What the heck…National Spouse Day?

View More: http://bradcole.pass.us/carpentercircusYesterday was National Spouse Day. And I missed it. But, I guess it’s a pretty accurate picture of the reality of marriage-at least, it is with ours! Maybe your’s is a little more “put together” and perfect. Lucky ducks! But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. I tend to be a bit of a scatterbrain- just ask my sisters. I am not the best at keeping up with all the National Days, unrecognized holidays, birthdays, etc. I think I’m doing well if I get things done on time. Instead of posting cutesy pics of us together, I posted about needing caffeine, dry shampoo and concealer! Real life, people! Some wives sent sweet texts to their husbands of I Love Yous and kissy face emojis. My sweet love got a text that I finally shaved my legs!

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. Some days, he walks in to an immaculately clean house, content kids and a dolled-up wife that has conquered the world! Some days, he comes home from work to a hot mess of a wife, a house that seems to have had an internal tornado ravage it, and kids that are bickering. Some days are harder than others. And like the best husband ever, he greets me with a kiss and asks, “Do you need a trip to Target?”

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. We don’t always agree on everything. At times, I am ridiculously unreasonable. Yet, he is so patient with me even when he is giving me “the look.” You know, “the look.” The one that conveys all the thoughts going on inside his head- “What is she talking about? Where did this come from? Does she realize that is not even reality? Pretty sure she just invented those statistics. We’re going to have a good laugh over this when she realizes what she has been saying.”

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. I am a starter, but I struggle to finish things. I get on all kinds of whims. I take up new interests all the time. Instead of eye-rolls and “not another crazy idea,” I get words of encouragement. It’s amazing what encouragement does for a person’s soul and for a marriage! He has every right to remind me of all my failed attempts, unfinished projects, or self-inflicted stress to do things perfectly. But he lovingly tells me that I can do it, he is proud of me, he will support me however. And my favorite, “How can I help you?” Some people know exactly what they want to do in life, what their passions are, and every little thing that they are called to do (or at least it seems they do!). But I am convinced God knows exactly what he is doing in this little adventurous spirit when He slowly reveals new ideas, new passions, new things that excite me. You see, I would be too overwhelmed to just know it all and do it all at once. I enjoy the process of discovering the little things that excite me and light up my soul! It’s like a puzzle- tons of random pieces that begin to find their place and reveal the Big Picture of Me.

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. We have committed to doing whatever it takes to make our marriage successful. For us, that means it is not just surviving but thriving. It means we are growing together. It means we love each other more as we learn more about each other over the years. Why do I love him more now that I did when we first got married? Because I have learned so much more about the amazing man he is. He has had many years of proving to me that he is trustworthy, loyal, a man of his word, generous, selfless and, most of all, desires to love me no matter what. This may surprise you, but I’m not always lovable. I’m not always sweet. Sometimes I can be spicy. Sometimes I’m a little tart. Sometimes I might be sour. But we are committed to our marriage and to each other.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or perfect spouse. In fact, every marriage is doomed to fail UNLESS you are committed to do the work necessary to make it a success. {Please note, NO condemnation for anyone who has been divorced! The past is the past; learn, grow and plan for a successful future} There are many important factors that contribute to a successful marriage. I find myself always thanking God for a spouse that is committed and loves me, despite my flaws!

Wife Class 101: Shhh… (the conversation no one wants to have)

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Welcome to the conclusion of our Wife Class 101 series! This post comes later than I planned, but husband has been out of town, things come up and sometimes priorities don’t always line up with my to-do list.  If you have missed the previous “classes” you can go back here.

What better way to end the series than with the #1 requested topic. That’s right, Ladies, we’re going to discuss SEX! There are lots of areas we could address but there seems to be a theme among the questions/requests. So, let’s talk about it. Here are some of the topics/questions asked: What if I’m not in the mood? I feel used, not loved. Why isn’t it more like the movies? I don’t feel spiritually connected during sex. There are more, but I will soon run out of space.

From what I’m hearing, it appears the common theme is dissatisfaction or disappointment. I want to address our part first. I would dare to say every one of us has watched chick flicks at some point in our life. We love the feel-good emotions we walk away with at the end of the movie. We want the love, passion, and crazy desire that we see on the screen. Hollywood has done an excellent job of ruining the sexual relationship for many couples. You see, the problem is not that our husbands are incapable of romancing us, but that we have set our expectations at an impossible level. The bar is so high when it is set to a fictional, scripted, unrealistic romance that we guarantee our husband’s failure. Unlike the movies, most men do not intuitively just know exactly what you need when you need it. Nor can they read your mind. It is unfair for us to expect that our husbands should just know us so well that they “just know.” How will they know if you’ve never told them? And, yes, sometimes you have to keep telling them. Are you capable of remembering every little detail ever told to you just once over the entirety of your life? Remember, movies are fictional and not real life! Let’s stop comparing our lives to those we see on the big screens. Much of our frustration and disappointment (in life, as well) are due to unmet expectations. When our expectations are not realistic, it’s no wonder we feel frustrated with our husbands.

I am a believer in the Five Love Languages. If you haven’t taken the test or read the book, I highly recommend that you do. It would also be great if your husband was willing to take it, as well. We all have different ways that we give and receive love. If you find yourself complaining that you don’t feel loved, yet your husband is frustrated because he’s trying, chances are you both have different love languages.

So… what about when “you’re not in the mood?” Two things here. First, sex is an important part of your relationship. It is very important to your husband. Men are more physical while we are more emotional. That doesn’t mean they do not have emotions. But sex and love go hand in hand for them. Men and women are just created differently. First Corinthians 7 talks about the husband/wife relationship. Wives, when you vowed to give yourself self entirely to your husband and your marriage, that included sex. You didn’t just vow to give 100% in other areas but 75% to your sexual relationship. Second, while it’s true you might not be in the mood, it’s also true that you could get in the mood. This is another reason that good communication is so important in your relationship. What do you need from your husband? What do you need to be in the mood? A little time alone? Help with some of the house chores? Being taken out to dinner instead of cooking? A LOOOOONNNNG hot bath? The daily chores of life can be exhausting. Caring for children all day can be exhausting. A stressful job can be exhausting. But putting your husband and your sexual relationship last is exhausting on your marriage.

This is the best analogy I have heard on this topic. Think about holidays and parties. We have great feasts. It’s exciting because it’s not food you eat every day. Sometimes it’s so good you stuff yourself like crazy. But it’s unrealistic to expect to eat like that every meal. The majority of your meals are satisfying, filling and nutritious. And sometimes you just need a snack. Sex is the same way. Sometimes it’s mind-blowing, over-the-top, crazy, circus-style sex! It’s been planned out, thoughtfully put together, romance has built up anticipation all day or over days. It leaves you thinking, “Wow! That was amazing, I can’t believe we just did that!” However, the majority of your relationship will be satisfying and fulfilling. There is a connection. You are satisfied and loved. And sometimes, you or your husband just needs a snack. You know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t require bells and whistles (or feathers and pasties). It’s just a “snack.”

Let’s focus on how we can best serve, love and fulfill our husbands’ needs. When both the husband and wife focus on fulfilling the needs of their spouse, both the husband’s and wife’s needs are met. But if we only focus on our own needs, everyone loses. Ladies, I have confidence in  you. I believe that you can be the best wife for your husband. I believe you can be the Godly wife he desires. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married 5 years or 50 years- great marriages require effort.

I hope you have enjoyed this series. If you have other questions or topics  you would like to read about, please contact me! You can leave a comment, find me on Facebook here, on Instagram, Twitter and Periscope @morgencarpenter.

I am not a marriage expert or therapist, just a woman on a journey to finding God’s best for my marriage. In doing so, I am learning how to be the best wife for my husband. If your marriage is in crisis, please consult a professional. 

Wife Class 101: We All Need Help Sometimes

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Welcome back to class! I have loved the feedback I’ve received so far. This has been a fun little series and I am so excited for the relationship series Jeremy and I start teaching next week! If this if your first time here, I would encourage you to go back and read previous posts for our Wife Class 101. You can find them here.

WARNING: This post gets extremely personal! But this blog is about real women with real lives. And this is my real life story. It’s a little heavier than usual, but the next post is lighter- I PROMISE!

I have a few close friends that are more meaningful than just “friends I can share anything with.” These are the types of friends that will also tell me what I need to hear, not just what I want to hear. They are willing to call me out, set me straight, and love me through my stupid moments. I respect these women so much because of their boldness, compassion, wisdom, and love.  Hopefully, you have a friend, or friends, that do this for you. It was because of one of these friends that I learned I needed help, real help. Girlfriends are great and they can often help us work through average problems. But if we were all honest, there are situations that come up when we need real help. Help that goes beyond even the wisest of friends.

Several years ago, Jeremy and I hit a rough spot in our marriage. Marriage has its ups and downs, but this was a different kind of “down.” This was a make or break point for us. Things that we should have dealt with, or didn’t know how to properly deal with, got swept under the rug for years. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Unfortunately, with time these insignificant issues snowballed into massive conflict between us. On the outside, we were a happily married couple with adorable children. We were on the pastoral staff at our church, helping people in our church and community. We were experts at putting on a happy face. On the outside, everything appeared to be great. But on the inside, our marriage was another story. Little parts of our relationship had been neglected, which became the foundation for the resentment, animosity and hatred that crept into our marriage.

I felt I had no one to turn to. I was convinced that even my close friends wouldn’t understand. I couldn’t turn to the pastoral staff because I was sure I already know what they would say and how they would respond. I had seen how it was handled with other couples. So I kept it to myself. The darkness grew and grew. Before I knew it, I had slipped into a depression I’ve never experienced before. Well, I didn’t really slip, I walked willingly into it! I allowed my thoughts to be consumed with how much Jeremy didn’t love me, didn’t care and how much I disliked him. I cried myself to sleep on a regular basis. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. I spent a lot of time imagining my life if I left him. I even entertained the idea of suicide just so he would hurt as much as I did. I knew I needed help.

I went to one woman that I felt I could really trust. She listened with such sweet composure. She didn’t freak out on me. She didn’t tell me I was going crazy. She simply told me I needed help- the kind of help that goes beyond the advice of even good friends. This was not something I could do alone, obviously. Then she explained to me why it was important to have people in our lives for situations like this. She helped me to see the value of getting outside help. Too many people view counseling or therapy in a negative light- as if it is only for the mentally ill. Sometimes we just need that outside person, who has no connections to either party. Before all of this, and now long after, I readily turn to God to help me through life’s bumps in the road. But at that time, I was even mad at God. I was mad that Jeremy’s calling to help people was more of a priority in his life than me. I was mad at God for all kinds of things.

So, long story short, I listened to this wise woman. I got the help I needed. Through that process, I learned a lot about myself, about how to work through this situation, how to get to the place in our marriage I wanted us to be, how to forgive and how to restore trust. Jeremy and I had a series of healing conversations. It didn’t happen overnight; it took time. But we chose to work the process to get us to a healthy place. Now, we are strong. We are the dynamic duo! I love him and he is my best friend! We’ve come a long way, baby!

Jeremy and I choose to live very transparent lives. We have found that there are many people experiencing life situations that we have gone through and overcome. We understand that some things are hard to admit or seek help. But more importantly, we have found that people want real solutions without being judged. That was what I had wanted.

Luke 8:17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.

Eventually, what is going on inside your heart finds its way out. Wives, you are the only one that can nurture and protect the condition of your heart. It is important that you take the care necessary to guard your heart. The things in your heart WILL show up in your marriage.

What things have you hidden in your heart that are toxic? Toxic to you, to your relationships? Counseling is not often talked about. Or if it is, it is usually portrayed in a negative light. Sometimes people think it is a last resort. As I talk with women of all ages and all walks of life, I have learned that many of us do not enter marriage with all the life skills we will need for the entirety of our marriage. Many we learn along the way. And other times, we just need someone to help us learn. Our first response is usually to enlist the aid of our current friends. But chances are, they are in the same boat we are in. Do you have women in your life that you can learn from? Do you know women that have more life experience? These women are valuable assets, hold them dear! We can learn so much about being Godly wives from those who are successfully navigating the marriage maze.

The greatest couples I’ve know have all said at some point they needed outside help. For some, they went to mature, trustworthy friends. For others, they sought professional help. (And these are all couples that were living Godly lives and seemed to have it all together). There should be no guilt or shame for taking any measures necessary to keep our marriage successful. We all need help sometimes! Instead of flaunting how bad our lives seem all over social media, let’s be proactive in making our marriages amazing!

HOMEWORK: If you or your marriage needs help, it’s time to set aside pride. It’s time to utilize the resources available. Find women that you can learn from. The end goal is to make your marriage successful!

Up next: Shhh…(the conversation others are afraid to have)- This next post is going to be lots of FUN!!!!!

Wife Class 101: Pull Over, I’m Driving

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I am so glad you made it back for another Wife Class 101! These posts are intended to help you become the best wife to your husband. These are not finite rules, but principles that can help your marriage to flourish. There are some things you don’t understand about marriage until you are married. Many of these are based on requests, what we have learned during 10+ years of doing pre-marital counseling, and our own experiences. Often, these are topics I wish someone had told me. You can read previous classes here.

Early in our marriage, I would get so frustrated when Jeremy would drive in unfamiliar territory. One particular memory was driving around downtown Seattle. He didn’t have a clue where he was going, but he refused to ask for help. The more wrong turns he took, the more frustrated he got. The more frustrated he got, the more frustrated I became. How hard was it to just say he didn’t know where he was going and ask for help? Instead of being a patient wife, I blurted out, “Just pull over. I’m driving!” The irony is that I had no clue where we were or where I was going. But I did know which way was east and that would get us back on the freeway.

Just pull over. I’m driving!

What does this have to do with marriage? I’m glad you asked. Think of your marriage as a car. As wives, it is easy for us to become frustrated when our husbands don’t seem to have a clue where they are going. Maybe we know, maybe we don’t. God placed our husbands as the heads of our households. God placed them in the driver’s seat. It’s a big job! They are responsible for the direction our family goes on the roads of life. If they mess it up, they don’t have to answer to us (although we do a pretty good job of letting them have it!) but they get to answer to God for the decisions they made. Many times we think life would be easier if we were in control. We just want to kick them out of the driver’s seat and take over.

When we were first married, Jeremy was not great at leading our family. It’s ok, he will admit to this. I so badly wanted to take control, but the Holy Spirit kept whispering to me, “Let him try.” Believe me, God and I had MANY conversations about this! Not only did my husband have to learn to lead, but I had to learn to be led. I’m pretty headstrong and independent, so God had His work cut out with us!

Husbands don’t always get it right the first, second or even third time. Maybe some do, God bless your darling little heart. Sometimes our husbands make mistakes. How often do we get everything right on the first try? It is easy to give grace to ourselves yet be harsh on others. Maybe your husband needs to make a mistake in order to learn the right way to do it. Instead of waiting for our husbands to mess up, let’s be praying wives that are asking God to clearly show our husbands the way God wants them to go. This even applies if your husband is not a Christian. I met a lady who loved God with all her heart but her husband wanted nothing to do with Him. This lady chose to honor her husband and still let him lead his household. She never nagged him. She didn’t criticize him when he failed. She loved him, supported him, encouraged him, and PRAYED FOR HIM! She reminded him that she trusted him and believed he would make decisions that were best for their family.

Jeremy has come to me and said, “Babe, I’m sorry. I think I messed this one up. But I talked with God and I believe this is the direction we are to go.” Those words brought comfort and built my trust in him and our relationship. Sometimes I knew he was making a wrong turn. We would talk about the possible decisions (I’m a pro/con list maker) but I would tell him I trusted his judgment and I would let him make the final decision. Then I went back to God about it!

Wives, remember your husbands weren’t taught how to lead you when they were bachelors. Some may get it right away and others may need to learn along the way.This transformation doesn’t happen over night. Time is necessary. And, yes, you still get to have a say in your marriage and life. But if you want your husband to lead, you have to be led. When  you want to jerk the steering wheel away from him, stop, and just sit on your hands.

Be patient. Be loving. Be kind. Be gracious. Trust your husband. Trust God. Believe me, you will enjoy your marriage so much more when you allow your husband to be the husband. You will find a security, a calm, a peace that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

HOMEWORK: If this is an area you are struggling, over the next few days, take a step back and let your husband transform into the leader he wants to be. If this area is strong in your marriage, helps those wives that are struggling. We are all in this together. When marriages win, we all win!

Up next: We All Need Help Sometimes

Wife Class 101: The Collision of Two Worlds (Did I Marry a Barbarian?)

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Thank you for joining me again! If you missed the last post, you can read it here.

I have seen couples that have this euphoric honeymoon phase- sometimes it lasts 6 months, sometimes it lasts several years. But then reality starts to settle in and life isn’t as perfect as they thought it was.

When Jeremy and I were dating, I saw the barbaric signs but didn’t understand them. I thought the drinking from the kitchen faucet was because there were only 2 glasses in the apartment, which his roommate and I were using. But after we got married, suddenly he was driving me crazy with his wet towels on the floor or ON THE BED! He didn’t close the shower curtain after his shower. He loaded the dishwasher wrong. He didn’t seem to understand that you have to tri-fold the towels so they fit neatly in the cabinet. Why were their socks all over the room? He even put the toilet paper on the roller backwards! I had gotten to know his mother and she wasn’t a dolt, so what was wrong with him?!?!?!

I was convinced that my way of doing things was the obvious right way. It was how I was brought up. It was the way I had always done things. It was how my mother had done things. To be honest, I made a much bigger deal about these things than necessary. But I lacked understanding. I didn’t understand how he had been brought up. I didn’t understand why some things just didn’t bother him. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t see that my way was the better way.

When we get married, it is the collision of two worlds. We each bring our own set of beliefs, how we were raised, how we do things, ideas about life and even marriage. He had his way of doing things and you had your way. The reason it is annoying now, is because you live with him everyday. Of course there is going to be friction! You can fight with your husband or you can try to understand him. There are still things that Jeremy does that could drive me crazy if I allowed it. But now I see that it is not a big deal to him. And in the grand scheme of life, it is not really that important. Sometimes the things that drive us batty about our spouse are simply different from how we would do it.

I started asking myself questions before I would let something that was a 2 escalate to a 10.

  1. If I choose this battle, will it improve my marriage?
  2. If I choose this battle, will it change our destiny?
  3. If I choose this battle, will it change me/him or will it slowly crush my/his spirit?

As wives, it is our responsibility to encourage and cheer on our husbands. It is NOT our responsibility to nag or mother them. They want a wife. They want to come home to that sexy lady they married, who is loving, fun, and makes him feel like a man. They don’t want to come home and feel like a child getting grounded. Your husband doesn’t need a second mother; he wants a wife.

If you still can’t just let it go, then it’s time to talk. Have a conversation, filled with GRACE and TRUTH, about how you feel. And find out what makes him tick. He is your husband, your best friend, your partner in crime and partner in life. He spent 20+ years learning his way of life. He needs time to figure out how to be married. And you need time to figure out how to be married. What works for the two of you? Maybe his way of folding towels works better for the closet space you have. Being open to each other brings harmony to your home.

These may seem a trifle thing, but imagine years of frustration. Small things pile up until they have become so big that one of you can’t take it anymore. The usual course I’ve seen is this: wifey doesn’t like how hubby does things. So she nags him, and nags him, and nags some more. Eventually, hubby tunes her out and ignores her. Now wifey feels neglected and unloved because hubby doesn’t care about her feelings. Both start wondering what life would be like with someone else. Do you see how this can be detrimental to your relationship?

HOMEWORK: For the next few days, STOP getting upset over meaningless things. Ask yourself if it really matters. Stop yourself when you want to nag him, instead tell him how much you appreciate him.

Up Next: “Pull over, I’m driving”

Wife Class 101: Is It Really Happily Ever After?

wedding dressThe engagement and wedding planning process has always intrigued me. I have heard many stores, seen a bazillion pictures, read numerous tales and witnessed some of today’s elaborate, over-the-top proposals. Then after months (and even years) of planning, prepping and stressing, the “magical” day is here. Hopefully everything goes off without a hitch. But normally something does not go exactly as planned. Some small adjustment is made and the day marches forward. The Big Day is magical. It is fantasized. It is magnified. It is made of little girl dreams mixed with big girl emotions.

When a girl is dating a guy she thinks could be “the one,” she fantasizes about the proposal. She has imagined every little detail. She has played out how things could go. Maybe it’s a surprise. Maybe it’s a huge celebration. Maybe it’s a private affair. But she has given time to imagine what that engagement could look like. Then after the proposal, she spends time making sure everyone notices the newly-placed ring on her finger. She tells the story to anyone with a pulse. Then comes the planning. Stacks of magazines overrun the kitchen table. Books are replaced with planners and to-do lists. She plans and coordinates every little detail of her wedding and the reception. How much time has she put into the events leading up to The Big Day? Ten hours? A hundred hours? Two hundred hours? Months? Years?

But how many hours do most women give to becoming a good wife? How many books has she read? How many minutes each day does she spend improving herself or her relationship? Even our romantic movies and books end with the couple finally finding each other. Then they get married and live happily every after. That is not real life. I have worked with MANY couples that suddenly wake up one day and realize the honeymoon is over, now what? The common thought seems to be that you have to plan this perfect wedding day and then everything after that will just fall into place. Unfortunately, that is completely backwards. It is easy to get married. It takes effort to stay married.

Every couple is different. The struggles one couple goes through another couple may never encounter. A big deal to one couple is no biggie to another. The next several posts are key components to marriage- and more importantly, to being a Good Wife. But these are not the ONLY components! There isn’t a step-by-step rule book to make a marriage successful. There are principles that are applied. We each have different personalities, preferences, quirks and that makes our marriages just as unique. Let’s talk about our responsibilities within our marriage. Let’s talk about the reality of marriage. Let’s talk about those crazy little things no one tells you will happen in marriage. We won’t talk about how to make your husband the best husband because I am not a husband. I am a wife. So what I can share are ways that we can be the best wives. We will also look at what God says about us. He gave us our uniqueness and He knows exactly how we can use it to benefit our marriage.

Welcome to Wife Class 101!

(If you have a specific marriage topic you want to hear about, leave a comment. It just might make it into one of the upcoming posts!)