Being intentional about anything is always the best way to make it better. Whether we are talking eating right, clearing the clutter, having quiet time with the Lord, or loving on our man. As we wrap up our study this week with all of our friends at Proverbs 31, I want to encourage you with 5 ways to keep The Husband Project going.
- Add a reminder to your calendar for at least 2x per month to do something intentional just for him. Maybe it’s to pick up a treat for him, make him his favorite dinner, a massage, or 30 minutes of free time carved out for him to recharge.
- Add your man to your prayer journal. Praying for your marriage is a great way to be intentional and praying specifically for God to move in your husband’s life through you and in every facet of his day will build him up.
- Buy a pack of post-it notes and then use them. Buy a pack that are just for him (maybe they are blue or heart shaped) and write an encouraging word for him. Leave one in his car, his lunch, on his pillow, in his suitcase, on his mirror… you get the idea. Doing this at least once a month will show him you are thinking about him and grateful for all he does.
- Break out the lingerie. Girls, if this project was the first time you’ve whipped out the lingerie in months/years/decades, vow to bring it out more. Has it been an especially tense week for your guy at work? Lingerie. Did the teenager disrespect him? Lingerie. Are you in a really great mood today? Lingerie. Did you have two cups of afternoon coffee? Lingerie. Find an excuse to bring it out rather than excuse to keep it in the drawer.
- Make sure you are signed up to receive my blog and newsletter in your inbox because… Every 2 months we will be doing a special 5 day mini-project. We’ll get together and encourage each other, build each other up and of course share all of the great ideas you have with all our new friends dedicated to their marriages. Our first 5 day project will be in late September!Sign up by clicking here and when you do you’ll receive by ebook, 14 Ways to Have a Happier Husband.
*Bonus idea: get out your journal, or a piece of paper, or type on your computer. Write down all of the benefits you’ve seen from doing this study. From your heart, to his reactions, to your children’s responses to mom loving on dad more intentionally. Write it down. And when you get discouraged about your marriage, go back to this list.
My father-in-law regularly repeats a joke that used to do the macarena on my last nerve. “Your mom and I have a great relationship. Want to know the secret?” he’d ask my husband and me with a smirk. “Low expectations.”
As a woman of exceedingly high standards for myself and my relationships, I’d snort, roll my eyes, and think, “How sad!” Twenty six years of marriage and about a decade of personal soul searching have changed my view of the joke, however. My father-in-law is on to something.
I was the woman who dragged a whole train of expectations down the aisle with my white dress, and it hasn’t served me well. A long list of lies shot those expectations full of steroids.
Before I broke up with perfect, I said things to myself like “I always need to be my most perfect self.” That’s been replaced with a commitment to be my truest self. (Shaky sigh of relief.) I once truly believed that I could make the pictures of perfection in my head come to life, but now I’m content to live in the blessing of my reality. I used to measure the perfection of my marriage by holding it up to others. These days I focus on the gifts of the man that’s perfect for me instead!
Probably the worst lie I believed was this: I should help my beloved live up to his potential.
It sounded so pretty when I said it with my sweet southern accent, but the heart of the lie was rotten. I suspect I’m not the only one who bought the lie, though. You know the drill. “It’s not criticism. It’s help.” “It’s not manipulation. It’s showing him the right way to do things.” “I’m just encouraging him to have high standards, don’t you know?” Mercy.
We go into a relationship because of admiration, but somehow a growing level of commitment shifts us into improvement mode. He’s wonderful, but… He’s almost perfect, if only…
When I met my husband Barry, I was most attracted to the bold and hilarious way he spoke his mind. I love to tell people that he’s reverent about God, but everything else is fair game! Barry had this “good girl” in daily gales of laughter about the edgiest things.
Somehow the switch flipped after we married, though. He didn’t change a bit, but my attitude did. I was nervous when I didn’t know what he’d say, and I thought I could make him even more wonderful by refining his verbal filter. Needless to say, that belief wasn’t very popular.
Relationships shatter when we value perfection over people.
Sadly, it took years for me to realize the damage I was doing with my pick-you-apart methods, but thankfully my husband isn’t just funny. He’s also one of the most grace-filled people I know.
I asked Barry recently what expectations he brought into our marriage, and he seemed puzzled. “I expected to love you and for you to love me,” he replied simply, and I realized he was being honest. That’s a shocking statement for a woman who believes in the power of a life-changing tweak!
Click to Download Day One of Breaking Up with Perfect
For twenty-six years, Barry’s greatest gift to me has been that he truly lets me just be without an agenda to improve me. The trick for us reforming perfectionists is to learn to return the gift, and I’m determined that’s just what I’m going to do for Barry for the next twenty-six years plus.
This week I’m finishing up Kathi’s 21-day challenge in The Husband Project, and she’s been a huge encouragement all the way through. Almost every day in one way or another she’s urged all the participants to lower our expectations. Live in the real world. Give yourself (and your husband BTW) grace.
Kathi’s absolutely right. For about five years, I’ve been breaking up with expectations, lies, and mental pictures of perfection, and my marriage is the happiest it’s ever been.
It’s been a journey, but I’m now convinced. Low expectations add the gift of joy to our marriage. When unconditional love is elevated and perfectionism is banished, two individuals experience the freedom to grow into a bonded unit where happiness thrives.
That kind of marriage is even better than perfect, so next time, I’ll look my father-in-law in the eye, rare back, and laugh myself silly at his joke!
Author: Amy Carroll is the author of Breaking Up with Perfect and a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She lives in NC with her husband and a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.
Join Amy for a FREE online book study of Breaking Up with Perfect from Aug. 1-September 5. Find out all the details about joining in the fun and community by clicking here.
Having trouble with the Husband Project when you’re not in the best place in your marriage? You are not alone.
It’s hard to talk about, but some marriages are difficult and you may be doing the Husband Project Online Bible Study with Proverbs 31 Ministries, but your heart is just not in it.
In this episode, I talk with Fawn Weaver who has interviewed over 110 couples around the world to see what common threads could be found in strong, happy marriages. What she found is surprisingly empowering.
Listen in to hear her tips on how to find hope when there is a marital mismatch or if you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re stuck.
Mentioned in this episode:
Fawn Weaver’s TedTalk “The Argument Free Marriage“
One of our favorite getaway spots is a little bed-and-breakfast in the mountains. When you ask my husband why he likes it so much, you very well might hear about the cheese and cracker plate with fruit that is always waiting for us when we arrive. My thought has always been, Great, we just spent the equivalent of a month’s worth of groceries on a cheese and cracker plate.
Why we love a good bed-and-breakfast
What is it about the bed-and-breakfast experience that makes us want to fork over upwards of $200 a night to sleep on somebody else’s sheets and eat clotted eggs in the morning?
- The room is cleaned every day. Now I know some of you actually do this but it doesn’t matter. It’s so much better and it just feels cleaner when somebody else does it for you.
- The bed is made. Now I know I’m spoiled, because my husband makes the bed every day. But, how great is it when you’re gone even for just half an hour, you come back and the bed is done up. The pillows are fluffed and there’s a little mint sitting there waiting to be indulged in. There is no better feeling on the planet.
Back home and back to reality
Sadly, most of us can’t afford to camp out in the local bed-and-breakfast on a regular basis. So it’s probably time to bring some of that bed-and-breakfast experience home.
Here are a few simple tips from designer and author Kathryn Bechen to help you get that restful and relaxed feeling in your own bedroom:
- Clutter cutter. Declutter your bedroom when you begin your fluff-up. Nothing kills romance faster than a pile of dusty magazines and techno paraphernalia. (More on this on podcast episode #136 Clutter Free Romance & blog post Declutter Your Way to a Better Marriage)
- Maid brigade. Next are the dust rag and vacuum. Turn on some music and make it fun!
- Sensuous sheets. Purchase some colorful new sheets in a pattern you love with a thread count of at least 300.
- Divine duvet. Invest in a pretty new duvet cover or bedspread. It will freshen up the room instantly.
- Pillow pizzazz. Some new pillows and pillowcases that coordinate with your sheets and duvet will add softness to your bed.
- Flower finesse. Buy some fresh flowers and put them in a favorite vase.
- Candle cozy. A few flickering candles will add instant romance to your new B&B bedroom.
- Music magic. Now for some light jazz or classical music to set the tone for the evening.
- TV tune-out. Unless you and your mate purposely choose to watch a funny or romantic movie together, turn the TV off.
- Tray of delights. Bring in a drink and cheese tray with some fresh fruit, dim the lights, and you’re on your way to a lovely and romantic stay in your very own Bed & Breakfast Inn bedroom. Enjoy!
Chocolate Dipped Fruit
1 pkg. milk chocolate morsels (11½ ounces/2 cups)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
Strawberries, grapes, bananas, apples, kiwi, or pineapple
Melt milk chocolate morsels and shortening over hot (not boiling) water; stir until smooth. Remove from heat, but keep over hot water. (If chocolate thickens, return to heat; stir until smooth.) Dip pieces of fruit into chocolate; gently shake off excess. Place on foil-lined cookie sheets. Chill 10-15 minutes until chocolate is set. Peel off foil. Fruit may be kept at room temperature up to 1 hour. If chocolate becomes sticky, return to refrigerator. Makes 1 cup melted chocolate. In microwave, melt on high 1 minute; stir. Repeat.
A few other creative tips:
- My husband loves a special kind of root beer that we used to not be able to keep stocked in the house (teenagers!). I would hide it under the veggies in the crisper – no chance of the kids looking there.
- If your husband gets home before you do, plan ahead by hiding a treat in the fridge for him. Call during the day to let him know it’s waiting for him.
Giveaways Week 3!
If you haven’t yet, go to my Facebook page to like and follow my Kathi Lipp page, and then answer the question of the day for your chance to win a “My Husband is a Hottie” t-shirt. Check out the page each day for a new question and get in on the conversation about loving your husband!
Are you married to a non-Christian? Do you have friends that are?
For the Husband Project, I really want women to see God active in their marriages whether they have a pre-believing spouse or a believing spouse.
That is why I am speaking with Dineen Miller and Lynn Donovan who co-wrote the book Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and host the website Spiritually Unequal Marriage. In this episode we will gain wisdom of what we can do for our husbands regardless of whether or not he is a believer and how we can be a better friend to those who are married to non-Christian husbands.
Another great book Dineen and Lynn wrote is Not Alone: Trusting God to Help You Raise Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home.
guest post by Kim Nowlin
One way we show our husbands we love them is by looking our best each day. Does that mean I am wearing a ball gown and full makeup everyday when he comes home? Not at all. In fact, there are seasons — think just had a baby — when you are lucky to get a shower each day. Let alone dress for your day! It’s about intention — “How can I look as good as possible when we come together again at the end of the day?” Sometimes all this means is you’re putting on a fresh pair of sweats and freshening up before he gets home.
As you go through The Husband Project Bible Study, I encourage you to dress each day to please your husband.
Here are some simple tips to dress to impress:
Dress for the season you are in: Looking your best does not require becoming a fashionista if that’s not your thing. The goal is to look our best in the season we are in. For example, I’m a stay at home mom who is occasionally a speaker at women’s events, so my wardrobe is primarily made up of jeans and t-shirts. The rest of my clothes dress up my everyday look — blazers, cardigans, and accessories. Nothing fancy! But my husband sees me in different versions of my “uniform” each day. And I am always dressed for my day when he comes home.
Dress for your day: Every day I “dress for my day” — somedays I am home all day doing chores, so I might have on my sweats. Before my husband comes home I make sure I take a few minutes to freshen up. On days I have dressed for being outside our home, I make sure I stay in that outfit until after he comes home and sees me before I change into something comfy.
Dress for your husband: Your husband may not care anything about fashion and may act like he doesn’t care about what you wear — dress to please him anyway. Show him you care about yourself and him by looking your best each day. If he communicates preferences, honor them whenever possible. For example, my husband loves my lips and likes to see them in red lipstick. He does not like to kiss my lipstick. Before he gets home I take off my lipstick so he has fresh lips to kiss.
Dressing for bed: I don’t know about you, but I am not into lingerie at all! I prefer t-shirts and shorts — preferably cotton. Thankfully, you can still show up to sexy time looking and feeling your best. You can find cute, comfy, sexy pajamas in a number of places — Target is my favorite. Not feeling super great about your body? Find the pieces showing off your best features in fabrics and colors making you feel great.
And remember — out of all the women in the world, he chose YOU! As Kathi says, “be visually generous” with your husband. Yours’ is the body he gets and wants to look at — dress it to please him!
Kim Nowlin is the Assistant Pastor at Valley Life Foursquare Church, in Santa Clara, and a Mentor Mom for MOPS.
With a background in fashion, most recently as a Personal Stylist for Anthropologie, Kim assists women in creating a Clutter Free Wardrobe that will enhance their true beauty in Christ.
Kim has been married to David for 15 years. They have two children, Olivia (13), and Adam (11).