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Learning to Relish Life With Your Spouse

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
January 7, 2022 5:00 am

Learning to Relish Life With Your Spouse

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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January 7, 2022 5:00 am

Author Alexandra Kuykendall describes a nine-month experiment she undertook to renew her appreciation for daily life with her husband. She encourages married listeners to embrace life with their spouse by finding joy and contentment in everyday moments.

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Slowing down and noticing what God was doing already that allowed me to change my heart posture to gratitude and being grateful for the gifts that he has given me when I embrace the gift and letting my actual life Alexandra Kirkendall joins us today on Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller and her hostess focus president and author Jim Daly John today we want to help families we want to help marriages strictly have a healthy, thriving relationship, but not just in marriage. In every relationship in your life you know in this life were getting so busy that it's hard to concentrate on what means the most to us what matters the most to us and I think today this is time to grab a cup of tea or a cup of coffee, put your feet up and kicked back for the next 25 minutes or so and listen to some great wisdom from our guests.

Yet Alexandra Kirkendall is can help us really think through some things and priorities. She wrote a great book. It's called loving my actual life and experiment in relishing what's right in front of me and it's the telling of her nine-month experiment to rekindle a love for what she called ordinary life, and in addition to her writing.

Alex is a speaker, a podcast or and a retreat hostess and I she's married to Derek and they have four girls ages 5 to 14. You are one busy mom. I am most moms out as you have time to write a book and come to focus well I was writing about my life that you welcome by the way, thank you so good to have your what that what sparked this idea about loving my actual life as compared to your not actual life and I think we got into marriage and parenting really adulthood with expectations of how it's can it out and then real life hits and the mundane kind of kickstand and we start living in what I call the wins and it's only when this happens, then life will be better. So as parents we do that a lot with our kids. When the baby sleeping through the night when I'm pregnant again when the kids off at school then I'll have more time for myself, if only if only we had a bigger house than we could have people over. If only he got a promotion and then we could afford to go on vacation then life would be good and I did want to live that way and I realized that I was living for the future and I had a few major life events happen that kind of caught my attention. The first was I had a dear friend whose husband died unexpectedly. He got old was he was my age at the time so around 40 and he left her with three children, the youngest was still in preschool and that was a wake-up call to me that tomorrow is not promised because in my mind they were living life the right way. You know he was a healthy guy and it was total sudden surprise when you look at that. How many years would you say it took you to come to this realization that maybe it's not about tomorrow. It's about right today. Well, pretty soon after that, I thought I need to make some changes in my life and the other thing that caught my attention is my oldest daughter was entering middle school and as a mom right away. A number popped in my head. Seven. We have seven years left with her at home and I get kind of emotional whenever I talked about it because it was the countdown we had been on the upswing, and now we were starting to go downhill and it was starting to feel really fast in a lot I don't stop and pay attention. I'm to regret that I was so busy during these years that I was striving in lots of ways to do really good things that I was missing my ordinary life. It's an epiphany. You basically had this epiphany through fortune and tragic accident.

In that context with that lead you to do.

You talked about your nine-month adventure. What is it why did you go there. While I realize it was this combination of I want to maximize the time that I have right now with my family my kids at home and my life is filled with busy tasks. So how can I break down my life in kind of manageable ways and examine it in order to love it a little more so that I'm not living in the wins, and if only's so I decided I can't really tackle my whole life balance. That's just too overwhelming. But what if I looked at one area of my life at a time and so I chose nine months for the entire length of my experiment because for moms. We tend to think in nine-month John you know I've been pregnant four times and the school year is nine months long nine-month works and so I took a different area of my life for nine months at a time and judge each month of each month a different area and thought if I just focusing on this and if I make small changes, will I enjoy my day is a little more and will I be present with my family a little more and I don't see this in the book that might gauge kind of like I can make the change in the next 24 hours. I'm more likely to actually do it and it's more likely to be sustainable, so he needed to be small enough that I could do it right and you're saying you emphasize that funding for a month but hopefully to develop a habit but you don't jettison it when you go to the correct are still deploying those good habits that you learned in that month right and so I learned practical things I learned a lot about myself. How I'm wired that something's come naturally to me and others don't. And I learned some ways to manage and do things better, but in a lot of cases.

I simply had a perspective change that I wasn't expecting because I was going into the month St. thinking you have these practical changes and that's can help me do life better but really when I started looking at life differently. That was what changed my heart.

One of the mind.

If I could ask you in the country and those that are relational, the marriage once but give us another shirt well it's a combination of kind of big picture and then really practical from a mom stand. So I started with quiet because quiet I can't even hear myself think.

Some days, and I thought if I'm start this experiment I need to to really hear God speak to me and I can't unless I just stop the label to bring it down yes I like that better than quiet speaks of most moms are trying to bring that's right. There's constant noise in my house and in my life so that was the first month and then mornings are morning routine site title that first things first, because really we do set the tone for the day by how I might morning. This is a family and I realized as I was yelling at kids to find their shoes and yelling at them to get out of the car at school because the car behind me was honking we were constantly rushed and harried wasn't sending them off into the world.

Well, bring it down. First things first and the third one, my peeps so one of the things I realized is I am surrounded by people all day long, but in my having quality time with them. There's a difference between again telling my kids to pick up their room and really being with them.

So how can I connect so it's dates focus in just on my relationship with my husband.

It was just all the people around me. How can I maximize my time with people that was Michael. That's good. Number 44 was being kind to my body, my just my physical health. So as a mom, I tend to take care of everybody else's physical needs. I feed them and make sure they bathe to soccer practice.

So they're getting, you have four girls bathing make him a little easier, quite probably have as many fights as but I'm constantly meeting other people's needs doctors appointments is a great example. I make sure my kids go to their pediatrician appointment but I had to ask myself when is the last time I went for a check, not because something was wrong because I have a body that needs to be taken care of so that was the fourth month and the fifth was unleashing the wild adventure.

Now this gets a little bit to the mundane of life of waking up and realizing you know, today isn't really looking much different than yesterday and when I look at tomorrow. It's not promising to be much different either in the boredom almost which is a funny word for me to use because when my kids tell me their board. I hear them say I don't have anything to do I always have something to do.

But this tasks can be very routine. So how do we address the routine just to mix it up a little. The sixth month was probably my weakest point. Personally, I went into it knowing this and not home organization. So I called it pushing through the piles because I literally have piles of laundry and dishes in my home. So Elsa not everyone in my household does better if our house has some kind of order to it. I feel better.

My husband definitely feels better when he comes home from his day at work and my kids feel better if it's not in total chaos so knowing who I am. How do I make some small changes in that area. The seventh month was the month that I say was hardest for me to really value and that's creativity and I called it love is in the details. You know God has wired each of us to be the creator if we know anything about him, we know that he is a creator and we know anything about ourselves. It's that we are made in his image. Therefore, we are meant to be creative, but what that looks like for me or for somebody else is going to be different for my mom. Her creative outlet is gardening for me. It happens to be writing for others it's cooking so if we spend a little bit of time each day in those elements.

We are going to feel closer to him and feel better about our ordinary and so that felt like a frivolous topic but as I got into that month I realized that this really is necessary to live into God's purpose is okay with no extra roles are well. I think most moms will relate to this meals was the eighth month and I called it three times a day, but I quickly realized now it's really all day long, 14, 15 right, especially if you have kids at home in the summer time I was doing that month in the summer and snacks.

It's just this room needs this constant need to feed people and this was not rocket science.

This was if you have a plan, things will go better and what I learned that month out had more to do with welcoming people to the table and that God's provision is abundant in our life and that he uses food often is an example to talk about abundance and also hospitality and so those were areas where I went a little deeper so good that's what's number 979. The last one to kind of wrap it up was passions and I titled that I am need to do great things in this gets a little bit to the creativity element that about how God has wired me as he wired me so that I have a unique purpose in the world. Part of that is being a mom and a wife, but part of it is.

Other things to whether it's ministry in my church for paid work or simply an interest that I like to participate in if I feed that passion just a little bit every day. Again, I'm not going to wake up resentful for the tasks that are ahead excited that this little interest is going to be fed notes. I really like the overall theme of what you've done here. In some ways as I hear you express it.

It's almost the countercultural funding for women today to embrace their God-given role. If I could save that way and be politically correct to me that it's good to be a woman that you give life. You nurture life you provide life. It's an awesome thing and right now in this culture. So many women seem conflicted about what their identity is and what their role is, do we want to be men. What we want to be and I love the refreshing approach of this is my actual life and embrace it. Let's concentrate on three or four of them that deal in the marital space and certainly if you want to explain that the parenting whatever you want to do in the application but month number three caught my attention were refocused on bathing and certainly that's something we encourage people to do her focus is to do date nights in July may struggle casually with our lives, but it's a good it's something good payments or talk about how in that month. What specifically did you do this okay this month, really concentrate on dating my husband. Well, it's funny because the word the term date night is not something that we tend to use in our house right. In fact, we tend to be a little bit smug about it like we don't need to set aside that time were so romantic, not spontaneous, you know, we don't do big Valentine's Day or anniversary because we just wanted to be organic. What happens is that life takes over all we know so at the beginning of the month I sat down with my calendar which is on my computer and every person in our family has a different color.

And so the more colorful the computer screen. The busier I know we are as a family and I thought I'm going to pencil in time with each person in my family.

One on one time and I got overwhelmed and I didn't do it because we were so busy I couldn't find a regular chunk of time to be with my husband and so I walked away from that computer and thought okay well I'm just can have to squeeze it in to our regular schedule and I did this month.

Even in February, which is Valentine's Day right and at the end of the month. I looked back and I thought we didn't have one significant date. Had I made it happen and put it on the calendar at the beginning of the month we would have done it, but because I walked away from that calendar. We didn't make it happen because were so busy now. I did find some great ways to kind of sneak in and take advantage but I think scheduling really does make a difference and that's not rocket science like there's no huge big news here to any person, but if you put it on the calendar and our intentional it's just more likely to happen and that was the thing you learned in essence that's more intentional about doing that at least once a month of the more often just last night my husband called me on his way home from work he was in traffic and he needed to get his exercise in and he said why don't go for a walk and now our kids are old enough that since we have a 14-year-old.

We can leave them at home and we went for a walk for 20 minutes and it was a way for him to get some exercise and for us to spend some one-on-one time together. That was just part of our schedule anyway and that leaves right into another one of your monthly desires was health and that's an important feature power of your work better.

I think that's were July may struggle the most.

We seem so busy with travel schedule one of our teen boys and over home and school issues within James White book school mom go so much there at the school, which is really busy with the it's hard to find time for ourselves to just go out and do a walk or something like that. But we have to do we do and think Eric and I were in that really non-sexy part of our lives that the middle life, and our bodies are changing and we can't get away with the things we could.

When we were 25 if we eat cheetahs and and I've had four children and it's just the changing of our bodies is a reality so if we can encourage each other in healthy behaviors. So we embrace that mean I love your very factual things. I was good seeing a deficit in my attitude in my life. I put about nine month plan. I concentrated on them and they help me to do to live life better. That's a beautiful thing to do but how do we embrace that. How do we actually took some motivation. I guess what I'm saying not everybody feels that motivated in the middle part of life that you described. She does make a difference.

How do you get motivated to make change like well I think part of it was the reality of knowing that tomorrow is not promised and were likely to be around me, able to enjoy life more fully able to thrive.

If we are healthy.

This is one of the months where I really had a big perspective shift because, especially for women when we go into a goal of unwilling to exercise better and eat better. It often has to do with. I want my body to look different than it does right now. That's my motivation either swimsuit season is coming, or simply want to fit into those jeans again as I entered this month. I realized you know, I'm pretty fortunate. It's kind of like the food in the Night at dinner time. Unfortunate that I have a body that works. I'm fortunate that I had a body that made for beautiful people.

I am fortunate that my husband finds me attractive. Right now the way they did it live into that because I part of middle age is I'm getting serious about God has purposes for me and yes I take care of my physical self. I am better able to do his purposes in the world. I think of all the ways I use my body to impact the world. I hug my children and intimate with my husband. I waved to people I walk across the room so that I can sit at my computer and use my fingers and my brain to write words of encouragement people so my body is a tool that God has given me, and that perspective, shift and sing okay Lord. This is yours. That was huge for me because no longer was it about fitting in the size to genes which he that's always nice and always a better but it wasn't about that anymore. It was about. How can I better serve you through my physical health.

Alex, one of the things I think I struggle with is a husband is how much guilt women express nice even Jane. She feels guilty. This is not I struggle with that… This is something we've got to work on solutions put it out there so by the end of the month. We want to try to accomplish that. But why, generally, I think this is true of most women.

They do carry a lot of guilt about their life not being perfect or the closet not being perfect or dinner not being perfect or the kids not dress perfectly. How can we recognize that, in part, I see that in your book. That's really what you were doing is just coming to grips with this is life. It is mostly supposed to be. The kids are always numbers superclean and Morgan get through and how does a woman just exhale it's okay Lord I know you got me that's a great question. It speaks to our expectations and the question is where did those expectations come from right if we have the standards that we think are essential to being a good woman a good Christian woman, a good wife, a good mother.

Whatever the label is we have in our mind. What this standard is part of it. I will say is I think social media because we have never as a people live in this intense environment of looking at everybody's highlight reel like we do now I am less likely to post a picture of mine is the closet and I am likely closet right so we look at people's vacations.

There amazing Christmas experiences. Whatever it is they're kids getting an award, you name it, it's likely to show a positive bent on their life and were looking at that in the midst of our actual lives in the midst of our of our mess. So one thing I tell women all the time is just turn it off turn it off Pinterest now you guys may not be big and Pinterest. I am not either. But for some women it's huge and what it does is it sets the standards of just going through a birthday party you're going to throw the birthday party with the best treat that match the theme of the party and the best decorations and the cake that's in the shape of whatever bag of things to take away at the woman who knows how to make a cake in the shape of whatever you value your self-worth suddenly takes a little bit of a polemic even if you're a pretty confident woman that's part of why asked the question because it seems like with everything at our fingertips to the are so much more anxiety so much more depression so much more hopelessness in the time when it should be the opposite. And I think a lot of it is just that expectation.

You talk about that we put on ourselves and particularly women.

They just they have the amazing attribute to look at themselves pretty harshly and then turn outwardly but you look at yourself so hard and say I'm not being the right mom and the in the right wife. I think it's just like I know the largest once put his arms around you and say relaxed daughter.

I'm with you, I've got you. And I think that's what your book does such a beautiful way loving my actual life speaks to that you're earning a woman's heart to accept were God has you and then enjoy the journey. That's what I'm hearing is that a fair assessment.

Yeah, I doubt my joy.

Are you enjoying more. I am I am and I have been intentional about taking the things that I learned about myself and moving those in to my regular routine skin. That was my goal is to discover the things that worked for me and I'm really clear in the book that just because something works for me doesn't mean it's can work for somebody else because God has wired us differently and the things that I struggle with may be easy breezy yells and the things that were easy for me may be difficult so I really was able to discover what is working better as a result of this month's experiment at the end of each month I make a list of these are the things I want to continue in my actual life.

When you look at the experiment of nine months now and you have a chance to have the hindsight what if you're willing to tell us what went well and what did not go so well. I will say that it has not changed that home organization is still my guy didn't rewire me in that way, but I do know some practical things that I can do to help me manage my home a little embrace it better to accept it better. Yes, I accept it better and more proactive.

I know that this is just can happen on its own, but we need when I make it happen. When I walk through the room and pick up the toys off the floor maybe before my husband comes home maybe at the end of the day tomorrow is just can feel a little bit fresher and a little bit better so I able to be more intentional, I'd say my biggest take away is really slowing down because like I said so many of my months were a change in perspective and it was that slowing down and noticing what God was doing already that allowed me to change my heart posture to one of gratitude and being grateful for the gifts that he has given me when I embrace those gifts daily and letting my actual life such great insight from Alexandra Kirkendall on today's Focus on the Family, and I hope she's inspired you to step back and to examine ways the embrace life more fully with your spouse. If you'd like to go deeper on this topic, would you have helpful resources for you including her focus on marriage assessment, which is a quick online quiz. It's free and it's going to help you see some areas were you doing well pray and to offer some areas for growth perhaps is well with you and your marriage. Then we have Alexander's terrific book loving my actual life in which she walks through that nine month experiment to embrace life as it is and find contentment in ways that she didn't expect. I know you'll probably have a parallel journey working through that book. And when you make a donation today of any amounts either a monthly pledge or one-time gift will say thank you for joining the support team by sending a copy of Alexander's book to you. Contribute to the work here take that marriage assessment and get your copy of loving my actual life of the details are in the episode notes can also give us a call if you prefer number is 800 K word for 800-232-6459.

Have a wonderful weekend with your family and church family to join us on Monday will hear from Natosha Crane explaining why it's crucial to have faith conversations with your child. You have to be honest with yourself as a parent and say that the number one most important objective for my parenting surveys can now.

I love the Lord on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back more help you and Your Family Dr. in Christ for children with greater spiritual her children as well about you can help your kids grow in their faith with Focus on the Family clubhouse and Focus on the Family clubhouse Junior magazine great resources for your

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