I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this blog post.
I'm going to start this post by saying that I love being married. I married my very best friend when I was a mere nineteen years young, and we are currently in our twenty first year of marriage. I've been married to Todd for more than half my life now, and I thank God for him. And for the most part, our marriage is really, really good. I've learned that the older we get, the better it gets. (I literally was writing that, he had me do him a favor, and then he got irritated with me when it came out wrong.)
It's not all hearts and flowers and bliss. It takes work, it takes commitment, and sometimes it takes us remembering that love is also a verb and a choice.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending my first ever prayer dinner for a couple who is about to get married. I had never even heard of this before, so I thought I'd share with you how the night went and what we talked about. I hope to someday bless a young couple in this way.
It's a dinner, so as the couples arrived, flutes of sparkling cider were handed out, and we mingled. Once everyone had arrived, we prayed, blessing our dinner and the night that was to come, and we sat down to eat. Dinner plates were served as we waited. I will say here that this is something you don't want too many people at, and you invite only the people whose marriages you might look up to. There were nine couples invited that night, including the couple's family members, where three marriages were represented. Family sat in one area, and friends sat in another area. We ate dinner and after about thirty minutes, phase two of the night started.
The ladies and the men split up for this part. In our area, we sat in a circle, and we showered Abbey with advice. It could be serious, silly, or it could be scriptural. I would say that in our conversations, we had a good mix. Todd said on the men's side, it was more serious. I have to stop here and tell you about the dear couple that hosted the dinner. Mrs. Theresa is the mom of my friend whose house the dinner was held at. This dear lady has been married upside of forty something years, and you should see her bible! It is literally falling apart. Here is the back page of her bible, though, that she used as a reference for this portion of the night.
I did ask for her permission before I took this picture, and yesterday, I asked her daughter if I could share it on this blog post.
It's kinda hard to read, so I'm going to write out what all this page says, adding some other advice I heard that night of the prayer dinner.
1. Women are the emotional barometers of the home. The old saying is true. "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." If you walk around miserable in life, your family will do the exact same. If you walk around joyful in all things and circumstances, chances are your family will reflect your attitude.
2. Make it hard for your hubby to leave every morning, and make sure he looks forward to coming home every evening. And look forward to him coming home!
3. Welcome him home gladly. Food helps this. (I know for me, I always have dinner ready or simmering on the stove when Todd gets home.) Greet him with a kiss and good smells. Don't jump on him the minute he walks in with complaints or issues, give him time to get in, and to decompress a little.
4. Celebrate your differences.
5. Encourage him in his hobbies, and do not try to guilt him out of doing something he loves, or manipulate his time. (Without ever having thought of this, I do this for Todd with his second occupation as a volunteer of the Sheriff's department. He loves working shifts each weekend, and I hardly ever say no to him doing that. My friend who gave this advice has a husband who hunts all the time.)
6. Pray for him without ceasing. (Be his safe haven, allowing him to speak freely to you. And then if he vents about a really hard day, pray over him.)
7. Endure. Some days are just hard. Don't ever, ever, ever joke about divorce, or throw around that word.
8. Study him, learn what makes him happy, and work on that.
10. Join a church and be faithful in attendance. (Todd and I have never viewed church going as an option. We just go, faithfully, having a good reason when we miss. Our kids know this, and now that they're older, they actually WANT to go all the time.)
11. Entertain regularly! Having company over forces you to do things around your home that otherwise might not have gotten done.
12. COMMUNICATE. I cannot stress this enough. Our husbands are guys, y'all. They are not good at reading minds, and don't assume that they "know" what you mean, or even what you'd like as a gift. Most men need it laid out clearly to them, in black and white. I think simple, short, and sweet is the best way to describe a good way to communicate your needs, or even what's going on.
13. Read The Five Love Languages. Figure out yours, figure out his, and both of you love each other in the ways the other needs to be loved. Here are the five different love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gift giving.
14. Laugh! And sometimes, agree to disagree.
15. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26) Try to resolve your argument before you go to bed, but if you cannot do that, sometimes it's okay to sleep on it. Just kiss, tell one another you love each other, and then agree to continue in the morning. Things always look better in the morning light, and lots of arguments happen when we're exhausted. (Lamentations 3)
16. Make your family the most important thing in your life, aside from God. If you're in ministry, your family should always come before anything else.
17. (This is one of my biggest pet peeves, and something I was once called out on by my dad. I am so glad he did that, because I've not done it since.) Do not ever talk bad about your man. (We are all human, and of course we sometimes think not so nice things about the ones we're married to, but it is best if we keep that to ourselves. And when you think it, confess it God, and ask Him to forgive you and to change your heart.) Don't talk bad about him to your girlfriends, your mom, or anyone else. Don't hang around with friends who talk bad about their husbands. Bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33) Do not belittle him in front of people, do not make him out to be a "baby" to anyone, do not even ever joke about him in a negative way in front of others. Do not do this. DO NOT DO THIS!! If you talk about him at all in front of people, make sure it honors him. Build him up with your words about him (or TO him), brag about him, encourage him. (Ephesians 4:29)
18. Be subject to your own husband. (Ephesians 5:22) I know this one gets a really bad reputation, but the bible tells us wives that we are to submit to our husbands. We are to let him lead us, and he is to be the spiritual head of our house. If your husband is not doing this, do not nag him, or guilt trip him into being this way. Just pray for him.
19. When you're wanting to have a heart to heart, pick the time carefully, and be wise in your approach. If you know he is tired, that may not be a great time to talk. Chances are he may not remember it. And don't come into the talk with guns blazing.
20. Be considerate of him and his feelings.
21. Be humble, kind, gentle, patient, and loving. And forgiving. Always, always forgiving. (Colossians 3)
22. Always consider him before making plans. I never agree to any plans without first making sure Todd is okay with it. It's not exactly asking permission, but it is similar. Some nights he wants me to stay home. Some nights, he encourages me to go out for dinner with a girlfriend. Some nights he's okay if we eat dinner without him, if he's running a little later than usual. Last night he let me know that he wanted us to wait on him before we ate.
23. Look for ways to serve him, and do that gladly!
24. DON'T NAG! Several times the night of the prayer dinner, this verse was quoted: "Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife." Proverbs 21:9 Nagging has never in a million years accomplished anything.
25. Do yourself a favor and make your husband your second priority. The order should be God first, spouse, kids, everything else. Also, don't try to make your husband God. He is a person, and he will fail you. The Lord will not. It's not fair to place unrealistic expectations onto your husband, I promise you, he is not able to live up to them. And we cannot live up their unrealistic expectations of us. It does go both ways.
Most of these came from the pages of Mrs. Theresa's bible, but I did add some others that we discussed that night. I'm sure there's lots more, but these are good to ponder when being married is a struggle.
As for the rest of the night, then we prayed over Abbey. We were given index card with scripture printed on them, and a prayer was beneath the verse. You could pray what was prompted, or you could pray something on your own. I thought this was good for people who may not be totally comfortable praying out loud. The cards were collected, then presented to Steve and Abbey in a decorate box, to be looked at throughout their married years. After that prayer time, we met back up and enjoyed dessert and coffee, then people were free to go as they pleased. It was a LOVELY night, and one I know all of us will always remember.
Thanks for reading! Love to all.