Is Submission a Four-Letter Word???

I Choose to Submit to You


February is National Marriage Month. So for the next four weeks, I will post excerpts from my book, I Choose You Today: 31 Ways to Make Love Last. We’ll look at submission, commitment, and pursuing your mate. On March 1, I’ll draw a name from all who have commented on any of the posts for a free copy of the book!

“Did you see the reviews on that new movie we’ve been waiting for? The one we’ve been talking about?” my daughter-in-law asked. “I was kind of surprised. I heard . . .”

“Me too!” I cut in. “I was really disappointed, because it sounded so promising, something we’d all really like,” I continued. “The film got really low marks in several areas, like . . .”

Ron gave me a nudge with his knee.

I glanced at him and continued, “The reviews I read said it plodded along and was hard to follow at times. And such a predictable ending . . .”

He nudged me again. I turned to face him, and he gave me the look, along with another nudge.

I rolled my eyes at him. But I stopped talking and turned my attention to Penny. “What did you hear?” I asked. She was eager to tell me.

The next morning, as we lay in bed contemplating the jump from the warmth of the comforter into the start of our day, Ron said to me, “So, did you understand why I nudged your knee last night?”

“Yeah, I got it; I interrupted her and hijacked the conversation. Thanks. You were right. Irritating, but right.”

He laughed; I smiled. That’s how it works most often. After forty years, that’s where we usually land. Usually. Still, it’s not always easy.

I will admit the concept of submitting to each other was a tough pill to swallow when we married at nineteen. Ron and I are both strong willed, opinionated, and unafraid to express ourselves. On occasion, it has resulted in what we call an intense moment of fellowship. Sometimes it’s loud. But neither of us will ever be able to say to the other, “Wow! I didn’t know you felt that way!”

There have been occasions when our spirited debate crossed the line and our expression of love and respect slipped—times when neither of us would yield to the other. On those occasions, we had to seek forgiveness from one another, and from God as well.

Submission can be tough. It has been discussed a great deal throughout the life of the church. I’ve heard some really excellent messages about it, and some that weren’t so great. And by not great, I mean they weren’t based in Scripture.

The Bible is clear: we are to submit to one another. Early on, God said it was not good for man to be alone; he needed a help meet. The word for help meet in the Hebrew of Genesis 2:18 is used nineteen additional times in the Bible, all in reference to “aid in battle—aid that usually came from God. Standing with your spouse against the attacks of the enemy to establish and protect your marriage is an important role. And it’s always a choice.

God created a specific pattern for marriage so that disputes are never left undecided or one-sided: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 NIV). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV). God placed the husband at the head of the home, a position not to exalt him but to create order. My mother would say that anything with two heads is a monster. I’ve seen husbands and wives vie for headship in marriage, battling for top spot, and it’s not pretty. Often the monster devours the marriage, and even if the union is not dissolved, peace and unity vanish.

God established the order: my husband is to love me (as Christ loved the church), and he is held accountable as the head of the home. That’s God’s plan, not my husband’s. If I am submitted to God, I will submit to God’s plan. It doesn’t mean I have no input in decisions or the direction for our life together.

“I don’t want a servant for a wife,” Ron says. “A silent partner might work in business, but it’s not helpful in marriage. I need a wife who will pray with and for me, offer insights and ideas, and share her heart as God leads her. I want a partner in making decisions. God knows me, and the world should not be exposed to me without her influence!”

The concept of yielding to one another has become important in our marriage. It ensures we each have a voice. Yielding is a voluntary process, a choice to agree to or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing. The choice to yield may come as a result of influence, position, affection, or respect for another.

There is a second meaning for this word: yield also describes the outcome or result of a choice or action. The farmer’s careful oversight of his crop yields a fruitful harvest. Godly, biblical choices yield a productive and favorable outcome. Insisting on our own way and refusing to submit will produce an outcome too, just not one Ron and I care to live with.

Sometimes I am able to influence his heart, and at times he has influenced mine through open, respectful dialogue. We submit to one another. Do we always find full and complete agreement on every topic? Of course not! In those instances, I choose to submit to God’s plan and order and yield to my husband. After all, he will have to account to God for the choices he makes.

What will you choose when the opportunity to yield comes knocking? Will you resist the temptation to bully or campaign to get your own way? Will you demand submission? Or will you create dialogue to allow understanding? It’s not always easy, but it’s always a choice.

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;                                                                                   and submit to each other out of respect for Christ. – Ephesians 5:20-21

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

 

Run, Baby, Run!

I Choose to Pursue You

February is National Marriage Month. So for the next four weeks, I will post excerpts from my book, I Choose You Today: 31 Ways to Make Love Last. We’ll look at submission, commitment, and pursuing your mate. On March 1, I’ll draw a name from all who have commented on any of the posts for a free copy of the book

 

As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:25)

Another business trip, another city. The worst part of that first day on the road is taking my clothes out of the suitcase, hanging them up, and pressing those that didn’t fare well during travel. I had just mentioned to my husband, Ron, that morning how much I dreaded that sometimes-twice-a-week task as I moved between client locations.

Now, as I pulled the advertised no-wrinkle blouse from my bag, an envelope fluttered to the floor. I fetched it from the carpet as I threw the blouse in the ironing pile.

Ron’s handwriting: Mag. His pet name made me smile immediately. I sank down on the foot of the bed and turned the envelope over. “I love you” was written across the sealed flap.

A sweet note inside reminded me of his love for me, how much he missed me every second I was gone and how he dreaded the empty side of the bed. A little flirting, a little prayer for my upcoming week. A sweet surprise, but not the first. Ron has pursued me consistently in the past thirty-eight years.

He’s the romantic; I’m pragmatic. He can recall the date of our first kiss and never forgets an anniversary or special occasion. He has created elaborate romantic surprises for me over the years, capturing my heart again and again.

I could take a page from his book. I’ve been guilty sometimes of saying to him the morning of his birthday, “I didn’t get you a card. Will a kiss do?”

I should be better at this. I grew up in a home where every day my father said to my mom, “Dottie, did I tell you today I love you?” She always responded: “Yes, but you can tell me again.” They were perfect together. Mom often appeared annoyed when Dad (in his seventies) would say to the waiter, “Hey there, buddy, look around. The most beautiful girl in the room is with me tonight.” She said it embarrassed her, but truthfully, she loved every romantic moment.

Ron’s envelope got me to thinking about the impact his pursuit has made on me. Knowing he always has me at the forefront of his thoughts and affections has created a great confidence, not only in our relationship but also for me personally. I’m not twenty-five anymore, but he still sees me as beautiful; he is still attracted to me. I trust his heart, if not always his eyes!

I’m so glad it’s his heart he uses when he looks at me.  I never wonder whether or not he truly loves me, needs me, and wants me. His pursuit speaks volumes, and it draws me to him time after time.

Doesn’t he deserve the same from me? That confidence that comes from being relentlessly pursued? He owns my heart; he knows it. But I want him to feel it. I want him to experience the same confidence and assurance his pursuit affords me. I want him to know that my affection and attraction to him have not only remained steady, but they’ve grown over the years.

I know Ephesians 5:25—with its directive to give up ourselves just as Christ did for the church—is addressed to husbands, but Romans 8:29 says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son” (NLT). God is in relentless pursuit of those he loves. God sent Jesus to pursue us and I am called to follow Jesus’ lead—to pursue those I love.

So, what does it mean to engage in a pursuit? Merriam-Webster defines it like this: to follow and try to catch or capture (someone or something) for usually a long distance or time. I want to capture my someone’s heart for a very long time. I want to be in love with Ron every day I draw breath.

I will admit, it doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m a list maker, a busy girl, and I’m not necessarily wired for pursuit. So, it’s a choice I want to make on a regular basis—even if I have to plan it. Spontaneity is overrated anyway.

I find Ron hard to resist when he’s chasing my heart. I’m betting I can create a major distraction when I’m in full pursuit.

So . . . what will you choose? What’s standing in the way of intentional pursuit (time, personality, issues, hurts/disappointments)? Are you willing to set this aside? What needs to be addressed in prayer or forgiveness?

Conventional wisdom: “She chased and chased me until I caught her.”

Larry Graeme (my dad!)

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

Someday, We’ll Look Back on This . . .

It wasn’t immediately humorous in the moment. But it didn’t take long to find the funny. Even today, looking back, it makes me chuckle.

Two years ago, my husband and I wrote our first book together. It might also be our last.

Although I’d published two books prior, it was the first time I’d worked with a co-author. Writing friends warned it could be challenging, but I’d waved that off with little concern. We’ve been married more than four decades, and best friends since high school. This was going to be fun.

As we began the work, we looked back over our 40 years. We recalled both the magic and the tragic. It was fun to reminisce. Raising three sons and building our businesses were proud achievements. Helping my parents transition from this life to the next was demanding—but we did it together. Trips to Disney, Little League and PTA, ministry, extended family and great friends. The conversations renewed the awareness of God’s blessings in our life.

Turns out, the process of getting it on the page, however, wasn’t that easy.

We recognized there could be only one pair of hands on the keyboard, so we developed a process for collaborating on the content. Once we’d talked it through and taken good notes, I sat at the computer and wrote the chapters.

I guess as I wrote, my own personal perspective found its’ way to the page more than I realized.

It seems we each have laser sharp memories about our life together. The problem is we often didn’t remember them exactly the same way.

When I completed a chapter, I read it aloud to him. I noted, fairly often, an odd expression on his face during these times. I began to recognize it as a look of doubt or conflict or confusion. But he’d let me finish the read. Then he’d pronounce: “I think we need to revisit that section about . . .” He’d then proceed to correct my memory and substitute his own version.

And that’s when the trouble began.

How could we have such different accounts of life’s moments together? We were both present. Neither was comatose. And yet, totally different memories. Sometimes the conversations got a bit heated.

Did I mention the book was on marital conflict?

On one specific occasion, in the middle of what we prefer to call intense moments of fellowship, Ron held his hand up in the internally recognized STOP position, and began searching for something on my desk.

“What are you looking for?” I was more than annoyed.

“A pen. Where do you keep all the pens?”

“Why do you need a pen?” I demanded.

He snatched a red pen from my drawer. “This is great stuff. For the book, for this chapter. Let me write this down before I forget it. What was it you just said about . . .?”

In the moment, I thought, he’s crazy. This is serious. We’ve got a deadline, and he’s pulling new material from our current conversation. We don’t have time for this.

But then, the absurdity of the moment found my funny bone and held on for dear life. We’re fighting about a book we’re authoring on marital conflict. I began to laugh. Not a ladylike chuckle, but a deep belly laugh.

He looked up from his editing with a “what’s so funny?” expression. And then it caught him. And he joined me in the moment.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

He was right. This was good stuff. Real stuff. The messy marriage mania that catches us all if we survive long enough. As a newlywed, I would have felt hurt or offended or marginalized. But forty years in the trenches puts things into perspective. And perspective – how we choose to view and assess the world (and the people) around us – is an important skill.

If it’s not a big deal, don’t make it a big deal.

The laughter broke the tension, and we hurried to capture what became some of the best moments of the book. Real. Transparent. Authentic.

Life is too short for drama. The old saying, someday we’ll look back on this and laugh is true. I’m still getting mileage out of the memory. But what if we could shorten that timeline, and remember that laughter is the best medicine in the moment?

 Father, help us put things in perspective today. Let us choose to view life through your eyes. Give us strength to resist picking up an offense. It is your command and our choice.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Prov. 17:22 MSG)

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

 

 

Family Matters Fun Friday!

Weird Things Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 11.47.35 AMWhile marital conflict is no laughing matter, there are some humorous videos that might help us see the light when it comes to our own behavior. So for the hearty laugh at the end of your week, watch for a shot of Friday Fun at Family Matters.

The goal: take your relationship seriously, but yourself less so. Thank goodness our kids didn’t have camera phones when they lived in our home! View it by clicking here! Weird Things 1

 

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Curing the Holiday Hiccups

by Deb DeArmond

“Aren’t you just devastated?” my colleague moaned.

“No, not really. I mean, we will certainly miss them,” I replied. “But they are clear that California is where God is taking them. I want them to be where He wants them to be. It was such a gift to have them here for two years.”

I told her about a dinner, hosted by my hubby and I — a gathering for a few family members recently. The purpose of the event was to share a meal and bid farewell to my oldest son and his wife as they prepared to relocate back to the west coast. They were set to leave the next morning.

“Oh, that would just be impossible to think about,” she said, shaking her head. “I couldn’t stand to lose my boys.”

Her declaration of “losing her boys” made me smile. Her sons are in elementary school. I can clearly understand her feelings, even if I don’t share them. But I did at one time . . .

My boys are all grown up with careers, with families of their own – adults. It took some getting used to – that awareness that mom and dad are not the central force in their lives. But we did get used to it—and we appreciate God’s clarity about the concept of leaving and cleaving. “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .” the Word says. Most importantly, Mama, remember they are to GO.

With the holidays approaching quickly, I want to encourage you to remember that God set them apart to stand with their spouses. That can become an issue and a bone of contention when it comes to holiday celebrations. Here are a couple of tips to make the season far more enjoyable for everyone:

  • Communicate early. Make sure you discuss what everyone’s plans or intentions are for celebrating the holiday. Make no assumptions, as it may lead to disappointment for you and them.

 

  • Be flexible as to what and when and where and how – and you may be surprised with the best day ever! Traditions are great, but if they no longer work, create some new ones.

 

  • Be fair. You don’t get to have them 100% of the time. They have in-laws, friends, and may decide that this year is not your year. Don’t pout or punish them. Make your own plans and prepare for a lovely time.

 

  • Celebrate their independence.  It’s a sign you did a great job of prepping them for adulthood. This is what is supposed to happen, and because it did, you can rejoice.

 

So, don’t hold so tightly to those adult kids that they want to squirm free of your grip. Make this holiday season one of the best celebrations ever.

Check out additional tips in my book on in-law relationships, which can be a holiday challenge: Related by Chance, Family by Choice at http://bit.ly/RelatedByChanceFamilyByChoice

 

ECRS: Early Conflict Response System!

I’m often asked about the book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight, which I co-authored with my husband, Ron. It released a year ago this week. People are interested— was it hard to collaborate with your spouse? What they really want to know is: “Did you fight while writing it?” It’s a fair question.

Having written two books on my own, this was an entirely different process. As co-authors, our goal was to collaborate. Meaning we had to find common ground as we created the content. Did I mention the topic was marital conflict?

We knew it might be a challenge. The process of talking about conflict had the potential to create conflict. So we developed a process – a plan – to move forward as a unit. It worked, and we delivered the book to the publisher on time. Hurray! High five!

Once the book was released, I had a moment when it hit me: we’d be interviewed together. Radio. Television. Print. When I was a solo flyer, I knew where I wanted the discussion to go, how to get there, and what to say. But, as much as I love this man, managing him—and what he says or does—has not been successful. No doubt, I’ve tried (and still occasionally try), but my record is dismal. He’s experienced similar results when the table is turned. We’re independent, strong willed – and completely committed to one another. It makes an interesting life.

I thought through all the possibilities, all the potential interview disasters that might await us. Stepping on one another’s comments, interrupting one another, and heaven forbid, correcting or disputing what the other said. I did mention the topic was marital conflict, right?

Once again, we created a plan: we assigned topics each would cover and defer to that assignee so we weren’t stepping on toes. The first few interviews were a little bumpy, but overall, went surprisingly well. We also created a sign – our own personal code that signaled, “I’d like to take that question,” or “you’re running on too long with your answer.” A simple knee bump. Hopefully under the table, unseen by the interviewer.

It worked. So, okay, occasionally I ignored a knee bump. Or he did. Or worse, the bump gave way to a look and a tighter than comfortable squeeze of the hand. But all in all – it worked and we enjoyed the process far more than we ever imagined.

It’s affirming to hear from couples who have found the book helpful. Some learned new ways to deal with old issues. Others, identified new strategies to be proactive, so that when conflict hunted them down, they can respond, not react.

A plan can help you prepare for success. It’s important in so many of life’s opportunities: getting married, having a baby, or buying a home. A plan provides a path forward when conflict comes calling.

What are the areas in your relationships that can create conflict? How might you be able to plan and prepare for a smoother, if not seamless, process when it comes knocking? Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

  • Identify the potential stress inducers. What’s your track record for winging it? How’d that work out? Typical pressure point areas include money, sex, the in-laws, and childrearing. There are many more, but those are the Big Four. If these topics produce conflict, acknowledge it. At what point does it go south? Once you’ve figured out where you got off a peaceful path, stop next time you get there. Ask yourself, “how can we work together on this?”

 

  • Ask, don’t tell. Use open ended questions to explore options, possibilities, and solutions. “What’s the best way to approach this?” or “How can we make this work that works for both of us?” Open-ended questions can lead to new and creative ways to deal with old problems.

 

  • Take a time out. It’s not just for temperamental toddlers. When you realize the heat is rising, take a break before it escalates. A simple, “I need to step away for 15 minutes,” can slow a discussion that’s spiraling into non-productive—or damaging—territory. Take time to gather your thoughts, and manage your emotions so they don’t end up managing you.

A conflict response plan can provide a path to peace. Give it a shot—what’ve you got to lose?

Find the book here: http://amzn.to/1ULkaJT

So You Wrote a Book With Your Husband . . .?

Couple looking at a photo albumSeveral people have recently asked me about the new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight,  and what it was like to co-author it with my husband, Ron. After writing the first two books myself, it was, well—different.

Ron has been very involved in all of the writing I’ve done in the past several years. He was on tap to listen to the read through of each chapter and offer his insights and feedback. He often helped me connect specific passages of scripture to the content of an article or chapter. Immensely helpful. His input was a huge value and often helped strengthen what I had created. But the decision to make a revision or add a new twist he’d suggested, was mine. Alone.

This was an entirely different process. As co-authors, our goal was to collaborate. Meaning we had to find common ground as we created the content. Did I mention the topic was marital conflict?

We developed a process to move forward as a unit. We agreed to discuss the chapter content, review survey and research results, make notes jointly, identify examples and appropriate scripture references, develop tools and application activities. I would then sit down at the computer and write the chapter. It sounded like a solid plan. On paper it looked good. And in the first chapter or two, it worked well.

Then we made an important discovery. As each new chapter began we’d reminisce about an occasion and discuss how it had transpired. Details. Who said what. How it went. We remembered the details vividly. But we often vividly remember it differently. Was it just that 40 years of experiences were difficult to remember with clarity? No. We each had crystal clear recall. Just not the same recall.

If it hadn’t been important to the writing process, it would have been humorous. And looking back on it all, it was pretty funny. Many of the topics, now some twenty or thirty years old seemed so trivial. Why did we let them become issues? Stubbornness? More time than common sense? Perhaps.

Others were more important: how we’d discipline our boys, deal with financial issues, or how busy schedules impacted time for romance and our sex life. Big stuff.

Apparently, we’ve worked it out. The details may escape us today, but we found agreement about the trivial and the significant.

The exercise of reviewing our four decades of life together was challenging at times, but a huge blessing. We recounted the times God came through, granted favor, instructed, corrected, and developed us as believers and as a couple. What an affirmation of His faithfulness. At 19 when we married, we were greener than grass about everything that life would demand of us. The gift of a young marriage is that we grew up, and grew up in Him together.

This was new for us as a twosome, and we learned a lot – some of it the hard way. So here are a few tips for those thinking about establishing a co-author project:

  • Vision. Talk about it, write it out, and revise it until it’s clear and one about which you both can be in full agreement. The Bible remind us in Habakkuk 2:2: “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (ESV).
  • Listen. My favorite definition of listening is the willingness to be changed by what you hear. We all have our own opinions and thoughts about the right way to do something. Your writing partner may have a different approach. Remember that different is not always wrong, it’s just different. Be open enough to hear other ideas. God brought you together as partners, so partner together.
  • Pray together. As a Christian writing team, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of craft and omit the cross in the process.
  • Communicate frequently. Set regular times to discuss, imagine, review and edit together. Creating a schedule can help establish a routine and allow each party to protect time on the calendar. In person is best, but if doing it remotely, try Skype or one of the other online meeting sites – Zoom is great – and it’s free.

When was the last time you and your mate looked back together over the collected years you’ve accumulated? A walk together down memory lane can be a great way to remind yourself there’s a lot to be grateful for in both the magic and the tragic. None of it’s wasted if you learned from the experiences and moved forward together. He can use it all.

Will we write another book together? Only time will tell.

 

It’s Coming – But You Can Order Now and Save!

Final Cover DGTBA_Are you tired of fighting the same battles over and over again? Ready to use the conflict in your marriage to create greater intimacy and connection in your life? It’s possible – and it’s the topic of our new book. That’s right – OUR new book – this one was co-authored by my husband, Ron. I mean, it’s only fair, right?

Conflict is not the real issue here for most of us. It’s the way we deal with the conflict that creates the problem. Silence, sarcasm, sulking – any of that sound familiar? That’s a short list of manipulation methods, and it’s the stuff that can damage the relationship. But if we learn and use tools that align us with one another and with God – and establish some rules together on how we will deal with conflict, discovery and deeper commitment can be the result.

Forty years of marriage have taught us a lot of lessons, and much of it was learned the hard way. Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! is the fast pass to help you skip daily attendance at the school of hard knocks and move beyond the “he said, she said” nonsense.

The book will officially release on June 21, but is now available for pre-order on any one of several sites. By ordering early, you will receive a significant discount, as much as 35%! So here’s the link to discover a new approach to an old problem. What are you waiting for???

Order Here Link 

Solving the Christmas Mystery

Mystery gift“I’ve solved the mystery,” a newlywed recently told me. “I now fully understand why my husband never puts his dish in the sink or picks up his underwear off the floor where he stepped out of them. His mother raised him to be helpless.”

I laughed. She didn’t.

She recounted their cross-country trip for the Christmas holidays, which they spent in her mother-in-law’s home. “It was our first Christmas together as a married couple, but his mom had not been well and she begged us to come. Apparently her son is the cure for what ails her,” she sighed loudly as she recalled the trip. “She waited on him hand and foot. From the tearful greeting at the front door till the moment we left.You would have thought he was coming home from the war: My son! My son has come home! “Just something about that set my teeth on edge. His home is 2000 miles away. This is his mother’s home. He’s a grown man, for crying out loud.”

It was a tough situation. But most men come to the altar with something very real: the other woman, his mother, who has known and loved him far longer than “that new woman.” Mama probably also thinks she loves him more than any wife ever could.

You can come to the in-law party at any age. It’s not reserved for twenty-somethings alone. But the older you are, the more challenging a task to build a relationship with the other woman may be. Accepting and welcoming a new daughter might be easier when you’re 45 than at 60. We’ve spent more time on the planet at 60, selected and become committed to our way of thinking, living and being.

The same is true for the new bride. The longer you’ve been out from under your own mother’s purview and lived on your own makes a difference. Accepting the drama from a brand new mama may be a long way down on your to-do list. And the challenges between mamas and the girls who marry their sons have no expiration date. The distance and difficulty may remain in the relationship far beyond the first year of adjustment.

There are other twists on the scenario with the women in question smiling through gritted teeth at best, snarling and spitting at worst. All as we sit together around the Christmas tree in celebration of the birth of our Lord.

There may have been past hurts in the relationship between the MIL and the DIL. Other variations on the theme may be a factor, as well: today’s families are complex, with blended families, ex-spouses, step-grandparents and so on. Tensions can run high.

So how do we focus on the real reason we’ve come together? A couple of quick tips: don’t dredge it or dramatize it. Drop it, instead.

  • Don’t Dredge It: Don’t make this year’s holidays unbearable by dredging up the past, obsessing about it for weeks in advance and assuming that this year, too, will be a disaster. It will create dread on your part and the potential to read something negative into everything she says. If you go loaded for bear, every movement in the brush gets a backside of buckshot. Let the past stay in the past.
  • Don’t Dramatize It: It’s a brief season. Avoid creating drama over a few days spent together. I spoke to a woman who dreaded the holidays because her woman-in-law was such a drama queen, similar to the woman in our opening example. If she wants to make a fuss over her only son, let her – and stop rolling your eyes. He’s still going home with you when it’s over. And Mama, remember, his wife is the most important woman in his life. If you love him, treat her as he would expect you to.
  • Drop It! Take past issues and hurts to the foot of the cross, drop them and, walk away. Make a decision to leave them there. Jesus is more than able to heal the hurt that comes from rejection by those who are supposed to love you – He experienced it. Whether you are the MIL or the DIL, if you are a follower of Christ, it’s what He expects us to do. I am not suggesting what you’ve experienced isn’t genuinely painful. I am suggesting that if you are waiting for her to make it right, you might wait a very long time.

Why not make this the year you make your move and choose a fresh start in the relationship? Consider it a gift to the man in the middle. Doing it will make more real the holiness of this holiday season – and it will make our Lord smile.

This topic is tough to address in a single post. My book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice, covers the topic of women-in-law relationships comprehensively. Written with the input of my own three daughters-in-love, it’s for every woman whether the relationship is just beginning, already difficult – or good, and you’d like to take it up a notch. You can find it at the links listed here at:
Amazon
ChristianBooks.com
or at your local Christian Book store.

I Choose You Today, Ron!


DeArmond-27Happy Birthday to my sweet husband, Ron.
Nearly five decades of Godly wisdom resides in this man. As many noted today on his Facebook page, he is a great guy and gives the best father hugs ever. Being married to me for forty years has been a workout. It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been worth the effort. His commitment, love, and loyalty has never faded. Neither has his pursuit of me. He’s good at this one, me, not so much. So today, I wanted to acknowledge a side of Ron many have never experienced. It’s from my book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last.

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Another business trip, another city. The worst part of that first day on the road is taking my clothes out of the suitcase, hanging them up and pressing those that didn’t fare well in the travel process. I had just mentioned to my husband, Ron, that morning how much I dreaded that task— sometimes twice a week, as I moved between client locations.

And now, as I pulled the as advertised no-wrinkle blouse from my bag, an envelope fluttered to the floor. I fetched it from the carpet as I threw the blouse in the ironing pile.

Ron’s handwriting: Mag. His pet name made me smile immediately. I sank down on the foot of the bed and turned the envelope over. “I love you” was written across the sealed flap.

A sweet note inside reminded me of his love for me, how he much he missed me every second I was gone, and dreaded the empty side of the bed. A little flirting, a little prayer for my upcoming week. A sweet surprise, but not a first. Ron has pursued me consistently in the last 38 years.

He’s the romantic; I’m pragmatic. He can recall the date of our first kiss, never forgets an anniversary or special occasion. He has created elaborate romantic surprises for me over the years, capturing my heart again and again.

I could take a page from his book. I’ve been guilty sometimes of saying to him the morning of his birthday, “I didn’t get you a card. Will a kiss do?”

I should be better at this. I grew up in a home where everyday my father said to my mom, “Dottie, did I tell you today I love you?” Her response was always the same: “Yes, but you can tell me again.” They were perfect together. Mom would often appear annoyed when Dad (at age 75) would say to the waiter, “Hey there, bud, look around. The most beautiful girl in the room is with me tonight.” She said it embarrassed her terribly. Truthfully, she loved every moment of his pursuit.

That envelope got me to thinking about the impact Ron’s pursuit made on me. Knowing he always has me at the forefront of his thoughts and affections have created a great confidence, not only in our relationship, but also for me, personally. I’m not 25 anymore, but he still sees me as beautiful; he is still attracted to me. I trust his heart (if not always his eyes!), but it’s his heart he uses when he looks at me. I never wonder whether or not he truly loves me, needs me, and wants me. His pursuit speaks volumes and it draws me to him time after time.

Doesn’t he deserve the same from me? That confidence that comes from being relentlessly pursued? He owns my heart; he knows it. But I want him to feel it. I want him to experience the same thing, the same confidence, and the same assurance that my affection and attraction to him have not only remained steady, but they’ve grown over the years.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Eph. 5:25 (NIV). I know this is addressed to husbands, but Romans 8:29a says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son,” (NLT). God is in relentless pursuit of those He loves. He sent Jesus to pursue us and I am called to follow His lead—to pursue those I love.

So what does it mean to engage in a pursuit? Merriam-Webster defines it like this: to follow and try to catch or capture (someone or something) for usually a long distance or time. I want to capture my someone’s heart for a very long time. I want to be in love with Ron every day I draw breath.

I will admit, it doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m a list maker, a busy girl, and I’m not necessarily wired for pursuit. So it’s a choice I want to make on a regular basis—even if I have to plan it. Spontaneity is overrated anyway.

I find him hard to resist when he’s chasing my heart. I’m betting I can create a major distraction when I’m in full pursuit.

So . . . what will you choose?

Ron DeArmond, I choose you!