Friday, April 16, 2010

From This Day Forward.

I received an e-mail from a reader that I would like to talk about! A lot of times your e-mails or comments will spark an idea in my mind of something to blog about and this is one of those times.

So keep 'em coming, lovies!

I'll let you read a portion of the e-mail so you can get the whole background of where I'm coming from. Fun! Reading other people's private e-mails! It's kind of like I'm hacking into my own account and letting you guys in on the fun.

"My dream job and aspiration for as long as I can remember has been to be a wife and mom. Well, I'm currently in a wonderful relationship with an amazing man and it's turning out to be quite the adventure! We're praying about marriage, and it's been crazy to hear how many people tend to offer "advice" and tell us that "if we think things are hard or challenging now, it can get worse after marriage..." I know that they mean well and all, but it tends to be discouraging after a while. However, reading your blog has given me a glimpse of the "dream" that I've always hoped marriage and family might be, that it IS possible to have joy and fun in the ever day stuff and to look for the adventures along the way. I know that you don't sugarcoat your life, and you also don't share all the not-so-fun parts either, but what you share is real and encouraging! It's nice to know that there is a fun side amidst the challenges..."


It makes me sad that there are people out there in difficult or destructive marriages. My heart goes out for those people and truly hope they can seek wise council to work things out and learn to enjoy the blessing. Something that also makes me sad is people who don't necessarily have a bad relationship (as in abusive, destructive, etc), but those who have become stagnant to a point where they don't enjoy one another anymore. And those people should not give their 2 cents to a young and eager couple looking forward to the dream of marriage!

Your marriage is what you make it. Your marriage will thrive or fail depending on the effort that YOU put into it.

Though marriage is not always rainbows, daisies and candy coated gun drops, does not mean that sometimes....it is!! Like anything in life, there are highs and there are lows - there are mountaintops and valleys - gooey fudge on an ice cream sundae and the dry empty bottom of the waffle cone. I feel like the more you dwell on the lows, valleys and empty cones, you forget the joy and thrill of being ONE with another human being! Celebrate the highs! Dwell on them! Relish them! Treasure them!

I think so many couples lose sight of the excitement of sharing your life with someone else. Do you remember the feeling when you boarded the plane to your honeymoon, just you and him and the world at your fingertips? There is absolutely nothing like it. I know that every day will not feel like that, and probably most days won't hold that type of excitement, but when I remember that time in my life and stop to look around and see where we've come SINCE then - I am overcome with such joy and satisfaction. We have merely scraped the surface of the life ahead of us, and in those little years, HUGE things have happened and our lives were changed forever. What is more exciting than the future with the one you love?

Arguments are inevitable. Disagreements are healthy. If you avoid a topic or problem for the sake of dodging an uncomfortable situation, you are doing nothing but hurting yourself and your marriage. It is vital to talk through things, have moments of frustration and simply get a few things that have been bugging you off of your chest! The "spats" are not the problem in the marriage. Those are essential and help you grow. It is dwelling on them and not letting go of them that feed dissension and spiral into bigger and worse problems.

When you find yourself slipping into the trap of complacency in your marriage, it's time to do a little self evaluation.

What am I doing to make our days exciting?
What am I doing to contribute to our lines of communication?
Am I the same as I was when we flew away to our honeymoon?
Do I hold the same zest for life?
Am I the encourager and partner that he needs me to be?

It's so easy to sit and play the blame game. You never do this. You always do that. You can't change another person, but you can change yourself. And likely, you're the one that needs the change if your marriage is in a season of boredom.

I am by no means a marriage expert or a family counselor, and I'm certainly not trying to be. Husby and I definitely do not have it all figured out. We still learn new things every day and we have just as many challenges as any other couple. But I think I can offer up a bit of advice when it comes to making life with your husband fun.

Make each other laugh.
Laugh AT each other.
Don't stifle your emotions.
Plan exciting days as a family.
Explore new things.
Have a date.
Reminisce about the past.
TALK!
Say "I love you".
Show affection.
Be real and honest.
Above all else, keep your focus fixed on Christ.

God has specifically designed your husband especially for you. Whether you've been together one month or 46 years, take the time to enjoy one another. Don't fall into the trap of watching other marriages and having a misconception that "all marriages are like ... fillintheblank." And likewise, don't let others tell you that lie.

No marriage is alike. Your marriage is YOUR marriage. Hold it, feed it, nurture it and let it bloom! If you want adventure - make adventure! If you want excitement, make excitement! If you want romance, create romance! Marriage is what you make of it.

Make your marriage one people believe only exists in stories.

29 comments:

  1. What a great post!! So many great words of wisdom :) I agree that it's sad how so many people make marriage sound like a chore and not the fun adventure that it is. I got married at 18 and have never regretted it for a day!

    Not that I think everyone should get married at 18, it's just what worked for us. Everyone should follow their own timeline, not the one "experts" give :)

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  2. Definitely an inspirational post. I'll carry your insight with me for a long time :) thank you

    homemakertraining.blogspot.com

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  3. This is a wonderful post- possibly my favorite one you've written! Thanks for the reminder that marriage can and should always be a wonderful thing if you have the right mindset :)

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  4. Good post, Whitney :)

    I get tired of hearing people "man-bash" (I'm a nurse, so I work with mostly women, and there tends to be a LOT of man/husband-bashing among large groups of women, in my experience.)
    I'll try and take up for MY hubby, telling them that not all men are awful or whatever, and that, while we have our ups and downs, we're really happy, and he's a really great husband.
    Their reply? "How long have you been married?"
    My reply? At this point, "nearly three years."
    Their reply? "Just wait."

    Ugh. I'm not waiting. Because we're fixing that part (by communicating, laughing, etc.) before it happens.

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  5. I can relate with the lady that sent the e-mail. I was so excited when my (boyfriend at the time) husband proposed! I was on top of the world! ....And then I went to work on Monday morning... I couldn't believe how negative people were when it came to marriage, and it completely took the excitement out of spreading the news to my co-workers. I even had a guy tell me that marriage was a good thing...that this fourth marriage was the best thing he'd ever done! ...ugh...lol

    But here we are, four months after marriage. It has definitely been the greatest thing I've ever experienced! Marriage between to godly people is a beautiful thing! It's definitely not all sunshine and roses, but that just makes you enjoy the sunshine and roses even more:) I've come to realize that when others are unhappy for whatever reason, they have a hard time not projecting their experiences on you.

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  6. Love. This.! I 100% agree with you. I think marriage is the BEST thing I've ever done! It is such a part of life, that it is very important to work on it. Things change--and you have to as well. We are just finishing up a 6 week class at church--The Great Date Experiement. Couples from just engaged to married 40+ years--so fun to hear their experiences and have our relationships encouraged by others..and of course it's fun to pick a new place to eat out every week :)

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  7. Great post! I, too, was surprised by the negative comments and 'advice' that people tend to give young engaged (or dating) couples. You have to choose to look past those negative comments and find a way to turn them into something positive that can better you relationship!

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  8. Great words of wisdom! And great to try and focus on the hot fudge! (your analogy made me hungry!)

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  9. Awesome post... It made me think of the country song by Lee Brice:

    Be a best friend
    Tell the truth
    Over use i love you
    Go to work
    Do your best
    Dont out smart your common sense
    Never let your prayin knees get lazy
    And love like crazy

    Thank you for sharing.

    Marla @ www.asthefarmturns.wordpress.com

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  10. Wow, Whitney, this was SO good. So inspiring and so true. I'm so grateful for your wisdom, sweetness, optimism and enthusiasm! You've helped me through more than you know :o)

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  11. Thank you Whitney Dawn. This post reminds me so much of all our fun times at Chili's. Thank you for always being transparent! I have always loved that about you! I know that marriage will be hard one day, but I am so encouraged to hear it from your perspective!! Love you friend!

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  12. Very nice post--I agree that marriage is what you make it and it takes the work of two people to make it good, and not just expecting the other to do all that work. I would like to address the original message sent by your reader, because I wonder about the advice and comments she is getting in her circles. She writes about people saying that "if it is hard now, it will only get worse." That statement is not actually incorrect, if it refers to issues that need to be resolved before marriage. For instance, many people get married thinking that the person will change after that and things will be better. That is a very dangerous assumption to get married on. While people in a marriage can change a bit for the better (trying to be more tidy, trying to communicate more, etc.) some of the major aspects of someone's personlity and character will probably not change. So if we assume that after we get married he or she will "change" to please us, we should reconsider. So if our friends are trying to point to "issues" in our couple that we would like to brush over in our "love-struck" mood and rush to marriage, maybe we should listen to them--especially if they are godly people who love us, and who may also have some experiences of their own. While we know our own situations well, it does not mean others know nothing about them--we are set in a body, in the church, in order to support each other and to help us keep on the path. I think listeing to godly advice is a wise thing to do.

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  13. Thank you for posting these encouraging words! I wish more people had a more positive view of marriage. I agree 100% with what you've said. Marriage is not for lazy people, it's definitely a lot of work. But it is SO WORTH IT. I always heard people say that the first year is the honeymoon period and then it's reality after that. I disagree. The first year is definitely magical, but it doesn't have to be downhill from there. My husband and I have been married for 4 years and it just keeps getting better and better. We have to work every day to die to ourselves and focus on Christ first, then the other person second. It's not easy but we are so happy. We still feel like newlyweds. :)

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  14. So, so true. I am teaching my 16 yro daughter about that. I'm not just telling her, I am SHOWING her! Her father and I have been married near 18 yrs and she sees first hand that it is what YOU make it. You should never change nor try and change the other. You work with what you have and come together as one. One couple. One family.
    Blessings to you. I hope that more than one person gets this post!!

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  15. Well said, Whitney. My husband and I have watched so many of our friends marriages fall apart due to complacency and all the things it can cause. Even though he and I have had our hard times and we definitely don't see eye to eye on EVERYTHING, I'm so convinced that he's the man God brought to me. He's a wonderful father and an affectionate husband. He really is perfect for me even if our marriage isn't perfect.

    Thank you so much for having the courage to step out and make this statement. Marriage is what YOU make it. Couples have more control over the health of their marriage than they are willing to take ownership for nowadays.

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  16. So true! This is great advice and so uplifting.

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  17. I'm with April the nurse who says she is sick of the "man" bashing. Most of the women I work with don't truly understand what it means to be a wife and a mother. They have no concept of honoring your husband. Not that we don't ever fight - I'm very hard headed, but I try to never put down my husband in front of others (especially not my coworkers). Marriage is hard there is no doubt, but anything worth having is worth working for. My parents have been married for over thirty years and they are so happy at a stage in their lives when so many are dealing with the empty nest issues. They love to spend time together, and I know that it only comes from years of hard work. Oh yeah, and I have never heard my mother put down my father in front of us or anyone else.

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  18. This post is great. I loved it!!
    I can relate to the girl who sent you the e-mail. My fiance and I are getting married in November (YAY!) and we've received all kind of negative comments and advice about marriage. It was pretty frustrating and sad.
    Your blog, and this post in particular, helps me a lot.
    You're a great person, Whitney!!

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  19. Thanks so much for this post, Whitney!

    The hubs and I have been married just over 11 years and I can honestly say that we are (still) madly in love with each other.

    What you said is exactly true: Your marriage is what you make it.

    Thanks!

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  20. So inspring! Thank you! I love my dh with all my heart, but during our "spats" I know I play the blame game and you have inspired me to try and change. Keep the great posts coming! Maybe you could even write a post 1x a week or so giving us some tips to make marriage an adventure, exciting, romantic, etc. I love your point of view!

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  21. Great post!
    I am blessed with the most wonderful partner, and I get so sad seeing other relationships get stale. I think a lot of it comes from bad communication, which builds into resentment.
    I think if you'd be comfortable, it would be awesome for you to write about fair conflict. My partner and I came up with fair fighting rules really early on, and it has kept our valleys very manageable. A few gems we've got:

    1. If you start using words like 'never' or 'always' then it's time to take a walk! because it's unfair, and untrue - they may not have done the right thing then, but usually I find when these words come out it's when we've strayed from the actual issue to general frustration. Same goes for raised voices.

    2.Stop and think, whenever you're frustrated, 'will this matter in a week? will this matter in a month? will this matter in a year? will this matter in ten years?' It's a great way of sorting out if this is really something worth having a big argument over. how long will this make you unhappy? there are arguments worth having, and ones that are not, and its important to identify how important the issue is. It will always help you downgrade a 'fight' to a 'discussion,' which is where you want it to be most of the time.

    3.Give each other a kiss, and say 'I Love You,' after each argument. Puts it back in perspective again.

    Thanks for being so lovely and encouraging Whitney! I wish you all the best, and am just loving watching your little boy get bigger :)

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  22. Great post Whitney!

    I would venture to say that more often than not, people give "debbie downer" advice to eager young singles because (a) the divorce rate speaks for itself (b) lots of couples jump into marriage without a clue as to what it entails or how to deal with issues that arise (c) their own marriage has seen tough times and they are pessimistic about marriage in general.

    I can put myself in the category of "young person who did not have a clue as to what it took to make a marriage work." Thankfully God has blessed me with a fabulous husband who loves me unconditionally, and inspires me to do the same for him and others around me. I am truly a woman blessed. Which is why I have such a heart for young marrieds and their struggles and adjustments as they're starting out in married life. After watching my parents nasty divorce after 30+ years of marriage, I am more than ever determined to break the 2 generation cycle.

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  23. Wonderful post! You've inspired me to write about my hubs next week. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

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  24. beautifully written! What excellent truths about marriage.
    You do have to work for it, I think people often don't realize that going in. But it is so worth the work.

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  25. My biggest wish was to be wife and Mommy. God blessed me beyond measure. It has not always been easy but after 18 years, we are still happy.Life is what you make it, love is a choice to share not an emotion to feel. Somedays you have to remember that. The New Eve is a great book about being a woman today.

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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