Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chapter 2 - A Merry Heart

"The bible tells us that the JOY of the Lord is our strength.  For this marriage-making journey you're on, you will need all the strength afforded by the joy of the Lord." This is the opening line of the chapter, and it  could not be more true.  What type of strength? you ask. Here are some things I've needed strength for:
-Strength to keep my mouth closed (sometimes nothing but God's power can do that)
-Strength to put my beloved first (getting out of bed at 6 am to make his lunch and/or drive him to work is HARD!)
-Strength to give a soft answer
-Strength to repel bitterness (it's not fair that I have to...*insert bitter answer here*)
-Strength to "get over it" (instead of overanalyzing the situation until the cows come home)
-Strength to forgive (myself and him)
-Please feel free to share what type of strength you've acquired from having the joy of the Lord!

Debi suggests Proverbs 17:22, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." She says that a merry heart is the foundation of health and happiness. Remember this. Write it down. Say it out loud.

The early stages of dating are always so fun and exciting. We ladies are sweet and charming. There's always laughter in the air, and we can't stop smiling.  When does that smile stop?  It shouldn't ever, but too often it does (even in the first year due to disillusionment)! Do you still smile at him like you did when you first fell in love? Do you plan fun activities for you to do together like you did when you were dating?  "Are you still the same sweet little thing, or have you become a long-faced, sickly complainer? Is he still your lover? What would he say?"

One Ugly Hillbilly!
Debi told a story about an overweight hillbilly woman that worked in a local hardware store. There were always several men standing around her, laughing.  Her appearance was not appealing whatsoever, but she was always smiling, laughing, and giggling.  One day Debi and her husband were in the grocery store and they saw the same hillbilly woman yelling at her daughter. "Gone were the smiles, giggles, and radiance that had so captivated everyone at the hardward store. In their place was a bitter, ugly snarl."  As they were leaving the store, Debi's husband said that she looked familiar.  Debi told him who she was, and he could not believe it...he said he did not remember her looking like that.  She looked the same, but "all she lacked was her glorious smile.  It was her most valuable asset.  Her face was always so radiant, her smile so infectious, her laughter so sweet, and her eyes so earnest that people simply saw her as cute!"

Debi goes on to say that everyone is drawn to a smile, and men are highly attracted to smiles.  Such a simple concept, yet how often do we consciously make an effort to smile and laugh at our mate (and others as well)? I've been really trying to do this more, and I find that it improves MY mood to smile! It's a win-win.

The Desparate Wife
Debi received a letter from a desperate wife whose husband was having an emotional affair with his secretary.  Debi gave her an AMAZING response, I wish you could read it all.  If you are in this situation, PLEASE track down a book and read pages 28-32. It will empower you. Basically, her points were:

  • The husband is wrong for his actions, but if you want to win him back, change your game plan.
  • Stand by your rights and stand alone, or play by his rules, "court" him, and WIN back his favor...
  • He finds his identity in a woman's approval and admiration. Let that be YOURS.
  • No man has ever crawled out from under his wife's criticism to be a better man - no matter how justified her condemnation - this statement will forever ring in my ears.
  • "Forget your rights as a wife and forget his Christian obligations to his vows. You must act as if you and the secretary are engaged in open competition for this man."
  • "The tool of your warfar is your loving, kind, delightful, radiant, adoring self."
  • God is on your side. Fight and WIN.
When a woman humbles herself and forgives her husband (for anything, really), she wins back not only his affection, but hopefully he will realize his foolish actions and she will be cherished.

The day you have a merry heart will be the first day of rebuilding your marriage into the heavenly gift it was meant to be. :)

Time to Consider
~Do a study on the word JOY. Write down and memorize your favorite verses on joy.
~"Every morning, let the first thing your husband sees on your face be a gentle smile, even if your eyes are still closed."


  1. I am constantly looking for gems to grow my marriage into what God has designed for me. In just over ten years of marriage I have been at the peak where I am so delighted and in love. I have also experienced the valleys where I am behaving horribly and am so miserable I actually had to remind myself that I didn't get to choose anyone that I was related to except my husband & that I needed to live with that choice and make the best of it. Which is exactly what I did not want to do, I wanted to run away. Not my finest moment(s), and yes I have had more than one of those moments. That's where the choose your love and love your choice cam in handy. I have found as a wife I can get into a rut of being critical of my husband. I begin to focus on what he's not doing instead of seeing the value in the things I take for grated. From study's I've done and things I've picked up along the way I've found that Even though my critical attitude is not intentional it does make the exact opposite of what I'm trying to make happen, happen. I'm trying to express my frustrations in a way that my husband can understand and in turn respond to instead he feels attacked and wants to get away from me. I'm trying to get closer by expressing the things that are hindering me from connecting with him like I want, he feels attacked and doesn't want to have anything to do with me. If I instead focus on the good he brings to the table and am JOYful, thankful, gracious, loving and selfless he responds with kindness in return. The critical wife pushes him away he doesn't know how to be with me when I put that hat on. I just have to accept his flaws (I'm glad he usually looks past mine). He knows the things that frustrate me and will work on them as soon as I stop telling him he needs to work on them. Easier said than done but highly effective.

  2. I agree with you, of my favorite lines in that chapter is "No man has ever crawled out from under his wife's criticism to be a better man..." Don't get me wrong- I do think there is such thing as constructive criticism, but it is much more the exception than the rule. For instance, if I want my husband to value my CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, I make sure to value his first. I frequently ask him how I'm doing in the role of wife and mother, and ask for him to let me know if there is anything I need improving on. And then, try REALLY HARD not to get offended by his constructive criticism (after all, I asked for it!), and to really work on whatever it is that I need to work on. I have found that once I started doing this, he also has asked me a couple of times the same question (as husband and father), and taken my answer with delight and respect, and I've noticed that he's gotten better in whatever it was that we talked about (and have TOLD him I've noticed). THIS is true CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. But, all too often, I forget and go back to my unsolicited ways. Hardly anyone ever appreciates unsolicited advice/criticism. We're just not wired that way, and our husbands, probably even more so than us, are not wired that way.

    I love when she says, "Your husband is going to love what is lovely to him." This is so true. How can we expect our husbands to love us if we are not being loveable? I definitely learned this lesson the hard way. It got so bad the second year of our marriage, that I actually prayed for something to happen so that I could be free of him! Can you believe the gall?! I truly hated him at one point in our marriage. But, in time and with God's grace, I learned that it really was myself that I hated because of how I treated him. Now, we are about to celebrate our 6th anniversary, and I could not be happier in my marriage than I am right now. I'm pretty sure he feels the same way, too. We have both come SO FAR just from focusing on how we could make ourselves more lovely to each other (thanks to this book)! I am so grateful that God gave us the time and grace to figure this out. And, I know there will be more hard times ahead, but now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that whatever it is, we will work it out. The first couple years showed me that. :) Thanks be to God for his wisdom and grace! :)

    - Andra

  3. What great comments. Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and wisdom. I'm learning so much from you guys!

    Michelle (McWaters, right?) - I can totally relate to "getting in a rut" with criticizing your husband. I guess being really encouraging and looking for the good doesn't come naturally to us as humans! Why is it SO much easier to notice the negative? One way I like to combat this is I put up a few different reminders of my duty as a wife - on my bedside table and on the inside of my medicine cabinet. Do you have little tricks that help you? Your love for your husband is so evident in your comment, and is SO encouraging to me! Thank you so much for your honesty.

    Andra - Those are 2 simple, yet AMAZING lines from the book that you highlighted. That is so cool that you have been learning to communicate your frustrations through humbling yourselves to each other. That's daring of you both! It's really cool to see that type of trust and honesty in a relationship. Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your walk. It's so helpful and encouraging for all of us to see where you've been and how far you've come!

    Steph :)

  4. Thank YOU, Steph! I probably wouldn't be so motivated to go back through this study if you hadn't initiated the blog. I need it again, though, so I really appreciate the hard work you put into summarizing each chapter and everything. I like your idea of putting reminders around the house. I used to do something similar (I need to again-- I haven't been consistent with it)! I also give myself memory verses sometimes that help me deal with whatever problems I'm having at the time. I'd start out by writing them over and over and over, and then seeing if I could remember them. For me, when I do that, the scriptures seem to come to mind when I need them (for instance, if I'm getting angry, really down, or whatever).

    I also love the "Time to Consider" sections. If you do what it says to do, you will get a much richer experience out of this book. Here are a few of my favorite verses on JOY:

    Prov. 15:23, "To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!"

    Jn. 16:22, "So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and you hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."

    Jer. 15:16, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts."

    Jn. 15:9-11. "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

    Hab. 3:17-19, "Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take my joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer's; He makes me tread on my high places."

    Prov. 12:20, "Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy."