FAML300

L13: Transitions in Marriage: In-Law Relations

This is just a great topic, for me at least.  I imagine that there are those people out there that fit the stereo-typical role of in-laws, but the family I married in to (twice) and the family that I gave to my husband are pretty much wonderful.

I will state that we did have a bump in the road a few years ago, however.  My husband and I were married in Oregon and then we moved to his hometown in Texas a year and a half after we were married.  His dad flew to Oregon for our wedding, but his mom did not.  I had also met his dad prior to this when we had vacationed in Texas.  My husband’s parents are divorced and he does not have a great relationship with his mom.

When we had our little one (she is now 4 1/2), his mom started making contact with my husband and then with me.  On one occasion when we were in Texas, prior to us moving here, there was a fantastic gathering that was held in our honor when we were here to visit.  Friends and family gathered and the event was a great time.  During this, there was an alleged incident involving my mother-in-law’s husband and our 15 year-old niece.  He-said, she-said and it was left at that.  Fast forward to the time that we move to Texas.  We had three daughters and a son living with us.  My mother-in-law called up and volunteered to come and babysit our little one so that we could take the older kids to homecoming… and if you know anything about Texas, homecoming is a BIG deal.  We were excited and accepted her offer.  Two days before homecoming, she called to confirm that she was still coming and instead of saying for “me” to come babysit, she said “us” to come and babysit.  I was stopped in my tracks.  I then questioned her and asked if her husband was planning on accompanying her to our home.  She said that he was, and I then explained to her that we were more than happy to have her in our home to watch our little one and to spend time with her, but that we could only have her husband present with our daughters if one of us was there as well.  We just couldn’t risk it.  We don’t know this man, and given the previous event a year and a half earlier, it was not a risk that we could take.  From this moment to today (it’s been 3 1/2 years) she chooses not to talk to us.  For the safety of our children, that’s acceptable for us.  I know at times, my husband wishes that the relationship that he has with his mother were better.  But it’s been 25 years since it started going downhill and it’s a struggle for both of them.

Let’s talk about some happy stuff now.  I have the most awesome mother, ever!  You can’t even try to argue with me on this.  My mom has four sons-in-law and she reaches out to each of them and loves them as if they were her own sons.  She encourages them to reach their goals, to improve themselves, to lead their families, and to love as fiercely as they can.  My father-in-law is my next-door neighbor and he is in our home almost daily.  He is welcome any time day or night and we know that when he gets a bit older, that he will be ours to care for.  We love him, and he’s flexible, dependable, half-deaf, and tons of fun.

As you can read, incorporating families can be difficult.  I had a bit of a hard time when I first moved to Texas – especially around the holidays.  When I had lived in my hometown, the rules were well established and it was clear who would be where on what holiday and when.  Today, the rules are also well established, but it took us a little while to get there to where everyone was happy with the arrangements and how all would flow.  Communication of expectations and feelings are a must when incorporating new families together to make a bigger, happier family.

Families are for joy, they are for support, they are for love.  When you reach the point in your life of blending with in-laws, make sure that you – the newly married couple – talk about what you want for yourselves and your new family, and then explain to both sets of your parents where you stand and figure out what will work for all.

I pray that none of my readers go through what I have with my mother-in-law, because I’m certain she is a wonderful woman and one day, I hope to get to know her!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Week 12: Transitions in Marriage: Power Relations and Children

A blog post about power in marriage… let’s see how this goes.  I’ll start out, because now that I know my husband is reading (wink wink) that my husband and I go back and forth with power in our marriage.  Power in our home is topic dependent.  Children we pretty much do together, especially on anything major.  He earns the money, I spend the money – both in paying bills and shopping.  It doesn’t really matter what relationship you are in, there is power – it may be pretty close to being equally distributed, but there is power none-the-less.

Dr. Richard B. Miller, Director of the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University wrote “The issues of power, control, and hierarchy are important in families.  Issues regarding power are at the root of many family problems.”  I whole-heartedly agree with his statement.  Not does he hold a PhD, but it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about sex for a minute.  From previous readings, and blog posts, we learned and read that many marriages end in divorce over a sexual issue.  There is power in sex – power of giving, power of withholding, power of sharing.

Let’s talk about money for a minute.  We also know from many studies done that divorces happen over financial matters.  There is power in money.  Power to earn, power to save, power to spend, power to agree with your spouse on how to do these three.

Let’s talk about raising children for a minute.  We know that having babies and raising a family is HARD work (if you don’t know this, you’re probably living in a cave).  We also know that husbands and wives do not see eye to eye about everything.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I have five children, and am married for the second (and last) time.  My husband, however, only has one child.  She is our youngest.  My husband and I do not always see eye to eye on how to raise her.  She’s my fifth child… eh, it’s okay if she climbs on the back of the couch.  She is his first and only child: she CANNOT climb on the back of the couch, she could fall and split open her head.  We see differently on all sorts of parenting issues.  So what do we do about it?  We mostly laugh at one another, or maybe I laugh as my husband stares at me with his mouth gaping open.  She is my fifth child.  Kids bounce, they stitch up easy enough, they smile, they laugh, they love, they get mad, they don’t eat their supper, and the list could go on.  But here’s the deal:  sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, and then other times, someone has to give.  Parents have got to work together as a team (there is no I in team) to raise healthy happy children that bounce, break, laugh, love, and smile.  I no longer let our daughter climb on the back of the couch, I still don’t care if she does (if she falls off, she’ll learn not to climb up there) but I have conceded to my husband’s view because it makes him nervous and her safety is imperative to him.  Where’s the power in this?  In this scenario it is with my husband.  His power to have his child safe wins out over my “eh” feeling about climbing monkeys.  We didn’t fight about any of this either.  We just realized that we parent differently and when my husband noticed that I didn’t care about climbing and I noticed that he did, we talked about it, came to an agreement and there it is.

She’s four years old now, and she isn’t really into climbing anymore, but she is into running in the yard.  Big deal, right?  Well, I thought so, I still kind of think so.  I am grateful that we have fenced in the front of the property with a power gate so no one can come in while she’s playing outside. My husband on the other hand, is worried about ant hills and snakes in the spring grass.  I wasn’t raised here, I didn’t grow up around these creepy crawly things that can hurt you so I don’t tend to think about them.  She always wears her shoes outside (she doesn’t want to get a time out).  So, where’s the power?  Husband wins again, safety first.  And besides, I don’t want to deal with a snake bite.  I can’t even tell the difference from one snake to the next.  So, I don’t normally let her frolic into the backside of the property without a big person to watch for such things.

And to be clear… when I say who wins?  It’s not a competition, it’s not a game.  There is no keeping score.  It is one of us conceding to the other’s point of view for the greater good.  While the examples I used in this little post show me conceding, I promise it’s not always that way.  It’s a volley, we go back and forth, and sometimes we even land together right at the net.  Meet in the middle… it’s sometimes the best way to go.

Parenting and marriage is hard work, but when one (hopefully both) party in a relationship masters the art of compromise, parenting and marriage are so much sweeter!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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W11: Transitions in Marriage: Fidelity and Physical Intimacy

Hi everyone!  I hope that each of you is faring daylight savings time better than I am.  A quick little update… I have been in bed since late Friday afternoon with a horrible cold which has been fed by all of the spring tree pollen.  I am drowning in mucus…. so there is my first TMI for you in this post.  And, as you might have guessed, due to the topic of this week’s post, there just might be another one.

I’m just going to jump right in to the topic this week and not pretend that it’s an elephant in the room.  No one wants to talk about these issues, but they are a must.  What I read this week for my class, I want to make sure that my children know.

The home that I grew up in was open.  My parents openly loved one another, we kids saw mom and dad hug, kiss, hold hands, and dance in the kitchen on a regular basis.  I grew up in 80’s not the 50’s and it was a wonderful example.  I want the same for my children, and today… my husband and I kiss, hug, hold hands, and dance in the kitchen in front of whomever might be in our house.  We simply don’t care about showing the love that we have for one another to the world.  We hold hands in public, we sit on the same side of a booth together when we go to dinner which makes the person seating us look at us sideways because they put the menus opposite one another.  We then bow our heads down to pray for our meal, holding hands at the table in the restaurant.  You may be asking yourself, what’s dinner prayer in public have to do with affection?  It’s not the fact that we pray wherever we may be for a meal, it’s the fact that we pray together – wherever we may be.  We are close.  We are commanded by the Lord for husband to leave his parents and to cleave unto his wife, and the wife is commanded to cleave unto her husband and they are told to become one.  That’s the goal.  When we are not intimate, when we allow a wedge to be driven between us, Satan does his little happy dance and hits the head of the wedge with a hammer to drive it in further.  Remember, I don’t have a perfect husband and I am not a perfect wife – we do not have the perfect marriage.  We both do things that drive one another crazy, but we do our best to tolerate our nuances and move forward.  Marriage isn’t about changing our spouses, it is about learning how to deal with the challenges put before us in the attributes that Heavenly Father gave our spouses.  Marriage is the ultimate challenge in this life – and I want to be successful.

Being successful means being honest with my husband.  When I mess up, I know that I can come to him and tell him what happened… even if I know he’s going to be upset about it.  It’s still safe.  Being successful means that both husband and wife are committed to one another in complete fidelity.  We have heard from our modern prophets that we are to love our spouses with all our hearts – and all of one’s heart leaves no room to allow anyone else in to share that intimate love.  Wives should not have male friends that they speak to on a regular basis outside of their marriage without their husbands, husbands should not have female friends that they hang out or have private conversations with either.   Having a quiet lunch with someone of the opposite sex for a married person is out of the question … this is how infidelity starts.  And I’ll just be blunt here:  any touching, holding hands, kissing, sexual intercourse or other sex acts with anyone other than one’s spouse is unacceptable in the eyes of the Lord.  For those of you that are not married – this goes for you too – these things are for married spouses only (well, except maybe holding hands and smooching).  And my last comment here about infidelity, pornography counts.  In my heart and mind, pornography is the worst kind of infidelity.  Pornography is addictive and more destructive to any marriage than anything else that exists in our world today.  Stay away from it 200%.  There are just no exceptions here.

How do we keep infidelity away and intimacy alive in our marriages? I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll tell you what we’re doing here in our house.  First off, we have a copy of Dr. John Gottman‘s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  We read it together. … okay, I read it out loud to my husband, but he listens.   We do some of the exercises in this beloved book together.  We started dating one another again.  When we go on weekly dates together (sometimes it’s a pizza and a board game locked in our room), we make sure that before our date is over that we added to our love map.  Even if this means saying – hey wait!  did we learn something about one another on our date tonight?  We just do it.  We don’t care about being corny, we care about making our marriage work.  Learning about one another, understanding where one another is coming from and stands is important – it just can’t be forgotten.  When we love one another and we are adding to our love maps each week, and sometimes even each day – it makes our marriage work better.  When husbands are happy and wives are happy – intimacy happens by nature.

Sex is part of marriage, and it is an important part.  I promise.  There are couples out there that are unable to have intercourse, and that’s to be understood – but if they are to make their marriage happy and healthy they will find other ways to be intimate with one another to fulfill this need.  There are wives that withhold sex because their husband didn’t pick up their socks.  There are husbands out there that withhold sex because their wife was late getting supper on the table.  These scenarios are not okay.  Sex is not a tool – it is a gift given to married couples by God in order to both have offspring and to grow together as one.  We are commanded in marriage to be one.  There is no other way that I can think of that will allow a husband and wife to be one than to be together in a sexual relationship on a regular basis.  When husband and wife are in harmony in life, they are in harmony behind closed doors too.  Is every sexual encounter going to be over the moon wonderful?  Nope.  But when husband’s and wives are in harmony with one another about daily life – sexual encounters will be more fulfilling; if not physically, then spiritually.

Sisters love your husbands.  Brethren, love your wives.  Date, talk, pray, enjoy one another behind closed doors.  This is part of being a spouse – and part of having a spouse.  Love and care for. Be gentle.

In closing, I know that there are those out there that truly feel that they don’t fit into this category.  There are those that think that they are the exception.  For some of you, this may be true – and if it is you, then I can only imagine that your spouse 100% understands and holding your hand down a treacherous path of healing and recovery.  For those of you that think you are the exception – I would urge you to take stock of your feelings and how you treat your spouse.  Are you being selfish and withholding?  Think on it, pray on it – get an answer from God and then act on it.

I leave you my testimony that I know that having a sexually intimate relationship with our spouses is God given.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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W08 FAML300 Beware of Pride

Beware of Pride… I don’t like the saying, but it is true.  I have never before thought of myself as being prideful.  I have (and still do) see myself as a wife that is proud of her husband and a mother who is very proud of her children.  But is that what it speaks of in the scriptures as being prideful?  The truth to the answer is no.

imagesAs I read this week, I learned.  I cried.  And I prayed.  In Drawing Heaven Into your Marriage by Dr. H. Wallace Goddard, he writes “In fact, any time we feel irritated with our spouses, that irritation is not an invitation to call our spouses to repentance but an invitation to call ourselves to repent.  We are irritated because of our own lack of faith and humility.”  This statement had profound effect on me.

I was sitting here, at my desk, reading the material to ponder over what to write for my blog this week when I read the above words.  The instant I read them, I remembered sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon irritated with my husband.  I was irritated that he wasn’t answering me.  I feel that he does this frequently, and that he does this knowing that it irritates me.  Clearly, it is me with the issue.  I am the one irritated by my husband’s natural tendencies.  Maybe he really does not answer me quickly because he wants to irritate me, but who am I to read his mind?

So how do I fix the problem?  As Alma fixed his, as the Publican did, as the people of Mosiah did.  I must repent and turn to Christ and ask for mercy and forgiveness.  I am but Children.1a human and I need Him, Jesus Christ to help me lose my pride.  Pride in thinking that I need an answer now.  Pride believing that I can make my husband answer me.  Perhaps my husband not answering me is my lesson from Heavenly Father in patience which I have yet to learn.  Perhaps this is my big picture lesson so that I can see that I am indeed prideful and I simply need to repent and get over myself.

So, instead of spending hours at the computer today, I intend to finish writing up this blog …get a couple more homework assignments off my plate and go lose myself in service.  I need it.  I need time to quietly reflect and to ask of God to teach me the ways of humility.

Have you had eye opening moments when Heavenly Father has taught you about your own pride?  What did you do to overcome these trials?  Let me know in a comment!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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W06 Cherishing Your Spouse

Dear Readers,

My apologies that I am running a bit behind this week.  This past Saturday was my birthday and as a surprise for the big 4-0, my mother and my two sons flew in from out of state and were here for four days.  My birthday was wonderful and the excitement has dwindled down, but I am behind my usual point for school work, housework, and life in general.  I am working diligently to get to where I need to be, but feel like I’m barely treading water at the moment.  Hang on while I go switch a load of laundry and I’ll be right back to write some more.

Okay, where was I?  Anyway, chores are going and here I am writing about cherishing my spouse, which I really don’t feel like doing at the moment.  You see, he and I don’t always see eye to eye, but isn’t that they way with every marriage?  We had a little spat this morning and he left for work angry and I got left at the house to stew about his bad attitude.  That’s just how life goes every once in a while.  And that is okay.  We have since apologized to one another, because that is how it goes.

As I was reading the assigned text for this week’s work one chapter in Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage by Dr. H. Wallace Goddard and two chapters in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John M. Gottman I realized something… I realized how much I do cherish my husband.  He is my best friend and I would do anything for him – yep, anything. I take care of him when he has a migraine, I listen to him when he’s had a bad day at work, I listen to him when he had a good day at work, I kiss him good night, I hold his hand at the dinner table during prayer, I go to the store and get him everything he needs for working around our property, and I love him with all of my heart.  If Heavenly Father loves me half as much as I love my husband, I am a blessed girl.

Even though I love him, we have those spats every now and then.  My husband isn’t much of a talker and many times I am left guessing how he is feeling or what he is thinking when he isn’t very happy.  I promise you, Heavenly Father did not provide me with the crystal ball that I need, but we manage.  When things start to go sideways, I let him know that it’s time that he tells me what’s going on in that brain of his so that I’m not lost and confused – and most of the time he does.

In the reading material, there were lists upon lists with games to play and questions to ask your spouse.  As I read through the first several lists that essentially provided a score to let you know how you and your spouse are doing, I was pretty impressed that I “passed” the tests.  There were questions that saddened me too.  I read some of them, like “I can list my partner’s three favorite movies” and “I can tell you the most stressful thing that happened to my partner as a child,” these made tears well in my eyes.  I wish I knew the answers, but I simply don’t.  Some of you may wonder – how can you not know these things?  The answer is simple – I don’t watch many movies, so we haven’t talked about movies very much and my husband is pretty closed up about his childhood – every once in a while I get a glimpse into his youth.  I just discovered a couple of weeks ago that one of our daughter’s friends is the daughter of his high school girlfriend – the girl he went to prom with.  I didn’t even know that he went to his senior prom until then. The bright side to all of this though, is that starting this week, he and I will begin going on date night each week and I will bring my handy dandy books with me and I will get to open it up to all of those pages that I stuck colorful flags on and I can just ask him.

Today is going to be a rough day – it started out with a spat and as I sit here and write, I have tears running down my cheeks as I think of all the little intricacies about my husband that I don’t know, but that I am blessed to be able to ask him.  I want to know these things, tearsI want to continue to care for him when he has bad days or migraines, and I know that he prides himself in the work that he does to provide for our little (or not so little) family. He and I work well, we mesh, we just fit.  He and I love each other, and I know that for both of us our biggest fear is losing one another – having to go on in this life without our best friend to have each and every day.

If you are in a position that you don’t have these little spats now and then, a bad day which you can bounce back from – it’s time to rejuvinate, revitalize, and get excited about loving your spouse.  You married him/her for a reason, relight that candle and get moving.  A great place to start and for pretty cheap is to get yourself a copy of Dr. Gottman’s book.  IT IS WONDERFUL!  I dare you… do it!

With love,

Samantha

PS (this is dedicated to Maryann) How did it turn out?  Well …. I was home and he was at work.  Each day when he arrives at his job for the morning, he sends me three text messages that read: “I’m here.” “Yes,Ma’am.” “I love you today.”  And in reply, I send him three text messages back: “Safe and sound” “Good” “I love you today too.”  Before these messages ever took place yesterday (because he had such a long drive) I had typed out a lengthy text message explaining my frustration and apologizing for what was most likely construed as accusatory.  He then chose to take the high ground (one of his great qualities) and told me thank you for making his lunch and he then apologized for being cranky and rude.  We proceeded with our day and regular routine.  Last night was perhaps a little sweeter than usual snuggling at bed time.  We both realized that we were wrong and we both apologized to one another. . . being married to your best friend is practically perfect in every way.

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W05 Behaviors that Negatively Affect Marriage

Affect … effect … I will probably never ever learn how to tell these two words apart.  I have tried over and over again across my almost 40 years to learn the difference and it never makes sense to me.  So, if any of my readers out there have a good idea on how to actually help me learn this… please leave me a comment at the end of the blog!

So, what behaviors negatively affect marriage?  That’s what this week’s material is all about.  I have read five chapters in books, watched a clip from The Great Commandment given by Elder Wirthlin while he had a flare up of Parkinson’s disease, and watched several clips from the movie Fireproof staring Kirk Cameron (for those of you as old as me, that was a little treat) all of which made my allergies flare up.  Okay, really, my eyes were filled with tears at many of these intersections as I studied the material for this week.  Is it because it’s almost my birthday and I’m feeling sentimental?  Is it because yesterday was the Sabbath and I am feeling closer to the Spirit as I write on Monday instead of Tuesday or Wednesday?  Or is it because the lessons and messages that I read and viewed this week touched my heart and ring true on some level for me as an individual, a wife, a mother, and a disciple of Jesus Christ?

For those of you that know me, I’m a list maker.  I love to make lists.  There are eleven lists sitting in from of me as I type.  Each of them on a sticky note.  There are nine more as sticky notes on my desktop and at least three more in the planner that I use each day.  I love lists; so for the love of lists, here is my list for you on behaviors that negatively affect marriage:

  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Stonewalling
  • Emotional flooding
  • Rejection
  • Bad memories put to current day events
  • Loneliness
  • Selfishness
  • Lack of charity, compassion, and empathy

While the list is short, relatively, it’s not like the grocery list… these are the particular items that were brought to my attention during my studies this week.  The list is made up from topics covered in Dr. John Gottman’s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and from Dr. H. Wallace Goddard’s book Drawing Heaven into your Marriage.  If you’re committed, who doesn’t want to make their marriage work?  If you’re committed, who doesn’t want a slice of heaven in their marriage?  I say, even if you’re not so sure that you want to make your marriage work, or maybe you don’t believe in heaven…. Well, I say you’re pretty silly; what have you got to lose, other than your eternal happiness? If you’re willing to bet the future of your eternity – throw in the towel, if not please keep reading:

Clearly, I am not an expert on marriage, I have been divorced for goodness sake.  I can only say that I want to be an expert on family and home.  I want to be an expert in my own marriage.  I want to be an expert wife and mom; so I study and I read and I let it all soak in.  Hopefully there is a morsel for you to relate to.

Criticism

This doesn’t mean “your hair is a bit frizzy today” or “I’m not sure that shirt looks good on you.”  This means “why don’t you ever brush your hair, you always go about looking like you just got out of bed” or “that shirt looks terrible on you, how did you make it 36 years in life and never learn how to dress yourself, you can’t go in public like that!”  Can you see the difference there?  The always and never statements, the harshness of the second two statements.  It is one thing to file a complaint, it is another to criticize your partner with harshness and certainly with always and never statements.  Yes, I do have frizzy hair – the humidity makes it even worse, but I do brush it every day and I don’t ALWAYS go about looking like I just got out of bed.  That shirt may not look great on my husband, but telling him it looks terrible just isn’t kind and in his 36 years, 30 before he ever even met me, he managed never to go out into public naked – he’s fared well enough.  Does this make sense?

While I don’t recommend filing complaints every day about every little thing, that can pile up and become overwhelming, but when you truly feel like you need to file a complaint with your spouse, do it with kindness.  Leave those always and never statements at the door, lock them outside – none of us ALWAYS or NEVER behave in a specific fashion.

Contempt

Eye rolling, scoffing, sarcasm, and skepticism are all contemptuous.  What this really boils down to is respect.  When one behaves in manners like this toward their loved ones, you are displaying disrespect for them.  If we aren’t kind and respectful of our spouses, what is it that our relationship is built out of?  Do we love them? Think on that…

Defensiveness

When he tells me about that frizzy hair, even if he does so kindly, do I grumble back at him and say “I can’t help my hair, why are you so mean?”  Does he shout back at me when I complain about his shirt “I’ve been able to dress myself for 36 years without you, I am not a complete idiot.”  These are examples of being defensive.  Think about the defensive line on a football team, their job is to shut the opposing team down, to not let them score. Are you on the same team as your spouse, or are you just trying to make sure they don’t score any points?

Stonewalling

This is pretty much shut-down from my perspective.  I’m talking to my husband about his shirt and he’s not making any eye contact or even giving any cues to me that he’s listening.  He has shut down and shut me out.  Do you ever just keep talking when your spouse is non-responsive?  Take a step back and see what he or she looks like, what is their body language telling you?  Have you over stepped your bounds?  Have you helped them to give up hope in communicating with you?  If you find this happening, you have got to get some help!  You need to take a step back, apologize to your spouse and find a way to open that line of communication again – this is an urgent need.

Emotional Flooding

Why did he shut down when I talked to him about his shirt? Because he is flooding emotionally.  I have criticized too much, he is so used to be run over by me, that in order to preserve his dignity and to not blow up at me, he simply shuts down to avoid the confrontation.  When he finally does start to talk to me about his shirt, I then talked over the top of him complaining more that he wasn’t talking to me when I was talking to him, he shuts down again.  Flooding… and too much of this circular pattern simply leads to divorce.  It has to stop.  The pattern must be broken.

Rejection

I’ve noticed that I have totally messed up here.  My husband does know how to dress himself!  I come to his side as he’s lying in bed reading a book.  I sit on the edge of the bed and lightly touch his arm.  He looks at me but says nothing.  I then say to him “I am so sorry that I was critical of your shirt and how you dress yourself, that wasn’t kind of me.  Will you forgive me?”  He looks up again and continues to read his book.  Rejection.  Don’t do this people!! When your spouse offers you a genuine, heartfelt apology, make the time to listen.  I’m not saying you have to forgive immediately, but listen and respond appropriately.  Put yourself in the being rejected shoes, no one likes being there, don’t put the one person that you should be able to count on every day for the rest of forever in those shoes intentionally.

Bad memories put to current day events

We have all had bad days, and most of us bad fights.  Those bad days and bad fights need to stay right where they were left.  Sure, there may be some unresolved issues from those days or those fights, but bring them to the table for resolution without the horrible day along with it.  I mean, it’s okay to talk about and discuss overspending on clothes for the month, but we don’t need to bring up “that one day when you spent $300 dollars at the mall and took no thought to the remainder of the budget and we stood in the kitchen yelling at each other.”  What good does this do?  Instead try “Is there a way that I can help you keep within the allotted budget for clothing?”  Leave those horrible fights where they were, there is no point digging up old fights and bad memories to serve the current moment and help cultivate a great relationship.

Loneliness

From all of those topics mentioned above, when these tactics are employed in a relationship, loneliness is the result.  Do you go to bed each night wondering who is that lying next to me? Do you wonder where that (wo)man you married is at, when they are sitting opposite you at the dinner table?  Being lonely within a marriage is a direct result from lack of good communication.  The spirit of any person gets to a breaking point when constantly barraged with overwhelming feelings of incompetence.  When I am told over and over again that I am a horrible housekeeper, I begin to really feel this way.  If my husband then begins to tell me that I am a deplorable cook (this might be true) I may begin to believe it.  When we are constantly under attack from our loved ones, how can we preserve ourselves, by being defensive, stonewalling, and shutting down.  Henceforth, we become lonely.  I certainly don’t want to be in bed each night lying next to my husband in a state such as this, do you?

Selfishness

I’m going to dig a little on this one and throw myself under the proverbial bus.  I am generous.  I give to my husband, I give to my children, I give to those that I visit teach, I give to those in our ward, I give to the community, I pay a full tithe, I sincerely put forth effort to give of myself to others.  So, I am not entirely selfish, but… I certainly have areas of my life where I am.  I am selfish with the budgeted money for clothing.  Do I really need to spend it all each month?  Certainly not, but I almost always do.  I believe that we can each improve in this area to focus on becoming more Christ like.  Never a moment in his mortal life did he take time to please himself before helping another or doing the Father’s will.  Jesus Christ should be our example, not only in being selfless, but in each and every aspect of our relationships that I have written about.  With words on the Savior, this leads me to the last point for this really long blog post:

Lack of charity, compassion, and empathy

“What lack I yet?”  Do you lack charity, compassion, or empathy for your spouse?  Do you think “well, that’s what you get!”?  When your spouse is in bed sick, do you make a tray of food and go sit by their side or do you ignore that they aren’t well?  Do you have a pang of sadness when you know your loved one is having a rough day at work, or do you brush their bad day off to deal with your own?

Charity is the pure love of Christ (you saw that coming, right?).  When we have charity for 3 Nephi 16others, compassion and empathy are right alongside.  Is this aspect of your life missing?  You have got to put up a lost and found poster immediately!  There is no time to waste, stop reading and go.

Just this morning, my husband was in bed with a migraine.  While this is frustrating because it’s going to be a missed day of work and no income, I went to my husband’s side and asked what kind of medication he needs?  I got the medication, I got a glass of water.  I made sure the kids were staying quiet, I got a cool rag for his forehead because I know he likes it when he has a migraine.  Charity, compassion, empathy.  Each of these is a must in every marriage across the planet.  If you are lacking in this department, I’d like for you to get some help.  I implore you to get help.  Your marriage is worth it, your spouse is worth it, and more importantly, you are worth it.  Each of us is a child of God, and He wants you to return to live with him.  He wants you to have these qualities in your life that you once had.  You deserve to have them, and if you have lost your way, you have lost these precious gems from your pocket, you have got to go and find them.  Open your scriptures, open your heart, repent, ask for forgiveness from those you have harmed and work to better yourself each day.  Charity is indeed the pure love of Christ, and without charity, we can in nowise inherit the kingdom which He has planned for us.

And while after writing this super long blog, I still don’t know the difference between effect and affect, I have a sense of peace that has washed over my being.  I feel those tears welling up in my eyes.  Tears of gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who sent His only Begotten Son to atone for my sins.  I am able to be forgiven for those snarky comments and overspending.  I am able to be loved by Him and am able to move forward trying each day to be better while I work on perfecting the love, charity, compassion, and empathy that I hold and distribute to those that are in need … my family.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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W04: Doctrine of Eternal Marriage: Try, try, try

This week I found that I appreciate a couple of prompt questions that were provided for us in our Marriage course.  I appreciate the simplicity of them, and that they motivate me in regards to my marriage.  I pray that they can enlighten you a bit as well.

What things in particular are you going to implement into your life to ensure that your marriage is a covenant marriage and not a contractual marriage?

Well, first things first…. My marriage is indeed a contractual marriage at this time.  My husband is not a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, but we’re working toward that elder-bednarand I know in my heart that someday this will happen.  With that being said, I live my life and my “half” of our marriage as if my husband is my companion from eternity to eternity.  I read a talk for this week’s reading material from Elder David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles titled “Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan.”  In this talk, I was reminded of several things, but most importantly his reminder that we need to treat our marriages for what they are – sacred.  Am I doing this?  What do I need to change?

I try to treat my marriage as if it is sacred.  My marriage is the most valuable thing that I have outside of my relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ.  BUT, I am not caring for my marriage as I should.  I do not make time each day, each week, or sometimes even each month to spend one on one time with my husband growing together, laughing together, or enjoying one another’s company.  I intend to fix this immediately.

I will say that I had a little heads up from a classmate that took Marriage last semester that we would be able to start having weekly dates with our spouses as part of our course work.  This excited me.  I haven’t had time to have a date, or really I haven’t made it a priority.  My husband and I are both guilty.  When I shared with him the idea, he participated with me in making a list of places we’d like to go together and restaurants we’d like to eat at – by ourselves, no kids!  I don’t want to rekindle what I have, we have a little fire going, but I’d love to see our affection for one another grow as we spend time with one another.  I want to have a great big bon fire.  Isn’t that the idea?  I don’t simply want to grow old on this earth with my husband, I want to grow old and be feisty and love one another like no other husband and wife ever have…. Isn’t that what we should all be striving for?  We are reaching for the temple so that we can have all of the earthly enjoyment of being eternal companions.  I like him that much – in all of his stubbornness, in all of his kindness, in all of his sweet caring ways – I like him just enough to want to be by his side each and every single day for all of the eternities. So, I’m going to start dating him.  This week!  I am so excited!  Thoughts on where we should go first?  Please feel free to share.

 

Next, I want to talk about some big bad wolves.  You know the story of the three pigs and the big bad wolf.  Well, according to Elder Bruce C Hafen, there are really three big big-bad-wolf-at-the-doorbad wolves.  And they are:

  • The wolf of natural adversity
  • The wolf of our own imperfections
  • The wolf of excessive individualism

These wolves are horrible.  We can’t really avoid the first wolf, as it tests our marriage, we have to get on our knees and pray and have our Savior yoke with us so that we can overcome the trials that are put before us in this life.  We all have trials to overcome, and we must.  Remember that no trial that we are given is too much for us to endure.

The world of our own imperfections, however, we can avoid this one.  Elder Hafen tells of a woman who was so belittled by her spouse that she felt invaluable and worthless.  This is unacceptable on two levels.  First, no human deserves to be treated in this manner, and I am confident that her spouse will be dealt with justly on judgement day.  Secondly, and even more importantly, each and every one of us are a child of God.  He made us in His image.  We are made just how we are supposed to be.  Sure we can learn to do more things, we can expand our skills and our knowledge.  We can learn to control our patience level and learn to love deeper, and we should do all of these things that are praiseworthy and of good report.  We have got to remember that are made in His image and we His children.  Each one of us has great value in his eyes.  If you aren’t a parent yet, you maybe don’t quite understand this… but sometime in the natural progression of attempting to be the best parent you can, one learns that there is nothing you wouldn’t do for the benefit of your child.  I mean, just this morning, my daughter was begging me to pay $45 to send her on a field trip.  $45 are you kidding me?  I mean, I don’t normally mind $5 or $10, but $45?  That’s not a field trip, that’s an expense line for the budget.  Nope, she’s not going.  I’m certain it would be beneficial for her, I’m sure she’d learn some great things, and yes, she will be the only one from her class period not in attendance, but I am not paying $45 for a field trip.  I want her to be able to go, I want her to have the benefit of the cultural experience she has been promised from this outing, but I simply can’t afford it right now.  There are a lot of things in life that I want for my children that I can’t provide, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want what’s best for them.  Heavenly Father wants what is best for us, and that is a covenant marriage and a strong family.  We have got to remember the value that we hold in His eyes and never let anyone strip us of this.

Lastly, the wolf of excessive individualism.  I used to know this wolf.  We were even intimate.  He and I may as well have been conjoined twins.  After my divorce, I went searching for me.  I thought I found me, and boy was I wrong.  I went several years with putting my career in front of my children.  I worked hard to provide for them, and I was successful in doing so.  But I had too much time to myself making me who I was – the provider, and not enough time being mom and loving on my kiddos.  I have since remarried and am now blessed with being a stay-at-home mom.  I wish I could turn back the clock and stay a struggling single mom instead of a financially set single mom. I am saddened by the field trips, snotty noses, owies, and meal times that I missed working overtime because I thought that I needed money in order to give my children what they needed.  I was wrong, and here I am now, blessed beyond belief to stay home and finish watching some of them grow into beautiful young adults.  I get to drive them to school, pack their lunches, and attend every single event that they are involved in – because that’s what moms are for – at least this mom.

So, what am I going to do?  I’m going to beat these wolves away.  I’m going to teach my nice-big-bad-wolfchildren of their worth in the eyes of God and I’m going to always strive to be the mom that I was meant to be – divinely appointed to be.  I am going to kiss scraped knees and hug girls with broken hearts and I am going to go to the marching band practices for the next four and a half years.  I am going to love with all of my heart and focus on the gifts and blessings that I have been given from above.  And I pray whole heartedly that you find a way to fight those wolves that are at your door – pray them away.  Yoke with Him.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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