Anniversary Thoughts: 19 Lessons from 19 Years of Marriage

Today is our anniversary. And as a tradition, on May 23, I do a bit of a blog to honor the bride that agreed to journey life with me. But before the list comes out, I need to give you some background to what stirred this blog.

 

 

On Sunday, I was preaching, perhaps, one of my favorite messages I’ve preached in a long time. Anger is something that, I feel, I should probably do an entire series upon as it’s something we all deal with now and will continue to deal with.

During my message, I stated that there are two types of angry people: Exploders (you explode with anger) and Imploders (you suppress your anger). Then, I asked people to raise hands on the one they identified with. I started by saying,

“Any exploders in the house? Anne, make sure you raise your hand (which she did). Any imploders? I’m one of them (in which I raised my hand). “

People laughed  because, well, it was a humorous moment. Anne and I don’t mind being vulnerable to people, which entails sharing our faults. But what followed after service was quite surprising. There were more than a few people approaching Anne almost offended for her. They were asking if what I said, embarrassed her or made her mad.

Her reply was priceless,

If little things like that set you off, you have deeper issues than that.

It wasn’t said with any type mockery or sarcasm but with a strong confidence. In one simple statement, maturity and wisdom were conveyed and no place was open for the devil to have a foothold. I can’t say it was that way when we started 19 years ago. But there have been some habits (practices) that we’ve been working on for the past (almost) two decades that have helped us have such a rapport that we can have fun and not allow the little things to steal the joy of our marriage.

So here we go, 19 lessons that has helped give us thick skin, healthy hearts, and deep love.

  1. We assume the best in each other. 
    • It is the ONLY kind of assumption we allow in our marriage.
  2. Date days are never optional. 
    • Couples that “lost the feeling of love” have stopped feeding the feeling by not dating. I may sound like a broken record, but till every couple engages in consistent dating, we’ll keep talking about it.
  3. Ice cream is the best way to end anything.
    • From ending a day to ending an argument, ice cream is something we indulge in. Most people avoid things that leave a bad taste on the palettes of their hearts. So if you have a sweet ending to something, you won’t be afraid to revisit it because you ended it well.
  4. We recommend resources to each other. 
    • From books to podcasts, when one of us recommends something, the other doesn’t get defensive. We look out for each other and that includes our spiritual growth.
  5. We refuse to try to read each other’s minds. 
    • Anne and I know each other pretty good after 19 years of marriage and 3 years of dating. But we still don’t assume we know everything the other is thinking. The minute we start doing that is the moment we stop communicating. And that’s a bad place.
  6. Celebration is about not about a “date.” 
    • Right now, it’s our anniversary and we’re at a conference. Believe me, we’d love to be able to celebrate a holiday or event on the exact date, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. We have to remember: It’s the moment that is special, not the date on the calendar.
  7. We keep real issues out of the hands of others. 
    • What you see from us on social media is the silly and the inspirational. Why don’t we post about our arguments and issues? First, because it’s none of your business and second, we want to work on it together without outside interference. Don’t worry, once we’ve learned, it usually becomes a marriage blog later when we can laugh about it. Which leads to #8…
  8. Our faults and failures build bridges. 
    • We don’t mind sharing the stupid things we do and the lessons we’ve learned. I’d rather share in order to prevent someone some pain than hear about it later knowing we could have helped in some way.
  9. Sex is like…
    • I was going to say “like cheese” but that’d mean it stinks with time. I’d say “like wine” but it get better with time but you can’t partake of it for years to enjoy it. I could say “like candy” but you can get sick from it….hmmmm….how about: Sex get’s better the more practice you give it and the importance you place upon it.
  10. Encouragement is the breath in our marriage.
    • We refuse to let someone out-encourage us when it comes to each other.
  11. We don’t have to like the same things. 
    • Outside of Jesus and enjoying laughing together, there is nothing compatible about us. It has nothing to do about being opposites; it’s about being different. And the differences make us work harder. And the harder we work together, the stronger and deeper things get.
  12. Laughter is a non-negotiable. 
    • I’m convinced that no couple laughs more than we do. It’s not that we don’t take things seriously. But having a “merry heart” positions our mind to know what to take serious and what to not take too serious.
  13. The changing of the seasons brings changes. 
    • Every season your marriage (and you as a human) goes through can dramatically change you both. From love languages to sex drives to attitudes, don’t forget to continue to be a life-long student of your spouse.
  14. Our church community energizes us. 
    • We don’t expect perfection from a community that isn’t perfect and they don’t expect it from us (cause they’re not going to get perfection). Anne and I authentically look forward to engaging with the Kfirst community in worship and in service to those around us. We get energized from watching the presence of God touch lives.
  15. There’s no such thing as “Dave’s problems” or “Anne’s problems”; There’s only “our problems.” 
    • We choose to believe the scriptures when it’s stated, “the two becomes one.” Anne and I refuse to look at each other and say, “well that’s your problem, not mine.” If it’s a problem for one, we refuse to let each other journey alone in it. We are one.
  16. I still hate tomatoes; Anne doesn’t like Tuna Helper.
    • There are some things that haven’t changed about us in the past 19 years. We don’t try to change each other to what we prefer; we work on letting the Holy Spirit be the changing agent. So it isn’t about getting my spouse to be who I think they should be. It’s about being open to the Holy Spirit’s moving in our lives.
  17. We cultivate the presence of God. 
    • We don’t do our “devotional” time with God as if it’s been checked off a daily list. Our personal relationship with Christ is cultivated throughout the day in prayer, time in the Word, and interaction with people.
  18. We are always looking to grow. 
    • After 19 years, we feel we’ve only just begun. And each season we hit we understand how much more we need to grow in the Lord and in love for each other. It seems the longer we are together, the easier it is to take each other for granted. So we’ve determined to keep growing and not allow contempt to foster itself.
  19. The best has YET to come.
    • This statement isn’t cliché to us; it’s the prophetic statement over our lives that we see a fuller life together because Christ leads us from glory to glory.

Happy Anniversary babe. No one loves you like I do. Here’s to the continued journey we have and MANY more lessons to learn. There’s no one I’d rather do life with.

Thank you for encouraging my effort.
Thank you for celebrating our progress.
Thank you for always feeding hope.

 

Oh yeah….Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 19 years…

A Marriage of Mistakes: 18 Lessons Learned from 18 Years of Marriage

13244726_10154193901133537_3873519301862255725_n13087035_10154132364528537_2232724637450443509_o

 

 

 

 

Today is my 18 year anniversary…(just caught something as I’m typing…Let me start over.)

Today is OUR 18 year anniversary. Outside of encountering Christ, May 23, 1998 was the greatest day of my life. But in the midst of the roughly 6,570 days of marriage, I’ve made a few mistakes. Mistakes are fine; they happen. Anne didn’t marry perfection nor did I. But the goal is, if there are mistakes, and there will be, is to try to not make them again.

So I thought what better day than our 18th anniversary to list out, for educational purposes, 18 mistakes we’ve learned from (that hopefully you will learn from too).

  1. Stop comparing with other couples. They are not you.
    • I believe that you can GLEAN ideas from another couple; just don’t think you need to duplicate who they are.  
  2. When your wife goes into labor, don’t make her wait to leave for the hospital so that you can unhook and bring your Playstation.
    • BONUS: Don’t tell her you’re bringing the Playstation because you “don’t want to be bored.”  That’s a whole other mistake.
  3. Assumption is cancerous to the unity in your home.
    • Assumption the devil’s workshop. If you’re going to assume ANYTHING, then always assume the best.
  4. Don’t sneak up on your wife purposely because you think that scaring her will be funny.
    • It’ll never be funny….never!
  5. Devaluing your wife’s idiosyncrasies devalues her personally.
    • God created each of you with idiosyncrasies none better than the other. They are a part of your personality.
  6. When your apartment is on fire, while she is grabbing the wedding photos and irreplaceable items, don’t grab the Playstation.
    • Things can be replaced. (Yes, I have issues and am getting help.)
  7. Couple’s devotions don’t work for Dave and Anne.
    • We both felt guilty for not doing them. The guilt lasted till we realized that we both have the same elements to a walk with Christ, but we do them differently and at different times. It doesn’t stop us from looking for moments to pray over each other, but we’ve felt a release of having to do everything the same in our journey of following Christ. Our steps may not look similar, but the steps will always be together.
  8. Don’t demand what your love language craves.
    • Serve first. Give first. Speak her love language first.  Let your serving lead to reciprocal giving.
  9. Refuse to try changing your spouse.
    • Pray that God would BLESS her and CHANGE you. Let the Holy Spirit do the changing and quite trying to play his role.
  10. Always offer the last of the ice cream so that, according to scripture, “it may go well with you.”
    • I may have taken that scripture a bit out of context but ‘yall know what I’m talking about.
  11. Anne doesn’t have to like sports.
    • My spouse liking what I like is not essential to a happy marriage. Our differences in leisure, hobbies, and overall personality adds to the makeup of our marriage; it doesn’t take away from it.
  12. The silent treatment might be the stupidest way to communicate anger.
    • I’m good at it. And as a professional in it I can confirm that it doesn’t work and does more damage than you desired.  
  13. I wish someone would have told me how to have a “timeout” during disagreements.
    • Instead of throwing a chair (early in our marriage), stepping away to calm down and remember what’s important would have been a far more constructive decision. My blow-ups created more casualties.
  14. Snuggling is fun for moments, not the entire night.
    • It sounds good, and I’m a physical-touch guy, but you gotta have your own space at some point. It’s the only way to get some solid sleep.
  15. If I’m after a win for “ME,” it’ll never be a win for the “WE.”
    • If the win isn’t for the marriage, it’ll never be worth the price of victory.
  16. I don’t “babysit” my kids. I don’t “watch” the kids so that my wife can go out and have a token evening with her friends.  
    • I’m their father. I spend time with them because I love them, I need time with them, AND they need time with me. Also, your wife needs some sanity away from the kids. Plan a father/kid evening in your weekly/bi-weekly schedule.
  17. Grudges rob more time than you want and consumes more of your mind than you’ll ever anticipate.
    • “Will you forgive me” and “I forgive you” may be the 7 most powerful words you and your spouse can speak. So speak them often.
  18. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help; it’s a sign of weakness to NOT ask for help.
    • Anne and I are very thankful for the men and women who have, and continue, to speak into us. We haven’t “arrived” yet.  There’s still a lot to work on

I’m capping it at 18 (having made more mistakes than this list can contain). But I love that practices what the Apostle Paul taught us,

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13.

Love ya babe!

 

Thanks for letting me ramble for the past 18 years…

30-Something Lessons My Wife Taught Me: A Birthday Blog For Anne

2015-10-9-KFirst_Fall_Shoot-3

To honor my wife, I thought I’d offer a quick lesson Anne has taught me for every year she’s been alive:

1 – It costs nothing to be kind.
2 – The sun being out makes everything better.
3 – Prayer isn’t a moment; it’s a lifestyle.
4 – Swedish Fish and popcorn make TV shows better.
5 – Don’t mess with the “Monday Schedule.”
6 – There is never any reason for tickling. It should be a federal crime outlawed in all states.
7 – Snacking is just like having a meal but is stretched out over the course of a few hours.
8 – Listening is an art.
9 – A home should be a safe-haven.
10 – A smile can melt the hardest of hearts.
11 – Encouragement can never be over-done.
12 – There’s always time for ice-cream.
13 – Dating is never optional in marriage.
14 – Weather is no excuse for not getting a run in.
15 – The door, garage, and oven must be checked on before going to bed.
16 – Pools > open bodies of water (because the fish will get you).
17 – Quality running shoes lead to healthy running.
18 – Accountability makes a world of difference.
19 – Laughter is mandatory for a happy marriage.
20 – A walk can calm the heart and clear the mind.
21 – “Do you want a taco?” is a ridiculous question of epic proportion.
22 – Football is only a game.
23 – Only approved pictures get placed on social media.
24 – Keep one ear bud out on a jog so you can hear traffic when you are running.
25 – The government/CIA/FBI is always watching. (#ParanoiaFromTooManyTVShows)
26 – There’s no excuse…anyone can be generous.
27 – Resilience is the key to perseverance.
28 – A personal pain threshold is higher than you realize.
29 – Your calling isn’t my calling; my calling isn’t yours.
30 – Comparing yourself with others sucks the joy from your life.
30-something – Did I mention ice-cream…probably, but it bears repeating: There’s always time for ice-cream.
30-something – Loving your children yet they drive you nuts is a constant tension.
30-something – It doesn’t matter who got into bed first, Dave will always be the one to get up to turn off the light.
30-something – Sleeping-in is the best.
30-something – A quiet home is better than flowers.
30-something – Everyone should feel they are valued.
30-something – Everybody has time for someone.
30-something – A meaningful connection after a service can be just as impactful (if not more) as a Sunday sermon.
30-something – If you’re too busy to laugh, you’re just too busy.

I love ya babe.  I’m privileged to say that I’ve known more years of life with you than not.  You’re the best…and pretty hot. 🙂

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…every day!!

The Pastor’s Wife: 2 Thoughts on Dealing with Loneliness

Something I heard early in ministry was “ministry is a lonely place.”

And it CAN be a lonely place, but it DOESN’T have to be that way. What I learned was that the enemy works in isolation, but God works in community.

Being a pastor’s wife isn’t always easy. Relationships and friendships can be difficult or complicated. In my first 7 years of ministry, I can say I had 1 close friend and she was only around for a few of those years. Overall, in the FIRST ½ of ministry:

I felt alone.

I could give the Sunday morning smiles, I did my “part”. But deep down:

I was guarded, I had walls up.
I was very insecure.
I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.
I didn’t know who I was in ministry.
Just tried to fit what others wanted me to be.
I was so tired of feeling alone but I felts like I was weak if I asked for help
I was tired of comparing myself to others, which was robbing the joy from my life.

It wasn’t till about 7 years into ministry (2 years into our second position), with the help of some pretty amazing ladies, I started figuring out what my role and purpose was in ministry and then being OK with me being ME.

Ladies, it’s probably safe to say: we’ve all been there. We have had those Sunday’s watching our husband bring the Word, being surrounded by a congregation, yet feeling alone. We feel like we are being jammed into a mold of what a pastor’s wife should look or act like.  Sometimes you feel all eyes are on you and you are being judged. We feel we are not the best moms…wives…preachers…leaders…

People’s expectations can be stifling. They can make us feel stranded in the middle of nowhere with no escape.  And THAT can make it hard to let your guard down, be vulnerable, and trusting. Like I said friendships can be difficult and complicated. It’s hard to find those close, real friendships

God NEVER PROMISED we wouldn’t have times of loneliness. Even Jesus experienced loneliness as everyone close to him abandoned him. I think of Genesis 32:24. It says, “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.”  When I feel alone, I feel like I’m in a wrestling match. 

I wrestle with the mold I’m told to fit into
I wrestle with the expectations of everyone
I wrestle against the pressure to have a healthy marriage and family in ministry
On top of that, I wrestle with my own emotions (am I good enough? am I doing enough?).
The list can go on…

I’m so thankful for the Word. It’s full of examples, of people like you and me.  They are people with “issues.”  And one of the great promises in scripture is a promise he gave to people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua:. He promised them: “I will never leave you or forsake you” 

PLEASE NOTE THIS: God would not offer a reminder if he knew we wouldn’t need it

I’ve have felt all those things many times and can still experience them. I haven’t mastered this thing of loneliness, but I think God has given me a great strategy: VULNERABILITY

1 – Be VULNERABLE to God. In your loneliness, draw near to God. In your inadequacies, draw near to Jesus. He didn’t place you in ministry so YOU could figure it out and work it out by yourself. He gave Joshua the promise of his presence in Joshua 5:1 because God knew Joshua would have times where he needed the reminder AND he promises us that MANY times throughout scripture because he knows we need the reminders.

2 – Be VULNERABLE to people. Take some chances. Be open to people. To be honest Dave and I have taken some chances and we have been hurt by some friends (or so-called-friends). And relational pain can make me want to put my guard right back up. But we continue to strive for healthy relationships.

Some of the things that I (or Dave and I) have done is..

    • We have a team of  intercessors that we meet with EVERY month, they have become people we trust and can say really anything to.
    • We are part of a small group (that we do not lead) which have become some of our closest friends.
    • We connect and are friends with many of the Pastor’s in our area! We love reaching our community with these amazing leaders! It’s about the Kingdom of God and not building our own little empires.
    • When we meet another ministry couple (regardless of denomination), we look for opportunities to meet up and develop relationships.
    • I look for ladies to connect with.

But it takes VULNERABILITY to do it. 

I’m not saying you need to spill your guts to everyone, but you’re going to need to make some efforts and get creative. A great pattern to even follow: 

  • Find a Paul (mentor, wiser, mature, etc). 
  • Find a Barnabas (peer, encourager). 
  • Find a Timothy (someone to pour into, find someone to disciple)

But most of all, look around you. There are pastor’s wives around you.  We are all women in ministry. We are all on a similar journey. We are joined by a common purpose. We are filled with the same Spirit.

We are here.  

And it’s going to take you stepping out and being a little vulnerable to God and others. 

Above all ladies, don’t let the enemy work in your isolation. Choose to work in community.

– Anne Barringer

Irrelevant Wives

Dave and Anne diagonal

This is a continuation of our post of two weeks ago.  If you missed it, “Ineffective Husbands” debuted with a focus on challenging husbands to be students of their wives. Click onto the link if you missed it.

Today, Anne (my wife for those who don’t know who she is) is joining me blogging today.  We figure, this thing of pursuing your spouse by asking the right questions goes both ways.  Wives need to do this as much as husbands do.

TRUTH: Taking a husband for granted produces an irrelevant wife. In fact, the word “irrelevant” means: not related, not applicable, unimportant, not connected.  Learning to ask the right questions, at the proper time, in the proper manner is an art form.  BUT it an art form that is taken for granted.  As a wife, you assume he can read minds, tones, and “hints.” When assumption sets in, the enemy plays games with your mind and produces a desire not to be close, not to be connected, and to see him/your relationship with him as unimportant.

Irrelevant.

In the Bible,  Job loses his children, his possessions, and his health. Job’s wife turns up after he’s been struck with boils. Seeing her husband calamity, she bursts out, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). We forget something: Job isn’t the only one going through this.  She is as well.  Other than the boils, she has endured the trials. Her response signifies that she and her husband are on two different wave lengths. There is a lack of closeness.  There is a breach in connection. His integrity is unimportant (and apparently his life is as well).

Irrelevant.

Wives, husbands are much simpler than you think.  When he is asked, “how is your day?” The response “fine” has no hidden meaning.  He’s not hiding anything. It was fine. It’s that simple. When you ask things like, “are you hungry?”, “do you want to have sex?”, “do you want to stay home while I go to the  mall?”, he’ll answer with a simple answer. Yes.  There, usually, isn’t a ton of hidden meaning in it.  We say this to prep you for some of their answers. It our hope that husbands will give you more than simple answers but honest answers.

Now that we made men out to be cavemen, here we go. Anne wants to give you  10 questions to ask your husband:

#1 – What’s your idea of a fun evening out on a date with me?
Be prepared for you to NOT hear: “let’s watch The Notebook.” Ladies, as Dave said in his last blog, your idea of a romantic evening may not have anything to do with sex. His may revolve around it.  Let him be creative with a date.  So many times he’ll tailor make it to please you.  Make the date about him even if it’s includes chili  dogs instead of gourmet food.

#2 – Do you feel admired and respected?
Jesus reminds us what was written in Genesis. Mark 10:8, says “and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one” When he isn’t edified and respected by the person he became one with, something is missing. He could be the CEO of a company and hold the respect and admonition of every worker.  But if he doesn’t have yours, he’ll feel incomplete.  Don’t wait for him to “earn” it.  Lavish him with it. Where emotional affairs begin with men is when the role of respect and admonition are being filled by someone else other than you.

#3 – How can I flirt with you? or What’s attractive to you?
Guy’s by nature are hunter and pursuers. I’ll give you a hint about men: they LOVE to be pursued.  They want to be flirted with.  Find out what catches his eye. Is it a slap on the butt? A subtle wink across the room? Is it words of kindness instead of criticism? What catches his eye and conveys to him that he’s at the center of your desire? Just ask. Just like what was written to the men.  What attracts you may not work on him. Also, don’t assume he’s going to say “lingerie attracts me” (or the lack thereof).  You might be surprised at his answers.

#4 – In what ways can I be a better helpmate?
Genesis 2:18. This is a tough question that will take some humility and vulnerability.  From you, it’ll take having big shoulders to take. The answers, if they’re open and honest, might not be easy to hear.  But it’s necessary.  In Genesis, Eve was given as a helpmate.  Not a servant or slave.  But someone to come along side of Adam to serve with him.

#5 – How can I encourage you?
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up…” Guys thrive on encouragement. Think of when they were boys, they would show off their accomplishments. Maybe it was a trophy, an award, a varsity jacket, or some certificate on the wall.  Boys are always wanting people to know what they have accomplished.  Why? It’s the “atta boy” that follows (for those of you with sons, you know what Dave and I are talking about). As adults, it’s not necessarily “atta boy” statements to feed some ego.  It’s authentic encouragement to edify them as a companion, provider, lover, and defender.

#6 – When do you feel the most valued/loved?
This has a flavor of #5 in it.  Where there is a difference is some men feel valued by different actions.  Some men feel valued by words.  Some feel valued by actions.  Some by gifts…now we’re getting back into the love languages.  Your husband may need a minute to think about it.  But, there’s a good chance if you asked him, “when don’t you feel valued,” you may get a quicker answer.

#7 – What makes you laugh?
Be prepared.  The dumbest movie, in your opinion, may get mentioned.  But be careful.  If you demean everything that he enjoys, you will demean him.  It will come off  as if you have a superiority complex and hold maturity he will never have. Find out what brings a smile to his face.

#8 – Do I make you want to come home?
Is your home a safe atmosphere for him to come home to?  I had a friend tell me a few years ago, when he came back from a business trip, his wife said, “It was kinda nice to have you away.” What issue exists that a spouse wants you out of the house for a few days?  What issues exist that make him NOT want to rush home.  This question will make you do some self-evaluation.  Is the atmosphere of the home a place that welcomes him? Is they way he’s received give him reason to start new projects and, thus, work later? Send him emails, texts, etc. that have tones of flirtation, love, and admonition.  Make your home safe and a place of healing

#9 – How can I be your armor bearer?
1 Samuel 14
 speaks of two people going into battle.  It was Jonathan and his armor bearer.  When Jonathan asked if the armor bearer was willing to follow him into battle. The reply is outstanding. “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”  Does your husband feel that, whatever the Lord has spoken to him, you are with him “heart and soul?” This question answers the question: Do you allow your husband to take the lead?  The armor bearer went into a precarious situation.  But he let Jonathan lead.

#10 – How can I pray for you?
Wives are great prayer warriors. You may be praying over him.  BUT does he know that.  Have you told him?  Have you every sent him a text right after you prayed for him? Have you asked him about work situations that need prayer?  Let him be reminded that you are standing in prayer with him every day. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying.”

I hope every wife feels challenged to pursue their husband.  Don’t be in irrelevant wife.  Bring back the closeness.  Bring back connection. Make sure he knows he’s important to you.

Thanks babe (Anne) for sharing and working with me on this blog!

Till next week…

Thanks for letting US ramble….