Marriage Beyond the Butterflies and Roses

Loving Beyond Feelings

I recently had a dear friend ask me to write about marriage after the roses and butterflies stage. You know, the days when you’re not in love with love but the quirky personality you call husband?

Honestly, this has been a huge learning experience for me. Over the course of our (almost) two years of marriage I’ve discovered that I am a very selfish person: I love to be loved. And without knowing it, I can allow my love to be based on how well Dalton is loving me and how much I’m enjoying his love.

(Ew, can that really be me? it is these moments when I cry out with Jeremiah, “Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?“)

Thankfully, my Abba Daddy does not let me remain in my selfish, inherent love for love. He knows my deceitful, selfish heart and He loves me through it. He challenges my heart to learn to love people not because of how their love makes me feel but for who they are in themselves.

Loving people past the feelings of satisfaction they give us is something we as Christians must let Christ work in our hearts.

Our homes, marriages, churches and relationships depend on it.

The best way for me to describe loving someone simply for who they are is to tell you a little bit of how my husband loves me.

(Because he loves me with a tremendous, Christ-like love every day and I am honored and changed because of it’s consistent presence.)

  • He loves me for me and not for my physical prowess, beauty, smarts or talents.

I am not always beautiful, genius or elegant. In fact, my personality is the kind which takes more interest in the quirky, dry and unique then in the traditional, stunning ideas of beauty. I have zits, fluff and get tongue-tied far more then I like. 😉

But Dalton loves me anyways. He delights in who I am regardless of the state of my hair or the number the scale shows. He’s one of those people who would love me, care for me and treasure me even if I were burned tremendously and lost my limbs. His love is not shallow.

  • He loves me when I’m sinning

Dalton loves me even during the moments where I am full of sin. I’ve argued, gossiped, complained, belittled, disrespected and dishonored this man. Yet, despite it all, he loves me even while I’m sinning. His love is not conditional.

  • He loves me when I am destructive

There are times when I let my insecurities, anxieties, fears and past experiences make me destructive. Have you ever fallen into a pit of despair resulting in a hatred of everything you are and represent? Me too.

The best thing is when you have a person who sees you in all your misery yet stands by your side. These people remind you of who you are in Christ and what He has accomplished in and through you. Dalton is this person; even when I’m destructive he stands by me loving me. His love is not afraid to stand up to my bullies.

  • He loves me into forgiveness

Because Dalton loves me he loves me into forgiveness. As Dalton’s sister-in-Christ he does not turn a blind eye to my sin but confronts, lovingly, the sin I stumble in. His love is not condemning but life-giving. He points me to my Savior’s promise of forgiveness, sanctification and grace. His love is heaven-minded.

Loving someone past the roses and butterflies stage requires you to face their faults, ugliness, sinful nature and destructiveness and love them in spite of it.

Loving someone means loving them for who they are and not for how they make you feel.

Because if my husband based his love for me on how I made him feel he’d have left a long time ago.

Honestly, this is the kind of love we should exhibit for all our relationships. It can be challenging to love our friends, coworkers, church family for who they are and not for how they make us feel but it is necessary.

Let’s be a people who are known for enlarged hearts and love the person and not love itself.

With love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie

How To Develop an (Awesome) Relationship with Your Mother-in-Law

What to Develop a Relatinship with Your Mother-in-Law?

We all know the traditional, stereotypical relationship expected between mother and daughter in-laws. (Cue snarky, drama-filled movies … should I get the popcorn and tissues?) 😉

And, honestly, developing an awesome relationship with your mother-in-law can be difficult.

But I believe it is totally worth it.

I’m not naïve in believing all in-laws relationships will be perfect; far from it! But I am a big believer in loving people through their (and our) imperfections and letting the love of Christ work relationships even in the most prickly situations.

Over the course of our marriage I’ve discovered a few ways to purposefully build a relationship with my mother-in-law (whose an awesome lady, by the way). These simple, every day opportunities have helped me build a great relationship with the woman who has loved my husband a lot longer then I. 😉

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”] Pursue Relationship[/pullquote]

There’s the saying “You can either be right or act right” and it’s incredibly true. As Christian women we have the opportunity to choose between being right or acting right and sometimes it’s a hard choice!

Pursuing a relationship with your mother-in-law means pursuing acting right instead of being right. When we pursue a relationship with our husbands we choose to love even when he’s being unloveable. We choose to see the best in him, choose to overlook irritations, and when we have to address issues we do it lovingly.

It’s the same way with your mother-in-law. If you want an awesome relationship with your mother-in-law (and you do!) practice pursuing a relationship with her over pursuing being right.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Expect Differences[/pullquote]

There is no way around it — your mother-in-law and you will have differences. She has a lifetime of experience, insight, mistakes and victories. You have a lifetime of the same. Most likely you’ll be two totally different personalities (she’s an early riser who runs her own business and you’re a stay-at-home, late-riser busy with home things; at least that’s my story). 😉

Maybe the only common thing between you is the love you both have for her son.

When we learn to expect and appreciate the differences in our mother-in-laws personality we begin to build relationship and foster friendship.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Communicate with Your Spouse[/pullquote]

So. So. So important.

Be open with your spouse about the struggles (or amazingness) of your relationship with your mother-in-law; after all, your man will probably have some insight into the woman he grew up with. 😉

However, this is not the place to nag, complain or belittle. Please, just don’t. Nothing is accomplished through complaining about your in-laws except alienating your spouse and providing bitterness a place to grow.

Instead, pray together over the difficulties you’re experiencing. Be constructive and purposeful in your discussions. Be honest without being mean.

Do this behind the scenes and you’re one step closer to developing a relationship with your mother-in-law.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Set Boundaries[/pullquote]

In every good relationship boundaries exist. This can be difficult and, thankfully, I have a great mom-in-law who is proactive in this area. With your spouse decide what boundaries are necessary for you and your marriage.

There will be days when saying no to your mother-in-law (and even mom!) will be necessary; learn to be okay with this! Graciously and lovingly stand unified with your spouse and hold to the boundaries you’ve set.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Discover Her Love Language[/pullquote]

Whether you know it or not, your mother-in-law is a human being; she has fears, dreams and preferred ways of loving and being loved. Take the time to uncover the treasure she is meant to be.

One way to do that is to discover what her love language is. Is she quality time? Then don’t lather her with gifts. Does she love her people through acts of service? Then pursue loving her the same way.

While loving people according to their love language isn’t a fix all it is one way to build friendship and understanding — two necessary elements of having an awesome relationship with your mom-in-law.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Love Humbly[/pullquote]

At the end of the day having a relationship with your mother-in-law simply means loving her humbly. Remember what love is: love is patient, kind, not proud and full of goodwill.

And you’re going to get a lot of practice loving.

Your mother-in-law may be prickly, absent, or obsessive; she may also be elegant, gentle and Christ-filled. No matter how she acts she is your opportunity to let Christ work through you and in you. Allow your Lord to work proactive, grace-filled, powerful love in you toward your mother-in-law.

And enjoy the benefits that grow.

How have you purposefully developed a relationship with someone the world tells you you’ll oppose? Share your ideas and heart with us. Let’s grow together in grace and community!

With love, blessings and alotta coffee (lately 😉 )

Frannie

Christmas for the Newlywed: Where to Go

Where to Go for Christmas as Newlyweds

Christmas is my most favorite holiday. Growing up my parents made sure the Christmas holiday was full of smiles, fun traditions and well-gifted presents. Honestly, I should write a book about my holiday memories as a child in Alaska.

Needless to say, I desperately wanted my first Christmas as a new bride to be spectacular. I knew our budget would be tight and our schedule even tighter since Dalton worked Christmas day (with no weekends off). I also knew that marrying someone’s son meant that my life was about to be enriched with someone else’s traditions, expectations and experiences for the holidays.

I knew that everyone wants a piece of you around the holidays.

So where’s a newlywed couple to go during the holidays? Should they split their time evenly between families? Celebrate early? Spend Christmas Eve with one set and plan Christmas day with the other? Should they hole themselves up like little Christmas rats refusing extended holiday cheer for the sake of establishing their own traditions?

#tbh, this dilemma causes unnecessary stress for newly married folk all the time.

Because I’ve been there and experienced the drama holidays can bring I’m going to share 3 ways I’ve learned to lower holiday stress and help decide where to celebrate Christmas joyfully.

Communicate with Your Spouse

A lot of frustration and stress needlessly takes place when we fail to communicate our holiday expectations and hopes with our spouse. If celebrating Christmas eve with your family is important mention that during the planning phase. If your husband secretly hopes for Christmas ham but doesn’t communicate you’ll feel sorry for baking the duck instead. It may feel ridiculous to explain that you’d enjoy Christmas day in your own home but it’s more ridiculous to be angry at your sweet hearted man because he missed the (unspoken) memo.

Communication between husband and wife — even when you feel silly — is the most important step for having a stress-free, rewarding holiday season.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries for what you need as a couple is vital for having a stress-free holiday.

Naturally, you’ll want to reply yes to all of the rsvps and invitations sent your way. Nobody wants to be a who Scrooge avoids extended family celebrations (humbug!). However, as a couple, you need to decide what boundaries are necessary for you to set up. You can’t say yes to everything without over extending your energy, budget and sanity.

Love Your Neighbor (and family members) as Christ Loves You

i.e: be patient, understanding and forgiving.

There will be holidays when everything does not go as planned. Especially your first away from home. Expect your mom to melt down when you can’t be home for Christmas eve and love her through her disappointment and frustration. Prepare your heart to be patient when your in-laws do things differently than you hoped. Choose to let the love of Christ reign over your heart even when you’re tired, stressed and upset over the burnt pies you were in charge of.

(Because you will burn something.) 😉

Most importantly, choose to seek you mate’s heart throughout the Christmas season. There will be moments when the Christmas season feels stress-filled but purpose to love and pursue your mate’s heart through those moments.

Because after all the dinners have been ate and presents unwrapped you’re still with your person. Let your mate know that through all the changes, stress and celebrations you’re still grateful to have their love and friendship. And that you’re so thankful to have Christmas as a newlywed.

With love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie