Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Embracing Change in Your Relationship

Happy New Year everyone! I am really excited about this year! Every year I am excited about the coming year, but this year especially so. The last year, the last two years really, have been continually challenging and changing. In 2013 and 2014 We moved across the country, had our third child, got used to living in a big home in the country compared to a little apartment in town (I spend so much more time cleaning and driving!) We started our first official year homeschooling, slowly we are starting to make friends, and my husband started a new job in which he has now worked in two different positions.

My husband and I have dealt with all these physical, logistical, and emotional changes hand in hand together, but oh so differently! Of course we have dealt with change before this, but when you are first married you kind of begin at the same point, the same starting line. Just like in a board game where everyone starts at start. But as the years go by and more and more changes happens within your life and marriage, you can find you and your spouse on completely different pages.

But, change and growth is inevitable. In fact, it's absolutely essential for us to change and go through different seasons of life to grow and mature, especially if we want to mature in our walk with Christ. But change can be hard and growth uncomfortable! I also have learned more than ever before that you and your husband won't always change and grow at the same time or in the same way. This can be really frustrating and even scary ( you feel like two totally different people!) But  thankfully, growing together isn't always the result of changing together! How you face the changes in your spouse or yourself is more important than the change itself.
                                                        Most recent date picture :)

So after going through so much change in the last two years, the last several months I have finally started to feel like we have found our peaceful, comfortable new "normal" in our daily lives  :) There is so much I have learned on how to act... and how not to react when you find your marriage in a state of flux while you and your spouse are changing and rapidly growing. Here are some ways to not just survive the changes and shifts that happen within your marriage and life, but thrive because of them!

1.) Prayer and Praise!

No matter what valley you are passing through, prayer and praise is of outmost importance.... Always! The Bible teaches us that it doesn't matter the circumstance we find ourselves in, the correct response is ALWAYS to praise God. Good day, bad day, normal day, through gritted teeth and a tear stained face day, make a conscious choice to choose joy and praise God, and watch with amazement as He softens your heart and instills joy and peace into your life.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


2.) Don't Let External Stress Create Internal War!

Stressful situations and change can bring on fights faster than normal, but don't let external stress create internal war. Talk, discuss, get mad, even fight (fairly, without name calling, yelling or threats)  but refuse to be divided. Fights are going to happen in marriage eventually, but don't let a fight or argument steal your peace and define your view of your marriage or your spouse.

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
Matthew  12:25

3.) Remember, This is Only a Phase!

It can be so easy to get caught up in the here and now and focus on how things feel today. But today is really a blessing and a miracle, because although today can be a refection of yesterday and how things are currently, it is also an opportunity to change the your current day and how things will be tomorrow. For better or worse, our lives are in a constant state of flux. Slowly and steadily changing, the little (or big!) choices we make today will have an impact on the way our life will be tomorrow. When you think back on the last 10 years of your life, I'm sure you can see seasons in your life filled with joy and those memories of that perfect day, but also times of pain or struggle. The season of life you find yourself or your spouse in now is not the season of life that will be next. Even if you have found yourself "stuck" in what seems a long season, it is still just that: a season. Jesus gives us hope for our future!

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jerimiah 29:11

4.) Get up and Get out!

Oh my goodness.... Yes! It is truly amazing what going outside can do for your spirit! Stepping out and doing things outside has enormous mental benefits. I used to live in the bitter cold winters of Wisconsin, with babies, in an apartment in town with little to no yard. Not the ideal place to live to get a daily dose of fresh air, but the days I made a conscious effort to get out always helped. So don't just sit there, get out!  (unless it's today, which just happens to be one of the coldest days of the year, maybe go outside next week! :)

                                                                               Photo credit: unknown, found on Pinterest, "uploaded by user"

5.) Determine to respond with kindness
Whether it's you going through big changes, your spouse going through changes or your relationship in general, change seems to make tempers shorter! No matter what you may going though, lashing out at others is never the way to respond! We are called to love one another, and this is not dependent on how we feel. And on the flip side, if it's your spouse who is going through something, love them as Christ loves you. Give them grace, give them patience, love them like Christ loves you.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God
Romans 14:4

6.) Reflection is Good, but Stewing is Bad!
It's been scientifically proven that looking through photographs of past happy memories and times can significantly improve your mood now. This is so true for me! When Im feeling down, going though happy photos from great times always puts me in a better mood. Even better when I actually have some prints made! There is nothing like going to pick up printed photos. Hanging pics, even just on the fridge, is a nice little pick me up. It's cheap too!
But remember to avoid extremes! Reflection on happy times is beneficial, butt sitting around lamenting why things can't "go back to the way they were" helps no one and induces self pity. Don't do that!

Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Ecclesiastes 7:10

7.) Find new Things
As long as your going through changes elsewhere in your life, why not pick up a new hobby? Or even just a new book or revive a forgotten hobby that you haven't had time for. When we go through changes or periods of stress, it can be easy to be caught up in the whirlwind of making it through each day and adjusting to whatever new change we are adjusting to. Picking up some paint and a canvas or creating a project has enormous therapeutic benefits! Plant a potted plant, grow your own herbs, pick up photography, step into a library, take a walk, knit a scarf, read a book, paint, learn HTML. The possibilities are endless! Starting a new endeavor enlivens our minds and is good for the soul!

8.)  Spend Time Together
Spend purposeful time with your spouse. I'm not just talking about going on a date together. If you can go on a date, that's great! Go for it! But even more important than a date night is purposeful, meaningful time together. I love date night, but honestly our home dates feel more beneficial to me than "real" date nights. Our home dates are simple but perfect! We put the kiddos to bed early and then enjoy a nice dinner, ALONE! Then take drinks and sit on our front porch together at night and listen to music and just talk. Or not talk. It's just wonderful :) But in the craziness of life, make time for your relationship and make it meaningful time!

Enjoy life with your beloved wife during all the days of your fleeting life that God has given you on earth during all your fleeting days; for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work on earth.
Ecclesiastes 9:9

If you find yourself in the middle of change, hopefully you can find a few helpful ideas or bible verses to carry you through to the next season of your life. I would love to hear what you do when you find yourself in the midst of change! Have a good day all! And remember,

        The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.            
                                                                                                               Ecclesiastes 7:8
photo credit: thebottomoftheirironbasket.blogspot.com