A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 3- Prayer for Struggling Marriages

Image Last night my husband and I were up late, reflecting on our own relationship, as well as the good and bad seasons that we’ve had so far in our almost 3 year-long marriage. Currently, we are in a very happy season; we’re getting along very well, enjoying each others’ company, and we’re feeling totally in love!

… but there is a reason why I call it a “season”. It isn’t always like this, and while I hope to have more happy seasons as our relationship grows and progresses, I know that there will be times, just like there already have been in the recent past, where we are at each others’ throats, so frustrated and irritated that we want to break things. In fact… that reminds me of a story…

On my husband’s new album, there is a song entitled “Up All Night”, and essentially it is about…. well, making up after an argument. It’s about transitioning from being up all night fighting to being up all night… doing something else. Get the picture? The lyrics were inspired by the many arguments and fights we’ve had in our marriage and how we’ve overcome them. Here are some of those lyrics:

Another fight tonight and,
I think we’ve had this one before.
By the light gotta catch my flight
But your words won’t budge, you’re blocking the door.
I know you wanna hit me,
I’ve lit a fire deep in your eyes.
I don’t know why every time I gotta try
To keep this up, I’m pushing for more.
You push my heart to the floor.

You keep me
Up all night,
Back up, I’m lovin’ it
Don’t hit the light
This is gonna take a little
Bit of Time
Oooh you know you’re driving me
Craaazzzy.

By the time we calm back down
The glass is smashed to the ground.
Both know what to say but we aint
Gonna break gonna make the first sound.
Your lips are looking sexy
If only we could apologize.
I see your frown turn upside down
Cause love aint lost, Love is found.

 

I was mad about something. At this point in time, I’m not sure what it was, but it’s safe to say that it may have had something to do with Dennis being late, me overreacting to something he said, or possibly even PMS. Anyway, we were arguing, and I was in the middle of telling Dennis about himself (it wasn’t very nice things), when he said the dreaded words: “I need to be alone. We will discuss this later.” To which he then turned, and walked into his office, shutting the door behind him.

He. Did. Not! My face was burning red. So I did what I now know is NEVER a good idea, and I followed him, flinging open the office door and blocking the entry way so he could not escape. I was literally trapping him in his office so we could have the discussion I wanted to have, which, as a tip ladies, never worked out for me. Meanwhile, this made Dennis feel pretty darn disrespected, so he probably said some things out of anger, to which I was made extremely angry. So angry in fact, that I decided I needed to throw something. Staring at him like I wanted to hit him, I saw a mason jar half full of water on his desk. In a few short steps, I walked over to the desk, picked it up, and, not even thinking about what the heck I was doing, I smashed the glass down to the floor.

Water splashed everywhere, threatening to ruin some of Dennis’ music equipment (by the grace of God, nothing was damaged), and tiny shards of glass littered his entire office floor. Since this little number left the doorway entirely open, Dennis took his opportunity and left the office, then the house. Image

Meanwhile, I was left crying hysterically, cleaning up water and broken shards of glass, hating myself for not controlling my emotions better and for resorting to something so childish as throwing things in a temper-tantrum.

A few hours later, when we had both calmed down, we realized how silly this fight was. We knew we loved each other and didn’t want to hurt one another as we had both done in the fight. We apologized, and (long-story-short) we made up. Afterwards, we spent a good amount of time assuring one another of our true feelings and attempting to take back the ugly words (or in my case, cups) we had previously flung at the other.

Can you see this fight reflected in the lyrics? Blocking the door, the fiery eyes, the smashing glass, the love afterwards?

It’s pretty much a given that, being married to a musician, my personal life may be getting sung about on stage at some point, so I’ve come to terms with this. That’s why I don’t feel too embarrassed telling you this story.

It also shows you that, as I pray for marriages and write about Jesus, my life is FAR from perfect, and I have a lot of things I’m working on in my walk with Christ and in my marriage. Before I say more, I want to first tell you that I am married to one of the most patient and loving human beings on this planet. I’m utterly convinced of this. And yet, even with Dennis’ amazing patience and ability to show love, we still fight. Probably because, while I’m married to a man with the largest tolerance level, Dennis is married to a women with the largest temper.

In any case, sometimes our fights have gotten so loud and volatile (thanks to my firey temper) that our up-stairs neighbors thought that Dennis was physically abusive–which he has NEVER been! But this is because I have slammed doors, cabinets, and hit things, then screamed and cried afterwards. To an elderly neighbor, this probably sounds like physical abuse, so I don’t really blame them for thinking this. But sufficed to say that Dennis and I have since grown in our conflict-resolution tactics, and I’ve become a little more mature with how I handle my emotions (AKA I’m not throwing as many temper-tantrums).

This fighting season was very real, but it was just a season. We didn’t stay there.

I share this story with you so that you know I don’t exclude myself when I pray today for struggling marriages. I need prayer for God to help me control my tongue, and I need prayer for God to teach me how to be less contentious. His word tells us that it’s better for a man to live on top of a roof than in a home with a contentious wife, and having been a contentious wife, I can agree with this proverb very well. So here I go, praying for struggling marriages and my own marriage along with it:

Lord,

I pray for the marriages that are struggling right now, for the marriages that are in a rough season. I know that it may seem difficult and that things may seem like they will never look better, but I pray that You give these couples hope. Whatever the situation is Lord, I pray You bring peace and restoration to these marriages.

Lord, the struggle could be unfaithfulness or adultery. I pray you strengthen the marriages in these situations. While your Word does tell us that adultery is the only grounds for divorce, I know many couples who have struggled through unfaithfulness, sometimes on one end, and sometimes on both ends. I thank you for these couples who have chosen to remain married and work through this trial; they provide a great testimony to couples that are dealing with this kind of hurt. There is hope for a marriage that is under this sin, and I pray that you give these marriages restoration, that they may become stronger on the other side of it. Be a comforter to the ones in this relationship that need it, and encourage and convict those that need to change their ways and repent. I pray that You would help these couples kill the sin and the unfaithfulness that is in their relationship, that both can rejoice in a unified marriage that remains faithful and loving.

The struggle could be addiction. I pray that You strengthen the marriages in these situations. It could be alcohol, or drugs, or even pornography Lord, and only You can deliver men and women from the snares of addiction. I pray You give patience to these couples, and convict those that need to repent. Give them strength and support and accountability so that these marriages can come through addiction and be stronger because of it. Bring healing and restoration to these marriages Father, and show each couple how to specifically take action to banish the addiction forever.

The struggle could be finances. I pray that you give wisdom and discernment to those marriages in these situations. Lord, money can be a point of contention in any relationship, especially in a marriage. I pray for unified decision-making and transparent honesty with the ways in which couples spend their money. Give them courage to cut expenses where they need to and give them the humble spirit to ask for help when they need it. I pray that they continue to be faithful in their dedication to tithing for You Lord, because I know how this has blessed my marriage and helped us to trust You more fully. I pray You give these couples a sense of security and protection, and give them the resources they need to get by, all the time praying to and relying on You for their every need.

The struggle could be a change in life (occupation, physical ability, location, additions to the family), a season of irritability, a testing of faith, a series of trials, a disagreement on a big decision, a family death, or a collection of arguments that lead to a deep struggle. God, You know the struggles of marriages around the world more than I do, so I pray for any other struggles not specifically mentioned. I pray You provide examples of couples who have been through the same things, and I pray You provide support for those that need it. Give them strength to make it through these trials and the perseverance to keep loving, despite feelings of discontentment and grief.

Lord, I know that you have delivered me from a lot of superficial struggles as well as some deep and hurtful struggles in my own marriage. Thank you for the restoration you bring. I pray you continue to help me be a better wife to my husband, especially in the areas of being respectful with my tongue, and with my actions. I pray you help all wives be respectful of their husbands, because I know showing them respect causes them to love their wives more. And I pray you help all husbands be loving and gentle with their wives, because I know that loving them well will help a wife be caring and respectful. Thank you that You have provided a manual for a struggling marriage in Your Word, and that we can go to it daily to receive wisdom and advice in our relationships.

In Your Son Jesus Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

 

 

What marriage struggles do you feel called to pray for today? Share so we can be praying along with you!

 

 

 

“I Resolve to Date More Often”

 Each week my husband and I have a date night.

We work hard to set an entire evening (starting around 6:30 p.m.) to spending uninterrupted time with one another. This is a tradition and will remain a tradition, as I have seen it to be an essential to keeping our marriage happy and healthy.

I was reminded of this fact after having a yes–slightly tipsy–conversation with one of my husband’s close friends. 

He was telling me the importance of “guys night”, and how he really appreciated that I understood that it would be totally awful if I came along. He then explained to me how he loves conversation with Dennis and asked me what my “girls nights” looked like, wondering if they were anything like “guys nights”. To our surprise, the only thing that seemed to separate our idea of a good friend-hang-out session were cigars (the men being fond of those and the women, not so much).

But yes, it’s true, I did understand, as I too would not want my husband awkwardly sitting next to me while I chatted it up with my girl friends and sipped on coffee or ate appetizers….

We, as married people and as dating people, need both “guys/girls nights” as well as “date nights”. Tonight I will focus on the ever important Weekly Date Night

Now, I am well aware that there are many ways to have a date night, and each person has a different idea about what a good date night entails.

Here are 10 good ideas for fun and meaningful date nights for couples of all kinds! 

(Oh! side note: most the these options are “on the cheap” since my husband and I work to budget for a few “All-Out” date nights, but keep the majority of them affordable.)

1. Questionable Dinner – Write down a bunch of random questions, each on a slip of folded paper. Put the papers in a bowl and randomly draw one and answer it over dinner or desert at home.

This is great for new couples who are just getting to know one another, or old couples who want to reminisce  about the past, or learn some crazy-weird stuff about each other! Here is a sample list of questions.

2. Devoted to The Word – Do a weekly Bible study together! This way, you can read scripture together, learn from one another’s interpretations, and share with one another your walk with God.

My husband and I did a devotional study on love and marriage that we could both access from our iPhones. We especially liked the last one, as it helped us both articulate what it was that we first found attractive in the other person (something we needed to be reminded of at the time!).

3. Snack-Central – Make an array of snacky foods for dinner, spread it out on the bed, and watch your favorite tv series together.

Dennis and I LOVE West Wing, and our favorite snacks are smoothies, popcorn, hummus and pita chips/veggies, chips and salsa/guacamole, brie and fruit with cranberry sauce, cheese and crackers (with summer sausage for Dennis), and of course wine!

4. You-Comedy Night!- Each of you make a list of your favorite funny youtube videos. Alternate showing them to each other and vote on with three were the funniest!  We didn’t do this as structured, but one night Dennis and I just watched a ton of funny youtube videos and had a blast laughing together!

This is my favorite one followed closely by this or this. And this couple put together a list of their favorites.

5. Camera Fun- Find a flip cam, or a video camera of some kind and make a funny video. Or, do a photo shoot together.

Since my husband is a rock star, and I’m a person who enjoys taking photos, we have used this to our advantage and have had many photo shoots (mainly consisting of me behind the camera though…). However, we have not done the video portion yet. We were talking about doing a fake episode of “Cribs” to show off our fun apartment with it’s strange idiosyncrasies. I might have to push for that!

6. The Readers- Read a book over the course of a few weeks, meeting up each week to discuss it. It could be a fiction book or a nonfiction book.

Some books that Dennis and I have read and recommend:

The 5 Love Languages
This one is really great for any couple because it has some really great insights into how individuals feel loved. For the longest time, I would write Dennis these cute little love notes, and always wondered why he didn’t write them for me. After reading this book, I realized that words were my love language, and I was trying to love Dennis the way I wanted to be loved. Meanwhile, Dennis was doing really nice things for me to help me out: bringing me coffee when I had stayed up late studying (this was when we were dating in college), or making me lunch when I had a particularly busy day. Acts of service was Dennis’ love language, and he was trying to love me the way he wanted to be loved! Since we know how to love each other better, now I make him dinner and fold his laundry, and he writes me notes and tells me I’m beautiful.

Sacred Marriage    This book is a real earth-shattering one. If you are Christian and you are engaged to be married or already married, I would say this book is a must-read. Without knowing it, we all have notions about marriage in our heads that make us expect the craziest things of one another. This book taught me how to set priorities straight in a marriage, with God being the number one for both husband and wife.

Rocking the Roles     This is the book we are currently making our way through. It is also quite earth-shattering, even though it is slightly dated (I think it was written in the early 90’s). We both were struggling with our respective roles as husband and wife and this book really broke it down. We even had a huge Ah-Ha! moment where we finally realized some of our biggest differences. I would also say this is a must-read for married couples.

The Alchemist     Now, this is a fiction novel with a lot of truth behind it. When we first started dating Dennis told me his entire philosophy was based upon this book, and so, because I was crazy about him, I read it. I LOVED IT! It provides so many philosophical topics of conversation and the entire story could arguably be an allegory for something larger. Read this one or any of this author’s books, all of which would be a good choice.

Captivating and Wild at Heart     Both of these books are pretty great! Captivating is about women and Wild at Heart is about Men. I would recommend women reading Captivating while the men read Wild at Heart, all the while taking notes on each chapter. Then you can switch off and read the one about the opposite sex, and also take notes, comparing them with your spouse or significant other’s.

Other books that I’d like to read with Dennis:

Divine ConspiracyThe Four LovesDietrich BonhoefferEating AnimalsIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto , and The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius  

7. Eco-Friendly and Equally Tasty – Start a garden together, then choose a day to harvest, or walk to a local Farmer’s Market and pick out some things. Go cook something up for lunch or brunch together with the fresh ingredients!

If you read my blog over the summer, you saw some sweet pictures of Dennis’ graduation/birthday gift to me, which was a vegetable garden! We even moved that potted garden to the South Side of Chicago when we left Bloomington, and have just harvested the last of the cinnamon oregano and green onions for the year.

Here is a great website where you type in your ingredients and they generate some possible recipes!

Here are some farmer’s market recipes!

Some Garden-growing help!

8. Smart Date with TED – For an intellectually stimulating date that we have yet to try (but may in fact this upcoming Friday!), choose a few TED talks to watch together. I was thinking of choosing from these due to the New Year. But your date could have a theme which you then find TED talks which have to do with said theme (such as work, dreams, technology, money, music, love, self-confidence, faith, inspiration, creativity, family…).

This kind of date would be a great way to expand your way of thinking, get to know each other intellectually, have stimulating and intelligent conversation, or just simply get inspired together.

9. A Bucket List Date –  Honestly, I keep stealing ideas from this blog, so I’ll just provide you with the link! This particular date sounds super fun and really useful for planning:

Create a “Bucket List” (things you want to do before you “kick-it”) separately. Perhaps limit it to 10 things you’d like to accomplish, places you like to go, or things you’d like to do. Share them with one another, then come up with anything else that you’d like to do together!  

This would be a great way to know what is important to your significant other or spouse as well as just have fun dreaming of the future together! You can even pair it with watching the movie The Bucket List as part of the date!

10. Splurge! – Go on an “All-Out” date.

The previous dates are all pretty cheap, which is how, as I mentioned, Dennis and I usually plan our weekly date night. But our numerous low-cost dates allow us to save for a rare and special occasion when we can go “All-Out”.

On our “All-Out” date, we will choose a really classy restaurant to go to, and we’ll get really dressed up to go to dinner. We’ll start with drinks, then slowly order an appetizer (we’re in no rush!). We’ll take our time with the food, and usually we will ask for a box so we can have leftovers later during we week (the portion sizes are usually pretty gigantic!).  We’ll sometimes choose a desert to share, if we’re not too full, or sometimes we’ll order the desert to-go and save it for another date night at home!

During our “All-Out “date, we don’t worry so much about price because we’ve saved enough to indulge. But there are always ways to make your “All-Out” date a little more manageable:  Ask for gift cards to nice restaurants for Christmas and Birthdays, pay attention to seasonal specials like this one a Maggiano’s which we just took advantage of, check Groupon or other coupon websites for deals, or go to a less fancy place and just make it fancy by dressing up and indulging in a 3 course meal!

Dennis and I usually like to try out new places for our “All-Out” dates, but we always seem to choose either Italian or Sushi places.

 

And there you have it! 10 super fun date night options for you and your special someone! I hope that part of your New Year’s Resolution is to take care of your relationships by being intentional with time, energy, and effort. 

What are some of your favorite dates? Can you and your spouse/significant other commit to a weekly date night reserved for only one another? 

Enjoy lovebirds!