Thriving After Infidelity: A Story of Two Affairs

When I was a young girl attending a private Christian school, I knew that there were two reasons for getting a divorce, and no more. 

1. Unfaithfulness

2. Abuse of spouse or children

It was presented to me as a set of laws, cut and dry, black and white. I never really thought about it any further than I was told. 

I grew up and got married (at the ripe age of 20) and learned immediately that marriage is one very hard fight. You're fighting for something you both said you wanted against every ounce of selfishness in each of you combined. For Brian and I, it was very rough and took a long time. We went through loads of hurt and even some betrayal (to a smaller degree than cheating), which I will eventually share, but I finally got it. Marriage is tough, and it's not for the faint of heart. We were willing to stick it out and bury our feet in the dirt, hand-in-hand, but it didn't get any easier until we both matured and let God do some serious work on us. 

After seeing how difficult marriage can be, I started thinking about the two laws of marriage I had been taught in school. No wonder it was 'okay' to get a divorce after someone cheats. This thing is hard enough as it is! Who could take that?

Someone who embodies all the humility and grace as Christ Himself did when He walked the soil of earth. Someone who is willing to say no to the hatred wanting to collect in their heart and say yes to the hard road of forgiveness. Someone who knows there's more to life than just being happy, and there's more to commitment too. 

Armelina and Ben Stevens were married when they were eighteen and nineteen years old, in Spring of 2007. They were Christians, but didn't have relationships with Jesus. Their communication only existed to bring one another down, they argued constantly, their lives were all about themselves and never each other. 

"We had no idea what it took to have a good marriage, nor did we care. We each did what we wanted." Armelina tells me. 

"After a few years and three kids, we both ended up having affairs. At that point we were both so broken."

Armelina went on to share with me how her kids were unhappy, aware of their parents' misery, and she and Ben saw that. Ben eventually saw the signs of an affair in his wife, and knowing that he himself had been unfaithful, he went to the pastor who had married them for counsel. The pastor advised him to confess and pray with her, and go from there, which he did. 

Some incredible things have happened in the Stevens family since that dark time, and I sat down to interview Armelina and get her story. It's one of those ones that should be shared with the world, because it's a bright white beam of light and hope in a world where ending a marriage means little more than the inconvenience of paperwork. 

Me: So Ben came to you about his affair, knowing about yours, and you sort of had it out that night?

Armelina Stevens: Yes. It was a hard talk to have and I ended up leaving, going outside, and not wanting to talk about it or deal with it for about a week. I was furious with him. 

Me: You said divorce was never an option, even after you and your husband came clean about your affairs. What kept you from feeling like your marriage was too broken to be worth saving?

AS: We have always been Christians, but we didn't have a relationship with the Lord. I spent the week after smoking cigarettes outside, processing, thinking of what to do. My husband said he was willing to bring us back to church, get back to God. I saw that God was changing him right before my eyes. I knew that had to mean something good, something different. I just couldn't say 'see ya later' after that. I could see what God was doing and what we were able to become. 

Me: What was the state of your feelings toward your husband during your affair? During the reconciliation?

AS: I didn't show much of my negative feelings at first because of the kids. There was this one day where I felt God on me, and my feelings were completely overridden by His presence. I had peace. 

After everything happened, I kissed him for the first time in a parking lot, a week after we confessed to each other. That was the most passionate kiss I've ever had. It felt like we were remarried. You could feel the fresh start.

Me: You said your kids were hurting because they saw you were arguing and unhappy together, and you both saw that in them. Did you initially stay together just for them, and that led into loving each other again? 

AS: It really wasn't about the kids. It was just a desire to be a happily married couple, to love each other through even the toughest times till death do us part. We really wanted that deep down. Our pastor told us, it's God first, then each other, then your kids. I heard that and thought, "yes, I want that kind of relationship." Now our kids are so much happier that we are putting each other first.

Me: You mentioned it took about a week after his confession for your worlds to break down and for you to come together willing to work on things. Why was it a week? What were you feeling and what was going on during that time?

AS: I just felt so guilty for what I had done. I just wanted to cry and get everything out. A part of me wanted to believe that his affair was worse and I was so angry; I wrestled with that during that week. Eventually I realized sin is sin, there are no levels. When you ask forgiveness God casts it away from you, and that's it. I knew if things were going to get better I had to act that out in my marriage. 

Me: What would you say to the wife who has been unfaithful and doesn't know what to do now?

AS:  Get counseling. Pull your Bible out. Talk to a trustworthy, godly friend who will encourage you in your marriage. I didn't have that. I only had friends who told me to leave my husband. That was so hard, and I had to make friends through a new Bible study. Basically, buckle down and pray. It's so cliche but it's honestly the best thing you can do. That's where God speaks to us. 

Me: What would you say to the wife who has been betrayed in her marriage, and chosen to forgive and move on, but continues to bring up the past to her husband?

AS: Oh I struggled with that so bad for a couple of years after we reconciled. I would just get so angry and irritated, Satan kept reminding me of what Ben had done and I would throw it in his face. The fact is, who was I to say something to him?! I had done the same thing. So to that wife I would say, keep your mouth shut. Open it only to encourage and pray for your heart and for him. You chose to forgive so keep on choosing it. 

Me: Were there any specific verses or quotes that really resonated with you during the moving on process?

AS: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. That's the passage we were given to read together. Love endures all things, it never fails. That's God. How amazing is it that we serve a God who forgives and forgets? Not once does God bring it up again. That's a model for us in our marriages. It's such an overused passage but when I took it for that horrible situation, it came alive and took on a new meaning. 

Me: I'm gonna get awkward and ask the question I think a lot of women need to hear about from someone who has been through it. Was coming together again sexually a bumpy road for the two of you? How soon after everything did that happen for you guys?

AS: It was after we went to counseling. My husband was willing to wait until I was ready and he told me that. I felt God moving us into starting the healing process, and being intimate with one another was what that looked like for us. I didn't need a waiting process.  

Me: Do you have any advice for other wives in similar circumstances when it comes to being intimate with their husbands again?

AS: Do it only when you're ready. When you feel completely ready to give yourself back to your husband physically and not think about anyone else, or not be worried about him thinking about anyone else, that's the time. Before our affairs we were both bored and just not really trying. After all this happened, our intimacy is amazing. I'm so glad you're asking me about this because it's a part of the process I think is surprising that I really wanted to share to encourage someone who needs to hear this. I wasn't enjoying it before at all, but now sex is so much more pleasurable and romantic and sweet. We are so much more connected. I am more attracted to him and I can't wait for him to get home every night. Every time we are together it gets better. I am so thankful for the changes that difficult time brought to our sex life. God woke us up. He woke us up in every area. We weren't having intimacy before.

Me: Do you think that's because you weren't giving yourselves over to each other emotionally that your physical intimacy wasn't satisfying?

AS: Yes, absolutely.

Ben and Armelina are the picture of what God can do if you'll allow him into your relationships and into the brokenness that comes from being human. I am so honored they let me share their story, and so thankful to Armelina for her raw honesty. We shouldn't feel shameful for our stories of sin and restoration. These are the stories that will change the world. 

Armelina and her husband, Ben are two people redeemed by grace. They have three children and live in Southern California. 

Note: Cheating is horrible and painful and so sorrowful. I want to say that I do not believe staying in a marriage after unfaithfulness is always the answer. I know someone who was cheated on over and over again and she remained in her marriage as long as possible, until the circumstances became abusive and incredibly harmful. Sticking around and taking that kind of abusive behavior is a totally different story. Praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance in these hard situations is crucial. I'm just here delivering Armelina's story to share a glimpse of hope and healing and faithfulness, because sometimes it is the way to go, although not always. 

5 Reasons Men Are Better Parents

Dads are awesome. Not every dad, but generally men bring a different vibe to a kid's childhood that I sometimes really envy. There are aspects of my husband's parenting that I just can't mimic; it's his, he's the dad, and he rocks. 

I stay home with our four young kids and Brian works the 8-5. Our separate lives make for some interesting discussions at the end of the day- we always have such different stories to tell as he's all

out there

 and I'm all at home in sweat pants wiping butts. Our traditional set up also brings a certain dynamic to our parenthood, and every once in awhile I'm floored by what an awesome dad Brian is. I see these things in other dads a lot of the time too, and hey, if we can sing the praises of our men, we should!

I know that my husband is a certain personality type, he has a certain love language, he's his own person, plus he's a total gem, so I can't generalize too much, but just roll with my points. My purpose in this post is to inspire you to see the positives about your hubby and switch into gratitude mode for the different dynamic he brings into your family. A thankful heart is everything. 

5 Reasons Men Are Better Parents

1) They know how to get down and have fun with the kids.

More often than not, Brian's after-dinner time is spent on the ground with four tiny humans crawling all over him, accidentally kicking him in the junk. He just takes the hit, breathes deep and keeps on playing. He'll get a big blanket over him and crawl around growling. The kids call this "the rock monster game", and they never laugh harder than when they're playing this with their dad. He's the one who does all the funny talk about poop and butt cracks and silly things that little kids find absolutely hilarious. Brian knows how to make them laugh and his to do list rarely gets in the way of sitting on the floor and engaging in his kids' happiness. 

2) They have aerial vision and logic in a crisis.

A few weeks ago I had a meltdown. It seemed there was always a big mess to clean up somewhere in the house and nothing was flowing. I felt like I had no help at all, and I couldn't keep up with anything,


 I had just added in working several hours a day on growing my blog into a second income, and had no balance. My meltdown occurred near the end of the day right when Brian walked through the door. He stood in the living room just listening to my rant, and after it was done, he was quiet. A few minutes later he called the kids downstairs and gave them a talk about chores. 

After about ten minutes he had them cleaning the whole upstairs


 he'd set up a daily list for them to accomplish before they even come down for breakfast in the mornings. They have actually done what he said most mornings since that day. Why? Because when Brian speaks to the kids about something, it's serious and he means business; they know that. Also because I am always talking to them and I admit, lecturing them, so when Dad says something it sounds new, and tends to stick. 

Brian comes into a crisis like a helicopter, with a bird's eye view, scans the situation with his logic and can come up with a practical and effective solution, all while remaining totally calm while I'm a tired basket case. I need that, because sometimes I'm so caught up in the chaos that I can't see the obvious solution. 

3) They don't "lose it" like we do.

This one sort of goes with number two, and it's probably specific to men like my husband rather than all men, but so worth mentioning. I am temperamental and that is my biggest issue- anger. I can take so much and then I fly off the handle and just lose it. Brian really doesn't do this. He is calm, collected, and reasonable basically all the time. He's my Mr. Steady and I am

so thankful

my kids have him as the other parent for some balance to my crazy. 

4) They let the kids use them as jungle gyms, and aren't sick of being touched at the end of the day.

I don't know why but kids always want to get physical energy out between the hours of 5 & 7 PM, even if we spent the whole day at the park. The problem is by this time of day, I am done. I have been pulled on, tapped a thousand times, my ears are talked off, my patience is worn thin, and everybody better back off. Brian walks in the door and is usually still fresh, at least when it comes to the kids. He hasn't been dealing with them all day, and he missed them, so he's ready to wrestle and play and let them be loud. This is my favorite hubby feature because it allows me to pour a glass of wine and cook in peace, usually with headphones in.


5) They show their kids that they love their mom.

Again, I know not all husbands are like mine, but this is a big one. Brian loves physical touch and he's very affectionate; I am naturally the opposite in both ways. At the end of the day, the last thing I'm thinking about is showing our kids how much we love each other [something that kids desperately need to see], but Brian takes care of that for me. He is always running his fingers through my hair, looking into my eyes, rubbing my back, reaching for my hand, kissing me, or gesturing for me to snuggle into him on the couch. The kids see that, and I love it. They are seeing what a good man looks like. 

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How Your Words are Creating the Husband You Can't Stand

Today my husband and I took our kids to the park. It's become a part of our daily routine since it tires them out and our new area is so beautiful. I set the baby down and sat on a bench with my water bottle; I thought Brian would join me but I looked up to see him jumping on the swings with the older kids. He looked so funny, being a big burly guy with a full beard, next to our chubby little three-year-old, and he was smiling just as big. I watched him jump off, fly through the air, and chase our daughter across the padded ground onto the play equipment. His laughter was hearty and genuine, and my heart skipped a beat.

My mind flashed to a recent conversation with a friend about the common problem of husband-bashing in Christian women's groups. I remembered a "Bible study" I once joined, excited for a chance to grow and make friends. I went for three weeks, each time hoping I was wrong about the women there, each time being proven right. Every Thursday morning this group of wives and mothers would gather, leave their children with the sitter, pour themselves coffee and put donuts on napkins, then they would sit next to each other and rip their husbands apart, one at a time.

It seemed to me that each woman got more pleasure in this than the one before her- they smiled wide and they laughed loud at one another's husbands, as if each story was a MadLib.

I felt a pain in my stomach.

I offered up a solution or alternative perspective when I could get a word in, but I was usually met with an annoyed "yeah....mmhmm" or "oh I've tried everything and nothing works on him". I remember one woman in particular, whose face I'll never forget, laughing and saying, "he's hopeless!".

Today I watched my husband spin on the kid carousel with our strong-willed child, seemingly erasing the difficult battle he had put us through this morning over breakfast. Both of them wore humongous smiles and laughed from their bellies.

This man, the one I married eight years ago by a lake on a hot September day, he is the most humble, admirable, selfless, most beautiful human being I have ever known. His servant heart for me mirrors the heart of Jesus for His church. His crazy love for our babies reflects God's passionate sacrifice for humanity. It's ridiculous, when I think about it, that I get to be his wife every day. It isn't fair to the world that it gets to be me.

I adore him. 

None of this, however, is the reason I don't speak poorly about him. Obviously I'd be lying if I said all these things have nothing to do with it, but it's so much more than that. I believe the roots of honor need to run deeper than admiration, because admiration can easily fade.

Marriage is hard no matter who you're doing life with. People change, moods shift hour by hour, scary things take place, stress becomes overwhelming sometimes, life can be a pretty rough ride. Being tied to another person in matrimony in the midst of all that can be such a blessing, but it can also get pretty messy and feel more difficult than helpful. My point is, we all have a "good excuse" to bash our husbands [by the world's standards] at one point or another. Husbands are human, and they are very different humans than we are, and humans make mistakes.

But when we speak words, in them is a power strong enough to change things, either negatively or positively. Think about that for a moment.

Our words have the power to make us as well as those who are listening believe what we say, to further cement what we speak, to make it even more so, maybe even to make it fact. If you say something, it comes from your heart, and it becomes what you believe.



But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 

Matthew 15:18

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 18:21

Our words can make us believe what we say about our husbands; they can make our husbands believe what we say about them, and become more like how we describe them, how we tell them they are. Imagine now, using the power of your words to tear down the man you committed to honor.

When we speak poorly of, put down, or mock our husbands, we are not only dishonoring them, pouring negativity into our marriages, and breaking our vows to honor, we are heaping judgement on ourselves. 

I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. 

Matthew 12:36-37

If the power of life and death is in the tongue, and if you have a husband you feel the need to complain about, maybe using your words to affirm, praise, compliment, and be sweet to him, both when he is present and when he is not, would change things. Maybe it would soften a bitter heart- that could be yours or his. Maybe it would inspire him to love you better. Maybe it would show someone else what true love looks like. Maybe the God you say you serve would be glorified, which is the whole point of marriage in the first place. Maybe you should be the one to change your marriage.

Negativity is the easy way; it comes so naturally to us. 

Even today, running through the playground while my husband chased me, I thought about how easy it is to see flaws over the perfections. I thought about our hard times and all the hurtful things I have thought about him. I thought about all the fleeting emotions that swallowed me up and nearly had me spewing his missteps to a friend. I thought about dark nights spent emotionally far apart, hearts hurting, disagreements that seemed insurmountable, betrayal that burned.

As Brian caught me by the swings, took me in his arms and pressed his mouth against mine, I was swallowed up by gratitude. This man is good to me, despite how I've used my words to hurt him, despite how I've been wrong, he is inspiring. And all I want is to use my words to make this life of ours even better, to make him even stronger, and to let him know just how sweetly he has touched my heart. 

I pray that that is exactly what I do for the whole of our life together, in Jesus' name. 




When Your Husband is Discouraged

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It's so easy to be self-centered, especially in marriage. I find that my relationship with my husband exposes all my worst flaws sometimes. Being so incredibly close to and intimate with another person, living together, raising kids together, seeing all of each other's ins and outs all works together to bring out our very best as well as our very worst. I'd say one of my ugliest flaws is how my selfishness can show itself when my husband needs me the most.

When I'm going through a hard time, I am always grateful for how sweet, understanding, and comforting my husband is. He's a very giving, naturally selfless person. I, however, have found myself to be very selfish when the time comes that he needs me. Not all the time- there have certainly been times when I've set myself aside and was there for him when he needed me- but in general, I tend to be irritated rather than understanding when Brian is discouraged, down, or struggling with something. It's my first natural reaction, my fleshly response to him needing something from me. 

Brian and I have recently been going through a time of uncertainty based on a job promotion that may or may not come through. Although I trust that God's will will come to be because of prayer, Brian feels a great burden to perform well and be perfect at work. He feels the burden of his responsibility for whether or not he gets a better position at work. When the timing we were hoping for didn't come through, he became very discouraged, and I became frustrated, not with him but with the situation. Seeing my disappointment in the situation, Brian took the blame for it and sank to a low place of discouragement. Through prayer, God showed me a lot about my husband and what it is he needed in this hard time.

When life happens and it doesn't go as planned, a man can become very discouraged very easily. Men tend to define themselves by what they do for work, and how their job is going, so when something in life, especially in that area of his world, isn't going well- money problems, not getting a promotion at work, feeling inferior in the workplace, feeling unappreciated at home or elsewhere, etc.- it affects him on a deep, personal level.

It affects him at his core.

How a wife handles herself in her marriage when her husband is struggling with deep discouragement can make all the difference in the world. We have so much power over our husbands!

We have the power to build them up to towering and confident or to tear them into dust, just with our words, body language, and response to situations. That is an incredibly powerful fact. 

So how do you use this power for good while balancing your flesh? What do you do when your husband is discouraged? What do you do with your own feelings of frustration when the man you're married to clearly needs affirmation?

Be on his team. Encourage unity in your marriage by taking on your husband's worries as your own. As hard as it may be, don't just keep to your own stuff and leave him to deal with the problem on his own. Don't just tell him you'll pray for him then exit the situation. Get down in the mud with him, be by his side, pray with him, pray over him, lay hands on him, cry with him. Show him you're a team and he isn't alone. Be all there with him.

A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 12:4

Pray like the warrior God created you to be. When you married, God joined you and your man together as one flesh, and when that happened, it gave you this incredible power that far too many women don't even realize they have! It's the power to pray for your husband and intercede for him, which means to intervene on behalf of another. This means that when your husband is caught in the muck of life and feeling depressed, you can actually step in for him and go before the throne of grace, asking things for him when he doesn't! Use this power, ladies! Pray peace, guidance, a sound mind, a good reputation, and prosperity over your husband. If you don't know what to say when you pray, invite the Holy Spirit into your quiet time and ask Him to help you find the words. He will.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 
Romans 8:26

Affirm him. Your husband needs constant reassurance that you're not blaming him, angry with him, or disappointed in him. If you are, you need to go to the Lord and ask for help in overcoming those feelings and for the strength to speak to your husband in love. He needs to know you still respect him. Tell him you're proud of him, give examples of why, and don't stop speaking words of affirmation. In this hard time, the moment you do is the moment he stops believing he can do anything right. Every step he takes is guided by your words, and you decide if those steps are backward or forward.

Touch him. I always get harsh feedback whenever I talk about giving your physical self to your husband. Someone almost always leaves a comment about how this isn't 1951 and we aren't sex slaves. All of that is completely ridiculous and irrelevant and not at all what I am saying. The straight fact is that men are physical and we are emotional. Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. We take emotion from our husbands because we need that. Why should we not also be giving of ourselves physically when they need that?

Your man desperately needs to be touched by you because it affirms him. It's how he feels loved. Would you feel very confident if you were going through a hard time and feeling discouraged and your husband just stopped saying that he loved you? Of course not. That is how a man feels when you withhold sex or don't want to touch him.

Reach out your hand and take his, rub his leg while he vents to you, stroke his back, touch his face, kiss him, hug him, tell him you want him to hold you when you're sitting together, initiate sex. Love on him because he needs it! Women so often don't have to say anything... by touching your husband you are communicating a load of love and respect and changing his whole world for the better.

Listen to him. Sometimes Brian needs to talk about something. Sometimes I honestly don't care and don't feel like taking the time to pause and really listen, but he can tell when I'm not paying attention. I should be giving him my time and attention because he's my husband and he needs to feel respected, whether or not I'm interested in what he wants to discuss. By listening to him without judging or commenting with my opinion, I'm giving him an outlet. Sometimes your husband just wants you to be there.

Don't point out his flaws. It's so easy to look at our husbands with judgement and see what it is they did wrong or what they should've done differently. It's also easy to tell them exactly that, but it really damages their egos when we do. Anyone can look at someone else's actions and see flaws. Remember that your husband is a human being in need of grace, just like you. It's hard for him to tell you when something isn't going well, especially at work, so don't make it worse by drawing a big red circle around his mistakes. Be gracious, affirm him, encourage him, pray with him, touch him, and he will go out there and slay dragons for you.

I know it's hard to be a wife and a mother and have people needing you all day long and then be needed by your husband at the end of a long day. Maybe you feel like you just can't handle it. I know I can't. But God's desire for my marriage is that it thrive and be holy, so He grants me the grace and strength I need to be a godly wife despite my failing flesh. If you just ask and be willing, He'll do the same for you and that will bless your marriage beyond what you can imagine.

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The Problem With Eva Mendes' Sweatpants Comment

Eva Mendes recently made a comment that's gone viral, and has moms everywhere upset, and maybe some feeling a little demoralized. While yesterday, she came back with an apology statement (read: brushing it off as "just a bad joke"), I find it hard to believe because of how shamelessly her initial comment was said.

Whether her comment was just a joke or kind of mean, it really doesn't matter to me. I don't keep up with celebrities by any means. I usually only hear about things that "go viral" in passing via articles on Facebook, and I normally only read the titles. With Eva's comment though, I looked into it because someone that is idolized, put on a pedestal, and watched by many women in the world said something dispiriting to real life moms.

Let me say, I am not here to harp on Eva Mendes, to talk badly about her, or shame her without her being here to defend herself. What I am here to do is shine a little light on grace from this small stage this blog has brought me, because I want to do good from here. I want to encourage mothers, not discourage them with my words. And right now, I feel like there's a dusting of discouragement over real life moms.

So, I may be wrong, but from what I gathered while looking into this, Eve Mendes and Ryan Gosling have been dating off and on since late 2011. They have a newborn baby together and are not married. I mentioned her comment to my husband this morning and asked for his thoughts.

"The problem with her comment is, whether it was a joke or not, they aren't married, they're still dating, she's been a mother all of what- a few months?- and her status and her boyfriend's status means that she has a ton of pressure on her to be perfect. I think this is more about who she's dating and the pressure there than it is about everyday moms, but if she can't be comfortable around the father of her child, then there's a problem. That isn't real life."

He's right. Real life is messy and raw and hard. It doesn't consist of personal trainers and chefs, nannies and superstar boyfriends. For us, it's commitment to love no matter what, it's putting your kids before yourself, it's getting dressed for the day based on how much you're going to be crawling around on the floor with your babies, and being comfortable in the refuge of your husband's promise to love you.

As Brian said, "It's one thing to completely let yourself go and not put in any effort. It's another thing to be a beautiful person who I adore, and be comfy in sweatpants because cleaning and playing is what your day is made of. Personally, I love when you wear sweatpants. You're cute in everything, But we've loved each other for a decade, we've created four human beings together. We aren't still dating and we don't have anything to prove. The two situations aren't comparable."

If you've been around this blog for a bit, you know that I have talked a lot about putting in effort to your physical health and appearance for your husband's sake, but sweatpants are not the problem here. I've said before that most of my days at home with the kids are spent with hair fixed and a little makeup, a cute tee and sweatpants. The "number one cause of divorce" isn't your cozy pants. I'd say bitterness, unhealed heartbreak, and selfishness are the top contenders for that title.

A husband's opinion? "Take care of yourself, feel beautiful, love your husband, be a happy wife, and he won't even notice the sweatpants."

From Failing to Flourishing: How Praying for My Husband Changed His Work Life

I've been thinking a lot recently about prayer, and about the power of a praying wife.

 Prayer is about faith, and faith is something God has been inking on my heart lately. It's like when God is showing you just how incredible something mundane is- something cliche that you've always known about (like faith) and He just makes it new and shows it to you in a whole new light. I love when He does that!

I get my encouragement from hearing the stories of other women and sharing experiences, so I wanted to share another recent experience of mine with the power of prayer.

My husband works for a very large company where his job performance is monitored and judged by "the numbers system". The company expects only the best from its employees, and they don't make it easy for their technicians to meet their numbers. Without meeting these numbers, you will be fine and your job is safe, but you won't be able to move up in the company or make any transfers or get any perks of the job that they offer to the techs who do well.

Brian has had sort of a cloud over him at work for the last two years. He's been cursed with the most complicated and difficult jobs every single day, and they affect his numbers in ways out of his control. He's been unable to meet his numbers or his manager's goals for him and it had him feeling very defeated and worthless at his job. As any wife knows, if a husband feels useless and defeated, he is not a happy man by any means, and his whole life is affected by these feelings.

I'm embarrassed to say that it took me two years to get my head out of the ground and realize I could do something (not just a small something, but something powerful) to help my husband. A little over a month ago, God laid it heavy on my heart to start praying over Brian and his job. I decided to make a list of the issues Brian was having at work, including the cloud that seemed to be hovering and keeping him from meeting his numbers no matter how hard he worked, and pray over them specifically.

I have four kids, and Emmett is only a few months old, so I knew I wouldn't find spare time lying around... I had to determine to make time to pray. I chose the time between 2:30 and 3:30, when the older kids nap and Emmett needs to be put to sleep. I started wrapping the baby in my arms and pacing the living room while going down the list of Brian's work-related issues, covering each one and Brian himself in Spirit-filled prayer and Scripture.

Among other things, some of my prayers were...

1. That Brian would not meet, but exceed the expectations put on him at work. That his numbers would go beyond the bare minimum.

2. That the work of his hands would be blessed (like Joseph's in Egypt), and that he would find favor from those above him in the workplace.

3. That he would feel useful and valued at work, and hear praise from his manager.

Things don't always happen this way, but in this instance, results came immediately. Brian told me about what a good afternoon he had at work when he got home the first night I prayed. After a week of daily time spent in prayer, his numbers were higher. Finally the end of February came around, and his numbers were so high, they exceeded the expectations of his managers. He got noticed by upper-level managers because of the positive reports coming in about him. After the last day of the month, his direct manager called him to praise him for how well he did and what an amazing, drastic change he'd made in his numbers.

He went from the lowest performance bracket to the highest in less than 30 days. 

My husband is a very hard worker, dedicated, and loves his job, but the demands there were high, and I believe the enemy was using his work to bring him down and make him feel defeated. It was leaking into every area of his life. I listened to the leading of the Spirit and submitted myself to prayer for my husband. And through my submission, God was able to break chains and do an awesome thing. My husband is like a new man.

We wives have so much power.

I thank God for that because I tend to be more spiritually aware of things, and can cover my husband in prayer when he doesn't even realize he needs it. Let's stomp on any footholds the enemy may have in any area of our husband's lives and use our power for good. Let's start praying over them and being their helpers as they go out and conquer the world for their families.

Their calling is to look ahead, work, and be warriors at the front of the battlefield, protecting and providing for their families. Our calling is to be the heart- dedicated to standing behind them with prayer spilling from our lips. And what a beautiful calling it is.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Matthew 21:22

How Scheduling Meetings Changed Our Marriage

I have received some comments and emails regarding a weekly habit my husband and I have formed, and wrote this post in response to those requests for more details. Hope it helps!

A typical day in our life looks like this...

Brian leaves for work at seven o'clock in the morning.

The kids and I have a busy day planned out, usually including housework and chores, time spent out (the park, the duck pond, a friend's house, running errands), lunch and nap time while I write and catch up on my work, play time at home or more  time spent out of the house (a local event like picking blueberries or seeing a movie, an afternoon play date), dinner and baths at home, followed by lots of stories and bedtime at 7:30.

Brian comes home around nine o'clock most nights; sometimes it can be closer to seven, depending on if it's an overtime day or not. We schedule three overtime days out of the five days he works, because we need that money.

Our days are long, and Brian and I find it hard to connect over the phone while he's putting in all these hours. When he's off work, there's the kids- climbing on us, interrupting us, needing our constant care and attention- and we normally have a full day of family fun planned outside of the house when he's not working. This fun and busy life leaves little room for random conversations between a husband and wife, but at the same time there is so much to talk about! Homeschooling, disciplinary issues, church activities, our relationship, how his job is going, how my days are going... the list goes on and on.

Last year, I was praying over our marriage and the distance that had crept in and had me frustrated. God plopped the most practical idea into my head, and we've been doing it every week since! The idea is weekly meetings. Once a week, we clean up the kitchen and pick up the house together, make some coffee, grab a notepad and pen, and snuggle up on the couch together after the kids are in bed. Usually, the notepad is already filled with our "need to talk about" topics, but sometimes, when there wasn't time during the week, we'll jot some stuff down then and there before we start talking. Either way, this is a special time for us to meet as husband and wife, partners in life and in raising our {almost four} children, and get on the same page. Here's how our meetings usually go down...

First, we pray over our hearts, our minds, and our time together.

We always snuggle up into one another or hold hands while we talk.

Brian fills me in on what's going on with him- a new boss at work, a difficult issue with a co-worker, personal struggles, a need for me to encourage him in some area, etc. I simply listen. I don't nag or interrupt- that isn't allowed.

When he's done, it's my turn. I fill him in on any issues with the kids, budget stuff, decisions that need to be made about our upcoming homeschool year, etc.

Once we both have the "business" type of stuff talked about, we both feel relieved, understood, and respected. This is when we talk about us. We discuss how each of us feels we, as a couple, are doing. Any arguments we've had that need further discussing (we talk arguments out right after or the night after they happen), any issues, anything about the two of us and our love is talked about. Sometimes it's just encouraging and laughing and kissing. Other times there are hurtful, difficult issues to work through.

These weekly meetings are scheduled at the beginning of each week, but we're flexible and sometimes the day gets changed. These meetings are totally separate from our romantic date nights out, which we now have about once a month with the craziness of his schedule and our current savings plan.

I have had a couple of friends see a note on my fridge or hear me mention our meetings and give negative feedback. I don't know if it's because they're threatened by our effort in our marriage or if they legitimately disagree with our meetings (which, is not something I really give two craps about), but I have been told things like "well my husband just would never want to sit and talk every week like that."

Ummm... you're in a marriage! You are committed under God Himself to stay together as long as you both shall live! You are raising human beings together! If you ask me, how can any of us survive without sitting down and getting on the same page every once in awhile? If your husband isn't willing to work as a team in this way, pray for his heart. Pray for yours too. Maybe there's something in there that you're putting off on him that makes him not want to spend time listening to your heart for him and your family or share his heart with you. God desires oneness in marriage. If that's not there, pray about it.

I hope this post has inspired you to seek out unity and teamwork in your marriage. It has brought Brian and I through some really rough waters and made us so much closer. I wish the same for your marriage!

How to Deal When You're Annoyed with Your Spouse

Marriage is the closest two people can possibly get physically, emotionally, and mentally. Not only are you sexually super close, but you're living together and seeing a lot of each other, and seeing pretty much everything of one another. You can predict each other's thoughts, words, and actions most of the time after a few years in this relationship. With all of this, someone is bound to get annoyed with somebody at some point, even in the strongest marriages. It's just natural when you live in such close proximity with another human. Especially when that other human is constantly leaving his work pants and socks strewn about the house. I'm not talking about my husband.... not at all...

*Ahem* Aaaanywaaaay...

Brian works a lot, so I am usually dying to see him and looking forward to his days off. I am however, pregnant right now. His usual schedule gives him two days off in a row, and this week, our time as a family was kind of dampened by the fact that I was really irritated with him and everything he said and did. I hate that! It's almost like I just can't even control it or explain why I feel that way- it's like it just happens and that's that. Every joke he made, every tap on the steering wheel while the music played, every drag of his feet while we walked, even the very sound of his voice grated my nerves like a block of cheese being shredded for taco Tuesday. I found myself rolling my eyes so much I got a headache, and that was just his first day off.

That night as I thought about what to do, I realized it wasn't really him, it was me and my hormones and the fact that I was done from a long week alone with the kids and the housework. But the next morning, I awoke with the same lack of tolerance and irritability that had done me in the day before. I was not about to let my mood ruin a perfectly good family day! I resolved to try out different things throughout the day until something worked. After all, I'm only four months pregnant and I've got PMS once a month when I'm "normal" anyway, so I basically have my whole marriage to have annoyance to deal with, pregnant or not... might as well get a handle on it. I think God really came and met me where I was at, because I actually feel like I found some things that helped! Next time my husband is home, I know what to do to clear my head and not ruin our weekend. Here's what seemed to help me...

Getting away from him.

This sounds sort of hilarious and incredibly mean, but when I removed myself from the situation and went for a drive, grabbed a coffee, and listened to some Ingrid Michaelson, I felt much better!

Thinking happy thoughts.

In the car, I turned on some music so I wouldn't have to talk for a minute, and I just started to think about all the good things about my husband. It might sound kind of silly, but it worked! I thought about how much I missed him all week and what a good man he is and how handsome he is, and I felt better. I also felt pretty bad for being irritable with him in the first place.

Just telling him.

At one point, at the end of the day, I suddenly felt like I could cry because I was so irritated with everything that everyone did all day long. I felt like the day was ruined by my hormones and I just wanted to start sobbing. I told Brian, "Look... I am feeling really pregnant and emotional and crappy. Every sound and touch is annoying me. It's not you, it's all me, and I'm sorry, but could I just have as much quiet and space as possible?" He was totally sweet and understanding and became really helpful with the kids and their loudness. He also gave me space and just let me calm down. Seeing this took away my irritation and helped so much! I ended up popping my headphones in for a few minutes and listening to Jim Gaffigan comedy. Weird, but it also helped! I don't think Brian even knew I had headphones in, ha.

Praying for a change.

This is last on the list not because it's the least important, not because it's the last thing I tried (it was actually the first), but because it didn't work like I wished it would. Just being honest! I sort of felt like God allowed me to work through my irritability and figure out that it was me, not Brian that was the problem. If He had taken it away, I would have been robbed of that lesson, and of the opportunity to learn how to manage my moods in pregnancy and on bad days. However, there have been other times, in different situations than this, that I have come to the Lord exasperated by my emotions ,and received relief and grace from Him. So this option is still valid!

I hope I don't sound like a complete jerk in this post, and that you can relate and even find this helpful. It really is just a part of pregnancy, marriage, and life for me. If you can't relate then just extend a little grace to me today :)

Being A Gracious Wife When You're Hurting

This post is honest and raw, and a picture of just a piece of marriage. My husband is, in my honest opinion, the very best there is. He is loyal, kind, giving, he cleans without me asking for help, he kisses my forehead, he is Prince Charming to our little girl, he is constantly putting himself last and seeking to give me happiness. He completely adores me and our children. But every marriage comes with hurts, disappointments, and mistakes. Even the tiny ones can cut deeper than expected and truly leave an ache. Let there be no mistaking my husband for anything other than the godly man that he is while reading this post about the realness of being married to a human being and being met with disappointments. 

He had hurt me, again. The fairy tale marriage just wasn't happening, and even though I had heard it was all a myth, I must have had hidden expectations that it could be real, because the ache in my chest was nearly unbearable. I played the scene over in my head one more time- the truth, the tears, the anger to hide them from him, the yelling, and aching, the running from the conversation. Locked in our bedroom where we get ready for church together each Sunday, cuddle in the sweetness of sleep, talk about having more babies, and act out a love so deep and pure it has made me cry, I am angry and bitter. How could I go from all that to this in the very same room?


I know I have allowed my flesh to react in this situation, and as the anger begins to cool, I know I have to face my actions as well as his tonight. The thought of that makes me sick, and so I pray. Why is it that I pray after I've already taken the reigns and ruined a night that could have been an opportunity for growth, healing, and grace? I always pray just a little too late, and I hate that about myself. Regardless of my human timing, I come to the Lord and ask Him to just speak to me, because I don't know what to say. As the Holy Spirit enters the room, I am drawn to confession- my thoughts, my words, my actions. I caused him hurt because that's what he gave me. God gently places the hard question in my thoughts,

If you were given everything you gave, what would you receive?

This makes me uncomfortable and I squirm, nearly getting up to just get this over with and talk to Brian before I'm ready. I quiet myself again and listen.

You came to me last week and asked for help in being Christ to him. 

I imagine what Jesus' reaction would have looked like in my situation, and flinch when I think about mine one more time.


Flesh takes over so suddenly. It's the very first reaction and requires no thought to come into play. Faith and being Jesus to somebody (especially your husband) requires not only thought, but deciding to do so before he offends you. It requires walking with Jesus every step of each day, and keeping grace at the forefront of your heart and mind.

To be your first action, grace must be ahead of your flesh. 

Sitting on our marriage bed, I think about what I did in my reaction to the hurt, and I begin to pray against those fleshly thoughts and words, and replacing them with the truth of God's Word and His love for my husband.

You will pay for this mistake.

I am choosing to work through forgiveness for the sake of God's will and this marriage. 

I am so angry at you, I don't think I'll ever forgive you.

I am angry right now, but I promised to work on this relationship, so I'm going to calm down and take my heart to God. 

Being Jesus is unnatural to us, but that's the point. If it were easy, we would have no need for a Savior, and every marriage would bring glory to God. To stand out, to bring glory, to be different, to not be the half of marriages that end in divorce or the other percentage that are married but unhappy, takes work. It takes a lot of sweat, dedication, keeping promises when he doesn't, focusing on Jesus and what He would have you do rather than on what your husband deserves.

You reap what you sow. Sow forgiveness, grace, and dedication and you will reap it in return. You have God's word.

For the Wife Whose Husband Works Long Hours: How To Thrive and Not Just Survive At Home

When Brian was signed on at his previous job, we were told the hours were 8AM-4:30PM. Once he started working, we quickly realized {through lots of arguments and cancelled plans} that overtime was just a part of his job. We made the decision that as long as his job could support our family, it was better for him to be at work for long periods of time so that I could stay home with our babies, than it was for us both to be gone from 8-5 every day. 

The hard truth was that moping and complaining about it or trying to change things out of anger wouldn't do anything good. It did a lot more good when I chose joy in my life, and no good at all when I gave in to my flesh by griping and allowing depression in.

I continually reminded myself of these truths:

  • It pleases God when I choose to praise when circumstances do not make it easy.

  • It pleases my husband when I choose joy and am happy with him and his job.

  • It pleases God when I please my husband.

So how do you handle life with small children and being a stay-at-home mom with a husband who is mostly gone? Here are my key choices that make a big difference. 

Your husband's days off call for some major family time! 

Turn off the world and tune into what our purpose is- family. Depending on what you're feeling is best for your family that day, you can either hang out at home or spend the entire day out, bypassing naps and soaking up every hour. Involve the kids in everything, even if it takes a little longer to move through the day.

Take advantage of technology when your husband is working.

If possible, make it a point to let the kids FaceTime with their daddy a couple work days per week. Be careful not to tell the kids about it until it is actually happening, just in case it doesn't work out. It is also a great idea to send him tons of pictures and videos of whatever we are doing that day. That way he is brought a little joy in his day and feels like he missed less special moments.


Let go of expectations. 

I have to let go of all my expectations about when he will be home, if he could maybe get home early and help me with the bedtime routine, if we could maybe make it to a social event we were invited to, etc. When I hold onto these expectations {because sometimes, they do happen} I am always completely let down if it doesn't end up happening how I wanted. Then I'm in a terrible mood and can't love on and serve my hard-working hubby when he gets home. 

Try to go out for coffee with a friend once a week, every week, no matter what.

You have to take care of yourself, and you have to make sure your well is full so that you can continuously and constantly pour into your family. Get out of the house, sip a delicious cup of coffee that you didn't have to make, and talk to another adult. Perfection! 


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Plan a monthly date night out, and some date nights in, on the weeks in between. 

It is extra important for a couple with crazy schedules to have alone time! Go out to one of your favorite restaurants and enjoy the benefits of your husband's working so much with a delicious meal that you didn't have to cook. Sit close to one another, hold hands, touch, kiss, and act like a dating couple. When you stay in, cozy up on the couch and act the same way together. As long as you are without kids and enjoying one another's company, the goal is met, and the marriage is strengthened. 


Plan for the occasional nap during the week. 

Try to let go of the chores and lay down on your couch a couple times a week during the kids' naps. It is so refreshing and will really help you get through that second half of the day.

Have a routine to use as a guideline. 

Create a list of daily and weekly must do's- the things that keep your family functioning smoothly. When you don't have your hubby home to wrestle with the kids while you catch up, a routine is a lifesaver!

Don't let the work schedule become a "pause" button for your family. 

Take the kids to do fun things by yourself; don't wait for hubby's day off. Know that you will do something else fun on his day off, but his schedule can not have you waiting around at home constantly. I know my limits and where I can and can't handle them on my own, and I live my life as their mom.

Try to keep yourself busy.

Whether that means making an effort to get out of the house at least once a day, or just being productive at home, it's important to have some form of motivation to get going. Stay busy and don't let yourself just hang around getting depressive about your husband's schedule. 




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