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Infidelity IS NOT the End of Your Marriage

winning after infidelityWhen a marriage is challenged with infertility, financial struggles, or lack of communication people rally around the couple and offer their opinion on how a couple can work through those challenges. You have people who are willing to share how they overcame in those situations. People offer practical advice on things they did to manage through the hurt and frustration of their challenge until they felt whole again in their marriage. Unfortunately there is not an abundance of people running to do the same with infidelity.

Couples seem to flounder through recovering from infidelity without much support. Some even give up even though they are close to beginning the healing process. They don’t have a wise circle that will give them the same support as the examples above. There is not a group of married people who will share wisdom from their own recovery to help the couple know that victory is possible for them, too. The only group that seems to be available is the one who urge a quick and painful divorce.

The truth is that there are couples who survive infidelity and they do seem to grow closer. According to the few that we have met or have inboxed us this week on our Facebook Fan Page, it was a challenging road but they made it. Only a few brave souls shared openly their own brief story of overcoming which I believe encouraged those who chose to like or comment.

When God allowed us to pray this week for couples who are challenged in this area, we realized that this is a topic that we cannot just talk about for one week. There has to be an ongoing conversation about the possibility of winning after infidelity. There seems to be a group of couples that want guidance and want to know that victory is possible despite what the media says.

The funny thing is that even though many movies, books, or television shows will not show the positive aftermath of restoration in marriage they still exist. The Clinton’s, the Cosby’s, and most recently the Campbell’s all survived infidelity. When the truth finally became apparent to the public, negative opinions formed, yet they stood firm for their marriage. We don’t need to know more of the personal details of the choice of one spouse to not “forsake all others.” It is none of our business. All we need to know is that they chose the other part of their vows that says, “…in good times and bad times…until death do we part.”

It is our prayer that as we take our time over the next few weeks to deal with this topic that couples are encouraged to know that victory is possible. We pray that we can be a positive part of this community to share wisdom from others who have survived and experts in the field.  We do not represent that we are professional experts in this area so please consult a licensed professional. Yes the road may seem impossible right now but please know that infidelity does not have to be the end of your marriage.

Be encouraged and keep winning.

Respect Dare Wrap Up: It’s Not About You (Marriage as a Partnership)

marriage teamMy husband is my best friend, lover, confidante, prayer warrior among a whole list of other things. What I have learned is that I am those same things or at least I’m supposed to be those same things to him, too. This last week of The Respect Dare has been an emotional roller coaster but what stuck out to me was a reminder that my marriage is not about me. Wow!

In a post-Oprah era wives have come to believe that we deserve time for ourselves despite the challenges in our spouse’s life. We believe that we come first and everything somehow revolves around us because we are the superwoman helpmeet that seems to hold everything together. We have forgotten that our other half bares the weight of the world on their shoulders, too.

If our husbands are in need of something that may inconvenience us or we may not be in the mood to do at that moment we say no or not now. Our loving husbands concede to our wants and desires and follow our flow to keep the peace forsaking their needs. They put their heads down and keep working peacefully and rarely say a word. The old saying is true, that if mom isn’t happy no one is happy, right? They make it work because their desire is to please us but when is it their turn? When is it their turn to have their desires considered within this partnership?

Wives, it’s just us so be honest. It does feel great being the center of your husband’s world. He yields to your desire when you say that you have had a rough day. He’s a gentleman who understands that this moment for intimacy is not right for you. He gets up before you even though he wants to hug the bed more just so that you have more time in the bathroom. He goes out of his way to bring you that treat that you have craved but when is it his turn?

I know that I am not talking to all wives because I know that there is a bunch of you that are superhuman, superhero, and super perfect helpmeets that always put your husbands’s needs first. I’m just talking to us that forget to consider that when you are having a bad day that he might have had one, too. I know that your co-worker may have been mean to you today but his boss called him out in front of everyone for the third time this month. I know that you have had to deal with the children and planning the meals but he has had to redo the budget the third time this month to make sure that everything was covered and he’s considered getting a second job to make ends meet. He may need your words of encouragement and support this day, first. He may need twenty minutes to himself when he gets home just to regroup from his day before he can help with the kids. He may need you to run an extra errand in your already full day because he cannot get away from the job early enough to do it. You’re a team a now and sometimes we have to “take one for the team.”

I dare you to let your husband have that extra five minutes today and remember that you are a team.

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

To get more information about the Respect Dare click here.

Respect Dare Wrap Up: Lessons Not Learned

LessonsOn my personal Facebook and Twitter page I post a hashtag called #LessonsLearned. They are things that I have learned as a result of being challenged in various areas of my life and finally understand the lesson in overcoming. No one else could save me from these lessons and I still get the value of them. They were things that I needed to experience to make me grow.

I shared that first today as we discuss this week’s Respect Dare because as wives we naturally want our homes to run as perfectly as possible. That can sometimes mean that we take on tasks that we should probably delegate. It can also mean that if we think that the person (our husbands) won’t complete the task we may take over or nag him about it. As tempting as it may seem to complete the task, no matter how severe, if they agreed to do the task we must let them complete it and trust that God will help them in the process.

I have to admit that this was another one of those “oops and ouch” moments in reading The Respect Dare. I admit that I even cried at how I had been in God’s way while He was guiding my husband to the right path. I thought about all the times that He was teaching my husband a lesson and because I thought that I knew the answer I jumped in the way. I stopped God’s tutoring time with my husband so that He could see me doing it right. God was helping my husband to get an A+ in an area but I kept drawing the attention away from him because of my own fears of lack, inadequacy, and potential embarrassment.

I forgot that we are a team. I think about all of my favorite movies about sports where there was a hotshot captain or player who thought that the team was nothing without them. The player would say to the coach that the team needed them and couldn’t do any better without them. The coach would try to help the good player to realize that actually the hotshot was nothing without the team. That player had to learn to allow the other members to get better at playing the sport by letting them take the shots and making the play in the game.

In the beginning the team would still lose but as they improved in their confidence and knowledge the margin they lost by was growing smaller. Eventually they won the game but it only came after allowing the teammates to learn on their own. The hotshot learned to encourage and not tear down their other teammates. The hotshot learned to ask permission to teach a different way rather than taking over and doing it by himself.  The teammates became better when the team acted as one and not separate teams.

Wives, our role is to be a helpmate and not our husband’s savior. Each time we think that we are saving the family from something because our husband’s did not do it we are in God’s way. We have to prayerfully check in with God first and allow Him to guide us both. Remember we are not perfect beings and don’t always get an A+ in our spiritual lessons, either. We need to extend the same grace that we expect with our imperfect moments. We need to encourage our husbands even in the challenging moments and humbly ask questions. We need to trust that God can and will be a better tutor for the lesson that He is helping our husbands to learn than we are.

My prayer is that wives that are challenged in being in control would fully rely on God to be the tutor for both her and her husband. I pray that we would be honest about our fears of letting go control and trust God with all of our heart and not lean to our understanding. I pray that we would remember that no matter what it looks like that God promises that ALL things work together for good to those who are the called according to His purpose. I pray that when we are feeling overwhelmed with what looks like it may not work that we would simply cast all of our cares on God because we know without a doubt that he cares for us. I thank God in advance for victory in this area. In Jesus Name. Amen.

I dare you to let go control and allow God to tutor your husband.

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

To get more information about The Respect Dare click here.

The Respect Dare Wrap Up: Respecting His Efforts

PraiseThis week’s dare reminded me of some time that I spent with some elders early in our marriage. I remember complaining about how my husband mopped the floor. The elders stopped me dead in my tracks and told me to say nothing to him about it. They explained that if I wanted to continue to receive his help that I would have to respect his efforts. Over the years he has become very good at mopping the floor and takes great pride in it. I wonder what would have happened if I had not taken the advice of those wise women.

I have unfortunately witnessed the opposite with some former friends and associates with their husbands. Instead of allowing the husband to try his best to complete the task, the wife always took over or told him how to do it “better.” It did not occur to me at the time that their actions did not communicate respect. I just knew that I felt uncomfortable and imagined the husband did also.

Most husbands love to be affirmed for their efforts. It is almost as if we are their measuring stick to see how well they did. Have you ever noticed that when you sincerely compliment your husband or publicly praise him that you begin to see an increase in that area? Our husbands love compliments and praise just as much as wives. They want to be noticed for their efforts.

I wish that I could say that I always took the advice of the wise women that talked to me about respecting my husband’s efforts but I didn’t.  I remember one Mother’s Day, my husband decided to make me a wonderful Sunday dinner. He was very excited to do this special thing for me because our two youngest children were both under five years old at the time. The food was less than great but he made the effort. I can’t remember if I said anything that day but I do remember sharing with others about the greens that were half washed and the tasteless macaroni and cheese in front of him.

I embarrassed him and was totally disrespectful. It was a long time before he attempted to make another large meal like that again. Honestly, I am not Martha Stewart in the kitchen either but my husband never cracked jokes like I did. I would have stopped trying to get better and learn recipes if he had done the same. In retrospect I wished that I had applied the same principle that the wise women shared with me in the beginning of my marriage.

I have learned the value of respecting his efforts and appreciate Nina Roesner for adding this concept to the book. This week I was reminded to look for opportunities to publicly praise my husband rather than publicly humiliate him for his efforts (even if I thought it was innocent). My husband doesn’t mind cooking a major dinner and actually experiments with flavors, now. He has his own special dishes that no one else can make and I certainly appreciate the effort after a long week. I choose to publicly praise my husband and respect his efforts.

I dare you to publicly praise your husband’s efforts.

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

To get more information about the Respect Dare click here.

Are You Intimately Communicating With Your Spouse?

VulnerableLast weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to participate in a marriage getaway sponsored by a local church marriage ministry. The theme this year was Rendezvous for Two with restoring or improving intimacy as the focus. Now I know most of you are thinking about the bedroom when you read the word intimacy but it was that and so much more. The focus seemed to be on intimate communication which ultimately improves what you were thinking 😉

One of the first speakers taught us that intimacy is from the inside out. For Christians that means that we understand that intimacy also refers to our relationship with God. The speaker paralleled our relationship with God with our relationship with our spouses. He shared that we have a need that only God can fill. That is how deep our intimacy with our spouse should be but we will only know that when we are willing to be open.

If I had to pick just one word that I came away with on this getaway it would be vulnerable. When we were first dating my husband and I used to share everything under the sun with each other. We shared our hopes and dreams as well as our fears and doubts. We shared our likes and dislikes about almost everything but when we got married it seemed to slowly stop.

As a dating couple we were more vulnerable with each other almost as a test to see how much can each one of us handle and not run away. When we got married it seems that we covered up everything to protect each other from the pain of the truth in our hearts. We lost the art of sharing openly and honestly with each other. It has been described to us that maybe we didn’t think that our marriage was strong enough to sustain the truth. So we hid our frustrations, disappointments, concerns, and hopes from each other in an effort to conserve our marriage. We may have taken it to God in prayer but never to each other (another blog another day).

We stopped using the very thing that brought us closer during our dating. The funny thing is that because we continued to talk to each other about things in general we thought we were doing just fine. I mean how often do you hear people say that the one of the keys to a good marriage is communication? We were communicating but no one told us that we had to intimately communicate. What is that, really? No one said that we had to learn to be vulnerable with each other with the good and the bad stuff so we thought like most married people that we were doing it right even though something didn’t feel quite right.

If something bothered us in our marriage we avoided it as a way to protect each other all while we bore the pain of it by ourselves. We became so good at avoiding the issue that we convinced ourselves that it was normal and fine. We operated in neutral with blinders on with neither one of us really understanding what was going on.

The getaway reminded us the importance of choosing to be vulnerable enough with each other to share all of our feelings as we did when we were first dating. That means the not so warm and fuzzy stuff, too. We are learning what it really means to intimately communicate with each other and be fine with the level of vulnerability that we have learned to ignore. We are learning that being open and honest about fears and doubts are just as important as our hopes and dreams, again. We are learning the importance of sharing our dislikes as well as our likes, again.

Society teaches us that vulnerability only leads to more pain so we learn to mask it with smiles and kind words. I suppose that it works outside of close relationships but husbands and wives cannot afford to not be vulnerable with each other. There has to be an honest effort for the two of you to express your hearts with the good and the bad. You have to be willing to set the stage for what is true and trust that you will survive sharing your heart. You also have to trust that your marriage will survive, too. We are a witness to the fact that marriages survive after learning how to be vulnerable. After all, we were taught by married couples who are still winning ranging from 25 to 42 years.

Are you willing to be vulnerable to win in your marriage?

If you want more information about how to communicate more intimately please feel free to contact Make Us One Marriage Ministries to bring them in for a communication workshop. Their next workshop is March 8, 2014 in the Chicagoland area. Click here for more information.

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

Respect Dare Wrap Up: What’s True?

trueMany times when our husbands disappoint us we make it about the quality of love for us. If they forget to pay a bill, a birthday, or to pick up milk on the way home we can accuse them of being thoughtless and uncaring. The truth is that they are human and not perfect like us. (sarcasm) Seriously they mess up just like us and the world is still standing.

A few years ago a well meaning female direct sales coach would say to all of the sales representatives, with their wives present, that they didn’t love their spouses if they didn’t meet their sales goals. Her intention was to push the sales representatives to meet their sales goals. Now I don’t know her well enough to explain what may have happened in her life for her to say such a thing but she did and it stayed with me.

My husband started out doing an awesome job in this direct sales business. He was number 1 or 2 for a while but then he hit a slump and then a drought. Those words that the direct sales coach said came back to me. I would look at my husband and honestly wonder if he loved me. I actually questioned the love of a man who would probably walk through fire for me all because of some words that a direct sales coach used to encourage better sales from all of the married sales representatives. Now years later I know without a doubt that he loves me but back then…that was a different story.

Those words were buried in my mind and caused me to look at my loving husband differently. It caused me to believe a lie that was never true but I could not see it. Unfortunately that lie caused all sorts of trouble in my marriage for which I will not go into today. Just know that when you believe a lie about your husband that it can grow into something ugly if you don’t remind yourself of what is true.

We have to think about what is true in the moment. Did they forget to do something, again? Ask questions with a gentle spirit. Maybe he had a rough drive back home and only wanted to get to a place of peace. Maybe special occasions weren’t that special for him when he was younger so making the transition to remember a date for you is challenging for him. Maybe you called him at the moment that he was about to pay the last bill and he was distracted. Maybe he needs your encouragement while he is working on his goals. Who knows?

What is true is that your husband is not thoughtless or uncaring just a bit distracted. He is not unloving because he didn’t do xy or z. Something tells me that you would not have intentionally have married someone like that. Cut your husband some slack and think about what is true in the situation that challenges you at the moment. If it is hard for you to see what is true about your husband, right now, pray for him. Ask God to show you what is true and then tell him. He may need to hear it.

I dare you to give your husband the benefit of the doubt and ask, “What’s true?”

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

To get more information about the Respect Dare click here.

Respect Dare Wrap Up: Reasons to Love Him

Respecting your husbandThis last week has been absolutely eye opening since beginning the Respect Dare Challenge. At first I wanted to ring my social media friend, Nina Roesner’s neck for inviting me to take the challenge but then I realized that this book was just what I needed. As I have said in a few of my posts now, respect isn’t just agreeing with your husband.

It is in the way you speak to him, the way you listen to him, the way you respond to him and how you serve him. It is your humble and kind response to him. Are you doing these things graciously or ungraciously? Are you showing compassion and patience or are you critical and impatient with him? Do you shut down when you don’t get your way or do you effectively communicate your concerns? All of this in one short week and I have less than 30 more days to go.

I think that of all the days that have touched my heart was the day that asked me to remember why I fell in love with my husband. I didn’t realize how much this task would cause me to reminisce about the past. Some things saddened me but most brought tears of joy to my eyes. God showed me how we have grown over the years together. He showed me how our hopes, dreams, and goals have evolved over the years to match who we have become. While I saw the death of one dream God raised up another in its place that is bearing fruit. Where there was seemingly silence in one area God is speaking loudly instructing and guiding us as one unit.

My husband is the one who makes me smile when I’m having a tough day. He cracks corny jokes when I am watching a television show a little too deeply that moves me to tears. He is the one who serves others needs before his own because of his past experiences. He loves God and he easily forgives His people even when I think that they deserve a few more moments of unforgiveness. (I’m a work in progress lol) How could I not remember the love that I have for him?

I could not see any of these changes if I had never been asked to look at the past and then see it how God sees it. I saw all of the things that made me fall in love with my husband even though my family and friends will tell you it happened long before I said the words. lol We were meant to be together and unfortunately there just isn’t enough time or space to fill these pages so that I could tell you how our meeting was not by chance or that where I am weak he is strong and vice versa. I am so grateful that God allowed him to find me and placed the two of us together for as long as we both shall live.

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

I dare you to take a few moments to remember why you fell in love and see what God sees.

To get more information about the Respect Dare and where you can purchase it. Click here.

Respect Dare Day 6: Communicating that I am Mad!

restaurant-couple-arguing-opt-400x295I know that the author of Respect Dare challenged us to link up on Monday’s but I have a bone to pick with her. I really thought that Nina Roesner was my friend. Yes I am calling her out on my post. How dare she make me…uh…force me…uh…ok invite me to read her book! Alright take the exclamation point back. I willingly and joyfully accepted this challenge but who knew that this thing would be so tough?  After all, I thought I should have “respecting” my husband together by now, right? (I guess I better keep Nina around a little longer lol)

Do you mean to tell me that after 14 years of marriage there are still things that even the Fighting for Marriage wife can learn about communication? You bet your favorite dish I do. As I shared a few days ago I thought that I had this respect your husband thing down to a science but apparently I don’t.

As much as I love to talk and hear myself talk, I do not know how to effectively communicate with my husband. Whew! That is a load off of my chest. I talk to him and share my day with him but when there are concerns that I have…I fumble. (sorry for the football analogy) The truth is that we both are challenged in communicating with each other but Nina asked that we keep the posts about ourselves.

My husband’s lack has nothing to do with my ability to keep trying. Unfortunately when I didn’t feel heard or misunderstood, I would shut down and go into silent mode. Can anyone else relate? Or I would stuff myself with computer time, food, social media or anything to keep me busy and avoid my feelings. Basically, I would pout hoping that he would ask what’s wrong but would keep giving him the silent treatment. I’m better now but I am still a work in progress.

I think my husband may have become unmoved by this tactic for two reasons: 1. He works with children; and 2. I did it too often for it to make an impact. There are times when I would act mature enough to let my husband know that I felt misunderstood or unheard during a challenging conversation but those times could probably be counted on one hand. I gave up before giving him another chance to understand.

You know what’s really funny? When I felt misunderstood or unheard in the work place I tried another method to get my point across. I would never shutdown or give my boss or co-workers the silent treatment until I was ready try again or give up on making my point. I would keep trying until I was heard but not with my husband.

What makes my relationship with him so different from the people in the work place? Doesn’t he deserve just as much grace as my colleagues and supervisor? Shouldn’t I offer him the same benefit of the doubt when I felt misunderstood or unheard? I could answer the question here but I think most of you already know the answer.

Winning at marriage one moment at a time!

I dare you take a look at how you communicate with your spouse when there is a challenge.

Respect Dare Day 3: My Imperfections

imperfectWhen I was asked to join the Respect Dare challenge I thought this should be great. I will learn how to respect my husband better and become a better biblical wife. Who knew that the ouch and oops would happen so soon at day 3? I guess I should have expected it, right? I mean the title is Respect Dare. It’s not Respect When It Is Convenient or Respect When I Am Fully Comfortable.

In my head I am a perfect version of Every Woman, Superwoman, head CEO, and Vice President of my well oiled brand I call home but in truth I am a simple woman with weaknesses, faults, and missed opportunities to get it right. Now I don’t say those things as a form of condemnation but out of humility. In the beginning of my marriage I thought that I had to have it all together and thought that I could. I quickly learned that picture of perfection was a myth when it came to real life responsibilities that included 3 children and a husband. I could not be the woman that I thought my mother was who seemed to do things so effortlessly in caring for her 3 girls with the help of her younger sister. I didn’t know that I needed help or could ask for it then but I know today.

Day 3 of the Respect Dare is a reminder of how my imperfection as a wife humbles me to know that I can’t do this marriage thing alone. I need the blessing that God has allowed to find me to help keep me balanced and a circle of strong godly women to hold me accountable. No, every day is not perfect but it is worth the journey along the way.

Respecting your husband is about more than agreeing with him and allowing him to make decisions as the Holy Spirit leads him. It’s about respecting that he is a work in progress just like you. He is not perfect nor will he ever be. He has shortcomings just like you (when you are willing to admit to yours). He has goals and dreams like you but sometimes it takes a while for him to realize them. Be patient. God has him under construction and can do more with his Grace and Mercy Company than we ever could.

I can attest to the fact that when you surrender your will to God and allow Him to work through both you and your husband you can and will see a change. I have to give up the appearance of perfection and do the work that it takes to improve. Even after 14 years of marriage I am still a work in progress. As I stated in the beginning I did have to say ouch and oops to the some of the things that I have read and learned in the Respect Dare, so far. It’s uncomfortable but it’s nothing that I can’t handle (with God’s grace of course).

As I continue with the remainder of this 40 day challenge I pray that God reveals more about my role as a wife that shows respect unconditionally to my husband as I expect him to unconditionally love me. I pray that as God shows me insights about my own shortcomings and the transformation that occurs that my transparency will help you to find the patience you need to do the same. Finally I pray that you would join me on this journey and share your insights with others. You never know who may need to know that they are not alone in their challenges and victory is possible.

I dare you to be willing to take an honest look at your imperfections in the raw and keep coming back so we can grow together. Let’s go.

If you would like to learn more about the dare connect with the author at http://www.ninaroesner.com