The green-eyed marriage: is your marriage monster-proof?

Maybe it’s because we’re still newlyweds (coming up on eight months now) or maybe we’re just really insecure, but our marriage seems to be the perfect dwelling place for that ugly little creature called the green-eyed monster (GEM).

“Who are you talking to?”

“Why are you looking at her Facebook profile?”

“Can we walk down this street instead of that one? There are too many good looking people over there.”

The insatiable desire to be THE ONE AND ONLY

As a single person, I used to have a particular fantasy about my future spouse. He would be on stage performing or preaching with a million beautiful women in the crowd dying to get his attention. These ladies would be some of the most beautiful women on the planet, and in comparison I would feel quite… less than. Suddenly, the man on stage would peer out into the audience and say, “You. I want you.” Like most women, I would look around and prepare myself to envy the lucky lady he referred to and maybe even trip her as she approached the stage, but then the crowds would part and it would become obviously apparent that he was speaking to yours truly.

Again, he would say to me, “You. You’re the one I want.”

I would have to be an idiot to not see how much of a catch Ray is. He has the cutest dimples, boyish charm, and he’s one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He truly is the epitome of the guy I envisioned on stage. Even though he’s married, especially now that he’s married and people see what a wonderful husband he is, there are some women (I use other terms for them when it’s just Ray and I) that will flirt with him and try to get his attention.

Just last week a young girl that works at the shop by our house told my husband that if she cooked for him, he would never want to eat my food again. It took the almighty right hand of the dear, sweet Lord Jesus Christ to keep me from going downstairs and punching her in the esophagus when Ray told me what she said. Fortunately, Ray handled it by taking me with him to the shop and introducing me as his “lovely” wife and excessively commenting on my beauty. I could’ve kissed him right there, I was so pleased by the way he handled it, but I didn’t want to rub it in. The fact that I didn’t severely injure her was kindness enough.

That was an obvious example of how GEM typically surfaces in my heart, but I’ve found that he enjoys pushing my buttons when it comes to small things as well. When Ray scrolls through Instagram photos, I make him unfollow any girls that have that “come hither” look. When he’s chatting with friends or clients on Facebook, I read through the messages just to make sure he’s not flirting (he never is, but I still do it anyway). When he’s on the phone laughing, I come running from the other room to try and ascertain if it’s a male or female voice. I’d like to say that it matters if it’s male or female, but it doesn’t. Sometimes he can be talking to his best friend, and I can’t wait for him to hang up so I can have him to myself.

A quick bit of perspective from Ray’s end so you don’t think the monster is me in disguise

When my wife first came up with the idea for this blog, I was like, “Really? Jealousy? I’m not jealous of anything.” But I have come to realize that this has been, and to some extent still is, something I personally fight with. Early in our marriage (I know we are still in the early stages, but you know what I mean) I didn’t like it when my wife laughed at other guys’ jokes or when she shifted her attention from me to any other person, especially a guy, irrespective of age, profession, or even if they were family. Sometimes I would get mad at her when she constantly giggled while looking at the screen of her other ‘baby’ (her iPhone) at odd hours of the night, forgetting that in Kansas it was daytime.

One area where we can never be like God

At first we used to justify the presence of the GEM in our marriage by saying stuff like, “If we’re not jealous, it shows we don’t care”. There is an element of truth to that. I’d hate it if I was crossing the boundaries of flirtation and it didn’t bother my husband at all. Disinterest to that extent can be dangerous! Just as God is jealous for the affection of Israel, His betrothed, there should be an intense desire for the affection our spouses.

But we have to remember that we’re not God.

Jealousy is such a tricky emotion because when it is borne out of a heart that is in constant need of spiritual renewal, it can become the puppet to insecurity, control, anger, and all those other nasty things that lurk in our hearts waiting for a reason to be lured out of their dark hiding places. I think that’s why we’re told in the Bible to avoid jealousy and envy and all manifestations of selfish ambition. Our weak, feeble hearts just don’t know how to handle it. It’s like a chainsaw. In the hands of someone who knows how to use it, the largest trees can be conquered, but put it in the hands of someone who doesn’t, and that will be the last day you see them with all of their extremities intact.

The best way we know to handle this is to present our hearts and all that’s in them to God on a daily basis and to repent to each other and to God when things get out of hand, but we’d like to end this blog by opening the discussion up to you guys to see what else we can do to supplement that.

Do you experience jealousy in your marriage? How do you handle it?

Looking forward to hearing your comments and ideas!

A special word from the mentor we often quote

Throughout the short life of this blog (5 months now, including our Weebly genesis), we have shared various tidbits of wisdom about intercultural marriage from a mentor who thus far has gone unnamed. Today we’ve asked that mentor, Pastor Anthony Odhiambo, to share a few words of encouragement for our readers. This topic is one he’s drilled into our heads many times, and it has become pivotal not only in helping us communicate as a couple, but also for the purposes of hashing out our future endeavors. We hope you’re just as blessed by what he shares as we have been.

The importance of goals in a family
As two individuals come to the agreement of sharing their lives together, the last thing on their mind is goal setting. Instead, the majority of couples will tell you how much they love each other and what they imagine marriage will be like, and they truly expect their lives to turn out that way. At this point you can clearly see that these individuals may be living in a fantasyland, because love is a choice. If they expect their lives to be that way, they better have a plan to keep it that way. You can only expect what you inspect.

A time will inevitably come when the lady who once was sweet and charming becomes a nuisance, keeping you from living a life of freedom. On the other hand, the man whom you couldn’t wait to spend all your time with has become a road block to your destiny, causing you to figure out ways to fulfill your destiny without him. This is but one of the challenges that occurs when a man and a woman determine to share their lives together.

Proverbs 29:18 states that “where there is no vision (divine revelation), the people run wild/perish/are exposed. But happy are those who follow God’s teachings.” From this verse we discover that there is a teaching which, if followed, will bring happiness and blessing to our lives and keep our marriages from destruction. So before people decide that they want to get married, the first thing they ought to do is sit down and come up with goals for their marriage—both long term and short term. These goals are simply guidelines that direct you to your destiny as a family. They give you a purpose to work towards in unity and love. These goals are not just one’s desire imposed on another, neither are they one’s dream imposed on another to fulfill, but they are the desires of both the man and the woman who have decided to share their lives together.

These goals should be:

Realistic
Most people set goals that are not achievable. When they do so, they claim that they believe God will help them achieve it. The fact that we are spiritual beings does not mean that we don’t have brains. We have freewill to choose what we want, and God respects that, but you don’t have to tempt the Lord or invite unnecessary stress and worry into your life. So for the success of your marriage, take time to plan for it. The best house is the one that has a proper plan with properly laid out foundations. Likewise, a good family is one that has principles that are well understood and have been developed and nurtured along the way.

Clearly Understood
Always make your goals simple. I have talked to some people who have goals that are all over the place. They begin at one point then pause it, and then they begin the second point and pause it as well. Very soon these individuals will be burying their heads in the sand in their search for direction. Simply be directional in your goals. Let your family have a clear purpose to live for. And be sure that your family isn’t competing with other families, but that they understand what their goal is.

Un-burdensome
Never make the mistake of picking a goal that you never mean to fully accomplish. Have you ever applied for a job you didn’t really like? How did you feel waking up in the morning getting ready to go to work as opposed to how you felt when it was time to go back home? If you have a job that you are more excited to get back home from than you are excited to attend, then you are in the wrong place, and your attitude will be terribly affected. In the same way, you don’t want to be in a marriage that you dread to come home to that turns spending time with your spouse into a box to be checked off your list. Please understand that spending time with your spouse shouldn’t be something we dread, but something you love to do. Your goals shouldn’t keep you from spending time with each other, nor should they create an environment of selfishness. Any goal one is planning to achieve should be thoroughly talked over with the spouse and given their full support. Remember these goals are to make you work together effectively and draw you closer to each other having a common vision/purpose and not to cause a strain. It is the unity in the relationship that brings strength. At times there could be no desire in performing the required goal, but as long as there is support and unity both will be able to achieve it.

Very specific
Always, always be very specific with your goals. There are couples who are not very specific about the amount they want to spend on a vehicle or the model of the vehicle they are looking for. As a result, they may end up with a good vehicle with a high payment or a cheap vehicle with a lot of problems. That is why they should both do their assignment of educating themselves on different kind of vehicles, their mileage, the availability of parts, etc. After you have done your assignment, then you can make a concrete decision based on knowledge and desires together.

These goals will help give you a purpose in life. I can guarantee you that those who don’t have goals will end up having a marriage that is very shaky and without peace. After coming up with the goals, make sure that you write them down. Habakkuk 2:2 tells us to “write the vision down and make it clear” so that whoever sees it may run with it. So many people have their goals in their head and most of the time, they forget about it and even begin to wonder why on earth their marriage isn’t helping them accomplish those goals. The moment you write your goals down and place them in places where you can see them, they give you a sense of direction, and as you begin to accomplish the short term goals, you begin to have security and fulfillment in your marriage. You begin to see the purpose you both were meant for unfolding before your eyes.

I would like to encourage you to make necessary adjustments to see your marriage fulfill its purpose before your eyes. For those who have not set up goals, it’s never too late to begin. You can get together and have a plan. I hope this will help some of you. Stay blessed and I wish you the best.

Pastor Anthony

How S’ambrosia is getting her groove back

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Just so you know, today’s topic won’t be incredibly novel to most of you, especially if you’re a married Christian woman. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve discussed this issue with your friends or read about it within the past few weeks. A friend of mine even added her perspective to the mix just last week (check it out).

As was typical of me, prior to actually being married, I believed that this could never happen to me.

But alas and alack, it did.

Now, I’m not saying folk music is the devil, but…

I should have known something was up when it came time for us to move and I had to reduce the amount of songs I had on my dad’s computer to fit into my flash drive. The anxiety-ridden task of choosing which songs to delete and which ones to keep was one I had to perform in a small amount of time, so rash decisions were made and inevitably, regret ensued.

My music library contained a combination of worship songs – like the intense kind of worship that makes you want to weep until assuming the fetal position or rocking back and forth incessantly is the only source of comfort you can find – and some rad folk music. I had just recorded an album and was looking to create more music that could hang with current trends, so I figured that listening to some popular stuff would help me make that happen; therefore, I ended up deleting most of the worship songs to make room for the folk songs. So ultimately I came to Kenya with very few worship songs in tow. Apparently I had completely forgotten how big of a role worship music plays in my devotional life.

Jesus is Lord over iTunes too

Whenever I’m doing chores around the house, it’s a given that music will be playing. Now that we have WiFi in the house, my iPhone has revoked its paperweight status and become a useful smartphone again… around the house at least. (It’s difficult to access WiFi elsewhere.) Anyway, because of the wonderful iCloud feature, any song that I’ve ever bought on iTunes is automatically available to stream on my iPhone, even if I deleted it in a temporary lapse of judgment.

As I was washing dishes the other day, a bunch of those intense worship songs that I thought I had lost forever began to play successively at the behest of the shuffle button on my phone, and as each song played, my face got uglier and uglier as I struggled to sing the lyrics through my tears. Songs about an intimate covenant with God played, reminding me of a time when I could hear such words and not feel like they were a foreign language. Songs of joy regarding the freedom we experience when the rivers of God rush into the lowest place came up next, opening my eyes to the drought my soul has been experiencing.

That night I could do nothing but whisper to God, “I miss You.” And there I was, back in the fetal position again.

Oh Lord, I don’t want to be one in this number when the saints go marching in

If you haven’t guessed it yet, I have fallen into the category of women who feel like marriage has cause their relationship with God to decline. Okay, maybe caused is strong verbiage, but I can at least say that marriage sometimes pits itself against God when it comes to my daily priorities and decision making abilities.

Now, like any other woman who’s talked about this issue, I’m not blaming my husband. As I’ve mentioned before, he does a great job of keeping us on track with our Bible discussions as a couple, which is key to our growth in God, but that does not take the place of my one-on-one time with the Lord. I mean, as much as we are one flesh, I still have to stand before God one day and give account of my actions as an individual. He still expects us to search Him out and to seek to commune with Him on a daily basis, regardless of what our marital status may be.

Ray is gone for most of the day, so I have plenty of time to saturate myself in the goodness of God.  What have I been doing instead, you wonder? Well, first thing in the morning, I pull out my iPhone. Then I get on the laptop and start working on transcriptions or writing. Transcriptions usually take hours to complete, sometimes even a full day, so before I know it, it’s late and  I have to hurry and clean the house before Ray gets home so I can pretend like I’m a responsible wife. We have Bible study before bed, and sometimes I get some cool revelation and sometimes I don’t, but it depends on my attitude and how open I am to receive it. There are days where I yawn through the whole thing and I just want to get back on the laptop. Honestly, the longer I spend neglecting my personal devotional time with the Lord, the more frequently those kinds of days occur.

Remembering the good ‘ole days

The height of intimacy in my relationship with God was definitely my college years. It was my joy to spend hours in worship exploring new ways to encounter the beauty of Christ or to read the Bible and get crazy revelations to journal or share with friends. In those moments my heart felt like it was thriving in the fullness of Christ. Even writing this now, my heart feels so crusty and cold in comparison. There was a time I could feel the weight of God’s presence when I would worship. Does being married mean I have to say goodbye to that? I should hope not.

My friends used to tell me about how marriage and family affect their devotional life with God, and I would think, “Well, duh, you have to make time.” It always seemed like such an easy fix to me when I was single. Now that I’m married, I can’t concede and say that they were right and it’s difficult; I just have to step in front of them so I’m the first one in line to receive the finger wagging from other single ladies.

I’m not as busy as I tend to proclaim I am. Yes, I have a lot of responsibilities between work and taking care of my husband and home, but those things don’t keep me busy every second of the day. When I wake up in the morning I can spend time with God, I just don’t feel like it. When I get online and hours go by with me just reading random schtuff that has no significant bearing on my life, I could be spending that time with God. When I refuse to stop playing Candy Crush until I’ve used all of the lives alloted to me, I could be spending that time chatting it up with God. Sometimes I even just lie in bed and do nothing. I could at least be living in an awareness of God’s nearness to me.

My contribution to the conversation

As I’ve been typing this blog, I quickly realized that I didn’t actually have a point. I even ended my first draft by typing, “I don’t know how to end this… is there an answer or am I just venting?” I had to walk away from the computer for a while to get what seems like too simple of a response from the Lord. It came in the form of a Scripture:

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

All of those excuses we give for why we can neglect our time with the Lord seem valid at the time, or at least we can talk ourselves into believing that they’re valid, but what would happen if instead of choosing a nap, I chose to renew my strength by meeting with Christ in our secret place? Or what if I woke up in the morning and turned to gaze upon the fairest of ten thousand instead of turning on the television? I know we like to use television as a way to unwind or defragment, if you will, but I want to learn to defragment by pressing into Jesus.

Learning to implement these desires in this phase of my life has been and will be a challenge, but I’m tired of telling God how much I miss Him before I go on about my business and my plans for the day. It’s definitely about time this girl got her groove back.