Vicky is one of those people that will never fully know the impact her life has had on me. I promise I don't say this lightly. I first met Vicky and her husband, Phil, when Chris and I joined the Newlywed class they taught at Houston's First. It took no time at all for us to not just fall in love with them, but to respect them to the core. 4 1/2 years later I still on at least a daily (sometimes hourly) basis recall and apply the truths they took the time to teach us. One phrase Vicky said one day that I truly recall daily when talking to other is, "Is your husband's name safe in your mouth?" Vicky sets the standard for what true respect and submission looks like. And Phil doesn't take advantage of that but chooses to bless her and love her with such care and gentleness. I have loved watching them serve, and serve selflessly. I have never known a couple that truly could care less about what others thought. They care most about how Jesus impacts others through them-- big or small, they are willing. And I'm so thankful she took the time to share some of her lessons learned along the way with you.
After 30+ years of marriage people still ask if we’re newlyweds. Our life hasn’t been easy. We’ve faced—tragedy, loss, illness and trials. Yet, we’ve come through the storms with love, passion & friendship that are better in every dimension than they were in the beginning. What’s our secret? We’ve kept our love strong by:
Praying together & prioritizing our individual relationships with God
The Triangle: this visual encourages us that the closer each of us gets to God, the closer we will be to each other. Growing toward God & each other is a long walk in the same direction.
2 Trees: A picture of healthy marriage is a tree I once saw. As I got closer I realized it was actually 2 trees, each with it’s own roots, but growing so close together that it looked like one tree. The best marriage is comprised of 2 people—standing side-by-side—becoming one yet each having their own sustaining root system in Christ.
Fighting fair—no old marbles
Swallowing offenses is like swallowing marbles. They sit in our belly till we can’t stand it any more then we spew them out with “yuck” on them.
You know it’s an old marble when words come out with heat or venom. We commit to let the small stuff roll off our shoulders (this is different from “swallowing it”) Then we deal with important “marbles” while they’re fresh—before they fester.
Speaking the truth in love
DESC (below) helps me deal with important marbles.
D – Describe (what happened—calmly, concisely like a journalist in 1-2 sentences) “When I was telling you what happened today, you looked at the TV several times”
E – Emotion (tell how you feel in 1-2 words) “I felt like I was unimportant to you”
S – State what you want (as a request, not a demand) “This is important to me so I want to find a time to talk about this without distractions”
C – Consequence (a consequence can be good—help set him up for a win) “I feel loved & cared about when you really listen to me.”
We’ve also kept our love strong by doing things God’s way
Respect Him—After all these years and really wanting to respect my husband, I still don’t always know what feels like disrespect to him.
So, I STILL occasionally “step on land-mines of disrespect that I didn’t see coming.” Something Shaunti Feldham said in For Women Only has really helped when it happens. She said, if he’s angry & you don’t know why, “check for disrespect.”
When he gets angry out of nowhere or I sense a negative change in his body language, I think back on the last thing that happened between us and there’s almost always an “ah ha” moment for me.
I ask “did you feel disrespected when I said_________?” Then I try to look at it from his perspective and apologize “I can see how that would feel disrespectful—I don’t want to disrespect you—will you forgive me?”
Respect him in the presence of others. If something I might say about him to someone would cause him to be less respected at the city gate, I don’t want to say it. (See Proverbs 31:23)
Submit to Him. I submit to my husband not because his way is always best—I do it because I trust God who promises to lead us through my husband. It’s God I’m really submitting to—going outside His order isn’t an option for me.
God promises to bless obedience and I want to be blessed! Sometimes blessing comes when God teaches & grows my husbands through failure. Most often though, time proves that his way really was best and that we were blessed in a way we wouldn’t have been if we’d done it my way.
I could fill a book with stories of blessings that have come because I submitted when everything in me was screaming (and praying) NO! I decide to submit but that doesn’t mean my internal battle of not getting what I want necessarily goes away.
I’m struggling right now with several areas where my will has submitted but my heart, mind and soul are struggling (and praying) to catch up.
Knowing God’s history of faithfulness helps me to stay faithful while I wait for God to help me work out my feelings.
Bring him good not harm all the days of his life – I would love for this to be said at the end of my life—it’s a guiding principal for me. I ask God to help me know how to bring him good and convict me when I’m bringing him harm. (Proverbs 31:12)
We’ve also kept our love strong by investing in our marriage
Pie Concept: We all have a finite level of time/energy. This time/energy “pie” is divided into the slices that make up our life. Because our “pie” is finite, existing “slices” must get smaller when new pie-consuming “slices” are added (kids, commitments, relationships, etc.)
If we’re not intentional about which “slice” we take from to accommodate the new slice, the marriage “slice” often shrinks by default. The sad reality is that when time/energy for the marriage diminishes so does the quality of the relationship.
Christmas Lights: Seizing Precious Moments Together Often
A lifelong romance isn’t built with the rare expensive dinner or exotic vacation. Like a long string of tiny white Christmas lights, a romance becomes beautiful one small light at a time, strung closely together. It’s about seizing precious moments together often – moments like candle lit baths after a long day, watching the sunset, & sharing dreams in a dark room. It’s about making the ordinary special.
I write this on Valentine’s Day on yet another airplane (our incessant travel is another story—because of Phil’s job, we spend more time in airports than most people spend at the grocery store).
I knew Phil planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day next weekend, but my best surprise was when my “black-belt” husband picked me up for the airport with flowers and a little gourmet meal (that he had made himself!) for us to eat at the airport—salmon pate, crackers, carrots & apples.
Tonight we strung another tiny light together with the countless others while sitting at our “corner table by the window” in the airport food court listening to Michael Buble (occasionally interrupted by gate change announcements.) This night will always be precious to me because we seized an ordinary, even dreary moment that would have otherwise been lost and made it special.
Making intimacy a priority
I pray Proverbs 5:18-19 for my husband. You can look it up but notice the word “ever.” I’ll also tell you that in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word translated “captivated” in verse 19 means “intoxicated.”
Some final thoughts on taking care of yourself
Learn from Elijah (1 Kings 19) – The journey is too much for you without God; and without godly self-care. Godly self-care isn't selfish—you can’t take care of everyone else unless you take care of yourself. Keep your high heels—you may be a mom but you’re still a woman. Fight to keep the bride in you alive—she’s worth it!
Some thoughts I've remembered from others
(on “less is more”) “Ladies, you can’t do 1000 things with excellence.” -Beth Moore
(on why making date nights a priority is good for the whole family) “Leaving the kids with trustworthy sitters so you can go on dates isn’t selfish—it actually benefits your children because: a good marriage makes kids feel more secure, kids learn that they can be ok when mom & dad leave and come back, and kids tend to be less self-centered when mom & dad pay attention to each-other.” -Christa Wright, LMFT (Christa is a therapist & my daughter-in-law)
"Sexual intimacy is to marriage what prayer is to our spiritual life...with the exception of medical limitations, I do not believe healthy marriages exist absent of physical affection…Every day I pray to thrill to my husband’s touch.” -Beth Moore in Living Beyond Yourself
(on sex) “God made it—it’s good.” -Cindy Kapp
Some of My Favorite Books for Marriage
The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands by Dr Laura Schlessinger, For Women Only by Shaunti Feldham, Intimate issues by Linda Dillow, Love & Respect by Emerson Echerichs, Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martien, Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie O’Martien, 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Speaking the Truth in Love by Kenneth Haugck, and Margin by Richard Swenson.
Vicky and Phil are passionate about equipping couples for happy, life-giving marriages in Christ and do this through marriage enrichment weekends, engaged couple workshops, Bible-based marriage classes, & mentoring. Vicky also ministers to women in other settings. She believes God is the Healer, His word is the medicine and that she’s just the pharmacist—called to dispense the medicine of God's powerful and healing truth to open hearts. You can connect with Vicky more on Facebook.
Check out some of the other 2012 relationship guest posts:
Erin DuBroc (Why things had to change: Part 1
& Part 2)