Sunrise, Sunset: A Celebration of Marriage

Some of you know that our second-oldest son got married last fall. We couldn’t be more delighted with the girl he chose to be his bride, but I must confess to shedding a few tears during the wedding ceremony at the thought of how very quickly he grew up.

It brought to mind this wonderful old song from Fiddler on the Roof. Not so very long ago, I was singing this very song to my children as a lullaby.

Remembering how much I love it, my son surprised me by having this tune played for a special dance with me at the reception. (I would have brushed up on my waltzing had I known that was coming!)

So I decided to return the favor and surprise him by making a little video rendition of the same tune. The lyrics, which I tweaked just a bit to better fit the situation, can be found at the end of this post. (If you cannot see the video below, click here to view it.)

Sunrise, Sunset

Original text by Sheldon Harnick
(Second refrain lyrics by Jennifer Flanders)

Is this the little boy I carried?
Is this the little girl at play?
I don’t remember growing older.
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, sunset.
Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly flow the days.
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise, sunset.
Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly fly the years.
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears.

Now is the little boy a bridegroom.
Now is the little girl a bride.
Under the canopy we see them,
Side-by-side.
Place the gold ring around her finger.
Pledge your sweet love and share a kiss.
God’s plan for marriage can be seen in this:

One man, one wife,
Wedded for life,
Join hearts as they pray:
“Lord, pour Your blessings out upon us,
“Help us stay faithful, day by day.
“In want, in wealth,
“In sickness and health,
“Keep us ever true,
“And — as You planned from the beginning —
“Let our love point others back to You.”

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

7 Ways to Ruin Your MarriageEarlier this week, I spotted a clever post on Money Saving Mom called 5 Ways to Ruin Your Day — Guaranteed.

Of course, nobody sets out with that goal in mind, but as I read through her list, I realized that from time to time, I’ve been guilty of every single one of them (with the possible exception of #3).

And sure enough, when I think back to days I’ve devoted to such self-defeating activities, they don’t normally rank among my most productive or joyous.

I thought perhaps a similar tongue-in-cheek post about marriage might kindle some comparable sparks of recognition.

Nobody sets out with the goal of ruining their marriage in mind, but — unfortunately — that’s the position in which many couples find themselves.

Maybe if we could recognize the habits that are undermining our relationships early enough, we could change our ways before it’s too late.

So, in that spirit, I offer you…

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage — Guaranteed:


  1. Put yourself first.
  2. Always look out for #1. Make everything about you. Prioritize your needs and marginalize his. If you have children, put them ahead of Daddy, as well. Your husband is a big boy; he’s old enough to take care of himself.

  3. Dwell on his flaws.
  4. Focus all your attention on those things he does that most annoy you. Blind yourself to any good traits, and zero in on the bad ones. Who cares if he is a hard worker if he’s irresponsible with money? What does it matter that he’s a loving and devoted father if he’s also a complete slob?

  5. Assume the worst.
  6. Assign a malignant motive to anything he does that you don’t like. If he really loved you, he would know how much it bothers you and stop doing it. Convince yourself he’s acting that way on purpose, just to tick you off.

  7. Refuse to forgive.
  8. Whenever he forgets your anniversary or loses his temper or leaves his dirty socks on the floor, make sure he knows that he has seriously flubbed up. Glare at him with disapproval or, better yet, give him a cold shoulder. The longer you hold a grudge, the less likely he’ll be to make the same mistake in the future.

  9. Withhold respect.
  10. Don’t just give him respect — make him earn it. The harder he works to win your approval, the more he’ll appreciate it once he gets it. (Until then, feel free to disparage him as much as you like, both to his face and behind his back.)

  11. Turn him down.
  12. You don’t have to have sex to have a good marriage. The sooner your husband understands that, the better. Why make love when you can make excuses? If he’s in the mood and you aren’t, just tell him to go take a cold shower. Put him off enough, and he’ll eventually give up and stop bugging you about it.

  13. Cast blame.
  14. Don’t accept personal responsibility for any of the problems in your marriage — they are all your husband’s fault. Even your own poor attitudes can be pinned on him: If he were the kind of husband he ought to be, you wouldn’t react the way you do. If he’d get his act together, yours would quickly follow.

The good news is, you don’t have to do all these things at once to ruin your marriage. Just doing one or two of them habitually is usually enough to make most couples miserable.

Of course, if you’d rather nurture your marriage than destroy it, then simply do the opposite of this list: Place more importance on your husband’s needs than your own (Philippians 2:3-4), focus on the positive (Philippians 4:8), believe the best (1 Corinthians 13:7), forgive freely (Colossians 3:13), shower him with respect (Ephesians 5:33), don’t deny him physically (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), and own up to your own failings instead of pointing fingers (James 5:16).

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

The Choice is Yours

Love is not a feeling. It's a choice.Jane Austen once wrote, “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” But that doesn’t ring quite true.

Experience has proven time and again that chance has much less to do with happiness than do attitude and outlook. Austen might have more accurately written, “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of choice.”

Our success in marriage, as in life, is in large part determined by the choices — large and small — that we make day after day after day

So… what is it going to be? Will you:

 The choice is yours. You decide. 

Quotes - LL - Matter of Choice

Q&A: What If My Drive is Stronger than His?

What if my husband's sex drive is lower than mine? Q&A from Loving Life at Home....

QUESTION: “Your book [Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself] mainly deals with wives who are denying their husbands of sex. What if it’s the other way around and the husband has a lower drive than the wife?”

ANSWER: The Bible teaches that the husband has a responsibility to the wife in this area, just as surely as the wife has a responsibility to the husband. (See 1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Each is completely dependent upon the other, as we are given no other righteous alternative for experiencing sexual fulfillment other than with one’s own spouse (thus God’s command that neither is to deprive the other).

That’s why I think the frequency with which a couple has sex should really be determined by whichever spouse has the stronger drive. I suggest you discuss the matter with your husband and remind him of your complete dependence upon his active cooperation. You might also read this post, as it has other suggestions for a wife whose husband seems disinterested in sex.

Although it is more common for the man to have the stronger drive, I’ve heard from many, many wives for whom the roles are reversed. It is an agonizing place to be.

If something were to change and I found myself in that situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to discuss it with my husband. Depending on how that talk went, I would probably get a doctor and/or counselor involved, as well.

And since, in our case, a sudden disinterest in sex would be a huge departure from his thirty-year norm, once I ruled out any health concerns or other legitimate causes, I would likely be asking some tough questions about masturbation, pornography, and/or adultery.

A frank discussion about those topics might be in order, even if there hasn’t been an abrupt change in your husband’s interest in intimacy. Although there are definitely some physical things that will affect a man’s libido — low testosterone, depression, anxiety, fatigue, alcohol, drugs, and certain prescription meds, to name just a few — there is a big difference between a man with a low sex drive and a man with a high sex drive who is getting his needs met elsewhere.

Q&A: I Feel Like I’m Living with Jekyll & Hyde

What to do when you find yourself married to a man with a Jekyll & Hyde personality...

We’ve received several questions through our family blog lately that deal with subjects better suited to this forum, so I’ve decided to publish my responses here, in case other readers are dealing with similar situations. Here’s the first:

QUESTION: Hi, Jennifer. I would like to know how you would deal with a husband that is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

One minute everything is wonderful, the next thing he acts mad at me for everything under the sun…. I am not perfect and have made some mistakes, but I think I am a great wife. He has even made the comment that I have put up with a lot over the many years we’ve been married.

He can be wonderful at times, but very difficult to live with at other times.

ANSWER: It’s been decades since I’ve read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I remember enough to know that Hyde would be a very difficult person to live with.

I believe in the book, the doctor’s transformation was caused by some concoction he was drinking. If your husband’s mood swings are caused (or made worse) by alcoholism or substance abuse of any kind, or if he is suffering from a psychological disorder like manic/depression or dissociative (split personality) disorder, or if his behavior is putting you or your children in physical danger, then please get some professional help ASAP.

But if, as your letter indicates, he simply acts one moment as if everything is rosy and the next as if he is intensely irritated by every little thing you say or do, then the following suggestions may help.

You will notice, I’m sure, that all these recommendations require you to adapt your attitudes and actions to him and his mood. And you may be thinking, “He’s the one with the problem, why should I be the one to change?”

I know that seems unfair. And it is.

You were probably hoping for a solution that would change your husband and the way he acts, and I wish I could give you one, but only God can change his heart.

You have no control over your husband’s actions. You can only control your response.

From the (omitted) details of your letter, it sounds like you are already working very hard to make your marriage work. Clearly, you feel you are doing your fair share and just wish your husband would be more appreciative and less volatile in recognizing that fact. In an ideal world, he would. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and I know it really stinks when reality falls short of what could or should be.

But think of it this way: Staying married is a little like driving a car.

To get safely from one place to another when you’re driving, you not only need to obey traffic laws and signals yourself, but you must also watch for other drivers who may be ignoring those same laws and signals.

This is a concept my own dear father had a hard time accepting. Whenever the law gave him the right-of-way, he was determined to take it, no matter what the other drivers around him were doing.

That attitude nearly got our family killed a few times. When we’d mention that fact to him, he’d argue, “Well, if we died, it would’ve been their fault.”

Yeah, maybe. But we’d still be dead.

And preventably so, if you saw a way to avoid the accident, but stubbornly refused to take it.

Likewise, if your marriage crumbles — even if it’s demise can be pinned 100% on your spouse — you and your children are still going to suffer the consequences. Knowing that someone else was to blame does not alter that fact. It won’t breathe life back into the casualties.

So what can be done (beyond all you are already doing) to prevent that from happening?

BE SYMPATHETIC:

Start by trying to understand your husband’s stressors and alleviate as many as possible. Do what you can to minimize the things that frustrate him. Here is a list of possibilities to get you started:

  • physical hunger
  • financial strain
  • self-doubt
  • illness/ poor health
  • unfulfilled desire for sex
  • feeling disrespected (at home or work)
  • overextended schedule (at work or home)
  • concerns about the children
  • responsibilities and commitments
  • caffeine withdrawals
  • unmet personal goals/ dissatisfaction
  • restlessness
  • bad modeling from his own father
  • cluttered/messy house
  • midlife crisis
  • fluctuating hormones
  • general irritability associated with aging
  • immaturity
  • jealousy/ competitiveness
  • general sin nature
  • guilt over specific sin(s)
  • pride (in him or me)
  • crisis of faith

Obviously, you have a measure of control over some of these things, such as cooking good meals to alleviate his physical hunger or saying yes when he’s in the mood to address his sexual hunger.

Over others, such as how his boss treats him at work or what kind of modeling his own father provided for him as a child, you have absolutely no control. But sometimes just recognizing these contributing factors and empathizing and encouraging your husband in the midst of them is enough to help alleviate their harmful effects.

So put yourself in his shoes and treat him as you’d want to be treated, were you dealing with the same stresses and pressures.

NOTE PATTERNS:

It may be helpful and instructive for you to keep a calendar of your husband’s mood swings for several months to see if you can pinpoint what might be triggering them.

Along with his moods, plot his work load, your menstrual cycle, extracurricular activities, your own attitudes, financial ups and downs, his call/vacation schedule, etc. Play the part of a detective and look for connections.

Again, you may not be able to do anything about the triggers, but just being aware of them can help you modulate your own actions and interactions to keep the peace at home and be sensitive to extra pressures your husband may be facing during certain times of the month or year.

Yes, it would be nice if he’d be sensitive to the pressures you’re facing, as well. Maybe someday God will mature your husband to the point that he can reciprocate in the sympathy and compassion department so things won’t seem so one-sided. But until then, you can still improve your situation by giving consideration to these matters, even if none of them are “your fault.”

PRAY ABOUT IT:

I’m sure you are already doing this, but beyond praying that God would change your husband or stabilize his moods, I’d encourage you to pray that He’ll give you wisdom and patience in responding to your man, and also ask Him to open your eyes to anything you may be doing to contribute to the discord.

Pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)

Pray that God would open your eyes to your husband’s good points, as well. Pray that He’d help you keep your focus there, and would give you a deep and abiding love and appreciation for the man you married, and would make you a crown and a blessing to your husband in every way.

TALK TO YOUR HUSBAND:

Wait until your husband is in one of his good moods and gently broach the topic of how his bad moods affect you and the children.

Sometimes men vent their anger and frustration and don’t intend for anybody within earshot to take it personally — like a guy who lets loose a string of curses when he hits his thumb with a hammer, then can’t understand why his wife who overheard the tirade would think he was mad at her. I’m not trying to justify such behavior, by the way, I’m only attempting to explain that sometimes husbands just don’t realize how much their dark or angry moods hurt their wives.

So prayerfully try to explain all that in a nice way, without getting angry and accusatory. I know that’s a tall order, but if you come across as critical, self-righteous, or disrespectful, you’ll likely just make the situation worse.

If your husband is already aware of the problem, ask him if there is anything you can do to help stabilize his moods, and follow through as best you can. I know what keeps my husband happy is a tidy house and lots of sex with me, so — guess what? — that’s exactly what he gets. (Okay, so sometimes the house gets a little cluttered, but I’m extremely faithful in the other area, and that helps blind him to those piles of books on our dining room table.)

BE ENCOURAGED:

I hurt for any wife in your situation. Sin stinks. And it breaks God’s heart. These Jekyll & Hyde mood swings were never part of God’s perfect plan for marriage, nor do they accurately reflect Christ’s love for us.

Even so, you can still glorify God in the way you respond to the circumstances in which you find yourself. You can still grow and mature in Christ in the midst of it. And you can still have a happy, solid marriage, despite your husband’s volatile moods — but that happiness will hinge on your attitudes and reactions.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to commit pertinent Bible verses to memory and draw strength from them when the going gets tough. Here are a few I’d recommend, for starters:

  • “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, NIV)
  • “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3, NASB)
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)
  • “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6, NASB)
  • “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
  • “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NASB)

You may also want to read this post. It’s about getting along with difficult mother-in-laws, but the strategies outlined work equally well when dealing with difficult spouses, bosses, neighbors, or anybody else who has a demanding personality or seems impossible to please.