It doesn’t take long for us to realize that our fairytale visions of marriage are just that—a fairytale. In real life, marriage tends to be much harder than we imagined. But it can also be much richer. Here’s good news for real marriages.
I remember the first time I ever saw my husband with a baby. I found myself in a daydream in that moment, as love struck young women do, of what it would be like to raise a family with this kind, servant-hearted, steady man.
The daydream crumbled shortly after we came home from the hospital with our newborn son four years later.
Those first few weeks were really difficult. Caring for our child came much more naturally to me. Gradually, I started to just do things myself instead of asking for help because it was easier that way, but it didn't stop resentment from growing in my heart. I had looked forward to all the ways that parenthood would make us closer and more in love, but those first few months were nothing like I had imagined.
It was so much lonelier.
I wish I could sit down for coffee with that grieving, disillusioned mama and offer her the encouragement in this article, but instead, I pray that if you are struggling the way that I was in that first year, that this article would meet you in that place and offer hope.
Your Father sees, hears, and knows.
Your Father has given you all that you need.
Your Father is sovereign over this season.
Your Father is able to change hearts.
So this Father’s Day, if you have experienced something similar, celebrate your husband for what he is: the father of your children.
Reach deeply for the things he is doing well. Encourage him with the ways that you see God working in him and through him.Tell him that you know what a great responsibility it is and how much of a challenge it is and how you are committed to supporting him and praying for him.
Most of all, feel the blessing of your heavenly Father loving you not according to what you have done, but because of who you are in Christ, and extend that same patience, grace, and favor to your spouse.
As a mom of two under two, I’m pretty much always tired, which means I pretty much always have a 'good' reason to not invest in my marriage. In fact, if there was ever a time where I felt like I had every right to reject my husband’s advances, it’s now.
But feelings do not determine truth, do they?
The reality is that God designed marriage to mirror his relationship with his church. And just like we can’t take a break from God without our spiritual health declining, we can’t take a break from our spouse without it impacting the health of our marriage.
Everything is from him, to him, and through him—even marital intimacy. So, the path to marital closeness is through the One who created it in the first place. Which makes sense, because another word for intimacy is closeness.
Sex becomes more beautiful with this in mind, offering a glimpse of the glorious oneness between Christ and his bride, a unity that comes from preferring the good of another over yourself.
When I don’t feel up to pursuing intimacy with my husband, I look to the One who came not to be served but to serve and give his life for many. When everything in me is exhausted, I turn to my humble, self-sacrificing King in prayer, knowing that his wisdom in marriage is trustworthy.
God promises to work in us both for his own good pleasure, which means he is my greatest ally in cultivating rich intimacy in my marriage.
The truth is we’re both exhausted. We look forward to days when it won’t take a week to get through a movie, when giving up sleep to be with each other doesn’t feel like such a hard sacrifice, but we’re also thankful for the way this season challenges, stretches, and grows our love for one another.
Our challenge is to steal moments to express that love in the marriage bed."
RM note: Sexual intimacy in marriage is a gift from God, but it's also a very sensitive topic. While many women relate to normal feelings of tiredness that make intimacy challenging, there are many struggling with deeper issues of sexual brokenness. If this post triggers deeper concerns, consider talking to an older couple, a biblical counselor, or a doctor for help.
This year around our anniversary, my husband and I stayed in and looked at old pictures and scrapbooks. We flipped the pages slowly, reminiscing about our favorite dates, the way we pursued each other, and the things we were first attracted to.
By the end of the evening, it felt like someone wiped the fog from our glasses so we could see each other clearly again, realizing that not only did our love remain, but it was forged stronger by years of hard things and shared purpose.
Especially when it comes to love, remembering is not just about drumming up memories, but having a matured awareness of the way people and experiences have impacted our lives. We remember things all the time, and we know how a memory can change our perspective on a current mood or situation.
God created us this way, and he draws upon our ability to remember in his word by giving symbols, benchmarks, and stories that bring his goodness and faithfulness back to the forefront of the minds of his people, which in turn helps us ultimately, “Remember the gospel.”
Even though we know the gospel is important, the cares of life fog our gospel lenses.
Our once clean glasses—seeing ourselves, our relationships, and experiences in the context of God’s saving work become covered with the gook of social media distractions, conflicts with family, diapers that need changing, work deadlines that are looming, health issues, and the demand to get dinner on the table ten minutes ago.
This is why we must stop and intentionally, “Remember the gospel.” We must sit by the side of the road, take off our dirty glasses, and clean them.
Take time to read God’s word. Take time to pray and share our concerns. Take time to read good books that point us to the gospel. Take time to meet with other believers.
It’s only after this type of stopping, resting, and remembering that we stand back up with a renewed awareness of God’s love for us, our love for him, and the unbreakable covenant he’s made through the sacrifice of Christ.
When you’re frustrated, exhausted, or bummed—remember the gospel.
Turn back to him, remember that first love, and rejoice at the fact that he’ll keep you forever.
I’ve never felt a joy quite like becoming a mom. Parenthood has brought out so much of the best of us.
And, yes, some of the worst too. From the I’ve-never-felt-this-consistently-tired-in-my-life fatigue; to transitioning to one income; to (not) figuring out sleep routines; to anxiety and feelings of inadequacy; we’ve had our share of marital strife since becoming parents...
I must remember that God’s overarching purpose for my life is to prepare me for an eternity with him by making me more like Christ...This means marriage isn’t about my spouse completing me, living our best life now, or sweet tax breaks. Our main goal as husband and wife is to help prepare each other to see Jesus...
Like me, you will fail. You’ll feel fatigued. You’ll let your spouse down one way or another. You’ll wonder if grace has run out. In those moments, I pray you remember: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Is. 40:11).
Your Savior is Greater. His grace is a bottomless ocean. Keep walking with him. He is gently leading you. He will see you through.
God has given each parent the task of loving their children by instructing, training and disciplining them - but all of us feel clueless about this task from time to time. Here are seven principles to keep in mind when you don't know how to handle a discipline issue:
1. Act. Learn. Adapt. Most of the time, you just need to try the things you already know and see how they work. If it's going terribly, learn from it and try something new. Your first parenting strategy isn't your last parenting strategy.
2. Ask Someone: Sit down with a godly and experienced mom and ask her for a "Training and "Correction 101."
3. Pray: When you don't know how to handle it practically, pray over your child, that God would calm their heart, give them a desire to submit to authority and give you wisdom in the situation.
4. Read scripture and do what it says: There are lots of arrows in the Bible to point us in parenting. Sometimes, we don't like those arrows because they require us to sacrifice what we want to do, and take hard work and planning. Sometimes, when we're not sure how to discipline our child it's not because we literally don't know what's right, it's because we don't want to obey scripture.
5. Pay attention to your husband's leading: Oftentimes, your husband will see things that you don't and can see things more objectively. As hard as it is, listen to him when it comes to behavior issues and consider adopting his approaches.
6. Remove distractions: Sometimes confusion about discipline stems from letting other priorities cloud our calling. We haven't been consistent, or we've been overcommitted, or just lazy. Here, it's not that you need better parenting strategies, but need to repent to God and your children - making discipline a priority again.
7. Remember the goal and keep going: Being a faithful and godly parent is something that reaps rewards. We aren't promised that our children will become Christians, but there is treasure stored up in heaven for parents who faithfully raise their children in the way of the Lord. It isn't a perfect input = output relationship, But the bible shows that good fruit can result from raising our children well.
* A version of this post first appeared on Emily Jensen Writes Blog January 2015 // For more on gospel-centered discipline, listen to Episode 57 | How Discipline Helps Us Communicate the Gospel.
This week on the show (ep. 62), we're talking about finding ways to adjust our hearts and attitudes when your husband works long hours. No matter if it's one night a week or a month of travel, here are some tips to help you love your husband well and avoid becoming angry or bitter with him or your situation.
Ever since we've been married my husband has worked long hours. I don't know why I've ever expected it to change, but I suppose there has always been this hope in me that it would. To give perspective (and I suppose some credibility as to why I'm writing this post), my husband typically works 12 hour days, and though he is supposed to have every other Friday off, he works them about half the time and at times, he is unexpectedly called in on the weekends or in the middle of the night. He also goes through long seasons once or twice a year, working 12-15 hour days (or nights) for anywhere from 30-90 days straight (yes, even weekends), although this past year they introduced "Fatigue Days," where it became a requirement that they give the employees every 14th day off. (I'll be honest, I've always wondered how this could be legal.)
I know there are a lot of professions that require husbands to work long hours and I am not the only mother preparing and eating dinner with the kids by myself. But it can feel like a very lonely road sometimes and it can be tough to know how to talk about it or what to do, because for most of us, we know deep down, it's not going to change anytime soon, so what good does talking about it do?
That said, I'm not writing this to say that I have anything revelatory to add, nor do I always have a good perspective or follow the advice I'm about to share, but in seven years of being married to a man that works long hours and four of which I've been a mom to small children, I have come a long way in my attitude and learned a few tricks to ease the frustration. So to the mom who's husband works long hours, this is my letter to you.
When it comes to toiling in the call of motherhood, I often shift my focus from the upward call of Christ (Philippians 3:14) onto my self-constructed image of the "perfect" mom. Instead of working with the energy the the Holy Spirit provides for the work God has put before me, I clench my fists and drag the weight of "not good enough" as I press on to attain my idea of godly motherhood.