Keeping a Godly Marriage in an Ashley Madison World

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This subject is not one I am approaching lightly. I realize it’s a touchy one so I pray my words come across the way I intend and aren’t taken out of context.

Here goes…

There are approximately 151 million men in the United States. I spent a good bit of time trying to find a reliable statistic on how many of those men are married however, that proved tricky. Some studies say as few as 30% of American men are married, some as high as 60%, so for this post I’ll use 50% for argument sake. With that figure in mind, let’s say that there are 75.5 million married men in the US.  Thirty-seven million of those have paid Ashley Madison accounts. That’s roughly half. Think about that. As many as 1 in every 2 of your married male friends had an account for the sheer purpose of cheating on his spouse. That’s a staggering number. That, my friends, is the break down of the American family.

Now, before I go any further, let me first say that in no way am I putting the blame for this on anyone other than the men who were unfaithful (or tried to be unfaithful with the fake female profiles that the website let them meet.) These men are solely to blame for their actions. I do, however, have a theory on why so many men and women are seeking attention outside of their marriage…lack of biblical submission. In the book of Ephesians Chapter 5:22-24 we find this passage:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Most people stop quoting there, but if you read just a bit further into verse 25 you find this…

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Biblical submission is a two-way street. Yes, we wives are supposed to submit to our husbands, but husbands are to do two things. 1. Submit himself to God and 2. Love his wife as Christ loves us. This is the ideal Christian marriage. Women, submitting to your husband does not mean that you are owned and don’t get an opinion. I am half of a submissive marriage. When we have a big decision to make, we both discuss our feelings and opinions. My husband, who loves me like Jesus does, cares what I think, he values my feelings and my opinions, and he takes that into his heart when making final decisions. He does this out of service to me.

When people go out of their way to put their spouse’s needs above their own, marriage works. We need to love each other more than ourselves. Can you imagine if all spouses put each other’s needs before their own? How many would pay to cheat? If your spouse’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs are being met on a regular basis in your marriage, what need would they have to seek those things outside of marriage?

When my husband and I were first married we were not connected to God. We lived a different lifestyle and we didn’t put each other first in any capacity. Our marriage suffered for it. About 3 years in, we found ourselves pregnant with our first child and as far away from each other emotionally and spiritually as we could be. We knew that we had to do something or we would end up divorced raising a child. We both loved each other, we just couldn’t seem to connect. We found ourselves in marriage counseling. The counselor was a nice man, a Christian, and he helped us see how badly out of whack our priorities were. Slowly, we were able to strengthen our marriage as we let go of some habits from the past and started truly investing in each other. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. I’m sure you’ve seen the Facebook post that says “Marriage is just two people who refuse to give up on each other,” that was us. We wanted it to work so we worked at it.

It is true that some people just don’t have monogamy in them. They will continue to cheat regardless of what you do to fill their needs. Those men shouldn’t be married, and if you’re married to one I suggest serious counseling before continuing in a marriage with them.

Several years ago my husband and I watched the movie Fireproof. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. In fact, I think every married couple should watch it together at least once. The basic story is simple. A young couple is struggling in their marriage. The wife is tempted to have an affair at her job and the husband has grown to resent his wife for various reasons. They are angry and bitter with each other, fighting constantly. The husband, played by Kirk Cameron, talks to his father about divorcing his wife and dad offers some advice. He tells his son to do something for his wife every day for 40 days. Serve her daily, even if he doesn’t want to and see how he feels about her after the time is over. He begrudgingly agrees to try. He starts small, halfheartedly and his wife sees through his attempts. He’s frustrated but with his father’s encouragement, he continues on his Love Dare. Within a couple of weeks of serving his wife daily, she begins to serve him back, without knowing why he’s doing any of this. In fact, after the 40 days, they keep serving each other. Their hearts have softened, they have found the love they once had simply by putting the needs of each other above their own. Small sacrifices can have a profound impact on your marriage.

I realize that a lot of people equate serving your husband with waiting on your husband. These are two very different things. When you serve your husband, it’s out of love, not out of obligation. Why is it a bad thing to make your husband happy? When women take care of their husbands,  we are looked upon as weak or controlled. That’s simply not the case. It takes a strong woman to understand and tend to the needs of her husband. Today’s society tells us that we should take care of ourselves first, our needs are more important. Ladies, I’m here to tell you, this new age view is not biblical. It’s not healthy either.

Serving your spouse is easy. You don’t need to come up with big, romantic gestures. Do something small. If you see he’s low on undershirts, wash some. Make his coffee in the morning, pack his snack so he doesn’t have to. If you notice he left his phone in some random place pick it up, and put it where he’ll find it so that he’s not rushing around the next morning. Sometimes my husband and I put toothpaste on each other’s tooth brushes. It’s a small, silly gesture but it lets us know we’re thinking of each other. Text him for something other than a problem. Let him know you’re thinking about him. Give him something to look forward to when he gets home. Let your home be his safe place. Smile and kiss him when he comes in, rather than running through the days problems. Heck, just give him 15 minutes to change his clothes by himself when he gets home from work, that will change the rest of your evening, I know that from experience. And men, after dinner, clear the table for your wife. Wash a load of dishes occasionally. Let your wife know that you understand that her day is hectic too. The demands on her are different than yours, but they are demands none the less. Keep the kiddos at home while she grocery shops or grabs coffee with a friend. There are so many little things you can do for each other that will go a long way in improving your relationship. Enjoy it, these are the best years of your life!

So how did we get to a place in society where nearly half of all married men are cheating or trying to cheat on their wives? Is it not obvious that something is completely broken?Ashley Madison is a repulsive website, however, the site itself is not to blame for these 37 million broken marriages. Think about all the wives out there, the children who are crushed and embarrassed over this scandal. There have even been reports of a few suicides in the aftermath. This is a big deal. We need to take back our marriages. We need to make the relationship between spouses a priority. We need to serve each other tirelessly. But above all else, we need to seek God. We need to put Christ at the center of our marriage, you’ll notice that the closer a husband and wife get to God, the closer it brings them to each other. This is the only love triangle that is healthy for your marriage.

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Ephesians 5:31:  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to how wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

 

 

 

Everyday Struggle; Being a Hospitable Mom

Several weeks ago one of my favorite friends and I attended the FPEA Home school Convention in Orlando. It was the single most inspiring girls weekend I’ve ever had. I learned so much from so many Godly women who had spent their lives homeschooling their kids. They shared their passions, their struggles, their marriages. It was obvious that each speaker genuinely wanted to motivate and encourage fellow home school families. I came home with new purpose. Not only for our home school journey but for my children’s hearts. One of my favorite speakers talked about how she taught her children to disciple other kids. Her theory is that witnessing to people is one of the most difficult things for a christian to do. Why not train our children to do it at the earliest age possible so that by the time they are grown and enter the adult world it will be old hat to them? They will speak with confidence. They won’t waiver from their faith and they will effectively share it with others. That hit home to me. I immediately began to pray for God to send my boys someone to disciple. Someone to pour their love for Christ into. I prayed diligently… until things got busy here and I forgot about my request. Life happened…

We recently moved into a new house. It’s an exciting time as the kiddos now each have their own rooms, we have two separate living spaces so that we can actually spread out a bit. We also have a school room and a play room for Liv on the main floor. Not to mention the community pool, bike path, basketball courts and so on and so on… We’ve been looking forward to all of these things for months. Driving to the new house almost daily to see the progress. The kids picked their rooms, then repicked, then traded a hundred times before we actually moved in! It’s been a huge family process!

One thing I didn’t anticipate was neighbors. I know that sounds ridiculous but hear me out. In our old neighborhood  we had neighbors of course, but they were elderly. They were fabulous people who loved our children. They enjoyed watching them grow, chatting with us in the back yard and the occasional house visit. For 13 years we had an elderly couple as our closest neighbors. Any moms out there that know what that means? Ding Ding Ding… we had no kids ringing our doorbell, asking to play, or to spend the night or for, heaven forbid, our kids to spend the night with them! No awkward phone calls, no door bells during nap time, no explanations of any kind. It was bliss.

Enter the new neighborhood… there are kids everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Our door bell rings every day, smack dab in the middle of nap time. Even though I’ve explained to the kids that nap time is our quiet time and that they aren’t to come over until after 3. Their excited, summer filled brains don’t process that information.

I really want to be the hospitable mom. You know, the cool mom who welcomes droves of kids in with open arms and warm cookies. Unfortunately for me (and for the kids in this neighborhood) cool mom doesn’t live in me. Yesterday, I tried to muster up what little bit of cool mom I had and I invited 2 kids who live near by to come and play. They are a brother and sister who are the same ages as our boys. They are both sweet, well behaved kids and our boys enjoyed having kids their own age to play with. The little girl spent a good bit of time in Liv’s playroom with her having a tea party. It was actually a great play date!

As the time was winding down I mentioned to the little girl that our church was hosting a VBS in a few weeks and I asked if she would like to attend. “I don’t think my mom will let me” she said. I was a bit surprised but I just offered to send the information to her mother, and they could talk about it. The little girl seemed ok with that.

I rounded up the kids and told them we enjoyed the playdate but that it was time to go home as we had some things to do. The kids hugged their new friends and they trotted through the back yard towards home. Sweet kids.

While it was fresh on my mind I decided to email their mother and invite them. She responded quickly and told me that her kids had never been to church. They live a busy lifestyle and, except for an occasional holiday, they have never been. She asked me not to look down on her for that, It broke my heart that she thought I would. She and I have talked a few times and she is a very sweet woman. A beautiful mother who dotes on her kids. They have a busy life, just like we do. I messaged her back and told her that I would never look down on her for that and I offered to let her kids ride with us to VBS if she was comfortable with it. I wasn’t sure if she’d be ok with them riding with us since we had only just met but she was so we got her kids registered and made a plan! I told the boys that they’d be going with us and they were so excited!

And then God…

The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart “disciple” and immediately my prayer came back to me. “God, please send my boys someone that they can disciple. Someone they can pour their love for Jesus into.”  Here they were, two sweet kids who don’t know Jesus. I was so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. I called John, and then my girlfriend, and then anyone else I could think to tell! I love how when God moves He moves in such a way that it overwhelms us with joy. There is no other explanation than Him. There are no coincidences, just blessings.

Knowing that God has placed these kids in our path for a purpose helps me to remember why being hospitable is so close to God’s heart. If we do not open our lives and our homes up to people we will never see their need. We will miss countless opportunities to disciple, to grow and to honor God.

So I leave you with what I learned from this experience…

1. Sometimes the Devil will try to convince you that the people in your path are inconveniences when they are actually appointments from God.

2. Nothing is more important than the spiritual well being of children. All children.

3. God answers prayer. Every time. If you ask to grow He will grow you. If you ask to serve He will find a place. Be prepared to bend when He does.

Religion: It’s not for me.

A few days ago I was at the spending time with a sweet friend. We don’t get to see each other often. She works a full time job outside of the home and I work full time at home. This was one of those rare moments when we actually got to talk face to face instead of through the screens on our phones.  Like moms tend to do, the conversation centered around our children. She has a beautiful 4 year old boy and she and her husband obviously adore him. As we were talking about day care and home school, temper tantrums and sleep deprivation something bigger and much more important was mentioned. God. Religion specifically. She said something that made me think. “I’m not going to push religion down my child’s throat.” Now, before you think she’s an anti-God mom, I’ll tell you that it’s obvious that my friend loves God, but the idea of religion bothers her. If I’m being honest, the idea of religion bothers me too.

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Religion is about rules and restrictions. It’s about those perfectly dressed couples and their perfectly dressed children sitting in their polished pew every Sunday morning. It’s knowing all the words to every hymn and memorizing all the scriptures. Religious people tend to think they’ve arrived. They’ve reached “Christianity” and they’re finished now. They’ve secured their place in the Good Book, their seat in Heaven. I do no like religious people. They make me feel unworthy. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that our savior, Jesus Christ, isn’t a fan of religion either.

Christ wants us to have a relationship with Him. He’s not as concerned about the rules of religion as He is the tenderness of our hearts. I am an imperfect sinner who stumbles daily. I spend too much time on my iPad rather than in my Bible. I get jealous of people who steal my husband’s time. I sometimes let a not so nice word slip out of my lips. I yell at my children way more than I should. I am a sinner. God hates all of these things, but He LOVES me. He adores me. I am here to tell you that He adores you too. And guess what Christians, I believe with every fiber of my being that He adores every single human being on this beautiful earth. He has created us in His image. All of us. He sees the beauty in each heart, He sees past the sin. He sees into the depths of our souls, and He is smitten by us.

Think back to when  you met your husband. Remember that sweet feeling of getting to know him. Learning his likes and dislikes, the stories his mom told you, the baby pictures. You soaked him up. Every little detail was important. You prided yourself in knowing what he was thinking and feeling. His favorite food, team or movie. You immersed yourself in knowing your love. You were excited to see him, to touch his hand and just be alone together. This is what relationships are made of. This is what Christ wants from us.

Having a relationship with Christ is about seeking out His heart. It’s about wanting to know more about Him. Spending time with Him through prayer and reading God’s word to know all of His stories. The Bible is the window to Jesus’s soul. It’s who He is. Study him the way you studied your husband. Long to know Him. Seek His heart and what He wants for yours. Just like with our husbands, we never stop learning. We never stop growing in our marriages. We shouldn’t stop growing in our relationship with Christ. There is no finish line. Every time you open your Bible you should learn something new about Him. Just like you set aside time to be alone with your husband, you should set aside time to be alone with your savior. The closer you are to Him the more peace you will have in your life because you will know that you are in His will. In good times and in storms, God is faithful. Living in His will and seeking His heart is the only way to have true peace in this life.

Make a commitment to God today. Leave the religion of your life behind and look for the relationship God longs for you to have with Him. Schedule dates with Him and don’t cancel them. Talk to Him all day. I find myself praying constantly,  thank yous for making it to co op on time, help finding missing socks, protection over my children when they play, knowledge when my child is struggling with a concept in math… these may seem like mundane and small things to pray for but it’s what God desires from us. He wants us to be close, He wants us to talk to him about our everyday struggles. When we see He is faithful in the small moments we will have stronger faith for those big moments. We will know we are in His will and we will have peace and peace is a valuable thing.