Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Marriage on my mind...

Let me start off this post by saying
this is a message first and foremost to myself.
While I hope someone out there finds encouragement through what I have to say,
I feel that by writing these thoughts on marriage out,
and posting them for anyone to see,
it will help hold me accountable to my own marriage.

First, let me give you some background on my marriage.
Wes and I met in college at Indiana Wesleyan, at the ripe old ages of 19 and 20.
{I was 20, he was 19... I robbed the cradle and married a younger man by 7 months}
Interestingly, we met in anatomy class :).

After dating for a year, we got engaged,
and then we got married a year after that, on Jan. 1st 2005.

I had just graduated from college and was working as a social worker,
and Wes was still working on his nursing degree.

Honestly, the first five years of our marriage
seemed to sail by pretty smoothly.
Everyone says that the first year is so difficult,
and we couldn't figure out what they were talking about.
While we had some really busy seasons in our lives,
between school, work, and church,
we still managed to find time for each other.
Though our differences became pretty apparent to us during these years,
{and believe me, there are lots of differences!}
we had the time and freedom to continue dating one another,
and just to have fun.

Well, fast forward to 2008...
by this time we had moved from our college town
to my hometown.
While this was the move we had wanted to make for quite some time,
it did mean leaving behind some pretty great friends.
This also meant new jobs for both of us,
along with needing to find a new church to get plugged into.
Fortunately, God led us to a wonderful church home
where Wes is now a worship leader.
We also both landed great jobs- Wes as a nurse, me as a school counselor.
But I think this move also meant a shift in our marriage.
It's hard to put my finger on it,
but suddenly we had to adjust to life together in a new environment,
surrounded by lots of new people,
including our families.
This was something we are so grateful for... to have our families so close.
But, at the same time, I believe that it makes it easier for
us me to fall into caring more about what my parents think
then what Wes thinks. 
I know, this is not a good thing. See, told you I was writing this to myself!

Well, fast forward again to 2010.
This is when Claire entered our lives.

One of the BEST things to ever happen to Wes and I, hands down.
But whoa, talk about another major adjustment period in our marriage.
Combine lack of sleep, crazy hormones, 
a new little human that
requires every ounce of your time and energy, 
two full time employees, 
church responsibilities
a house that doesn't clean itself, 
and you end up with
one. deprived. marriage.

I'm happy to say that over the course of this last year,
things have calmed down and Wes and I
have made lots of adjustments in our new roles as wife/husband/parent.
And as I reflect over the last year,
I think God has used the challenges to help seal some lessons into my heart.
I still have lots of growing to do in this area.
{For example, I had to apologize to Wes today for yelling at him pretty disrespectfully last night to get me a towel;
apparently he's used to this because he couldn't even remember what I was talking about.
But I feel a passion developing to work hard
and I sense that God wants to make our marriage
into something great!

The following are a few lessons that I've been learning lately:

Lesson No. 1
Marriage takes WORK.
Marital love will not magically remain if no one is
putting effort into keeping it going.
Yesterday I read a really good article by Dr. James Dobson
from Focus on the Family
{I love this ministry!}
In it he states that the natural progression of marriage is to become
more distant rather than more intimate.
This is true of basically all of creation... our bodies are slowly aging and dying,
a new car begins deteriorating the day you purchase it, even the sun and stars
are slowly burning themselves out.
"The only way to postpone or temporarily combat this law of 
disintegration is to invest creative energy and intelligent design
into that which is to be preserved."
In other words, the natural tendency is for husbands and wives
to drift away from one another.
Thus, we MUST make time for fun or romantic activities to draw
us back to one another.

Lesson No. 2
I need to love my husband DESPITE what he does.
Let me explain. 
Wes is a wonderful man, and I don't want to make anyone think that he isn't,
but, like me, he's human.
What I do mean is, my will to love him does not need to change
even if he comes home from work in a bad mood,
or even if he forgets to do the dishes,
or even if he thinks he's funny and I don't agree.
The natural tendency (at least for me)
is to retaliate- either by pointing out his mistake,
or not talking.
Neither of these are very effective or helpful in building a marriage.
Instead, I can choose to overlook it (because is it really THAT big of deal?),
or I can communicate in a respectful way what I wish would have been different,
depending on the situation.
Sometimes, what Wes needs is for me to love him in the midst
of his weaker moments- not add to his frustration.

Lesson No. 3
The #1 gift we can give our kids,
is a loving marriage.
Our kids' identities are going to be SO
heavily influenced by the security we provide to them
through a loving marriage.
Additionally, our marriage is going to serve as a model to them
on how to love and submit
(not only to others, but to God).
{Submission- whoa, that's a whole different post}
So, to put it plainly,
one of the BEST ways to love our kids,
is to love our husbands.

I think I have sufficiently spilled my guts to the general public
for one day.
Before you go thinking I'm smart or something,
you need to know that
most of  everything I have learned I have gleaned from somewhere else.
I HIGHLY recommend tuning into
Wes and I also receive this magazine every month,
also a publication of Focus on the Family.

{thanks to Wes's parents for getting us the subscription!}

Lately, I've even listened to some sermons on marriage
that I have found online
(check out the 4Keeps series).
Lastly, Proverbs is a great resource for transforming your thinking
and gaining wisdom. 
I would definitely recommend reading it. Often. 

Whether I know you or not, I hope for the best for you and your marriage!
Everyday as a school counselor I see the effects of broken families,
and I see how Satan uses them for his gain.
I also know that no marriage is easy, and some are even harder than others.
I hope this post has blessed you or challenged you in some way,
and I'd love to hear from you if you can relate to anything I've said!

Happy nesting!


Ami said...

Hey Chels~ Thanks so much for posting this.. I really needed to read and HEAR this... My marriage I think I take for granted at times and this helps open my eyes.. I agree with supporting your husband rather than pointing out things... I just know it's really hard at the time of anger ect... I just pray we all keep our eyes on God and pray for our spouses and marriages... Keep God the center and all will fall into place.
~ Ami

Erin said...

Chelsea-great post with lots of great reminders. Thank you for sharing your heart :) my marriage and I thank you for this. Also, please go out on a date and let me baby-sit Claire. Pretty please?

andi said...

thanks for the reminders! we all need them and i love how you have such a great way of getting to the heart and truth of issues (that's why you are a good counselor). i need more of that in my life! i'm so glad you met that boy in anatomy and that you guys are my friends. keep these kinds of posts a comin'!

~*Connie*~ said...

Well said Chelsea and great things to keep in mind!!!
Your last topic reminded me about a post... http://mommyfaithadkinslove.blogspot.com/2010/04/parenting-by-book-part-4.html

I wrote this last year after reading the book: Parenting By The Book by John Rosemond. It's the best parenting book out there...hands down! IF you ever read it let me know what you think.


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