Marriage

That bride-to-be over there? Tell her your stories.

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on February 24, 2014

I was mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest the other day and found myself bemoaning the fact that I got married in a pre-Pinterest world.

Only, if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t really regret it all that much. I just get distracted by those barn loft-mason jar-candle lit-wildflower weddings that are so gosh darn charming and lose my mind a little.

But really, you brides-to-be must be dizzy when you think of all the options available to you these days. There’s just so much creativity right there at your fingertips. How do you not want to do all the things?!? Is it making you mad? Are you drowning in it? Do you need me to send you a life-preserver? Because I totally will.

When I think back to my wedding and ask myself what I might change had I the help of Pinterest, the truth is that I wouldn’t change much at all. I loved our wedding. The ceremony took place inside an old Spanish Catholic church at dusk. There were a few flowers here and there and lots of candlelight but mainly there was just simplicity and love (and a killer mezzo soprano who gave me chills with her rendition of Ave Maria).

Our reception took place on the back patio of a downtown Mobile restaurant. They took care of everything. The trees were lit with twinkling lights, there was a small dance floor, and the food was provided (as were all the tables, chairs, and linens). All we brought in was the music, the Margarita machines, our cream cheese and pecan frosted butter cake, and our centerpieces — floating candles surrounded by the the most intoxicatingly scented gardenias.

It was all so uncomplicated and lovely. I’d say it was stress-free — and it really should have been — but I was kind of an emotional mess. So, while it’s true that I occasionally see things on Pinterest that I would love to have incorporated into our special day, mostly I just wish someone had told me to take care of me.

I wish I’d scheduled in more time to connect with Dan in the days leading up to our wedding. I wish I’d spent more time in prayer. I wish someone had told me to take a Benadryl before going to sleep on the eve of my wedding because even if you don’t have cold feet (mine were warm as toast) it’s unlikely that you’ll sleep very well and being exhausted on your wedding day can make even the little stresses feel overwhelming and disastrous. I wish I’d had a Mimosa to take the edge off so that when I found the hem of my dress covered in black dust I would have laughed it off instead of bursting into tears. And I wish I’d had a woman who’d gone before me take me out to lunch and tell me all of this ahead of time. I would have liked to have heard her stories so that I could have known to expect the unexpected, that “disasters” are part and parcel of a wedding, and that truly, a wedding is just a day.

An important day, a day that is the start of a whole new breathtakingly beautiful life, but just a day.

So, let’s make this a thing. If you know of a woman who is engaged, call her up and invite her to lunch. Sip wine, eat cake, and tell her your stories. Laugh at yourself so that she’ll be able to laugh at herself. Let her know that you are always there, day or night, to listen to her fears and answer her questions (including the awkward, embarrassing ones). Even if it looks like she all the support she needs, give her a little more because you just never know. She might just need you, too.

{ 18 comments }

A St. Valentine’s Day free download. Just for you!

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on February 10, 2014

Pssst…just in case you didn’t know, St. Valentine’s Day is this Friday! Isn’t that exciting? I’m such a sucker for Valentine’s Day. It’s all about love! And I love love.

A couple of years ago I created a simple fill-in-the-blank love letter to share with you all. I thought I’d link to it again in case any of you are looking for inspiration. Just print it, fill it out, and present it to your sweetheart with a big kiss!

Romantic prompts include:

You make me swoon when…

I adore the way you…

Thank you for…

Hopefully it will make for an fun, easy project for anyone who is looking to express their affection but is short on time!

To snag this document simply you can either subscribe to my RSS feed in a reader (the download is available on the bottom of each post in the feed) or just head over here.

 

Happy lovin’, loves!

Hallie

{ 8 comments }

Love in the Time of Scarlet Fever

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on January 27, 2014

Love in the Time of Scarlet Fever

My husband and my steroid share a name. That seems appropriate after this weekend. Lifesavers, both of them.

I used to think love was freshly picked Magnolias, playful puddle jumping, and holding hands in the rain. I thought it was sweet nothings and kisses behind the ear. I thought it was letters penned with passion and odes to love carved into sand. I thought it was skywriting, fireworks, and kisses that make cartoon hearts pop out of the besotted.

I still do. But, oh my goodness, how those things only scratch the surface.

Our entire little family of eight (save the baby) came down with Scarlet Fever this weekend. It was just about as unpleasant as you would imagine.

Misery, thy name is Scarlet Fever.

Thankfully, there were a couple of smiles mixed in, too. Like the moment my little Lucy stood up on the top of her bunk at bedtime and dramatically announced that it was a good thing she had medicine because without it she would have “DIED because Scarlet Fever is a VERY SERIOUS DISEASE.”

Thank you, Velveteen Rabbit.

So, smiles, yes, and also love. Love like this:

I spent most of Saturday lying in bed while Dan held down the fort. I won’t lie — I was pretty relieved that he’d thus far been spared so that I could sleep, soak, and wallow. He cooked and cleaned, doled out medicine and wiped feverish brows, and he ran errands. He insisted that I sleep, sleep, and sleep some more. He served without ceasing, complaining, or seeking recognition. (I almost never serve without ceasing, complaining, or seeking recognition.)

Later in the day we decided it was time to take the older boys to the ER. They left well before dinnertime and stumbled back in after bedtime. The boys gathered around me on the couch — while Dan made one last run to the pharmacy — and regaled me with tales of their ER adventure. At one point, their eyes got very big and they told me in hushed, serious tones that when the doctor had looked at their Daddy’s throat she had pronounced him the sickest of all.

The sickest of all.

That’s right. My “healthy” husband who had been keeping the family afloat while I slumbered was in truth, every bit as sick as the rest of us. He never said a word; never uttered a complaint; never even sat down to rest.

That, my friends, is love.

Sometimes it’s all that other sparkly stuff, as well, but when you get down deep into the heart of it, love is profound self-sacrifice offered with a sweet kiss, a wink of the eye, and a tender smile. (And I’m pretty sure those last three things are optional in a cherry on top kind of way.)

Someone once asked me (innocently) why husbands and wives praise their spouses publicly. Was it just to brag?

I don’t think so. At least not all the time.

There’s a lot of talk out there (some of it coming from yours truly) about how very hard marriage can be. That’s not a bad thing. I think that being honest about our struggles helps others to feel a little less alone. It’s good to know that the valleys are normal so that they don’t seem quite so cold and dark when you stumble upon them.

But that’s only one part of marriage.

A marriage on its best days will light up the sky far more brightly than any man-made fireworks. To see another selflessly (and often at great cost to themselves) pour themselves out for you — and to feel that irresistible urge to pour yourself out for them — will take your breath away and make you wonder at God’s love for undeserving you. At least it’s always had that effect on me.

People need to hear these happy, hopeful stories, too.

Marriage will stretch and challenge you in ways you never imagined — absolutely — but it will also bring you more joy than you once thought it was possible to possess.

The more challenging moments will not only pale in comparison to the happier ones but truly and in some mystical way, the good times will transform the bad times into things of beauty. Sometimes only in retrospect and in a “I’m grateful for the growth opportunity” kind of way, but still. The interplay between the two is really something.

I could go on and on, but I’m all drugged up and who knows where and when that would end, Plus, I should probably run and duck because when Dan sees that I wrote this, he will surely send the pillows flying my way. He’s not a huge fan of my sharing the sweet, selfless things he does with other people.

Plus, I have a VERY SERIOUS DISEASE to combat.

{ 22 comments }

Oh Sweet Lorraine

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on January 24, 2014

This is unspeakably sweet. I’d tell you to grab a tissue, but if you’re anything like me, you should probably go ahead and grab the entire box.

{ 6 comments }

Love, Life, and Death

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on November 26, 2013

Dan, the kids, and I attended Valerie and Nathan’s wedding just over two weeks ago. It was such a high, I can’t even tell you. I came back wanting to write a post that simply said: CRASH ALL THE WEDDINGS!!!

We don’t often get to attend weddings together. I see now that this has been a mistake. We should have been breaking down the walls of the local young adults group begging them to befriend us and invite us to all their ceremonies. Because the romance at these weddings? It’s in the air you breathe and the water (and wine) you drink. It’s crazy.

Hearing Nathan and Valerie say their vows swept me right back to that cool October evening in 2001 that found Dan and me standing face-to-face in an old Spanish church promising to love one another through good times and bad. We exchanged a tender glance and in some mystical way, I could almost feel our vows being renewed, separated though we were by several pews thanks to little ones who were starting to question the promise of the elusive wedding cake. (See below.)

Z-grump

Hours later we danced in the upstairs room of a charming little French restaurant with Charlie tucked between us. I was reminded of just how far we have come in these last twelve years and how our love has grown and (literally) multiplied. That, too, was a very special moment.

In the two weeks since their wedding, though, it feels like every time I open my computer there is news of another wife who has suddenly lost her beloved husband after five months, two years, seven years, and more than twenty years (still, far, far too soon) of marriage.

As I read those sad announcements one by one, still high off of the wedding we’d just attended, I was struck by what an act of faith it is to marry another. In doing so, we open ourselves to life, yes, but also death. And not just the possibility of death, but the assurance of death. Not forever, of course — our hope being in life everlasting — but earthly, excruciating death, nonetheless.

I don’t think I’d ever really thought about the fact that it takes bravery to say ‘yes’ to marriage. I’ve always known that for all the bliss, there will be pain involved in this journey, but something about the quick succession of all of these losses has really brought home the fact that through our marital fiats, we’ve invited in the possibility of a pain so acute that it has the power to knock us to our knees and steal our breath.

That’s no small thing.

What I’ve seen lately, though, is the manifestation of marriage as a community experience and it’s been a beautiful sight to behold. I had the privilege of watching as Nathan and Valerie’s friends gathered to pray, and dance, and toast them. Then I came home and also had the privilege of watching as these young widows were gathered up and kept alive by the God-given breath of their sisters (both in blood and in Christ) until they could breathe again on their own. In theory, I know that God’s grace knows no bounds, but to see it in action is always awe-inspiring.

I know this isn’t any kind of revelation. Wise men and women, scholars, saints, and everybody else have been discussing such things for all of time, and I don’t have anything new to add, really. But in that strange way that joy can bubble up out of even the most overwhelming grief, even as my heart has ached for these women, I’ve experienced gratitude. For my own marriage (whatever days Dan and I may have left to spend together here on earth), yes, but also for all of you who have made yourself vulnerable and bravely said yes to marriage.

It’s an honor to share the experience of this ecstatic and treacherous journey with you and it’s a comfort to know that we are all in this together. Though I know most of you strictly through the Internet, I’m grateful for you and so very glad we’ve found one another. It brings me such peace to know you’re out there. During whatever moments of quiet we can cultivate during this holiday season, let’s pray for one another and for all of our sisters out there who are grieving.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, light, and laughter.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As I mentioned over on Facebook, a fund has been set up here to support one of the widows (and her unborn child) I mentioned. If you know of any other similar endeavors, please let me know and I will add them to my Facebook page, as well. Thank you!

{ 8 comments }

A Letter to a Young Bride

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 24, 2013

Moxie Wife: A Letter to a Young Bride

My friend Valerie is getting married in 16 days. At this moment she’s traveling across the country en route to her soon-to-be new home where she will unload her belongings and settle in a bit before returning to Charleston for the wedding.

I haven’t known Valerie long, but I just love her to pieces. She reminds me a lot of myself — only cuter, sweeter, smarter, and more holy. I miss her already.

It’s been such a joy to watch as she got engaged and now prepares for marriage. She has such respect for the sacrament and a deep, deep love for her fiance. We’ve talked a lot about marriage over the past few months and I’ve quietly wondered, “If I could share just one piece of advice with her, what would it be?”

There are, of course, so many things I’d like to share, so many things I wish I’d known prior to getting married. Every time I’d settle on that one thing I’d like her to know, though, it struck me that in order to know this thing I wanted to share with her — to truly know it deep down in her bones and on a soul level — she’s going to have to live it first.

You can read books about marriage, listen to all the advice in the world, and study other couples — and it’s good to do these things — but often, to be able to integrate a piece of marital advice, you have to experience the pain of conflict and the sweetness of reconciliation a few times before the a-ha! moment hits you.

After a few failed attempts to settle on that one thing that I want Valerie to know, I suddenly realized that the thing I was searching for was actually the one common thread that ran through every specific piece of advice I could come up with. It was this:

Be patient with yourself, sweet Valerie, and be patient with Nathan.

This whole sharing your life with someone thing has a way of bringing you face to face with your own limitations in short order. All of your vices will come out to play, and so will his, and (as shocking as this may be) they won’t always get along. But if you’re patient — and not just in a waiting for the time to pass way, but in a tolerant, compassionate, and merciful way — you’ll find that this love you share with Nathan will grow into something far more beautiful than you could have ever envisioned.

As for having to live through a thing to know it, here’s an example:

As a bit of a hot-blooded individual, I knew (very, very, very) well the importance of picking my battles long before I married Dan. There’s something about being a newlywed that makes everything feel so incredibly important, though. Talking through every last little thing? Important! Going to sleep at the same time every night? Important! Putting the milk on the third row, left-hand side of the refrigerator? So important!

This isn’t a bad thing. When a man and woman come together and endeavor to make a life together, they need to establish habits that will make their new life run smoothly. Some things simply have to be hashed out. But if I told you that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things whether he backs his car into parking spaces, will that stop your blood from running a little hot?

Probably not. All the advice in the world wouldn’t have made any difference for newly-wedded me. I was right and Dan was wrong and the fact that he did not grasp this information was something that had to be remedied. It was as simple as that. I was willing to die on every last little hill.

But after a few years of ruined romantic evenings that found us stewing at opposite sides of the house instead of snuggling on the couch, those things that once felt so important to me suddenly started to feel a little less so. I just wanted to be with him. Life is hard enough without fighting unnecessary battles within the walls of your own home.

A Letter to a Young Bride

There are countless other examples, of course — getting used to the silence into which so many men retreat when they’re in problem-solving mode, learning how to endure the valleys, trusting God to fix things between you that you cannot — but if you extend to one another the same merciful patience that God extends to you each and every day, your marriage will flourish and be such a gift to this hurting world of ours.

Gosh, I hope this isn’t demoralizing. I don’t mean for it to be. My marriage is pretty much my most favorite thing in the whole world and I have no doubt that you and Nathan, too, will experience far, far more highs than lows in your own union.

But on those days when learning the art of marriage feels heavy on your shoulders, don’t let spiritual attack make you believe that any of these bumps in the road mean more than they do. None of these growing pains point to a lack of love or some profound deficiency in your union. It’s just a big change to go from two to one — one that every married couple has to wrestle with a little. And one that, you guessed it, takes a whole lot of patience.

The good news is that there are very few things in marriage that can’t be fixed with a few fervent prayers, a heartfelt apology, a touch of forgiveness, and a dose of sweet, sweet lovin’ (wink).

{ 16 comments }

Love in a Season of Want

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 17, 2013

Moxie Wife: Love in a Season of Want

“If you want to have a healthy, thriving marriage,” they say, “you must make it a priority.”

True. Absolutely, completely, and unequivocally true.

“It is essential that you make time for regular date nights and romantic weekends away with your husband.”

That’s where we part ways.

I mean, yes, in an ideal world. No one is a bigger date night cheerleader than I. And as for entire romantic-packed nights away from the kids? Sign me up. But do you know how long it’s been since Dan and I took a vacation alone? I do. I remember exactly — not because I’m a great record keeper or have a good memory (I’m not and I don’t) but because our oldest son had his birthday last week and our last vacation alone together took place right before he was born.

It’s been more than ten years.

When our huge-hearted friends Hannah and Valerie first came to watch the kids for us nine or so months ago I made a comment about how this was the first time we’d gone out on a date in over two years. Oh, girls, you should have seen their gorgeous eyes widen. They are the cutest.

But it was true.

Since making that comment we’ve gone out together alone countless times thanks to their generosity and have savored each and every second. But our marriage doesn’t rely on date nights. It benefits from them, sure, but its health is not dependent upon them.

I was thinking about all of this the other day after I read an email from a sweet gal who confided to me that it had been a very long time since she and her husband had been out on a ‘real’ date. She said that her husband works long hours and that they are currently pinching pennies — as so many of us are. They have a passel of little ones (including a baby) who make it difficult to get out of the house without the babysitter they can’t really afford, and they have no family in town. She was worried that this date-less season in which they find themselves might cause their marriage to suffer. She feared it might mean that they weren’t doing enough to make their marriage a priority.

I don’t think she has a thing to worry about. It wasn’t hard to see — even from our brief exchange — that she and her husband are deeply in love and committed to their marriage. They make it a point to connect regularly and spend lots of one-on-one time together . They just have to be a little more creative than couples who have more freedom and flexibility. Romantic time for them these days demands frugality and ingenuity.

I know that people who exhort couples to spend time alone out of the house are only trying to help and their advice is excellent for those who can can follow it, but as a woman who has spent a lot of time dating my husband within the walls of my own home, I’d like to offer a different kind of encouragement.

Here’s what I’d like to say to all you adorable adoring wives out there who are trying to cultivate love and romance amidst difficult circumstances:

When you’re going through lean times, financially-speaking, and yet spend hours thinking about frugal ways to have romantic stay-at-home date nights, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you write your husband love letters because you can’t afford to buy him a gift, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you can’t afford fine lingerie, and so have no choice but to show up for romantic rendezvous of the more intimate variety in your birthday suit alone, you are making your marriage a priority.

When your husband seems embarrassed that he can’t afford to take you out for a night on the town and you assure him that all you want is to be with him — anytime and anywhere, you are making your marriage a priority.

When your husband is struggling with depression or other illness and can’t find the energy or desire to take you out and you choose to shower him with love and mercy in spite of your disappointment and hurt, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you dig down deep to find ways to love your husband and cultivate romance in spite of all exhaustion, frustration, and financial limitation, you are making your marriage a priority.

When you worry about whether you are making your marriage a priority? You are making your marriage a priority.

I’m not denying that time spent alone with your husband (outside of the house) is a worthy goal if you can swing it. But date nights are not the be all and end all of marriage. And certainly not a prerequisite to having a strong, healthy union.

Do know what is a prerequisite to having a thriving marriage? Faith, a spirit of self-sacrifice, and a heart full of love. From what I’ve seen, you girls are all over that.

So be at peace. I’m just as sure as sure can be that when God sees you pouring love into your marriage in spite of all hardship that he smiles a God-sized smile in your direction. After all, you are living out a true sacrificial love story, and that’s his favorite kind, I hear.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 34 comments }