I saw it again this morning on social media: Another “Christian celebrity” spinning their divorce announcement as a loving deed inspired by altruistic motivation for their “dear friend.” I don’t buy it. Divorce is not altruistic (“unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of [your spouse]).” This loving facade is nothing less than a lie straight from the pit of hell. More
My husband, Trevor, and I have a bad track record when it comes to our weekly date night. Often we return home unhappier than when we left. If you can relate, here are five date night problems and solutions for you. But first, a story . . . More
You may have heard—or believe—that your husband is your spiritual leader. But I wonder what that means to you. Based on this belief, I subconsciously unbuckled my seatbelt when I entered marriage. I climbed out of the driver’s seat in my relationship with God and took a seat in the back of the proverbial car. I looked to the front seat where my new husband, Trevor, sat and waited for him to lead us in daily time in God’s Word and prayer. More
Some men don’t care if their home is clean or messy. Not my hubby. He grew up with a mom who could challenge anyone to the Heavyweight Cleaning Champion of the World title. Trevor is used to a spotless home (and I really do mean spotless). Mess stresses him out. But his high expectations for a clean house stress me out. Sounds like a killer combination, huh? Yes, I’ve shot lots of heated words his way over this volatile subject.
The Clean Freak I Married
You know from my first book how for thirty plus years I ached for a pair of strong arms to hold me close. In God’s extravagant kindness, He granted that gift. However, in all those years of pining, I never gave a thought to what might accompany such a gift.
Turns out, marriage involves more than being adored by a man. With a husband come kids, and that husband and those kids must live in a house, and that house must be cleaned, and those hubby and those kids must be fed and clothed with freshly laundered clothes . . . again and again and again.
I was not prepared for that kind of service. In one childish-sounding journal entry I spewed,
“Cleaning is stupid. As soon as you finish, it’s messy again. It’s futile . . . It’s not creative . . . I hate it.”
Truth be told, I thought myself above such dull tasks as dusting and mopping and window washing. After serving in women’s ministry for well over a decade, these sorts of tasks felt like the demotion of the century.
My Cleaning Conundrum
Now, lest you think him a chauvinist pig, let me clear the record. Trevor does pitch in and help me clean. If it weren’t for him, our fridge, oven, and floors would never get a deep cleaning. But we’ve worked out a deal of sorts.
See, he’s handy, and I’m not. We have been—and still are—in the middle of a home renovation. So anytime there is something I can do, I try to do it myself rather than asking him for help, in order to free him up for the tasks that only he can accomplish.
In Search of Answers on Why a Clean Home Matters
There was simply no way around it. I needed to clean, and I didn’t want to hate every minute of it for the rest of my life. I desperately needed some big questions answered. Is there any redeeming value to cleaning? In light of eternity, why does cleaning matter?
By the grace of God, I finally stumbled across the answer in Courtney Reissig’s book, Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.
First, she showed me how housework is connected to the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving neighbor. My closest neighbors are my husband and kids, and work in the house is for them. This was an “a-ha!” for me:
“Laundry is for people to wear. Food is for people to be nourished. Clean floors are for people to crawl around on. Dishes are for people to eat off. The people and the physical work of the home are not in competition. They are two sides of the same coin. . . . The physical work of the home exists for the physical people in the home.”
I was wrecked (in the best kind of way).
Another paradigm shift I experienced from reading her book is that work is not about my personal fulfillment; it is for the good of my neighbor. How have I missed that for all these years?! I wondered. Courtney quoted Martin Luther more than once in this regard:
“If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work.”
Keep the Whole Law with a Clean Home
Ever since I read these truths, things have been changing in my house and my heart. As long as I keep the big picture in view, I don’t resent the poop stains I have to magically remove from my son’s shorts. I don’t mutter about the smooshed grapes I have to clean off the floor. I don’t cry over the onions I have to chop for supper (well, actually I do, but for a different reason!).
Life is too short not to love my closest neighbors with a clean house, clean clothes, and food on the table. Do I do it perfectly? Not even close. But I keep working hard at it, because in this small, ordinary way, I can actually fulfill the whole law (Galatians 5:14).
Thanks to Crossway’s generosity, I’m giving away five copies of Courtney’s book, Glory in the Ordinary. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from reading it, enter here.
One Dinner Party and Two Weddings Later
One of my greatest highlights from the last couple of years was successfully matchmaking two couples—at one dinner party, nonetheless! The dinner party setup and subsequent party one week later allowed Jordan and Ethan to get to know Amanda and Gabby—at least enough to know the pursuit was on! They took it from there, and this summer, Trevor and I attended both of their weddings, just two weeks apart. Only God!
I believe you, too, can experience the joy of being used by God to help a Christian man and woman find and get to know each other. In fact, I believe you are needed.
Finding a suitable spouse to marry today seems . . . impossible. Where can you meet him or her if not in a bar or on an online app? Where and how can you possibly get to know them in a safe, casual, comfortable environment? That’s where you come in. But first, one very important disclaimer.
Beware of Unwelcome Matchmaking
Please, only offer your matchmaking services to those you know want to be married and who would love some help getting there. If you’re not sure if they want your help, ask them. One single guy told me,
“I went through a period of time in my early 20s where I had resolved myself not to date as I was too busy and working on sins and struggles in my life. But every other week people from church would pull me aside and suggest I date someone they knew. There were lots of uncomfortable conversations.”
Similarly, a mom of a single young woman told me,
“My daughter’s biggest frustration is the need to fix her up with the one other single in her congregation.”
Let me be clear. Singleness isn’t a disease; it’s a gift.
At the same time, marriage is a gift as well. If it’s a gift your single friend longs for, here’s how you can help.
Tips for Matchmaking Well
- Care for Christian singles. Don’t try your hand at matchmaking ’cause you could use a little romance in your own life, or ’cause you hope to have a good story some day. Matchmake because you care deeply about your single friends. Extend yourself out of love for them. At the same time, matchmake not for their ultimate happiness (marriage isn’t about that!), but for God’s glory. Matchmake so that one more couple can show those around them the beauty of the gospel (Eph. 5:22-33).
- Listen well. You are not looking for someone you like; you are looking for someone your friend will like. Do you know what your friend wants in a spouse? Don’t blindly set them up with someone just ’cause they’re the only other Christian you know in twenty miles. Get to know your single friend. Ask lots of questions. What does he or she desire in a spouse? What does he or she need to complement them?
- Pray for wisdom. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Ask God for wisdom. Pray that He will establish your steps. Ask Him for success.
- Brainstorm together. Talk through the people you both know—even married people—to identify the sorts of characteristics they are looking for. Make sure you’re on the same page. Then begin to brainstorm singles you know who are similar. Let your single friend give input on whether they’re interested in getting to know this person better or not.
- Open your home. Invite the person your friend is interested in getting to know better over to your house. Don’t be awkward about it. In our case, we invited Amanda and Gaby over a Facebook message, simply telling them we were “having a couple other friends over.”
- Open your home again. Continue to open your home so your single friends have other opportunities to hang out and get to know each other. We followed the dinner party up with another party one week later. And that wasn’t the end for us. Currently, my husband and I are seeking to create opportunities for one single male friend to slowly get to know a specific Christian woman in the context of an informal, group setting.
Those are just a few ways I believe you can matchmake well. Do you have anything to add? Have you tried your hand at matchmaking? What do you think contributed to your success or failure in that area?
PS: If you liked this article, I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate “How NOT to Hurt the Singles In Your Church.”
PPS: This photo was taken a few months ago, when a group of us got together to celebrate Ethan and Gabby’s engagement. You can see the two new couples here. From left to right: me, Trevor, Amanda and Jordan, Ethan and Gabby.
“Do thoughts about other boys/crushes disappear when you are married?” More than one boy-crazy girl has asked me this question. In other words, “Will marriage cure my boy-craziness?”
Hey, girls! Since it’s the day after Valentine’s Day and love is still in the air (or at least on our minds), I thought I’d share this interview with you from GospelMag.com. I hope my responses will help you as you think about someday possibly moving from singleness to marriage. Enjoy!
Q. Since you wrote Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, you got married. Congratulations!
A. Thank you. God gives great gifts. I was starting to think I’d be single for the rest of my life; I’m still amazed I’m married . . . and to a wonderful man!
Q. What changed in your life when you met the man who would become your husband?
A. At first not a whole lot, other than that I spent a lot more time on Skype. As I look back over the past two-and-a-half-years since I’ve known him, though, I can see that I’ve changed a lot. Trevor has challenged and changed the way I think about a host of issues. He has pushed me (in good ways) in areas where I felt fearful and inept. He has been a tangible picture of God’s steadfast love for me, even when all that is ugly is stripped bare and out in the open.
Q. How did you meet him?
A. Seven months after publishing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, I inadvertently started following a guy named Trevor Marsteller on Twitter. At the time, I was reaching out to bloggers asking for honest reviews of my book in exchange for a free copy. When I followed him on Twitter, I saw he had over 1,000 followers and had also done book reviews on his blog. I asked if he’d like to review Confessions, he said yes, and we kept talking from there. (You can read all the juicy details here.)
Q. Did things change right away, or has your relationship gradually become special?
A. I’m not the only one who has changed. Trevor has become more and more kind and affectionate since we first met. In fact, he puts me to shame with the way he loves me! I’d say our relationship has become more special over time, through tears, hard conversations, forgiveness, kindness, and love.
Q. Did God show you in one way or another that Trevor was the man you should marry?
A. I believe God communicates to us through His Word. In the Bible, He has made it clear that believers are not to marry unbelievers. But other than that one stipulation, He has given us freedom to make our choice based on wisdom.
God didn’t “speak” to me and tell me to marry Trevor. But as I got to know Trevor, as I asked others who knew him well questions, as I saw how he loved me and how I could just be myself around him without needing to impress him, it became obvious. This man loved God, loved me, and was pursuing me. It was a no-brainer.
Q. What would you say to girls who want to marry and don’t know on which basis to make their decision?
Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.”
A. Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Is he a believer? One who is serious in his pursuit of God? Is he pursuing you? Are you comfy with him? Do you communicate well? Do your family and friends think he’s great?
Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!
Q. We often tell people who aren’t yet married that they need to date, meet more people, and subscribe to dating websites. In this, we lead them to understand that they have to do more to make it happen. What do you think?
He is the One who gives us every good gift. Pursue Him. Serve Him. Trust Him.
A. I was given the same advice over the years, but I think it falls short. Ultimately, most of us underestimate God’s sovereignty. He is the One who gives us every good gift. Pursue Him. Serve Him. Trust Him. This area of life is not ultimately something you control; it is all under His wise, good, sovereign control.
Q. We often say to girls that they will find someone when they least expect it. What do you think?
A. I think it’s very unhelpful advice. People probably mean to be encouraging when they say it, but as a single I always felt this enormous pressure to somehow trick my emotions out of longing for marriage. It sounded like if I could succeed in that, then marriage would somehow just fall in my lap. But there’s no such prerequisite in God’s Word. He gives us undeserved gifts freely; we do not earn them.
Q. How did you find your smile (joy) back when you went through moments of discouragement regarding romance?
A. It took a long time, but as I got to know God’s character through His Word and by sitting under solid sermons Sunday after Sunday, I grew in my knowledge of God. And as my knowledge of God grew, so did my trust in Him and my enjoyment of Him.
Whenever I sign my books, I include Psalm 16:11: “In your presence is fullness of joy.” True joy is not found in our circumstances but in spending time enjoying God, which we can do anytime, anywhere.
I’d love to hear from you. Did you learn anything new through this interview? Anything you disagree with? As you think about marriage, are there any questions you want to add?
A Q&A on Marriage was also published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
I wonder what you’ve been led to believe about life after marriage.
The message I heard before becoming a bride is that it’s all downhill after you exchange wedding vows.
Oh, no one ever said those words to me exactly. What they did say was, “Enjoy this [dating] season, Paula. Your boyfriend will never treat you better than he does now.” Doesn’t that sound a whole lot like “It’s all downhill after marriage” to you?
While Trevor and I were dating, I often shared this belief/fear with him, and he always told me he didn’t believe it; things would only get better. Oh, how I wanted to believe him, but I was skeptical. Could he really be right?
Well, nine months into marriage, I can joyfully say he was.
Wait for a humble, servant-hearted man who is on board with God’s beautiful design for marriage.
I love and enjoy my husband so much more than I did while I was dating him, and he loves me so much better than he did when he was dating me. Don’t get me wrong; wedded bliss doesn’t magically increase without the occasional tear-streaked faces, pained hearts, difficult conversations, and hard work. We had our fair share of these this past week. But we also had a wonderful date, punctuated by sweet, heartfelt conversation.
We blew our entire dating budget for the month at a Brazilian steakhouse, and then went shopping (yes, I managed to get him to shop with me!). But the delicious meal we consumed and the clothes we returned home with weren’t what made our date so wonderful.
It was the discussion my husband initiated. “I was listening to a rap song called ‘Date Night’ today,” he began, “and the lyrics said, ‘How am I doing good? How should I repent?’ What do you think?”
And so we sat at our table holding hands, building each other up, and then sharing how we can be even more helpful to each other. It was the kind of meaningful conversation nearly every wife longs for.
Why do I tell you this? To make you feel bad because you’re still single and I’m not? No way! I tell you this because you need to know that it is not all downhill after marriage.
Well, to be perfectly clear, that depends entirely on whom you marry. Since marriage, my burden has only increased that you choose and marry well. It matters, big time.
Wait for a humble, servant-hearted man who is on board with God’s beautiful design for marriage found in Ephesians 5:22–33. He won’t be a perfect man. But he–and your relationship–will only grow sweeter with time.
This is what I long for you. This is God’s desire for marriage: a tangible display of Christ-centered, Christ-like love that shows how awesome His
sacrificial love is for His Bride.
I wonder, what have you been believing about life after marriage?
“It’s All Downhill After Marriage” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
“How did you know Trevor was the one for you?” a seventeen-year-old asked me. “I struggle with knowing if a guy is right for me. Every day I ask God to help me figure out my confusion.”
Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly simple. Let me share with you what I’m learning from Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Gary Friesen and J. Robin Maxson.
1. Determine if you have the “gift” of marriage or singleness.
Dr. Friesen explains it like this:
The decision to marry or remain single lies within the area of freedom. The apostle [Paul] had a definite preference for [singleness] that he “wished” all others could choose. But he knew he could not give his desire the force of a command. For not everyone “has the gift.” God graces each believer differently. It is likely that Paul’s meaning is that some are “gifted” to enjoy singleness while others are “gifted” to enjoy marriage with its extra responsibilities (1 Cor. 7:7).
The first issue for you to work out is whether it’s best for you to be married or single. Surprisingly, “there is no command from Scripture one way or the other.” That means you don’t need to spend hours trying to discern God’s “still, small voice.” You don’t need to determine whether God is calling you to marriage or singleness.
Since both marriage and singleness are gifts from God, and since you are free to serve God as a single girl and once you’re married, both are good options. (You can read 1 Corinthians 7 for the pros and cons of both marriage and singleness.)
Now is a good time to think through this, even if there’s no guy knocking at your door yet. It will be less for you to figure out when a guy does come knocking.
2. Determine if your prospect is a believer.
Now—assuming you desire to be married, and there’s a guy pursuing you—you first need to ask if Scripture says anything about choosing a spouse. (And it does!) Scripture is clear: A believer in Christ may only marry another believer in Christ. This is vitally important. As Dr. Friesen explains:
The point is that not only are the believers’ values, goals, standards, motivations, and means of enablement for living incompatible with those of an unbeliever; they are diametrically opposed! They are serving two different lords that are archenemies of one another.
God has given you a whole lot of freedom beyond this one command. Don’t disobey Him here. Look first and foremost for a godly, Jesus-loving guy.
3. Seek wise counsel.
- What do your parents think of this guy?
- What does your pastor say?
- Once you’re engaged, get some premarital counseling, and listen well to what your counselor thinks of you two.
Those around you will be a lot more clearheaded than you will with romance clouding your brain. Heed their counsel.
4. Use common sense.
Do you two share the same values? Here are just a few things Friesen encourages you to note: age, finances, employment, education, personal goals, personality traits, birth control, principles of child rearing, hobbies, family background, socioeconomic background, and possessions.
I didn’t always understand the freedom God has given in wisely choosing a spouse. I used to try to figure out if it was God’s will for me to marry a guy by praying and then watching for “signs” from God. And it was confusing! Here’s an example from an old journal entry:
I was talking on the phone with Dad tonight when Jim texted. Actually, at that particular moment, Dad was praying that my future husband would find me, when I heard the text come in. Coincidence, or God at work? I don’t know . . .
Jim was also confused, because after months of sending me confusing signals, he told me that as he’d prayed about pursuing me, he “sensed a yellow light.” He didn’t have a “red light” from God, but he also didn’t have a “green light.” He also told me that as he asked God whether now was the time to pursue marriage or not, God had been “annoyingly silent.” I think that’s because God had already given him the freedom to decide himself.
Needless to say, I ended up telling Jim goodbye (you can read how that went down in chapter 15 of my book). And oh, I’m so glad I did.
Because a few years later, God plopped Trevor Marsteller in my lap. Well, in my Twitter feed, to be exact. As I began to date Trevor (he was a believer, so he was fair game), I kept my eyes wide open and used the wisdom God has given me through His Word and community.
Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense.
It’s not that there were zero concerns. But as I brought those to God, to Trevor, and to wise counselors, in the end they weren’t game changers. Although Trevor wasn’t perfect (no guy but Jesus is!), I could see that he was “perfect” for me in so many ways. These three main things gave me the confidence to continue moving forward to marriage. And if you’re wondering, six months into marriage I am so grateful I chose him!
Back to you now, though.
Bottom line: Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!
I’d love to hear from you. Does this sound surprisingly . . . simple? What questions do you have after reading this post?
How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
I’ve been married to a wonderful man for over three months now. That’s no thirty years, but still, I know more about marriage today than I did three months ago.
Every man is different, so you may not relate to all thirty pieces of advice. But I pray something here will bless you in your new role. Here’s a taste of what I’ve learned over the last ninety days:
- Read that recipe slowly, carefully, and all the way through before you begin cooking. Otherwise your special Thanksgiving breakfast will be served a day late because you’ll learn as you’re whipping it up that it has to sit overnight in the fridge.
- He means what he says. It’s as simple as that. “I’d do this,” doesn’t mean, “You should do this, too.” It simply means, “That’s what I’d do.” Don’t read into his words or actions.
- When he treats you better than you deserve, don’t think you have to slowly earn your way back into his graces. Receive his grace gratefully and keep on truckin’.
- It won’t all be like you imagined. Let your expectations go.
- Kindness is the new romance.
- It will take longer than you think it should to get into a routine. That’s normal. You’ll get there!
- Don’t nag, but also don’t “stuff” your feelings. Share your thoughts graciously once, and then be quiet and pray for him.
- Don’t take it personally if he’s on his phone for a bit. It’s not your competition; it’s a way for him to relax.
- You need good girlfriends. It will take awhile to develop those, so get to work now. Ask a woman over for tea once a week if you can (Prov. 18:24).
- In the meantime, no friend compares to God. Cultivate this friendship each morning (Ps. 16:2).
- Continue that premarital counseling post-marriage if possible. We still meet with a couple once a month, and it’s been so helpful as we’ve made this transition.
- Celebrate your monthly anniversary.
- Schedule a date night once a week.
- You don’t have to solve everyone’s problems. This is a unique, important season for you and your new spouse. Be slow to say, “Oh, I can help with that!”
- Care for your soul before you care for your home. If your soul is not at rest, no matter how clean your home is, its environment will not be restful.
- Spend time together. It doesn’t matter if you’d get more done if you stayed behind and he went to the store; go together.
- Don’t defend yourself every single time.
- You will see a lot of ugliness in your life that you never saw before. Don’t run from it or deny it; embrace the gift of being able to see your sin more clearly as well as the love of God through your spouse.
- Give your husband space when he’s frustrated. You don’t have to talk through everything immediately.
- At the same time, don’t let too much time pass before you talk through an argument. Seek to understand. What was he thinking and feeling when this happened? What were you thinking and feeling?
- Get on the same budget. It’s fun to work together toward a common goal.
- Spend those wedding gift cards together. It’s fun to shop together, as long as it’s not clothes shopping. That’s a bad attitude waiting to happen.
- Buy a chalkboard, and leave each other sweet messages.
- Pack his lunch, and occasionally leave kind notes in it.
- Don’t be easily offended. Assume the best (Prov. 19:11).
- Leave your insecurities at the marriage altar. He chose you. You’re enough. Don’t try to impress him. He probably won’t be impressed by the things you’re impressed with about yourself. He chose you. You’re enough.
- Don’t keep score of who’s doing more around the house. You’re a team. If you need help—rather than resenting him for not doing more—ask him for help.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate—in and out of the bedroom.
- Regularly ask him how you can serve him that day.
- “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Marriage may mean a smaller, more isolated world. Remember that life is made up of many seasons. Thank God for this one—He sets your boundaries (1 Tim. 6:6, Acts 17:26–28).
What have I missed? What would you add to this list?
30 Pieces of Advice for the New Wife was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com.