Standing at the altar, you have no idea what lies ahead. Oh, you’ve heard stories. And countless people–like everyone in your church, neighborhood, on the job, and at your local grocery–have bombarded you with advice: marriage takes work. Always be ready to forgive. Learn to eat burned food (kinda wish someone would’ve told my hubby that one. *sheepish grin*). The list goes on.
But then life happens, and this love thing becomes harder than you’ve ever anticipated.
Today a sweet friend and very talented and giving author, Ane Mulligan, shares her thoughts on this thing called marriage, AND she’s got a hugely fun give-away going to help celebrate her debut, Chapel Springs Revival, which I hear is HILARIOUS! (Details below)
But first, I wanted to share a fun video created by one of my favorite preachers, Francis Chan. Enjoy:
On Marriage by Ane Mulligan
Twenty years ago or so, I heard two young women in a church hallway complaining about their husbands. Let’s face it; we all joke about men coming from Mars and women from Venus, but that’s not what they were doing. They were stirring the water in a bitter well.
Another Sunday, I overheard another conversation (yes, I’m a writer and we tend to eavesdrop). It went something like this:
“I just learned that God has the perfect mate all picked out for each of us, and we’re supposed to pray to find that person.”
“I didn’t do that! I didn’t know. So, that must mean Sam* isn’t the one God wants me married to.”
Uh-oh. The conversation went downhill from there to include the word “divorce.” I later pulled her aside for a “Titus 2:4” moment.
If a woman wasn’t a Christian before she married, God still knew her. He knew his plans for her. Jer 29:11. Her husband is His will for her.
I’m not talking about women in abusive marriages. That’s totally different.
The thing so many young women forget is marriage isn’t what the movies or secular romance novels show. Marriage is a contract. A commitment. For better or worse, the vows say. When we make this commitment, God expects us to stay committed to our marriage.
That takes making a purposeful decision to not dwell on our husbands’ faults. Oh, I know they have them; but so do we. Years ago, I found myself focusing on my husband’s faults. Jesus said we can’t get bitter and sweet water from the same well. When we start down that path, we lose sight of their good qualities.
Things went from bad to worse. Finally I got tired of trying to change my husband. I was out of love. There wasn’t a drop of sweet water left in the well. I knew what I’d been doing but I didn’t know how to fix it.
“Lord, I give up. I don’t know what you want, but from now on, I’m going to concentrate on You and me. Change me, Lord. I’ll leave my husband to You.”
I’m sure you can guess what happened. God changed me, but at the same time, my husband changed. I began to see his wonderful qualities and all the things he did for me. The well water became sweet again.
That’s when I realized if we don’t workout our love, it becomes like a muscle that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years—flabby. And stale. And atrophied.
Yes, love is a decision that demands commitment and work. But what a sweet ride it can be. Guard you love, your hearts, and your marriages.
With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.
Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.
With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
GIVE-AWAY DETAILS: Leave it to the crazy, hilarious, and insanely creative (or just insane? 😉 ) Ane Mulligan to come up with perhaps the funnest give-away EVER!
Today’s stops and there’s 4! Good luck.
Here! (As a fun aside, I’m on her blog today, too. Which I find incredibly cool because Ane has been a huge influence in my writing career. She ran the ACFW Scribes class when I first joined ACFW and taught me to use strong, vivid verbs. She taught me to name–be specific about sensory details (saying she smelled the faint scent of lilacs rather than flowers to trigger a deeper response in my reader), and I could go on. And on. And on, as could every other ACFW member, I’m sure!
She will also be on:
3 Men Walk Into a Blog
1. Each day you leave a comment on this blog during September, your name goes into the drawing.
2. Leave a comment on each of the blogs I’m on that day, and each one will earn you another name in the drawing. (For instance, if I’m on 3 blogs that day, and you leave a comment on each of them, you’ll get your name into the drawing 3 more times.)
3. If you post on your Facebook page that you have commented on a blog I’m on, tag me, and give the link, you get your name in two (2) extra times.
4. Tweet and tag me, giving the link, and your name goes in another time.
5. Google+ the same as #3, and you’ll get our name in two (2) extra times.
Today’s BONUS entries:
What do I believe about coffee?
What does Jennifer write?
Who are the 3 men in that blog linked to above?
As an aside, I’ve been told readers have had a tough time leaving comments. If you find this to be the case, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll manually enter your comment.
Are you married? If so, what has been the biggest surprise in terms of sticking it out? Have you ever come close to calling it quits? What helped you persevere? How can we as parents help prepare our kids to work toward lifelong commitment once they get married?
Perhaps you’re divorced. Looking back over your marriage, can you see things you wished you’d done differently? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.
My debut novel, Beyond I Do, addresses a bit of what we’re talking about today. As Ainsley Meadows’ wedding day draws near, nigglings of doubt begin to arise, leaving her unsettled. As she prays about this, she realizes something huge has been missing in her wedding plans–prayer itself! She was so swept away by the flowers and romance, she failed to take time to seek God’s guidance. These doubts grow to gut-knotting confusion when an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks within her a passion and ignites a long-hidden dream, one that threatens to change EVERYTHING! Read more here. You can buy it here! (or get an autographed copy at Takin’ it to the Streets’ Hope for the Homeless event.)
Other posts and articles you might enjoy:
AND, where I’ve been this week:
Don’t Be Discouraged or Afraid
5 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Needs From You
Thanks for having me on your blog, Jennifer! God’s blessings on your book as well!
It was such a blessing, and what a thought-provoking post. 🙂 Blessings to your launch as well, friend!
Great interview on marriage.. Great advice & examples. I totally agree that God should be first & in control. We’ve always practiced – For a good marriage you have to work on it. Treat your spouse better that you want to be treated 🙂 Trust the Lord that you will have a good marriage with His guidance.. My children seem to truly enjoy being WITH their spouses. Best friends 🙂 PTL
Oh, I like that: “Always treat your spouse better than you want to be treated.” I need to work on that. I tend to me-centered first and have to remind myself to focus on others. My husband is way better in that department than I am. What a blessing it must be to see your children enjoying a happy and intimate marriage! Do you believe they learned the tools to grow that relationship from watching you and your husband? I believe children learn so much from watching us, more than we even realize.
Hi Jen., I wish I had made some different choices in life where I would not have had failed in the marriage department. Every marriage needs to work at their relationship day by day. Such an important message and Anne, although I could easily do my own stirring in the bitter well, I will NOT because you are right on. That is not what God has called us to do. Thanks for this great blog.
😦 Hugs, my friend!
Deanna, you aren’t alone in that! I’m always getting myself in the way of everything. But later I find everything goes better when I do it God’s way. Go figure, eh? LOL
Beth, I think TV and movies give women a false sense of soul mates who never ever have a disagreement, then when reality sets in, they feel cheated. It’s truly a commitment. There may be times when a couple has no love left. But God can change that. I know. 🙂 May He richly bless you!