Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Compromise in Marriage Really Means & New Series Kick-off!

Welcome to our new Wednesday series:  

Close Enough to Forget

About this series:  We all need encouragement, to be reminded we matter. Sometimes the nearest and dearest to us get the least of that needed encouragement. We've all spread ourselves too thin at times leaving little reserved for the ones we've committed to give to most, our spouse. So we're going to do something about it. We're going to focus on the ones living right under our own roof, sleeping in our own bed. But no worries if you're spouse-free. You can apply the encouragement to someone in your life who needs it: children, co-workers, friends, family members. Any soul will do because we all long to know we are seen and heard. Wherever you see "spouse," substitute someone else's name.  So grab a cup of coffee or whatever it is you're drinking today, and get ready to give a little. You'll be glad you did.

Today, we are excited to welcome Theresa.  Here are her words:
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I like percolated coffee. He likes it French pressed. I like mine with cream. He likes it black. We’re on the road with four children for two-and-a-half weeks pulling the weight of a camper and a collision of differences.
When camping, he likes the tasty blend brewed simply and quickly with the French Press. Yet, it tastes too instant and slightly bitter to me.

I’m willing to spend a little more time percolating the coffee for a more full bodied flavor.  He doesn’t taste the difference.

And we each think our own preference is the better of the two.

But we compromise. On mornings that we are staying through the day, we use the percolator and on mornings we are heading on the road, we use the French press.

And that is what we learn to do in marriage – compromise.

Yet, it’s easy to compromise over coffee. However, when circumstances leave one feeling attacked, under-appreciated, or de-valued, it can leave one defensive and scrambling. Learning to compromise in marriage can still leave one thinking better; one right. It can leave one proud and still bitter.

We’re preparing to journey toward the second destination on the third morning of our trip and I’m still feeding the children breakfast and he’s ready to pull the slide-outs in and hook up the camper.

"Didn't we talk about getting on the road by 9:00 in order to hit all the points in Yellowstone and make it to Jackson Hole by dinner?" he wonders. I hear the disapproval in his tone.

We’re on vacation and I haven’t even looked at the clock. I camouflage feeling that I can't measure up with the need to be right then stumble out the door of the camper, ushering kids ahead of me to the playground while he finishes up.

The tears flow beyond the protection covering my eyes. I’m mad at him and frustrated with me and I point the finger at God.

And that’s okay because God doesn’t get defensive or become bitter, like me, when one points the finger at him. Because directing our hurts toward God actually begins to expose the thief that lays dormant waiting for its trigger.

I brush the evidence off of my cheeks and oblige to play a life-sized game of checkers with my oldest son. I try to be present but only go through the motions, as false messages continue to flow into the open, exposed, and truth begins to seep in.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:12, 13

He walks over and says we’re hitched and ready to go. I don’t look him in the eye. I still want to find a way to be right. He’s patient now and gathers the other three children from the sand pile, watches us a minute, and then says they’ll be waiting for us at the campsite.

We finish our game and I must choose. Choose to stand in a puddle of pride or to walk back.

We arrive and I climb into the passenger seat of the SUV. He takes my hand and apologizes for being short.

I tell him our differences don’t make one less than the other. He knows that. It’s me that needs reminded.

The defensive surge settles and I no longer feel the need to be right.  I simply recognize our reality like our coffee preferences and my ability to choose differently. I recognize my ability to be more thoughtful and helpful to him, and to go out of my way to put him before myself – before my ideas, my rights, and my sense of worth.

And something tells me he’s working out the same resolutions in his own heart and mind.

But it wouldn’t matter if he’s not. Because compromise in marriage should not be an, I’ll give 50 if you’ll give 50.

Compromise, in marriage, must be more than a settlement. It must be an offering – a 100% offering of self.  

“One of the greatest gifts you can give your husband (spouse) is your wholeness. The most effective tool in transforming him may be your own transformation.” Stormie Omartian, the Power of a Praying Wife

There is no condition to this union. Only grace. Because grace is the free gift that fills in the gaps and covers our failures.

And when I lay my burdens before the throne, Christ replaces them with truth, revealing my worth in Him, and opening my eyes to see clearly the man he created differently, yet perfectly for me.     

Two days later we prepare to hit the road toward our third destination and I French press our coffee like we agreed, pour two cups, offer one to a much more relaxed man, then take a sip myself. And that coffee just brewed by the simple, quick, and less-appreciated French Press? tastes just right.

No.  Better than the percolated kind the morning before.  

And over the duration of our trip, the percolator makes its way to the back of the cupboard, shoved behind pots and skillets that are frequently used, as I choose to brew coffee with the French Press each morning for the remainder of our trip.

Thoughts on how to love your spouse intentionally:

1.  The next time you feel frustrated with your spouse, take your frustrations to God before unloading them on your spouse no matter how justified you feel.

2.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to enable you to give 100% of yourself today by loving your spouse without condition.

3.  Think about something that makes you and your spouse different by design. Now go and thank your spouse for that quality.  

**Disclaimer: I believe this message builds a strong marriage that works only when Christ is at the center. It is not a message meant for an abusive marriage clearly in need of intervention. 

Theresa is a wife and mother of four wonderful children. She is a stay-at-home-mom, whose passions are primarily with her family, writing, and in ministries that encourage mothers in this generation. Theresa has been published in MOPS International, MOMSnext e-zine and other on-line publications. Theresa authors Heavenly Glimpses blog, where she captures the heart of Christ through glimpses into the life of her children, marriage, and a humbly inspired heart.

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Are you interested in contributing to this series?  If so, please contact Jen at jenfergie2000@me.com or Lori at loriamcclure@gmail.com.


36 comments :

  1. Compromising on doffee???!!! That's a huge one! Just kidding. My husband doesn't even like coffee. And he's a Swede. Go figure.

    Great new series, Jen, and great start, Theresa. I keep coming back to I Corinthians 13--that great love chapter. Love really does ask all from us, something it is impossible for me to give. So it keeps sending me back to Jesus, the one who willingly gave all.

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    1. You're right, Nancy! Coffee can definitely be evidence of how we'll deal with the tougher issues. It's all pretty tough without Jesus as our source. I love that you brought in 1 Corinthians 13. That says it all. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  2. Wonderful post on compromise, Theresa! Thanks for the thoughts on how to love intentionally at the end, too. Enjoyed this :)

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    1. Thank you, Lori! It is a pleasure to be a part of this.

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  3. "Compromise, in marriage, must be more than a settlement. It must be an offering – a 100% offering of self."

    This is great, and it genuinely captures the challenge and the grace of true, loving compromise. So often our culture encourages us to view compromise as a way to get as much as possible while giving away as little as we can. It's important for us to remember - and to be reminded - that the call is greater than that by far.

    Thanks so much for sharing... - s.

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    1. Thank you for summing this up so well, Steve. I appreciate your comment!

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  4. Theresa, thank you for articulating what is so often missed in Christian marriage... the total laying down of self. The miracle of Christ in the marriage relationship is that when both spouses do this, each partner is fulfilled beyond expectation. This is deeply non-intuitive, yet profoundly true.

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    1. "The miracle of Christ in the marriage relationship is that when both spouses do this, each partner is fulfilled beyond expectation." Yes, Patti! That is exactly right. Such a beautiful (though, difficult) concept, isn't it? Thank you so much for your comment.

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  5. As you were writing I was thinking: marriage is not a 50/50...and then you said it! Like you read my mind! That is the hardest concept to teach newlyweds, you know? That you give 100% of you even if the other person does not. They say: "that's not fair!" and that is the second hardest concept to teach: it's not about fairness. It is about giving of self, obedience to God, submission to each other and so much more.
    Great post!

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    1. Oh, yes, a hard concept indeed. Not easily recognized at the beginning, but a refining process over time. Marriage really does make us holy, doesn't it? This continuous laying down of self. Thank you for your comment, Gaby!

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  7. "And when I lay my burdens before the throne, Christ replaces them with truth"
    Now THAT is truth! This was an encouragement to me and a reminder that no matter how many years you are married, there is always room for growth, humility, and compromise!

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    1. Awe, wonderful. I'm glad this was an encouragement! And I agree. It's a lifelong process. Thank you for commenting!

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  8. So a healthy marriage is actually 200%! Love it. Found your blog (and now Jen's blog!) through the Imperfect Prose link up. I'm looking forward to reading more!

    http://www.holdingthedistaff.blogspot.com

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    1. Ha-ha! Yes, I guess it is, Gina! And like Patti said above, that's got to equal fulfillment beyond expectation, right? Thank you for commenting, Gina. It's great to meet you here!

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  9. nice to see you here...great job Theresa...yes the great art of compromise...oh how I wish I had seen this younger...different...different isn’t bad but just different. life is much more enjoyable when i don’t have to stand for my “rights”...blessings to you~

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    1. Thank you for your words, Ro. This: "life is much more enjoyable when i don’t have to stand for my “rights.” Yes. That is a big lesson, I think, learned over time. I'm still in the process of learning! I appreciate your comment!

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  10. oh girl. this is so refreshing. this marriage thing is HARD work, and i love how you captured that, but left us hopeful and with our eyes on Jesus. (btw, i WISH my husband even liked coffee. he doesn't. he's a tea-man. :))

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    1. Yes,yes, Emily. Hard, but hopeful. Hard always to die to self. Yet in doing so, the hope that Christ can raise to life any seemingly hopeless circumstance...and big or small, it all can feel hopeless without eyes on Christ. He is our hope. Thank you for your encouraging words here!

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  11. Wow. This is just what I needed today. Just. What. I. Needed. I just needed the reminder because I, too, have been feeling insufficient lately and taking it out on my husband. I think in a marriage, each person always feels they are giving more. This can really get in the way of your relationship, creating resentment. That's how I've been feeling lately, though I know I shouldn't. It is funny you compare it to coffee because my husband actually roasts our coffee beans himself. I really appreciate it, but lately I've felt resentful of the alone time he has in the backyard roasting coffee while I'm inside washing dishes and getting kids to bed. We almost never get to talk in the evenings. So....I need to take this to the Lord and quit thinking I'm doing more and that I'm right in thinking that.

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    1. Kelli, I'm blessed by every comment, yet if only one person read a post of mine or just one person commented, the words that would bless me most, and make every bit of it worth writing, and point it all back to God is just what you said here, "This is just what I needed today." I am so grateful that this blessed you and was what you needed for today. That is so encouraging. God is good!

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  12. This is the heart of it, I think:
    "And we each think our own preference is the better of the two."
    It doesn't seem to be the big things (although we can sometimes disagree on these, too) but the little things, where the difference does not matter all that much. But, because the stakes are small, we want our way. After all, why not? That's when the compromise really matters. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with our preference and both parties know it. That's giving the 100%.

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you pulled that point out of this post - that it's the little things, too, because it's really about the condition of our hearts. I believe how we handle the little things is how we'll handle the big things. So true! Thank you for your comment!

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  13. I so did enjoy this. I've been married to my husband going on 11 years now, we've been together since I was 15 years of age. People today often look at marriage as a temporary arrangement, they feel as though if you make it beyond the 7 year mark you've accomplished something great. When people as me how is it we are still deeply in love after so many years of being together... I say, love is intentional. It's not a feeling. It's intentional. I completely agree with everything you have written above and see myself reflected in it! It's about giving all of you. I love the scripture John 3:30 which I've often translated into More of him, Less of me... Less of me, more of you... just Less of me. It's not about me, it's about how I can be Jesus in the flesh and extend grace to those around me.

    Again, thank you for this. It brought tears to my eyes.

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  14. Oh, I love that scripture, too! And your comment blessed me so much. Thank you! God really did have an AMAZING plan in his design for marriage, didn't he? If only we would be more of Jesus and less of self. Oh, I love what you added here. Thank you for commenting!

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  15. Wonderful post! I learned this at about the 10 year mark. Where were you back then? ;) I pray many young marrieds will read this and take it to heart. Thank you for writing this.
    From a happily married for 31 years non coffee drinker,
    Kristin

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  16. Oh, wow! Congratulations on your years of marriage, Kristin. What a gift. Ya know, we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary, so I guess we were on the same track, though different decades! :) Wonderful. Thank you for your encouragement here!

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  17. Beautiful, practical, real words. Thanks.

    I look forward to the rest of the series.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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    1. Thank you, Glenda! I appreciate your comment.

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  18. You have lots of rich, dark roasted goodness here! And to quote an old jingle, it was good to the last drop!
    I think my favorite take away is your suggestion to view your marriage as one in which you each give 100%. In our almost 30 years of marriage, we have lived by that idea. I know I have been extended so much grace from my husband when he could have reacted in a much more negative manner.

    Jen-I love the idea of this new series. I am really looking forward to the many different perspectives on encouragement!

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    1. Awe, thank you, Kim! :) I appreciate your encouragement. Congratulations on nearly 30 years of marriage. Wonderful!

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  19. Christ at the center of marriage is the key...and when we do that, compromise and giving 100% is oh so much easier! Great post! Blessings, Joan

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  20. Yes, Christ at the center makes it possible. Thank you for your encouragement here, Joan!

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  21. What a beautiful post to read today as my husband and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. I loved your words of truth. Thank you for sharing and for linking up with Legacy Leaver Thursdays!

    Blessings~
    Shari

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