Hey, sweet sisters…I’m taking my girl to Florida this week for her “go on a trip with mom when you turn ten” trip so I’m posting some of my favorite posts and yours this week . . . Here’s one from our “Love Well Series” from last year . . . Enjoy!

I’m thinking that God invented marriage to show us just how very selfish we really are. Anyone else with me on this one?

I never really thought of myself as a selfish person until I found myself married to a man who was supposed to do everything I asked him to do.

My, how I’ve been humbled.

However, I think there are ways we can improve our marriages right here, right now.

To give ourselves a “marriage check” let’s remember the three L’s:

1. Lower your expectations. A few years ago, I discovered I was holding Jason to a standard he could never, ever attain. Only God could meet the expectations I had set for my husband. I had to learn that Jason is not God – only God is God and He’s the only one that can fulfill what I expected Jason to fulfill. Can you imagine the pressure of trying to fill God’s shoes? That’s exactly what I was doing to my poor husband.

2. Look above his faults. Confession: I tend to look at what’s wrong instead of what’s right. I have had to put in some serious elbow grease to change this thought pattern and there are days when old habits die hard. But here’s the thing: if you are willing to look at what’s good and look above what’s not, he just might do the same for you.

3. Love him for who is today, right now. We are all works in progress. Accept and love him right where is – after all, that’s what God does for us.

But even if we implement the three L’s into our daily married life, let’s not kid ourselves: sometimes marriage is just plain hard. As in in-the-Refiner’s-Fire hard. Nothing shapes your character more than being married. Can I get an amen to that?

Jason and I both came to table with a slew of baggage. He had his own issues and I had mine and we spent the first few years of our marriage trying to assemble our bags into a matching set. We added even more baggage when we were still in the assemblage process by having three children in three and a half years. Apparently, we prefer to take the hardest route possible.

Past experiences, positive and negative, shape the way we think. Yes, we are forgiven and set free from any past sin we may have committed. However, those past sins can still influence the way we think or serve as emotional triggers in our marriages.

For example, I have a history of male abandonment. It took EIGHT years, yes, EIGHT, for me to realize that Jason wasn’t going to leave me just because we had an argument.

On the other hand, he has had experiences with strong women with a critical spirit. If I voiced a concern, either lovingly or not-so-lovingly, it never went well because his trigger was criticism of any kind.

Our baggage was facing-off against one another and it seemed like our set would never match.

Then one day, God began to teach me about a concept I wasn’t so good at implementing: humility.

First, He started teaching me about humbling myself to Him. He pointed out, ever so gently, that I could indeed be wrong once in a while and encouraged me to confess it. He nudged me to stop complaining about others and look at myself instead. He asked me to share my heart with Him and seek help with whatever mountain I needed to climb.

Once we can humble ourselves to God, we can then understand the importance of humbling ourselves to others. Namely, our spouse.

I’ve said it before and I say it again: humility is the key to all healthy relationships.

Admitting we aren’t perfect, growing from our mistakes, and seeking forgiveness is the best way to make a mismatched, dented set of bags into a beautifully unique matching set with character and grace.

And the bags are always changing and sometimes they need to be rearranged but they are still a set – no longer separate but together as one.

‘Til death do them part.

Love Well Challenge: Do something loving for your spouse today for no reason at all. Send her flowers. Get his favorite candy bar for an after dinner treat. Write a love note. Anything that will show you are thinking of your spouse. Love each other well.

I would love to hear from you – what’s good about your marriage?