Sunday, May 06, 2012
Our pastor that married us, Dr. (Umfundisis) Lo told us that your life should be lives in this order: God, Spouse/Family, Ministry. This seems pretty easy, but it is some of the best advice we received. When you arrange your life like this and live it out-it is balanced. We are still working on balance, but we are trying!
We were given another piece of advance many years ago that was a simple 2 words..."STAY CURRENT". It seems simple enough, but not always easy. It basically means stay current with what you are feeling. If you are frustrated-talk to your spouse about it, if you are mad about something or can't get something off your mind-share it with your spouse. It is much easier to have a 30 minute conversation, discussion or argument about 1 thing than a 5 hour conversation, discussion or argument about 10 things. It's a lot less overwhelming for the other person as well.
Another thing we have learned is "FUN IS A GOOD THING!" Sometimes all of us are guilty of getting caught up in the busyness of life. We started out that way in our marriage-moving to Chicago, starting new jobs, starting school and a new church all within 3 months. We did a similar thing when moving here, but some of the best times to just stop everything and go do something fun is the most stressful and busy times. God didn't intend us to work all the time and we shouldn't-we need to relax and let go sometimes-even if it just a walk together, dinner together or a movie. The point is your together with NO work!
Another thing that has gotten lost in the shuffle at times in our lives is prayer. However, we daily see our need for it and it is something I have tried to work on more. Praying for your spouse is so huge! We all know we get frustrated with our spouses, and sometimes the only thing to do is pray. This is such an intimate way to connect with our God and with our spouse, sometimes without our spouse even being there. Sometimes it's just good to hear the words "I prayed for you today" also.
Learn to say "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you". We all like to be right. I really like to be right. However, I realized when I married a smart guy that I am usually wrong more times than right. But that doesn't stop me from trying to prove I'm right. It's taken me a long time to realize that I don't need to be right, sometimes you just need to say "I'm sorry". Also, when you're in a situation where you have been hurt by your spouse, saying I forgive you and letting it go will go a long way.
I am a selfish person. It didn't take long after we got married to realize that. Joel does a great job putting my needs before his, but it has taken me a lot longer to understand how to deal with my selfishness in marriage. I have to make a concerted effort to put Joel before me. (That's not very easy to admit). I have learned in more than just this area that my husband is a great example to me! He is an example of unselfishness and unconditional love. I like learning from him and he's a good teacher and example (Thanks honey!)
The old saying "you can't change people" is only half right in my book. One thing you quickly learn in marriage is that you can't hide things about who you are. It will eventually come out. I think the key to this is then being able to accept what happens when those things come out. For me, being willing to accept constructive criticism was not easy. Especially when I started realizing that what Joel was telling me was right on. Sometimes OUR views of how we appear to others is very different than how we actually are. All this to say, be willing to accept criticism. The majority of the time, you spouse is not saying these things to upset you, they are doing it to make you a better you. None of us are perfect, but we can try to be better and sometimes just trying to BE better helps so much more. You may not be able to change who you are, but you can work on making YOU better! The 2nd best person to help with that is your spouse...(Jesus is the 1st).
COMPROMISE! Remember when I said we all like to be right? Sometimes we can't be, sometimes we shouldn't be. I think one of the biggest things I have learned is compromise. This means sometimes giving up what you want for the greater family good. Learn this quickly and you will save yourselves a lot of discussions later.
Encourage each other. Sometimes in ministry, work, family and all of the things of life, life itself just gets you down. Sometimes just knowing someone is fighting for you and is in your corner means the world-it doesn't have to be big-a not in a lunch, an email or text, etc can make bummer days better!
Learn what is important to your spouse. If it is sports-find something you can do together, if it's reading-go read somewhere together, if it's quiet time alone-give time to the other person. Learning what is important to your spouse even when it is different than what is important to you is good. Joel loves to work-it's what he does and he is good at it. There are some days he needs to do that or he gets stressed-it has again taken me a long time to not get upset by this. I know he would rather be spending time with the fam, but sometimes he needs to work. When I learned to not get upset or take it personally when he worked-it made things a lot easier. We are still trying to work on balance between work and fun!
When your spouse does something that makes you happy-tell them, thank them! Joel has been so good to me in this way. He randomly gets flowers and sends me notes because he knows I love this. It may be little things, but when you know you're doing something right, it's nice to hear it!
Work together. Sometimes being willing to admit you need help isn't all that bad. It's easier to split work between 2 people as opposed to just one. Don't be a martyr. You don't have to have perfect meals all the time or a perfect manicured lawn. There are a lot of things that make a house function and splitting that up by working together is good. It will also give you more free time together.
Sometimes you need to do things out of your comfort zone. I am not a planner- I never really have been and since Joel is a great planner-I usually let him do the planning. Sometimes though, he gets busy and needs help and I have to do things that he is better at. DO IT! Help your spouse. Even in simple things this can help so much
You need boundaries. In ministry, in work, in family, etc sometimes it's OK to say "no" when someone asks you to do something. Sometimes it's OK to say "I need time with my family, I need a date night with my husband, etc.
Never be too proud to ask for help or to accept help when people offer. Our friend told us this one time realizing something in us we hadn't really seen. When you life is ministry and serving others, it is not always easy to allow others to help you. This is not to say we are these great missionaries that just give, give, give. Please don't think we think of ourselves that way, but it was very humbling the first time we learned to receive help from others. Our friend explained that sometimes people want to bless you and you need to allow them to because that is a way God is using them. Never be too proud to be humbled by the acts of others. Also, when you see someone else who needs help-offer, really offer allowing them to accept. For instance, an older lady in our home church gave us money (a lot of money to us poor kids in school) to go out for an evening together. We said we couldn't accept this and she said-please let me do this. You are preparing for God's ministry and this is one way God is allowing me to minister. Like I said...very humbling!
Unfortunately, there is a lot more that I have learned, but I will continue that another time. I am SO excited for what I have learned in the last 10 years and for what Joel has taught me over the last 10 years. He truly is an example to me and I am SO thankful that God has allowed me to be his wife. Thank you Joelie for a great 10 years-and prayers for many, many more!