Who fills your cup?

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First of all, we want to state loudly and boldly that our beautiful marriage is only possible because Jesus Christ is at the center of it. We strongly believe that without His love for us, there is no way we could love each other the way we need to.

Okay, now that we have established that, we wanted to share more on this subject of who fills our cups...who truly satisfies our souls. Now it's no secret that we LOVE being together! We have so much fun together - adventuring, laughing, cuddling! We really would rather be together than anywhere else.  Cheesy, but true. Ha-ha.

However, early on in our marriage, I think we both really thought we were supposed to make each other happy.  We spent much time trying to make the other one happy...not because we felt like we had to, but because we just wanted to.  We love seeing each other smile. Why not, right?

But what we didn't realize  is that there is a deep hole inside each of us that was only meant to be filled by one, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.   As we have matured and grown in our marriage, we have learned that neither of us can MAKE the other one happy...and guess what? It's not our job to make the other happy or satisfied. And believe me, we have tried plenty of times and then been crazy disappointed when we failed.  Then as we grew, we learned 2 things:

1. We have to choose to be happy (thanks for those wise words, Dad); and

2. Only God can truly satisfy our souls. 

....

Wanna know what's truly going to make you happy in your marriage? Serving each other and giving to each other...setting your own desires aside for the sake of the other. After all, that's what  Christ did for us, right?

If you're looking for your spouse to be the source of your happiness,  to satisfy your soul, to fill your cup, it will never fully happen. Why? Because your spouse is human and imperfect, as we all are.  Those are unrealistic expectations (which we will discuss in another post). Marriage was never intended to be what fills you up. It's a representation of the way Christ loves us.

So we realize this is not at all the message the world tells you, but the world doesn't know how to make lasting marriages either.  Only striving for the example that Christ laid out for us - to serve each other/give up ourselves for each other - can make a strong marriage that lasts and is truly satisfying.

So go ahead and give it a try. We challenge you to see if serving your spouse doesn't satisfy your soul & fill your cup, more than relying on your spouse to make you happy. It's worth a shot, right?   

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

When the going gets tough, that's when love happens! / Marriage Mondays

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So it may seem odd, but this week's post was inspired by the rapper Lecrae. It's actually a topic I've been wanting to write about for a while but for some reason haven't. This past Saturday I, Allen, took a couple of our kids to a Lecrae concert at Wild Adventures theme park. Between a couple of his songs he asked the audience, "who out there is in love? "  he then proceeded to say that you young people who are all ushy gushy and feel like you've Got That Loving Feeling... "that feeling is just gas!" he said.  Real Love is when you are going through some stuff! I just thought there's some real truth to that.  Real Love is built when you're having to go through some trials, hard times, and tuff stuff. That's what makes your love stronger...when you come through it together and you don't give up.  I can tell you right now that the reason Carol and I have such a great marriage, and we are so in love with each other, is because we've been through many trials together over 21 years of marriage.  There's going to be plenty of trials and hard times you've got to get through when you're married. That's just life.  If you've ever believed that marriage was going to be easy, and things would just be hunky-dory all the time, then you've been fooled by a lie!  You've been fooled by Hollywood and the whole sexualized culture that's out there.  Marriage just isn't always that ushy gooshy feeling.  Some times you just have to be committed and determined that we're going to get through this together, no matter what.  

It seems to be part of God's design that for things to get stronger, they have to be put through some kind of stress or heat. If you think about how a sword is made, the rough piece of steel has to be heated extremely hot and hammered into shape before it can cool down and become extremely strong, durable, unbendable, and beautiful.  If you think about muscles, when you lift weights, you actually tear your muscles and then they have to heal back together.  That's what makes them grow stronger and bigger.

When you think about it, most things that are just given to you, or you received easily, don't mean as much to you as something that you had to work really hard for.  If you want to have an amazing, lifelong marriage, you're going to have to work for it. You're going to have to earn the respect and admiration and trust and love of your spouse. There's going to be times that you just hold on to each other tight and pray to God and ask Him to help you to get through this situation.  Your marriage is worth fighting for! Don't ever give up! Don't let anything come between you and your spouse. You're on the same team.   Love each other. Serve each other.  Encourage each other.  And don't forget...when the going gets tough, thats when LOVE happens.

Cheering you on, 

Allen & Carol

Escape Together / Marriage Mondays

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On a scale of 1-10, how important would you say getting away together is for your marriage.  We're going with an 11! We can't emphasize enough how vital this is.  With so many people and things needing our attention, energy, encouragement, love, and time it could be super easy for us to push "getting away" to the back burner and decide we dont have time for it, or can't afford it.  The truth is however, that we can't afford not to.  Our marriage is worth whatever effort it takes, whatever money it takes, to make it happen! Our marriage is worth it. Our kids are worth it. We are worth it!

We were reminded of that this week when we got the opportunity to escape for a few days. Allen had a business trip to West Palm Beach, and the kids and I (Carol) joined the fun! Yes...we took the kids...hold up on that tho.  My family lives in that area, so it was a no brainer for us to go along and visit with family.  In the middle of the week however,  Allen and I escaped to stay at The Hilton in West Palm (and the kids got to stay and visit with family. Win-Win!) It was ridiculously beautiful! Allen's conference was right next door at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, so it was perfect. For dinner, instead of staying for the conference dinner party, we decided to go for a stroll to eat at City Place. Then we walked, and walked, and walked! It was so refreshing and relaxing! We got to see parts of West Palm that we wouldn't have seen, had we stayed in at the hotel.  It was so much fun exploring the posh places together and dreaming and getting to have uninterrupted conversations.  As we passed an Aston Martin Dealership, we just had to stop for a photo.  Dream Cars!!!

Then we went back to the hotel and snuggled up in a chair by the pool together, relishing in the perfect night air and our sweet relationship. The next morning,  the conference finished and we decided to go for a drive and explore some more.  We happened upon this gorgeous old church.  I totally squealed...and begged Allen to turn around and find a parking space.  I LOVE old churches!!!  It was truly breathtaking yall!

This was exactly what our marriage needed. No agenda. No plans. Just exploring and dreaming together.  You see, although we have a great marriage, we are still human (duh 🙂) and no marriage is perfect...translating - we have been struggling a bit lately.  In all honesty, we really were just struggling too much to put a marriage monday post together last week.  We tried. We really did.  But then we came to a point that we realized we were going to have to let it go for the week, for the sake of our relationship. We have been super busy pouring into our family, our kids (end of year school projects, ball games, etc), and our photog biz has been kicking! Yay!! All good stuff, but it can easily take a toll if we aren't super diligent to invest back into our marriage. 

So here we are...back at it again!  Taking the time to take strolls together...holding hands of course (heehee), cuddling with each other, and dreaming together. And maybe, just maybe our honesty will be an encouragement to you,  knowing even we struggle at times and have to reevaluate and go have some fun together!

So...heres where the rubber meets the road.  We want to encourage you not only to read these posts, but apply what you're learning to your awesome marriage as wel! What does your marriage need today?  Has it been a while since you adventured together?  When's the last time you held hands while going nowhere in particular? How often do you dream together? Go ahead...we give you permission to plan an adventure together! It could be as simple as trying a new restaurant in the next town over, or going to the beach (or mountains) for the day (or weekend - even better), or going biking together...or playing a mean game of frisbee golf! Haha.  Whatever it is that you both love to do, put it on the calendar and get away for a few hours at least.  Your marriage is worth the investment of adventure and the payoff is priceless!

Sometimes when you're struggling in your marriage you may feel you need to get away FROM each other, when in reality probably what you need most is to get away WITH each other.  Works for us every time!

Cheering you on, 

Allen & Carol

What's toothpaste got to do with it? Marriage Mondays

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So this may seem like a silly post, but it's essential to our marriage, nonetheless.  Okay. Yes. Brushing our teeth is essential to our marriage (ha-ha), but that's not quite what we are talking about. So here's the story about what toothpaste has to do with keeping our marriage strong:

Years ago, Allen and I attended a marriage retreat with our church at Jekyll Island.   We learned so much, but here was the main take away for us.  The speakers (a husband & wife team...cant recall who, sadly), told us about how they do small things to remind each other that they are thinking of one another.  One of the things they mentioned is that whoever gets to the toothbrushes first at night, before bed, puts the toothpaste on them both. Cute, right? :) They then went on to say that one night one of them went in to find that the other had brushed their teeth and not made both toothbrushes. Say what?!   That was the moment they knew...their marriage was in trouble.  Sounds crazy, right?  Of course it wasn't about the toothbrush...it was about what it symbolized.  It symbolized that they were no longer willing to put the other one first and that the little things they always did to care for each other were slipping away.  Heartbreaking.  That's where it begins though. Ever heard of the song Slow Fade by Casting Crowns?

From then on, Allen and I decided that as small as it seemed, we would begin fixing each other's toothbrushes.  Now of course we know that it is totally not necessary for all maried couples to make each others toothbrushes in order to have a great marriage.  For us though, it  continues to be a reminder to each other that we WILL put each other first...even when (no, especially when) we don't want to. It's also just a simple reminder that we love each other deeply.

Confession time:  We are not always that cuddly-snuggly couple you see on social media (although cuddling really is our favorite - haha). Sometimes we really don't want to put each other first and serve each other, but our marriage depends on it...so we do!

So you see, it's not really about the big investments you make in your marriage (although those are wonderful too - ie: a marriage retreat, a cruise, flowers, gifts, etc), but it's more about all the little deposits you put into your marriage bank.  There are so many stressors that make withdrawals that it's vital to not just make one huge deposit each year, but rather smaller deposits throughout the days and weeks.  Then when you do make that really big deposit, it's just a bonus and you're not overdrawn.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on  showing each other you care enough to put your spouse first:

1. Restock the toilet paper (ha-ha...and even better, hang it the way your spouse likes it...under or over? LOL)

2. Watch a chic flick or dude "flick" with each other (even if its not your fave.)

3. Fix each other's coffee...yes, pleeezz!!

4. Do your spouse's least fav chore - oh yeah!

5. Pick up after your spouse without expectations or complaining (Is that a tough one for anyone but us? ;)

You get the idea.  Those are just starters.  Need more ideas? Check out this post by Allen! Surely, though you can come up with some awesome ways to care for and love each other! And if you can't come up with your own ideas, feel free to adopt ours and start making each other's toothbrushes. Hee-Hee!

Cheering you on!

Allen & Carol

Agreement is Your Ally

This is us...finding agreement on where to go for lunch in Destin, Florida. Turns out, it was a great decision!

This is us...finding agreement on where to go for lunch in Destin, Florida. Turns out, it was a great decision!

"We are just going to agree to disagree".  Ever heard those words? Maybe even said those words? Early on in our marriage, we may have...not realizing the damage that "disagreement" can do.  According to the dictionary, AGREEMENT is the absence of incompatibility (inability of two people to live together harmoniously) between two things/people. Whoa! That's a mouthful!  Compromise, however,  means to accept standards that are lower than desired.  Well, that sure doesn't sound like much fun! Compromise is usually made to sound like a good word, but that definition leads me to believe otherwise.

What does all that mean though?  In our relationship, agreement most of the time looks likechoosing not to move forward in a decision if we disagree.  Holding off on making a decision until we can agree is much more beneficial to our marriage than just forging ahead without agreement...especially in big decisions!  Admittedly, there are the rare times that a quick decision needs to be made and there's not always time to discuss it and find agreement.  That is the exception however, and not at all the norm. (More about that in a bit).

 To begin with, I think we could all agree that disagreement usually comes when you are trying to make a decision. It could be a simple decision, such as:

  • Where to go out to eat (or even if you should),
  • which outfit you should wear for family photos with Allen & Carol (ha-ha)
  • What movie to watch, etc...

Or the more difficult decisions such as:

  • How to raise your kids
  • Which house to buy
  • How to manage finances
  • Which job to take
  • How to school your kids
  • Which church to go to

Whew! Just thinking about all the ways you could disagree on those topics can be exhausting, right? Where to begin?  Okay, so here is an important question to focus on:

What is it that you CAN agree On?

Something we have learned is that even in disagreement, we both really want the same thing.  For example,

  • we both want to eat dinner (just not sure where);
  • we both want the family to look nice for photos;
  • We both want each other to feel loved;
  • We both want the other to feel listened to and cared for;
  • We both want a strong marriage;
  • We both want to manage our finances well;
  • And we both have the same goals for our children.

You can usually agree on the end goal (the destination), but agreeing on how you're gonna get there (the route) is much harder.  In order to come up with a "route" we agree on, it will most likely require one or both of us flex and bend and give up our right to be right for the greater good of our marriage.  In that flexing and bending (and putting each other first), our marriage becomes stronger than before.  Yes, we may have to wrestle through it, and it might get really tough for a little while, but it sure beats being selfish and giving up and going through the pain of either having a crappy marriage or ending in divorce eventually.  It seems like "disagreement" is a slippery slope that could easily lead to the destination of divorce.  Disagreeing may seem like a small thing, but it is something that can grow in a marriage and take root and eventually take over. There's no way we can truly "become one" with disagreement entangling us and taking over.

Several years ago, when we were deciding which home to buy (that's a big one, right?), Allen had an idea of what he wanted and thought was best, but I (Carol) really struggled with it. I could not at all catch his vision. It didn't make sense to me, but to be honest, looking back, I was really just being prideful and stubborn.  I did NOT want to bend or flex on that decision.  So what to do?  Well, my very sweet and patient man just waited.  He didn't push me or get frustrated with me.  He just waited.  We set the decision aside for a bit, prayed about it and decided not to forge ahead.  Now Allen is very logical, and is most often right in our marriage (yes, I just put that on the internet for the whole world to see. Scary! Ha-ha).  It's true!  He really could have forged ahead with that decision, knowing he was probably right. He could have not considered my opinion or thoughts on it, but that's not the kind of man he is.  He is loving and thoughtful and considerate and wanted my input.  So that required him to be patient.  Guess what?  A few months later, we were eating breakfast while on a business trip to California, and out of my mouth came, "I think it would be a great idea if we bought this kind of house" (exactly the kind he suggested!).  I thought it was such a brilliant idea that I had come up with. LOLDid I mention how patient Allen is?  He just kindly agreed and when we returned home, we pursued it.  And to this day (10 years later), we still both agree it was a wonderful decision.  Could we still have ended up in this house if Allen would have forged ahead?  Sure!  Would I have been happy in it?  Probably.  Would our marriage have suffered if he forged ahead?  Most likely.  I would not have felt listened to or cared for or loved, which would have chipped away at our relationship. 

All that to say, that is not how we make every decision, but it is how we make the big ones. If we aren't in agreement, we take a step back and wait a little longer (if possible), and pray about it, discuss it, and try to listen to each other. It's not always pretty, but it works. 

One last thing, there are times when decisions need to be made quickly and there's not time for that long process.  In some instances, Allen defers to me (example: schooling decisions for the kids, etc), but mostly, I defer to him and trust his judgement.  After all, God made him head of our home, and he is responsible to God for the outcome of his decisions.  I am responsible to God for honoring my husband.  This would be quite difficult if I did not trust Allen's judgement, if he was not a man of integrity, and if I did not know that he loves me dearly (which I do know) and puts me first in all decisions (seriously...all of them. He is the most unselfish person I've ever known).  So, I do know that the way he loves me makes it much easier to honor him, but I also know that even if he were not that kind of man, I would be responsible to God to honor him, nonetheless. This doesn't mean that I don't have a voice in the decisions. I am responsible to have a voice and communicate my thoughts on a matter as well, but I can honestly tell you that I have never regretted one single moment that I have chosen to follow his lead. God has always worked it out when I've done that.

Agreement for you and yours may look a bit different (the process), but we just wanted to encourage you to get on the same page no matter how hard you have to wrestle through decisions.  It makes life so much sweeter for you, and especially for your children. 

In the end, What's the most important thing? That you get what you want or that you have a strong marriage?  We hope you'll always opt for the strong marriage! As we've said before (quoting someone dear to our hearts), THE PRIZE IS WORTH THE PRICE!  Don't forget that AGREEMENT IS YOUR ALLY and you're going for the same goal.  For more on this, see our post Teamwork makes the Dreamwork.

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

 

 

Finding New "Firsts"

Allen and I after biking 8 miles a new mountain bike trail in Tallahassee.

Allen and I after biking 8 miles a new mountain bike trail in Tallahassee.

When Allen and I began dating back in 1992 (whoa!), our love was so new and exciting! We couldn't wait to begin adventuring together.   During those dating years, there's all kinds of "Firsts":  Your 1st kiss, your 1st stroll on the beach, 1st date night, 1st movie, 1st time meeting each other's family, 1st argument  (ha-ha).  Then after the wedding day: 1st time sleeping together (that's when your blown away that someone gave you a license to do this!), 1st time "seeing" each other, (You get the idea! ;), 1st new house,  paying your 1st bills together, 1st tax return together (we didn't say all those "Firsts" were romantic. Ha-ha).

Then after some time goes by, it's easy to get into the normal rhythm of life and "Firsts" seem to happen less and less.  That's where being intentional comes in.  It's important to plan new Firsts.  We have done this over the last 21 years and still are. It's so much fun to accomplish new firsts together...even still

Here are a few ideas:

  • Trying a new restaurant
  • Trying a new dessert
  • Beginning a new recreational activity together
  • Talking a walk in a new park
  • Reading a new book together
  • Cooking a special meal together
  • Going for a Sunday afternoon drive on roads you've never been on (this is one of our personal favorites)

Or something as adventurous as:

  • Finding a new vacation spot (for hiking or biking or beaching)
  • Planning a trip to a different country (or even just a new town or state)
  • Planning a cruise
  • Going to see someone in concert that you've never seen before
  • Or keep breaking your own record for the longest kiss (oh yeah!)

Here are some of the new "Firsts" we have planned and experienced over the last 21 years together:

  • Our 1st road trip (honeymoon)
  • Our 1st camping trip together
  • Our 1st time kayaking together:  We often try to find new spots to kayak. We normally like to find destinations that are not populated. Sometimes that gets quite adventurous and requires me (Carol) to totally trust Allen but it all works out (we kayaked 14 miles once..I thought I would die, but it was so worth it)
  • 1st time out of the country together  (a trip to Costa Rica to scope out a potential place to live as missionaries)

Recently:

  • Tried a new restaurant that was a bit out of our comfort zone & price range, but ended up being a fun little adventure
  • Hiked to the top of a mountain we had never hiked  (we love to do this in the Carolinas and at Yosemite as well)
  • Biked new mountain bike trails
  • Kayaked to the tip of Cape San Blas (7 miles one way...by the time we got to the tip, those big ole fancy speed boats that people kept pulling up in sure looked inviting..but we were in it for the pure thrill of adventure. (Insert eye roll and hysterical laughter please).

The adventures most often will NOT turn out exactly as you envisioned or planned, but they will always create a new memory and a new story to tell and add to your storybook (especially if you just trust each other and then laugh at yourselves).  So many times in our new "Firsts", we have had to just push thru the tough moments and let it be part of the journey.   Like the time we kayaked across the bay and took on water! Or the time we road biked 90 miles over 2 days and our legs were screaming! Or the time we hiked to the top of Nevada Falls at Yosemite (exhilarating yet exhausting) and had to almost run down the mountain to get back before dark.  Then also the same time we kayaked to the tip of Cape San Blas, we got caught in a severe thunderstorm and ended up beaching the kayak,  turning it upside down, and then crawling under it to stay safe...certainly not how we planned it, but we just had to make the best of it. There's also some crazy adventures we can't tell you about (say what?!), but you'll have your own  crazy adventures like that too (if you haven't already. LOL).

Do these "Firsts" always turn out perfect? Of course not, but each one has brought  us closer to each other.  They've built trust and connections that we only have with each other.  We have had to encourage one another through them and work as a team to finish those "Firsts".  And ya know what? It's made our marriage stronger each and every time!

So calling all husbands and wives: get out there and adventure together! Find more "Firsts" and make some beautiful memories together...even when it's awkward, even when it seems chaotic,  and especially when you think you can't find the time!

Oh..and don't forget to spice it up a little bit and be creative! After all...you are married! Make good use of that marriage license! :)

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

Shielding Your Marriage

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Shield your marriage from the enemy!!!

This something we wish we would have known starting out in our marriage. We became aware of it a few years in and were so grateful for this bit of advice.  When we got married,  we were young and just thought our young love could overcome all obstacles.  Well it can, if you're armed with the right weapons.  So we thought it'd be helpful for us to share some of our weapons with you that we have used throughout the years to shield our marriage from certain attacks!

  1. Side hugs are your friends! (Seriously! Allen has always practiced this well and it makes me feel so honored.  Even when he hugs other female family members, he never embraces them close...it's a quick hug and a big ole pat on the back - hahaha- and then movin right along.  To some this seems no big deal but to us it's important.  We are the only ones -of the opposite sex- who we embrace closely...other than our parents and our own siblings. This does a few things for our relationship:  A.  It honors each other and B. It never gives someone else the opportunity to get the wrong idea.)
  2. Be careful of letting someone other than your spouse connect emotionally with you (Highway to the Danger zone!🎶).  This is a big one yall!  Emotional ties can be super dangerous! It's a slippery slope from being a listening ear for someone of the opposite sex to ending up in a relationship with them. Again, Allen practices this well also.  He once had a girl pouring out her heart to him at work (shortly after we got married).  Fortunately he had been made aware of that danger via a mentor, and he recognized the signs.  He purposely decided to be unavailable when she was near and avoided talking to her.  In addition, he told me about it which just added one more safety measure - accountabiltity. Our post on Honesty Breeds Intimacy discusses that a bit more as well.  So, this  may all sound crazy and his co-worker may have thought him rude, but our marriage was more important to him than what some part-time co-worker thought of him.  Yep! I felt honored for sure! On my part (Carol's), I try to be careful not to "vent" to other men, other than my husband...not even family members (other than my Dads, of course. Haha). 
  3. Break any ties - emotional, physical, or spiritual with former romantic relationships..don't look back, you're not going that way.  Even if you believe nothing will come of it and you believe you're strong enough to handle it, it's not worth the risk and again, its one more way to honor your spouse.
  4. Don't entertain thoughts of the "D"  word (divorce)...the grass is NOT greener on the other side. Yes, God can bring restoration and redemption and "beauty  from ashes" from a divorce,  but its not His ultimate, beautfiul plan, and getting to that redemptive part is so much harder than just pushing thru the hard times with your spouse. For more on that, see our post about Be An Oak.
  5. Never be alone, if at all possible, with a member of the opposite sex in a car or a secluded room.  We know this is not always possible but if it can at all be avoided, it's a good policy.  Allen has a policy that he will not ride in a car alone (especially on a business trip) with any other female, other than his wife. This is not only to avoid any kind of temptation but also to avoid any potential false accusations or  rumors that could be started.
  6. Brag on your spouse...especially if you're talking to someone of the opposite sex. We find ourselves often bragging on each other to other people we encounter- at work, at the store, at church, etc.  If your talking about how amazing your spouse is, and there just may happen to be a little spark between you and that person - or even if not - that's a pretty good way to snuff it out!
  7. Focus on the positive - It's so easy to get annoyed with each other and focus on how the other is not meeting your needs, but try to turn that around and remember that neither of you are perfect, and there's always something good about your spouse (otherwise you wouldn't have married him/her).  A great way to do this is to make a list of 10 things you love about your spouse, or 10 small ways they love you.  Come on now...there has to be at least 10. LOL

Now for the nitty gritty:  We would highly encourage you to read this post (and the other posts) with your spouse and discuss what you're currently doing to shield your marriage, what you need to begin practicing for your marriage (on the lists above or elsewhere), and if there's anything going on that you need to stop! Then be honest with your spouse, so that it's no longer a secret and then it can begin to diminish the threat to your marriage.  Oh, and side note: be sure to be a safe place for your spouse as they share with you! Stay tuned for a post on that another day (something else we have learned along the journey).

We believe in you and your marriage! We know God has equipped you to do the hard work it takes to have a beautfiul relationship with each other.  Don't take the easy road.  The prize is worth the price!

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

Love is not Selfish | Marriage Mondays

Welcome back to marriage Mondays! Today’s topic is primarily going to be for the guys, although it really does work both ways. I, Allen, will be taking on this topic and it is one that is probably the most important key to having a successful marriage.  Today we are going to discuss selfishness. Probably when most people think about being selfish, they know that it is not a good thing to be. Why is that? It’s because it’s not! I know you're probably thinking, "thanks captain obvious!"  So why then do we continue to struggle with being selfish and expect to win over the love and admiration of our spouse? It doesn’t work that way.  I had a thought, and the more I thought about it, the more I believe that selfishness is THE cause of all divorces.  Seriously, every reason that I know of that people get divorced, can all be tied back to one or both people being selfish.  Things that make you go hmmmmmmm!?

Now, I know some of you may not be Christians or maybe have never read the Bible, but there are a couple of verses in Ephesians chapter 5 that explain this concept of being unselfish in marriage very well.  This is what it reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” also “In the same way husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church.”  So the question is, how did Christ love the church? He gave up his place on the throne of Heaven and was willing to come down to Earth.  He took on the form of a human and then suffered a torturous death, being nailed to a wooden cross, all because that was the only way for us to be cleansed of our sins, and He loved us so much that he was willing to do that, knowing full well it was going to be super hard and painful.  He also did that knowing that we, as humans, are not truly able to return that love.  He just did it anyway!

Sometimes, most of the time, we as husbands, have to just love our wives and serve them with no expectation of getting anything in return.  Here's the good thing though, if you truly treat your wives this way, they will notice and they will have a respect and admiration for you that will be greater than if you just demand things from them, or if your just focused solely on what you want.

The movie, Fireproof, is a great example of this. I don’t want to give the whole movie away if you haven’t seen it, but, the main concept is that the husband was very self-centered and it was pushing his wife away and she wanted a divorce. It wasn’t until he was challenged to serve his wife without expecting anything in return that it began changing their marriage and eventually, over a long period of time, she grew to love him again.  We have got to remember that we are in this amazing/crazy thing called marriage for the long haul and sometimes things are going to take time to change. Even if it takes years, do it anyway! Even if it seems like it’s impossible, do it anyway! Even if you are getting little or no response from your spouse, do it anyway! Persistence and commitment are the key! Also, if you are doing it to change your spouse, you’re doing it for the wrong reason! You married your spouse for who they were/are. Real change comes when you stop being selfish and learn to love and serve unconditionally.

Something that we have discovered in our years of marriage is that there will be times when your spouse is either emotionally or physically unable to reciprocate your love and acknowledge your effort.  That's when you have to remember your commitment in your vows to love even during the tough times. For us, those times have just been seasons and don't last forever. Our marriage is always stronger on the other side of a difficult season when even one of us chooses to love and serve unconditionally.  

Ok, finally, let's give you some tools. I asked my wife, Carol, what are some ways I serve her that make her feel loved. Here were some of her answers and a few I thought of:

  • washing my own dishes and not leaving them for her to wash. 
  • Not expecting her to always serve me at dinner time, but chipping in and helping out.  
  • That I care more about whether or not she is happy at the end of the day instead of if the house is perfectly clean.
  • not expecting her to pick up after me. 
  • opening the doors for her. This may seem like such a small thing, but this makes her feel special. 
  • when she is stressed out or overwhelmed, I find ways that I can help take the load off of her to help relieve her stress.  ex. bring home dinner, call and check in with her on the way home from work and ask if she needs anything from the store. 

A couple of extra things I thought of are:

  • Sometimes taking over the chores that your spouse absolutely hates to do (even if you hate that one as well). We're men, we can handle it!
  • When you wake up in the morning, think about how you can serve your wife instead of how she can serve you. (Example: maybe you can make the coffee, or get the kids up and going for her).

 By the way, I don’t always get this right! Nobody does! But the times that I do, are the best times in our marriage!

Cheering you on!  

Allen & Carol  (mostly Allen this time,ha ha!)