Give Grace? How? Why? But don't you know...

Giving grace is hard.

It took us a long time to move from grace as a theory to grace as a daily practice in our marriage. It was so much easier to operate on the basis of karma than grace.

It's easy to give our spouse "what they deserve," right? If he is nice to me, I'll be nice to him. If she goes out of her way for me, then I'll go out of my way for her. 

But this tit-for-tat is not the most successful or fulfilling way to live and grow in our marriage. In this series, we'll share how we have learned to extend grace to each other through some difficult areas in our lives, remembering just how much grace Jesus extends to us. 



From Karma to Grace: An Overview

Is your marriage filled with grace or based on the idea of karma? We've been married for over 16 years and both have known Jesus for even longer, but it wasn't until we faced porn addiction that one of us really went from grace as theory into grace as practice.

Watch the video here.

How Craig put grace into practice:

"For me, grace was theoretical for most of my life.  While growing up, I knew God said I was loved and forgiven, but I didn’t expect to receive anything that would prove that.  I built a wall between God and myself that kept me from tangibly experiencing grace. I found out that if you don’t have expectations, then you can’t be disappointed.  If you don’t request anything of anyone, then you don’t have to face rejection.  After all, you can live happy knowing that you are loved and chosen without feeling it, right?  Well, no, not really. But, that is how I lived much of my life before I met Jen and started building a relationship with her." Read more here

How Jen put grace into practice:

"There's an old song by The Proclaimers called "I'm Gonna Be" (also known as the "500 miles" song) that has been a favorite of mine since the original Shrek movie came out. The chorus made me swoon every time I heard it:

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

Those grand gestures have a way of capturing my heart and leading me to believe, "Now this. This is love." And then, unfortunately, it morphs into statements like, "If Craig really loved me, he'd do _________." And it's not limited to how far he'd walk for me." Read more here.

Giving Grace: Money Matters

We're not sure about you, but we have definitely struggled through money matters in our 16 years of marriage. Money is a charged topic! So, how do we have grace for each other, especially when we find ourselves on opposite ends of the spectrum? I'm a saver. He's a spender. How do we ever figure out how to manage our money without an argument every time?

Craig and I have learned a thing or two about showing grace to each other as we budget, make financial plans, and deal with the unexpected. Here are our ABCs to giving grace when it comes to finances.

Watch the video here.

Read about how Craig realized that time is just as important to steward well as money here in "Video Games Don't Yield Real Treasure."

Do you need some practical advice on how to steward your money well in your marriage? Read how Jen learned to put away her control freak personality while still cultivating a life-giving financial picture for her family here.



Giving Grace: Find Community

You're not going to get it right all the time. You won't have all the answers. In fact, things may start to look bleak and you'll feel like you're trudging up a hill that never ends. Then, there will be other times when you're coasting downhill and having a great time! Whoo-hoo! Such is married life! Sometimes hard, sometimes fun, but always better when you have people alongside cheering you on. 

Here's a little video about finding a community and why you need it (even if you think you don't). Watch here.

Read how Craig changed from being a king of self-service to recognizing the vital (and life-changing) importance of being a part of community. He lets you in on a little confession: "I used to be king of self-service.  I grew up learning how to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.  When I was in high school, I even considered joining a monastery.  Lucky for me (and Jen), God had other plans.  (And yes, I’m aware that monastery’s are communities. Just go with it.) The point here is that I didn’t want to rely on anyone. I didn’t want to appear needy, weak, or incapable." Keep reading here

Guess what—things in your marriage are going to happen that are BURDENSOME. They are simply too heavy for you to carry on your shoulders alone. You aren't born with all the relational tools you'll ever need and the wisdom from other couples around you is invaluable. Will they always have it together? Will they always have the right answer? Of course not. But part of community is simply empathizing and encouraging each other that marriage is worth fighting for. Here are 5 tips for finding community for your marriage.

Giving Grace: Anxiety

We wish this didn't affect our lives like it has, but there is good news—even though there is nothing you can do to cure your spouse of his/her anxiety, you can support them as they move toward health. Yes, God does tell us not to be anxious about anything, but for some of us, it takes a lot of time and practice to figure out how to live life that way. Until we get it, we also know that His grace is sufficient for us and He can empower our loved ones to come alongside us as we learn, change, and grow.

Learn our "Triple A" strategy for coping with Jen's anxiety in our video here.

Read about Craig's own struggle with panic attacks and how he's become finally free from something that felt very close to dying here.

Jen shares more about her own battle with anxiety and how she is learning to embrace a crucial tool that is key to her freedom. If you struggle with being an emotional caregiver, this is a must read. Click here to read.

Giving Grace: Grit and FUN!

Chances are, if you make time for fun in your marriage, you'll have the reserves and energy for the times when you have to bear down and push through the hard. Spend some time watching this short video—it's a little game you and your spouse can play (gracefully!) to get some adventurous, fun date night ideas into the Jar O' Love. (If you're mourning the end of football season, this will bring you great joy.) Click here to watch.

Now, about that grit. Whether or not you like Tom Brady, it looked like the Patriots were toast at 28-3 in the 3rd quarter. But Brady wanted to win. He, with his team, overcame incredible odds. You may feel your marriage has no hope of moving forward, but we have another word for you. Fight for your marriage. It takes grit. You're going to get dirty. It's going to take every ounce of strength you have...and then a whole bunch more from God and the people around you. Read more here.

Do you know what really helps you have grit when the times get tough? Fun! Jen was never one to prioritize fun for years and it ended up weighing down our marriage. And then, she had a year of FUN! Not only did it change her perspective on fun, but it also changed our relationship. Here are 3 lessons she learned.


Giving Grace: When You Have Unrealistic Expectations

Ah, the week of Valentine's Day. Tis the season for roses, cards, chocolates, and...unmet expectations? How do we deal, not just on Valentine's Day, but year round, when our spouse doesn't met our expectations? Is there another way besides letting bitterness and resentment build? Yes! This week, Katie and Adam Reid join us to show us how they've dealt with this issue.

Join us for their video here. In it, you'll see how early on Katie and Adam dealt with unmet expectations in their marriage. One of the best points they made in the video was how their different family cultures was one of the key reasons Adam's behavior didn't measure up. It had nothing to do with his love for Katie, but everything to do with the dynamics of their family practice growing up. 

Be sure to check out Katie's post here for some great wisdom for your relationship on how to overcome the perils of unrealistic expectations.


Giving Grace: When Your Spouse Surprises You (and not in a good way)

This week is basically "Unrealistic Expectations" part 2. But instead of focusing on our expectations for what our spouse does for us, we're focusing on what happens when who our spouse is doesn't meet our expectations. There are probably little behaviors that you once thought were cute or eccentric that now annoy you to no end. How do we deal with these? There are also probably some skeletons that were in your spouse's closet that, now that you've been married awhile, they are starting to creep out. What do you do with those things that you just cannot ignore? In this week's video, we reveal some of the pet peeves and big problems that we've worked through and how we've shown grace to each other through the process. To watch, click here.

Jen tried for years to control things that were incredibly beyond her reach. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't free Craig from porn or food addiction. It was hard for her to surrender, but time after time, God proved that He was working in His own time. To read why surrender doesn't mean giving up the battle, click here.

Craig also shares why he continued in his passivity, even though Jen wanted him to step up in their marriage. He talks about the realization he came to—he was continuing to play the same role he had as a child as an adult. How did he break free? Read here.

Giving Grace: Stress Strategies

Stressed? Busy? Us, too. We had *a little spat* this morning. We went from being a team to taking up residence in our own corners of the boxing ring. Stress and fatigue will do that. We get so focused on our own needs and survival that we stop thinking about our spouse's. Here's how we overcame the jabs and got ourselves back in gear. To watch, click here.

We love how God works. Just after we finished the video this week, Jen got an email about the 30 Days of Kindness Challenge. What better way to practice the ideas we put forth on Sunday? To read about the Kindness Challenge started by Shaunti Feldhan, click over here. We hope you'll join us!

To find out how our first week of the Kindness Challenge went, click here. We've also discussed the difference between a "complaint" and a "criticism." And you're right—we're not supposed to be giving either one during this 30 days, but we have an idea for you...