Why I Always Cry on Sundays

Why I Always Cry on Sundays

We’ve been married for five years now. And through some really good times, and lots of really tough ones, our consistency {or inconsistency} with one simple commitment has reflected in every other aspect of our marriage. We don’t really have a name for it, other than “The Questions” but it’s a time we set aside to talk. The kids are asleep. The dishes are set aside. The phones are on silent. We don’t have TV, so that’s not a problem — but if we did, it would be switched off.

We’ve been asking each other the same questions, on a weekly basis (when we can), and reflecting on our faith, our marriage, our parenting, our home, and our lives — and this is where we stop to figure out where we’re going to go, how we want to get there, and how we might need to adjust our course along the way.

 

If there has been a Sunday-Evening-Question-Time where I didn’t shed a tear or two, I can’t remember it.

Not because the Hubs is mean to me or I feel sad about our lives. Usually hitting the pause button to reflect on our lives brings me an overwhelming sense of thankfulness — for the Hubs, our boys, life itself, and the God we believe makes all of this possible. The moment is an open-line of communication that silences all the other voices for a little while, recognizing that it’s really important to give time (and an ear) to the voice in our lives that comes second only to the voice of our Creator.

We begin with the Faith Questions — because every week those answers seem to provide significant foreshadowing for what all the rest of the answers will be. The relationship between that first question and everything else is uncanny. {Take off your shoes and observe!}

We start:

1. How is your walk with the Lord?
2. Who or what is on your heart this week?

Then we talk about how things are going at the Collie house.

3. How do you feel about this week at our house?
4. How was work (or working at home) this week?

We move on to talk about our own relationship — how we are connecting and relating to one another, what do we perhaps need to ‘deal’ with, are we effectively communicating? Do we feel loved?

5. How do you feel about the intimacy between us? {Awkward as it may seem at first, it is life-giving and good to talk about this!}
6. Is there anything we need to make peace about or let go of from this week? {Holding any grudges we need to discuss, mayhaps?}
7. How is our communication?
8. How have I honored and loved {or respected and loved} you this week? {This creates a beautiful opportunity to share positive things that were meaningful from the week just past — thank you for bringing me tea, letting me sleep in, saying those nice things in front of friends… You might be surprised by the things your spouse is blessed by that you never would’ve expected!}

We look out again to consider how we are interacting with the world around us:

9. What have we done to build friendships with other people this week? {This is meant to prevent us from getting too internally-focused.}
10. How have we given this week? {Not just financially, but also of our time, our hearts…}

And then, we move on to the final section, an area we care very much about, but put last, because if there are things we need to start implementing with regard to this, they will be at the forefront of our minds when question time is done.

11. How are we doing with disciplining and loving each of our children? {We discuss how things are going with each child, talk about areas where we might need to make strategic adjustments that could lead to better outcomes, and we are free to encourage or challenge each other if we need to discuss problems we see in our own or each other’s interactions with the kids.}
12. What have we done to tell our children about Jesus this week? {We end here, and this very important goal is at the forefront of our minds. We are a team, working together to achieve a heap of goals — but this is the number one priority. If we don’t succeed here…  are we really succeeding?}

So those are our Twelve Questions. Whenever we take the time {make the time} to talk these things out together, it is a breath of fresh air to our marriage and our lives in general. And considering how difficult marriage is, how many things are set against a marriage succeeding, I find it to be an important way of reminding yourself and your spouse that you’re not just in this for as long as you both shall feel happy about it — I meant it when I said as long as we both shall live. And I’m willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen!

If you’re not sure how to talk about your marriage with your spouse, how to just sit still and check in, how to take a moment to look into each other’s eyes, ask how are you and then wait for an honest and truthful response, this could be a great place to start. These questions are just our ideas of what we want to cover — and they can adjust as time goes by — or you could sit down and write questions of your own that are better suited for you and your spouse.

Don’t force it if it doesn’t come naturally… breathe, receive and extend grace… pray about what could work well for the two of you.

Are you and your spouse making efforts to build a healthy marriage? I would love to know how. And, can I encourage you to consider making this, or something like it, a weekly commitment — or even a monthly one? I believe it will be life-giving, and though it may seem awkward at first, perhaps eventually you’ll love it so much, you’ll cry on 12-Question-Days, too.

Last thought — I made a little Pinterest-esque printout for you in case you’d like to use these questions at home! Because I love you!

Here ya go… 

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment to let me know if you’re committing to 12-Question-Days, too, or if you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

xCC

 

On Marriage. And Fighting.

Did I tell you yet about the lady that visited our Bible Study a few weeks ago? She’d been married for FIFTY — count ’em — FIFTY years. She (Mrs. Janey) gave us her top ten tips on making your marriage a success (I, of course, loved that it was a top ten list.) And everyone wanted her to come back the next week so that we could ask her heaps more questions.

She did. It was great.

One of the things that stuck out to me the most about her talk (totally random, you’ll think, but read on…) was that she talked about how she got up every morning before her husband to get herself ready and put on her makeup. She didn’t want him to leave for work without saying goodbye to her, looking her best. She pointed out that there are too many women who don’t care whether he’s married.

The thought of getting up super-early for pretty much anything is a hard one for me. I already get up between six and 6:20 most days. And the Hubs has already left for the gym by then. I suppose I could get ready by the time he gets back but that’s when I spend time with the Lord. Om, sorry guys, I’m having a conversation with myself. I’ll continue it at another time.

So where were we?

Well, just the week before this special guest graced our group with her presence, I’d been considering how much makeup I could ditch from my routine, as a part of the Naked Face Project. But I don’t really like for my face to be nekkid. So I was very thankful for an excuse to keep my beauty regime in tact.

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You’ll be glad to know there were other, mayhaps more important take-aways from the talk. And today at Signposts I shared some of my own thoughts about Fighting for your Marriage (instead of fighting in it.) And tomorrow, I’m sharing that Top Ten List from the guest speaker, which I think you’ll also enjoy.

On a more personal note, I think one of the most useful things the Hubs and I have incorporated that has been a great help to our marriage is setting aside a specific time each week where we go through a specific set of questions that we discussed and decided on. They include things like “How have I honored and loved you this week?” and “Is there anything we need to let go of?” and “How is your walk with the Lord” and “How are we doing with Asher and Blake?” Although we struggle to faithfully keep up that habit each week, when we do, I always sense that there’s so much life in it.

The questions have become an integral part of our lives, so that we can still ask each other those questions when we have a good car ride in front of us or some time on our hands — so it doesn’t have to just be on the sofa with sleeping boys in their room anymore.

So what works for you? Any marriage advice you’d like to share? You can click over to Signposts or comment right here. I hope you’ll enjoy both posts — especially the second one!

You might also like this recent post by Pastor Perry Noble — Seven Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

and this post from We Are THAT Family — 100 Ways to Make Your Marriage Rock

One thing I’m sure of — you can decide to fight in your marriage, or you can decide to fight for it. Pick your fights well, Rocky!

xCC

I Married a Sinner, and So Did He.

So these thoughts might seem to be for an exclusive portion of the blogging audience, but if you ever think you might get married, or have a flatmate, or basically have any sort of relationship with another person, feel free to tune back in, because I think they’re probably applicable. As a lot of things in life do, this married life has its seasons — seasons where everything is scrumdiddlyumptious and you’re whistling while you work, and seasons where you think, “Um…is this what I signed up for?” If you’ve experienced anything like that, in any relationship, fear not, friend — you are not alone.

Yesterday, I noticed, as it sometimes happens, that Mark (my husband) and I were for lack of a better way of putting it, sort of nipping at each other’s heels.  Still doing our best to try to communicate our love to each other, show kindness to each other, and so on, but nevertheless somehow managing to disagree on everything from what a word means to whether or not the baby needed a blanket when we went for a walk with the pram.  Yesterday was Asher’s 8 month birthday (yay!) so we went for a wee hike up Arthur’s Seat, and although we were out of the flat and in the fresh air (and even a little sunshine) that slight “itch” or discontent lingered.

I had plenty of time this morning before church to spend time with the Lord, and I brought these thoughts to Him to say, “Lord, what is this thing that makes it feel like Mark and I are singing from different hymnals or playing for different teams?” [That’s pretty much a direct quote.] “Where does that come from?” The Lord was quick to remind me, unfortunately, that I am a sinner, and news flash, I also married a sinner.  Dang that’s tough!  And my direct realisation from that (thanks, Lord) — if sinners are anything, they’re selfish.  And so we are. We are going to act selfishly throughout this crazy thing called marriage, and as a result, we are sometimes going to hurt each other. But the lesson doesn’t end there.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to continually turn to the Lord, to keep being transformed by the renewing of your mind with God’s Truth, so that you can answer God’s call to be a servant — to love and serve one another with the love you’ve already been shown by Jesus. What I’m realising is that Mark and I keep falling back into the pattern of trying to keep tabs on “who’s doing what” and, perhaps more specifically, “who’s doing more.” We are so selfish! Somewhere deep down in our hearts, we don’t want to give too much — we don’t want to give more than the other person, and in some way be taken advantage of. We want to give just enough for it to be even and fair, and let’s be honest, we’re going to have pretty different opinions on what even and fair look like.

How do we change the way this looks? The basic principle the Lord has reminded us of over and over again is that because of our actions, we’re always spiraling in one direction, or another. If we work at loving and serving one another, if we train our hearts to want to go so far as to out-do each other with kindness, then the spiral starts moving in the right direction. One person serves and loves the other, and builds the other up in love and in confidence of that love and faithfulness, and the other person, in turn, is motivated to serve and love the first even more. Alternatively, if that first person acts selfishly, and it appears to the second person that the first is acting out of self-interest, then the day might look a lot like a game of spoons, where each person is grabbing for their own spoon, even if they have to jump across the table to get it. So the first person acts out of self-interest “Om, I’m pretty sure I changed the last poopy diaper…” and the second retorts “But I washed the dishes and gave the baby his bath.” And so the spiral continues in an outward direction, pulling the two apart, in the direction of their own selfish needs. If this isn’t caught in time, the two are so far apart they wonder how things ever got that way, if they can ever work it out, and if not, who gets the house and who gets the kids on the weekends.

Thanks be to God, who demonstrated to us the truest act of selfLESSness — sending His Son to die on a cross for the sins of us selfish human beings. He promises that “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) If we’re following the example Jesus set for us, we will work at loving and serving one another, without concern for being taken advantage of. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Mark, please forgive me for being such a selfish sinner!  I love you, and I continue to desire to love and to serve you for the rest of my days. It is a joy to be your wife. Please join me to praise the Lord who has forgiven me already! May He help us to keep the spiral going in the right direction for the rest of our time on Earth.

xCC