Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

More Lessons on Marriage from the Garden

Lessons om Marriage from the Garden

School has been out for 3 weeks and I’ve been working, working. working in my yard and garden! I’ve learned some lessons about gardening, and many of these translate to marriage really well. (If you missed the first “Lessons on Marriage from the Garden,” you can read it here.)

1. Don’t procrastinate!

Thugs like this will set seed and then the weeds in your garden will be like Medusa’s head. Remember, you cut off one and 7 more grow?

Don't procrastinate!

I like the old saying “One year’s seed is seven years’ weeds.” Pull up those flowering weeds early, and if you can’t dig them out, at least break off the flower heads before they go to seed. I’ve never used a pre-emergent herbicide but if it prevents seeds from germinating in the first place, even better.

out of control weeds

Don’t procrastinate in your marriage, either! Have you ever put off doing something for your spouse because you were doing something for someone else? (GUILTY!) How about avoiding talking about a problem in hope that it will go away on its own? Some problems are compounded and made much worse when you put off dealing with them.

2. Procrastinate! Be patient!

I planted bush green beans for the first time this year. A little 4×4 square gave us enough to eat green beans about 4 times a week for 3 weeks. (I don’t get tired of them!) According to the rules of square foot gardening, you’re supposed to rip plants up as soon as they are past their prime so you can replant immediately. Bush beans, unlike their climbing cousins, are supposed to give one big harvest and then be done. But when that time came, it was the last few weeks of school, and I just didn’t have the energy or time to do it. Lo and behold, I’m getting a 2nd harvest. Not as big as the first, but a decent one.

Be patient in your marriage, too. There have been times when I was about ready to throw in the marital towel, right over Mr X’s head, but I’m so glad I didn’t. At our 32-year mark, he has matured into the most caring, thoughtful husband. Our relationship is the foundation for every other relationship, and is such a source of strength and joy. There is nothing so rewarding as having shared stories, histories, children, and family.

3. Keep alert.

It’s easy to overlook things in the garden. Sometimes fruit hides under the leaves and unless you get down low and move them aside, you will miss them. I hadn’t even seen flowers on this okra, and found it only when I was down planting something in a neighboring bed.

okra surprise

It’s really easy to miss cucumbers! Mr X likes them very small, like the bottom one. I’ve let them get so big I had to cut them up and put them straight in the compost pile.

Pick cucumbers before they get too big.

And sometimes something besides a veggie is hiding among the leaves, like a wasp. OOPS. Allergy to wasp stings discovered!

wasp sting allergy

Be alert in your marriage too. Things can lurk undetected — resentment, neglect, selfishness to name a few– and if you aren’t watching carefully and “weeding them out” as they appear, they can grow and get out of control.

A marriage, like a garden, can be a source of delight. But neither just happen on their own. After the wedding/planting, you’ve got to constantly maintain it. And in marriage and the garden alike, dealing with little problems as they happen can save lots of time and heartache later!

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

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What Do We Need?

Question Marks by Dan Moyer via Flickr

In “No Vacuum!” I mentioned that our marriage (and probably many others) would have been healthier if we had compromised between realistic expectations and what we needed from one another. This is a big kettle of fish that whole books could be written about, and probably have! But I’ll just put in my 2 little cents, and pray that it will give you some new insight.

What do you need? What does your spouse need?

Those 2 little questions look deceptively simple. In the first place, it’s sometimes difficult to articulate what you need; you just know that something is missing. Then if you DO figure it out, it’s often difficult to communicate that need to your spouse. Sometimes you think it might hurt their feelings, and you don’t want to do that. You might be hurt or angry that they aren’t doing something you need, and resentful that you would have to say anything about it. (Have you ever said to yourself, “If he loved me, he would just know to do it!”) You might be afraid to say anything, for fear of what your spouse might think. (“She’s so NEEDY!” or “He’s a sex maniac!” come to mind.)

Here’s some of our story:

I felt like I lived many years mostly underwater, barely able to catch a breath. A “full-time” job, especially when you are just beginning it, is exhausting. And being a homemaker and mom is another full-time job. Consequently, I never felt like I did that well at either one. This guilt and perceived failure took up lots of brain space. Remember, to a perfectionist, what she DOESN’T do is much weightier than what she DOES do. What I didn’t/couldn’t do was always  heavy on my mind. Were my kids neglected? No. Did I do a good enough job as a teacher? Yes. Does reality matter to a perfectionist? NO! Guilt and condemnation make themselves right at home anyway.

Mr X was not one to talk about his feelings, even if he could have figured them out, and there was no internet or even books (that I was aware of) teaching about sex in marriage from a Christian perspective. I just knew that he wanted more than I felt I had to give; I thought that he should be satisfied with all the other stuff I did (work full time, mother 3 young children, and run a household). Then I’d feel guilty because, in yet another area, I wasn’t good enough, then resentful that he wanted more from me. I had absolutely no clue how important lovemaking is to a man; the emotional part of it and how it affects his feelings about himself and for his wife. (Once more, I refer you to Sheila Gregoire’s very insightful post here.)

When Mr X began school full-time, after several years of going to night classes 2 or 3 nights a week– a very difficult period for this stay-at-home mom of 3– he scheduled his classes on 2 or 3 days and his work on the other days. He drove the kids to school and was able to be “Room Dad” and chaperone often. He did the grocery shopping. Once he began to take up some of the slack with the kids and at home, it helped me feel lots better. I don’t think he realized how much of a load those few things took off my MIND, but it really did make a huge difference.

Then at some point a friend recommended The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlesinger. It opened my eyes! In a nutshell, she said when we say NO to our husbands’ sexual advances, they perceive us as saying NO to THEM, as men. It’s like their saying NO to our conversations with them.

These 2 things– neither of which we can really take credit for– helped us get a little further down the road to a good, healthy marriage.

What does your spouse need? Do you know? I challenge you to have that conversation!

Up next: setting realistic expections of ourselves and our spouses.

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Conflict in Marriage– the Biblical Way

How do you and your spouse deal with conflict in your marriage? Calmly discuss the issues? Yell and call names? Sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist?

Dealing with Marital Conflict Biblically

Come over to A Biblical Marriage and get some insight on how to deal with conflict how God tells us to.

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Forgive how many times?

love forgives

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

Then Jesus begins the parable of the servants who owed money to their master; and the one who owed a huge amount was forgiven the debt; after which he choked and imprisoned someone who owed him a pittance. I’m right there in the cheap seats, cheering when the master called him back in, tortured and imprisoned him till he could repay the original debt. Yeah! You deserve it, jerk!

But then– you know what I’m going to say, don’t you? God whispers. “Ahem…. ahem… I forgave you a huge debt. Remember? Shouldn’t you forgive the pittance that you think you are owed?”

UGH.

Do you have anyone in your life that occasionally irritates or annoys you? Or hurts your feelings? Or makes you hopping mad? Like maybe your husband?

This might be hard to imagine, but sometimes Mr X is insensitive. He’s very smart and witty, and sometimes he can’t resist popping out a smart remark, going for the joke.

And there are other times he’s said and done things over the years that have hurt and disappointed. Of course he has! He is by nature a selfish, depraved sinner, just like me. It’s only God’s grace that makes us the least bit loving and loveable. I know all this, and I really love him so very much, and enjoy his company! He spoils me and loves me extravagantly.

But there are times when I start remembering some old offense, maybe from months or years ago. I’ll roll it around in my mind, over and over, looking at it from all angles, poking and prodding to see if I can figure out any motive or feeling I haven’t already. Did I remember it all? “Maybe he said this… He must have thought… I bet he didn’t even… I should have said… If that happens again, I’ll do…” Seriously, Auntie Em? Pitiful, I know.

 And God is clearing His throat, giving me gently nudges. “Melinda… Remember… Micah 7:18”

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Notice the remnant really is guilty. “Pardon” doesn’t mean they didn’t do it; it means they did it but don’t have to pay for it. And they sinned against GOD, sinless and perfect, not me, another sinner, who oftentimes had some part in the whole episode. But if we want Christlike characteristics, forgiveness is a big one!

  • We can’t stay angry and be like Christ.
  • We must show unfailing love. (which covers a multitude of sins 1 Peter 4:8)
  • We must have compassion. When everything calms down and a husband realizes he’s hurt the one he loves the most and is supposed to protect, it hurts him on many levels– to see her pain, and the disappointment he has in himself for falling short as a Christian and as a husband.
  • We mustn’t GO FISHING! When we make the choice to forgive, we need to throw the sin into the depths of the sea and leave it there.

When one of these temptations to relive an offense pops up, I say NO in my mind– I picture it in all caps. Then, I’ll actively use my senses– looking at what’s around me or concentrating on what I hear, something like that, and begin thanking God for forgiveness and newness in Christ. If  the offense still hangs around,  I’ll go to step 2, and say “That’s old news– over and done. Forgiven. In the bottom of the sea.” Usually by this time it’s gone, but if I need a step 3, there is Scripture and prayer– I realize that our enemy would like nothing better than to rekindle old hurts and disrupt our marriage, because he hates us and he hates God. He can’t get at God directly, so he picks on His children. I tell God I know what is going on, and need Him to take care of it for me, then quote some Scripture or hymns. I don’t have a huge store of chapter and verse memory, but I know this much:

  • When You forgive me, you justify me too- JUST AS IF I never sinned.
  • Love covers a multitude of sin.
  • Your grace is greater than all our sins.

Funny how God works! I had been dealing with pop-ups Saturday, and in our sermon Sunday morning our pastor said some of the very things God commands us to do for our own good are hard. The paralytic had to stretch out his hand. (Mark 3:5) The cripple had to pick up his pallet and walk. (John 5:8) The adulterous woman was told to go and sin no more. (John 8:11). And we are told to forgive, not just seven times, but seventy TIMES seven. Every time the offense comes to mind, we must choose to forgive again.

Did you get that?

Every time an offense comes to mind, we must choose to forgive again.

(Tweet this!)

I suspect if you are an introspective, melancholic personality type line me, this might be a struggle for you, too. As I’ve gotten wiser (LOL and OLDER!) it’s become less of a problem because I can squelch it quicker. I figured out how to fight!

How do you deal with old wounds that try to pop up and cause new hurt all over again?

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