Monday, February 23, 2009

Barely Surviving to Thriving???

Please check back to my blog a little later. I'll be following up today's devotion on Encouragement for Today where I'll go into a few more details about my marriage and it's transformation. (or I guess I should say my transformation).

In the mean time, if you have any questions for me, please post them here and I'll answer them. Ask whatever you want, anything goes!

Also, check out the post right below this one. If your marriage is struggling, I pray it encourages you. Two years ago I would have thought for sure we could never have had a weekend like the one I wrote about in that post.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll be back soon to write more!



Well, I'm back. I thought I'd post around noon. Only I received so many emails that had similar stories or were from women (and men) who wanted to share their marriage journey and struggles. The comments on this blog today had me very prayerful. I can't address everything here today, but over the next few days I'll try to cover what I can.

Many people mentioned "The Love Dare". Very interesting because just this past weekend I wrote a devotion titled "The Love Dare", based on the book, which is based on the movie Fireproof, which I have been using since Christmas. It totally changed my perspective on love. I'm not going to say much more about it now because I plan to do much more with it when the devo runs. But, I would recommend it. I started it without telling my husband. I changed inside and he noticed a difference within the first 5 days.

I said to my husband tonight, "Honey, was it worth it? What we went through? Maybe so we could encourage others and bring hope to their marriages?" He couldn't say "yes".....we went through a lot of pain. And we wouldn't ever wish it on anyone else. But....God has brought good out of it. We don't share every detail of our issues. Some are just too painful and personal. But God has used the "barely surviving" of our marriage and empowered us to share what we are ready to share to hopefully bring hope to those struggling.

One of my roles at Proverbs 31 is to go through the prayer requests each day and forward them on to our Prayer Warriors, who faithfully pray. As I copy and paste these requests, I too pray for them. I also answer the phone in our office and pray with people over the phone. Do you know what our #1 prayer request is? MARRIAGE! So nothing anyone has posted has surprised or shocked me. I've either experienced it myself or heard it over and over through those in need of prayer. I know first hand that marriage is being attacked in a big way. #2 is finances. I don't know about you, but financial hardship was another thing hurting my marriage. (I have a devo coming up about that too!)

The truth is, marriage is not easy. When we say our vows, the preacher makes you repeat, "for better or worse" that's because there will be better and you can bet there will be worse. We make a commitment to stay together NO MATTER WHAT...."for better or for worse"....but when the worse comes, we aren't prepared and we get scared and bail. It's hard. But we have all we need to withstand it. We have Jesus.

Now I know that sounds great. I used to look at those couples with "perfect marriages" and think....there is no way she understands what I have to live with...what I'm going through...the fear, the uncertainty, the debt, the lack of control....etc.

Anyway, for now, if I can give anyone a piece of advice, it would be....DON'T GIVE UP! There is hope. God is so much bigger than we can grasp. Our relationship with Him is the ONLY thing we can totally count on 100%. We have to have that right first, then direct our focus on our husbands.

Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage by Stormie O'Martian was big for me. I read Power of a Praying Wife first some years back. I picked up this one last year when my marriage was on the brink of extinction. It touched on issues no one wants to talk about. You know the "secret" things you can't tell your church friends. Needless to say it was one of many resources that helped me.

Thank you so much for writing me. I will try to address the topics mentioned in the posts for the remaining of the week. And if you have any personal questions, feel free to contact me directly at God Bless you. And God Bless your marriage.

Much Love,


The 2 devotions I wrote previously that I mentioned in my devotion, you can find here:


DonnaSue said...

I really enjoyed your devotion today. I have a very "racey" past and had trouble when I first was married. My husband was very interested in me and I was tired of trying to keep up with his desires. I finially prayed, Lord, help me WANT my husband. Over and over for days I prayed. We ended up having a wonderful relationship. I am very glad I prayed that. Now I have health issues that we are not able to have that "closeness". He is wonderful about it, and I am happy that at one time we had it wonderful. Now our greatest bond is holding hands and snuggling. We wouldn't have been able to make it if it wasn't for the fact that we have God at the center of our marriage. God Bless You

Angie said...

Today I begin the Love Dare. Need I say more.
Melissa you inspire and encourage me more than you can ever know.
I have been "Barely Surviving"..I am ready to Thrive.

Anonymous said...

I was just praying this morning after dropping my kids off at school for the Lord to send me a friend that I could talk to about my marriage. I read your devotion and cried. I have been married for almost 13 years. We have really been struggling for the past 3 years. I thought the 10 year was a milestone and we were okay after that milestone. NOT! It gets harder and it is so true that you constantly have to work on your marriage. After reading your devotion I was reminded at how much I do focus on changing my husband instead of staying focused on God and my relationship with him. My husband is not interested in me and it hurts so bad. (for those of you that complain about your husband always wanting you, the grass is not always greener on the other side). I would give anything for my husband to ask me out for a date or to put his arm around me or to touch me the way a husband and wife should touch each other. Most days I just sit and cry and try to figure out what I can do differently. Today I was reminded that I need to focus on me and my relationship with God and let God be God. Thank you Melissa for being so transparent. God Bless!

Paula (SweetPea) said...

"I wrote a devotion where I revealed portions of my past that continue to affect my marriage today. I followed that up with another one recounting the struggle I've had being intimate with my husband."

Where can I find these?

If you will, just hit reply and I'll get your email in my box. I'm afraid if you answer here, I may forget to come back and check.

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your entry, Melissa. I've never been to your blog. I too am waiting for my marriage to thrive instead of just survive-- and barely at that sometimes! I have been married for 12 years and we have two elementary school aged girls. My husband is a very angry man and although he says he knows the Lord, I can't see the fruit of that. I know I am not the one to judge this, but I am awestruck sometimes of the things that he says/does. The thing is, my husband is a good man, don't get me wrong. He is honest, is a hard worker, and loves his family (as much as he can). But as his wife, I endure many, many, many temper tantrums, sarcastic comments and just blatant unfair treatment from him. I am trying to focus on myself and my relationship with God, but when my husband blurts things out that are completely out of line and unfair, it really discourages me. There are other things going on in my life that's making me focus on my own relationship w/ God. I do see that that is what he's trying to teach me right now. Please pray for me. It's hard to imagine my marriage as thriving, but I hope that's what I can say one day soon!

Anonymous said...

I too have had "problems" in my marriage, I have even thought about leaving my husband, in fact I had everything packed in my head. I knew where I would go and what I would do, I was just waiting for that one last thing. I hoped or daydreamed about him doing something, an affair, hit me or whatever that would totally justify my leaving. Sounds horrible, right. Yes it is, the thing that for me I have to really be careful of are those thoughts, and those words, to friends, family, or anyone else. It seems that if I allow myself to dwell on the problems, they get bigger and out of control, and nowhere near the size of the initial hurt. I no longer want to leave my husband, but I do have to be careful of old mindsets. I too use the book 'Power of a Praying Wife' and I do not like criticism, but the change needed had to start with me. I guess what I am trying to say is be very careful of thoughts and words, they sure do alot of damage to a marriage.

Lynn Cowell said...

Thanks so much for being vulnerable. I just love you!!!


Van said...

Melissa, I want to add a note of gratittude for your willingness to be transparent. What our world needs now is thriving marriages, loving, parents, secure children. It is possible. I know. I too came to the same realization: my hope for a better future was wrapped up in my relationship with Jesus. As soon as I took my eyes off my man and focused on the Man, Jesus, my life, marriage, relationships, purpose all began to take on a new meaning and I began to thrive. I am praying for you as you address marriages and encourage women. luv u sis

Anonymous said...

Love - is it a feeling or a decision? Or both? Which do we begin with? God commands us to love others, so that's a decision, right?

Renee said...

Oh my! This was definitely a God thing today. I was feeling very overwhelmed last night about the relationship I have with my hubby lately. He's a great husband and if he'd only do things the way I want them done everything would be better. Right? *grin* Then as I was making breakfast this morning I started thinking maybe I need to change my attitude because it's really not helping anything. Gasp! Me change, ok, I'll think about it, but later. Then I go downstairs to my office and read my email and here is the devotion for the day. Well slap me up along side the head! The daily devotions from the Prov. 31 ministries are just want I need and I can be certain God knows that as well. Thanks so much and Praise be to God! The Lord has used you today.

Christie said...

I am glad I found this site. I have been struggling with my marriage for a while now. I found out about a year and a half ago that my husband had an affair with our teenage babysitter, and yes, they had sex in our home. Of course, I suspected the whole time, but couldn't prove it until another one of our babysitters accused him of asking her to have sex with him. I talked with her and she told me that he had told her everything he had done with the previous babysitter. I felt like I had just fallen into the middle of a nightmare.
We have two sweet boys aged 8 and 10 now, so I chose to stay in the relationship for their sake. My husband agreed to go to counseling at our church and we've been through a Dynamic Marriage class, and are now taking a Dynamic Love class. But things are so different now. He still seems like my best friend, but I don't feel like I love him anymore. I am not sexually attracted to him at all and I know that sex is his number one need from the classes we've been through. I almost resent sex now because that's all that's been drilled into my head in these classes-my husband needs sex, and if I don't give that to him he will find it elsewhere and it will be all my fault. I have a really hard time telling him that I love him. He makes me feel like everything is my fault. I get so confused because sometimes I think I might be able to continue the marriage and get over everything, and then there's othertimes when I daydream about finding a new place to live and not having to deal with all the bad memories and constant daily reminders of everything that happened. I resent him sometimes. But I feel stuck because I could never do anything to hurt our boys and I know that a divorce would be devastating to them. I'm tired of trying to be positive and tired of faking a smile on my face. I'm tired of all the work and I'm tired of feeling guilty for not being attracted to him anymore, and for being pressured into having sex with him. I don't know what to do and I need a million prayers...and a miracle. Thank you for reading my babbling. It helps to express my feelings!

Michele said...

I loved your devotion today. I think the most outstanding part to me was I also read Stormie Omartians book, "The Power of a Praying Wife". I have spoke those prayers and scriptures over our marriage for the last 2 years. The last year has been awesome. I have friends who have said to me how much my husband has changed. I, as you did, did not begin praying for him to change but for me, as Stormie suggests. I changed and then I began to see the changes in him. Only through the power of Jesus Christ can we see these kinds of miracles. Don't give up! Keep praying! God is so very good!

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your devotionals. I read about your weekend. Beautiful, but hard for me. I've bee married 17 years, surviving. I love my husband but it seems like a dark rain cloud persists over our marriage. I was reminded this morning as I prayed that all of life's issues flows out of our relationship with Jesus. If our relationship with Him is in line we will be able to see and act in truth. And then the other question that hit me this morning was, "What am I feeding on that will nourish my heart for my marriage?" Again my thoughts need to be on rejoicing in truth and not in all the iniquities of our marriage. I'm not a blogger and don't read blogs, but I appreciate this one. It seems to be an outlet for many women who are in the same situation. I pray you will continue with more encouraging devotionals. Maybe in 2 years (or whenever) the Lord will bless us with one of those weekends too!
Blessings to you!

WeaverD said...

God is amazing....He can do wonders in a marriage. Praise God! I am firm beliver in power of prayer because I have seen so many of my prayers answered from God. Especially my marriage lately.
Thank you for sharing so belivers need to encourage eachother each other up!
God Bless you

jenncastano said...

The same thing happened to me. We were having a rough go of it and I wanted my hubby to change in the worst way. But The Power of a Praying Wife book opened my eyes- big time! I started praying for His Wife (me!) everyday and also one of the topical prayers for my hubby-- I saw God move, first in my heart and then in my marraige. It's all about the heart and God's access to it. Thks for the devo today- great reminder! bless you!

Linda Kelley said...

I feel that I have been blessed by finding your blog! You said to ask questions if I had any and boy do I have a big one!
I'm 55 years old and I have been married for 21 years. My husband and I have been separated for the last 10 months because of his adultery with a girl that is 18 years younger than him.
I pray for myself and for him many times a day. Naturally I want my marriage to be saved but even more I pray for the Lord to rekindle His prescence in my husband's life.
I had a dream where he went to Hell and as hard as I tried I couldn't pull or love him out of that pit. I have a great fear for his soul. I don't want to change him but I do want him to receive God back into his life.
I have forgiven him many months ago and I still love him deeply. He knows this and he knows that I would renew our marriage in a heartbeat if he would just recommit to it.
I have seen the Lord working in his live in small ways and I try to be patient and wait upon the Lord but when I see my husband fall back down from the progress that he has made toward his relationship with our Father it breaks my spiritual heart.
What suggestions could you give me for working through this period in our lives and marriage?
He will not go to counseling, yet he does not want a divorce. We both do not believe in divorce very strongly.
I need help and insight to this part of my life. Do you have any advice to offer?

Mike K said...

I typically skip the woman writers in “Encouragement for Today” but today I sat and read your and then your Blog. thank you Melissa, I am the other side, male side that is, of the struggles you have been through. I have just started the journey of focusing on my relationship with Jesus Christ and not my wifes. The start is slow, but I have spent a long time getting this far of track. I will just keep my eye on the prize seeking to glorify God in all I do.

Joyful said...

Thanks again Melissa for speaking to my heart. It's not so much about having the ideal mate as being one.

I love you tons my friend.

pamelasue said...

I haven't read your past posts and am just wondering how you felt when you were barely surviving?? Our problem has been since we have had our son. We love him of course, but with a young child (2 years old) is is hard to get the "us" time we need. Any suggestions would be great!! I have started readying the Love Dare book when i get a chance.

Thanks so much!

Denese said...

My "barely surviving to thriving" journey began almost a year ago. I was brought up in the Catholic faith but never really felt as though I "knew" God. I was led back to my faith by my wonderful 20-something year old daughter, whose spirituality & faith I am in awe of on a daily basis. She & her husband are very involved with their church & a lot of their friends from church blog. One of them is Heather and because I started reading her blogs about marriage and her marriage and respect and submission & a book/manual she actually wrote called Her Hands I began to discover things about myself that only the Lord could've known & had been waiting for me to see. Long story short I travelled to Zambia last summer with my dtr & sil to work as a counselor with Camp Life Zambia. Upon my return my husband of 9 yrs told me he'd filed for divorce while I was away. Needless to say I was speechless & in a state of shock. It was rather ironic because I'd honestly told him one day before I left for my trip that I'd was working on becoming a Christian wife. I knew neither of us was very happy with the way things were at home and knew that I was the one who had to make a change in me. I returned home the end of June and began to work in earnest on changing myself, reading endlessly - The Excellent Wife, Power of a Praying Wife, Capture His Heart. My husband was doubtful & said I couldn't do it - couldn't change but I did & still am changing - it's something I work at every single day with & through the Lord. It's not been easy and I've had my setbacks but it was & still is so worth it. I'm looking forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary in May & even thinking about renewing our vows. Garner as much encouragement as you can - read, believe & trust what these ladies at Proverbs 31 say - it's all true and with God first in your life the happiness you desire is just a prayer (or too or three)away. Hang in there & don't give up!

Anonymous said...

Wow, reading your article and these comments, i just have to say,
"marriage is not easy!". I have been married 27 years and it has been a lot of ups, downs, ins and outs. I have almost left 3 times. Our 4children are grown and gone and sometimes living alone just seems so much easier than the rejection and effort of marriage. I have read dozens of marriage books. A great book to read is "Love and Respect". I find that is my problem, I feel unloved so easily and just want to leave, as the rejection seems unbearable. My husband is a good man, but we are both so proud and stubborn and he does not handle conflict well at all, he just disappears. Then I feel lost and so alone. The answer is not in the arms of another man though. I have made that HUGE mistake too. The only love that will ever meet our needs is not on this earth, but the love of our Father in heaven. It is so hard, but we have to learn to love sacrificically, knowing we are so loved by God. Prayer and fellowship help. Make sure that someone is loving you, even if you have to get a pet! We need to be filled up before we can share our love and that is the challenge - to stay full in a healthy way! Christian radio, music, good friends, laughter, children, taking care of yourself, let these things fill you so you have love to give. It is so easy to become depleted, and that is when we make poor choices. Our husbands need us, even if they do not know it. We just have to stay healthy and whole so we can truly be their helpmates. Not always easy, and I falter plenty, for days at a time, but with the Lord's strength, we can do anything!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, It sounds like even though you have your share of problems, you know the tools to use and how to use them.
I know that it seems like a losing battle at times when all we want is peaceful negotiation. I have found that the only real peaceful resolution comes from Christ Jesus.
Like you I use all of the equipment that God gives me to first of all serve Him and then by setting an example for my husband....and we are separated! Believe me, being left alone is not the answer. Because I believe I have hope and that hope paired with the Will of my God is a mighty suit of armor!
I will pray for you and I ask that you pray for me too.
YSICJ Linda Kelley

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
It sounds like you have the tools and know how to use them on your situation. If you are like me then you use every piece of equipment and knowledge that the Lord gives you. I use them first to serve my Father and then, by example, to set a good facsimile of a marriage for my husband.
I too, have a bit of a stubborn side, ( I even find it hard to submit to my Lord ), but the more that I do it with Jesus as my guide, the more I am able to do and show it to my husband. I will be praying for you and for the love and patience that we can only receive from our Father. Please pray for me in my marriage struggles too.
YSICJ - Linda Kelley

imbornagain said...

Dear Anonymous,
It sounds like you have the tools and know how to use them on your situation. If you are like me then you use every piece of equipment and knowledge that the Lord gives you. I use them first to serve my Father and then, to set a good example of a marriage for my husband.
I too, have a bit of a stubborn side, ( I even find it hard to submit to my Lord ), but the more that I do it with Jesus as my guide, the more I am able to do and show it to my husband too.
I will be praying for you and for the love and patience that we can only receive from our Father. Please pray for me in my marriage struggles too.
YSICJ - Linda Kelley

Tammy Nischan said...

Loved your devotion on marriage! Thanks for being so transparent. God bless you in your ministry.
tammy nischan

Meeka said...

Dear Melissa,
Wow, I love & appreciate how "real" you are with your readers. I always say that it's tough to be human, though actually it's just too EASY to be human! Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
I have been married for 15+ years (thank you, Lord), but it has definately been a roller coaster ride. Things are definately on the upside for us these days, but my prayers is to be the wife (& mother) that God wants me to be. We recently watched Fireproof and it hurt to watch (we've been down that road so often), but I was so inspired. I look forward to reading your other blogs about more that you took from that.
God bless you, Melissa (& your marriage!).

Anonymous said...

We might not see burning bushes or parting of the seas, but we can see God's hand in our lives Melissa's devotion. I, too, have the Power of a Praying Wife and it spoke directly to me, I'll never forget that feeling when I felt like God touched my shoulder. I was at my extreme lowest part of my married life, we had been through so much with kid stuff, in law stuff, etc. I was so angry at God...'why has our 15+ years been so challenging, why does one of our children struggle so much in school and why won't my husband be part of this? I felt my husband had deserted me as a husband and as well as a father when we needed him most.
Looking back, I can thank him. It drew me right to God's arms. I sobbed day after day and into the night, but I read my Bible in a way I had never read before. James 4:8 opened my eyes as never before...I went to God and He came to me... Ps 46:5 reminded me that 'God is within her (me), she (I) will not fall, God will help (her) me at the bread of day.'
Over and over again I read and reread my little spiral bound notecards full of verses that I carry with me everywhere I go.
There have been improvements in our marriage, but there have been different challenges as well. God has a hand in our lives, my husband just refuses to take God's hand, but it's amazing how God gets my husbands attention, little ways that leave an impression. One of my favorite passages is Ex. 14:14 (same as Melissa's at the bottom of the page) The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
I agree with what Stormie says in her book, the best mantra for me and what helped her is 'shut up and pray'. :)
I try to keep a different perspective on this journey. I have a prayer journal and regularly go back to it, it's been interesting to see this happen. I have taken the approach of just being still and watching what God does with this situation.
Daily my heart breaks and I often feel that for every positive forward step taken - 5 steps get erased. But my faith is stronger than ever, my kids are happy which is one of God's blessings in our lives...a year ago, there was alot of crying and yelling and this year there is minimal.
Thank you Melissa, and thank you for Proverbs31, it's what I look forward to daily...and just what I need to read.

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