All marriage couples will tell you, if they are being honest, that there are times when marriage becomes difficult and requires more work than other times. Others would say that it becomes so difficult that it was easier to give up on the marriage and call it quits. I desire to share with you why I feel it is important to keep working through the challenges that your marriage has and find the solutions to making it work.
When Marriage Becomes Difficult
A disagreement here and there is normal in a relationship where two people live together and share space. However, I want to be real about what to do when you find your marriage becoming difficult and struggling with the thoughts of ‘Is it worth the work to stay together‘.
Absolutely, your marriage is worth the work to stay together!
My marriage has had a few times when it was a real struggle for us and finding a solution to fix the problems seemed impossible. That fact about why marriage is so difficult can easily be summed up with the sacredness of the vows that were exchanged with the man or woman of our dreams, to only find out that they have real flaws after you return from the honeymoon.
How dare the person you just vowed your life to, until death do you part, bring pet-peeves, habits and sin into your marriage?
The fairytale seems shattered when reality of who you just gave this ‘once in a life-time' position, as your spouse. Next thing that takes place is that the more you think about these flaws, the more you start doubting your choice and their love for you. The negative thoughts replace the once blissful thoughts that brought the two of you together.
Realizing that you married a ‘broken person‘, you set out on a mission to fix, change and better them.
Before long, your spouse will begin to wonder why you are finding so many things wrong, while overlooking the things that they clearly see in you that needs fixing and starts adding this to their agenda for the sole purpose of their defense.
A little spark of negativity begins to replace the sparks of love. Ammunition has been securely fastened to each spouse's mind and an invisible line have been drawn, with spouse facing off against spouse. Determined to be the last one standing, marriage vows are replaced with survival instincts fills both
soldiers, I mean lovers.
And thus is the start of when marriages become difficult!
It is time to learn how to fight for your marriage!
Marriages are not battle grounds. Spouses are not our enemies. No one is without pet-peeves, habits or sins.
Empower your marriage by changing the mindsets that cause the root issues in your marriage.
You BOTH are Fallible People
Identify the things you are finding faults with and then realize where your spouse could be finding fault with you.
I'm going to just come out and say this to women (myself included)…
“Do you really think you have it all together and your husband is the only one that needs to improve in your marriage?”
At one time in our marriage, I believed this whole-heartedly. I saw how hard I was working to make our house a home, have dinner on the table, keep a spotless house, be the only one to tend to the needs of our children, always be available when my husband needed me and so on.
I overlooked my tone in my voice, my rolling of my eyes, my temperament and even my words, because I justified them all by believing that ‘if he wasn't doing what he was doing, I wouldn't be doing what I was doing'.
This is the biggest lie that married couples believe, making their marriage difficult.
Stop Nagging and Get to the Root
For most of us women, it really isn't about the socks on the floor. It may be that your husband isn't respecting your work around the house. All along, you are arguing about the socks on the floor and he scratches his head trying to see how that is different than you leaving a cup in the car.
Men have no problem getting to the root of the problem.
Men tend to be straight shooters, so they will just come out and say what the problem is and often times, it comes off rough and hurtful. Considering how your spoken words can sound to a sensitive person can help to get your point across and eliminate the strain that speaking your mind can do.
Discuss the Sins, Work on the Habits and Overlook the Pet-peeves
Marriages have it all backwards when it comes to working on a marriage and often times it takes being married for years before you realize how backwards you look at your spouse.
Most marriages struggle with the pet-peeves of the other person, and then graduate to ripping apart their habits, while never really seeing the sin of the other in a marriage.
When a spouse feels like they are being attacked for the little things, like pet-peeves or how they have done things for the last 20+ years, it is easy for them to entertain sinful thoughts that lead to sinful behavior.
What we have found when our marriage is difficult is that one of us has a sin that needs to be confessed, discussed and eliminated. Overlooking the sins, when we feel like the Grand Canyon is separating us, can be the very thing that will end a marriage in turmoil.
Focusing on unhealthy habits together often times will be things to bring us together.
While the pet-peeves end up being the thing that brings laughter to our relationship, because they are the things that make us… US.
When we are feeling like we can't do anything more to fix our marriage, we couldn't be any more right. We can't. After all, we are the very reason our marriage was ending up in the difficult spot we found ourselves in.
This is when we lean on God, who we believe made us for each other and brought us together.
Praying together is one of the strongest things a marriage has to staying together, through the difficult times. Praying out loud, sharing your hurts through prayer, asking God to help, and heal will be one of the easiest ways to soften a heart, open a heart and fill a heart with love.
We all know what it feels like to be offended by a friend or experience a hurt that takes us some time to get over. However, I want to talk about the times when friends leave scars from hurts so deep that you can't seem to think about anything else and your life seems to be spiraling out of control because of the damage done to you.
When Friends Leave Scars
Friends are special people. You allow them to come into places in your heart that are reserved for those closest to you. They are the ones you trust, appreciate and value.
Friends are cherished treasures that you hold dear and close.
It is because of this sacred place that we give to our friends, as women, that words and actions can cut us deep.
Looking back, I saw the signs of the betrayal that later hit me like a ton of bricks and left me dizzy from the way it shook my world around me. I watched the aftermath of this earthquake result in this one friend successfully unraveling friendship after friendship through lies, twisted words and slander.
At the beginning of this life-changing event in our lives, my husband and I attempted to work through confronting the situation, apologizing for any part of hurt feelings I may have cause (the attacks were all aimed toward me) and forgiving. My heart longed to see restoration with this friend and to see peace restored between us.
I was naive to the length that some people go to inflict pain on others, to justify their actions and to rally others to their side.
As a family, the emotions of this situation that had been building for months behind the scenes began to fester until the point that the pressure caused me to come close to a nervous breakdown. At this point, the pain was so deep because we had lost nearly 30 relationships because of one false friend.
Tears were falling down my cheeks from morning to night, often times accompanied by uncontrollable sobs as I struggled to function in my home or homeschool. I desperately desired to get past the hurt but I felt stuck.
When friends leave scars so deep that you can't breathe without fighting tears, you only have one hope… God.
My faith in people was dying.
During this time, I described myself as a turtle and that my husband was my shell. I hid behind him, afraid that others may attack me, leave me or turn against me. My words seemed the weapons of my enemy, and my only defense was to hid and to quiet my tongue.
I turned my attention to my family and my faith.
I read scriptures, sang hymns and prayed when the hurt flooded me. My family worked to make my happy through situations that would make me laugh. They hugged me, prayed for me and loved me with words of encouragement while building me up with words of affirmation of who I was to them.
Just as I thought that I was growing stronger, I realized that I was growing bitter.
Several months after our world was turned upside down, we received news that the false friend's family had something happen that no one deserved.
For the next three nights, my nerves were so worn out that I couldn't stop vomiting and crying. I felt that everything was worse than it have ever been and that is when I realized that my bitterness was defeating me.
I remember crying out in prayer for the Lord to lead me to forgive this false friend. I needed more than I had to accomplish that and I knew it was only going to come from Him.
The next morning, as I was cleaning my kitchen, I began to realize what I needed to do to forgive this person that has caused me and my family more pain than we have ever experienced.
I needed to take her family groceries, deliver them in person and hug her neck, while offering her my ear to listen to her through her pain.
I knew that if I told my husband before I was able to act on this that he may stop me altogether, so I proceeded until a few minutes before I was leaving.
Of course he was shocked. I was, too. However, he gave me his blessing, told me he was proud of me and prayed with me before I left.
As I knocked on her door, I can't explain the peace that flooded me. We hugged for a while and then I brought the groceries in and offered to sit and be there for her.
She didn't desire me to stay, so I left… released from my bitterness.
Yes, I still have the scars from this false friend, but I also see that without this happening in our lives, our family would have missed out on a church that we love, learning the importance of true forgiveness and how that time in our lives was a pivotal point in my life that has allowed me the opportunity to grow as a person, as a Christian, as a wife, as a mother and as a friend.
For those lessons that these scars have provided, I'm truly thankful.
If you are struggling with the rawness of hurt from a friend, I hope you have found comfort in knowing that it will serve a purpose that will make you better, if you let it through true forgiveness and letting go of the bitterness that only harms you.
All children need to learn how to form the alphabet in order to learn to write and their sounds in order to read. Finding curriculum to teach that is easy, but what if I told you that now you can purchase a curriculum that teaches writing while focusing on scripture. I'm so excited to see that this is available and how amazingly it is put together. I look forward to sharing this curriculum with you and also the bonuses that you can get if you purchase it now, during the launch, and through March 27th, 2015.
How to Teach Writing While Focusing on Scripture
It is important for your child to learn the correct formation of the alphabet and their sounds, but it is also important to take advantage of the strong memorization abilities of younger children by introducing scriptures.
Write Through the Bible: Junior does just that and in a way that your children 4-6 will absolutely love!
I will be using this curriculum when our youngest officially starts homeschooling, even though he can already write most of his letters and even loves to copy words. I want him to be able to work on his formation and phonics more, as we move into learning to read and practicing early spelling, however the addition of the scripture focus is what has sold me on this curriculum verses the other. Well, I also love the hands-on activities because they are the types of activities that he already loves to do, so learning will be easy for him because of the element of fun attached to the curriculum.
Here is how the curriculum is set up for you to simply walk through the curriculum with your child:
- It includes 31 weeks of lessons
- It is structured for 4 days weeks
- Each daily lesson includes: memory work, talk about the verse for vocabulary purposes, practice, activity and prayer
- Short lessons with hands-on activities that children will love and look forward to the next one
- Pages that include eye-catching graphics
Would you like to get a sample of the FIRST WEEK of lessons to get a feel for what you can expect in this 420+ page book that is available in ebook or paperback?
Write Through the Bible, Junior is available in a variety of options.
In addition, this full-year program is very affordable costing just $17 for the digital download or $27 for the softcover book.
We are using the consumable paperback book and my little guy can't wait to get started!
After purchasing your digital download or softcover book on Amazon, please fill out this short form located on the SALES PAGE, where you will then be redirected to a page where you can download your bonus offers.
We all desire good kids, even kids that make us proud in front of other people, however without the purposed attention to building good things in our children, it may work the opposite for us. One of the things that I know a lot of parents do is train their children in manners and they do it well, but stop short of what more they can teach them to really develop the kind of children they desire. I have found that if you focus on teaching your children key phrases that parents want their children to say it will ultimately become part of their character.
20 Phrases Children Should Learn to Say
Children face so much in our culture, today. From abuse, to bullying, to neglect. The need to learn to communicate beyond just the four walls of your home, to be able to not only grow to the kind of person you desire but to also learn how to reflect their own feelings and to be able to avoid situations that can harm them when are are not with your children.
These phrases children should learn are easy and can be demonstrated daily. The more the parent emulates this for their child, in their own lives, the easier it would be for the child to add these phrases to their own vocabulary and way of communicating with others.
- I love you. – Most children are quick to say this to people in their own home, but often times neglect to say it to important people in their lives because they don't hear their own parents saying it outside of their walls. These three little words can make a world of difference when spoke to others outside their close circle of family they live with daily.
- I like that. – By the time children are teens, it is difficult to know what they like. This simple phrase may be something little children say a lot when they are younger but it doesn't take to long before they stop using it and you lose connection with what really is important to them. As parents, we can demonstrate this daily, not just at gift giving times, by telling people around you when you like something. It can be a gesture, a favorite book, a movie, a place, a food or a memory.
- You make me happy. – Children LOVE to please their parents and that doesn't change when they get older, but their perspective does. Often times, children think their parents are their enemies and it is just because we lose the communication with them to let them know when we make each other happy. This is simple to do for them and the more you do it, the more they will use this phrase and bless you when you least expect it. Think about things that they struggle with and if they do on their own, be sure to let them know ‘you make me happy', or when they kiss you in front of friends (this is a big one for boys!).
- Please. – We expect so much from our children, and this proves it as it is one of the first words parents try to teach their children to say and enforce around other people. We can demonstrate it in our own lives by adding it to how we speak to others. Recently, I have notice how little adults use this word. Here are a few examples: “Pass the ketchup”, “Hold the door”, “Get the mail”, “Do the dishes” and “Get the phone”. – these were in my own home and all by adults. Just adding that one word does a lot in how we act toward other people.
- Thank you. – We all say this when it comes to big things, but being thankful comes from the heart of gratitude and this only builds when you can appreciate the small things. Thank you for taking me to school or homeschooling me today, helping me with the dishes, cleaning out the car, adding a special treat to my lunch or taking a walk with me. We miss a lot of opportunity to say thank you for the little things, but it is the little things that children notice, but that will fade away if you don't keep it alive and then you will have children who are only thankful for the big things in life.
- You're welcome. – Going back to the whole gratitude of the heart, this phrase is quickly disappearing in our adult conversations with those who are closest in our lives. It is the phrase that allows us to feel good about something we did, although some may think that the ‘thank you' does that, but for those who have really given to others, they know the joy that comes from saying ‘you're welcome'. Children should be able to feel that all the time, as well.
- I was wrong. – This is probably one of the most difficult phrases to say in the English language, but it is so important to all relationships on earth. It takes a humble person to use the phrase quickly and to admit their error in front of others. Parents are losing a great deal of teaching power and relationship building if they fail to admit when they are wrong to their children. A parent that uses this phrase willingly and openly with their children will have one of the best relationships with them in their teen years and beyond.
- You are right. – We all like to hear we are right, especially when we ‘know it', but when someone else says it to you, especially when coupled with the ‘I was wrong' phrase, it can really make a world of difference in a situation. With children, they need to learn how to say this when they have done something that they know they shouldn't have done and is being corrected. It is one way to teach them how to deal with conflict and to restore peace in relationships that are important to them. Because let's face it, we all can't be right all the time.
- Will you forgive me? – In our home, we have never allowed the phrase “I'm sorry” to be used for an acted that was done on purpose. We allow “I'm sorry” for accidental things like bumping into someone at the store because you didn't see them, or dropping something. These acts were not intentional, so “I'm sorry” is appropriate for those situations. However, when something is intentional like being mean, lying or disobeying, we always require for the person in the wrong to say, “Will you forgive me?” In our experience, it eliminates the attitude that comes with the required “I'm sorry.” because it is more about asking the person wronged to restore what they damaged.
- You are forgiven. – Forgiveness is something we all seek in our relationships. We don't want to live with the feeling of disappointing someone that is important to us, so when you are given the apology with a request for forgiveness, which also is an acknowledgement of intentional wrong, not of an accident, it is always easier to forgive them. In our experience, it is also harder not to forgive them, because it quickly softens the hurt.Want help implementing this in your home? Enjoy this free printable: 20 Phrases Printable
- You are hurting my feelings. – Children know how to let others understand that they are hurt by something, but it is normally done physically at a young age. If you don't teach your child to voice their feelings, this type of physical reaction to being hurt by someone's action will quickly become habit and then you will have a very angry child that will often times get in trouble because they aren't able to express their feelings without the physical reaction. They also have the examples of adults who scream or yell with hands flying in all directions when their feelings get hurt by others. If we teach our children to simply say ‘you are hurting my feelings' when someone has done something that offends them, even by ourselves learning to say them in place of yelling, we can eliminate so much of the teen rage that happens when it is just the lack of communication skills.
- That was kind. – As important as it is to communicate when others have hurt your feelings, it is important to praise people when they have done something nice to you. Children can learn this when a child shares a toy or a snack. Adults can emulate when a friends sends a card or a text that uplifts our spirit. Thank you notes are disappearing in our culture but it has always been a tangible way to show something that you appreciated their gesture of kindness and I would recommend making it part of your child's training.
- You are beautiful. – Our culture has taken away the self-esteem of many people and it starts with young children. Little girls want to be princesses, but as they grow, they begin to feel clumsy and unattractive because when they look in the mirror they don't see the princess they have always wanted to be. We praise our children so much in their cute stages and for whatever reason, we stop praising our children's beauty around the same time that they grow into this stage of low self-esteem. Praising them will give them the ability to praise others and it is really contagious. I get so much joy to hear my young boys tell me how pretty I am when I come out of my room with a new outfit. Their wives will thank me later.
- That looks nice on you. – Encouragement in our society is disappearing, as well. As an adult, I feel awkward when others compliment me because of something that I'm wearing because I'm not sure how I should respond. I normally say, “Thank you” and change the subject, but then a few minutes later, I realize that I should have complimented them back or should I? Finally, I realized that I was going to always let another woman know when she is wearing something that makes her shine and it is a good thing to teach our children. The more they learn to compliment others for the positive things, the more likely the will not be focused on the negative things we all have that quickly leads to bullying or childhood meanness.
- I'm feeling angry. – Every person has to learn how to deal with anger, especially if they haven't learned how to communicate that someone is hurting their feelings. Stored up anger is dangerous and never leads to a good thing. I have dealt with anger issues a lot in my adult life, and I'm realizing that it comes with not being honest when something is hurting me and holding things in too long. Yelling and throwing my arms in anger won't solve the situation, but simply acknowledging to the one that is hurting me, “I'm feeling angry” and then removing myself to calm down, so we can talk things through has been a great way for me to deal with them. I have only had one child that demonstrates this type of behavior and I had only wished that I started this sooner. Anger is part of our emotions, but we need to learn how to respond to it without sinning by hurting others. Acknowledging it and having a plan to overcome the anger is important.
- Are you upset? – Recognizing when you may have hurt someones feeling is not as hard as it seems, if you have come to know the person well enough. Spouse know when the other is upset at them, but asking isn't something that they really want to do, especially if they have issues with anger. Seeing the signs of anger is important for parents, especially if you want to help them learn to admit when they are angry and find a solution to working through it without physically hurting someone. I'm always asking if someone is upset or ‘is something wrong' because I desire my children to choose a different path and communicate their feelings differently than I have learned to deal with mine. The more you do it, the easier it will be for them to recognize it and work on the feeling themselves.
- I'm tired. – Everyone I know can be emotional when tired, but we don't always like to admit it. My younger two boys have a way of getting right to the point of tiredness without showing signs of it and then it is like they have hit a wall and all we see is the tiredness. Letting them know, your crying because you are tired has helped them to realize that when they start feeling this way it is because they are tired and they need sleep. Adults don't always have the ability to demonstrate that when you are tired, you go to sleep, but implementing habits that will help them retire when they feel this is important. Sometimes, it is hard to admit it, especially when there are a lot of activity around you, but that is when we like to use Lavender to aid with the ability to fall asleep.
- Can I help you? – Who doesn't want children that will offer help without being asked? A family that we knows demonstrates this better than anyone we know. The mother has a servant's heart and it flows to her children. There is hardly a time we get together that her children do not ask me ‘Is there anything I can do to help you?' I have yet to have this implemented that well with my own children, but I can say that they have learned how to identify places to serve and be helpful to others. I think it can be demonstrated easier if I offer help to them throughout the day and give them the lesson at home, not just abroad.
- Will you help me? – If a child can see the joys of when help if given to others, they would quickly see that there isn't anything wrong in receiving help either. Most children are so independent and wanting to do things themselves, but often times, it takes a little help from more experienced people to learn how to do it right. I love when my 5 year old is learning something new and it doesn't come as easy for him as it does for his older siblings because he is quick to ask, “Will you help me?” There are times that we don't help him, because it will enable disobedience or laziness but that is only when we know the skill has already been learned and it was required of him to do, but we never let him down in his learning.
- I appreciate you! – Saying thank you is easy to implement, but going a little further to let someone know that ‘I appreciate you', leaves such a lasting impression on that person that it can literally change a life. Every person in our life should hear these words from us from time to time and why we appreciate them. Why not start with your children and train them in how to let others know how they appreciate them. You may be one of the first to be rewarded with such high esteem.
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Sibling rivalry is becoming more and more of an issue to families. I often hear people asking for ideas to build sibling relationships within their own children, so I thought I would write a list of things that we have done to help create a natural way for siblings relationships to blossom.
5 Ways to Build Sibling Relationships
- Refer to Your Children As Best Friends – We have always told our children that they are each others best friends and we worked hard to make their relationship this way, by creating lots of memories for them with in our home and on outings to build this important relationship.
- Set Sibling Time Daily – Our afternoon schedule includes a set time for sibling time. This is time that they play together for the purpose of building relationship with each other. I have found this to be a great way for them to learn how to prefer each other's likes over their own and to find common interests.
- Limit Strife in Your Home – Children are going to argue, there is nothing that you can really do to keep this natural part of a relationship for happening, especially when you share the same home. Creating a way to limit the strife is key to building a good sibling relationship for your children. We did this by getting to the root of a situation, not just the action, that was causing strife. Often times, parents correct a child that hit another child because hitting is wrong. However, the hitting was the reaction to a root issue and if you don't find that root problem, you can easily build resentment in one child, while empowering another in being mean with their words and actions to that child. This is the biggest issue in most sibling rivalry and often because parents don't want to take the time to get to the heart of the problem.
- Don't Allow Physical Fighting – We are a family that will wrestle, throw pillows and play rough, but we have never permitted our children to hit each other for the purpose of fighting. To allow it, even in a young age, will only create division and allow for bullying to happen with a family.
- Require Heart Felt Apologies – Children will apologize when you tell them to apologize to each other, but it doesn't mean they mean it and children know if an apology is meant. I have so many memories of having my child hug each other when strife was present and not letting go until I could see they had moved past their anger and had a heart of love for their other. Over time, the time it took for their hearts to soften toward each other lessened and lessened until it was never needed because they would quickly apologize when they realized they hurt the other.
Our children are not perfect in their sibling relationship, but they love each other and it is very evident, even to people who just meet us. They don't stay frustrated with each other for long and spend a lot of time together. That is saying a lot when you see a 20 year old spending time with a 5 year old because they enjoy each others company, or when a 19 year old takes his 12 year old brother golfing with him to just spend some brother time together.
The younger years are hard but so worth the reward when you put time into building sibling relationships.
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We all want children that emulate the virtues that are important to us, but this is something that doesn't happen naturally on its own. It takes purpose in your parenting and staying consistent in your efforts. It is hard word, especially if you get sidetrack from time to time, as we all do, but so worth every effort to raise children with virtues.
5 Tips to Raise Children with Virtues
I'm still working on my own virtues from time to time, but I know that having a plan of action is important to reaching our goal to raise children with virtues. Having two adult children already and knowing what things we did that worked well, I would love to share with you these tips that we are doing with our younger children, and what new things we are doing that are good things.
- Focus On Habits – Habits, both good and bad, are started at a very young age. It is dangerous to think a child will grow out of lying, being mean or being lazy. It is true to human nature that the more we do something the harder it is for us to undo that habit. If a child is showing undesirable habits at a young age and they are not corrected, these will continue and grow into their adulthood. It is so important to understand the need for focusing on habits when your children are younger, to help them grow into good habits that only become stronger with time.
- Identify Where Your Children Struggle – As parents, we know where are children struggle most. In our home, we have had to deal with lying, cheating, stealing, selfishness, being unkind and dishonor. Thank God, not all at once and not all in the same child, but these things poked their head early in our children's lives and being able to identify them early, gave us the ability to focus on these habits and work diligent to teach the opposite of what they were struggling with daily.
- Use Scripture to Train Your Children – We love using scripture to train our children. There is no better way to teach virtue than through the verses that are all through the Bible to help us in our daily walk. Teaching children scripture at a young age will make it easier in your parenting and easier for them to learn and emulate the virtue you desire them to have evident in their lives.
- Praise Them for all Improvements – If you know that your child struggles with lying and you see them speaking the truth, especially in difficult situations that lying would be easiest, you own it to that child to praise them for making the virtuous choice. The more we praise our children the more they grow. They desire our praise and acceptance, so giving it to them freely in your efforts to raise virtuous children will only improve your child's ability to grow in them.
- Demonstrate the Virtues in Ever Way Possible – If we want our children to be truthful, we need to be truthful in our own example. We have found that even as powerful as that life lesson can be in our efforts to raise children with virtues, we improve the lessons in what it means and look like by purposefully demonstrating these virtues through stories, illustrations and anything that we can share with them that prove to be good things.