Welcome to Mellie's mind...

Where thoughts can be funny, can race at all hours of the day and night and can sometimes not make any sense!

Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Seventeen

Determine to guard your mate's secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them.  Talk with your spouse, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues.  Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you.  Make them feel safe.

Love promotes intimacy-- He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.  Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships.  Each of us comes into life with an inborn hunger to be known, loved, and accepted.  We want people to know our name, to recognize us when they see us, and to value who we are.  The prospect of sharing our home with another person who knows us down to the most intimate detail is part of the deep pleasure of marriage.  Yet this blessing is also the greatest danger.  Someone who knows us this intimately can either love us at depths we never imagined, or can wound us in ways we will never fully recover.  If the home is not considered a place of safety, you will both be tempted to seek it somewhere else. Perhaps you look to a friend, initiating a relationship that either flirts with adultery or actually enters it. Your mate should not feel pressured to be perfect in your eyes.  They should not walk on eggshells in the very place they should feel safe at. The bible says "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" Marriage has unloaded another person's baggage into your life, and your into theirs.  Some of these secrets may need correcting.  Therefore, you can be an agent of healing and repairing for each other, not by lecturing, not by criticizing, but by listening in love and offering support.  Some of these secrets need to be accepted. They are part of the person's make-up and history.  In either case, you and you alone wield the power that either to reject your spouse or to welcome them in -warts and all. No one knows you better than God does, the One who made you.  And yet God, who knows secrets about us that we even hide from ourselves, loves us at a depth we cannot begin to fathom.  How much more should we-- as imperfect people-- reach out to our spouse in grace and understanding, accepting them for who they are and assuring them that their secrets are safe with us? This may be an area where you've really failed in the past.  If so, don't expect your spouse to immediately give you wide open access to their heart.  You must rebuild their trust.  The reality of intimacy always takes time to develop, specifically after being compromised.  But your commitment to re-establish it can happen today for anyone willing to take the dare.

Ouch!  This one is a painful dare for me because I am guilty of this... guilty of this, so much I can honestly say I am ashamed at myself.

Of course in marriage when there has been a long period of time together and there has been a separation you are going to have issues of trust on both sides.  I am not free from guilt in this area.  We both have betrayed each other in one way or another during our time together and apart.  However, this speaks to ME in an even greater manner because I have not protected my hubby's secrets in the past.

Maybe I did not come out and tell someone (enter secret here) but my actions towards that third party has lead them to think a certain way or come to a conclusion on their own about our relationship and that is just as much a trust breaker as openly speaking the secret.

I know my hubby holds things back from me in fear that I might say or imply things to a third party that he would not want them to know.  I get this.  This is my cross that I have to bear.  I am ashamed to say it that when I am challenged or pushed into a corner I seek out help and guidance when really I should be getting on my knees and praying to God.

I am looking for that perfect love that casts out fear.  But in order for me to get, I have to give it first.

This has been a great chapter for me and a great lesson for my heart.  Now, I have to go and prove myself to my hubby and prove to him I can be the one to be trusted again, it's not just about him.  But... I am willing to do it.. and continue to try over and over again till I get it right because he is the one I love and he is the one God gave to me and I will prove to him that we can have that perfect love that casts out fear.



We live in a hard world. We are all faced with choices, decisions--some obvious, some subtle, that can have lasting implications. We don't always make the best decisions. Sometimes, we act out of fear. Sometimes, we act out of ego.

It is important that we all feel we have a place to be safe. A place, rather a person, that we know we can share anything and everything with and that that person, despite knowing the best and worst about you, still accepts you.

I have that person in my wife. She knows me, as she often says, perhaps better than I know myself. She knows all the amazing things I am capable of--my strengths, abilities to persuade and lead, usual strong character and determination. She also knows my terrible failings as a man and as a leader of our family.

Not only does she accept me, still--but she shows me unconditional love on a daily basis. Love that I never knew existed.

Likewise, I know all about my wife. I know her hopes and dreams. I  know her greatest and darkest fears. I know her tremendous strengths, and I know her shortcomings. And, I love her. All of her.

All these things make-up Michelle. They are who and what she is. And, they are and always will be safe with me.

As Michelle says, it all comes down to fear. We all have to accept who we are as people, what we have done both good and bad, and move forward. We all have to decide we will not live our lives in the past....we will not live our lives in fear.

I have made that decision, and it benefits my wife, our family, and all those around me that trust and count on me.

~ Joseph

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Sixteen

Begin praying for your spouse's heart. Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage.

Love intercedes-- Beloved, I pray that in all aspects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. You cannot change your spouse. Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn't that what happens when you try and change your mate? It's frustration as the highest level. At some point you need to realize that it's not something you can change. But what you can do is become a wise farmer. A farmer cannot make a seed grow into a fruitful crop. He can not argue, manipulate, or demand it to bear fruit. What he can do is plant the seed into fertile soil, give it water and nutrients, protect it from weeds, and then turn it over to God. This challenge is not about changing your spouse. It's about you daring to love. If yo take the Love Dare seriously, there is a high chance you will be personally changed from the inside out. And if you carry out each dare your spouse will likely be changed and your marriage will begin to bloom. It may take month, or even years. But regardless of the soil you're working with you are to plan for success. You are to nurture the soil of your mate's heart and then depend on God for the results. God is sovereign. He does things His way. He's not a genie in a lamp that submits to your every wish. But He does love you and desires in intimate relationship with you. This doesn't happen apart from prayer. Prayer works best when coming from a humble heart that is in a right relationship with God and others. The Bible says "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another." Have you ever wondered why God gives you overwhelming insight into your spouse's hidden faults? Do you really think it's for endless nagging? No, it is for effective kneeling. So turn your complaints into prayers and watch the Master work while you keep your hands
clean. Pray for his heart. Pray for her attitude. Pray for your responsibilities before God. Pray for truth to replace lie. Pray that forgiveness would replace bitterness. Pray for a genuine breakthrough in your marriage. And then pray for your hearts desires- for love and honor to become the norm. Pray for romance and intimacy to go to a deeper level. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)

"You are to nurture the soil of your mate's heart and then depend on God for the results. God is sovereign. He does things His way. He's not a genie in a lamp that submits to your every wish."

I can see how someone can take yesterday's challenge and turn it into praying and asking God to make changes in their spouse to benefit themselves.  I know on more than one occasion I have been guilty of this.  If only God would change my hubby and have him this way or that way... funny, he never did change and things got a lot worse for me before they got better.

I have learned over this past year that my prayers for my hubby need to be true to who I am, who he is and the God I serve.  My "issues" I have with my hubby are not my issues at all.  I have learned that they are between God and my hubby to work out and like this chapter says.. "God is not a genie in a lamp that submits to my every wish."  This has been a hard lesson for me but one that has stayed true that I can say I finally fully understand now.

I can not change who my hubby is.  I can not change his demons he has or fight his battles for him-for us.  These things are between him and God and together God will direct my hubby to the path He thinks fit.  It may not be the path either of us have for ourselves but God makes His own plans.

So praying for my hubby yesterday, several times during the day was easy.  I prayed for my hubby's relationship with God not defined in my words but what my hubby defines as a relationship.  I prayed for my hubby to find peace with his demons.  And then I prayed for my hubby to find strength to continue on the path of being the man he wants and knows he can be.  I prayed a variation of this over and over again but continued to tell God "I understand your wishes for my hubby are between You and him and this has nothing to do with me. I have no control and can only pray for strength to grow between my hubby and God."  Saying these words over and over again and acknowledging to God I understand this is out of my power felt pretty good.  I almost felt as if I was being told, "Let go Michelle and love him freely."  So, that is what I am going to do.

I enjoyed praying for my hubby during the day, for our marriage, for our family and will continue to try and keep this on the forefront of my mind daily.  Prayer doesn't only have to be done at meals and bedtime. I feel it will do only more good in my marriage to keep praying during the day.

I am letting go and loving him freely.



Well, that's a bummer (the above blog). Am I allowed to read my spouse's blog before I write my own? I tend to avoid doing so, as I am afraid doing so may impact my blog...my feelings...my response.

I was right. As usual.

I hereby declare myself "demon free". Is that how it works? If so, where do I sign. Hmm...somebody call someone.

I prayed for Peace, Security, and Happiness for my wife. For my wife's heart. I prayed numerous times throughout the day. In fact, so much so, that my wife offered to buy my a rug (a reference to our Muslim friends).

We all our responsible for our own actions. We are all accountable to someone. Most of all, we are accountable to ourselves. I have learned a lot. I have seen my wife experience incredible highs and incredible lows during our 10-year relationship, all of which were drive by what I had done or not done.

I understand that I lead my family. I understand that I set the tone and the path that they follow. Sure, some days I think about it and want to go hide somewhere for just a few hours of "me time." But, I accept my responsibility that God has bestowed upon me and look forward to working at being the best man, husband, leader--I can be.

No matter what, I know my wife loves me, forgives me, and respects me.

Now, I have to learn to do the same thing (for myself).

~ Joseph

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Fifteen

Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine.  It may be holding the door for her.  Itmight be putting his clothes away for him.  It may be the way you listenand speak in your communication.  Show your mate that he or she is esteemed in your eyes.

Love is honorable-Live withyour wives in an understanding way.... and show her honor as a fellow heir ofthe grace of life.  There are certain words in our language that havepowerful meanings. Whenever these words are used, an air of respect isassociated with them.  One of these words is honor.  To honor someonemeans to give them respect and high esteem, to treat them as being special and of great worth.  You keep your language clean and understandable. You are courteous and polite.  You take them seriously and give their words weight and significance.  Honoring your mate means giving him or her your full attention, not talking to them from behind a newspaper or with oneeye on the television.  You give your mate's voice and opinion equal influence in your mind.  You honor what they have to say.  They matter, and you show them that in every way.  He or she is sacred to you,a person to be honored, praised and defended.  This means no other person in the whole world is supposed to enjoy this level of commitment and endearment from you.  Is that the way it is in your marriage?  Would your mate say you honor and respect them? Do you consider them set apart and highly valued?  Holy?  Love honors when it's rejected.  Love treats its beloved as special and sacred even when an ungrateful attitude is all you getting return.  You are to be devoted to one another in love.  But whenyour attempts at honor go unreciprocated, you are to honor just the same.That's what love dares do-to say "Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most.  Of all the things I am willing to sacrifice, I will sacrifice the most for you.  With all your failures, sins, mistakes, and faults-past and present- I still choose to love and honor you." That's how you create an atmosphere for love to be rekindled.  That's how you lead your heart to truly love your mate again. And that's the beauty of honor. 

"Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most."

This statement couldn't be any more true for me towards my hubby, however when it comes to honorable love I feel this chapter has a lot to teach both of us.

As I have grown older in my marriage so have my thoughts and dreams.  With this maturity has came an understanding that MY way of thinking I am honoring my hubby isn't necessary achieving that goal.  I have really had to learn that my hubby's definition of honor and respect can be totally opposite of mine.

It's pretty black and white to me.  Honor and respect him by only doing actions that I would be able to do in front of my hubby.  Honor and respect him by letting him know I value his thoughts, hard work and look to him for input and assistance in my life.  Honor and respect him by ensuring that he knows no other person is worthy of my time.  Honor and respect his reputation in everything I do.  Honor and respect him by helping him understand I value him more than any other human.  Honor and respect him by speaking the truth in all areas of our lives. Honor and respect him by showing him my love is true and real.  

This chapter makes me look beyond MY thinking of how I honor and respect my hubby and forces me to try and learn from him what HE needs to feel honor and respected. The things I list above are really what I need to feel honored and respected, this may not be in line with my hubby's.  It weighs heavy on my heart and soul to think how my hubby represents me in the public eye when it comes to our marriage.  What is the unspoken message he is saying to others about me as a wife and his value he places on our marriage.  This may not cross his mind as one of his ways of feeling honored and respected but it is a huge trigger point for me.  This is just one example of how I can be putting my needs into his needs and being totally off.

When we got married and as we grew together a topic like this was not apart of our discussions for expectations.  We talked more about who would do what in the marriage, how we would raise our kids, what our future plans were, ever did we talk about our expectations for honor and respect. 

I like this chapter because it forces us to look beyond what we THINK we are doing for each other and makes us really look at and have to discuss what we NEED to do for each other. I have to be open to hear what he needs and see if I am able to provide it for him.  I know there are things that will be rough and some things I am probably not going to like but as long as we are both getting what we need out of the marriage and we are both feeling like it's a partnership and each is making changes for the other than I don't see anything that isn't possible for us.  

"Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most."  My hubby is my best friend, the only person I want to be with and it is my honor to show him I value him and respect him and want him to feel this way each and everyday of our lives.  It is my duty to him and to God to do this in the best way possible.



Often, I hear married and previously married couples talk about change, and how they changed from when they first got married. They are not the same people they were when they married (insert 2, 5, or 10 years) ago. They grew apart. They didn't know each other anymore. They were just kids when they got together.

Of course they changed. We all have.

I am 38 years old. I am not the same person I was when I was 30. I am barely the same person I was 6 months ago, and I am certainly not the same person that I was when I was 28, which is when I first started seeing Michelle.

Likewise, Michelle is a different person now than she was 10-11 years ago.

Fortunately, we have grown and changed together. We have developed and matured as adults, together. We  have found and enjoyed new passions, together. From the relatively mundane (sharing a love of a few TV shows), to the critically important--shared values as a family/ manner in which we raise our children. We have developed together. 

Our love of physical fitness, which neither one of us brought into the marriage--developed together. Our outlook on politics and foreign affairs--developed together. Our love of the game of football--developed together. Our types of vacations and stay-cations..security in routine. Love of healthy food, and nights away at a hotel ordering room service till our hearts consent...only to hit the gym doubly hard the next day. Our new found love for learning and exploring white wines.

We have done all of this and so much more, together.

Yes, we have differences. This is both normal and, perhaps, even healthy. But frankly, they would be difficult for me to enumerate because our differences pale when compared to our likeness and shared values.

This all brings me to a point: I have learned, slowly but surely, that when I honor and respect Michelle, in the way I know she needs to be honored and respected, I am truly honoring and respecting myself. When I hold her in high-esteem and value her, by my thoughts, words, and deeds, I am holding myself in high-esteem and valuing myself.

Because Michelle and I are truly one in the same. We have a union under the laws of man, but more importantly, we are a union under Christ.

Does that make our marriage easy? No. Does that mean we are carefree and trouble free? Well, if you've ever read a few blogs of ours, you would know the answer is an astounding "No!".

But I love her. I am committed to her. I know, God-willing, she is the one I will grow old with. And, whether she dies first or I do, I  know we will be together in this life and the next.

We are still together because our soulful and spiritual bond is strong. We are together because we are each others' best friend, lover, and life-partner. We are together because we are truly both deeply in love with each other. 

I share my embrace and tenderness only with her, and in doing so, honor and respect ourselves and our family.

She is me, and I am her.

~ Joseph



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Fourteen

Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse.  Do something he or she would love to do or a project they'd really like to work on.  Just be together.

Love takes delight- Enjoy like with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life.  One of the important things you should learn on your journey is not to follow your heart, but rather lead it. You don't let your feelings and emotions do the driving. In your marriage you will not always feel like loving your spouse. It's unrealistic for your heart to constantly thrill at the thought of spending every moment with your spouse.  Nobody can maintain that burning feeling. A newly married couple takes delight in the one they call their spouse.  Their love is young and fresh and have romantic hopes for their future.  However there is something just as powerful as that fresh feeling.  It comes from the decision to delight in your spouse and to love them no matter how long you have been married.  In other words, love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love the feels like loving.  It's time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate.  Enjoy your spouse.  Seek their companionship. Desire their conversation.  Welcome this person back into your heart fully.  Again, you get to choose to what you treasure.. treasure your marriage. For some this challenge of delight may only be a small step away.  For others, it may require a giant leap from ongoing disgust.  The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you've promised yourself forever. 

I have never really been one of those people who looks for the next best thing, the latest and greatest.  I don't thrive on finding the "new" in everything.  I am a girl who likes comfort, security and the old warm feeling of the "known."

Now this does not mean I do not seek adventure and like trying new things.  This just means that I find more comfort and joy in something I have learned and loved rather than trying to find the next newest model.  This applies to almost every area of my life, including my hubby.

I know my hubby. I know the ins and outs about him.  I can look at him and tell you what kind of mood he is in.  I know how he will react to a situation.  I know his habits. I know when he is feeling good in our marriage and when he isn't.  I know what he likes and does not like.  After being with this man for ten years I can honestly say there is really no mystery in my hubby and I like that.

People talk about their marriage getting boring, or their spouses getting boring.  I don't feel that way at all with my hubby.  He still excites ME in every way.  I still get anxious when I know he is coming home.  I still get excited when I know we are going to go somewhere together.  I only look to him to do things with on the weekends and after work.  I enjoy being with him and miss him when he is gone.  I love texting him during the day to let him know I am thinking about him.  And yes, I still feel that thrill in my toes when he kisses me or touches me.  Ten years is a long time to be with someone and to still have a burning feeling for them, but I do.

I delight in my spouse even when he is being difficult.  I enjoy being with him in every possible way and even when things get tough between us there is no one I would rather be with and no where I would rather be.  

This chapter instructed us to "Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse.  Do something he or she would love to do or a project they'd really like to work on.  Just to be together."

We do this almost every night.  We have our routine that we both enjoy doing together.  We go to the gym, come home make dinner and have dinner as a family.  Spend some time with the kids then put everyone to bed and we retreat to our room where our quality time is spent with each other.  It never matters what we are doing just the fact that we are together is enough.  There have been many times we can be laying on our bed doing Facebook on our own phones and our feet will be touching each other.  We are still together, feeling connected and still enjoying our quiet times.
"The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you've promised yourself forever."

I don't have to relearn my love with my hubby because the only change my love has gone through with him is developed into a deeper love.  I have loved this man from the very start of our relationship and I don't think or care to think about anyone else.  I gave my heart and soul to him and have spent the last ten years trying to show him that.  My love is deep, it's true and it will never leave. 


I have come to a startling realization as of late---I am not going to live forever.

Really, I'm not.

Armed with this new knowledge as of late, I have been focused on living my life as if this day, this moment, could be my last. Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not giving anything away and walking around in all black, wearing a sign. But, I am slowing down to smell the flowers, as they say; enjoying each day and each moment for what they are--a gift from God to spend more time with those that I love.

I can be impatient.

As in, REALLY impatient. Actually, maybe inpatient is not the word. I expect results, and have little patience for things or people that aren't producing what I believe they should be--what I know I could produce.

This is difficult to apply to 3 kids under the age of 7, but I manage to hold them to the same standard as I hold myself.......

Love takes delight........you get to choose to what you treasure.. treasure your marriage. 

I am who I am, that will never change. But, I can change who I am. I can change what I value in my family. I can change my belief system. I can believe that I can be the person I was meant to be, and that any mistake in my past can be left in my past...where it belongs.

I can change the way I impose my will. I will always be a doer. I will always be someone that would rather do something about it, then spend countless hours (torture) discussing, pondering, considering.

But, I am learning to take delight in the little things in life. I am learning to treasure my marriage, which means treasure my spouse and treasure my family. I think so highly of my kids, the older boys and the little ones. I think so highly of my wife. As I have said before, she is everything to me. She inspires me, she motivates me. She accomplishes things that I simply would not have the determination or ability to accomplish.

But do they know this? Does my wife know how I truly feel about her? Or, does she think of me as being impatient and perhaps easily annoyed. Even, perhaps, moody.

And, if she feels this way, then isn't that a result of my actions? 

Yes, it is.

It is my job, my duty--my honor as my wife's husband to make her feel the way I think about her. She is the center of my universe. She is what I live for. I hold her in the highest esteem. It's not about telling her this. It's not about writing her the sweetest poem ever written---although could (or not).

It's about what I do. How I act. It's about those times when I am feeling inpatient and annoyed, but choose that I would RATHER my wife feel treasured, then feel the brunt of my frustration? Why? Because I treasure her and we shield those that we love, that what we treasure, from pain as much as possible....including pain inflicted by ourselves.

The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you've promised yourself forever.

Maybe I'm a closet rebel that needs to learn to play by the rules, but the fact is I do not need to relearn what I love about my wife. Rather, I need to relearn the way I show my wife the love I have for her.

This is a perhaps subtle, yet critical, variation. 

As I have said, I love my wife. She excites me. She motivates me. She encourages me. I am what I am because she has been there with me...through the good and the bad. All she has ever asked of me is to be my true self--the honest, moral, loving man that I once was and perhaps lost my way for a time.

It feels good to be back, and I look forward to sharing this man with my lovely wife.




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Thirteen

Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement.  If your mate is mot ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to "fight" by.  Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.

Love fights fair-- If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  Like it or not conflict in marriage is inevitable.  The forced closeness of a marriage begins to strip away your public facades, exposing your private problems and secret habits.  Welcome to fallen humanity.  At the same time the storms of life are testing and revealing what you are both really made of. Word demands, health, families, financial situations all add pressure and heat to a relationship.  Every couple goes through it but not every couple survives it. Living this Dare is not going to drive out conflict it is meant to help you deal with conflict in such a way you both come out healthier... together. The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you may ever do will be during conflict.  That is when our pride is the thickest. Our anger is the hottest.  We are more selfish and judgmental.  Our words contain venom.  You can make the worst decisions during this time. Married couples who learn to work through conflict tend to be closer, more trusting, more intimate and enjoy each other on a deeper level.  This happens by establishing boundaries. You need to have "We" boundaries.  Rules you both agree on beforehand that apply during a fight such as never mention divorce, not bringing up old unrelated issues, or fighting in front of the kids.  You also need "Me" boundaries such as I will listen before I speak, I will deal with my own issues up front or I will speak gently and keep my voice down. Fighting fair means changing your weapons.  Disagree with dignity and your results will be to build a bridge instead of burning one down.  Love is not a fight, but it is worth fighting for.

Fighting is something that my hubby and I do and do not do a lot of.  We do not have the typical fights most married couples have.  We do not yell and scream at each other, we do not fight in front of the kids.  We can both be totally at our limit with each other and you will still see us hugging and kissing or posting on each other’s walls on Facebook. 

However, when we do fight it is very emotional... for me.  My hubby being the strong and determined kind of man that he is, well he is not a real fighter.  He just wants the issue to go away.  He will say what he has to, sometimes true or not, just to make it go away.  I on the other hand want him to understand how I "feel" and how the issue is "affecting" me.  Can you see where I am going with this.... ?  It is about feelings for me, which I know is wrong.  I get so emotionally charged, embarrassed, my pride is hurt, my feelings are hurt, I have found out a lie, or whatever the case may be this sends ME into an emotional rabbit hole that I try and drag him down as well.  Well he will have no part of it and will shut me down instantly.  He does not want to hear how I feel or be dragged down the pit of darkness I am trying to pull him into.  This of course frustrates me even more because I feel like I am not being heard.

My mother was a screamer.  She would yell at the top of her lungs at us kids and throw things and just carry on.  I would then rush around trying to fix everything and make peace in the house for everyone regardless if I was in the center of the distress or not.  I learned my behavior from her, and as much as I tried all my life not to be her I did and am her.

I do not scream.  I have learned over the years if I lower my voice when I am talking to my hubby I get further than normal.  He still will tell me "Don't yell at me or don't talk to me like that" but that is his reaction to being pushed up against a wall and I know he is trying to deflect.  It took me a few years to learn to control the volume of my voice when trying to discuss a problem with him.

My hubby and I discussed a few rules last night about how we would learn to "fight" with each other and here are the boundaries.  I took it one step further and made "Me" boundaries to add for myself.

"We" boundaries:
  • We will never mention divorce.  
    • We are in this together.  We have been legally separated, we were all but divorced in the State's mind and we choose to come back together because this is where we both want to be.  We will not use this fear tactic to gain our way or make our point even louder.  This is not an option.
  • We will not speak ill willed about each other to others outside of our marriage.
    • It is hard enough to be in a fight but when you drag in a 3rd party to hear your side of the problem all you do is create more drama and more ill willed feelings toward your spouse.  Our issues will remain in our household with each other under God.
  • We will not bring up the past hurts and the past challenges that do not pertain to the situation at hand.
    • Too many times you want to have a score card or you want to bring up the past hurts.  If it has nothing to do with what the issue at hand is then there is no need to bring it up.
  • We will only be honest with each other no matter what.
    • There is no reason to try and get ourselves out of a situation that we are facing by telling a lie or making the other person believe something that is not.  This is just building a house of cards that will fall on us one day.
"Me" boundaries:

  • I will not challenge or confront my hubby while he is at work.
    • This has been a terrible habit I have seen develop over the years.  I find something out that I am not happy with and I either pick up the phone and call him or I send him a text.  At the time I am trying to deal with the issue but in reality I am hiding behind technology and being a coward.
  • I will learn to continue to control my words and my tone when speaking to my hubby in a disagreement.
    • The level of my voice and the tone of it can make or break any argument; I must learn to control this if I am to have any kind of opportunity to get to the heat of the disagreement.
  • I will learn to "stay within myself" when I first get upset.  Rather than lashing out I will try and get myself calm and even pray asking for God to help me.  My hopes will be to maintain control, no matter how hurt I am feeling, and not drag myself or my hubby down that hole.
  • I will remind myself that my hubby is not against me.  He is not out to make me look like a fool, he is not out to hurt me, he is not out to embarrass me and he is not out to deceive me.  His actions are his actions but I KNOW he is not trying to hurt me.  I need to remember this because if I do not feel like I am on the attack I think I can handle my emotions better.
  • I will remind myself that it is him and I in this world.... together.... we have to remain partners in every area of our lives.  
  • I will remind myself that I cannot fix everything and some things I need to leave with God.
I think this is a great start and I am going to add these rules to my I phone so when the next argument comes up... I can recall what my rules are and go by them.  God give me your grace and your peace and help me be the wife I so want to be for my hubby.  One that shows him he too can be the man he wants to be and build our bridge together and stronger.



It's hard being right all the time. It really is. Being right all the time means that when someone disagrees with you, well, by definition...they are wrong. Then, you have to go through the energy draining experience of persuading the other person of the errors of their ways, and to understand that you are in fact right....all the time.

Good thing I don't have this problem, because I am far from always being right.

My wife and I did discuss some boundaries last night. However, I recall the list being shorter and much more manageable. However, as usually, my wife fill in the details while I try to manage the broad strokes:

* There is not right or wrong, her against me...there is only US. We only win if we are both heard and reach and understanding.

* Bringing up things from the past is usually both futile and an attempt to hurt one another. A poor expression of our frustrations.

My wife is right. We hardly fight. She is my best friend. I love being around her. She is with me virtually everywhere, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Two nights ago, I had a craving that required me to head to Albertson's in the cold and rain, dressed in my boxers basically. Guess who was with  me. Guess who wanted to go with me.

When I do something without my wife, that I usually do with her,  I feel lost. I feel confused. I feel out of place. I don't think that's sad. It doesn't mean I can't function as a person and as a man without her. What it means is, we are so interwoven that I am not my full self...my best self, without her. It's just a fact.

I have lived without my wife for a period of time. I know how it feels. As my wife stated, we were separated and all but divorced. The ink WAS literally on the paper, and all either one of us had to do was submit it with a $50 check payable to Clackamas County.

I came home because it is where I wanted to be, and it was the best decision of my life.

Unlike movies, things were not rosy from that point forward. In fact, they became perhaps more difficult as there was real pain and hurt that both of us had to work through.

Today, all I know is that I love and respect my wife through my thoughts, words, and actions. As I type this, I am a few moments away from calling it a day for today, and all I can think of is giving my wife a hug and kiss hello and spending the next several hours with her.

This is what I live for. This is what I work so hard for. To be able to be by her side as much as possible.

I try to remember this every moment, even those rare times when I want to bury her in the backyard, as I often say (I'm very sweet). Because at the end of the day, I know, I would be digging her back up so why not skip that step--and all the emotional damage and hurt it causes--and remained focus on who and what she is to me: the mother of my children and the most loving and caring wife a man could ever hope for.

- Joseph

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Love Dare- Day Twelve

Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse.  Tell them you are putting their preference first.

Love lets the other win-  If you were asked to name three areas where you and your spouse disagree, you'd likely be able to do with without thinking very hard.  Sadly, unless someone in your marriage starts doing some giving in, these same issues are going to keep popping up between you and your spouse.  Though these issues may not crop up every day, they keep resurfacing and don't really go away.  You never seem to get any closer to a resolution or compromise and generally one spouse ends up resenting the other.  Jesus gives us an example of how to deal with each other in areas of conflict, it's learning the word "willing." Jesus wants us to follow the progression of His selfless love.  He had every right to refuse becoming man but yielded and did- because He was willing.  He had the right to be served by all mankind but came to serve us instead.  He had the right to live in peace and safety but willingly laid down His life for our sins. He was even willing to endure the grueling torture of the cross.  In light of this amazing testimony, the Bible applies to us a one-sentence summary statement:  "Have the attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."  The very moment one spouse can say to the other, "I'm willing to go your way on this one," the argument will be over.  It may cost you pride and discomfort but you have made a loving and lasting investment in your marriage.  You may fear looking foolish or be at a lost of control, but you've already looked foolish by being bullheaded and refusing to listen.  You lose control by making the issue at hand more important that your marriage. Instead of treating your wife or husband like your enemy or someone to be guarded against, start be treating them as your closest, most honored friend.  Give their words full weight.

I tell you, that last statement:  "Instead of treating your wife or husband like your enemy or someone to be guarded against, start be treating them as your closest, most honored friend.  Give their words full weight."  Those are some powerful words.

It has been a tough year for my hubby and I.  "They" say the first ten years of marriage is the hardest and I think I can finally say "they" are correct.  This week I have been lost in my own mind re-playing the last ten years of my marriage in my head.  I have been recalling past events that were great, good and hard.  I have been putting pieces together that have not made sense but are finally coming to light.  I have been connecting dots on events that have left me less than happy but most of all I have been thinking about the laughs, the adventures and the love that has grown.

Yesterday's chapter was about giving into an area of disagreement between my hubby and I to show him that I am putting his preference first.  I feel I have been doing this for quite some time in the last few months in an area that has been very difficult for me to come to terms with.  But as anyone who really knows me knows that I only want the best for my hubby, my family and to make them happy and be happy with them.

This year has been a learning year for me as a wife and a woman.  I have made some huge mistakes, I have done some things I am not proud of but I have also grew as a person and in my Faith.  My hubby knows deep down inside that even though I may "battle" him on certain things, I do put his preference in most areas first.   I think what we really learn in this chapter is not how to "give in" to show our love but how to "come together" to show our love.  His preference, my preference, neither one of us should be above the other.  Really we should be working on how to put ourselves on the same level as one another and show the other that their input is just as important as our own.  I do not think we should make decisions about our lives, our money, our future on our own... we should be making them together as a partnership.

I value my husband, I value his opinion, I value his contributions to every part of my life.  I care how my actions make him feel, I care how my decisions affect him and I care if he feels like my partner or not.  I strive to continue on this path and on the path of a stronger partnership.



I have often said, and I have tried to live by, the concept that there are is no "winner and loser" between my wife and I, in terms of arguments or disagreements. There is only US- we win when we are both able to freely express our emotions and opinions and ultimately come up with a solution that works for everyone.

Sure, this is sometimes easier said than done. There are times when I am so certain I am right, that I feel I need to do what I need to do "because I know it's right." The problem with is, it's not right if my wife feels overpowered or that she has little to no influence in the decision.

I can honestly say for this first time in more than a year, that I feel my wife and I are in a very good place, emotionally, relationship-wise, financially, etc. There are challenges. There are things that will come up that are not on my spreadsheet (I plan for everything!), but I have a sense of peace and calm that has been somewhat elusive over the past several months.

This sense of peace and calm allows me to slow down, and make sure my wife feels part of the process. I want her to know that I do value her opinion--she is incredibly intelligent, and is in a general just a "smart person" that I am lucky enough to be able to get her feelings/opinions.

At the end of the day, is about US. We have this one life...this one marriage. I want my wife to feel she has the partner she has always wanted. I want her to feel safe, secure, happy  and blessed. I know I can provide all of these things, sometimes with a simple look or a few seconds of my time to let her know I care.

Each day, I try to improve on the day before. Because as I said, there is no right or wrong, he or she...there is only US.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What is your message saying?

In my later years of life it became apparent to me that I had to learn to hold my tongue in certain situations rather than blurting out what was in my thoughts at any given moment.  This came to me one day when I was in the middle of a heated argument with my hubby.  The moment was so profound to me it has stuck with me all of these years, but not because he "broke me" but because I learned at that very second the way I was speaking to him was not honoring him, loving him or respecting him.  I was determined that at that moment to change how I reacted to people and how I reacted to him.

Fast forward ten years to today and I can honestly look back and say I have came along way.  I am not perfect by any means, there are many times over the past 10 years I have said things I wished I never would have said to him and to other people in my life.  But I feel that each day I do make a conscious effort to try and improve my communication and the message I'm sending. Yet one thing I failed to realize till just today, what is the message I am NOT saying?

We communicate in many ways on several different levels.  Our body language, movement of eyes, expressions on our faces, tones in our voices, even if we sigh someone can take that as an unspoken message.  But what really is on my mind today is the unspoken message of our actions.

What do my actions say to my hubby and my children? 

I have a friend who smokes, a nasty habit and one of the worse things you can do your body.  She and I have gone rounds over the reasons she should quit.  I have come to her from a point of a friendship, as an ex causal smoker, as a personal trainer, and even as an angry friend.  I have tried all the tricks in my book to try and get her to finally stop smoking.  Of course this is a decision she has to make and has to want to do but I am determined to be the angel on her shoulder bugging her till she finally quits.  My point to her yesterday when speaking to her about the habit was what was her unspoken message to her daughter and husband by continuing to smoke?

She had no idea what I was speaking of until I dove deeper into the conversation.  I told her that because she has chosen a terrible habit that brings nothing positive to her life and future she was telling her husband and daughter that her needs were more important than theirs.  By continuing to jeopardize her life she was telling her husband that it did not matter to her that he could be facing a future as being a single dad.  She was telling him he could face a future with a wife who has to use a voice box to speak.  She was telling him that she didn't care his future could possibly be in a cancer treatment center week after week trying to fight for her life.  She was telling him she didn't care that their income may be jeopardized or their savings may be dwindled because he would have to pay for her care.  All these things she was telling him because she was being selfish and choose to continue this horrific habit because "she enjoys smoking."  She was telling her daughter, "Do as I say, not as I do."  She was telling her daughter that her needs at this moment to smoke were more important to her than all her daughter's future needs as she grew up.  All these message to her family were unspoken by her actions.  This message in some deep way, regardless if we want to admit it or not tells the other party... "I don't really care what you think, I don't really respect you either because I am willing to put my own needs before yours."

These sort of actions hold true in other areas of our lives as well.  Take my other friend who is married.  Her husband works for a company that the majority of the employees are female.  He is a respectable man who is well liked and looked up to at his employment.  My friend will go to his office almost weekly to have lunch with her husband, it's a time for her to break away from their newborn son and a time for her and her husband to connect.

For the past few years there has been a woman at his employment that has treated my friend with nothing but rudeness and disregard.  My friend tells me she is friendly with all her husband's employees and goes out of her way to do nice things for them but this one woman, in particular, is flat out rude to her. My friend is very secure in her marriage and herself and knows that not everyone has to like her but what bothers her is her husband's unspoken message to her as his wife.

Her husband, of course being this woman's boss, is friendly with the woman.  They work side by side everyday together and as well all know we all want to get along with the people we work with.  However my friend's frustration comes from her husband going above and beyond to be friendly with this employee knowing the way she treats his wife.  He has seen the employee be dismissing to his wife, he has heard the comments the employee makes about his wife yet continues to go out of his way to be friendly with the employee at company events with the wife by his side.  There have been occasions where the husband has assisted the employee in personal matters to help resolve issues she was going through.  These unspoken words, his actions, tell my friend that her husband is not concerned with the fact that this employee disrespects his wife.  When her husband does things for this employee the message she gets is that the employees' needs are more important than the wife's feelings.  That is his unspoken message to his wife. And his unspoken message to this employee and his other employees is "You don't have to respect my wife, and I will still go above and beyond for you as friends." 

I think these two examples are very good starting points for the rest of us to reconsider how our unspoken messages are coming across to the ones we love.  Sitting back and thinking about these examples has helped me identify some areas in my life and marriage that I know I need to change right away.  I realize now the words that come out of my mouth to express how I feel towards my hubby, my children and my friends are not as important as my actions.  My actions need to ring louder than my words.  Today I am going to work on improving my unspoken messages.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Ten

Do something out of the ordinary today for your spouse-something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is based on your choice and nothing else.  Wash her car. Clean the kitchen.  Buy his favorite dessert.  Fold the laundry.  Demonstrate love for them for the sheer joy of being their partner in marriage.

Love is unconditional.  God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  If someone asks "Why do you love your wife?" - What would you say?  Most Men would mention their wife's beauty, her sense of humor, her kindness, her inner strength.  They might talk about her cooking, her knack for decorating, or what a good mother she is.  Women would probably say something about their husbands’ good looks, personality.  They’d commend him for his steadiness and constant character.  But what if over the years, your wife or husband stopped being every one of these things.  Would you still love them?  The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional.  The truth is this:  love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.  Both friendship and sex have an important role in your marriage as do other things.  But if your marriage totally depends on having common interests or enjoying a healthy sex life, then the foundation of your relationship is unstable.  Agape love is selfless and unconditional.  Agape love is "in sickness and health." "For richer or poorer" and "for better or worse." this is the only kind of true love there is because this is God's kind of love.  If a spouse says they have fallen out of love with you then they never really loved you unconditionally to begin with.  Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstances.

Last night as my hubby and I were winding down in our room together, I thought of my dare for the day.  I tried to think of anything I had done that was out of the ordinary to show my love for my hubby.  I began to feel bad and shameful because even as much as I thought about it during the day I had not come up with anything that I could have done, any small gesture or extra action to show my love for him.  I shared my feelings with my hubby and told him I had failed at the challenge.  He was kind and pointed out to me all the things I do for him daily that show him love, even down to putting an extra plum in his lunch for him.  It made me realize I was looking at this challenge the wrong way.

It's not always black and white, just like marriage there are a lot of grey areas (and even pink if you are married to me!) So I told myself I would look outside of the box of the challenge and find what it was that I was to learn in this chapter.

Unconditional love.

The statement in the book that says "If a spouse says they have fallen out of love with you then they never really loved you unconditionally to begin with."  is a VERY powerful statement to me.  I have unconditional love for my hubby and always have.  It's not a love I have ever shared with anyone else because it has always been so easy for me to walk away from previous relationships and not look back.  This is not the case in my marriage with my hubby.

We are all selfish in some way or another, we all have our weak moments when we forget to think about the other person and how our actions may affect them.  I try and keep this in the forefront of my mind and my marriage..

In the past if I did not agree with something that was going on in our marriage I would fight it tooth and nail.  I would continue to bring it up and put pressure on my hubby in hopes to change the behavior that was occurring.  These past few weeks something spoke to me in my head, God, and showed me I was doing nothing to help my marriage acting like this.  That voice that spoke to me told me it was not changing the behavior, it was only upsetting me and it was pushing my hubby further from me.  So as I prayed  I finally came to realize my fits about the situation was not changing it one bit.  This was a decision my hubby had made and even though it hurts me it was NOT hurting me physically or my family it was only hurting my pride.  And what does the bible say about Pride?

Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” This kind of haughty pride is the opposite of the spirit of humility that God seeks: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

So to show my unconditional love to my hubby I have refrained from asking questions about the situation.  I have refrained from putting myself into a position where I see the situation.  This is my hubby's thing to work out and to do what he feels that he needs to do and I have to let go of it and allow him to.  This behavior is the something out of the ordinary for me to prove to my hubby that my love is based on my choice and nothing elseI love my husband, not because of the life he provides, or because of the hard work he does.  Not because of the father he is to our kids, or because of the things he does for me... I love him because of HIM.  I CHOOSE to give my love to him, unconditionally.



My wife and I have this Facebook thing. It goes something like this, she alleges: I get upset at her for no good reason, and change my profile and cover photos (sans her).

Now, while not stipulating that this is fact, her consistent allegations of the same have begun to make me think that she, at least, believes it to be so. So, for this challenge, I did a little reverse Mexican brown magic...I posted a picture of just her, as my cover for all the world to see.

But not just any picture.

A picture of a young Michelle, new in our relationship, sitting in a kayak...something she never thought she would see...with a literal sea of water before her. She could go anywhere she wants. It was both somewhat dangerous, yet exciting and rewarding---like many of the worthwhile opportunities in our lives (there is risk).

Nearly 10 years later, I am so happy that she chose to go with me. I love this woman. We have been through ups and downs, good times and bad times. I was with her when she nearly died in childbirth. I remember the doctor telling me they were going to put her in a coma, fly her to Seattle, and that I should prepare for the worse and notify all those that may want to see her. It still, to this day, shakes me to my core to know how close I cam to losing her.

Today, she could still go anywhere she wanted. There is a sea of choices before her, but she chooses me. For that reason, and many others, I try each day to do a little more than the day before to express my love for her.

In the picture, although not seen...I am right behind her in that kayak. To me, this is symbolic. In our relationship, Michelle is often at the forefront...often gets the spotlight. I am more than happy to have it this way. But, like the song I posted on her wall yesterday--when she looks around, I will always be there (I promise).

This is what I did yesterday to demonstrate my pure joy in being in our marriage.