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Solving Family Conflict in a Christ Pleasing Way

Family conflict can be especially hurtful. When family conflict surfaces, we are often deeply wounded. And don't always solve it in a way that pleases Christ.

Family conflict is especially hurtful. We know the world at large will hurt us, but expect our family to be a safe place. We hope our family loves, respects, values, treasures us. So when family conflict surfaces, we are often surprised and find ourselves deeply wounded.

But when we are hurt, we usually don’t respond well. Our first instinct is to get defensive. Our second is to wound back or withdraw. Neither response strikes at the heart of the conflict or reflects Christ.

And families often gather at already stressful times: weddings, funerals, holidays. Emotions are already running high. One careless word can ignite a firestorm if we don’t focus on solving our family conflict in a way that pleases Christ first.

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I can’t speak for you, but my selfishness is something I battle minute to minute. I really prefer to have things my way and struggle to relinquish the illusion of control. In the heat of the moment, selfish behaviors I believed long dead can still rise to the surface.

I see the world through only my flawed, human perspective. And when I let my hurt feelings take over, I think the worst of everyone and function from fear.

So handling conflict takes focusing on my new nature as a Christian (Romans 12:2).

I need to seek God’s perspective on the situation over my own.

So what is God’s perspective on family conflict?

First, He loves all the people in the conflict equally. God’s desire is for all to come to the life-giving-salvation Jesus provided on the cross. PERIOD.

Even if you’re the only believer in your family or the only one who seems to be walking by faith right now, God doesn’t love you more or better or think you should get your way because you’re a Christian.

Plus, how we handle the conflict might be more important than the actual resolution.

Is the issue at hand more important than anyone’s salvation?

My petty bickering with my husband really pales in comparison to thinking about his salvation being on the line with how I conduct myself.

Solving family conflict should start with being more concerned about our witness than getting our way.

While some conflicts are very serious and might require setting boundaries or seeking professional help, using the standard of the other person’s walk/salvation keeps us from elevating even the most difficult issues above our witness as a disciple of Christ.

When we focus on our witness over our way, God is glorified.

Is this family conflict more important than their salvation? When I focus on my witness over my way, God is glorified. Click To Tweet

If you have unsaved family, how you deal with hurts and conflict might be the best witness you ever have because how God asks us to live humbly and gently is so counter-cultural.

It takes a deep change in our hearts to give up taking offense, but I’ve never taken a hurt to Him and not received a verse or perspective shift that has allowed me to begin the process of forgiveness.

But we have to be willing to let go of our anger, which is easier said than done. Sometimes being angry feels like a right. Someone has mistreated us and we feel we deserve to be hurt, angry, indignant. We let that anger blossom in our chests like fire unfurling.

We let it roll around and grow into huge hurts, grudges, bitterness because we are so focused on ourselves. But that only hurts us and damages our relationships which doesn’t please Christ at all.



Secondly, God asks us to think less of ourselves and more highly of others.

Philippians 2:3 ESV Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

If we remove the rivalry and arrogance from our hearts and fill ourselves with humility, we’ll take less offense at the unkind words and attitudes of others, realizing that there are many dynamics to consider before responding.

To handle conflict, I have to be in right relationship with God first.

The more like Christ I become, the more I realize how far from Him I truly am. But seeing myself accurately is a gift from God. When I can see how desperately I need God’s grace, I have the humility of heart to offer grace and forgiveness to those around me.

I learned a lot about focusing on my own relationship with God in marriage (and all relationships) in the book I just finished using to lead a small group.

Before my emotions take over, I try to pray. Then I seek to understand the heart of the other person.

For example, my husband walked through the door, grumbling. His tone was sharp and he had a stompy attitude (You know, stomping around the house, slamming drawers while bitterly mumbling).

Deep breath – honey, you seem upset. Is something bothering you?

The wonderful bureaucracy that is the army had thrown a curveball into his day. It had nothing to do with me. While I didn’t appreciate his stompiness, I didn’t have to be hurt by his inability to cope with frustration. I could love him instead. I asked what he needed and let him have some space.

Even when the other person’s behavior is wrong, unkind, even abusive, we need to recognize their need for Christ. Letting their sin surprise us is where we go wrong.

I’ve learned to expect sinners to act like sinners. Even wise, obedient, mature Christians sin. Taking offenses to God in prayer before reacting from hurt is always the best answer.

I’ve found the closer I draw to God, the more sin grieves me for others than for how it affects me.

But I still struggle with entitlement: I think, deserve to be treated better!

But that isn’t really how Christ handled it. He expected to be rejected and abused, but responded rightly every time. Some instances, He exhibited righteous anger. While at others, He suffered quietly, allowing the silence to convict more loudly than words ever could.

Righteous, loving silence and the Holy Spirit can convict more loudly than any words. Don't react in surprise to the sin of others, but respond in peace. Click To Tweet

And he never told us to stand up for ourselves . . .

Matthew 16:24 ESV Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Ok, so that is super hard. Painfully so. But when I hold up my fist and demand my rights, I end up more angry and do more damage to my relationships.

Sometimes, I still struggle with getting sucked into this vicious cycle. I’ll start having a conversation, but if the other person responds poorly, I begin to feel unheard or disrespected. If I don’t step back to let God work in both of us those emotions run roughshod over reason. I’ll talk myself into a tizzy trying to fix something that needs me to be quiet.

Being quiet invites. We can gently ask questions and listen.

  • Your reaction surprised me. What hurt your feelings? I didn’t mean to hurt you. 
  • That sounds like it might be a painful topic for you. Want to talk about it?
  • That hurt my feelings. I’m sure you didn’t intend to, but I’m sensitive about that.
  • I’m not sure I understand. Can you tell me what you wanted to communicate?



That gentle heart assumes the best of the other person’s intentions and heart.

We hear the words people use, but don’t take the time to really understand what they were saying. People are messy – especially family members with whom we have so much history.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

We make judgments and decisions based on twenty years of knowledge not just a single conversation. That’s not really fair, but it’s human nature. Assume the best and answer softly.

Try to see from their perspective.

Maybe your mother criticizes your husband because she worries about your happiness. She might be showing it in a terribly destructive way, but maybe that’s her reason for saying the things she does.

It’s so much easier to keep from getting angry when we recognize the humanity behind hurtful actions or comments. Maybe she misses the closeness you had before you were married or resents how far you have moved away from her.

Hurtful actions come from hurting people. When we love them, we can start to heal their hurts and our relationships.

The aunt or cousin who offers unsolicited parenting, marriage, housekeeping advice might be feeling unappreciated, unnoticed, or might simply be concerned about you.

The mother-in-law whose offers to help feel like backhanded attacks might be worried about how you are loving her child. She wants to see him happy.

Hurtful actions come from hurting people. When we embrace them, we can start to heal their hurts and our relationships. Click To Tweet

Don’t react, respond. Put yourself second and love the person whose comment or action hurt you. Why did they do that? What made them say that? How can you respond in a way that puts their needs and feelings above your own?

  • I know you worry about me. Thank you for your concern, but I prefer to talk about all the ways my husband cares for me instead of his mistakes. I sure make enough of my own. 
  • Oh, I do hate mopping. What have you found that works? 
  • Homeschooling isn’t the only option, and I your concerns are ones we’ve really thought and prayed over. I love that you love my kids and want what’s best for them! 
  • It’s really frustrating that this recipe didn’t turn out like Grandma’s. How do you make it? 
  • The way our marriage works is different, isn’t it? But your son is such a blessing to me. He is a good provider and father. 

In those hurtful moments, if we speak to their hurting places, we can better offer grace and work through the conflict.

What if you caused the conflict?

What if you thought light-heartedly teasing your cousin about being a terrible cook was no big deal, but touched a soft spot for struggling young wife. Or something you did years ago has become a bitter sticking point for a sibling.

Don’t let it go. Own up to it immediately. Apologize as if you had offended Christ. Because when we don’t love each other the way He commanded, we have.

John 13:35 ESV By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We won’t always get it all perfect. Expect to fail. Expect to need to apologize. We hope to get along with our families, but navigating personalities, emotions, and sensitive topics is a minefield.

As we demonstrate Christ’s love in our witness, people will see our faith.

My prayer for your family is the same as for mine, may the unity of Christ govern all we say and do because His love solves conflicts where our human nature would leave chaos.

Colossians 3:14 ESV And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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How to Let God Use Suffering to Transform your Marriage

Can suffering transform your marriage? I know it transformed mine, when I quit asking "Why me?" and began asking "God what do you want to teach me?"

Can God transform your marriage through suffering?

My marriage didn’t turn out to be the wondrous romance I expected. I’ll admit, after my proposal, I had pretty high expectations! But, my marriage definitely didn’t fit the Hallmark movie ideal.

At least, not at first. God used some hard things to take us from the brink of disaster to happily celebrating our 11th anniversary today!

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But it was a long road and a lot of rain fell on our parade.

Are you standing in that place? Standing in the sullen and silent stage of a marriage? In which you’re living side by side but the distance between you is palpable? 

Maybe you’re coming up on your wedding anniversary, and you could care less? In fact, you almost pray he forgets because trying to muster up emotions to fake happiness through the evening makes you exhausted just thinking about it?

If you feel like that or ever have felt like that, you’re not alone. I’ve been there.

Marriage can be disillusioning in the grandest of ways.

I thought I knew who I was marrying. I thought I knew who HE was marrying. Turns out, I didn’t have a clue about either one of us.

I thought I was kind and loving and patient before I got married.

Well, being married to someone who is more spontaneous and quirky chaos to my neurotic perfectionism and overly acute sense of organization has made it pretty clear that wasn’t true.

I was really patient and kind when I lived alone and could relegate his mess to his house. I could smirk at his piles and assume that he just didn’t know better. He just needed a woman to help civilize his wild, and teach him to separate his whites and darks. 

Oh, how I laugh at that today! Of course, he knew better. It just wasn’t his priority. And it still isn’t. He prefers our home to feel lived in. I like HGTV perfection. We are so very different in many ways. Yet, we’re both growing. I’ve even learned to wash everything in one temp and let God and Maytag sort it all out.

I had to accept that my idea of love and marriage were based on the world’s views, not God’s truths. My ideas of rights and respect and companionship and priorities were all shaped by my culture, not the immutable, unchanging reality of scripture.

Maybe the purpose of marriage is more than love, maybe it’s for God’s glory.

So, if God ordained my steps before I was born, He planned this marriage too. He knew how to use our differences to shape me to be more in His image, transforming me by degree.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Once I was willing to embrace those differences and see my husband as greater than myself. And I’ve learned to embrace how these differences are refining me to look more like Christ.

They make me consider how I love him over how loved I feel.

God has crafted the different events and suffering of the past couple of years to reach us as a couple. He can use suffering to transform your marriage as well. We’ve had issues with parents, parenting, finances, appliances, careers, technology, and grief and loss.

God even used a total physical break down to break down the careful walls of politeness we had built between us.

After being married a decade, we had quit talking with each other about intimate issues, deeply held views, and even tragic moments from our pasts that we didn’t know how to share.

Thanks to this military life, we had lived separately for so much of our marriage that we’d gotten really comfortable living this compartmentalized relationship with all the messy human stuff kept in little private boxes.

Turns out, you can’t love someone with your whole heart and hold anything separate from them.

Through my hip surgery, dislocation, and the prolonged recovery, then my husband’s increasing disability due to his military service, we’ve had to learn an increased compassion for each other. We had to communicate about our bodies, our feelings about getting older and recognizing our mortality.

We had to risk and trust like we did in the very beginning. The first time I opened up about how rape affected my marriage was really hard, but my husband was able to really listen to me and not let his own emotions of anger prevent him from just listening.

The past year has opened the door of communication between us. God has used scripture to teach me how to love and surrender in the hard things.

One night, I lay in bed mentally crying out “WHY ME?!?” I almost audibly heard Him say, “Be patient. I’m doing stuff.”

Well, okay then. Show me what you’re doing. Just give me a glimpse.

I almost immediately felt awash with peace. Not healing, I had months of healing left to go (and some still ahead of me), but peace that surpasses understanding calmed me.

Psalm 94:19 ESV When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. 

So I began to watch for the things that God was working in my life. When I stopped feeling like I had been targeted and realized this was God’s grace, not punishment. This suffering was part of making me holier and strengthening my faith!

And I began to see how my injury and need brought out gentleness in my husband. How my need encouraged me to grow in humility to see how God can use my gentleness over my intelligence.

Even in the middle of rough moments over the past months, God has put people and even street signs in my path reminding me that He hears me. When the brake store sign read, “God hears your cry” on the roughest night we’d had in a long while, I almost began sobbing in the car. Thank you, Lord.

I am patient knowing that God has always worked everything together for my good, just on His perfect timetable, not mine.

2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When I look to Christ, I am content with insults and hardships. That is so incredibly counter-cultural! I know in my weakness, God’s hope has shown brighter in me. When I could face calamity and say, I trust God, it changed me and the people around me.

It’s been incredibly beautiful.

Just this week, our septic system backed up. What would have been an unimaginable crisis when we didn’t know how to talk to each other was merely a tiny irritation, and we ended the evening holding hands snuggling on the couch.

Our marriage isn’t magical. It’s far from perfect, but we’re better today than yesterday, and I’m counting on God to use the blessings and challenges to keep directing our steps.

How did we get here from there? I got into my Bible everyday. I began to see my first mission field as my husband and family. I let God’s Word and Spirit be active and transformative. I couldn’t just read words and hope on them. I had to LIVE them.

Let God change you and you will see Him transform your marriage through suffering and in blessings. You cannot become more like Christ and not see fruit blossom in your life. Just know that it doesn’t always look like we think it will. But in a Kingdom-mindset and eternal economy, you’ll begin to see how our light shines brightest in the dark.

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My Father’s Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

I’m sharing my Father’s day gift guide. Really, I was just shopping but found some great things, so I wanted to share!

My husband has been so great to me during this difficult year. I really want him to know I see him: the hours, the hard work, the little things he does without fanfare or expecting thanks. Yet, I need to be frugal while showing my husband I appreciate him. So, all these gifts are $25 or less!

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One way I show my appreciation is by paying attention to little things he needs. On a regular basis, I replace his socks, toothpaste, and favorite hot sauce. But for a Father’s Day gift, I want him to know how much we appreciate him by making his day to day life easier.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

Just this week, he was scrounging through the garage looking for the right size drill bit for some project. I could hear his grumbling from the garage. I can’t always be physically helpful, but this universal drill and screw tool might save him so much frustration.

My husband LOVES to grill and BBQ. You know you live in the South when these are two entirely separate activities!  He has a gas grill, a charcoal grill that he uses for slow barbecuing, and a smoker.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas! All gifts under $25 - 5 FREE ideas! Click To Tweet

Grill accessories are always a great Father’s Day gift!

Maintaining the proper temperature is important when you invest 12-24 hours into dinner! This one has a timer for up to 24 hours and free lifetime replacement of the probes. I’m already looking forward to our next hog roast!

And having the right tools for the job is paramount – plus it keeps him from using my good kitchen utensils at the grill! 😉 This set has the tools he needs without taking up too much storage space, & is on SALE!

My husband is a talented amateur chef. In fact, he could be a professional, so we’ve bought some high quality chef knives. However, they are TOUGH to keep sharp because the blades are such hard steel.

Is your husband or father a talented chef?

He is always complaining that his sharpeners aren’t enough to keep the edges on the blades crisp.  Just Friday night at our fish fry, he was complaining about using our cheap knives because they sharpen more easily.  He was especially frustrated by the filet knife that he wishes he could use. But getting to a professional sharpener isn’t always possible, so I looked for one that would be harder than his knives.

This knife sharpener has a diamond coated sharpening wheel that should keep even our serrated knives sharp. With a 100% no questions asked, money back guarantee, for under $20, this is an easy Father’s Day gift. I really want him to enjoy those quality knives.

Gifts aren't the most important ways to say I love you, but just the right thing is fun. Click To Tweet

Of course, REALLY sharp knives have led to a few trips to the ER in our house. He uses sharp knives to filet fish and butcher deer. He needs them to be extra sharp, but also needs all his fingers. I got him a pair of these for his birthday earlier this year.

He LOVES them. He hasn’t cut himself once wearing them. And can use them while working with other sharp objects as well. These have saved his fingers several times already.

Maybe your husband needs some new t-shirts and likes to wear his faith! Christian Strong has some great styles (and cute things for you, too).

Or he might be an intellectual and enjoy books that deepen his faith. There are many to choose from, but one that I really would suggest to any husband or father is The End Of Me by Kyle Idleman. You can read my entire review, but I LOVED this book. I really had to decide what kind of Christ follower I am and be willing to see past me.

We don’t usually spend a lot of money on gifts. We prefer to save for things together. And sometimes living on one salary means we make sacrifices.

When nothing store bought will do . . . .

5 FREE Father’s Day Gift ideas for your father or husband:

  • Cook his favorite meal and dessert for Father’s Day.
  • Ask him for his to-do list and surprise him by doing it so he gets a weekend off!
  • Write him a letter or several notes telling him what you appreciate about him extra points if you hide them where he will be surprised by notes all day.
  • Spend the day actively doing his favorite things. Go fishing. Watch golf. Etc.
  • DEAL with him. That means Drop Everything And Listen. Give him your best attention as often as humanly possible.

Loving each other everyday is more important than things we buy, but small, thoughtful gifts can also be treasures.

I hope you have a husband or father in your life you can celebrate this Father’s Day. While not everyone does, if you are blessed enough to have a father, step-father, or husband in your life, take a few minutes to celebrate them however will honor them the most.

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A Rape Victim’s Problem with Fifty Shades and the like

The Fifty Shades series isAs a Christian woman, I shouldn't have to say anything about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I need to.

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The Fifty Shades series is just the newest, shiniest example of racy romance novels turned into movies. As a Christian, I shouldn’t have to say anything to other Christians about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I needed to.

A lot of wonderful pastors have written tremendous articles about the dangers of Christians watching movies like Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker.

I can’t add much to such an excellent Christian commentary. I can only offer the purity standard I try to maintain for our home.

Philippians 4:8 ESV / Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Probably not achievable this side of heaven, but I have never regretted ‘breaking up’ with favorite shows that didn’t meet Christ’s standard.

So why read the rest of this post if I’m not adding to the “Christian” commentary on the film?

Because I can add my personal perspective on Fifty Shades as a date rape victim.

Movies like this that twist sex and violence aren’t harmless entertainment. They shape our views of sexuality. And affect the attitudes and behaviors of their viewers.

The Fifty Shades series is just the newest, shiniest example of racy romance novels turned into movies. As a Christian woman, I shouldn't have to say anything about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I need to.

Read my perspective on Fifty Shades as a date rape victim. NO starts with what we watch. Click To Tweet

Films like these depict intense, sexually-charged content, which pushes viewers to seek more exciting, more forbidden sexual content.

And often viewers act on these fantasies, which is destroying healthy views on sex and sexuality.

Fight the New Drug  discusses studies that looked at the effect of graphic sexual media on teens, concluding people expect what they see of sexual relationships, for better or worse.

Movies like Fifty Shades show a man manipulating a woman into believing she will be sexually gratified through dominance and violence, and makes it seem romantic and fulfilling.

Violent sex isn’t romantic.

As a survivor of date rape, I find it tremendously troubling women have made this series successful. We are financing the spread of the pervasive media lie that women want to be forced into submissive sexual roles defined by pain and violence.

We are contributing to a rape culture because we learn to accept this twisted view of sexuality as normal in the name of embracing our sexuality.

Violence, pain, & force aren't healthy parts of sexual relationships. Say No to 50 Shades. Click To Tweet

My generation was the first with VCRs and access to porn right in their homes. Many boys I knew watched it and expected girls to match their movies, including believing that saying no was a game of “persuade me.”

I was a thing to be used, not respected or valued.

Many studies show ANY pornographic content affects the way we think about human sexuality. Even after viewing non-violent graphic sex, men were more likely to view women as less equal and believe NO only when accompanied by a slap.

This climate created the date rape culture that made me a victim.

Rape left a jagged wound in my life that will never completely go away. God has healed much of my hurt and used my experiences to help others, but I cannot ever completely erase the impact from my mind.

Sexually graphic media perpetuates a culture in which women are objectified not valued. Click To Tweet

Most days I walk around completely forgetting it ever happened. However, in a flash, rape raises its ugly head in the middle of a conversation, a usually tame television show, or a movie scene I didn’t anticipate.

While I don’t blame myself, I can tell you that my rapists’ sexual sin is like a poisonous weed that I can never completely eradicate. My rapist perpetrated violence against me on the inside, affecting more than just my physical body.

Rape is a crime against more than the body.

I can’t tell you how destructive it is to the true, God-honoring intimacy of marriage to have these mental and emotional flashbacks of my victimization.

Thankfully, through Christ and inside a loving marriage, the impact weakens. Yet, even when everything is perfect and good, I have found myself weeping because the shame and pain from my past poisoned what God has given us for joy.

So what does this have to do with Fifty Shades?

I have forgiven my rapist inside myself and in prayer, but never had personal closure. I don’t know what created the violent, sexual person he was so young. But I never want to support an industry or media that creates the widespread acceptance of sexual sin.

1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV / Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

Love and sex are already confusing in our sexualized culture. Kids are exposed to images of sexuality in hamburger commercials. Raising our children to be disciples of Christ in a society that ambushes their purity is hard enough.

Loving and satisfying sex within marriage is the true ideal.

Proverbs 5:18-19 ESV / Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.

We need to create a culture for our children that honors appropriate sexuality for ourselves and our children.

Hebrews 13:4 ESV / Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

So, I would ask you to learn about the very real links between watching (or reading) content like Fifty Shades and violence. I would ask you to consider changing the channel during the commercials for the film or writing to letters to the networks that air them.

We need to do more than not watch them, we need to change the culture for our children.

My daughter deserves a marriage with beautiful intimacy fueled by real passion for each other. I don’t want her to experience the pale reflection our sinful culture tries to appropriate.

That starts with us refusing to financially support ANY media that portrays graphic sex.

And that starts with you today.

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Marriage Advice I Wish I Had 10 years ago

Do we have a perfect marriage? No! So why take marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? We’ve learned a lot about marriage and life over these ten years.

And imperfect is the only kind there is, full of flaws and failures, love and laughter, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Last November, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary! We’re not quite the wide-eyed dreamers we were when we said, “I do,” but we made it.

And I’ve gained some wisdom I wish I’d learned much sooner.

The song that was playing in the background the day my husband proposed in April, 2006 (see our amazing romantic proposal video below!) was “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Our lives took convoluted paths to get to each other, but we were so grateful to have found someone to call home. As a military couple, home for us isn’t a place so much as it is our family.

Our wedding centered around the idea that two roads were becoming one journey; a wedding was just a day, but a marriage was a lifetime of love, joy, laughter, patience, forgiveness.

We both knew marriage would be challenging, but didn’t know how broken the road would be AFTER we said “I do.”

Bless the Broken road was our song, we didn't know it would be part of marriage too. Click To Tweet

We dove in believing marriage would be romantic bliss. One long date, right?

Finally, we’d be together after living in different states or on different continents, but that wasn’t going to be the case.

Weeks after our honeymoon, he left for various trainings. Hundreds of miles from family or friends, I lived alone in the townhouse that was supposed to be our first home.

The following six years, we faced a series of separations, some lasting weeks or months, with two more year-long deployments. We struggled through frightening and tearful good-byes, anticipating joyful reunions, and starting over and over again.

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

Building your marriage is hard when you’re never together long enough to get past the honeymoon of welcome home or the rose-colored glasses of almost good-bye.

During his fourth deployment, he faced some of the darkest situations of his military career. And when he came home, the war did, too.

*Military Spouse marriage advice -Below is hands down one of the best military spouse bible studies!  This changed my heart tremendously!

While grappling with the compounded effects of his four tours in Iraq, we transferred to a new duty station with new challenges. He is stateside, but works more than ever. And I’ve had health issue after health issue.

Marriage often took a backseat to just hanging on for dear life.

But the first piece of marriage advice I wish I had really known is that marriage isn’t the grand romance we envision the day we marry. It’s the romance of surviving life together and learning to cling to each other through it.

In 10 years, marriage often took a backseat to just hanging on for dear life. #ArmyWifeLife Click To Tweet

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Maybe that's really the only kind there is. Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

The first thing I had to learn was that getting married wasn’t a solution to a problem. Expecting him to fill the broken places in my life was unfair to him. It left us both feeling discouraged and empty. It was never his job.

Lamentations 3:24 ESV “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The only person who can fill my empty God-shaped-spaces is God. He is my portion. My hope and faith has to be in Him not my husband or I end up having unreasonable expectations.

My husband might be my hero, but he can't be my savior. Jesus has to be 1st focus of my heart. Click To Tweet

My husband is just the captain of our team. We have to remember to be a team before we can do anything else.

Which means treating each other with respect and kindness no matter what is going on. Life often can feel like an emergency, but not much of it really is so important that I don’t have time to take a deep breath and respond with love.

Truly learning to hope in the Lord allows me to see my husband’s humanity in a new light. I’m able to offer grace in a way I never could before because I see him just trying to do life.

The Holy Spirit intercedes in my heart daily and reminds me that kindness builds up my husband during difficult times.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I am still learning this lesson. Every. Day.

But my choice is to respond to life, stress, and even a harsh response with softness and the peace of Christ.

Time after time, I’ve seen how gentleness can affect even the most difficult situation.

The next piece of marriage advice I wish I had learned sooner is so simple to say, but so much harder to do.

Most arguments can be solved in two words, not a thousand perfect ones.

I’m sorry, not “I’m sorry, but . . .”

Dropping the but is really difficult for my flesh because I want to explain away my bad behavior. I want to put the blame on someone else, or point that nasty wagging finger right at him, but the truth is . . .

I can only control one thing in the entire universe: me.



Most arguments can be solved in two words, not a thousand perfect ones. I'm sorry. Click To Tweet

I have learned to take responsibility for my side and that’s it. Leave it right there.

Nothing anyone does justifies acting poorly. It sometimes explains my failures, but never excuses.

More often than not, he responds by softening and apologizing because I didn’t demand it or accuse him.

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

Which leads to my next piece of marriage advice…

Listen.

We all want to be understood and respected. Taking the time to listen does both.

God has been working on me in this area for a long time. I can demonstrate my husband is a priority in my life by focusing on him when he speaks. When I listen, I can hear his heart, share his joys and challenges.

I earn his respect because he knows I respect him.

Sometimes, I have to fight my selfishness when his desire to share with me interrupts my reading, television show, or just my busyness.

Again, God has challenged me to choose what to give my best attention to. Very rarely do I really need to ask him to pause and tell me later. Most of the time, I really can drop everything and listen.

Quick take away: Put your faith in the Lord, Respond kindly, Take responsibility for your side, and really Listen.

And this advice holds true no matter how long you’ve been married.

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