Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marriage Principle to Live By

I have been thinking a lot about what makes our marriage great. I have had a few major threads of principles that Michael and I have learned to live by over the last 21 years come to my mind. I can't say that we learned them all at once, but we grew into these ideas and they really have worked for us.

The main thread that we have used to weave our marriage cloth is a principle that will work in any relationship that you have. It helps if both people using this principle are on the same page because it makes it work much better. We sum it up like this: YOUR GOOD AT MY EXPENSE.

When I walk out this principle on a daily basis, Michael's day is made much better. He feels that I value him and care for him. He SEES it in action. However there are many times that he doesn't even realize that I am doing this. The day he asked me to go golfing with him is a prime example of this in play. He really wanted me to go. I really didn't want to go. I had a huge garden afternoon planned out, and I had really been looking forward to my afternoon. I made sure all the household chores were done that morning so I could enjoy the time in the garden. I was looking forward to the garden time and I was looking forward to the garden chores being completed. Then came my husband... "Hey, since you have all the inside stuff caught up, would you like to come golfing with me?" In my head was a loud "NO!!! I have long since outgrown spending time getting frustrated hitting a little ball into an elusive hole!" I saw the look in his eyes and I realized it was important to him. Just to make sure that I wasn't mistaken, I asked him if he was serious. He was and I went. I put my plans and wants down to do what he wanted. Turned out we both had a great time and I enjoyed spending the time with my best friend ever so much.

The flip side of this principle is that Michael lives his life in the same way. He looks out for my good at his expense and I get blessed with that each and every day. I think the Biblical way to say this is do unto others as you would have them do unto you! It really works.

This principle has to also be seasoned with grace. Michael isn't a morning person. He has a hard time starting his day with a smile on his face. I don't expect much from him in the mornings. I give him grace to get a slower start on his day than what I would like to see. On the flip side of this is I am not a night person. After 9:00 p.m., I am tired and I am getting irritable with everybody in our house. Michael knows this about me and he gives me the grace I need during the hardest part of my day. He usually puts the younger kids to bed for me and any discipline that needs to be attended to at night is his responsibility. We didn't write a formal set of rules that say he is responsible for all children issues after 9:00 p.m. We just kind of evolved in it over the years. It works for us. He saw my weak area and he laid down his wants and desires to allow me what I need.

The tricky part is when one of us changes our normal behavior or pattern unexpectedly. For example, if I am having a hard time starting my day and I just am plain grouchy, that usually catches Michael off guard. A simple request for a cup of coffee can put me into a tizzy. Michael isn't at his best in the morning, and we have a situation ripe for an argument. One of us has to "drop our ball" so to speak and be willing to give the other person a little extra space. Sometimes we hit the mark...other times we don't. One of my children's favorite stories to tell on me is that one morning neither Michael or myself was willing to give for the other one. I was angry...he was angry. He walked out the door and I was still so frustrated. I happened to have a cup of coffee in my hand. As he drove off to work, I threw my cup of coffee at him while he was driving down the road. He never knew, and I felt better. Of course I had to go pick up the coffee cup bits out of the road. My kids still talk about the day I threw a coffee cup at their dad!!! We both blew it on that particular day. But a few minutes into his drive, he called me to tell me he was sorry. I too was sorry and we talked about it for awhile realizing how silly we both had been. All it would have taken that particular morning would have been for one of us to give for the other one. To this day I have no idea what each of us was so upset about. It really didn't matter.

I do find a proper way to deal with things that bother me. His good at my expense doesn't mean I have to live with things that cause me irritation or strife. I have to be honest with him and tell him when things bother me. If he asked me to play golf every Saturday, I would have to tell him that I don't really want to do that. If he still wants to play, I would give him some suggestions on how we could make that work for him that didn't involve me always having to go. That is living life honestly with one another which is very important.

I hope and pray this little glimpse into our life may help spark thoughts to help you think about ways to improve your own marriage. Please know that we aren't perfect...just ask our kids...they will be more than happy to tell you about me throwing coffee cups or the time I threw the meatloaf out the back door. Just come to our dinner table any time that we are having meatloaf and you can hear the story in full living color!!! After soon to be 21 years of marriage, Michael and I still are looking for ways we can improve. Marriage isn't something that stands still. It isn't suppose to be is suppose to be full of life and growth...even in the hard times of life.

grace and peace,



Mountain Mama said...

When is the next meat loaf dinner? Would love to hear that one!

Great words of living out a marriage. Enjoyed your examples and funny stories. It took me 7 years to figure out it wasn't just about me. A constant "dying to self" on my part has made our marriage so much better. (I was very full of ME)I am grateful God has blessed me with such a wonderful man. I love how God refines me daily in all areas but especially in my marriage with my best friend.

Marci said...

Great post!!! It is so true. Our son has the hamburger story. =) Our good friends next door have the donut story. I think we all have those moments. If they are not the norm and they are rare, then life is good. Thanks for posting this!!

Anonymous said...

I like the way you put that - Your good at my expense. We've said before that "Sometimes you have to pay for another person's lunch" or "Marriage isn't 50/50. Sometimes it's 110/2." Sometimes you just have to give - even more than you think you have within you to give because the other person just doesn't have it in them right then. That's when the rubber meets the road as Christians - loving them with God's love, when we're plum give out.

PS - I once threw a bag of Doritos... shhhhhh.

Amy said...

Well said, Julie! Call me the next time you are serving meatloaf.:)

God Bless,