Be Forgiving
Make Marriage Happen

I’m sitting outside underneath the strong California sun with the hot air caressing my skin. I love hot days! And in the bay area, we never get enough of them.

I’ve told myself recently to take advantage of each one that comes. So yesterday, we scratched our plans and spontaneously picnicked with friends at the park. And today, I’m working outside in this absolute perfect weather combining two of my favorite things – warm weather and writing.

Before I share the theme for this month, I have to thank you all again for joining me in this journey to Make Marriage Happen. My main prayer for myself this year is to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving and grace. Along with thanking God each morning for the small or big ways I see Him in my life, I’m also trying to make a better effort at giving thanks to others for ways I’ve felt moved or loved by them. And your comments, emails and messages regarding this series have truly been a gift. So thank you!

This month’s theme is a bit more challenging then previous ones. It’s the nitty gritty that’s needed every day in marriage. But with two imperfect people promising their lives to one another, I know that it can also be something that seems impossible for some couples when the pain or hurt runs deep. The theme for April is forgiveness.

I recall the first time needing to forgive someone. I was a sophomore in high school and finally came to grips with the bitterness that was bent up in my heart over my parents divorce. I realized I needed to forgive my parents if I wanted that to go away. But I wasn’t able to come to that realization until I met and accepted forgiveness from Jesus.

But I think the concept works beautifully in marriage too. It’s going to be very hard to forgive your spouse until you realize how much you are in need of forgiveness too. Think about it! It’s much easier for me to forgive Vitaliy for something he did today when I remember how much I needed his forgiveness yesterday. Right? And in marriage, this is how it goes. It’s a never ending need to give and receive forgiveness. And the better you get at practicing this in the small areas of your relationship, the better prepared you’ll be at navigating through the larger areas.

That’s what I’ve learned in my own relationship. Something to get you all thinking about! Let’s Make Marriage Happen. And let’s do it today, #beforgiving. Is there something you need to ask forgiveness for? Or perhaps there’s something you need to forgive your spouse for that you’ve been holding onto that’s now started to turn into bitterness? Whatever it is, choose forgiveness today regardless of how you feel. Feelings always come later.

The photo is an oldie from 2010 :)

Make Marriage Happen Be Forgiving

The Deep Waters of Intimacy

Windy surface of the water at sunset

Well, today marks the end of our Make Marriage Happen series for March on intimacy. There were so many more things I wanted to share, but this month definitely got away from me.

I hope you found something encouraging or walked away inspired to try something new in your relationship. Or perhaps what I shared was just a reminder to reinforce what you’re already doing. Wherever you might be in your marriage, I am thankful to have you along on this journey with me. Tomorrow we’ll start a new series for April, but before we do, there is still one more thing I’d like to share for March.

This is written for the person who might be struggling with sexual intimacy within their marriage. I want to be the one to tell you that you are not alone. Though other people may not be willing to open up and talk about their own struggles, I can promise you I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still there. Cultivating true intimacy in your marriage is a journey. One meant to be explored and nurtured throughout your entire marriage. I think one of the reasons for divorce and infidelity is that when the difficulty comes, people give up far too easily. If that’s you, I’m here to tell you, please don’t give up.

Physical intimacy can be like wading through dark and deep waters. It can be scary, daunting, and at times lonely. Marriage is the union of two imperfect people with different experiences, pasts, and pains. All of that has an effect on your intimacy. There are spiritual and emotional ramifications to everything in our lives. As I mentioned in my very first post in this series, intimacy is about knowing. The deeper we know and love each other mentally, emotionally, spiritually, the more pleasurable and enjoyable physical intimacy becomes. You cannot separate these areas in your relationship. They all have an effect on each other.

When Vitaliy and I got married, we were emotionally and spiritually unstable. We were grieving the loss of so many things in life and starting on a journey with too many unknowns to count. We were broken and we were scared. On top of that, I had past experiences prior to dating Vitaliy and walking with Jesus that left me with an unhealthy view of sexual intimacy. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, we were not alone in our marriage to have the kind of privacy most newlyweds get to enjoy. We were also trying to figure out how to care for and provide for a broken-hearted teenager, Vitaliy’s sister. BUT…

There’s always a “but” with God. Because He is good.

Remember I told you that Vitaliy and I agreed at the beginning of our marriage that we would never get divorced and we would never live in an unhappy marriage? Well, you cannot live in a happy marriage and not be fully satisfied with your sex life. So, there were a lot of conversations. A LOT. You can’t “know” the other person if you aren’t communicating. You have to be honest and vulnerable. And there were a lot of tears. Remember, we were both broken and in pain for many different reasons. And there were a lot of prayers. We have to remember that God designed marriage and He wants yours to work just as much as you do. He brought Vitaliy and I together for a reason, many reasons. One of which was to heal us. Because when issues arise in your marriage, the real issues usually run very deep within your own individual hearts. Those deep, dark places where none of us want to go. Go there! Go there with God and go there with each other. And if you need to get help, do it!

Vitaliy and I have been married 7 years. We have come a long way in those 7 years. I’m telling you, if you don’t give up and you work together it really can get so much better. I’ll leave it at that! ;-) But, at the start of this year, we were still seeing similar issues resurfacing. We knew we had exhausted all efforts on our own so we decided to get help. We’ve now been seeing a Christian marriage counselor for the past few months and it has been an incredible experience so far. We actually haven’t done any sessions together yet, because like I mentioned, the issues are most often deeply within. And as far as we’ve come and as great as our intimacy is right now, I know we are only just scratching the surface for all that God has designed for us to enjoy in our marriage.

I’ve been avoiding writing this all month. I wanted to write it in hopes that somebody out there needed to read it, but I also didn’t want to write it because it’s so deeply personal. However, I’m serious about making marriage happen. I want people to live in marriages that make a difference. Marriage can make a difference in your own life. In the life of your family. And in the life of your community. It’s not just about you. What is going on inside of you is having an affect on everyone around you, especially those you love most. If you are not where you want to be personally and in your marriage, don’t let another day go by without doing something about it. Start with a conversation. Say a prayer. Or call a trusted person who you know will be a safe place and a resource of wisdom. And if I can be of any help, please shoot me an email. I’d be more than happy to talk with you or pray for you. You are not alone. Let’s Make Marriage Happen together!

By the way, if you are reading this and you know someone who needs to read it, please be a good friend and share it. Let them know they’re not alone.

Try New Things

This August Vitaliy and I will be celebrating our 8 year wedding anniversary.

I honestly cannot believe I’ve been married for that long. Nor can I believe all that Vitaliy and I have been through as husband and wife. I suppose I’m not as surprised we’ve made it this far. What I am surprised by is that we’re still in love. We genuinely enjoy each others company. This I know is a blessing.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how different I am because of Vitaliy. His love is constantly changing me. He softens me. But not only that, I like different things because of him. I like sushi and audio books, road trips and moustaches. To name a few. And those are all new to me because of him. He loves those things so I learn to love those things. This is a picture of intimacy.

Sometimes I’ll try something he likes and I don’t end up enjoying it, but he knows I tried. He knows I wanted to learn what he loves. And I get to see a new side of him I didn’t know about. My life has become so much richer because of this “trying new things” he’s taught me. He changes me. I’m not the same girl I was 8 years ago. We change, we’re always changing. But in marriage, your changing should constantly be a changing and a morphing into one. I’m still me, but I’m never “me” at the expense of “we.”

Next time your spouse asks you to try something new, do it. Give it a try. Do it for them, but it may end up being your new favorite thing. And then you’ll get to do it or enjoy it “together.” And that’s what it’s all about, being together.

The latest entry for the Making Marriage Happen series. This month’s theme is on intimacy: be intimate and make your marriage happen.