Permission to Not Be a Perfect Mother

Have you ever noticed that what’s held up as the “ideal” within the Christian world is always that which is at the extreme–and very legalistic?

Those who are “holiest” are those who have the strictest interpretation of things. And somehow then it becomes incumbent on other Christians to never present an alternative view.

You're allowed to be yourself! Think freedom as a mom

I’ve talked about this in the past with regards to dating. My mom was a teenager in the 1950s and 1960s when it was NORMAL to date a whole bunch of people–even in her conservative Mennonite town. The thought of saving kissing until the wedding wasn’t even really talked about.

Today the most “Christian” thing is not to date–but to court. And not to kiss until the wedding. To emulate the Duggars (though they were not the first to do this).

I am absolutely NOT saying that there is anything wrong with this model. I know so many who have followed it and are in wonderful marriages. I do believe, though, that it is entirely up to you–it’s between you and God. I don’t think that it makes you more of a Christian to save your kiss to your wedding–though I do believe that some couples really benefit from this. I also believe some couples benefit by NOT saving it.

But here’s what happens: once this idea enters the consciousness, then people stop talking about any other model of dating because they don’t want to seem less Christian. So all of a sudden it seems like EVERYBODY is courting/saving kissing, and then it’s easy to feel inferior.

In truth, a very small minority does.

We see this in other areas as well. A good Christian watches absolutely no media unless it’s Christian media. A good Christian doesn’t listen to the radio. A good mom doesn’t go on Facebook during the day. A good mom doesn’t let her kids eat Kraft Dinner. Ever. A good mom doesn’t use birth control. And so on. And so on.

And blogs start talking about these things, and then writers are afraid to be real and Instagram their true pictures of “what I fed my kids for breakfast” (which in my case, all too often involved chocolate cake. They saw me eating it, after all; it only seemed fair to share).

What if you’re allowed to be you?

What if you don’t have to live up to some rules and follow some pattern of parenting to the letter? What if you’re allowed to make your own way?

Wouldn’t that be FREEDOM?

The Steady Mom's Freedom Guide: Joyful Motherhood on Your Own TermsI want to tell you today about the Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide, which is an awesome book that’s part of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

Sometimes when we hear about homemaking advice, we think it’s all going to be of the don’t-ever-feed-your-kids-crap-get-perfectly-organized-so-you’re-absolutely-perfect variety. And, of course, the author’s version of perfect is stifling.

What if you’re not like that?

Jamie Martin gets that. In her book, Jamie admits that she lets her kids watch a bit of TV. She doesn’t focus on discipline–she tries to distract her kids and interact with them first, to avert the need to discipline in the first place. She sometimes doesn’t get the housework done, and she doesn’t get through her to-do list.

She concludes like this:

Maybe children aren’t meant to be solved like mathematical equations. Maybe, just maybe, the life of a human being, the life of a family, can’t be encapsulated in a bullet-point list of how-to’s.

And that’s why I’m done.

Done with theories, formulas, and labels. Utterly, completely, lavishly dependent on grace.

Labels hurt us and our children, even if never spoken aloud. We limit their future, their genius by projecting limiting thoughts and ideas over them.

I’m giving up all of it. It adds nothing to our family, but takes plenty away.
Today and forever, I paste these labels over me and my family, over you and yours: Mother
Child
Grace
Love
Enough.

I think that’s beautiful!

And I want to assure you that THIS freedom is what I want for you in your home–with homemaking, with parenting, with marriage.

It isn’t about living up to someone else’s ideal (even MINE! :) ). It’s about figuring out who you are, and who your husband is, and who God made your kids to be, and listening to advice, and then tailoring it to meet your own family. You don’t have to look like anyone else. There is no “one way” to be a perfect Christian mom. There are thousands. Millions. And they all involve just listening to God.

Take just one example. I’m a big believer that kids should not sleep in their parents’ beds. You will never have as good a sex life with your kids in bed with you as you would without your kids there, even if you get creative. And since sex is so key to keeping a marriage together, and since it’s such a challenge when the kids are little, I think teaching the kids to sleep on their own is a great service to them and to the parents.

I absolutely believe this.

But you know what? You don’t have to do what I say. I hope you listen to my reasons and think about it and pray about it. But it is YOUR family. And you and your husband have the right to make that decision together. I am not God to you.

And that’s how so much advice is set up: like there is one perfect way to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

There isn’t.

And so I want to assure you about something today with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. There are 97 resources–that can seem overwhelming. Are they all going to try to turn you into Martha Stewart? Into the Duggars? Into Sheila?

No. Not at all. I hope what they’ll do is give you tools to be a better YOU.

You don't have to be someone else--you're the one made to mother your kids. Great resources from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

Here’s why I love bundles: it’s like a big grab bag, where you reach in and you’re never sure what you’re going to get. My friend Susan loves buying those $2 grab bags the drug store sells, because there’s always some cute makeup or chocolates or something they’re trying to get rid of. Sometimes the lipstick colour is awful. Sometimes the nail polish just isn’t you. But there’s always SOMETHING, and you never know what that something is going to be until you open it.

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--97 ebooks and ecourses plus bonuses for just $29.97

A number of people have asked: Is this the same as the bundle I bought last year? NO! It’s all NEW resources! Every Bundle is ALWAYS unique. So fun!

That’s how I attack these bundles when I get them (and I LOVE them!). I skim it all, put the books I know just “aren’t me” into a giveaway folder, but then I give myself half an hour a night to read through the ones that ARE me. I try to do the courses that apply to me one by one (right now I’m working through the 14 Days to a Better Neck video course because my posture is so bad that my neck is really bad!). And inevitably I find a way to be a better me.

You see, the books don’t all teach the exact same approach–because we all have different personalities, different homes, different circumstances. But they’re full of awesome ideas, and you are free to pick and choose. It’s okay. You don’t have to do everything–and it’s okay to say, “this won’t work for our family.”

Paperless Home Organization
It’s like I told you on Tuesday–I am gaga over the book Paperless Home Organization. But I know for some of you that would be stifling. But don’t worry–there are tons of printables if you’d rather go that route! It really is okay.

You’re allowed to be you. There is no one-size-fits-all. But you CAN be a better you. I’ve taken so many ideas that I’ve gleaned from bundles in the past (and from this one) and they’ve help me to enjoy my life better and feel like I’m more on top of things.

But I still don’t meal plan. I still don’t do my devotions before breakfast. I still watch Netflix sometimes. When my kids were little, I still tried distraction rather than a 4-point discipline program. I still was my own person.

And you can be, too. There’s freedom in Christ, people, to listen to the Spirit.

But there’s also excitement in the “grab bag”–in sifting through different ideas, holding them up to see if they fit your family, and finding the new tools to be even better.

Marriage Intimacy and Sex small
You even get my audio download of me talking with my husband about sex. It’s a talk we gave at a marriage day a while ago, and you won’t want to miss my husband’s ballroom dancing story!

I love the Bundle–and I hope you will, too!

Remember, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is only available until April 27. After that this collection is gone for good! And it’s a great collection–79 ebooks, 20 courses and audio downloads, and over $200 in bonuses!

motionmailapp.com

Or, click here to buy now!

Here’s how you can see what a bargain this is:

Looking just at the resources I’ve mentioned,

  1. 14 Days to a Better Neck: $14
  2. Marriage and Sex Download: $3
  3. Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide: $3
  4. Paperless Home Organization: $5

Total: $25

Just those resources alone pretty much come to the price of the bundle. But you get 96 MORE! And that includes freebies, like an actual physical book Tyndale will mail you. A gorgeous new scarf valued at $20. Free enrollment in one of Craftsy’s classes.

Even the Healthy Home ecourse–valued at $95!

Healthy Home
So it really is a great deal. And you can use it however YOU want. Customize it to help  YOU. Because you really are good enough!

When Faith is Hard: Believing God Wants the Best for You

Believing God wants the best for you
It’s that secret fear that lurks in our hearts–that many of us carry around with us.

That fear that even though we have may have smiles on our faces in church, and we may say, “God bless you!” when someone sneezes, and sign off all of our emails with “Blessings!”, deep inside, we wonder if God really does want to bless us.

What if blessings are for everyone else, and for us–God’s just chosen to use  us to go through suffering? That somehow He is hurting us deliberately?

I’ve walked through that. When you pour your heart and soul into a project, and give it years of your life, and you just don’t see any fruit. And someone else comes up alongside you and tries something similar, and they take off right away! And you think: Did I even hear God right? Does God even want me to succeed?

Or when all of your friends around you are getting married, and you’re still single, and you know you’re supposed to say, “God, you’re enough, and I’m so excited to learn what you have for me during this season of your life.” But you’re not excited. You’re sad. And you’re lonely. And you’re scared.

Or when your marriage starts to go sour, and you can’t figure out why God isn’t blessing you when you did everything right. You believed in Him. You went to church. You sang hymns at your wedding. And now your husband is distant, and you’re afraid to check his phone because of what you might find.

Does God hear? Does God care?

I think most of us go through this far more than we care to admit. And here’s a problem: We don’t talk about it enough. I’ve been in so many churches where the sermons never get to the meaty issues we’re dealing with. They talk about Bible stories but never apply it to anything modern we might be walking through. They stress salvation–which is great–but leave out anything beyond that. If every message ends up being a salvation message, what do we do if we’re already saved, but we’re lonely, scared, and defeated?

To tell you the truth, I battle with discouragement a lot, and it’s tiring to always hear that God loves you. I know that–but my deeper heart cry is, “but does God want good for me here?” I’m willing to serve even if He doesn’t–He’s God, and that’s His prerogative–but sometimes I just want to know.

Trust without Borders
I read a beautiful ebook devotional recently, called Trust Without Borders, that dealt with this reality we all fight with periodically (It’s part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week). Here’s just an excerpt from an early entry:

William reasoned, “I think I’m one of those that have to be slaughtered for someone else to be saved. You know, like in the book of Job, all his children were killed for Job to see and know God better. God’s going to do what God wants to do and I’m one not intended for His blessing.”

He stops for a bit, then continues. “I’m okay with it if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

My heart is shattered and I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “I’m not one of the elect,” he concludes.

Steve chimes in. “I feel the same way. What if I’m an Esau? You know the part that says, ‘Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated’?”

We sit there sort of stunned. Jackson, my husband, turns to me because he knows me. He asks, “Do you want to share anything?”

Yes, I do want to say something. It’s burning within me. It’s so close to my heart, my breathing shallows and my pulse pounds and oh, I get this.

“There’s a reason he asked if I want to say something,” I begin, trying to catch my breath. “It’s because he knows I’ve struggled with the same things.”

Do you ever wonder that? If you’re someone who has to be slaughtered so someone else can be blessed?

I’ve thought that about my son who passed away. God has used Christopher’s story so much, and it’s a key part even of my Girl Talk presentation I give about sex and marriage–but there’s a pain every time I tell his story. It’s not just because I miss him; it’s because I wonder: am I using his memory? Did God just bring Christopher to touch others? Did his life matter? And it’s tough. It’s really tough.

And too often we run away from those questions, because we’re afraid that if we actually start asking them, we won’t like what we find. And this whole tower of faith that we’ve built will come crashing down.

So we ignore it, push it down, paste those smiles on–until something happens and we break in two.

You can’t sustain a faith that can’t sustain questions.

You can't sustain a faith that can't sustain questions.

God is big enough to handle your questions. He’s big enough to even handle your anger! I think He’d rather hear your anger than have you stuff it down, offering prayers that aren’t heartfelt. God wants authenticity, even if authenticity is messy.

And so today I invite you to take a journey with Arabah Joy called Trust Without Borders. I’ve been a Christian a long time, and I’ve taught many of the concepts she discusses in her devotional, but nonetheless, God still brought me to tears several times reading it.

Here’s just one more excerpt:

I had downloaded content from the internet, blessed gift, my cord of connection to the outside world. Derwin Gray was sharing his testimony, but it was God who had a message for me. The words that came from Derwin’s mouth pierced such that they lodged in my memory. Any momma realizes how significant that is for the mommy brain who’d just put the cheese in her purse instead of in the fridge. And Derwin Gray, on that stifling hot night a world away, said, “A false god is never satisfied.”

Six simple words had never rocked my world before like these words did. Piercing, shaking me up, turning me inside-out to expose what I already suspected: the god I worshiped, the one I thought was God Almighty, may not be the One True God. Just like the disciples walked with Jesus but didn’t know Him. Just how God’s people in Isaiah didn’t know their Redeemer. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t really know God either.

Can we be Christ followers but not God knowers?

Like Philip, I knew what every other Christ follower knows about God. I could quote verse after verse and understood Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God. But in the gut, the soul, despite all my knowledge, I didn’t understand the heart of God. I didn’t trust His intentions. When the winds blew (and they did) and the earth shook (and it did), I wasn’t so sure God would come through for me.

I think a lot of us are the walking wounded. We want to love God, but we don’t really know Him.

We can’t trust–or our trust only goes so far. We trust that God will do what’s good for God. We don’t trust that He’ll do what’s good for us.

If you’re there today, I hear you. I have been there too. I’ve been there at 2:30 a.m. in a hospital waiting room when they brought the body of my son out to me. I’ve been there on a sunny May day when my one true love left me before my wedding. I’ve been there in the middle of the night when two newlyweds just could not figure out how to get past the hurt feelings. I’ve been there when one of your children starts questioning some of the things you did a a parent.

And it hurts. And it’s hard.

And that’s okay–because it’s also real. And we should never run away from what is real. Give it to God instead, even if it’s scary.

If you’re floundering, please read this devotional, and pray over it. It’s filled with stories that bring the message home, and it’s an easy read. But it’s a deep read.

You can get Trust Without Borders on its own, but it’s also part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle sale going on this week–a collection of 79 ebooks, plus 20 ecourses and audio downloads, plus $200 worth of bonuses, $1274 in all–for just $29.97.

On Tuesday I told you about some of the “fun” parts of the bundle–the homemaking hacks that can make life easier for you.

But that’s not all there is. There are also these gems that I know will challenge your faith and affirm your God, taking you deeper into His presence. And sometimes that’s what we all need–far more than pasting another smile onto our faces.

Don’t lose track of God in the busy-ness. That’s often when He wants to speak with us.

Check out the Bundle here, or

You get all of these–and some will be fun. But some will be life changing. In a very good way.

Homemakingcollage

motionmailapp.com

Don’t miss it! It all goes away on Monday, April 27, at midnight EST.

 

May God use these resources to help you know it’s OKAY to have doubts. It’s OKAY to not be perfect. And He really will meet you where you’re at–even in your mess.


Wifey Wednesday: Why is it So Hard to Connect?

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I want to talk about the heart of marriage: connection. We get married because we want to feel this deep connection to someone, and yet too often, years go by and we feel like we’re just drifting. What happened?

hard to build connection in your marriage

The Connection Principle in Marriage--part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle
Pastor and life coach Chuck Taylor has written a fun and easy-to-follow book called The Connection Principle, which outlines three communication tools for getting what you want in your marriage. It’s part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, which is on sale until April 27, and I really enjoyed reading it!

I talk a lot about how to be giving in marriage on this blog: How to love your husband, think about his needs, and do the right thing.

But let’s be honest: sometimes focusing on what he needs feels really lonely. It just does. And what if you’re feeling more and more distant?

That’s where reality hits, and Chuck really gets it. It’s not wrong to want to feel close to your husband. It’s not wrong to want to feel as if he loves and values you.

But what IS wrong is often how we go about trying to get those feelings. And too often we don’t understand that sometimes all it takes is a little tweak in our communication patterns to bring a whole new dynamic to a marriage.

As Shaunti Feldhahn reminded us earlier this year in her book The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages (our April selection!), in over 90% of marriages your husband wants the best for you. He really does. So if you’re feeling unloved, chances are it’s not that he doesn’t love you. It’s simply that you’re not communicating well.

Here’s how Chuck explains the Communications Gap:

The communication gap in marriage happens when we fail to communicate our intentions or expectations and instead assume the other person just somehow automatically understands fully what we want them to know…

The gap feels like the moment that you want your husband to talk to you after a long day at work, but he instead retreats to the TV and you are left feeling neglected. Or maybe your wife stays up all night checking in on everyone on Facebook world while you are left wondering if she even finds you attractive anymore.

The communication gap is the poison that slowly kills marriages.

So how do you bridge it?

Three steps: Confirm the Information; Connect Value with the Individual; and Convey Your Thoughts.

The first step is listening well–your spouse wants something or says something, and you want to make sure both that you understood what they were saying, and that they KNOW you understood it. Simple things that can feel “fake” actually make a huge difference here–repeating what they said; rewording what they said; etc.

And conveying your thoughts–the last one–also feels “funny”, but it really works! It’s about asking in a way that the other person hears–and checking in throughout the conversation to ensure that they “got it”.

We tend not to like these because they make conversations seem mechanical. Where’s the flow? Where’s the spontanaeity? Where’s feeling as if he’s reading my mind and we’re in sync with each other?

But as Chuck says,

 I will ask the woman, “Do you want a marriage that is full of exciting mystery or do you want a good marriage that is free of conflict?” It is incredibly difficult to have both simultaneously.

So true!

But it’s the middle step I really want to talk about today, because it’s the one we have the most problems with.

Whenever you are talking, make sure you convey to your husband that you think he’s valuable.

Let him see what you appreciate! Again, one of the best habits to develop is to learn to say “thank you”. To a guy, that has the same emotional punch as “I love you” to a woman.

But let’s take it one step further. And to do that, I want to share the story Chuck told about Jerome and Alicia:

Jerome and Alicia came to me to improve their moderately successful marriage by defining their family values with cooperative expectations. As we discussed the areas they wanted to improve, Alicia expressed that she wanted Jerome to just do things around the house without being told what to do and how to do it. I asked her to give me an example of what that might look like.

“Well, the dishes are a great example. It’s not like he can’t see the dishes sitting in the sink. He has to look at them or even move them out of the way to fix his food or get a drink. Why can’t he just stop and put them in the dishwasher?” she shrieked.

“Does he know how to clean to your specifications?” I asked.
“Yes. When I tell him to.” Alicia replied.
“And what do you say when he does do the dishes?” I asked.
“Well, I say thank you.” Assuming I expected her to respond with more than that, she continued, “What? I’ve gotta say something more than that?” Alicia looked frustrated.

So to make my point I asked,

“Alicia, picture an evening when Jerome has just finished the dishes to your satisfaction. Now, tell me which of these statements sounds better to you? ‘Thank you Jerome’ or ‘Wow, now that looks like a great kitchen! I am so glad to have a husband that is willing to help around the house. I am so grateful to have a man like you with me. Thank you, babe.’”

At this point Jerome was grinning from ear to ear. Clearly I had discovered the message he had been looking to hear for a long time.

“I need to say that every time he does something around the house?” Alicia shrieked again.

“No. But you came in here with the goal of having a great marriage. Do you really want a great marriage or do you just want a good marriage?” I asked.

“No. No. You are right. I want a great marriage,” she replied.

I have to admit: I don’t do this enough. I guess part of me, like Alicia, assumes Keith should just “know”.

But what would happen if we did? What would happen if we started heaping real praise onto our husbands? Would that change the whole communication dynamic? I think it would.

And so I’m going to try to be far more intentional about what I say to Keith.

Yes, we want communication to be “natural”. But maybe we’re valuing the natural too much? What if quality communication is something that has to be learned–and practiced?

How can you intentionally go about communicating value to your husband today?

In The Connection Principle, Chuck has tons of discussion questions and challenges for couples, so this is a great book to read WITH your husband. Lots of tips for him, too, on how to communicate better with you!

And this book is part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. It’s one of the marriage resources you get when you buy the bundle–in fact, you get 79 ebooks and 20 ecourses and audio downloads (including one of mine on sex!) when you purchase it.

And it’s just $29.97 for the whole thing–but only until Monday at midnight EST.

I really enjoyed this bundle. To be honest, I didn’t like EVERY book, but with so many in it, I don’t have to! There were more than enough that I really enjoyed. And as I told you yesterday, the Paperless Home Organization book changed my life. Seriously.

I think this is a great resource. And if the only thing you get out of it is this short, easy to read book you can work through with your hubby (or read on your own), it’s well worth it! Your marriage will thank you (and so will your hubby!)

Click here for more info about the bundle.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have any marriage advice for us today? Enter the link to your marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so other people can see these awesome posts!



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Top 10 Homemaking Hacks for the Not-So-Perfect Homemaker

You don’t have to be able to entertain at the drop of a hat.

You’re allowed to have laundry that’s not folded.

You’re allowed to sometimes feed your kids McDonald’s.

Homemaking well is not about being perfect–it’s about creating a home that is fun, nurturing, and chaos-minimized. (click to tweet).

You don't need to be perfect! But you can have fun. Find out more with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale--April 20-27

And so today I’d like to share 10 Homemaking Hacks for not-so-perfect homemakers–hacks that can make what you do everyday easier and far less stressful!

All of these hacks I learned from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle–a sale of over 79 ebooks and 20 other courses and downloads that can help you on your homemaking journey. And the Bundle is on sale right now until next Monday for just $29.97! It’s so worth it.


Here’s why:

1. Paperless Home Organization

Paperless Home Organization
Here’s the book I was telling you about yesterday–the book that changed my life.

I’m not even kidding. I got access to the bundle about three weeks before it went live, so that I had a chance to go through all the books. And I read this book. And then I didn’t sleep. All night. I just lay there, wide awake, picturing how awesome it would be if I actually implemented her system.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep, got up, and actually set it all up! And now I use it everyday.

Here’s what you do: You use three main online (free!) programs: Gmail, Evernote, and Remember the Milk (an awesome task reminder program). All of these can also be synced onto your phones and devices.

Then you set up checklists in Evernote for your daily activities, and you enter special things in Remember the Milk. I’ve got reminders for everything in there–that I have to change the furnace filter every 2 months (seriously, we’ve had to call the furnace repair people 3 times in the last decade just because I forget to change the furnace filter), reminders for when bills are due, reminders for what projects I have to get done for my daughter’s wedding, and more.

Here’s what I love: she shows you how to use both Evernote and Gmail so that things automatically get saved and filtered, without you having to use a whole lot of words or remember where you filed something. It’s easy to retrieve again, and it’s ever so easy to check on your to-do list. It’s not like you need 23 different tags and 32 different notebooks. Not at all. It’s really simple. It took me about an hour and a half to set everything up.

So now everyday I scan papers I need to scan, save them in Evernote, and I don’t need to keep notes anywhere anymore. And I always have my to do list and reminders with me! It’s awesome.

One of my big problems is that I have so many things that I’m trying to remember and hold in my head at one time. And I’m always thinking, “I can’t forget that!” But that’s stressful.

This way, I know I’ll remember. It takes less than 15 seconds to set up a reminder and to plan when I’ll do it, and now I don’t have to constantly feel I’m going to forget something.

You’ll Save: Late fees on your bills–and lots of stress and tension because you don’t have to remember anything anymore. The computer does it for you!

Price: $4.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

2. Backwards Meal Planning

Backwards Meal PlanningA perfect homemaker has a 2-week meal plan all ready to go, with a grocery list completed, before she heads out to the store.

I’ve never been that organized.

So when I read Backwards Meal Planning, I thought–finally! Someone who gets ME! Sometimes we run to the store because it’s the only time we have free all week, and we don’t have time to plan first, so we just buy what’s on sale and what tickles our fancy. And then what do we do?

This book shows you how you can go grocery shopping FIRST–and then figure out, from what’s in your fridge, cupboard, and freezer, how you can come up with a menu. It’s simple! Just keep track of your favourite meals for each ingredient, learn how to substitute easily, and brainstorm on pretty printables!

You’ll Save: 20% on your grocery bill, if you stick to what’s on sale instead of what’s on your grocery list.

Price: $2.99 but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

3. Budgeting for Yearly Expenses–When You Need a Monthly Budget

Build a Budget That Works
Here’s problem #1: you’re preparing a monthly budget, but you don’t have a monthly income. Let’s say you’re self-employed and you have no idea how much money you’ll actually make each month.

Here’s problem #2: You budget for insurance, transportation, food, mortgage, etc., etc., but you forget that in the summer the kids have to go to summer camp. And next year you’re going to need to buy a new car. So you think you have a budget that’s reasonable, but when summer comes, there’s no money for camp.

In Build a Budget That Works, Jessi Fearon shows how to budget for yearly expenses, or even every-few-years expenses, so that the money is there when you need it. And she hows you how to compensate if you don’t get paid on a regular or predictable basis.

But there’s still problem #3: You know you need to put away $50 a month for summer camp, but WHERE do you actually put that $50? You can’t create 20 bank accounts for all your different yearly expenses.

So Jessi shows how to keep track of how much you’ve saved for each thing, while still keeping it in your chequing account. And she shows you how to make sure you don’t inadvertently use that money you’ve earmarked for something else!

So it really is a budget that works–with lots of worksheets and printables so that you’re not caught unprepared.

You’ll Save: Interest payments from going into overdraft–and you’ll end up saving money, too!

Price: $2.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

4. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Several of the books in the bundle have different recipes, but all are super easy. You can make them with your kids–and then your kids may be more eager to help with laundry, too!

Laundry Detergent

You’ll save: The author of DIY Natural Cleaners puts it this way: “The average American family does 400 loads of laundry a year. This will save you $0.17 a load, for a total of $68 of savings in a year–and that’s only 1 of 60 plus recipes!”

Price: $9.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

5. Make the Most of Daily Activities to Teach About Jesus

How to Introduce Your Child to Jesus
A Perfect Homemaker has family devotions every night, teaching her children a verse a week, doing crafts to learn a Bible story, and creating object lessons to drive the point home.

An imperfect homemaker simply looks for things that are happening around her–like seeing a squirrel gathering nuts, or seeing a crying baby, or seeing a sunset–to bring Jesus into the conversation naturally. Without a curriculum. Without crafts. And without preparation.

You can introduce your child to Jesus without a lot of fuss, because Jesus is just a natural part of your life, too! So learn how to make Him a natural part of your conversation with your kids.

You’ll save: A lot of guilt thinking you’re not doing a good enough job as a parent! And you’ll feel empowered.

Price: $5.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

6. DIY Breakfast Station

A perfect homemaker gets up 45 minutes early to cook a hot breakfast for her husband and her children, which they all eat while sitting down around a table with napkins in their laps.

An imperfect homemaker sets up a DIY breakfast station, with healthy food kids can stick in the microwave by themselves if they want, along with cold food they can grab in a hurry. Kids as young as 6 can make their own breakfast–while you run around trying to get everyone out the door!

Sounds much more like me.

I LOVE these recipes–and it comes with printables you can put on your breakfast burritos, muffins, crepes, or energy balls. So easy–and really fun for kids, who can choose what they want without bugging you.

DIY Breakfast Station

You’ll save: Aggravation. Time. And money because you won’t take them to the drive-thru in desperation on the way to church or school!

Price: $9.50, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

7. Know How to Find Pics of Your Kids with Buck Teeth

One Bite at a Time
A perfect homemaker scrapbooks her kids’ lives on a weekly basis, printing out the important photos and decorating them.

An imperfect homemaker goes through her pictures, throws out a ton of them, decides it’s okay to keep some in a shoebox, but organizes most online so that she can find them quickly–even if she never decorates them or prints them out.

I’ve hired my youngest daughter to scan all of our family pictures, and then throw away the hard copies of ones that aren’t worth saving, so that we can locate any pics, any time. We want to have everything at our fingertips so we can create slide shows for my older daughter’s wedding.

Organizing your pictures is just one of the 52 projects in One Bite at a Time–one of my favourite books for making your home more manageable. Each project is practical–and limited in scope so it’s not overwhelming. And they’re fun, too!

You’ll save: A ton on photo albums. And a ton of storage space! We reclaimed a whole bookcase once we got rid of our photo albums. And now our pictures are on those digital frames that switch every few seconds. So much more fun!

Price: $8.00, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

8. Get Rid of the Drawer Filled with Warranties and Instruction Manuals!

Your Simple Home Handbook
A perfect homemaker tapes all instruction manuals and receipts to the backs of appliances.

An imperfect homemaker stuffs them in a drawer.

But you don’t have to do either! They’re both too much work.

Here’s what you do instead: Like Jessi says in Paperless Home Organization, scan the receipt an warranty and save it in Evernote.

Then, as Elsie Callender says in Your Simple Home Handbook, google the instruction manual when you buy it, and save that link (I’d suggest putting it in the same Evernote note). All instruction manuals are online anyway!

No more bulging drawers!

You’ll save: Space. You get your drawer back. Hassle: If you need to return something, or if something breaks, you can easily put your hands on the receipt and the instructions.

Price: $7.95, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

9. Let your kids watch TV, let yourself on Facebook, and don’t always give time outs.

Steady Moms Freedom Guide
A perfect homemaker has her children play imagination games all day while she cans vegetables and creates lovely crafts. If her children act up, she is swift with the discipline.

But what if that’s exhausting?

Maybe what we need is more grace. A half hour of quality TV or netflix won’t hurt your kids. Looking at Facebook while they play is okay. Using distraction and coaching rather than being a firm disciplinarian is likely a better idea anyway.

I’m dedicating a whole day to talking about this book on Friday, because it’s that good, but today, just a simple word of encouragement: You know your home better than anyone else. You know your kids better than anyone else. In everything, there can be balance. Let love and grace reign, and you all will be okay. You don’t have to be a perfect home; you can just be yourself, and raise your kids to be themselves, and rely on God, and you’ll find life far less stifling.

You’ll save: guilt for not being perfect. Heartache when your kids act up and are angry at you. Frustration for being bored. Learn to live again!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

And perhaps most importantly…

10. Managing the Mundane is the Key to Surviving the Insane

A perfect homemaker has a list of every task that needs to be done, all color coded.

An imperfect homemaker knows that there are really only three things that ultimately matter in how your home feels, and it’s these:

Managing the Insane

Controlling the Spin Within
If you get these three things under control, everything else will follow. And you’ll feel empowered. You’ll feel like you’re on top of things. Everything will work out!

Holly Dvorak helps you zero in on the necessities, so that you can survive the insane world of mommyhood. And she makes it so super easy. It’s not some major cleaning schedule. It’s just getting the most important stuff done. Like she says, there are two universal truths:

Universal Truth #1: If we don’t eat, we die.
Universal Truth #2: If we leave the house naked, we go to jail.

If you’ve got these covered, you’re good! And she tells you how to, in easy-to-follow steps.

You’ll save: guilt that you don’t have a super-organized cleaning system. Aggravation that there’s nothing for dinner. And anger that your house is always a mess!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

That’s it–ten books with great homemaking hacks that don’t make your to-do list longer. They lessen your guilt, simplify your life, and give you breathing space, all so you can:

Work Less. Enjoy Your Family More!

That’s the theme of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and if any of these resonated with you, I encourage you to check it out.

Just these resources would cost you $57.50, but you get them ALL–plus 90 OTHER resources, including $200 in bonuses like a free designer scarf and a free art print, for just $29.97.

See the complete list of books here.

Don't miss the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--$1274 in ebooks, courses, and bonuses for just $29.97.
Happy Homemaking!

 

When Being a Mom, or Just Plain Running Your Home, Overwhelms You

So many of us find homemaking–just plain doing life at home–overwhelming.

We spend out lives putting out fires, cleaning up messes, and we wonder if we’re even getting ahead. If life is always chaotic, how do we find time to appreciate what we have?

When I was a little girl, I dreamed about getting married, becoming a mommy, and having my own home.

I wanted to make a special place that was a magical mash-up of:

  • a school,
  • a playground,
  • a refuge,
  • a boo-boo “fix it” station,
  • a “you can do it” pep rally, and
  • a safe place for personal expression, sharing and growth.

And then real life happened…

…laundry, diapers, stretch marks, and never-ending meal prep… budgeting, trying to remember to change the furnace filters… holiday stress, and teaching my daughters to read (and master long division)… a husband who works long hours, kids with croup, trying to find time to do my devotions… and a secret dream to run my own little business from home.

Trying to create a schedule that works…trying to buy the right sized garbage bags (hubby just told me the ones I bought are too small)…trying to remember to send birthday cards and gifts.

And that’s why my online friends Erin and Stephanie created the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… because as rewarding as it is, homemaking is hard work and it doesn’t always come easily.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

To help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker – help, inspiration, tips, encouragement, resources at your fingertips…

… the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is just for you.

It is a complete library of carefully selected eBooks, eCourses, audios, online conferences, and printable packs designed to help you turn your house into a home… without all the overwhelm.

What’s in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

The first step in putting together this collection was to find the critical homemaking skills that you need to transform your house into a home.

Here they are:

Homemakingcollage

  • Cleaning… create a healthy, toxin-free home
  • DIY/Homemade… fun and frugal ways to express your personal style
  • Devotionals and Faith… take a break from the daily grind to renew yourself
  • Finances… build a budget that works
  • Cooking & Meal Planning… serve easier, tastier meals in less time
  • Holidays & Special Events… brighten up old family traditions and create new
  • Homeschoolinghomeschool with grace and ease
  • Marriage… heat up your marriage
  • Motherhood… find peace, balance & joy in mothering
  • Organizing… conquer the clutter and simplify your life
  • Pregnancy & Babies… enjoy a healthy pregnancy and prepare to nurture your baby
  • Health & Wellness… soothe aches & pains with natural remedies
  • Working from Home… hone your talents, live your passions and earn money to help your family

… a complete library of 99 eBooks and eCourses to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships.

Homemaking Bundle Prizes
And when you buy it through me, you get a chance to enter to win a whole bunch of prizes, including Dinner with Me sometime before June 30, 2017 (if you live in Canada or the continental United States, although I’m likely coming to Australia, Kenya, and the United Kingdom before then, too, so if you’re there, I’d probably honour it as well!)

Scroll to the bottom to learn more about these prizes.

Are there too many books in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

Have you ever taken your family out for a buffet dinner… and then been disappointed when you couldn’t eat every single morsel on display?

Of course not!

Sure. There’s that first, breath-taking moment when you see and hear and smell the amazing meal spread before you… and you think, “Where will I even start?”

But that’s the thing… because you do start… with something.

Maybe it’s a tender flaky biscuit, or a piece of delicious roast beef, or maybe you’re like me and start with a piece of pie (mmm, blueberry or apple with whipped cream)?

So relax, enjoy, and start anywhere you like. Come back to the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle “buffet” as many times as you like. It’s all here for you.

Here’s why I love ebooks…

An ebook tends to be different from a “regular” book not just because you read it on your computer, tablet, or phone, but also because the information is different.

Ebooks tend to be practical–they give you tips and tricks that you won’t find in a “regular” book because all you need is a bite-sized chunk. It’s like a ton of homemaking hacks all in one!

I’ve been involved in five bundle sales now, and I absolutely love them. I get so excited when each new bundle comes, because I know that I’m going to read something that will change everything.

This Bundle has a book like that for me, in the Organizing section:

DIY-Bookshelves

It’s Paperless Home Organization, and OH MY GOODNESS. I did everything she said and it totally works! I love it, and I’ll be sharing it with you tomorrow.

Here are just a few other life changers I’ve had from past bundles:

  • I finally quit Diet Pepsi for good–and lost about 20 pounds in the process.
  • I figured out how to use essential oils around my home.
  • I started making my own household cleaners. They smell awesome and I’ll never go back!
  • I learned what “The Dirty Dozen” is and “The Clean Fifteen”. If you don’t know–it’s in this bundle, too! (hint: it has to do with which produce you really need to clean well, and which ones are okay)
  • I figured out how awesome coconut oil is
  • I learned how to track my prayer requests better–and track answers to prayer.
  • I figured out how to stop wasting food by using scraps to make AMAZING chicken stock.
  • I finally organized all my crafts!–and my works in progress.

I don’t need to read all of the books–though I do scan them. But I totally have gotten some amazing tips out of each bundle that has made my life simpler, cheaper, and seriously more fun.

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle worth it?

In a word… yes!

To be absolutely certain, Erin and Stephanie asked questions, tried techniques and just about drove themselves crazy making sure that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle was the very best homemaking resource anywhere.

They dug through hundreds of websites and connected with dozens of authors and teachers.

And then we all worked together to make these resources the most affordable possible.

And They Were Delighted to Help…

The result? This collection is a fraction of the price of what someone would pay for each resource individually!

For a short time, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… a complete library of:

Bundle Summarized

Here are just the ecourses and audio (cause I have to show you where I am!)

Audio ECourses

…Altogether, 99 carefully selected resources designed to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships… is only $29.97. (A total value of $984.74.)

That breaks down to 30 cents per book.


Your 30-Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason, you decide that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is not for you, then please send an email to customerservice@Ultimate-Bundles.com and we will refund 100% of your investment. No questions asked.

Don’t Forget the Bonuses…


Of course, no Ultimate Homemaking Bundle would be complete without the generous, inspiring gifts donated by companies that understand homemakers like you. Every gift is yours to keep and enjoy.

  • Choose 1 FREE Online Class from Craftsy (Select from 24 of Their Most Popular Classes – Up to $60 Value)
  • 1 FREE Kids Discovery Box from Green Kid Crafts ($19.95 Value)
  • FREE $15 Credit to Hope Ink PLUS 2 FREE 8×10 Art Prints ($71 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day “Good Deal” Subscription to She Plans Dinner ($15 Value)
  • Choose 1 FREE Stylish Spring Scarf from Deborah & Co. ($20 Value)
  • FREE $80 Healthy Moving Class Credit ($80 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day Pro Membership to ListPlanIt ($30 Value)
  • FREE 65 Tyndale Rewards Points to Be Used for a FREE Book or Towards Any Book of Your Choice ($15 Value)

Now It’s Your Turn

I think Laura Ingalls Wilder said it best…

Just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, is just like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens the whole fabric of civilization.

The proven, simple, and effective skills you need to transform your house into a home are all waiting for you in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

This is your chance to get all the love, support, guidance and inspiration you need to nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker.

But time is running out! The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27.

 

motionmailapp.com

After that, the shopping cart closes and the deeply discounted price is gone.

Act now!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Buy it From Me–and Win!

As an author and an affiliate for this bundle, I make a commission off of every sale made from my website. But I want you to benefit, too! So I’m going to be giving away a total of 22 prizes to people who purchase the bundle through me.

The best one is that I’ll take you out to dinner. Seriously. If you live in Canada or the continental United States, then sometime before June 30, 2017, I’ll come within an hour of you and take you out to dinner (you may have to drive up to one hour to meet me, depending upon where you live. But we’ll make it work!).

And then I’ve got a bunch of others, including:
Prize Amazon CardPrize 31 Days

AND more bundles: I’ll give 5 prizes of $10 towards purchasing some audio downloads in my store, and I’ll give 5 prizes of grab bags of 10 homemaking ebooks that AREN’T in this bundle!

Here are all the prizes!

Homemaking Bundle Prizes

When you buy it, you just send me your receipt, and you’ll get sent a link to enter to win.

It’s an awesome bundle!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Best wishes and happy homemaking!

Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.


Friday Round-Up: Don’t Date Someone You Don’t Like, and More!

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and Vacuum

It’s time for my Friday Round-Up, when I show you the posts that have been really popular this week on the blog and social media, and let you in behind the scenes on what’s going on in my life!

This week I’ve been in Arizona, delivering my Girl Talk to 5 different groups–3 MOPS groups and 2 church groups. It’s been so much fun (and the weather has been lovely!).

Sheila Speaking Girl Talk

But one of the problems I’ve been having is that my assistant Tammy and I travel with the same David’s Tea mug. And I keep drinking out of hers!

11034256_10152812283183161_7932268318101954665_n

 

What’s #1 at To Love, Honor and Vacuum This Week?

WhyHubbyWantsBody
#1 on the Blog:

Why Your Hubby Wants Your Body

If you always complain, “my husband wants me too much”, here’s insight into why he does–and why it’s a good thing.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Teach your kids to do chores! Click through to learn why.
#1 on Facebook:

Teach Your Kids to Do Chores

Ever feel taken for granted? Most women at times feel more like maids than wives and moms. Here are 10 things you may be doing to make it worse.


Legacy-of-Prayer
#1 on Pinterest:

A Legacy of Prayer

When I read and reviewed Billy Graham’s book Nearing Home, I had such an appreciation anew about the legacy of prayer we can leave for our kids.


Great-Sex-For-Her (5)
#1 on Twitter:

Ever Feel Like Sex is All for the Hubby?

It’s often easier for a guy to enjoy sex than for a woman. So here’s 9 great sex tips for HER to boost your marriage–and your sex life!


Katie has a new video up!

As many of you know, my daughter Katie has quite the YouTube channel. She’s started a new series called Katie: The Relationship Guru Who Has Never Been in a Relationship.

Here’s her latest instalment: Don’t date someone you don’t like! I know she would REALLY appreciate it if you shared this on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. Just click through and share it so your teenage friends/single friends can see it! And tell your youth pastor about her:

It’s a FREE Mini-Course on Homemaking

Do you feel overwhelmed at home–like you can’t really stay on top of things?

Here’s a FREE 4-part video course you can watch at your leisure! It’s not too long, but it will answer so many of your questions on little tweaks that you can make to your own homemaking schedule, routine, and priorities so that your house is a source of energy for you–rather than a “sucker” of energy!


 Teach Your Kids To Do Chores!

Speaking of homemaking, I always think it’s easier to keep a house organized if the kids help. So I put this graphic up on Facebook last week on a whim–and it went totally viral! Seen by about 500,000 people.

Teach your kids to do chores! Click through to learn why.

Can you help me keep the momentum going? Share it on Facebook here or Repin it here! Thank you!

Wedding News

So some of you have asked how things are coming with my daughter’s wedding! We’ve got everything booked and the invitations are going out this week. So right now we’re trying to come up with inexpensive ways to decorate the tables at the reception. We’re trying to go with a mason jar idea, with lots of fresh flowers. Thankfully I’m blessed with really “crafty” friends!

Instagram

We had a day off in Arizona so my friend Tammy and I headed to Sedona! Here’s a pic of what we saw:

11146277_10153283314799772_7139843564214250720_n

Here’s more of me on Instagram. I’m trying to get better at posting!

And that’s what’s up in my life. I’m looking forward to being home this weekend. My husband’s been sick while I’ve been gone (and he’s had his birthday), and my youngest daughter has missed our walks.

But I feel so blessed to be able to travel this beautiful continent sharing the message that God’s given me. Hope I can come to your neck of the woods soon!

 

8 Prayers For Protection Over Your Marriage

Today author Jennifer White shares with us how to pray prayers for protection over our marriages!

8 Prayers for Protection Over Your Marriage
I said “I DO” in 1991 with a deep love, a sense of adventure, and joy that I had been chosen. Three years later, I said “I don’t” and “I won’t.” I was so shocked that life could be so hard and hurt so badly only three years into marriage.

Three years after the divorce, I vowed to be Mrs. David White for the rest of my life. We have been married sixteen years. But five years in, I was drowning in the same deep waters that had led me to end my first marriage. Pride and fear were suffocating me. I couldn’t see how this could ever be okay for either of us.

Exposed

“Help me Jesus” was the cry of my heart.

With that simple prayer I drew near to God and in turn, He ran to me with more help than I knew I needed. He gave me Beth Moore Bible studies, Joyce Meyer on a daily basis, and a great counselor. These women taught me how the Bible could affect the intimate details of my life.

I had read about God’s power and Satan’s fury, but I had not expected either of them to jump off of the pages of the Bible and into my life. I made it through three decades of sermons and ministry before “the battle is the Lord’s” became “God will fight your battles if you let Him, Jennifer.” (2 Chronicles 20:15b)

What a revelation! I had been completely unaware of the spiritual battle targeting my mind and my marriage. While it looked like I had a husband vs. wife problem, the real battle was exposed. God united me to Himself and to my husband. His archenemy was offering to divide us.

My life was in Christ, but I was vulnerable. I had not taken God’s Word seriously. My disregard for His way and His truth opened the door to Satan’s plan for my life.

Flaming Darts

…hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
Ephesians 6:16 NLT

Involuntary thoughts of hurting myself and other people haunted me for several years. I didn’t act on them but they made me feel crazy. I assumed it was stress related. Eventually, I decided that God could use a divorced preacher’s wife much more than an insane one. Yes, I divorced a pastor. So.very.sad.

Similar thoughts erupted in my second marriage. Thankfully God rescued me with the news that those thoughts were actually the flaming arrows mentioned in Ephesians 6. My counselor recognized the attack.

The enemy used the feeling of being crazy as a strategic strike in my life. But he didn’t stop there. He also whispered discouragement and fear using the sound of my own voice. He nurtured in me a deep fear of confrontation. He also used the sound of a disapproving parent’s voice to encourage me to disapprove of my husband.

Shielded by Faith

The last ten years of my marriage have been the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. Studying the Word of life armed me with knowledge of who God is and what He can do. God had been developing my faith in Him and that has changed everything!

And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
I John 5:4 ESV

When a thought appears in my head, I have to be ready to evaluate it. I question whose character lines up with that thought. Is it God’s or Satan’s? Does God’s Word say that I should think this way? If not, then I need to reject it because it is intended to destroy me.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ESV

Knowing God’s truth has literally freed me from the grip of the enemy of my soul and marriage. It continues to be my best defense.

Every Wife Needs a Sword

“To think God’s thoughts requires much prayer. If you do not pray much, you are not thinking God’s thoughts. If you do not read your Bible much and often and reverently, you are not thinking God’s thoughts….” A.W. Tozer

Years before this breakthrough, counselors who were Christians listened well. They helped me see the problem. But I remained unchanged. I was powerless to fix me and my marriage. They were too.

But Jesus sent His word and healed me (Psalm 107:20). I started walking in victory when I was counseled according to God’s Word.

I had no idea how powerful God’s Word could be. Today I see it as the supernatural antibiotic for the wounded heart and infected mind. That is exactly what it has been and continues to be for me.

Wounded women are frequently bitter, jealous, fearful, resentful, prideful, and/or contentious. These are symptoms of a mind infected by those flaming darts. Pride, fear and resentment monopolized my heart.

I learned to deploy God’s word as a sword against the very strong holds sin had on my mind. I was introduced to praying God’s Word and Germaine Copeland’s Prayers that Avail Much. Here is one of the Scriptural prayers she offers:

In the name of Jesus, I loose my mind from wrong thought patterns. I tear down strongholds that have protected bad perceptions about myself. I submit to You, Father, and resist fear, discouragement, self-pity, and depression. I will not give place to the devil by harboring resentment and holding onto anger. I surround myself with songs and shouts of deliverance from depression, and I will continue to be an overcomer by the word of my testimony and the blood of the Lamb.

I read this prayer and others aloud day and night. I read them in parking lots while I waited for someone. I read them on the treadmill. As I proclaimed God’s truth and promises, I felt stronger mentally and emotionally. I found myself making decisions based on the truth instead of the lies I once believed.

I firmly believe that the Sword of the Spirit slices through the slimy tentacles of sin. Praying according to God’s Word is the antibiotic my soul desperately needs. It also how I resist the devil so he will flee from me (James 4:8).

Are you praying God’s Word over your marriage?

Marriage Armor

There were too many years of heartache in my life before I realized that I needed God and His Word to defend me against the father of lies. What if I had begun praying God’s Word before my first marriage? Our marriage could have been a beautiful reflection of Jesus, our Bridegroom, loving and serving His Bride.

What if every bride armed her marriage with God’s Word?

Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God's Armor After the Wedding DressAs a veteran of one failed marriage and one rescued by the Savior, I am sharing my experience in Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress. It’s packed with Bible teaching and prayer prompts for many of the issues every couple faces.

Prayers for New Brides is designed to help wives show up, surrender and salute the almighty God who is able to defend their marriage. It is a faith building resource to help brides avoid getting destroyed by the flaming arrows. It is for every wife who longs to see God do more in her marriage.

Swing Your Sword

We can’t let the evil one lull us into a false sense of security. We need to arm our marriages with the same discipline a solider employs in preparing for battle.

Here are seven simple prayer prompts to help you arm your marriage today with God’s transforming Word.

1. Generous and merciful God, give me a hunger and thirst for righteousness so that I can live satisfied by You. I don’t want to demand more from my husband than he is supposed to provide. Matthew 5:6

2. Teach me to hear your voice so I can follow You all the days of my life and marriage. John 10:27

3. Wonderful Counselor, make me wise to the enemy’s divisive and destructive schemes. Isaiah 9:6, James 1:5, 2 Corinthians 10:5

4. Fill me with Your wisdom so I can excel as ______’s wife. Ephesians 1:17

5. Grant me a humble heart. Help me relinquish a false sense of control. I want to live a praying life. Matthew 7:7 and Proverbs 16:18

6. Mighty God, strengthen me to stand under Your authority every day in every way. Please forgive me for the ways I have dismissed Your perfect leadership. Ephesians 6:10, 11, 13, 14

7. Jesus, pour Your faith into me so that I can deflect the flaming arrows the enemy sends my way. Use me as a warrior of Your word in our marriage. Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 6:17

8. Father, help me see my husband through Your eyes. I want to honor and cherish Him. I want to focus his value and avoid the temptation to disregard his unique contributions to our marriage.

Did you know to pray these things for yourself when you were a new bride?

Are you aware of the spiritual battle behind the scenes of your marriage?

Today I am offering Chapter 15 of Prayers for New Brides – Seeing Your Spouse through God’s Eyes as a free download. It is one of the most important lesson I’ve learned as David’s wife. Click here to get your copy.

Jennifer White, prayers for protectionJennifer O. White is the author of Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress and Marriage Armor for the #PrayingBride. Jennifer is a natural encourager who offers hope from the truths from God’s Word at her blog, Prayerfully Speaking. With every blog post, Jennifer is exalts the one true God who can empower us to do more than we can ask or imagine.


Wifey Wednesday: What My Two Year Old Taught Me About Marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today, while I’m touring Arizona with my Girl Talk, speaking to several MOPS groups and in several churches, I thought I’d run this awesome post by Elizabeth Laing Thompson about what her two-year-old taught her about marriage–and priorities.

What My Two Year Old Taught Me About Marriage
My kids blew past me toward the door, an early-morning tornado of jackets, back packs, and lunch boxes.

“Come on,” called Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome, jiggling his keys. “We’re going to be late!”

“Wait! I want kisses!” I said. “That means you! And you! And you!” My three older kids clattered back into the kitchen, planted kisses on my cheeks, and then rushed to follow my husband out to the van.

When the door slammed shut behind them, my two-year-old looked at me in horror. “Mama kiss Dada!” she said.

I blinked at her for a moment, not understanding. I heard the sound of the van pulling out of the driveway.

“Mama kiss Dada!” she insisted, her voice becoming frantic. She tried to pull me toward the door.

Then I realized: She was right. I hadn’t kissed my husband.

I chuckled, trying to justify myself. “You’re right, but Daddy is coming right back, so that’s why I didn’t kiss him.” Even to my own ears, the words fell limp, a lame excuse.

Little Miss stared me down, authoritative even in her bare feet and plaid nightie. I was not off the hook. “Mama kiss Dada.

I felt a blush creeping across my cheeks. “You’re right,” I said. “I should have kissed Daddy. I’m sorry.”

Little Miss seemed to accept this. We went back to our oatmeal.

Ten minutes later, the door banged open again. My husband was home.

Before he’d even rounded the corner, Little Miss rounded on me. “Mama kiss Dada! Mama kiss Dada!”

Laughing, I stood up. “Okay, okay, you’re right! I’ll kiss him!” I walked over to my husband and planted one, two, three firm kisses on his lips. He kissed me back with a baffled half-smile.

I turned back to my daughter, who stood watching us. Weighing me. “There. Are you happy now? Mama loves Dada, see?” When she still seemed unconvinced, I wrapped my arms around him and snuggled into his chest.

She smiled her approval and toddled off to find her toys.

That day, she reminded me of several truths I had forgotten, lessons I’ll carry with me always.

The secret most kids won’t tell you

Our children have a secret, and it’s this: Kids love it when their parents are in love. Older kids and teens may pretend to be embarrassed by our kisses, but secretly, they love it. It makes them feel safe. Happy. Like they are a part of something special.

When my brother was young, he invited a neighborhood friend over. My parents walked in the room and gave each other a little kiss, and the neighbor boy said, “Ew! Your parents kissed! My parents never kiss!” My brother grinned and bragged, “Well, my parents kiss all the time!” My parents’ affection was a source of confidence and security for him—and for all the kids in our family. I want to give my own children that same gift, that same confidence, through my marriage.

Keeping the home fires burning

But let’s be honest: It’s all too easy, once kids come along, to neglect our spouse. To forget about even the simple things that keep us connected and close. We don’t do it on purpose, of course, but once a baby enters our world, our first and best cuddles and snuggles and kisses start going to the baby. When we walk into a room, our eyes slide right past our husband, hungry for another drooly “Mommy-Is-My-Whole-World” smile from our chubby-cheeked cherub.

And at first, our husband doesn’t mind. For a season, he’ll gladly serve as our Baby Gear Sherpa, the carrier of car seats and diaper bags and Pack-n-Plays. For a time, he’s happy to take a back seat while we figure out the whole new-baby thing . . . but before long—sooner than we think—he needs the front seat again. He needs and deserves our deliberate attention, our devoted affection—not just the leftovers. Not just the afterthoughts. Song of Songs 8:6 describes a passionate romance so beautifully: “Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” Every fire needs fuel to keep burning. If it runs out of fuel, even the strongest of blazes will die down to ember and ash. We have to keep stoking the fire of our marriage—nurturing it, coaxing it back to life when it ebbs, feeding it fresh fuel.

I get it: This is easy to write about, and not so easy to do. (Believe me, I know! As a survivor of four new-baby-adjustment periods, I totally get it!) So please don’t read this and feel guilty . . . just stay open to trying some new strategies.

Song of Songs 86 Quote-Pin
Four simple ways to stoke the marital flame, even with little ones in the house

Here are four simple tricks to help you connect with your spouse, even on busy days with babies and young children underfoot:

Remember simple acts of daily physical affection.

Don’t underestimate the power of hugs and kisses keep you connected and close.

Use timers to set aside “Mommy-and-Daddy” time.

Tell the kids you need a few minutes to talk uninterrupted, and set a timer. The kids can’t come back into the room with you until the timer goes off.

Build sacred Mommy-Daddy time into your schedule at a set time each day, so your children get used to it.

They know, “This fifteen minutes always belongs to Mommy and Daddy, not to me.” You could try early-morning coffee together, before work and school. If mornings are too hectic, try setting aside a time slot right after work, or after dinner. (When your kids get older, let them clean the dinner dishes while Mom and Dad catch up on the day!)

Buy yourself an extra half-hour in the evenings.

How? Put kids to bed early with a book and a flashlight. They’ll think it’s a treat to read in bed—it’s kind of like they’re getting away with something—and you can start some early couch-cuddling before you turn into a pumpkin.

Strategies like this are especially helpful for the time of life when you have small kids in the house. But this isn’t just a new-baby issue. The older my children get, the more I realize that this is an ongoing struggle. Older kids mean a busy life and crazy schedule packed with homework, sports, friends, and activities. We all have to re-learn how to put our marriage first in the preschool years, the elementary years, the preteen years, the teenage years, the empty-nester years. At every stage, it takes a conscious effort to give our marriage the attention it deserves—to give our husbands the attention they deserve.

Last week, my wise two-year-old saw what I didn’t see. My husband comes first, not last. No matter how late we are or how busy life is, everybody deserves a good-morning kiss . . . and every kiss counts.

Click here to sign up to receive Elizabeth Laing Thompson’s monthly LizzyLife newsletter! Each newsletter includes practical and humorous parenting tips on living life and building family God’s way. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a FREE download of seven two-minute “breakfast-table” devotions to do with children.

E ThompsonElizabeth Laing Thompson writes wholesome novels for teens, and books for women about building family God’s way. She is the author of several books, including a Bible-based parenting book for young mothers, The Tender Years: Parenting Preschoolers. Elizabeth blogs about the perils and joys of laundry slaying, tantrum taming, and giggle collecting on her author site, http://lizzylife.com. Wife to Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome, and mother to four crazy kids, Elizabeth is always tired, but it’s mostly the good kind.

 

WWbutton175Now it’s your turn! Have any marriage thoughts for us today? Link up below by putting the URL of a MARRIAGE post into the linky. And be sure to link back here so other people can read all these great marriage articles! It’s a great way to build traffic for your blog, and I often highlight some posts on Facebook and Twitter, so link up below!

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Top 10 Sex and Marriage Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

Marriage Red Flags: Signs that something is wrong with your marriage--or your sex life

Marriage red flags–all of us have marriage issues, but how do you know if an issue crosses the line into dangerously weird territory?

Top 10 Marriage Red Flags
I receive many emails from women in crisis, and today, on Top 10 Tuesday, I thought I’d share 10 marriage and sex red flags that really shouldn’t be ignored.

Often we don’t realize when something is off, because we’re new at this whole marriage thing, and most of us don’t share personal and intimate details with our friends. So how can you know if something that worries you is actually a red flag for something quite serious?

What is a Sex or Marriage Red Flag?

It means that this is a situation which will not get better by you being nicer, by you being more understanding, by you trying to talk it through with him, or by you being more patient.

This is something which is a serious issue that will likely require a third party, like a trained counselor or a pastor, to help you.

If you ignore it, your marriage will only get worse, and your husband will only fall deeper and deeper into sin or more and more away from God and his family (depending on what the issue is).

In this post, I’m not talking about abuse–though this, too, will not get better on their own and will need a third party. Here’s a post specifically for information on emotionally destructive relationships. I want to talk more about sexual red flags in marriage.

These problems represent an issue that your husband has–not something that you have caused, and so you cannot make it better. You can, however, make it more likely that he will get the help he needs by taking it seriously. And that is the most loving thing you can do.

For information on how to involve a third party, read my post on being a spouse instead of an enabler, or check out the book Boundaries in Marriage.

My heart aches for women in these situations, because they often are so taken back with surprise that their husbands are acting this way, and they truly don’t know what to do. I’m sorry that some of these seem so extreme, but I’ve had multiple emails about each of these types of situations, and I know that there are women dealing with these things. So let’s get it all out in the open today!

Here are 10 Sex and Marriage Red Flags that shouldn’t be ignored:

1. If your husband says he enjoys sex, but he never wants to make love–Red Flag!

Men, in general, have a higher sex drive than women do. That doesn’t mean that if you have a higher sex drive than your husband that there is necessarily something wrong with him.

But if your husband never wants to make love, even though he says he enjoys it, then that is a red flag. Even if his sex drive is lower than yours, he should want to make love at least sometimes. Here’s a more in-depth series on what to do if your husband doesn’t want sex–and when this really is a red flag.

2. If your husband considers lack of sex to be a spiritual virtue–Red Flag!

One wife of a busy, hardworking pastor sent this in:

 About two months ago I was really feeling the abandonment and disconnect from my husband due to the demands of ministry. I was reading your blog and saw a comment where a woman stated that she never lets her and husband go more than two nights in a row without making love. I thought: how genius! Maybe this will help us stay connected even with his crazy schedule. This went on for a few weeks, then all of a sudden he started refusing. He would leave me laying in bed naked and alone. Again, confused and rejected, I voiced my concerns. He said, we’ve had sex more this month than we’ve had our whole marriage. He proceeded to tell me that our marriage is not based on sex but God. And he felt like I was trying to fill a void of rejection by having sex all the time instead of letting God heal me.

This marriage was already distant because this husband (and father!) was spending most of his time and energy away from the family. When the wife tried to bridge the gap with sex, he told her that she should rely on God instead (presumably like he does).

We do need to rely on God, but we also were created for intimacy with our spouses. When someone consistently rejects sex, while also rejecting an emotional relationship with their spouse, they are likely running from intimacy in general. In this man’s case, he may be lacking intimacy with God, too, thinking that activity for God is the equivalent of intimacy with God. It’s not.

He likely needs a counselor or mentor to sit down with him and talk through his priorities–and also a counselor who can walk him through why he’s running from intimacy and believes that self-sufficiency is the highest good. This attitude will make him an ineffective father and husband, but it will also ultimately make him an ineffective pastor.

3. If your husband has never been able to “complete the deed”, especially if he’s young–Red Flag!

I remember one woman who wrote me who married when she and her husband were quite naive and ignorant about how sex worked. She told me that she didn’t think she had ever had sex, and didn’t understand how it even happened.

After more questions, it turned out that her husband had never had an erection.

Young men should have no problem maintaining an erection. If he is unable to with you, then he has either major sexual issues or major psychological issues. Or, alternatively, he may have trained himself through masturbation to only respond to direct stimulation, as in this case:

My son-in-law has been unable to fully complete sexually. After a year and a half of marriage, during which they’ve never managed to “finish”, my daughter came to find out that he does masturbate quite a bit, and had looked at porn a lot. So my daughter has blocked the internet sites that she can and he is very limited to the time he is on the computer. He has been attending an accountability class at a Church that they are attending. He tried going without masturbating for 30 days and he thought things might have seemed better, but didn’t last long.  Oh, I know he was abused as a little boy by his older brother. Inappropriate touching and sodomy that she knows of. He doesn’t want to talk about that.

He asked and asked about seeing a urologist. Basically, my daughter came away thinking because there doesn’t seem to be a problem. He can ejaculate, therefore the urologists says everything is working fine. Could he have masturbated so long that he doesn’t get the same feeling inside her?

Masturbation could definitely be contributing to the problem–but so, likely, is the abuse that he won’t talk about it. Insisting that he go for counseling and get into a recovery group is so important. And you can retrain yourself to be aroused by a person, but it takes a while.

That brings us to this one:

4. If your husband chooses masturbation over intercourse–Red Flag!

I’ve had several women saying that they have been going for months without sex–but then one woman walked in on her husband masturbating in the shower. He says he does it every day, and suggests she does it, too, she they don’t have to be bothered with sex.

Solo masturbation is selfish and steals intimacy. If someone chooses masturbation over sex consistently, they likely have withdrawn in other ways and have stunted their emotional development, because they’re becoming self focused rather than relationship focused.

I speak more about masturbation in marriage here.

5. If your husband withdraws after making love–Red Flag!

Making love should bring you closer together. When you’re making love, you produce the “bonding” hormone oxytocin which helps you feel more affectionate. If, after making love, he becomes angry, distant, or disconnected, that’s likely a signal that he is fighting some sexual or psychological issues that need to be dealt with.

The next three sex red flags are quite common today, and often result from an addiction to pornography:

6. If your husband refuses to share passwords, let you see his phone, or let you on his computer–Red Flag!

A marriage should have complete trust and openness. If he is adamant that his phone and computer are private, that is practically a guarantee that he is doing something he should not do. If you ask him, he may end up attacking you: “don’t you trust me? Are you that insecure?”

I have never known a marriage where a husband or wife refuses access to their phones who isn’t also either texting inappropriately or watching porn. Never.

If he refuses to let you see things, that’s a definite sign there’s something wrong. One more tip: If you do find something on his phone or computer, take a screen shot or a picture with your phone, so that it can’t be denied later. Then insist on talking with a counselor about it.

7. If your husband is not interested in pleasing you, and seems almost disconnected during sex–Red Flag!

If your husband becomes almost a robot in bed, closing his eyes and refusing to talk to you, then he’s disconnecting, perhaps because he can’t become aroused without picturing something else–or someone else–in his head. If he were to talk to you, it would break the fantasy. If sex is impersonal, there’s something wrong.

Note: this may not be a huge sin issue. If a guy grew up masturbating to porn, but doesn’t watch porn anymore, he could simply be having a hard time getting aroused now because he’s trained his sexual response wrong (that’s one of the side effects of porn!). It doesn’t mean he’s watching porn now (though he could be). Talk to him about it and try to work through it together, though an accountability group or counselor may be necessary.

8. If your husband is not interested in intercourse, but only wants other sexual acts–Red Flag!

Porn depicts sexual acts that are more degrading, and thus often more “photograph worthy”, then simply making love. Add that to a porn habit which is self-focused with masturbation, and many men are not interested in actual sex because it requires mutuality. If your husband prefers other sexual acts (or consistently “degrading” things) to intercourse, he likely has a problem with porn.

Note: if your husband simply wants some variation in bed, there’s nothing wrong with that! But if a man only wants oral sex–red flag!

Finally, the last two red flags represent a man with a seriously disturbed sexuality, which really does need a counselor (and unfortunately I’ve had several of these types, too):

9. If your husband has to role play himself or get you to role play to become aroused–Red Flag!

The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts If sex has to be rough, or if he has to pretend to be very young, or that you are very young–or any variation on this sort of thing–that’s a danger sign. Many couples like to role play; but if the role play is necessary to his arousal, then there is something at work that really does need to be dealt with, as Shannon Ethridge talks about in The Fantasy Fallacy.

10. If your husband wears strange clothing in private–Red Flag!

One reader wrote in with this story:

I have a friend who basically walks on eggshells whenever her husband is around, so as not to disrupt his delicate moods. Yet then he expects her to want to have sex more! She does not keep sex from him, she tries her best even though her emotional needs aren’t being met, yet SHE is the one who has to initiate if they do have sex. Any time she tries to talk to him about their marriage, he ends up crying, and so she never really says exactly what she feels because she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Lately he’s done some weird things, such as he got a thong and began wearing it to bed. No explanation, no asking her what she thought about it. She asked him why and he said “I thought you might like it.” She told him it was a big turn-off for her, yet a month later he ordered 3 more on-line.

I can imagine how bewildered this wife is. She’s trying to have a good marriage, to be good to him, to be sexually available–but he’s crying, moody, rejecting her, and now wearing lingerie!

If a man starts wearing odd clothing, especially in bed, this is a sign of a serious psychological issue that needs to be dealt with.

I’m sorry to be so graphic or to talk about such distasteful things today.

I know that this is not what the vast majority of you deal with. But what scares me when I see some of these emails is that the wives don’t seem to realize how serious many of these things are, because it’s their “normal”. So I want to say, loudly and clearly, these things are NOT normal. They ARE red flags. And you really, really do need to get help, for the sake of his own spiritual growth, and that of your relationship.

Good Girls Guide My SiteIf you want to see what normal sex is, and what God created sex to be, my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex explains it all, and it may help you put words to what you instinctively feel is wrong.

My sympathy for any of you who are walking through this.

Please know that God is big enough to get you through–and your husband is never so messed up that God cannot redeem him and redeem your marriage. He may not choose to do so–we all have free will to reject God’s help. But God can do amazing things when we let Him, and I pray that this will be evident in your marriages!

 

 

Reader Question: Sleeping in Separate Rooms When Married

Sleeping in Separate Rooms: why we need to be careful we don't drift!
What happens when couples start sleeping in separate rooms? Is it that big a deal?

It’s Monday, the day that I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it.

One reader recently wrote:

Personally at the moment I am not sleeping with my husband as I feel estranged from him due to porn abuse, his alarm waking me up in the morning because he ‘snoozes’ it for an hour and he snores which drives me crazy so I don’t sleep, get tired and irritable and this exacerbates an already fragile situation, so I’ve removed myself to the spare room and far from missing sleeping next to my husband I now don’t want to go back to sharing a bed (if things improve between us) as I love having my own space and a good night’s sleep. Is this wrong?

I used to love sleeping together as I found it a special thing that you only do when you’re married and share that really special space and time together so I feel very conflicted now.

I was shocked a while ago to learn that my in-laws have separate rooms and I was really sad for them but maybe this is normal?

And finally, I was talking to a married friend with 2 young children, her husband sleeps in their spare room as her children often end up sharing the bed with her so she can feed them so they don’t cry and wake her husband up in the night. I also felt really sad about this but I don’t really know why.

Can you offer some wisdom on whether sharing a bed is important or not?!

Okay, let’s try to flesh this out a little bit.

Why is the couple sleeping in separate rooms?

Sometimes you really don’t have a choice. If one spouse snores a ton and keeps the other awake (or causes them not to sleep well), then for health reasons they may need to sleep in separate beds. (Here’s a website with some info on snoring solutions, to see if that may solve the problem). When my husband was on call and would repeatedly be paged at night and have to make phone calls, we sometimes would sleep in separate rooms on those nights so that he didn’t disturb me.

Is it Okay to Sleep in Separate Bedrooms? How to Stay Intimate if You Can't Sleep TogetherI’ve written before on couples sleeping in separate beds when the issue is something like that–along with some thoughts on how to maintain intimacy even if you have to part at night. I think it’s an important one to read!

When you have to sleep in a separate room from your husband

But when it’s not an issue about quality of sleep that can’t be helped, and there’s something else at play, then we really need to look at the underlying reason.

Sleeping in Separate Rooms to run away from intimacy is dangerous

It’s really quite simple: If you’re sleeping in separate rooms because you feel distant,  you will only increase the distance.

This woman is having some marriage problems–her husband has been using porn–and so she feels distant. Add to that the difficulties with alarms and snoring, and she likes being in a separate room better.

Now, the snoring and alarms may legitimately drive you away, but be very careful that if you do sleep in a separate room you do it well–turning in together, snuggling together, reading a bit together before you separate into separate rooms (as I said in my post on separate bedrooms).

But let’s say that the issue isn’t snoring or alarms. It’s really only the porn use. Then is it okay to separate?

I’d say yes if he is unrepentant and unwilling to get help or accountability (but I’d also say that you should take further steps to mend the situation, by talking to a counselor, having an intervention, or drawing very clear boundaries. Just running away won’t help it). You can see more about that in this post on not being an enabler of sin in your marriage.

What if he’s trying to stop the porn, he does have accountability–and you’re still hurt. Then what?

I can understand wanting to sleep in a separate room the night you found out. But be careful of continuing that separation.

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big DifferenceThis month we’re talking about good marriage habits as part of our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge, and I’ve asked you all to read The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. And one of the habits that Shaunti found in her research was this:

When [happy couples] are in a season of being at odds with each other–when they are experiencing friction or hurt feelings–they solve it by spending more time together instead of less… When we have hurt feelings, anger, or discord, the last thing we may want is to be with our spouses. But ultimately, it appears that that is what we need most.

Think about that for a moment. When you’re hurt, your instinct is to retreat–to head to that separate bedroom where you can be alone with your thoughts and pour out your brokenheartedness to God and nurse your hurts. But that’s exactly what your marriage doesn’t need. What helps is if you still act like a team–act like two people who believe, “we will get through this–together.”

Be careful of letting children kick one of you to a different bedroom

Sex After Kids: Don't put your marriage on the backburner once kids come, because now other people are counting on you to make it work!
I see this pattern so often in marriage. Both of you are sleep deprived, and you think, “at least he should be able to get some sleep. If he goes to a different room, at least he’ll sleep.”

You think you’re being nice.

And for the first few weeks of a baby’s life that may have its merits.

But to continue it long term is really dangerous. We’ve already talked last week about how hormones when you’re nursing often cause many of us to lose our libidos. Add sleep deprivation, and many of us enter survival mode, just trying to get through. And so we push our husbands away, devote ourselves entirely to the babies, because we figure, “he’ll still be here later. It’s the baby who really needs me.”

What the baby needs is for his or her parents to be rock solid.

Do not neglect your marriage. We think that it’s natural to stay together, so we shouldn’t have to work at it. But that’s wrong! It’s natural to drift apart; staying together takes work. If you don’t put in the work, you and your husband will drift.

You need time alone to be intimate–and that usually means the same bedroom

And I don’t mean just sex when I say intimate. I mean talking quietly while lying in bed. I mean cuddling while you fall asleep. I mean putting your hand on his arm and praying for him before you drift off. I mean having him kiss you goodbye if he leaves in the morning while you’re still asleep (or if you leave).

If you start sleeping in separate beds because of convenience, it’s easy to stay there. And we don’t always realize what we’re missing until months or years have gone by and we’re just not as close anymore.

So as I said, sometimes a separate bedroom is necessary because of physical difficulties sleeping together. But if you do go that route, do it deliberately well. Still cuddle together at night. Still spend time together before you separate. Don’t just drift. That’s dangerous; and our reader instinctively senses this. Stay together. Truly.

What do you think? Have you had to sleep in separate rooms? How did you stay close?