Sunday, October 04, 2009

Marriage Monday--Extreme Makeover

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis

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Extreme Makeover: How God Renewed Our Marriage Against All the Odds

I have to admit when I read this month's topic, I almost opted out of writing. We have been blessed by not having any huge, against all odds, type of issues for our marriage to survive. We've been healthy, employed, mostly content and faithful. We've endured the separations during moves, which at the time seemed unsurmountable but were quickly surmounted. I didn't really think that I had anything to add to this discussion. Actually, not being able to add much first-hand information to this discussion is something for which I am thanking God--for that is His testimony in our almost fourteen year marriage.

But then my thoughts turned to the fact that any marriage surviving is actually "against all odds" and it takes God's constant renewing of the marriage to make that happen. Our society is not exactly balancing the odds for marriage. We see the decline of marriages all around us. Even in the church, the divorce rate mirrors that outside the church, so the odds seem to be stacked against married couples. It is really not surprising. If you take one sinful, selfish being (which we all are) and couple that being with another sinful selfish being you do not magically get a couple who agree on everything. Instead you get two selfish beings trying to make things work their way. We are all like that. So what do you do? I believe the only thing we can do is trust God to be the lead of joining those two people into one--and a desire to follow his word makes that possible. I know that there are decisions that would never happen around here if we didn't depend on God's leading to make the decision. We are just too different from each other, but we have a common trust and desire to follow God. But that desire and trust alone may not be enough. We must be pro-active in protecting our marriages. In addition to our attempts to have God the head of our marriage, we have also undertaken plenty of mini-makeovers that have helped prevent us from needing an Extreme Makeover.

Early in our marriage we had a dear couple who were unafraid to give us marriage advice. We listened since they had been married nearly fifty years--we figured they knew something about that which they spoke. They were honest about struggles, about putting family first, about keeping God at the center of everything you do as a couple and even about keeping things *ahem* active even when you are nearing 70. I look back on those talks now and see them as doing some foundational work in our lives to prepare us for the realities of marriage.

I credit our ability to get away and dream together as mini-makeovers that keep our marriage fresh. A road trip is like a fresh coat of paint in a dull room. We are able to refresh our outlook of our marriage with a fresh coat of dreams, plans and just quiet time together. The longer vacations allow for that even more. We are about to go on a holiday where the main thing on the agenda is "lay by the pool and chat" followed by "lay under the pergola when it is too hot to be by the pool, and chat." I cannot tell you how ready I am for some uninterrupted-by-the-cares-of-home-and-work time with German. I know he feels the same. We should come back from our mini-makeover refreshed and ready for the new challenges that lie ahead.

A more extensive makeover that we undertook a few years ago was to read and discuss and implement Dr. Emerson Eggerichs book "Love and Respect." That book helped us to realize that there were areas we just were not communicating what we wanted clearly. Even last week we referred back to the book and how our cycles of conflict were not even annual anymore, but were almost non-existent. I believe that that book read at a time in our life when our marriage was *good* (i.e. we weren't trying to fix something really broken) helped to get our marriage to a *great* level. It was preventative maintenance that kept the disasters away. I love this book so much I often give it to engaged couples telling them that if they read it now, they might not have the arguments that seem to be universal. I pray that a little preventative maintenance helps them not have any need for extreme makeovers.

So while I cannot testify to God's renewing my marriage in an Extreme way, I am ever-so-grateful that He constantly renews me and renews German and in that way renews our marriage. I am grateful for the preventative, decorative and minor redecorating we are able to do which prevents big problems from occurring. God's love and presence in our marriage is contantly making it over to be something even better than it is.

Do you need some encouragement in your marriage? Needing a mini-makeover? Or maybe you need an extreme overhaul? Visit Chrysalis and follow the trail of others who are sharing their marriage makeover tips as well. Have a blessed day!


April said...

I felt the same way (about not being sure I had anything to write about). My husband and I have been married 15 years and have been very blessed to hit few bumps on the road of our marriage. Thanks for the great post!

Kristin said...

Beautiful post MiPa.

bp said...

Great post, I was thinking the same thing when I saw the topic and didn't know what to write.

Have a blessed week.

MomE said...

Thanks so much! I love the practical...easy things that improve marriage...just sitting and chatting!

e-Mom said...

Wonderful solid thoughts as always, MiPa. Your points about constant renewal, and being proactive to protect your marriage are sound, especially in these days of "serial monogamy."

Love and Respect is my second favorite book after His Needs Her Needs. What a Godsend for eliminating those confusing arguments that get started so easily (ie. the "crazy cycle.")

Keep up the good work! And thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday today. Your wise words are appreciated.


tonya said...

We just came back from a "mini-makeover" and I know that it will improve us in so many ways.

Great post. Staying together alone, is a huge testament, especially nowadays.


Denise said...

Such a great post.

Cheri Gregory said...

How funny -- we just got home from a 36-hour road trip! Great food, overnight at a nice hotel, shopping, great food, a play, more great food, with lots of "catch up" talking in between.

He got a fabulous new guitar that's inspired him to record a new album, and I got a bunch of new clothes. SERIOUS make-over stuff!

But seriously, I wish I'd been more open to short "road trips" when we first got married. I considered them a hassle and a waste of time. Now, I realize they're a necessity!

LOVE Love and Respect -- it was the first marriage book my husband didn't find insulting!

Tami Boesiger said...

Slow and steady wins the race.

I love your phrase, "fresh coat of dreams." My husband and I do a lot of dreaming together too and there is something very bonding about it. I hope you have a terrific time on your getaway.