We love buying farm fresh produce, but let’s be real, Roger and I are both busy, and another thing… we don’t live on a farm. So, we decided to grow a few things in our own garden, well, actually it is a planter on the back patio, but for us, we felt like urban farmers.
Every day we went out to check on our little garden. As the leaves grew and little buds formed we enjoyed the daily routine of caring for our thriving plants and looked forward to the day when we could enjoy the fruit of our labor, literally.
It was a wonderful day in the Lipp Household when we plucked our first tomato off the vine.
How funny that we can get so intent on growing a vegetable, and yet how easy it is to get distracted from growing something much more valuable, our marriage.
It is so easy to focus on the mountain of little things that feel urgent on a day to day basis, but make it a priority to balance them out with what is truly important.
Busy happens, we need to recapture some of the fun things that drew us to our spouse. Whether it is a date-night, a simple gesture of kindness, or spending time with other couples, shake up the routine.
Just like our tomato took time and patience, we need to nurture a healthy relationship with our spouse. We didn’t flood our little “garden” once and walk away, hoping it would fend for itself. We made it a daily routine to make sure it was thriving.
There are seasons in life, but whether you have been married for a few years or a few decades, we can all benefit from savoring simple moments with the one we vowed to love, honor, and cherish.
How about you? Maybe you could use some fun and fresh ideas to nurture your relationship?
Join me as I visit with Focus on the Family on how to add some pep into your marriage.
Paper piles covering every flat surface, even though I created a file system for them.
Love is not easily angered.
How many times do I have to remind him there is a container for the chips?
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
These are the thoughts and frustrations that run through my mind every time my husband’s messy tendencies conflict with my organized ways. You would think that after 25 years of marriage I’d be used to it.
When I married Clint I knew what I was getting into. I didn’t marry him for his organizational skills, but rather for his sense of humor, good looks, and kind ways. Plus, I was certain being married to me would cure him of his disorganization.
I was wrong.
Our polar opposite personalities and different ways of keeping things in order clashed from the get-go. We struggled and fought. In the end, I had to learn how to balance my orderly style with his not-so-organized ways.
Love Paves the Way
It wasn’t easy, but hope and LOVE made all the difference.
LOVE paves the way
Since our marriage was a relationship grounded in God, it seemed like the best place for me to search for answers in dealing with my disorganized spouse would be God’s Word. I was certain that I would find the evidence I needed to change Clint to my tidy way of living.
Once again, I was wrong.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes, “ Love is patient, love is kind … it keeps no record of wrong.” I wonder if Paul knew how desperately some “Odd Couples” would need to hear those words in order to live as one.
Rather than give me the weapons I was looking for, God’s Word showed me how to express LOVE to Clint in ways that would honor him, our marriage, and our home.
Express Love to Your Spouse
Learn your spouse’s organizing style. Organizing isn’t one-size-fits all. In fact, each of us has our own way of keeping order. As much as I wanted Clint to be organized like me, he had his own style.
Once I recognized his style – no lidded containers, simple in function, and everything in view – it made it easier for me to create order for both of us. By honoring who he was, and how God created him, I was able to find a balance both of us could work with.
A marriage is made up of two unique individuals. I needed to stop trying to make him just like me and appreciate the man he was.
Offer to compromise. In a perfect world, everyone would be organized. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and often times those we love are not as organized as we’d like them to be.
While we could insist they do things our way, God reminded me that love is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:5). That’s where compromise comes in.
Rather than demand that every inch of the house be in perfect order, here are a few compromises I suggested:
• Offering one or two “messy zones” that he is free to keep as he pleases.
• Determining together which spaces in the house should be clutter-free and which everyone has to make an effort to keep orderly.
• Setting terms for dealing with unwanted stuff – agreeing to declutter twice a year with a goal of getting rid of at least 50 items.
Compromise is never easy, but it’s a necessary component of marriage and the organizing journey.
Verbalize your feelings, but don’t nag. While it can be frustrating to see the piles and chaos that disorganized spouses can leave in their wake, constantly pointing out those tendencies will not bring order to your home.
Statements such as, “Why can’t you put the chips back where they belong?” or “You always leave your socks on the floor” don’t exactly convey loving sentiments. Rather, statements like these that can put your spouse on the defensive and make you sound like a quarrelsome wife (Prov. 19:13, 21:9, 25:24).
Instead of bringing up his organizational shortcomings, why not try statements such as:
• “Honey, did you know that there is a basket specifically for the chips in the pantry?” or
• “It really bothers me when you leave your socks on the floor all the time. Could you pick them up more often and place them in the hamper?”
Words Have Power
Our words have the power of life and death and a gentle answer can turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1). They might just lead to order too.
Exemplify. It’s unlikely that your nagging or anger will be what brings your spouse to the light of organized living. I’ve learned from personal experience that setting the example first has more influence and impact than words or fights could ever have.
Truly, actions speak louder than words (1 Peter 3:1). Over time my consistent organized ways and habits eventually began to rub off on my husband. In the past few years I’ve seen Clint become more orderly – he makes to-do lists on a regular basis, he purges his clothes before we go shopping, and I’ve even caught him using my label maker!
I can’t say that he’s organized with everything, but he’s definitely not the same man I married all those years ago. Sometimes the best thing a wife can do is be the example for her spouse, even in the little things.
Early in our marriage, I questioned whether two people on different ends of the organizing spectrum could make it work under one roof. I was certain that he was the one who needed to change. Eventually, I realized that the only person I can change is myself.
While our home isn’t perfectly organized, the truth of God’s Word, the hope that things could change, and a lot of LOVE have allowed us to have a home that’s as clutter-free as can be.
How could LOVE make a difference with your not-so-organized spouse?
Liana George is an organizer, writer, and speaker. Her mission is to inspire others in transforming their chaos into an organized lifestyle. Liana is married to Clint and together they have two adult daughters. When Liana isn’t organizing something you can find her curled up with a good book, watching/playing tennis, or planning her next dive adventure. You can visit her website at bygeorgeorganizing.com.
Valentine’s Day is great—it nudges us to celebrate romance. But we don’t want to celebrate only on special occasions, not when we can weave romance into the rhythm of our lives.
How do we keep celebrating romance all year long?
Between kids and jobs, home responsibilities and extended family, it is easy to let our marriage relationships go on auto pilot. But if we want to have a good marriage, a romance-filled marriage, we choose to be intentional about it.
We love intentionally
1. Discovering the best in our partner — every day — and celebrating it. Set this standard in your marriage and hold on to even in the most stressful times. Nothing builds romance like knowing your husband well and expressing appreciation for those things that are easily taken for granted.
2. Speaking to each other with respect. It makes me so uncomfortable to overhear couples speaking sarcastically to each other. It is a bad habit we fall into without even being aware of it. It costs nothing to speak well to each other. And when we don’t — it’s a romance-buster.
3. Dating each other. Dating is what helps us fall in love in the first place. It is the thing that most married couples give up first after saying “I do.” But dating is a great way to take a little retreat from those things that can pull us away from each other. At first you may have to look at dating as a project – setting aside time, money and energy for something (or someone) that is important.
I know that it can be expensive to date, but if you are creative, you can have a great date without breaking the bank. You can find inexpensive date ideas here. The point is, to go out and have some fun, to recapture a little of that romance you had early on and saying, you know what? We enjoy being together. We like each other.
4. Doing thoughtful little things. Little things add up to ongoing romance. Write a love note, buy him his favorite sweet treat, send a flirty text – have fun with it! Just let your man know you think about him when you’re apart. Do some of the little things you did when you were falling in love. There is real impact in doing these simple things, they say to your husband, “You matter so much to me.”
They sparked romance before, and they can ignite it again.
In our marriage, we learned that more effort had to be put in after the vows than before them. Today, I see my husband die to self every day to make sure that I know I am loved and that I’m happy. And I try to do the same for him. I can’t think of a better way to be married than how we are right now. It took us a long time to get there – we had to get past some things – but I can’t imagine anything better.
When we choose to love intentionally – by design and not by default – our wedding day becomes the beginning of a great romance story, not the end of it.
This question comes up a lot when I’m speaking: What should I do when my husband is overwhelmed?
And I get it – we are all looking for ways to connect during the hardest times.
His struggle could be because of work – or finances. Or there’s stuff going on with his parents, or in your family. Whatever the reason, we all know when it’s happening.
Maybe he gets really quiet and withdrawn. He may be in a place where talking about it (or about anything,) is overwhelming. He’s exhausted, so either he sleeps all the time or he doesn’t sleep at all.
You know what it looks like for your man. But when you see it happening, don’t just wait for the wave to pass. There are things you can do to actively help your man during this difficult time.
Here are ten things you the right away when you realize your husband is overwhelmed:
1. Feed Him Food. It makes him feel like everything might be okay for just this one hour. I don’t want it to seem like I’m making our guys into cavemen, but there is something about knowing where his next meal is coming from that can really make a man feel more secure. Cook him one of his favorites. 2. Brag on Him. Let him hear you bragging on him – to your friend, to your kids, to his mom. Pick one thing he did this week (went to work on a hard day, played tickle monster with the kids,) and make sure he knows how much it meant to you. 3. Unburden Him. Are there things around the house your husband normally does, that you, (or an older child) can do for him right now? Even hiring a teenager to mow the lawn could be just what your husband needs to know that you’ve got his back. 4. Seduce Him Again. Not trying to go caveman here, but sex is — for most men — the best tension reliever. Setting aside some time will do more for your husband than just about anything else. However, if sex is an area of discouragement, offer a no-strings-attached massage, or head, hand or foot rub. 5. Date Him. Plan a date geared for him. Take him to his favorite dinner spot and to a movie that involves a ball, something blowing up, or robots. 6. Treat Him. A Jamba Juice can improve my husband’s outlook on the world. Surprise him with a little something to let him know that you were thinking of him. 7. Encourage Him. One of the reasons your husband may feel overwhelmed is that he is feeling undervalued. What can you say to make him know that he is valued and respected? Tell him. Need some ideas to get your encouraging words flowing? Download my 21 Post-it-Note Encouragements. 8. Tag Him. Give your man a Facebook or Instagram shout-out and let the world know why he is just that awesome. 9. Pray for Him. Set an alarm on your phone and stop and pray for your husband every single day. Need some inspiration? It’s important to let your husband know you’re praying for him. Roger walks with new confidence when he knows I’ve got his back, prayer-wise. 10. Surprise Him. I have an alert on Amazon any time my man’s favorite author releases a new book. Surprise him with something he loves.
Valentine’s Day wreaks havoc on a girl with unrealistic expectations. I know. I’ve been there.
My husband, Mike, set the bar very high during our whirlwind courtship, fairytale wedding, and over-the-top honeymoon. He pursued me like a glass of cold water in the middle of a desert. He spoiled me with gifts and sent huge bouquets to my work (too big to fit on my desk!) He was a man on a mission. I felt loved and valued.
So, when we got married, I expected him to continue to pursue me with the same fervor he showed while dating.
Before you laugh, I felt justified in that expectation since he promised to pursue me in his wedding vows.
We were both naive to think we could pour into our marriage the same level of energy we had before the wedding. I brought an adorable daughter into our marriage (my second), and we added two more children to the mix in the first three years. Mike went from single to married father of three almost overnight.
Add to that a job change and a move and you can see how his focus necessarily changed. Any reasonable person might have given her husband a bit of slack in the area of creating romance. I can’t always claim that title.
I held on to my expectations, creating a bar too high for Mike to clear.
And little by little, the romance faded.
I wanted (expected) him to initiate dates with me and go all-out for birthdays and holidays. One of my top “love languages” is gifts. My expectations made it hard for him to feel confident in buying gifts. He thought it wouldn’t be enough (and, in all honesty, he might’ve been right). I expected thoughtful gifts that reflected his love for me and that showed he really knows my heart. (No pressure, right?)
Mike’s love language is acts of service. He’ll do anything for me: chores, filling the gas tank, he’ll even go grocery shopping. If it can be checked off a list, he’s happy to do it.
That’s all wonderful, but what I really wanted was to know that he still loved me as much as he did when we dated, when he expressed his love in ways that flooded my heart with joy. All his acts of service just weren’t doing that for me.
My expectation kept me from enjoying him in the present
Every time Valentine’s Day rolled around (or any other special occasion), my expectations soared and were dashed.
I knew Mike had it in him to shower me with romance and create a memorable day, but he didn’t. My disappointment festered.
Then, after a lot of pain and struggle, I laid down my “right” to be pursued and dated, and began to accept the husband God gave me.
Now, anything he does – a gift, a date, holding my hand on a walk, or simply cuddling on the couch to watch the latest installment of Victoria — I express my gratitude to him. More than that, I feel gratitude toward him. It’s a great place to be.
And you know what happened? He started exceeding my expectations!
If you have unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you can do:
1.Let your husband off the hook. He’s already proven his love to you. Let him know he doesn’t have to vault over the high bar of your expectations anymore. 2. Shower him with gratitude. If your husband gives you a Valentine’s Day gift or card, let him know you appreciate it. If he doesn’t, pick something else to express gratitude for. Focus on what he brings to the marriage. 3. Accept your reality. Celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that works for you, your unique marriage and your season in life.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie – or even a Hallmark commercial – to be special. Celebrate the man God gave you, not the fantasy of who you think he should be. Celebrate your love free of unrealistic expectations and I promise you’ll have more fun!
Elizabeth M. Thompson is an inspirational writer and speaker who helps women lead Scripture-based, Spirit-graced lives. She lives in Gold River, CA, with her family and enjoys kayaking and walking along the American River with her two adventurous dogs. Connect with her at www.elizabethmthompson.com