Why My Husband is NOT My Everything

Photo by Sarah Randolph Photography

Photo by Sarah Randolph Photography

“You are my everything, ” the card simply read those four little words. What a sweet sentiment! I thought little of the true meaning behind those words and quickly added a few sentiments of my own followed by my signature.

The card was well spoken and kind, but it wasn’t until later that I looked at the words and pondered what they really meant. And, as I pondered those words I realized that I couldn’t possible REALLY mean them, not in their fullness.

My husband is a extremely big part of my life. He owns my heart as much as any one person possibly could! My world in many ways is directly reliant and intertwined with his. He is the Father of my children. He is the one who carries the financial responsibility for our family. We work alongside of one another to build our home, our family, and our future.

There is very little in my life that he is not in some way a part of.

However, that being said, my husband is NOT my everything.

I don’t want him to be. And, he should also sincerely hope that he is not.

Because the thing is, my husband is a human, and my guess is your spouse probably is as well! Like all humans, he is broken. He doesn’t work quite like he would have back in that original garden. He is not perfect.

The reality is I cannot count on my husband to fulfill me, not fully.

He cannot be the one I look to at the end of the day to wipe away all my worries and fix all my stress.

My husband is not THE ONE who makes me happy, not him solely.

And, though my husband knows me well, he does not know me fully. He does not understand me fully.

I cannot count on him to meet all of my needs each day.

Because if I do, many days I will be disappointed. If I rely on him to fill my emptiness, and fulfill all my needs, I will be left hopeless. Always wanting more. Always let down by his humanity.

There have been times in my marriage that I looked to my husband to be my everything, and I was sorely disappointed.

Because, I tried to make him my God, and he is not God.

No matter how GREAT of a guy he is, no matter how often he goes out of his way to make me happy, or to meet my expectations, he is still human. He will still fall short.

ONLY my God can be my everything. He is the one who never fails me. He is the one who never forsakes me, not once. He is the one who can fill me and fulfill me. The one who’s love never waivers, never fails. He is the one whose’ bad days do not lead him to anger with me, and whose opinion of me is not waivered by even my worst moments.  He is the one who carries my burdens. The only one who could ever know me fully, and understand  this heart of mine that He created.

God has blessed me with a husband, a companion, a friend who walks with me on this journey. The one who I become one with. BUT, when I try to make that man my everything, I lose hope, because he cannot be.

So, do yourself and your spouse a favor, choose NOT to make them your’ everything!

Choose to let God be your’ everything and then you can enjoy your spouse even when they don’t meet your expectations, even when they forget that anniversary, or say those unkind words, or find themselves lost in the midst of their own brokenness.

God is still there, being EVERYTHING you could possibly need!

Psalm 118:8 “ It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Marriage: Vulnerability Required

By Sarah Randolph Photography

By Sarah Randolph Photography

My eyes were glued to the screen as I scrolled through each page. I had stumbled upon a blog post which lead to another, and another, and another. Each one real, heart-wrenching stories of women whose marriages fell apart for one reason or another. Some of these stories had happy endings, endings of redemption, a fixing of what was broken. Some, not so much.

As I read each line, I became lost in the stories. And, my heart also became lost, wandering to a place I had never intended to go.

I put myself in their shoes. And, I begin to ask the what if questions. What if my husband betrayed me? What if he left me for someone else? What if he stopped loving me? What would my world look like?

The enemy placed a sense of fear into my heart as I thought about the real life scenarios.

You see, I met my husband when I was 17, and we were married a month after my 20th birthday.

He was my first “real” boyfriend, my first kiss, my first mutual experience of love, my first (and only) sexual partner.

My husband literally owns me. He owns me as much as any person on this earth could. NOT in a demeaning, controlling, ridiculous way. But, in a real, he is my everything, I’m not sure I could function without him way.

That man, the one who I vowed my heart to on our wedding day, has all of my heart.

I thought of what my life would be like. What would I have left without him? I finished college, but I never built my career. My career is our home, our children, our life together.

His friends became my friends. And, most all that we do socially revolve around US as a couple.

He supports me financially. I would literally have nothing that is mine.

He opens the jars that I am too weak to open. He gives directions to the places I would otherwise be lost finding. He solves problems that on my own I struggle to solve. He scrapes the ice from my windshield and fixes the broken places on my car.

In a sense, I feel like I would be helpless without him. Vulnerable. That word describes what I felt.

The truth is he has the power to bring joy to my life or to ruin me. He has the power to build a life together with me, or to shatter the world that I live in.

Vulnerability. It means to be susceptible to harm, physically or emotionally.

It’s not a word that sounds pleasant. I doubt many would choose to be describes in such a way. Yet, what I realized is Marriage REQUIRES vulnerability.

It requires me to trust the man who owns my heart, knowing he is not perfect, knowing he could mess up, knowing in handing over my whole heart to him he most certainly has power over me.

It requires me to intertwine my life with his in every way, without a back-up plan, or a way to get out.

It requires me to love without bounds.  To keep no records of the faults he has. To give my daily life to him, to our home, to our family.

It requires that I hang up the fear of what if scenarios and I live fully in the real life scenario where God has placed me.

And so, I will be ok with being vulnerable. And, I realize that his life too is vulnerable to the choices I make. It is mutual. We rely on each other. Our lives are one. His decisions affect my life, and my decisions affect his.

There is NO other option. A marriage without vulnerability. One with a back-up plan. One with a sense of disposability. It will not be healthy. It will not last.

So, I challenge you today to look at your marriage and to love and live vulnerably, allowing your spouse to have your whole heart.

Ephesians 5:31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

*If you are in an abusive marital situation, please know that this is not the type of vulnerability I am writing about. Seek counsel immediately.*

Marriage: When I Stopped Doing What I Used To Do

love letters

Today, in the midst of my organizational tirade, I stumbled upon something that struck a chord in my heart.

As I was sorting through manuals, and papers, and cards, I began to find them. They were love letters, and sweet thoughtful cards, and flirty little spur of the moment notes. All written out in my curvy cursive handwriting. All signed with my name.

Some of them were from the days of dating, our first Valentine’s Day together, our first Thanksgiving, monthly dating anniversaries and yearly dating anniversaries, “hope you feel better soon”, and “just because” notes.

Some of them were from our first year or two of marriage, our wedding day, our first married Christmas, Birthdays, and wedding anniversaries.

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The notes were filled with loving and encouraging sentiments. “I’m so proud of the person that you are,” some read. Others focused on the future, “I cannot wait to spend our lives together, build a family.” Some were a little funny, “You are the sexiest man alive, I’m so glad you’re all mine” or “Jonathan, you are such a hottie” J. Many were serious confessions of my undying love and devotion, re-affirming my absolute admiration for Him and the many character qualities that he possesses that I adore.

 

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The stack was pretty hefty. I wrote A LOT of “I love you”s.

And then, there were a few from the last year or two- still a birthday card, maybe one for Valentine’s Day.

But the amount of paper’s dwindled as the years passed. And, the amount of words faded into a simple “I love you.”

And, as I came to this realization, my heart was filled with regret.

Life got busy, and I got busy. My husband became the norm, the one I do life with every day. The one who leaves his dirty socks on the floor, and no longer takes me on dates every weekend.

And I became tired, my task list got longer. Now there were bills to pay, and a house to be cleaned, and kids to discipline, and bathe, and feed.

And, I stopped writing those notes, and letters, and cards.

I stopped telling my husband so frequently of my undying love, and my complete admiration, and my excitement for our future together. And, more often than I’d like to admit, I probably do the opposite. I remind him of his shortcomings, and I bring up the things we disagree on, and I focus on the frustrations and the imperfections.

Today, I was reminded of what I used to do, and I wish I would have never stopped doing it. I wish I would have never stopped expressing those loving sentiments with surprise notes and “just because” letters.

So, today, I will start again. As I sit here at my counter, it is not just my computer screen that is filling with words. I write words of admiration to my husband in my curvy cursive handwriting and I sign my name.

What are things you used to do in your marriage, that you stopped doing as the years passed?

AND, what can you do today, to start again?

Titus 2:4 “And so train the young women to love their husbands and children..”

Marriage: Renewing My Vows Today

 

photo by Sarah Randolph Photography

photo by Sarah Randolph Photography

A renewing of the wedding vows. It’s often something that we watch unfold on particular momentous occasions. Many people choose to renew their vows after a certain lengths of marriage- 10 years, 25 years, 50 years.

But, what if we didn’t wait for 10 years, or 25 years? What if we made a choice to renew our vows daily to our spouse?

This thought occurred to me as I was listening to a radio program that mentioned vow renewal.

I was thinking about my wedding vows, and BOOM, to my disgust I realized that I do not even remember exactly what I said in those vows! AND, I have only been married 5 years!

Most days I go about my business. I get busy with my home, or my kids, or whatever task is at hand. I often respond to my husband out of my emotions, my exhaustion, my “I have nothing left to give.”

BUT, what if we started looking at our wedding vows daily? What if we chose to dwell on them? What if we made it our priority to live out those vows in everyday life?

Renewing the vows is simply a way to remember them and reiterate that one is still choosing those vows. What if we remembered them every day?

Think about it. Have you cherished your spouse today? Have you intentionally lived out love to them?

Many days, I unintentionally make a choice. My day was hard, or I don’t feel good, or I’m just cranky and so I excuse myself from going out of my way to love my husband. Of course, I still love him, but if a stranger was in our house observing, they likely wouldn’t know it.

What if I really lived out that “for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer…”? Even on the days when I really feel like crap?! YES! Even on the days when I’m extremely stressed about finances?! YES! Even on the days where it feels like my husband is being a royal jerk?! YES!

So, today I read my vows. I read the vows allowed to myself that I said in front of hundreds of friends and family members just 5 short years ago. And, sadly, I realized how many days I neglected to carry out those vows. How many moments I could have been encouraging or tender. The times I could have chosen to cling to my husband but instead I chose to cling to my own selfish desires. The long days that I did not cherish, but likely did the opposite.

So, today I begin a new challenge- a challenge to look at those vows I made, not just once every 5 years, but every day. A challenge to be intentional today and tomorrow and the next day about living out my vows to my husband.

I know I will fall short, we all will. BUT, what positive changes will come from the attempt?

I challenge you to find your wedding vows, print them out, put them on your mirror, or save them to your phone, or tuck them in your Bible, and then read them daily, and most importantly make a choice to renew your vows to your spouse today.

No ceremony, no fancy dress- just remember what you said you would do, and strive to do it.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

My Marriage isn’t THAT Bad: Messy Beautiful Love Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

MessBeauLove_Meme_21
Anyone who has been married more than 3 seconds will tell you that although marriage has moments of bliss and beauty there are many messy moments in between.

The most beautiful thing in marriage are the times when we allow God to work in us and bring beauty out of the mess we have made. That is why I love this new book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages.

First, can I brag on the author a bit? Darlene Schacht is SO real in this book. She shares her story with such humility, the good and the bad. Of course this book is cram packed with Biblical advice for marriage, but not before she so beautifully sheds the mask of perfection and shares her heart, her real life failures, and the true story of the mess in her marriage.

She then continues to bring to life Biblical principles throughout the pages of the book! I LOVED that I never had to search far to find a Scripture passage to back up the wisdom she was sharing. It is obvious that she was seeking the Lord and thoroughly studied His Word as this book came together.

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Not only are the pages full of God-sized advice for marriage, but she breaks down each principle by sharing real marriage illustrations that are relatable for ANY marriage no matter what valley or hill top you may find yourself on.

Can I be honest? I wasn’t sure if I would relate to Darlene’s book. I have read bits and pieces of Darlene’s story before on her blog, www.timewarpwife.com, and it’s POWERFUL. BUT, it’s not my story.

Sure, I get annoyed with my husband. I’m not always as patient or kind or giving as I should be. Many days I put my needs before his. Sometimes I unintentionally belittle him. We have had our share of burdens and struggles, BUT nothing like this…

I’m almost ashamed that I thought this way! If you’re in that same boat, thinking, “well, my marriages isn’t THAT big of a mess,” think again.

All of our marriages could use some extra attention. For me, as a wife, I was challenged. I was challenged to be better, to be more like Christ in my marriage. And, I think that is the MOST important thing that could happen for any of us! messy

So, stop by a book store or hop online and buy this book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages. In stores TODAY, September 16th!!!

O, and comment below to be entered for our giveaway, a brand new copy of this book!!! Giveaway will be Friday!

 

Marriage: When it Gets Messy & Grace is Needed

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Grace. It’s such a beautiful word. A word that I need so desperately. Something I must cling to day by day, often, moment by moment. Grace.

When grace is played out in real life it is such a beautiful display of what Christ did for us. Grace. He gave it freely, no strings attached.

SO, why is it that in marriage when the going gets tough, we often overlook the option of grace? Grace is suddenly a naïve idea for another situation. It becomes unrealistic, old fashioned, and definitely not a popular societal choice. AND, might I add, our spouse certainly DOES NOT deserve grace. RIGHT?!

Well, my friend, the truth is we all fall short. You and I, we don’t DESERVE grace either, but our Heavenly Father loved us so deeply that He saw fitting to bestow his unlimited unmerited grace upon us.

What if we did the same for our spouse?

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New York Times best-selling Author, Darlene Schacht, paints a beautiful picture of true grace played out in real life in her NEW book Messy Beautiful Love. I count myself SO blessed to be a part of the launch team for this new book, and as a participant I had the privilege of getting my hands on an early release copy.

I am just digging in, but already am captivated by her story and am excited to glean from her real life wisdom on practically living out grace in marriage.

Grace, when life is good and GRACE when life is unbelievable messy.

CHECK OUT ALL THE FREEBIES YOU can take advantage of  when you PRE-ORDER this book today!!! This pre-order offer in only available through the 15th, so jump on it!

 

Marriage: From Bride to Wife

bride

A few weeks ago as I was digging through boxes and containers in preparation for a garage sale, I happened upon something special.

As I dug through the clothing sorting it into piles I came to the bottom of the large plastic container, and there it was. My wedding dress. Still in the plastic dress carrier I had placed it in on that day over 5 years ago.

I slowly unzipped the carrier to glimpse at the beauty and spend a few moments reminiscing back to that day. And then, my 3 year old spotted it.

Riley: “What’s that mommy?”
Me: “It’s my wedding dress.”
Riley: “OOO, it’s so pretty!!! Put it on mommy, put it on!!!”

She insisted, and really, who am I to argue with this persistent and adorable 3 year old?!? SO, I had to try it on (let’s be honest, I was dying to try it on and just needed a good excuse).

Some moments of humor followed as Riley proceeded with bright eyes and an exuberant smile to exclaim, “Mommy, you’re Cinderella!!!” So, good news parents, no need to take your kids to Disney World, just throw on that old wedding dress and watch them bubble over in excitement :). Riley even insisted that we snap a few pictures, and so we did.

As I looked back over those photos later that day, I couldn’t help but notice a few things.

You see, the first time I wore that wedding dress over 5 years ago, I was a bride. And, for that day, I had been preparing for months! As I look back at photos from my wedding day there are a few things I can see. I was probably in the best shape of my life on that day. I had been eating healthy and exercising to ensure that my dress fit just perfectly. My hair was fixed and hair sprayed into place and my makeup had been done at a local salon. My hands were newly manicured. I wore new jewelry that had not been worn before. Sparkling white shoes. My dress was freshly pressed, no wrinkles. The pictures from that day look like something out of a bridal magazine, retouched, everyone perfectly placed.

wedding

Then, my wedding day.

And now, on this day, as I put on that dress, I am a wife. As I glanced back over those pictures, I noticed something a little different.
I noticed a face with no makeup. I noticed tired eyes and a messy bun piled atop my head. My nails were NOT perfectly manicured, in fact I cannot remember the last time they have been. There was no sparkling new jewelry to adorn me and the dress that was once perfectly pressed was now enthralled with wrinkles from the storage it had been placed in.

now

Now, my messy beautiful life

The pictures, well I found them quite comical. I snapped pictures with my kids, who were running around in nothing but their underpants. The pictures revealed a untidy house with toys scattered about, an unmade bed that I had not gotten to from the night before, and piles and piles of stuff being prepared for garage sale time.

The truth is, those pictures taken on my wedding day, the first time I ever wore that dress, well, they are very special to me. It was a day that changed my life. But, in reality, the pictures taken 5 years later in the craziness of my house, they look a lot more like REAL life.

Today, we live in a society where we take months, sometimes even years, preparing for that day when we will become a bride. After all, it is something many of us have dreamed about since childhood, but the image we often have in mind is the retouched, perfectly placed wedding day photo.

Today, my friend, if you are not married I want to encourage you. When that time comes, it will be beautiful, and I hope you get some gorgeous wedding day photos to hold onto forever. BUT, know that after that day, life happens. Spend MORE time preparing to be a wife (or husband if you boys are reading this), than you take to be a bride (groom). Spend more energy investing in a solid relationship with your future spouse than you spend investing in planning for that 1 day. Because you are a bride ONLY 1 day, but you will be a wife for the rest of your life.

If you are already married, I’m sure you can relate. BUT, this lesson is for you (and me) too. It is still our responsibility to spend time and energy investing in our marriage. We never stop preparing to be the best wife possible. AND, sometimes we must let go of the retouched photo life that we had pictured. Let go of your unrealistic expectations and embrace the messy, craziness that is life.

The sparkle of that 1 day will fade. BUT, it is your choice. What will your life as a wife look like?

Proverbs 31:10 “A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ”

 

My Accidentally Perfect Marriage

blog pic

My husband and I recently celebrated our 5 year anniversary. We were so thankful for the kind words and congratulations that many friends and family members offered. After all, an anniversary is an exciting thing to celebrate. BUT, one thing stood out to me as I read through the notes written out in cards and on social media.

Many of the wishes I read went something like this “So glad everything went well for you guys!” “Happy to see everything is working out for you.” “Glad you are both still happy.”… Almost as if happiness is something that is handed to you and a good marriage is a gift from the cupids above. Almost as if this beautiful relationship thing just fell into our laps, like our soul matesqueness (I know, not a word) was bound to lead to a happily ever after.

Almost as if my marriage just “accidentally” happens to be “perfect”.

And that frustrates me.

Let me be clear, there is NOTHING about my marriage or any “good marriage” that is either of the above.

Is my marriage good? ABSOLUTELY.

Do I love my husband? YES!

From the outside looking in, would it some days appear that we have the “perfect” life? Possibly, if you’re not looking very closely.

Our marriage is GOOD, and we are doing WELL. BUT, have we had our fair share of struggles? YES. We have struggled in our relationship. We have struggled with communication. We have struggled with agreeing on what’s best for our family at times. We have struggled financially.

There have been days where “love” was not exactly the feeling that I was feeling.

We have made each other mad, angry even. We have made each other cry. No doubt, we have been hurtful at times.

We have both failed to meet each others needs at different times in our marriage.

The reason our marriage is good, is not because it’s perfect. It’s not because we were handed all the right cards, or because we were “meant to be”. AND, there is NOTHING accidental about it.

Our marriage is good because we made a choice.

We made a choice on that day 5 years ago. And, we have made a choice every day since. Even on the days when we didn’t really feel like it.

We INTENTIONALLY CHOSE to have a good marriage. We CHOSE to work through the issues, the circumstances, the struggles that we have faced and will undoubtedly continue to face. We CHOOSE daily to forgive each other when we fall short. We CHOOSE daily to love each other even when we do not feel loved in return.

We intentionally choose. We intentionally work. We intentionally try.

And, it’s not always easy. It doesn’t always feel good.

I can remember hearing from my dad, “Anything worth having is worth working for.”

This is true about many things in life, including marriage.

It will NEVER be perfect, but can it be good? Can it be beautiful? ABSOLUTELY.

And, a good marriage will NEVER just accidentally happen. BUT when you make a choice and you work at it daily, can you have a good marriage? YES, you sure can.

SO, if your married, my challenge to you is don’t wait for this perfect relationship to accidentally happen. Be intentional. Know that it will be hard work. But, make a choice to do it anyways!

One day, it will be beautiful.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

Putting Up the Guardrails: 3 Tips to Start Setting Boundaries in Your Marriage

Jonathan and I on our wedding day.
Although I am very passionate about the topic of marriage, I have strongly hesitated to write anything about it, mostly because I don’t feel qualified. I (and I’m sure my husband) will tell you on any given day I fail MANY times in the wife category. I’m working on it.
I realize that in the scheme of life, I’m really just a newlywed. I’m aware that compared to many married couples we have faced very little as a couple. We still have lots of life left to face, lots of ups and downs, lots of trials and joys to experience together. So, for a while now I have chosen to refrain from writing. However, as I sit and watch marriage and families fall apart all around me, I am compelled to write.
Please know that if you are divorced, if you for some reason have had a marriage that did not work, this is not intended to condemn you. BUT if you are married, this is for you.
It is really easy to slowly slip into habits or behaviors that eventually destroy our marital relationships. These things do not generally happen overnight, but it’s a slow fade from one thing to the next. This is why it is SO important to set up boundaries and safeguard your marriage. No, these things will not make your marriage a “walk in the park” and yes, some of them will sound extreme, BUT these tips will be great guardrails for you to protect your marriage from harmful habits.

 #1 Create Social Media Boundaries
As a married woman, there are very rare occasions in which I should ever find myself having a conversation via text or facebook message with someone of the opposite sex. Extreme, right?! I believe that anything that is private and easily hidden can be one of those areas that slowly fade into something it was not intended to be. Yes, there will be exceptions to this rule on RARE occasions, but for the most part this is just off limits.
#2 Create “alone” Boundaries
As a married person, there are also boundaries that should be set up regarding who you allow yourself to be alone with. Again, this may sound extreme but my rule is that there is never really any reason why I need to be alone with someone of the opposite sex- not to go out to lunch, not a car ride together, not even a hang out session with an old friend. If I have male friends that I would like to hang out with, my husband should be included. It’s no longer “him” and “I”, it’s “we” and this should be carried into our relationships with others.
#3 Create Verbal Boundaries
This is one I learned from my parents and I find it to be SO necessary. There are certain words in your marriage that should absolutely be off limits. For example the word “divorce”… we don’t say it. NEVER. We never say this word. Why? Because I have seen many friends start out using the word “divorce” or “separation” as a meaningless threat, but it eventually turns into the real deal. Using these words creates a lack of trust and you can seemingly destroy your marriage just by throwing these words around.

These are just a few boundaries that I have found extremely helpful in my marriage, but in different relationships there may be many different “safeguards” that should be set in place. Consider what boundaries need to be set up in your marriage and take the initiative to start the conversation with your spouse! You never know, it could just save your marriage!