Archive for ‘marriage’

September 28, 2010

I’m Going to Get into Your Business! – Guest Post

On Friday I shared a comment from a reader that really has me thinking. The commenter shares about her spouse:

He would announce he was the head of house (I had told him that) he would tease my new faith in public; all the while I would smile and not correct him (thinking it was not my place).

I can assure you, this scenario is commonplace within unequally yoked marriages. As Christians, we can mistakenly believe we must turn the other check and virtually become a doormat within our marriage in order to convince our spouse of our faith, hoping they will come to Christ.

Women misguidedly believe they are demonstrating love to their mate by going along with their every whim and decision. They also think they are not conforming to Biblical principles when standing up to her husband’s ridicule of her faith and thus allow his disrespect of who she is as his wife. Men who are married to unbelieving wives are desperate to model Christ’s love and therefore give into the demands of their wife hoping their display of sacrificial love will win her over.

Now hear me on this. There ARE times when we need to check our selfishness at the door and support our spouse’s decisions. There are also times when the health of our marriage demands we draw a line in what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Again I refer you to Friday’s post for some suggestions to discover what a healthy marriage relationship looks like.

A few weeks ago a friend shared with me that she was struggling with the way her husband was speaking to her. I decided to share with her how I handled this common conflict in marriage and now I think it’s time for me to tell this story here.

Let me preface this account with a few facts. I am a passionate person. So is my husband. We both came into our marriage with some solid beliefs that are diametrically opposite. This is still the case today. However, the way we handle our disagreements when our conflicting moral issues arise has changed over the years.

In the early years, my husband and I could get into a major shouting match discussion over some random thing that was actually more reflective of our differing worldview. As we would begin to talk about this “small thing,” our passions would fire. Then we became desperate to defend our “truth.” As we would raise the intensity in our discussion and the decibel level of our voices, we would risk stepping over the line and take our conversation to a disrespecting and hurtful level.

I am sure many of you can relate to this scenario. Passions flare. Words fly. Hearts are hurt. Now I’m not a saint by any means and I have said my share of hurtful words but I am going to share an example of how I handled conflict when disrespectful words erupted from my husband.

There were times when I knew my husband had crossed the line and said something that was hurtful and went way beyond what a man should speak to his wife. At those moments I would pause in the conversation, look directly at him, then with a firm determination in my tone say something like this:

“Do NOT, (pause) speak to me that way.”

“It is absolutely out of line to talk to me like that. I don’t speak to you like that and I expect the same from you. I don’t use words like that and I will not allow you to say those things to me.”

I would be so firm and so unyielding that my husband knew he had gone too far. Now I preface this example with the fact that I am careful about how I speak to my husband and can tell him that he can expect the same respect in my language that I am expecting from him.

Another area where I believed I helped my husband grow up a bit was to point out to him that my faith isn’t always the bane of all arguments. Conversations went something like this:

“Even if you take religion out of this, the way you just spoke to me is out of line even in a nonspiritual marriage.”

Or, “The way you just treated me is was out of line even in a nonreligious marriage.”

It is right to receive respect. It is right for us to give our spouse respect. Without mutual respect, marriage is doomed.

I discovered that with many men, especially those who don’t know Christ, they will push their wife at times. Whether it’s fair or not, their respect grows when their wife stands up to him and can voice her opinion. Sometimes they need to be told they are out of line and need to grow up.

On the flip side, these scenarios also apply to wives. We need to listen and discern when we are immature and need to grow up.

Now I’m really going to get into some people’s business with what I’m going to share next. But the kind of conflict I’m about to describe is common in marriage.

If your spouse is addressing you with an obscenity (bitch/bastard etc.) it is not okay. Likewise, if you are using similar language, stop it today.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

There are many behaviors that are not okay and conflict is necessary to maintain a healthy marriage.Remember Jesus’s life was a life of conflict. It still is today.

Matthew 10: 34-36 (NIV) Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

Stop back on Friday and I will share with you how my husband and I work through conflict now after a few years of marriage. I hope this approach will be of benefit to you and your marriage. Be Blessed, Lynn

June 26, 2010

He Cheated, She Stayed: Was That Weakness?

If you are Nigerian, you are probably thinking ‘he cheated, she stayed…ehen? Kini big deal?’ Well, IF you are Nigerian, there is probably no big deal. Men cheat most of the time (there are exceptions, of course) and their women stay. Life goes on. BUT if you are not Nigerian – or belong to this new generation of Nigerians with ‘funny’ ideas, it is a big deal.

The African expectations from marriage are a bit different from those of our western counterparts. When a woman gets married in Africa, she expects to build a home with her husband; she hopes that they will be happy and looks forward to being happy. She prays he will take care of her and believes without much hope, that he will stay faithful. (At least in the time of our mothers.)

In the US for example, it is a bit different. Most women when they get married, expect to build a home with their husbands and also that they will be happy in the marriage. They might not put much stock by his taking care of them BUT he had better stay faithful! And if he is not…see you later, Alligator!

Which is why when one woman decided to stay even after her husband cheated on her, it became headline news and was even on Oprah! (dot com) You can read it here.  You see, I think that most western women give up too easily when it comes to marriage. So this article definitely caught my attention. What held me though, was the verbal abuse that went on in the comments section. She was literally vilified for daring to stay, like she had violated some unwritten code. She was called several things including weak. The general opinion (from about-to-be-divorced and divorced commenters mostly) was that in staying, she was NOT being strong for her children and was enabling abusive behaviour.

OK. I was mystified. In my own opinion, deciding to forgive and remain with a partner who has cheated, in the USA is a VERY strong thing to do.  The society makes it easy to walk out. I mean, it is the only thing to do. You watch it in the movies, read it in novels and magazines…he is not allowed to make that kind of mistake. The decision was made the first time he took the conscious step to cheat.

Now I am not advocating for cheating men (heaven forbid!). I am just saying that a good marriage is not good because it is perfect. It is good because both parties (or maybe even just one party?) put in a whole lot of determination and perseverance liberally sprinkled with forgiveness. So maybe this does not work for everybody and some men are just serial cheaters. There is no need to put yourself through an endless emotional bashing. However, if one person has shown the strength of will and determination to make it work against the odds, and if she is rewarded for that by having a good marriage, she does need to be applauded. There is no need to take out our frustrations on her.

I do not believe all men cheat. Neither do I believe that most people who have good marriages in the western world, have them because no one ‘cheated’. Many people do not talk about the intimate details of their marriages so we really do not know what goes on. I admire this lady, not for ‘staying’ per se – really, it is not a big deal in Nigeria – but for being honest and coming out and letting other women who have decided to make their marriages work know that they are not foolish. There is life at the other side of cheating, and that life can be good.

Conversely, deciding to walk out in Nigeria might be a big deal because the society makes it difficult for a woman to walk out even when she is being abused. I admire a woman who can take her children and walk out of an abusive relationship – anywhere she is situated. It takes a strength of will to do that.

The trick is finding the balance. Do you stay and keep getting physically and emotionally abused or do you walk? Then again, are you willing to fight for what you have or do you walk out at the first sign of trouble? It is a question I really cannot answer honestly, because I have not quite been there. However, I will not presume to judge anyone who has either chosen to stay or to walk. And that is what I think those women-commenters in did. My own two cents! Or kobo, as the case might be.

May 30, 2010

Making Good Impressions

50 first dates Pictures, Images and Photos
This dare reminds me of the movie, 50 First Dates. The movie is about this commitment phobic guy who finally met the woman he felt he could settle down with. Only she had a weird kind of amnesia; when she woke up in the morning, she could not remember anything that had gone on before. What a challenge because no matter how hard he tried to impress her, she woke up the next morning remembering nada.

I remember wondering as I watched it, what it would be like to have to make a first impression on the same person time and time again; not to get to the state of taking for granted. That state we get to, of easy familiarity where we no longer bother to try making an impression or going out of our way?

That, I believe is the point where a woman no longer bothers about how she looks for the man she married 10 years ago, or the man stops watching his rum paunch and turns into a couch potato. OK, these are extremes but you know what I’m talking about.

Then again, there has to be a level of comfort where we become more comfortable being seen without makeup (for those who cannot abide leaving the house without the war paint 😉 ). So how do we find a balance?

I do not have an answer to this one. So I am asking: How do we make good impressions on our loved ones and still be comfortable with who we are?

It is a constant tug of war for me. I want to make a good impression on him all the time but I do not want to compromise on who I am inside, I never have. I am lucky because he loves everything about me (well, almost everything), but even then…

So I am asking because of the next dare*

LD 9

Greet your man invitingly, ladies. Make it a point to greet him in a way that says you missed him and you’re glad he’s there. Be consistent with it. On the phone and in person. Make him feel wanted.

Bible Verse: Greet one another with a kiss of love – 1 Peter 5:14

* I have been doing the Love Dares and blogging about it too.

May 15, 2010

Marital Bliss: Harmony in Marriage?

Solo peace

I have heard it said that marriage ruins a really good relationship. It sounds like a funny thing to say but when closely scrutinized, one cannot help but think, maybe they have a point. Beautiful relationships progressively go south when faced with the daily reality of emptying trash and sharing bills. Add dirty diapers into the equation and you see where they are coming from.

This month’s Marital Bliss is going to be a little bit different. First off, after nearly two years of daughterly persuasion, my mom is now a proud member of the blogosphere (Yaaay!!). So to welcome her, we are holding the Marital Bliss series at her blog. She posted something about harmony in marriage and wants to know how to attain that. So visit the link below to post your comments.

Naomi’s Corner.

March 28, 2010

Can You Forgive Your Man for Cheating?

Cheaters. That’s what has been on my mind for some time now. I know it is too early for me to be thinking about this – I just got married the other day. But I am still thinking about it.

I read on a blog about this girl (unfortunately I can’t remember the blog, but if you do please drop me a line). Anyway, I read about this girl whose aunt advised her about love. She told her she was not to love her husband too much. This is because men will always cheat, but if she did not love him much, she would not get hurt. Most people who commented on that post were scandalised; few actually tried to appreciate where this aunt was coming from. I think her attitude was purely a defense mechanism.

I am of the opinion that western women give up on their men too easily. The average western woman is willing to walk out of decades of marriage because of a single indiscretion from her husband. And I am not talking of a Tiger Woods sized indiscretion. This attitude is patently different from the normal African or Nigerian attitude.

In Nigeria, most women accept that their men will cheat. It is a given. The thing is how to cope with that cheating. I read somewhere that you do not give up a marriage for an affair. Strangely, I always thought that attitude was that of our mothers and not our generation, but I was quickly put to rights about that.

One of my friends actually told me that as long as the man did not stint on the affection and care (financial and emotional) he was giving her, he was free to do whatever?! This attitude really worries me.

I do not think the right way to behave is to discard a man who has had years and years of faithfulness to his credit, just because he failed once. But I still cannot stomach the ‘men will be men’ attitude. You wouldn’t believe I was talking with someone about this and he said that once you give a man what he wants, he will always come back home; that even if he cheated, he would respect his wife enough to keep it far away from her and will always come back to her. My response to that was, if he is so keen on straying, why bother to come back home? These are no longer the days of Little Bo Peep; there are worse things to bring back home that just tails. If he respected me in the first place, why did he stray?

I asked my husband about it and he was a bit evasive. I wanted to know; if a husband knew that his wife was always forgiving, understanding and accepting, was that not a free pass for him to do whatever he felt like doing? Not surprisingly, he did not have an answer for that.

So I decided to bring the question here. I know we have done a marital bliss post this month but here goes..

How often do you have to forgive your man?

March 23, 2010

I’m Not a Very Good Wife

I have been waiting for this installment of The Love Dare and finally, it came through today. We are going through the Love Dare as a group on the Being Mrs V facebook group. If you are on facebook be sure to join us.

Day 6: Love is not irritable… “He who is slow to anger is better than the might, and he who ruls his spirit than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16:32

Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in a loving way instead of with irritation. Acknowledge why u respond like you do and then note ways to change that in yourself,and then toward your man.

What are u working on? How are you able to respond with love instead of irritation? Are you praying thru these things and what is God revealing as you go?

I had been feeling bad most of last night and was still feeling bad this morning. Getting this dare however, just made me feel worse!

Two days ago, my husband broke it to me gently that one of my ‘Uncles’ had passed on. He was not actually a relative, just my dad’s very good friend but he was like a father to me. I fell to pieces. Apparently, my whole family (my parents and brothers) knew but they did not know how to tell me so they told my husband instead. I have only ever felt that deep sense of despair once, when I lost my cousin.

My husband panicked. I don’t think he had ever seen me that way before; I was a mess. By the next day, I had managed to get a hold on my emotions. By the time he got back home in the evening, I could even smile and laugh at his jokes. But by night time, I was losing it again. He kept asking me what was wrong and I did not want to talk.

I went into the kitchen to do the dishes or anything … I just wanted to keep busy. But like any good husband, he came after me wanting to know what was wrong. And then I snapped. I started sobbing and asking him what he thought was wrong. I turned on him completely. I did not yell but I was nasty. And what was worse? He took it quietly. He gently led me to the living room and decided to give me some space. He went to do the dishes instead.

Even though I was still hurting inside, I felt terrible. It was not his fault that I got bad news. Life was not fair and bad things happened to good people. That did not mean I needed to turn against the only person (except God) who could comfort me at this time.

So I went back to the Kitchen and hugged him and told him I was sorry. He was not upset, funny. He just understood that I was hurting. Still, I’m not feeling very good with myself right now even though we were alright by the time we went to bed last night and he woke me up this morning singing in my ear (he’s a morning person; I’m so NOT).

I can say that I spectacularly failed this dare. I was presented with circumstances that were far from pleasant and I responded in the same way. Instead of patiently explaining to my husband that I was still cut up from the news I’d heard the day before and letting him comfort me, I snapped at him.

The Lesson? I need to learn how to patiently explain what I feel. I tend to expect him to just know. . . but he is not psychic and men are not always as emotionally intuitive as women. So next time, I just need to take a deep breath and let him know how I feel. That should not be too hard. Right? *sigh*