I absolutely hold marriage up as the most sacred relationship we can have on earth. I protect it, fight for it and honor it absolutely and completely. It’s the most magnificent wonderful God-given blessing gift I’ve been given. But just like anything beautiful and magnificent and reflective of God, it is threatened. I believe anything that can be glorifying to God will also have struggles. God allows struggles to strengthen us. Toia said it so perfectly on one of the comments below – talking about God sharpening us. He loves us that much, that Brandon and I being bowling pals, party friends, playmates, roommates and co-caretakers of our babies is not enough! We are meant to challenge strengthen and sharpen each other! We are called to open all of us up to each other – seeing the deepest most vulnerable weaknesses of each other, and loving each other still unconditionally.
I believe my marriage to Brandon will be glorifying to God. Who else can take an extraverted, sanguine, choleric Randi and a phlegmatic, introverted peaceful wise Brandon and have them somehow mesh to have a beautiful, joyful, encouraging, loving relationship! Only God could get credit for that! We fit so perfectly only God could have orchestrated it. What ties us together besides being total opposites in everything else is that we are both visionaries and we both love God more than anything. We are both long term and deep thinkers. What a beautiful thing God has done!!! But the same thing (being so so different) that could be glorifying to God – is what brings the challenges. We constantly challenge each other perspectives, theories and just how we do things. We have to constantly look behind the actions of the other and figure out what is under the surface of this strange creature to make them do things sooo… differently, compared to ourselves!
Sooo all that being said --- we have challenges!!
But we are absolutely not only determined to make this marriage last but to have it be successfully glorifying to God!! We never push our marriage to the back burner, it’s a priority – which is why I always ask my friends and even on my blog, for advice on how to keep our marriage sharp. I never want to run out of ideas!
People ask me how in the world they have never heard me utter negative or lashing things about Brandon in front of others. Some just say, “oh you’re soo lucky to have been given such a wonderful man…but my husband isn’t like that”…I don’t think I will be speaking negative at all about Brandon when I say Brandon is NOT perfect. Let’s just make that clear right now.
In my vows, one of the things I vowed to Brandon was that, "I will always uplift you to friends and family, never letting anything come between us".....and I really really knew going into our marriage I wanted to make this an absolute top priority and really hold myself accountable to this. Now OBVIOUSLY I have failed at it -- a lot...and miserably....but each time I mess up, I pray for strength to stick to that vow again. I don't ever want to talk bad or even at ALL negative about Brandon to ANYBODY except to God.
God honestly is what gives me the love and strength and patience to be a good wife. I am not a patient person...and if left to my own strength, I would lash out frequently....but HE truly is the source of my ability to be positive and to give and to love. And I don't say this as a theory - it is the absolute proven in my life TRUTH. I have tried things with God and without Him....and I *never* want to do it without Him again (even though HE is always there --- *I* was just not choosing to stay plugged into Him). So when I talk about God - they aren't cute clichés or theories or aww that's nice.....they are proven true real principles I have found worked and are completely true in my life!
So how do I keep my words positive about Brandon? Well.....first I had to understand WHY it was so important not to tear him down with my words. I realized just how powerful words are. The Bible says with our TONGUE we control life and death. Words are so so powerful. I remember hearing a lady say one time - women want to change their husband or *stir* him to change - so they tear him down by pointing out his failures, talk bad about things they don't like --- but once those women have succeeded, they find they don't want what's left. So in other words -- keep tearing down your husband and you will be left with a wussy broken little boy or a bitter, defensive, uncaring, hurt man… Either of which are exactly opposite of what you were trying to do. You were TRYING to make Him better but you listened to your mind, not the Spirit. So much of the time we have to do opposite of what our mind says! Do you realize how much POWER women have though!? We DO have the power to build up our men, to help make Him better – through Jesus.
Jesus says those who are the greatest servers are the greatest leaders...and guess who He put in the serving role the most - women. Our men try to be tough and pretend they don't need our approval or encouragement -- but EVERYTHING changed in our relationship (even pre-marriage) when I realized how every man truly is a little boy inside. Now a days, after I had a son of my own, I started picturing Brandon compared to Raymond my son...I was disgraced at some of the things I would say to Brandon or *about* Brandon that I WOULD BE DEVASTATED if somebody said those things to Raymond. Men aren't as tough as they seem....their egos are soo soo fragile and we need to do whatever we can to protect them. God designed us (women) in His image in that we are fiercely loyal and devoted and we need to embrace that and we need to be the protector of our men's egos. If we allow any negative to be spoken about our husband, it is allowing the devil a foothold.
Here's Brandon when he was little. I don't ever want to express to him with my words or actions what he needs to change, what I don't like about him, what is not good about him. I want to tell him what he CAN do, and that he's wonderful and that I believe in him and that he can do whatever he sets his mind to and that I love him right where he is!!!
Why do we treat children so differently than adults? Do we really think adults are just supposed to have it all together and deserve no room to grow!? It’s silly!!! Once I started picturing Brandon as this young boy inside -- and just started focusing on ENCOURAGEMENT and praise, everything changed. I do whatever I can to ALWAYS speak words of thankfulness, and positive even when I feel like I'm about to blow my lid. Only when we are thankful and focus on being thankful for what we have ---- will God bless us more! Many times I have literally just had to physically bite bite bite my tongue when I wanted to call a friend or somebody to tell what Brandon just did, or didn’t do...or how unloved I feel, me me me, etc. SOOO when I finally understood the importance of my words and attitude and just general respect of my husband....THEN came the hard part - HOW to do it!!
HOW in the world do I hold it in (especially with my personality) when I literally feel like my blood is boiling in frustration some moments......... and I learned that the first step was that I had to control what I could control....and basically well, from the mouth comes what is on your heart, that's straight from the Bible but in my words....and I have found that when I'm listening to a lot of "junk" - negative friends, crap on TV, trashy books, the words slip out a lot easier. It's just the truth -- what we allow in, comes back out. Trash in, trash out....words of love, faith, truth in -love,faith,truth out. It’s a proven Bible lesson.
The 2nd step on HOW to encourage/support and not condemn/disrespect him --- was learning that it was okay to tattle on Brandon and just totally absolutely just rant and rave and speak negative and just show ALL my emotion -- but it was only okay to do that to ONE person - and that is God. I can't even tell you how much this has changed my marriage. POUR out ALL your concerns, hurts, frustrations, (why doesn’t he show me love more? Why doesn't he appreciate xyz? Can you believe he did ___?! Why does he seem so critical about bla bla?) to Jesus EVERY day -- do NOT let it build up and cause you to be resentful, bitter, upset, hurt, mad. Just empty it ALL out and then ask God to SOMEHOW take ALL of that and allow you to be filled up with love again! I am telling you it is MIRACULOUS how I can be soo upset or just hurt and then pour it all out - and somehow there is more love and more of me to give after I've let it out! Jesus gives it to us!!!
We are commanded to love Him above all else - but then to love others....It doesn’t say love God and then love yourself and take care of your needs. It says love GOD! And HE will protect and love YOU – you worry about loving and taking care of others!!!!
Even those that are unloveable or we feel don't "deserve" it... actually especially those....that is true servitude. Because really LOVE isn't about a feeling. It's about a commitment...it produces feelings, but that isn't what love is.
Also, sometimes it's not even so much about the words we say to our husband or about him, but just our general tone or respect to him. I don't use sarcasm or snide remarks and I don't roll my eyes and make jokes about husbands or marriage....I respect marriage a lot and I believe it is the most sacred relationship we can have - so I am very careful to treat it as sacred....which is why the times I’ve been most hurt in my past is when others try in any way to give the impression that Brandon is not my highest earthly priority. Anybody who knows us, knows our marriage is #1 to us and that I am fiercely loyal to defending and protecting it!
I truly believe that the only thing that has been able to deepen my love for Brandon, is to deepen my love for God. As I've been driving to say -- as I draw closer to Him....my Spirit conforms more to His and I get more of the qualities that are God --- love, patient, humility, servitude, mercy, forgiveness.... nobody can really tell you HOW to specifically show love to your spouse (depends on love languages, personality, etc)--- but Jesus can. Ask Him to direct your steps.
To wrap this all up ---- when I stopped loving Brandon just for approval or love back --- it changed a lot of things. Jesus is who fills me up with the love - Brandon's love back to me fills me up with love and the feelings too – but I’m not dependent on it. I don’t know if those are the right words that I'm looking for....but hopefully if anybody reads this, they'll get what I mean. Basically, I don't depend on Brandon for all approval, all love, to define my worth, etc. etc. and it has released him from a lot of pressure and it has changed our marriage!
SOOOO loving God above all else and working on changing ME makes me so much more loving – and makes it so much ‘easier’ for Brandon to love me! J
God is so so good!
A very special moment for us
Crossing the first of many bridges as husband and wife -- hand in hand, togetherSometimes love just absolutely takes my breathe away!