As we enter into another Presidential Election, it seemed only fitting to review our approach to politics and people as followers of Christ.
Listen to the FULL EPISODE and a SUMMER ANNOUNCEMENTHERE
I’d also like to invite you to watch a sermon presented by our pastor, Gregg Chastain at Community Church of Sandy in Sandy, Oregon. We have recently started a series on the book of Daniel. It comes at a perfect time, as we as Christians find ourselves increasingly being marginalized and asked to conform to the world.
Matt and I sat down and compiled a list of 10 things we think qualify as marital self-care. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we believe it covers some of the most important (and often overlooked) ways you can nurture your marriage and your spouse. Let’s face it, we could all use a little more tenderness in our lives and who better to give it than your spouse?
Here’s our first ever Top Ten List:
Date Night– This goes without saying, right? Dating your spouse is super important, especially if you have children who you’re also trying to raise. I mean honestly, kids are pretty attention-seeking and if we’re not careful they will easily pull focus. But your relationship deserves the time and attention it got back when you were trying to impress each other.
It also goes without saying that most couples can’t do a once-a-week date because that can cost a TON of money! So find creative solutions: go for walks, take long drives on roads you’ve never explored, have a picnic, light some candles and take a soak in the tub, give massages. Now, if you have kids, you’re going to have to get even more creative…or bold. Don’t be afraid to ask another couple if they’d be willing to swap kids once a month. That way you both benefit from a night (or at least a few hours) free of kids without the expense.
Find ‘Hidden Moments’ – This goes along with the first suggestion. You’re not always going to have a lot of time to enjoy each other’s company, so use the time you’ve got. Maybe it’s just a quick changing of the guard as you pass by each other on your way to and fro. Take a minute to exchange a meaningful moment. Check in with each other.
Maybe you have a little bit of downtime while the baby is asleep. Go ahead and take a nap also, but do it together. Pack the kids up and head to McDonald’s. While they play, enjoy a Coke and have a conversation. Even if it’s in fits and starts, it’s better than nothing. Or do like we do…our kids are older but our daughter still isn’t driving herself and we’ve had some moments sitting in the car waiting at the pick-up line at school or while she’s in dance class.
These aren’t the moments that will likely be full of great memories, but they are the moments that remind you both that your marriage is valuable and worth putting effort into.
Pray for Each Other– It’s really such an easy thing to do, but how often do you we simply forget to pray for the person that matters most? When was the last time you asked your spouse, “How can I pray for you today?” Those few words show your mate that what’s important to them is important to you, too. They speak volumes. Ask this question at least once a week. (Note to Self: Be sure to ask Matt how I can pray for him this week….)
Plan A Future Together – Whether it’s figuring out what you want to do for your next date, planning your dream vacation, plotting your next move or talking about the career you’d like to step into, planning for future events together keeps your eyes out ahead of you.
It’s easy to get consumed with the day-to-day and only focus on the tasks (or children) that are right in front of you. But you are more than the next crisis your face. You have hopes and dreams and big ideas and so does your spouse. Celebrate those together by talking about something that’s coming up or something you’d like to see in the future. It will help stoke the fires that drive your passion toward a common goal and towards one another.
Share Your Calendar– It’s not a glamorous suggestion, but just checking in with each other and sharing what’s on your calendar can keep you casually informed about any number of things. It’s great to be able to glance at the calendar and see what big events are looming because it reminds us how to pray for one another but it also can be an indicator as to why your favorite person in the whole world has turned into a monster. If your work presentation that’s happening on Thursday is written on the calendar, it just might help your spouse understand why you’re a little on edge.
Pick Up the Slack When Your Spouse is Weak – There are going to be those days (and weeks and months) when your spouse just isn’t going to be able to do all the things you’ve grown accustomed to them doing. You’ll have those days, too. And when they happen, nothing feels better than knowing that your spouse has your back and is willing to step in and do the dishes or run the carpool or cook dinner. Especially when those things are done without expectation or guilt trips. Nobody needs that foolishness.
If your spouse is sick, help out. If your spouse is depressed, let them rest. If your spouse is going completely postal because they’re sick and tired of being the only person in the entire house who seems to know how to wash a dish and put it in the dishwasher….wait, I’m sorry. I think I started to wander….
Find A Mutual Hobby or Interest – We really like to watch TV together. It’s a great chance for us to escape for a little bit then come back to reality with some funny one-liners from whatever show we just watched. We could repeat show and movie lines all day long and just giggle. It’s our jam. We also really like playing Pathfinder together with a group of friends. We get to pretend to be heroes doing brave and amazing feats. Then we talk about the shenanigans our characters got up to until we play again. It’s how we unwind.
Those things might not interest you at all. But what about hiking? Or beekeeping? Or going to antique stores? Video games?
Whatever you both enjoy, jump in and do it together. If you haven’t found your thing yet, keep looking. Maybe try cooking or gardening. The point is, find “your” thing and then make time to enjoy it. The bonding that can happen in these moments is worth its weight in gold. I honestly believe that one of the reasons our marriage has survived through all the garbage is because we shared so many common interests and that kept our friendship alive.
Compliment One Another – This shouldn’t be that hard, but for some it truly is. Some people just have a hard time remembering to say out loud the things that are in their heart while others simply can’t find anything worth complimenting in their spouse anymore.
If that’s you in that latter group, dig deep. There was something in your spouse that initially drew you in. See if you can find it. If you can’t, look for something else. Anything else.
The fact is, words have power. When we receive compliments, it bolsters us. It strengthens our confidence. It encourages us to do more of the same. Words of praise can soften the hearts of both those who give it and those who receive it. Compliment with sincerity and do it often.
Have Meaningful Physical Touch – It doesn’t have to turn in to sex, but take time to hug and kiss and hold hands and give massages. These little displays of affection say everything without saying a word. You don’t have to put on a show in front of others, but simply hugging your spouse for a good 2 minutes will do amazing things for your emotional well-being and theirs.
Have Sex – Yep. Just do it.
Sometimes couples have vastly different sex-drives. That’s not uncommon but it’s also not an excuse. When we said “I do” we committed to loving our spouse and putting their needs above our own. We promised that what was ours was also theirs. That includes our body.
It’s important to be attuned to your spouse’s sexual needs. Even if you’re not in the mood, you may just need to do what you can to get there because it’s been 3 months and your spouse is starting to look a little green around the gills.
The fact is, you are a gift to your spouse. You are the gift that keeps on giving.
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean you have to get your funk on every single day, but it does mean that you need to do your part to show up for your spouse in order to show them that their needs are important to you.
Have some conversations. Find out what’s best for you as a couple. Work together to find a compromise and then enjoy your time together. This kind of physical intimacy is unique and wonderful and a beautiful celebration of your love and commitment to one another. Relish it.
Listen, that was a LOT! The bottom line is this: if you are married, you are in it for the long haul. Wouldn’t it be better to do what you can to nurture your marriage and keep that spark alive rather than watch it burn out, having wasted time and energy on someone you “fell out of love” with?
You don’t fall out love. You let love go. You give up on love. The fact is, marriage is really, really hard. It takes courage and tenacity and dedication and sacrifice and a thousand other things. You never get to a point when you can simply coast.
If you took the next 2 months or so and focused on one of these tips at a time, adding a new one every week, you might just be surprised at how your attitude and heart have changed. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?
Turn on the television and chances are good that you’ll find a show with a father who is ignorant, incapable or simply a joke. Hollywood has a knack for making a mockery of one of the most important and influential roles any man can have. And we, as consumers, have quickly adapted and assumed that the men in our lives truly are incapable of most any task and are hardly worth listening to.
It’s sad, really.
We have gone from the adage “Father knows best” to the attitude “Fathers don’t even matter.” We have relegated the role of Father as merely an afterthought. As if the contribution of sperm and a little DNA were all that men have to offer in their role as Parent.
What would happen if we actually paid heed to the wisdom of these men, who’ve provided food, shelter, and clothing to us? What would happen if we stopped to reflect on the messages they’ve sent us, often without any words at all? What would happen if we, for a brief moment, paused to listen to their silence, to hear what they hear?
This week, Matt and I sat down and shared some of the lessons our dads have each taught us. My own dad has been gone now for over 20 years, taken by a sudden heart attack in the middle of the night. We lived a couple states away at the time and the phone call I received from my mom at 3:00 a.m. is one I won’t soon forget. My dad’s death shook me to my core and honestly, nothing’s quite been the same ever since.
I only had 23 years with my dad. But those 23 years counted because he made them count. He invested in my brother and I and the boys he led in Scouts. He invested in the kids he taught at our high school and in our church’s Sunday School. He invested in his wife, my mom. He invested in his relationship with the God who saved him. And he lived that all out in front of us every day. He sometimes fell, but he was never too proud to admit his own shortcomings.
I could spend hundreds of pages writing down the lessons he taught me in those short years. He was a good, flawed, passionate man who loved God, his wife, and his kids.
Matt’s dad is still around, for which we are super grateful!
He, too, has loved God and his wife and kids well. He has shown himself to be loyal and disciplined and compassionate, a rock in the storm. And while he’s been a good model for Matt to look to, he’s also been a second dad to me. He’s shown his grace and love in a million ways over the years.
Matt and I recognize that we are exceedingly fortunate to have both been raised by godly, loving men, who were committed to their families. We understand that not everyone is that fortunate.
That being said, because we were both blessed to have a couple of good eggs for dads, we wanted to share with you some of the wisdom they shared with us.
Of course, the list could go on and on. This is just a fraction of the lessons our dads have taught us over the years. And I’m sure, as we continue to reflect on the men who helped raise and shape us and the ways they impacted our lives, more and more lessons will reveal themselves.
Driving home from dance class with my daughter tonight, we were talking about the importance of valuing people in our lives. She’s worried that she takes us, her mom, dad, and brother, for granted. She does. We all do. That’s what happens when you have someone in your life who’s just always there. They start to blend in with your surroundings. You don’t always notice the ways they add value to your life on a daily basis.
Until they’re gone.
Suddenly, those smiles, the hugs, the laughter, the sage advice, and the off-color jokes, all crystalize and you understand how valuable and sacred that love is. It all comes into super sharp focus and all you want is one more chance to say “I love you.”
As you listen to this week’s episode, I trust that you will not only be challenged by some of the lessons we’re passing on, but also that you would consider the men in your own life, whether they’re your father or a father-figure, and the ways they have shaped and molded you. Would you take the time to put into words the value they’ve added to your life? Would you share that with them?
Dads are really important. And not just because they’re the best at telling Dad Jokes. Dads have a lot to offer if we give them half a chance.
Tell your dad you love him. I know he’d like to hear it.
The life of a minister is hard. It’s a whole lot of work, most of which is on-call, and not a lot of personal glory. It’s often a thankless career but a fulfilling calling. But what about the life of a minister’s wife?
We get a look behind the curtain this week as Brandy sits down with Dottie Thorson, retired school teacher, and Pastor’s wife. Dottie shares the journey she and her husband took as they worked together to build a life of service, dedicated to sharing God’s love and grace with everyone along the way.