For Better, For Worse

For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness, in health. Till death do us part. Marriage is pledging to be with another person no matter what: in the hard moments, in the joyful moments, in the scary moments, in the exciting moments. It’s often messy and tear filled, beautiful and rewarding. As a spouse we get the unique and amazing experience of doing life with someone for the rest of our lives. We see them at their worst and at their best, and we get to be their biggest fan.

We get the privilege of encouraging our spouses to follow their dreams, accomplish their goals, and grow into the person God has called them to be. We get to encourage their talents and their gifts and help them cultivate them. We get front row seats to see how God is working in their lives, and we get to hold their hand and look back with them and say, “Wow, remember when things were like that? Look where you are now. Look where we are now.” That is beautiful, and we can’t take that for granted. It is a huge blessing to be intimately involved in someone else’s life. Sure, sometimes it’s hard – often times much harder than we would like it to be – but it is extraordinary.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez

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Love Isn’t All Romance and Glass Slippers

I am a huge Disney fan. I love Disney movies, Disney World, Disney in general (my husband and I even have Mickey and Minnie Christmas stockings, and I’m totally wearing my Mickey pajamas while writing this post).

The downfall to Disney is that it distorts our view of love. Have you ever noticed that couples in Disney movies rarely have any conflict? In a lot of the movies you have one person from a high socioeconomic status and the other from a low socioeconomic status (for example, Prince Charming and Cinderella or Jasmine and Aladdin) yet they just seamlessly merge there lives together? Yeah, that is not realistic at all, and it’s not just Disney: the media in general portrays a false version of love. We expect constant passion and spontenaity, but love isn’t all romance and returning glass slippers, it’s a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice. 

It is so easy for me to just do what I want to do and act how I want to act without taking my husband into consideration, but that’s not how marriage is supposed to work. We’re a team, a partnership, and since the moment I said “I do” my life no longer was about my needs. Love is serving. Love is selflessness. Love is not about you. It’s not always easy to act on, though, is it?

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In the past ten months of being married, I have learned a lot about what it means to love my husband, and I know that over the next several years I will learn so much more, but for now, here are some things I have learned.

Learn how to love your spouse. One of the most helpful pieces of advice we have gotten is to learn each other’s love languages. My number one love language is Acts of Service. The best way to my heart is for him to do something that helps me out and shows that he understands the effort I put into maintaining our home. If I do the same for him, however, it doesn’t have that big of an impact. Knowing how to love our spouses in the ways that they need to be loved is huge – as is periodically reevaluating your love languages because they do change with time and with seasons of life. In addition to this, simply paying attention to how your spouse reacts to certain things will give you a lot of insight into how you can love them better.

Communication really is key. One of the most frustrating things in marriage is the fact that my husband can’t read my mind. That would make everything so much easier, wouldn’t it? Since that is (unfortunately) not the case, we have to intentionally tell our spouses what we are thinking and what we are needing. Not only that, but it’s important to tell our spouses how much we love and appreciate them, because they need to hear that, too.

Never stop trying. There was a reason Never Stop by Safety Suit was the song we danced to at our wedding. Never stop pursuing your spouse. Never stop trying to learn about them and love them better.

What are some ways that you show love to your significant other? Shoot me an email or connect with me on the blog’s Facebook page!

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoJorge Martínez

More than a Physical Act: A Story of Grace

Luke Holter in his book Filthy Fisherman says, “Nearly every Christian I know has an amazing story of God’s grace and redemption. None of us are above His grace; we all badly need it. Once we have been redeemed, our job is to tell that story of redemption” (Emphasis added). And here, in the final post of the marriage series, I’m going to tell you some of my story.

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I often think of how my husband and I are going to approach the topic of sex with our children someday, because our story is a story of grace and healing. My relationship history includes manipulation and abuse (you can read more about that in Toxic) as well as me going along and making my own mistakes. Sex and it’s counterparts were just things on a “Don’t” list for me. I didn’t understand what the harm really was. I mean, I knew God created sex to be in the context of marriage, but I didn’t understand why.

Needless to say, I had trouble with staying away from things on that list. I didn’t understand the emotional bondage that came along with physical acts. Though I didn’t have sex until my wedding night, I had given a lot of myself away prior to meeting my husband, and the breakup that followed devastated me.

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My heart breaks when I see others go through things like this. It breaks my heart when people believe society’s lies that sex is casual. It breaks my heart when people weaponize sex. It breaks my heart to see the aftermath of breakups when too much was given. What breaks my heart more is when I see people looking down their noses, thinking that others are undeserving of grace – as if that’s our call to make. Christ came to redeem all of us, not just those whose sins we deem are worthy of being saved from. It reminds me of the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus didn’t tell her that her actions were okay, but He didn’t condemn her either. This is the kind of scandalous love and grace we are called to give if we call ourselves followers of Christ. We are called to love people with the truth, but we are not called to condemn them. I can’t tell you how much it hurt when I heard people shaming those caught up in sexual sin while I sat there with my dirty little secret holding back tears and shame.

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When my husband and I have kids, I want to be honest with them – about the truth of what sex is and also about my mistakes. I want them to know that sexuality is not a bad thing. I want them to know that God designed marriage and He designed sex as a part of that. It is the ultimate display of intimacy and vulnerability – it is becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is so much more than a physical act. 

I want our kids to grow up knowing that they can ask questions and that they can talk to us freely. I also want my kids to know that we love them unconditionally. I pray that our children will hold tight to the truth and that they will protect their hearts. I pray they will not go through the heartbreak that so many others and myself have gone through. But if my child comes home one day, crying because she made a mistake, you can bet I will be right there crying with her, not because her actions are excused, but because I have been there and because God didn’t turn me away. How could I look at her with shame and condemnation? How could I spit in the name of grace?

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While others looked at me with shame and condemnation, God looked at me with love and grace. I know that He grieved over my choices and He rejoiced when I repented. And I know that I am thankful for the grace that was lavished on me while I was undeserving. I know that while the decisions I may have made were not wise, I experienced God’s grace and love all the more, and I can’t help but extend it to others.

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To those of you misguided by society’s portrayal of what sex should be, it’s not true. It is so much more than the cheap version being sold.

To those of you who have a warped view of sex because of what others have done to you, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t all there is. There is hope and there is healing.

To those of you who are critical of those caught up in sexual sin, remember grace. Don’t let your hearts be hardened.

To those of you caught up in mistakes you have made, I’m crying with you. It’s not over. Grace is so much bigger than any mistake you will ever make.

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Photo Credit: Bekah Russom

I Don’t Need to be Right

At this point my husband and I have been married for five months, and as of this week, we’ve been together for two years!

yay.humility.blog

Our relationship has had its ups and downs as all relationships do, and we’ve matured so much since the beginning of our relationship. Where we are now is so much more beautiful than I could have dreamed – getting here has been a lot harder than I thought it would have been, too. You always hear that marriage is harder than you think it will be, and I believe that that is absolutely true (I also believe it can be more wonderful than you ever thought, too). The hardest thing in our relationship for me – other than getting over fears resulting from past relationships (more about that in Toxic) – has been dealing with my pride.

Humility can be an issue in a relationship at any point, but you don’t realize how prideful you can really be until you share everything with someone: bank accounts, food, a bathroom. All of a sudden you realize how much you like things to be done your way and your way only. You realize how much you truly value your own opinion. You may also realize how dangerous this is to your marriage.

I think Francis Chan says it well in You and Me Forever:

“[Jesus’] humility is the key to a healthy marriage. If two people make it their goal to imitate the humility of Christ, everything else will take care of itself. It really is that simple. Arguments escalate when we want to be right more than we want to be Christ. […] You must determine your goal. What matters most: winning arguments or resembling Christ?” (Emphasis added).

It is easy to argue that you’re right and not so easy to stop and listen to someone else’s opinion. It is easy to to want things to be convenient and in our own best interest, but not so easy to take into consideration someone else’s thoughts and feelings. It is easy to be selfish, but not so easy to be selfless. But who said life was going to be easy?

It doesn’t help that we live in a world that preaches self-preservation, a message that is quite contradictory to the Gospel and the teachings about servant-hood that come from the Ultimate Servant. It can be so easy to slip into self-preservation mode, trying to protect my way of doing things or to slip into the “wife is always right” way of thinking and discount my husband’s opinion. But I don’t want to be that kind of person. I want to listen to my husband’s side of the story and see things through his eyes. I want to listen to his opinions, thoughts, dreams, and ideas even if they don’t mesh perfectly with mine. I want to put his needs before my own. I want to love him selflessly. I want him to see a mirror of our Savior’s love when he sees how I love him.  I don’t need to be right all the time.

And you know what? It’s hard, yet I have hope. I have hope because Scripture says we are not obligated to live according to the flesh (Romans 8:12). I am a new Creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I now walk by the Spirit, and the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). The stronger my relationship with Christ becomes, the more I have the mindset of the Spirit and the more I look like Christ.

I deeply desire Christ-likeness in all aspects of my life, and I love seeing the fruit of my relationship with Him in my marriage. I want to shower my husband with the love of his Savior rather than telling him how little he matters to me when I act in prideful ways (because if we’re honest that is what pride does).

I am far from perfect – my husband sure knows that – but I desire to cultivate an environment of humility in my marriage. Every time I choose to listen instead of interrupt, every time I choose not to say hurtful things out of spite, every time I choose to build him up instead of myself, these are victories. They are strengthening my marriage. They are acts of love.

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13 4-7

Photo Credit:  Ben White

You and Me Forever

When my husband and I were engaged and Genelle was engaged to her husband, a friend of ours took Genelle and I out to lunch. Before we left she gave us each a copy of You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. The book sat around through my engagement, but I picked it up recently.

The message of the book is simply this: Marriage is amazing, but it is not the most important thing. At first, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was taught that marriage is the most important human relationship we can have, and it is – but it’s not everything. I’m going to share things with you both from the book and from my own searching into what marriage is meant to look like. So, here we go!

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Our ultimate mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). That’s what Jesus commanded us to do before He ascended. We are to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and show them what it is like to follow Him. That is our ultimate mission.

So what does that have to do with marriage? Well, a lot actually.

First, if we’re not careful, our marriages can become an idol. They can become our primary focus, distracting us from our ultimate mission – Now, I’m not discounting the importance and wonderfulness of marriage, I promise, just hang with me!

Second, marriage is a vessel. Our marriages on earth are to resemble the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our marriages are supposed to look different. The way we love our spouses should be showing what selfless love looks like: the kind of Love that would bear a cross so the world could be in communion with a holy and perfect God. 

Third, our marriages are strengthened when we are focused on the mission together, when we are serving together. It’s crazy how much a common goal can bring you together. The book uses the example of serving on a mission team: You can come into the situation complete strangers, but after working towards a common goal, you leave bonded. I know this is absolutely true in my marriage. When my husband and I are focused on the mission, we grow closer together. Furthermore, when we are focused on Christ in general, when we pray together and discuss the Word together, we grow so much closer to one another.

Fourth, marriage is a part of our testimony. We are not always strong in our marriages, but that just gives Christ plenty of room to show us that His grace is sufficient and He is strong in our weakness.

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Marriage is amazing. It is a beautiful, God-created design. I love being married, but it’s not everything to me. I focus on growing my marriage, on loving my husband selflessly, on growing myself so I can better love my husband, but it is not my everything. In the five short months that we have been married – and the nearly two years we have been together – I have already seen how God is using the testimony of our story to reach others. It is such a beautiful thing. I love that my marriage is about more than just the two of us.

Marriage is the most important human relationship we have while we live on this earth. So many things can come between us and our spouses if we let them. While sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices for His mission – such as leaving home to speak while our spouse stays home or going on a mission trip by ourselves – I don’t think He would ever call us to do something that would put our marriages in danger. If God calls us to do something, we have to trust that He will provide for all of our needs, including emotional ones. Just like I’ve told some of the kids at camp this week when they’ve been missing their parents: “Mommy and Daddy are out there showing teens what it looks like to follow Jesus. They’re out there making disciples, and that’s awesome! So when you miss them, just remember that they are doing awesome things for Jesus.” I then give them a big hug and they snuggle into bed and fall asleep with a little more peace. I’ve had to tell myself that this week, too, because I miss my husband while he’s been out there serving with the kids’ parents.

These things, these sacrifices, can be hard, but we have to keep our eyes on the mission – yet we also need to remember that our spouses aren’t superhuman and they need our love and encouragement during these times, too. We can’t leave them in the dust, saying, “See ya, later!” in the name of Jesus. We have to realize that while on this earth, we are one. Communication needs to stay as open as it can. Prayer and encouragement need to happen as often as they can. Love needs to happen always. Part of love, though, is sacrifice. Saying, “I’ll hold the fort down while you go where God has called you. It’ll be  hard, but I can’t wait to hear about it when you come home. I’ll miss you, call when you can, but go do what God has called you to do.”

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Whether you’re about to get married or have been for awhile, You and Me Forever is a great read. It’s humbling and beautiful. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but my marriage is better for it.

Until next week, lovelies!

 

 

The American Sitcom Marriage

One of my biggest pet peeves has been – and probably always will be – how the media (by which I mainly mean movies and TV) portrays marriage: the couple is head-over-heels in love at the wedding and during the honeymoon, then fast forward five to ten years and you’re left with an image of the the stereotypical ball-and-chain. The nagging wife. The husband who comes home from work and sits on the couch drinking beer and watching TV. Husband and wife rarely speaking to one another except to complain about what the other person is doing wrong. Sex is viewed as an obligation. They are nothing more than glorified roommates – and sometimes I wouldn’t even include the word “glorified.”

This seriously bothers me because this is what people think marriage is supposed to look like, and it’s not! Don’t get me wrong, the “honeymoon phase” ends and I don’t think we should present marriage as being perfect, either, because it’s not.  People shouldn’t go into marriage expecting it to be wonderful all the time. There are tears. There are disagreements. There are rough patches. Love languages change. Marriage is hard, but rewarding. Trying, but humbling. Messy, but beautiful. But marriage is worth fighting for.

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What breaks my heart the most, though, is when real people are making the “ball-and-chain” comments when they learn that I am married. Instead of saying, “What a beautiful journey you’re beginning. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be so worth it” they say, “Just wait a few years. See how you feel then.” This really upsets me. One, because they are so incorrectly portraying what marriage is supposed to look like, and two, because it means that they aren’t experiencing marriage the way it should be experienced.

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I’m not okay with settling for the American Sitcom Marriage. I want the rich, deep marriage that God intended. I wasn’t okay with it long before I even met my husband. I don’t want young people to watch TV and think that marriage is going to be awful and boring (it certainly isn’t!). I don’t want those who are already married to be okay with less than God’s best. This is why I’m writing a series on marriage, the first post of which you just read!

Next week, I’m going to talk about while marriage is designed to be amazing, marriage is not all that there is.

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As always, get in touch! You can email me at wordssweeterthanhoneyblog@gmail.com, on Twitter (@BrandiVermette), or on Instagram (@brandigrace96)!

Husbands Are Human Too

My husband and I started dating in August of 2015. In the beginning, he was a flawless human. Then, as time moved forward, little quirks started popping up. All of a sudden he chewed his food and breathed too loudly. Other bumps in the road showed up, too. We had arguments, I got angry at him, he made me cry. What was wrong with us? What happened to the man who hung the moon? (Disclaimer: Getting married didn’t revert him back into that flawless human, either; he just became a human who chews and breathes too loudly, argues with me, and punches me in the face in his sleep.)

The man who had hung the moon is still there, but he is exactly that: a man. I don’t mean that in a “He’s a male so he’s detrimentally flawed” way.  I mean that he’s an imperfect, messy human being. Things got a lot easier when I realized that. Oh, he still gets on my nerves with the best of them, but it no longer bothers me that he does. We still argue and have our problems, but once I stopped holding him to an impossible standard, it all became easier to deal with. I realized that we’re going to annoy each other, we’re going to disagree with each other, and that’s okay. It’s okay because we have come to realize that the other person is not perfect, nor will they ever be. When he does something that gets on my nerves, I – most of the time – just get over it. When it’s something bigger than just getting on my nerves, we talk about it.

So, I still sing Hung the Moon to him. There aren’t words to describe how wonderful and amazing he is, flaws and all. My husband is imperfect, I am imperfect, our marriage is imperfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We have to work hard, harder than I imagined, but the hard work is oh so rewarding, I promise.

Give your partner room to be imperfect and give them grace upon grace. Don’t ignore issues – conflict needs to be resolved – but don’t think that the ship is sinking because the sea isn’t perfectly calm all of the time. Let each other be human.

Until next time, lovelies.

 

Photo Credit: Cherish Bickel Photography