A couple years ago, before Ryan and I were even engaged, I came across an article by Linda Dillow and quickly jotted down the little list for my “maybe someday future marriage” without giving it much more thought. (I can’t find the original article, but here is a re-posted version. Find out more about Linda Dillow and Authentic Intimacy at www.authenticintimacy.com)
Little did I know, that that hastily scribbled note written on a scrap piece of paper, would serve as a heart check, a mind check, and a perspective check over countless occasions during the daily ordinary of our marriage years later.
I choose to focus
I choose a positive attitude
I choose deep intimacy.
I choose to be thankful
I choose to be a helper.
I choose to be forgiving.
I choose to be unwavering.
I choose a lasting marriage.
It’s been taped to my vanity mirror these last few years…
And really that note is a kind of mirror- serving as a reflection of my heart, completely bare and exposed.
Each time I read it, I breathe those words more like a question:
What is my focus?
Am I focused on what’s important in our marriage for the long run, not just in the fleeting emotion of “now”? More importantly, am I focused on Christ? If I’m not in the Word, I most certainly will get distracted. If I’m not in prayer, my focus will inevitably on self.
How can I infuse positivity into our marriage?
It seems like such a little thing, but I truly believe that the wife/mom really sets the tone for atmosphere of the home. I know there are days where I have high hopes of being positive and kind and it just isn’t happening. My sister and I like to do an exercise called the “reset button” where you just take a moment, and prayerfully shift your heart and mind to reset the day and begin again no matter if its 9am or 9pm.
Am I withholding intimacy out of pride or insecurity?
This means continual vulnerability of humility and soft grace. It’s letting go of yourself to fully enjoy, embrace, and encourage those sweet everyday moments of the quiet life you’ve built together and the intimacy you share. Ladies, can i just be blunt and remind you that sex is not a manipulative tool? it’s not something to withhold because you’re upset over something he did or didn’t do, or to make threats with to get your way. And deep intimacy isn’t just sex. Do you hug him in the morning when he leaves for work? Drop what you’re doing to greet him at the door when he comes home in the evening? Hold hands as you sit down for prayer before dinner? Kiss him goodnight? Those little gestures pour life into your marriage.
Do I infuse thankfulness into my daily thoughts?
“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” -Ann Voskamp. When gratitude becomes a daily discipline, it opens the door to joy and contentment no matter what the circumstances of your marriage bring. Giving thanks will change the way you do life. So then why do I so often forget to pause and breathe thanks?
Was I the help-meet today that God desires me to be?
And maybe this is the hidden place where we struggle with unrealistic expectations. Because when we cling to control and trying to accomplish our agenda, rather than looking to be a helper to our husbands and a servant of Christ, we take up leadership that isn’t ours and rob our husband’s of the opportunity to lead as God enabled him. It’s in the hard, humble surrender that we find peace and rest.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. I Peter 3:1-4
Because I’m only responsible for how I respond. As much as i’d like to, I can’t control my husband and his actions. I can only pray for Him, encourage him bless him, and do my part towards making this marriage God honoring.
Am I really being forgiving in this situation?
There comes a moment, in the argument, or the disappointment where you’ll have to make a choice. Will I escalate this further by being emotional, manipulative, selfish and just plain unkind? Or will I choose to lay down my pride and freely forgive, no strings attached, and own up to the areas that I need to seek forgiveness?
Have I been Unwavering in my commitment to our marriage?
Or am i getting distracted with the stuff of life and simply coexisting with my husband? or is this a continual, steady and resolute pursuit of our relationship?
And lastly, when you make a vow to a lasting marriage it’s never a debatable option. It’s not even something you make light of or joke about. Marriage is under attack, and it’s going to take daily, resolute choices towards investing in your marriage to keep it healthy, growing, and lasting. It’s not easy, but it’s a beautiful opportunity to reflect Christ and the Church.
Have I mentioned that it’s our two year Anniversary today?
Yay! I’ve been beyond blessed by these two years. I also recognize the we’re oh so young in this marriage journey. My disclaimer on this post is that we have SO much to learn. If you and I could sit down for coffee today, I’d tell you that I really write these words from a place of preaching to myself. I’d just want to soak in all of your wisdom and advice, as I’m sure you, darling reader, have much to share that I need to hear.
Do me a favor, take a few moments to pray for marriages today? Pray for your marriage, for my marriage, for the marriages that are crumbling to pieces, and for the marriages currently in a steady, peaceful season… I’ll do the same.