"The Art of Marriage".

Hey guys! This is a blog post that some of you knew was coming (and it’s not a makeup/beauty post!) and I’m actually pretty excited to put this information out there. On June 3 and 4 my husband and I attended a marriage seminar sponsored by our church called “The Art of Marriage”, and let me just first say it was fabulous. We learned things we needed to apply to our lives now as well as things we know will help us in the future. I just wanted to share some of these things, because there is not one married couple out there that can’t benefit from something like this. Even if you’re not a spiritual person there is undoubtedly something you can take away from it all, and I hope that you find something just from the little bit I mention. “The Art of Marriage” comes from the FamilyLife company, so most of what I’m putting out there comes from them, except for my opinions and thoughts on things of course. If you ever have a chance to attend this seminar or one of the Weekend to Remember events I encourage you to do so, whatever your reasons. So, here’s some of the things I learned/loved/thought were interesting.

I. Love Happens: God’s Purpose and Plan

One Q & A within the seminar I thought to be really interesting:
Q: If marriage so often ends in disillusionment and failure, why do people get married to begin with?
A: “Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet…What does any one life really mean? But in a marriage. you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things…all of it, all the time, every day. You’r saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will no go-unwitnessed because I will be your witness”–Beverly Clark, from the movie “Shall we Dance?”

Ok. I just thought that was the coolest thing to think that you are a witness to someone else’s life. It’s kind of a big deal. Marriage isn’t easy, and anyone that entered into marriage thinking that it was is, well, an idiot (for lack of a better word). That’s not to say marriage can’t be an awesome thing, because I know it is, but the ups can be way up there and the downs can be unthinkable, but a promise is a promise. And people who break promises suck. I know I’ve come close to breaking some promises and at the end of the day you have to remember why you got married. Maybe the one you married isn’t the fantastical “the one” that everyone searches for, but if you marry someone and you love them, and they complete you, doesn’t that make them “the one” whether you initially thought of them that way or not. It’s all so complex but so genius at the same time…I always refer to my marriage as a Wonderland, because it’s filled with craziness, curiousness, scariness and fabulousness all at the same time.

Another quote I liked: “It is just as important to BECOME the right person as it is to FIND the right person”…once again, I agree. If you don’t grow from being with your spouse and being married, then what is your point in being married??

Here’s another great quote:
“I have no way of knowing whether or not [you] married the wrong [person], but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and the treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you”–Zig Ziglar.

This goes back to what I was saying about “the one”. Treat each other well and love each other, and if either of you are unwilling to do this it’s never going to work. For the longest time I thought I had to act a certain way or say certain things to make myself more attractive to my husband, but then I told myself that I was just going to be the person I was when we first got married, and I’ll say that even reverting back to listening to the music I like has made a significant difference, if that makes sense. You can’t force anyone else to change in a relationship except yourself, and I guess a lot of people need to realize that.

II. Love Fades: Overcoming Isolation

Quote: “Unless you lovingly and energetically nurture and maintain your marriage, you will begin to drift apart from your mate. You’ll live together, but you will live alone”.

I don’t like to air my personal life, but I will admit that for a good period of time my husband and I were coasting through our marriage. It wasn’t healthy; it was like being roommates and not husband and wife. Once we both realized that you have to keep working passionately after the “I do’s” we realized how good the good times truly can be. And it doesn’t matter if you have a work-aholic husband or if you have kids, or blah blah blah…if you don’t work on your marriage you can’t expect rad things to just up and happen.

If anything, consider on something you need to work on yourself in your marriage: forgiving, loving unconditionally, sacrificing, praying for others who mistreat you, showing compassion, etc…I know I need to work on forgiving, and I’m doing my best to do so. I know that isolation feeling, and I don’t want to feel it ever again.

III. Love Dance: Fulfilling Responsibilities

Love this quote: “Don’t forget Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did…backwards and in high heels”– Bob Thaves.

Here’s another: “The moment I stop believing my wife is my ideal woman, I guess it’s over…The absurdly wonderful, almost impossibly romantic thing about all marriages is that what you are saying to each other is: ‘You and me, we’re perfect’…Choosing a mate is not like buying a car or a house. Until she comes along, we have no idea what we really like: my imagination couldn’t hold a candle to the real thing. The best part about falling in love was discovering all the things I didn’t know I wanted or needed”–Alex James.

“absurdly wonderful”…love that 😉

Here’s some stuff I thought was helpful:
“how a husband nourishes and cherishes his wife”

  • Seek to understand her role and her struggle
  • If she works outside the home, understand her job and the pressure it places on her, especially regarding her role at home.
  • Verbalize often, especially during her times of failure and discouragement, your complete acceptance of her. (Be sure that you really do accept her).
  • Literally verbalize belief in her as a person and in her ability and worth.
  • Verbalize your need for her and back it up by sharing with her your fears, failures, needs, dreams, hopes, and discouragements. Do it cautiously if this is new to you.
  • Share at times when she can listen attentively and appreciate your transparency (Don’t share something serious when she’s preoccupied).
  • Notice and praise her for the things she does for you.
  • Be willing to help her work through difficulties in her life: discipline, problems, relationships with friends and parents, fears, resentment, etc.
  • Be patient and realize that nourishing and cherishing is a lifetime process.

Now, we weren’t given an exact list like the above for wives, but it gave the following 4 points:

  • Be a Helper
  • Show Respect
  • Cheer him on
  • Submit

*Now, I have my own issues with submission in a marital sense, but it’s referring to a biblical sense here.

IV. Love Interrupted: Communication and Conflict
This section was the most helpful.

Quote: “If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will”–Benjamin Franklin.

The goal in a marriage isn’t to be conflict free (and if you say you are, I’m guessing there’s more to it), but rather to handle the conflict by communicating correctly when it does come up.
*Tips on Communication

  • Make sure to address one issue at a time when you’re having a conflict.
  • Seek to discover the reason why the conflict began. As you do, you will often find out what is important to your spouse.
  • All communication takes place on 2 levels: the content level (truth) and the relational level (love).
  • We need to retrain ourselves to be present in the moment with our spouses.

V. Love Sizzles: Experiencing Real Intimacy
Yeah, this is the section about sex, which can be a bit daunting to talk about when you’re the youngest couple in the room, haha…but yeah, I think we can all agree sex is pretty important.

I am by no means going to go into all this sexually explicit stuff, whether it be from a biblical perspective or not. But I will note a few things about “true intimacy”.
*Sexual problems are generally a symptom of another problem (not necessarily physical, but something outside the bedroom).
*Sex is like a thermometer in marriage, not a thermostat, in that it measures the health of your intimacy rather than sets it.
*True intimacy happens when you open up areas of your life to your spouse that are not readily available to others.
So, yeah….find time to flirt, makeout and have sex, haha.

VI. Love Always: Leaving a Lasting Legacy.
Okay, so the last section of the seminar was about leaving a legacy to your future generations by how you live your life and love. This was hard for me personally to wrap my head around, not the idea of it, but actually doing some of the exercises and projects this section required. Not just because my husband and I are young, but because with my dad’s recent passing I kept thinking about him (getting teary eyed) and how I am his legacy now.

“Ten Ideas: Helping Your Marriage Last a Lifetime”
These are ideas that have been shared by couples who have been married 50 years or more.

  1. You need a Savior.
  2. Stay committed to one another.
  3. Pray with your spouse.
  4. Forgive one another.
  5. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect husband or a perfect wife.
  6. Have faith that God knows what He is doing.
  7. Trust that God gives grace and direction as you trust Him.
  8. You’ll need to make compromises.
  9. Be objective and take the emotion out of the problem solving.
  10. Love your spouse.

At the end of the seminar you had the option to stand with the rest of the couples in attendance and repeat pledges to one another, and together…it was almost like a re-commitment of vows…and my husband and I decided we were ready to participate. So we’re standing hand in hand with everyone else and as he goes to repeat his pledge to me he starts laughing! So I’m shaking his hands and giving him that “you better stop” look. So as it’s my turn to say my pledge to him, I think I’m going to be all calm and collected, but no, I start laughing to. And if things couldn’t get any worse, in the most hilarious yet embarrassing of ways, as we are saying our pledge together we both start laughing, and not quiet little giggles either…like the kind of laughter you try to hold in but you can’t so it comes out that much louder and that much more spontaneous! It was so bad, and we knew people had to be looking at us, so next thing I know he pulls my head to his chest and buries his head in my neck and we have to pretend we are crying so we don’t appear disrespectful or anything. Believe me, we meant no disrespect or anything by any means, it was just one of those things. We were being totally serious and meant the words we were saying we just couldn’t stop the laughter. It was a good after-moment though and it makes for a funny story now, and as one of my fabulous friends told me: “The couple that lasts together stays together”.

Now, I know most of this blog post was putting quotes out there and little lists and things here and there, and believe me, it does not do the seminar any justice whatsoever (there’s videos, projects, etc), but I do hope you feel inspired enough to attend a seminar like this and maybe comfront something that’s been bothering you in your own marriage. And like I said before, even if you aren’t a spiritual person I hope you can at least take a little something something away from reading this.
XOXO,
Jacqueline

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