Why aren’t you like me?

Have you ever wondered how it’s remotely possible that someone could think completely differently than you? Is it just me that is continuously shocked that people don’t view things the exact way that I do?

I find myself falling into the trap of desiring “sameness.” And it creeps it’s way into my marriage the most!

I will say to my husband, How can you possibly rationalize THAT? Or WHY did you think that was ok? Or worse…have you LOST YOUR MIND?

What I really mean is…

Why aren’t you like me?

There are so many well-meaning spouses out there that fall into this same trap. We want to connect with our spouse, we want to love them well…but we get stuck…primarily because we have a hard time stepping outside of ourselves.

In it’s extreme, this can be a form of narcissism. For many of us, it’s simply a lack of understanding. We have yet to understand HOW to connect or give love to someone who is different from us.

There is no greater lie than a truth misunderstood.

-William James

First of all, let’s lay this out…gender differences are real. There is a marked difference between men and women. We must see that for what it is.

Generally speaking, men tend to be motivated by achievement and women tend to be motivated by relationship. When you have a conversation, it’s likely a woman will want to extensively chat it out and a man will want to fix it quick.

Beyond gender, we have our unique personalities. We are each created in the image of God, with unique characteristics and gifts. Each of us is a one of a kind, yet we tend to fall into general personality styles or traits.

Have you ever taken a personality test?

There are all kinds of them out there…many people have take the Myers-Briggs test for their job. Some folks have done a quick Facebook test. There are plenty of options.

Whether extensive or not, a personality test can help to give you insight to understand yourself and love who you are. When you understand yourself well, you can communicate to your spouse how they can best love you well. It’s a win-win, if you ask me!

Understanding our personality types has taken our marriage to a new level.

By identifying our individual needs, desires, fears, and default modes of operation, we are able to understand each other in a deeper way. Even more important, we are able to communicate and love in a way that is edifying for our spouse.

You may be saying, where do I even start? Good question!

Specific to your marriage and helping you understand how to love each well, Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is a great place to start! It’s an easy to read, concise tool to get you loving your spouse according to THEIR love language by the end of the week!

If you want to dive a bit deeper into how you can enhance your marriage by understanding you and your spouse well, check out How We Love by Milan & Kay Yerkovich. This book helps to identify the things that are disrupting your marriage and leads you to make lasting changes.

How about taking a real good look at you? Want to learn more about yourself and how you tick? If so, the Enneagram is a stellar personality test that can help you discover yourself more deeply. The book we reference the most for Enneagram is Understanding the Enneagram by Don Richard Rios and Russ Hudson. The Enneagram test that we took is here. (Please note there is a small fee for this one, but there are also free tests out there)

One of the most important skills you can learn is how to talk so your mate will listen and how to listen so your mate will talk.

That skill is much easier attained when you both have a true understanding of WHO you are and WHY you think the way you do.

So, with a better understanding of your spouse’s personality type, the question of “have you lost your mind” won’t be relevant anymore. You will KNOW that their mind isn’t lost…it’s just different from yours.

And that makes all the difference.

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DO OVER: 3 Keys to Unlock a Lasting Love.

 

We are reading Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott.  We love this book.  We have walked through it with a soon-to-be-married couple and we are learning so much even as we encourage them toward a God-centered, thriving marriage.

Why read a book meant for those just starting this journey of marriage?

I don’t know about you, but my days and weeks are filled with “do overs.”  For example,  I have had to humbly ask my husband for a “do over” because some heinous statement has just come barreling out of my mouth and I wish I could stuff it back in my face.

Or my husband asks for a “do over” when he realizes he was trying to show me love with HIS love language rather than mine.

Or I create a “do over” for our family’s schedule because I become aware of an alarming statistic about a person’s need for rest and how it affects health and wellbeing.  New information tends to create new thoughts and ways of functioning.

“Do over’s” are simply…grace.  Allowing someone another chance.

When our marriage was riddled with lies, betrayal, anger, hurt and pain, it was a lifeless marriage.  So, when God provided a way through the storm and we began to heal our marriage, it became very clear to us that it was going to be a NEW marriage.

Reading books meant for newlyweds was amazing, because it helped us to look at our marriage with fresh eyes.

Every new day is a fresh start to get closer to the life God wants us to live.

That includes our marriages.

Do you want a marriage that lasts a lifetime?  Let’s think like a newlywed and hear from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott!

Lifelong love does not happen by chance but is an art that must be learned, practiced, and honed.

-Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, Save Your Marriage Before It Starts

A marriage must be nurtured well in order to grow and flourish in a healthy way.

The Parrotts share 3 ways to cultivate a healthy, thriving marriage:

Making Love Last a Lifetime

1.  Cultivate Passion

2.  Cultivate Intimacy

3.  Cultivate Commitment

Let’s dive deeper into those 3 keys for a lasting love.

Here are some ways to CULTIVATE PASSION, according to our esteemed authors:

  • Practice meaningful touch.
  • Plan mutually enjoyable experiences.
  • Compliment your partner daily.

I don’t know which of these is most difficult for you, but mine is the complimenting.  You see, I tend to see flaws first.  I am not proud of it, but I am hard-wired to “make things better.” I have a hard time giving praise if everything isn’t “perfect.”  Meanwhile, my husband feels most loved with “words of affirmation.”  Tough combo.  So, this is what I am working on right now…complimenting my husband DAILY!

How will you apply these principles of cultivating passion?

Let’s strive to CULTIVATE INTIMACY, shall we?  Here are ways to do so:

  • Spend time together.
  • Listen with a third ear.  (not just “half-listening”)
  • Practice unconditional acceptance.
  • Focus on commonalities.
  • Explore spiritual terrain together.

Which one of these resonates most with you?  Which one feels completely foreign?  The book goes deeper into what each of these means, so we highly recommend you consider grabbing Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts to read more.

Do note that cultivating intimacy isn’t just “have more sex.”  Many of us equate intimacy with sex.  I surely believe that when a couple is cultivating a higher level of intimacy, more sex comes quite naturally.  But the act of just having more sex isn’t going to gain you a deeper level of intimacy.  This is especially true for women.

(This is a topic I have considering writing about….if you would like to hear more about sex and intimacy in marriage, let us know in the comments or send us a private message)

Our third key to lasting love is to CULTIVATE COMMITMENT.  Here’s how:

  • Assess the high level of commitment.
  • Meet your partner’s needs.
  • Honor your partner’s promise.
  • Make your commitment part of being.

There may be nothing more important in a marriage than a determination that it shall persist.  With such a determination, individuals force themselves to adjust and to accept situations which would seem sufficient grounds for a breakup, if continuation of the marriage were not the prime objective.

-from the book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

One of the most important changes we made in our marriage after the betrayal was to not allow an OUT.  We have agreed that we are married until death.  Period. End of story.

There is a huge amount of freedom in that choice.  It is a choice.  We ALL have that choice.

Is that a choice you and your spouse have made?  Are you completely committed to your marriage or is there an “out?”

Friends, in order to have love that lasts a lifetime, we must cultivate passion, intimacy and commitment.

When we do, we experience a love like NONE OTHER.

Based on this truth, what will you “do over” TODAY?

www.sidebysideministry.org

 

 

 

16 Years and the Cross.

On May 17th, we will celebrate 16 years of marriage! Every year we add to our marriage is celebrated as if we climbed Mount Everest! Cause…we did, didn’t we?

We were able to sustain a godly, thriving marriage for 365 days, even as the flaming arrows of life’s obstacles and distractions were hurled at us. That is worthy of SUPER MOUNTAIN CLIMBER celebration, in my humble opinion.

Why were we able to make it another year?

Because of one thing: THE CROSS.

We didn’t get a divorce when our marriage completely fell apart because of one thing: THE CROSS.

We are able to love, forgive, accept, and grow as a couple because of one thing: THE CROSS.

When Jesus and his grace, love and mercy became the cornerstone for our marriage, everything changed. We began a new marriage, centered on God, just before our 7th anniversary.

“When Jesus and his grace, love and mercy became the cornerstone for our marriage, everything changed.”

And the cross was beautifully represented that year. You see, only weeks before our 7th anniversary, we were both fighting to restore a completely broken marriage. Our marriage had fallen apart and we were only just starting to pick up the pieces.

My husband had only recently been introduced to the grace that comes with following Jesus. I had just returned to God’s path.  We were in the beginning stages of healing.

We spent most of our free time in marriage counseling, marriage strengthening activities, or intentionally learning how to love each other well. We were also spending a great deal of time studying God’s word, as we had learned that the Bible is the ultimate source on how to thrive in marriage…and in life.

This season of life was exhausting AND exhilarating.

Leading up to our anniversary date, I think we both were shocked– or at least pleasantly surprised– at the fact we were going to make it another year! We had been through so much, and we were actually feeling the joy–deep joy–of a godly marriage.

So, when it came to an anniversary gift for my husband, what could I possibly get him that would properly reflect how I was feeling? What could we do for each other to adequately celebrate a nearly impossible feat of seven years of marriage?

God proved his love on the cross.   -Billy Graham

On May 17th, 2009–our 7th anniversary—we handed each other a small wrapped gift. We slowly opened our gifts….and can you believe it…we both gave each other a cross necklace. A cross. THE cross.

We were able to make it another year because of one thing: THE CROSS.

And we both chose to boldly proclaim that truth with our gifts to each other.  And seriously, what are the odds?!

IMG_7269

Our choice of gifts only further proves that, in the season, it was very clear to each of us, WHO was carrying us and our marriage.  Jesus.

Do we all need to give each other cross necklaces in order to show Jesus is the center of our marriage? NO.  That is not my point.

What I want you to see is that Jesus and his sacrifice for us is what saved our marriage.

Allowing God to reign over our lives and our marriage was the game-changer for us.

Is Jesus the center of your marriage?  Do you and your spouse recognize His sacrifice for you was enough?  Do you know, without a doubt, that He loves you and will lead you?

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

www.sidebysideministry.org

Nothing changing?

Happy New Year! If you are reading this, you have been blessed with the gift of another day to get it right! Congratulations!

It’s always around this time of year that we look to right wrongs, increase our happiness, or change things for the better. It’s a time of renewal…a new year! But renewal requires change. Things can’t stay the same AND be renewed…it doesn’t work that way. If we want things to be different, we have to change them.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Sit on that statement for a minute. No, really. Read it again. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Are you wishing for your marriage to be better?

Are you hoping your spouse will have more time for you this year?

Are you sick of running the rat race each week with your family’s commitments?

Do you long for time to yourself?

Are you dreaming of a deeper understanding of God’s plan for your life?

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Many times, when we desire change, we are waiting for someone else to change. We don’t usually focus on how WE can change something. It’s SO much easier to see how someone else can change.

Guess what? You can’t change them.

You can only change YOU. If you want change in the new year, you need to make change.

Yep. You.

I am living proof of this concept. I spent the first half of my marriage with a laundry list of ways my husband needed to change. If only he did this. If only he would that. What did that list get me? An ego and a broken marriage. That’s what it got me.

It was not until I was willing to change that change began to occur. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Does this mean your spouse or your circumstance doesn’t need to change? No. They are not off the hook, especially if there are genuine issues that need to be changed and resolved. But you cannot force that change in them. You can only make the change in you first, and pray that God will help them to see it.

You see, change is contagious. When you make a positive change, those around you will see it and, if it truly is a GOOD change, they will want to be a part of it.

BUT…nothing changes if nothing changes.

Change is hard. Change can be scary. And change can be amazing. There’s a great quote, “Be the change you want to see,” and it hits the nail on the head. If you want to see change in your life in 2018, seek God’s guidance, humble yourself and be the change you want to see.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

15th Anniversary Fundraiser Event Recap + Testimonials

Have you ever been on a road trip and looked around at all the other people in cars and thought to yourself…where are they going? Or where have they been? Sometimes, I will look over at a car and see that it’s the same person that was in line next to me at the last rest stop.  Or I will see that someone I passed earlier in the day is now passing by me.  We are all on a journey, seemingly going along on the same path in the same direction.  But when you look closely, though we travel along simultaneously, we are having vastly different experiences at varying paces.

Recently, we shared Side By Side: Our Journey From Hurt to Hope at our 15th Wedding Anniversary Fundraiser.  Nearly 150 people experienced our story and learned more about the future of our ministry, Side By Side.

 

Looking from the outside, you would see many people in the same room having the same experience.

But each and every person in that room was in a different place in their own personal journey.  So, their experiences were completely different.  Just like the cars on the road traveling next to you.

In the days following our event, we have heard comments from many of the people that attended.

It’s amazing to hear how they receive the story of our journey based on where they are in their journey.

The story we tell is “our journey from hurt to hope.”  Well, the people that came to see Side By Side are all over the spectrum of that journey from hurt>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>to hope.  People tend to gain different insights from our story based on where they fall on that spectrum.

From a godly couple that has come to Side By Side three times:

“Our marriage is better since being introduced to Side By Side.”

From a couple that viewed it on video when headed for divorce (and now have seen it live, too!):

“If it weren’t for Side By Side, we wouldn’t be married.”

From a couple that has been married over twenty years, and seen Side By Side twice:

“God shows me something new each time.”

From a ministry leader seeing it for the first time:

“It’s like Christian Broadway!”

From a couple experiencing marriage difficulties:

“This was life-changing.”

From a single woman:

“I can apply much of what you talk about to any of my daily relationships.”

Every person at our event was in a different place in their journey….all over the spectrum from hurt to hope.  As we shared how God has worked in our lives, He was working in theirs.  He uses our mess, on a daily basis, to speak to people and show them that He has a beautiful plan for their life, no matter where they are on their journey.

So, how did our event go? (People have asked us that a lot in the last couple weeks!)  It went exactly as God intended it to!  We shared our journey and, through God’s providence, spoke directly to each person in the way they needed to hear it.  For some, God used our story to make radical changes in their lives.  For others, God helped people to see how they can support Side By Side.  For us, He faithfully reminded us of His goodness and His love and His grace.

Thank you to each journey that was represented that night.  We pray that we are all journeying on God’s path toward the HOPE that can only come from Him.

 

 

2 Words To Remove From Your Marriage…

“You never remember to pick up your towel!”

“You always say that!”

“You never want to do what I want to do.”

“You always nag me.”

Do you sense the theme?  Have you ever said something similar to any of these statements?  (Come on, be honest with yourself.  Own it.) Continue reading

3 truths that lead to healing. (Part 3)

“If you don’t even kiss me when you get home, then good luck getting anything more than that tonight.”

“Why shouldn’t I go out with the guys again? If I am home, all she does is complain.”

“How can I possibly respect you when you haven’t done anything respectful?”

Do any of these sound remotely familiar?  Come on, be honest with yourself…it’s very likely every single one of us has said something similar at some point in our marriages.  In fact, many of us use statements like this daily.  What do all these statements have in common?  They all include Continue reading