This post is for both my single friends and married friends. But first, a note to my single friends. I know this post will appear to you as yet another post for couples...”another reminder that I’m single”. But it really does apply to both you and married couples. Think of your single years as bootcamp for marriage. If you can apply the lessons you learn from the struggles married couples share during your single years it can help you during your early married years. Especially, if you begin applying what you learn as you interact with your friends and family, it will help you tremendously. I say that because, even though I did things with family and friends, I mostly kept myself safely hidden away in my apartment and work. When a friend or family member hurt me or annoyed me, I could just hide out and take a break from them for as long as I needed to. However, in marriage, you can’t run and hide. Trust me, I tried! I was a runner...I literally ran from a past marriage and several proposals. Not to mention, I warned my fiancé, now husband of 5 years, that I was a runner. So he was prepared for the times when I did try to run when marriage got a little tough. When the slightest rift between us scared the begeezes out of me! I always felt like a caged rabbit and saw my husband as a captor or prison guard. Until I finally saw that my perspective was actually the prison guard. You see, as a single woman, I dreamed and prayed many years for a Godly husband and I honestly thought it would be easy to be a Godly wife because I had 12 years of preparation. I mean, I begged and bargained with God daily, that if He would bring me a Godly husband I would always treat him with respect, I would always view him as a blessing and I promised that I would always be patient, kind and loving toward him...if He would only answer this one prayer!! I meant all of that with my whole being...however, “in theory” most things seem easy but when real life happens, it’s always a lot messier than expected. I’m sad to say that it has taken me almost 5 years to even come close to being the wife I intended to be. I have been stubborn, disrespectful, headstrong, impatient and downright ugly to Tim! It breaks my heart just thinking of the years I wasted not treating Tim as the blessing he truly is. I made the mistake of dreaming up and praying for the “perfect man” for 12 years! Therefore, that is what I expected of Tim...perfection! And when he didn’t meet my unrealistic expectations, I made sure he knew it 😥 It wasn’t until I began praying for God to open my eyes to my ugliness and not just after but during and before I reacted to a negative situation. So when He did, ugh, I not only saw how ugly my heart had become but I also saw how much patience and grace Tim had been offering me! Tim was in no way perfect, we both came with a lot of baggage, yet I always knew he loved me and that he would never leave me! As my heart began to be softened by Gods gentle discipline, I began to see Tim through a different pair of eyes. I saw the man I met, fell in love with and married. He hadn’t changed, it was my perspective that had changed. I also saw that he was human, just like me, who had bad days with bad reactions because of past relationships. But our reactions aren’t always reflective of who we really are. It’s like faith in God, we must remember who our spouse truly is at the core during difficult times. Just as we must remember God is always good, even when He allows us to suffer trials. I finally saw that Tim was still and always has been the Godly man with a big heart...even on days when his reactions to situations weren’t ideal, because God knows mine aren’t. So, to get to the main point of writing this blog entry is to share the biggest aha moment for me. I’m sure most of us have learned that women need LOVE and men need RESPECT, right? When we treat our husbands with respect they will begin to respond in love and when husbands treat their wives with genuine love, they respond with respect. However, I think all of us women have said this either out loud or in silent “Why do I always have to be the one to start first?” “I mean, when he starts treating me lovingly, I’ll treat him with respect.” “I’ll treat him with respect when he earns it!” Well, in my opinion that’s the demise of most marriages. That’s where it all goes wrong. Yes, I agree, that there are things about being a Christian woman that don’t seem fair, but it’s pointless to fight God. Trust me on this, too, because this strong-willed girl fights with God a lot and I end up simply miserable...especially when I think I won the argument. In the long run it makes me and my husband simply miserable. Not only does God’s Word instruct us women to respect our husbands but He also created us with the desire and uncanny gift for creating a healthy relationship...when we follow God’s design. Excuse the generalities, but men on the other hand were created with the desire to protect and provide and they are quite good at that as well. Now before someone gets ticked at me for the gender roles, keep in mind, that doesn’t mean women are not good providers and protectors and that men aren’t good at relationship building. It just means that God equipped genders slightly different to help us become One. We fit together like a hand and a glove, both emotionally and physically and our lives work smoother when we live according to God’s perfect design for us. As a woman I like to feed the cows, go hunting, play in the mud and occasionally mow the yard and My husband will occasionally cook, nurture me when I’m sick and braid his girls hair. So as “male” and “female” God gives us tons of individuality. So, back to my main point. When I decided to trust God and His plan and treat Tim with respect, patience and kindness, NO MATTER WHAT, I was amazed at how quickly his heart and reactions toward me softened. He was so loving and patient and kind! I also began to see the slight guardedness in his eyes when he looked at me as if asking “can I really trust you?”. Ugh, that broke my heart! I never realized how hard I had been on him until then and now I pray daily that God will help me to trust His Plan and ALWAYS treat him with the utmost love and respect and never forget what a blessing and gift he truly is!