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Friday, April 6, 2012

My lovely wife summoned her courage and created another post. I hope you enjoy it.

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Well blog writing wasn’t as painful as I thought it might be and your comments were so encouraging that I thought I would try again! This time I am writing about another incredibly thoughtful gift my husband Scott gave me several Christmases ago. It was one of the best surprises I ever received and helped get me through the toughest season of my life so far.

Here’s the background: In 1997 Scott’s mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and moved in with us. This was a decision Scott and I made together, along with his siblings and lots of guidance from God. Becoming Mom’s caregiver meant not only dealing with the gradual loss of this incredible woman but the loss of my independence and any sense of control over my household.

As the illness progressed, I became the “bad guy”, the “other woman” to my mother-in-law. In addition I never knew what would greet me as I came through the door.  For example, once I found the refrigerator disassembled with all the food defrosting on the floor.   Another time I couldn’t find my frying pans and pots only to discover she had put one on each of the dining room chairs.  Clothing and linen weren’t safe because our dear Mom would spray them with bleach thinking it was stain remover.

We developed a saying in those years, "We don't ask why!"

The Surprise!! 

One Christmas, right in the middle of those crazy years, my daughters and I decided, with my husband’s encouragement, to actually go shopping on the day after Christmas, taking advantage of the sales . I have trained my girls to shop til we drop, and we had a grand time shopping all day long.

When we arrived home all was fairly quiet, so I made my way up the back stairs to our bedroom. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of blue and then suddenly I realized our bedroom had been completely transformed. Scott had pulled a “WHILE YOU WERE OUT” and set up my own sitting room space in our bedroom. A love seat, a desk, coffee table, a wall mounted TV, bookshelves and lamps, a new bedspread and wall hangings. Incredible!

I cried then and I still cry just thinking about how blessed I was. I had “lost” my home to my mother-in -law but Scott created a sanctuary for me. This was one place in the house that was my own, my refuge. I can remember just walking through our room and feeling peace and relief just knowing it was there for me whenever I needed it. I shed many tears in that room and prayed many prayers.

I don’t know how he did it but during those years Scott took care of both his mom and me. I never doubted that I came first but we both knew that for a season we needed to take care of the dear woman who gave me the man who I love most.

Taking Care of Each Other

My purpose in writing is to say that if your spouse is under great stress due to care giving or some other life circumstance, think of a way to create a haven for them.
  • You can create a separate space in your home, as Scott did for me that Christmas. It doesn’t have to be a whole room; it can be a corner of a room or any other area set aside for them, decorated in their favorite way.
  • If that’s not feasible, consider specifically granting him or her designated “escape time.” Thirty minutes after dinner or after they get home from work where no demands are placed on them, where they can do whatever relaxes and reinvigorates them.
  • Arrange for a weekend getaway. Even if your circumstances prevent you from both being gone at once, you can take turns!
Can you think of other ways to create a haven for your weary, stressed-out spouse? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Being a long term care giver can place great demands and stress on your marriage. Even though there are tremendous physical and emotional demands on you both, make sure you make it a priority to also take care of each other.

10 comments:

Kate and Brad Aldrich said...

Jenny!
Another Great Post! I hope that Scott convinces you to become a regular!

I totally agree with you! Back several years ago Kate was inspired to change our bedroom from: the messy room we hide everything in when people come over; to a place of refuge for the two of us!
I didn't realize it till the change was done, but it made a huge difference in my attitude about our time together. Instead of staying downstairs, we both couldn't wait to get up to our private "hide away" after the kids were in bed!

Having this space has made space for many of the other changes that God has taught us about marriage!

Thanks for the encouragement! Keep posting!
- Brad (www.onefleshmarriage.com)

Lori Ferguson said...

Such a beautiful post! (I'm in tears.) Thank you for sharing both your pain and the lovely 'haven'.

Kate said...

Yea, Jenni! This is an awesome post and one so needed. Thanks for sharing your heart and your lives with all! So blessed to call you friends. Hope that you are having a fabulous time in England! Blessings dear friend. Hope to see you again soon and get to keep reading your blog posts. ;) Kate

Beth Templeton said...

I remember when you first told me about this, but I had forgotten. What a perfect and extravagant gift! I'm so glad to read this Jenni. I love hearing from you and I love what you shared. You are a Dear Lady!

Paul Byerly said...

Jenni - Thank you so much for this! I pray a lot of men will hear the cry of your heart and start thinking about how they can do for their bride what Scott did for you.

J said...

What a great example and a terrific blog post! I am blessed to have a writing nook in my home. I think couples need to consider what would mean most to their spouse, just as you suggest: time, space, a spa day, etc. For me, this writing space was IT.

Cindy Wright said...

Hi Jenni, We can totally relate. My brother moved in with us several months ago after he became homeless, due to catastrophic health problems. My amazing husband flew back East to get him, and brought him back here so we could help him to recover in whatever way it's possible. It's been extremely challenging. But we're all making it work.

In the meantime, we've learned to be creative in making little moments alone count. 5 minutes alone together in a room (before my brother walks in) is priceless time to us.

Before, because our sons are grown, married, and live in their own homes, my husband and I could be all touchy-feely with each other whenever we wanted. Now we sneak moments in here and there and are thankful for those "haven moments," whenever we can get them. Sure, we have our own time alone in our bedroom at night, but it's those other times that meant a lot to us, as well. We don't have as many of them, but whatever time we can find, is precious to us. A wink across the room, kisses exchanged while passing each other in the hall, a secret signal we give each other that we have worked out, which has its own private message, etc. all add up to valuable haven time. We can express our love in some ways in front of my brother, but other ways not. It all means a lot to us.

Also, when my husband is home and he can, he sometimes has "guy time" with my brother --watching a movie or sports or going on an errand with him so I can have a few moments to myself in another room or in another location without any interruptions. It's a great gift my husband gives me when he does this --medicine to my soul! I'm thankful for our terrific husbands who know us so well and look for ways to show us added love. We are blessed! -Cindy

upwithmarriage said...

What a touching post and so encouraging!

Scott, you are a good man.

Debi - The Romantic Vineyard said...

Yea, yea, yea!! I love how you boast in your husband's love towards you. God is using these testimonies to encourage and inspire others to do the same. Thank you, Jenni! Your heart really shines through your writing, and so does Scott's love for you!

Alecia said...

I loved this post! What a thoughtful gift! It is amazing all the ways we can "take care of" our spouses if we just make use of a little time and creativity.

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