Stay Fit 60 Years in Marriage

marriagetitle60How did you meet?

Barb: When we came back from camp, my mother had been revitalized in her faith and the church we were attending was not real strong evangelically. We started looking for a church. So we went out of town to Oconomowoc to a church that was starting in a home. I began praying for a Christian boyfriend, not knowing there was a boy praying for a Christian girlfriend. That boy (now my husband, Dick) saw me in church and told his friend, “I’m going to get that little blonde” and I didn’t stand a chance. We got married 10 days after my 18th birthday. And we have been married now for 60 years!

What surprised you the most about being married?

Barb: Within 11 months we had our first child – a baby girl, Connie. That was a surprise! It was hard because we really didn’t have much money and for a few months we even lived in a cottage that had no bathroom, just an outhouse! Fortunately that only lasted a couple of months but then Dick went to Bible School and we lived there at the school.

Dick: The first few years of our marriage was challenging not only because we had very little money but I (Dick) struggled with direction. How was I going to take care of my family, and where was God leading me? I struggled in my faith a little and I confess for a while there I had a hard time going to church. When I did, I often sat in the back row. Then the Pastor at the church asked Barb and I to help out with the youth group. We didn’t feel qualified but they didn’t have anyone else to help, so we took it on. God really moved and our love for youth started during this time. That youth group grew and a lot of those kids went into full-time ministry. It was while we were working with the youth that we both heard God’s call to ministry.

What has marriage taught you about yourself?

Dick: I am not as cool as I thought I was!

Barb: Marriage brings the worst out of me! Also, I was not good at verbally communicating love and I had to learn how express love in words as well as actions. Marriage taught us both how important it is to handle conflict in a healthy way. [Read more…]

Stay Fit 39 Years in Marriage

marriage39Pat and Bonnie Costello will have been married for 39 years on July 2nd. What makes their marriage work? We asked them some questions to see what we could learn. Bonnie works as special events coordinator for Women’s Ministry and Pat works in corporate finance at Schneider in Green Bay.

What surprised you the most about being married?

Bonnie: What was our answer going to be? We talked about this, what did we decide?

Pat: I don’t remember…

Bonnie: Come on…

Pat: It was so long ago…(laughter) Part of this for me, is that my folks got divorced when I was a senior in high school and it obviously wasn’t pretty the years before that. So I didn’t know what to expect when I got married. I just knew that I didn’t want what I grew up with. I knew I was making a commitment, and I knew what I didn’t want it to be, but I wasn’t quite sure what it should look like.

Bonnie: Well I remember what we talked about…We were surprised at how good of friends we became.

Pat: That’s true! Since we have been married we really became very good friends!

Do you take any specific steps to safeguard the sanctity of your marriage?

Pat: There are some things that I do for my marriage that are related to work. For example it will always be in my calendar when I go out to lunch with a woman and then Bonnie and I talk about it when I come home at night. When I travel, there are a series of steps I take to safeguard our marriage to hold me accountable.

Bonnie: When the kids lived at home Pat and I always scheduled date nights. We even tried to get away for at least for one or two nights at least once a year. It was important to make time for each other and our marriage.

Pat: I didn’t call it a “date night.” It was more like having one on one time to talk and catch up.

Bonnie: We tried to keep our marriage a priority. Sometimes I think many marriages are child-centered and children become more important than the spouse. If the kids are more important than the spouse, I believe that can endanger the marriage. Now there are many years that the kids demanded more time and attention than the spouse but we always knew our marriage was the priority.

What was your favorite memory from your first year of marriage?

Pat: Well, the first year was actually a blur. We were working a lot. We did not really find it easy. The first year of teaching for Bonnie was ugly and hard. So we don’t actually have too many good memories.

When was the first good memory?

Bonnie: Yesterday! (laughter) [Read more…]

8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Spouse

marriage04Our relationship has been pelted by many storms. Our vow to remain faithful “in sickness and in health” became a sobering reality when my health suddenly declined and I became all but crippled for a number of months. Many other physical and emotional issues have threatened our sense of stability and intimacy. These experiences forced us to find ways to stay strong and connected in our marriage. As the storms cleared, we saw how God uses the little moments to keep us anchored when we weather the hard times.

A good marriage is not something you automatically start out with on your wedding day. It is something that is carefully and intentionally crafted over time. Change how you handle the little moments each day and you can change your marriage! Your past doesn’t have to predict your future.

A great marriage is the result of a thousand great little moments. Here are a few little things we have found helpful in staying connected through the stormy seasons. Click here to read more…

Rachel is one of our contributing writers. You can read more of this post on her blog

Glorious Follow Up

glorious

On April 23, 150 young moms gathered at AAC for a morning out!  This year’s theme was Glorious: Finding beauty in your ordinary life. Our very own Becky Kopitzke was the speaker. Our goal for the morning was to make moms feel special. The SMC was transformed with gold decor, and a gorgeous floral arrangement gave the room a glorious feel to go along with the theme of the day. Women were greeted with a wonderful spread of fresh fruit, scones, and gold-dusted mini-cupcakes. It was such a delight to see their smiling faces as they entered the room.

In the first session Becky shared that life as a mom may not be glamorous but it can be glorious. She warned us against believing the mom lies that:

 

We need more

Our work as a wife and mom is not as valuable

What I do is who I am

 

As a special treat, mid-morning, we enjoyed a panel of 4 moms answering questions on tricky topics we may face including discipline, screen time and sleepovers. To close out the morning, Becky gave us 3 solutions to those lies:

 

Make your place your sanctuary

Let it be

Redefine your blessings.

 

It was a great way to spend the morning being refreshed and renewed. I think we all left feeling more grateful for the little blessings in our lives and thankful to the God who gave them to us.

 

You can review Becky’s presentation at the link below:

http://beckykopitzke.com/glorious/

 

Mother’s Day and Mental Health?

mom2Yes! This is the year that Mother’s Day and Mental Health month are running at the same time. Coincidence? I can hear several jokes coming. I have heard that hospitals experience a high volume of emergencies and mental health related problems on Mother’s Day.

How can you have an hmd (Happy Mother’s Day)? Here are a few ways to make your day special. Begin with the end in mind—how do you want to feel that day? Well, moms . . . I want to encourage you to allow yourself to receive on Mother’s Day. It is good to teach your children to give and not just take from you. Also, please speak to your husbands ahead of time about what you are hoping for on “the day”. In other words: are you hoping to relax, to take a bike ride, to eat out, to nap, to read a book, or just sit around and play in the yard? It is good to ask yourself what kind of day you would like and then spell it out for your family. Now, we all know you will likely NOT get everything you wish for. But a card, a treat and an activity of some kind is not too much to ask for. Homemade cards are awesome.

If you are going to Grandma’s house, you may want to encourage your kids to make her a card or do something special for her. No cost fun is always the best. So get out some balloons and blow them up, or fill them with water and have a balloon toss outside while she watches (just don’t throw one at her! Whoops!). Make sure you decide before you leave how long you will be staying at Grandma’s. Maybe it’s a two hour visit and then you go home so that you yourself have a bit of the day to be celebrated. Make sure before you go, you clarify this with your husband and kids!

So along with the above examples, check out these important mental health tips for moms:

1. Clarify expectations with your family (and husband)

2. Give yourself permission to receive (and not just wait on everyone else)

3. Ask for what you want (yes you have an opinion and a vote)

4. Be realistic (about your list of expectations)

5. Honor the Grandmas

6. Set boundaries around how long you are going to stay

7. Have fun! When Mama’s happy, everyone is happy!

“He loves each one of us as if there were only one of us.” St. Augustine

 

Suzan

Apologize Correctly

stayfit3Most of the apologies that come out of our mouth are bad ones. If you ever stop to listen, our go-to apologies sound something like this:

“I’m sorry, ok?” so get off my back.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were so sensitive” this is your issue.

“I’m sorry if you were offended” because I didn’t really do anything.

“I understand that mistakes were made” but they sure weren’t mine.

“I’m sorry but you…” my behavior is your fault. 

Guilty as charged. How about you? Making mistakes is just part of being human. But when you are confronted, what kind of message are you sending? Are you apologizing completely? Or is your sorry just a quick attempt to escape the conflict altogether?

A bad apology can create just as much conflict and hurt as the original offense. If you don’t do it effectively, your apology can lose its value over time. Don’t let your words become meaningless. Get good at the “I’m sorry’s” and stay fit in your marriage! Click here to read more…

 

Rachel is one of our contributing writers. You can read more of this post on her blog

Stay Fit 16 Years in Marriage

16 yearsPastor Dennis Pierce and his wife Tabitha will be celebrating 16 years of marriage this August. They have 5 children ranging in age from 3 months to 12 years old.

How did you guys meet?

Dennis: I remember the date. It was February 2, 1998. I started a new job in the mailroom at Billy Graham Association and Tab was doing my orientation. She was my boss.

Tabitha: He was flirting with me the first night.

Dennis: I kept trying to take it to a more personal level but she was all business. In fact later on, I got my performance review (I still have it) and it was just terrible. So I said, “I’m not signing this, it’s not fair at all.”

Tabitha: So he took it to my boss and said, “This is the review that I got.” And my boss goes, “Tabitha why did you give him such a poor review?” Nobody knew it but we were dating by that point. But I was still his boss so I felt like I had to be objective.

Dennis: She was totally overcompensating and he made her increase it!

What surprised you most about being married?

Tabitha: I think being with someone 24 hours a day is different than being with them when you choose to be. You know, like all of a sudden some of the things that were cute didn’t feel so cute anymore. And Dennis is notorious for saying to me, “You knew about this before we got married.”

Tabitha:(To Dennis, laughing) “You’re not laughing. It’s funny.”

Dennis: No, I was gonna go the opposite way and say it was more pleasantly surprising and how natural it felt and…how little conflict there really is.

Tabitha: Yes, I agree with that as well. But there is a difference when someone sees you at your worst all of a sudden.

Dennis: But accepts you and loves you anyway.

Tabitha: Yeah, yeah. There’s a huge acceptance in that also. Like vulnerability, when someone who is seeing you at your very worst still loves you. It’s a cool thing.

Dennis: You know, you always kinda think, “Oh am I gonna lose my independence?” But then it turns out that you’re more yourself than you ever were, I guess.

Tabitha: And there is a safeness in that too in being fully known by someone and still being…

Dennis: Fully loved.

Tabitha:…(giggling) and mostly accepted. [Read more…]

Confess Your Mess

confessThe word confess sounds intimidating, but it’s really not. In fact, all my relationships – including my marriage – depend on it. And so do yours.

Too often the idea of sharing our dirty laundry with others makes us feel nervous, unsafe, and too vulnerable. So we put on a good face and keep the bad stuff hidden from sight.

Fear will make you hide

Whenever my husband confronted me on something my immediate response was to come up for air. I got defensive, rolled my eyes, got emotionally charged, or argued my case. In a nutshell, I was really just trying to save face.

After repeating this a thousand times, I realized my response was an attempt to cover my shame. That painful feeling of embarrassment combined with the exposure of my wrong or foolish behavior made me want to run and hide. The voice of shame says, “I don’t deserve, I haven’t earned, I’m not good enough, they’re out to get me” and encourages us to perform, to succeed, to be perfect so we can earn love and security. I feared that any wrongdoing would somehow expose that I was a failure, and failures were unworthy of love. Confrontation felt like I was being exposed, like the rug was being pulled back to reveal all the junk I’d been sweeping under it for so long. My response was a way to deflect attention away from myself. To turn a blind eye to the hurt and pain I had caused. Instead of facing my behavior, I ran from it in all sorts of ways. Click here to read more…

 

Rachel is one of our contributing writers. You can read more of this post on her blog

Stay Fit 1 Year in Marriage

marriage titleWe will be talking with couples from various life stages about what they do to keep their marriage fit. We’ve ask each couple the same questions so you can see how the answers may differ. Meet Dan and Aimee Vechart and hear what they have to say after their first year of marriage!

 

How did you meet?

Dan: Because I am in the Landscaping business, the winter months are quiet. I started coming to Xcel sports to play hoops and work out.

Aimee: And since I work there, I would see him all the time and say “hi.”

Dan: Our mutual friends, Dave and Ingrid, invited us out together to watch a basketball game in Neenah. Their son Isaac was playing. While we were out, I was thinking, This is fun! Maybe I should pursue this relationship…and the rest is history. 

So when did you meet?

We had our first date February 28, 2014. We got engaged on October 11, 2014 and were married March 28, 2015!

That seems rather fast! When did either of you realize this was it?

Dan: It was sometime in June. We went to a wedding and spent the night dancing and having such a great time. I thought I would love to spend the rest of my life with this woman! I remember spending some time in prayer asking God for confirmation!

Aimee: It was a few months later for me. In August I had been praying about our relationship when suddenly the thought just came to me, I want to marry this man! Things had been leading up to this, we had fun together and he was kind. I had Mono over the summer and he would read to me. I realized that he cared for me!

Dan and Aimee: We remember talking about how we wanted to marry each other and we hadn’t even said “I love you” yet!

Dan: I think it was very helpful that we did activities together and with friends. We didn’t just go to a movie or watch TV together. We DID things.

You have been married for almost a year now. What has surprised you the most about marriage?

Dan: I think what surprised us the most was how [Read more…]

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

survivingthefirstyearThe other day I realized that Eric and I are quickly approaching our 2nd anniversary – man does time fly. Although we had been together for almost 10 years before getting married (yes, we were just lowly, immature middle schoolers when we first started “dating”), I am realizing that marriage is not as easy as I was expecting it to be. When you’ve known someone for that long you think nothing about them will surprise you, right? Wrong. So wrong. At least in my case.

People always tell you the first year of marriage is the toughest. You listen and nod your head, and not that you don’t believe them, but you assume that won’t be the case for you. I mean, you both know each other so well, you have had so many experiences together, you have talked through all the big things – money, how many kids you want to have, where you want to live, etc. You’re supposed to be in the honeymoon phase, right?

But that first year of marriage will, in most cases, be a very eye opening experience into the wonderful, exciting, stressful, annoying world of marriage. You will learn more in that first year about anger, stubbornness, jealousy, and regret that you have in your entire life. And hey, those are just the qualities you brought to the table! Your spouse hasn’t been perfect either. :) You will discover it’s the little day to day things that you never in a thousand million years could have ever prepared for. Click here to read more…

 

Lindsay is one of our contributing writers here at Haven Help Us! In this post, she gives great insight and tips on how to navigate the first year of marriage. Starting your marriage off with realistic expectations and godly responses will bring growth to both you and your spouse! The rest of this post can be found on her blog, The Newlywed Notebook.