What does it take for a marriage to work? Besides love, patience and effort, one of the most important ingredients to make a marriage work is time. It is important to take time.
As a couple we need to spend quality time together: going for a walk, having a candlelit dinner, visiting places, spending time alone with each other and being romantic. True, it isn't always easy to do because our schedules are already filled with working hours, chores, fitness, hobbies and more. But it is important that we will take the time to build and nurture our marriage. Keep the marital bond healthy.
Divorce never happens over night. There must have been issues with the marriage before. Maybe they had been ignored again and again? Perhaps the couple has not taken the time to probe the causes of the problems? Unresolved issues and arguments are dangers that can sneak into any marriage. Beware of them. Be on your guard! So, another important ingredient to make a marriage work is communication. It is important to make the time to listen and to talk.
The best anchor of a working marriage is, of course, the LORD Jesus. We might face some similar issues and hardships in our married life than non-believers do. However, having Jesus at the helm of our marriage-boat will make things so much more worth it.
I have ordered a few books on marriage over the last two weeks. There will be some book reviews coming up shortly. Stay tuned for there will be some book reviews coming up in the near future.
When taking advice from other homemakers we have to discern between principles and methods.
The following is not an exhaustive but a list of some of the principles for homemaking:
The methods of fulfilling the principles of homemaking may vary from homemaker to homemaker. While one woman accomplishes her tasks in a total different way than another woman would do them, she still fulfills her duty by doing what is required of her.
One homemaker cleans her house from front to back every day. Another cleans the family home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The first one could do so because she has little children and two dogs at home. The other could do so because her children are grown ups and moved out already. Principle: keep the home clean. Method: depending on the individual family.
One homemaker cooks pasta with sauce and vegetables every weekday. Another brings fancy meals to the table each day of the week. The first one could do so because she has only a small family budget available. The other could do so because money is not an issue in her home. Principle: feed the family. Method: depending on the individual family.
One homemaker's eighty-year-old mother-in-law has fallen ill and is in need of special care so she is living with the family now. The homemaker lets her children watch a DVD after they have finished homework together. Another takes her children to the park or to a movie twice a week after their homework is done. Principle: look after your children. Method: depending on the individual family.
These are general examples. Using your own life experience, I'm sure you can think of more. It's so easy to impose one or the other of our methods on other women. But they may not have the tools, the upbringing or the financial resources that we have. I've caught myself judging other women for doing some things another way... Later on I've read a book by Nancy Wilson called The Fruit Of Her Hands in which she explains the difference between principles and methods quite well.
In giving advice to others let us remember that just because a method of doing something seems best for us and our family doesn't mean that another woman and her family have to use the exact same method. We need to be gentle and understanding when teaching younger women. We have to avoid the trap of calling a method a principle. Let them find their best way of accomplishing tasks at home.
It takes time to cook a meal from scratch.
It's great when we can skip cooking now and then, isn't it? Maybe we are invited by friends or family, or we'll pick up fast food, or we'll go out to eat in a restaurant. One great advantage of eating at a restaurant is that we don't have to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen afterwards.
To ease some of our workload at home, we could also buy food that has been prepared. Yes, it helps to start off with ingredients that have been washed, cut and precooked. It will save some time compared to having to prepare it all at home. Today I want to draw your attention to processed food, though.
Buying processed food is convenient, yes, but in the end we will have to ask ourselves: Is it really worth it? What do we gain out of this? We surely are paying for already prepared food, prepacked food does cost more. (BTW, from the youngest to the oldest, children should be involved in rinsing, cutting and cooking ingredients. They usually love to help and it is quality time we should spend together.) Sad thing is, that much of the processed food can actually be cheaper - or at least it seems to be - than fresh, healthy, organic and unrefined ingredients.
What's In It?
When we are cooking a meal from scratch, we will know exactly what's in it. Just take the time to read labels of processed food and you'll find out that there are many "ingredients" in them that can cause quite a bit of health problems. Generally speaking, these food items are artificial-laden by added colors, flavor enhancers, sweeteners and preservatives. Not only that, many of them are refined products that have been robbed of their natural and healthy ingredients.
A few years ago I came across a book by Rex Russell called What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. I highly recommend it. I will do a book review in the near future.
Homemade Meals Taste Better
Yes, it does take more time to cook meals from scratch. On the other side, that way you will know exactly what's in them, you can adjust them according to your family's taste and you will rest assure that your family is eating better and healthier than many others who are left to eat processed or fast food.
Memories Of Mom's Food
I've been invited to a lovely German dinner last week. It has been such a treat and brought back a lot of memories. On stepping into the kitchen, my nose immediately picked up many familiar smells (I love the smell of Sauerkraut cooking in a pot) which triggered some childhood memories. While taking the first bite of the dessert called Käsekuchen (German Cheesecake) I had to hold my tears back. That cheesecake tasted so, so good - just like my mom used to make it (she died in 2011).
My point is, that shared meals in the family home are something very special, a treasure of memories to keep. Cooking a meal for your family, seasoned with love and precious time you are putting into it, is a priceless legacy you will leave behind for your children and children's children.
Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house. (Proverbs 24:27 NKJV)
The Reformation Heritage Study Bible comments on this verse that we will need to focus on supporting our lives before seeking comforts and pleasures. Meaning, we shouldn't be spending more than what we can afford to live on. We need to secure that money is coming in, before we consider building and/or buying a home. One step at a time: prepare and plan ahead (make it fit for yourself), then build your house.
Think of it, if you are having guests over for dinner, you would not just jump into cooking it 30 minutes before they arrive, would you? Instead, you would be planning and preparing ahead of time. You would plan the meal, think of what you will need, make a shopping list of the ingredients, and go to the store to buy them. Then, back home, you would prepare and cook the food. All of this ideally happens in good timing so that when the guests arrive everything is well taken care of. But not only that, you would also consider if you have enough money to buy the ingredients to cook this meal. Could you afford it?
No different, if you were to plan and prepare your home for your future family. You wouldn't go out to buy things for the baby 30 minutes before giving birth to your child, would you? Instead, you would plan and prepare the home - including the child's room before taking the newborn home from the hospital. But not only that, if you didn't want to go into debt, you would consider beforehand what pieces of furniture and layette you could afford to buy.
The way we differentiate between our wants and our needs will affect the way we are using our finances. It's a shame that in today's world most of the financial advice focuses on how to "pay off debt" instead of how to "stay out of debt." The main focus of advertisements is never on the essentials. They are out for the money. So they will give their best shot to ignite a craving in you for more things - even if you couldn't afford to buy them. You want more? They'll offer you to "buy" things on credit. And, if you are already deep in debt, they'll fool you into taking a credit to "pay off" your debt. What they will not tell you is that you will make your self more and more dependent on creditors.
Live Within Your Means
One of the most important things to learn when handling finances is: spend less money than what comes in each month. Easier said than done? Not really. It just takes a good dose of self-control and persistence. Start by keeping a family account book.
Having said all this, it is important for us to remember that:
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1 NKJV)
We can plan and prepare all we want to, if the LORD is not the foundation we build upon. we will eventually labor in vain. Sooner or later our family home will begin to crumble - because we've built it on sand.
Link/Tip: I have come across Larry Burkett's books a long time ago. Even though I slightly disagree with a few things he has taught, I have found his books to be the best on this topic so far. Crown Ministries was founded by Larry Burkett. Check out their website. They have many free downloadable resources and also offer a few courses there.
Slow cookers are great kitchen tools. They come in various shapes and sizes. I own a small, round one that has a capacity of 1.5 liters. I also have two oval-shaped ones: one is a 3.5 and the other is a 4.7 liter one. Yes, baking and cooking will happen much slower, hence the name slow cooker. But even if it does take longer for the food to get done, they are still great for saving on energy while cooking. Their consumption is really low. My smallest one runs on 120W, the medium one on 200W, and the larger one uses only 270W per hour. Compared to preparing a roast in the oven within 4 hours, my medium-sized slow cooker would still only use 1600W for cooking it within 8 hours.
True, slow cookers aren't everybody's cup of tea. However, if you haven't done so, why not give it a try? Maybe you could find one on sale, for half the price, or really cheap at an online store? Or else, you could ask your friend if she would lend you hers for a little while?
Stay tuned. I will post more ideas and recipes in the near future.
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor 11:3 NKJV)
Let's look at some of the facts about man, as found in Genesis 1 and 2:
Headship was established in the Garden of Eden. It is not a result of the Fall. However, due to sin, men now "naturally" struggle to lead while women struggle to submit.
Adam was to start his own household and to be the head of his wife. Nowadays, men could lead their wives in love and in wisdom, while women could humbly and in meekness follow their husbands' guidance. But, you see, that day, when Eve took of the forbidden fruit, she decided to go her own way. And Adam listened to her and followed her lead instead of obeying God's command.
Now, because of our fallen nature, leading and submitting have turned into something unpleasant, something we want to deny and escape. Men either do not want to rule their own households, or, if they do, they do so in a more or less selfish and abusive way. Women, on the other side, do not want to be told what to do and often take over the lead to rule over their husbands.
If she submits, will she not admit that she is worth less (than her husband)?
Think of different roles: Whenever men of different ranks are sent to war, are the lives of the men with the lowest rank worth less than the ones who have achieved higher ranks? Of course not!
Think of different ages: Is a twenty-year-old mother of less value than the one who is in her forties? Of course not!
Think of different sexes: Is a 4-year-old girl worthless compared to a 4-year-old boy? Of course not!
We, the women, have not been made to be trampled upon by men, nor have we been made to rule over them.
I love what Matthew Henry says in his commentary:
That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.
Two men had been asked to do something. One said he wouldn't do it but later on he did, the other said he would do it but in the end he didn't. Who would you rather be married to?
You look at Angela's husband and wonder: How could she stay married to him all these years? He is an unbeliever. Ever since she has come to Christ, he is giving her a hard time. Of course she loves him! Maybe not like on the first day of marriage... but she surely cares for him. It hurts her to see him in this stage, neglecting his spiritual health. She wants to help him, teach him, talk to him about her belief in God's Word - and she would love to do that all day long. However, the more she talks the more hostile he seems to become toward what he calls a senseless faith.
Now Violet's husband, he is a total different man! Straight away you will notice that he is very good in explaining Bible passages and teaching the the things of God. They are always in church on Sundays and throughout the week they participate in various studies and gatherings at the church. John had been called to faith first, then Violet followed.
"That sounds wonderful. Good for them," you say, "But you don't understand. I can identify more with Angela than with Violet. My husband is an unbeliever."
Been there! So let me point out, please, that the last thing you want to live with is a false convert. You don't want your husband to live the Christian life only to find out later on that he really never cared for it after all. True, it would make things much easier on you and the children and life could be so great in church, too. Yes, but only as long as he is playing his role well. But what if some hardships come along? What if some of his buddies convince him that there is "more" out there than being a Christian? What if he will meet "the love of his life" and leave? Or, what if he will get fed up pretending to be someone he really isn't? Even if he would continue on, eventually you will stumble across his false doctrines and he might defend them furiously. Then what? Will you be able to stand firm for Christ? Honestly?
I reasoned with my uncle once: "But why did you just lie to her?" My aunt had asked him if he had taken his medication, to which he replied, "Yes, of course I did!" His reason for lying? "Now she is all happy and will leave me alone." He explained that otherwise she will keep on bugging him all day long and he doesn't want her to do that. He just wants (his) peace.
Yes, I understand: You long for your husband to come to Christ. However, you want him to become a true believer, right, not one that will play his role to please you or so that you will no longer bother him about this?
If you turn to Matthew 21:28-31 you will find the Parable of the Two Sons where it says:
"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second son and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" ... (NKJV)
Yes, being married to an unbelieving husband can be very hard. Remember, though, that nothing is impossible with God: neither for you to continue living with your husband (as long as he doesn't want to leave) nor that your husband will turn and call out to Jesus for salvation.
Wait. Pray. Trust in God's perfect plan and timing!