I receive a lot of emails from readers, and I rarely share them here on the blog because they are either too personal or too specific. Well, I recently received a message that I thought would be best addressed as a community, and the sender encouraged me to share it with you to get your feedback.
Here’s the message:
I had a situation happen to me today that I thought might make a good discussion topic for your site – proper social networking etiquette / behavior for married people.
Today, I had an old boyfriend send me a friend request on Facebook. I decided to ignore the request. I haven’t even thought of him in 13 years and there was a good reason I broke it off then.
Is this really someone I want to share the details of my life with anymore? No. Would I be cool with my husband “friending” an old flame? Honestly, I would probably be a little weird about it. Some people are best left in the past.
Here’s where you can help. In the comments below, I’d love to get your opinions on this situation.
How would you feel if you were the one receiving the friend request? Would you feel the need to ask your spouse before you accepted or ignored it?
Would you care if your spouse “friended” an ex-boyfriend or ex-wife?
Do you think Facebook and other social media relationships are totally harmless, or does it actually mean something when you accept “friend” status with someone?
By the way, if you have a question that you’d like to “Ask the Community” here at Engaged Marriage, please send me a message and let me know!
It seems that cancer has touched almost every life in some way.
Cancer has really been on my mind recently. This weekend the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was hosted in St. Louis with record participation. My wife Bethany often runs in the race in honor of her grandmother who died from breast cancer just before we started dating, but she opted not to this year given she’s about to give birth. Cancer has affected both of us in a variety of ways over the years, and our marriage has been impacted as well.
The impact of cancer in our lives has been especially meaningful lately, though.
Honoring One of Best Women I’ve Known
On Sunday, Bethany’s Godmother and our close family friend Tracie Gray passed away after fighting ovarian cancer for more than five courageous years. Our relationship with Tracie and her family is deep and meaningful.
We are Godparents to her granddaughter and her daughter is the Godmother of our son. Tracie was my mother-in-law’s best friend, and her husband P.D. is a great friend and bowhunting buddy of mine.
Tracie and P.D. were one of those couples that really personified the goodness of marriage. They were high school sweethearts that always seemed so happy and content with their life. When you spent any time around them, it was obvious they were meant to spend the rest of their lives together.
Bethany and I have been together since our high school years, and some of our first dates ended with movies and pizza at P.D. and Tracie’s house. We have spent many evenings together with them around a campfire, and many days boating in a lake or floating in rafts down a local river. Tracie was literally a part of half of my life.
It is no exaggeration to say that Tracie and P.D. were awesome role models for how marriage was supposed to be. They were great parents, faithful Christians and wonderful examples of how true love looks, acts and perseveres.
In Sickness and In Health
You may recall a recent post I wrote about the difficulty of marriage during periods of prolonged illness. My Dad is struggling as well, but that post was also inspired by Tracie. She was so tough until the end of her life and, just as remarkable, P.D. was a rock of strength at her side through all of the many struggles that accompany the ravages of ovarian cancer.
Tracie’s friends and family were with her and honoring her until her final days. She lived a life that earned the love and respect of many, and the outpouring of support at her recent benefit was incredible. I’m sure the love and honor will be overflowing at her visitation and funeral in the next few days as well.
Tracie was simply an awesome person that touched many lives. It’s another story of the unfairness of cancer and its effect on the lives of so many.
Ovarian Cancer Awareness
After her diagnosis, Tracie’s family started an organization and Facebook page called Teal We Find a Cure to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and generate funds for research. I cannot stress enough the importance of learning about ovarian cancer. From their Facebook page, here is some food for thought:
Do you know what color the ovarian cancer awareness ribbon is? It is TEAL, but most people are not aware.
Most people are also not aware that ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because many of the symptoms are vague and similar to other abdominal problems. Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer deaths among women in America.
Only 24 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is confined to the ovary. Most cases are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, making it difficult to treat successfully.
One woman out of every 55 will develop ovarian cancer at some point in her lifetime.
Please do your part and inform the women in your lives about the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Please Share Your Story
I am sure that most of us have been faced with the impacts of cancer in our married lives.
I’d really appreciate hearing from each of you in the comments about your experiences with cancer.
Matt’s current book project is focused on the topic of Marriage and Money, particularly as it relates to young couples both before they get married and in the early years after their vows. Our interview was focused on the issue of Joint vs. Separate Bank Accounts. However, as we spoke for nearly an hour, a few additional themes came up.
Your Input is Needed
Matt is aware of the awesome community we have here at Engaged Marriage, and we decided it would be great to get your feedback on a few key topics. And there’s a chance that your response could be featured in his upcoming book!
Please check out these questions and leave your response to any or all of them in the comments below:
If you’re married, what were some of the biggest initial challenges you faced in bringing your financial lives together? Financially, what do you wish you had known or done before getting married? And what financial issues continue to come up in your marriage?
If you’re engaged, what questions do you have about doing the whole money thing together as husband and wife?
Thank you so much for your feedback and continued support! I know Matt appreciates your input, and I love seeing your responses since it provides good direction for future blog posts. 🙂
I am happy about my marriage, and I really enjoy living life each day with my wife and kids. However, I sometimes feel like we could certainly be doing some things better. This is where we encounter the “constraints” that hold us back from getting all we’d like from our marriage and giving all we’d like to our spouse.
I would really appreciate it if you took a few seconds and answered the two questions below. I know how I would answer them, but I’m super interested to know about your needs and how we can work together to help you take your marriage to the next level (whatever that may mean in your life).
Thanks for being part of our community, and thanks for your insights!
P.S. – I recently updated the About Page to better convey what this site is all about. I’d love to hear your thoughts on those changes in the comments below.
As expected, the response was awesome, and I learned a lot from your comments on the blog and over on the Engaged Marriage Facebook page. I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a few of my favorite answers (my emphasis added) and let you know my own thoughts as well.
Mark gave his thoughts on why some settle for less:
I would say being on mission together for something much bigger than yourselves describes an extraordinary marriage. More than likely, almost every couple would say they want that, but most don’t know how or just don’t want to do the work to be extraordinary and end up settling for less.
Wendy R. did a wonderful job explaining God’s role:
To be extraordinary, be a three-fold cord. Individually, we are not perfect and will inevitably disappoint our spouse time after time. With God’s strength truly binding the marriage, it is indeed “not quickly broken”. To me, this means that if I’m really trying to conform to Christ’s example, that will make me a better spouse, and when my husband is also working toward this, God will bless the marriage with common purpose. Ultimately, as with every good thing, God gets the credit for a great marriage.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
An extraordinary marriage is when both partners seek to serve each other. It’s one where communication is free flowing and each partner is safe to share issues that concern them. It’s a marriage where both partners are quick to forgive. It’s a place where commitment is unswerving. It’s realizing that you always need to be learning more about each other over time.
What a great question! We are about to celebrate our 31st anniversary next month…yet, it feels as if our life together has just begun. What makes an extraordinary marriage is one where each spouse gives of themselves 100% with a willingness to lay their lives down for the other.
Difficult? Oh, yes! Especially during arguments where you KNOW you’re right. Possible? Only by the grace of God at work in both hearts.
God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness, and marriage is a great garden for cultivating holiness. If we are truly wanting an extraordinary marriage, it must be on God’s terms – we are to reflect Christ’s relationship to His church. When they see us – we are providing a mirror of Him that looks so attractive that others are drawn into the Kingdom for His glory, not our own.
And to top it all off – God helps us grow more and more in love as the years pass. Amazing!
There were many other fantastic insights as well, but I really think that these four do a great job of summarizing all that an Extraordinary Marriage represents.
What Is MY Definition of an Extraordinary Marriage?
Well, with a tag line like “Achieve the Extraordinary in Marriage…and in Life!” you know that I have some thoughts on this question. However, to be honest, I’ve never really been able to pinpoint exactly what it means…for me, an Extraordinary Marriage is one of those things that you just know it when you see it!
This is where you guys helped me think through it and develop my own, solid thoughts on this topic.
What is the Engaged Marriage “definition” of an Extraordinary Marriage? Let me start with the more spiritual aspects and proceed to the more practical examples of what it looks like through my eyes:
It’s sacramental, Christ-centered and fully embracing of the Holy Trinity (it IS a Holy Trinity).
It serves as a vivid example of God’s love for His people.
It takes two people and joins them together with the capacity to do more good than the sum of the individuals.
It lets two ordinary people combine their love of one another so powerfully that an entirely new person can be created by God through them.
It’s based on a spirit of trust, open communication and deep mutual respect.
It includes a lot of problems, difficulties, tough times and hurt feelings. But forgiveness and commitment overcome all obstacles.
It doesn’t “settle” for the mediocrity and weakness that our culture says a “normal” marriage should be.
An Extraordinary Marriage doesn’t quit.
That doesn’t exactly fit on a business card, huh? 🙂 But I think that’s a good starting point for what an Extraordinary Marriage is all about.
Do you like my definition? What am I missing or overstating? Let’s talk about this one!