mark and JillMark and I have started talking about the next No More Perfect book.  Yep, No More Perfect Marriages is on the radar screen.  While it’s release will be several years from now, Mark and I are talking through the messages we want to include in the book.

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you may remember the Marriage Mondays we used to do. They were very popular posts where we talked honestly about the realities of marriage.

Then we hit a crisis and things got hard…very hard. Marriage Mondays had to stop for a while while we lived out very hard Marriage Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, well you get the point.

I did a blog survey about 9 months after our very hard season and many of you said your “would love to hear more about your recent hard season when you’re ready to talk about it.”  It’s been 2-1/2 years since Mark returned home and we’ve spent that time healing.  We needed to spend time privately healing before we could publicly share about that very hard season. But God has redeemed the broken places and He’s done an incredible work in both of our hearts and we are ready to start talking about what happened, lessons learned, and wisdom gained.

We want to help others who are experiencing hard times to know they’re not alone. There is hope even in the hardest of times. We also want to help other couples steer clear of some of the pain we’ve experienced.

In the coming months, we’re going to start sharing about lessons learned during that hard season.

As we venture back into the marriage arena, I want to share some basic principles we stood on during the good times and the bad ones too.

1) Nothing is impossible with God.  God’s word is absolute truth.  Luke 1:37 tells us, “Nothing is impossible with God.”  During the hardest season, there were many times that I felt nearly hopeless but it was God’s Word that kept even the tiniest bit of hope alive in my heart.

2) “A change in prayers from “God, change him/her,” to “God, please change me,” can make a huge difference. This is what maturity is all about.  For many years, I prayed “God, change him….and quick!” But not much happened to improve our relationship.  It wasn’t until I began praying, “God, change me,” that our relationship improved.

3) Marriage is hard work.  Marriage is much harder than anyone realizes.  It takes time, patience, intentional communication, and a lot of give and take to make a marriage go the distance.  Most of us don’t know how to be married.  Seeking out marriage events, retreats, or even reading marriage books alone or together can help us learn how to really make marriage work.

4) Counseling can be a good thing. Sometimes a third party can help a couple hear one another. They can also help identify root issues that you both keep tripping over. During our most recent hard season we did weekly counseling for 18 months.  We went weekly to a counselor that was one hour away from our home which made it a 3 hour weekly commitment. That was the furthest we ever drove and the longest stretch we’ve ever done…but it was worth every minute.

5) Stop trying to change your spouse.  Learn to love them as God created them.  Probably some of the things you don’t like about them are ways they are different than you.  That doesn’t make them wrong, it just makes them different.

6) Focus on yourself and how you need to change, grow up, or mature.  Mark says, “When I look at my contributions to the messes in my marriage, I have to admit that sometimes I needed to grow up.  My anger was a form of control and it was time for me to grow up and learn how to lead and influence rather than control.  I had to pursue change because it was hurting me and it was hurting our marriage.”

7) Don’t be afraid to go back and look at your home internship. Your family of origin taught you about conflict, communication, expectations, sex, responsibility, and more! It’s valuable to evaluate the strengths your home internship gave you and it’s helpful to identify places where your home internship didn’t serve you well.  Once you identify those, sometimes it’s helpful to pursue a new internship in an area of weakness.

8) Commit to learn about marriage, what normal marital challenges are, personality differences, etc.  Mark says, “Much of what I’ve contributed to our difficulties have been my unrealistic expectations of what marriage should look like.  The more I’ve learned about marriage and the blending of two lives into one relationship, the more I’ve come to understand that our challenges have not been unique.  In fact, they are quite normal.”

This is why I’m returning to Marriage Mondays. It might not be weekly posts, but they are on the radar screen once again and Mark and I are praying about how we can share the “inside” of our marriage with you so that you will not feel alone in the challenges you experience in your marriage.

What about you? When it comes to marriage, what topics would you like us to explore? Where do you find marriage challenging?

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