Monday, January 28, 2013

Always Something to Learn - Be My Valentine Marriage Challenge


“Each week the challenge will be the same – to praise, encourage, inspire, admire, build up, thank and appreciate your husband. But each week I will give you different ways to express your praise."

As a parent and homeschool mom, learning is very important to me. I stress the importance of "life-long learning", not just learning something for a test and not just confining learning to the few hours and years we designate as "school".   I preach to my children and to the homeschool moms I mentor the importance of developing a "lifestyle of learning" and of learning HOW TO LEARN, first and foremost.  Then you are prepared to tackle whatever challenges life throws at you!  My goal has always been to help my children "build a toolbox" of knowledge and skills, not just so we can check things off the list on our way to a high school transcript, but so they are prepared to enter the adult world and continue to learn and adapt and change and grow....


I have been married for 30 years. About a year ago I came to the stunning conclusion that I had not applied this philosophy to one very important area of my life.  My marriage.  Yes, I had read articles and listened to sermons and speakers from time to time on the importance of working on the marriage relationship and not taking it for granted. I thought I was doing a decent job at being a loving and dutiful wife. 
Yeah, I am a terrible housekeeper, but he doesn't complain, until there is no clean underwear in his drawer, and then he usually goes out and buys another package anyway.   
Yeah, I am awfully forgetful and oftentimes the things he asks of me go in one ear and out the other. (I am over age 50 and I swear, my short-term memory is like a sieve!)  
Yeah, I don't look much like the girl he married when we were both 22, but he still loves me, and losing weight and getting in shape is SO HARD.  Who has time for that?

We were both busy with our various responsibilities, both within our household and outside of it.  Division of labor.  I cook, shop, take care of the housework and the kids. He works, pays the bills, keeps up the car and house maintenance. I started and continue to be a leader in a local homeschool support association, volunteered at church, teach classes from time to time, and bake cupcakes.   He coached the kids in sports,  helped with the Boy Scout troop, and now directs the homeschool sports program.  The problem was, this division of labor set us on a path of "parallel lives", instead of "intertwined lives".   It wasn't something apparent to an outside observer; heck, we didn't even really have a clue that what we were doing was in any way damaging our relationship. But emotionally, a chasm was forming that grew wider. And wider. And wider.   

It takes some serious effort to bridge a gap like that after it forms.  It takes deliberate and purposeful and concentrated effort.  But in order to honor the vows taken before God and man, that we take our spouse " to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part", it is essential to make the time and to be a  LEARNER.  That's right.  A good marriage doesn't just happen, and there is plenty for me to learn about how to be a better wife to my husband.  The benefit is not just to him, but to me as well, since I intend to live with this man for a long, long time still!

SO, to get back to the "Be My Valentine" Marriage Challenge linked at the top of this post... this is from one of the many wonderful, godly marriage-centered blogs out there where I have discovered encouragement and inspiration in this endeavor.  This particular challenge encourages wives to heap praise on their men, since that is one of the universal needs of the male species.  God made them that way for a reason, so who am I to complain?  

“When you touch your husband’s deepest need something good almost always happens!”
~ Dr. Emerson Eggerich
 Funny story - last week I wrote a simple line on my Facebook status, saying that I loved my husband and thanking him for being a wonderful husband and father. One of his friends immediately called him and accused him of hacking my Facebook.
Hmm.  Guess I need to do things like that more often so they aren't such a SHOCK. 

This week, the "Be My Valentine" Challenge is Creative Praise - being creative in showing him how much I love him. 
Here are ideas that I've gleaned from other people ( I haven't done these yet )
  • create a daily scavenger hunt of love notes hidden in different places where your hubby will find them
  • write a love message on the driveway with sidewalk chalk 
  • hole punch and clip together 26 blank index cards, then make an Alphabet Book of things you love about him.
  • blow up balloons and attach a loving message to each one; have them fill your bedroom :- )
  • sticky note or shaving cream messages on the bathroom mirror
  • use window paint to draw your initials inside a heart on his car window, along with adjectives describing him, like "Strong", "Sweet", "Kind", "Handsome"....
  • make him lunches this week ( if you don't usually do that ) and include a love note in each one

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