Wednesday, February 4, 2015

His Wedding Ring . . . and A Handful of Gleanings That Just Might Jumpstart Your Marriage

He didn't wear his wedding ring for maybe three decades.

He repaired computers for a living.  Was frequently tinkering with something under the car, hoping to get a few thousand more miles out of it.  Or creating some widget or gift or project with one kind of power tool or another down in the workshop.

He didn't want to lose a finger.  And ... it just was plain uncomfortable for him to wear.  

At first I hinted and pouted and wheedled, trying without even a hit of success to get that band of gold back on his finger.  I even offered {more than once} to buy my non-jewelry wearing man a chain so he could tote my wedding gift around his neck.  What was I thinking?  That was so not going to happen.

I gradually became ok with it. There was not a shred of doubt in my mind that he was anything but faithful and committed to our vows.  And his steady servant heart demonstrated his deep love to me and the girls in ways that were practical and substantial.  I let it go. There were more pressing scenarios in life than a missing symbol on his left hand.

It became a non-issue.

Fast forward to two Christmases ago. Surrounded by the enthusiastic noisy gang and their parents, I pulled a small black box from the worn toe of my old red felt stocking. As soon as my hands wrapped around its four rounded corners, I knew.

It was his ring.

Just waiting to be placed by this aging bride's still eager hands on her groom's bare awaiting finger.  The fourth one. On his left hand.   

We'll celebrate our 39th anniversary in April.  We were just babies when we met and married.  Really.  And I have grown to love, appreciate, and depend on my man with a strongly intense depth of warmth and passion that I never dreamed possible.

Life happens ... and it's sometimes real hard and hurts real deep.  Along the way we've both learned some major lessons and have grown to know how to love each other well.  By God's endless grace, we've walked through more than a few crises.  And have celebrated more than our fair share of joys. 

And I know that there are more of both to come.

I've learned much through the dailyness, the laughter, the woundedness, the glories, the hurt.  The silence, the prayers, the craziness, the frustration, the sheer delight.  Through tears poured out like rivers ... and beautiful dreams that have come true. 

And if all that wasn't enough, I've uncovered untold lessons from thousands of hours listening to brokenhearted women and men in the counseling office. 

Here's just a few gleanings that I've gathered along the way.  Some of the truths below have been hard won.  And some are no-brainers.


1.  Your spouse doesn't have a crystal ball.
For years I figured that my husband should just instinctively KNOW my deepest desires and all my hopes and dreams.  Truth is, he didn't have a clue.  Along the way, I discovered that the love of my life was not a mind reader, and if I wanted him to know all about me, I was going to have to speak what was true, in ways that were respectful. 

And do so during times of peace, not when my hair was standing on end.  {The best go-to-manual on doing this well is Ephesians 4:29-32.}

2.  Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
Some spouses are so busy fighting for their rights, fighting to be heard, fighting to win the next argument, or fighting to come out on top that they don't realize that all these futile debates do is produce a lose/lose outcome.  No one emerges as a winner ... and the children end up as the biggest losers of all. 

Choose your battles wisely.  Is this worth going to the mat for?  Probably not.

3.  You are not the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that the Spirit does so beautifully is convict {John 16:8-10}.  If we are endlessly haranguing our spouse about diet, smoking, finances, in-laws, health, leadership, parenting, church attendance, ad nauseam, we are treading on ground that's not ours to tread on. 

Learn the art of speaking the truth, in love, with respect.  After bringing up the topic about three times, drop it.  Allow natural consequences to kick in.  And use the energy that you were burning up to converse with God about what's bugging you.  And watch His power kick into gear. 

If you need some guidance on doing this well, don't hesitate to talk with a wise pastor or a well-trained counselor.  {Please do not talk about your challenges with family or friends who will get pulled into taking sides in your drama.}

4.  Don't entertain at your spouse's expense.
Few things are more embarrassing than seeing one spouse constantly correcting the other or making tasteless remarks and insensitive stupid jokes at the other's expense.  The emotionally abused spouse feels like two cents.  This craving to be in the spotlight only reflects the big mouth's own neediness and lack of self-esteem, and they end up looking petty and small themselves.  If this is you, please clam up.

5.  Your spouse will never meet all your needs.
Let each other off the hook on this one.  Does he get catatonic at the thought of an all-day shopping marathon?  Do her eyes glaze over at the prospect of watching back to back to back games on TV?  There are some needs that can only be met by a same-sex friend or other family members.  Or the rewards that creative work or an interesting hobby can offer. 

But ultimately, only the Lover of ours soul is ready, willing, and able to meet the deepest, gaping needs that remain unfulfilled in the deepest parts of who we are.

6.  Men desperately need respect. Women deeply crave love.
This huge discovery {and the biggest marriage post around here ever} was born out of years of counseling couples.  If I had only known what Ephesians 5:33 was all about earlier, I might have saved us all alot of time and effort.

7.  Your true colors show up during crisis.
The honeymoon is oh so sweet.  But your true colors will most likely begin to show up as you have children.  Or are unable to.  During any kind of trauma or loss.  Or as you age.  Just ask the spouse who pushes a wheelchair.  Applies medication to their life partner's gaping pressure sores.  Cleans out a clogged trach tube.  Or changes their messy Depends. 

Faithfully.  Day in and day out.

8.   Stop keeping a list of every wrong every committed.
The endless litany gets old after awhile.  Free yourself up to love well.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive. Like Christ did for us {Colossians 3:13}.


Two questions for your own private contemplation ...

What's it like being married to you?
This question hits home and can put a halt to endlessly highlighting our partner's faults and idiosyncrasies.  Looking in our own mirror is biblical.  It stops the finger-pointing and turns the spotlight on to our own sinful ways of relating that need attention {Psalm 139:22-23}.

>  Is the fruit of the Spirit seen by how you relate to your spouse?
Read Galatians 5:22-23.  Often.  Insert your name before each characteristic. {Linda is loving. Linda is joyful. Linda is peaceful. Etc.} Chances are you won't get too far before you realize that there are some heart issues that you need to take ownership of.  Quickly.


launching our 8th year together here
have you subscribed yet?
giveaways to come!
sharing the celebration with Beth  .  Mary  .  Holley


  1. Such good wisdom, Linda. Our church is actually hosting a day and 1/2 conference on the Love and Respect book. We will be traveling so will miss, but I was so encouraged to see them providing this resource and super encouraged by the all the couples who have shared that they are going.

    #4 was one of my favorites . . . so glad you included this because I witness this happening too often. And I know I've been guilty of it in the past too. So glad God convicted me in this area and for the changes made.

    Love you much.

    1. I've seen a few marriages do a complete 180 in a matter of weeks when couples began to live out Love & Respect. I'd love to hear from readers who know of the book!

      And yes, #4 ... I don't know any couple who hasn't been there, done that. But when it's an ongoing occurance, it's demoralizing and obnxious. And embarassing for those who happen to be in the vacinity.

      Thanks for weighing in, Beth. Your thoughtful words always have great meaning!

      Blessings, friend ...

  2. What's it like being married to me? A constant adventure. LOL I am the extrovert. I make her laugh, get out of her shell, enjoy life, but also give her space (as she also gives me). We have done this gig for 42 this June and while some things have definitely changed, my love for Jo and her love for me has grown deeper. I'd say I would do this for another 42 know. At 62 I'm not too sure that is going to happen. :) Oh...check out Kahlo. Someone put me onto them. When I work out I have to take my ring off and tie it to my shoe. Congrats Linda. Also thanks for some good wisdom.

    1. The ring tied on your shoe as you work out, huh? And your shoe hasn't somehow untied {like mine always does when I walk hard ... which isn't too very often}?

      Around here, it'd probably be safer in a drawer.


      Congrats to you and your bride. 42 is good. So excellent!

  3. Hi Linda! My husband has never worn his wedding ring. He told me when we were engaged that he was not a 'jewelry guy' but I got him one anyway. The day of our wedding was the last time he wore it. Sigh. He worked in warehouses and didn't want to lose a finger, much like your husband.
    I am not the Holy Spirit???? That was a great line. And the point about my husband having no clue about my feelings and needs is so true too. We are fellow travelers who are in love. Not crystal ball gazers! But of course I forget that once in an while.
    Great list. And great question too; what is it like to be married to me? I shudder to think...

    1. Maybe we should have listened to our non-jewelry men ... and shifted that $ so they could have bought us huge, gaudy, cocktail ring kind of diamonds!!!


      Yeah, that 'what's it like to be married to you' question really brings me up short. I need to ask myself that more often, especially when I'm doing the Miss Cranky Pants thing.

      How's that leg doing?

  4. What a wonderful post. I love the advice mixed with a heartwarming story. Wonderfully written and well received!

    1. And I'm just plain glad that you're here! I know this week's a big one for ya ...


  5. Great list, and some unquestionably hard-won truths.

    Two things come to mind; first, i think that perhaps men and women need equal shares of love and respect.

    Men want to be loved for what they are, and respected for what they do, while women want to be respected for what they are, and loved for what they do (and what women do love).

    Second, crisis doesn't always bring out true colours; it can be the crucible in which character is ruined, not clarified.

    There's an analogy in welding. If you overhead the metal, using an oxygen-rich flame, it'll take on a different, almost bubbled (very small ones, almost like small sand grains) appearance as it cools. That shows that it's become more brittle than it should be.

    People have different set-points of tolerance, and anyone can be broken by life.

    1. Fire, heat, the stormy blast? All I can pray is that God will do Malachi 3:3 miracles in my life and make me more like Him in the midst of the flames ...

      Miracle Worker that He is, I can only trust ... and hang on for the ride.

      Always appreciate your perspective, Andrew. Absolutely.

    2. Exactly true. Hang on, in faith.

    3. Amen, brother.

      And when we can't hang on, His grace carries us.

      He promised. And I hold Him to that. With deepest gratitude ...

  6. These are all excellent suggestions for married couples--I wish I would have read Love and Respect BEFORE I got married (of course, it wasn't out yet). That book was the game changer for me and really helped us navigate our married when our girls were having problems as teenagers. I also love #3 ;). I've tried that a few times. Doesn't work.

    1. It's so cool to hear that Love & Respect helped you through that rough patch, Anita. {Is there a family out there that has it easy during that turbulent season? Sigh.}

      I love #3, too! And, yes, this hard to live out consistently ...

      Thankfully, there's grace.


  7. I believed number 1 for way too long. Why doesn't he get me? He should just know by now!
    I think our first year was the hardest for me. There was no 7 year itch or anything, just working out kinks in the beginning. :)
    I loved hearing your heart in this post Linda!

    1. Maybe it's the culture ... the stupid movies and sappy songs that somehow lead us to believe that our 'soulmate' just KNOWS our every desire.


      Not on this planet!



  8. Such a wonderful testament to a great marriage. Here's looking forward to anniversary #40!
    These are all great tips in marriage. The one that got me was actually your question at the end asking what it's like to be married to you. Sometimes we focus so much on what we deserve or what scripture says the other person is supposed to give us. And then we step back and take a look at what it's like to be married to us - and it's often not a great picture.

    1. Yeah, if we're honest with ourselves and God, the answer might not bring a smile to our faces. But it can jumpstart us into being aware of how we respond to life and be the catalyst for a needed change.

      Thanks for your insight, Loren.

  9. Our misconceptions are God's chance to change our perspective when we surrender it all to Him. I can relate to all of the points above but #1 seems to speak the loudest. Not sure why we always think that people can guess what we are thinking. Hmmm! May God continue to teach us that communication is important and sharing who we are will allow others to be in relationship with us. Thanks for your words as always! Hugs!

    1. Good point, friend! Most of these little musings can be applied to other close relationships that we enjoy and cherish. This is NOT just a marriage post ...

      Yes and amen to healthy, respectful, honest communication ... with just a hint of humor {not sarcastic jabs, but the gentle kind words that bring smiles.}

  10. Numbers 2,3,and 5. Really speak to me the most and the areas I feel God working the most. God's really been showing me, my husband isn't meant to fill places that only He can fill. I have to look to Him. I think marriage is a real exercise of faith and dependence because when things get hard we have to choose to stay and pray through it. And trust that God is working in both people.

    Again, thank you for this series. And Happy Anniversary!!

    1. I hear ya, Alecia. That releasing of our spouse {or others we depend on way too heavily to meet our every need} is a huge step toward freeing up the relationship from our endless demands ... and stretching our faith in the only One who can fill the gaping void.

      Thanks for your input, friend ...


  11. Btw, this is really, truly a great post. I believe I tweeted it but it should be shared again and again.

    1. You're kind! And yes, people are arriving via social media. I am grateful!


  12. Such a great post, Linda. Thanks very much for sharing all your collected wisdoms.

    1. A bit of a repeat performance of my guest post at your site back a few years ago. I guess some stuff's worth digging out of the archives!



Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...


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