A Testimony of Marriage, Anorexia, and Healing

healing in marriage battling anorexia

Today, please welcome guest reader, Alyssa, as she shares her story of healing in marriage battling anorexia, and how God and her husband are daily helping her.  No battle is too big for God!

I grew up in a small town in Australia. I loved life in the country, there is something so freeing and satisfying about the open space, the fresh air and creation all around. It brings a peace and happiness to my heart! I was one of four kids to two amazing God centred parents. For as long as I can remember, my mum and Dad taught us about God’s word, what it meant to forgive, serve and love others. Growing up in one of the only Christian families in our small country town presented its challenges though. I was a sensitive child and from the age of 9+ I don’t really remember a time where I didn’t feel pressured or even taken advantage of. Some days I would return from school in tears only to have my mother and father sit beside me, warm me with their hugs and gently tell me to keep on loving and keep on forgiving. So I did.

But not dealing with these emotions properly left me more emotionally scarred then I could ever imagine.

Our family was different, and I knew that… but there was always a part of me, just like everyone I guess, that wanted to be accepted and fit in. By the time I hit high school, I felt an immense amount of pressure to not just be like everyone but also please everyone. I felt very insecure, timid and ugly… Along with this I had a perfectionist personality, was very quick to forgive and show kindness to everyone and therefore was walked all over. Amongst the bullying and identity issues, I was also sexually abused by several different boys/men throughout my teen years. Not only did I neglect to tell people about it, I didn’t deal with it properly, I didn’t understand it and I chose to keep forgiving and loving. When I turned 16, I moved out of home, taking myself to live in Sydney to study music and dance. I wanted to sing more than anything. Those few years in Sydney, although holding some of the greatest memories of my life, also hold some of the darkest. In those three years in Sydney, I studied full time, worked in the office of the performing arts school I attended, and went to a church that left me feeling lonely and left out. I got in a serious relationship with someone who did not want to know God at all, I had very little to no money, and I lost all four of my grandparents, whom I loved very much.

At the end of the year I left that school. I felt lonely, very isolated, overwhelmed. This is where my eating disorder came in.

At the time I didn’t realize what was wrong with me, just that I was slowly losing sight of who I was. It is now eight years later….And those last few years are also a blur. I have been in and out of treatment, private hospitals, have seen countless psychologists and counselors. In 2011, I went into a Christian Rehabilitation centre for Women struggling with addictions. It was the only program that worked for me and for a whole year I was walking free of the illness. It was in that year that my now husband proposed to me. Matt and I dated long distance.

He knew I struggled with an eating disorder, but we spent little time with each other so he was unaware of its deception, struggle and the hold it can have on one’s life.

But he knew I loved God and that despite my illness and current troubles, I persevered to love God and serve Him the best I could. At the end of 2011 I ventured into the Christian Rehabilitation. The program required me being cut off from all things, I went and lived on a farm with a dozen other women. We had no phone, access to internet and we were only allowed to watch TV on weekends for a movie night, or the news in between 4-6pm on weekdays. I communicated to people through letters. I spent my time learning to enjoy life, all of God’s goodness and meditated on His word day and night. This is what I believe healed me. I spent the next year celebrating life, enjoying peoples’ company and being thankful for what our Great God had done and would continue to do in me. I don’t know what went wrong; I have maybe spent too much time thinking about it.

But 2 weeks after we got married in November 2012, I suddenly fell back into old habits.

It wasn’t a gradual fall, it was quick and left us both feeling lost and unable to comprehend it. We had moved to Sydney, left all the people we knew and who supported us, we had very little money and struggled getting jobs. Life had thrown all different things at us, when marriage in itself seemed enough. So what has the last two years been like? Well, as most of you who are reading this would know, an eating disorder is a life threatening, serious, destructive illness. It’s a tyrant, its based on denial and deception. It involves stealing, lying, wasting money, time and life. For those who do not overcome it, unfortunately it results in death.

I am 24 years old, I weigh 37 kgs and am 174cm tall. I have Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. In my spare time, I live under the control of this terrible illness… I steal money, I steal food, I throw it up. Sometimes a whole day will pass and I will not remember any of it, under the trance of this illness. I have spent hundreds of dollars in days, all on food that no one ever got to see.

When we have arranged to go out and be with people, I end up cancelling, either because I am too anxious about what they are going to think of me or because secretly I have been binge eating on food and cannot go anywhere because I need to throw it up. My husband has continuously forgiven me, time and time again. He has done nothing but love me with unconditional love. He has held me, both in tears and prayed. He has bought me flowers just to see me smile, he gave up an excellent job so that I could be closer to people for support, he has filled rooms full of balloons and filled them with tiny messages to remind me that he is here and isn’t giving up. He deliberately hops into bed before me to warm my side up, as I feel the cold. During a fight, I was still upset going to bed so I resided on the couch, half way through the night I felt someone’s arms pick me up and carry me to bed.

I heard a small whisper, ‘The only time we will ever sleep in separate beds is when we are apart and cannot be in the same bed together.’

He then wrapped his arms around me and held me until I had fallen back asleep. He has put up with the mood swings that come with the illness. Sometimes I say the most terrible, heart breaking and mean things, and he will sit there and simply respond with ‘Alyssa, I love you and I am not going anywhere.’ Matt has been so sacrificial. He has stayed with me through this, when most men in our day and age would probably walk away. He has been a wonderful witness and example of Christ’s love for us. He is a beautiful man. God has been so good to me.

My husband without a doubt is the greatest gift, other than God’s grace, that I have ever been given.

When we moved this year, I decided I didn’t want this illness any longer. I want to be free of it. It has been a hard journey so far, but by God’s grace I am very slowly getting there. We take each day as it comes, and we thank the Lord for the good days and the bad days. We are so grateful and see so many blessings around us and we want to focus on those things. Please keep us in your prayers as I learn to lean, whole-heartedly serve and depend upon God and find my satisfaction, worth and contentment in him. Please keep praying for my husband, Matt, that he will continue to find the strength he needs from God and that he would have wisdom to know how to love me best and look after me best.

Reader Question: My Husband is So Passive!

Reader Question of the WeekWhat do you do when you’re married to a passive husband?

Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. Today we’ve got a question from a woman who feels like her husband doesn’t initiate or take the lead.

A little background–we are not a “traditional” newlywed couple–my husband and I just celebrated our second anniversary, I’m older and have grown children from a previous long term marriage, he was briefly married as a very young man, I am his first “roomie” ever, he is still in the military.

Our situation–I need and want my husband to be more decisive, a leader, and take charge (in and out of the bedroom). He is a generous, kind, caring man and I’m grateful and love him dearly. We have a good sex life (2-4/ week) but I’d say I’m the higher drive spouse and initiate almost all of the time–however after much reinforcement and affirmation and really just getting tired of always initiating–I’ve notice a slight improvement in he starting to initiate. I long to feel desired and pursued! I long for him to be more in charge-need his strong, masculine self to make me feel more feminine. I long for him to have an opinion when I ask what he’d like to do, eat, watch etc. It is nice that he wants to please me and make sure I’m happy but I’m concerned how this passivity will affect the long term health of our marriage.

The last thing I want to do is hurt my husband or make him feel like he’s “doing something wrong”. I heard that term in the beginning of our marriage when I tried to bring up things that were bothering me and have worked on finding ways to communicate more effectively. I’m more hesitant and seeking help in this area bc this obviously ties to his being a man and his masculinity and in no way do I want to unintentionally disrespect or demean him!

Do you have suggestions, resources, a way to encourage him? A way to start talking?

Let’s look at this from a number of different angles:

Living with a Passive Husband: Accepting Personality Differences

1. Some People May Seem Passive, But Their Personality is Just Laid Back

She seems to want her husband to be decisive and have opinions, and she views this as a character defect because he doesn’t. But these are also different sides of personality. There are umpteen ways to measure personality, and I’ve talked on this blog before about my favourite–the MBTI. Basically it divides personality into four spectrums:

Extrovert/Introvert
Sensing/Intuitive (are you a detail person or a big picture person)
Thinking/Feeling (do you value logic or feelings when making decisions)
Judging/Perceiving (are you quick to have an opinion, or do you like to be spontaneous?)

I’m totally guessing here, but it sounds like he may be an FP, and she may be a TJ. Thinking/Judgers are big on opinions and action and just DOING something. FPs are big on living in the moment, enjoying things, and not getting too worked up over anything.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with either.

We need to be very careful in marriage that we do not attribute a character flaw to someone when it is simply a personality difference. I’m a TJ, so I understand the woman’s urge to want someone to make a decision and to express it quickly. But I also married a TJ. If she chose to marry someone who was not like that, she really can’t blame him for it. Even the fact that she’s saying he’s a passive husband instead of saying he’s a laid back husband already means a value judgment.

In marriage we all have to adjust to each other. Perhaps what God really wants her to learn is how to be more spontaneous, how to live life without definite plans, how to enjoy the moment, and how to just relax. These are all good things, too.

Don’t try to change him. He’s a good and generous man, but he’s simply different from you, and that honestly is okay. It may be a good idea to take a personality test so that you can see this in black and white. It isn’t a character problem, but instead differences in how you approach life. Sometimes it’s those differences that can make life fun!

2. Be Careful of Overcompensating

Different Parenting StylesThere’s a funny dynamic in marriage that goes something like this, and let me use parenting as an example because we all get it. Let’s say that you could measure leniency as a parent on a scale of 1-100, and discipline on a scale of 1-100. Let’s say that one parent falls at about 25 on the discipline scale, and one parent falls at about 25 on the leniency scale. One parent wants more order, and one parent wants more fun.

Here’s what often happens as the two parents interact with the kids: the lenient parent sees the discipline parent discipline, and so they became concerned. That makes them become even more lenient, because they want to give their kids a break. As the discipline parent sees the lenient parent grow even more lenient, they feel that the discipline is even more in their hands, and so they start coming down even harder. Both parents are trying to make up for what they see the other parent not doing.

Now, suddenly, they’re both 75 on their scales. They’re comfortable at 25, but they’ve become a caricature of themselves while they try to compensate for the other.

That’s a common dynamic, but it’s one we need to make sure we don’t follow. In this case, the wife could be so concerned the husband makes no decisions that she starts to make even more. That reinforces him as the passive one, and her as the decisive one. Soon she’s become more decisive than she even wants to be, but she’s also given him permission to be even more passive. It’s not healthy.

If you see something lacking, don’t fill the gap. Sometimes it’s best to back off. She backed off on initiating, and he did begin to initiate more. That’s good!

3. Accept Him as He Is

Here’s what I see from this letter: she’s tried all kinds of different ways to make her “passive husband” open up more, because she feels that something is holding him back and he’s missing out on life. She wants him to communicate better and to initiate more.

But few guys like talking. And he’s in the military! That means that he’s been taught to keep his feelings under wraps and just do what you need to in the moment. Sitting around and analyzing what’s going on in your head isn’t a big part of his experience.

She suddenly wants him to start opening up, and she’s frustrated that he’s not.

I guess I’d ask, why? What did you expect him to do?

Let me be perfectly blunt here. Stop trying to change him and stop trying to have these big communication sessions. Just accept him. He seems like a decent, responsible, kind person, who doesn’t like to talk about his feelings. In other words, he seems like the vast majority of men. It doesn’t mean he’s hiding anything, and it doesn’t mean that he has things bottled up. He just would prefer not to look too deeply, and that’s okay.

Instead of trying to get him to sit down and talk, why don’t you spend time with him? Find a hobby you can do together. Have him take you to the shooting range. Take up jogging. It doesn’t matter what it is; but do things together. That’s when you’re likely to start talking; it’s far more likely to happen outdoors when you’re doing something than at night when you say, “now’s when we’re going to communicate.”

4. Be Grateful for Your Sex Life

It sounds like you two have a great sex life. 2-4 times a week is wonderful! And it sounds like he’s a good lover, interested in pleasing you. No, it’s not absolutely everything you want, but it sounds pretty good. Why not start focusing on what you do like, instead of on what you’re missing?

Thank him for what he does do. Send him flirty texts referring to something that happened last night. Just be generous!

If there really is something that you’re missing, you can suggest having “His/Her Saturdays” or something, where one week you do what you want (and you lay out how he’s supposed to initiate), and the next week you do what he wants. That works for some couples. But I think learning to laugh together and appreciate what you do have is far better than mentioning inadequacies, especially when you’re doing well. When you both feel like good lovers, it’s far easier to continue to improve. When you both feel judged, people tend to retreat.

Those are my initial thoughts, but I’d love to hear yours! I’m also quite aware that this woman has a great husband–he may be passive, but overall he sounds like a solid guy. I know some of you don’t have that. Your passive husband won’t get a job, or plays video games all the time, or something like that. In those cases my advice would be quite different. But this man doesn’t seem to be doing anything wrong; they simply have different personalities. And in that case, I still think the best route is acceptance, not trying to change someone.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

How God Used a Leaky Faucet to Fix My Attitude

how God used a leaky faucet to fix my attitudeToday’s guest post is from Shaylah Coogan from There Once Was This Girl, where she shares her life-changing story about her laundry room and choices that helped fix her attitude.

I am not particularly proud to admit this, but I had a bit of a breakdown this past weekend.

It was the last weekend of Spring Break, and I had the morning to the evening of every day planned out.   I was doing the breakfast dishes Friday morning, and as I opened the cabinet below the kitchen sink, I noticed water where it shouldn’t be.  I pulled out the dish-washing detergent and some other junk I had in there. Lo and behold everything was covered in water.  Not only that, but the wood cabinets and the back wall had really soaked in the water draining from the sink…or I should say not draining through the pipes as it should.

The sink, the pipes, the faucet…all old.  We had a small leak at the faucet for some time now that we became comfortable with–ignoring since it wasn’t really causing any damage.  And about a year ago we noticed a few drips from the pipes below, but it was nothing a bit of patch work couldn’t fix up.  We should have known better that small, simple signs of damage are actually signs of impending doom to your budget.

Oh the budget!  I can’t very well leave that part out.  My husband and I have been on a kick for a few years now of paying off our debt.  We are making much headway with the exception of the house, two credit cards and my glorious student loan (I used the word “glorious” in an extremely sarcastic tone in order to refrain from the other words I would like to use).  In order for us to reach our financial goals, we stay on a fairly tight budget and it works!  For a good portion of the year, we are a one-income household which is nothing new to me as a former single mom.  

So over the years, I have learned to stretch a dollar in many, many ways.

Like using coupons, menu planning, stockpiling, creative cooking and freezing and also finding ways to cut costs around our home and in everyday expenditures.  This gives us more money for the fun things to do as a family, vacations and saving money.  We pay cash for things and if we don’t have the cash then guess what?  We don’t buy it.  It’s a simple philosophy that really works but really took some getting used to on my part.

I was a financial mess (did you think I’d say guru?!) as a single mom.  I didn’t know how to budget or save and I seemed to make dumb mistake after dumb mistake with my hard-earned money.   My philosophy was if I don’t have the money to pay the bill AND I don’t see the bill then the bill doesn’t exist.  Don’t judge me….I never claimed to be the smartest mom in the world especially when full of stress and anxiety.  For me single motherhood created this massive and overwhelming amount of stress that many times I couldn’t see the forest for the trees…if you know what I mean.

So…God blessed me with a budgeting genius for a husband.  Funny how He knows just what I need.

Lets go back about two hours prior to the “kitchen catastrophe”.  We are halfway through the month, the budget was already set and we had a trip planned in there for the end of March.  As I was checking my emails, I had two emails reminding me of two different upcoming invoices due at the end of this month.  One was a complete surprise to me and the other I had forgotten about.  So needless to say, neither were budgeted for.  The stress, anxiety and past emotions from my years as a single mom were starting to fill up the machine that releases my tears.  I fought back telling myself that these are things to not worry about.  Rely on God and give Him my stress, anxiety and worry.  And I did…and it worked.  Thank you Jesus.

“Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

The only way I can make sense of what happened next is that the enemy heard my voice give this worry to God.  The enemy felt my mind erase my past experiences and emotions and felt me relax in peace of His presence. An hour later and we have a kitchen disaster.

I didn’t panic or stress out.  At least not right away.  At first it looked as though it was an easy fix then we discovered that the previous owners shoddy repairs and cheapness topped by our band-aids now meant a brand new sink, facet and plumbing.  I think many women might get excited about that prospect.  And I would have, IF the expense had been planned for, budgeted and saved for.  I began to think about the weekend plans wasted, the budget ruined, money gone and my mind quickly took a left turn and hurdled into my past struggles.  If only I could run that fast AWAY from those thoughts.  I lost my “Christ center” as I like to call it.  It’s my stillness where only He can calm the waves and helps me weather my storms.

With my “Christ center” far, far away, I became short-tempered with everyone.  Now I was the one ruining the weekend.  This was spiraling out of my control.

So I went to the one place where I was certain and with out a doubt, guaranteed to be alone with my tears, my anxious thoughts and worries.  A place where I could attempt to restore Christ at my center.

The laundry room.

No one touches that room.  I often wonder, do they even know how to find it?  Everyone goes out of their way to avoid the laundry room at all costs for fear of me popping my head out to say “hey come help me.”  So it’s become my sanctuary…all that’s missing is a comfy chair.  I don’t like to break down especially in front of others.  I refuse to be weak, is what I began to tell myself.  Once those thoughts passed and my toughness was breaking through my tears, I realized this was the enemy at work again and was pulling me into a prideful mindset that kept me in trouble so many years ago.

I remembered the Lord said “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now shall it spring forth; shall you not know it?” – Isaiah 43:18-19

The reminder of my past financial mistakes and the enormous consequences of those mistakes were creating roadblocks in my mind, once again adding distance from God.  He tells me in this verse that in order to look forward with joy in all things (even a small kitchen disaster), I must first let go and not dwell on my past.  Doing so will keep my focus on my past failures and the emotional turmoil of those failures and off of what God has in store for me now.

I felt as though God was telling me it is okay.  This is not a big deal.  You are stirring up old emotions and worries that have no place here.  My acceptance of this truth caused me to turn to leave my place of refuge and in walks my husband.  Straight into the dreaded laundry room to hug me and say this is not a big deal.  Don’t worry.

God is so awesome.

This “new thing” God suddenly sprang on us was lots of time together focused on solving a problem.  We messed up the plumbing and install a few times, learned from our mistakes (thank you YouTube!) and yes it messed up our budget a bit but that’s okay.  If there is one huge thing I have learned from my single motherhood days is that worry and peace cannot coexist and that every minute given to me each day is filled with choices.  Choices of peace, prayer, worship and thankfulness which bring me closer to Him.  Or choices of worry, stress, anger, resentment and anxiety to push me further away from Him.   It’s an easy choice.

shaylahShaylah Coogan is a Christ loving, 40 year old mom of two and a wife to a very patient and loving man.  As a former single mom, she has been following her purpose and calling by providing encouragement, support and guidance to other single moms in hopes that none of these amazing women have to live a life on the verge of breaking. Find her at her blog, There Once Was This Girl, or on Facebook.

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Dear God, He’s Home! Living with a Stay at Home Dad

Living with a stay at home dad

UPDATE: The original post that was here has been deleted.

I need to offer everyone an apology. I’ve been off of the computer and away from the internet for a few days while speaking and recuperating and traveling, and I really haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on. I had some guest posts go up on auto pilot, and I didn’t give them the due diligence that I should have.

I’ve just read over some of the comments, and I have to say that I agree. If you were to write a post like this and reverse the genders, it would sound terrible. And if it sounds terrible saying it about women, then it sounds terrible saying it about men, too.

And so I took down the content of this original post, and this weekend I’ll try to rewrite it the way I would have written it had I written on the same topic.

I do want the blog to maintain my voice, and sometimes that’s hard when I use guest posts. But I should have been more diligent, and I am sorry. I’ll try to monitor everything and ask, “would I have been comfortable saying exactly this?” before I put up anything anymore.

 

Christian Marriage Advice

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The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


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Wifey Wednesday: He’s Not the Man I Married Anymore!

My husband has changed--but so have I. Thoughts on change in marriage--and why it can be a good thing (even if it's hard!)It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Today please welcome Dayna from Dayna Bickham, who shares how her husband has changed since they got married.

The man I married no longer exists.

When we married, nearly twenty years ago, I thought I knew what our life together would be like. I thought I knew what I was getting into and who I was marrying. Boy was I wrong.

Randy was a people pleaser, a mercy man, and was more emotionally driven than most guys I knew. When I met him I liked these things about him. I was so opposite. I did not care what people thought of me or my actions (good or bad), I saw things in stark black and crisp white and emotions were something of a bi-polar topic for me. I wore my joy and anger on my sleeves equally, but hid any other emotions because they made me feel weak. Randy seemed to know that and gave me a safe place to land where all that broken stuff in me did not matter.

But Randy isn’t the man I married all those years ago. My husband has changed.

You see, I married a guy who I thought would understand me as I was and never try to change me. I married a guy who I thought would always strive to please me.  I married a guy who I thought would let me emotionally vomit on him any time I needed to because he understood me. Oh, how wrong I was.

Thank God.

Randy is not that same shy boy I married and I am no longer that self-centered little girl.

Marriage is a great catalyst that way.

cat·a·lyst ˈkatl-ist/ noun

  1. A substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.

Change is Coming

Marriage begins with a blissful ignorance. There may be small things that bug us about the other one — like toothpaste cap application issues and replacing the toilet paper — but in general the buzz we feel from being “in love” still lingers and we move on. But over time we realize that the things we thought we liked about the other person may not be as good as we thought.

Life begins to rub up against us in some really uncomfortable ways and stress begins to squeeze us. Like those glow sticks you have to break and shake to make glow, stress bends us to a point where we hit our breaking point. The consequent shaking can either tear you apart or make you cling more tightly to one another. If you cling then likely you will change – fundamentally and radically. The people who come out of the stress induced crisis are different than the ones who go in.

This is life — but in marriage it is intensified.

So change is inevitable. Slowly and surely the man you fell in love with will change. So will you. This is a good thing.

Does anyone want to still be married to the kid version of their spouse — the one who did not know how to pay bills, who’d rather go see a movie than mow the lawn and found video games a better way to spend all his time — that kid version? What about you? Do you think he wants to stay with a girl who takes hours to get ready, never says what she really thinks, doesn’t order her own food but eats all of his fries, and spends all her time daydreaming instead of doing?

Change Chafes

So when you find yourself getting frustrated with your spouse because they are not the person you thought they were, kindly get over yourself.

I know that seems harsh, but it is time we grow up a little when it comes to marriage. Our spouses are not one size fits all and there is no return policy. Not if we want marriage done God’s way.

So I propose — if you are having a difficult time with your spouse — you do this. Write down the top three things you loved about him/her then (leave some space in-between your answers – or you can make a chart), next write down how those things have changed.

Spouse’s Name

How Did He/She Change

Why did they change? What happened?

Is this Good or Bad? How?

Trait 1 You Liked
Trait 2 You Liked
Trait 3 You Liked

Now, write down why those things have changed. If we are honest, the reasons why may include the answer, “Because I changed…” or life challenge words like “cancer” or “mom’s death” may come into play.

Finally, ask yourself why the change in your spouse is a bad thing? (I am not talking about sin issues here — those need to be addressed separately from this.) Ask yourself, what new character trait has developed? How that can make your marriage stronger?

If you can, get your spouse to do this evaluation on you, and then talk about what that means to your relationship. There will be things that are beneficial to your marriage and things that you will not like. It will be up to you to “fix” those outliers and move forward with more focus on who you are now.

Change Your Mindset

Like any plant, we need some encouragement. Plants get encouragement through their environments and from pruning/training. We are similar. We get encouragement to grow when our marriage is safe, full of life, and well apportioned with love and devotion (our environment). In addition, our spouses can help shape our growth by lovingly working alongside us — pointing out what needs cutting out — so we can grow (pruning/training.)

I am not saying your spouse is there to parent you. I am saying the person you married should be trustworthy enough to help make you into a better person without destroying you at the roots.

Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other. Proverbs 27:17 CEV

I cannot tell you how many times Randy has brought up my trigger temper (at great risk to him! Ha!) or I have encouraged him to break free of his shyness more. Both are uncomfortable topics for each of us, but if we want a healthier, happier life, growth must happen.

Lou Holtz, one of the best football coaches of all time says, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.”

The key is growing together.

What kind of changing has happened in your spouse since you married? How have you handled that change?

Dayna BickhamDayna is a writer and speaker. She is also a wife, mother, and Whovian. Bow ties ARE cool. She loves great music, food, and laughing. Above all she loves laughing. Dayna blogs at daynabickham.com. During the summers she leads mission trips around the world. Her passion is teaching people to hear the Lord for themselves and to pursue whatever he says with their whole heart. You can friend her on Facebook and Twitter. Dayna’s is the author of Chosen for Purpose: Overcoming Giants and Living Your Dreams, available at online retailers everywhere.

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, do you have any advice for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!



The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

4 Kinds of Talk You Need in a Marriage

How to Talk to Your Husband: 4 Kinds of Talks every Marriage Needs

It’s Top 10 Tuesday! And while I normally post a “top 10″ list with a bunch of ideas that you can pick from, I thought today I’d just do 4, since I received this wonderful post from Emily Wierenga about how to talk to your husband. Here’s Emily:

We’re skipping church this once, because we’ve been gone all weekend and the Sabbath is about rest.

We’re watching it instead, online, Pastor Mark Hughes’ Church of the Rock, and we’re watching a sermon on marriage on separate couches, while our boys climb all over us. Trent and I look at each other across the room and sigh, roll our eyes and there’s a splash of sunlight on the floor, falling from the sky. Just a splash but it’s enough to make the room feel warmer.

Marriage is hard with kids, and it’s hard without kids too. It’s just plain hard. Not because of anything except that you are two sinful people with different ways of communicating, different ways of seeing and perceiving the world and suddenly you’re apparently one body and not only that, you’re expected to raise two very impressionable young children while being consistently “on the same page”.

And you try to have date night which basically means sitting on the couch with your feet up watching something funny because you can’t handle serious after the kind of day you had and suddenly the boys are yelling at you from bed because they want more water or another song or they’re suddenly hungry.

And you do that thing where you look at each other and even though you’re side by side you feel miles apart.

“Who are you?” you ask, not only to the person in front of you but to the person that you are, because you forget. You forget what makes you laugh. You forget what you used to do when you had free time, you forget what romance is because you’re so tired when you fall into bed it’s all you can do turn out the light before you’re snoring.

But I want more.

I know, my kids are two and four and we’re both neck deep in our careers and yet, I don’t want to lose “us” before the kids are out of the house and suddenly we don’t know what to talk about anymore.

But more than that, I want to have the kind of marriage that makes my kids want to get married.

I want the kind of marriage that makes my kids want to get married.

They say that your eyes should light up every time your kids walks into the room. Heck, I think we should aim just as high when our spouse walks into the room.

But it’s not just about the eyes lighting up. It’s about talking to your other half–really, truly talking. According to Pastor Mark Hughes of Church of the Rock–the program we were watching on separate couches while our boys tugged on our hair and flipped across our laps, there are 4 kinds of talk that will save a marriage.

Small Talk:

You know, the kind in which you discuss the weather, the day, How was work honey, Did you get the mail like I asked you to, Why didn’t you get the mail like I asked you to?! Yeah,  that kind of talk.

Sweet Talk:

Trent and I call each other Babes, but that’s about the extent of our sweet talk, so we realized we needed to work on that. So I told him one night that I liked his butt. He told me he liked mine too. It’s a start.

Serious Talk:

This is when you discuss a heightened version of Small talk, concerning more crucial topics, like health, finances, relationships, careers. People often think they’re having an intimate talk if it’s about something serious, but in fact, it’s not. Yet it’s still important to do.

Soul Talk:

This is the most intimate version of communication. This is where you ask each other a “soul” question, like “What are you afraid of?” or “If you could accomplish one thing with your life, what would it be?”

So Trent and I have started soul-talking. Because we’ve realized we’ve been living mostly off of small talk, serious talk and a crush on each other’s butts. But our marriage was feeling flat because there was no soul.

You gotta have soul.

So set aside one night a week where you ask each other a question. Put the kids to bed early, pop some corn, pour each other a glass of bubbly and sit out on the deck.

It’s worth it to one day have the kind of marriage that makes our kids say, “Hey–I want one of those!”

JJG_1313

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of four books including A Promise in Pieces. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

A Promise in Pieces:

It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.

Purchase Emily Wierenga’s debut novel now, and get a second Quilts of Love book when you send in your receipt to fiction@abingdonpress.com.

Top 10 Ways to Get Ready for Your Future Husband

Top Ten TuesdayToday, on top 10 Tuesday, I’m welcoming the blogger from There Once Was This Girl to share about getting ready for your future husband. Her life was not at all pristine before she was married, but she found God and He made all the difference.

As my husband and I approach our 1 year anniversary, I can’t help but reflect on our past and the difference it has made in our lives to follow the path God had for us. In March we celebrated nine years together. At first we were very happy and in love, but something was just not right. We spent two of those years dating, then three+ years living together. Then the change pressing on our souls that had to happen in order to continue our journey and our relationship with Christ hit us. For the next two+ years we abstained from all sexual relations, as we waited for our wedding night. This was, by far, the greatest decision we made. Those two and half years provided me much-needed time for reflection and insight of my past, mindset and decisions made along the way. The intimacy and connection it brought to my husband and I was unlike no other.

For those of you who are like I was, in a relationship that everyone says you’re supposed to have, but you feel is just not right, I want to give you ten steps to make you ready for the relationship God really does have for you.

Getting ready for your future husband

1. Pray–for you and your future husband.

Ask others to pray with you and for you. Are you asking God to bring you a man or a better man but not truly believing (by your actions and self talk) that you are worthy of the best, most gentle, loving and caring man? Are you praying for your future husband but not asking God to open your heart, mind and eyes to the lies you are currently believing and accepting? Are you not asking God to change you, mold you and prepare you for your future husband? If not, it is time to start.

2. Stop having premarital sex.

It does not matter if you are currently in a relationship. Stop and wait until your married. If he leaves you because of this, then you will know without a doubt that this person is not “the one”. It doesn’t matter if you have a child with this man, you have been dating him for 10 years or your relationship is new. This type of sin slowly chips away at your soul, self-worth and separates you from the relationship you were meant to have with God. You should be insulted as a beautiful and worthy woman of God, if he feels it is important to sample you before marrying you. By not waiting, you are the one in control of your life and you are choosing your own path. When you choose your own path over the one God has for you, you are missing out on the opportunities God wants for you–including the opportunity to meet someone who is really right for you.

(Have trouble with this one? Here’s a post on how to stop sleeping with your boyfriend.)

3. Don’t Define Yourself by Your Boyfriend

If you feel your worth is defined by having a man in your life and having that man stay in your life depends on you giving him your precious body then you need to spend much more alone time with God and His word. Understand these are Satan’s lies you are believing to be true about yourself. These are lies.

4. Learn what real intimacy is.

Understand that sex is really NOT the intimacy and connection you desire and crave. Satan tells us it is readily available to us through sex. This is a huge lie designed to separate us from our Creator, think less of our selves and destroy our self-worth. See the lie for what it’s worth and turn yourself towards Gods truth.

5. Know that sex does not equal love.

Love is not full of lies, cheating eyes, nor cheating bodies. Love is not belittling and degrading comments or gestures. Love is not a strong abusive hand or voice. If you have believed this lie to be true know that you are worth so much more. Read what the bible says love is (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

(Have trouble with this one? Here’s a post on why God wants us to wait until we’re married for sex.)

6. Get involved in helping others.

Get involved at church, start a singles small group. Take up a hobby. Get yourself healthy – emotionally, spiritually and physically. And do this with your boyfriend, if you have one. His character will be revealed as you help others together. And if he doesn’t want to help? That’s a huge sign, too.

(Knowing what kind of person your boyfriend is is so important! Here’s my list of 4 things you absolutely need in a future husband).

7. Love yourself through God’s eyes.

Believe His truths, speak His truths over and over in your head. Speak them out loud. Wrap yourself in the full armor of God and take captive every negative and sinful thought. Believe that you are worth waiting for and your future husband is worth waiting for. Prepare now for future temptation.

8. Realize that you can not pick and choose which parts of God’s word you choose to believe.

There are many sins which are the result of following with your flesh and not with your faith. Sex before marriage is one of those. Control your thoughts and your flesh will follow.

9. Own the truth that you are not alone.

You may feel alone but if you really dig deep into God’s word you will see that you are not alone. You are beautiful, precious and very much-loved. You are worthy and valuable. So much so that saving yourself for marriage…for your future…would be the ultimate gift to give to him. By not waiting you are in control of your life and choosing your own path. When you choose your path over the one God has for you, you are missing out on opportunities to meet someone who you will be able to serve God with fully.

10. Be patient as you get ready for your future husband.

While it may feel that God is making you wait forever, He is still preparing you. Remember He could still be at work in your future husband too. Even though you may be ready in God’s eyes, your soul mate is not ready yet. Be still while He readies him for you. Maybe your future husband is just as stubborn as you once were! Be patient and have faith.

There OnceAs a former single mom, “Anonymous” was skilled at making a messy disaster of her life and home. Through accepting Christ and His word, she was able to find the hope and encouragement needed to improve our situation.  She has a huge heart and passion for single moms in hopes of encouraging and motivating those precious ladies to not follow in her footsteps of disaster but to follow God. You can find her at There Once Was This Girl.

Wifey Wednesday: Keeping Sex Alive When You Face ED (Erectile Dysfunction)

 

Sex Life and ED in Marriage: How to keep your sex life alive

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below. Today we’re concluding a 3-part series on sexual dysfunction in marriage, and today we’re going to wrap it up by talking about ED in marriage–and how to keep your sex life alive.

We talked on Monday about the different causes of ED (erectile dysfunction), and how to deal with them. And yesterday we tackled premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation. We looked at how porn was often, though not always, the underlying cause of ED and other problems.

But what about when porn isn’t the problem? What about when it is a physical issue, and it doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight?

Here’s an email I received from one woman, for instance:

ED has been an ongoing health issue for my husband for years. It happened gradually, but now we never have sex. Of course that has left a huge void in our marriage. But we’ve been together 29 years, so it’s not a deal breaker either. He’s seen a doctor who found an enlarged prostate, and he takes meds for that. The other stuff to enhance erections are not covered by our insurance, and we can’t afford the out of pocket expenses. He’s also very sensitive to some meds and does not like the long string of side effects that can happen from those.

So how has that affected our relationship? “There is other intimacy you can have,” you say? Well, when a man loses his ability to perform sex, he also gradually loses his other intimacy practices. i.e., playful touch, hugging, flirting — basically anything that might lead to sex. It’s disappointing to us both — we talk about it rarely — it’s hurtful. I get resentful sometimes that he won’t knock down the doors of every medical institution to “get it fixed,” like I imagine he should want to. But the truth is, that even with couples who still have a healthy sex life, it takes work, and sometimes planning to make that time happen. It’s easier to skip because you are too tired or whatever so you get content not having sex. Same thing for us, only it’s because it’s too hurtful to try and disappoint. I feel like we’ve settled.

Am I happy with the sexless part? Not at all. Do I Iove my husband? Dearly!

I still have hope that one day God will restore this part of our marriage. But I’ve accepted that He might not as well.

What do you do when ED, or other sexual dysfunction, is a physical problem, but you don’t want the sexual side of your relationship to end? You do want to feel intimate. You do want to feel pleasure. You want to be able to laugh again without this BIG THING between you–this feeling like you’re distant, and you’re settling, and things will never be totally good again.

I want to give just a few thoughts today, and hope that others who have gone through something similar will chime in, too. I’m not going to talk about how to cure ED today, since I talked about that on Monday. I want to just talk about how to revive your sex life even if things still aren’t working like clockwork.

Acknowledge that He is Grieving about His ED

If your husband can no longer have intercourse, chances are he’s really grieving. A huge part of his life–what many would say is the most important part–seems gone. Let him air these feelings without having to fix them. Now is not the time to say, “but we can still do X…” Just let him vent. And hold him. And tell him, “I will always love you, and we will get through this, and we will find our way.”

But let him grieve.

You Need to Be Able to Communicate About the Sexual Dysfunction and what it Means

That being said, you can’t stay in the grieving process. You have to move on, and you have to find your way through towards a new kind of intimacy.

Now, you aren’t going to be able to do anything if you can’t first talk about the issue. So the question isn’t really “how can we save our sex life if he has ED”, but rather, “how can we keep talking about our sex life if he has ED, and not ignore the elephant in the room?”

Here’s some general guidelines for keeping these lines of communication open. And these suggestions build on each other–as in do #1 before #3.

1. Laugh everyday. Do things together OUTSIDE the bedroom and work on your friendship.

2. Find other hobbies to do together so that you still feel like a unit.

3. When you talk about wanting a sex life, stress that you want intimacy, not intercourse. Stress that you do not think he is a failure or that you want him to be different; the issue is simply that you don’t want to lose what you still can have. Your life is simply different, but your relationship can still grow.

For more ideas you can see my post here about how to talk to your husband if he has no libido, since the issues are actually quite similar.

See Sex as More Than Intercourse

Sex is about being intimate together. It’s about becoming one flesh. It’s about sharing something with one person that you don’t share with anybody else. It’s about becoming open and vulnerable together.

And you can do all of those things without intercourse.

Obviously intercourse is the culmination of this, and when health problems aren’t a factor, I would never recommend giving up intercourse. But if intercourse just doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop being sexual beings.

Sex can be about being naked together; sex can be about doing full body massages with massage oil, switching places. Sex can be about taking baths together and talking about your dreams for the future. Sex can be about deep kisses.

Talk to him about how you still want these things in your life. Our letter writer wrote that when ED hits, it’s not just sex that she loses. It’s kissing and touching and affection, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Let him know that you still want to touch him. Again, acknowledge his grief, and tell him you’re grieving, too. But you’ve lost intercourse. You’re not willing to lose everything else, too.

Do What You Can Despite the ED

Some men have intermittent ED, where it works sometimes and it doesn’t work others. Or perhaps he suffers from premature ejaculation where he doesn’t like to have to sex often because he’s afraid he won’t perform well. Agree that you will do what you can–meaning you’ll have intercourse when it works, and when it doesn’t, that’s okay. But it’s not a PASS/FAIL system. Don’t think of each sexual encounter being about orgasm; think about it being about pleasure. See how much pleasure you can give each other, whether or not you come to orgasm.

In fact, start talking about it that way. Instead of, “can we make love tonight?”, or “can we have sex tonight?”, let’s say, “can we feel good together tonight?”

If he honestly can never reach an orgasm, he may be reluctant to do anything sexual. But you can ask him to help you feel good anyway, and see if you can help him feel pleasure when he can. And remember–you can still massage and kiss and feel close. If an encounter doesn’t go the way you had hoped it would, don’t get upset, just go with the flow. It’s really okay. Yes, you’re missing something you once enjoyed, but you still have your husband. You can be sexual without intercourse. Be grateful for what you do have, and think positive things, instead of casting a negative pall over the marriage.

Schedule Your Sexual Times

The default when sexual dysfunction like ED hits your marriage is to cut way back on sex. He doesn’t even want to try. And then when you initiate, he may turn you down. You feel rejected, and he feels like a failure, and you don’t want to keep bringing up those feelings, so you stop initiating. Yet every night, there’s that unspoken question, “should we try anything?” Even if nothing is said, it’s there, between you. And you feel it every time you roll over and turn your back to him as you go to sleep.

One way around this that works well for some couples is to schedule sex. It isn’t necessarily the time that you have intercourse; it’s the time that you spend together naked, massaging, feeling whatever pleasure you can, kissing, and just dreaming and talking together in bed.

I firmly suggest, as forcefully as I can, that shortly after the diagnosis of some sort of sexual dysfunction (with a physical cause), that you agree that at least once a week you will have a “sexual night”. Make it regular, like every Tuesday or every Saturday, and don’t change it except in extreme circumstances. That way you both know what to expect, you don’t feel rejected and nervous and on edge all the other nights of the week (because you do know what’s coming), and he can start anticipating things so that he can also get in the right frame of mind.

Now, this isn’t going to work if you can’t talk about things, which is why it’s so important to work first on communicating. I realize that many people will say, “my husband just won’t do this”, because he feels so much like a failure he’d rather shut down completely than be reminded of what he’s missing. But that’s not a good solution, and couples would be better off if they saw this. So I’d keep at it–keep praying, keep talking to your husband, keep laughing, and keep communicating, stressing intimacy and pleasure, not intercourse. Don’t give up. See a counselor if you have to. But intimacy is still possible, and is so important in your marriage. Don’t write it off just because sex doesn’t work like it once did.

I’d love to know: how is this working in your marriage? How have you find talking to your husband about this? Have you found ways around it? Let me know in the comments!

Christian Marriage Advice

Now it’s your turn! Link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below. I feature at least two on my Facebook Page each week, which can get you a lot of traffic! And remember to link back here so that other people can read these great marriage posts.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.



Wifey Wednesday: Supporting Your Adventure Loving Husband

Supporting Your Adventure Loving Husband

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! And today Renee Tougas is joining us to share her story about her adventure loving husband.

I met my husband twenty years ago. We met at a Christian campus organization camping trip. That should have been my first clue.

I always knew my husband liked the outdoors and physical activity. When I met him he biked, hiked, kayaked, rock climbed, and lifted weights. A lot of young men are into those things. They like the physical challenge, the “muscle building”, and the adventure.

It wasn’t Damien’s sense of adventure that attracted me to him or even his muscles though. It was his steady nature. I am a reactive personality type. I am expressive in both my highs, and my lows. My husband is the near opposite of me and I fell in love with his easy going nature.

I was nineteen years old. I had no idea what I was getting into.

SONY DSCI was looking for a steady sort because though I was young I knew what I wanted in life. My dream was to be a wife and a mom. I wanted to stay home with my babies. I wanted home to be my first career and after that, well, I’d figure it out when the time came.

I was looking for a man. Call me old fashioned but I wanted someone who could provide and protect. I was frugal, and still am. I didn’t want much in the way of worldly goods but I wanted a solid, steady family life.

God gave me my husband to make those dreams come true. And to stretch me beyond those dreams in ways I could not have imagined.

As much as my husband was the steady I was seeking, he is also a visionary adventurer; not content to stay put or accept status quo. He questions and he quests. I knew a bit of this when we married, I have those tendencies myself. But I like to do my questioning from a place of relative comfort and security.

God knew what I needed. Someone to stretch me beyond the comfort and security of my carefully constructed world.

I connect with a lot of women through my blog FIMBY. I’m not a marriage expert but after seventeen years together I am happily married and still head-over-heals in-love. I guess that counts for something.

A blog reader, who was about to get married, asked me if I had any words of wisdom to share.

My advice went something like this: “Your life, your marriage, your spouse will probably surprise you in some way. Hold onto each other for dear life and be ready to change and grow.”

My own major growth spurt came a few years into our marriage. The early years of our marriage were very much about establishing home and family. Making a home in the various apartments we rented, making babies and taking care of them, learning how to be a good manager of our finances and my time. We bought a home, started homeschooling and I tended our backyard garden. I was living my dream.

And then my husband wanted to live his dream.

He has many dreams actually. He’s a dreamer. A steady provider yes, but a dreamer too. And there were things he wanted to do besides build a home and family. He wanted some adventure.

kids-campfireThus began the most significant growth curve of our married life – saying yes to my husband’s dreams. Saying yes to adventure. Saying yes to a lot of personal and marital growth that was at times physically painful and uncomfortable (like the first time backpacking!).

Something funny happened.

This comfort-loving, routine-seeking homemaker became an adventurer herself. I fell in love with the things my husband wanted to do. Hiking, backpacking, cross-country running, and backcountry skiing. I started to welcome more spontaneity into my life, and let loose the grip I had on how things must be.

I learned a few things along the way that may help you support an adventure-loving husband also.

Be his best friend.

My husband wants to be with me. He choose me. He’s rather go hiking, skiing or any other activity with me than anyone else. What a gift.

We choose each other when we made our vows. We choose to throw our lots in together, come you-know-what or high water. And trust me, I’ve experienced some “high water” moments in our adventures. But the fact remains my husband would still rather do these things with emotionally expressive me over anyone else.

We have made a conscious choice not to go separate ways in our hobbies and pursuits, instead investing time in together activities so our we get to spend as much time with each other as possible.

backpacking-autumn-leavesJust say yes. Not everyone is married to a dreaming, adventure loving husband. You might be the adventurer in your marriage, or adventurous in areas that your husband is not.

I think what our spouses want from us, regardless of which one leads the adventures, is that we say “yes”. Can we say yes every single time? Probably not. My husband has so many ideas. Too many ideas. We can’t do all the ideas, someone has to help sift through and think through them all. My “down-to-earth” managerial skills come in handy there.

But I need to say yes more than I say no.

Saying yes to our adventurous and visionary husbands communicates “I believe in you”.

It communicates respect. My husband thrives, he is fulfilled and driven to provide for our family, when he feels I respect and believe in him.

This summer I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with my best friend and the three children our love brought into existence. We are embarking on an adventure that was just a dream one time for my questing husband but because I said Yes, is now a reality.

Are you married to a visionary adventurer?

Maybe your husband is an outdoors adventurer. And he would love nothing more than to spend days in the wilderness with you, hiking and camping.

Or maybe your husband is an adventurer of a different sort. An entrepreneur or perhaps involved in ministry, blazing a trail into territory that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for you.

Regardless of which kind of adventurer he is, I bet he wants, more than anything, to have you join him. To be his adventurer-in-arms. To have you say “yes”, just like you did those years ago when he proposed.

If your family loves adventures of the outdoor kind and would love inspiration, ideas, and encouragement for how to make more of that happen in your life, follow our adventure this summer by subscribing to our video series Beyond our Boundaries: A Family Adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Never heard of the Appalachian Trail? You can read all about it and details of our family adventure here.

How do you support your adventure-loving husband? Let me know in the comments!

Renee TougasRenee Tougas is a hiker and homemaker; a mother and wife; a writer and photographer. Fresh and honest, Renee’s blog FIMBY is the story of interest-led learning, creative and adventurous family living.



Christian Marriage Advice
Now 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!

 

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

Screwtape Letter to an Exhausted Mom

Today, please welcome Kelsey, who writes at Organizing Life with Littles. She shares a delightful post ala C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, regarding an exhausted mother.

Screwtape Letter to an Exhausted Mom--We need to fight back! My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.

First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.

Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on  her troubles and pains.

Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.

Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.

If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.

Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.

We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.

Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.

We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

Kelsey ShadeKelsey is a Christian, young wife, and mother of two boys under 3.  She blogs about home management, organization (with kids!), frugal living, and living faithfully at OrganizingLifeWithLittles.com.  You can also find her on Facebook! If you liked this Screwtape Letter, I’m sure Kelsey would appreciate you visiting her sites and connecting with her, too!