The intense stress that comes from having a special needs child can put an incredible strain on even the healthiest of marriages. The difficulty in the day in and day out can be overwhelming. Some special needs people have a difficult time performing even the simplest of tasks such as dressing, toileting, and general self-care. Exhaustion sets in from lack of sleep and that can wreak havoc on any sane person, and a lot of times special kids barely sleep at all. The financial stress that comes from therapy not being covered, the endless doctor appointments, or because anything with a special needs price tag comes at an astronomical cost. The grief that comes from unmet expectations, the heartache that comes from comparing your child and their abilities, or sometimes the guilt alone from blaming yourself or your spouse is enough to tear a marriage apart.
My husband and I have experienced all of this and more, but things really came to a head in our marriage when our son was a baby. I was a weary young mom doing my best to make it from day to day. Our precious little man screamed at the top of his lungs all hours of the day and night and didn’t sleep at all for the first three years of his life. We were constantly in the doctor’s office and in and out of the hospital.
I don’t know about your husband, but my husband is a fixer. He can not stand it if there is something wrong with me or one of our children. Since he is a problem solver, he wants to fix things. However, there are some problems that man can not fix, no matter how hard he tries. This took a toll on my husband and thus took a toll on our marriage.
Things got really ugly between us. This wreaked all kinds of havoc in our personal lives and with each other. I will spare you all of the gory details, just know it was bad enough that I ended up in Lawyer’s office seeking counsel to get divorced. But God—God divinely entered into the midst of our pain and difficulty, and we took the “D” word off the table and choose to commit to each that no matter how bad things got that we would stick it out with God’s help.
We forgave one another and choose to love, not in our strength and might, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. In those moments, everything changed. Our circumstances with our son didn’t change, but our perspective on our situation changed. We faced our problems together with the strength of our mighty God to carry us through. Life didn’t become easy—there was no instant healing. In fact, the years that followed were much more stressful than the previous years. The difference was our relationship to each other and our reliance on the Lord.
Our marriage has been tried and tested and forged in the fire for nearly 25 years. My husband is my best friend and He loves me like Christ loves the church. Through the years, we chose to love one another and submit to Christ, and his plan for our marriage. We now have an incredible relationship. My husband is the biblical leader of our home, and I have embraced my calling of biblical womanhood.
These same principles that have guided our marriage are discussed in Jen Weaver’s book, A Wife’s Secret to Happiness. I love this book! From the sparkly cover to Jen’s modern interpretation of the Bible to practical wisdom this book offers to women, Jen has such a great conversational style that you feel like you are sitting across the table from one another sharing your hearts over a cup of coffee.
There are eleven chapters in the book, and each chapter highlights a particular blessing God wants to provide to in your marriage and a conflicting “wifestyle.” A wifestyle is a habit or way in which our routines as wives either attract or reject God’s divine provision. Each chapter contains a wifestyle or a real life story used for practical application.The first blessing is the blessing of three strands, which is taken from Ecclesiastes 4:12:
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken -Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV
This principle takes the heart of two people and binds them together with God to make a marriage that is not easily broken. It is the supernatural strength that comes from the Holy Spirit being alive and active in our marriage that I spoke of earlier.
Jen does a great job of handling some difficult subjects that come up within a context of marriage from leaving and cleaving and becoming one, to submission, to the beautiful gift of sex. In the chapter on the blessing of unity, Jen uses a great analogy of dancing to talk about submission in marriage.
A tango cannot have two leads, and our Marriage instructor, our third strand, calls us to submit to our husbands that we may have unity in our relationships and live in concert with his spirit. -Jen Weaver
There is bonus material to delve deeper into each subject that is available online. This book is a must read for young women preparing for marriage, as well as married women. I wish I would have read something like this before I got married, it would have made the first few years of marriage a lot easier. Jen Weaver nails the secret to happiness in marriage through receiving, honoring and celebrating God’s role for you in your marriage.
A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.
Leave a comment below with your best piece of marriage advice below, to be entered to win a copy of A Wife’s Secret to Happiness.
Jen is married to her best friend Jared and mom to their adorable toddler, Dillon. Jen is an author, marketing professional, Bible study teacher, conference speaker, and a host for The Declare Conference – a blogging conference in Dallas, Texas. She is passionate about sharing strengths with others through her stories of humor and hope.
A Wife’s Secret to Happiness(Leafwood, March 2017) is already receiving rave reviews from Jim Daily, President of Focus on the Family, Associate Senior Pastor Pastor of Gateway Church, Allan Kelsey, Author of Breaking Busy, Ali Worthington, Author of A Mary Like Me, Andy Lee, and many more! www.TheJenWeaver.com
How was your 2016? We had a year of ups and downs, but what a difference a day makes! For our family, Christmas came early. A life-changing event occurred three days before Christmas, when on December 22, 2016 our eldest son Jacob Phillip proposed to his beautiful now-fiancé Jane Reynolds.
After much dreaming and planning, Jacob surprised Jane by taking her out to a romantic dinner to their favorite Houston Sushi hotspot, Uchi for their 14 month anniversary. When they finished dinner they meandered over to a place that it is near and dear to both their hearts—the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Waiting anxiously in the wings for the happy couple to arrive were family members and a few friends. We had a wonderful photographer and longtime family friend Madeleine Frost there to capture our special moment.
As Jacob dropped down on one knee, and asked Jane to marry him we were all there to witness and share in this special occasion.
Jacob Phillip & Jane Reynolds are pictured with her parents Hope & John Mark Reynolds
Misty Phillip with Jacob Phillip, our future Daughter-in-love Jane Reynolds, and Peter Phillip
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.- Proverbs 31:10
We look forward to Jane becoming a part of our family next year. She is absolutely precious. I often tell Jacob he has chosen well. Jane exemplifies the woman who fears the Lord found in Proverbs 31:10 ESV.
I don’t know what 2017 has in store for us, but I am sure that there will be quite a lot of wedding talk.
After years of living in a testosterone-filled home and raising boys, it is a joy to spend time with my son’s girlfriend Jane, doing “girlie stuff.” My husband and my son both work at the same consulting firm. For the past two years, we have enjoyed getting dressed up and attending the annual corporate holiday party together.
Jane and I spent the day talking and laughing and prepping together for the party. We enjoyed a day of pampering. Our first stop was Blush and Brush where we enjoyed a blowout and style. Then we went to Saks Fifth Avenue, where Michelle at the Dolce and Gabanna counter made us look beautiful!
Jane and I talked a lot about family, the upcoming holidays, kids, and friends. My son Jacob and Jane are planning to be engaged soon, so we talked a lot about graduation, her career, and having children. Jacob and Jane were both homeschooled, and have very similar ideas about family. Our conversation turned to fulfillment, and thoughts that girls her age have today about being fulfilled.
Later that evening, we attended the Christmas party at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston. We had a wonderful time in visiting, eating, drinking, and dancing. A couple of hours into the party, Jane and I snuck off to the ladies room where we found a couple of comfy chairs in the dressing area. We kicked off our heels and began laughing and talking. Then, a beautiful young woman who was also at the party walked in. We made small talk for a few minutes when our conversation turned to Jane. We talked about her upcoming engagement, and this young woman proceeded to tell to Jane the importance of pursuing her career and being fulfilled before she had children. There was that word again, FULFILLMENT. This young lady in bathroom thought the way to be fulfilled was through a career. This got me thinking. What is fulfillment, and how are we satisfied?
What is fulfillment?
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, fulfillment is the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted: winning the championship was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.• Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character: she did not believe that marriage was the key to happiness and fulfillment.
I am concerned that young women today are being misled about how to achieve fulfillment. True fulfillment doesn’t come from things, people, or a career.
When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a wife and a mom. I had a career, but I couldn’t wait to quit as soon as I could to stay home with my children. I made the decision to quit work and devote my life to raising and homeschooling my boys. I would not have wanted it any other way. I didn’t struggle with being fulfilled. Like the second definition in the Oxford American Dictionary says, my satisfaction and happiness were a result of fully developing my abilities as a wife and mom, and further developing my character. There is nothing like being a young mother to develop and try your character! From sleepless nights to diapers, and from vomit to screaming toddlers, Motherhood is not for the faint of heart!
How are we fulfilled?
First of all, fulfillment does not come from being married, having children, or having a career. True fulfillment comes from knowing Jesus Christ and living for him. But here is the rub: we will never be truly fulfilled here on earth, because this is not our home. We have a God-shaped hole in our heart that only He can fill.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has placed eternity in our hearts, and He is making us beautiful in His time. As we get to know Jesus Christ and spend time with Him reading His word, and praying we are transformed. Regardless of your age, don’t look to the world or to the things of this world to make you happy or to fulfill you. Fulfillment does not come from things, a house, a job, a car; it doesn’t come from people, a boyfriend, husband or children. You won’t find fulfillment wrapped in a box under your Christmas tree. True fulfillment comes from knowing and walking with the Lord.
May you know His love and feel His Presence afresh this Christmas Season!
“Gigi”—the name we affectionately gave my husband’s mother. She taught me a lot about being a wife, a mother, and a Godly woman. It was not just in the things she said, but even more so in her actions. The way she lived her life had the greatest impact on me. She had her priorities straight: she loved God first, loved and served her husband second, and her children/grandchildren third, and finally loved others. I learned five key lessons from her:
1. The importance of hospitality and the family table: Gigi taught me that the conversations the family has around the table—be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and anytime in between—are the moments that we tie our heartstrings with our loved ones. Every time we would come to visit, she would have us sit at the kitchen table. She would offer me a piping hot fresh cup of coffee, and we would sit and talk for hours. When my husband and his brother were growing up, each day when they came home from school, she would sit them at the table, give them a snack, and talk to them about their day before they went out to play. As growing young men, they spent hours around that table with their parents. Many lively conversations were had around that table about life, morality, religion, politics, books, culture, and memories of family members. I was honored to marry into the family and join in this special time around the table. The times spent around the table with them kept our family grounded, our heartstrings tied to together, and created a lifetime of memories for us that we still hold dear.
2. Love your husband: Titus 2:4, says “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.” Gigi loved her husband with her whole heart and put his needs before her own or that of her children or grandchildren. Gigi was a stay-at-home wife and spent her days anticipating her husband’s needs and doing things that would delight him. She would pick out her husband’s clothes, and make sure they were neat and pressed for him, and made sure he looked sharp as he headed out the door each morning. She prepared special meals for him, and always placed his desires above her own. He was a professional man working in the oil and gas industry, and he was a very successful man because his wife loved him, she exemplified Proverbs 31:1 which says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” This was especially true when my Father-in-law had a brain tumor and spent the last few years of his life in and out of the hospital and Gigi never left his side.
3. Love your children: Gigi loved her children with all her heart! Gigi was sweet and kind and gentle. She showed me how to love my children by the way she loved her children and her grandchildren. Gigi loved her children and spent time pouring into their lives, and the lives of their children. Hours were spent at the family table playing with Legos building towers and playing with play dough or coloring. She was always quick to give a hug and kiss, and tell you how much you were loved. She would write my children notes telling them how much they were valued and how special they were. She spent her time building them up and making them feel special and loved.
4. The importance of prayer: Gigi spent time with God in his Word, and she faithfully prayed for her family and those in need. She prayed for her family daily. She made sure her boys were in church, and she spent time teaching them to love the Lord. Gigi loved to journal and spent hours writing out prayers for her family.
5. Caring for those in need: Gigi loved people. She had her priorities straight—she loved God first and foremost, then her husband and that love extended out to her family, and finally then to others. Gigi faithfully lived out a 1 Corinthians 13 life: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” That was Gigi. Gigi had a very generous and giving spirit, and much like Matthew 25:36 “I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me,” she was quick to help a friend in need. She would visit those in the hospital and care for those less fortunate.
Gigi taught me many things about being a lady. She loved extravagantly while she lived on this earth. Now that she has passed on, we miss her incredibly, but our lives have been forever impacted by her actions. She left us with a remarkable legacy of love, and she lives on in our memory. The lessons she taught me along the way have challenged me to love God more, put my husband first, love my kids with all my heart, to be a good friend and to care for those in need.
Last week I wrote the blog post, “Called to be His Helper” about my number one priority of being my husbands helper, and that comes from the scripture in Genesis 2:18 that says, Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Well little did I know that I would have an experience that clearly illustrates the first part of that scripture which says that it is not good that man should be alone.
Connor, Ian and I went to Oklahoma for a debate tournament for several days and left Peter and Jacob home as bachelors. Before I left, I made the guys some chicken salad, and a big pot of chili. I asked Peter if he wanted me to prepare anything else for him before I left, and he said,”No it will be fine, we’ll figure it out.” After eating the chicken salad and chill, they decided to order Pizza one night. The next day, Peter woke up not feeling well and so he worked from home that day. Jacob was gone the entire day, and Peter was left to fend for himself. Now he did not feel good enough to go out to eat, and he had pretty much exhausted all of his options at the house. My guys can open up a full refrigerator or pantry and say, “there is nothing here to eat”!
With a day packed full of phone calls and meetings Peter didn’t really have a chance to go get food. Now my husband is the innovative tech-savvy guy that he is, decided that he would use Amazon Prime now to have some grub sent to the house. Amazon Prime now is a service that allows you to order from Amazon, and they will deliver anything to your house in two hours or less. My dear sweet husband ordered gluten free dairy free grass feed beef organic hotdogs. I guess I have rubbed off on him more than I thought. If you are going to eat junk food, it should be organic junk food. Where things started to devolve is when he ordered Pringles sour cream and onion potato chips, but since he needed to add something else to his order to hit his twenty dollar minimum, he orders a box of Slim Jims, so much for no nitrates or nitrates organic and gluten-free.
My guys probably enjoyed the break from my healthy home cooked meals, but for obvious health reasons, man can not live on junk food alone. And for this reason, it is not good that man is left alone! This is why God created woman to be the helper for the man. Each man is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses. It is our job as a wife to know what our own individual husband needs and help him in the area that blesses him so that he can fulfill his calling. We are to here to help, so ladies what is one thing that can you do today that will bless your husband?
Peter, my husband, is the light of my life, and my best friend. I have spent over half of my life with him. We have been married for 23 years, and we have been together through better and worse, sickness and health, and we have been both richer and poorer. Through all the ups and downs we have experienced in our relationship, we have continued to grow closer to one another each day.
We are both imperfect, sinful beings—we fight, we fail to be who we are supposed to be to each other all the time, but we choose each day to forgive each other, and to always love each other.
Early in our marriage, we went to a Family Life Today Marriage Conference called “I Still Do,” and it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to us. That is where we learned that our marriage is a covenant, a covenant that we made with one another and with God. It was then that we took divorce off the table as a possible outcome for our marriage, and decided no matter what would come our way we would always choose to work things out.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t just want a marriage that can survive, instead, I want an abundant marriage that thrives the way God intended.
When we follow God’s plan for our life and for our marriage, we unlock the secrets to true happiness. I was convicted this week when I read Elizabeth George’s book, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart.” She reminded me of several truths from God’s word that I needed to hear and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome when I begin to really concentrate on implementing some of the truths I gleaned from her book.
One of the first things the bible says is that the role of the woman is to be a helper to the man (Genesis 1:27). The man is not supposed to be our helper. It is we women who are to help him with the works God has called him to do. I have known this for quite some time, so I truly set my mind to make sure that my husband feels loved and that I am anticipating his needs and fulfilling his desires first, and not my own.
For example, the other night we were watching television after dinner. Peter usually has control of the remote, but if he wants to watch something that I don’t want to watch, I will often complain until I get my way! This time I chose to follow Elizabeth’s advice, and when he said do you want to watch this show, I controlled my tongue and said “sure honey, whatever you want.” In my flesh, I wanted to complain and get my own way, but that would not have been helpful to my husband at all. He has had a very stressful time at work lately, and all he really wanted was for me to sit by his side and relax and unwind. Giving in to such a little thing didn’t really cost me anything, but it truly blessed my husband.
Realizing the truth Elizabeth put forth in this wonderful book, I am on assignment from God to love my husband, and to be his helper. So today, my friend, I challenge you that after you have your time with the Lord, that the most important thing that you can do today is to love your husband by putting your preferences aside and think of him first. Joyfully serve him, and maybe you too will be surprised by how he loves you in return.
Song of Solomon 6:3
“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, love is in the air! I think about the love I have for my husband and the past 24 years we have celebrated together—some good, some great, and some that needed improvement. Now, we are blessed to watch on with delight as our eldest son celebrates this occasion for the first time with a delightful young lady.
As Christians, this is a special time to reflect on the love we have for our spouse and to uphold our covenantal vows. For many people this is a happy day, but not for all. Earlier this week I had the honor and privilege to attend the funeral of a man at our church—a man of God that left behind a wife and three small children.
His wife has a smile that goes from ear to ear and her countenance radiates Jesus. This woman goes out of her way to love people. She was clothed in courage and strength as she got up before that packed auditorium and read the Valentine’s Day letter she had written to husband on his deathbed. Tomorrow will not be a joyful day for my friend, but it is not a day without hope. You see, she had the honor of being her beloved’s for many years, and her beloved will live on in her mind and her heart until they are reunited again in heaven.
Her husband not only demonstrated love for her, but he loved His Lord. He put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior. So tomorrow my friend will grieve, but she won’t grieve without hope because one day she will be reunited with her beloved.