Tuesday, May 1, 2012

10 Things "My Mama Said" About Marriage

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Some days, it's obvious by the actions of my children that "wah wah wah wah" is all they are hearing when I speak. I'm sure my mom felt the same way when I was a child; and yet, some things did manage to sink into this thick skull o' mine.
I am dedicating this Top Ten Tuesday to things "My Mama Said" which have made a big difference in my marriage.

My Mama Said...
  1. Pick Your battles. I thought Mom was a "doormat" when she chose to hold her tongue. 
    • Then, I grew up. (some) Now, I also want people to see my love for them, not my frustration with them. Of course, this attitude is much harder to live out with my husband than with a friend...or neighbor...or the stranger at the store. I'm slowly learning that my family (including my husband) doesn't have to agree with me and jump through every hoop I place in front of them. They are *gulp* INDIVIDUALS. I need to let them be different than my expectations (as long as they aren't crossing moral lines). 
  2. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Don't call names. Never tell anyone you hate them. If it can't be said respectfully, then it shouldn't be said. 
    • With the wagging tongue God gave me, I needed this brainwashing mantra to start early. Good thing He also gave me Mom - who would speak this truth to me often. 
  3. Giggle...giggle...and more giggles. My dad joked about sex - a lot. Mom never made faces, rolled her eyes, or let out a big sigh. She would just giggle. She made me think that sex within marriage might be fun "someday". She never made it seem like a chore...but a benefit to being married. 
    • I'm sure Clay and I make a lot of people uncomfortable while he jokes about sex and I giggle; but talking about it keeps sex from being an "unimportant" part of our marriage...and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  4. Don't use physical affection as a weapon. When my little brother would tick me off and then try to sit by me or reach out to me, I would jerk my arm/hand/body away in protest. He didn't DESERVE the right to be near me. My mother quickly made it clear that his position as my brother (whom I loved dearly) was enough to earn him a respectful response - even when I didn't feel like it. Withholding love "as a punishment" was not an option. 
    • Fast-forward 30 years. Clay's position as my husband (whom I dearly love) is enough. I refuse to withhold any part of me. We are one, and love is still not a weapon.
  5. Yes, I love your father more than you. Yep, she said it. We kids knew that Mom "had our back" when we needed to approach Dad about something. She understood our "why" and the emotions we felt. She would go to bat for us. This could have given us a very different impression than she wanted us to have. So, when we would childishly quip something like, "Why are you making vegetable soup since we all hate veggie soup - except for Dad? Do you love him more than us?" She would answer, "Yep. You kids will move on and find your own partners for life. If you try to make me choose between him and you, you should know that I will always choose him."
  6. I won't talk bad about your father.  Mom didn't say negative things about Dad. She didn't want others to look down on him. She wanted to protect him. She wanted to protect THEM. Verbalizing frustrations can be a way of dwelling on them. She preferred to sing praises about my father's strengths and speak of his weaknesses to God (or to him, in private). 
    • Wow, this has made a marked difference in my own marriage. Every time I share a praise about Clay, I'm reminded why I love him. If I need to "vent" about my man, I try to share with my mom or one of my girlfriends who care more about my marriage than they do about my feelings. I know they will defend him when possible and remind me to give grace when necessary.
  7. Never go to bed angry. I can't be responsible for my husband's attitude, but I can give my anger to God (even if things aren't resolved before bed). Mom instilled in me a desire to have resolution; but even more, she modeled that life is about loving others...not about "being right". (And since I'm the one in our house who struggles most with being frustrated...I guess it's good that she was MY mom.)
  8. I want the house (and myself) to be something that Dad WANTS to come home to. Dinner was generally cooking, the house was generally straightened, and when Mom would comb her hair or fix her make-up - we knew Dad would be home soon. 
    • While make-up and dinner may not both be managed on any given day, I try to let my partner know that he is worth my effort. I don't want to only get dolled up for my friends or the grocery store clerk. I want to treat him like I would if I was still trying to seduce him "win him over". That means, I take care of my body. I notice him when he walks in the door...and give him a big kiss. I do what I can to make our home (and his wife) something he can be proud of and a place where he WANTS to be.
  9. A marriage needs protective walls. This could be a blog of its own. Oh wait, I already wrote it! My parents held hands all the time. It was their way to announce to the world that they were both "taken". My mom shared how married people should be each other's best friends. No secrets. They shouldn't spend time alone with people of the opposite sex. That welcomes temptation. Once married, flirtation is meant for a spouse. None other. 
  10. Divorce is not an option. Mom didn't even joke about divorce. If one of us kids tried to, she would say, "Divorce isn't a joke. It should not be taken lightly. It is not an option."  Sure, my parents had their struggles; but I NEVER questioned whether or not they would stay together. I had peace about them even when there was tension. 
    • I have that same peace in my own marriage. Luckily, my jocular man (who pokes fun at EVERYTHING) also doesn't think divorce is funny at all.
I'm so glad my mom kept repeating herself.
I hope this encourages you in your own parenting -  to be vigilant and to persevere.
The kids may only hear half of our words, but if we say them enough...they might actually sink in.

(This is also linked with the Hip Homeschool Hop)

21 comments:

  1. YEP! Good stuff!!! Your mamma is so wise! And so are you! I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly with everything here!!!!

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    1. High praise from one of my favorite bloggers. Thank you.

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  3. Great wisdom from your mom- she knew you were watching, and she taught you well! Thanks for sharing these pearls.
    Blessings,
    Ann ( via NOBH! )

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    1. Funny, I didn't realize I was "watching" until I was all grown up. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. A great list! And some things I need to continue focusing on around here!

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    1. *sigh* Reminding myself along with you. :)

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  5. Thank you for sharing this! Numbers 5 & 6 are so very dear to me - I didn't see those things in my parents' marriage (in fact, my mother made me a confidante to her unhappiness as a teenager, which I hated) and I want to set a better example for my children. Plus I genuinely think my husband is amazing :)

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  6. Love the reminders of these very important things. Thank you!

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  7. Ok, I will definitely be visiting this post often! Awesome advice!!!

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I'm not sure there is any such thing as the "ideal" Christian home, so feel free to keep visiting my site. :)

      Regardless of our circumstances, we mothers are all called to be examples for our children and speak truth into their lives.
      You can't be responsible for what happens in their father's house, but you can pray for them and with them and be an example of health and dependence on God while they are with you.

      As I look at the above 10 Things, I still feel that most all of them hold true in your situation.
      I will try to respond to the ones that may have hit a chord. If I miss the mark, feel free to email me further. Beckyrassi@gmail.com

      #3 If sex is a sensitive subject, don't joke about it in front of your kids. They do, however, need to see you respond lovingly to your husband, even if it rubs them a bit wrong in their own pain and immaturity. Your example will later help them to remember that sex is meant for the holy union between two people - and not whoever their current crush is.

      #5 If you are asked "Do you love him more than us?", it will come with a deeper pain and need for reassurance. So, your answer will need to be chosen carefully...but the principles still holds. Your kids need to see that you love him DIFFERENTLY than them and that you always have their best interest at heart. (But wanting the best for them does NOT mean that they get their way.)
      I hope your new husband also has their best interest at heart. And as long as his choices and words do not go against God, your kids need to know that you will stand with him as a team. They need to know that you want THEM on your team too. You don't want to be in opposition to them. You want to all be seeking the will of God.
      You and your husband will grow old together as your children move on to the next stage of life. He needs to see that you will not be manipulated by guilt, but that you want to approach all areas of life as a team that is directed by Christ. (even if you are the voice of the team to your kids for now...you need to make sure the two of you are on the same page)
      Your kids will see your attitude of respect for him, while showing respect to them.

      #10 Divorce is still not an option. Your kids need to see your commitment to your husband. If they don't see this in your new marriage, where will they see this Biblical principle lived out?
      So much sinks in as they witness your life...even when they are lashing out.
      They need to see that marriage is a covenant before God which is bigger than feelings.
      God wants marriages to bring us closer to Him. He wants to teach us through it. He wants us to work through problems and run to Him for our strength.
      They need to see you turning to God when all things fall apart. They need to see that the marriage contract is as strong as the connection between blood family.
      They need to see that all things God has his hand in will be used for His glory.

      I, by no means, have all the answers.
      Even in "ideal" Christian homes, there can be great strife and hard circumstances. When that happens, we all must seek God's perspective and his purpose for the difficulties.
      My goal for this blog is to encourage others to seek Biblical truth and the power of God.
      It really makes a big difference.

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    2. Thanks for addressing this issue the way you have. Maybe I needed to hear it differently! I must have commented out of a tinge of jealousy. Please always remember that when you write, you need to strike a balance! This is because it so seemed like you were addressing only a particular group that has not experienced "divorce" *wince*

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    3. Silly Ipad with it's tiny screen. I was trying to enlarge the comment on my blog screen to re-read it and somehow hit the "remove content" button. I don't know how to unremove it. bah!
      So...Here is the original comment:
      "Yes I quite agree, but I guesss ur all lucky....um blessed momma's. But please remember that this goes only in an ideal marriage, where you'r married to the father of your children.....what if the reverse is the case! What if there has been a divorce already....... A case where your husband ie the guy your presently married to is not the father of your children(you've divorced your first husband). A case where your kids are still resentful that they have to be shared between 2 homes; yours and their father's......so in such a case what goes....please bear in mind that the family I'm talking about is a christian home! Except unless of course you tell me that you only blog/write for the " ideal" christian home.....so I know not to visit your site anymore!"

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  9. I'm not sure an "ideal marriage" exists, and because it doesn't, these are great reminders for everyone, in whatever their current situation is. ("Christian" or not)

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  10. These are great, Becky. I think you should rename them "The 10 Commandments of Marriage" because they are that important. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Incredible blog post! I will share this on my new blog :-) This makes me also appreciate my mom more. I used to think she was a doormat, until I figured out how much strength it really takes to accomplish these things and make a lasting marriage.

    Becomingone101.blogspot.com

    Crystal

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  12. I really liked hearing from another that they choose their spouse over their children. I have recieved so many nasty looks from even family about this. I feel the same, that my husband is my priority. I choose him and indirectly give the children a good foundational home.

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  13. You had a very wise mother. I love her advice and already practice many of the things mentioned, but I need to practice a few more of them:) thanks for sharing on the NOBH

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