Friday, March 24, 2017

Marriage is a covenant, not a contract

I have a passion for marriage.

I love love. I love seeing people in love, and I hate it when I see issues in people's relationships that could be so easily fixed if they would just take the time to do it.

However, I realize that marriage is not easy. Relationships are not easy. Not everyone is as easy to love and get along with as my husband is! So I also love learning about relationships. I like Focus on the Family's podcasts about how to strengthen your marriage. It seems like as strong as I think Nate and I are that I always find some way that I can be more intentional about being a good wife.

I wanted to read a book called "Cherish" that I heard about on Focus on the Family, but our church library didn't have it. The librarians said they would order it but showed me the other marriage books in the little church library.

I chose a book called "Beyond Ordinary," by Justin and Trisha Davis. It's really for people who are struggling in marriage, but I figure if these people can show me what goes wrong in a relationship I can learn from it before going through it.

I took down a note on my phone that I wanted to blog about: Marriage is not a contractual agreement, it is a covenant agreement. When we decide to get married, we don't fill the agreement with clauses and exemptions. We swear to love the other person in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse.

Yet, especially in this society, we so often live our marriages like contractual agreements. If you provide me with this, I will give you this. If I make you happy, you must make me happy. If I cook you dinner, you must clean up. If I go to work and you stay home, you better get all the chores done before I arrive. If I bring you home flowers, you owe me a favor later.

If the other person doesn't fulfill our expectations for the contract, then divorce is the obvious answer.

"But they didn't live up to the agreement."

Is your spouse still alive? And you agreed to love and cherish until death do you part? Then, your spouse is living up to the agreement.

Marriage is a picture on earth of what our relationship with God should be. God also has a covenant relationship with us. No matter how badly we screw up, he loves us. We enter into the covenant when we accept Jesus as our savior, and that's it. There's no stipulations that would negate the covenant. Often we live as a contract with God --- I have to live a perfect life; God is supposed to bless me; life should be better when I'm a Christian. But that's not how it's intended to be, just like that's not how marriage is intended to be.

Contracts are broken all the time. There are consequences but we deal with them and move on.

Covenants are meant to last. Marriage is meant to last. Let's live like it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Taco splurge

I started a book on marriage that details an "ordinary marriage" gone terribly awry.

However, the point of the book that an "ordinary" marriage is one gone awry. We shouldn't have ordinary marriages; we should have extraordinary marriages.

The book is aimed at people who are struggling, and we most certainly are not. I just am passionate about seeing how marriages often go wrong and working on not allowing ours to go there.

The first point that hit home with me was the fact that when we're dating, we're super intentional about making life awesome for our mates. We stop by and buy them coffee. We surprise them with their favorite candy. We buy tickets for them so we can go out to their favorite concert or a movie they want to see. When we're married, we stop that. I usually look at the budget and think, "We can save that money instead of spending it."

Where we live, a seasonal restaurant opens this time of year, and it's usually packed when it does. I was driving home from a radio interview for work and realized that the restaurant had opened. It was 11:45 a.m.

"I'll stop and get lunch for Nate."

"No. That's not in the budget."

"If we were dating, I would stop and surprise him with lunch."

That wasn't a conversation with someone else. It was the debate that went on in my head about 500 yards before the turn off.

I turned the corner, gauging traffic in the parking lot to make my decision.

It was busy. But I pulled in.

You know what, that lunch that we shared when we both came home from work that day and ate tacos we haven't had in months, that was an awesome lunch. We smiled and laughed.

I have to say, $17 in tacos was a splurge.

And it was totally worth it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mrs. Potatohead eyes

Sometimes women are like Mrs. Potatohead.

The pastor this morning was talking about qualifications to be a deacon or deaconess in the church, and one of them for women was the importance of being sober-minded. He said women should not live on an emotional roller coaster, comparing it to which eyes we have on, like Mrs. Potatohead.

I thought it was an interesting analogy.

There are many times when I can feel myself getting short. When people talk to me, I just bristle. For some reason, I woke up with my angry eyes in.

It could be that time of the month; it could be a bad night's sleep; it could be situations have put me on edge that day. Honestly, it could be for no reason at all. Sometimes women just have grumpy days.

However, I think the important lesson for us is that we have the choice which eyes we put in. We have a bank of facial expressions and eyes, just like Mrs. Potatohead does. If we wake up with a frown and our angry eyes in, we need to stop, take inventory and then go through our facial expressions to pull out our kind eyes and replace them.

Women naturally struggle with emotions, but we shouldn't see that as an excuse for bad behavior. When Paul instructed deaconesses to be sober-minded, emotionally stable, it's because it is an option. We can live by how we feel, but we can also choose to logically look at life and why we feel what we do, and we can change out our expressions and get off the roller coaster.

Next time your angry eyes are in, maybe thinking of Mrs. Potatohead will help you smile, take a step back and change out your expression for something a little nicer.