Saturday, September 8, 2012

Polishing the Armor

A few days ago we sat in our living room along with all four of our sons (a rare occasion these days) and after Gideon's spiel and demonstration with Sheen Genie, a new metal polishing product that he sells at car events, we had a wonderful party, shining up all the metal items we could find. Keys, coins, jewelry, lamp bases, car parts and wheels, ammunition rounds, photo frames, you name it! So many things had sat in an ugly, dirt-smudged, and sometimes rusted state for years because no one thought about or cared to keep them polished and clean.

I could say the same about many things in my life that I have ignored or considered unworthy of my attention. I have a supernatural ability to make things invisible, like closet clutter and cobwebs, dust, and miniscule corner-dwelling creatures. A sad fact is that our relationships fall in this category too!

Rust damage is permanent, and if severe, the object may not be repairable. That's why it's important to protect it from rust in the first place. Rust eats away at the original and creates varying rough spots along the edges. A controlled grinding (or polishing) smooths out the rough surface and restores the shine.

Some important lessons are learned the hard way, and thankfully, our rusty marriage has been on the mend for about eight years now. My husband credits me with helping him remove the rust and restoring his reflective shine. In fact, I'm starting to glow more too. 

If you are homeschooling, you know that your marriage is one important cornerstone of keeping it all together. All marriages and all partners are different and I don't expect everyone to relate 100% to this, but perhaps there are a few universal points here that will get your attention. Following, is my list for preventative maintenance.

 10 Ways to Keep His Armor Shining

1. Remove the rust.  
I woke up suddenly one day to find myself in a rusty relationship. How did this happen? Where had I been? What was I doing? First I cried. Then I prayed. Then we talked. I had a decision to make: Start polishing!
2. Admire him
This is a biggie for my husband and I hadn't realized it. He's bound to fall off a pedestal, so don't go that far. Remember that he is human and not perfect. Respect him, and admire all those wonderful things about him—the ones that made you fall in love with him in the first place—and all of those that came with time and wisdom since. For me, it required an attitude change of the heart. During one of our most difficult years I made a conscious effort and made him an "Admiration Award." He loved it, and it hangs on our bedroom wall as a reminder to us both.

3. Know his needs/desires.  
And act on them. This includes speaking his love language. We took a survey once from the book His Needs, Her Needs, to find that, out of a list of ten needs, his top five needs coincided with my bottom five needs, and my top five needs were the same as his bottom five needs. Our priority needs were the exact opposites! I wasn't surprised though, I knew that we were opposites and it was one of the those things that attracted us to one another in the first place, so very long ago. You can't be proficient with knowing his desires and doing them though, unless you have practice with #4 . . .

4. Communicate effectively. 
I can't believe how many years we went without talking about important issues that affected our marriage. We let a major storm slam us into the floor before we woke out of our dazzled state and did something constructive like reading and discussing books together. Once we stepped out of our comfort zone the light began to shine on those hazy areas. A little counseling didn't hurt either. Don't belittle him or his judgement. Don't talk to him like one of the children. Check your attitude.

5. Hold him accountable.
Finances. The Internet. Don't ignore pertinent issues or assume that all is well when you really don't know. Work as a team to meet set goals and jointly keep each other in the loop. For years, my husband didn't want to burden me with financial issues so he handled them alone. I didn't question him, but it was not a wise decision. Down the road this led to problems that need not have been. A preacher once told my husband that he would not have the Internet in his home—because he would not want the temptation there. Christians are human too. Be informed and proactive. You are in this thing together—remember that!

6. Pray for him and with him.
I am a huge proponent of prayer! Praying together will bring you closer. Time and time again, our Father Above has been there for us, intervened, and sustained us through the difficult and the blessed! Prayer is not just for meals, it is for every occasion.

7. Enjoy his company.
Find things to do together. Laugh. Share hobbies. Smile. This has become easier since our sons are all grown. One of our problems years ago was that we hardly ever used babysitters and we were seldom alone outside of the bedroom. Have a weekly date night. Make time to enjoy his company, just between the two of you.

8. Forgive.
And keep forgiving. This is huge, yet so simple and profound. I have to admit that this was hard for me to do. I had thought that some things were unforgivable. I was a grudge keeper. I'd act like I was OK, but deep down I kept a list, and the list grew and grew and then it got so big that it impeded my vision and my focus and my heart was in torment. It dawned on me one day that forgiveness may be the biggest problem I faced. I started re-reading and studying the words of Jesus, and several outstanding books on the subject and finally came to terms with my unforgiving attitude. I found out that I'm in need of forgiveness too, and that most people really do, do the best they can. If they could do better, they would have. I'm still working on my forgiving attitude and I've come a long way. Mostly, it has helped me more fully trust God and be happier within myself. I have to leave the past in the past, learn from it, and create peace in the present. God forgives us as we forgive others.

9. Coat with kindness.  
You can protect the marriage coat with love and kindness. I cannot change him. I don't have to like everything about my husband. And I don't. I remember reading a long time ago how to think of my husband as having two halves of his face. On the one side are the things I really love and admire. On the other are the things that I don't particularly like or maybe totally dislike. Well, I simply keep my focus on the good half. That's what I've tried to do. Treat him like I would a stranger—and better—he's worth it.

10. Labor with love.
You know the territory . . . love is a decision. An act of your will. In addition to all of the above, I have to mention that you should be his #1 fan and feed him well. No one can feel good, look good or continue to run on empty. Consider his diet and what nourishment you provide. Are you affectionate?  Are you lifting him up or cutting him down? Are you caring for yourself properly?

I'm thankful for the turmoil we went through. Without it, we'd be back in the same sad situation we had been in. Through adversity comes triumph. God can even take something meant for evil and use it for good! It takes time to smooth out the rough spots, but in the end you could have a reflection of near perfection—a glimpse in the mirror of the One that gave you life.

Make it a habit. Every time you come in contact with your treasured man-of-steel, give him a loving wipe-down. If you do this every time, you'll help keep him polished and his armor shining and rust-free.

I'd love to hear your reflections on polishing the armor.


  1. Beautiful! Kathy this is very beautiful and wise words. Thank you. Marriage is never easy and I like the way you start this, about removng rust. THANK YOU. One thing for me that helps is to not let my penchant for flying off the handle to take root. Mt beloved hubs one day was afraid to tell me they changed his hours at work because he didn't want to see my reaction. That was a wake up call and something I am not proud of. I struggle, but I am trying.

    One thing I have also learned, you can't always take what people preach and run with it. I tried for several years to be "fascinating" and it eventually led to resentment on my part, because I kept waiting for my husband to just "KNOW" my needs. He would tell me over and over, please, don't assume I can read minds or know what I should be doing..... so talking and relaying information in a manner that a man can understand is key for us. Meaning, I can't use body clues or expect him to pick up on subtle wants, his mind doesn't work that way.

    anyway, I will stop there. :-)

    Thank you sister!

    1. Thank you Kim! Excellent comments. It's so true about not assuming things. I have learned the same, hence the need to spell it all out. We used to think we knew it all and had our wake up call too. Come to find out we knew very little. Thanks again for your reply.


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