Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What You Think Is How You Act

I tried writing several different rules this afternoon and the words just keep bringing me back to this topic. I figured that instead of forcing something out just to have it out there, I'd write what I seem to keep coming back to.

Your Thoughts

Every action begins with a thought. Most people believe that their minds are a private place. We convince ourselves that our thoughts don't necessarily equal a physical reaction and that we have no control over where our minds wander. 

However, I'm learning that what you think affects how you act. Your mind is the birthplace for all action. You get out of bed each morning - your mind begins the movement and the reason for movement. You slap someone (hopefully not!) - your mind informed you that you were angry and motived the movement of your hand.

What you think becomes what you do. If you are thinking negatively about your spouse, you'll start treating your spouse negatively. If you are thinking about all the wonderful attributes of your spouse, you'll treat them like they're wonderful.  Remember your senior year of highschool?  The word senioritis applied because all you could think about as being done with school and moving on to the next stage in life. Your mind was elsewhere and therefore you energy was as well.  Your actions reflected this in reduced effort in your studies, general dissatisfaction with your day-to-day activities, frustration with homework, etc.

This mind to action process can be slow sometimes - formed from a collection of thoughts that have been stored over days, months, or years. However, I've never known a thought, if not brought under control, that doesn't eventually come out in your actions.

Consider this - what negative things are you thinking about your spouse?  How do those thoughts affect how you treat your spouse?

For example, your spouse leaves a mess of dishes in the sink. All the time. Every time you pass that sink, you are frustrated and annoyed thinking about how lazy they must be to not bother to put the dishes in the dishwasher. The second you begin to think about how this annoys you, you think about how they don't help fold the laundry, or how they don't pick up their clothes, or empty the trash, or keep you informed of their plans for the evening, or.... the list keeps going on in your brain and by the time you see your spouse you're already annoyed and frustrated with them.

These negative feelings can often be based in legitimate concerns, but dwelling on them and allowing your frustration to build can cause resentment and escalate problems.

Instead of thinking and, therefore, venting/discussing your frustrations, try thinking and talking about your goals and what is important to you. Don't let your thoughts control you so that your reactions are negative. Control your thoughts so that your actions are proactive and uplifting.

Consider replacing negative thoughts with the things you love about them and the things they're good at.

I've heard several women mention that they keep a mental list of the things they love about their husband and when they're upset or frustrated with their man, they pull that list to the front of their brain. Then they review the facts: I am in love with this here man in front of me and these are the reasons why. Reason #1...

I like this idea.

There is a part II to this post, so stay tuned for What You Do Is Who You Are.

Whatever is true,
 whatever is honorable,
 whatever is right,
 whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely,
 whatever is of good repute,
 if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, 
dwell on these things.

Phillippians 4:8

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How To Change Your Life & Marriage Forever

The first step is....well, that might be a little inappropriate, so let's skip to the end result: have a baby. We just found out that we're going to join the world of parenting and have our first child!

I can hardly believe that I'm pregnant. It feels so surreal most of the time, except, of course, when the contents of my stomach become the contents of my toilet bowl. That usually makes it feels less surreal and a lot more physical.

I promise I'll keep blogging about marriage, but I have to admit that I'm sooo excited about our growing  child that I might throw in some tidbits about him or her too.

I can't decide whether I want a boy or girl! My sister thinks it's a girl, my mom thinks it is a girl, my husband won't give an opinion because there is no data to support either side and he's the practical kind of person who doesn't offer opinions without supporting evidence, my friend Jeff thinks it's a boy, my friend Katherine thinks it is a girl, and I think I'm having twins. What do you think??

Can't you just see the puppy replaced with our baby??? I can! ::grins happily::

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why Your Spouse is Your Soul Mate

I'm breaking away from the rules for this post because I feel like it could be a rule, but since it isn't a physical action I don't want to make it an official rule.

Why Your Spouse is Your Soul Mate:

I've seen a lot of women in marriages, especially those who have been married for a long time, who wonder if they married the right person. These questions probably spring from a variety of wells including their own expectations, Hollywood's definitions of a soul-mate, the marriages of their friends, etc. 

We fall in love with the idea of The One that Hollywood tells us is out there and who, if you should happen to meet, is the person you're supposed to be with, regardless of whether you're married to someone else or not. I never believed in soul-mates before Andy. I still don't believe in this Holly-wood style of soul-mate.

What I DO believe:

I believe that Andy is my soul-mate - the one I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. I believe that his heart and mine have joined in some cosmic place to complete the other's. I know that nothing except death can separate us and that we were destined, from before we were born, to love eachother.

And I believe that every person's Soul-Mate is the one that they are married to. When you make your vows on that altar and you promise to love them until death do you part, you have just found your soul-mate.

A soul mate isn't stomach flutters, fire-works, or goo-goo eyes. A soul-mate is the mate of your soul. If I were to give it an exact definition, I would say that your Soul-Mate is the person that God destined you to marry.

An interesting way to look at soul-mates is Elizabeth Gilbert's definition in Eat, Pray, Love:

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake....  ...A soul mates' purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master..."

— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)

I left out a section of this quote that says that a soul mate is someone who is supposed to leave at some point because I just don't agree with that at all. But what I do think is that a soul-mate is drastically different than what we've been taught to think it is. It isn't our perfect fit, but it is God's perfect fit for us.

When we begin to see our spouse as the person that God destined us to be with, our attitude toward marriage can begin to change. When you view your spouse as the only One you are meant to be with, you begin to love them for exactly who they are and not who you think your soul-mate should be.

If you believed with every ounce of your being that you were undeniably and irrevocably married to your Soul-Mate, how would it change your life and the way you do the every day things?

Would you stop thinking about leaving? Would you start thinking about loving your Soul-Mate more? Would you devote more time and attention to them? Would you even allow the thought of being attracted to someone else to enter your mind? Would you stop trying to make them please you? Would you begin to love them exactly as God created them to be? 

Would fights be less destructive because there would never be a threat of walking out? Would arguments be more peaceful because you both are trying to resolve them gently so that your life together is more peaceful?  Would grudges disappear? Would love increase?

I think it might.

My Soul Mate:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Marriage Rules to Live By: Rule #2

Hey Y'all (I picked that delicious phrase up from the St. Paul Rodeo this weekend).  Ready for Rule #2?

You betcha. Let's get this buckin' bronco a'rollin.  Alright, so maybe I'm not a cowgirl afterall. But, this weekend certainly made me tempted to try barrel racing and that one event where you lasso baby cows.  I'm serious. I would rock at it. The winner of the event only makes like.... $37,000 per event... which is only a minor incentive.

At any rate, our second rule has nothing to do with the rodeo, although I should definitely come up with an analogy of marriage based on the rodeo... Maybe something like  - if you jump on a angry bronco and he spears you or steps on you, it's your own idiotic fault. Which should tell you that in marriage....

I'll work on that analogy. It will come to me.

2. Do Not Lie

This should seem like a pretty easy one, right?  We're not all pathological liars. We don't answer questions like "What do you do for fun?" with outlandish responses like:

"I ride lions in africa on the weekends. And then on the weekdays I heliboard down mountains all over the world. In the evenings I write best-selling novels about my near death encounter with sharks in the Oregon ocean."

"Wait, do sharks even live in Oregon?"

"Of course they do. They're angry ol'e fellows too. They bit my leg off."

"They did? Then what's that [points at leg]?"

"Oh that? That's my amazing prosthetic. You can't even tell that it isn't real. Cool, huh?

Right. Unless you've been diagnosed as a pathological liar, most people try to be mostly honest. We tell the truth - most of the time. But in a way, I think people in marriage struggle with lying more than our single-counterparts.  Think about your day - how many times do you lie to your spouse in the following ways:

"What do you want to do tonight?"

"I don't know."

"Are you mad at me?"


"What are you thinking about?"


"What's wrong?"


"Does this make me look fat?


Okay, so the last one was a joke. Hopefully. :D

When we realize that we are telling eachother these lies which don't even seem like lies, we can communicate about them instead of shutting down with non-answers or lies. In some cases, we lie because we don't want to hurt the other person's feelings or we don't want to get in a fight or we don't want to admit that maybe we don't even have a good reason for being irritated. No matter what our reason was, our answer is untrue (unless, of course, it isn't untrue and you really aren't thinking about anything...).

Maybe our truthful answers might sound something more like this:

"What do you want to do tonight?"

"I really want you to take me on a fancy date, but I don't want to look needy and I know we're tight on money. So maybe you could just rub my feet instead?"


"I really want to just relax at home, but I don't want you to feel like I don't want to spend time with you. I've had a hard day at work and I don't really want to go anywhere tonight, but I don't want you to be disappointed with me."

"Are you mad at me?"

"Yes. I'm raging furious mad, but I can't remember why now. I remember it was really important and you did something that really made me mad. But now that I can't remember what it was, but I'm just going to be mad and not tell you why. Then it will look like what I'm being mad about is really important."


"No. I'm not mad. But I'm hurt and I don't know how to put my feelings into words. Maybe we could talk about this later when I've processed it a little more?"

"What are you thinking about?"

"I was thinking about how annoying it is when my sunburn starts peeling. Am I growing freckles?"


"I was thinking about selling my i-phone and buying the newer cooler version."

"What's wrong?"

"Everything. I feel like everything is wrong. Are we drifting apart? Do you still love me? Our house is a mess. I'm tired of working. I want to have more free time. I don't want to do laundry. I'm tired of worrying about money. Our dog is acting lethargic - do you think she's sick? I'm really hungry - I haven't eaten all day. Why? I don't know, I just got so busy I forgot to...  I want to travel. I feel like my dreams are being bombarded by reality. Will we ever do anything with our lives? Are we doing what we're supposed to be doing?"


"Wrong? Hmmm... I guess I have a headache and I'm kind of annoyed about this situation at work. That's it. I guess I'm just tired..."

"Does this make me look fat?

"No comment. This question can only go from bad to worse."

My guess as to why we lie is that it is too complicated and difficult to tell the truth or perhaps it is that at the moment we're being asked the question, we don't honestly know the answer.

Whatever the reason, when we lie, we're shutting down communication and we're closing off our hearts and minds from our spouse.  If the way you fall in love is to share your heart and mind with one another, it would seem to follow that the way you stay in love is to continue to do so.

My challenge is to tell the truth in love to your spouse at all times. If you can't do it in love, then tell your spouse that you want to talk about it, but that you aren't ready to do so yet.  There is nothing wrong with postponing an answer until you are ready to share. However, remember that sharing your heart and feelings is how you stay close to your spouse when things are difficult.  If you bottle everything up inside, you may be deceiving your spouse which is hardly different than lying.

The truth will set you free. It will help your marriage grow together in the midst of the trials and frustrations. It will help you know your spouse when it is so easy to live only as separate room-mates instead of one soul. It will release you from the chains of unspoken feelings which can begin to choke you and, therefore, your marriage all too easily.

"Do not lie.

Do not deceive one another."
Leviticus 19:11

This amazing photo was taken by our good friend, Nate Yaro, at our fourth of July celebration this weekend. You can check out his photography here and his daily blog about what God is teaching him here.