims he never noticed.

I Married a Sinner (and So Did He)

Nothing Else to Marry

What follows is an excerpt from my book, Love Your Husband/Love Yourself. I am posting here at the request of a blogging friend from Thankful Homemaker.

The letter quoted at the end of this passage is a personal one that Elisabeth Elliot sent me in response to a letter I mailed to her over a quarter century ago.

That was in the days before the Internet, when handwritten correspondence was still in fashion.

The ink on that correspondence has faded a bit and the stationery yellowed with age, but the advice Mrs. Elliot gave me therein is as timely today as it was then.

It deserves to be shared and taken to heart — for in a world filled with Hollywood chick-flicks and high expectations and Harlequin romances and (even) homeschool courtships, it is easy to lose sight of reality.

That reality is this: Your husband is human. He has flaws (as do you). And forgiveness will be essential if you ever hope to look beyond those flaws and build a happy, successful marriage.

~ Words of Wisdom ~

We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but there is a difference between philosophically acknowledging your husband’s inherent sin nature, and experientially coming face to face with a particular offense which affects you. This is where the rubber meets the road, where forgiveness becomes more than a theoretical platitude.

I first grappled with this distinction back in 1986, the year I finished college. Doug and I had met two weeks before graduation and become fast friends. We held so many things in common — values, goals, beliefs, even mannerisms — that my own mother told me she would fear we were siblings had I been adopted as Doug was.

We were soon making plans for the future, determined that our life together should be built on trust and transparency. Against the advice of all his friends, Doug was completely candid with me about his past failings, and I am eternally grateful for his honesty.

Although the events he described had occurred in the distant past, his confession was difficult for me to bear; it consumed my thoughts by day and tormented my dreams by night.

Careworn and weary, I finally wrote to Elisabeth Elliot for counsel. With her permission, I close this chapter with her response, dated September 30, 1986.

Dear Jennifer:

How my heart went out to you last night as I read your letter, just received. I understand perfectly how you felt…. Even God, who forgives the sin and casts it into the depths of the sea, does not undo the effect of that sin, nor can you…. The tears, the nightmares, the unbidden imaginary pictures that torment you — how well I empathize with all of that, and pray for your comfort and healing.

First let me say that Doug is to be commended for not allowing himself to deceive you. He must have been in an agony over the decision to tell you, knowing at least a little bit how much it would hurt.

Second, you suffer not alone, but actually and redemptively with Christ (see Colossians 1:24, Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 4:12-13, and many other passages). This aspect of suffering is a real life-changer. Study it for the rest of your life.

Third, you suffer quite literally because of another’s sin, which is exactly what Christ did. Because He paid the price for yours, you too must be willing to pay the price for Doug’s — the price of sorrow, heartbreak, the sense of irremediable loss…. Forgiveness means absolute relinquishment of all that. It is a laying down of your life. Your dream of the “perfect” man has to go — it is this man God has given you, another sinner (there isn’t anything else to marry!) — it is this gift you receive in thanksgiving, acknowledging the fact that in this fallen, broken world, there is no place where the heart may be perfectly at rest and wholly filled except at the Spring of Living Water. Drink there, dear Jennifer, and be at peace.

Doug’s admission will always be a reminder to you that he needs your sacrificial, self giving love. When you sin against him, as you certainly will, any wife does, you will then know, when you have to ask his forgiveness, that you are two human beings in need of the Amazing Grace that saves WRETCHES!! You are, as Peter wrote, “heirs together of the grace of life.”

So forgive him freely, utterly, joyfully — for that is how Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). Bring all those awful thoughts and imaginations under the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10), and receive this man as your God-given husband, promising to honor, which means, among other things, never to bring up again that which has been put under the Blood.

I know a young woman who steadfastly refused to forgive her husband…. She has, in spite of Christian profession, destroyed her marriage, destroyed her own life, and blighted the lives of others. Don’t refuse the grace of God for your own deep needs, nor refuse to Doug the grace He will give you to forgive him.

Lovingly,
Elisabeth Elliot

I’m not sure what I had expected Elisabeth Elliot to say to me, but — twenty-eight years and twelve children later — I am so very grateful that she gave me the advice she did… and that I had sense enough to take it.

If this is an area of struggle in your life, I pray God will give you the grace to take it, too.


Want to read more? You can find Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other fine booksellers. It is also available for Kindle or the Nook.

Love Your Husband/ Love YourselfWhat readers are saying:

“This book is the talk your mom never had the nerve to have with you.”

“I wish I had read it years ago…”

“Don’t miss this one.”

“…a message openly opposed by our culture and sadly sidestepped by the church.”

“…one of the most candid, honest, beautiful books on marriage I have ever read.”

Forever After (Free Printable Subway Art)


Wedding season is upon us: We’ve been invited to three weddings in four weeks, and it’s not even June yet!

What’s more, at least two of those brides are in their early twenties, which gives me hope that the trend toward delaying marriage an extra decade (or forgoing it altogether) may be starting to turn.

That makes me happy.

To celebrate, I decided to create a new piece of subway art.

You can print the design in the original 8×10 size for framing, or if you’re the crafty sort, you may want to print four copies per page, trim, and then mount them on cardstock to make your own wedding cards.

This is what all the brides we know will be getting with their gifts from us this season (along with a copy of my book).
Subway Art Wedding Cards